News

Apple closes all of its retail stores outside China

Customers are advised to shop online instead

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Due to the worsening crisis brought by the COVID-19 outbreak, Apple has decided to close all of its physical retail stores outside of China. This comes after its physical stores in the country reopened after a decline in COVID-19 cases.

In a statement by Apple, the tech giant said they are taking steps to protect their employees from the threat of the virus. As a precautionary measure, it is closing all retails stores worldwide until March 27. Customers can still resort to Apple’s online store or its store app to purchase new Apple products.

As for tech support, Apple is encouraging all of its customers to head over to its online support site instead. Meanwhile, its non-retail employees based outside China will switch to a flexible working arrangement. Employees are advised to work from home instead, and those whose work requires them to be on-site must follow strict guidelines. These guidelines include social distancing and submitting to mandatory cleaning and health screening.

WWDC goes online

For the first time ever, Apple’s WWDC is going online-only this year. The tech giant said that this new “digital format” will allow developers to watch keynotes and live session in a whole new learning experience. Details about the online conference will be shared over the weeks.

SEE ALSO:
How to disinfect your tech from the coronavirus
Apple: Coronavirus might cause iPhone shortage
COVID-19 effect: Facebook, Twitter employees advised to work from home


As general rules, the CDC or The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed these to help with preventing the spread of COVID-19:

  • Stay home when sick
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Frequently wash hands with soap and water
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces

Gaming

PlayStation Plus might be getting more games

To compete with Xbox Game Pass

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Subscription gaming is taking off. Instead of buying individual games, a few companies have created subscription packages which include free games for the duration of one subscription. The concept has been around for a long time, but the gaming world is seeing improved packages across the board. According to a new report, PlayStation is building an improved version of its PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now subscriptions.

According to a source from Bloomberg, an upcoming subscription system — currently codenamed Spartacus — will offer subscribers access to a library of classic and new games. The package already sounds suspiciously close to what PlayStation already offers, but the unannounced version will apparently compete with the Xbox Game Pass.

Much like what was reported, the Xbox Game Pass offers subscribers a host of amazing games including the critically acclaimed Forza Horizon 5. Though both PlayStation Plus and Now have widely liked games, they usually don’t offer recently released games. PlayStation and Xbox regularly release console exclusives, so a PlayStation version is certainly a welcome sight.

Besides newer games, PlayStation also does not have backwards compatibility. Owners aren’t able to play older games from previous consoles. An improved subscription can finally introduce the sought-after feature to modern consoles.

The new subscription is expected to make its debut in the first half of 2022. With its debut, PlayStation might phase out PlayStation Now.

SEE ALSO: A long-time PlayStation fanboy switches to the Xbox Series X

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Nokia created a new Nokia 3310 but it’s just cake

Always has been

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After years of languishing in the darkness, Nokia has ascended back into the spotlight as a staple of the smartphone industry. That happened five years ago. HMD Global, the current owner of Nokia’s products, has a lot to be thankful for. And what’s a better way to celebrate a milestone anniversary than with a cake? To celebrate the fifth anniversary of Nokia’s new era, the company has partnered with renowned cake sculptor Michelle Wibowo.

The cake is designed after none other than the iconic Nokia 3310. Though it’s the newer version of the classic phone, the cake looks hyper-realistic. It looks as great as the actual phone. However, it was made with chocolate sponge and vanilla buttercream. The casing, on the other hand, is made with a hand-painted sugar shell casing.

Of course, Nokia has since launched a flurry of other phones since then. But the brand is especially indebted to the Nokia 3310 as one of the early devices that catapulted it to the top of the tech world in the early 2000s. The classic Nokia 3310 was launched in September 2000.

Michelle Wibowo is a famous cake sculptor known around the world. She has created works of art like the Hogwarts Castle and lifelike depictions of popular figures like Queen Elizabeth II. The hyper-realistic Nokia 3310 cake certainly echoes the past trend of creating everyday items with cake.

SEE ALSO: Nokia E3101: The wireless earbuds for everyone

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Qualcomm officially launches Snapdragon 8 Gen 1

Coming first late 2021

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A few days ago, Qualcomm officially confirmed a coming name change for its ubiquitous Snapdragon chipset series. Of course, though Qualcomm already announced the change, the company did not reveal the new naming scheme. Now, the mystery is gone. Welcome, the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1.

Sporting a new coat of paint, the chipset touts an improved 5G modem, the X65 5G. According to the company, the modem can reportedly reach 10Gbps in download speeds. It can also connect to the emerging Wi-Fi 6 standard, allowing up to 3.6Gbps in download speeds. The upper limit won’t mean much in today’s still-young 5G global network. However, it does mean much for the chipset’s longevity.

In the camera department, the chipset sports an 18-bit processor which can supposedly process 4,000 times more data than its predecessor. It can support up to three 36-megapixel cameras simultaneously. It can shoot up to 8K HDR footage at 30 frames per second, UHD footage at 120 frames per second, or slow-mo 720p videos at 960 frames per second.

Qualcomm didn’t specifically indicate how much the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 differs from the Snapdragon 888 in the performance department. However, it will once again focus on the future of AI. Features that use AI will reportedly get a boost going forward.

According to the company, the first smartphones with the chipset will launch sometime by the end of the year. As expected, more smartphones will come out next year in 2022.

SEE ALSO: Upcoming Snapdragon chipset scores 1000000 on AnTuTu

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