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 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

News

OnePlus Nord launch date has been leaked

Coming on July 21

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OnePlus has made its next smartphone launch a fun one for fans and followers. Instead of wallowing in secrecy, the company has reveled in tiny teases and enigmatic hints for the upcoming midrange series, the OnePlus Nord. Since the launch of the first teaser Instagram account, the series has been fun to follow.

However, despite carefully controlling the outflow of hints, a few details can slip through the cracks. In particular, Amazon India has mistakenly released a product that explicitly points to a July 21 launch for the OnePlus Nord.

The product is a physical invite for an augmented-reality launch party for the series. Further, the invite includes an “assured gift for everyone” plus an instant entry into a lottery for additional prizes including the Nord itself. Shortly after, Amazon India pulled the invite from the official site. However, you can still view it from a cached version.

Though the invite is gone from the store, the phone itself still exists on Amazon India. However, the information there is more controlled, previewing only a few details.

After the leak was pulled, OnePlus CEO Carl Pei revealed another important detail about the series: “Flagship camera incoming.” As we reported previously, the smartphone is expected to come with a 64-megapixel triple rear camera combination. A flagship camera on a midrange phone is a big claim, if ever.

With the OnePlus Nord all but confirming its launch date, we’re set for an eventful end of July and start of August. Samsung is also expected to launch the Galaxy Note 20 series shortly after.

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Apps

Instagram actively testing Reels to take on TikTok

Short 15-second videos

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Short videos under 15 seconds have gained massive popularity thanks to platforms like TikTok. Facebook-owned Instagram has been eyeing this space for a while and has reportedly expanded testing its Reels feature in India.

According to Business Insider, the Reels feature is being actively tested in India. This only after just a few days after TikTok was banned in the country.

The app will let the user record 15-second videos, add background soundtrack, as well as include a range of effects.

TikTok has come under immense pressure globally due to its poor data collection policies. The app was recently caught snooping around the user’s clipboard after Apple updated iOS’s privacy features. US lawmakers are worried about user data being collected.

However, Facebook itself is no saint when it comes to handling private user data. The company has a history of mishaps and the platform hasn’t learned anything from its mistakes.

The feature is currently active in Brazil and acts as an extension to Stories. You can find it in Instagram’s camera section, just beside the Boomerang and Super Zoom option.

The company had previously launched a separate app called Lasso. However, it was phased out and Reels was integrated into the Instagram app.

The sudden ban of TikTok has created a vacuum in India and it’s obvious Facebook wants to quickly bridge the gap by providing an alternate service.

Facebook and Instagram recently partnered with Saregama music label in India to provide access to a music library. The Indian government has also launched an app challenge that aims to encourage domestic developers and companies to take advantage of the recent ban.

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India

India launches app innovation challenge after Chinese apps ban

Encouraging local developers and building an ecosystem

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India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has announced a new program to encourage local developers and bridge the gap left behind by banned services like TikTok. It’s officially called “Aatma Nirbhar App Innovation Challenge” and was unveiled by India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.

Atma Nitrbhar means “to be independent” or “self-sufficient” in one of India’s widely used languages, Hindi. A few days ago, the Indian government announced a blanket ban on a few listed Chinese apps. Within no time, they were off the Play Store and many services like TikTok and Mobile Legends voluntarily stopped service after the ban was announced.

The App Innovation Challenge includes the promotion of existing apps as well as the development of new apps. The program is split into two tracks. The first one includes already released apps that have the potential to scale and become world-class in their segment. The second track aims to identify companies as well as individuals who can build next-generation apps for the country.

Tthe government is looking for alternative apps of the ones that remain banned. Companies will have to submit their entries by July 18 and a jury for each of the tracks shall evaluate the entries.

The challenge is available in eight categories, ranging from office productivity or work from home solutions to news and games.

The government has allocated INR 20,00,000 (US$ 26,780), INR 15,00,000 (US$ 20,085), and INR 10,00,000 (US$ 13,390) for the first three winners, respectively. Adding to this, Each sub-category winner will also be rewarded.

India has suffered high casualties amid an ongoing border dispute with China. The Coronavirus pandemic has further fueled the anti-China sentiment and the Indian government is exploring options to reduce its trade deficit with the neighboring country.

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