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macOS Catalina ditches iTunes, adds security

Sidecar seems particularly useful

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It isn’t the sexiest of the bunch but the new macOS, which is called Catalina, got plenty of useful updates at WWDC 2019.

Goodbye, iTunes

If you’re a Mac user and you feel like you haven’t used iTunes in a while, that’s because it really hasn’t been all that useful. Good news, Apple noticed and it’s breaking iTunes apart into three: Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, and Apple TV. With this development, it’s now easier to look for content you’re inclined to consume.

Apple Music will make it easier for users to discover new music. The TV app will have personalized recommendations on over 100,00 movies and TV shows that you can buy or rent. Lastly, there’s the podcast app which has over 700,000 shows in its catalog. Users will have the option to be notified if there are new episodes of podcasts they’re subscribed to.

Sidecar, Voice Control, and others

Another key productivity update is Sidecar. It turns your iPad into an extended display or a high-precision drawing tablet using supported Mac apps. Sidecar can also be a great tool for editing video, drawing, and working with documents. It can run on a wireless connection, so users can work with greater mobility.

Apple also believes that “technology is most powerful when everyone can use it.” With that in mind, they have integrated voice control on macOS. You can say specific instructions and your computer will do it for you. This is also available on iOS.

Other updates include better security through Gatekeeper. There’s also the new Find My app which lets one anonymously relay the location of a lost or stolen Mac to its owner by other Apple devices, even when offline.

There’s also Screen Time that tells you how much time you spend on your laptop using specific apps. This will you monitor your usage and help you decide when it’s time to step away from the keyboard.

The developer preview of macOS Catalina is available on the Apple Developer Program starting today, and a public beta program will be available to Mac users later in June. macOS Catalina will come out this fall as a free software update for Macs introduced in mid-2012 or later.

India

Amazon to invest $1 billion in India’s small businesses

Jeff Bezos is convinced it’s time to double down

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Jeff Bezos is visiting India and Amazon has organized a conference to announce their plans and goals for the regional market. Dubbed “Smbhav”, it’s a collaborative event for small and medium businesses and will see the participation of senior industry executives.

Bezos said the global online retailer will invest US$ 1 billion in digitising India’s small and medium businesses. He also said the company is eyeing scaling locally produced products from India — in line with the Make in India program — to be of US$ 10 billion size on Amazon platform by 2025.

“We are doing this now because it is working. And when something works you should double down on it,” Bezos said.

The news comes just after the Competition Commission of India (CCI), started an investigation into anti-competitive practices of Amazon and its Walmart-owned rival Flipkart earlier this week.

An Amazon executive said the company has amassed over 500,000 sellers in India and thousands of merchants in the country who are selling on 12 Amazon marketplaces around the world.

India is a lucrative market for internet companies because of extremely cheap data rates and easy availability of affordable smartphones. With a population of 1.3 billion people, the potential is unmatchable. Especially because China’s markets are closed by an internal firewall and the developed markets are highly saturated.

The country is Amazon’s largest bet outside its home market and currently at the cutting edge of digital payments. In India, Amazon is able to set up a highly scaled operations unit, ensuring lower costs and better reach.

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India

POCO is now officially an independent brand

No longer affiliated with Xiaomi

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Xiaomi has announced it’s spinning off POCO as an independent brand. This means the brand will now operate on its own. POCO started in 2018 as a sub-brand of Xiaomi and the parent company has decided to bring in structural changes.

POCO branding is active in India while all other markets get Pocophone. The brand is famous for its POCO F1, an affordable phone that packs a flagship-grade processor. The phone’s arrival created a completely new category of smartphones that are built to be inexpensive, yet offer unmatchable speed.

However, POCO took the backseat in 2019 while Xiaomi rained the markets with Redmi branded phones. Fans have been asking about POCO F1’s successor ever since and the parent company consistently stayed silent about the sub-brand’s future.

Rival brand Realme was also formed as an independent company but is able to leverage OPPO’s infrastructure as “partners”. Having complete independence, the company can operate on its own and decide its own strategy. This structural divide let Realme form a new identity and within no time, it reckoned with Xiaomi as India’s leading mobile vendor.

There were reports in the second half of 2019 that suggested Xiaomi might ditch the POCO brand completely. It’s safe to say that isn’t happening anymore. POCO’s social media handles have been actively announcing discounts and deals on the POCO F1, suggesting a new product could be on the way soon.

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Hisense partners with NBA icon Dwyane Wade

It’s a multi-year deal

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Image: Dario | GadgetMatch

Hisense has been one of the fast rising brands especially in the television department. The company is now partnering with three-time NBA Champion Dwyane Wade to attract the sports-consuming market.

Wade will serve the as the company’s US Ambassador and will be prominently featured in premium product launches, in-person event appearances, and other upcoming marketing campaigns. He will be joining Hisense’s list of sports partners that include NASCAR, FIFA (2018) and UEFA (2016 and 2020).

The retired NBA star says he sees the company’s dedication to producing quality products and he’s excited for the partnership.

Hisense offers several value-for-money products especially with televisions. In CES 2020, the company launched the L5 laser TV and XD9G — the first dual-cell technology TV on the market. They also offer various other products like home appliances including refrigerators, wine coolers, portable air conditioners, and more

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