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ASUS ZenFone 5, 5Z, and 5Q officially launch in the Philippines

Pricing and availability here!

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ASUS first announced their newest line of AI-powered smartphones at MWC in Barcelona, and now, they’re coming to Philippine shores. All three variants, the ZenFone 5, ZenFone 5Z, and ZenFone 5Q (or depending on what region you’re in, the ZenFone 5 Lite or ZenFone 5 Selfie) will be on sale.

The ZenFone 5 sports a 6.2-inch notched display with a 90 percent screen-to-body ratio. It’s powered by a Snapdragon 636 processor with AI built in and runs on Android 8.0 Oreo with ZenUI 5.0 out of the box. It has a dual-cam setup on the rear with a 12-megapixel primary shooter and a secondary wide-angle shooter. These cameras are, of course, powered by AI. There’s also an 8-megapixel selfie shooter up front. 

The more premium ZenFone 5Z, on the other hand, is powered by the latest Snapdragon 845 processor which makes it a more capable device. All other specifications, including design, remain the same. They come in two colors: Midnight Blue and Meteor Silver.

Finally, the ZenFone 5Q is a quad-camera handset powered by a Snapdragon 630 processor with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. This device, though, isn’t notched. ASUS claims that this device is “the world’s first globally announced true quad-camera system” as it makes use of all four cameras independently, unlike other smartphones which only utilize secondary shooters for the bokeh effect.

Up front, it’s equipped with a 20-megapixel selfie shooter and a secondary wide-angle camera. On the back, it sports a 16-megapixel camera, also with a secondary wide-angle lens. The 5Q also runs on ZenUI 5.0 and Android Oreo out of the box. Color options include: Moonlight White, Midnight Black, and Rouge Red.

The ZenFone 5 is priced at PhP 19,995 while the more premium ZenFone 5Z will retail for PhP 29,995. The ZenFone 5Q will cost PhP 16,995. The ZenFone 5 and 5Q are in stores starting today and the ZenFone 5Z will be available come July.

The ZenFone Max M1, which is powered by an amazing 4000mAh battery, also launched in the country alongside the ZenFone 5 line. It will retail for PhP 8,995.

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TikTok, Reels clone YouTube Shorts launches in the US

Everyone wants a piece of the pie

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shorts

YouTube unveiled its short-video-making tool called Shorts last year, but it was in beta and limited to India. Shorts is now available to all creators in the US after testing them with select creators.

The initial release was quite hasty as it was supposed to bridge the vacuum left by TikTok’s ban in India. However, Instagram was much faster and well prepared to take on the challenge, dominating the turf over many local apps like Chingari, Roposo, and MX TakaTak.

YouTube is also adding a dedicated space in the bottom tab by replacing the explore button. In India, YouTube Shorts has a dedicated space on the top bar of the app. YouTube also displays Shorts in the home feed of the app after around 2-3 videos.

The goal is to incorporate a short video format in the existing app. While watching a “short”, users can tap on the music option to hear the full song via YouTube. Soon, the feature also will work the other way: From a YouTube music video, you will be able to click a “create” button right from the video to make your own Short.

Shorts will expand

The video platform’s music team has signed licensing agreements to use snippets of millions of songs from over 250 labels and publishers. It plans to expand Shorts to more markets later this year but it hasn’t specified which ones.

Ahead of the US launch, a bunch of new features has been added as well. There’s now an option to record 60-second clips in addition to the 15-second option. But users will not be able to add music from the YouTube library to 60-second Shorts. There are also new filters and effects in the YouTube Shorts camera.

In its most recent earnings report, YouTube confirmed that Shorts were generating 6.5 billion daily views, a substantial uptick over the 3.5 billion daily views that the feature was generating in late January.

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After years of settling, Twitter is finally waking up to new features

There’s so many of them in 2021

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Twitter has been around for a long time, and it has changed a lot since its debut. The micro-blogging platform was infamous for its 140 character limit, an intentional limitation that ensured everything on the site is short, crisp, and to the point. It’s no surprise that Twitter became the go-to website for news, independent alerts, and much more within no time.

Although, if you’ve been a Twitter user for a decade, you’ll know that the platform hasn’t changed much in all these years. Twitter did increase the length limit to 280 characters in 2017, but it had little change in the overall behavior of users. Twitter was always an easy-to-use “blog,” and it was happy being in its little inconquerable bubble.

Things are changing fast this year as Twitter aggressively adds new features and intends to open a subscription model soon. Obviously, there won’t be any change in the way we tweet or interact, but the number of features we have will surely increase. The platform is still silent about the most asked feature — the edit button on tweets. But rest assured, the classic Twitter experience isn’t going away anytime soon.


In fact, it’s going to get a lot more interesting as the platform now supports Spaces, a feature that allows users to join virtual rooms where they can engage in real-time audio conversations with others. Instead of typing, why not just talk candidly to all your followers?

Twitter began working on the audio-chat feature in November 2020, and it was available for beta and alpha users a few months ago. It’s now ready for public use, and any user with more than 600 followers can create a room and start talking. Audio-only features are the trend, and every company, including Facebook and Spotify, is doubling down on it.

Twitter has also confirmed that it is working on an upcoming feature called “Ticket Spaces.” This feature will allow users to create Spaces that require others to purchase a ticket to join. The platform has never been so keen on monetization, but the shift in strategy is clearly visible. Hosts will earn the majority of revenue from ticket sales, while Twitter will pocket a small fee.


In January 2021, Twitter discreetly acquired Revue, a Dutch startup that allows users to publish and monetize email newsletters. Just like SubStack, Revue lets you create your own newsletter and monetize it. However, what’s special here is, the newsletter is now integrated within Twitter. So, it makes it easier to persuade your existing followers to subscribe, helping you directly monetize your reach on Twitter.

The feature is already available on Twitter’s web app. Many say that a newsletter doesn’t work in Twitter’s favor, but the company tends to disagree.

“Many established writers and publishers have built their brand on Twitter, amassing an audience that’s hungry for the next article or perspective they Tweet. Our goal is to make it easy for them to connect with their subscribers while also helping readers better discover writers and their content. We’re imagining many ways to do this, from allowing people to sign up for newsletters from their favorite follows on Twitter to new settings for writers to host conversations with their subscribers. It will all work seamlessly,” said Kayvon, Product Lead at Twitter.


New functionality isn’t the only thing that’s keeping the engineers busy. The platform has always attracted controversy due to moderation, troll attacks, and indecent behavior. Thousands of accounts are removed every week to ensure community guidelines are followed to maintain a safe space for everyone.

In 2020, the company began testing a new safety mechanism that prompts users to reconsider before they reply to a tweet using “harmful” language.

If a user types out a reply with any of the language that the company has deemed harmful, they’ll see a warning message asking, “Want to review this before tweeting? We’re asking people to review replies with potentially harmful or offensive language.”

While this may not seem like much, previous reports have shown that these minor design-based hurdles help curb negativity. Based on trials, Twitter said that 34 percent of people revised their initial reply after seeing the prompt or chose not to send the reply at all.


Lastly, Twitter has changed the way its algorithm crops a picture to show it on the timeline. Now, when users tweet a photo uploaded with their iOS or Android device, it will appear in the timeline in its entirety. There’ll be no cropping, so you won’t be forced to open the picture and see all the details.

Earlier, the algorithm would determine the most sensible part of the picture, crop it, and show a preview on the feed. This prompted many to share memes that could be completely seen only when the picture is opened. Else, it could look context-free and random. While most users are cheering the minor change, many feel that the surprise element behind seeing a photo is now gone. Fair to say, it’s going to be impossible to please everyone!

Though, we’d really appreciate it if Twitter could give us an edit button as well.

Read Also: Twitter acquires ad-removing news app Scroll

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Twitter acquires ad-removing news app Scroll

Gearing up its subscription model

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Twitter has now acquired the ad-removing service Scroll, which automatically removes ads from partner websites in return for a monthly subscription. The service will not be available temporarily but will soon be incorporated into Twitter.

“Scroll will become a meaningful addition to our subscriptions work as we build and shape a future subscription service on Twitter,” Twitter product manager Mike Park said in a blog post. The micro-blogging platform has been working on a subscription model for quite some time, and we’re slowly getting hints of what to expect from it.

While details remain scarce, Twitter’s forthcoming subscription services seem poised to be Twitter’s answer to paid news aggregation apps like Apple News. Most users frequently use Twitter for news updates. Its inherent design has made it an ideal social networking platform to catch up on the news.

Currently, Scroll’s service extends to hundreds of sites, including The Verge, Buzzfeed, Gizmodo, USA Today, and many others. Although the app is down at the moment, Twitter says it will continue to support Scroll’s existing customers and publishers, as well as allow new publishers to join.

It also recently acquired Revue, a newsletter startup that intends to make money via subscription. The feature has already been synced with Twitter’s web app and ready for deployment. Struggling with disappointing growth numbers, the social network is now trying to find new sources of revenue.

While not specifically mentioned in Twitter’s blog post, Twitter’s purchase of Scroll will also impact Nuzzle, an app acquired by Scroll in 2019 that became popular for helping people create a news feed curated from stories shared by people they follow on Twitter.

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