Apps

Facebook CEO could have swayed US government’s opinion against TikTok

Zuckerberg used last year’s meeting with Trump to raise issues against TikTok

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Recent trips to Washington by Facebook CEO — Mark Zuckerberg — could have swayed the US government’s opinion against TikTok and other Chinese companies, a new report by The Wall Street Journal claims.

The report details how Zuckerberg used private meetings with US government officials to sway the issue from Facebook to Chinese-made apps like TikTok. Last Fall, Zuckerberg made trips to Washington where he raised the issue against Chinese tech companies. During a visit to Georgetown University, he claimed that these companies don’t share Facebook’s commitment to American values — specifically, freedom of expression.

Later on, Zuckerberg would meet with US President Donald Trump and other officials. During these meetings, the Facebook CEO would make the case that Chinese tech companies pose a much bigger concern than Facebook. These meetings come at a time when government officials are investigating Facebook for privacy and security concerns.

The fallout from these meetings became apparent in late October. Two American senators — Sen. Tom Cotton and Sen. Chuck Schumer — wrote a letter to intelligence officials demanding an inquiry into TikTok. Soon after, the US government began a security assessment of the app. Threats by Donald Trump soon followed. Now, the app is facing a total ban in the US if its parent company — ByteDance — fails to sell its US operations.

Protecting Facebook’s image

All those meetings could have also been interpreted as the company’s move to sway officials and to blunt concerns about Facebook’s issues. A spokesperson for Facebook — Andy Stone — claims that Zuckerberg’s remark in Washington is part of a bigger concern about Chinese influence in America.

“As Chinese companies and influence have been growing so has the risk of a global internet based on their values, as opposed to ours,” Mr. Stone said in a written statement.

It is clear also that Facebook sees TikTok as its potential rival. TikTok has seen a dramatic rise over the recent years, threatening Facebook’s user base. In response, Facebook launched Reels, an Instagram feature designed to sway TikTok users. Just recently, it made plans to acquire Dubsmash, a fledgling rival that saw some popularity back in 2015.

In response, TikTok’s parent company accused Facebook of plagiarism and smears. ByteDance CEO Kevin Mayer urged the social networking giant to focus on fair competition rather than “maligning attacks” which is “disguised as patriotism and designed to put an end to our very presence in the U.S.”

The company has also prepared a lawsuit against the US government. Clearly, ByteDance has a long way to go before it can wiggle out of the complex issues it is facing today.

SEE ALSO: US moves TikTok’s ban to November | China won’t allow US to steal TikTok

Apps

Next Android update is Android 12.1, not Android 13, rumor says

Just a minor update

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One of the highlights of the year is a new Android update. Like clockwork, Google updates the biggest mobile operating system in the world. It’s gotten so popular that the entire industry speculates on the codename each update is attached with even if the company stopped doing them years ago. The hype is there. However, Android users might have to taper their expectations next year. Instead of Android 13, Google might launch Android 12.1 next year.

Reported by XDA Developers, the rumor speculates that next year’s Android update will just be a minor one of the upcoming Android 12 this year. According to one of the publication’s recognized developers, Google attached an “sc-v2” tag for the next Android update, instead of “T” for “Tiramisu,” the internal codename for Android 13. For those who still follow the internal codenames for Android, “sc” refers to Snow Cone, the internal codename for Android 12. As such, it’s natural to assume that the next update is just Android 12.1, rather than Android 13.

It’s been a while since Google released minor updates in lieu of major updates. However, it’s no surprise. Android 12 is already a big update, relative to the past few updates. The update features a revamped design called Material You. Google can believably improve the new update more before launching a major one.

SEE ALSO: Android 12 is Snow Cone

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Google starts rolling out Material You apps

More coming this month

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There is no one more excited for Google’s upcoming products than Google itself. Though the company hasn’t officially launched its products yet, Google has persistently teased everything in the weeks and months leading to their debuts. Now, the company is slowly rolling out Material You apps ahead of the Android 12 launch.

Material You refers to Android’s design revamp for the upcoming Android 12 update. An evolution of Google’s smooth Material Design, the new design personalizes the user interface and the phone’s apps according to the user’s preferences. Android 12 is all about customization.

Of course, since the update also affects apps, Google is also rolling out apps that reflect the new design. Despite the lack of Android 12, the new apps are coming out ahead of time. Officially announced by Google’s Workspace blog, Google Drive will start the new push with its rollout starting today. After Drive, Google Meet will come out on September 19, and Google Calendar will launch on September 20. Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets have already rolled out a week ago.

The new apps will feature new navigation bars, floating action buttons, and a new font called Google Sans. The new font will make readability easier for smaller font sizes.

Android 12 is set to launch soon. Additionally, Google is already launching teasers for the upcoming Pixel 6 series featuring the new, in-house Tensor chipset.

SEE ALSO: Android 12 will make Chrome more colorful

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Spotify launches new recommendation feature, Enhance

Personalize per playlist

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Adding new songs to your Spotify playlist can be quite a monumental task. Trying to grab songs from a recommended playlist might not always mix and match well with a personal playlist’s mood. Spotify is improving recommendations with an all-new feature rolling out today: Spotify Enhance.

Launching in several countries all over the world, Enhance will automatically add songs which fits a playlist’s mood. Users who have the feature can toggle the feature on every playlist. The recommended song will then pop up in the playlist’s songs. Likewise, users can toggle the feature off to get rid of the recommended songs.

However, rather than dumping the recommendations at the start or at the end of a playlist, Spotify will sprinkle them after every two songs, providing a healthy balance between old and new songs. The feature will add only 30 songs at a time.

Additionally, these songs aren’t officially added to the playlist yet. If a user finds a song they like, they can link a plus icon beside the song. Added songs will be in the playlist permanently.

The feature will come only to Premium subscribers. Likewise, not every country will have the feature at first. Spotify hopes to roll out the feature for more countries in the coming weeks and months.

SEE ALSO: 3 eargasmic podcasts to listen to on Spotify’s Music+Talk

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