Fortnite skips the Google Play Store

Will come directly to Android from Epic Games



For several months, Fortnite has taken the gaming industry by storm. Millions of gamers across most platforms have already claimed millions of dollars in sales for Epic Games.

Throughout those months, however, Epic Games lacked the one platform that would catapult them to near-astronomical heights — Android. Still, rumors have continuously hinted that the game will come to Android soon.

Thankfully, that rumor will soon turn into a reality. Sadly, that truth comes with a steep price. According to Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney, Fortnite will not come to the Google Play store.

Instead, Epic Games will turn to their own website and app to distribute their hit game.

The move mimics their strategy on the PC. On that platform, Epic Games skipped the ubiquitous Steam or the alternative Instead, Fortnite uses the developers’ own Epic Games Launcher.

For other platforms, Epic Games was forced to use official stores. For example, Sony and Apple require games to use the PlayStation Store and the App Store, respectively.

Despite the Play Store’s expansive reach, Epic Games has opted out of the store because of Google’s steep tax cut. For all sales through the game, Google has demanded 30 percent for distributor fees. With Fortnite’s current sales numbers, that 30 percent take can result to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

More than Epic Games’ own numbers, the move can also echo across the entire Android ecosystem. Fortnite’s gigantic popularity can push independent distribution as a viable strategy for other apps.

However, the move also exposes Fortnite (and all who follow in its footsteps) to outside threats. For example, malware producers can push their own products disguised as Fortnite.

Even then, gamers might not get the game for a while. Samsung has reportedly entered into an exclusive 120-day contract with the game. With that contract, Fortnite may come to Android exclusively on Samsung’s phone for 120 days.

Other than that, Epic Games distribution strategies are still unconventional. One thing’s for sure: If you want to get Fortnite on Android, you’ll have to go through Epic Games to get it.

SEE ALSO: Fortnite celebrates its first birthday in update


Google, Facebook, Twitter resist China’s attempt to censor Hong Kong

China is trying to curb free speech



Google, Facebook, and Twitter have temporarily stopped processing government requests for user data in Hong Kong. A new security law went into effect on July 1 and Google immediately paused processing requests.

Even WhatsApp has stopped processing further requests. The controversial law is seen as an attempt by China to curb free speech in the former British colony.

Pro-democracy protestors are worried the new law will be used to censor the internet. Twitter cited “grave concerns” about the law”s implications.

This is seen as China’s broader plan to establish its supremacy and expand its ideology. The new law includes the ability to ask publishers to remove information deemed as a threat to national security. Refusal to enact the request could result in a fine or jail time.

Tech companies work in tandem with local law enforcement agencies to moderate content on their platforms. With the new law, processing Hong Kong government’s request would indirectly mean handing over user data and endangering pro-democracy protestors.

In simpler terms, you could be jailed for a social media post that says anything against the administration.

Citizens are actively switching to messaging apps like Signal that provide end-to-end encryption. This helps in masking your identity to a great extent.

Previously, when the internet was shut down to curb protests, citizens used offline messaging apps like Bridgefy and FireChat to spread the world and coordinate protest efforts.

Mainland China has a firewalled internet that is highly censored and constantly surveilled. The irony is, ByteDance’s TikTok isn’t available in China while the rest of the world can freely use it.

TikTok has also officially announced it will be exiting Hong Kong within a few days. But this move is seen as a smokescreen to avoid its Chinese origin.

SEE ALSO: 6 tips to make your phone more private and secure

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US looking to ban Chinese apps like TikTok

TikTok is in grave danger



US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the country is “certainly looking at” banning Chinese apps like TikTok. In an interview with Fox News, the senior official said that he doesn’t want to get in front of President Donald Trump, but they’re evaluating the option.

Last week, India announced a list of 59 apps and games that are made by Chinese developers. These apps remain banned in the country citing user privacy issues. TikTok was the worst hit, followed by games like Mobile Legends.

The current geopolitical scenario isn’t in favor of China amid a bloody border skirmish with India. The two countries have decided to de-escalate the situation for the time being. However, the app ban has put the spotlight on shady data collection practices of these developers.

US lawmakers have previously voiced their concern regarding large-scale data collection by apps like TikTok. And, recent reports have confirmed their doubts. TikTok was caught by Apple collecting users’ clipboard data and independent researchers have called the social media app a massive data collection service.

Amid the Coronavirus pandemic, anti-China sentiment has been rising globally. Furthermore, companies like Huawei are already under the scanner and the US has already deemed it to be a national security threat.

While the future of TikTok remains uncertain, companies around the world are trying to make safer options that can bridge its gap. Instagram is actively testing a new feature called Reels and it’ll let you take short 15-second videos. The Indian government has also announced an app challenge that aims to encourage local developers to make Chinese alternatives.

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Instagram actively testing Reels to take on TikTok

Short 15-second videos



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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