Apps

Everything Globe announced at WWGX

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Okay, real talk: We didn’t expect to hear about a lot of exciting stuff when Globe held its first Wonderful Wold with Globe event for the year, for reasons that would probably resonate with local tech insiders.

Fortunately, we were wrong. It turned out that Wonderful World with Globe 10, abbreviated as WWGX, was an eventful affair that featured a Tony Robbins quote about us living in an “entertainment age” and announcements that kept us from dozing off or standing idly on the sidelines while conducting mini-interviews with company executives. (Full disclosure: We did conduct interviews, but only after the show.)

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Globe made a lot of noise and a lot more sense the other night, and we were all ears. Here’s a quick recap of yesterday’s highlights.

WWGX 2016 (1)

Globe kicked off WWGX by reminding the audience of its ambitious broadband goal for 2020: 20 million households and 20,000 barangays — nearly half the number of barangays in the Philippines — connected through fiber. That’s a rather tall order considering the few fiber-ready areas Globe currently has in place. Still, it was good to hear that more people in the part of the world where fast internet is an exception to the norm would eventually have access to fiber-optic speeds sooner rather than later.

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Speaking of fast internet, Globe gushed about its subscribers getting double-digit download speeds on LTE networks using the 700MHz spectrum it acquired from San Miguel Corporation. The telecommunications company also announced a part of the Philippines’ capital city that now enjoys a high-speed internet experience with its fiber plans.

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Globe got the audience up to speed with its recent deal with Disney Southeast Asia, which brings Watch Disney Channel apps for mobile devices to paying customers. The app themselves live up to their names, offering live and video-on-demand content from one of the largest and most enduring media companies in the world.

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In keeping with its continuing transition to an entertainment company, Globe announced a partnership with U.S. media conglomerate Turner Broadcasting, whose IPs include CNN, TNT, and Cartoon Network. We’re told the latter will benefit most from the deal, meaning more Cartoon Network shows will be available for those who pay a monthly fee.

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It also took to the stage to announce a new partner in Smule, a San Francisco-based startup whose claim to fame is a karaoke app for Android and iOS. The app has seen 50 million downloads on Android’s Play Store since launching in October last year.

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Also joining the fold is eGG, a dedicated eSports channel that brings coverage of the world’s biggest video-game events and more. For Globe subscribers, eGG will be available via the Astro app.

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Sports Illustrated, meanwhile, will offer news, event coverage, and live sports programming, as well as original content from SI sites FanSided and SI Kids.

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The last but certainly not the least addition to Globe’s expanded portfolio is Netflix. We’re unsure what the agreement entails, and whether Netflix’s “first partner in the Philippines” has indeed something delightful to offer, but in an interview with GadgetMatch, Globe senior advisor Dan Horan revealed it has something to do with exclusive offerings, possibly tied to new or existing data and broadband packages.

One of the biggest announcements at WWGX was the unveiling of the second phase of Globe’s modern retail push. Central to this effort is the Tim Kobe-designed Globe Iconic Store that will soon open its doors at Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, alongside two giant high-res outdoor screens hanging from the store’s glass bridge. It’s unlike anything we’ve seen from a telco player — or any retailer, for that matter — and true to the hype, the Iconic Store may be the most memorable retail location in the Philippines for years to come.

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At WWGX, Globe retail boss Joe Caliro announced Globe Live (which he also now heads). “We’re not going down the path of sponsoring anymore,” he said, before detailing Globe’s commitment to collaborating with artists and creative professionals to produce quality musicals and live performances. The company’s first production is “Green Day’s American Idiot,” a musical based on the punk-rock band’s album of the same name.

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Globe has looked to expand its footprint in the entertainment space and recently launched its own production house, Globe Studios. The company has already begun the early stages of developing shows and films top-billed by a talented bunch of contemporary directors.

WWGX 2016 (9)

To close the show, Globe unveiled new broadband bundles that include a TV, a peripheral, or a video game console, depending on the subscription.

Apps

What I learned about myself using Android Pie’s Digital Wellbeing Dashboard

Am I on my phone too much?

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When Android Pie was unveiled and released last week, I pretty much craved pie because everyone was talking about the delectable dessert. But, I was also very excited about one particular feature: The Digital Wellbeing Dashboard.

Image of me actually eating pie the day after the Android Pie unveiling

Announced earlier, this dashboard was supposed to be a ticket to a healthier lifestyle — well, at least in theory. In an effort to curb unhealthy phone user habits, a dashboard that tracks app usage is built in to Android’s newest operating system. Although not available to everyone as of writing, Pixel users (like yours truly) are able to try out the beta version of the dash. Since I’m a sucker for self-actualization and information that may potentially heal (and hurt) me, I tried it out for the last week or so and here’s what I learned.

I’m on my phone — a lot

No sh*t, Sherlock.

I know I’m always looking at these tiny screens but I didn’t realize I was literally living my life in front of it. A record day saw me looking at the screen for — get this — 11 hours and 55 minutes. That’s half a day! Legitimately, that’s the whole time I’m not sleeping. And take note, I review phones so this isn’t the only screen I look at in a day.

Given these numbers, I’m honestly unsure how I get anything else done in my life.

I get a ton of notifications

I mean sure, technology connects people, but I didn’t realize just how connected we are.

According to my data, I get around a minimum of 250 notifications per day and this number varies. At some point, there was a whopping 620 notifications. Let’s think about that for a minute; that means around 51 messages per hour in a 12-hour day. There are only 60 minutes per hour so that means almost a message for each freaking minute.

On average, Facebook Messenger tops the list for these notifications followed by Gmail and Telegram.

I check Instagram more than I should

Now, this is funny because as you just saw, Instagram isn’t on that list of top app notifiers. But, this might also be because I turned off IG notifications because they were distracting me (yay for being self-aware?). This health dashboard tells me that I unlocked my Instagram app most, with as many as 153 times in one day. This was, on average, followed by Facebook and Twitter.

The top three apps I spent time on are Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, which just tells me that I’m ‘gram crazy and I’m on social media too much (which isn’t really news to anyone).

Grayscale is annoying and I hate it

Part of the dashboard is a feature aimed at curbing being on your phone before bed (which I do a lot 🙄). Wind Down allows you to set such times and then gives you an option to turn on Do Not Disturb and a Grayscale that makes browsing less desirable for people who should be sleeping and not looking at their phones.

The mess of an app IG becomes on grayscale

Reading tweets on grayscale is weird and browsing through Instagram is just plain wrong. I guess, in that way, this function is effective in getting me to stop being on my phone — until I turned it off the next day and never turned it on again.

I refuse to turn on the app timer as I justify social media use as work

Say what you want because it’s true. 😅

See, there’s a timer option on the dash that allows you to limit app usage time. Thing is, I’ve never turned it on. Why? Because I work on the internet and turning it on may amount to catastrophic consequences.

I will keep using this to justify my action of disallowing app time limits, so what’s your excuse?

It must be noted that, as mentioned earlier, I use more than one phone on a daily basis and am on social media on my laptop a lot, too. That being said, it’s worth pointing out that this still isn’t a complete picture of my daily phone and internet habits. Even though this data only shows a fraction of the grand picture, it already says a lot.

As with everything in life, the choice is in your hands (er, on your phone). Though I am ultimately left to decide what to do about my phone habits, knowing is always the first step.

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Apps

US FDA approves first contraceptive app

Can an app stop you from getting pregnant?

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I now truly believe that there’s an app for everything. 😱

Last week, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the very first app to be marketed as a method of contraception. Yes, ladies, you read that right. Not a period tracker, but an actual birth contraception method.

Natural Cycles is a phone application from a European startup. For EUR 65 per year, it works by using the fertility awareness method via basal body temperatures and menstrual cycle information to tell whether a woman is fertile or not. It then advises which days you should “abstain” or “use protection.”

According to the US FDA, “consumers are increasingly using digital health technologies to inform their everyday health decisions, and this new app can provide an effective method of contraception if it’s used carefully and correctly.” They report that clinical studies have shown that the app has a “perfect use” failure rate of 1.8 percent (meaning 1.8 in 100 ladies get pregnant in spite of using the app correctly) and a “typical use” failure rate of 6.5 percent (which accounts for wrong app usage, etc).


To put in context, the US CDC pegs the typical use failure rate of birth control pills at nine percent and condoms at 18 percent. Interesting enough, this same information gives fertility awareness-based methods, the same method being used by Natural Cycles according to the FDA statement (though, in this case, unassisted by apps or algorithms), a typical use failure rate of 24 percent.

The FDA warns that “no form of contraception works perfectly, so an unplanned pregnancy could still result from correct usage of this device.”

The contraceptive app is not one without their share of controversies. Early last year, they were certified as the very first contraceptive app by the Europen Union. It has since been reported, however, that out of the 668 women who sought abortions from September to December 2017 at one of Stockholm’s biggest hospitals, 37 were relying on Natural Cycles as a contraceptive method.

Natural Cycles claims that they are “responding to each reported case,” and that “as [their] user base increases, so will the number of unplanned pregnancies coming from Natural Cycles users. This is an arithmetic truth applicable to all contraceptive methods.”

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Apps

Data-friendly Twitter Lite app is available for download in more countries

Installation size is just 3MB

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Twitter is among the most popular social networks for the last few years and also the most preferred platform for micro-blogging. From brands to celebrities, everyone prefers it thanks to its simple concept and global reach. The company has now rolled out a new lighter app specially made for developing markets where data networks are slow or bandwidth is expensive.

It’s available in more countries including India, Argentina, Ghana, Turkey, Ukraine, Yemen, and Zimbabwe, taking the total count to over 45 countries. The installation size is just 3MB and it’s optimized to work on 2G and 3G connections. The app was initially available on a trial run in the Philippines last year and since then has expanded to cover more regions. You can download the app from the Google Play Store right away.

Twitter Lite can send out push notifications as well as threaded tweets. Images and videos can be viewed on demand by tapping the “load” option. This ensures that data is consumed only when the user needs it. The app also features the Bookmark option that lets users save tweets for later.

Twitter Lite for Android

“While using the app on 2G or 3G, you’ll notice that content will load quickly on Twitter Lite. We want to make sure you can see what’s happening no matter what network you’re on,” the company said in a statement.

Since the majority of Twitter users belong to developed regions, Twitter is now focusing on developing regions in a bid to get more users on board. The platform reported a drop of one million monthly active users in the second quarter of 2018.

This isn’t the first time we are seeing companies roll out lighter apps for developing markets. Google has been releasing dedicated smaller apps for its services including YouTube, Gmail, Assistant and more. These apps are designed for devices with lower storage and RAM than your typical midrange or flagship, and are built to make better use of mobile data.

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