Nokia maker releases a global SIM card, literally ‘connecting people’

No roaming charges in 120 countries



HMD Global unveiled a slew of Nokia-branded phones via an online-only event. As it turns out, the company is ambitious about the mobile future and it’s not just limited to hardware. They’ve also announced an HMD Connect SIM card that provides up to 1GB of data with a validity of 14 days. Obviously, the user can opt to purchase more bandwidth. How’s this different from your local telecom operator?

It will work in 120 countries without a hitch and no extra charges on top, also generally known as “roaming” cost. You can purchase the Starter Kit from their website and it’ll cost €19.95 (US$ 22). But, if you order two Starter Kits, the second one will cost just €10 (US$ 10.8).

The Starter Kit includes 1GB of data by default and you can buy more for €9.95 (US$ 10.75) for 1GB, followed by €5 (US$ 5.4) for each additional gigabyte. The company will start sending out the kits from March 30.

HMD Connect app has been released on the Play Store where you can seamlessly manage your SIM card and top-up whenever necessary. It’ll also show you how much data is left in your account.

However, the amount of data you get depends on three zones. Zone 1 countries get 1GB of data, Zone 2 countries get 500MB, while Zone 3 countries get just 250MB. HMD Global hasn’t specified the network it’ll work on — 2G, 3G, or 4G? Guess that’ll depend on their regional partners.

The SIM card will be very handy for people who travel internationally very often. Although the same won’t be happening in the foreseeable future because of the Coronavirus pandemic. Air travel has been radically shut down by most countries, so the timing of the launch isn’t in HMD Global’s favor.

HMD Global has the license to produce Nokia-branded phones worldwide and it has relied massively on Nokia’s legacy to boost sales. While there’s no doubt that its offerings are top-notch and competitive, it continues to churn the nostalgia wheel by releasing classics like the recently announced Nokia 5310.

The SIM card is literally about “connecting people”. This used to be Nokia’s iconic tagline during the golden days.


Facebook to pay $650 million in facial recognition lawsuit

The company that never learns



A federal judge has approved a settlement in which Facebook will pay US$ 650 million to a class-action lawsuit over its tagging feature. The lawsuit alleged that facial recognition technology, used to tag photos, infringed on users’ privacy.

Facebook users who submitted claims will get at least US$ 345 from the company, the AP reported. The lawsuit had claimed that the adoption of facial recognition technology was being done without seeking permission from users. The social network also failed to inform the users how long their data was being stored.

While many of us view the tagging option as a feature, the platform collects sensitive facial recognition data, whose handling procedures remain opaque. Facebook ended photo-tagging suggestions in 2019 and instead opted for a model to allow users to control what data the platform has over their face.

“Overall, the settlement is a major win for consumers in the hotly contested area of digital privacy,” wrote Judge Donato. “The standing issue makes this settlement all the more valuable because Facebook and other big tech companies continue to fight the proposition that a statutory privacy violation is a genuine harm.”

The class-action case was first filed in Illinois in 2015, suggesting a violation of the Biometric Information Privacy Act. Facebook initially agreed to pay US$ 550 million last year, but another $100 million was added to the judge’s insistence.


Attorney Jay Edelson, who originally filed the suit in Illinois in April 2015, told the Chicago Tribune that the settlement was a “big deal.” He also tweeted that the settlement, “was the largest cash privacy class action settlement in history.”

Facebook has an abysmal track record of managing users’ data. In 2019, The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) imposed a US$ 5 billion penalty on Facebook for misrepresenting users’ ability to control their facial recognition data, as well as other sensitive account metadata.

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Facebook unveils BARS, a TikTok-like app for rappers

Builiding a community dedicated for rappers



Facebook has launched a new platform called BARS and it’s specially made for rappers. What’s its unique selling point? Unlike TikTok, BARS does not focus on transitions and lip-syncing to make content.

The app will allow budding rappers to focus on the lyrics rather than investing their time on expensive equipment and studios. You can choose from a wide array of premade beats, which can be leveraged by the rapper with their own lyrics and effects.

It also has a Challenge mode, wherein users can perform freestyle rap while incorporating auto-suggested lyrics. Aspiring rappers can just focus on the lyrics and record themselves to these beats. In addition, the app helps rappers finetune their craft as well with the help of auto-suggested rhymes while the user is writing.

BARS will let you select your rap experience level upon sign-up: Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced. The Beginner selection will provide a handy auto-rhyme dictionary to help kickstart your experience. Advanced rappers get the Freestyle mode with several words to create an instantaneous rap.

Once users finish recording their videos in the app, they can share them across various social media outlets. The app has a TikTok-like feed where the discoverability is maximum. The app also promises “studio quality vocal effects,” including actual AutoTune.

After creating the videos, you can save them to your camera roll and share them on other social media platforms. For now, only a small number of iOS users can download the app in the US. Interested users can also sign up for the waitlist in the app.

BARS Community Manager DJ Iyer revealed in a blogpost that the Coronavirus pandemic has been one of the major reasons behind the creation of the app. “I know access to high-priced recording studios and production equipment can be limited for aspiring rappers. On top of that, the global pandemic shut down live performances where we often create and share our work,” he Iyer added.

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Nokia-branded audio products coming soon to the Philippines

Starting with the entry-level Nokia E3100 earbuds



Nokia is not just about smartphones nowadays — it has its own laptop smart TVs, routers, and of course, audio products. Soon, Filipinos can get their hands on these audio products as RichGo — an official licensee of the Nokia brand for mobile accessories — brings them to the country’s shore this 2021.

The first of these audio products is the entry-level true wireless stereo (TWS) earbuds, Nokia E3100. With its launch price of PhP 1,999, it could be the cheapest TWS earbuds yet upon its launch. Despite the price, it offers rock-solid specs for casual listeners and work-from-home professionals. Inside both earbuds are 6 mm dynamic drivers and a 45 mAh battery rated for 2.5 listening hours. The case itself holds a 400 mAh battery for a total of 10 listening hours.

Nokia E3100 connects via Bluetooth 5.0 and charges via USB-C. It also supports auto-pairing function, as well as voice control through Siri or Google Assistant. One unique thing about the earbuds is their design, which features a five contrasting, multi-colored design. Plus, it also has IPX3 certification for weatherproofing, which is quite rare in its class.

Consumers eyeing their first TWS earbuds can snag the Nokia E3100 on March 3 through Shopee. Aside from the entry-level earbuds, other audio products from the Essential and Professional series lineup will launch in the Philippines as well. These audio products will also be available to buy in retail stores over the coming weeks.

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