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Hong Kong protests: Apple succumbs to pressure from China

Trying to please both the sides

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Every international company, whether based in China or the US, is now stuck in the middle of the Hong Kong protests. While the people want pro-Democracy ideals to govern their city, China refuses to back down and continues its passive-aggressive push.

Apple has reportedly removed the Quartz app from the App Store at the request of the Chinese government. Quartz’s Investigations editor John Keefe confirmed the app has been removed from the App Store and even the website has been blocked in Mainland China.

The publication has been covering the Hong Kong protests in detail and this hasn’t gone down well with the government in Beijing. China has a long history of suppressing free speech and it’s not surprising to see them block off content that doesn’t suit their narrative.

Though, users are furious at Apple for not taking a stand and bowing down to pressure. A few days back, the Cupertino-based giant removed the Taiwanese flag from its keyboard for some users to please the Chinese officials.

Apple was also in the news this week due to its initial rejection of an app that kept a tab on police movement in Hong Kong. Back in 2017, Apple removed the New York Times app from App Store after the Chinese government requested its removal because it was “in violation of local regulations.”

It is necessary for Apple to stay on good terms with China because of its business interests. Almost every other product designed by Apple will find its roots back in China, where everything is built — components as well as finished iPhones.

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Instagram possibly letting users pay for a blue badge

Copied from Twitter’s playbook

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Twitter got the internet into an uproar after implementing a way to pay for a coveted blue checkmark. Despite the controversy, other social media platforms are potentially introducing similar systems soon. As spotted in new code, Instagram has started referencing paid badges, hinting at a similar feature in the future.

First noticed by developer Alessandro Paluzzi (who spotted other unannounced developments in the past), Instagram’s coding includes mentions of an “IG_NME_PAID_BLUE_BADGE_IDV,” via TechCrunch. Additionally, Paluzzi found references to a Facebook version of the same code. To cap things off, he also discovered a few references to an upcoming subscription product from the current code.

A word of caution, though: Small references inside code might not mean much for the platform’s future plans. Paluzzi himself says that the feature is essentially unconfirmed for now, especially without a prototype.

Given the controversy surrounding the paid blue checkmark, it’s likely that Facebook and Instagram are waiting if Twitter’s experiment translates to better revenue in the long run. Though the initial Twitter Blue brouhaha simmered down for now, the new feature — along with Musk’s other changes to Twitter — are still experiments to test the new ownership’s vision for the platform.

For their part, both Facebook and Instagram have experimented with additional features to expand their offerings to their users. It’s not unheard of for either platform to draw inspiration from the winning features of other social media platforms.

SEE ALSO: Twitter reverses Facebook, Instagram ban

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Apple Music launches ‘Rihanna’s Road to Halftime’

In anticipation of Super Bowl 2023

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After succeeding Pepsi as NFL’s official Super Bowl Halftime Show partner, Apple Music is pulling all the stops as it braces for its first ever show in the sports event, which features music icon Rihanna.

In anticipation of her upcoming Super Bowl LVII halftime performance in Glendale, Arizona on February 13, Apple Music has launched Rihanna’s Road to Halftime”, letting streamers experience the superstar’s music catalogue in deeply-enriched multidimensional sound.

Apple Music Radio will also be holding a Super Bowl LVII Halftime Show press conference on February 10, with Nadeska Alexis interviewing Rihanna herself ahead of her highly-awaited performance in United States’ annual sports spectacle.

An 8-episode “Rihanna Revisited Radio” will also keep fans engaged as the countdown to Super Bowl LVII continues ticking.

Even after the performance itself, Apple Music will have people covered with its Halftime Recap Radio” to wrap everything up.

Meanwhile, the new Apple Music Sing feature will also allow subscribers to take the mic and reenact Rhianna’s hits on compatible iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV 4K models.

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Controversial Netflix policy might ban users for sharing passwords

Company says plans are still unconfirmed

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Likely eclipsed only by Twitter, Netflix has gone through a ton of changes since last year. Underlying most of the new changes is a desire to curb password sharing. Now that 2023 is alive and kicking, the platform is readying its grand strategy to eliminate the phenomenon once and for all. Before the company can reveal their plans, a new report has leaked what’s coming for subscribers.

According to The Streamable, Netflix has changed its Netflix Help Center to reflect the new strategy. Based on the changes, the platform will require all profiles using a single account to be from the same primary location. If the platform detects that someone is using the account in another location, Netflix can reportedly block that user automatically.

To remain in the fold of an account, devices must sign into their home Wi-Fi every 31 days to check in. Any device who can’t do so might get blocked. Incorrect blockings can only be resolved with a call to Netflix’s support.

Now, the biggest controversy revolves around those who travel regularly. Users can reportedly request for a temporary code from Netflix to use the service in another location for seven consecutive days.

Though the changes were spotted on Netflix’s official pages, none of them have been officially announced yet. The page has been reverted to a vaguer version which only asks users in other households to have their own account. In a separate statement issued to The Verge, the company has stated that plans for subscribers (in the United States, at least) are still unconfirmed.

Still, the changed website is viewable via archiving sites like Way Back Machine. A change in the official support page might have come from a premature announcement, rejected plans, or an error.

SEE ALSO: Netflix confirms One Piece adaptation coming this year

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