Apps

Here’s an iPhone app that brings back the classic iPod click wheel

Ending the year with another major throwback

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Image by GadgetMatch

In this digital age, people are enticed when they see retro devices. Flip phones such as the Nokia 2720 and Motorola razr are still getting attention from the crowd, what more if it’s a classic Apple device?

It wasn’t too long ago when a case manufacturer created an AirPods case reminiscent of the iPod Classic. Looking back, iPods are known for their tactile and ultra-responsive click wheel — whether that may be the Classic, Nano, or even the Shuffle.

Elvin Hu, a designer and a developer, created an app that mimics the click wheel function of the old iPod. In his tweet, it shows that scrolling through the wheel makes the user browse tracks seamlessly — just like how everyone uses it on an iPod.

Earlier generations of the iPod Touch showed the iconic Cover Flow feature. When you open the app in portrait mode, it immediately shows up together with the click wheel. Rotating the phone to landscape mode shows the flow in fullscreen. Apple kept it for a long time with their OS releases until they completely removed it from macOS Mojave.

Hu has been working on this project since October and he aims to finish the development by December this year. Unfortunately, the release will still depend on Apple allowing it or not due to patent issues. If Apple denies the release of the app, he will still share it to the community as an open-source project since it gained a lot of positive feedback online.

Apps

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

China is trying to curb free speech

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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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Apps

US looking to ban Chinese apps like TikTok

TikTok is in grave danger

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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

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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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