Apps

Netflix knows what you want and lets you watch without buffering

The best binge-watching experience!

Published

on

Are you one of the millions of Netflix subscribers like I am? If you are (or even not), I have something interesting to share about how Netflix makes their streaming service the best in the business.

For those who don’t know, Netflix is not what they were before. The company started off as a DVD-rental business — just like your favorite local rental stores back when they were popular. It was in 2007 when they launched their streaming service formerly branded as Watch Now. It was restricted to just PCs and you needed the right browser to be able to play their videos.

It was also in 2007 when the first iPhone from Apple was announced, so two pioneers were born that year and they have yet to properly meet each other.

Netflix formally launched their mobile app in 2010 and it changed how we consume content on our phones. Today, more than 60 percent of Netflix members use the mobile app every month. This is why the company is continuously working to make long-form videos more enjoyable on mobile.

When I say enjoyable, it’s not just about showing in HDR, because there’s more to it than just high resolutions.

First, there is personalization. Netflix considers this very important because of the limited screen space on mobile phones, so you have to see the titles you really like first. This feature is not just on mobile; it’s also available on any internet-enabled device you have Netflix on, whether it’s a TV, laptop, tablet, or even game console.

If you can recall, Netflix added mobile previews to their app earlier this year. This lets users get a sneak peek of the content without leaving the homepage and make choosing a show much faster. It works well on mobile since it’s presented in vertical format — no need to turn the orientation of the phone.

Then we have the new feature called Smart Downloads which is currently available on Android phones and tablets. What this does is it identifies the show being watched and automatically downloads the next episode over a Wi-Fi network. It then automatically deletes the downloaded episode after it’s completed. Basically, Netflix makes sure that you can continue watching the next episode while you’re on the road without using up your data plan.

Speaking of saving data, Netflix is also working round-the-clock to make encoding much better. Thankfully, they know how mobile data can be expensive or slow in certain places.

Back then, Netflix streamed their shows in a “one-size-fits-all” bitrate which is great for high-quality streaming but it consumed too much data. Good thing they learned that not all content requires the same encoding bitrate, so they based it on individual titles. 2D animation shows can be compressed at a low bitrate but still be streamed in high quality, while action-packed titles will be meticulously compressed to avoid any compression artifacts.

Netflix didn’t stop there. Their latest innovation called Dynamic Optimizer Encoding now selects the best encoding recipe per shot. Each shot is dynamically encoded to ensure best overall quality which results in, according to Netflix, 64 percent less bandwidth consumption.

Before all this, users could only watch seven hours of content on mobile using 4GB of data. Since the implementation in 2015, viewers can now enjoy 10 hours, and with the per-shot encoding, members can binge-watch for 26 hours with the same amount of data. Soon, this will reach up to 33 hours using the latest AV1 codec which is something Netflix is currently working on.

SEE ALSO: Netflix is testing engagement by putting ads between episode

Apps

QuickShare will be Samsung’s alternative to AirDrop

It has cloud powers too

Published

on

Samsung is developing an alternative to AirDrop. It has a rather straightforward name of “Quick Share” and appears to carry all the functions of Apple’s offering.

Spotted by XDA-Developers, the feature lets Samsung users quickly share files, photos, and videos to other Samsung users. They can set to receive from their trusted contacts by selecting “Contacts Only”. Alternatively, they can receive files from any nearby user by choosing “Everyone”.

To differentiate it from Apple’s seamless file-sharing feature, Samsung will let users upload files to Samsung Cloud. Nearby SmartThings appliances will download the files and stream it to the user’s Galaxy device. However, there is a size limit of 2GB per day with this feature.

This feature will probably debut on Galaxy S20 when it launches on February 11th. It will likely remain exclusive to newer Samsung devices sporting OneUI 2.0. However, it is possible that this feature will roll out to other devices through over-the-air updates.

Samsung is not the only company developing its own nearby file sharing tool. Last August, rivals OPPO, Vivo, and Xiaomi announced an unprecedented partnership to develop an AirDrop-like feature for their devices. These are a welcome development for Android users longing for a decent AirDrop alternative.

Continue Reading

Apps

Apple isn’t encrypting iCloud backups because of the FBI

Public security is their concern

Published

on

One of Apple’s selling points for its products is encryption by default. For a long time, the Cupertino company advertised device encryption for its iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks.

For users, it means better security and privacy against malicious hackers wanting to steal sensitive information. All device data is securely stored and encrypted so only the users can access them.

However, there is one thing missing from Apple’s encryption clause. By default, iCloud backups are unencrypted — Apple can see any data users store in the cloud service.

Privacy no more

While the company remained mum on the issue, a report by Reuters revealed why Apple didn’t encrypt iCloud backups for many years.

It turns out, the company planned on encrypting all iCloud backups last 2016. During that year, the company successfully fought a court battle against the FBI for unlocking the iPhone of a school shooter. The encrypted iCloud plan has the code name “Plesio” and “KeyDrop”.

Apple discussed the encryption plans with the FBI but the agency complained about its implications. Pressured by FBI and several US agencies, Apple later caved in and dropped plans to encrypt iCloud backups.

Sources gathered by Reuters also suggest one reason for dropping encryption: more users will find it hard to retrieve their data once they lost their password.

Implications and repercussions

With iCloud backups remaining unecrypted, FBI can easily request a court order for Apple to turn over precious data to the agency. As such, iCloud data became one of the preferred evidence for the agency, with more than 1,568 cases involving its use.

Apple has not yet commented on the issue. However, expect the fallout from this relevation to be swift and widespread, as more tech companies face the dilemma of balancing users’ privacy against the need for upholding public security.

Source: Reuters

Continue Reading

Apps

WhatsApp is finally getting a dark mode for Android

Currently available only in beta

Published

on

Android’s dark revolution is finally in full swing. Following the launch of Android 10, the operating system has slowly updated its supported apps to accommodate the much-awaited dark mode. Android apps are getting darker, potentially saving millions of eyes at night. The revolution has already swept the heavy hitters like Twitter and Instagram.

Now, the popular messaging service, WhatsApp, is getting the same treatment. More specifically, WhatsApp has rolled out the feature for its Google Play Beta Program.

On the updated app, users can access four types of display modes. The first two are the basic Light and Dark modes: dark text on a white background and white text on a black background. The third automatically switches between the two modes, depending on the time of day. The fourth, dubbed as Set by Battery Saver, switches depending on your current battery.

Unfortunately, the Beta Program is not accepting new members at this time. Only current members of the program can access the new mode. Currently, if you want a makeshift dark mode, you can change your chat wallpaper to a dark image.

Given the timeliness of the beta update, a public release will likely roll out in the near future.

SEE ALSO: WhatsApp may soon get disappearing messages

Continue Reading

Trending