Apps

Netflix knows what you want and lets you watch without buffering

The best binge-watching experience!

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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

Facebook Dating is now live with Instagram integration

Hopefully, this doesn’t get awkward

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A few months back Facebook announced it’ll be releasing a matchmaking feature on its app. People who opt into Dating can create a profile that’s separate from their main Facebook profile with one tap and meet potential romantic partners among their friends of friends.

Then there’s a whole thing called “Secret Crush” where you can add up to nine Facebook friends or Instagram followers to a list, and if they secretly crush you back, you’ll both get notified.


Users of Instagram will also be able to integrate their posts directly into their “Facebook Dating” profile and give people the ability to add Instagram followers to “Secret Crush” lists. Eventually, the site will offer the ability for users to add Facebook and Instagram Stories to a dating profile.

Facebook’s blog post said the dating feature was designed to be “safe, inclusive and opt-in.” Users are able to report and block other users, and users are not allowed to send photos, links, payments or videos in messages. The feature is also restricted to users who are 18 and older.

And obviously, an algorithm will determine who you “may” like based on your previous activity. Critics have also pointed out that Facebook has a thin white line because users shouldn’t be too affected because of the service. Getting ignored by strangers is different, and getting ignored by one of your “friends” is different.

Modern tech-based brands are ruling the world and among the top is Tinder. The dating app is widely used and recognized. It was also the first one to come up with the infamous left or right swipe design. Other options include Ok Cupid, Bumble, and more.

For now, the matchmaking feature is limited to the US and we expect a gradual roll-out in other regions soon.

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Lazada can take you on a Helicopter ride

No, we’re not kidding

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In case it isn't clear, this is a stock image. Photo by Alec Douglas

Yes, you read that right. Lazada announced a bunch of new features and offerings ahead of their 9.9 discovery sale. Chief of which is a helicopter ride.

Teaming with Ascent, the Helicopter ride the first e-commerce exclusive helicopter flight experience in the Philippines. You can choose to either hover over Metro Manila or Tagaytay. Check out the base pricing below along with the slashed price for the 9.9 discovery sale.


Lazada Helicopter Ride

Regular price

9.9 Discovery Sale Price

Manila Tour – 1 Pax – 15 Minutes PhP 9,990 PhP 7,992
Manila Tour – 2 Pax – 15 Minutes PhP 19,990 PhP 15,992
Manila Tour – 3 Pax – 15 Minutes PhP 26,990 PhP 21,592
Manila Tour – 4 Pax – 15 Minutes PhP 33,990 PhP 27,192
Manila Tour – 5 Pax – 15 Minutes

PhP 39,990

PhP 31,992
Manila Tour – 2 Pax – 30 Minutes PhP 37,990 PhP 30,392
Manila Tour – 3 Pax – 30 Minutes PhP 50,990 PhP 40,792
Manila Tour – 4 Pax – 30 Minutes PhP 64,690 PhP 51,752
Manila Tour – 5 Pax – 30 Minutes PhP 76,990 PhP 61,592
Taal Volcano Tour – 3 Pax – 60 Minutes PhP 89,990 PhP 71,992
Taal Volcano Tour – 4 Pax – 60 Minutes PhP 99,990 PhP 79,992
Taal Volcano Tour – 5 Pax – 60 Minutes PhP 109,990 PhP 87,992

New time-saving features

If flying’s not your thing or it’s just simply outside your budget, there are other new features that can help you save both your time and your money. And that’s always a good thing.

Pre-Sale Solution

We all know how crazy fast the items go once sale day hits. Lazada knows this and is offering you a way to get first dibs on items you really, really want. To get a head start simply order the item, place a 10% non-refundable deposit, settle the balance within the validity period, then wait for your order to arrive at your doorstep.

It’s important to note that this is only available on selected items as the feature is still under testing. It was first introduced in Malaysia and the company is hoping it gains traction in the Philippines.

Bills Payment

No need to leave your home to settle those pesky bills. If you’re the type who hasn’t set up online payment, Lazada is making it easy for you. You can now pay for your Meralco, Maynilad, Manila Water, Albay Power & Energy, Davao Light, VECO, Metropolitan Cebu Water and Prime Water bills on the Lazada app.

That’s not all, you can also get up to PhP 300 cashback when bills are paid using the Lazada Wallet from now until November 2019.

Additional Collection Points

If, like me, you’re not really sure where you’ll end up at any given point of the day, then you’ll find this super helpful. The list of Lazada authorized collection points have been expanded and spread-out all-over Manila in select SM Malls and GrowSari branches. Just add to cart and select pickup instead of delivery when you shop checkout your items. You can check out the full list here.

Lazada Loans

When you badly need an item or few items but just don’t have the cash on hand, Lazada is also giving you a… well, a hand. In partnership with BillEase, pera247 and TendoPay, you can now apply for a loan for of anywhere between PhP 500 to PhP 50,000.

All you need to do is complete the application process and submit all needed requirements. Once approved, the loan amount will be credited to your Lazada Wallet which you can use upon checkout. There will be one to 12 months repayment options.

Don’t know yet what you’re buying on Lazada’s 9.9 Discovery Sale? Check out our best smartphones list for some help: Premium | Upper Midrange | Midrange | Budget

Happy Shopping!

 

 

 

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Indians can now use UPI to make purchases on Play Store

Because debit cards are too old school

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Google’s Play Store has now added Unified Payments Interface (UPI) as a payment option for users in India. The payment method is widely used in the country and is directly linked to a bank account.

Earlier, users had to rely on credit or debit cards. In a side move, Google also started selling cash cards at popular electronic stores. But, cash cards meant users had to buy a fixed amount of credit. With UPI, they now have the liberty of directly paying only what’s required.


XDA Developers were the first one to spot the feature addition and it’s rolling out OTA to everyone. To ensure you get it, just update the Google Play Store to v16.3.37 or more.

For those who aren’t aware, UPI is India’s homegrown protocol for transferring money and making payments. It is directly linked to a bank account and various client apps like BHIM, GPay, PhonePe, PayTM, and more can be used to initiate a transaction. Instead of relying on a physical card, UPI protocol brings authentication of transactions directly to your phone.

The transfer method is widely adopted in the country and thanks to a universal interface, it can be used for pretty much every Indian bank. Every major e-commerce service like Amazon, Flipkart, and Spotify have adopted the payment service to bolster sales.

In fact, UPI has overtaken debit card transactions by volume and value according to The Reserve Bank of India. This minor addition is sure to get a lot of traction, in turn discouraging app piracy.

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