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Control the Google Pixel 4 by just waving your hand

A phone from the future

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Google has already given us a sneap-peek of the soon to launch Pixel 4. Now, the company has confirmed the flagship will sport radar-based gesture controls and Apple’s FaceID type facial recognition system. The brand is already teasing us even though the phone is a couple of months away.

As Google explains, the Pixel 4 will be the first device to come with Soli, Google’s new Motion Sense feature uses radar system, to let you control the device just by waving your hand. It recognizes gestures and proximity for seamless interaction.

The company posted a short video on Twitter showing how users will be able to control the phone without touching, and depending only on hand gestures. Secondly, face unlock will be a lot more secure now because images used are never saved or shared with other Google services.

The video also shows a user skipping songs in an app without touching the phone, again suggesting the front-facing camera is more advanced than usual.

When the two are combined, the phone will be able to “proactively turn on the face unlock sensors” as you reach for the Pixel 4. It’ll also work in all orientations so that you never have to wait for the system to detect and process.

Obviously, the authentication system will also be extended for payments and logging into apps. Samsung has incorporated these gestures into their phones for years now, but the functionality is quite limited and doesn’t work smoothly.

Google is being open about the Pixel 4 after the previous flagship leaked almost every other day before launch. It’s better to control the narrative than let leaks and rumors hamper the launch.

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Instagram has started borrowing features from TikTok

Instagram is looking out for inspiration

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A couple of years back, Instagram and Snapchat were involved in a brutal face-off, each wanting supremacy over the other. Thanks to Snapchat, Stories are now an integral part of not only Instagram but also Facebook and WhatsApp.

In 2019, Snapchat is no longer viewed as a threat to Instagram. A new kid on the block is challenging the status quo — TikTok. Instagram launched a new video editing tool in Brazil that copies some of the best-known features of TikTok.

Dubbed Reels, it lets you create “15-second video clips set to music and share them as Stories,” which can be shared wider via a new “Top Reels” section on the Explore page.

Per a recent tweet from engineer Jane Manchun Wong, this new tool will also let you remix other users’ Scenes if their account is public. Reels is launching today on iOS and Android but is limited to Brazil for now.

 

It’s safe to assume that Instagram is piloting the new feature because a release timeline for other regions isn’t available yet.

Instagram also has IGTV that is essentially a YouTube rival. However, short videos have been the main forte of TikTok and since the death of Vine, there has been a vacuum in this segment. With healthy funding from its Chinese parent Bytedance, TikTok has enough firepower to take on the Facebook-owned app.

In a leaked audio recording, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also expressed concerns about TikTok’s growth and dominance in certain market. He said that the Chinese company has “married short-form, immersive video with browse. So it’s almost like the ‘Explore Tab’ that we have on Instagram, which is today primarily about feed posts and highlighting different feed posts.”

Instagram previously launched a dedicated video sharing app called Lasso but failed to migrate users over from the primary app. Incorporating similar features in the Instagram app is the best way to ensure users get on board.

 

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Apple Card under investigation for gender discrimination

It’s biased against women

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Gender equality is a tacky issue among tech companies especially with accusations of discrimination becoming more frequent in the recent years. Microsoft and Google have been accused in the past for discriminating against women. Now, it’s Apple’s turn.

This began when developer David Heinemeier Hansson tweeted that his Apple credit card line was 20 times higher than his spouse even though they filed joint tax returns. His wife also has a better credit score and has had credit in the US longer than him.

Hansson blames the higher credit line to Apple’s biased algorithms. Tech companies often use algorithms for automating tasks, but they are also prone to bias. In this case, Apple used algorithms to determine how much credit a person would receive.

After finding out the bias, he reached out to Apple’s customer service. The reply is worse than the incident itself, with representatives telling Hansson that they couldn’t do anything to correct the algorithm’s sexist bias.

Not an isolated case

Hansson and his wife’s Apple Card incident isn’t an isolated case. Apple’s co-founder Steve Wozniak reported a similar incident where he got 10 times higher credit. Other people dismissed the incident, saying that their spouse got the same credit as theirs.

New York’s Department of Financial Service already said that it will investigate the incident and Apple Card. Goldman Sachs, the provider of Apple card, is under investigation as well. In response, they denied that their algorithms discriminate against women. Apple has not yet provided any public statement regarding the incident.

The incident is a first for Apple Card. Launched in early 2019, Apple promised that it will provide a simpler way to manage finances. It’s made of titanium and managed through the Wallet app.

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Singles’ Day rakes in more than $38 billion in sales

It has already eclipsed sales predictions of Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined

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Photos by Martin Tee

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba set a sales record on Singles’ Day — the world’s largest 24-hour shopping event. Alibaba reported selling US$ 1 billion worth of goods sold in 1 minute and 8 seconds. It sold US$ 12 billion in the first hour and by the end, it had crossed the US$ 38 billion mark.

While Alibaba is the name often associated with the mega shopping event, competitors JD.com and Pinduoduo all offer their own sales.

During the 24-hour period, which began at midnight in Singapore and Hong Kong, Alibaba offered huge discounts across its e-commerce sites such as Tmall. Electronics, gadgets and fashion items were among the most sold goods.

China’s one-day festival has already eclipsed sales predictions of Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. Adobe Analytics estimates that the long U.S. holiday shopping weekend this year will generate total retail sales of US$ 29 billion.

November 11 has long been celebrated in a lot of parts of Asia as “Singles’ Day.” This year, Alibaba put up a Festival Gala Celebration event where Grammy Award-winning singer Taylor Swift and a host of other celebrities performed.

For years China has been the manufacturing capital of the world. Whether it’s a complicated tunnel boring machine or a simple logic board, the country can make it all. It can produce all of it at an unprecedented scale.

As the world’s most populous country, it has an abundance of resources to help achieve industrial feats like no other. The huge population is also the prime reason for their economical rise.

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