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Twitter unveils its premium subscription service called Twitter Blue

Available in Canada and Australia, for now.

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Twitter is officially introducing its Blue subscription plan, and it has already rolled out for many. Users in Canada and Australia will be among the first users that can opt-in for the plan. However, the pilot run is limited to iOS for now.

For about US$ 3 a month, hardcore Twitter users get minor enhancements that are usually missing from the app. Undo Tweet, Reader Mode, and Bookmark Folder are some of the new additions that’ll give a slightly better experience. You can also change the app’s theme color, something that’s available on the web app for ages.

“This subscription offer is simply meant to add enhanced and complementary features to the already existing Twitter experience for those who want it,” Twitter’s Smita Mittal Gupta wrote in a blog post announcing Blue. Twitter has vehemently said that the service will always be free-to-use, and the current subscription is only for those who need a little edge over the others in terms of functionality.

The social media platform said it is launching the “first iteration” of its subscription service and plans to listen to feedback and build out even more features and perks for subscribers over time.

Twitter is on a massive overhaul spree as multiple companies like Revue, Scroll, and Breaker were acquired. Revue lets users create a newsletter within the app, Scroll tries to bring a better and ad-free news experience, and Breaker looks after podcasts. It has also launched Spaces, a direct competitor of the voice communication app Clubhouse.

It has also announced “dedicated subscription customer support” for its paying users. This means that users who have purchased a Blue subscription will get a prioritized response to tickets and troubleshooting.

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Why you should get iQiyi

We got it so you don’t have to

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iQiyi

Pan-Asian content, duh

There’s a ton of streaming services out there. But, none embrace that Asian representation like iQiyi. They’ve got films, variety shows, and series from China, South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, and more. If you’re having a tough time finding shows and films you grew up seeing or just want somewhere you feel represented, check iQiyi out. It’ll surprise you.

Classic Hong Kong movies

If you’re a cinephile or know someone who is, this might just be the streaming service for you. Most classic Hong Kong films are a tough find. From Infernal Affairs to A Chinese Ghost Story, you’re sure to find the good, the bad, and obscure classics. iQiyi, no joke, lays out a ton of these Hong Kong classics on their platform and you’d be remiss to skip out on watching them.

Find the good-good

There’s a number of really good Asian series and films on iQiyi. Shows like Youth with You, Chuang, The Penthouse: War in Life 3, and Tokyo Revengers are just a few on the platform on most people’s must-watch and favorites. iQiyi is never short of surprises.

The absolute absurd finds

There’s no lack of decent, obscure, and downright bizarre tv series, films, and variety shows on here. Just note that most shows don’t age well and are a great watch in irony. Just keep an eye out on the obscure ones, they sometimes don’t have subtitles. And remember, these silly finds don’t take away from the unapologetically good shows on the platform.

Free shows you’d pay to watch elsewhere

iQiyi is a free streaming app with paid VIP access to a ton of exclusives. But, not everything is behind that paywall making this a huge game-changer. There’s a long list of free-to-access shows, K-dramas, and anime you’d normally find behind a paywall so, do yourself a favor. Get it.

It’s got interactive features

The platform showed off its new features with Game of Shark, a reality show where celebrities form teams and participate in murder mystery role-playing games. If you pick Rhythm Mode, your phone vibrates in time to events in the show. On top of that, Shark Mode allows users to directly take on the identity of characters. With it, you get to join your favorite celebrities in collecting hidden clues and identifying the murderer.

Having launched the world’s first Interactive Video Guideline (IVG) and IVP, iQiyi have pioneered a one-stop platform of assisted production tools that helps content creators produce and publish interactive videos efficiently and conveniently!

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I’m missing the Olympics because I don’t have cable

And it sucks

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It’s 2021. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which was delayed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, is in full swing as of writing. However, as someone whose primary source of media entertainment all comes from streaming, there’s no easy and convenient way for me to watch the games. Major bummer.

I like to enjoy my media a certain way; I prefer to stream them on my TV. Which is why majority of the content I consume come from YouTube, Netflix, and the occasional Amazon Prime, HBO Go (Yep, not even HBO Max), and Apple TV.

I find it incredibly baffling that the stakeholders involved in bringing the games to the people failed to come to an agreement to make it easily accessible on the aforementioned platforms. It’s 2021. Why on earth am I not able to watch the greatest sporting event on the planet the way I want to?

Believe me, I hear the privilege in my words. Regardless, I still feel marginalized.

So how can you watch the Olympics right now?

I asked a friend who’s been covering the games. He watches through cable and had to pay a PhP 150 fee (around US$ 3/ SG$ 4) to avail of the Tokyo 2020 Premium from a particular cable provider.

Thing is, the whole Olympic coverage in the Philippines is locked to the MVP group of companies. You wanna follow the games, you’re gonna have to do it on one of their platforms.

Here’s an excerpt from their press release on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic coverage:

“Sports fans will have comprehensive access to the Olympic Games — from the Opening Ceremonies all the way to when the games conclude — on free to air via TV5 and One Sports. One Sports+ on Cignal TV will also dedicate a significant amount of their daily hours to broadcast the events, with Cignal also opening up two exclusive channels dedicated to broadcast the games 24/7. Cignal Play, in addition to live channels TV5, One Sports & One Sports+, will be offering exclusive channels broadcasting live updates to its subscribers, along with exclusive content not available on the TV broadcast. Cignal TV’s One News leads the group’s round-the-clock news coverage, featuring results, updates, and highlights.”

Comprehensive? Maybe. For platforms within the MVP group of companies. If you’re not subscribed to any of these, well, that’s just too bad. It’s good for business and I completely understand how the whole thing works. Doesn’t mean I have to like it.

The coverage also missed to televise or showcase Hidilyn Diaz’s historic gold medal win in the Weightlifting competition. If you’ve been following sports news, the Philippines was expected to get a medal in this event. Sadly, the moment was only known following updates from reporters on the ground.

How I wish it was handled

I’m sure there’s a lot more that goes into it in terms of TV and broadcasting rights, but we’re literally at an age where plenty of folks have decided to cut the cord and rely on streaming for content.

On YouTube, you can buy and/or rent movies and shows. The platform and structure exists for pay-to-watch content. They could have even made tiers or packages like charge a certain amount to gain access to all the games, a different and lower amount if you just want to follow a certain sport and/or a certain event.

Maybe the potential earnings to do so didn’t justify the costs to implement it. Whatever the case, it’s still incredibly frustrating.

Sure, I can go through the hoopla of setting up a VPN and look for streaming sites. But that’s more even more cumbersome. I don’t mind paying a convenience fee if it means that after a long day of work I can kick back, relax, and watch some damn sports.

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Cybersecurity updates for Google Chrome

Safety, speed, and security

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So much of our digital space’s safety relies on securing our privacy from privy eyes. This is why Google released updates for Chrome to easily navigate and control your privacy settings.

Per-site permissions

It can be disconcerting when certain websites require access to one’s microphone, location, and camera. But, with the updated site safety controls, it’s now easier to now keep track of which site has permission to specific information.

How-to

  1. Tap the lock icon on the left side to open the updated panel. There, you’ll find what permissions are granted for a particular site.
  2. From there, you will be able to easily toggle between sharing and not sharing access to important information for apps and sites.

In an upcoming release, an option will be added to delete a site from browsing history in Chrome.

Cybersafety and cybersecurity updates

Google is expanding its Site Isolation. If you haven’t kept up, this is Google’s security feature that protects people from malicious websites. It works by processing each site separately, so they can’t access data they’re not supposed to. Well with this update, Site Isolation will be covering a broader range of sites, as well as extensions.

With speed and security in mind, Google’s update has one more thing for us: phishing detection. With phishing continuing to be a leading threat on the web, Chrome has been improved with even better image processing in Chrome. Phishing detection is now 50 times faster.

Both site isolation and phishing detection updates have not only optimized safety but also, Chrome’s speed and battery use – keeping you safe and swift.

On the topic of speed,

Chrome Actions have made tasks easy and fast. From, typing “delete history” to “edit passwords,” Chrome Actions performs tasks at your beck and call. Since its introduction in November 2020, people have been using Chrome Actions millions of times. And now, there are even more tasks you can have Chrome do.

Try these out:

For example, typing in “safety check” allows security checks of passwords and scan for malicious extensions. And, typing “manage security settings” or “manage sync” enables quick access to relevant controls.

These new updates are coming to Chrome on Android, Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chrome OS in the upcoming weeks.

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