Apps

Uber plans to sell Southeast Asian arm to Grab

In exchange for Grab’s stakes

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A massive deal is brewing in Southeast Asia. After a rocky 2017, Uber is gearing up to sell its Southeast Asia operations to Singapore’s Grab.

Despite posting a whopping US$ 7.5 billion in sales last year, Uber reported an even more surprising US$ 4.5 billion in losses. Uber’s worldwide demand couldn’t offset the costs that it incurred throughout the previous year.

This makes the rumored deal between the two ride-sharing apps a timely one. Further, reports indicate that Uber is also preparing for an eventual IPO sometime next year.

Should it happen, Uber will receive a substantial stake in Grab’s company. Currently, Uber hasn’t finalized the deal yet. Reports don’t include a timeline on when (or if) this deal will conclude.

The strategic move works in favor of Uber as a business. However, it remains unclear how this will affect commuters.

Southeast Asian commuters heavily prefer the convenience of Uber and Grab, compared to the bustle of traditional public transportation. The two apps share similar popularity ratings across the region.

For its popularity, Uber is pummeled with more controversies than Grab. The earlier has already suffered from multiple cases of drivers raping passengers, taxi protests, and a recent attempt to stifle autonomous driving. The company’s long-standing CEO Travis Kalanick also resigned last year.

Despite the mounting scandals, Uber remains one of the world’s preferred ride-sharing service. Regardless of whether the proposed sale will push through, Uber continues to be a watchword in today’s transportation economy.

SEE ALSO: Five Uber app alternatives for your daily commute

Apps

Amazon launches lightweight Android web browser

It’s designed for low-powered devices

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Amazon has released a lightweight internet browser for Android smartphones in India, simply called Internet. The app itself weighs just about 2MB in size and is designed to offer an efficient way to browse the internet on devices with limited processing power and available storage space.

Compelling features of the Amazon Internet browser include privacy, with Amazon claiming no extra permissions are required to use it and no private data is collected, as well as private tabs to ensure websites can’t capture your data.

Among many features, the web browser’s homepage gives a glimpse at general headlines, while offering specific news such as cricket scores. The home page also offers previews for various tabs and an automatic full-screen viewing option. The browser comes with a download manager as well, and while the default search engine is Bing, you can change it to Google from the settings.

Amazon has designed the app for Android 5.0 Lollipop and higher, but it cannot be downloaded on devices running newer versions of Android as of now, citing incompatibility as the reason on the app’s Play Store listing. Amazon had recently launched the Kindle Lite app, which too weighs less than 2MB in size.

The major reason why India has been such as an attractive market for tech companies is because of its increasing data consumption. On December 21, 2017, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant tweeted that India has become the “World’s No. 1 mobile data consuming the country.”

Earlier this year, Google released Assistant Go, YouTube Go, Google Maps Go, Google Go, Gboard Go, and the completely new Files Go app as part of the Android Go initiative. Android Go is based on the latest Oreo update but is a less resource-intensive version of the operating system, tailored for budget phones with lower specs — as low as 512MB of RAM.

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Spotify is redesigning their Free version with more features

Finally, some on-demand!

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Spotify Free users are in for a treat. The music streaming service is gearing up to redesign their free version with more features.

For weeks, leaks and rumors have teased upcoming changes to Spotify’s business model. From plans for a smart speaker to their own voice assistant, Spotify’s future is as hazy as the stock market.

To add to the mire of updates, users are reporting rollouts of a new free version over the last few days. Among other notable changes, the redesign allows users to play songs on demand from selected playlists.

Before the redesign, the free version’s biggest difference from the premium is the inability to play songs on demand. Free users had to settle for shuffle mode. The new feature adds the ability but only for more popular playlists such as the “Gold Edition” playlist.

The new design now also displays an individual songs album art while they are playing. Album art displays were another feature exclusive to the premium version.

It also sports several quality-of-life redesigns. For example, Spotify now displays genres with smaller icons, prompting more content on one page. Previously, genres showed with larger “album arts” and genre-specific icons. (This subtler change also made it to the new Premium version.)

Spotify has yet to release an official announcement regarding the new redesign. They have also haven’t revealed any notable feature upgrades for Premium users. However, rollouts are slowly making their way to devices now.

SEE ALSO: 5 steps to making the perfect Spotify playlist

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Kingdom Hearts 3 has adorable retro mini-games!

Game inception intensifies

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This weekend, Square Enix showed off the Kingdom Hearts 3 trailer featuring adorable playable retro-style mini-games! The new mini-games are inspired by classic Disney cartoons and 1980s LCD games. They’ll be available to play in both Kingdom Hearts Union Cross and Kingdom Hearts 3. You’ll have to check this one out now.

As you can see, the trailer is set in Twilight Town where Sora is given a handheld where he plays various cute mini-games. You can see Donald and Goofy cheering Sora on as they lean over to watch. There are over 20 LCD games available to play but Square Enix only featured four of them in the trailer.

Here’s a quick rundown of all four of the games they featured:

The Barnyard Battle

Sora and Mickey stand on two anvils. You have to turn them left and right to smack enemies with a hammer as they come down. Your goal seems to be to smack enemies before they get through you — a linear whack-a-mole, I guess.

The Karnival Kid

The Karnival Kid looks to be a black-and-white Disney Diner Dash where you’ll be taking orders from customers that come to your hotdog stand. It looks to be a nice classic strategy game that you might get addicted to.

Giantland

Giantland looks like a typical boss battle with a giant, but looking closer into the trailer, it seems like players will need to swing on chandeliers to rescue Minnie who is calling out for help. It looks like you have things on the table to hide from him so you might want to use that to your advantage.

Musical Farmer

There are chickens on the top of the screen that drop eggs into tubes. Your goal is to guide them into crates by rotating the tubes to guide the eggs. If they reach the crates, you can give them to Mickey or Minnie. The crates can only hold a certain number of eggs at a time, so you’ll need to keep a close eye.

The other 16 games have not yet been revealed and fans may have to wait it out. If you’d want to give them a try, they’re available on Kingdom Hearts Union Cross on Android and iOS.

SEE ALSO: Square Enix will be re-releasing games on the Switch

SEE ALSO: Pokémon might release its eighth generation on the Nintendo Switch

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