Apps

US close to banning TikTok on government phones

The app is slowly getting cornered

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Chinese companies are having a hard time in the US and the situation is far from de-escalating. In a recent development, US government employees could soon be barred from using short-video app TikTok on their government-issued phone.

A bill named “No TikTok on Government Devices Act” was unanimously passed by the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. It shall now be presented to the US Senate for a final vote.

The US has been increasingly nervous about TikTok and its data collection practices. The app is owned by Chinese giant ByteDance and countries like India have completely banned the app. The country also barred 58 other Chinese-backed apps citing security concerns.

Previously, the US has hinted a possible blanket ban on TikTok. The app is immensely popular with the youth and has a suite of unique features like lip-syncing, filters, effects, and music. However, lawmakers are worried the social networking and video app could be a front for collecting data of American citizens.

Chinese law on private companies collecting data

China introduced a law in 2017 that made it mandatory for Chinese companies to support and cooperate with the country’s digital intelligence units. This further becomes a warning sign for foreign countries since their citizens’ data could be handed over to the Chinese government.

Furthermore, China has tried its best to exert influence in the region by venturing into Indian territory as well as implementing a new security law in Hong Kong that threatens the bare minimums of a democracy.

Another company that’s severely affected due to the deteriorating diplomatic ties is Huawei. The Chinese telecom equipment maker is barred from the US, Australia, and partially the UK. It could also lose its potential business in India.

TikTok has consistently maintained that it does not share any user data with the Chinese government. The app is constantly in the news and its future doesn’t seem very bright at the moment.

Apps

TikTok and WeChat will be banned from app stores in the US

So, did the Oracle deal go through?

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After months of escalating, the US Commerce Department has announced it’ll ban business transactions with TikTok and WeChat. The two apps are owned by Chinese giants ByteDance and Tencent, respectively.

Practically, you won’t be able to directly download the app via stores like Play Store and App Store. Furthermore, companies are also barred from hosting these apps in the US. Essentially, the user won’t be able to download the app from third-party websites that are hosted in the US.

It also blocks US companies from providing services through WeChat “for the purpose of transferring funds or processing payments within the U.S.”

However, it remains unclear whether the announcement means the Oracle-TikTok deal won’t be going through. The Trump administration wanted ByteDance to sell its local TikTok operations to an American company.

In the last few months, multiple American giants like Walmart, Twitter, and Microsoft were interested in getting their piece of TikTok. But things haven’t moved smoothly and the Chinese government isn’t keen on handing over TikTok’s algorithm to an American company.

While Oracle has been chosen for a deal with ByteDance, the latter continues to maintain that the ongoing process isn’t an acquisition and Oracle shall be a technology partner. This is in stark contrast to what President Trump envisions as a business takeover.

The app ban could be a tactic to pressure the Chinese, but we can’t be certain of that right now. Going by the latest statements, it’s clear that the administration wants to completely block user’s access to these apps and is willing to go the extra mile.

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Apps

Google removes one of India’s top payments app for violating policy

But there’s nothing to worry about

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Google removed one of India’s top payments app Paytm from the Play Store for allegedly violating guidelines. To be more precise, the app violated the app store’s policy by promoting gambling. The app is still available on Apple’s App Store though.

In response, Google said, “The app was blocked for violation of play policies – a clarification of our policy was released earlier today ahead of the IPL tournament.” It further clarified that users aren’t affected and only the app’s availability from the Play Store has changed.

Google strictly prohibits digital casinos or ungoverned gambling apps on its Play Store in India and Paytm’s app was found in violation of this policy. Recently, it launched a fantasy sports service called Paytm First Games and embedded links to this service within the Paytm app.

The standalone Paytm First Games app has also been removed. However, other apps like Paytm Mall, Paytm Money, and Paytm Business are still available and remain untouched. Google said the developer is always notified and the app shall remain unavailable till it complies with the norms.

Paytm has also assured all users that their accounts, wallets, and bank accounts are safe and there’s nothing to worry about. When the news broke, there was some initial panic because the memories of India’s app ban are still fresh and people are worried about their favorite apps going off the shelf instantaneously.

Fantasy sports games and other gambling apps have radically risen in India. The country loves cricket and the Indian Premier League is scheduled to start from tomorrow. Making the coming weeks a very lucrative period for these apps.

All these apps do not depend on Google’s Play Store for distribution and have to be downloaded externally via the developer’s website.

Paytm is hugely credited for encouraging India’s digital economy and has transformed itself into a super app. Besides bill payments and peer-to-peer fund transfer, the app can also be used for tickets, shopping, and entertainment.

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Apps

Apple has launched Apple One, its own subscription service

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Everything has a subscription service now. If you need (or want) something, chances are that there’s a subscription for it. Today, Apple has launched Apple One, its own subscription service collating all of its services into one package. This fall, Apple users can subscribe to up to six Apple services in one go. Apple One promises a comprehensive package built for anyone and everyone.

A tier for everyone

The starting package, Individual, gathers four of the best Apple services into one account: Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and 50GB of Apple’s iCloud service. The subscription services costs US$ 14.95 per month. It will save users up to US$6 per month (if they purchase all four services individually).

The next package, Family, gathers the same four services but ups the iCloud subscription to 200GB. Further, subscribers can share the service with up to five other people. It costs US$ 19.95 per month. For one person, the Family tier will save them US$ 8 per month. Of course, there are more savings when sharing the subscription.

Finally, the Premier tier adds two more services into the mix: Apple News+ and the new Apple Fitness+. Once again, the iCloud storage is much bigger, topping off at 2TB. Like the Family package, Premier subscribers can share their account with up to five people. It costs US$ 29.95 per month, saving subscribers US$ 25 per month.

The best of the best

Apple One collects the best of Apple’s services. Apple Music is an Apple-centric music streaming service much like Spotify. Meanwhile, Apple TV+ is Apple’s video-on-demand streaming service, battling against Netflix. Apple Arcade brings an assortment of free games for subscribers. Apple News+ is an in-house news aggregator. Announced today, Apple Fitness+ is a new, upcoming fitness service coupling with the Apple Watch. Finally, the iCloud is Apple’s cloud storage service. For new Apple subscribers, Apple One will come with a free one-month trial for services that the user has not purchased in the past.

Apple One will start its services sometime this fall.

SEE ALSO: The 8th-generation iPad brings a lot of upgrades

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