Apps

WhatsApp is now blocked in China

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Popular messaging app WhatsApp has finally been hit by the ban hammer of China after months of struggling to keep the service afloat.

Confirmed by reports from The New York Times, the Facebook-owned WhatsApp network is now disabled in mainland China, adding to other other banned apps including Instagram and Facebook itself.

This is happening in anticipation of the Communist Party gathering to be conducted in mid-October. WhatsApp is known for having strong end-to-end encryption, meaning the Chinese government can’t monitor messages being sent from one user to another.

Conversely, the China-based WeChat app doesn’t have such security features, making it easier for authorities to intercept messages. This fact alone makes it the service of choice for mainland China.

Users in China may still use a virtual private network (VPN) to bypass the roadblock, similar to what’s already being done for other banned social media platforms. However, this trick is gradually being scrutinized by the Chinese government, and will probably be disabled as well by next year.

This can be seen as a blow to Chinese businesses wanting to deal freely with international clients, as well as to tourists needing to communicate without workarounds or constant monitoring by the government.

SEE ALSO: WhatsApp copies Snapchat

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Apps

Google asks smartphone makers to pay for Play Store

In response to EU’s ruling

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Google Play

Months ago, Google landed in a scalding pool of Europe’s hot water. The European Competition Commission accused the company of anti-competition practices. Among other things, Google forced smartphone makers to bundle Chrome and Google Search as a requirement. According to the commission, the stipulation gives the company an unfair advantage over its rivals.

Eventually, the Commission hammered down a guilty verdict. From this, Google paid a record-breaking fine to the European Union. Besides this, the company had to stop the indicted practice.

Now, Google is finally implementing a resolution for the guilty verdict. Starting this month, the company will change its offered bundles for smartphone makers in the EU.

As opposed to enforcing the bundle, Google will offer Android’s apps for a price. Instead of a strong-arm strategy, Google’s new strategy aims for the best of both worlds. Smartphone companies can opt out of the program. Historically, some companies have already opted out of Android’s app ecosystem. For example, Chinese smartphones often implement their own variants because of China’s prohibitions.

Additionally, Google will loosen its regulations against forked versions of its Android operating system. Some smartphone makers alter Android’s inner workings for their own uses. Most notoriously, Xiaomi uses its own MIUI software. Previously, the bundling scheme swayed the deal towards Google’s favor, despite any proprietary changes. With looser regulations, companies can fork all they want.

Now, companies can sell smartphones running forked Androids. That is, if they also sell a separate smartphone with Google’s untouched software.

Amid all these changes, Android remains as free software for smartphones. Android can maintain its status as the world’s most ubiquitous operating system. However, if this issue elicits any questions, it’s this: How will Google’s new schema affect the casual consumer? Right now, we’ll have to wait and see.

SEE ALSO: You might need to pay Google for Android soon

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Apps

6 iPhone apps for your well-being

Mental health is important!

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World Mental Health Day may have come and gone but that shouldn’t mean that your well-being should be pushed aside. In fact, a healthy disposition should always be practiced. How does one do that in today’s fast-paced world?

We’ve got apps for you!

Omvana 

Omvana is a meditation app that measures stress levels and even your state of mind; it’s your personal mindfulness coach! The app also automatically connects to HealthKit.

Download here. 

Calm

With guided meditations, breathing exercises, sleep stories, and relaxing music, this app will help make sure you’re always in a relaxed mood.

Download here. 

Insight Timer

Don’t know how to meditate? This app allows for guided meditations from the industry’s best practitioners!

Download here. 

Headspace: Guided Meditation

Another guided meditation app which allows you to manage stress and even apply meditative practice to your every day. There’s also a sleep experience feature which promises better rest and calmness.

Download here.

Aura: Calm Anxiety & Sleep

Aura’s three-minute meditations will bring more positivity to your life. The app also does life coaching, relaxing music, and even personalized meditations.

Download here. 

AutoSleep Tracker for Watch

Better sleep means a better disposition! This app tracks sleep automatically with Advanced Heuristics AutoSleep so you’ll always have the info at hand.

Download here. 

What are you waiting for? Get to downloading and happy meditating!

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Apps

Facebook Lite comes to iPhones at less than 5MB

It consumes less power, too!

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After being enjoyed by Android users for years, the slimmed down version of Facebook’s main app finally arrived on iOS. Although, it’s only available to a select few — for now.

The Facebook Lite app was originally designed for developing countries where mobile data can be unreliable and Android phones are pretty basic. But, it also gained popularity among users with better phones because it uses way less data than the main Facebook app.

On iOS, the lite version is available for download through the Apple App Store for less than 5MB. Apart from being an easy download, it also uses less battery power and occupies minimal storage space.

This is going to be ideal for iPhones and even iPod Touch devices that are already showing signs of slowing down. The app is compatible with devices running iOS 9.0 and later.

For now, the app is only available in Turkey. As the testing phase expands to other regions, Facebook Lite will eventually be open for everyone.

Via: Business Insider

SEE ALSO: Facebook Messenger redesign starts rolling out to select users

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