Technology

GulfNews Technology

Australia to amend law making Facebook, Google pay for news

Technology|: Canberra: Australia’s fair trade regulator Rod Sims, chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, said he would give his final draft of the laws to make Facebook and Google pay Australian media companies for the news content they use by early October. See more Photos: Egypt's blossoming trade in fragrant jasmine flowers Billionaire car-part supplier aims to triple sales in five years Vanishing jobs and empty offices plague Britain's retailers Photos: Czech guitar maker born of necessity woos stars Photos: Unemployment rate rises due to coronavirus Facebook has warned it might block Australian news content rather than pay for it. Google has said the proposed laws would result in ``dramatically worse Google Search and YouTube,’’ put free services at risk and could lead to users’ data ``being handed over to big news businesses.’’ Sims said he is discussing the draft of his bill with the U.S. social media platforms. It could be introduced into Parliament in late October. ``Google has got concerns about it, some of it is that they just don’t like it, others are things that we’re happily going to engage with them on,’’ Sims told a webinar hosted by The Australia Institute, an independent think-tank. ``We’ll make changes to address some of those issues -- not all, but some,’’ Sims said. Among the concerns is a fear that under the so-called News Media Bargaining Code, news businesses ``will be able to somehow control their algorithms,’’ Sims said. ``We’ll engage with them and clarify that so that there’s no way that the news media businesses can interfere with the algorithms of Google or Facebook,’’ Sims said. He said he would also clarify that the platforms would not have to disclose more data about users than they already share. ``There’s nothing in the code that forces Google or Facebook to share the data from individuals,’’ Sims said. Sims was not prepared to negotiate the ``core’’ of the code, which he described as the ``bits of glue that hold the code together, that make it workable.’’ These included an arbitrator to address the bargaining imbalance between the tech giants and news businesses. If a platform and a news outlet can’t reach an agreement on price, an arbitrator would be appointed to make a binding decision. Another core aspect was a non-discrimination clause to prevent the platforms from prioritizing Australia’s state-owned Australian Broadcasting Corp. and Special Broadcasting Service, whose news content will remain free. Sims said he did not know whether Facebook would act on its threat and block Australian news, but he suspected that to do so would ``weaken’’ the platform. Spain and France and have both failed to make Facebook and Google pay for news through copyright law. Sims said he has spoken about Australia’s approach through fair trading laws to regulators in the United States and Europe. ``They’re all wrestling with the same problem,’’ Sims said.


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US bans WeChat, TikTok from app stores, threatens shutdowns

Technology|: Washington: The US Commerce Department said Friday it will ban Chinese-owned TikTok and WeChat from US app stores on Sunday and will bar the apps from accessing essential internet services in the U.S. _ a move that could effectively wreck the operation of both Chinese services for U.S. users. TikTok won’t face the most drastic sanctions until after the Nov. 3 election, but WeChat users could feel the effects as early as Sunday. See More More residential options added at Dubai south residential district Trees, birds, ponds: Mexico City's ancient lake reclaims scrapped airport Abu Dhabi: 9 places where rents have dropped in the capital Get set to climb UAE’s tallest restaurant location from October 1 Chinese firms bet on plant-based meat as COVID-19 fuels healthy eating trend With airline fleets grounded, plane recyclers bet on parts boom The order, which cited national security and data privacy concerns, follows weeks of dealmaking over the video-sharing service TikTok. President Donald Trump has pressured the app’s Chinese owner to sell TikTok’s U.S. operations to a domestic company to satisfy U.S. concerns over TikTok’s data collection and related issues. Oracle deal California tech giant Oracle recently struck a deal with TikTok along those lines, although details remain foggy and the administration is still reviewing it. Trump said Friday said he was open to a deal, noting that ``we have some great options and maybe we can keep a lot of people happy,’’ suggesting that even Microsoft, which said its TikTok bid had been rejected, might continue to be involved, as well as Oracle and Walmart. Trump noted that TikTok was ``very, very popular,” said ``we have to have the total security from China,” and added that ``we can do a combination of both.’’ The new order puts pressure on TikTok’s owner, ByteDance, to make further concessions, said James Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Trump had said this week that he does not like the idea of ByteDance keeping majority control of TikTok. TikTok expressed ``disappointment’’ over the move and said it would continue to challenge President Donald Trump’s ``unjust executive order.’’ The Commerce Department is enacting an order announced by President Donald Trump in August. TikTok sued to stop that ban. WeChat owner Tencent said in an emailed statement that it will continue to discuss ways to address concerns with the government and look for long-term solutions. Google and Apple, the owners of the major mobile app stores, did not immediately reply to questions. Oracle also did not reply. ``At the President’s direction, we have taken significant action to combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data, while promoting our national values, democratic rules-based norms, and aggressive enforcement of U.S. laws and regulations,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a prepared statement. Security concerns The action is the Trump administration’s latest attempt to counter the influence of China, a rising economic superpower. Since taking office in 2017, Trump has waged a trade war with China, blocked mergers involving Chinese companies and stifled the business of Chinese firms like Huawei, a maker of phones and telecom equipment. China-backed hackers, meanwhile, have been blamed for data breaches of U.S. federal databases and the credit agency Equifax, and the Chinese government strictly limits what U.S. tech companies can do in China. The order requires WeChat, which has millions of U.S. users who rely on the app to stay in touch and conduct business with people and companies in China, to end payments for business transactions through its service as of Sunday and prohibits it from obtaining vital technical services from vendors. The Justice Department said in a filing that it would not target users with criminal or civil penalties for messaging on the app. WeChat users have sued to stop the ban, and a federal judge in California on Friday set an emergency hearing for Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Pacific time. Similar technical limitations for TikTok don’t go into effect until Nov. 12, shortly after the U.S. election. Ross said early Friday on Fox Business Network that access to that app may be possible if certain safeguards are put into place. TikTok says it has 100 million U.S. users and 700 million globally. Nicholas Weaver, a computer science lecturer at UC Berkeley, said the actions taking effect Sunday are short-sighted and suggest that ``the U.S. is not to be trusted and not a friendly place for business.’’ Users, meanwhile, face a security ``nightmare’’ because they won’t be able to get app updates that fix bugs and security vulnerabilities, he said.

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ROG and ACRONYM announce partnership with new special edition Zephyrus G14

Technology|: Asus Republic of Gamers (ROG) has announced a collaboration with ACRONYM, a leading technical apparel design agency, creating a special edition ROG Zephyrus G14 gaming laptop with top-of-the-line hardware and a new vision for what technology can be. ROG x ACRONYM . Image Credit: Supplied ACRONYM co-founder Errolson Hugh and long-time collaborator, designer David Rudnick have designed and prototyped a new design language for the laptop. It features bespoke typefaces and material treatments, touching every aspect of the ROG Zephyrus G14. As always, ROG is committed to making premium gaming hardware for pro-level work and play, while also incorporating customization options for gamers to express themselves. ACRONYM designs consistently embody their belief that aesthetic expression is a form of freedom and through style, audiences can share their story. Pushing Engineering Limits The Zephyrus G14 converges style and technology, making the ultra slim gaming laptop the most powerful 14-inch offering on the market. It comes with hardware for both everyday multitasking and gaming, engineered with high-end materials that are lightweight and resilient enough during travel. . Image Credit: Supplied It boasts a punchy 8-core 16-thread AMD Ryzen 9 CPU alongside an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 GPU, giving it the power for content creation or streaming. You also find an IPS-level Pantone Validated display on it for color accuracy and ultra-smooth gaming performance. Taking premium to a new level, all of this comes housed in a compact 14-inch chassis at less than 20mm thin. From its magnesium alloy deck to its aluminium lid, the Zephyrus G14 is not only light but also strong. And visually, it sets itself apart via its one-of-a-kind AniMe Matrix LED display that offers gamers and creators a new platform to display custom animations, text effects and audio visualizers, with the ROG Zephyrus 14 ACRNM RMT01 exclusively equipped with eight ACRONYM designed animations. Expanding Premium Gaming . Image Credit: Supplied In the ROG Zephyrus G14 ACRNM RMT01, you get a design that pushes what is possible. It uses custom materials, etchings, specially developed paints and two original typefaces to bring ACRONYM’s vision to life. While its carbon black surfaces are sleek, a closer look reveals striking touches such as schematic markings and iconography that invite curiosity. ACRONYM even addresses the device’s packaging, building on its philosophy of sustainability and functionality. The ROG Zephyrus G14 ACRNM RMT01 comes with a unique ACRONYM Airpak laptop sleeve which is both reusable and recyclable. In combination, it represents a bold new perimeter in gaming technology, collating next-generation styling with next-generation hardware. . Image Credit: Supplied Availability and Pricing Reflecting the belief of Asus and ROG, customers will be able to take advantage of a free upgrade to a 2 Year Perfect Warranty that includes accidental damage protection from spills, drops and electrical surges. They will also benefit from a 1-month subscription to XBOX Game Pass, offering unlimited access to over 100 high-quality PC games on Windows 10. The ROG Zephyrus G14 ACRNM RMT01 is available now in the UAE, exclusively at Virgin Megastore Dubai Mall for Dh9,999.

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IPL in UAE: Google reinforces Play Store gambling policies before IPL 13

IPL|India|Technology|UAE|: New Delhi: The 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is set to commence in Abu Dhabi on Saturday and Google has reiterated that its Play Store will not allow online casinos or support any unregulated gambling apps that facilitate sports betting. The company said that if an app leads consumers to an external website that allows them to participate in paid tournaments to win real money or cash prizes, it is a clear violation of its policies. SEE MORE IPL in UAE: Kane Williamson rises to challenge for Sunrisers Hyderabad IPL in UAE: Bravo, Narine, Pollard - Caribbean kings swell the IPL ranks in the UAE US Open 2020 men's final: Dominic Thiem beats Alexander Zverev IPL in UAE: Dhoni and Chennai Super Kings in the field and on film “Google Play is designed to provide a safe and secure experience for our consumers while also giving developers the platform and tools they need to build sustainable businesses,” said by Suzanne Frey, Vice President, Product, Android Security and Privacy. “We have these policies to protect users from potential harm” during big gaming tournaments, she added. When an app violates these policies, Google said it will notify the developer of the violation and remove the app from Google Play until the developer brings the app into compliance. “In the case where there are repeated policy violations, we may take more serious action which may include terminating Google Play Developer accounts,” the tech giant said. After months of uncertainty, IPL 13 is set to get under way on Saturday in the UAE. It is only the second time that a full IPL tournament is being organised outside India, after the 2009 edition was held in South Africa due to general elections in India while the first half of the 2014 edition was held in the UAE, again due to the general elections.

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Homegrown Dubai membership apps make experiencing luxury easy and affordable

Retail|Technology|: Dubai: Don’t feel like signing up to be a member of any one gym? Then ‘subscribe’ to many… and at rates lower than a single gym membership.  Subscription apps now offer that choice to UAE residents, allowing them to pick and choose among a large list of leisure and entertainment options. The X by OJ Lifestyle is the latest to join the band of apps, which also includes Privilee, Classpass and Entertainer.  See More Photos: Landmarks illuminated for Berlin's Festival of Lights Musical interlude: London stage creeps back to life UAE: Artist depicts Emirati women’s history in digital exhibit Look: Taiwan craftsmen creates miniature worlds And these apps are tapping into a changing mindset among residents - rather than be tied down to any one beach club, gym or salon, they prefer to be ‘free agents’. So they pay a flat fee via the app and enjoy the perks from varying providers.  Privilee, for example, is one such membership app. Members who sign up get unlimited day passes to a number of Dubai's beach, pool and gym venues each day of the week. “We’ve seen consistent growth over the past five years - we started off with eight hotels and a handful of members in Dubai,” said Lars Johannesen CEO and Founder of Privilee. Today, the app allows access to over 60 luxury resorts, 31 beaches and over 1,000 fitness classes across the emirates.  Not sticking to one “Over the past few months and with most people staying in the UAE due to the pandemic, we noticed that members are exploring a larger variety of venues, rather than sticking to the same spots,” said Johannesen. Of course, if all the listed venues can promise the same level of safety assurance in precautions taken against COVID-19. “I am generally not someone who likes to sign up for any memberships,” said Sarah Mahmoud, a Dubai resident. “However, when the pandemic prevented summer travel, I signed up to Privilee for Dh1,500. My kids and i went to different five-star hotels four times a week.” Subtle differences Although these membership and subscription apps may seem to have a lot in common on the surface, it’s a fact that no two services are exactly the same. And the ongoing downturn is impacting them differently. While some have focused on acquiring new subscribers through incentives such as discounted membership rates, like Privilee did during the quiet summer months, others focused on retaining them by providing additional services, as Entertainer did by adding more emphasis on delivery options. Then there was the one who ventured into the space now despite the unpredictable circumstances. Omar Jackson, the app's founder, who launched the “X” by OJ Lifestyle, is going in a different direction. “A lot of membership platforms in the UAE are mostly there to offer discounts or special packages, but we are not tied to those criteria,” he said. “We have fewer brands - but our focus is a higher-end consumer.”  The rationale is that someone who can afford to utilise the brands that the X app partners with shouldn’t have an issue affording the Dh699 a year membership. “We want to make sure that we capture the right clientele,” Jackson said. “We market the brands that we consider high quality in terms of service, reputation, and we will focus on generating revenue and awareness for them rather than diluting them across the competition.” The app promises members access to “offers and experiences”, including events at the Coca Cola Arena and to The Box gym. No one formula fits all The gyms are back in action, but with strict enforcement of COVID-19 protocols. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News Like Privilee, Classpass is another one of those “get more for less” apps, but with a focus on gyms and spas. Founded in 2013, ClassPass provides access to a network of fitness and wellness providers. “Dubai has quickly grown to be one of our Top 30 markets globally by subscriber count - quite the feat considering we operate in more than 3,500 cities,” said Sam Canavan of ClassPass. “Dubai punches well above its weight and [is] similar in subscriber size to the likes of Hong Kong and the Philippines.” According to Canavan, the average Dubai user takes three classes per month, and tries an average of six different class genres - so clearly variety is key. Starting from Dh65 a month, the prices of access is quite competitive given that signing up for some of the popular Dubai gyms can cost an average of Dh2,000 a year. Clearly, annual membership tied to any one service provider is in for some heavy disruption from these apps. And there are no clear winners as yet...

GulfNews Technology

Apple to launch online store in India on September 23

Retail|Technology|: Mumbai: Apple Inc. will this month begin direct sales online in India - more than 20 years after the world's most valuable tech company first began operating in the South Asian country that's one of world's fastest-growing smartphone markets. It will launch its online store  on September 23 and offer its full range of products from iPhones to Mac computers and provide support directly to customers for the first time, following years of lobbying New Delhi to get around regulations that force foreign companies to source 30 per cent of components locally. See More This Japanese restaurant is trying to sell curry to Indians In Pictures: Madrid fashion week kicks off Ferrari unveils the 620 horsepower Portofino M In Pictures: Hurricane Sally’s aftermath Smartphones account for the bulk of India's online retail by value, and Apple will be among the first global companies to sell directly online before it opens a brick-and-mortar store. Apple's India online store will offer customer support in both English and Hindi, allowing it to reach out to the country's 1.3 billion people just ahead of the October-November festive shopping season that culminates with Diwali. The iPhone maker has been boosting investments in the South Asian country to reduce its dependence on China both as a market and manufacturing base amid escalating tensions between Washington and Beijing. The company previously only offered its devices in India through stores owned by franchise partners and via online platforms including Amazon.com Inc. and Walmart Inc.-owned Flipkart Online Retails Services Pvt. It intends to open a second physical store in the technology hub of Bengaluru, following an outlet in Mumbai that will be its first brick-and-mortar store in India.

GulfNews Technology

Hiring of women in UAE hits a low point during April, says LinkedIn

Dubai: There were fewer women joining the UAE workforce during April at the height of the lockdown phase to counter the COVID-19 spread, but have shown signs of recovery since June, according to LinkedIn, the networking platform. Hiring of women dropped to 31.3 per cent, but then recovered above the full-year 2019 average by July. The share of monthly hires of women in the UAE saw it reach 35 per cent in July and exceeding the 2019 average of 33.5 per cent. See More UAE Labour Law: How can I terminate a limited contract? This Japanese restaurant is trying to sell curry to Indians In Pictures: Madrid fashion week kicks off How to notarise a document in the UAE In fact, this pattern of an April drop-off is repeated across the world, with lockdowns having had a more severe impact on women being hired, says the digital platform. (According to LinkedIn, the share of hires by gender are calculated as the total number of women who added a new employer to their profile in the same month the new job began divided by the total number of hires for the same month.) It has been set off by the forced need to work-from-home, and which added to the burden on women, especially working mothers. In a statement, Karin Kimbrough, Chief Economist at LinkedIn, said: “In terms of gender, women are bearing the brunt of the global pandemic when it comes to employment opportunities and career progression. "We’ve seen  that working mothers are struggling to balance ever-demanding workloads with increased childcare and household responsibilities and the concern is that many are considering reducing their working hours or retreating from the workforce as a result." Globally, female hiring touched a low in April, at 40.6 per cent hires, before recovering in June and July to around 44.5 per cent. "Female hires have now returned to levels seen before the pandemic," the portal said in a statement. "However, women started from a lower baseline in most countries, and need to make up for the loss of hires in March/April." Need for schools “Our ability to avoid more widespread, permanent losses in women’s employment hinges on schools reopening and employers creating more flexible work schedules," said Kimbrough. "Without this, we’ll have a very real and serious risk of losing many women from the workforce. "The unfortunate reality is that the longer that this goes on, the more women will have to make the impossible choice between caring for their children and their careers. And we know these losses won’t come back easily: women will have to work harder to re-enter once they’re able. "As schools reopen, now is the time for businesses to consider flexible hours, remote working and job sharing which can go a long way in supporting women and keeping them in the workforce.”

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General Motors explores market for electric 'flying cars', say sources

General Motors Co is exploring options in the aerial taxi market, including whether to build the vehicles known colloquially as "flying cars," as part of a push by the US automaker to look for growth in related transportation markets, two people familiar with the matter said. Chief Executive Mary Barra on Monday briefly made her first reference ever to Detroit-based GM's interest in the air taxi market, saying that it fit with development of electric vehicles (EVs) and its Ultium advanced electric battery. "We believe strongly in our EV future and not just for vehicles," she said at an RBC conference. "The strength and flexibility of our Ultium battery system opens doors" for many uses, she added, "including aerial mobility." Air taxis are vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft that use electric motors instead of jet engines. Designed to avoid the need for long runways, they have rotating wings and, in some cases, rotors in place of propellers. Apart from Daimler and Geely, other global brands such and Toyota and Hyundai have also invested substantially on the 'flying car' concept. Image Credit: Reuters Electric air taxis are likely to fly low-level routes, relieving traffic congestion on roads. But they could add to air traffic congestion as they become more popular. GM spokesman Stuart Fowle declined to elaborate. "It's an area we're really excited about and looking at." GM shares rose as much as 5.4 per cent and were still up 1.4 per cent in afternoon trading. Corporate and private investors have poured at least $2.3 billion into more than 100 aerial vehicle startups, including drones and electric air taxis, but the technology still faces significant roadblocks to commercialization and profitability, according to investor website PitchBook. GM is weighing all options - whether to build, supply or partner - as it decides whether to join such automakers as Hyundai Motor Co, Toyota Motor Corp, Daimler AG, Volkswagen AG and Geely Automobile in the still-developing market, said the sources, who asked not to be identified. GM could make an announcement early next year. "I am not surprised that GM and others are looking into this," said investor and corporate adviser Evangelos Simoudis, managing director of Synapse Partners. He noted that companies like Amazon.com and Walmart are pushing to use package delivery drones, but said transporting people with flying cars will take a lot longer to develop as a business. GM's study of the aerial mobility market is part of the push by GM's innovation group to explore other transportation markets for growth, one of the sources said. The group is headed by Alan Wexler, who reports to Barra and was hired in July in the newly created position of senior vice president of innovation and growth. Other efforts that originated in the innovation group include formation of a defense business unit and a $214 million contract to build troop carriers for the U.S. Army based on the Chevrolet Colorado pickup, as well as a new mobile app for OnStar members. Hyundai teamed up with Uber Technologies Inc in January to develop electric air taxis and has pledged to invest $1.5 billion in urban air mobility by 2025. Toyota led a $590 million investment round in air taxi startup Joby in January, while Daimler and Geely have invested in Stuttgart-based Volocopter. Volkswagen's Porsche brand is working with Boeing to develop a concept electric flying vehicle. Last year, Tesla CEO Elon Musk called electric supersonic VTOL a "hard problem," and last month said a more powerful battery that could enable electric airplanes was three to four years away. Musk has said "many exciting things" will be unveiled during Tesla's Battery Day on Sept. 22. Separately on Tuesday, the World Economic Forum and the city of Los Angeles released a set of principles to support the rollout of urban air mobility in US cities, and a spokeswoman for the organization said it is talks with other cities to adopt the same roadmap.

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Electric car startup Lucid to follow Tesla into energy storage

Lucid Motors Inc., the electric-vehicle startup that revealed its first production car last week, is following Tesla Inc.'s footsteps into the energy-storage business. The Newark, California-based company is developing home batteries - similar to Tesla's Powerwall - and utility-scale devices, Chief Executive Officer Peter Rawlinson said in an interview. They will have the same battery-cell modules the company is installing in its debut EV. "There is a multiplier effect: They are cost-effective to make,” so they can be used in stationary storage systems, Rawlinson said. His comments came ahead of the unveiling of the production version of Lucid's Air electric sedan, which the company says has an EPA estimated range of 517 miles and claims is the fastest-charging EV ever. The Air also will have two-way, vehicle-to-grid charging that allows owners to power their homes in the event of a blackout. The energy-storage systems are an extension of the same technology but may require lower-performance cells than the cars, Rawlinson said. Lucid has an agreement with LG Chem Ltd. for the cells in its battery packs. The company aims to have a prototype of a commercial system installed at its headquarters by the start of next year that will store power generated from solar panels on the facility's roof and provide electricity during peak hours. The Lucid Air is touted as the world's fastest charging EV. Image Credit: Supplied Lucid is also in preliminary talks with Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund about an industrial-scale energy-storage system, Rawlinson said. The goal is that Saudi Arabia could store solar-generated power in Lucid's batteries, helping the country to shift from dependence on oil and diversify its economy. The fund - which invested more than $1 billion in Lucid in 2018, giving it a much-needed injection of cash and credibility - declined to comment when asked about any energy-storage discussions. "It's a natural place for us to help our investors and work with our investors,” Rawlinson said. The company is often compared with Tesla, in part because Rawlinson was chief engineer on Tesla's Model S between 2009 and 2012. But Lucid has catching up to do in both EVs and energy storage. Tesla has been offering storage products since 2015, when it introduced the Powerwall. It doesn't report revenue data for batteries alone but recorded $1.5 billion in sales last year for batteries and solar arrays. By comparison, Tesla earned $20.8 billion in automobile revenue in 2019. Meanwhile, Tesla CEO Elon Musk played down the role Rawlinson played in the Model S in a tweet, saying he didn't contribute to the vehicle's powertrain or battery. Lucid declined to comment on Musk's tweet. The timing of Lucid's move into energy storage is odd because the company has yet to start production on its EV, according to James Frith, a BloombergNEF analyst and head of energy storage. Lucid is aiming to begin assembly of the cars, and the battery packs that will power them, by year-end at a plant under construction in Casa Grande, Arizona. BloombergNEF forecasts that demand for energy storage could grow to a cumulative 1,095 gigawatts by 2040, driven by more than $650 billion of investment. “They presumably have their battery-pack line up and running ahead of full-scale production” of the Lucid Air, Frith said. "They can use this production line to generate revenue for the company, and the stationary storage market makes sense in this case as margins have traditionally been higher."

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Everything you need to know about the products launched at Apple’s September launch event

Technology|: For the first time ever, Apple held an event in September without announcing an iPhone. No reason to fret though, we still got two new Apple Watches, two new iPads and a whole lot more. So, let’s check it out. Apple Watch Series 6 First up was the new Apple Watch Series 6. The new Apple watch comes with updated hardware and features including the new Blood Oxygen monitor and app. The Apple Watch Series 6 improves performance through redesigned hardware using a new dual-core processor based on A13 Bionic in iPhone 11. The upgraded S6 SiP runs up to 20 percent faster and allowing apps to also launch 20 percent faster. The biggest new feature on the Apple Watch Series 6 is the blood oxygen monitor and app Image Credit: Supplied The Apple Watch Series 6 will also feature the U1 chip and Ultra Wideband antennas, which will enable short-range wireless location to support new experiences, such as next-generation digital car keys. Last year’s Always on Retina display is back on the Apple watch but is up to 2.5x brighter while allowing further functionality like accessing the Notification Center and Control Center, tap on complications, and swipe to change faces without having to wake their watch screen. There’s also an always-on Altimeter on the Apple Watch Series 6 which allows for real-time elevation all day long for those who need it. Unfortunately, the Apple Watch sees no major updates in battery-life maintaining it at an ‘all-day 18 hours battery-life” but it does offer faster charging, completing a full charge in under 1.5 hours, and improved battery life for tracking certain workouts, such as indoor and outdoor runs. The Watch Series 6 will come running Apple WatchOS7 which now includes Sleep Tracking, new watch faces and much more. The Apple Watch Series 6 will be available for Dh1599 (GPS) and Dh1999(GPS+Cellular) in new colours including the Blue Aluminium case (joining Silver, Space Gray, Gold) and the special Product(RED) edition. For more detailed information on the Apple Watch Series 6, click here. Apple Watch SE Next up was the Apple Watch SE. Apple introduced the Watch SE with features from the Series 6 at a better price to make the ‘Watch experience’ more affordable for users. The Apple Watch gets a new affordable version in the Apple Watch SE Image Credit: Supplied The Apple Watch SE comes with a Retina display, the S5 System in Package (SiP) and dual-core processor, the always-on altimeter, fall detection, watchOS7 and much more. The Apple Watch SE (GPS) starts at Dh1,149 and Apple Watch SE (GPS + Cellular) starts at Dh 1,349 and is available from today on Apple.com. For more detailed information on the Apple Watch SE, click here. Apple Watch Family Apple stressed on making the Apple Watch more accessible to users this year. One of the methods they’re using for the same is Apple Watch Family. Apple Watch Family setup allows users to set up Apple Watches for users who don't have iPhones like younger children or older adults Image Credit: Supplied Family members can set up Apple Watches for members who do not have iPhones. So for example, parents can levy the features of an Apple Watch while tracking their children’s activity levels, location, etc and even send Messages and make calls without the children having an iPhone. Similarly, the Apple Watch brings such benefits for older adults too with features such as Fall Detection and health monitoring. Family Setup will be available on Wednesday, September 16, as a free software update and requires cellular models of Apple Watch Series 4 or later or Apple Watch SE running watchOS 7, paired with iPhone 6s or later running iOS 14. Apple Fitness+ Another Watch-related updated came in the form of Apple’s latest online subscription service, Apple Fitness+. Coming later in the year (unfortunately not the UAE initially), Fitness+ will be a subscription-based service for those looking to take their fitness regimes to the next level. Apple Fitness+ is the company's latest fitness subscription service Image Credit: Supplied Apple Fitness+ will launch with the most popular workout types including Cycling, Treadmill, Rowing, HIIT, Strength, Yoga, Dance, Core, and Mindful Cooldown, and each will be accompanied by music thoughtfully curated by the trainers. Each week, the team of Fitness+ trainers will deliver fresh workouts from the studio across a range of lengths, disciplines, and music genres so there are always new workouts to explore. Users will be able to watch and follow workouts with their exercise stats live on their displays whether that might be their iPhone, iPads or Apple TVs. There will also be a special mode for beginners. Apple One Apple is also making combined packages with multiple services for their customers under the Apple One umbrella. Starting this fall, customers with Apple subscriptions will be recommended the right Apple One plan for them so they can sign up and get even more for less. By combining their subscription services, Apple hopes to make their services more affordable for users Image Credit: Supplied Plans are as follows: • Individual includes Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and 50GB of iCloud storage for AED 39.95 per month. • Family includes Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and 200GB of iCloud storage for AED 52.95 per month, and can be shared among up to six family members. • Premier, where available, includes Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Apple News+, Apple Fitness+, and 2TB of iCloud storage for $29.95 per month (not coming to the UAE yet), and can be shared among up to six family members. Apple One includes a 30-day free trial for any services that customers do not already have. With Apple One, customers will receive only one invoice each month, and they can easily change or cancel their Apple One plan at any time. With the Family and Premier plans, up to six family members can access all the included services with their own personal accounts and preferences. Apple iPad 8th Generation It’s been 10 years since the first iPad, with Apple having sold more than 500 million iPads and the most affordable iPad in the line-up got an update too at the event. The updated 8th generation iPad comes with the same body and shape but with the A12 Bionic and its neural engine on the inside. This is said to give the iPad 40% more processing power and 2 times better graphics. Apple's most affordable gets more powerful Image Credit: Supplied Combined with iOS 14 and the capability to be written on with the Apple Pencil (1st generation), the iPad 8th-generation will cost Dh1,349 for the Wi-Fi model and Dh1,879 for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model, and will come in Silver, Space Gray, and Gold finishes in 32GB and 128GB configurations. For more detailed information on the 8th-generation iPad, click here. Apple iPad Air 2020 Last but not least came the iPad Air. This was the iPad which showed the largest update of all the products shown at today’s event. The new iPad Air joins the iPad Pro as far as design is concerned. Slimmer, streamlined bezels all around the display and an edgier and boxier body in five colours. As far as internals are concerned, we get our hands-on Apple’s latest chipset, the A14 Bionic, on the iPad Air. Using the 5-nanometer process technology, the A14 Bionic is packed with 11.8 billion transistors. This is said to give the iPad Air a 40% increase in CPU performance and a 30% increase in graphic performance. The A14 Bionic also includes Apple’s second-generation machine learning accelerators in the CPU for 10 times faster machine learning calculations. The Apple iPad Air gets a huge redesign and the latest A14 Bionic 5nm chipset Image Credit: Supplied The display on the iPad Air is a Liquid Retina 10.9” display with full lamination, P3 wide color support, True Tone, and an anti-reflective coating. The Touch-ID sensor is now moved to the power button on top of the iPad. The new iPad Air comes with two cameras, one on the front and one the back. The front camera is a 7MP (f/2.2) sensor while the one on the back is a 12MP (f/1.8) which is capable of shooting 4K video. The new Air also comes with type-C connectivity, a first for the series. The new iPad Air will be available starting next month on apple.com. Wi-Fi models of the iPad Air will be available with a starting price of Dh 2,499 and Wi-Fi + Cellular models start at Dh3,029, in 64GB and 256GB configurations and will be available in five finishes including Silver, Space Gray, Rose Gold, Green, and Sky Blue. For more detailed information on the iPad Air (2020), click here. All OS updates including iOS 14, watchOS 7 and more will be available starting tomorrow across applicable devices.

GulfNews Technology

Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan is the new voice of Amazon's Alexa

Amazon.com has signed up India's biggest movie star Amitabh Bachchan for its Alexa voice assistant in a bid to lure users in the world's second-most populated nation to its services. The 77-year-old Bollywood patriarch's image is ubiquitous across the country on advertisements for everything from hair oil, cement to even an UNICEF-backed polio vaccination campaign. Amazon expects his universal appeal to help it take on rivals Apple's Siri and Alphabet's Google Assistant."The baritone that has enchanted the Indian film industry for over five decades," will be available to the many Indian customers who use Alexa, Amazon said on its India blog on Monday. Users will be able to access "Mr. Bachchan's iconic voice on Alexa by purchasing the Amitabh Bachchan voice experience," according to the blog. see more MS Dhoni retirement: Bollywood stars hail cricket icon Amitabh Bachchan on 'KBC' set with full COVID-19 precautions Jaya Bachchan defends Bollywood in Parliament: Kangana Ranaut, Sonam Kapoor react Bollywood: From Kareena Kapoor to Amitabh Bachchan, stars head back to work India, with over half-a-billion smartphones and some of the cheapest data rates in the world, is rapidly adopting voice-enabled services as people take to the internet through voice rather than typing. The market for speech and voice recognition is growing swiftly in Asia's third-largest economy and expected to jump over 40% this year to $58.4 million, according to a report by Dentsu Aegis Network's India unit. Bachchan emerged as Bollywood's premier superstar in the 1970s and is seen as India's answer to Robert DeNiro or Al Pacino, playing "angry young men" characters battling corrupt establishments. Amazon first used a celebrity voice when Hollywood actor Samuel L. Jackson made a debut on Alexa. It has since added professional voice actors who recite Shakespeare, Mark Twain, proverbs and fables. Last year, rival Google Assistant added the voice of American singer John Legend. The dominant Google voice assistant has yet to debut a celebrity voice in India. As with Jackson, Amazon will apply neural speech technology to make Alexa sound exactly like Bachchan no matter what question he is answering without needing to record every word in his voice in the studio. Users can buy Bachchan's voice as a skill to provide weather updates, recite poetry and give advice.

GulfNews Technology

All the new Apple products unveiled on September 15, 2020

Dubai: Today is the day! Or tonight is the night. We're bringing you a live coverage of the Apple product launch, pandemic edition. 500 million iPads had been sold in the last 10 years. Apple launched a new iPad powered by the A12 Bionic chip, according to Apple's Ted Merendino. Image Credit: Apple 09:36 PM September 15, 2020 Fitness+ announced This is with well-known trainers, and it's called Fitness+. It's a service for Apple Watch to 'get fit and stay fit'. It's powered by the Apple Watch and it gives you workout metrics from the wrist. The data is designed to keep you motivated - and with Fitness+ you choose the workout you want from the catalog of videos and it starts the workout right on your watch, and shows the metrics from the Watch to the screen you're watching on. 09:23 PM September 15, 2020 Apple Watch SE Price: $279 Keep an eye on your health. This new "light", more affordable model comes with fall detection support, and combines Series 6 design, with larger metrics. This new model uses the S5 chip, 2x faster than the Series 3. 09:06 PM September 15, 2020 Apple Watch Series 6 Price: $399 The new Apple Watch series 6 adds new feature that measures blood oxygen in 15 seconds, a key measurement of breathing and circulation. Series 3 continues at $199. Image Credit: Apple 09:13 PM September 15, 2020 Handwashing detection The latest iteration of the Apple Watch detects handwashing and is equipped with chip that's 20% faster than the previous edition, according to Jeff Williams, Apple's chief operating officer. Swim-proof Apple Watch Series 6 Image Credit: Apple 09:01 PM September 15, 2020 New Apple Watch & iPad launched Tim Cook, Apple CEO, announces new Apple Watch and iPad on September 15, 2020. 08:51 PM September 15, 2020 Delay in iPhone 12 launch? We've seen and heard some feelers from Apple, i.e. about a possible delay in the launch of the iPhone 12. Nothing's been confirmed, until this moment. SEE MORE iPhone 12 launch on September 15? What we know so far Apple working on folding iPhone with Samsung screen: Report Apple to hold IPhone launch event online on September 15 Image Credit: Apple Are we going to see it unwrapped in today's virtual launch event? We've checked the most well-known leakers, who predict a new iPad, iPad Air — and the Apple Watch Series 6. Image Credit: Apple Others expect a new iPhone SE, too. Image Credit: Apple These are pure guess work, even if informed. Till the actual event happens, however, we can only wait and see.

GulfNews Technology

UAE viewers are still putting in same number of hours on video streaming portals

Business|Technology|: Dubai: despite the pressures of work and choice of leisure options, UAE viewers of video-on-demand services are in no mood to switch off their devices. Data suggests that on average these viewers are maintaining just about the same number of hours catching up on their films and TV via these web-based platforms. “The “new normal” when it comes to hours spent watching streaming video-on-demand is 18-19 hours a month,” said Danny Bates, Chief Commercial Officer at Starzplay, which competes with the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple TV+ and OSN for a share of that viewing (and monthly subscriptions). “That’s still on par with hours spent between April to June, when the cities were in lockdown mode. See More Look! Dh272,000 Aston Martin racing simulator Photos: Fires leave apocalyptic scenes in Oregon Pandemic forces 'pink farm' to get creative in Brazil News in pictures: Amazon to hire 100,000 people, Kerala gold smuggling, Sally to hit Mexico, Russia vaccine, UAE mid-day break, Delhi COVID tests… “Viewing hours dropped in July, August, but have since recovered to near yearly highs.” Before COVID-19 broke out, average viewing hours a month in the UAE and Gulf was about 12-13 hours. Two growth engines Online grocery and web-based video-on-demand in the UAE and Gulf recorded unprecedented growth during April to June, while just about every other consumer category felt the full brunt of the pandemic. Subscriber numbers spiked… and by the looks of it, the majority are still remaining to watch the rest of the shows. StarzPlay says it added 600,000 subscribers in the year-to-date, with the UAE and Saudi Arabia making up 70 per cent of these. Netflix does not provide regional breakdown numbers, and the same is the case with the others. But market sources reckon all of the contenders made a killing on subscriber numbers up to June. A lot of catch up Even with this kind of growth, web video-on-demand in the region is still far from being exhausted. Across-the-board penetration levels remain under 10 per cent. So, the thinking is straight forward – keep pushing more content viewers’ way and they will stick on. The formula – lots of Hollywood content, a mix of Indian language movies, and higher Arabic made-to-order series – is working and there is no need for a change. “What’s fundamentally changed is the pricing to access this content,” said Bates. “If during the pay-TV days, it was $70-$80, web content can now be had at a monthly Dh40 or so. That in itself ties in more subscribers despite all the economies pressures they may be facing. “For every company in this video-on-demand space, there’s good growth to be had. The only difference would be by how much.”

GulfNews Technology

Apple expected to unveil updates to Watches, iPads

Apple Inc will broadcast an event from its Cupertino, California campus on Tuesday where analysts expect it to show updated Apple Watches, iPads and other devices while reserving an iPhone launch for next month. Despite pandemic-related disruptions that Apple executives have said will push the release of the iPhone into October, Apple has posted earnings that beat expectations for the past two quarters powered in part by strong sales of work-from-home items such as iPads and laptops and accessories that pair with its flagship smart phones. While analysts expect an October event for iPhones, Apple teased at new watches with a "Time Flies" caption for its Tuesday event invite sent last week, and analysts expect a new flagship Apple Watch Series 6. Apple has come to dominate the market for smart watches, with Strategy Analytics reporting in May that Apple had 55% market share as of the first quarter. Because the watch must be paired with an iPhone, analysts believe it plays a strong role in helping Apple retain customers, with longtime Apple Watcher Gene Munster of Loup Ventures saying last week that the 9% of iPhone owners that now own an Apple Watch could expand to 50% in the next decade. Analysts expect Apple to dive deeper into health and fitness features with the watch. Bloomberg previously reported that Apple plans to unveil a service offering virtual fitness classes in which the watch could play a role as part of a larger bundle of content and services. Some analysts also believe Apple might build a way to sense changes in blood oxygen into its newest watches, building on health sensing capabilities after adding a way to take measurements similar to electrocardiogram with its Series 4 watches. However, many prominent Apple analysts and watchers have not confirmed the feature. Apple rival Fitbit Inc introduced a way to measure changes in blood oxygen earlier this year. Apple declined to comment on future products. Analysts also expect Apple to unveil an update to its iPad Air, which sits between the high-end iPad Pro that has a 3D sensor for augmented reality content and the base model iPad aimed at the education market. Analysts also expect a new set of over-ear headphones called "AirPods Studio" to complement the company's AirPods and AirPods Pro wireless ear buds, which have become runaway hits for the company. "While AirPods Studio will be a rounding error in terms of revenue contribution, they represent yet another example of the company integrating a new product into its hardware-software ecosystem," Munster wrote in a blog post last week. Analysts also expect a set of small devices called AirTags, meant to be attached to devices so their owners locate them using Bluetooth and other wireless sensors. Those devices will compete against Tile Inc, an independent company founded in 2012 that created a similar product and has publicly criticized Apple for putting roadblocks in its iPhone operating system that make products from third-party developers harder to use than Apple's own products.