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.

GulfNews Technology

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.