#219 Fall Guys Offering In-Game Brand Costumes

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#63 What Is Twitch Hiding Up Their Sleeve?

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Factbox: Ten years of bitcoin

Bitcoin, the world’s first and most famous cryptocurrency, celebrates its tenth birthday on Wednesday.Its emergence has spawned a multitude of other digital currencies, brought blockchain technology to global attention, and vexed regulators worried about its crime misuse and weakness to hacking.

What is Bitcoin?

Zynga revenue and forecast come up short, but big-name games in the works

Zynga Inc. reported a slight miss on its most widely watched sales metric and projected holiday results lower than analyst expectations Wednesday afternoon, but promised a brighter future with a slate of games based on popular intellectual property including “Game of Thrones” and “Harry Potter.

Google Introduces reCAPTCHA v3 – No More Garbled Text or Clicking on Endless Stream of Random Images

Google has launched reCAPTCHA version 3 that is a complete overhaul of the reCAPTCHA technology. The company first introduced this background check system back in 2007 and this is the 3rd major overhaul being sent to it. reCAPTCHA itself was initially introduced in 2014. Designed to ward off bots on the internet, reCAPTCHA has proven to be useful but extremely annoying. However, with reCAPTCHA v3 Google aims to reduce this annoyance by no longer requiring any user interaction. No more squinting of eyes to read garbled codes or clicking on images of billboards.

Twitch CEO plots expansion beyond game streaming as Facebook and media companies enter the market

Twitch, the Amazon-owned video streaming service where viewers watch other people play video games, has outgrown its niche roots to the point that 1 million people on average are using it at any given time. The broader category of esports has blossomed into an international phenomenon, with research firm Newzoo predicting the market will grow 55 percent by 2020 to $1.4 billion. That kind of success brings with it competition from big media and tech companies looking for new areas of growth. “One of the biggest changes for Twitch over the past year is just the way that video games and streaming have started to cross over into the mainstream,” CEO and co-founder Emmett Shear told CNBC in an interview last weekend in San Jose, California, at the company’s annual TwitchCon event.

Twitch Squad Stream will officially allow multi-streams next year

Twitch is getting a major new feature called Squad Stream. Announced at TwitchCon, Squad Stream is Twitch’s way of offering native support for multi-streams. The new feature allows viewers to watch up to four streams at once; one for the streamer they’re following and three other viewpoints for the rest of the squad.

Nubia X: a Dual-Display Smartphone with No Selfie Camera

Nubia, a ZTE brand, this week introduced its new range-topping smartphone outfitted with front and rear displays and Qualcomm’s high-end SoC. The new Nubia X features a rare 93.6% screen-to-body ratio on the primary LCD, maximizing its screen real estate while also offering a serious performance. The phone will certainly catch some eyes, but what remains to be seen is how useful the second display is and how will it affect battery life of the device.

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Xiaomi Now Available at Three UK, Officially Entering Europe and the UK

Xiaomi has partnered with CK Hutchison to enter Europe markets. Three UK’s stores will initially sell the phones.

While both ZTE and Huawei face difficulties in the US market, Xiaomi’s efforts in Europe are starting to pay off.

Late last year, the company entered the Spanish market and was met with a positive response. This time around, it has secured a deal with one of the UK’s biggest network providers.

According to a report from Reuters, Xiaomi has partnered with CK Hutchison’s telecom subsidiary Three UK’s retail stores where the phones will be initially sold. This includes stores in Austria, Denmark, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Sweden and the UK.

AS Watson’s retail locations around Europe will also soon be selling the phones in the future.

Tom Malleschitz, Three UK’s chief digital officer shares the company’s enthusiasm with the partnership to Engadget. “We have been watching Xiaomi’s success from afar and are impressed with the huge range of connected devices that they currently offer”.

He also adds that this partnership “opens the door for innovative new connected products” for their customers.

There’s no details yet as to what kind of phones Xiaomi is going be selling into the Europe market.

As for the US market, the company has started selling its accessories back in 2015 but without phones. It seems that they will eventually enter the smartphone market as well. Lei Jun, Xiaomi Chairman, already confirmed that it would enter the US smartphone market in late 2018 or early 2019.

 

US bans American Companies From Selling Components To ZTE

The U.S. Department of Commerce announced that companies can no longer sell components to ZTE amidst allegations of dishonesty.

(Credit: CNET)

It seems that trade relations between the US and China in the teleco industry is not getting any better. After US companies cut ties with Huawei, ZTE now faces a similar issue.

The Chinese telecommunications giant has been denied of export privileges after the Commerce Department has imposed a ban on them. US companies can no longer sell any products or services for seven years to ZTE following a violation.

In March 2017, the China-based company pleaded guilty for illegally shipping US equipment to Iran and North Korea. In the plea agreement, it promised to pay $1.2 billion in penalties and take actions against the employees involved.

According to the Commerce Department, company officials lied about reprimanding the employees.

“Instead of reprimanding ZTE staff and senior management, ZTE rewarded them,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement on their website. “This egregious behaviour cannot be ignored.”

The company was supposed to to fire four senior employees and discipline 35 others. However, the company only fired the four staffers but did not take any action against the others.

With the ban in place, Qualcomm and Dolby both of whom operate in the US, will no longer be able to supply the company.

 

First Android Go Phone From ZTE is Now Available in the US

ZTE launches Android Go powered smartphone in the US market.

If you’re looking for a backup phone that wouldn’t hurt your wallet, this phone might just be perfect for you. ZTE just launched the ZTE Tempo Go, the first Android Go powered smartphone.

First announced last year, Android Go, is a stripped-down version of Android designed to run on entry-level smartphones. It is based on Android Oreo but optimized to run on smartphones with 512 MB to 1 GB of RAM. This takes up lesser space on the phone and allows users to have more room for apps and media.

The ZTE Tempo Go is designed to offer a usable Android experience in a low-end smartphone. At $79.99, you wouldn’t expect it to be at par with your hundreds of dollars-worth smartphones. The phone sports a 5-inch display with big bezels, has a 480 X 854 resolution. For comparison, the iPhone X has a 2436 X 1125 resolution.

The phone runs on the Snapdragon 210 chipset with 1GB RAM and an 8 GB storage. With the Android Go operating system however, this memory should not be an issue since it really does take up so little space. There are also apps in Google Play specifically optimized to run on this OS such as Chrome and YouTube GO.

For those who has plenty of media, the Tempo Go has a memory card slot that can take up to 32GB in capacity.

ZTE may be the first to roll out an Android Go phone but other companies are also gearing up for production. Among those is Alcatel which plan to roll out the Alcatel 1X Android Go priced at $100. However, this might not be released in the US as they are more interested in targeting developing market like India and Africa.

 

Xiaomi News: Company To Enter US Phone Market By 2018

Chinese mobile company Xiaomi will soon be selling their smartphones in the U.S this year. The news comes following the release of The Wall Street Journal report, saying Xioami is taking an aggressive step to boost its expansion in the West.

 

The Beijing-based company’s Chairman Lei Jun said that the company has been considering to enter the U.S market. “We plan to start entering the market by end 2018, or by early 2019,” Jun said.

 

Xiaomi’s expansion in the West won’t be easy

 

Jun also acknowledged that Xiaomi’s expansion in the West wouldn’t be smooth sailing. He said that Xiaomi would attempt to learn also both laws and regulations. He added that the company would also study how the market, customers behave in the coming months.

 

In case you don’t know that Xiaomi has already sold several products in the US. These products include an Android TV set-top box, an Mi TV at various Walmart locations across the US. The company also sells two headphone models, a battery pack as well as a robot coding kit at Amazon.

 

But Xiaomi’s success would solely depend on the various US mobile carries if they would be given a chance to sell their smartphones in the US. It can be recalled that the US government has raised some security concerns over Huawei’s plan to engage in the US market.

 

The Chinese mobile company was set to launch its flagship Mate 10 Pro in the US, but eventually, the deal did not push through with AT&T because of national security issues. Tech users, however, have expressed their support to Xiaomi’s plan despite the already crowded market in the US.

 

To name a few brands, Samsung and Apple were able to capture a solid market, competing with to another Chinese company ZTE.

Introducing ZTE’s Newest Blade Phone

Introducing the newest addition to ZTE’s line-up

ZTE is introducing their newest additions to their mid-range Blade phone lineup today at MWC in Barcelona. The Blade V9 and the Blade V9 Vita have a stored Android Oreo 8.1. And it has dual cameras, rear fingerprint sensors, and an 18:9 display. Both phones have a camera upgraded software that is better in low-light photography.

The comparison between the two Blade phones in terms of camera shots are quite different. The V9 Vita appears to have a smooth over details and colors are blended altogether. While the V9 appeared to have captured clear lines.

The phones were inspired with some of the famous flagship phones. The Blade V9 included face detection. Users can unlock their phone using their faces but you can’t wake up the screen by looking down. It also features a minimal bezels and a glass back.

Check out the full specs of each phones:

Blade V9

• 5.7-inch Full HD display
• 3GB RAM, 32 GB storage and up to 256GB external storage
• Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 processor
• Dual back camera with one 16MP sensor and the other with 5MP
• 13MP front camera
• 3,200 mAh battery
• Micro USB charging and headphone jack
• The price might be under $300

Blade V9 Vita

• 5.45-inch HD display
• 2GB RAM with 16GB of storage
• Qualcomm MSM8940 processor
• Dual back cameras with 13MP sensor and the other at 2MP
• 8MP front camera
• 3,200mAh battery
• Micro USB charging and headphone jack
• Expected price is at $200

The Blade V9 and V9 Vita looked very different and better than last year’s. Considering the V9’s glass back. And people are starting to be excited because we will have a grasp of how bezel-less phone look. Well, the twist is not on that, but on the phone’s price. Imagine having an 18:9 display smartphone in just $200 to $300 only.

Huawei: Undetected Spying, Commercial Witch Hunt or China Bashing?

The innovative Chinese company, Huawei is again in the news and not because it has dislodged Apple in second place in the global smartphone market. CNBC  reports in what seems to be a re-hash of an advisory issued six years ago, that the heads of CIA, FBI, and NSA warned the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee that Americans should be cautioned against buying Huawei and ZTE smartphones, two popular Chinese brands. Ironically, the U.S. brand, Apple, has been accused also of spying on user data.

FBI Director Chris Wray issued the strongest ever statement against the popular brand, “We’re deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don’t share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks. That provides the capacity to exert pressure or control over our telecommunications infrastructure. It provides the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information. And it provides the capacity to conduct undetected espionage.”

Is life imitating art in the post-Cold War era? Is your innocent little phone, a depository of confidential information moonlighting as a spy? Huawei, based in Shenzen China is a 30-year old company but has only been producing handsets since 2003. Present in 170 countries, it has shipped over 139 million units, and in Sept. 2017 dislodged Apple’s firm position as the second most popular brand and is now just behind Samsung. However, this second place position is disputable because Counterpoint Research claims that it is highly popular only in China, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East but not in Northern America. Furthermore, none of its models have ranked as the best selling models with the top spots claimed by iPhone, Oppo, and Samsung.

So, is this commercial witchhunt or a legitimate concern about possible “undetected espionage”? Here’s what the U.S. consumer market was warned about six years ago – a deja vu to current claims:

Huawei has faced grave accusations from the U.S., Australian, and Canadian governments. The U.S. Congress has even gone to the factories but isn’t convinced six years after the initial controversy that Huawei is above board and is not a security threat. Why then were Huawei and ZTE allowed to sell (and prosper) in the U.S. market even after the congressional committee (back in 2012) declared that it had no confidence in these two Chinese companies as far as providing infrastructure, equipment, and services in the U.S. because of the risk to cybersecurity? In particular, there was fear that embedded electronic bugs that could transmit data furtively back to China. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee claimed that there was a legitimate concern because of the potential leak of trade secrets. The U.S. at that time was reeling from a cyber-attack that exposed 300B worth of trade information that would impact U.S. market competitiveness. Congress has also admitted it was protectionist because Huawei was producing cheap but high-quality products that will potentially outsell U.S. brands at home and internationally.

Back in 2012, Huawei and ZTE have denied the claims and have declared that they are not under the control of the Chinese government. At that time, both companies were told that in order to continue doing business in the U.S., there must be complete disclosure of information – including financial records to ensure that these companies are not merely puppets of the Chinese government. Some quarters referred to this pressure as China-bashing.

Fast forward to 2018, despite its attempt to “sanitize” its image and prove that it is not beholden to the Chinese government, the effect of the announcement on Huawei is disastrous. In the midst of this latest controversy, talks collapsed between ATT and Huawei with the American telecommunications carrier pulling out of their deal. Congress has also an impending bill that will ban government employees from using Huawei phones. Furthermore, in what is seen as commercial pressure, a bill (companion bill to Defending U.S. Government Communications Act) is being introduced by Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, that will prohibit the government from engaging in a contract with companies that use Huawei or ZTE products, equipments or component parts. He is the same congressman who asked for a show of hands on whether they should recommend to Americans the use of smartphones produced by Apple’s Chinese competitors.

Huawei claims that they are in the U.S. for business and not likely to engage in cloak-and-dagger activities. They had reacted strongly to allegations during CES. Huawei released a statement saying that the Congressional report “employs many rumors and speculations to prove non-existent accusations…We have to suspect that the only purpose of such a report is to impede competition and obstruct Chinese ICT companies from entering the US market.”

Whether the claims are true or proven to be high-level paranoia, it pays to be cautious when using our smart devices. Here are some ways we could protect ourselves from inadvertently leaking information to both iOS and Androids.

 

OnePlus 5T: Phone Won’t Stream Netflix, Amazon Prime Video in HD

OnePlus 5T has earned its reputation to be a smartphone that has a wider screen display. The Android-powered device features a cinematic 18:9 screen. However, OnePlus 5T users won’t be able to enjoy watching movies using any popular streaming service.

But the company explains that it will dispatch an update as soon as possible. The update will fix the bug that hinders movie streaming service to play on the device. OnePlus 5T users claim that their smartphones cannot play Netflix or Amazon Prime Video in high definition( HD).

It is sad to note that the company did not give a hint when an update is coming. What is clear though is that a solution is at hand. According to tech analysts, OnePlus 5T devices lack Widevine rights management certification.

The Widevine Level 1 DRM allows the OnePlus 5T device to play HD movies. The problem has surfaced in a OnePlus public forum. The lack of HD streaming supports only complicates the situation. Currently, OnePlus 5T only supports the standard streams using Widevine Level 3.

This means that both Netflix and Amazon Prime Video were safeguarded with digital rights management. Since OnePlus 5T is an Android device, Google requires that a phone must have Widevine Level 1 solution in order to play HD videos.

What is Widevine?

The Widevine is the widely used DRM solution when it comes to protecting digital content. It is available on 4 billion devices across the globe that include mobiles devices—Apple, Google, PCs, Blu-Ray players, and gaming consoles as well.

Widevine Technologies developed Widevine solution. Google acquired the company back in December 2010 for $160 million.

The Verge reported, on the other hand, said that OnePlus and ZTE might actually decide to skip the process of acquiring the Widevine L1 solution.

ZTE and Mozilla to release Firefox powered device soon

According to a ZTE spokesperson, the company is eyeing to release their Firefox powered smartphones before the year ends or early 2103.

Mozilla, which developed the Firefox browser, will as well lead the charge for the Firefox OS.

The world’s fourth largest mobile phone vendor is planning to separate themselves from Android and Windows, as they delve making Firefox OS as their OS of choice.

According to ZTE spokesperson David Dai Shu, “We are trying to increase our efforts in coming up with our own operating system, while introducing products based on Android.”

“It’s all part of our wider plans to create a better balance of products using various operating systems. We won’t just rely on Android or Windows,” he added.

He added that ZTE will unveil the operating system together with Mozilla in the months to come. He added that the company will be releasing the first Firefox powered device together with the roll out of the OS or a little later.

Majority of ZTE’s smartphones carries the Adnroid line while the ‘Tania’ line carries Windows.

Dai noted, “We are working with a regional telecom carrier outside of China to unveil products based on our own operating system.”

Image Source: techradar.com