Tech

China said to be discussing ZTE ban with U.S. officials
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The Chinese government is reportedly going to bat for ZTE over a seven-year ban that would have broad ranging consequences for the phone maker. According to a new report from Reuters, the subject was broached during a meeting with between senior Chinese and U.S. officials in Beijing this week. The ban imposed by the Department of Commerce is the result of a violation against U.S. Iranian sanctions. ZTE pled guilty, agreeing to pay a fine and penalize employees. After the DOC insisted it failed to do the latter, it barred US companies from selling software or components to the phone maker for seven years. Between chip makers like Qualcomm and software providers including, most notably, Google, the restrictions will prove next to impossible for ZTE to circumvent. For many, the steep penalt [...]
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HTC confirms its newest flagship smartphone will arrive May 23
techcrunch.com
Perennial smartphone struggler HTC has revealed its newest smartphone — the U12/U12+ — will launch on May 23. The big spoiler from the company is that the phone will include… components. Coming Soon. A phone that is more than the sum of its specs. pic.twitter.com/m2skJSK0qt — HTC (@htc) May 3, 2018 That isn’t exactly an informative teaser, but we do actually have a flavor for what HTC will bring to market. Serial leaker Evan Blass, writing for VentureBeat, revealed a dual-camera setup on the reverse of the phone, with a Snapdragon 845 chipset, 6GB of RAM and either 64GB or 128GB of internal storage under the hood. HTC badly needs this device to be a winner. Its most recent results for Q4 2017 were grim with a loss $337 million from total sales of $540 mill [...]
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You can now easily buy movie tickets with Google Assistant
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Google Assistant is gaining some new capabilities thanks to a deal with Fandango that should make ordering movie tickets a quick and easy process. Simply tell Google Assistant that you want to buy some movie tickets and you’ll see what’s playing nearby; you can dial in the specificity to find out just what’s playing at a specific theater or at which theaters a particular flick is going to be. The deal is going live on May the Fourth in honor of the Star Wars marketing holiday and the fact that advanced tickets for Solo: A Star Wars Story are going on sale today. This functionality is something that’s been available on Siri, but Google Assistant allows you to make the purchase without downloading the Fandango app, which had pretty much negated most of the utility [...]
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Washé raises $3.5 million for its on-demand car washing service and biz platform
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Another startup wants to make on-demand car washing work, where others have failed. Washé, a Boca Raton-based service for on-demand washes, has raised $3.5 million in seed funding to continue to grow its business, which involves a mobile app consumers use to connect with Washé’s network of around 1,000 licensed and insured car washing professionals. The round was led by veteran tech entrepreneur Ron Zuckerman, currently a board member at TV Time, and included other, unnamed investors. Washé, which operates in parts of Florida, Southern California, and more recently, Georgia and New Jersey, has performed roughly 100,000 car washes to date in the South Florida market – its largest – and is currently seeing 125 percent growth, it says. To use the service, customers downlo [...]
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Nintendo’s new president aims to build a billion-dollar mobile gaming business
techcrunch.com
It’s a time of optimism and transition at Nintendo, where brisk sales of the Switch have bolstered its bottom line and new leadership signals a fresh approach to the market. Shuntaro Furukawa, the new president, told the Nikkei that one of his plans is to pursue mobile gaming with more vigor, aiming to build it into a billion-dollar business. Furukawa is taking over from Tatsumi Kimishima, who took the helm temporarily after the tragic and sudden death of the beloved Satoru Iwata in 2015. He’s only 46, and clearly as a member of the younger generation has different outlook on mobile, which the company completely avoided until very recently. “The idea that something will emerge that transforms into something big, in the same manner as game consoles, is the defining motive [...]
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WhatsApp’s stories hit 450M users, stealing the globe from Snapchat
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Snapchat neglected the international market in its early years, and now WhatsApp has snatched that growth opportunity. WhatsApp’s clone of Snapchat Stories, WhatsApp Status, now has 450 million daily active users. That’s compared to just 187 million daily users on all of Snapchat. This update from today’s F8 conference comes after Facebook said WhatsApp Status and Instagram Stories had 300 million daily users as of November. WhatsApp is getting stickers Group video calling is coming to WhatsApp Rather than rest on its laurels, WhatsApp just announced stickers and Group Video calling to make the lean communications utility more fun. Users already spend 2 billion minutes per day on WhatsApp video and audio calls. But in the coming months, they’ll be able to have at [...]
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Facebook and Instagram Stories open to sharing from other apps
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Facebook is recruiting help to make its Stories more interesting than Snapchat’s. Starting with Spotify, SoundCloud and GoPro, third-party apps can now let their users share to Facebook Stories and Instagram Stories. Rather than screenshotting, users will be able to hit a button to share a photo or video of a playlist, song or mini-movie from another app into Facebook or Instagram’s Stories camera, where they can embellish it with effects and post it to their friends. GoPro’s integration actually lets you edit your movies inside Facebook’s apps, while you can immediately start listening to songs shared from Spotify and SoundCloud. Facebook’s CPO Chris Cox announced the feature at Facebook’s F8 conference, saying that he’s excited to see what deve [...]
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Chinese government admits collection of deleted WeChat messages
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Chinese authorities revealed over the weekend that they have the capability of retrieving deleted messages from the almost universally used WeChat app. The admission doesn’t come as a surprise to many, but it’s rare for this type of questionable data collection tactic to be acknowledged publicly. As noted by the South China Morning Post, an anti-corruption commission in Hefei province posted Saturday to social media that it has “retrieved a series of deleted WeChat conversations from a subject” as part of an investigation. The post was deleted Sunday, but not before many had seen it and understood the ramifications. Tencent, which operates the WeChat service used by nearly a billion people (including myself), explained in a statement that “WeChat does not sto [...]
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