Apple/Google coronavirus API: not one US state is yet using it

9to5Mac:

An analyst of the US contact tracing landscape paints a depressing picture. Not a single US state currently offers an app that uses the Apple/Google coronavirus contact tracing API — and only four states plan to do so.

Others have launched GPS-based apps that raise immediate privacy concerns and are unlikely to see significant adoption, while the majority of states who responded plan to offer nothing at all…

After all that effort to get the API out as soon as possible to deal with the pandemic? So instead of curbing the spread of the virus, the decision is not to use something that has been proven effective. In some cases, the decision is to go with something that has greater privacy concerns.

Apple defends App Store's 30% cut ahead of Tim Cook testimony

CNBC:

For Cook, the questioning is expected to center around Apple’s App Store, which is the only way to install consumer software on an iPhone. For years, developers have alleged Apple engages in anti-competitive behavior, with complaints centering around Apple’s 30% cut of digital goods, and business practices such as requiring developers to use Apple’s payment system for digital purchases.

It’s a given that the App Store has to review the apps and ensure that the apps that we install are safe and secure. How can the process be made more easily accessible without compromising the security of our devices?

“The commission rates charged by digital marketplaces most similar to the App Store, such as other app stores and video game digital marketplaces, are generally around 30%,” the authors of the study wrote.

The Apple-backed study has four major findings:

  • Most app stores charge the same 30% cut on digital goods.
  • Retailers, travel booking services and other marketplaces can charge more than 30% for their services.
  • Distributing software through an app store is less expensive than distributing through brick-and-mortar retailers.
  • Other app stores and digital marketplaces often require users to use their in-app payment mechanism and forbid sellers from redirecting buyers to finish the transaction in another venue.

I wonder if anyone has done a comparison chart on this?

Tencent-backed Missfresh raises $495 million

Tencent-backed Missfresh raises $495 million · TechNode:

Tencent-backed grocery delivery startup Missfresh has raised $495 million in funding, billing the round as the largest single fundraising in China’s grocery delivery industry, Chinese media reported.

Instead of ordering waimai(takeout food) that is generally considered unhealthy, the trend is to order groceries before they get off work so the groceries is delivered when they reach home, just in time for them to prepare dinner. Delivery time stated on the app is within 30 minutes, though my personal experience so far is around 15 minutes.

  • The unexpected boost came as whole cities were placed under lockdown to curb the spread of the disease, forcing people to stay at home.
  • The resurgance of the grocery delivery market offers a boost to several players in the sector, including JD Daojia, Meituan, and Ele.me, Dingdong Maicai.

The lockdown forced people to cook at home and this helped with the growth of the grocery delivery industry. Pupu Mall is another emerging player.

Apple files for patent for coordinated control of media playback

Apple World Today:

Here’s the summary of the patent: “Methods and systems provide for coordinated control between multiple devices of playback of a media track or playlist. The multiple devices may form an ad-hoc network for sharing control of media. A control device may coordinate control of the playlist and facilitate playback of the media at a playback device. Then when the control device leaves the group, a second device in the group will seamlessly become the control device and control playback and playlist coordination.

“The playback device may also be the control device. The playback advice may be a network-enabled speaker. Where the playback device is separate from the control device, the playback device may maintain sufficient information to operate without a control device until a new control device is selected.”

I’m so used to taking a call from one device and then continuing it on another. It’ll be awesome if the same happens for music or even video. Though, this would need to work on third party apps to be useful to most people rather than just within Apple Music and Apple TV+.

How to remove YouTube tracking

Dries Buytaert:

After some research, I discovered that YouTube offers a privacy-enhanced way of embedding videos. Instead of linking to youtube.com, link to youtube-nocookie.com, and no data-collecting HTTP cookie will be sent. This is Google’s way of providing GDPR-compliant YouTube videos.

Time to go update your links. This ties in with removing Google Analytics from sites that don’t benefit much from the tracking.

Olympus sells camera division

Digital Camera World:

In huge news within the camera industry, it has been announced that Olympus Corporation will be divesting its imaging business to a Japanese private equity fund.

Olympus’ camera division will be owned by Japan Industrial Partners (JIP), with an agreement expected to be finalized by 30 September 2020.

According to 43 Rumors, JIP specializes in restructuring loss-making businesses to make them profitable before reselling them to “corporate acquirers” (such as purchasing Sony’s PC business, Vaio).

Olympus has fallen. After 84 years, Olympus ends its camera division. The company founded the Micro Four Thirds standard with Panasonic and remained committed to the system that has helped many beginners and enthusiasts dabble in photography by lowering the barrier of entry.

As a photographer and camera lover, I have always been fond of Olympus camera designs. My favourite is the Olympus Pen F film camera. It is a sad day, though we have to see what direction Olympus will continue to take in terms of camera making.

Microsoft Store announces new approach to retail

Microsoft:

(“Microsoft”) today announced a strategic change in its retail operations, including closing Microsoft Store physical locations. The company’s retail team members will continue to serve customers from Microsoft corporate facilities and remotely providing sales, training, and support. Microsoft will continue to invest in its digital storefronts on Microsoft.com, and stores in Xbox and Windows, reaching more than 1.2 billion people every month in 190 markets. The company will also reimagine spaces that serve all customers, including operating Microsoft Experience Centers in London, NYC, Sydney, and Redmond campus locations. The closing of Microsoft Store physical locations will result in a pre-tax charge of approximately $450M, or $0.05 per share, to be recorded in the current quarter ending June 30, 2020. The charge includes primarily asset write-offs and impairments.

“Our sales have grown online as our product portfolio has evolved to largely digital offerings, and our talented team has proven success serving customers beyond any physical location,” said Microsoft Corporate Vice President David Porter. “We are grateful to our Microsoft Store customers and we look forward to continuing to serve them online and with our retail sales team at Microsoft corporate locations.”

I’ve seen comments about how this is a PR spin and that the new approach is to move away from retail. Online retail is still retail. This has been the trend in the booming ecommerce market in China. Unless the products on sale are impulse buys, physical retail stores nowadays are more of a place to showcase items where potential buyers can test out the items before the purchase.

However, this has increasingly become less important of an issue in China due to the high quality of customer service. You can purchase many items to try for 7 days and return with no questions asked as long as you retain the original packaging and keep the item in mint condition. So there’s no need to go into a retail store. Order your item, it gets delivered to your doorstep for you to take it for a spin for a week. If you don’t like it, the delivery person comes to your door to pick up the return on the same or following day.

China’s influence in the Indian Smartphone Market

Shenzhen Blog:

China controls at least 73% of Indian Smartphone Market. 4 out of 5 top selling brands in India are Chinese. The only prominent non-Chinese player in Indian Smartphone Market is Samsung.

[…]

3 out of top 5 Chinese Smartphone brands are owned by BBK electronics.

Brands under BBK electronics: Oppo, RealMe, Vivo, Oneplus, and recently it launched Iqoo; another brand that will focus on the Indian market, while RealMe is a sub-brand of Oppo.

Collectively BBK has around 50% of Indian Smartphone Market beating Xioami as the biggest brand in India.

Unsurprisingly, many consumers are still not familiar with BBK Electronics. The company has surpassed Xiaomi with its sub brand strategy.

Stop DuckDuckGo Clickjacking

Jeff Johnson via Michael Tsai:

DuckDuckGo still uses JavaScript to intercept your link clicks, and there’s no good reason for it. One consequence of this clickjacking is that your Safari browsing history gets messed up.

This explains why some sites are missing in Safari history. Also, when I type in the search bar and then open a suggested link that was discovered via a DuckDuckGo search it brings me back to the search results instead of the site.

Livestreaming in China: only for sales or is there brand value?

Ashley Dudarenok on TechNode:

  1. A large number of multi-channel networks (MCNs), which are like incubators for new KOLs and online personalities, have appeared and the competition is fierce.

There were around 14,500 MCNs in China in 2019. It’s estimated that by the end of 2020, there will be more than 20,000 and might be as many as 28,000.

The MCN market is saturated and it’s becoming less and less cost-effective for the MCNs to create popular KOLs. Beauty ONE’s “BA Celebrity” plan selected 200 amateurs and spent two years developing only one top celebrity—Li Jiaqi. A report from online news site Xinkuaibao claimed that labor costs for training a celebrity are at least RMB 1 million a year.

The costs is high because of how the MCNs try to game the system to go viral. They seed dozens of different cuts of the same video across hundreds of accounts on different platforms such as Douyin, Kuaishou and other video platforms to see which cut gets picked up by the algorithm. Then the cut that has the higher chance of going viral goes on the KOL account.