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.

Why is video quality on Instagram and Snapchat so much worse on Android than iOS?

Android Central:

It’s the case of one versus many again. When you add hundreds of different phones with hundreds of different cameras and hundreds of different screen sizes and resolutions, it can seem impossible. With Android, that’s what you have. Developers have a particular set of rules and instructions about how to use the camera in iOS because there are so few models, and Apple does the work of making a set of rules that work on all of them.

That’s not how Android works. If you want a big phone with a big screen, you have plenty of choices from plenty of companies. The same goes if you want a smaller phone or a cheap phone or an ultra-high resolution phone. Android is software that works on many things, while iOS is software that works on just a few things that all come from the same company.

That means that there are countless different camera setups that Snapchat and Instagram need to support. And they could offer the same level of quality and support that is there for iOS if they wanted to, but that would mean hiring a lot more people and taking a lot more time.

Google learned this early in Android’s life: developers either can’t or don’t want to support many models of phones with many different camera setups. The solution was to offer a bare minimum level of support that works with every phone. Your new Galaxy S20 might have a spectacular camera, but with none of the extra features and none of the automatic control that Samsung built into it available, you get that bare minimum. And it shows.

This is a struggle we face with our Android app. There are just too many combinations of hardware and software environments we need to optimize for. In contrast, the iOS app is a lot easier to maintain.

Google faces $5 billion lawsuit in US for tracking 'private' internet use

Reuters:

The lawsuit seeks at least $5 billion, accusing the Alphabet Inc unit of surreptitiously collecting information about what people view online and where they browse, despite their using what Google calls Incognito mode.

According to the complaint filed in the federal court in San Jose, California, Google gathers data through Google Analytics, Google Ad Manager and other applications and website plug-ins, including smartphone apps, regardless of whether users click on Google-supported ads.

This helps Google learn about users’ friends, hobbies, favorite foods, shopping habits, and even the “most intimate and potentially embarrassing things” they search for online, the complaint said.

So what does Google have to say about this?

Jose Castaneda, a Google spokesman, said the Mountain View, California-based company will defend itself vigorously against the claims.

“As we clearly state each time you open a new incognito tab, websites might be able to collect information about your browsing activity,” he said.

Really?

Michael Tsai:

When you open a new incognito tab, Chrome tells you:

Now you can browse privately, and other people who use this device won’t see your activity.

[…]

Your activity might still be visible to:

Websites you visit Your employer or school Your internet service provider

Not deceptive at all.

Users should be told that they are tracked by Google even in Incognito mode.

Urbanization is driving a wave of new internet users in China

Urbanization is driving a wave of new internet users in China:

We estimate that 914.1 million people in China will be internet users in 2020, which represents 65.6% of the population. This figure should cross 975 million by 2022, even as growth rates decline from 4.5% this year to 3.1% in 2022.

China has rapidly become a nation of urbanites, and every year, fewer people live in areas deemed to be “rural.” This process is significant, because consumer access to and use of modern technology tend to rise as urbanization grows. Whether because of population transfers to existing cities or infrastructure and economic development in previously rural areas, 60.6% of China now lives in a district designated as “urban.”

[…]

Most non-internet users in China are offline for several reasons: poverty, lack of education or literacy, old age, lack of interest or lack of access to internet enabled technology and an internet service provider.

The initiative to eradicate poverty will further drive the numbers down.