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China’s smartphone giants reportedly unite to challenge Google’s Play Store



Huawei, Xiaomi, and BBK’s Oppo and Vivo are working together on a platform that will allow developers outside of China to upload their apps to all of the respective app stores simultaneously, Reuters reports. The manufacturers have joined together under the Global Developer Service Alliance (GDSA) in what appears to be an attempt to challenge the international dominance of Google’s Play Store.

Since the Google Play Store is banned in China, Android users have grown accustomed to downloading apps from a variety of different app stores, many of which are maintained by manufacturers like Huawei and Oppo. But outside of China, the Google Play Store reigns supreme, providing a convenient single location where developers can upload their software. This near-monopoly means that third-party app stores have struggled with developer support internationally, and it’s this advantage that could be challenged by the GDSA’s platform.EACH MANUFACTURER OPERATES ITS OWN APP STORE IN CHINA

GDSA’s prototype website notes that its services are planned for nine countries and regions, including India, Indonesia, Russia, and Malaysia. Reuters notes that the companies are strong in different regions, such as Xiaomi in India or Huawei in Europe. But together, they control over 40 percent of worldwide smartphone shipments as of the fourth quarter of last year. The new platform would make it easier for developers to upload their apps to every store at once while ensuring some degree of parity across app stores.

The Play Store’s international dominance is a much more acute problem for Huawei, which lost its license to offer Google’s apps and services last year, including the Google Play Store. This was such a problem that Huawei decided against officially releasing its last flagship, the Mate 30, internationally. The company has also announced it’s working on its own operating system called Harmony OS, and it says it’s investing $1 billion to fund the development, user growth, and marketing of Huawei Mobile Services, its alternative to Google’s services.

The Play Store provides a significant revenue stream for Google, which takes a 30 percent cut of any sales made through the store. In total, it’s thought to have made the company around $8.8 billion worldwide last year, according to one analyst quoted by Reuters. China’s phone makers want a slice of that pie as handset sales slow globally.

Reuters reports that a March launch was planned for the new platform, but this may have been delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak.


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Mercedes engineers help deliver pandemic crisis device in under 100 hours




Mercedes has played a pivotal role in helping to produce a key device in the battle against the coronavirus.

The team’s High Performance Powertrains [HPP] department, in conjunction with mechanical engineers at University College London [UCL] and clinicians at University College London Hospitals [UCLH], have developed a breathing aid that can help keep Covid-19 patients out of intensive care.00:2200:59

Known as Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), the device has been used extensively in hospitals in Italy and China to help coronavirus patients with serious lung infections to breathe more easily, when oxygen alone is insufficient.

The first breathing aid was produced in under 100 hours following an initial meeting. One hundred devices are to be delivered to UCLH for clinical trials, followed by the delivery of thousands in a rapid roll-out to hospitals around the country ahead of the predicted surge in Covid-19 hospital admissions.

Professor Tim Baker, of UCL Mechanical Engineering, said: “Given the urgent need, we are thankful that we were able to reduce a process that could take years down to a matter of days.

“From being given the brief, we worked all hours of the day, disassembling and analysing an off-patent device. Using computer simulations, we improved the device further to create a state-of-the-art version suited to mass production.

“We were privileged to be able to call on the capability of Formula One – a collaboration made possible by the close links between UCL Mechanical Engineering and HPP.”

Mercedes’ assistance is part of ‘Project Pitlane’, a collaboration between seven UK teams – Red Bull, Racing PointHaas, Mercedes, McLarenRenault and Williams – who have answered the call of the UK government for assistance in the development and manufacture of ventilators.

HPP managing director Andy Cowell said: “The Formula One community has shown an impressive response to the call for support, coming together in the ‘Project Pitlane’ collective to support the national need at this time across a number of different projects.

“We have been proud to put our resources at the service of UCL to deliver the CPAP project to the highest standards and in the fastest possible timeframe.”


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Microsoft Bows to Pressure, Ends External Investment into Facial Recognition Startups Due to Limited Control




Computer software and hardware company, Microsoft has decided to suspend minority investment into startups developing facial recognition technology. This suspension comes after the tech giants, under heavy pressure, backed out of AnyVision, its last portfolio company developing facial recognition.

AnyVision is an Israeli startup. According to an audit initiated by Microsoft’s venture arm, M12 and carried out by former US Attorney-General, Eric Holder and an international law firm, Covington and Burling LLP, AnyVision’s facial recognition technology was being used by the Israeli government in surveillance of Palestinians along the West Bank.

While AnyVision wasn’t implicated by the report for powering a mass surveillance programme in the West Bank and as such does not contravene the pledge the startup signed with M12, pressure was however mounting from both Palestinian, Jewish and American authorities to drop the startup.

Bowing to pressure after seeing the ultimate need to do so, Microsoft decided to cut ties with, not just AnyVision, but all minority investments developing sensitive tech.

By making a global change to its investment policies to end minority investments in companies that sell facial recognition technology, Microsoft’s focus has shifted to commercial relationships that afford Microsoft greater oversight and control over the use of sensitive technologies.M12 said in a release

Regulating the application of Facial Recognition

The issue of regulations and policies surrounding facial recognition and other sensitive technology has been one which big tech companies like Microsoft have been unable to resolve with government and its agencies. And Microsoft has always been at the forefront in the fight to make solid regulations guiding the use of these technologies.

Microsoft Ends External Investment in Facial Recognition Starups Worldwide
Brad Smith

As far back as 2018, Microsoft president, Brad Smith had been calling on the US government to make clear and solid regulations to govern the use of these sensitive technologies. When his appeals seemed to fall on deaf ears, the president, alongside his board, decided to create their own regulations, tagging them ‘principles’.

“We and other tech companies need to start creating safeguards to address facial recognition technology,” Mr Smith said. “After substantial discussion and review, we have decided to adopt six principles to manage these issues at Microsoft. We are sharing these principles now, with a commitment and plans to implement them by the end of the first quarter in 2019.”

These six Microsoft principles guiding its application, use and by extension, investment in facial recognition technology are: fairness, transparency, accountability, non-discrimination, notice and consent, and lawful surveillance.

Difficulty controlling minority investments

With its six principles laid out, Microsoft could control, not only how it deploys its own facial recognition technologies, but also how its portfolio companies developing the technology deploys it.

The problem, however, is controlling companies where it only has minority stakes or investments is not feasible. Thus, while it would share in the blame when such companies default, it couldn’t really do much to make them conform to its principles.

Access Bank's Revolutionary Face Payment Technology May Hit the Market Soon

Thus for the purpose of its image the sensible thing to do would be to walk away. Which is exactly what the company is doing.

“For Microsoft, the audit process reinforced the challenges of being a minority investor in a company that sells sensitive technology, since such investments do not generally allow for the level of oversight or control that Microsoft exercises over the use of its own technology,” Microsoft said in its statement.

Facial recognition technology is one of those areas in tech considered as delicate. This is because of its close association with personal information and tracking which could easily violate the laws of privacy, enables stalking and even espionage.

Since its establishment in 2016, Microsoft’s ventures arm, M12 has been involved in 353 funding rounds and investing nearly $5 billion into its portfolio companies.


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Sports Fans Get Ready as Wizkid Gives Away TECNO Camon 15 During Online Launch




It is getting closer and closer to the TECNO CAMON 15 series online launch day, and more information has been leaked.

Many subscribers have even received a phone invitation from Wizkid himself! We heard that Wizkid will attend the unprecedented online launch, and there will be surprise gifts offered by Wizkid.

Sound exciting?

There are numerous reasons that you should check out the CAMON 15 online launch–here are four of the most compelling ones!

It’s the first-ever smartphone online launch in Africa

History is being made! The online launch of a smartphone is unprecedented in Africa, and TECNO proudly presents its new smartphone CAMON 15 as a pioneer in the industry.

It’s not only an excellent opportunity for TECNO to communicate with the audience directly, but it also means that the Internet in Africa is coming to a new phase. It is a great pleasure and honour to see the latest technological progress in the 2020s.

Music fans–Wizkid will be there waiting for you

One of the most popular idols from Nigeria, whose music has accumulated over 128 million views on YouTube, the talented singer and songwriter Wizkid is also a fan of TECNO smartphones!

Wizkid will apparently be present at the online launch and will be giving away gifts to some lucky viewers. Are you wondering about the collaboration between Wizkid and the TECNO CAMON 15? We will learn more soon!

During the launch event, TECNO will introduce the new technology featured on its phone

As a high-tech company, TECNO strives to constantly lead the frontier of the smartphone industry. Featured the top-quality camera on the market in CAMON 15, the company utilized the latest technology innovations such as a SONY chip 64 megapixels, and TAIVOS™ (TECNO AI Vision Optimization) in their product to increase the camera’s performance.

The CAMON 15 specializes in night-time photography; the strong computational support reduces the noise in the image in low light environments, increasing the photo quality significantly.

The SONY camera is also able to detect minute details from 30 meters away, it enhances the image definition and keeps a refined vision even after zooming in for 8 times.

No matter whether you are a technology geek or have a casual interest in smartphone technology, you will learn a lot from the online launch because TECNO will give you a full presentation on their newest and most cutting-edge technology.

You will have access to all the information you need before you buy your next smartphone

Think about buying a new smartphone but are overwhelmed by the many choices on the market? Find it hard to decide? We understand your struggle. In order to make good purchasing decisions, you need to make informed purchasing decisions, and that’s part of why watching the online launch will be so interesting for you! Simply stay at home and watch it on Channels Television and Startimes Zone, it is so easy to make it! The more information you get, the more you understand the product and what to expect from it. You will also get to understand CAMON 15 in every regard. Don’t miss the chance to make a smart choice!

TECNO has made a truly big move this time.


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