Winning the web means winning Google searches. This $29 SEO training can get it done

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By TNW Deals

TLDR: The Pro Google SEO and SERP Certification Bundle can turn you into an SEO expert with tips and tactics for putting your brand at the top of those valuable Google search results. If you have any responsibility for a brand or play any role in marketing, then you know about search engine optimization (SEO). And you probably know that deft use of SEO practices can draw a straight line from you and your product to heightened web exposure and higher sales. Google drives over 2.5 trillion web searches a year and controls over 86 percent of the search engine…

This story continues at The Next Web

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Here are 15 of the most asked Node.js interview questions

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By Live Code Stream

Got a programming interview coming up? Preparing for it is as important as developing your coding knowledge to ace it. It’ll give you the confidence to handle the interview and shake off the jitters. This is especially true if you are facing a programming interview for the first time in your life. To help Node.js developers achieve the necessary preparedness for an interview, I have put together a list of 15 commonly asked Node.js- and web development-related interview questions. These questions and their answers will also prompt you to brush up on any areas you feel need improvement before the big interview.…

This story continues at The Next Web

Source:: The Next Web

      

How To Block Websites On Chrome? [Easy & 100% Effective]

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By Charanjeet Singh

block chrome websites

Google Chrome automatically blocks websites that have malicious intent, however, sometimes even the most popular browser in the world fails to recognize threats.

This is where you can take it upon yourself to block certain websites on Chrome. You might also be looking to block sites on Chrome to increase your productivity and minimize the distractions.

Whether you want your family members to avoid a malicious website or you just want to limit your visit to social media sites, blocking websites on Chrome from your end is a fairly easy process.

How to block websites on Chrome?

Google Chrome, unfortunately, does not allow users to block websites in-house unless you are a Chrome Enterprise administrator who wants to stop its employees from visiting a website.

Thankfully, there are multiple third-party extensions that can block websites on Chrome with ease.

  1. Go to the BlockSite extension page on the Chrome web store
  2. Click on Add to Chrome
    BlockSite Add to Chrome
  3. Again, click on Add Extension in the pop-up window.
    add Blocksite to Chrome
    (After installing BlockSite on Chrome, you will see an orange-colored icon along with your other Chrome extensions on the top right corner)
  4. Visit the website that you want to block on Chrome
  5. Click on the BlockSite extension icon and then click on Block this site
    How to use BlockSite Chrome

In order to block multiple websites on Google Chrome, click on the BlockSite extension icon and click on Edit Block List. Now, on the extension settings page, enter a website URL in the box and tap on + icon.

how to block sites on Chrome

To unblock a website, simply click on the “-” icon on the BlockSite settings page.

Unblock website Google Chrome BlockSite

Make sure to password protect the BlockSite settings page or the blocked websites so that other people cannot unblock the websites without your permission.

BlockSite also enables users to set a blocking schedule for websites. You can even block certain words wherein the extension will block a site on Chrome if it contains blocked words. This would be useful if someone tries to visit a website through messing up the URL.

Note that you can only block up to six websites in the free version of BlockSite.

Other ways to block websites on Chrome

Using a website blocker app

Since we are talking about third-party tools to block sites on Chrome, it goes without saying that there is a huge list of website blockers that you can choose from.

For instance, you can use apps such as Self Control, LeechBlock, and Cold Turkey to block sites on Google Chrome. Since adding extensions to Chrome puts a toll on the system and makes Chrome a system hogger more than it already is, installing a standalone app to block certain websites on Chrome is a better idea.

How to block websites On Google Chrome for Android?

Talking about apps, there are multiple apps on the Google Play Store using which you can block websites on your Android device. For instance, you can use BlockSite’s Android app, AppBlock is also a good option to block websites on Google Chrome mobile.

Using your Wi-Fi Router settings

Another way to block websites on Google Chrome is by using the website blocker available in the Wi-Fi router settings.

If you can’t find the option to block websites, you can also try calling your network service provider and ask them to block certain websites from their end.

Using Chrome URL Blocklist

As we said earlier, Chrome does feature a URL Blocker but that can only be used if you are an organization using the Chrome Enterprise administrator account.

There, an organization can create an enterprise policy that prohibits users from accessing certain websites. The admin can even enforce the same policy on all Chrome platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, Chromebook).

We hope you will be able to block websites on Google Chrome with ease. Let us know in the comments below if you know of a better way to block a URL on Chrome.

The post How To Block Websites On Chrome? [Easy & 100% Effective] appeared first on Fossbytes.

Source:: Fossbytes

      

7 Best Cyberpunk 2077 Cars You Must Have | Top Cyberpunk 2077 Vehicles

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By Shivam Gulati

7 Best Cyberpunk 2077 Cars You Must Get Top Cyberpunk 2077 Vehicles

CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077 is one of the most popular video games right now. Despite the game’s bad performance in old-gen consoles, millions of players enjoy exploring the futuristic open-world of Cyberpunk 2077. If we talk about the exploring aspect, just like GTA 5, having a collection of the best cars in Cyberpunk 2077 is becoming an obsession.

However, it’s hard for most players to pick the best Cyberpunk 2077 vehicles from the lot. That’s why, in this list, I’ve mentioned the 7 best Cyberpunk 2077 cars you must have in your garage right now. So, without any further ado, let’s get started.

Best Cyberpunk 2077 Cars

S.No.Best Cyberpunk 2077 Cars (2021)Price
1Quadra Type-66 “Javelina”€$73,000
2Mizutani Shion “Coyote”€$115,000
3Rayfield Caliburn€$157,000
4Herrera Outlaw GTS€$62,000
5Quadra Turbo-R 740€$129,000
6Rayfield Aerondight S9 “Guinevere”€$225,000
7Quadra Type-66 “Avenger”€$55,000

Disclaimer

Do note that speed isn’t the only consideration factor for the ranking in this list. The appearance, build, and handling has been factored in for the rankings. So, it’s best not to get confused between the best and the fastest cars in Cyberpunk 2077.

1. Quadra Type-66 “Javelina”- Best Car In Cyberpunk 2077

Quadra Type-66 Javelina- Best Car In Cyberpunk 2077
Quadra Type-66 Javelina

Hands down, in my opinion, Quadra Type-66 “Javelina” is the best Cyberpunk 2077 car as of now. It best one of the best Cyberpunk 2077 vehicles if you want to blend in the nomad world. The exterior light armor build and shape of Javelina makes it look like the mini-batmobile of The Badlands. Also, if you want to ride this vehicle in first-person, then rest assured because the interiors of Javelina looks as awesome as the exterior.

Talking about speed, Quadra Type-66 “Javelina” flaunts a top speed of 189mph. The handling of the vehicle is great, and its sturdy build makes it less vulnerable to damage.

If you want to buy Quadra Type-66 “Javelina,” you would have to spend €$73,000. You need to be at Streed Cred Level 30 to be eligible to buy this Cyberpunk 2077 car.

Top Speed: 189mph
Price: €$73,000

How To Get Quadra Type-66 “Javelina”?

Once you reach the Street Cred Level 30, you’ll get a text from a local dealer offering you this vehicle. To receive the text message, start roaming around The Badlands. After that, you can track the vehicle’s location through the Journal and by viewing the map.

2. Mizutani Shion “Coyote”

Mizutani Shion Coyote
Mizutani Shion Coyote

With a top speed of 199mph, Mizutani Shion “Coyote” is the second fastest and one the best Cyberpunk 2077 cars you can buy right now. As the first car on our list, Mizutani Shion “Coyote” is also a Nomad vehicle. However, unlike the Quadra Type-66 “Javelina,” this one will make a hole in your virtual pocket, as it costs around €$115,000.

Besides amazing looks and speed, Mizutani Shion “Coyote” offers great handling, even when you take it off-road. If you want to experience The Badlands truly, this is one of the best Cyberpunk 2077 cars you should buy right now.

Top Speed: 199mph
Price: €$115,000

How To Get Quadra Type-66 “Javelina”?

If you’re above Streed Cred Level 20, then you’d receive a text message from a local dealer in The Badlands offering you this vehicle. What’s interesting is that you can also get this amazing Cyberpunk 2077 car for free after completing the “With a little help of my friends” side mission.

3. Rayfield Caliburn – Fastest Car in Cyberpunk 2077

Rayfield Caliburn - Fastest Car in Cyberpunk 2077.jpg
Rayfield Caliburn

If you’re looking for the fastest Cyberpunk 2077 car, then here’s your answer; Rayfield Caliburn is the fastest car in Cyberpunk 2077. It is a Hypercar that boasts a top speed of 211mph, which is insane. Along with an incredible speed, this vehicle has incredibly responsive handling.

Obviously, with a price tag of €$157,000, this Cyberpunk 2077 is expensive than other vehicles. However, once you drive Rayfield Caliburn, you won’t be driving any other car in the game for a while.

Top Speed: 211mph
Price: €$157,000

How To Get Rayfield Caliburn?

Once you reach Street Cred Level 40, try roaming around in Westbrook, and you’ll get a text from a local fixer regarding the vehicle. On the other hand, you can get Rayfield Caliburn for free after completing the “Ghost Town” mission. Go to the mines where you fight Nash around 11:55 PM, and you’ll find this beauty in a container.

4. Herrera Outlaw GTS

Herrera Outlaw GTS
Herrera Outlaw GTS

If you love roaming in the Night City driving an imported shiny vehicle, Herrera Outlaw GTS is the Hypercar you are looking for in Cyberpunk 2077. Herrera Outlaw GTS is one of the best looking vehicles in Cyberpunk 2077. So, if you don’t own this Cyberpunk 2077 vehicle, then you’re missing out on one of the best driving experiences in the game.

Besides startling looks, Outlaw GTS also comes with an incredible top speed of 186mph. Talking about handling, let’s say that you can easily take sharp turns with Outlaw GTS without crashing it; if you are a good driver, of course.

Top Speed: 186mph
Price: €$62,000

How To Get Herrera Outlaw GTS?

To get your hands on Herrera Outlaw GTS, you need to reach Street Cred Level 30. After that, you will get a text from a local fixer when you are near Corpo Plaza in the City Center.

5. Quadra Turbo-R 740

Quadra Turbo-R 740
Quadra Turbo-R 740

If you are looking for the best sports cars, Quadra Turbo-R 740 is one of the best Cyberpunk 2077 vehicles you can buy right now. Of course, right after looking at Turbo-R 740, you can’t resist your urge to drive this sports car. However, this vehicle offers more than just astonishing looks. With a top speed of 173mph and incredible handling, Quadra Turbo-R 740 is an absolute beast.

Unfortunately, to drive this vehicle in Night City, you would have to give up €$129,000. However, once you own this vehicle, you’ll realize that it is worth every penny.

Top Speed: 173mph
Price: €$129,000

How To Get Herrara Outlaw GTS?

After you’ve reached Street Cred Level 30, drive around Chater Hill in the district of Westbrook. There, you will get a text from a local fixer offering you the chance to buy this sick Cyberpunk 2077 sports car.

6. Rayfield Aerondight S9 “Guinevere” – Most Expensive Cyberpunk 2077 Car

Rayfield Aerondight S9 Guinevere - Most expensive Cyberpunk 2077 car
Rayfield Aerondight S9 Guinevere

If you are rich in the Cyberpunk 2077 universe, there’s no way that you wouldn’t want to buy the astonishing Rayfield Aerondight S9 “Guinevere” Hypercar. Hands down, it is one of the most expensive and best Cyberpunk 2077 cars. Adding this Hypercar to your collection will cost you a whopping sum of €$225,000.

Talking about speed, Rayfield Aerondight S9 “Guinevere” flaunts a top speed of 190mph. So, you’d be flying on Night City’s roads with this vehicle. Also, this Cyberpunk 2077 car is such a beauty that you better be driving it carefully to avoid crashing it.

Top Speed: 190mph
Price: €$225,000

How To Get Rayfield Aerondight S9 “Guinevere”?

First of all, work your way up to reach Street Cred Level 50. Once you do that, find your way towards North Oak in Westbrook district to get a text message from the local fixer.

7. Quadra Type-66 “Avenger”

Quadra Type-66 Avenger
Quadra Type-66 Avenger

Here we are with another Quadra Type-66 vehicle; this time, it’s Quadra Type-66 Avenger. Compared to its base model, this Cyberpunk 2077 sports car boasts a top speed of 185mph. The sound of this vehicle is enough to make you envy the players who already own it.

The partial-rugged looks of this Cyberpunk 2077 car are perfect for the city as well as The Badlands. All you have to do is save up an amount of €$55,000 to add this sports car to your collection.

Top Speed: 185mph
Price: €$55,000

How To Get Rayfield Quadra Type-66 “Avenger”?

Once you reach Street cred Level 20, start roaming in the City Center District. There, you’ll get the text from a local fixer, who will offer you Quadra Type-66 “Avenger.”

That’s it; these are the 7 best Cyberpunk 2077 cars in 2021. If you love having a collection of amazing cars in Cyberpunk 2077, then make sure to add these as well.

The post 7 Best Cyberpunk 2077 Cars You Must Have | Top Cyberpunk 2077 Vehicles appeared first on Fossbytes.

Source:: Fossbytes

      

NASA delays Juno spacecraft’s retirement after detecting mysterious radio waves

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By The Cosmic Companion

The Juno spacecraft, orbiting Jupiter since 2016, has a new lease on life, thanks to NASA. This robotic explorer is now due to continue its mission, at least until September 2025. A mission extension recently granted by NASA extends the Juno program means the spacecraft will continue to gather science about the largest planet in our Solar System and its retinue of dozens of moons. Some of these moons are known to have water (particularly Europa), and they may be among the most-likely places in the Solar System where we might find primitive life. “Since its first orbit in 2016, Juno…

This story continues at The Next Web

Source:: The Next Web

      

Awful parking is the worst thing about escooters — TIER has a plan to fix it

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By Cities Today

This article was originally published by Christopher Carey on Cities Today, the leading news platform on urban mobility and innovation, reaching an international audience of city leaders. For the latest updates follow Cities Today on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube, or sign up for Cities Today News. Escooter firm TIER has partnered with mapping provider Fantasmo to create what it claims is the world’s most accurate escooter parking system. Starting in Paris and York, TIER will implement Fantasmo’s “Camera Positioning System” (CPS), a new positioning technology that is ten times more accurate than GPS and can validate e-scooter parking within 50 centimeters or less…

This story continues at The Next Web

Source:: The Next Web

      

This Week in Apps: TikTok viral hit breaks Spotify records, inauguration boosts news app installs, judge rules against Parler

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Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the weekly TechCrunch series that recaps the latest in mobile OS news, mobile applications and the overall app economy.

The app industry is as hot as ever, with a record 218 billion downloads and $143 billion in global consumer spend in 2020.

Consumers last year also spent 3.5 trillion minutes using apps on Android devices alone. And in the U.S., app usage surged ahead of the time spent watching live TV. Currently, the average American watches 3.7 hours of live TV per day, but now spends four hours per day on their mobile devices.

Apps aren’t just a way to pass idle hours — they’re also a big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x higher than those without a mobile focus. In 2020, investors poured $73 billion in capital into mobile companies — a figure that’s up 27% year-over-year.

This week, we’re looking into how President Biden’s inauguration impacted news apps, the latest in the Parler lawsuit, and how TikTok’s app continues to shape culture, among other things.

Top Stories

Judge says Amazon doesn’t have to host Parler on AWS

Logos for AWS (Amazon Web Services) and Parler. Image Credits: TechCrunch

U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein in Seattle this week ruled that Amazon won’t be required to restore access to web services to Parler. As you may recall, Parler sued Amazon for booting it from AWS’ infrastructure, effectively forcing it offline. Like Apple and Google before it, Amazon had decided that the calls for violence that were being spread on Parler violated its terms of service. It also said that Parler showed an “unwillingness and inability” to remove dangerous posts that called for the rape, torture and assassination of politicians, tech executives and many others, the AP reported.

Amazon’s decision shouldn’t have been a surprise for Parler. Amazon had reported 98 examples of Parler posts that incited violence over the past several weeks before its decision. It told Parler these were clear violations of the terms of service.

Parler’s lawsuit against Amazon, however, went on to claim breach of contract and even made antitrust allegations.

The judge shot down Parler’s claims that Amazon and Twitter were colluding over the decision to kick the app off AWS. Parler’s claims over breach of contract were denied, too, as the contract had never said Amazon had to give Parler 30 days to fix things. (Not to mention the fact that Parler breached the contract on its side, too.) It also said Parler had fallen short in demonstrating the need for an injunction to restore access to Amazon’s web services.

The ruling only blocks Parler from forcing Amazon to again host it as the lawsuit proceeds, but is not the final ruling in the overall case, which is continuing.

TikTok drives another pop song to No. 1 on Billboard charts, breaks Spotify’s record

@livbedumb♬ drivers license – Olivia Rodrigo

We already knew TikTok was playing a large role in influencing music charts and listening behavior. For example, Billboard last year noted how TikTok drove hits from Sony artists like Doja Cat (“Say So”) and 24kGoldn (“Mood”), and helped Sony discover new talent. Columbia also signed viral TikTok artists like Lil Nas X, Powfu, StaySolidRocky, Jawsh 685, Arizona Zervas and 24kGoldn. Meanwhile, Nielsen has said that no other app had helped break more songs in 2020 than TikTok.

This month, we’ve witnessed yet another example of this phenomenon. Olivia Rodrigo, the 17-year-old star of Disney+’s “High School Musical: The Musical: the Series” released her latest song, “Drivers License” on January 8. The pop ballad and breakup anthem is believed to be referencing the actress’ relationship with co-star Joshua Bassett, which gave the song even more appeal to fans.

Upon its release the song was heavily streamed by TikTok users, which helped make it an overnight sensation of sorts. According to a report by The WSJ, Billboard counted 76.1 million streams and 38,000 downloads in the U.S. during the week of its release. It also made a historic debut at No. 1 on the Hot 100, becoming the first smash hit of 2021.

On January 11, “Drivers License” broke Spotify’s record for most streams per day (for a non-holiday song) with 15.17 million global streams. On TikTok, meanwhile, the number of videos featuring the song and the views they received doubled every day, The WSJ said.

Charli D’Amelio’s dance to it on the app has now generated 5 million “Likes” across nearly 33 million views, as of the time of writing.

@charlidamelio♬ drivers license – Olivia Rodrigo

Of course, other TikTok hits have broken out in the past, too — even reaching No. 1 like “Blinding Lights” (The Weeknd) and “Mood” (24kGoldn). But the success of “Drivers License” may be in part due to the way it focuses on a subject that’s more relevant to TikTok’s young, teenage user base. It talks about first loves and being dumped for the other girl. And its title and opening refer to a time many adults have forgotten: the momentous day when you get your driver’s license. It’s highly relatable to the TikTok crowd who fully embraced it and made it a hit.

Weekly News

Platforms: Apple

  • Apple stops signing iOS 12.5, making iOS 12.5.1 the only versions of iOS available to older devices.
  • A report claims Apple’s iOS 15 update will cut support for devices with an A9 chip, like the iPhone 6, iPhone 6s Plus and the original iPhone SE.
  • New analysis estimates Apple’s upcoming iOS privacy changes will cause a roughly 7% revenue hit for Facebook in Q2. The revenue hit will continue in following quarters and will be “material.”

Platforms: Google

  • Google adds “trending” icons to the Play Store. New arrow icons appeared in the Top Charts tab, which indicate whether an app’s downloads are trending up or down, in terms of popularity. This could provide an early signal about those that may still be rising in the charts or beginning to fall out of favor, despite their current high position.
  • Google appears to be working on a Restricted Networking mode for Android 12. The mode, discovered by XDA Developers digging in the Android Open Source Project, would disable network access for all third-party apps.

Gaming

  • Goama (or Go Games) introduced a way for developers to integrate social games into their apps, which was showcased at CES. The company focuses on Asia and Latin America and has more than 15 partners, including GCash and Rappi, for digital payments and communications.
  • Fortnite maker Epic Games is getting into movies. The animated feature film Gilgamesh will use Epic’s Unreal Engine technology to tell the story of the king-turned-deity. The movie is not an in-house project, but rather is financed through Epic’s $100M MegaGrants fund.

Augmented Reality

  • Patents around Apple’s AR and VR efforts describe how a system could be identified in a way that’s similar to FaceID, then either permitted or denied the ability to change their appearance in the game.
  • Pinterest launches AR try-on for eyeshadow in its mobile app using Lens technology and ModiFace data. The app already offered AR try-on for lipsticks.

Entertainment

  • The CW app became the No. 1 app on the App Store this week, topping TikTok, Instagram and YouTube, thanks to CW’s season premieres of Batwoman, All American, Riverdale and Nancy Drew.
  • Users of podcasting app Anchor, owned by Spotify, say the app isn’t bringing them any sponsorship opportunities, as promised, beyond those from Spotify and Anchor itself.
  • YouTube launches hashtag landing pages on the web and in its mobile app. The pages are accessible when you click hashtags on YouTube, not via search, and weirdly rank the “best” videos through some inscrutable algorithm.
  • Apple’s Podcasts app adds a new editorial feature, Apple Podcasts Spotlight, meant to increase podcast listening by showcasing the best podcasts as selected by Apple editors.

E-commerce

  • WeChat facilitated 1.6 trillion yuan (close to $250 billion) in annual transactions through its “mini programs” in 2020. The figure is more than double that of 2019.

Fintech

  • Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, launched an e-wallet, Douyin Pay. The wallet will supplement the existing payment options, Alipay and WeChat Pay, and will help to support the Douyin app’s growing e-commerce business.
  • Neobank Monzo founder Tom Blomfield left the startup, saying he struggled during the pandemic. “I think [for] a lot of people in the world…going through a pandemic, going through lockdown and the isolation involved in that has an impact on people’s mental health,” he told TechCrunch.
  • New estimates indicate about 50% of the iPhone user base (or 507 million users) now use Apple Pay. 
  • Samsung’s newest phones drop support for MST, which emulates a mag stripe at terminals that don’t support NFC.

Social

  • Indian messaging app, StickerChat, owned by Hike, is shutting down. Founder Kavin Bharti Mittal said India will never have a homegrown messenger unless it bars Western companies from its market. Hike pivoted this month to virtual social apps, Vibe and Rush, which it believes have more potential.
  • Instagram head Adam Mosseri, in a Verge podcast, said he’s not happy with Reels so far, and how he feels most people probably don’t understand the difference between Instagram video and IGTV. He says the social network needs to simplify and consolidate ideas.
  • Facebook and Instagram improve their accessibility features. The apps’ AI-generated image captions now offer far more details about who or what is in the photos, thanks to improvements in image recognition systems.
  • TikTok launches a Q&A feature that lets creators respond to fan questions using text or videos. The feature, rolled out to select creators with more than 10,000 followers, makes it easier to see all the questions in one place.

Health & Fitness

  • Health and fitness app spending jumped 70% last year in Europe to record $544 million, a Sensor Tower report says. The year-over-year increase is far larger than 2019, when growth was just 37.2%. COVID-19 played a large role in this shift as people turned to fitness apps instead of gyms to stay in shape.

Government & Policy

  • Biden’s inauguration boosted installs of U.S. news apps up to 170%, Sensor Tower reported. CNN was the biggest mover, climbing 530 positions to reach No. 41 on the App Store, and up 170% in terms of downloads. News Break was the second highest, climbing 13 positions to No. 65. Right-wing outlet Newsmax climbed 43 spots to reach No. 108. In 2020, the top news apps were: News Break (23.7 million installs); SmartNews (9 million); CNN (5 million); and Fox News (4 million). This month, however, News Break saw 1.2 million installs, followed by Newsmax with about 863,000 installs, the report said.
  • Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) sent a draft decision to fellow EU Data Protection Authorities over the WhatsApp-Facebook data sharing policy. This means a decision on the matter is coming closer to a resolution in terms of what standards of transparency is required by WhatsApp.
  • German app developer Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents filed a complaint with the EU, U.S. DOJ and other antitrust watchdogs around the world over Apple and Google’s rejection of his COVID-related mobile game. Both stores had policies to only approve official COVID-19 apps from health authorities. Mueller renamed the game Viral Days and removed references to the novel coronavirus to get the app approved. However, he still feels the stores’ rules are holding back innovation.

Productivity

  • Basecamp’s Hey, which famously fought back against Apple’s App Store rules over IAP last year, has launched a business-focused platform, Hey for Work, expected to be public in Q1. The app has more App Store ratings than rival Superhuman, a report found. Currently, Hey has a 4.7-star rating across 3.3K reviews; Superhuman has 3.9 rating across only 274 reviews.

Trends

  • Baby boomers are increasingly using apps. Baby boomers/Gen Xers in the U.S. spent 30% more time year-over-year in their most used apps, App Annie reports. That’s a larger increase than either Millennials or Gen Z, at 18% and 16%, respectively.

Funding and M&A

  • Curtsy, a clothing resale app for Gen Z women, raised an $11 million Series A led by Index Ventures. The app tackles some of the problems with online resale by sending shipping supplies and labels to sellers, and by making the marketplace accessible to new and casual sellers.
  • Storytelling platform Wattpad acquired by South Korea’s Naver for $600 million. The reading apps whose stories have turned into book and Netflix hits will be incorporated into Naver’s publishing platform Webtoon.
  • On-demand delivery app Glovo partnered with Swiss-based real estate firm, Stoneweg, which is investing €100 million in building and refurbishing real estate in key markets to build out Glovo’s network of “dark stores.”
  • Pocket Casts app is up for sale. The podcast app was acquired nearly three years ago by a public radio consortium of top podcast producers (NPR, WNYC Studios, WBEZ Chicago and This American Life). The owners have now agreed to sell the app, which posted a net loss in 2020. (NPR’s share of the loss was over $800,000.)
  • Travel app Maps.me raised $50 million in a round led by Alameda Research. The funding will go toward the launch of a multi-currency wallet. Cryptocurrency lender Genesis Capital and institutional cryptocurrency firm CMS Holdings also participated in the round, Coindesk reported.
  • Bangalore-based hyperlocal delivery app Dunzo raised $40 million in a round that included investment from Google, Lightbox, Evolvence, Hana Financial Investment, LGT Lightstone Aspada and Alteria.
  • London-based food delivery app Deliveroo raised $180 million in new funding from existing investors, led by Durable Capital Partners and Fidelity Management, valuing the business at more than $7 billion.
  • Dating Group acquired Swiss startup Once, a dating app that sends one match per day, for $18 million.

Downloads

Bodyguard

Image Credits: Bodyguard

A French content moderation app called Bodyguard, detailed here by TechCrunch, has brought its service to the English-speaking market. The app allows you to choose the level of content moderation you want to see on top social networks, like Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Twitch. You can choose to hide toxic content across a range of categories, like insults, body shaming, moral harassment, sexual harassment, racism and homophobia and indicate whether the content is a low or high priority to block.

Beeper

Image Credits: Beeper

Pebble’s founder and current YC Partner Eric Migicovsky has launched a new app, Beeper, that aims to centralize in one interface 15 different chat apps, including iMessage. The app relies on an open-source federated, encrypted messaging protocol called Matrix that uses “bridges” to connect to the various networks to move the messages. However, iMessage support is more wonky, as the company actually ships you an old iPhone to make the connection to the network. But this system allows you to access Beeper on non-Apple devices, the company says. The app is slowly onboarding new users due to initial demand. The app works across MacOS, Windows, Linux‍, iOS and Android and charges $10/mo for the service.

Source:: Mobile Crunch

      

How To Download Instagram Videos & Stories? (For PC, Android & iOS Users)

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By Anmol Sachdeva

how to download Instagram photo, video

Instagram has emerged as one of the most popular social media platforms owing to its addictive interface that keeps the user engaged in the endless scrolling. The video and image posting platform has garnered quite an interest from young and old people alike. Being a trove of photos and videos, Instagram still lacks a major functionality vis-à-vis the option to download photos and videos.

Besides the option to bookmark photos and videos on Instagram, there is no option to download images and videos locally to your device. If you’re searching for how to download Instagram photos, videos and stories, here are some tricks you can use.

Below, we have provided methods to download Instagram videos, photos and stories for PC, Android and iOS users.

How To Download Instagram Videos & Stories On PC?

You can use third-party websites to download Instagram videos on PC. There are a plenty of websites that allow you to download images and videos from Instagram. However, my personal favorite is Ingramer, a website specially dedicated to Instagram.

Using Ingramer, you can easily download videos and stories from Instagram. Here’s how you do it.

  • Copy the link of the video you want to download from Instagram by clicking on the video and then choosing the “Copy Link” option.
  • Next, go to Ingramer and and visit download video tab. Paste the link you copied in the last step and click on the search button.
  • Now, click on the download option under the video that has appeared on the website. The video will start downloading.

Similarly, you can download photos and stories from Instagram using Ingramer.

How To Download Instagram Photos & Videos On Android?

For Android users, there are a plenty of third-party apps available to download Instagram photos, videos and stories. To help you skip past the process of looking for the best app to accomplish the task at hand, we have provided you a recommendation.

Video Downloader For Instagram is an app that does the job effortlessly. It is a free app that you can download from the Google Play Store.

To download photos, videos and stories from Instagram on Android, copy the link of the video and paste it in the app. It is a fairly easy process.

How To Download Instagram Photos & Videos On iOS?

iPhone users can also download photos, videos and stories from Instagram. Due to restrictions by Apple, there are very few apps available on the App Store to download Instagram photos, videos and stories but you can use the below mentioned method.

  • Go to Instagram and copy the link of the photo or video you want to download by tapping on the three dots beside the post.
  • Next, download the “Instake” app from the Apple App Store and open it. The app is free to download but you’ll come across some advertisements during the download process.
  • Click on the Download button on the app and the link you have copied will automatically get pasted.
  • You’ll see the video you want to download. Tap on the video and then tap on the three dots on the top right of the screen.
  • Tap on the Share option > Save video. The video will be saved to your iPhone.

You can use the same method to download photos and stories from Instagram.

The post How To Download Instagram Videos & Stories? (For PC, Android & iOS Users) appeared first on Fossbytes.

Source:: Fossbytes

      

Call of Duty Mobile Not Working? 5 Methods To Fix The Issue

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By Shivam Gulati

Call of Duty Mobile Not Working 5 Methods To Fix The Issue

Call of Duty Mobile is one of the best mobile games of all time. Millions of players worldwide enjoy Activision’s online multiplayer mobile game. The game is insanely popular because of the amount of rich content it offers to players through updates.

However, because of some content updates, Call of Duty Mobile stops working. For instance, several players report that COD Mobile gets stuck at the loading screen or crashes quite frequently. For some players, the Call of Duty Mobile screen keeps saying “connecting to server.” So, if you’re one of those players for whom COD mobile isn’t working, then try these quick solutions to solve the problem right now.

How To Fix Call Of Duty Mobile?

Mostly, Call of Duty Mobile stops working after a big content update. For instance, if you haven’t updated the COD Mobile app to its latest version, then the mobile game might not run properly. Nevertheless, here are the 5 possible solutions to fix the COD Mobile not working problem:

1. Update COD Mobile App

First thing first, check if you’ve installed Call of Duty Mobile’s latest update. You can check if there’s an update available for the game by searching for Call of Duty Mobile on the Play Store.

2. Restart The Device

Sometimes, your device is the reason for Call of Duty Mobile to stop working. Simply launching the game after restarting the device might solve the problem.

3. Update Your Device

If restarting the device isn’t working, you may install the latest update for your device if you haven’t already. You can download the latest update by navigating your device’s settings.

4. Try Changing The WiFi

Sometimes, your Internet Service Provider(ISP) might be the reason why COD Mobile isn’t working. Try connecting your device to another WiFi and see if the problem is resolved. If you don’t have another WiFi service, you can also try running the game on mobile data.

5. Reinstall The App

If none of the above options solved the Call of Duty Mobile issue, then reinstalling the app is your best option. Of course, it will take some time to uninstall and reinstall the app; however, it is the most effective way to get the app working.

These are all the working methods for you to get the Call of Duty Mobile working properly on your device. However, if you’re still on the Call of Duty Mobile loading screen or facing any other issue with the app, then don’t hesitate to mention your problem in the comments.

The post Call of Duty Mobile Not Working? 5 Methods To Fix The Issue appeared first on Fossbytes.

Source:: Fossbytes

      

Report: Apple may bring MagSafe and SD card slots back to MacBook

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By Napier Lopez

Apple engineers are apparently feeling bit of nostalgia up in Cupertino. After reports the company is apparently planning on killing the Touch Bar, a report from Bloomberg suggests the company is planning to bring back the MagSafe charger and SD card slots. For those of you who aren’t familiar with MagSafe, it was the company’s way of preventing your laptop (or you) from shattering when you inevitably tripped over the charger. The company began to abandon MagSafe after introducing USB-C with the 2015 MacBook. As great as USB-C is, it doesn’t do much to prevent you from tripping. An upcoming MacBook…

This story continues at The Next Web

Or just read more coverage about: MacBook,Apple

Source:: The Next Web

      

New physics theory postulates the existence of SLABs: Stupendously Large Black Holes

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By Tristan Greene

At the center of the Milky Way lies the biggest object we can be sure exists: a supermassive black hole (SMBH) four million times more massive than the sun. Physicists believe these huge singularities can reach even greater sizes if they’ve eaten a big enough galaxy. The biggest estimates are somewhere in the range of 10 billion times more massive than our sun, but things begin to top out shortly after that. At least, that’s the conventional wisdom. A new study from a trio of European researchers recently unveiled a grander theory involving the formation of black holes. They say, under…

This story continues at The Next Web

Source:: The Next Web

      

This Michael Kors smartwatch got a crazy price cut at Best Buy – save $260

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By Nishka Dhawan

Buy the Michael Kors Access Runway Smartwatch right now at its low price of $89 from Best Buy.

Source:: Digital Trends

      

Google refreshes its mobile search experience

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By Frederic Lardinois

Google today announced a subtle but welcome refresh of its mobile search experience. The idea here is to provide easier to read search results and a more modern look with a simpler, edge-to-edge design.

From what we’ve seen so far, this is not a radically different look, but the rounded and slightly shaded boxes around individual search results have been replaced with straight lines, for example, while in other places, Google has specifically added more roundness. You’ll find changes to the circles around the search bar and some tweaks to the Google logo. “We believe it feels more approachable, friendly and human,” a Google spokesperson told me. There’s a bit more whitespace in places, too, as well as new splashes of color that are meant to help separate and emphasize certain parts of the page.

Image Credits: Google

“Rethinking the visual design for something like Search is really complex,” Google designer Aileen Cheng said in today’s announcement. “That’s especially true given how much Google Search has evolved. We’re not just organizing the web’s information, but all the world’s information. We started with organizing web pages, but now there’s so much diversity in the types of content and information we have to help make sense of.”

Image Credits: Google

Google is also extending its use of the Google Sans font, which you are probably already quite familiar with thanks to its use in Gmail and Android. “Bringing consistency to when and how we use fonts in Search was important, too, which also helps people parse information more efficiently,” Cheng writes.

In many ways, today’s refresh is a continuation of the work Google did with its mobile search refresh in 2019. At that time, the emphasis, too, was on making it easier for users to scan down the page by adding site icons and other new visual elements to the page. The work of making search results pages more readable is clearly never done.

For the most part, though, comparing the new and old design, the changes are small. This isn’t some major redesign — we’re talking about minor tweaks that the designers surely obsessed over but that the users may not even really notice. Now if Google had made it significantly easier to distinguish ads from the content you are actually looking for, that would’ve been something.

Image Credits: Google

Source:: Mobile Crunch

      

Apple reportedly planning thinner and lighter MacBook Air with MagSafe charging

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By Darrell Etherington

Apple is said to be working on a new version of the MacBook Air with a brand new physical case design that’s both thinner and lighter than its current offering, which was updated with Apple’s M1 chip late last year, per a new Bloomberg report. The plan is to release it as early as late 2021 or 2022, according to the report’s sources, and it will also include MagSafe charging (which is also said to be returning on Apple’s next MacBook Pro models sometime in 2021).

MagSafe would offer power delivery and charging, while two USB 4 ports would provide data connectivity on the new MacBook Air. The display size will remain at its current 13-inch diagonal measurement, but Apple will reportedly realize smaller overall sizes by reducing the bevel that surrounds the screen’s edge, among other sizing changes.

Apple has a plan to revamp its entire Mac lineup with its own Apple Silicon processors over the course of the next two years. It debuted its first Apple Silicon Macs, powered by its M1 chip, late last year, and the resulting performance benefits versus their Intel-powered predecessors have been substantial. The physical designs remained essentially the same, however, prompting speculation as to when Apple would introduce new case designs to further distinguish its new Macs from their older models.

The company is also reportedly working on new MacBook Pros with MagSafe charging, which could also ditch the company’s controversial TouchBar interface — and, again according to Bloomberg, bring back a dedicated SD card slot. All these changes would actually be reversions of design changes Apple made when it introduced the current physical notebook Mac designs, beginning with the first Retina display MacBook Pro in 2012, but they address usability complaints by some of the company’s enthusiast and professional customers.

Source:: Crunch Gear

      

What’s Inside My Smartphone Camera: Hardware-Software Unity Explained

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By Manik Berry

What's inside a smartphone camera

As phones got bigger and better, so did smartphone cameras. If you want to know what’s inside a smartphone camera, you have to know how it works and the precision that goes into making phone photography possible.

What’s Inside A Smartphone Camera?

First things first, before we talk about how a smartphone captures images, we should know what’s inside it. The conventional smartphone camera hardware includes certain components. These are the lens, the sensor, the ISP or image signal processor, and in some cases, a ToF sensor. Let’s talk about the parts inside a smartphone camera.

Lens

What's inside my smartphone camera- LG V30 lens with 3-axis OIS
Screenshot of an LG V30 lens from SZ Tech video

A smartphone camera lens is simply a piece of polished, transparent material (plastic or glass) that focuses the light on the camera sensor. It is practically the only part of a smartphone camera that is visible to you.

It focuses the light by bending it towards the sensor, feeding it the essential details it needs to create a photograph. The focal length of your phone’s camera determines the field of view (how wide or narrow the photo will be).

For example, the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra primary camera has a focal length of 25mm, the ultra-wide has a focal length of 13mm, and the telephoto lens is set to 103mm. However, the smartphone camera focal length is fixed, which is why you get three different lenses for wide, ultra-wide, and telephoto.

Aperture

what's inside a smartphone camera- Aperture

An aperture is the opening that decides how much light will enter through the lens, onto the camera sensor. Having a wide aperture means you can capture better and more stable photos in low light.

An aperture is determined by the ƒ-stop (ƒ/) symbol. If the aperture opening is wide, it lets in more light, and when it is set to a narrow opening, less light makes it to the camera sensor.

The lesser the ƒ/ number, the wider the aperture. So it means the aperture is fully open at ƒ/1.7, and almost fully closed at ƒ/8 or above. Most smartphone cameras come with a fixed aperture, which means it isn’t adjustable.

The background blur in your phone’s portrait mode is achieved partly because of the wide (ƒ/1.7 or so) aperture. A wider aperture captures a shallow depth of field, which means blurring everything behind/around the subject in focus. A deeper depth of field is when the background is also as focused as the subject.

For example, the iPhone 12 primary camera has an aperture of ƒ/1.6 and the ultra-wide lens has an ƒ/2.4 aperture. Smartphones aim for a lower ƒ/ number so the sensor can capture a brighter image in low light situations.

The Sensor

what's inside a smartphone camera- Sensor
Smartphone camera sensor. Screenshot from SZ Tech video

This is the part of your smartphone camera where light from outside is translated into signals, bringing it one step closer to becoming a photograph. The sensor is one of the most sophisticated parts inside a smartphone camera.

When you say your phone has a 12 MP camera, you’re basically talking about the sensor. A 12MP camera means the sensor of that camera has 12 megapixels on it. 1 megapixel is equal to 1 million pixels. So your smartphone camera sensor has 12 million tiny squares with red, green, and blue color filters to capture the light that comes from outside.

Higher Pixels Isn’t Always Better Quality

The technical name for a pixel is photosite, and a photosite comes in different sizes, measures in micrometers or µm. Simply put, the bigger the photosite, the more light it can capture. So a smartphone camera with a 64MP sensor having o.8µm pixel/photosite may not perform as well as a 12MP sensor 2.4µm pixel.

An article on The Smartphone Photographer talks about the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra’s cameras. The 108MP camera on the phone has a 0.8µm pixel size, which is set at a 9:1 ratio, making a 2.4µm big super-pixel, which is good. Just for comparison, a DSLR camera can have individual pixels as big as 8.4µm.

ISP (Image Signal Processor)

An ISP or image signal processor is the brain of a camera. The main job of the ISP is to convert an image signal into a viewable image that you see through your phone’s display. Today’s ISPs do way more than just converting light from signals to image.

A smartphone ISP handles HDR correction, color correction, damaged pixel repair, and even AI correction to improve the image quality.

Usually, you get the ISP bundled into your phone’s processor, so your phone’s physical camera module is only as good as the processor assisting it. For example, the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor comes with a Qualcomm Spectra 580 ISP.

The company has refined the ISP to a level that the phones packing a Snapdragon 888 chip can take up to 28MP pictures from all lenses of a triple camera setup at once. Converted to pixels, it means the ISP is optimized to process the light captured by 84 million pixels at the same time.

Time-Of-Flight Sensor

It is a fairly new component but it is capable of taking the smartphone camera experience to a new level. The Time-of-flight sensor is an additional sensor that emits infrared laser to measure the depth of a scene.

The result is better-focused photographs and accurate AR (augmented reality) applications. The LiDAR scanner on the iPhone 12 Pro lineup is an example of a ToF sensor. It uses lasers for scanning the environment, avoid obstacles (in cleaning bots) and measure accurate depth for a scene.

How Does Your Smartphone Camera Work?

How does a smartphone camera work- what's inside a phone camera
Image: Pixabay

Now that you know the smartphone camera components, let’s put together the big picture. In a conventional DSLR camera, you can adjust the focus, aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and then click and image. However, a phone camera is much different but the principles remain the same.

The focal length and aperture on a phone camera are fixed, and there’s no physical shutter either. So you control the amount of light by powering on the sensor. When you click the shutter, your phone switches on the sensor and starts capturing light. Once it has captured enough, the light is converted into the signal by the sensor and sent to the ISP.

The ISP then takes the signal, makes the necessary correction, and you see the final image on your phone’s screen.

When you click an image in low light, you’ll notice that the image you captured will be brighter and much better than what you could see when you were going to click it. That’s the magic done by your phone’s ISP or image signal processor.

You May Also Want To Know

What’s The Difference Between Smartphone Camera And DSLR?

FeatureDSLRSmartphone Camera
SizeThe lightest DSLR camera is roughly 700 gramsMost smartphones weigh under 500 grams
Sensor Size25.1 X 16.7mm (Conventional APS-C sensor)12.8 X 9.6 mm (One of the larger sensor sizes)
Lens CapabilitySingle lens to capture from different focal lengthsMultiple lenses needed
ApertureAdjustable aperture to capture background blur or keep it sharpFixed aperture
Physical ShutterYesNo
StabilityOptical Image StabilizationOptical Image Stabilization (depends on model)
Image ProcessingWhat you see is what you capturePost-click correction via ISP using AI
Optical Zoom In/OutYesDepends on model

While the processing differences are reducing every day, there are some key differences between smartphone cameras and DSLR cameras. Here are some of them:

What’s Exposure Triangle?

Exposure triangle

The exposure triangle is a combination of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. It is a basic principle for those using DSLR cameras. Since you can’t control the exposure physically in a smartphone, it is adjusted via shutter speed or the time for which your phone’s camera sensor remains open to the light.

Why Do Phones Have Triple Or Quad Cameras?

DSLR lenses have variable focal lengths, giving you the ability to zoom in or out seamlessly. Since it hasn’t been incorporated in phones yet, smartphones are now equipped with wide, ultra-wide, telephoto, and macro lenses.

So when you’re recording a video on your phone, you can optically zoom in or out without compromising on the quality of the image.

The ISPs have become more sophisticated, and components can fit using much less space, which makes phones capable of hosting multiple cameras

What Are Phone Cameras Made Of?

A conventional smartphone lens is made of either glass or plastic, the sensor is made of a light-sensitive semiconductor. The outer casing of a camera that you see at the back of a phone is made of hardened material like sapphire glass.

Rounding Up

That’s it. This is how all the components on your smartphone convert light into the signal, into a printable photograph. However, innovation in the smartphone sector is upgrading the way these cameras work.

One of the simplest yet most surprising innovations is OIS on a phone camera. It means the lens module physically adjusts to avoid shakes when you’re taking a photograph. Samsung added an adjustable aperture to the Samsung Galaxy S9, resulting in sharp photos even in overlit scenarios.

Today, the Google Pixel and the iPhone SE 2 with a single camera lens are examples of AI, advanced ISP correction, and AI applications. So when you ask what’s inside your smartphone or how a smartphone camera works, the answer is a combination of hardware and software.

The post What’s Inside My Smartphone Camera: Hardware-Software Unity Explained appeared first on Fossbytes.

Source:: Fossbytes

      

Google parent firm pops Loon balloon internet project

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By Trevor Mogg

Alphabet is ending its Loon initiative that used high-altitude internet balloons to provide connectivity to unconnected or under-connected communities.

Source:: Digital Trends

      

Trump pardoned the guy who founded the Church Of AI

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By Tristan Greene

With all the hullabaloo surrounding Joe Biden’s inauguration, Trump’s last-minute pardons slipped under the RADAR a bit. Sure, Trump’s pardoning of Steve Bannon nabbed plenty of headlines. And his snub of Joe Exotic, the Tiger King, made the trades. But what’s arguably the most interesting story of them all is 45’s pardoning of Anthony Levandowski, the founder of the Church of AI. Levandowski was sentenced to 18 months in prison for the intellectual theft of Google and Waymo’s autonomous driving software and hardware details. He was once a superstar developer regarded as a pioneer in the autonomous vehicle world. After…

This story continues at The Next Web

Source:: The Next Web

      

Amplitude celebrates 10 years with a free weekend of Endless games

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By Tristan Greene

Amplitude Studios, makers of the excellent Endless games and the upcoming 4X title Humankind, is celebrating 10 years in the gaming industry with a slew of news, announcements, discounts, and freebies. Happy birthday Amplitude: If you haven’t played the Endless games or checked out the teasers for the highly-anticipated Humankind, now’s your chance. Before we dive into the details of the celebration, let’s take a look at the games we’re talking about. Endless Legend Endless Space 2 Dungeon of the Endless Humankind The news: Where to start? First up, the company today released all-new Definitive Editions for both Endless Legend…

This story continues at The Next Web

Source:: The Next Web

      

Bodyguard is a mobile app that hides toxic content on social platforms

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By Romain Dillet

If you’re somewhat famous on various social networks, chances are you are exposed to hate speech in your replies or in your comments. French startup Bodyguard recently launched its app and service in English so that it can hide toxic content from your eyes. It has been available in French for a few years and the company has attracted 50,000 users so far.

“We have developed a technology that detects hate speech on the internet with a 90% to 95% accuracy and only 2% of false positive,” founder and CEO Charles Cohen told me.

The company has started with a mobile app that anyone can use. After you download the app and connect the app with your favorite social networks, you choose the level of moderation. There are several categories, such as insults, body shaming, moral harassment, sexual harassment, racism and homophobia. You can select whether it’s a low priority or a top priority for each category.

After that, you don’t have to open the app again. Bodyguard scans replies and comments from its servers and makes a decision whether something is OK. For instance, it can hide comments, mute users, block users, etc. When you open Instagram or Twitter again, it’s like those hateful comments never existed.

The app currently supports Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Twitch. Unfortunately, it can’t process content on Snapchat and TikTok due to API limitations.

Behind the scenes, most moderation services rely heavily on machine learning or keyword-based moderation. Bodyguard has chosen a different approach. It algorithmically cleans up a comment and tries to analyze the content of a comment contextually. It can determine whether a comment is offensive to you, to a third-party person, to a group of persons, etc.

More recently, the startup has launched a B2B product. Other companies can use a Bodyguard-powered API to moderate comments in real-time on their social platforms or in their own apps. The company charges its customers using a traditional software-as-a-service approach.

Source:: Mobile Crunch

      

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review: Camera refinements are nice, but the price drop’s the thing

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The Galaxy S21 is a tank. It’s a big, heavy (8.04 ounces versus its predecessor’s 7.7), blunt instrument of a phone. It’s quintessential Samsung, really — the handset you purchase when too much isn’t quite enough. In fact, it even goes so far as adopting S-Pen functionality — perhaps the largest distinguishing factor between the company’s two flagship lines.

In many ways it — and the rest of the S21 models — are logical extensions of the product line. Samsung hasn’t broken the mold here. But the company didn’t particularly need to. The line remains one of the best Android devices you can buy. It’s a product experience the company is content to refine, while saving more fundamental changes for the decidedly more experimental Galaxy Z line.

Samsung certainly deserves credit for going all in on 5G early. The company was ahead of the curve in adopting next-gen wireless and was among the first to add it across its flagship offerings. 5G became a utilitarian feature remarkably fast — owing in no small part to Qualcomm’s major push to add the tech to its mid-tier chips. In fact, the iPhone 12 may well be the last major flagship that can get away with using the addition of the tech as a major selling point.

With that out of the way, smartphone makers are returning to familiar terrain on which to wage their wars — namely imaging. S-Pen functionality for the Ultra aside, most of the top-level upgrades of this generation come on the camera side of things. No surprise there, of course. The camera has always a focus for Samsung — though the changes largely revolved around software, which is increasingly the trend for many manufacturers.

Image Credits: Brian Heater

There are, however, some hardware changes worth noting. Namely, the new S models represent one of the bigger aesthetic updates in recent memory. I’d mentioned being kind of on the fence about them in my original write up of the news, owing largely to that weird wrinkle of 2020/2021 gadget blogging: not being able to see the device in person. Now that I’ve been toting the product around the streets of New York for several days, I can say definitive that, well, I’m mostly kind of okay with them, I guess.

The big sticking point is that massive contour cut camera housing. Pretty sure I used the word “brutalist” to describe it last time. Having used the product, I’d say it’s fairly apt. There’s something…industrial about the design choice. And it’s really pronounced on the Ultra, which sports four camera holes, plus a laser autofocus sensor and flash. It’s a big, pronounced camera bump built from surprisingly thick metal. I suspect it’s owed, in part, to the “folded” telephoto lens.

Samsung sent along the Phantom Black model. The color was something the company devoted a surprising amount of stage time to during the announcement. It was the kind of attention we rarely see devoted to something as inconsequential as a color finish, outside of some Apple bits. Here’s a long video about it if you’re curious. I don’t know what to tell you. It’s nice. It’s matte black. I do dig the new metallic back; even with Corning on your side, a glass back really feels like an accident waiting to happen.

The curved screen looks nice, per usual, accented well by the round corners. The screen itself is striking — Samsung’s displays always are. The screens on the S21, S21+ and S21 Ultra are 6.2, 6.7 and 6.8 inches, respectively. Those are all unchanged, save for the Ultra, which is, strangely, 0.1 inches smaller than its predecessor. It’s not really noticeable, but is an odd choice from a company that has long insisted that bigger is better when it comes to displays.

Eye Comfort Shield is a welcome addition, adjusting the screen temperature based on time of day and your own usage. If you’ve used Night Shift or something similar, you know the deal — the screen slowly shifts toward the more yellow end of the white balance spectrum, reducing blue light so as to not throw your circadian rhythms out of whack. It’s off by default, so you’ll have to go into settings to change it.

The company has also introduced a Dynamic Refresh Rate feature, which cycles between 46 and 120Hz, depending on the app you’re using. This is designed to save some battery life (a 120Hz along with 5G can be a big power hog). The effect is fairly subtle. I can’t say I really noticed over the course of my usage. I certainly appreciate the effort to find new ways to eke out extra juice.

The new era of Samsung is equally notable for what it left off. The new S models mark the end of an era as the company finally abandons expandable storage (following in the footsteps of the Z line). I mean, I get it. These devices range from 128 to 512GB of storage. For a majority of users, the microSD reader was superfluous. I certainly never needed to use it. Per the company, “Over time, SD card usage has markedly decreased on smartphones because we’ve expanded the options of storage available to consumers.”

Of course, expanding the built-in memory is going to cost you. Mostly, though, it’s always a bit of a bummer to say farewell to a long-time distinguishing factory. Speaking of, the company also ditched the in-box headphones and power adapter, notably deleting some ads in which it mocked Apple for recently doing the same. It’s the headphone jack all over again.

The company offered up a similar sustainability explanation in a recent statement. “We discovered that more and more Galaxy users are reusing accessories they already have and making sustainable choices in their daily lives to promote better recycling habits.” As a consequence, the box is nearly half as thick as those from earlier S lines, for what that’s worth.

As mentioned above, the cameras are remarkably similar to their predecessors, with a few key differences. The S20 Ultra sported an 108-megapixel wide lens (f/1.8), 12-megapixel ultrawide (f/2.2) and 48-megapixel (f/3.5) telephoto (4x zoom), while the S21 Ultra features a 108-megapixel wide (f/1.8), 12-megapixel ultrawide (f/2.2), 10MP (f/2.4) telephoto (3x zoom) and 10MP telephoto (f/4.9) (10x zoom). The dual telephoto lenses are the biggest differentiator.

Image Credits: Brian Heater

The device will switch between telephotos, depending on how much you zoom in. The device performs a lot better than many competing handsets at distances requiring around 10x. Though, while the ability to zoom up to 100x is an extremely impressive thing for a phone to do on paper, the images degrade really quickly at higher levels. At a certain point, the image starts taking on the style of an impressionist painting, which isn’t particularly useful in a majority of cases.

Once Samsung (or whoever) can properly crack the code on translating that noise into signal, it will really be a breakthrough. Still, Zoom Lock is a nice addition in helping to minimize hand shake while zooming. Accidental movements tend to increasing exponentially the tighter you get in on an image. The Super Steady, too, has been improved for video recording.

Portrait mode has been improved. There still tends to be trouble with more complex shapes, but this is a problem I’ve run into with pretty much all solutions. Samsung gets some points here for offering a ton of post-shot portrait editing, from different bokeh levels, to adjusting the focal point to other effects. As with much of the camera software, there’s a lot to play around with.

Other key additions include 8K snap, a nice addition that lets you pull high-res images from a single frame of 8K video. There’s also Vlogger Mode, which shoots from the front and back simultaneously. Someone will no doubt find some social use for this, but it feels a bit gimmicky — one of those features a majority of users will promptly forget about. Additional options are generally a good thing, though the camera software has gotten to the point where there are a ton of menus to navigate.

I get the sense that most users want a way to quickly snap photos and shoot videos. The lower-end S21 entries are great for that. The hardware is strong enough to give you great shots with minimal effort. If you’re someone who really enjoys drilling down on features and getting the best images on-device without exporting to a third-party app, the Ultra is the choice for you. In addition to being a kind of kitchen sink approach, the high-end device is all about choice.

Image Credits: Brian Heater

The addition of S Pen functionality is probably the most notable — and curious — thing the Ultra has going for it. On the face of it, this feels like the latest — and most pronounced — in a series of moves effectively blurring the lines between the company’s two flagships. Perhaps Samsung will make a move to further differentiate the next Note, or maybe the company is content to simply let the device meld over time.

There is one major difference off the bat, of course. Namely the fact that there’s no pen slot on the S21. This means that:

  1. The stylus is sold separately.
  2. You need to buy a case with an S Pen holder (also sold separately, naturally) if you’ve got any hope of not losing it.

Image Credits: Brian Heater

I happened to have a Note S Pen lying around and found the experience to be pretty smooth. I’ve been upfront about the fact that I’m not really a stylus person myself, but Samsung’s done a good job building up the software over the years. The S Pen is a surprisingly versatile tool, courtesy of several generations of updates. But I would say if the peripheral is important to you, honestly, just buy a Note.

The components are what you’d expect from a high-end Samsung. That includes the brand new Snapdragon 888 (in some markets, at least), and either 12 or 16GB of RAM and 128, 256 or 512GB of storage on the Ultra. The battery remains the same as last year, at 5,000mAh. In spite of 5G and a high refresh rate, I’ve gotten more than a day and a half of moderate use on a single charge.

In the end, the S21 isn’t a huge change over the S20. It’s more of a refinement, really. But it does represent a big change for Samsung. The company has implemented a $200 price drop across the board for these products. The S21, S21+ and S21 Ultra start at $799, $999 and $1,199, respectively. None are what you would call cheap, exactly, but $200 isn’t exactly insignificant, whether it means easing the blow of getting in on the entry level or taking the pain out of going for a higher-end model.

It’s a clear reflection of a few years’ worth of stagnating smartphone sales, exacerbated by some dire numbers amid COVID. It’s nice to see a company take those issues — and concern around spending $1,000+ on a smartphone — to heart beyond simply offering up a flagship “lite.”

Source:: Mobile Crunch

      

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