Today’s cache | TikTok is testing social networking feature, and more

Image for representational purpose only.

Image for representational purpose only.   | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Today's cache is your daily download of the top 5 updates from the world of technology.

ByteDance and Tencent are competing to gain ground from each other’s turf by testing new features on TikTok, Douyin and WeChat in China.

Closer in that region, Megvii, a Chinese facial recognition company plans to get listed on the Nasdaq-styled STAR Market in Shanghai.

We are also looking at the Google’s Pixel Buds, and additions features on Android’s Fast Pair technology.

Finally, Apple’s iPhone production may get delayed due to coronavirus and supply chain disruptions.

Google launches new Pixel Buds

Google unveiled its Pixel Buds last October. On Monday, the company said it is selling the ‘clearly white’ variant in the US for $179 a pair.

The designers scanned over thousands of ears to create the buds that comfortable sit in the ear.

The stabiliser arc tucks in gently, and with the interchangeable eartip, making Pixel Buds fit firmly and securely, so they stay even when you exercise.

The eartips seal the ear to isolate loud outside noises, and to provide high quality audio. A spacial vent under the buds reduces plugged-ear feeling.

The buds come with ‘adaptive sound’ sensors to dynamically change volume control based on ambient sound or noise. This helps the user from raising or lowering volume by touching the phone or buds while they are on the move.

“Adaptive sound works kind of like auto-brightness on your phone screen,” Frank Li, UX Engineer at Google said.

“It momentarily adjusts to the world around you to make the experience of using your device a little simpler.”

Its low-range Bluetooth setting helps the buds to get connected to the phone even when it isn’t by the user’s side. The buds can pair with Bluetooth 4.0+ laptops, tablets and iOS devices. With a Pixel phone and other Android 6.0 devices, they pair with just a single tap.

With Pixel Buds, you get 5 hours of listening time on a single charge, with up to 24 hours with the wireless charging case; and they are sweat and water resistant.

New features in Android’s Fast Pair technology

Pairing Bluetooth devices is a common activity. Sometimes the process can get frustrating as the devices won’t sync and connect. That tiny dotted circle keeps going round until the connection is established.

A couple years ago, Android launched its Fast Pair feature to make devices connect fast with a single tap. That made it easy for Android 6.0+ phone users to pair Fast Pair-enabled accessories.

Now, Google has added some new features to help you find your lost accessory, know when to charge wire-less earbuds and personalise Bluetooth device.

With the new update, you can now find your Bluetooth headset connected to your phone by ringing them. In case you are using a pair of earbuds, you can now ring one of the missing buds to find where they are.

And, in the coming months, if you misplace your headset, you can know its last known location with Find My Device app, if you have location history turned on.

Next, for earbuds users, you can now know the charge level in your earbuds when you open the case. Your phone will get a notification about the battery charge on each component.

And lastly, the Fast Pair update will name the accessory with your first name after successfully pairing with Bluetooth.

On Android 10 phones, users can adjust headphone settings and link it to Google Assistant.

Apple to delay iPhone production

Apple is pushing back production of its flagship iPhones by about a month as the COVID-19 pandemic has weakened consumer demand and disrupted manufacturing supply chain across Asia, Wall Street Journal reported citing people familiar with the shift.

The Cupertino-headquartered company plans to launch four new iPhone models this year, according to sources. Some of the new models may come with 5G connectivity, and will have different specifications and price points.

Refreshing its product portfolio with new launches play an important part in revenue generation as iPhone sales account for more than half of Apple’s top line.

The company usually ramps up production by early summer to start selling new iPhone models in mid-September. This plan helps Apple to build up inventory by around August.

This year, however, the production may slide back even as Apple plans to build new phones in the July-to-September period, according to unnamed sources cited by the Journal.

China’s facial recognition startup plans to go public

Megvii Technology, a controversial facial recognition firm, is considering to go public on the newly opened STAR Market in Shanghai, Reuters reported.

The timing works well for Megvii as the suspicion US-listed Chinese firms are coming under. The listing will mean longer lock-in period and controls on capital. But, it will help in increasing valuations.

Several tech companies in China have stayed away from local exchanges due to long waiting time for listings, caps on IPO pricing, capital controls and profitability requirements.

STAR Market listing may ease many of these rules, but the company’s shareholders are subjected to longer lock in period, up to 36 months post listing, compared to six months in New York. And foreign investors require approvals before they repatriate their money out of China after cashing out. Those approvals are usually slower.

But valuations are attractive as the companies listed on STAR Market trade at over 90 times historical earnings.

TikTok to test social networking feature

Bytedance-owned TikTok is testing with a new social networking feature as it competes against WeChat, South China Morning Post reported.

TikTok’s feature under testing allows users to video call unknown users and play online games with them.

Douyin, another company owned by Bytedance, introduced its ‘connection’ feature to enable users to connect with random group of other users for a limited time each day. It also matches users on the platform and lets them video conference while playing casual games.

A ByteDance representative to South China Morning post that the Connection function was only being tested in Douyin. “TikTok is not enabling a similar function,” the representative said.

ByteDance’s testing comes as it wants to square off against Tencent in the areas of entertainment, telecomputing and gaming.

Tencent, for its part, said that WeChat was testing a short video feature, in a sign on expanding into ByteDance’s turf.

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Printable version | May 27, 2020 7:06:48 PM |

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