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Google's Incremental File System May Let You Play PUBG Mobile While it is Downloading

Google has a new file system in works, called Incremental File System. While the file system has been in works for quite a few months already, the exact purpose and nature of implementation still remains somewhat doubtful. However, recent moves made by Google’s developer team has suggested that the feature may eventually be introduced as a public end offering, and not just something that will be on offer for developers. If this is indeed introduced, the feature can have interesting implications for how apps, and heavy games in particular, are downloaded on Android phones.

Take, for instance, a game like Call of Duty: Mobile, PUBG Mobile or Asphalt 9, all of which are among the most popular games on the Google Play Store, and are rather large in size. With Incremental File System, the game files will be segmented into smaller data offsets. With this, once you begin downloading a game, Google states that an initial part of the data would be downloaded immediately, amounting to 200MB, for example. This 200MB data can contain the intro segment as well as the basic in-game characters and menus, thereby offering users a ‘trial’ section of sorts, and letting them check out a game without needing to wait until the entire file, which may be gigabytes in size, is downloaded.

There are multiple benefits to this. For one, for users who are on slower data or Wi-Fi networks, this can allow them to check out a game faster, and take a call on whether they wish to play it further, or cancel its download. For developers, the feature can allow them to market bigger games more easily — if a user remained apprehensive about downloading a game because of its file size, developers can now offer a brief taste of the game to users, thereby making a more compelling case for them to download the game in question. It will also be easy on the developers, since this will be a kernel-end deployment from Google, and would not require the developers to specifically design an intro or a demo mode of sorts.

According to Google’s documentation on the matter, “Incremental FS is special-purpose Linux virtual file system that allows execution of a program while its binary and resource files are still being lazily downloaded over the network, USB etc. It is focused on incremental delivery for a small number (under 100) of big files (more than 10 megabytes). Incremental FS doesn’t allow direct writes into files and, once loaded, file content never changes. Incremental FS doesn’t use a block device, instead it saves data into a backing file located on a regular file-system.”

Google notes that with this file system, while playing large games on Android phones will definitely become easier, there may be the brief frozen screens or stutters between a player finishing the intro section, and the next part of the game being downloaded. XDA Developers, which first published a report on Incremental File System, notes that the feature may be introduced as part of Google’s Android 12 in 2021. For a full view of the kernel documentation for Google’s new file system, click here.

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Not Just Apple, But Xiaomi, Oppo And Vivo Are Struggling With The Shutdown Due to Coronavirus

People wearing masks are seen at a subway station in Shanghai, China. (Reuters)

People wearing masks are seen at a subway station in Shanghai, China. (Reuters)

The outbreak, which has infected more than 72,000 and prevented many employees from returning to work due to travel and quarantine restrictions, was reverberating throughout the U.S. firm’s supply chain.

  • Reuters
  • Last Updated: February 18, 2020, 4:35 PM IST

IApple Inc’s surprise warning that it will likely fall short of this quarter’s sales target due to the coronavirus epidemic points to much pain for its chip and other suppliers as well as for rivals who also rely on China to build their products. Revising guidance set just three weeks ago, the world’s most valuable tech company said while many factories that make iPhones have reopened for work, they were ramping up more slowly than anticipated. The outbreak, which has infected more than 72,000 and prevented many employees from returning to work due to travel and quarantine restrictions, was reverberating throughout the U.S. firm’s supply chain, a source familiar with Apple’s operations in China said.

“If one component factory stays closed and they’re the only supplier, then everyone has to stop and wait. And if there are two suppliers and one is shut down, then we need the other to do more,” said the source who was not authorized to speak to media and declined to be identified. Stacy Rasgon, a Bernstein analyst, said Apple’s woes probably also mean fewer chips will be sold throughout the mobile device industry because the overwhelming majority are made in China. “Maybe this is the wake up call. I would be astonished if Apple is the only one,” he said. “Every electronic supply chain runs through China in a big way.”Research firm Canalys estimates both Apple, which outsources much of its manufacturing to Taiwan’s Foxconn, and rival Huawei Technologies have 99% of their production in China. The world’s No. 1 smartphone market is likely see sales halve in the first quarter due to the virus, analysts have said.

Chinese rivals Oppo, Xiaomi Corp (1810.HK) and Vivo have 83%, 72%, and 65% of their production in China respectively. Reuters reported last week that roughly 10% of Foxconn’s workers in China have resumed production, while other plants in the country remain largely shuttered. Foxconn denied the reports in a company filing without elaborating.

Shares of Apple’s chip suppliers fell on the news on Tuesday, with Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) losing 2.8%, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) (2330.TW) down 2.9% and SK Hynix (000660.KS) shedding 2.9%.

Analysts at ANZ noted Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O) was vulnerable to disruptions caused by the epidemic as it supplies mobile modem chips to almost all major smartphone makers and generates nearly half of its sales from China. U.S.-based suppliers that do a lot of business with Apple include Broadcom Inc (AVGO.O), Qorvo Inc (QRVO.O) and Skyworks Solutions Inc (SWKS.O).

Broadcom makes a range of wireless components for iPhones and said last month it had signed a deal to supply Apple for contracts worth as much as $15 billion. Sales to Apple accounted for 20% of its annual revenue in fiscal 2019.

Qorvo, which sells parts that help phones connect to wireless data networks, generated around one third of its revenue from Apple in fiscal 2019. Skyworks, another wireless component supplier, got more than 10% of its annual revenue from Apple.

Other U.S. suppliers to Apple include Texas Instruments Inc (TXN.O). Its battery charging chips have been found in iPhone teardowns, although the company sells across a broad spectrum of the electronics industry.

In Europe, the Netherlands’ NXP Semiconductors (NXPI.O) supplies Apple with the near-field communications chips used in the iPhone’s Apple Pay contactless payments feature, according to TechInsights teardowns and industry analysts. Chips made by Franco-Italian firm STMicroelectronics (STM.MI) (STM.PA) are used for wireless battery charging and for infrared cameras in iPhones, according to teardowns. Its shares lost 3.5% in morning trade. Investors in chipmakers have until now have been willing to look past temporary coronavirus disruptions, hoping for a sales recovery in the second half, said Bernstein’s Rasgon Mike Fawkes, who previously ran supply chain operations for Hewlett-Packard, said even if it wanted to, Apple was unlikely to find alternative production sources soon. “They’re stuck with China for some period of time,” he said. “It’s very hard when you’re managing a big battleship like they are.”

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Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite Review: Trying to Fit in The ‘Affordable Flagship’ Space

The Galaxy S10 Lite is a solid effort by Samsung to compete with the range of affordable flagships

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Indians Pay More For Mobile & Broadband, if Subscriptions For Netflix And More Are Bundled

If smartphone and internet users in India get bundled subscriptions for their favorite streaming services with their mobile or broadband connections, they do not mind paying more for the convenience. In fact, 44% of mobile and broadband subscribers spend more on a higher tariff plan tier because it may have more OTT video streaming subscriptions bundled, suggests the latest Ovum-Amdocs survey.

The link between streaming service subscriptions and mobile as well as broadband connections runs even deeper, with 47% subscribers less likely to switch service providers if they get their preferred OTT streaming services. At the same time, 30% of respondents would not mind switching to another operator if their current operator doesn’t offer their preferred streaming subscriptions. In India, the biggest video streaming services include Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hotstar, Sony Liv, Voot, Zee 5 and Eros Now. The report also suggests that as many as 50% of users are willing to pay for premium media services via their carrier bill if offered at a discount or with an extended free trial.

As many as 4,000 consumers were surveyed in India, Australia, Singapore, Philippines and Thailand, of which more than half were from India itself. ““Our research shows that this market is willing to spend even more on their monthly telecom bill in exchange for the right bundle, with the right offer, at the right price point,” says Pankaj Lamba, Customer Business Executive, APAC, Amdocs. “India is one of the hottest markets for OTT media services and carrier-OTT partnerships in the region, registering the strongest retention and user acquisition potential from bundling,” says Guillermo Escofet, Principal Analyst, Ovum.

With as many as 7 leading OTT video streaming platforms available in India, the Ovum-Amdocs survey suggests that Indians prefer to subscribe to more than one video streaming service. As many as 42% subscribers pay for more than one video streaming service because they feel no one streaming platform offers all the content they want. At the same time, 56% of respondents also said they need to subscribe to multiple options between the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hotstar, Sony Liv, Voot, Zee 5 and Eros Now because every member of the family likes different content.

The report does throw up some very interesting stats. Sony Liv gets 50% of its total subscriptions from bundles with mobile, broadband or TV bills. That is the most for any streaming service in India, with Voot in second with 38% while Zee5 follows at 34%. Amazon Prime, which includes the Amazon Prime Video streaming service, gets 25% of its total subscriptions from media bundles—though it is quite commonly found in tariff plans offered by Airtel and Vodafone Idea. For some reason, the survey calculates Amazon Prime’s conversion separately at 15%, but it would be prudent to add the 25% and 15% together under one umbrella. Netflix gets just 19% of its subscribers from media bundles.

The Ovum-Amdocs survey perhaps raises a very important shortcoming in the Indian OTT video streaming ecosystem—the lack of a pay-per-view option. As many as 69% of those surveyed would not mind paying for a specific content, instead of a full month of subscription. That stems from the fact that Indians on an average pay Rs 306 per month for video streaming services. “The maximum consumers would willingly pay for a monthly online video subscription is: Rs 50-200 (22%); Rs 201-400 (30%); Rs 401-600 (22%); Rs 600-800 (12%); Rs 800 (7%),” says the survey.

But what about the data that streaming apps may get access to, perhaps for targeted advertising, in return for offering services at a possible discount? As many as 70% consumers wouldn’t mind paying less for a service, even if they have to sit through adverts. About 16% users are okay with sharing personal data if it isn’t personally identifiable. But 12% consumers are very clear that they don’t want to share any personal data, even if that means sitting through adverts.

The media bundling scenario in India has become quite popular over the past year. For instance, Airtel with its prepaid mobile, postpaid mobile and Xstream home broadband and Vodafone with its prepaid and postpaid mobile bill plans, have been bundling subscriptions to services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Zee5 and more. The advantage for operators is that it allows them to offer upgraded tariff plans to users, which in turn result in better average revenue per user (ARPU) stats. This also increases data consumption and allows service providers to position themselves as more than just telecom companies.

For OTT streaming services, this is a great opportunity to get more subscribers on board, while spending significantly lower in terms of subscriber acquisition costs. They also get better retention figures, as a subscriber is likely to stay as an active subscriber for longer if the subscription is bundled. OTT companies don’t need to pay for advertising, and they can attempt to crack newer markets.

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Fortnite Chapter 2 Season 2 is Being Teased in Real World — Will Epic Games Go AR?

Fortnite has established a solid legion of followers, giving Epic Games’ flagship title a signature style of intrigue before a new season is released. This Thursday, February 20, Fortnite is expected to begin with its Chapter 2, Season 2, and interestingly, the game is apparently being teased in the real world. According to reports, Fortnite video clips and printed billboards have appeared in at least Brazil, France, Japan and USA, and there are a couple of intriguing themes that seem to be common among most of Fortnite Chapter 2 Season 2’s teasers.

One, some of the teasers in question appear to come with a phone number, as spotted by Fortnite players. Once these numbers are dialled, an automated voice responds in Portuguese, saying, “Yes, Sir. The agents were called. Card to access the safe acquired.” The second bit of intrigue about the teasers, both physical and online, is gold — gold bars are reportedly being used to hide bits of texts in the cryptic teasers, while yet another printed Fortnite teaser has a golden handprint splashed across it. This corroborates previous reports by Fortnite data miners, which state that gold furniture is part of the game’s code, and may be part of the game at some point. Some recent leaks have also spoken about a golden umbrella in the game, as well as the presence of legendary-grade character skin Oro, which comes with a description that says ‘Golden treasure, an eternal obsession’.

Fortnite Chapter 2 Season 2 teaser. Video splash spotted by @FlakesPower/Twitter.

These elements have given rise to three speculations about the game — one, Fortnite’s Chapter 2 Season 2 may have some sort of an augmented reality feature that ties the game in with real world activities. Two, the mention of “the safe” by the voice in the phone call suggests that this may signify the return of a secret vault in the game, which may open up rare, collectible weapons that have been locked down after Fortnite Chapter 1 Season 10. Three, the presence of all the gold has led to many stating that gold may become the building material in the game for this season.

Right now, though, everything remains speculative. Fortnite has been known for offering some truly interesting crossovers, as well as quirky themes and gameplay elements. It is also known to attempt building up hype and intrigue in the lead-up to a new season, so such cryptic teasers are not out of the ordinary, really. With only two days to go until the start of the new season, it will be interesting to see how much of our speculations hold true, and what the new season really brings.

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Hershey's Chocolates Valentine’s Day Campaign Reaches over 12 Million Instagram Users

This Valentine’s Day Hershey’s chocolates launched a quirky Instagram campaign called ‘That’s What We Said’ in the first week of February. The campaign made couples ask fun and interesting questions about each other and their respective relationships. The cinch here was that the answers had to match, and if they did, the couples scored a point.

In an innovative twist, the campaign utilised the existing Instagram feature, ‘pull and zoom’. Each partner was asked to place his or her fingers on the image and zoom in to read the question and answer accurately. Once the couples got their score, they could share them along with their experience and flaunt their compatibility on their own Insta stories.

Sharing his views on the campaign, Sarosh Shetty, Marketing Director, Hershey India said: “Instagram is integral to Gen Z’s life where they express and celebrate all their relationships. Hence, Hershey’s launched this Insta-first digital campaign to bring their loved ones together and strengthen their bond through a fun and quirky game – ‘That’s What We Said’, this Valentine’s Day. We are happy that we were able to grab the attention and garner such a huge organic engagement with our audiences through this campaign.”

Heeru Dingra, CEO, WATConsult said, “The acceptance of Instagram amongst millennials is huge and we wanted to optimise this knowledge in an innovative way rather than through the traditional portrayal of Valentine’s Day. Leveraging the ‘pull and zoom’ feature of Instagram, we made the couples have some fun and build a stronger bond. The campaign has created a fantastic buzz since its launch.”

‘That’s What We Said’ has already marked over 17.09 million impressions, with a reach of 12.91 million on Instagram. Since the game was played on Hershey India Instagram page, Hershey’s also witnessed a massive surge in profile visits amounting to 42,000 and over 900 mentions of the brand.

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Google Plans to Stop Android Apps from Accessing Personal Data

Representative image (Image: News18.com)

Representative image (Image: News18.com)

Google screening such apps by either blocking potential malicious apps from appearing on Play Store or removing and updating others.

  • Trending Desk
  • Last Updated: February 18, 2020, 2:41 PM IST

Getting apps installed on your device can mean giving out personal data willingly to each of the apps. Now, Google has revealed its plans to curb this practice. The tech giant, in its bid to make Android the most secure mobile operating system, has started cracking down on app permissions. According to reports, this new policy would suggest that 98 per cent of Android apps will not ask for access to a user’s SMS and call data. They are screening such apps by either blocking potential malicious apps from appearing on Play Store or removing and updating others.

In order to ensure users can keep data private, Google came out with a policy in 2018 that aimed at limiting apps that “unnecessarily” sought permission to get personal information. Then in 2019, it came out with a policy update that segregated kids and family-friendly apps. Despite these measures, Google has not been able to filter out all of the harmful applications. CamScanner came with an update last year that allowed hackers to install a trojan on phones and tablets.

The bigger issue found across Android devices was the ability of apps to accumulate data of a user, even when it has been denied permission. Over 1,300 apps were found to be able to do so. Although Google has not been able to erect brick walls yet, it mentioned in a Security Blog that it will continue to work on “protecting user privacy”, “blocking repeat offenders” and “removing apps with harmful content and behaviours”.

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TCL Concept Phone With Slide-Out Display Sounds Fascinating, But Not Durable

The slide-out display design of TCL's concept phone, which was expected to be unveiled at MWC 2020. (Image: Cnet)

The slide-out display design of TCL’s concept phone, which was expected to be unveiled at MWC 2020. (Image: Cnet)

The renders show the slide-out screen on the TCL concept phone, but does not explain how this system might work, mechanically.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: February 18, 2020, 2:33 PM IST

TCL appears to have made a super unique take on the smartphone-tablet hybrid form factor that foldable phones are trying to bring along. Official-looking renders and marketing images of the phone have surfaced online, showing a unique, slide-out display design. These images, which come courtesy of Cnet, show off an unnamed TCL smartphone, which unlike the Samsung Galaxy Fold or the Motorola Razr, does not fold at all. Instead, it slides out to reveal more screen space, transforming itself into a tablet of sorts when the entire display area is open.

It is presumed that the extra screen area will fold into the device somewhere on its rear, and it could make the phone a whole lot thicker than what is typically seen. The extra screen is protected by a slide-out cover at the back. The unnamed phone appears like a regular phone otherwise, with curved sides and a dual-punch hole design storing the front cameras. At the back, it has a vertically stacked quad rear camera setup. In order to create the slide-out mechanism, TCL appears to have used a crease or gap somewhere.

While the concept was expected to have been present at MWC 2020, the conference has since been cancelled, which means that we may not get a glimpse of this concept phone any time soon. It’s not clear if such a device would be durable enough — history indicates that devices with moving parts are not the best suited for long term durability. On top of that, foldable display panels have been seen to not be the most durable — pretty much every single foldable phone of note have run into some form of trouble or another.

These very factors would have led to TCL’s slide-out screen concept phone a very interesting one to see. Since the display appears to be curving inward when slid in, it is possible that such a device may have resolved the crease formation issue to an extent. For now, however, we will have to make do with these press renders of the smartphone — at least until TCL makes an announcement regarding the said smartphone, at some point of time in the future.

The slide-out display design of the TCL concept phone, as seen from the rear in its press renders.

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Realme X50 Pro 5G With Snapdragon 865 SoC to Launch in India on February 24

The tech industry has been hit hard with the Coronavirus epidemic, so much so that this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC Barcelona) had to be canceled due to safety concerns. This essentially forced all smartphone makers to reveal their new devices on a different platform. One such company is Realme, which was supposed to showcase the Realme X50 Pro 5G on February 24.

The launch of the handset, however, will still happen on the same day, but now as an online live stream event. Notably, the company has sent out invites to the media, but from what we can understand the event will just be a place where the company will showcase the live stream.

Realme has been teasing some features of the upcoming Realme X50 Pro 5G

Realme has been teasing some of the highlight features of the handset on its website. As of now, we know that the smartphone will be a more premium version of the previously launched Realme X50. It is being touted as the first 5G smartphone for the Indian market loaded with the new Snapdragon 865 chipset. It will also come with 65W SuperDart Charge, a 90Hz Super AMOLED display, and a quad-camera setup at the back with 20x zoom and dual selfie cameras. Expect a new feature to be unveiled today as well as tomorrow. We are assuming that the handset will come with Android 10 with the company’s Realme UI on top.

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Samsung Galaxy S20 Series Estimated to Sell 32 Million Units in 2020

Reputed TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo expects Samsung to sell around 32 million units of the recently launched Galaxy S20 in 2020, which compared to the previous-generation models is not much. According to Kuo, Samsung sold around 36-38 million Galaxy S10 models last year, news portal GizmoChina reported. Interestingly, the report from Kuo contradicts what Counterpoint Research firm which said that the newly launched Galaxy S20 will outsell its predecessor.

Galaxy S20 smartphone price in India is set at Rs 66,999, while S20+ price is set at Rs 73,999 and the Galaxy S20 Ultra will cost Rs 92,999. In terms of specifications, Galaxy S20 comes in Cosmic Grey, Cloud Blue, Cloud Pink colours; Galaxy S20+ comes in Cosmic Grey, Cloud Blue, Cosmic Black and Galaxy S20 Ultra comes in Cosmic Grey, Cosmic Black colours.

The Galaxy S20 series comes with a 25W fast charger (S20 Ultra supports 45W superfast charging). S20 houses 4000mAh battery, S20+ has 4,500mAh battery while Ultra has a huge 5,000mAh battery. The entire series is equipped with massive storage as standard, S20 in 128GB variant LTE version with 8GB variant while S20+ and S20 Ultra in 128GB, 256GB and 512GB variants.

S20 and S20+ have a triple camera system at the rear with main 64MP camera and a 10MP selfie shooter while S20 Ultra has main 108MP camera and 40MP front camera. The S20 Ultra takes things a step further with the option to shift dynamically between a high-resolution 108MP mode and a 12MP mode, thanks to “nona-binning” technology which combines nine pixels into one at the sensor level.