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Microsoft to Pull Plug on Cortana Apps for both Android and iOS from 2021

Image for Representation
(Photo: Associated Press)

Image for Representation
(Photo: Associated Press)

Microsoft will instead focus on productivity features that repurpose Cortana as a part of the Microsoft 365 suite of software.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: August 3, 2020, 11:03 AM IST

Microsoft has announced that it will discontinue the Cortana apps available on several platforms including Android, iOS and Harman Kardon Invoke speakers, along with first-gen Surface headphones, starting in 2021. The tech giant will instead focus on productivity features that repurpose Cortana as a part of the Microsoft 365 suite of software, citing the revamped Windows 10 functions and integrated Cortana features in the Outlook and Teams apps as replacements.

“In early 2021, we’ll stop supporting the Cortana app for mobile (iOS and Android), because you can now manage your calendar and email, join meetings, and do so much more via our new productivity-focused experiences — like the Cortana Windows 10 experience, Cortana integration in Outlook mobile, and soon Cortana voice assistance in the Teams mobile app,” the company said in a statement. Microsoft said on Saturday that it is offering one $50 Microsoft gift card per active Harman Kardon Invoke speaker for users who sent a voice request to the digital assistant, but only after July 31, 2019, and before the announcement.

Last year, the company first withdrew the Cortana for iOS app from a number of regions. Earlier this year, Microsoft said it will make productivity the focus of the digital assistant and as part of the shift, its digital assistant Cortana will lose some of its more consumer-facing features, such as the ability to play music and control smart home devices.


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Categories
Tech

Microsoft is Reportedly Planning a Six-Phase Re-opening of Its Offices in US on January 19, 2021

Image for Representation
(Photo: Associated Press)

Image for Representation
(Photo: Associated Press)

With Covid-19 Crisis hardly showing any sign of slowing down, many tech giants like Google and Apple have extended their work from option until next year.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: August 1, 2020, 10:56 AM IST

Microsoft has reportedly chosen January 19, 2021, as the date for reopening its US offices. According to The Verge, the tech giant is planning a “hybrid workplace” for a six-phase reopening of its offices. “Stage six will be when offices are ready to fully reopen for employees to return to work,” the report said on Friday. The six stages are: Closed; Mandatory working from home; Working from home strongly encouraged; Soft opening; Open with restrictions and finally, Open. “In the US, we have established that the earliest possible date for Stage 6 is now January 19, 2021,” read an internal memo from Kurt DelBene, Microsoft’s head of corporate strategy.

“Our goal for Stage 6 is to return to normal operations while being prepared to back off to an earlier stage if a significant resurgence in the virus occurs,” the memo added. Google is planning to keep its employees working remotely until July 2021 while Apple employees will not return to offices until early next year. With the COVID-19 pandemic hardly showing any sign of slowing down, Google said it would allow employees to work from home till the middle of next year if their roles permit.”To give employees the ability to plan ahead, we are extending our global voluntary work from home option through June 30, 2021, for roles that don’t need to be in the office,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in an email to employees, according to a CNBC report.

In May, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg laid out a detailed remote-working plan to make half of his 50,000-strong workforce work from home by 2030. According to him, about half of Facebook employees would work from home five to 10 years from now. While Amazon and Apple expect their employees to return to their respective offices in January, most other tech companies have also allowed work from home till the end of the year.


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Categories
Tech

Global tech show CES in Las Vegas to be only online in 2021 due to COVID-19

CES, the biggest global tech and gadget show, held every January in Las Vegas, will be only online in 2021 due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, organizer Consumer Technology Association said on Tuesday.

While big tech companies like Apple , Alphabet’s Google and Samsung have separate product launch events and companies launching electronic gadgets at CES have generally been smaller, the event has been an important venue for technology companies and buyers to meet to conduct business .

CES is the biggest annual event in Las Vegas and cancellation will be a blow to the city, where hotel prices soar and roads clog with traffic during the event. According to the CTA, CES 2020 had an estimated 170,000 attendees, including 60,000 international attendees.

Gary Shapiro, chief executive of CTA, said the decision was made now to give companies and partners in Las Vegas time to plan ahead. “We don’t think there’s a vaccine that will be available and safe and tested that people are comfortable with by January,” he said.

Pricing for the online CES hasn’t been decided yet, Shapiro said. Tickets for CES this year ranged from $300 to $1,700. The digital CES event is scheduled for Jan. 6-9.

Disclaimer: This post has been auto-published from an agency feed without any modifications to the text and has not been reviewed by an editor


Categories
Tech

Google to Extend Work From Home Policy for Employees Until July 2021 Amid Covid-19 Pandemic: Report

Image for Representation (Reuters)

Image for Representation (Reuters)

Google is the first tech company to extend its work from home policy to next summer due to the Covid-19 crisis.

  • Reuters
  • Last Updated: July 27, 2020, 7:43 PM IST

Alphabet Inc’s Google will keep its employees home until at least next July, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai made the decision himself last week after debate among an internal group of top executives that he chairs, as per the report by the Wall Street Journal.

Google did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. Google had earlier said it would begin reopening more offices globally as early as June this year, but most Google employees would likely work from home until the end of this year.


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Tech

Apple iPhone 2021 Models Will Reportedly be Equipped With Touch-Integrated OLED Displays

Image for Representation
(Image: Reuters)

Image for Representation
(Image: Reuters)

The OLED display panels will reportedly come with inbuilt touch sensors instead of touch sensor films, according to reports.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: July 21, 2020, 4:44 PM IST

Apple is reportedly working to equip its 2021 iPhone series models with touch-integrated OLED displays, as per a report. According to South Korea-based ETNews, the Cupertino-based tech giant has already placed orders for the new OLED display panels that will come with inbuilt touch sensors instead of touch sensor films. This will reportedly make the panels thinner than the traditional OLED displays that have a touch-receptive layer attached to them. The report also says that the touch-integrated OLED displays will be supplied by Samsung Display.

“According to the industry on the 19th, Apple ordered a touch-integrated OLED as the display standard for the iPhone in 2021. Apple next year demanded that all panels to be used in the new iPhone be touch-integrated,” the report by ETNews said. Apple, so far, has been traditional displays that have touch film attached to them but this could change soon with the launch of the iPhone 12 series later this year. The new feature means cost-cuts and also Samsung roping in a major customer like Apple will also boost the tech giant’s immense popularity as well.

The report also further states that the iPhone 12 series will come with display screens of different sizes including 5.4-inch, 6.2-inch, and 6.7-inch. Apple is set to launch four variants of the iPhone 12 models that are expected to feature OLED displays and 5G support, as previously reported by renowned Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. The four variants of the upcoming iPhone 12 series will also include 6.1-inch iPhone Pro and 6.7-inch iPhone Pro Max. The rear camera on the Pro models will also sport four sensors with a LiDAR scanner that the company introduced in the recently launched iPad Pro.


Categories
Tech

Amazon Extends Work From Home Policy Until January 2021 as Covid-19 Cases Surge in US

Representative image. (Picture Source: Reuters)

Representative image. (Picture Source: Reuters)

Amazon said that its latest work from policy applies to its white-collar workforce and not the warehouse workers who have been working through the Covid-19 crisis.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: July 16, 2020, 11:52 AM IST

Amazon has announced that it will allow employees to work from home until January 8, 2021, joining several major tech giants such as Facebook, Google, and Apple that have already announced work from home policies through the end of this year. While the company’s corporate offices will continue to remain open, an Amazon spokesperson said that “employees who work in a role that can effectively be done from home are welcome to do so.”

Amazon added that it invested “significant funds and resources” to keep those who choose to come to the office safe through physical distancing, deep learning, temperature checks, and by providing face coverings and hand sanitizer. Amazon’s latest decision comes after the company said in May that employees who could do their jobs remotely are permitted to do so until at least October 2.

However, the company reiterated that the work from policy applies to its white-collar workforce and not the warehouse workers, among other hourly and contract workers, who have been working through the Covid-19 pandemic. Interestingly, Amazon has come under fire a number of times for its inadequate handling of public health and safety conditions in its warehouses, after a number of warehouse workers died from Covid-19. Last month, a few Amazon employees also filed a lawsuit alleging that the company put them and their families at risk of Covid-19 infection. Since then, Amazon improved its public health and worker safety protections by extending hourly employee pay increases, among other measures.


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Tech

Reliance Jio Announces Home-Grown 5G Solution, To Arrive in 2021

At its 43rd Annual General Meeting, Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani announced that Reliance Jio has begun working on 5G connectivity. Jio is designing and developing a complete 5G solution from scratch. This means that the telco will not rely on third-party vendors for equipment, software or service support.

The made-in-India or ‘Atmanirbhar 5G’ will be deployed and launched in a years’ time once the spectrum is available, so we can expect Jio 5G to premiere for consumers sometime in 2021. The best part is that existing customers on 4G networks could easily upgrade to Jio 5G, since it is an all-IP network architecture. The company also has plans to export its 5G solutions globally once it deploys the framework successfully in India.

Reliance Jio expects 5G to transform various industries with its superfast connectivity solution. From agriculture where drones could deliver fast internet to farmers to maintain their crops, to industries that can make use of mixed reality through 5G to improve productivity as well as providing remote medical assistance where doctors and patients could interact digitally.

Disclaimer: News18.com is part of Network18 Media & Investment Limited which is owned by Reliance Industries Limited that also owns Reliance Jio.


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Tech

Far Cry 6 Will be Available on Google Stadia From February 2021

French video game company Ubisoft has released the first trailer for Far Cry 6 game that would make its way to Stadia Cloud gaming service, alongside other consoles, on February 18 next year. The game will be available on the likes of current-gen consoles such as the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, as well as the next-gen PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. PCs, too, reports 9to5Google.

It will also be part of the Uplay+ subscription service. Far Cry 6 is the latest in the long-running series and will take us to a fictional country called Yara, set on an island in the heart of the Caribbean, which is clearly based on some Southern American locations. Far Cry 6 is said to have the most ambitious open-world of all Far Cry games to date, with the game taking place across the entire country, including dense jungles, beaches and more. Earlier, Google introduced the popular battle royale game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) on its subscription-based game service Stadia.

The game is free for Stadia Pro members and will include the new Cold Front season pass. The base PUBG game on Stadia can be purchased for $29.99, while the new Pioneer Edition is available for $39.99.


Categories
Tech

Apple MacBook Pro 14 With Mini-LED Display Could Enter Production in Q1 2021

Apple suppliers are reportedly getting ready to manufacture the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro laptops with mini-LED displays starting from 2021. According to the Taiwanese research firm TrendForce, Apple will also release a 12.9-inch iPad Pro model with the mini-LED display in the first quarter of 2021 with a 5nm-based A14X chip.

Along with the iPhone 12 models, the next iPad Pros are also expected to feature 5G connectivity. Apple’s decision to opt for a mini-LED display makes sense since MacBooks are best for video editing and content creation. The display technology offers a higher contrast ratio and brightness.

It is also expected to get a significant boost in applications as Apple is proceeding with R&D of devices adopting mini-LED backlighting. Well-known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has also mentioned that the company was developing six products with Mini-LED displays for release by the end of 2021 — 12.9-inch iPad Pro, 10.2-inch iPad, 7.9-inch iPad mini, 27-inch iMac Pro, 14-inch MacBook Pro and 16-inch MacBook Pro models.


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Tech

Apple Likely to Launch 10.8-inch iPad Later This Year, 8.5-inch iPad Mini in Early 2021

Image for Representation.

Image for Representation.

The two upcoming iPad models are likely to follow the iPhone SE’s product strategy, which means, these devices could be launched with affordable price points.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: June 29, 2020, 3:23 PM IST

Apple is not only gearing up to launch its first ARM-based Mac devices later this year but is also said to be working on the launch of two new iPad devices. If reports are to be believed, noted analyst Ming Chi-Kuo suggests that the new iPad devices will include the 10.8-inch iPad and which will be followed by an 8.5-inch iPad which the company might unveil in the first half of 2021. However, the report obtained by MacRumors didn’t suggest whether the upcoming 10.8-inch iPad will be a new version of the existing 10.2-inch iPad or the 10.5-inch iPad Air.

However, according to previous reports by Kuo, the 8.5-inch iPad variant will be a follow up of Apple’s iPad Mini. To recall, Apple updated the iPad Mini in March last year that featured an A12 Bionic chip, an upgraded front camera, and support for the first-gen Apple Pencil as well. Kuo also mentioned in the past the new iPad models will follow the iPhone SE’s product strategy, which means, the company might launch these devices at an affordable price range.

Kuo has also suggested that Apple will also ship both the 10.8-inch and 8.5-inch iPad devices with a new 20W power adapter as seen in leaks. Interestingly, while this may be the case with the upcoming iPads, however, Apple is not likely to ship the upcoming iPhone 12 series with chargers, as reports have revealed. Furthermore, earphones will not be part of the iPhone 12 box as well. All in all, these are only speculations and the final decision rests only with Apple. Going forward, one will have to patiently wait and see how things unfold.


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