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Tech

Subscribed to Too Many Streaming Services to Stay Sane These Days? Try The Bobby App, Right Now

It is quite easy to overcompensate these days. Subscribe to more services, apps and platforms than you may otherwise, purely for the work and play requirements. This isn’t just restricted to streaming platforms that include Netflix, Disney+ Hotstar and Amazon Prime Video. You may now need a subscription for virtual gym classes to stay healthy. Subscriptions to kids’ education apps. Video calling apps have premium plans too, such as Zoom and Google Meet. Maybe a faster home broadband plan that costs more than before. Maybe even subscriptions to productivity software such as Microsoft 365. More cloud storage perhaps for work. Pressreader app to keep up with the global newspapers and magazines? Need some music on Apple Music or Spotify? The possibilities are endless, and the drain on the pocket is quicker than a pristine stream in the Scottish Highlands.

It may be hard to keep tabs on the subscriptions and before you know it, everything just goes out of hands. That is where an app like Bobby, which is available for the Apple iPhone and the Apple iPad, really helps. For starters, what you get is a beautiful layout. And it’s even more beautiful in the Dark Mode—in fact you can choose the slightly lighter Dark More or the darker native Dark Mode of iOS. Some of the features in the app, such as the ability to choose a different icon for the iPhone’s apps list, are part of an optional in-app purchase which is priced at Rs 237. You may choose to not buy this, and Bobby still remains extremely useful because the core functionality works seamlessly.

There are some prelisted subscription platforms and apps on the list, making it easy to choose. These include Dropbox, Evernote, iCloud, Google Apps for Work, Audible, LinkedIn, Slack, Playstation Plus, Adobe Creative Cloud, iTunes Store, National Geographic, Microsoft Xbox Live, Microsoft Office, Twitch, Google Drive, WWE Network and more. The list isn’t alphabetically sorted, but you can simply search for what you need.

With Bobby, you can also create new subscriptions for services that may not be available in the listing—complete with colour coding, an icon for easy reference and description, among other details. For each subscription that you save, whether from the pre-defined list or customized, you must feed in the billing amount you pay for that subscription—it can be per month, quarterly or yearly. Whether you choose to enter this pre-taxes or including taxes, is up to you. Then you set the currency for your region, and also set reminders for when the payment may be due. This is a great way to keep tabs on everything you spend on, be it postpaid mobile connections, prepaid mobile recharges, subscriptions, utility bills and more.

Once all this is done, Bobby lists out all your subscriptions and gives you a total monthly bill that you pay for everything you have subscribed to, depending on the amounts you have entered.

Everything was moving online even before the Coronavirus pandemic arrived, and that has further increased the reliance on web-based services. We are spending a lot more time in front of one screen or the other—the PC, the tablet, the smartphone and the TV. And chances are, what we see or consume on that screen, is costing us some money either way. And Bobby is a great way to keep track of how much you spend, and perhaps take a stock of the priorities once you’ve listed everything you pay for.



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Tech

TikTok Ropes in Long-time Disney's Head of Streaming Kevin Mayer as New CEO

Kevin Mayer, Disney's head of direct-to-consumer division, on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, USA. (Pic Source: Reuters)

Kevin Mayer, Disney’s head of direct-to-consumer division, on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, USA. (Pic Source: Reuters)

During his career at Disney, Mayer was instrumental in facilitating a number of strategic acquisitions, including the acquisition of 21st Century Fox.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: May 19, 2020, 11:48 AM IST

Long-time Disney’s head of streaming Kevin Mayer is going to be the CEO of short-video making platform TikTok and chief operating officer of ByteDance which is the owner of TikTok. Alex Zhu, the current President of TikTok, will transition to ByteDance VP of Product and Strategy, where he will focus on his primary passion overseeing strategy and product design, ByteDance said in a statement late Monday.

Mayer led Disney’s Direct-to-Consumer and International segment since its founding in 2018 and oversaw the successful launches of ESPN+ and Disney+ and the integration of Hulu. During his career at Disney, Mayer was instrumental in facilitating a number of strategic acquisitions, including the acquisition of 21st Century Fox. Mayer will now report directly to ByteDance Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Yiming Zhang, and will be charged with driving the global development of ByteDance, as well as overseeing corporate functions including corporate development, sales, marketing, public affairs, security, moderation, and legal.

In his role as COO, he will lead music, gaming, Helo, emerging businesses, and will serve as CEO of TikTok, leading the rapidly growing platform as it continues to build its global community of creators, users, and brands. TikTok’s popularity has surged in Covid-19 times worldwide. “As one of the world’s most accomplished entertainment executives, Mayer is incredibly well placed to take ByteDance’s portfolio of products to the next level. I look forward to working very closely with Mayer on our global development and the next chapter of the ByteDance story,” said Zhang. Mayer said he is thrilled to have the opportunity to join the amazing team at ByteDance.

“I’ve been impressed watching the company build something incredibly rare in TikTok – a creative, positive online global community – and I’m excited to help lead the next phase of ByteDance’s journey as the company continues to expand its breadth of products across every region of the world,” he noted. Founded in 2012, ByteDance has more than a dozen products, including TikTok, Helo, and Resso, as well as platforms specific to the China market, including Toutiao, Douyin, and Xigua.

Mayer’s role at Disney will be taken over by Rebecca Campbell, who has been named chairman of Disney’s direct-to-consumer efforts. Disney also announced that Josh D’Amaro would become chairman of Disney’s parks, experiences, and products.



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Tech

Samsung TV Plus Free Streaming Service Could Soon Launch on Galaxy Smartphones

Image for Representation.

Image for Representation.

The service is available for free to the users in the US as well as Canada, offering more than 100 TV channels over the internet.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: April 23, 2020, 2:56 PM IST

South Korean tech giant Samsung is reportedly planning to roll out its free smart TV-based streaming service named ‘Samsung TV Plus’ to smartphone users globally. The service is available for free to the users in the US as well as Canada, offering more than 100 TV channels over the internet.

According to a GizmoChina report, the streaming service could be made available to smartphone users through a mobile application and is likely to be exclusive to the Galaxy lineup. Some latest tablets including the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite and the Galaxy S20 handsets could be the first ones to get it.

The Samsung TV Plus for mobile will come with the same functionality as the service offers on Samsung Smart TVs, one will be able to watch live channels and access VOD content too. The service offers channels including beIN SPORTS EXTRA, Bon Appétit, CBS News, Crime 360, fubo Sports Network, Fuse, Kitchen Nightmares, The Design Network, VEVO, Yahoo Finance and more.

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Tech

Snapdeal Debuts on OTT Space, Partners With Hungama for Video Streaming Content

Image for representation.

Image for representation.

Snapdeal entry in the OTT sector comes at a time when e-commerce in India has been badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: April 20, 2020, 5:13 PM IST

E-commerce marketplace Snapdeal on Monday partnered with video-on-demand platform Hungama Play which is owned by Hungama Digital Media, to offer a video-streaming service to its users. The partnership is aimed at offering Snapdeal users an easy way to order their essentials and entertain themselves using the same app from the safety of their homes.

The service offers short-format content, movies, TV shows and short films across genres in more than 15 languages like Hindi, English, Bhojpuri, Punjabi, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Bengali, Gujarati and more.

“Our association with Snapdeal enables us to offer users wholesome entertainment led by an incredible library of short-format videos, movies, TV shows and Hungama Originals. We are certain that the content experience offered by Hungama Play on Snapdeal will help the users remain engaged,” Siddhartha Roy, COO Hungama Digital Media said in a statement.

Besides short format content, viewers can also explore a library of long-format videos consisting of more than 400 films, various TV shows and Hungama Originals. Hungama Play’s content can be accessed through Snapdeal app, website or m-site without any extra payment.

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Tech

YouTube is Reducing Streaming Resolution Only on Mobile in India

Google has confirmed that it is indeed looking at changing the video streaming resolution on its platform all around the world, as internet networks are potentially under the risk of getting overloaded. Millions of people are working from home around the world, and broadband as well as mobile networks are now seeing additional traffic of video calls as well. For India, specifically, YouTube has confirmed they are downgrading the default resolution from HD or Ultra HD to Standard Definition (SD), at least on mobile networks thus far. This change will be in force till April 14, unless things change along the way. Interestingly, even Google hasn’t noticed any change in peak YouTube usage just because more people are working from home.

“We continue to work closely with governments and network operators around the globe to do our part to minimize stress on the system during this unprecedented situation. Last week, we announced that we were temporarily defaulting all videos on YouTube to standard definition in the EU. Given the global nature of this crisis, we will expand that change globally starting today,” says a Google spokesperson in a statement shared with News18. YouTube says that in India, they will In India, temporarily default the streams from HD and ultra-HD to SD content at bitrates no higher than 480p on mobile networks.

YouTube says that for the most part, their logs show little change in the peaks, and have mostly seen changes in usage patterns from more people at home now expanding across additional hours and lower usage peaks. That in no way poses any risk of bringing a internet network down to its knees, but they say they are still taking this action globally to minimize stress on the systems.

In India, YouTube is also adding a new promo card on the Homepage which links to the website of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) of the Government of India, so that users have the correct and up-to-date confirmed information about the Coronavirus spread in India. They say search results and videos about coronavirus now also appear alongside information from reliable sources including the WHO, and there will be curated playlists with videos on topics that include tips for preventing spread of the virus as well as how to work from home more effectively.

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Tech

Your Video Streaming Quality Could Soon Drop Due to the Coronavirus Outbreak

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has written to over-the-top (OTT) streaming platforms to ensure smooth video streaming across the country as people are staying indoors and taking to work-from-home amid the coronavirus crisis. The industry body has also written a letter to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) urging the government to issue advisories to the players concerned on this issue.

In its letter to the market players, the telecom industry body noted that in the past few days, government advisories have been issued to stay indoors and work from home and the role of digital means of communications, transactions, and entertainment increases. “This sudden surge in digital use is already putting pressure on the network infrastructure of the telecom service providers (TSPs). The TSPs are taking requisite steps to manage this load and facilitate the smooth functioning of the networks during this critical time,” it said.

It noted that due to lockdown or quarantine measures in various parts of the country, a sudden surge in demand for online video streaming is expected to rise substantially and during this period it is “absolutely essential for the streaming platforms to cooperate with TSPs so as to manage the traffic distribution patterns”. “It is pertinent to note that the need of the hour is that companies offering streaming platform service and TSPs take joint responsibility to take steps to ensure smooth functioning of the data communication networks to align with other measures being taken in this battle to curb the propagation of the virus,” the COAI said in the letter to industry players.

This joint action from all the players to suitably the pressure on infrastructure and to facilitate remote working, online education, digital healthcare, payments, and other critical services at a time of region-wide public health crisis would go a long way in helping the citizens and country at large, it said. The COAI further said that there are various measures that the streaming platform companies can undertake in the current situation to provide a suitable level of service to their customers at the most appropriate bitrate required.

One such measure is temporarily moving to SD (Standard Definition) rather than HD (High Definition) streaming, it said, adding that there may be other such technical measures that may be taken to ease the pressure on infrastructure. Also, during this period, advertisements and pop-ups, which usually consume high bandwidth should be removed and if required, may be replaced with public announcements on awareness regarding the virus, COAI said. The letter pointed out that similar measures are being taken by various streaming platforms internationally — in the US and Europe — as more and more countries enter lockdown to combat the spread of the virus. In its letter to the DoT, COAI has also given a list of the OTT platforms active in India – Amazon Prime Video, Youtube, Hotstar, Zee5, Alt Balaji, Voot, Sony Liv, Viuclip, Hoichoi, Netflix, and SunNXT.

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Tech

Xbox Games on iPhones: Microsoft Project xCloud Game Streaming Beta Comes to iOS

Representative image of Microsoft's Project xCloud beta on iOS devices. (Image: Lawrence Hryb)

Representative image of Microsoft’s Project xCloud beta on iOS devices. (Image: Lawrence Hryb)

The Project xCloud beta service was so far only available on Android phones, and is now on iOS as beta.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: February 13, 2020, 2:31 PM IST

Microsoft has adopted a clever, steady strategy with its game streaming platform, Project xCloud. Now, the steady progress has brought xCloud to Apple devices, with the service hitting Apple’s TestFlight platform. Being a beta on iOS, Project xCloud will only have up to 10,000 people testing it out right now, and Microsoft has stated that only one game, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, will be available to play on the service, at least for now. This marks steady progress for Microsoft, which has taken Project xCloud from Android devices to iOS, looking to test it out on different platforms to steadily improve the service.

Microsoft’s director of programming for Xbox Live, who operates under his Xbox gamer tag Major Nelson, has updated in his official blog that Microsoft has already hit the initial target number of users that it required for its TestFlight programme. The preview was announced yesterday, and was made available only to users in USA, UK and Canada. However, Microsoft might look to expand its beta testing programme at a later point, and bring it to more countries, so we suggest that it is worth keeping an eye out for the next Project xCloud update.

While all eyes are on Microsoft for its next gaming console, the Xbox Series X, Project xCloud has been making steady progress ever since being introduced. Microsoft has stuck to basics with the service, attempting to iron out issues such as stability and consistency, in a bid to make the service universally playable. With the game streaming industry still at its very nascent, it remains to be seen how Sony, Microsoft’s big rival in the gaming space, reacts to the new sector. Fellow big tech rival Google has already joined the fray with Stadia, but its game streaming service has met with mixed reactions at best, so far.

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Tech

Microsoft Xbox Streaming Preview Tests Begin: Check if You Can be a Tester Too

To be eligible one must be an Xbox Insider in the Alpha and Alpha Skip-Ahead rings in the US and UK and have an Android device running Marshmallow, or higher.

Microsoft Xbox Streaming Preview Tests Begin: Check if You Can be a Tester Too
Image for Representation

In a bid to let users stream Xbox games on Android phones and tablets, Microsoft has announced the provision of testing Xbox Console Streaming services globally. To have a go at it, you must be an Xbox Insider in the Alpha and Alpha Skip-Ahead rings in the US and UK regions only. You also need to have an Android device running Marshmallow (v6.0) or higher. You will also require a wireless Xbox One controller and a high-speed home internet network to support streaming. Once you download the ‘Xbox Game Streaming’ app from the Play Store and launch the app, a diagnosis routine will be performed.

In the diagnosis, the suitability of your home network, console, and the controller will be assessed. It will inform you whether your setup is good to function or needs any work before streaming. The report added that the streaming preview started globally from January 16, 2020. So, any user signed up as Xbox Insider will be able to stream their downloaded games directly from their Xbox One to their Android smartphone or tablet now.

Microsoft’s Jonathan Hildebrandt said that for the company public preview was an important step in delivering game streaming to Xbox players around the globe. This comes as a response to Sony’s PS4 Remote Play, through which PS4 games are streamed to Android devices. Testers were encouraged to share feedback and suggestions at the Xbox Insider Subreddit.