Archive for January, 2019

Just a day on from the last piece of Dune casting news, a new report claims that Zendaya — best known to most for playing MJ in Spider-Man: Homecoming — is in early talks to play Chani, the love interest of the protagonist Paul Atreides, the young nobleman being portrayed by Timothée Chalamet (Call Me by Your Name), for director Denis Villeneuve’s (Blade Runner 2049) adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 epic sci-fi novel. In the books, Chani is a warrior belonging to the Fremen tribe, who are renowned for their fighting and survival abilities. Zendaya will join a cast that already includes Oscar Isaac (Star Wars: The Last Jedi), Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible – Fallout), Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy), Stellan Skarsgård (Good Will Hunting), and Charlotte Rampling (45 Years).

Collider is behind the latest Dune reveal, claiming multiple sources have said Zendaya is “being eyed” for the role. The website also notes that should Zendaya close the deal on Chani, she would take on the “leading role as [Paul’s] proper love interest in the next Dune film”. Legendary Pictures, the studio that acquired film and TV rights to Herbert’s novels, is interested in turning Dune into a new sci-fi franchise, while Villeneuve has said that he would like to make two films out of the 1965 novel. If everything goes to plan, this would be the second time Zendaya becomes the love the interest of the main character across two chapters. As MJ, she was the cool female friend in Homecoming, and the trailer and images for its sequel Spider-Man: Far From Home suggest a shift into the female lead space.

We already know the roles everyone else who has been cast is playing. In addition to Chalamet as Paul, Isaac and Ferguson will play his parents, Duke Leto I Atreides and Lady Jessica, respectively. Skarsgård is set as the main villain Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, while Bautista will play his violent, sadistic, and brutish nephew Glossu Rabban, who is asked by the Baron to rule the desert planet of Arrakis, the main setting for Dune that is highly coveted for being the only source of a drug called melange — usually known as “the spice” in the book — the most valuable substance in Dune’s fictional universe, after the ruling Atreides family is ousted. Rampling will play Reverend Mother Mohiam, part of an exclusive sisterhood called the Bene Gesserit, some of whom like Mohiam train to become ‘Truthsayers’, who can tell when someone is lying by analysing their speech, body language, and physical signs.

Villeneuve has been rapidly closing out his Dune cast given it’s supposed to start filming in spring 2019 in Budapest and Jordan. The protected wilderness Wadi Rum in southern Jordan will likely be one of the filming locations, given the setting of Arrakis. Villeneuve wrote the script with Eric Roth (Forrest Gump, Munich) and Jon Spaihts (Doctor Strange, Prometheus), and is also producing with Mary Parent (Godzilla, Pacific Rim) and Cale Boyter (Detective Pikachu, Pacific Rim: Uprising).

The 22-year-old Zendaya shot to fame on Disney Channel, first with Shake It Up from 2010-13, and then starring in the lead of K.C. Undercover from 2015-18. Her feature breakthrough was Spider-Man: Homecoming, a role she’s set to reprise in this year’s Far From Home, followed by Hugh Jackman-starrer The Greatest Showman. Zendaya is also part of an ensemble cast for HBO’s high school drama series Euphoria, premiering sometime in 2019.

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After the rapid battery drain issue, OnePlus 6 ₹ 39,999 and OnePlus 6T ₹ 37,999 users are now reporting of an audio issue on their phones. Apparently, users are experiencing distorted, low-quality, and tinny audio while using select third-party apps. While this issue has plagued mostly OnePlus 6 and OnePlus 6T users, it seems that some OnePlus 5T users are also experiencing the same issue. What’s even more interesting is that users claim that this issue has been around since mid-last year, ever since they purchased the OnePlus 6 in June.

Most users have taken to the OnePlus forums and Reddit to complain about this issue. They are experiencing distorted, low-quality, and tinny audio while using third-party apps like Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp – especially during audio and video calls. Interestingly, not all third-party apps are affected by this issue, for example, audio on Instagram works absolutely fine. One user claims that this issue is largely due to the fact that these apps use the top microphone as the main one, which is meant for noise cancellation purposes, and not the bottom one. If this is indeed the issue, OnePlus should be able to solve it with a software update. Android Police was the first to report about the issue.

However, this issue hasn’t been resolved ever since it cropped up last year. OnePlus hasn’t even acknowledged it, and there’s no clarity on whether they are working on it or not. We have contacted OnePlus regarding the matter and will update this copy as and when we hear back. As mentioned, mostly all OnePlus 6 and OnePlus 6T users seem to be affected, but a handful of OnePlus 5T and even OnePlus 3 ₹ 9,449 users are reporting of a similar issue.

OnePlus recently also halted the rollout of the latest OxygenOS Open Beta updates for the OnePlus 5 and OnePlus 5T after some users complained that the new versions bricked their devices. The Open Beta updates for the OnePlus 6 and OnePlus 6T were also pulled.

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PayPal Holdings shares fell almost 4 percent in after-hours trading on Wednesday after the online payments company forecast revenue for the current quarter short of Wall Street’s expectations. For the first quarter, PayPal said it expects revenue between $4.08 billion and $4.13 billion, falling short of analysts’ average $4.16 billion estimate. The company reaffirmed its full year outlook.

For the fourth quarter that ended in December, revenue rose to $4.23 billion (roughly Rs. 30,000 crores) from $3.74 billion, just missing analysts’ average estimate of $4.24 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Excluding one-time items, PayPal earned 69 cents per share, beating the average analyst estimate of 67 cents.

Net income fell to $584 million (roughly Rs. 4,100 crores), or 49 cents per share, in the fourth quarter, from $620 million, or 50 cents per share, a year earlier.

Shares of the San Jose, California based company were down 3.7 percent at $89.00 after the bell on Wednesday.

PayPal separated from e-commerce platform eBay in 2015 and has since focused on broadening the types of services it offers to consumers and merchants, making a slew of acquisitions and partnerships.

The revenue miss in the fourth quarter was due largely to slower growth than expected for payments processed for eBay and unfavourable foreign exchange rates, PayPal executives said on a call with analysts.

“eBay is slowing, but the rest of the business is accelerating in a big way,” CEO Daniel Schulmann said in an interview.

PayPal added a record 13.8 million new active accounts in the fourth quarter, compared to an increase of 8.7 million a year earlier. Around 2.9 million of those accounts were added through acquisitions.

The company processed $164 billion in payments over the period, up 23 percent from a year earlier.

Venmo, its peer-to-peer payment app popular with younger consumers, processed $19 billion of payments in the fourth quarter, up 80 percent from the same quarter a year ago.

PayPal said it had made progress in plans to cash in from the app – whose basic peer-to-peer service is free – through initiatives such as the Venmo debit card and an instant cash out service.

The company predicts that Venmo will contribute $200 million in revenue in 2019, Schulman said on the analyst call.

PayPal Chief Financial Officer John Rainey added that the company does not expect Venmo to break even in the next quarter or two but that there was a “line of sight to that with what we’re doing.”

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We’ve been speculating on Samsung’s foldable phone for a while now, but it seems that the company has not one but two foldable smartphones in the works. A new leak suggests that there’s a second foldable phone in the works as well – and that this would be a gaming phone. This new phone is said to sport physical game controller buttons for realistic game controls, which would separate it from the other gaming phones that are in currently in the market today. This would be a completely different phone from the foldable phone we’re expecting to see at the company’s February 20 event just prior to MWC 2019.

Last year the Asus ROG Phone ₹ 69,999 (Review), Xiaomi Black Shark, and the Razer Phone brought about a new category of high-end gaming phones. Samsung could be targeting that market and innovating on the category at the same time.

A ‘Display Device’ patent filed by Samsung Display in October 2017 and published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on January 29, 2019, shows a phone that folds from the centre and also as a second bend towards the edge that flips a part of the display to reveal a physical controller. The controller itself seems a bit basic with a D-pad and six face buttons. Moreover in its folded state, games could possibly be playable in the smaller display area as well, to keep the device compact and more ergonomic.

Images created by LetsGoDigital give a better idea of what the patent design looks like, and it’s quite clear that this is unlike any other device in this category. Of course this is a very early design and things can change drastically over the development period, but its interesting to see Samsung’s focus on this relatively niche category.

Samsung is likely to showcase its folding smartphone, the Galaxy F or Galaxy Fold at its Galaxy Unpacked event on February 20 in San Francisco.

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and new Attorney General Letitia James on Wednesday said the state was probing Apple’s failure to warn consumers about a FaceTime bug that lets iPhones users see and hear others before they accept a video call.

The bug, which Reuters has been able to replicate, allows an iPhone user placing a call using Apple’s FaceTime video-calling feature to hear audio from the recipient’s phone even if the call has not gone through.

“We need a full accounting of the facts to confirm businesses are abiding by New York consumer protection laws and to help make sure this type of privacy breach does not happen again,” Cuomo said in a statement.

The statement said Cuomo and James would probe Apple’s slow response and cited media reports that a consumer had made the company aware of the bug more than a week before it took action to disable the FaceTime feature.

Apple said on Monday it was aware of the problem and had come up with a fix that would be released in a software update later this week. The company was not immediately available for comment on Wednesday.

The bug appears to rely on Apple’s group video-calling feature, which Apple launched in October. In certain situations, FaceTime also broadcast both video and audio from the recipient’s phone, technology news website the Verge reported on Monday.

Cuomo on Monday issued a consumer alert about the bug and encouraged users to disable the app.

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After the Samsung CEO DJ Koh’s affirmations that the new offerings will meet customer expectations, the Galaxy S10 series has allegedly been spotted on a certification site revealing battery details as well. Separately, a teaser video has also been leaked online confirming that the Galaxy S10 series is set to launch in February. The company is largely expected to launch the Galaxy S-Series decade-anniversary phones in three variants, the Galaxy S10 Lite, Galaxy S10, and Galaxy S10+, on February 20 at its Unpacked event.

The three variants have allegedly been spotted on Brazil’s National Telecom Agency, listed with model numbers – EB-BG970ABU (thought to be Galaxy S10 Lite), EB-BG973ABU (thought to be Galaxy S10), and EB-BG975ABU (thought to be Galaxy S10+). These three variants were spotted first by NashvillechatterClass, and the alleged certification suggests that they pack 3,000mAh, 3,300mAh, and 4,000mAh batteries respectively. If true, this flies in the face of previous rumours that suggest that the Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite may sport a 3,100mAh battery, and the Galaxy S10 to sport a 3,500mAh battery. Previous leaks also claim that the cheapest variant won’t be called Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite, and may just be named the Galaxy S10 only.

The Galaxy S10+ is listed to pack a 4,000mAh battery, corroborating previous leaks. Certification of the three variants also suggests that the devices are set to launch soon.

Separately, an alleged video teaser of the Galaxy S10 event has leaked on Weibo, and it shows Samsung counting down the ten years since the launch of the Galaxy S series. The video shows an outline of Galaxy S series phones, which keep getting bigger and the bezels keep getting thinner. This suggests that 10th Edition of the Galaxy S series will sport even thinner bezels on all sides. You can watch the leaked teaser video below.

The new Galaxy S10 series is tipped to sport Infinity-O Display panels, triple camera setup at the back (S10 Lite may sport dual rear camera setup), and come in Black and White colour options at least. The Galaxy S10+ is tipped to sport dual front cameras as well, and the Galaxy S10 Lite is tipped to sport a side-mounted fingerprint sensor. The other two premium variants should sport an in-display fingerprint scanners.

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The Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) has warned Facebook over its planned integration of its chat services – WhatsApp, Messenger and photo-sharing app Instagram, asking the social media giant to provide it with an “urgent briefing” on the proposals.

In a statement, the Dublin-headquartered Irish watchdog said it understood the plan was at a “very early conceptual stage”.

“While we understand that Facebook’s proposal to integrate the Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram platforms is at a very early conceptual stage of development, the Irish DPC has asked Facebook Ireland for an urgent briefing on what is being proposed,” the watchdog said in a statement late on Monday.

“The Irish DPC will be very closely scrutinising Facebook’s plans as they develop, particularly insofar as they involve the sharing and merging of personal data between different Facebook companies,” it added.

The New York Times reported on January 25 that all of the three Facebook apps will support end-to-end encryption but the company was yet to provide a timeline for when this will happen.

Messenger and Instagram would continue to operate as stand-alone apps.

According to the Irish watchdog, “previous proposals to share data between Facebook companies have given rise to significant data protection concerns and the Irish DPC will be seeking early assurances that all such concerns will be fully taken into account by Facebook in further developing this proposal”.

“It must be emphasised that ultimately the proposed integration can only occur in the EU if it is capable of meeting all of the requirements of the GDPR,” the statement read.

The move could let the social networking giant tout higher user engagement to advertisers, thus, ramping up its advertising division at a time when overall growth has slowed down.

Facebook has the most users of any other social media platform, and by combining its assets this way, the company could more directly compete with Apple’s iMessage and Google’s messaging services, according to The Verge.

WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption – the hallmark of users’ security – may also go for a toss if Facebook integrates the popular mobile messaging platform with not-that-secure Instagram and Messenger.

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Micro-blogging site Twitter is testing a new feature on Android that puts news stories at the top of the timeline to help users keep up with what is happening around the world.

“With this update, we’re making it easier for people to see the news and stories their followers have been discussing while they’ve been away right at the top of their timeline,” Mashable quoted Wally Gurzynski, Product Manager, Twitter as saying on Tuesday.

The feature comes with a prompt that says – “Catch up on what’s happened while you were away”.

Earlier in 2015 and 2016 Twitter released “While you were away” and “Never miss an important tweet” features but they were not to specifically highlight news stories.

This feature, however, rather than just surfacing interesting and popular tweets, focuses on news stories from news agencies and organisations.

This catching-up with the news test feature is in line with the other tests that Twitter is running and are aimed at following specific conversations and newsworthy events easier, the report added.

The feature-test roll-out for iOS users and its final release plans remain unclear as of now.

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Google is rolling out a revamped version of Gmail on Android and iOS apps. Gmail had already received a major redesign on the Web in April last year, and it seems like the company is now bringing a reflection of the same user interface to its mobile apps for Android and iOS. Google says the update will be rolled out to all users in the coming few weeks. The new design brings some new features to Gmail’s mobile app but doesn’t include all the features that were released with the Web redesign. Unfortunately, the company did not include a dark mode.

Gmail’s new design is based on the Material Theme (previously known as Material Design language). Google is using the custom Google Sans font on the app. There are a few noticeable changes and probably the biggest of them all is the lack of the big red bar at the top. Overall, the app now looks quite cleaner with a lot of white-space. Notably, though, there is a no dark mode – something that may bug smartphone users. Google had back in November recommended app developers start deploying dark modes for reasons that included saving battery life on Android devices, thus it is surprising the company decided to skip out on it. Notably, it brought both dark mode and Material Theme to its Android Messages in its redesign last year.

The fresh design doesn’t really bring in a lot of new features. The overall functionality still remains the same. The red compose button has been replaced with a gradient-based plus icon. It’s now much easier to switch accounts using your profile image at the top – previously you had to use the sidebar menu. Google says this will make it easier for users to switch between their personal and work email accounts.

Some of the features that have made it from the Web version to Gmail’s mobile app include attachment previews. These are available below the messages, making it easier to preview and download attachments with e-mails. Users can also select between ‘Compact’ and ‘Comfortable’ view apart from the default view on the mobile apps. Google says it will also serve big red warnings for emails that may seem ‘phish-y’.

Google says the revamped Gmail mobile apps on Android and iOS will be rolled out to everyone in the coming weeks. So far, the company has rolled out its Material Theme design on Docs, Calendar, Drive, and Sites on the Web.

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Slack, the business messaging service challenging email, now has more than 10 million daily active users, its parent company said on Tuesday.

The number of paying customers using Slack has risen by more than 50 percent over the past five years to over 85,000, Slack Technologies said in a blog post.

Slack, launched in 2013, allows teams and businesses to communicate through groups and has quickly replaced email at many companies, although email is still the dominant medium of communication in workplaces.

Slack’s closest competitor is Microsoft Teams, a free chat add-on for users of Microsoft’s Office365. Microsoft has not disclosed daily user figures for Teams but reports suggest about 329,000 organizations use the service.

Reuters reported this month that Slack was “seriously” considering making its stock market debut through a direct listing.

Earlier this month, Slack announced its chief product officer, April Underwood, was leaving the messaging startup, at a time when the company is exploring a public listing later this year.

Underwood is leaving to spend more time working at #Angels, an investing group she co-founded three months before joining Slack in 2015, according to her blog post.

She will be replaced by Google executive Tamar Yehoshua, Slack, which provides chat and direct messaging services for businesses.

Reuters reported earlier this month that Slack is “seriously” considering making its stock exchange debut through a direct listing, a plan which would make it the second big technology company after Spotify to bypass a traditional IPO process in going public.

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