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22
Mar

BLU S1 long term review: Great in some respects but needs work in others


The BLU S1 marks the beginning of a new approach for Florida-based Android OEM BLU. A company whose acronym meaning “Bold Like Us” wants to market the company as one unafraid to take risks in order to better the smartphone experience. The company’s latest device is the first of its kind from the OEM to feature both GSM and CDMA (though limited) support.

If you want some idea of what to expect in my review before I break into the review, here it is: the BLU S1 is great in some respects, solid in others, and needs some work in others. The BLU S1’s performance is a mixed bag that could impress you in the right places, but you won’t know until we get into the nitty-gritty of what gives this phone its unique flavor.

First, let’s give a rundown of the specs:

  • Display: 5.2-inch, Curved Glass with Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • Resolution: 1280 x 720 (Pixel Density: 282PPI)
  • Processor: 64-bit, 1.5Ghz, octa-core MediaTek MT6750
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Storage: 16GB with 64GB microSD card slot
  • Front camera: 5MP (f/2.0) Selfie Camera
  • Rear camera: 13MP (f/2.2) with Phase Detection Autofocus
  • Battery: 2,800mAh
  • OS: Android 7.0 Nougat
  • Other noteworthy features: 4G LTE with 300Mbps speeds, GSM (AT&T, T-Mobile) and CDMA (Sprint, Boost Mobile) compatibility, Fingerprint sensor, FM Radio

Build Quality and Design

The BLU S1 has a plastic build that makes it nearly the identical twin of the BLU Vivo 8L, but when you hold the phone in your hands, you’ll see that the plastic build doesn’t equal “cheap.” This just goes to show that OEMs can make solid plastic build qualities without compromising on durability and design.

Speaking of design, there are two antenna lines on the BLU S1, one at the top back cover and one at the bottom back cover, but both are uniform and give something of a subtle personality to an otherwise “plain Jane” smartphone.

Near the top of the device’s back cover sits the 13MP camera lens, with a camera flash beneath it and the company’s name, BLU. Turn the BLU S1 over to the front and you can see the front-facing camera at the top left, with a speaker to its right. Beneath the 5.2-inch, Curved Glass Display sits a fingerprint sensor-embedded home button.

On the right side of the Curved Glass Display sits the volume rocker with its volume up and volume down buttons as well as the power/standby button beneath it. The left side houses the dual-SIM card slot, while the bottom of the phone showcases the microphone to the left, micro-USB port in the middle and speaker grille on the right.

Display

The BLU S1 has a 5.2-inch, Curved Glass Display with an HD (1280 x 720p) screen resolution and 282 PPI pixel density, which represents a good compromise of screen resolution with screen size. The “Curved Glass” here refers to the rounded corners of the display, the curved “edges” if you will; you won’t find anything similar to a curved display here, though, so don’t think of this as a Samsung-made, curved-edge display panel. Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3 makes an appearance here, which is the starting point for durable displays in this budget-friendly, upper entry-level price point.

The display has excellent viewing angles and the color wallpapers will bring out the excellent color production. The panel on the BLU S1 is good, and at this price point, it’s a surprisingly good panel.

Processor

The BLU S1 features a 64-bit, 1.5Ghz octa-core MediaTek MT6750 SoC, which means that this budget-friendly phone has the same processor as smartphones such as the ASUS ZenFone Max Plus (M1), UHANS Max 2, the iPhone X-cloned Oukitel U18, and the Bluboo S8+. These eight cores work similarly to other octa-core smartphones: there are four cores that handle basic, low-intensive tasks, while the remaining four cores handle the most advanced, heavy-intensive tasks.

Overall, there’s a quickness about phone functions, such as launching the camera and other phone apps, though there were some slight stutters in performance in gameplay for example.

I never experienced lag that would force someone to put down the phone, though some individuals would never accept lagging performance in a smartphone no matter the price. The lag in gameplay was noticeable at first, until the first software update seemed to fix the initial lag. Slight stutters here and there continue with further use, though you won’t find stutters interrupting your daily routine.

RAM and Memory

The BLU S1’s 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage is what you’ll find as a nice compromise when it comes to budget-friendly phones nowadays. I didn’t find apps to reload often as 2GB seems to be about the least an Android device in 2018 needs. Apps stay in memory, so you won’t have to concern yourself with clearing the RAM all the time.

The 16GB of storage is sufficient out of the box, with about 10.5GB of storage available for personal use. Of course, you can always take advantage of the BLU S1’s 64GB microSD card slot, Google Photos cloud storage, and Google Drive, but I think 32GB of storage is a better compromise standard for all smartphones (whether budget-friendly or not).

BLU has aimed for a specific price point here, but the way to keep consumers loyal is to give them a comfortable experience out of the box. 10GB of storage remaining for a phone that costs nearly $200 isn’t giving enough to everyday consumers.

Fingerprint Sensor

The fingerprint sensor is embedded into the home button. I found it to be easy to set up and extremely responsive. Given that Android has supported this protocol since 6.0, it makes sense to have one present in any phone, regardless of cost.

Do note that you have to press and hold the button for it to return “home”. This could be improved in future models; I’d like to simply touch or swipe it to unlock or go back to the home screen.

Battery and Charging

The BLU S1 features a 2,800mAh battery, which performs well when taking into account the phone’s 5.2-inch screen and HD (720p) screen resolution. The phone can last a strong 12 hours in my testing, but I’ve also discovered that you may want to employ Android’s battery saver mode on the phone to get double the battery life when out and about. Employing the battery mode, I got 37 hours of usage out of the BLU S1.

With my own unit, I’ve discovered that the battery stats (software) are somewhat off; I used my phone for 3 hours but noticed that my battery stats had only added another 20 minutes to the SOT, for example. In addition, the battery stats fail to record any activity on the smartphone that

The battery itself is reliable, but you may not want to take the battery stats too seriously.

As for charging the BLU S1, you’re looking at a 3-4-hour charging time: yes, 3 to 4 hours. What started at 2.5-3 hours of battery life back at October’s end has now extended to 3-4 hours of charging time on my unit (though yours may fare better in this regard). There is no fast charging tech here, so you’re looking at standard slow charging.

This means that the BLU S1 charges no higher than 25% after 1 hour plugged in, which is frustrating for those who have used devices that do feature fast charging. BLU should bring fast charging to its devices because in 2018 smartphones should take no longer than 2 hours to charge.

Camera

The BLU S1 has two cameras, a front-facing 5MP camera and a rear, 13MP camera. Only the back camera has a camera flash; the front does not.

The camera is rather solid. There are a few problems with the camera such as its inability to render colors accurately at times. Sometimes, light blues are rendered dark, and colors as a whole are rendered stale rather than alive, vibrant, and sharp.

The camera app itself is what you’d expect of the Google Camera app: camera filters, HDR, Flash, White Balance, Exposure, and other settings. You won’t find advanced features like you would in say an LG device, but there’s more than enough here to get good pictures out of the S1.

One of the issues with the 5MP selfie camera is that it tends to have noise in selfies taken up close. Taking a selfie in my turquoise green polo shirt showed a lot of image noise in the shirt itself. As for the 13MP rear camera, images can often be smeared and smudged because the back camera lacks a protective lens cover to prevent smudging and smearing. This means that you’ll need to use a cloth or sleeve to quickly clean your back camera lens before taking photos in the sun or in well-lit rooms and settings.

Software

The BLU S1 is powered by Android 7.0 Nougat, which isn’t the latest Android 8.1 Oreo. Seeing that the S1 was announced back in September, it would’ve been a nice gesture to see this phone arrive with Oreo rather than Nougat.

Regardless of its somewhat outdated software, the BLU S1 does provide a pure vanilla Android experience, with the exception of a few BLU apps. Other than that, BLU remains out of your way and allows you to customize your Android experience as you see fit.

Do keep in mind, though, that BLU won’t let you not use its Rewards app without reminding you constantly; I received three or four popups in my notifications each day reminding me to sign up for and take advantage of my 2,000 rewards points through BLU’s Rewards program.

As for updates, it’s unlikely that there’ll be any new OS updates. A 324MB update brought support for new Sprint MVNOs, updates to Google apps, and Google security patches. There hasn’t been an update since and it’s nearly five months since the BLU S1’s release. My suggestion is that, if you want an Android Oreo-powered smartphone, you’ll want to look elsewhere.

Price and Compatibility

The BLU S1 was released with the retail price of $179.99. But, you can now pick up the S1 for less than $100. Amazon offers certified refurbished BLU S1 units for $79.99, with new devices being sold for $99.99.

According to BLU’s own website, the BLU S1 is free at Sprint, giving you a $200 Visa Prepaid card and free SIM card when you activate your BLU S1 on Sprint’s CDMA network. In other words, you can get the BLU S1 for free as a Sprint customer.

The BLU S1 comes in Grey, Black and Gold colors.

Final Thoughts

With all that’s been said, the BLU S1 is a competitive, budget-friendly Android-powered smartphone. However, I would like to offer up some pros and cons so that Blu might create an ever better experience for the next generation.

Pros of the BLU S1:

  • Provides phone case, earbuds, and screen protector out of the box: This is one thing that sets BLU apart from many Android OEMs.
  • GSM and CDMA compatibility: The BLU S1 is the first phone from the Florida-based OEM to offer Sprint and Boost Mobile compatibility. GSM compatibility means you can also take this phone to AT&T and T-Mobile.
  • Solid build quality: Though plastic, the BLU S1 feels like a solid phone made of premium plastic. I commend BLU for making the S1 in such a way that the device doesn’t feel or look cheap.
  • Retains headphone jack: This is likely an expected feature of budget-friendly smartphones, but it’s good to see BLU retain the headphone jack.
  • Great price: A sub-$200 price tag is hard to beat nowadays, at least for tolerable smartphones.

Recommendations:

  • Add rear camera lens cover: There is no lens cover for the back camera of the BLU S1, meaning that smears and smudges will appear in photos unless the user cleans the camera lens first. I had to do this repeatedly in the same day while out and about taking pictures.
  • Increase display brightness: Brightness is fine indoors where there’s good lighting, but brightness performance drops drastically when you head outdoors. Increased display brightness will help users see clearly when taking photos without the usual “capture and pray” method that hopes one takes a good photo.
  • Camera improvements are needed: The motion gesture to zoom in on the S1’s camera needs improvement. The digital zoom works sometimes, but you could miss out on good opportunities at other times. Also, selfie camera noise is pretty bad and could be enhanced by adding a flash.
  • Needs more storage: The BLU S1 needs additional storage because Android Nougat consumes a third of the 16GB of available storage and only leaves 10GB available out of the box. I’m not a fan of microSD card storage because storage cards can be corrupted and data on those same cards can be lost. Perhaps Blu might provide microSD cards out of the box.
  • Improve audio: The audio of the S1 is sufficient for the price, but I think BLU can push the audio to make it better.
  • Add fast-charging tech: The current charging time for the BLU S1 is too long, leaving users to abandon the S1 throughout the day if they fail to charge it at night.
  • Additional CDMA compatibility: I hope the BLU S2 features Verizon and US Cellular compatibility, two other CDMA carriers in the top 5 in the US. When your goal is to sell a phone, excluding customers is never a wise move. Sure, Verizon may not be so friendly to BLU or the S1, but I’m sure US Cellular would warmly receive the BLU S1 or BLU S2 in the future.
  • Add water and dust resistance: I realize that one can only get so much in a $180 phone, but I think that water protection is essential to smartphone survival these days.

BLU has an excellent smartphone in the BLU S1, and perhaps the “S” will stand for “stellar” after another iteration or two. BLU needs to fix a few essentials and perhaps even bump up the future S2’s price to accommodate fast charging and USB Type-C charging, and the BLU S series will be hard to beat.

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22
Mar

FCC loosens rules to speed 5G rollouts


The FCC under Tom Wheeler took early steps to loosen regulations in the name of accelerating 5G rollouts, and the new commission is making good on those plans. The regulator has adopted new rules that scrap certain environmental checks for new cellular and wireless broadband sites. Small facilities on non-native land are no longer subject to reviews under the National Historic Preservation Act or the National Environmental Policy Act. They’ll still be bound by local- and state-level rules, but they won’t have to wait for the feds to give the all-clear.

The new rules also eliminate the need to submit environmental assessments just because a would-be facility will sit in a floodplain, so long as “certain conditions” are met. FCC officials now have timeframes to act on those environmental assessments, however.

All three Republicans on the commission approved the new rules, while both Democrats voted against it.

The order is likely to please American telecoms racing to launch their 5G networks as quickly as possible and score those all-important bragging rights. It won’t have many fans among the eco-conscious, mind you. While large cell sites still have to go through federal review, this reduces the amount of scrutiny over the impact of smaller sites. If regional regulations are relatively light, this could lead to environmental harm.

Source: FCC

22
Mar

Facebook gave researcher anonymized data on 57 billion friendships


The Guardian reports today that Cambridge University researcher Aleksandr Kogan’s relationship with Facebook wasn’t limited to his now infamous “thisisyourdigitallife” app. He had actually also received an additional sizable chunk of data from Facebook that he used for a research paper published in 2015. This dataset, however, differs quite a bit from that collected through Kogan’s personality app. While large in volume, this other set was anonymized and aggregated with no personally identifiable information included. As the 2015 research paper states, the data included “every friendship made on Facebook in 2011 in every country in the world at the national aggregate level,” which summed up to over 57 billion friendships.

Again, this situation is very different from the Cambridge Analytica scandal. While a smaller, separate set of data used in the paper was collected through a Facebook app, the aggregated friendship data were provided by Facebook. And two of the authors of the paper were Facebook employees. So it’s not so much that this particular situation signals any wrongdoing on the part of Kogan, but instead highlights the fact that Facebook may have been more involved with the researcher than it would like people to think. “The sheer volume of the 57 billion friend pairs implies a pre-existing relationship,” Jonathan Albright, research director at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism, told The Guardian. “It’s not common for Facebook to share that kind of data. It suggests a trusted partnership between Aleksandr Kogan/Spectre and Facebook.”

Facebook suspended Kogan just ahead of the slew of reports detailing Cambridge Analytica and Kogan’s use of its users’ data, but Kogan has stated that he believes he’s being used as a scapegoat by both companies. “We made clear the app was for commercial use — we never mentioned academic research nor the University of Cambridge,” Kogan wrote in an email to his university colleagues. “We clearly stated that the users were granting us the right to use the data in broad scope, including selling and licensing the data. These changes were all made on the Facebook app platform and thus they had full ability to review the nature of the app and raise issues. Facebook at no point raised any concerns at all about any of these changes.”

Mark Zuckerberg finally broke his silence on the situation yesterday in both a Facebook post and a CNN interview.

Via: The Guardian

Source: Personality and Individual Differences

22
Mar

Mark Zuckerberg broke his silence, but he didn’t have much to say


As a series of reports exposed Cambridge Analytica’s use of improperly obtained personal data, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was nowhere to be seen. The billionaire’s self-imposed public exile ended with a fresh media tour that took in stops at CNN, The New York Times and Recode. Zuckerberg showed up to play all of his greatest hits, including the one about how important it is that his company retain your trust. And how the world’s largest database of personal data, ostensibly designed to be sold to advertisers, really does care about your privacy.

For years, Facebook’s company mantra was “Move fast and break things,” although few realized that the thing they were trying to break was democracy itself. The past few years have shown that Facebook is a petri dish for cultural disease, the Typhoid Mary of memes.

First there was the election hacking, in which foreign actors sought to foster division in communities by driving wedge issues. Then the fake news, through which hucksters sought to throw any old lie into the cultural milieu and make a profit on the ad sales, helping break down people’s credulity and convince them that some pretty insane stuff was happening when it clearly wasn’t.

Now, thanks to the tireless, years-long work of journalists like Carole Cadwalladr, Facebook has finally admitted that its user data has been weaponized. Specifically, a trove of profiles that were sold to a branch of the SCL Group, Cambridge Analytica (CA), a private “strategic communications” firm. Which is a euphemistic way to describe a private propaganda agency backed by a cadre of right-wing billionaires.

Facebook’s role in this was to provide the platform and, wittingly or not, allow these organizations to run riot. It didn’t sanction the sale of the data to CA, but it has known about the sale since the end of 2015. In his NYT Interview, Zuckerberg said that Facebook demanded that CA “legally certify that they didn’t have the data, and weren’t using it.” Except that, as he added shortly after, the “formal and legal certification” CA provided was apparently false.

Zuckerberg also said that he didn’t expect to become the world’s arbiter of free speech, and he wants the policies to be shaped by the community. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all model that will apply globally, because every culture is different. Take blasphemy: While in the US you would be unlikely to face punishment for taking the Lord’s name in vain, it’s a different situation in other countries.

That is, perhaps, the problem with building a platform that you want to be universal and then forgetting that other people don’t necessarily share your values. Zuckerberg says that the Facebook project of “building a community for people all over the world” to “connect across boundaries” is unprecedented. The fallout from those connections, or even just from sharing the information globally, can be problematic in the extreme. For instance, with the violence in Myanmar, the company stands accused of condoning the massacre of Rohingya Muslims because it censored posts from a resistance group.

Zuckerberg’s response was almost offensively anodyne, saying that he and his team are seeing “new challenges that [he] didn’t think anyone had anticipated before.” He added that he didn’t believe it was possible to “know every issue that you’re going to face down the road.” And that the company has a “real responsibility to take all these issues seriously as they come up” and “make sure we solve them.”

Sadly, the time for such naïveté has long since passed, especially as Facebook can now see where its action — or inaction — has led. It is not wholly responsible, sure, but it has been at least partially complicit in the current turmoil in the US, the fracturing of the European Union and plenty of violence. Not to mention that the problems that Zuckerberg says were impossible to predict were … fairly easy to predict.

It’s hard not to feel a little sympathy for Zuckerberg as the techno-utopia he created begins to twist and crack under its own weight. If it was his plan to build an Agora for the modern world, a town square where the millennial versions of Plato and Socrates teach and debate, then he must be disappointed. After all, in their place, Facebook has instead helped spread the gospel of modern-day intellectual flyweights.

Not to mention all of the people raking him over the coals for not responding sooner, or the senators demanding that he show up and testify before Congress. It is a little unfair to demand that the CEO of a company that employs 25,000 people be aware of the minutiae of every aspect of their business. On the other hand, if Zuckerberg isn’t spending every waking hour of his day trying to solve this crisis, then something is very wrong.

In his CNN interview, Zuckerberg said that he welcomes regulation, so long as it’s the “right kind” of regulation. He declined to explain precisely what that would entail, but said he’d love to see tighter rules around online “ad transparency.” Online ads are, after all, a wilderness compared with the worlds of print and TV, where there are obligations to disclose where the money has come from.

It’s just a shame, you know? That Facebook, a company that has never sold ads and doesn’t have a dominant position in the online media world, is powerless in this context. If it were a massive ad platform that had a huge chunk of the ad market, then it could have tightened its own standards years ago, before regulators stepped in. In fact, that would demonstrate a level of leadership that, in turn, would demonstrate a real commitment to change. Wouldn’t that be cool?

Perhaps it was unfair to castigate Zuckerberg for not speaking out on this issue sooner, as if rushing to judgment is somehow an admirable quality. It is right, and something that should be lauded, that people don’t simply open their yaps and begin speaking as soon as they’re asked a question. People should never be bullied for wanting to know something before sharing their opinion on it.

The problem for Zuckerberg, of course, is that journalists first informed Facebook about the Cambridge Analytica leak at the tail end of 2015. It’s tough to argue that he didn’t have enough time to prepare a response.

22
Mar

Congress wants Zuckerberg to testify about Cambridge Analytica


Thus far, two states, the FTC, UK Parliament and US Congress all want answers from Facebook regarding how political firm Cambridge Analytica ended up with data on 50 million users. Representatives from the company even met with staffers from House and Senate committees a couple days ago. But now the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee wants to hear from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself, and have officially requested he testify at an upcoming hearing.

Which follows Zuckerberg saying he would be “happy” to speak to Congress, a statement that appeared in a blitz of media appearances and a public Facebook post yesterday when the CEO finally broke his silence on the growing Cambridge Analytica situation. The committee requested he appear at a hearing at an undisclosed date to testify.

“The latest revelations regarding Facebook’s use and security of user data raises many serious consumer protection concern,” House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) and top Democrat Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (N.J.) said jointly to The Washington Post. “After committee staff received a briefing yesterday from Facebook officials, we felt that many questions were left unanswered.”

Source: The Washington Post

22
Mar

Apple to Prevent Siri From Reading Hidden Notifications on Lock Screen in Future Software Update


Apple has confirmed it will fix a privacy issue in which Siri can read aloud hidden lock screen notifications from many apps on iPhones.

In a statement provided to MacRumors, Apple said “we are aware of the issue and it will be addressed in an upcoming software update.” It’s quite possible the fix will be included in iOS 11.3, which remains in beta testing, but Apple may elect to address the problem with a minor update such as iOS 11.2.7.

As reported by Brazilian website MacMagazine earlier this week, users can simply ask Siri to “read my notifications” and the assistant will read aloud the contents of notifications, including ones that are hidden, from a wide selection of apps.

Siri’s behavior becomes a privacy issue because it can read aloud messages and emails from third-party apps such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Gmail, even if an iPhone is locked and notifications are hidden. This violates the trust of users who expect that their notifications cannot be read by others.

MacRumors has reproduced this issue on an iPhone X running both iOS 11.2.6 and the latest iOS 11.3 beta, but we can confirm that it does not affect iMessage. However, the issue did partially affect Apple’s stock Mail app, as Siri was able to read the subject line of an email we sent as part of our testing.

Lock screen notifications are hidden by default on iPhone X, meaning the contents of notifications are concealed until a user authenticates with Face ID. The setting isn’t turned on by default on other iPhones, but it can be enabled in Settings > Notifications > Show Previews, which presents three options:

  • Always: Lock screen notifications are fully visible
  • When Unlocked: Lock screen notifications remain hidden until a user authenticates with Face ID, Touch ID, or a passcode
  • Never: Lock screen notifications are always hidden

There are two workarounds that users can implement until the fix is released to prevent Siri from reading aloud notifications from the lock screen:

  • Turn off lock screen notifications for sensitive apps: Settings > Notifications, select an app, and toggle off Show on Lock Screen
  • Fully disable Siri whenever the iPhone is locked: Settings > Siri & Search > Allow Siri When Locked

MacRumors will update this article as soon as the software update with a fix is released.

Tag: Siri
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22
Mar

Behind-the-Scenes Video Details How Spike Jonze Made HomePod Ad With ‘Very Little CGI’


Earlier this month Apple shared a surreal new ad for the HomePod that was directed by filmmaker Spike Jonze and starred artist Tahliah Debrett Barnett, known as FKA Twigs. In the commercial, FKA Twigs arrived home from a long day at work and found a way to unwind by dancing around to Anderson .Paak playing from her HomePod, all while her apartment expanded and shape-shifted in unexpected ways.

Image via Adweek
In a new seven-minute behind-the-scenes video shared today (via Adweek), director Danilo Parra explores how Jonze shot the video, how the choreography was created, and how the team got the apartment to expand and elongate. On that last point, the production designers on the commercial explain that the team used hydraulics to practically move the sets around as FKA Twigs danced in them — down to the magazines and tables that she expands in the dream sequence — all with “very little CGI.”

In terms of CGI, VFX supervisor Janelle Croshaw points out that the biggest effect for the ad occurs when FKA Twigs dances with herself in a mirror. At one point in the video it’s also revealed that the artist auditioned for Jonze’s commercial using FaceTime. To check out the full short documentary on the making of “Welcome Home,” visit Adweek right here.


Welcome Home was Apple’s first major long-form ad for the HomePod, launching after a series of much shorter, 15-second HomePod videos.

Related Roundup: HomePodBuyer’s Guide: HomePod (Buy Now)
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22
Mar

Instagram Turns Off Auto Feed Refresh, Changes Feed Algorithm to Focus on Newer Posts


Instagram today announced that it’s making changes to the Instagram feed algorithm to address concerns users have had with the feed for quite some time now.

Instagram originally used a chronological feed, showing the newest Instagram posts first when you opened up the app, but the company changed that in June of 2016 to display posts based on relevancy. The change caused days-old posts to be displayed in some situations, which users were unhappy with.

Starting today, Instagram is planning to focus more on surfacing newer posts, a change the company is making based on user feedback. It won’t be the same as the original chronological feed, but Instagram says new posts will show up first.

Based on your feedback, we’re also making changes to ensure that newer posts are more likely to appear first in feed. With these changes, your feed will feel more fresh, and you won’t miss the moments you care about. So if your best friend shares a selfie from her vacation in Australia, it will be waiting for you when you wake up.

Instagram is also disabling the feature that causes the Instagram feed to automatically refresh. Instead, Instagram is testing a “New Posts” button that will let users decide when to refresh a feed.

Tap the button and you’ll be taken to new posts at the top of feed — don’t tap, and you’ll stay where you are. We hope this makes browsing Instagram much more enjoyable.

Instagram says additional feed improvements will be introduced over the course of the next few months.
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22
Mar

Apple’s Services Category Set to Be the Company’s Main Revenue Driver Over the Next Five Years


Apple’s services revenue is growing at a rapid pace and is on track to be the company’s primary revenue driver in the future, according to a note Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty shared with investors this morning (via Business Insider).

Huberty believes that over the course of the next five years, services revenue growth will contribute more than 50 percent of Apple’s total revenue growth. The iPhone, meanwhile, will make up just 22 percent of revenue growth during the same time period, despite the fact that it’s contributed 86 percent of Apple’s revenue growth over the past five years.

Although “over the last five years, the vast majority (86%) of Apple’s 8% annual revenue growth was driven by iPhone sales, it is through monetization of Apple’s Services business that we see the company still generating mid single digit revenue growth,” she said.

Huberty estimated that roughly 60% of revenue growth is now attributable to services. That, coupled with wearables, like the Apple Smart Watch, “will drive almost all of Apple’s growth over the next five years,” she added.

For the last several years, Apple’s services category has been setting continual quarterly revenue records thanks to its rapid growth. In the first fiscal quarter of 2018, for example, services brought in $8.5 billion, up 18 percent year over year.

The services category includes iTunes, the App Store, Apple Music, iCloud, Apple Pay, and AppleCare.

According to Huberty, services revenue is at roughly $30 per device, up from $25 two years ago, but that might not be an accurate reflection of actual spending. Most Apple users do not currently pay for services, which could mean that revenue per active user is well above and “possibly double” the $30 metric.


Just 18 percent of Apple’s total device installed base subscribe to paid Apple services, which means there’s a lot of potential for growth in recurring revenue sources. Apple Music, iCloud, and Apple Pay are all services that Huberty believes have yet to be fully monetized.

Apple Music, as an example, has seen considerable growth since its launch and now boasts over 36 million subscribers. Just 2.9 percent of Apple customers subscribe, however. Apple Pay usage is also low, despite the fact that it’s available in more than 50 percent of retail locations in the United States.

According to Huberty, Morgan Stanley is confident in Apple’s growth through services monetization, with the firm setting a price target of $203 on Apple shares, which are currently trading at ~$170.

As Tim Cook often says, Apple’s services category has already reached the size of a Fortune 100 company, and Apple has set a goal to double its 2016 services revenue by 2020, a target the company is well on its way to hitting.

Tags: App Store, iTunes, Morgan Stanley, AAPL, Apple Music
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22
Mar

Protect your online browsing habits and access global content for $50


How many times have you been excited to check out a video online only to click the link and see “The uploader has not made this video available in your country?” That has to be one of the most frustrating things online. Or maybe you want to see what local streaming services look like abroad. Better yet, you definitely want to protect your online privacy — keeping your browsing habits anonymous. A quality VPN is the solution to all of that.

ZenMate Premium is just the VPN for you if you’re looking for a way to protect your data while on Wi-Fi in public (or even at home), hide your IP to keep your online identity anonymous, unblock restricted YouTube videos, and much more. The best part is that, though a lifetime subscription would regularly cost $840, you can get yours at Android Central Digital Offers for only $49.99, a savings of 94%.

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ZenMate Premium encrypts your browser traffic in order to protect your data, and there’s even a handy browser extensions so that you can switch locations on a whim. If you’re trying to check out streaming services, news publications, or social media from around the world, ZenMate removes the geo restrictions so that you can browse unfettered. You can choose from 30 countries, and you’ll be browsing at top speed no matter where you “say” you’re from.ZenMate Premium will even block malicious sites in order to protect your browsing even further.

If you’re tired of region-blocked content, and you want to maintain anonymity while you freely browse the internet, then a VPN is the best option, and a lifetime subscription to ZenMate Premium for only $49.99 is an excellent solution.

See at Android Central Digital Offers

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