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An epidemic-themed game that shot to the top of the charts has been removed from Apple's App Store in China – CNBC

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The tutorial for the popular game Plague Inc.

Todd Haselton

iPhone users can no longer download a popular epidemic-themed smartphone game in China as the country is fighting the deadly COVID-19 coronavirus.

In a statement, Ndemic Creations, the U.K.-based makers of Plague Inc., said that they had been informed that the game “includes content that is illegal in China as determined by the Cyberspace Administration of China.” CNBC has confirmed that it is not available for download on the Chinese App Store.

The removal is certain to reignite a debate over whether Apple should remove apps from its App Store on the request of governments around the world. The App Store is the only way for most users to install software on iPhones, and it has become a magnet for criticism that Apple enables countries to remove apps they don’t like, effectively censoring free expression.

Plague’s creators said in statements that it was the most popular paid game in China for many years and that it was not designed to sensationalize disease outbreaks.

“Plague Inc. stands out as an intelligent and sophisticated simulation that encourages players to think and learn more about serious public health issues,” the company said in a statement. “We have a huge amount of respect for our Chinese players and are devastated that they are no longer able to access and play Plague Inc.

Plague is one of the most popular iPhone games, and has been consistently in the top of Apple’s App Store charts since it launched in 2012. It’s a simulation in which users play as an infectious disease whose goal is to wipe out the world’s population.

On Thursday, it was the top paid game in the United States. It has also risen in China, according to estimates from app analytics firm Sensor Tower. It had been downloaded 2.2 million times in China, with about 9% of those downloads since the start of January. It was the No. 3 paid app in China before removal, Sensor Tower said. It was the best-stelling app in China at one point in January, according to the BBC.

China is sensitive about apps and games

China is sensitive about apps. Out of a total of 217 apps removed from certain countries or regions in the first half of 2019 due to government requests, 194 were removed from the China mainland App Store, according to a count published by Apple.

During the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests last fall, a Hong Kong mapping app was removed from the App Store after Chinese state media criticized the app. The takedown became international news and led to an Apple shareholder critical of the company’s app removals, which was rejected on Wednesday but garnered support from 40.6% of votes casted by shareholders.

Apple declined to comment. CNBC was unable to reach Ndemic Creations for additional information.

Games are particularly closely regulated in China. In Plague’s case, the removal comes shortly after Apple set a deadline for app developers to comply with a 2016 regulation about paid mobile games in the country.

The regulation requires game makers who want to charge for in-app purchases to get a license or approval number from the General Administration of Press and Publication of China. That approval number has to be provided to Apple by June 30, CNBC reported, citing a message to developers.

China is the world’s largest mobile games market and the government has signaled for years that it is trying to gain stronger control over concerns like eye problems, play time, and “loot boxes,” or in-app purchases with an element of randomness. In China, video games need to be approved by regulators in order to be released and monetized. In 2018, the Chinese government froze game approvals, and they slowly started to ramp up through 2019, which Apple CEO Tim Cook mentioned on a conference call with analysts in October.

Ndemic Creations’ other game, Rebel Inc, is still available in China.

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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4, Galaxy Z Fold 4 receive 50,000 bookings in just 12 hours! – HT Tech

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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Galaxy Z Fold 4 have received 50,000 bookings in a mere 12 hours. Here is what the company informs.

The recently launched Samsung premium smartphones, Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Galaxy Z Fold 4, have garnered more than 50,000 pre- bookings in less than 12 hours, the company informed. The information was provided by Raju Pullan, Senior Vice President and Head of MX sales at Samsung India. The record figures came on Day 1 of the pre-booking opening for foldables on August 16, according to a report by IANS.

“Samsung is targeting to sell 1.5 times more foldable phones this year. We are confident of meeting our target because the new foldable phones come with huge upgrades as compared to last year,” Pullan told IANS. Meanwhile, according to a report by PTI, Samsung also feels the ongoing worries on inflation are unlikely to dent the demand for mobile phones in India, adding that it sees a healthy double-digit growth in volumes this year.

Aditya Babbar, Samsung’s head of product marketing said, “All our internal estimates show that the market will grow at a healthy number and we will outpace at 2x.” In the premium category alone, it is looking at a 1.5-times growth in sales over the last year, he added.

It can be known that Samsung has launched a total of 16 devices across various customer segments this year with the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Galaxy Z Fold 4 being the latest. According to a report by PTI, the newly-launched phones in the premium segment will be stocked in 10,000 stores and will be available at 12,000 points to aid the overall sales.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 Price

Priced at Rs. 89,999 for the 8GB+128GB variant and Rs. 94,999 for the 8GB+256GB variant, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 is available in several colour options including Bora Purple, Graphite, and Pink Gold colours.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 Price

Priced at Rs. 1,54,999 for the 12GB+256GB variant and Rs. 1,64,999 for the 12GB+512GB variant, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 is available in Graygreen, Beige and Phantom Black colours.

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Apple iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Pro Surprise Early Release Leaked In New Report – Forbes

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The next Apple special event is just days away, if the latest report is correct, and will take place on Wednesday, September 7.

That’s according to Mark Gurman at Bloomberg, who has just reported the date he believes is correct. To be fair, he wasn’t the first to predict this date. Last week, Max Weinbach floated the idea that the event would be on September 7, not September 13 as had been previously mooted. This meant that the likely release date for the next iPhones, not to mention a range of three Apple Watch models and perhaps the next AirPods Pro, could also be brought forward.

The possibility that the event could take place in the week commencing September 5 had been discounted, because the release is routinely a week later. And anyway, Monday, September 5 is a holiday, so flying in staff and press from around the world on a holiday for an event on Tuesday, September 6, seemed unlikely.

Unless, that is, the event is virtual rather than in person. Gurman believes the event is being recorded, so a virtual event is likely.

Moving the event date (virtual or in-person) to a Wednesday, though not unprecedented, is unusual. But holding an in-person event on Wednesday, September 7 would solve the problem of relocating staff and guests on a public holiday.

But a virtual event? I get the thinking behind this, and after all, Apple is very cautious about how it holds its events when Covid is not that far in the rearview mirror.

Even so, I think Gurman is wrong when he says, “The company intends to stream the event online — rather than holding an in-person gathering — continuing an approach it adopted at the start of the pandemic.”

In June, Apple staged a highly successful hybrid event, with a pre-recorded keynote played out on a huge video screen in Apple Park to hundreds of developers, selected guests, and press.

If that was possible then, why not hold a hybrid event now with a smaller guest list, as no devs would be likely to be invited?

That event began with a live appearance from Tim Cook and Craig Federighi introducing the keynote broadcast and it worked well. My guess, and it’s no more than that, is that this is the format that Apple will follow this September when it announces its new iPhones and more.

Of course, we won’t know until invites go out, and until the second they do, Apple can instead opt for a virtual-only event, something I think it would only consider if there’s a sudden spike in Covid transmissions in California. If that happens, then it has its pre-recorded keynote up its sleeve.

So, what does all this mean?

Whether the event is live or virtual, assuming it happens on Wednesday, September 7 at 10AM Pacific, then the shiny new iPhones, Apple Watches and AirPods Pro will go on sale on Friday, September 16, I believe.

Stay tuned for more details as they emerge.

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Oppo's ColorOS 13 update has a built-in pixelation feature for message screenshots – The Verge

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Oppo is launching its ColorOS 13 update today, and has detailed the features that are on the way for its devices as they’re upgraded to its flavor of Android 13. Oppo — which like Vivo, OnePlus, and other Chinese brands is controlled by the tech giant BBK Electronics — says the update will be arriving first on the Find X5 and Find X5 Pro this month, ahead of its release on around 33 additional models in the Find, Reno, A, F, and K ranges before the end of the year.

One of the smaller features worth calling out is a neat pixelation feature that’ll be available for screenshots in WhatsApp and Messenger chats. A new “Pixelate” option appears in the editing window, which can be tapped to automatically blur out the contact’s name and profile picture (as shown in the animation above). You can also use the tool to manually blur out the contents of messages. It could be a helpful little feature if you want to quickly share a message exchange without revealing every detail.

As you’d expect, ColorOS 13 includes many of the standard features that Google has built into this year’s Android update such as enhanced privacy settings or the ability to mirror Google Messages on a paired Chromebook. There are also some obvious similarities with Oppo sub-brand OnePlus’ recently announced OxygenOS 13 update, which runs on the same underlying codebase as ColorOS. The two updates share the same always-on display widget designs, including one for Spotify with built-in playback controls, as well as similar design tweaks that include home screen widgets and resizable folders.

But there are also some new features for ColorOS 13 that have yet to be announced for OxygenOS. For example, Oppo has announced a new “Multi-Screen Connect” screen-mirroring feature which will allow up to three windows from a phone to be displayed on a connected Windows PC. That includes two background apps alongside one direct mirror of a phone’s display. The connectivity also simplifies the transfer of files between a smartphone and Windows, according to Oppo’s announcement.

Another small-yet-potentially-handy feature is something Oppo is calling “Meeting Assistant,” which is designed to improve the reliability of calls made via Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Meet by prioritizing their traffic data over other apps. It also reduces the size of incoming notifications in an attempt to make them less distracting while on a call.

Under the hood upgrades claimed for ColorOS 13 include the debut of what Oppo is calling the “Dynamic Computing Engine,” which it says will increase battery life and allow more apps to be kept open in the background.

The launch of ColorOS 13 comes just days after the official release of Android 13 for Pixel devices, making Oppo one of the first third-party Android manufacturers to start rolling out the latest version of Google’s operating system. Check out Oppo’s graphic below to see its projected timeline for the update to be available across its range of handsets.

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