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Apple Will Remove Thousands of Unlicensed iPhone Games in China

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(Bloomberg) —

Apple Inc. will start removing thousands of mobile games lacking government approval from its App Store in China next month, closing a loophole that the likes of Rockstar Games have relied on for years.

Developers and publishers in China have been told that their iOS games will need licenses to continue operating from July, according to people familiar with the matter. The decision ends the unofficial practice of allowing games to be published while awaiting authorization from the country’s slow-moving regulators.

This has until now allowed games such as Grand Theft Auto, whose gory depictions of violence are unlikely to ever pass muster with Chinese censors, to be available within the country’s borders. China’s regulators require all games that are either paid or offer in-app purchases to submit for review and obtain a license before publication, and major Android app stores have enforced such rules since 2016. But unapproved games have flourished on Apple’s iPhone platform.

It’s unclear why Apple — a target of numerous regulatory clampdowns in the past — hasn’t moved as swiftly as other app stores in China, which are owned and operated by local mobile giants like Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Xiaomi Corp.

The latest approvals process took effect in 2019 amid confusion among industry players about the speed with which Beijing, known for months-long content reviews that may or may not lead to a monetization license, would process requests. For its part, Apple has begun ramping up oversight of its Chinese app store, removing two podcast apps earlier this month at China’s request.

Back in February, Apple reminded iOS developers in the country to obtain licenses for their titles by June 30. But it was only after prolonged uncertainty about enforcement that the iPhone maker explicitly told publishers that any unlicensed games after the deadline will be banned and removed from the local App Store, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is not public.

There’s no telling how long it will take to remove all unlicensed games once the change comes into effect. Chinese gaming blog Gamelook earlier reported Apple’s upcoming enforcement.

An Apple representative declined to comment.

China accounted for about a fifth of the $61 billion in digital goods and services sold via Apple’s App Store in 2019, making it the largest market after the U.S., the Analysis Group estimates. Apple takes a 30% cut from the majority of such transactions.

There are roughly 60,000 games on China’s iOS App Store that are either paid or contain in-app purchases, and at least a third of them don’t have a license, according to an estimate by AppInChina, which helps companies localize and publish their apps in the country.

“These companies will suddenly lose all revenue from what is typically their second-largest market after the U.S.,” said AppInChina Chief Executive Officer Rich Bishop. His firm received three times its usual volume of enquiries about game licenses over the past week, he added.

Apple’s new effort highlights the Chinese government’s tightening grip on gaming. Citing concerns about the proliferation of addiction among minors and the dissemination of offensive content, regulators now adopt a much stricter and slower review process than before they temporarily halted all approvals in 2018.

While big local players like Tencent Holdings Ltd. and NetEase Inc. have adapted their existing cash cows and can respond to censors’ demands in the development of new games, smaller developers and publishers lack the same resources. Many of them have started attaching a single license to multiple games with similar gameplay, logos or heroes, though the government is aware of the practice and cracking down on it as well.

Imported games are under particularly tight scrutiny, and the App Store loophole served as a last resort for getting some of them distributed in China. Plague Inc., which mimics the spread of an epidemic, had topped the download charts on China’s App Store for weeks during the country’s Covid-19 lockdown. But the unlicensed title was pulled in March after Chinese regulators deemed it to have “illegal” content, according to its developers.

Neither of the remaining options for small game developers appears particularly enticing. They could switch their revenue model to in-app advertising, which is not covered by the same approval process. Or they can team up with big publishers like Tencent to obtain licenses, though that would involve giving up some measure of autonomy, while Tencent itself is more interested in well-known franchises.

 

Source: – Yahoo Finance

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Get the perfect dose of nostalgia with these Galaxy Buds Pro cases – Input

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A little dash of old paired with something new can be a great touch to help you reconcile the contemporary with the classic. Samsung’s new Galaxy Buds Pro, which will run you about $200, just got that treatment now that the company has launched retro charging cases on sale. These cases are shaped after the nostalgic Anycall T100 and E700 and are available in select locations only. They weigh between 35g to 40g. But who cares about that? Depending on when you came of age, they’re worth their weight in nostalgia.

And that’s the downside to the news: the cases are available in South Korea as in-store items only. To be clear, the retro clamshell charging cases don’t work on their own, so don’t expect the clock to change the time accordingly or for the case to deliver messages or calls. Nope, none of that. The retro cases are more of an aesthetic addition to the Galaxy Buds Pro and it’s not clear how much battery capacity they actually come with. We expect Samsung to release more details in the coming days. Even then, a T100 or E700 cover sounds like a fun touch for $30 a pop.

Non-functional nostalgia — The purpose behind these T100 and E700 retro clamshell cases isn’t to provide any use. Samsung is pretty clear about this much, and it’s a detail that won’t offend consumers in all likelihood. This is all about nonfunctional nostalgia. The release of these retro cases is bound to resonate with consumers who once owned actual T100 and E700 cellphones… give or take 20 years ago. That crowd might just love it, though it is a bummer that Samsung has limited the sales of these cases to one country only.

Samsung

Exclusivity is hot — For now, the cases remain on sale in South Korea alone. Maybe there are plans to bring the retro accessories to stores in the West — but that remains to be seen. In the meantime, while Samsung figures out the additional details for these cases (and we hope it lets western consumers but the T100 and E700 cases eventually), we’d love to know if you think Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro pose a legitimate threat to Apple’s AirPods Pro. All we know is the wireless earbuds war is far from over.

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LG says it might quit the smartphone market – Ars Technica

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As usual, things are not looking good for LG’s phone division. As reported by The Korea Herald, LG Electronics CEO Kwon Bong-Seok sent out a staff-wide memo that the company was considering making major changes to its smartphone division, including possibly quitting the smartphone business.

Last week, Korean news outlet TheElec also wrote about this memo in a now-deleted post. The post was deleted because LG brutally debunked the report, calling it “completely false and without merit.” This week, LG is confirming basically the same memo report from the Korea Herald, complete with comments from LG. The Verge also got a thumbs-up from LG about the report.

“Since the competition in the global market for mobile devices is getting fiercer, it is about time for LG to make a cold judgment and the best choice,” an LG official told the Korea Herald. “The company is considering all possible measures, including sale, withdrawal, and downsizing of the smartphone business.”

LG’s smartphone business has been suffering for a while. As the report points out, LG’s smartphone division lost about 5 trillion won ($4.5 billion) over the past five years. The official earnings count has the division at 22 consecutive money-losing quarters. Today you won’t find LG on a “Global smartphone market share” chart; instead, it will be buried down in the “other” category. In the US, Counterpoint has LG at 13 percent of the market, due mostly to pre-paid sales.

LG Electronics’ CEO only landed the position 13 months ago and has undoubtedly been evaluating LG’s only money-losing division over the past year. In an interview in January 2020, shortly after being appointed CEO, Kwon promised “LG Electronics’ mobile business is going to be profitable by 2021.” It’s still not clear if that’s considered a reasonable goal for the company.

TheElec’s original scoop is backed up and translated here. You should definitely take it with a grain of salt since the outlet deleted the post and isn’t standing behind it, but so far, it seems to be correct. It contains an interesting tidbit that’s not in the other report: that LG will announce a direction for its mobile unit on January 26. TheElec also claimed that LG sent out a directive to “stop all developments except for the i project,” with “i project” being a code name for LG’s flexible-display LG Rollable smartphone. The last bit of the report sounds very plausible in raising the possibility that the LG brand will never truly leave the smartphone market and will instead farm out the logo to various white-label ODM companies.

Why would anyone buy an LG phone?

LG has never had a solid sales pitch for the smartphone wars. At the high end of the market, LG has always seemed to be overshadowed by its bigger Korean rival, Samsung. It shipped high-spec phones with heavy Android skins and a bad update plan, and when Samsung offers the same thing with bigger brand recognition, why would anyone pick LG? At the low end of the market, especially in the US, the company has reliably shoveled cheap, anonymous phones into carrier stores and the pre-paid market. This is something that needs to be done, but again, there’s nothing here that would make LG stand out from the crowd.

If anything, LG has a pretty bad reputation when it comes to building smartphones. The company’s phones are known for dying early and going into “boot looping,” an unusable Android failure state where the phone reboots repeatedly due to bad flash memory. LG was sued over boot loops in 2017, with the lawsuit naming every high-profile LG device released in 2015 and 2016. LG ended up settling. I know I’ve personally laid four LG-made Google Nexus 5Xs to rest over boot loop issues.

When the company wasn’t occupying the same lane as Samsung, it was trotting out ridiculous gimmicks that would be forgotten a year or two later: there was the LG G5 with its modular accessories, like a clip-on camera grip; the inexplicably banana-shaped LG G Flex; and an obsession with various “dual screen” designs like the LG V10’s notification display, the LG V50’s clip-on second screen, and the LG Wing’s “T” shaped design. You can see the company trying to do something different to stand out, but none of these ideas was good, or at least they weren’t a hit with consumers.

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Samsung announces Tab Active3 ruggedized Android tablet with removable battery – Notebookcheck.net

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The Samsung Tab Active3 supports Samsung’s S-Pen. Image via Samsung.
Samsung’s new Android 10 tablet, the Tab Active3, is a ruggedized 8-inch device with a user-removable battery, a FHD+ (1920×1200) touchscreen, S-Pen support, and support for wireless DeX.

Ruggedized smartphones are fairly rare in today’s market, and rugged tablets are rarer still. There are still a few tough tablets out there, including a new device from Samsung.

The Tab Active3 is a new ruggedized Android tablet from Samsung. Featuring a 1.7 GHz octa-core processor (boost up to 2.7 GHz), 4 GB of RAM, and 64 GB of expandable storage, the 8-inch FHD+ tablet is powerful enough for most work-related tasks. It’s unlikely to win any gaming awards, but the Tab Active3 is designed for frontline workers who are often in difficult environments.

The Tab Active3 runs Android 10 and has a programmable button, S-Pen support, and NFC. The tablet also supports wireless DeX, Samsung’s pseudo-desktop feature that allows users to connect their Samsung device to a monitor and run a desktop version of the company’s One UI.

One of the most intriguing features is its removable 5050 mAh battery. The tablet can continue operation without a battery if it’s plugged into a wall, allowing users to (sort of) hot-swap batteries. Samsung has promised “up to three generations of Android OS upgrades.” Samsung doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to Android upgrades, so time will tell if the company keeps this promise. Samsung also promised up to 5 years of security updates.

The Samsung Tab Active3 starts at US$489.99 for a WiFi-only model (WiFi 6). An LTE model sells for $589.99.

Purchase the Samsung Tab Active3 LTE on Amazon.

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