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Google Pixel 4a Canadian pricing, availability and specs – MobileSyrup

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Google has finally revealed that the Pixel 4a is coming to Canada next month.

The Pixel 4a releases on September 10th and will be available at Bell, Rogers, Telus, Freedom Mobile, Videotron, Best Buy and more. Two-year pricing and availability will be shared at a later date.

The device costs $479 CAD outright, and you can pre-order it now on Google’s website.

Google is offering up to $180 in trade-in credit for select devices well. Additionally, the 4a includes a three-month free trial of YouTube Premium, Google Play Pass and Google One if you sign up for a recurring subscription.

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Facebook convinced Apple to drop App Store fee for paid events feature – Business Insider – Business Insider

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AP; Francois Mori/AP


  • Facebook said on Friday that businesses holding online paid events on the social platform will be able to avoid Apple’s 30% fee through the end of the year.
  • Previously, Facebook said it could not get Apple to budge on its policy, which stipulates that the iPhone maker takes up to a 30% cut on transactions made through the App Store.
  • Now, Apple will allow Facebook to use its own payment system called Facebook Pay, enabling businesses to avoid the commission rate.
  • Apple’s App Store fee has been at the center of antitrust concerns surrounding the tech giant.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Little more than a month after Facebook called out Apple for collecting its App Store fee on a new feature aimed at helping small businesses, the iPhone maker is changing course.

Facebook announced on Friday that businesses hosting paid events on the social platform will be able to keep all of their online event earnings through December 31.

Previously, small businesses holding paid events and classes on Facebook were subject to the commission Apple charges for transactions made through the App Store, which can reach up to 30%. That’s because Apple requires apps in the App Store to use its in-app payment system rather than their own.

But Apple’s App Store policies also stipulate that apps offering goods and services experienced outside of the app — like a class, for example — can offer other alternative payment methods besides Apple’s in-app purchase system.

However, many of these businesses have gone virtual during the pandemic, meaning this rule technically wouldn’t apply since the event is being experienced in the same app through which the access was purchased. Apple is giving Facebook, and other apps like ClassPass and Airbnb, until the end of the year to implement an in-app purchase system for businesses hosting online paid events through their platforms. 

Facebook acknowledged that it had approached Apple about reducing its commission or enabling Facebook to use Facebook Pay to absorb the costs back in August when it announced that businesses would be able to earn money from online events hosted on Facebook.

Facebook said at the time that Apple had dismissed its requests.

Now, however, Facebook says it will be permitted to process paid events using Facebook Pay rather than Apple’s payments system, meaning businesses will be able to avoid the 30% commission through the end of 2020.

Creators on Facebook Gaming, the company’s Twitch rival, however, and will still be subject to Apple’s usual rules.

“Apple’s decision to not collect its 30% tax on paid online events comes with a catch: gaming creators are excluded from using Facebook Pay in paid online events on iOS,” Vivek Sharma, vice president of Facebook Gaming, said in a statement. “We unfortunately had to make this concession to get the temporary reprieve for other businesses.”

Facebook has also said it will not collect any fees from paid online events until at least August 2021.  

Apple’s App Store policies, particularly its commission on in-app purchases, have been a point of contention for app developers and lawmakers who argue that the rule gives Apple an unfair advantage in the industry. Apple CEO Tim Cook testified on the topic alongside the CEOs of Facebook, Google parent Alphabet, and Amazon in July, where lawmakers grilled Cook on whether Apple treats all developers fairly.

Apple commissioned a report ahead of the hearing showing that its 30% commission on App Store transactions is standard for the industry, drawing comparisons to other online marketplaces. 

But part of those concerns center not only on the fee itself, but the ways in which Apple enforces them. Documents revealed during the House antitrust subcommittee’s investigation have shown that Apple offered Amazon a special deal that only charged a 15% fee on subscriptions, for example. 

Apple said in a statement to Business Insider that its App Store guidelines are “clear” and “consistent” and apply to all developers.

“The App Store provides a great business opportunity for all developers, who use it to reach half a billion visitors each week across 175 countries,” the company said. “To ensure every developer can create and grow a successful business, Apple maintains a clear, consistent set of guidelines that apply equally to everyone.”

App makers have started to speak out about their concerns more prominently over the last year. After publicly accusing Apple of unfair treatment, companies like Spotify, Epic Games, Basecamp, and Tile among others have created an advocacy group called the Coalition for App Fairness.

“Fortnite” maker Epic Games has also been locked in a legal spat with Apple recently over the game’s removal from the App Store after it intentionally skirted Apple’s payment policy.

Facebook has also come under increased scrutiny when it comes to the size and scope of its business. Lawmakers’ concerns around Facebook have hinged on the reasoning behind its acquisitions of rivals like Instagram. 

The ability for small businesses to avoid Apple’s App Store commission is just one change to Apple’s policies that Facebook has been pressing for recently. Facebook is now pushing for Apple to enable Facebook Messenger to be a default messaging option on the iPhone, according to The Information. Facebook has also spoken out about how changes in Apple’s iOS 14 iPhone update could hurt its advertising business. 

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Amazon's new home drone is sparking surveillance dystopia fears – Business Insider – Business Insider

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The upcoming Ring Always Home Cam.

Ring


  • Amazon on Thursday unveiled a camera-mounted drone that can fly around inside your house, called the Ring Always Home Cam.
  • The drone can launch itself from its base and automatically patrol your house if it’s alerted to a disturbance by a paired Ring alarm.
  • The announcement prompted privacy fears around the increased incursion by big tech surveillance products into people’s homes.
  •  The tiny drone is arguably one of Amazon’s less invasive products.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Amazon’s latest security wheeze — a miniature drone that flies around your home looking for burglars — has prompted horrified responses about the potential for increased Big Tech surveillance.

Amazon unveiled the Ring Always Home Cam on Thursday, a tiny drone that can fly around your home and check for disturbances.

The $250 device sits inside the home in a cradle, and will launch itself if triggered by a paired Ring alarm. Ring alarms are supposed to respond to a wide range of emergencies such as break-ins and fires. The drone will then fly around according to a preset pathway, and stream live footage of what’s happening to the user’s phone.

Imagery and footage of the drone launching itself from its base triggered some blowback online, both serious and tongue-in-cheek.

“The spy drone for your house run by megacorp is 100% from Black Mirror and also wasn’t supposed to be a fun product idea,” wrote one user.

The Internet of Shit Twitter account, which pokes fun at seemingly pointless connected devices, wrote: “An internet connected drone camera for your home, owned by Amazon. this definitely won’t be a privacy nightmare *at all*.”

And security expert and programmer Patricia Aas wrote simply: “Wtf is wrong with this industry?”

UK-based privacy advocacy group Big Brother Watch described the drone as “arguably Amazon’s most chilling surveillance product yet.”

“It’s difficult to imagine why Amazon thinks anyone wants flying internet cameras linked up to a data-gathering company in the privacy of their own home,” said director Silkie Carlo in a statement. “It’s important to acknowledge the influence that Amazon’s product development is having on communities and the growing surveillance market.”

Amazon tried to allay privacy concerns about the drone following users round their houses by saying it was deliberately designed to be noisy so you can hear it coming — although it is only supposed to take off when its owner is out.

“Designed with privacy in mind, the motors even hum when in flight — it’s privacy you can hear,” Ring says on its website.

And as unnerving as an autonomous home camera drone undoubtedly is, another product unveiled on Thursday may be more troubling.

The new version of Amazon’s smart display screen, the Echo Show, can automatically swivel to follow its owners as they move around.

amazon echo show 10 2020

The new Echo Show can swivel to follow a user during a video call.

Amazon


Ben Wood, analyst at CCS Insight, said while the drone was “likely to be a magnet for privacy concerns”, it was better than devices like the Echo Show “which have a front-facing camera that is always exposed.”

Amazon’s current smart home devices also have the potential to snoop on unsuspecting users.

In 2019 Amazon and other big tech firms were found admitted to sending snippets of audio captured by smart assistants like Alexa back to human moderators for review.

As reported by Bloomberg, the Alexa recordings included sensitive and intimate moments. The discovery sparked outrage from consumers who didn’t know their private conversations could end up in the hands of human reviewers.

Amazon’s made it possible for users to opt out of having these snippets sent back, but having those recordings sent off is still the default setting.

Ring, which Amazon bought for $1 billion in 2018, is also already the subject of privacy concerns with or without the drone.

Ring has drawn public scrutiny both for its relationship with police departments and the overall security of its systems, which have been accessed by hackers.

In one instance a hacker took control of a camera in an 8-year-old girl’s bedroom and taunted her, saying he was Santa Claus.

Amazon addressed these concerns at its Thursday event, promising to strengthen Ring’s services with end-to-end encryption by the end of this year.

It’s also possible that worries about intrusive surveillance will be less of a concern for the Always Home Cam than the drone haplessly flying into things.

“Along with the usual privacy concerns, Amazon will also have to reassure users that the Always Home Cam won’t bump into things or people,” added CCS Insight’s Ben Wood. “The way you set it up, and the assumption that it will only operate when occupants are not in the home, will go a long way to address these concerns, but it will only be possible to really understand the device fully once you’ve had a chance to use it.”

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Apple will temporarily stop taking a 30 percent cut on Facebook event fees – The Verge

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Earlier this year, Facebook launched a new feature that let small businesses create paid online events. The company framed it as a way of helping organizations struggling with lost revenue during the pandemic, and said that because of the exceptional circumstances, it would not collect any fees on purchases for these events until August 2021.

But the social network also stressed that any payments made on iOS would be subject to Apple’s standard 30 percent platform fees, noting this meant less money for small businesses. As Fidji Simo, head of Facebook’s main app, said at the time: “We asked Apple to reduce its 30% App Store tax or allow us to offer Facebook Pay so we could absorb all costs for businesses struggling during COVID-19. Unfortunately, they dismissed both our requests and [small businesses] will only be paid 70% of their hard-earned revenue.”

Facebook’s framing of this policy as Apple vs the little guy seems to have worked, and the social network now says Apple will let it process payments for online events using Facebook Pay. That means no 30 percent fee for Apple and more money for businesses, at least in the short term. Facebook says all businesses are eligible except Facebook Gaming creators and that the policy will also only last until the end of 2020.

Apple confirmed the news to The Verge and said that collecting a fee from apps offering services that take place outside the app itself is a long-held App Store policy. Since the pandemic hit and more businesses have started selling virtual events, the iPhone maker has had similar disagreements with other firms. Facebook is not the first company it’s waived fees for until the end of the year, and Apple says it’s also done the same with Airbnb and ClassPass. Apple said in the case of Facebook Gaming creators it would not waive fees because these individuals’ business model has been unaffected by the pandemic.

This is a sideshow compared to Apple’s larger war with Fortnite creator Epic, but it shares the same target (Apple’s platform fees) and shows how companies are increasingly able to win new ground in this old battle. In this case, Facebook’s success seems to be in part due to the fact it’s been able to frame its motivations as altruistic while painting Apple as an avaricious monolith. (Epic is trying to do the same with its #FreeFortnite campaign and satirical ads.) But, of course, Facebook also stands to benefit if Apple drops its platform fees on iOS and gives freer reign to third-party payment systems.

The tech companies know that public sentiment will play a role in deciding the outcome of these battles and seem keen to engage their users. CEOs are being increasingly vocal about Apple’s business model, with Mark Zuckerberg recently decrying the company’s “stranglehold” on users’ phones. Notably, Facebook even tried to tell users about Apple’s 30 percent on the payment screen on its app, but says Apple blocked the change, citing an App Store policy that bars developers from showing users “irrelevant” information.

At least for now Facebook’s tactics seem to have worked, but it seems the company won’t stop here. A statement from Facebook spokesperson Joe Osborne made it clear that the firm thinks Apple’s concession are not enough. “Apple has agreed to provide a brief, three-month respite after which struggling businesses will have to, yet again, pay Apple the full 30% App Store tax,” said Osborne. In other words: expect to hear more about this in 2021.

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