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Skype launches new 'Meet Now' feature with no sign up needs – MySmartChoice

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Skype is one of the most popular video calling apps by Microsoft for both people on mobile as well as desktop. But during the conflicting situation of the Coronavirus pandemic where people have been forced to stop coming to their office and start work from home. Most of the video calling conferences like office meetings and other actions have gone to Zoom. For people who do not know about zoom – it is one of the most common places for office workers to share chats, video conferences, and other related information. 

As per the information from sources Most people started using zoom over Skype at this pandemic situation because of the fact that zoom has made it very easy for people to establish a connection and share files and resources along with video conferencing. The only downside to their easy access is that zoom does not have a proper security system and may compromise the safety and privacy of information shared on their platform. No matter what, people still choose to use zoom over Skype. 

Now that Microsoft has realized that they are losing customers to zoom because of their strict policies, the company has decided to make a comeback with a new feature called ‘Meet Now’. 

The ‘meet now’ feature will make it very easy for the user to establish a video conference or a meeting in just a few clicks of the button. To be exact, Microsoft claims in only three clicks of a button you can establish a free meeting with their new feature. You can start the process from their website itself, in case you do not have Skype installed on your desktop. 

Yes, you heard it right, you do not need Skype to be installed for this, and nothing can be easier than that. After you have established the connection from their website, all you have to do is invite people for the meeting with the simple link provided in the window or by using the share button. 

On the off chance that you are inviting a person that has Skype installed on his desktop, the link will open into the app directly. But if the person does not have Skype, the link will redirect him to the web client that will work on both Chrome and some other browser like Edge. 

Recently the privacy issues of zoom came into light when many people started complaining that the security and privacy provided by zoom are not up to the mark. Any person can access private information shared in a meeting easily without having to provide any kind of proper authentication. This drawback certainly came in use for Microsoft Skype as they immediately moved into action and developed their new ‘meet now’ feature in the hopes of clawing back their users from zoom and certainly get an edge over their competitor’s app. 

The meet now features of Microsoft Skype will not even require the user to sign up or download their app. This will be a relief for many people, as most people are not vivid users of video calling apps, but are being forced to use or download it through the pressure exerted by their office to enable them to work from home.

Because of the lack of a proper authentication system, users are made aware before itself that the channel created by the meet now may not be much secure. But for people that only need to do a video conference for some casual work, or to chat with their family members and friends quickly without wasting too much time in setting up such as downloading or signing up, will find this new feature very convenient and useful.

Whether the Microsoft Company will make some more changes to their existing Skype app, or bring some more updates for the convenience of their users is still unknown. But the ‘meet now’ feature currently has received a lot of positive response from its users. And the company’s strategy to take over Zoom as its competitor has surely worked out well for it.

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U.S., EU advocacy groups warn against Google's purchase of Fitbit – Yahoo Canada Finance

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U.S., EU advocacy groups warn against Google's purchase of FitbitU.S., EU advocacy groups warn against Google's purchase of Fitbit
FILE PHOTO: Fitbit Blaze watch is seen in front of a displayed Google logo in this illustration

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Twenty advocacy groups from the United States, Europe, Latin America and elsewhere signed a statement Wednesday urging regulators to be wary of Google’s $2.1 billion bid for fitness tracker company Fitbit Inc <FIT.N> because of privacy and competition concerns.

The 20 organizations – which include the U.S.-based Public Citizen, Access Now from Europe and the Brazilian Institute of Consumer Defense – argued that the deal would expand the already considerable clout in digital markets of Alphabet Inc’s <GOOGL.O> Google.

Acquiring Fitbit would give Google such intimate information about users as how many steps they take daily, the quality of their sleep and their heart rates.

“Past experience shows that regulators must be very wary of any promises made by merging parties about restricting the use of the acquisition target’s data. Regulators must assume that Google will in practice utilize the entirety of Fitbit’s currently independent unique, highly sensitive data set in combination with its own,” the groups said.

Australian and Canadian groups were among the signatories.

A Google spokeswoman said the tech wearables space was crowded.

“This deal is about devices, not data,” she said. “We believe the combination of Google’s and Fitbit’s hardware efforts will increase competition in the sector.”

Google announced the deal in November to take on competitors in the crowded market for fitness trackers and smart watches. Fitbit’s market share has been threatened by deep-pocketed companies like Apple Inc <AAPL.O> and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd <005930.KS>.

Australia’s competition authority said this month that it may have concerns about the deal and would make a final decision in August.

EU antitrust regulators will decide by July 20 whether to clear the deal with or without concessions or open a longer investigation.

In Washington, Google is under antitrust investigation by the Justice Department, a congressional committee and dozens of states for allegedly using its massive market power to harm smaller competitors.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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Samsung is selling a wireless charger that also sterilizes your phone – Engadget

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As the world comes to terms with the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, people have learned that keeping a small distance and regularly washing their hands are important tools in limiting the transmission of the virus. However, when the humble smartphone is considered to be one of the dirtiest things someone can own, hand care may only go so far. In a bid to give its customers an phone-cleaning option that doesn’t involve an antibacterial wipe, Samsung has begun selling a wireless UV charger that promises to “kill up to 99 percent of bacteria within 10 minutes.”

The ITFIT UV Sterilizer is a very unremarkable white box that Samsung says is spacious enough to fit a Galaxy S20 Ultra. However, it’s not limited to just Samsung smartphones, or wireless gadgets like Galaxy Buds and the Galaxy Watch — if it fits inside then it can likely be disinfected (but may not be charged). Place the item(s) in the box, connect it to a USB-C power source and press the switch. The embedded 10-watt Qi charger will deliver power while it does its thing.

While it’s not an official Samsung design, the company sells the UV Sterilizer via a partnership with ITFIT, a Samsung sub-brand that seems to be applied to rebadged accessories. In the FCC listing for the device, the documentation includes a “Designed for Samsung” seal. Other ITFIT products made for Samsung include headphones and selfie sticks.

Wireless UV chargers aren’t new, but they’ve seen a huge rise in popularity following the coronavirus outbreak. Samsung doesn’t explicitly state that its UV Sterilizer successfully eradicates SARS-CoV-2, but a recent research study suggests that UVC lamps are capable of killing “more than 99.9 percent of airborne coronaviruses.”

The ITFIT UV Sterilizer is currently only being sold in Thailand for 1,590 baht (around $51), although it is also listed (but not available) in Hong Kong. There’s no word on whether it will go on sale in the US, but big-name accessory brands like Mophie and InvisibleShield (both owned by Zagg) are already on the case.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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EU signals deeper investigation of Google Fitbit deal – Financial Times

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The EU is examining whether Google’s proposed $2.1bn takeover of the fitness-tracking company Fitbit will give the company more data to entrench its search engine and advertising businesses, as consumer groups called for the deal to be blocked.

EU regulators have sent two questionnaires, adding up to around 60 pages, asking Google and Fitbit’s rivals whether the deal will damage competition, disadvantage other fitness tracking apps in Google’s Play Store, or give Google more profiling data to improve its online search and advertising businesses.

The questionnaires also ask rivals to assess the impact of the deal on Google’s growing digital healthcare business.

Separately, 20 consumer groups, including Europe’s umbrella consumer organisation BEUC and the Consumer Federation of America, issued a warning about the deal on Thursday.

“Regulators must assume that Google will in practice utilise the entirety of Fitbit’s currently independent unique, highly sensitive data set in combination with its own, particularly as this could increase its profits, or they must impose strict and enforceable limitations on data use,” they said, in a joint statement.

The detail of the questions posed by the EU suggests that Brussels is gearing up for an extended investigation and may block the transaction, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation.

The EU has until July 20 to make a decision after the end of the initial phase of the investigation, and could waive the deal, extend the investigation or ask for concessions.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission raised concerns last month that the deal could lead to a strengthening of Google’s position.

“Past acquisitions by Google, of both start-ups and mature companies like Fitbit, have further entrenched Google’s position,” said Rod Sims, the Australian watchdog’s chair, last month. “The access to user data available to Google has made it so valuable to advertisers that it faces only limited competition.” 

The Australian authority said it is looking into the “uniqueness and potential value” that Fitbit’s data would give Google. 

“The risk is that Google would extend its empire of consumer data also into vital medical data and digital medical services undergo some kind of consumerisation rather than being available to the wider medical community,” said an antitrust expert in Brussels with direct knowledge of the deal.

At the time the deal was announced, Rick Osterloh, senior vice-president for devices and services at Google, said the company “will be transparent about the data we collect and why. We will never sell personal information to anyone. Fitbit health and wellness data will not be used for Google ads. And we will give Fitbit users the choice to review, move, or delete their data.”

Google said: “Throughout this process we have been clear about our commitment not to use Fitbit health and wellness data for Google ads and our responsibility to provide people with choice and control with their data.

“Similar to our other products, with wearables, we will be transparent about the data we collect and why. And we do not sell personal information to anyone.”

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