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Voyager at LaunchPad: A ‘Silicon Valley’ for emerging markets

By Jing Garcia, News5 | InterAksyon
Photo: Voyager Innovations logo at the LaunchPad Building in Mandaluyong City. InterAksyon file photo

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — Voyager Innovations recently inaugurated its new headquarters at the LaunchPad Building beside the TV5 Media Center in Mandaluyong City. As the digital innovations arm of PLDT and Smart, Voyager is currently in a new stage of growth as it tries to accelerate the digital transformation of consumers and enterprises in the country.

“[Voyager] was one of the early responses of PLDT-Smart and the First Pacific Group to the Digital Tsunami that was then already, ‘changing the game’ for established businesses and organizations, entire industries and entire societies all around the world,” said Orlando B. Vea, president and chief executive, Voyager Innovations, during the launch attended by ranking executives from the private and public sectors, and media. “Driven by our vision ‘No More Digital Divide, One Happy Planet,’ our crew has been relentlessly coming out with relevant innovations. We have since established leading positions in digital payments, financial technologies, digital commerce and digital consumer engagement.”

Founded over four years ago, the innovation-driven company has been coming out with breakthrough digital products and platforms now already reaching over 16 million Filipinos. PayMaya and Lendr are two popular digital platforms Voyager can be proud of.

PayMaya logo as seen in the Voyager Innovations office at the LaunchPad Building in Mandaluyong City. InterAksyon file photo
PayMaya Philippines has the largest combined prepaid wallet base in the country with over 40,000 online sellers, SMEs and enterprises aided by this Voyager Innovations solution. FINTQ, through Lendr, on the other hand, has the most extensive digital lending footprint covering all of the country’s provinces along with over 40 banks and non-bank partners, according to company executives.

Other Voyager products such as freenet and hatch allow businesses to reach their audiences through free data access to various apps and sites not only on their smartphones but on regular feature phones as well as through a robust SMS marketing campaigns that could reach phone users in the farthest reaches of the country.

“Digital transformation has helped equalize opportunities for the common folk, in a very profound way, and we are proud that Voyager is behind innovations that push boundaries and tear down walls for the benefit of all,” said Manuel V. Pangilinan, chairman at PLDT, Smart, and Voyager.

The new office at LaunchPad was designed with “open-plan workspaces” and ample areas for collaboration, as it serves as an innovation playground for its mostly millennial workforce.

Over 600 people are currently employed at Voyager Innovations.

“As we have now come to say: here at Launchpad, every day is launch day,” said Vea. “We do not stop innovating once we launch, and we do not cease creating once we’ve shipped to market.”

Samsung installs large cinema LED screen in Seoul

By Xinhua News Agency


Photo: Samsung Cinema HDR LED Screen Lotte Thearter Harman Samsung Cinema LED Screen at Lotte Cinema World Tower in South Korea

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA — Tech giant Samsung Electronics has recently installed its largest-to-date high-resolution LED screen in a cinema here.

The screen, installed at Lotte Cinema World Tower in Seoul, is 10.3 meters (33.8 feet, or 406 inches) wide, features full 4K resolution (4,096 x 2,160), and has a peak brightness level of 146 footlambert, a unit measuring light intensity.

Samsung said in a press release that the brightness level is 10 times greater than that offered by standard cinema projectors, adding that the screen offers a “distortion-free” presentation showcasing “the brightest colors, deepest blacks and most pristine whites at a nearly infinite contrast ratio.”

To complement its visuality, the screen is paired with a sound system developed through the collaboration of Samsung Audio Lab and JBL by Harman, an audio equipment producer. It features speakers around the screen, proprietary audio processing technology and JBL’s Sculpted Surround system, the press release said.

The system, according to Samsung, provides “an unparalleled sight and sound experience the way the content creators intended.” Samsung bought JBL by Harman’s parent company Harman International Industries in an 8-billion-U.S.-dollar all-cash deal in November last year, the biggest acquisition in the company’s history.

Samsung claims that the new product maintains its advanced presentation capabilities in a range of dark and ambient lighting conditions, making it an “ideal” choice for corporate events, concerts, sports viewing as well as gaming competitions.

“Through sharper and more realistic colors, complementary audio and an elevated presentation, our cinema LED Screen makes viewers feel as if they are part of the picture,” said H.S. Kim, president of visual display business at Samsung Electronics.

The screen was debuted in March during the CinemaCon 2017 conference in Las Vegas, the United States. The CinemaCon, held annually in Las Vegas since 2011, has become the largest and most important gathering for the worldwide motion picture theater industry, according to its website.

Samsung Electronics, arguably the most renowned South Korean company, is currently in a tumultuous situation as its alleged involvement in former president Park Geun-hye’s corruption and influence-peddling scandals has seen the arrest of the company’s vice president, Lee Jae-yong, in February.

8 tips for being productive on the iPad with iOS 10

You can do more than you think
by Dieter Bohn@backlon

Photo by Tyler Pina / The Verge

In my review of the iPad Pro 10.5, I said that most people should probably wait until all the productivity improvements coming in iOS 11 are available before buying one. But you didn't wait, did you, you maniac? You went out and bought one, and are now wondering how you can get the most out of the machine you spent over $1,000 kitting out.

One obvious thing to do is go ahead and install the iOS 11 public beta. It seems relatively stable on the iPad Pro. But my recommendation is still to wait a bit, especially if you depend on your iPad for day-to-day work.

So if you’re sticking with iOS 10 for now, good on you — you are a very responsible person. And lucky for you, there are a bunch of obvious and not-so-obvious things you can do to get more use out of your shiny new iPad, making it less likely that it will end up sitting unused in your nightstand until you want to watch Netflix.

Here are some of my favorite tips. This certainly isn't comprehensive, but there are the tricks and apps that make iPad life better for me. Most of these tips will also serve you in good stead once you upgrade to iOS 11, too.

LEARN THE KEYBOARD SHORTCUTS

Apples Smart Keyboard isn't everybody's favorite. Mine doesn't quite sit flush on a table, and it's awkward to use on a lap. There are other options on the way that give you more angles and more function keys; Logitech's looks decent. But I like the Smart Keyboard mainly because it folds up into such a small package.

So if you're sticking with Apple's keyboard, you're going to want to learn some keyboard shortcuts. Some are obvious, like Cmd-Tab to switch apps and Cmd-Space to open up Spotlight search. Others are harder to discover. Apps that are properly coded for iOS will display a pop-up of their keyboard shortcuts when you hold down the Cmd key. Here are a few I like:

Cmd-H will get you back to the home screen.
In Spotlight, you can hold down the down-arrow key to jam past all the supposedly helpful search suggestions and get to the web search you actually want a little bit faster.
Cmd-Shift-3 takes a screenshot, just like on your Mac.
Opt + arrow keys let you navigate text word by word or line by line.
Opt + Delete deletes a whole word at a time.
One last note: I was (and am) tempted to suggest you install the excellent Gboard keyboard for on-screen typing, because it offers swipe-to-type. Except that when you do, for some reason, the apostrophe key on external keyboards stops working. It's a super annoying bug.

TEXT REPLACEMENT

One of the most powerful features on iOS is Text Replacement. Ostensibly, it lets you type something short on a phone and have it automatically expanded out into something more complicated. Most people use it for stuff like turning “@@” into an email address or "shruggie" into ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

These are valuable features, but I also use them to do custom searches in the browser. For example, I've set "vgg" to "site:theverge.com" so I can search The Verge more quickly in Safari. You can add a bunch of other custom searches, though it's not as powerful as what you can do in Alfred on the Mac.

Sadly, for some reason Text Replacement isn't working for me in Spotlight search, which is where I really want it the most.

TRY DIFFERENT APPS WITH MULTITASKING

This one's pretty obvious, but I'm telling you anyway: keep playing around with apps, especially in conjunction with the way multitasking works on iOS 10: Slide Over (which you pull in from the right) and full split screen. You might find that an old standby app that you love doesn't support split screen yet, but a perfectly good (or maybe even better!) alternative does.

In particular, most of Google's apps are simply atrocious on the iPad. Gmail and Inbox don't support split-screen mode, which is bonkers. Google Docs does, but it's pretty awful on the iPad. Microsoft Word, however, is quite lovely on the iPad.

Other apps just act twitchy. Twitter, for example, refuses to open a link when it's a skinny app on the right; you have to go half-screen. Tweetbot, however, works great and also will stream tweets automatically when it's sitting to the side.

Safari lets you split screen two tabs, but sadly you can't do it and have a second app open.

All these split-screen hoops will get slightly better with iOS 11, but not entirely. Even though the multitasking interface on iOS 10 isn't as good, it's still useful to find apps that play nice with it now, and they'll be much more likely to play nice when the update comes.

START PLAYING AROUND WITH AFFINITY FOR IMAGE EDITING

Sorry, Adobe. I'm sure that the idea of releasing a dozen lightweight versions of your apps for iOS seemed like a good idea at the time, but you got lapped by Affinity. It was demonstrated at Apple's WWDC keynote, and it’s available at an intro price of $19.99.

That might seem like a lot for an iPad app to you, but it is wildly powerful — and honestly a little hard to figure out. But I've found that investing time into the app pays off. The learning curve seems easier than Photoshop and I'm finding that I can make really nice edits without too much work. If $19.99 is too much for you, Pixelmator is another good photo-editing app for iOS at $4.99.

I'll admit that this "tip" isn't entirely unmotivated: if we want more "pro" apps on the iPad, we should reward companies that make apps that work well on the iPad.

INSTALL ANNOTABLE, A GREAT SCREENSHOT MARKUP TOOL

Speaking of great apps that feel native to the iPad Pro, check out Annotable. It's an app for marking up screenshots with arrows and highlights and circles and doodles. It's free for some features, with in-app purchases for some features.

When iOS 11 comes, there will be a neat new screenshot workflow that makes these annotations easier. Until then, this app is the closest thing to Skitch (or rather, to what Skitch was when it was good) on the iPad. And I suspect that even when iOS 11 comes out, it will have enough new features to avoid getting Sherlocked.

SET UP WIDGETS — NO, SERIOUSLY

I know, the widgets section in the Notification Center is probably the easiest part of iOS to ignore, but hang with me here for a minute. On the iPad, widgets can be displayed in two columns. If you're using the iPad as your main computer, there's a pretty solid chance you're going to want to do quick checks on your calendar more often.

Widgets make checking you calendar, tasks, and other little bits of information easier, and I find I use them more often on the iPad than I do on my iPhone. And they're easier to get to than bouncing home and hunting around for the app, then launching it, then trying to get back to whatever your last work setup was.

ORGANIZE THE SHARE SHEET

In iOS 11, you will have to futz with the official iOS Share Sheet less often. Until then, you will need to hit that little box with the arrow sticking out of it all the time. So you should take a minute to actually organize it.

To do it, tap that icon, then swipe each of the horizontal rows of apps all the way over. You'll have to do it for each row. Then you can toggle most apps off (some don't allow you do, which is weird and annoying) and reorder them so the stuff you actually use is easer to get to.

And you should also know that the "Share Sheet" is a misnomer, as it's become a place where all sorts of weird extra functionality gets scurried away. That applies doubly to Safari, where you'll find the very useful "Request Desktop Site" button sitting inside the Share Sheet as well as third-party extensions like 1Password.

CHECK OUT DUET TO MAKE YOUR IPAD A MONITOR


duet
We’re fans of Duet over here at The Verge. It turns your iPad into second monitor for your Mac or PC and also lets you draw directly into apps as though it were a Wacom tablet. Sure, you can be productive on an iPad Pro, but you can surely do more on a Mac, and even more on a Mac with a second display.

Duet is also well-supported: it’s already been updated with full iPad Pro support. It’s theoretically pricey at $19.99 apiece for each in-app purchase, but that’s still way less than buying a portable monitor. And, as before, paying for well-supported pro apps on the iPad gives all developers incentive to make more of them.

Google to stop scanning Gmail for creating targeted ads

By Laharee Chatterjee, Reuters

People visit Google's booth at the Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) 2017 in Beijing, China April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee

Alphabet Inc’s Google said on Friday it would stop scanning Gmail content for creating personalized ads from later this year, bringing the widely-used email service in line with its enterprise offering, G Suite.

The decision was outlined in a blog post by Google cloud computing chief Diane Greene, who joined the company in 2015 and has been responsible for the rapid growth of Google’s cloud business.

Google’s practice of analyzing incoming and outgoing emails of its free consumer Gmail users has been criticized on privacy concerns.

Google’s G Suite business bundle have been gaining more enterprise users in the past year, with more than 3 million companies paying for the G Suite service, the company said.

Gmail has more than 1.2 billion users worldwide

Boom’s supersonic prototype prepares for 2018 test flight

Virgin Mobile goes iPhone-only, offers a year of service for $1

by Sarah Perez/techcrunch.com


In attempt to woo customers away from competitors, Virgin Mobile USA today announced a deal that will see it transitioning to become an iPhone-only carrier. The company is also partnering with Apple to activate Virgin’s services in Apple’s stores. To kick off this change, Virgin introduced a limited time promotion that will see it giving away a year’s worth of unlimited talk, text and data for only a dollar.

There are a few caveats to this deal, of course.

Like most carriers, unlimited data is not exactly that. Customers who use more than 23 GB of data during one billing cycle will be deprioritized, Virgin says – meaning it will throttle your bandwidth as needed, especially in places where there’s a lot of congestion.

Plus, Virgin’s terms says it has the right to terminate your service is your off-network roaming usage exceeds either 800 voice minutes or 100 megabytes. (The plans come with 800 domestic voice roaming minutes and 100MB domestic data roaming, in addition to the unlimited data, talk and text).

Oh, and you’ll need to purchase an iPhone from Apple or Virgin, of course, then port your phone number over to Virgin’s Inner Circle plan.

Virgin is carrying the iPhone SE, 6, 6s, 6s Plus, 7 and 7 Plus on its website, in various configurations, at retail price, for the most part. The exceptions to that are the SE 32 GB and 128 GB model, which are discounted compared with Apple’s direct price. And the iPhone 6 32 GB is discontinued, so it’s also a cheaper pick.

While the $1 deal sounds like it’s too good to be true, there’s a bit of a catch with that, as well.

The deal is only being made available until July 31st, 2017; afterwards it’s a 6-month offer. In other words, this is a big carrot being dangled to attract a slew of new sign-ups at once. Virgin is essentially betting on the fact that customers will stick around when the regular plan pricing of $50 per month (which requires AutoPay) later kicks in.

There are also some optional add-ons for international calls, packaged into a $5 or $10 bundle, depending on your needs. These are focused on offering unlimited calls to select countries or landlines, unlimited texts, and other reduced rates. (The full details on those are here.)

Despite these caveats (another, arguably, could be that Virgin runs on Sprint’s network, which has its own set of challenges), Virgin’s Inner Circle comes with a series of perks, too. These are focused on tying the carrier to the larger set of Virgin brands, like its airline, hotel chain, and wines, for example. 

With Inner Circle, customers can buy a round-trip ticket to the U.K. on Virgin Atlantic and only pay fees and taxes on a second companion ticket, as well as take 20 percent off flights on Virgin America. You can get your third night free when staying at Virgin Hotels, and enjoy discounts on Virgin Wines and the Virgin Sport San Francisco Festival of Fitness in October. There will also be chances to win “bucket-list experiences” with Virgin Racing, Virgin Galactic and others, the company notes.

Carriers are always battling for customers and offering an ever-growing collection of outlandish promotions to win their business. Virgin Mobile’s parent company Sprint, for example, just this month began offering a free year of unlimited service to those who switch from another mobile operator.

While the promotion itself will eventually pass, Virgin’s larger business decision to stick only to iPhones is worth noting here. This is something Sprint’s CEO Marcelo Claure alluded to last year, when he said that Virgin was going to be de-emphasized ahead of a forthcoming shift in strategy.

Well, now it’s here. Before, Virgin had been an Android prepaid business sold through national retail stores. Going forward, it will instead tout its contract-free, iPhone-only model.

The partnership with Apple allows Virgin Mobile to become the newest carrier to sell its service in Apple’s stores, and makes it the first iPhone-only carrier in the U.S.

The company believes the change may give it a renewed shot at competing with its better performing rivals, like T-Mobile’s MetroPCS and AT&T’s Cricket Wireless, as well as non-traditional newcomers, like Google’s low-cost Project Fi.

“Virgin has always looked to shake things up and challenge the status quo in any sector we go into,” said Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, in a statement. “Mobile is no exception and with Virgin Mobile USA, we’ve now worked with Apple to create a compelling offer for our new Inner Circle plan. Simply put, when you buy an iPhone you will get the highest quality device and service plus access to an array of Virgin experiences and offers with our group of companies,” he added.

Virgin is officially announcing the news via its Facebook Page today:

Video link: https://web.facebook.com/VirginMobileUSA/videos/1717028971658426/

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