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How Virtual Reality tech products will kill the age of Smartphones

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By Isha Srivastva

On Monday, Apple chief executive Tim Cook revealed the details of long awaited Apple Watch. The smart watch performs all the functions which an iPhone does.

“Apple Watch is the most personal device we have created. It isn’t just with you, it’s on you,” Cook told his audience in California.

One might argue that the device is hardly liberating as it still needs the iPhone for connectivity, however, there is no doubt that smartphones in the near future may not be our permanent accessory after all!

Birth of Virtual Reality

Back in the 90s, virtual reality had a very clouded future. In early 2014, when Facebook bought the virtual reality company Oculus, it signalled a promising possibility for VR acolytes. VR is yet to fully permeate the markets and as of now, two giants stand ahead of the pack, Sony and Oculus (owned by Facebook).

At the Mobile World Conference this year, there was a plethora of VR technology products. Samsung (teamed with Facebook owned Oculus) revealed a new version of the Gear VR that can be powered by both the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the S6 Edge.

HTC’s VIVE VR headset (Very Immersive Visual Experience) also grabbed a lot of eyeballs during the MWC. It provides a ‘full room experience’ and comes with two wireless wand like controllers. Tracking sensors allow users to use your hands to create 3D art, and all of this without being connected to a smartphone.

The kind of leap into future technology that VR epitomises, is akin to 3D graphics technology. 3D graphics are omnipresent in so many areas like the web and the movies. Virtual Reality too, offers unlimited potential to be used for gaming, storytelling, or simply witnessing a historical event even at places you’re not physically present.

Let’s not forget that these are still prototypes and are not yet ready for public use. While Oculus is slated to arrive early next year, Sony Morpheus (which is releasing around the same time) promises to drive PS4 gaming to another level.

Computerised glasses, also called ‘augmented reality’ are rationally the next step in personal computing. The wearable tech market maybe at its nascent stage but Glass has already captured public’s imagination like no other.

 Will smartphones go modular?

Google is planning to launch its Project Ara (or Google Ara) some time in August 2015. The idea is fairly simple: you buy a basic Ara phone and parts of it can be pulled out and swapped as you please. It’s an extremely versatile computing platform which will allow you to upgrade to more powerful components, for example a better camera, from a dedicated hardware Google store. This even provides a good potential to startups for developing their own components specifically for the phone.

Smartphones may be ubiquitous for atleast a decade, but for tech enthusiasts, it is virtual reality that is already becoming an obsession. The headsets companies are still facing hurdles of position tracking, multi user experiences, social stigma and high prices before they fully penetrate domestic market.

However, It isn’t specifically about one VR headset, or an Apple Watch; these devices present the limitless nature of digital world building, almost akin to an art which will manifest itself in a new myriad of devices and technologies. The question is- what virtual worlds are we capable of creating, and how will we use this technology as a medium of progress?

 

 

 

 

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Facebook has no Choice But to Topple TikTok in India

Unless TikTok is permanently banned in the country over a series of complaints, there seems to be no stopping this Chinese app

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TikTok has over 54 million monthly active users (MAUs) in India. Pixabay

By Nishant Arora

Chasing 15 seconds of fame, millions of Indians are hooked to TikTok and the success of the Chinese short video-sharing app — despite controversies and calls for regulation — has forced major digital giants to incorporate short videos on their own platforms.

TikTok is available in 150 markets, in 75 languages and has more than 700 million monthly active users globally (including over 200 million in India) in just a year compared to 300 million existing Indian users on Facebook.

Platforms such as Instagram and Facebook are facing strong competition from TikTok in the country. TikTok owner now plans to invest $1 billion in India despite the calls to ban the app.

According to Meenakshi Tiwari, Forecast Analyst at global market research firm Forrester, while TikTok managed to monetise its offering within one year of its launch through a variety of revenue models like in-app purchase of coins and virtual gifts, advertising accounts for most of its revenue.

Similar to Instagram and Snapchat, TikTok invests heavily in influencer marketing.

“TikTok has launched new advertising formats such as brand takeovers that allow full-screen vertical display, in-feed native video, and hashtag challenge ads, which provide a more immersive and interactive platform to the marketers,” Tiwari told IANS.

One can imagine what Facebook must be thinking: To quickly put a spanner in TikTok’s growth else the India market will slowly ditch its main platform as well as the photo-sharing Instagram.

In November last year, Facebook quietly released a stand-alone app called “Lasso” to compete with TikTok.

On Lasso, which is currently available in the US, users can record themselves dancing and lip-syncing to music, similar to what they can do on TikTok.

“Lasso is a new stand-alone app for short-form, entertaining videos — from comedy to beauty to fitness and more. We’re excited about the potential here, and we’ll be gathering feedback from the people and the creators,” a Facebook spokesperson had told The Verge.

Corporate, America, Climate Change
FILE – In this April 30, 2019, file photo, Facebook stickers are laid out on a table at F8, Facebook’s developer conference in San Jose, Calif. The Boston-based renewable energy developer Longroad Energy announced in May that Facebook is building a… VOA

Facebook last week roped in former Google employee Jason Toff for a key portfolio and the speculation is rife about the social networking giant preparing the global launch of its short video-sharing app.

Toff, who earlier worked for Twitter’s short-video sharing service Vine which has been shut down, has joined as Facebook’s Product Management Director to lead the company’s New Product Experimentation (NPE) team aimed at developing experimental apps for consumers who are still away from the core Facebook brand.

According to Prabhu Ram, Head, Industry Intelligence Group (IIG), CyberMedia Research (CMR), the rise of apps like Bytedance’s TikTok demonstrates an underlying consumer fatigue and their urge and need for expressing themselves by experimenting with new apps and platforms.

“By focusing on vernacular languages, TikTok has enabled Indians everywhere to share their talent with the world. With its first-mover advantage, coupled with organically and rapidly growing user base, Bytedance is not shy of battling Facebook’s global dominance,” Ram told IANS.

TikTok is swiftly scaling its ecosystem to ringfence its users with ‘mini programmes’ and, perhaps, a smartphone with pre-installed apps in China.

“For Facebook, it is imperative to thwart TikTok’s rising competition. Unfortunately, its previous attempts at making a TikTok clone have failed. More significantly, Facebook’s reach in India does not extend beyond the tier II and III urban India,” emphasised Ram.

Also Read: Students of IIT Kharagpur Develop AI App to Lend Support for Elderly Care

As pointed out by Facebook Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Zuckerberg in the Q1 2019 earnings call, the meaning of social media is changing in today’s world and there is a move toward more private social media like WhatsApp, Snapchat and Instagram.

Zuckerberg must not delay further in launching a TikTok rival, “else time may run out for Facebook to have a product that will get India excited,” said Ram.

Unless TikTok is permanently banned in the country over a series of complaints, there seems to be no stopping this Chinese app. (IANS)