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Microsoft Adds ‘Digital Health’ Feature On its Beta Android Launcher

The new beta version is available for testers on Google Play Store and should be rolling out to all users in the coming weeks, the report added

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Microsoft's beta Android launcher has digital health feature. Pixabay

Microsoft has added a “Digital Health” feature with Cortana support on the beta version of its Android launcher that will enable users to track app usages.

The Microsoft launcher “Version 5.1” is an attempt to give users more control over how they interact with social media, Windows Central reported on Wednesday.

Along with the “Digital Health’ feature, the new update integrates the “To-Do” list and “Sticky Notes” to enable users to sync their tasks and notes.

“The launcher’s ‘To-Do’ card now shows tasks from apps Outlook and Skype along with the ‘Notes’ card showing your listings from ‘Sticky Notes’ on Windows, Outlook and OneNote mobile,” the report added.

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A sign for Microsoft is seen on a building in Cambridge. VOA

The new beta version is available for testers on Google Play Store and should be rolling out to all users in the coming weeks, the report added.

Major tech companies like Apple, Facebook and Instagram have recently added features like “Screen Time”, “Your Activity” and “Your Time on Facebook” respectively to alert users about their use of apps.

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In October, Microsoft announced that Windows 10 would soon fully embrace Android to mirror mobile apps on computers so the company has been aggresively updating its Android launcher over the past year.

Earlier this year, the tech-giant added family-focused location-tracking feature to the Android launcher app along with an activity report feature that maintains record of what apps are being used on a device and for how long. (IANS)

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Microsoft Employees Decry ‘996’ Chinese Work Culture

The Alibaba Founder Ma has suggested that people in China should work for 72 hours in a week or 12 hours a day for six days

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FILE - Microsoft Corp. signage is seen outside the Microsoft Visitor Center in Redmond, Washington, July 3, 2014. VOA

A group of Microsoft employees has come forward to support Chinese tech workers on the gruelling ‘996’ culture, writing a petition in defence of a trending GitHub repository that is being censored in China.

In a letter written on web-hosting service Github, owned by Microsoft, the employees have asked the company to keep the “996.ICU” GitHub repository uncensored, The Verge reported on Monday.

The repository “996.ICU” is a reference to the working hours that tech workers in China are protesting — 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week.

The ICU refers to employees who work under these grueling hours, eventually ending up in the Intensive Care Unit at hospitals.

“The “996.ICU” repository was established in March by Chinese tech workers who were protesting extreme overwork,” said the report.

The “996” philosophy has been endorsed by the tech billionaire and Alibaba Founder Jack Ma.

Several local Chinese browsers have already blocked access to 996.ICU, including Tencent, Alibaba, Xiaomi, and Qihoo 360.

Microsoft, that owns GitHub, has not blocked the repository till now.

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A man walks past a Microsoft sign set up for the Microsoft BUILD conference at Moscone Center in San Francisco, April 28, 2015. VOA

“We, the workers of Microsoft and GitHub, support the 996.ICU movement and stand in solidarity with tech workers in China. We know this is a problem that crosses national borders,” wrote employees in the petition.

“Another reason we must take a stand in solidarity with Chinese workers is that history tells us that multinational companies will pit workers against each other in a race to the bottom as they outsource jobs and take advantage of weak labour standards in the pursuit of profit,” they added.

Microsoft workers called on Chinese tech companies to comply with local labour laws, which limit their workers to 40 hours a week.

“We encourage Microsoft and GitHub to keep the 996.ICU GitHub repository uncensored and available to everyone,” they said.

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Since 996.ICU is hosted on GitHub, the repository can’t be blocked at a network level without blocking the entire site, which would be catastrophic to Chinese software developers.

“The ultimate decision of whether to risk China’s GitHub access falls to Microsoft, which so far hasn’t indicated a firm position on the protests,” the report added.

The Alibaba Founder Ma has suggested that people in China should work for 72 hours in a week or 12 hours a day for six days.

“If we find things we like, 996 is not a problem. If you don’t like (your work), every minute is torture,” he said in a blog post. (IANS)