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New Facebook App Pays People To Take Part In Surveys.

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Facebook on Monday introduced a “Viewpoints” app in the US that pays members of the social network for taking part in surveys.

The new market research app will be used to improve the Facebook “family” of offerings including Instagram, WhatsApp, Portal, Oculus and the core online social network, according to product manager Erez Naveh.

The app could blunt criticism that Facebook keeps to itself profits made by taking advantage of data shared on the social network.

“We believe the best way to make products better is to get insights directly from people who use them,” Naveh said in an online post.

Points can be accumulated to earn payments, which will be sent to people via PayPal.

People who set up accounts in the Viewpoints app will be invited to take part in programs, the first a well-being survey intended to gather insights that can be used to curb negative effects of social media and enhance its benefits, according to Naveh.

Personal information such as name, age, gender, and country of residence will be gathered while setting up Viewpoints accounts, which are only open to people 18 years of age or older.

“We won’t sell your information from this app to third parties,” Naveh said.

“We also won’t publicly share your Facebook Viewpoints activity on Facebook or on other accounts you’ve linked without your permission.”

Viewpoints is only available to US Facebook members, but the California-based internet giant planned to expand it to more countries next year.

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Huawei Mate 30 Pro floors iPhone 11 Pro In New Camera Test.

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Apple‘s iPhone 11 Pro is now seen as one of the very best smartphone snappers on the planet.

This device comes with a primary camera, a telephoto, and an ultra wide-angle – each with 12-megapixel sensors. Of course, the device isn’t all about the hardware, there’s a ton of software ticking along behind the scenes, too. Apple’s new flagship has three software staples: Smart HDR, Deep Fusion and Night Mode. In a nutshell, Smart HDR will make sure photos taken outdoors aren’t blown out and that shadows are brightened up and feature more detail overall.

As the name suggests, night mode is leveraged when light is scarce – it works by taking a longer exposure that gives the iPhone 11 precious time to take multiple photos at varying exposures before stitching them all together.

Although Apple has crammed the iPhone 11 Pro with new camera hardware and software, it may not match the photographic prowess of Huawei’s Mate 30 Pro, according to DxOMark.

Who are DxOMark? Well, they’re a publication based in Paris that are renowned for conducting meticulous smartphone camera tests and awarding a final numbered score based on performance.

The outlet has finally issued its verdict for Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro. The device was handed a figure of 117 – that’s a hight a score but it hasn’t beaten Huawei’s Mate 30 Pro that sits joint first in its rankings with 121.

DxOMark praised the iPhone 11 Pro for its superb still image quality and video capabilities. However, the publication insisted the device is outclassed by the Mate 30 Pro in low-light, most likely because Huawei’s device has a much larger sensor overall.

DxOMark said: “With an overall DxOMark Camera score of 117, the Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max secures itself a top 5 position in our current ranking. Its Photo score of 124 puts it among the best for still images, and it shares the top spot for Video with the Xiaomi Mi CC9 Pro Premium Edition.

“The camera performed very well in our tests in pretty much all areas, but some challenges remain. Still images generally show very good exposure. Dynamic range is very wide in bright light and under indoor conditions, but some highlight clipping is still visible in very difficult scenes.

“Overall, the iPhone is among the very best for exposure; it’s only in very low light when can’t keep up with devices with larger image sensors, such as the Huawei Mate 30 Pro. Like previous iPhone generations, the 11 Pro Max also scores very well for colour and is among the best in this category in all light conditions.

iPhone 11 Pro vs Mate 30 Pro
The Huawei Mate 30 Pro is yet to release in the West (Image: Huawei)
iPhone 11 Pro vs Mate 30 Pro
iPhone 11 Pro comes with a primary camera, a telephoto and an ultra wide-angle (Image: Apple)

“A slightly greenish cast is visible in some indoor scenes and in our lab tests, but overall colour tends to be very pleasant: a slight yellow cast gives some scenes a warm feel and works very well for skin tones in portraits.”

Even though DxOMark claims the Mate 30 Pro has a better camera system overall, the iPhone 11 Pro remains the only phone of the two you can buy right now.

Although Huawei revealed the Mate 30 Pro at a glitzy hardware event in September, its European release remains elusive. There’s currently no word on when it’ll finally arrive.

The US’s trade ban on Huawei is the most likely to blame for the delayed-release. This prevents Google from granting the Mate 30 Pro an Android licence, therefore the device can’t come pre-installed with Google apps and services like the Play Store, Gmail, Chrome and Google Maps.

With the results of the DxOMark test in, there’s still clearly some things that Apple could improve on when it launches the iPhone 12 next year.

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APPLE RECOMMENDS: Best Apps For Work And Play

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Apple has held an event to crown its favorite iPhone, iPad and Mac games of the last year. If you’ve been swiping around your home screen looking for something fresh to cheer-up your gadget, this could be the perfect time to download a new application to make you more productive, or an award-winning game to help pass the time on your commute.

Apple has decided to highlight a number of different apps, from stylish games – like Sayonara Wild Hearts on iPhone – to practical workhorses – like Affinity Publisher on Mac. Although there isn’t anything controversial here, the judges’ picks should throw the spotlight on smaller developers who might not crack the Top Ten on the App Store, but that millions of iPhone, iPad and Mac owners might find useful or entertaining to use every single day.

The App Store is a serious phenomenon. The digital store, which is used to download all applications and games on iPhone and iPad hardware, has earned developers $120 billion worldwide. Although Mac users can download software from other sources, there is still a curated App Store where the applications are vetted by Apple’s famously strict rules. Apple Watch owners recently gained the ability to search their own dedicated App Store and download and install apps from their wrist following the launch of watchOS 6.

Arch-rival Google recently announced its own picks of the Best Apps of the year. Although there is a lot of crossover between the App Store and the Google Play Store (the equivalent for Android smartphones and tablets), both have a number of popular exclusives.

Apple has also published a definitive list of the most popular apps downloaded from its App Store over the last 12 months, too. This allows some of the most widely-downloaded software – like Facebook, WhatsApp, TikTok, and more – that wasn’t fortunate enough to get a spot on the podium during Apple’s awards can still get some recognition.

And speaking of awards, Apple has just hosted its first-ever Apple Music awards. The show was designed to celebrate the best musical talent that has been streamed on the music service, which directly competes with Spotify and is available on all Apple hardware as well as Android smartphones and tablets.

Here is the full list of the winners of the Best Apps Of The Year, as chosen by Apple:

iPhone App of the Year: Spectre Camera
iPad App of the Year: Flow by Moleskine
Mac App of the Year: Affinity Publisher
Apple TV App of the Year: The Explorers
iPhone Game of the Year: Sky: Children of the Light
iPad Game of the Year: Hyper Light Drifter
Mac Game of the Year: GRIS
Apple TV Game of the Year: Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap
Apple Arcade Game of the Year: Sayonara Wild Hearts

Top Free iPhone Apps

YouTube: Watch, Listen, Stream
Instagram
Snapchat
TikTok – Make Your Day
Messenger
Gmail – Email by Google
Netflix
Facebook
Google Maps – Transit & Food
Amazon – Shopping made easy

Top Paid iPhone Apps

Facetune
HotSchedules
Dark Sky Weather
The Wonder Weeks
AutoSleep Tracker for Watch
TouchRetouch
Afterlight – Photo Editor
Procreate Pocket
Sky Guide
Toca Hair Salon 3

Top Free iPad Apps

YouTube: Watch, Listen, Stream
Netflix
Amazon Prime Video
Google Chrome
Hulu: Watch TV Shows & Movies
Messenger
Gmail – Email by Google
Facebook
TikTok – Make Your Day
Calculator

Top Paid iPad Apps

Procreate
Notability
GoodNotes 5
Duet Display
Toca Hair Salon 3
Toca Life: Neighborhood
XtraMath
PDF Expert 7: PDF Editor
LumaFusion
Affinity Designer

Top Free iPhone Games

Mario Kart Tour
Color Bump 3D
aquapark.io
Call of Duty: Mobile
BitLife – Life Simulator
Polysphere – art of puzzle
Wordscapes
Fortnite
Roller Splat!
AMAZE!!
Top Paid iPhone Games

Minecraft
Heads Up!
Plague Inc.
Bloons TD 6
Geometry Dash
Rebel Inc.
The Game of Life
Stardew Valley
Bloons TD 5
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Speaking about the awards, Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller said: “Developers around the world inspire us all with innovative apps that have the power to influence culture and change our lives, and this year that is as true as ever.

“The 2019 App Store Best Apps and Games winners reflect our global desire for connection, creativity and fun.

“We are excited to announce such a diverse group of 2019 App Store winners, showing that great design and creativity comes from developers large and small, and from every corner of the world. We congratulate all the winners and thank them for making 2019 the best year yet for the App Store.”

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How The Streaming Era Is Changing Music.

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The music industry is enjoying a renaissance. After 15 years of declining revenue, Recorded Music New Zealand achieved double digit growth in 2015 and again in 2016.

The renewed upward trend is largely thanks to streaming, which now makes up 50 per cent of local music industry revenue.

As consumers, we're all grateful for the huge variety of music we have easy access to these days. But what impact is streaming having on how music is made?

One thing's for sure: in the streaming era, music producers have access to a wealth of data thanks to Spotify and its competitors. They know which songs are skipped after a few seconds, which songs in a playlist get the most listens, and what styles – even what type of drum beat – is most likely to catch your attention.

Pop songs in the streaming era tend to have very catchy beginnings and a hook-filled opening thirty seconds. That's because of our short attention spans and the need to get us hooked quickly. According to music site Pitchfork, "in order for a stream to count toward chart tallies and, reportedly, for royalty payouts, a given song must be played for at least 30 seconds".

Of course, popular music has always been defined by the prevailing format of the time. From the 7-inch records of the 1950s and 1960s, to the visually appealing pop and hair metal bands of the MTV 1980s, to the early digital era of the iPod when playlists became so important.

In the streaming era, playlists have become even more critical – with one key difference. It's likely you don't create them yourself now. They're either automated for you using algorithms that examine your listening habits, or they're curated by tastemakers employed by the streaming companies.

New Zealand's own Zane Lowe has been a big beneficiary of the playlist trend. Since 2015, he's been a DJ on Apple Music's streaming radio station, Beats 1. If you're a 1990s tragic like me, you may remember him from the band Breaks Co-Op or his stint on Auckland music station Max TV. But now his audience is global and vastly bigger, as his 724,000 Twitter followers attest.

Indeed, Lowe is so influential in the music industry now that Elton John cold calls him regularly.

So for music producers, the keys to pop music success in the streaming era include cramming your hooks into the first thirty seconds of your songs and getting the attention of tastemakers like Lowe. But that doesn't help the majority of musicians, who often struggle to make a living from meagre streaming revenues.

As with any artistic endeavour in the age of social media, it's incredibly difficult to get attention for your work. As an author of books, I can vouch for that. But at least musicians have access to Bandcamp, an independent music platform where they can sell their songs and albums direct to consumers.

As a music fan, Bandcamp is like a mix between Spotify and the iTunes Store. That's because you can both stream and purchase digital downloads.

New Zealand artist Aldous Harding sold her self-titled debut album directly on Bandcamp (which is where I bought it). So it's a great platform to find new artists, especially thanks to Bandcamp's own curated playlists.

Bandcamp shows that digital downloads are still relevant in the streaming era, although every year they're declining. According to Recorded Music New Zealand, downloads made up 29 per cent of revenue in 2014. But just two years later, that figure was down to 13 per cent.

The reality is that many of us don't buy CDs or download digital albums anymore. There's no need to, when Spotify, Apple Music and other streaming apps have the back catalogue of most of your favourite artists. If indeed you even listen to albums anymore.

As for the current generation of kids, they're much more likely to discover and consume music on YouTube than on Spotify. In a recent music consumption report, the IFPI stated that 85 per cent of 13-15 year olds stream music and nearly 8 in 10 kids use a video service like YouTube for that purpose.

According to the IFPI, across all age groups YouTube accounts for 46 per cent of time spent listening to on-demand music. That's more than all the music streaming apps combined.

The streaming era in music is far from perfect. Some artists complain about the minuscule royalties they receive from the likes of Spotify, while the music industry continues to battle YouTube over repeated copyright infringements.

As for us music fans, when we can listen to all of The Beatles' back catalogue on Spotify and discover new artists on Bandcamp, we can't complain.

That said, I like having a personal music collection. Partly because I want to support the artists I love by buying their music.

I still use iTunes as my music hub, but it gets buggier every year. And while I could upload my music files into Spotify, I've found the user experience to be lacking.

So I'd love a better way to store my Aldous Harding albums. Other than that, viva la streaming revolution.

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Twitter Finally Makes An Important Security Change.

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Twitter recently announced that users can disable SMS-based two-factor authentication, a requirement the company has held onto despite the increased security risk of receiving 2FA codes via SMS.

Two-factor authentication, widely considered a best practice when it comes to keeping your online accounts secure, adds an extra layer of security to your online accounts by requiring a six-digit number after you've entered the correct password for your account. Originally, two-factor codes were delivered primarily via text message, but that's proven to be problematic. For example, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey's account was hacked in August.

The person(s) who had control of his account posted hateful messages before they were deleted. They were able to gain access to his account and get around two-factor authentication by switching the SIM card linked to his phone number and then receiving the SMS two-factor authentication code in a practice commonly referred to as SIM swapping.

With Twitter dropping the requirement, you can now opt to receive its 2FA codes strictly through third-party apps or a dedicated security key. Not only is this more secure, but you'll also be able to access your codes even if your phone can't receive text messages, like on a long flight. If you already have 2FA enabled on your Twitter account, or you've been holding out until the company ditched the SMS requirement, here's what you need to know.

a screenshot of a cell phone

Twitter lets you hide replies, Google makes it easier to get movie tickets.

Set up 2FA for your Twitter account

If you haven't taken the time to set up two-factor authentication for your Twitter account, now is as good a time as any. It only adds a few seconds to the login process, but goes a long way toward keeping your account secure. We're going to cover setting up 2FA with an authentication app like Google Authenticator or 1Password. If you aren't sure which app to use, we have a guide of the top password managers, most of which include authentication features.

a screenshot of a cell phone: You're no longer required to leave text message 2FA codes turned on. Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Here's what you need to do:

  1. Visit the Account section of your account on Twitter.com.
  2. With the Account tab selected, click on Security.
  3. Next, click on Two-factor authentication.
  4. You'll be shown three different options: Text message, Authentication app and Security key. Select Authentication app.

The rest of the process will vary depending on which app you're using but generally consists of scanning a QR code created by Google that will allow the app to create your 2FA codes. After scanning the QR code, you'll be asked to enter the six-digit number displayed in your app to verify it's set up correctly.

Going forward, anytime you log into your Twitter account, you'll be asked for your 2FA code after entering your password. Again, it adds a couple of seconds to the process, but it's worth it.

a hand holding a cell phone: Ditch the text message codes. You're safer for doing so. Jason Cipriani/CNET

Stop Twitter from sending text message 2FA codes

If you already have two-factor authentication set up on your account and use an authenticator app, it's a good idea to disable text message codes. This will prevent the possibility of someone gaining access to your account via SIM swapping.

Here's what you need to do:

  1. Visit the Account section of your account on Twitter.com.
  2. With the Account tab selected, click on Security.
  3. Next, click on Two-factor authentication.
  4. Remove the checkmark in the box next to Text message, and accept the change if prompted.

Twitter isn't the only website that uses 2FA. Apple, Google and Facebook each offer the added layer of security. Even Fortnite has 2FA. Remember, the added layer of security is for your own protection, and yes, it's a slight inconvenience, but at the end of the day that's far less than the amount of time and headaches you'll have to deal with if someone gains access to your accounts.

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