Spotify introduces feature to block artists in its mobile apps

Spotify logo
No more Justin Beiber in your playlist.

Don’t want Justin Beiber frequently popping up in your Spotify playlist? You’re in luck then. Spotify has introduced a new feature in its mobile app that lets you block an artist you no longer want to hear. A “Don’t play this artist” feature appeared in the latest version of the Spotify app for iOS and Android. Though there has not been any official comment from the company itself the feature is present nonetheless.

The feature can be found in the artist’s page in the app. For using the feature you will have to head over to an artist’s page, then click on the three dots button in the top right corner. An option overlay will appear with ‘Don’t Play This’ will appear and when you click on the button a small popup will appear at the bottom of the page with ‘Ok we won’t play this again’. To unblock you can simply follow the above mentioned steps only this time in place of ‘Don’t Play This’ it will say ‘Allow to Play This’.

Spotify 'block artist' in its mobile apps

Spotify previously tried to do this but revoked its decisions after backlash from musicians and record labels. But with the feature Spotify will keep its hands clean and still provide user with option to choose on their own. Well played Spotify.

Top 8 smartphone trends to look forward to in 2019

Full screen phone with no bezel

Even with the declining sales and shipping of smartphones, in many ways 2018 was a great year for smartphones. We saw the (innovative?) pop-up camera, the futuristic in-display fingerprint scanner, the talk for 5G, a lot of AIs and so on. We tolerated the truly hated notch (FYI I don’t mind the notch very much), we got larger phones, and we are losing our beloved headphone jack.

And with CES 2019 just wrapping up with a few smartphones on show, here are the top 8 smartphone trends that smartphone industry is looking to embrace:

Camera Holes

Via: Soyacincau

With the push for fully immersive and bezel less display the notch was introduced by Apple on the iPhone X and as expected all other manufactures followed suit. But since becoming the genuinely hated feature of smartphone in 2018 the ‘notch’ life is coming to an end being replaced by ‘camera holes’. We have already seen Honor View 20 and Huawei Nova 4 with such display and the most awaited phone of 2019, the Samsung Galaxy S10 is expected to come with a camera hole in its display probably with other manufactures following it.

5G

Via: rcrwireless

4G LTE is no doubt the fastest network and it has been for a long time now. But this year might just change that will 5G rolling out. The new smartphone chips coming out (SD 855 namely and the upcoming chip from Apple) brings support for 5G which will make your smartphones network even better and faster than before. However even though we are likely to see 5G this year it might not be full fledged until late 2020.

Camera, Camera, Camera, Camera and Camera

2018 saw rise in the number of cameras a smartphone came with and no doubt the number will only increase in 2019 with the Nokia 9 Pureview tipped to come with whopping 5 rear cameras. The Samsung Galaxy A9(2018) is the phone with the most rear cameras at 4 but it will likely get toppled this year. The smartphone cameras have been really impressive throughout 2018 and with more number hopefully it will get even better. Google’s Pixel 4 might disagree with that though.

Foldable Phones

Samsung recently showed its foldable phone and a commercial foldable phone is already in the market which users can buy and various other OEMs are supposedly working on their own foldable phones with Huawei and LG likely to reveal theirs somewhere around MWC this year . And news broke out that Xiaomi is working on its own foldable phone with three panels. The foldable phones might be pricey though.

AI

We saw a lot of AIs in 2018. AI camera, AI assistant, AI chip and etcetera. And we have seen AI come to a fruition in lot of ways but the term AI is still being thrown haphazardly and hopefully this year it will change. Dedicated Neural Processing Units (NPUs) are coming with most of the chips this year with Apple’s A12 Bionic adopting it last year and Huawei’s last year’s 970 and this year’s 980 chip being the prominent example. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 also comes with dedicated NPU and what its significance is that it can understand the user’s behavior and perform based on that understanding. It will help with conserving battery, the AI scene recognition in cameras, optimizing the phone performance, helping out with AR and such and hopefully something even more better.

10 GB RAM

Via: BGR

2018 was the year for 8 GB of RAM and I think it OEMs will opt for more, 10GB of RAM. We have already had phones with 10 GB of RAM like OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition, MI Mix 3, Xiaomi Black Shark Helo, and Vivo Nex Dual Display Edition. And this year 10 GB of RAM will come with more prominent phones like Samsung Galaxy S10 and Huawei P30 lineups with LG in tow. There is clearly no need for such large amount of memory for your phone but no harm no foul eh?

In-display Fingerprint Sensor

Via: 9to5Google

Ever since the Vivo Nex concept phone showed us the futuristic looking in-display fingerprint display everyone’s been smitten by it. Sure it is slower than traditional physical fingerprint sensor but you can’t deny that this will take over the traditional one and in 2019 in-display fingerprint will become a mainstream feature. Oneplus and Huawei have already adopted and other will surely follow this trend. Also, it looks way cooler with various customization and that you can unlock your phone by touching your screen.

Dual Display/Sliding Phones

Though sliding phones are nothing new and have been around for more than a decade this trend is now back and its getting better than ever. On the other hand dual display’s are somewhat just a farce you can’t say no to a phone that has screen on both the front and the back. And we are likely to see more devices with these two features as we inch more and more toward that fully immersive front display without any notch and camera holes. I mean just look at this device:

So these are the smartphone features that are to come into highlight this year. Other than these, what other features are you excited about? Let me know in the comments below.

iPhone SE back in the picture as clearance item for $249

Via:Computer World

In the smartphone world of screen size with more than five and a half inches iPhone SE came as a sigh of relief with a small screen size of just four inches. People with small hands and people who just love a small form factor loved the SE. It was the cheapest iPhone at the time but ran on the same chip and had the same camera as the iPhone 6s. But Apple decided to cut it out from its lineup.

Now Apple has brought back its device from the cold to the shelves at a price of $249 for the 32 GB model (down from the original $349) and $299 for a 128 GB version (a sharp drop from the initial $449) as a clearance item. And mind you these are not refurbished or used models but rather new shiny ones.

For the price this device is still a steal. You get the above mentioned storage, a very capable camera, a chip that is still as good and a phone that can actually fit in your hands and pockets.

The device comes at a critical time for Apple with its declining sales in China and sanctions on its devices in various regions. Perhaps thought it will provide with more choice for users or just that it could do more with more devices. And it just might help Apple as it hits that sweet spot of balance between power and price of the device.

Update, Monday 21 Jan: Sold Out! No idea how many were sold but the clearance page no more shows the device and is sold out.

The end is nigh for Windows Phone

Via: Cnet

The day is here. The imminent end of windows phones has finally come.

Its no secret that Microsoft has been stepping away from its failed smartphone business and windows phones altogether. But now Microsoft has come out and plugged out whatever lifeline its mobile devices were hanging onto.

Microsoft urged user to switch to either iOS or Android. We knew that the end was inevitable but it is still sad to see a tech company so large has to bow out of the smartphone market. And no doubt that it is a big loss for the company which bought Nokia with ambitions of dominating the then emerging smartphone market.

“With the Windows 10 Mobile OS end of support, we recommend that customers move to a supported Android or iOS device. Microsoft’s mission statement to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more, compels us to support our Mobile apps on those platforms and devices,”

Windows 10 Mobile End of Support Page

The support page also reads that the support ends on June 11, 2019 and by end of 2019 (Dec 10,2019) users will no longer receive “security updates, non-security hotfixes, free assisted support options, or online technical content updates from Microsoft.”

Monster “Collection #1” breach exposed 773 M emails and 21 M passwords

Data breaches have been kind of norm for the past few years but the most recent one revealed yesterday is the mother of all data breaches.

The massive data breached named “Collection #1″ has exposed emails and passwords of ..wait for it …….. 773 Million emails and 21 Million passwords of users online. The “Collection #1″ data breach is the largest one by volume and has exposed 772,904,991 unique emails and 21,222,975 unique passwords. This is the largest one after the Yahoo data breach that exposed all 3 billions of its users.

Initially uploaded to the popular cloud service MEGA and later posted to a popular hacking forum, Collection #1 is a file comprising of 12,000 separate files that contain 87GB of data. This colossal breach has raised some serious questions regarding online security.

Collection #1 was first discovered by security researcher Troy Hunt who runs the site “Have I Been Pwned (HIBP)” which allows users to see if they’ve been hacked. The emails and passwords combination exposed, can be used by hackers to compromise users services ranging to various sites and services.

hSince the first leak Troy Hunt has loaded 772,904,991 unique emails to the site. According to him more than a billion (1,160,253,228 to be exact) has been exposed including emails and passwords combination.

The troubling thing is the databases contain “dehashed” passwords, which means the methods used to scramble those passwords into unreadable strings has been cracked, fully exposing the passwords. Troy said that his own account has been compromised too as he found out the password he uses few years back was in the files and it was accurate. Troy said the following in his blog post:

“Right email address and a password I used many years ago. Like many of you reading this, I’ve been in multiple data breaches before which have resulted in my email addresses and yes, my passwords, circulating in public.”

So what does this all account for the common users who are online? According to Hunt, it means compromised email and password combos are more vulnerable for a practice called credential stuffing. Basically, credential stuffing is when breached username or email/password combos are used to hack into other user accounts. This could impact anyone who has used the same username and password combo across multiple sites. Since Collection #1 is a huge database with more than 2.7 billion combos, it is troubling case.

Should you be worried?

Absolutely. This is a huge data breach and has been dubbed “Mother of all breaches”, so you should really give this a look and find out if your emails or passwords has been compromised.
According to security reporter Brian Krebs (via Gizmodothe  Collection #1 trove is just a single offering from a seller who claims to have at least six more batches of data. Even though the data is said to be 2-3 years old it can still be valuable to hackers.

How can I know if I have been hacked and what to do if I have been?

If you are concerned (you should be) that you might have been hacked you can head over to HIPB and enter your email and password. 
Turns out I have been Pwned.
My own email and password have been exposed. Though the password was one I used over 2 years ago. This is exactly as Troy said. 
Hunt says in his blog: “Whilst I can’t tell you precisely what password was against your own record in the breach, I can tell you if any password you’re interested in has appeared in previous breaches Pwned Passwords has indexed. If one of yours shows up there, you really want to stop using it on any service you care about.” Hunt suggest to use 1Password‘s Watchtower feature to check your multiple password in one go against HIPB.
If you have been hacked you can do the following to stay safe and avoid future compromisation:
  • First sensible to do will be to change the password immediately even if the password hasn’t been compromised.
  • Secondly, use two factor authentication. Meaning use your second email or your numbers to authenticate your password while logging in sites.
  • Last but not the least, use password managers like Lastpass, 1Password or Dashlane to create complex passwords and phrases which will provide strong security.

If you follow these steps you can drastically reduce the chances of being hacked and avoid any future breaches. 

Pixel 3 Lite leaks on video review. Flagship level camera on budget?

A Ukrainian website has published a video claiming to have reviewed the much rumored and much hyped Pixel 3 Lite. The device which has been said to be in works by Google is expected to launch sometime during the first  and second quarter of this year. And now a new video has surfaced with spec sheets and some camera samples.

The video is posted on YouTube by a Ukrainian tech site named Andro-news.com which seems rather new channel on YouTube as only three videos are featured in the channel. And you might wanna take the review with a grain of salt as still no concrete news has surfaced regarding the Pixel 3 Lite and the website itself has no review post regarding the device.

Even then, many of the specs and features mentioned by the video including the plastic back panel and a 3.5 mm headphone  jack seems to be real as these are features touted to come with the device in various other leaks. If the headphone jack is to come back its a welcome feature and might even be called the ‘comeback of the year‘.

The review states that the device will be powered by Qualcomm’s newer midrange processor, the Snapdragon 670 coupled with 4 GB of RAM. And it does line up with previous leaks.

Other features include a mere 32 GB of internal storage, 5.5-inch full HD+ LCD panel without the obnoxious notch that its elder brother carries. The selfie camera is 8 MP and a 12 MP rear camera. The spec sheet included in the review touts the battery to be 2,915 mAh.

Flagship grade camera on budget?

9to5Google

People have been crying for a budget Pixel device with similar features to the expensive one and this might just be it. The video shows some camera samples which is said to be taken by the Lite device and if that indeed turns out to be true that is some serious bang for buck right there. If Google does provide the camera quality the Premium Pixels have in the budget phones it just might blow other phones right out the water, specially in the midrange and premium budget sections.

The device will be realesed after the Google I/O conference according to the reviewer and hopefully it will.

48 MP camera for $150:Xiaomi launches its Redmi Note 7

Redmi, now officially a sub-brand of Xiaomi, has its launched its first phone after being announced as a sub-brand. Meet the Redmi Note 7, a budget phone with incredible specs and ridiculous price.

The device comes with glass back and gradient color options. A truly premium experience for a low budget phone.

PC:GsmArena

But what makes the phone standout out from the crowed budget section of the smartphone market is that ridiculous 48MP f/1.8 main camera (Samsung GM1, 0.8 micron pixels) and a 5MP secondary shooter.  According to Redmi, the main camera is able to make use of pixel-binning to take better shots, albeit at a 12MP resolution. You can take your selfies with the 13MP front camera.

At first look the device not much different form Xiaomi Mi Play which was announced a few weeks back with a water-drop notch and a sizable chin at the bottom, a fingerprint sensor or the rear with the dual camera setups.

The highlight of the device is arguably the rear 48MP main camera and with the sensor being large, it should provide quite a strong light-gathering capability, which means the camera should be able to produce really great low light photos. At least on paper though, as we know the hardware alone is not the whole story. Pixel 3 showed us that its all about what’s going on inside meaning the software. While the 5MP shooter will be used for depth sensing purpose.

Other specs include a 6.3-inch 19.5:9 1080p screen, with a notch up top, a USB-C port for charging, an IR blaster and a headphone jack. It’s good to see Redmi bringing the USB-C port in its budget phones while Huawei is still going with micro USB.

In the software department, the Note 7 will ship with Android 9.0 Pie out of the box with Xiaomi’s proprietary MIUI 10 over it.

The phone will be powered with Qualcomm’s previous generation mid-range chip, Snapdragon 660. Looks like Xiaomi had a fallout with Snapdragon 625 and Snapdragon 636, which is good news for users though. Redmi Note 7 will be backed by a massive 4000 mAh battery.

And that price for all these specs. The device is priced at just 999 yuan (~$147) for the 3GB/32GB model. For the 4GB/64GB variant its 1,199 yuan (~$177), and the 6GB/64GB will be available for 1,399 yuan (~$206).

Will you go for the 48 MP camera for $150? What do you think about the phone? Comment your view below.

Samsung Galaxy S10 to come on February 20th

The official date for the Samsung Galaxy S10 has been confirmed and its not that far.

Samsung has started sending out invitations for a Galaxy Unpacked event set for Wednesday, February 20, 2019 in San Francisco.

The post in Samsung’s official Twitter account shows an animation with the number 10 and a slightly curved display of a purple phone. The animation highlights the extremely thin bezels of the phone which Samsung might be betting on in its new phones.

 The Galaxy Unpacked event is set for Wednesday, February 20 in San Francisco.

Galaxy S10 and the S10 plus are the obvious suspects, but we have yet to receive word about the foldable Samsung phone. Even if the foldable phone will not get a full launch at the event it is very likely that the company will take the opportunity to introduce its foldable phone!  This new comes via a report by WSJ.

Samsung was tipped to launch its new devices during MWC 2019 which starts on February 25 but the company surprised everyone by announcing it will be launching its phones five days ahead of the event. This is likely because of Huawei being tipped to launch its foldable 5G phone at MWC but there are no official words regarding the information.

Both phones, the S10 and S10 plus are rumored to come with a display cutout hole for front camera and the latest chip from Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 855 along with Samsung’s inhouse Exynos chips for some markets. Beside the two phones rumors also suggest that two more versions of the device will launch taking the total to four Galaxy S10s.

Anyhow Samsung will be live streaming the Unpacked event from San Francisco. So are you excited for what is to come?
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Oppo R15 Pro launched with Snapdragon 660 and 6GB of RAM

Oppo became the fifth best-selling smartphone manufacturer in 2018 thanks to its large market expansion and aggressive market strategy in India. And to give continuity to that style Oppo has launched a specked down version of its flagship R17 Pro, the R15 Pro.

The Oppo R15 Pro is powered with the mid range chip from Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 660 and is supported by 6 gigabytes of RAM. This might be the only version of the phone internal spec wise and no other variant with different RAM seem to be on offer.

On the outside the phone comes with a combo of 16 MP f/1.7 and 20 MP f/1.7 shooters on the back. The device is equipped with a single 20 MP f/2.0 shooter on the front. Like every other smartphones in the market the R15 Pro comes with AI scene detection which can identify 120 scenes  and tweak the camera settings to take a better picture. We all know how that goes though. The camera boasts several portrait modes and Oppo’s AI beauty mode.

On the display department the R15 Pro will come with a 6.28-inches AMOLED screen. It’s good to see an AMOLED screen on a budget device. And the phone sports a notch (apparently its still hanging around).

The fingerprint sensor resides on the back and the phone will come with a headphone jack. The device supports expandable storage via a micro-sd card up to 128 gigabytes. We are in 2019 and Oppo R15 Pro is still running Android 8.1 Oreo (seriously). A 3,430 mAh battery will be powering the device and will come with Oppo’s fast VOOC charging.

The phone is priced at 25,990 INR (~&368) and is available in Cosmic Purple and Ruby Red and can be picked up at Amazon India.

Alleged Nokia 8.1 plus renders show company joining the punch-hole bandwagon

Ever since HMD global took over the Nokia brand, the company has been consistently releasing gorgeous phones with the vanilla Android One. Courtesy of 91 mobiles  we now have a first look for a phone supposedly the Nokia 8.1 plus, and seems like the company is following in the footsteps of Huawei and Samsung, jumping in on the punch-hole display bandwagon.

The renders released closely resemble last year’s Nokia 8.1 and the major difference appears on the front and the camera department.

As mentioned above the renders show the phone will be sporting a display cutout for the selfie camera along with a bit of chin below the screen. Looks like the Nokia 8.1 will be the last notched phone from Nokia.

According to 91mobiles the device should come with a 6.2-inches FHD+ display and surprise not surprise a 3.5 mm headphone jack! If the phone indeed comes with a headphone jack kudos to Nokia! The headphone jack is to be positioned at the top with a USB-C charging port at the bottom.

Like most Nokia phones the Nokia 8.1 plus will come with a glossy glass back with the fingerprint sensor and dual cameras on top. The specs of the camera seems to be a mystery as of now.

As for the internal specs we don’t know anything and 91mobiles too don’t seem to have any idea. The pricing and availability of the device is unknown too. But it is good to see Nokia embracing the market trends and slowly but steadily establishing itself in the market.

What do you think about the Nokia 8.1 plus? Is the punch-hole better than a notch? Type your opinions in the comment below.