iPad Pro vs Surface Pro: Can a tablet-laptop hybrid really replace your PC?

How the PC has evolved over the past decade
Back in 2010, when Apple launched the iPad, it looked like the PC was an endangered species. Ed Bott explains how 10 years of technical progress helped the PC survive. Read more: https://zd.net/38xcvvs

At its June 2019 Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple unveiled some significant changes to the iPad operating system, even christening the revamped version with a new name all its own: iPadOS. The changes bring Apple’s flagship tablet, especially the iPad Pro models, closer to the “hybrid PC” category that Microsoft has staked out with its Surface Pro line.

From a hardware standpoint, the latest 12.9-inch iPad Pro, with the addition of the Smart Folio Keyboard and an Apple Pencil, is remarkably similar to Microsoft’s Surface Pro 6, especially when viewed from the side. (The newer Surface Pro 7 is exactly the same size and shape as the Surface Pro 6, with only one noteworthy new feature: a USB Type-C port.)

Both devices make the same promise: You can have a tablet when you want a simple surface for reading or sketching, or snap on the keyboard to get something closer to a classic clamshell PC form factor.

But as soon as you sit down and actually try to get your work done, the differences between the two devices come into much sharper focus.

Here’s the tl;dr: The iPad Pro still appeals mostly to those who are firmly entrenched in the Apple ecosystem. Microsoft’s Surface Pro is most satisfying to those who require a traditional Windows PC. And anyone who expects to cross effortlessly from either world into the other is doomed to be disappointed.

For both companies, it’s been a journey of a decade or more that led to the current combination. And the development process has been almost stereotypical of how both companies work

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iPad Pro (left) and Surface Pro 6 (right) offer strikingly similar profiles

Microsoft’s path was convoluted and filled with false starts and mistakes. It all started in 2012, with the launch of the ARM-powered Surface RT. That ill-fated device, launched two years after the iPad, tried and failed to be an iPad clone. It failed so miserably, in fact, that Microsoft had to write off nearly a billion dollars in inventory.

The Surface Pro took a similarly halting path to its current state, stumbling from its initial “brilliant, quirky, flawed” debut more than six years ago through multiple iterations. In classic Microsoft fashion, it took three tries to get the design right, and the company has been in “don’t mess with a good thing” mode ever since.

The Surface Pro 6 is filled with tiny but meaningful improvements over its predecessors, and the company seems at last to have ironed out the reliability problems that plagued the entire line in its early years.

Meanwhile, Apple took the opposite path with iPad, grudgingly adding PC-like capabilities to the iPad hardware over time but steadfastly resisting calls to make the Mac more like an iPad and vice versa.

The first iPad Pro, unveiled in 2015, included support for the new Apple Pencil, which looked like a direct response to the Surface Pro’s signature pen. In 2018, Apple added its own keyboard covers, including the Smart Keyboard Folio, which snaps into place almost exactly like the Surface Pro’s Type Cover.

But despite those hardware improvements, the iPad software experience remained pretty consistent through the years. Until now.


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Forget about Dark Mode. The really significant iPadOS changes announced at WWDC 2019 are the ones that make it more like a PC or a Mac in everyday use. There’s finally support for external pointing devices, so you aren’t forced to swipe the screen to make a selection. There’s new support for external storage devices, an expanded set of Finder-like management tools for local files, some new window-management tricks, and even support for widgets on the home screen.

You’ll also find some enterprise improvements in iPadOS, like the capability for administrators to separate business and personal data on BYOD devices and managed Apple IDs for business.

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Choose your iPad

Apple’s entry-level iPad features a 10.2‑inch Retina display, support for the full-size Smart Keyboard, and iPadOS. Customize your new iPad at Apple.

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Making the iPad experience more like a laptop does not, however, turn it into a laptop replacement, at least not for business customers. It’s hard to imagine a creative professional voluntarily giving up her Mac for an iPad Pro, although there are certainly circumstances where the lighter, more portable device will come in handy. Lightroom and Photoshop on mobile devices are simply not as capable as their counterparts on the Mac.

The same is true with Microsoft Office on the iPad, which still offers only a subset of the features available on the Windows and MacOS versions. Depending on your workload, you might be able to get by with an iPad Pro for an occasional business trip, but that still makes the iPad an occasional laptop substitute, not an all-in replacement.

The Surface Pro 6, on the other hand, is a full-fledged laptop replacement, with all the pros and cons that come with being a Windows PC. In the office, you can attach a docking station and use a full-sized monitor, keyboard, and mouse; on the road, it’s remarkably lightweight. But it doesn’t offer the simplicity of the iPad, and the experience of using the Type Cover is still off-putting for many users who prefer the solid feel of a clamshell keyboard.

Ultimately, the decision about which mobile device to adopt comes down to which one runs the apps you need. The simpler your workload, the more likely that an iPad Pro will be able to substitute for a laptop when you travel. But if you need the tools that only come in a full-strength desktop app, nothing less than a real laptop will do.

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The best cheap phones you can buy in 2020: Flagship features for any budget

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(Image: CNET)

Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro starts at $1,000, while the iPhone 11 Pro Max starts at $1,099, and the Samsung Note 10 Plus starts at $1,099. Even the more affordable flagship from OnePlus, the OnePlus 7T Pro 5G McLaren, is priced at $900. These manufacturers, along with wireless carriers, offer monthly payment plans to help people afford these high prices, but no matter how you slice it, the price of flagships is still a deterrent for many folks.

Thankfully, there are some outstanding affordable alternatives, and these alternatives have significantly improved over the past few years. Various manufacturers, including many from China and Korea, have compelling products that are becoming more popular as we reach smartphone saturation. Amazon has its Alexa Built-in phones that offer reasonable prices on current models and ones that might be a year or two old but are still valuable options.

Also: Money no object? The 10 best smartphones you can buy right now

Camera performance was a major differentiator between flagships and mid-range phones over the past couple of years, but even today’s affordable phones can help you produce decent photos to share with family and friends or on social media. Let’s take a look at some of the lowest-priced options available.

These phones are in order from lowest to highest price.

Disclosure: ZDNet may earn a commission from some of the products featured on this page. ZDNet and the author were not compensated for this independent review.



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The Coolpad Legacy (see my review) is designed with a large display, huge capacity battery with Quick Charge 3.0, high-quality plastic and glass materials, a microSD expansion card, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and even launches with Android 9 Pie out of the box. There have to be trade-offs made at the $130 price (free on Metro by T-Mobile), but they are hidden well on the Coolpad Legacy.

This is a great first phone, one for someone who needs a phone battery that will last a couple of days on a single charge, or someone who wants a big display that is easy to read.

It has modern features and solid design aspects while performing reliably to help you get things done. I am still stunned by the low price of this phone and did not expect it to be this good.

View Now at MetroPCS



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(Image: CNET)

The Moto G7 Play has a full retail price of $159.99, down from the MSRP of $199.99. It can be found on Amazon or directly from Motorola at this reduced price.

The Moto G7 Play has a 5.7-inch display with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 processor, 13MP rear camera, 8MP front-facing camera, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage with a microSD expansion card slot, and a rather large 3,000mAh battery. It has some water resistance and retains the 3.5mm audio jack.

The Moto G7 Play is priced at less than most insurance policies for flagship phones, so if you need a low-cost phone or a backup, then this may be the one to consider. Motorola also does a great job of providing a stock Android experience that gets fairly regular updates, too.

View Now at Motorola



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Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

The Moto G7 Power (see our full review) is available at Amazon for just $200 or at Motorola for $250.

ZDNet’s Jason Cipriani stated that the Moto G7 power is the budget phone you are looking for, thanks to its very long battery life, solid performance, and affordable price. The photo quality won’t match flagships priced five times higher, but photos are still good enough for social media sharing.

The Moto G7 Power has a 6.2-inch display, rear 12MP camera, an 8MP front-facing camera, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage with a microSD card slot, and whopping 5,000mAh battery. It is a mid-level phone available at an entry-level price.

View Now at Amazon



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Image: LG

The Samsung Galaxy Note series is one of the most capable devices for the enterprise, but models also start at $1,000 and go up from there. If you still want an experience with a stylus at a much more affordable price, LG’s Stylo line is worth considering.

The LG Stylo 5 is available as an unlocked smartphone with a 6.2-inch display, 3GB of RAM, microSD card, 3500 mAh battery, 13MP rear camera, and 5 MP front-facing camera. It’s powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 processor.

You can use the included stylus for note-taking, artwork, drawing chat messages, and more. Like the latest Galaxy Note devices, you can also slide out the stylus and capture handwritten notes on the go with the screen off.

View Now at Amazon



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While we tend to focus on the Samsung Galaxy S and Note series, Samsung is making waves with its extremely capable A series. The Samsung Galaxy A50 is available from various carriers with the least expensive option being the unlocked version at $249.99 from Samsung.

The Samsung Galaxy A50 (see our full review of the Xfinity Mobile model) sports a gorgeous 6.4-inch Super AMOLED screen, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of internal storage with a microSD card and a Samsung Exynos 9610 processor. There are three cameras on the back: 25MP, 8MP, and a 5MP depth sensor with a whopping 25MP front-facing camera. A very large 4,000mAh battery keeps this gorgeous phone powered up.

An optical fingerprint sensor under the display works very well while we also still have a 3.5mm headset jack and USB-C port. The Galaxy A50 is a very good phone and will give you an appreciation for the A series.

View Now at Samsung



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The Motorola One Action stands out from the pack of affordable phones with a triple rear camera design that brings a 117-degree ultra-wide-angle camera, 12MP standard camera, and a 5MP depth-sensing camera lens at a price much less than flagships with three lenses. ZDNet’s Jason Cipriani was very impressed by the release and I personally am considering one for a test phone.

The Motorola One Action is powered by a Samsung Exynos 9609 processor with Android 9.0 Pie, a 6.3-inch display, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of internal storage, and a 3500mAh battery.

One unique function we haven’t seen from others is the ability to film video in landscape while holding your phone comfortably in portrait orientation. You can enjoy media on the big display with a small hole-punch front-facing camera too.

There is a minimal level of water resistance, a 3.5mm audio jack, Bluetooth 5.0, and more inside. It’s a capable phone available at a very affordable price.

View Now at Motorola



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Google’s Pixel line of phones has been competing with flagships from Apple, Samsung, and Huawei. Google revealed the Pixel 3a at just $399 a few months ago, and the press has been extremely pleased with its performance. It’s a mid-level phone, but the standout camera from the Pixel 3 is included, so if you want the absolute best phone for under $400 that will be updated for years, then you can’t go wrong with a Pixel 3a in Just Black, Purple-ish, or Clearly White.

Even better for the masses, Google is selling these in T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint stores. Stay tuned as Google gets ready to announce the Pixel 4 in October.

The Pixel 3a is running Android 9 Pie and is assured of getting updated to Android 10 on a timely basis. It has a 5.6-inch display with a rear 12.2MP camera, and a front 8MP camera with Google’s fantastic image processing software.

A Snapdragon 670 powers the Pixel 3a with 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, a 3,000mAh battery, and stereo speakers. A fast rear fingerprint scanner unlocks the phone while it also still retains a 3.5mm headphone jack.

View Now at Best Buy

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Adding India to your business – TechCrunch

At the start of recruiting season in business school, a top-tier consulting firm sent an invite to the entire class: “over your career, you will either be sitting with us or across from us. We would like to get to know you.”

If you’re building a large-scale technology startup, sooner or later, you should be having a conversation about the Indian market. India’s growth is often compared to China’s, but the big difference between these two markets is that India has an open internet infrastructure, where the best product wins.

In the last decade, Indian consumers have enjoyed the trifecta of cheap smartphones (courtesy of Android), some of the lowest data rates on the planet (courtesy of Mukesh Ambani’s telecom firm Jio) and rising disposable income. Most consumer startups from the U.S., Europe and China have already seen a large number of users organically adopt their product as hundreds of millions of Indians have come online.

Some examples:

  • for most of 2018 and 2019, Tinder was the highest grossing app in India
  • Quora and Pinterest are consistently in the top 30 most visited websites
  • India is the largest or second-largest user base for Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube, Linkedin, Twitter, Snapchat and many other platforms

Snapchat, in particular, has seen tremendous growth in the Indian market. In March 2019, Snap launched eight new languages — five of which are spoken in India. Consequently, the company reported in Q3 2019 that 6 million out of the 7 million new Daily Active Users added were from outside the U.S. Snapchat’s stock is up almost 3x in the last year, well ahead of Nasdaq’s performance in the same period.

As a cross-border investment firm investing in U.S. and European companies to help them grow in India, we thought it would be useful to share our conversations with growth-stage entrepreneurs about the Indian market. In this article, we will focus on consumer-facing (B2C and B2B2C) companies.

What segment of India do you want to target first? 

While everyone thinks of India as a singular 1.3 billion-consumer market, there are, in fact, multiple sub-segments that have their own characteristics and are acquired differently. The India 1 segment, arguably the most lucrative, constitutes the 25+ million Indians who have credit cards, form the 10 million iPhone install base and were Netflix’s first 500,000 users in the country. The India 2 segment requires products that work in languages other than English and potentially different product features (such as voice input). Snapchat is now focused on acquiring India 2 users with its new language strategy.

What are the best ways to acquire users in this segment?

The short answer is — it depends. If you are in a category (such as gaming) that appeals to a broad demographic and geography, strategic partnerships with mobile OEMs or unicorns building super apps (Paytm and PhonePe for example) will give you a high-volume distribution channel. If you are a wellness app that is focused on India 1 users only, then it makes sense to prioritize channels or partnerships, such as hospital chains in Tier 1 cities, to acquire that segment of users. If you already have organic traction in the country, look at your analytics (for example, cities where your users are based, price range of phone models being used and so on) to understand your initial set of power users.

What is your monetization and pricing strategy? 

The monetization strategy that worked in your existing market(s) may not work in the Indian market. From both an addressable base of paying customers (see the install base of credit cards above) to the ARPU, Asian markets have significantly lagged their western counterparts.

The good news is that with the strong adoption of Unified Payments Interface (UPI), a first-of-its-kind payments protocol that can be implemented by third-party applications, there is almost no friction (or costs) to receive payment amounts as small as two cents. When in India, you should be using UPI.

While Tinder found success with subscription billing at U.S. prices, Netflix entered India with a ~$7/month billing plan in line with their global rates but realized that growth would only come through innovations such as mobile-only plans at $2.80/month. Apple and Spotify have been clear that they want to target the mass market and launched with plans that are close to $1.50/month, a significant discount to their U.S. and European plans.

While these companies have found success with subscription billing, more likely monetization models are advertising led (YouTube) or freemium. Are there features in your product that you can charge a premium for while still offering a subset of the product for free (and cover your direct costs through advertising)? Are there partnerships (such as the ones that Netflix and Amazon Video have signed with Indian telcos) where you can get paid indirectly for your core product?

Build your costs in line with your target segment and pricing

Now that you have a better idea of your target market size and expected pricing, you should build a cost structure that is in line with expected revenues. Most of the companies we track have acquired their first five million customers (or more) in India with an initial team of one to three people on the ground. From both a team build out as well as customer acquisition cost point of view, most companies have been disappointed that they have invested in resources well ahead of understanding the size of their target market and expected revenues.

Find a local partner

If you aren’t setting up a local team in the near term, we recommend having a local partner/shareholder that is aligned with your business and plans. From regular follow-ups on strategic conversations to keeping tabs on changes in regulations, having someone local who understands your business is critical to your entry and expansion plans. Similar to the scrutiny that internet companies face in other countries, India is also drafting regulations for localized data storage and mandating a local point of contact for companies that have more than 5 million users.

For entrepreneurs building global champions, having an India strategy is essential and can form the beachhead to expand into Southeast Asia and the Middle East. As Mary Meeker has repeatedly noted in her annual report, India and Indonesia will be the first and third-largest open internet markets in the world.

What excites our team is that India is already home to significant user bases for early and growth-stage private companies such as Truecaller (100 million daily users), Quora (second largest market), Duolingo (10 million users), Brainly (20 million users), Wattpad (3 million users) and Vyng (14 million installs), while others such as FlixBus are actively setting up operations.

We hope you found the above information helpful. And if you are building a global technology company, we would like to get to know you.

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In Miss Americana, Taylor Swift demotes the Internet – TechCrunch

In nearly a decade of attending Sundance, I’ve never seen a scene like the premiere of the documentary Miss Americana, detailing the last year and a half or so of Taylor Swift’s life. The crowd before letting into the theater was huge, blistering with rumors about whether or not there was so many guests and press that there wouldn’t be room for ticketed attendees and whispers about which door Swift would use when arriving.

A large crowd of hopeful waitlister fans, largely young women (not extremely common for Sundance) sang Swift songs in the 30 degree chill. When Swift did arrive, the cheers were off the charts for a normally relatively reserved crowd used to seeing celebrities.

All of this buildup, of course, served to underscore the major themes of Lana Wilson’s intimate and focused profile of Swift during a period of her life that typified a major shift in her attitude towards her public and private life.

If you’re like most people, your feelings about what kind of person Swift might be are decided by crowd-sourced panel of the top few percent of the most vocal Internet users. Among those, of course, are the media.

We’re far enough now into the Internet’s third age where it’s not represented as some sort of holistic and separate entity. Instead it’s woven like a tapestry into the daily life of Swift and her camp. Tweets, Instagram posts and articles on sites like this one are presented as a third conversant in any conversation, both between Swift and Wilson and between Swift and her family.

Basically, Swift is like most of us in that regard, we have all begun to treat the collective output of the internet as an entity with a right to wedge itself into any two beings attempts to reason.

But Miss Americana is not just about Taylor vs. The Internet, it’s also reflection on how that same panel lowers its gavel differently for women, especially young women, than it does men.

The closest parallel for me is probably Lady Gaga’s 2018 documentary Five Feet Two. There are similar segments that show the teardown of the modern pop song-making process.

Swift says that those were her most nerve wracking to film because of the messy way songs sometimes come together. But they were fascinating to me, and are some of the most fun bits. Swift and her collaborators often write and sing words right off of their iPhones (I saw no Android devices at all) as they work through a track. Songs that come to have intense meaning for fans are often snapshots of Swift’s life quickly jotted down in the notes app.

About that oddity, and pretty much every other way that the public perceives her, Swift proves to be firmly and calmly self-aware. She even acknowledges that this very awareness of how she is perceived often comes across as calculation or manipulation on her part.

While Swift gets all of this criticism powered by attention economy jet fuel, her self-awareness is not unique. I see it on TikTok and other young platforms, as teens and young people come to grips with and analyze how they are manipulated and judged by those very platforms. Swift may represent a sort of prime exemplar, but the attitude is generational, imo.

The Kids are just more capable of awareness of the systems at work on them than any previous generation.

The aforementioned Gaga doc, for me, worked very well when it showcased the real physical and psychological toll of a pop career. Miss Americana does this as well, even though Gaga has focused on her ability to challenge and provoke, while Swift has — as she herself admits in the doc — held onto the concept of being a ‘good girl’, liked by everyone as her guiding principle.

Swift’s realization of the completely impossible task of pleasing the networked apparatus of fickle outrage machines that pass as the deciding body of public opinion now is the core pivot point for the doc.

That’s typified by a scene where she is faced by a panel of people, all men, who are telling her all of the reasons taking a public political stance would be dangerous, costly to her brand and damaging to her financially. The impetus is Swift’s opposition to Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn’s re-election. Swift’s experience with her sexual assault trial and Blackburn’s opposition to the Violence Against Women Act are the tipping point that pushes her to take a public political stance for the first time. Provoking her team to have a conversation that takes the rough shape of an intervention.

There are sincere elements of concern for Swift — her father gets all of her death threats and arranges for security, she said after the screening. But the comments from her staff and team included by Wilson are telling — “what is the most effective way we could ensure that half as many people come to a Taylor Swift show?”

What you won’t find in this doc is some sort of lurking personal demon. Instead the demon is the way that internet culture reduces anyone with a modicum of fame to slivers of projected personality. And, by extension, becomes the most potent engine of self doubt ever invented.

By demoting the Internet to a tool vs. a deciding force in her well being, Swift is showing fans and viewers a healthier path forward.

The two major themes explored include Swift’s desire to please an ever-demanding audience, and the endemic separation between the way creative men are judged and the way creative women are judged in the public sphere.

Both are addressed cleverly, if not in a wholly (and perhaps impossibly) satisfying way.

Wilson has executed the prime directive of a documentary film with Miss Americana. If you were of a slightly negative opinion of Swift going in, based on casual impressions generated for you by vocal minorities amplified via algorithm you will find yourself coming away with more empathy, understanding and likely respect for the Swift presented here. A portrait of a powerful woman in control coming to grips with the current costs of that command.

People on the other side of the love/hate coin are unlikely to be converted. But given that one of the through lines of the doc is Swift’s increasing ability to separate opinion from directive, it’s not likely that it will bother her — as much.

Image: Sundance

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iPadOS productivity secrets (these also work on the iPhone)

The best new features in iOS 13
With iOS 13 set to roll out on September 19, ZDNet’s Beth Mauder walks you through her five favorite new features and how you can add them to your iPhone. Read more: https://zd.net/2QbuNNR

I’m amazed how many features Apple builds into iOS, and then just leaves them hidden for me to find. Here are a crop of tips and tricks for working with words and images on your iPad. 

All of these also work on the iPhone, but because of the limited screen size, they can be trickier to use on the smaller handsets (and near impossible even on those if you have big, meaty paws like I do).

Must read: The ultimate MacBook USB-C accessory just got better

#1: Text selection

iPadOS 13 gives you very fine control over text selection using just screen taps:

  • Double tap: Select a word
  • Triple tap: Select a sentence
  • Quadruple tap: Select a paragraph

#2: Undo and redo

Remember the “Shake to Undo” feature in iOS? While that’s still present, picking up an iPad and giving it a shake to undo something is hardly convenient given the size and weight of the tablet. iPadOS 13 has some gestures that are a little less energetic:

  • Swipe left with three fingers to undo
  • Swipe right with three fingers to redo
  • You can also use a three-finger double-tap to undo, which feels a little bit awkward initially but soon becomes second nature.

#3: Copy, cut, and paste

Now we’re getting advanced. I recommend practicing these on some scrap text before using them for real, as they can take some getting used to.

  • Pinch in with three fingers to copy
  • Pinch in with three fingers twice (moderately quickly) to cut
  • Pinch out (or unpinch!!) with three fingers to paste

Must read: Eight things I love about iOS

#4: Moving the cursor about

Want to move the cursor about the page? Just place your finger on the cursor and move it. 

Think of it as picking it up and dropping it down somewhere else. So simple, yet it took me a while to figure it out (I was jabbing at the screen too hard).

See also:

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Apple antitrust issues come to Congress, subscription apps boom, Tencent takes on TikTok – TechCrunch

Welcome back to ThisWeek in Apps, the Extra Crunch series that recaps the latest OS news, the applications they support and the money that flows through it all.

The app industry is as hot as ever with a record 204 billion downloads in 2019 and $120 billion in consumer spending in 2019, according to App Annie’s recently released “State of Mobile” annual report. People are now spending 3 hours and 40 minutes per day using apps, rivaling TV. Apps aren’t just a way to pass idle hours — they’re a big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x higher than those without a mobile focus.

In this Extra Crunch series, we help you keep up with the latest news from the world of apps, delivered on a weekly basis.

This week, there was a ton of app news. We’re digging into the latest with Apple’s antitrust issues, Tencent’s plan to leverage WeChat to fend off the TikTok threat, AppsFlyer’s massive new round, the booming subscription economy, Disney’s mobile game studio sale, Pokémon GO’s boost to tourism, Match Group’s latest investment and much more. And did you see the app that lets you use your phone from within a paper envelope? Or the new AR social network? It’s Weird App Week, apparently.

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Vivo beats Samsung for 2nd spot in Indian smartphone market – TechCrunch

Samsung, which once led the smartphone market in India, slid to the third position in the quarter that ended in December, even as the South Korean giant continues to make major bets on the rare handset market that is still growing. 158 million smartphones shipped in India in 2019, up from 145 million the year before, according to research firm Counterpoint.

Chinese firm Vivo surpassed Samsung to become the second biggest smartphone vendor in India in Q4 2019. Xiaomi, with command over 27% of the market, maintained its top spot in the nation for the tenth consecutive quarter.

Vivo’s annual smartphone shipment grew 76% in 2019. The Chinese firm’s aggressive positioning of its budget S series of smartphones — priced between $100 to $150 (the sweet spot in India) — in the brick and mortar market and acceptance of e-commerce sales helped it beat Samsung, said Counterpoint analysts.

Vivo’s market share jumped 132% between Q4 of 2018 and Q4 of 2019, according to the research firm.

Realme, which spun out of Chinese smartphone maker Oppo, claimed the fifth spot. Oppo assumed the fourth position.

Samsung has dramatically lowered prices of some of its handsets in the country and also introduced smartphones with local features, but it is struggling to compete with an army of Chinese smartphone makers. The company did not respond to a request for comment.

Realme has taken the Indian market by storm. The two-year-old firm has replicated Xiaomi’s playbook in the country and so far focused on selling aggressively low-cost Android smartphones online.

Vivo and Oppo, on the other hand, have over the years expanded to smaller cities and towns in the country and inked deals with merchants. The companies have offered merchants fat commission to incentivize them to promote their handsets over those of the rivals.

Xiaomi, which entered India six years ago, sold handsets exclusively through online channels to cut overhead, but has since established presence in about 10,000 brick and mortar stores (including some through partnership with big retail chains). The company said in September last year that it had shipped 100 million smartphones in the country.

India surpasses the U.S.

The report, released late Friday (local time), also states that India, with 158 million smartphone shipments in 2019, took over the U.S. in annual smartphone shipment for the first time.

India, which was already the world’s second largest smartphone market for total handset install base, is now also the second largest market for annual shipment of smartphones.

Tarun Pathak, a senior analyst at Counterpoint, told TechCrunch that about 150 million to 155 million smartphone units were shipped in the U.S. in 2019.

As smartphone shipments decline in most countries, India has emerged as a rare market where people are still showing great appetite for new handsets. There are nearly half a billion smartphones in use in the country today — but more than half a billion people in the nation are yet to get one.

The nation’s slowing economy, however, is understandably making its mark on the smartphone market as well. The Indian smartphone market grew by 8.9% last year, compared to 10% in the previous year.

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iPad turns 10: Why did it take a decade for Apple’s tablet to get its own operating system?

Apple has streamlined its entire iPad lineup to replace your laptop
ZDNet’s Jason Cipriani tells Karen Roby that the base-model iPad is more capable than ever thanks to a recent update. Read more: https://zd.net/2NdaomS

On January 27, 2010, Steve Jobs famously sat on stage and walked the audience through what seemed like a scene straight out of Harry Potter. As he held a piece of glass in his hands, tapping and swiping through websites, a calendar, digital books, and a music library, the iPad came to be. A lot has changed in the last 10 years, both for the iPad and the rest of the tech industry, for that matter. But why did it take 9 long years for the iPad to get its own operating system, iPadOS? To understand that, you have to go back to the beginning. 

The iPad went on sale in April 2010 with iPhone OS 3.2 as its operating system. The OS featured new interfaces and methods to interact with apps not found on the iPhone or iPod Touch. That same year, Apple announced iPhone OS would transition to iOS, and that’s what the iPad had used up until this year, when Apple announced the iPad would get its own operating system called iPadOS. 

When it was released, critics panned it as merely a bigger version of the iPhone. Indeed, it ran the same apps as the iPhone, but developers were able to customize the look and feel of their apps to fit a larger display. Apps like Mail could show your inbox on top of an email you were currently looking at, for example. 

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Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Another common critique of the iPad, and one that I still hear echoed to this day, is that it’s a consumption-only device — meaning it’s best suited for someone who wants to watch Netflix, manage their inbox or scroll through Facebook (i.e., consume various aspects of the digital world).

Over the past decade, the iPad has shed the “bigger iPhone” label as Apple has expanded the iPad lineup, and it’s added meaningful software features. I’ve never really viewed the iPad as a consumption device, and I’m not entirely sure Apple ever intended for it to be viewed as one. During the original announcement Apple showed off a drawing app, and Apple’s iWork suite of apps — Pages, Keynote and Numbers — were available at launch. 

I’ve been using an iPad as my main writing device since 2012. Back then, I relied on third-party Bluetooth keyboards. Heck, I wrote two digital books entirely on the third-generation iPad. There was something about the way that its software forced me to focus on a single task that I feel in love with. I immediately began looking for ways to expand the iPad beyond being my modern-day typewriter and using it more like I would a computer. Years ago, I wanted my iPad to replace my laptop.

The problem was that it took a lot of work to figure out workarounds for tasks like easily combining images, or working with the content management systems that I often run into to publish online. 

Also: iPad Pro vs Surface Pro 6: Can a tablet-laptop hybrid really replace your PC?

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One of my first reviews of a keyboard for the iPad back in 2012. 


Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

I spent a lot of time buying and testing apps, and ultimately, buying and testing more apps until I found a workflow that worked. And when all else failed, I would remotely connect to a computer and finish a given task on a computer, using my iPad. It worked, but I was in the minority of users who were willing to spend time trying to make the iPad work for me. Essentially, I had to force the iPad to be the device I wanted it to be. Still, the potential was there. 

Apple steadily updated iOS, some years adding new features specific to the iPad, other years simply updating iOS as a whole and leaving the iPad as a de facto beneficiary of the improvements. 

It wasn’t until the release of iOS 9 in 2015 that we really saw Apple start to add impactful features with the addition of split view, slide over, and picture-in-picture. The three new features improved multitasking on the iPad and were timed with the release of the first iPad Pro. Apple also debuted the Apple Pencil in 2015, adding another layer of productivity to the tablet. 

The 2015 iPad Pro — combined with iOS 9 and its new iPad-specific features and Apple’s Smart Keyboard Cover — began to lay the groundwork for the iPad’s divergence from the iPhone and its ability to replace the computer, but it wasn’t quite there yet. 

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Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

In 2016, iOS 10 added split-view for multiple Safari tabs and some other minor updates. In 2017, iOS 11 was one of the biggest updates we’d seen for the iPad. Apple added a Files app for managing files and folders directly on the iPad, the application dock was redesigned, and drag-and-drop was added, making it possible to drag photos or text from one app to another. 

Throughout this time, Apple continued to update iPad hardware, releasing new models at a regular cadence. The iPad’s hardware and software were gaining momentum, boosted by Apple releasing the second-generation iPad Pro in 2017. But, in 2018, even as the iPad’s hardware became more robust and powerful, its software started to fall behind. 

Apple didn’t announce any meaningful iPad updates in iOS 12 despite releasing the third-generation iPad Pro. Safari, Apple’s web browser, wasn’t providing a desktop experience. Instead, it was defaulting to the mobile version of websites, and it severely crippled the overall experience. 

Also: Can you really run the iPad Pro as a full desk setup? This guy did

My review of the 2018 iPad Pro was mostly positive in relation to hardware, but the software was holding it back. 

With the iPad Pro dropping Apple’s Lightning connector in favor of USB-C, and Apple touting the ability to connect the iPad to external monitors and accessories, users naturally began asking for the ability to connect external storage to the iPad in addition to an improved browser and the ability to have multiple windows of the same app open at once. 

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In June, Apple announced iPadOS. The iPad will still share the same core features as iOS and the iPhone, but by giving the iPad its own operating system Apple is signaling the company is ready to begin to make big changes to the iPad. 

The major changes started with iPadOS 13.1, and it included a desktop-class version of Safari, the ability to connect to external storage, vastly improved multitasking — like the ability to have multiple windows of the same app open — and a new home screen that puts more information at your fingertips. 

It’s by far the biggest update we’ve seen to the iPad, and with a dedicated operating system in iPadOS, Apple is poised to push the iPad forward. 

Also: iPadOS pushes Apple’s tablet closer to mainstream PC replacement

Just what that looks like is uncertain, but a lot of it will have to do with user feedback (a driving force for a lot of the changes we’ve seen up until this point). 

I think, in general, it took a decade for the iPad to be ready to stand on its own because Apple has been trying to figure out the exact path forward for the iPad, and just how far to push it. The messaging from the marketing department didn’t often align with what the iPad was truly capable of. Sure, it could replace a computer for some users, and with the iPad Pro lineup (and the added versatility it provided) that dream came closer to reality. Combine the hardware and the cascading of a dedicated keyboard for even the entry-level iPad, along with iPadOS, and it’s clear that the iPad is more of a laptop now than it has ever been.

I’ve all but quit looking for apps that provide some sort of workaround to common tasks, and I can’t tell you the last time I remotely connected to my computer in order to finish a task. iPadOS is only a few months old, and it’s already had a big impact on my day-to-day workflow. 

What the next 10 years hold for the iPad is anyone’s guess, but with its own operating system, I think it’s safe to say we’re about to see the iPad truly grow as a computing device.

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Apple: ‘Here’s why ditching iPhone Lightning port for a standard charger is a bad idea’

Myths and (one) truth about iPhone Lightning cables
Makers of third-party Lightning cables for iPhones keep pushing falsehoods to try to dupe people into buying their cables.
Read more: https://zd.net/2IF5IF8

iPhone maker Apple has given its not-so-surprising response to the European Commission’s proposal for a standard phone charger. According to Apple, that rule would stifle innovation and wouldn’t help the environment. 

Apple likes to promote the green benefits of its trade-in program, but the Cupertino-based company disagrees with Europe’s idea that a standard charger for smartphones would be good for the continent’s environment. 

EU politicians earlier this month outlined plans to introduce stricter regulations to make smartphone makers conform in offering a standard connector, with the main objective of reducing tons of waste in tech accessories. 

SEE: IT pro’s guide to GDPR compliance (free PDF)

The EU has had voluntary rules in place for the past decade, but politicians reckon they’ve been ineffective in reducing waste.  

Apple’s policy people say the industry doesn’t need European standardization because the whole industry – except Apple – is moving towards USB-C. 

“We believe regulation that forces conformity across the type of connector built into all smartphones stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, and would harm consumers in Europe and the economy as a whole,” Apple said in a statement to Reuters. 

“We hope the (European) Commission will continue to seek a solution that does not restrict the industry’s ability to innovate,” it said.

Apple has adopted USB-C for MacBooks but, unlike nearly all Android handset makers, Apple uses the Lightning connector for the iPhone, because it gives the company more control.   

“More than one billion Apple devices have shipped using a Lightning connector in addition to an entire ecosystem of accessory and device manufacturers who use Lightning to serve our collective customers,” said Apple. 

“Legislation would have a direct negative impact by disrupting the hundreds of millions of active devices and accessories used by our European customers and even more Apple customers worldwide, creating an unprecedented volume of electronic waste and greatly inconveniencing users.”

While Americans might scoff at stuffy rules from EU politicians, Apple has created a costly headache for many consumers because of its charging cable choices.

It’s adopted USB-C for new iPad Pro models but iPhones remain off limits for USB-C, meaning consumers need to employ an array of connectors. 

Apple’s new statement is a slightly toned-down version of the line it took last year, arguing that European regulation would “freeze innovation rather than encourage it”. European politicians hope the regulation could reduce the 51,000 tonnes of waste per year in old chargers across the EU.

At the time, Apple also argued in a fear-mongering statement that cable legislation would “render obsolete the devices and accessories used by many millions of Europeans and hundreds of millions of Apple customers worldwide”. 

Apple is thought to be planning to eventually remove the Lightning port on the iPhone in a bid to make its flagship phones completely wireless. 

SEE: Do you make these iPhone charging mistakes?

Apple’s new statement follows a study it commissioned from Danish economist consultancy Copenhagen Economics, which concludes that a European common charger law would cost consumers far more than any environmental benefits it could deliver. 

“The consumer harm from a regulatory-mandated single connector type (at least €1.5bn) [$1.66bn] significantly outweighs any associated environmental benefits (€13m) [$14.3m],” wrote Copenhagen Economics.  

“On this basis, given the centrality of consumer benefits in policy evaluation, it is unlikely that a Common Charger initiative forcing a single connector type would achieve a positive socio-economic outcome.”

The consultancy ran a survey and claims to have found that, on average, consumers have one cable in regular use for each device and that half of households already use a single connector for all mobile devices, which means half the population wouldn’t reduce cable consumption if a standard was mandated. 

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US regulators need to catch up with Europe on fintech innovation  – TechCrunch

Fintech companies are fundamentally changing how the financial services ecosystem operates, giving consumers powerful tools to help with savings, budgeting, investing, insurance, electronic payments and many other offerings. This industry is growing rapidly, filling gaps where traditional banks and financial institutions have failed to meet customer needs.

Yet progress has been uneven. Notably, consumer fintech adoption in the United States lags well behind much of Europe, where forward-thinking regulation has sparked an outpouring of innovation in digital banking services — as well as the backend infrastructure onto which products are built and operated.

That might seem counterintuitive, as regulation is often blamed for stifling innovation. Instead, European regulators have focused on reducing barriers to fintech growth rather than protecting the status quo. For example, the U.K.’s Open Banking regulation requires the country’s nine big high-street banks to share customer data with authorized fintech providers.

The EU’s PSD2 (Payment Services Directive 2) obliges banks to create application programming interfaces (APIs) and related tools that let customers share data with third parties. This creates standards that level the playing field and nurture fintech innovation. And the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority supports new fintech entrants by running a “sandbox” for software testing that helps speed new products into service.

Regulations, if implemented effectively as demonstrated by those in Europe, will lead to a net positive to consumers. While it is inevitable that regulations will come, if fintech entrepreneurs take the action to engage early and often with regulators, it will ensure that the regulations put in place support innovation and ultimately benefit the consumer.

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