Office Depot Cyber Week deals: Lenovo ThinkBook, HP Slim

Update, Dec. 1: Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2020 are officially done and dusted. If you would still like to find business tech deals or the best products to buy, check out our ZDNet Recommends directory.


Office Depot and OfficeMax’s Black Friday 2020 ad has leaked a few days after its rival Staples dropped its deals ad, but it’s a lot slimmer than in year’s past. 

A mere four pages long, the ad may reflect the new normal for Black Friday, where retailers run deals throughout November rather than hoard them for the last weekend of the month. Regardless, there are a handful of deals if you’re looking for a new desktop or laptop, which we’ve detailed below.

$90 off

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We haven’t seen many all-in-one PC deals anywhere close to this price during this Black Friday, so if you’re looking for such a package and you’re on a tight budget, this could be a strong option. The specs are basic — an AMD Athlon Silver processor and 4GB of RAM — but HP does include a 1TB hard drive for plenty of storage, and, perhaps most importantly, the system is built around a 21.5-inch full HD display. 

View Now at Office Depot

$80 off

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If you prefer a budget laptop to a budget all-in-one desktop, this Asus notebook comes with a 14-inch full HD screen for under $300. An Intel Pentium Silver CPU, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB solid-state drive round out the basic specs for a system that could be perfect for a young student having to go to school remotely.

View Now at Office Depot

$230 off

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The IdeaPad 3 has been a popular item this Black Friday among multiple retailers from the deals we’ve studied, but many of those have been budget versions designed to deliver basic performance. But not this particular configuration, which a beefy Intel Core i7-1065G7 quad-core processor powers. With 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and a 15.6-inch touchscreen display, this IdeaPad 3 is a solid midrange laptop.

View Now at Office Depot

$100 off

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Office Depot and OfficeMax has you covered if you need a little more desktop power than the HP 22 all-in-one listed above, but don’t mind the traditional setup of tower and separate monitor. This HP Slim deal features a skinny Core i3-powered PC with 8GB of memory and a 256GB SSD, but also includes a 23.8-inch full HD display to complete the package.

View Now at Office Depot

$80 off

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Here’s a different midrange laptop choice from Lenovo, which swaps the larger touchscreen of the IdeaPad 3 above for a smaller (14-inch), higher-resolution display (full 1080p HD instead of 720p). It, too, is equipped with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, though it settles for a Core i5-10210U processor instead of a Core i7 chip. You pay a bit more, however, for business-friendly features like Trusted Platform Module 2.0 security and a year’s subscription to Microsoft 365 Personal edition.

View Now at Office Depot

More Black Friday 2020 deals

Here are additional Office Depot and OfficeMax Black Friday 2020 deals worth checking out:

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Google Maps takes on Facebook with launch of its own news feed – TechCrunch

People are getting frustrated that Stories are everywhere now, but Google Maps is keeping it old school. Instead of adding tiny circles to the top of the app’s screen, Google Maps is introducing its own news feed. Technically, Google calls its new feature the “Community Feed,” as it includes posts from a local area. However, it’s organized as any other news feed would be — a vertically scrollable feed with posts you can “Like” by tapping on a little thumbs-up icon.

The feed, which is found with the Explore tab of the Google Maps app, is designed to make it easier to find the most recent news, updates and recommendations from trusted local sources. This includes posts business owners create using Google My Business to alert customers to new deals, menu updates and other offers. At launch, Google says the focus will be on highlighting posts from food and drink businesses.

For years, businesses have been able to make these sorts of posts using Google’s tools. But previously, users would have to specifically tap to follow the business’s profile in order to receive their updates.

Now, these same sort of posts will be surfaced to even those Google Maps users who didn’t take the additional step of following a particular business. This increased exposure has impacted the posts’ views, Google says. In early tests of Community Feed ahead of its public launch, Google found that businesses’ posts saw more than double the number of views than before the feed existed.

Image Credits: Google

In addition to posts from businesses, the new Community Feed will feature content posted by Google users you follow as well as recent reviews from Google’s Local Guides — the volunteer program where users share their knowledge about local places in order to earn perks, such as profile badges, early access to Google features and more. Select publishers will participate in the Community Feed, too, including The Infatuation and other news sources from Google News, when relevant.

Much of the information found in the Community Feed was available elsewhere in Google Maps before today’s launch.

For example, the Google Maps’ Updates tab offered a similar feed that included businesses’ posts along with news, recommendations, stories and other features designed to encourage discovery. Meanwhile, the Explore tab grouped businesses into thematic groupings (e.g. outdoor dining venues, cocktail bars, etc.) at the top of the screen, then allowed users to browse other lists and view area photos.

With the update, those groups of businesses by category will still sit at the top of the screen, but the rest of the tab is dedicated to the scrollable feed. This gives the tab a more distinct feel than it had before. It could even position Google to venture into video posts in the future, given the current popularity of TikTok-style  short-form video feeds that have now been cloned by Instagram and Snapchat.

Image Credits: Google

Today, it’s a more standard feed, however. As you scroll down, you can tap “Like” on those posts you find interesting to help better inform your future recommendations. You also can tap “Follow” on businesses you want to hear more from, which will send their alerts to your Updates tab, as well. Thankfully, there aren’t comments.

Google hopes the change will encourage users to visit the app more often in order to find out what’s happening in their area — whether that’s a new post from a business or a review from another user detailing some fun local activity, like a day trip or new hiking spot, for example.

The feature can be used when traveling or researching other areas, too, as the “Community Feed” you see is designated not based on where you live or your current location, but rather where you’re looking on the map.

The feed is the latest in what’s been a series of updates designed to make Google Maps more of a Facebook rival. Over the past few years, Google Maps has added features that allowed users to follow businesses, much like Facebook does, as well as message those businesses directly in the app, similar to Messenger. Businesses, meanwhile, have been able to set up their own profile in Google Maps, where they could add a logo, a cover photo and pick a short name — also a lot like Facebook Pages offer today.

With the launch of a news feed-style feature, Google’s attempt to copy Facebook is even more obvious.

Google says the feature is rolling out globally on Google Maps for iOS and Android.

 

 

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iPhone battery bad? Here are three of the biggest iOS 14.2 battery hogs, along with some solutions

iOS 14 was released in September, and here we are in December and users continue to complain about poor battery life. Now iOS 14.2 is out (or iOS 14.2.1 if you are running an iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Pro) and I’m still hearing from people who feel that their battery life has taken a big hit since installing the update.

But I’ve found three things that have helped me get more out of each recharge, and help me make it through the day.

Must read: Top 10 Google Chrome plugins for 2020

#1: Make careful use of widgets

I’ve noticed that the more widgets I use, the more battery life takes a hit. I don’t find the built-in widgets that come with iOS to be too bad for battery life (although even they can be buggy), but third-party apps can be problematic.

Identifying a rogue widget is easy — delete it and see if the problem goes away (or gets a little better).

If battery life has gotten worse since installing iOS 14, widgets would be the first thing that I’d be looking at.

#2: Google Chrome is a big battery hog

Switching to Safari makes a massive difference if you browse a lot. For me, switching — temporarily — from Chrome to Safari added about an hour of battery life.

Safari has always been better in terms of battery life, but the gulf between the two has grown significantly in iOS 14.

Same goes, to a lesser extent, for Mail versus Gmail, or Calendar versus Google Calendar. It might seem like I’m picking on Google apps, but these are the apps I use the most, and they’re the ones where I can see the difference.

For better battery life, go with the stock apps.

#3: No cell coverage can really drain better

Ever since Apple introduced the Battery pane in Settings that allows users to see what is draining the battery the most, I’ve known that no cell coverage eats at the battery. If there’s poor cell coverage, the iPhone works harder to try to establish a cell connection. It’s that simple, and there’s no free lunch.

The more work your smartphone has to do, the more battery is used.

But something’s changed.

Under iOS 13, no cell coverage would account for about 2 percent of battery usage over the course of a normal day. Now there are days when I see this taking as much as 10 percent, with 8 percent now being normal.

No Cell Coverage battery drain under iOS 14 appears much higher than before.

No Cell Coverage battery drain under iOS 14 appears much higher than before.

Nothing else has changed, and it’s pretty consistent that I have to conclude that this is an issue with iOS 14.

So, what’s the solution? Well, I’ve found that turning off cellular when I’m in a dark spot helps a bit, as does leaving my phone in areas of my home and office where the strongest cell signal can be found.

These help, but they have their limitations.

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Google Maps takes on Facebook with launch of its own news feed – TechCrunch

People are getting frustrated that Stories are everywhere now, but Google Maps is keeping it old school. Instead of adding tiny circles to the top of the app’s screen, Google Maps is introducing its own news feed. Technically, Google calls its new feature the “Community Feed,” as it includes posts from a local area. However, it’s organized as any other news feed would be — a vertically scrollable feed with posts you can “Like” by tapping on a little thumbs-up icon.

The feed, which is found with the Explore tab of the Google Maps app, is designed to make it easier to find the most recent news, updates and recommendations from trusted local sources. This includes posts business owners create using Google My Business to alert customers to new deals, menu updates and other offers. At launch, Google says the focus will be on highlighting posts from food and drink businesses.

For years, businesses have been able to make these sorts of posts using Google’s tools. But previously, users would have to specifically tap to follow the business’s profile in order to receive their updates.

Now, these same sort of posts will be surfaced to even those Google Maps users who didn’t take the additional step of following a particular business. This increased exposure has impacted the posts’ views, Google says. In early tests of Community Feed ahead of its public launch, Google found that businesses’ posts saw more than double the number of views than before the feed existed.

Image Credits: Google

In addition to posts from businesses, the new Community Feed will feature content posted by Google users you follow as well as recent reviews from Google’s Local Guides — the volunteer program where users share their knowledge about local places in order to earn perks, such as profile badges, early access to Google features and more. Select publishers will participate in the Community Feed, too, including The Infatuation and other news sources from Google News, when relevant.

Much of the information found in the Community Feed was available elsewhere in Google Maps before today’s launch.

For example, the Google Maps’ Updates tab offered a similar feed that included businesses’ posts along with news, recommendations, stories and other features designed to encourage discovery. Meanwhile, the Explore tab grouped businesses into thematic groupings (e.g. outdoor dining venues, cocktail bars, etc.) at the top of the screen, then allowed users to browse other lists and view area photos.

With the update, those groups of businesses by category will still sit at the top of the screen, but the rest of the tab is dedicated to the scrollable feed. This gives the tab a more distinct feel than it had before. It could even position Google to venture into video posts in the future, given the current popularity of TikTok-style  short-form video feeds that have now been cloned by Instagram and Snapchat.

Image Credits: Google

Today, it’s a more standard feed, however. As you scroll down, you can tap “Like” on those posts you find interesting to help better inform your future recommendations. You also can tap “Follow” on businesses you want to hear more from, which will send their alerts to your Updates tab, as well. Thankfully, there aren’t comments.

Google hopes the change will encourage users to visit the app more often in order to find out what’s happening in their area — whether that’s a new post from a business or a review from another user detailing some fun local activity, like a day trip or new hiking spot, for example.

The feature can be used when traveling or researching other areas, too, as the “Community Feed” you see is designated not based on where you live or your current location, but rather where you’re looking on the map.

The feed is the latest in what’s been a series of updates designed to make Google Maps more of a Facebook rival. Over the past few years, Google Maps has added features that allowed users to follow businesses, much like Facebook does, as well as message those businesses directly in the app, similar to Messenger. Businesses, meanwhile, have been able to set up their own profile in Google Maps, where they could add a logo, a cover photo and pick a short name — also a lot like Facebook Pages offer today.

With the launch of a news feed-style feature, Google’s attempt to copy Facebook is even more obvious.

Google says the feature is rolling out globally on Google Maps for iOS and Android.

 

 

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Elon Musk would consider having Tesla acquire a legacy automaker – TechCrunch

Elon Musk would consider leveraging Tesla’s mega $554 billion market cap to buy a legacy automaker, but only if it was on friendly terms, the billionaire entrepreneur said Tuesday in a wide-ranging interview with Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner.

Musk who received an award Tuesday from the media giant discussed his various interests and businesses, notably SpaceX and Tesla, both of which he leads.

Döpfner noted that Tesla’s valuation far exceeds the market cap of incumbent automakers like BMW, Daimler and VW, which along with others in the industry once dismissed Musk’s ability to make electric vehicles mainstream. When asked if it would be a serious option to buy one of the legacy automakers, Musk said it was possible, but only under certain conditions.

“Well, I think we’re definitely not going to launch a hostile takeover,” Musk said. “So I suppose if there was a friendly one, if somebody said, ‘Hey, we think it would be a good idea to merge with Tesla,’ we certainly have that conversation. But, you know, we don’t want it to be a hostile takeover sort of situation.”

Tesla today sits in an enviable position — although Musk said once again that its share price is too high. The company, which will join the S&P 500 Index on December 21, is now the most valuable automaker in the world, surpassing rivals that produce far more vehicles annually.

Investors have sunk money into Tesla shares largely because they view it more as a technology company than an automaker, even though the vast majority of its revenues today come from car sales.

Musk noted that automakers largely dismissed Tesla in its early days.

“When we first unveiled the Roadster in 2007,  I mean, it was just basically, they just said, Oh, well, you’re basically a bunch of fools,” Musk remarked, adding that rivals are now far friendlier than the past.

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Introduction to Shutter Speed

Example of Fast Shutter Speed

Previously, I introduced the concept of the exposure triangle as a way of thinking about getting off of Auto Mode and exploring the idea of manually adjusting the exposure of your shots.

The three main settings that you can adjust are ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. As we’ve covered aperture and ISO in other articles, today I want to turn your attention to shutter speed.

What is shutter speed?

As I’ve written elsewhere, defined most basically, shutter speed is “the amount of time that the shutter is open.”

In film photography, shutter speed is the length of time that the film is exposed to the scene you’re photographing. Similarly, in digital photography, shutter speed is the length of time that your image sensor “sees” the scene you’re attempting to capture.

Let me attempt to break down the topic of “shutter speed” into some bite-sized pieces that should help digital camera owners trying to get their head around shutter speed:

  • Shutter speed is measured in seconds – or, in most cases, fractions of seconds. The bigger the denominator, the faster the speed (i.e., 1/1000s is much faster than 1/30s).
  • In most cases, you’ll probably need shutter speeds of 1/60th of a second or faster. This is because anything slower than this is very difficult to use without getting camera shake. Camera shake is when your camera is moving while the shutter is open; it causes blur in your photos.
  • If you’re using a slow shutter speed (anything slower than 1/60s), you will need to either use a tripod or some type of image stabilization technology (more and more cameras are coming with this built-in).
  • Shutter speeds available on your camera will often double (approximately) with each setting. As a result, you’ll generally have the option to use the following shutter speeds: 1/500s, 1/250s, 1/125s, 1/60s, 1/30s, 1/15s, 1/8s, etc. This doubling is handy to keep in mind, as aperture settings also double the amount of light that is let in. As a result, increasing the shutter speed by one stop and decreasing the aperture by one stop should give you similar exposure levels.
  • Some cameras also give you the option for very slow shutter speeds that are not fractions of seconds but are measured in seconds (for example, 1 second, 10 seconds, 30 seconds, etc.). These are used in very low light situations when you’re after special effects and/or when you’re trying to capture a lot of movement in a shot. Some cameras also give you the option to shoot in “B” (or “Bulb”) mode. Bulb mode lets you keep the shutter open for as long as you hold the shutter button down.
  • When considering what shutter speed to use in an image, you should always ask yourself whether anything in your scene is moving and how you’d like to capture that movement. If there is movement in your scene, you have the choice of either freezing the movement (so it looks still) or letting the moving object intentionally blur (giving it a sense of movement).
  • To freeze movement in an image (like in the shots of the bird above and the surfer below), you’ll want to choose a faster shutter speed. To let the movement blur, you’ll want to choose a slower shutter speed. The actual speeds you should choose will vary depending upon the speed of the subject in your shot and how much you want it to be blurred.

In the bird image above, the shutter speed was 1/1000th of a second, meaning that despite the bird’s fast-flapping wings, they appear to be frozen in a split second of time. The surfing shot below had a fast shutter speed (around 1/4000th of a second), which captured even the splashing drops of water sharply.

shutter speed surfer
  • Motion is not always bad. I spoke to one digital camera owner last week who told me that he always used fast shutter speeds and couldn’t understand why anyone would want motion in their images. But there are times when motion is good. For example, when you’re taking a photo of a waterfall or a seascape and want to show how fast the water is flowing, or when you’re taking a shot of a racing car and want to give it a feeling of speed, or when you’re taking a shot of a starscape and want to show how the stars move over a longer period of time. In all of these instances, choosing a longer shutter speed will be the way to go. However, in all of these cases, you will need to use a tripod or you’ll run the risk of ruining the shots by adding camera movement (which results in a different type of blur than motion blur).

For example, in the following waterfall photo, the shutter speed was around 1s, so we see the movement in the water:

waterfalls slow shutter speed

In the subway shot below, the shutter speed was around 2s, so the movement of the train is beautifully blurred:

subway moving fast light trails
  • Focal length and shutter speed – Another thing to consider when choosing your shutter speed is the focal length of the lens you’re using. Longer focal lengths will accentuate the amount of camera shake you have, and so you’ll need to choose a faster shutter speed (unless you have image stabilization in your lens or camera). The rule of thumb here (in situations without image stabilization) is to choose a shutter speed with a denominator that is larger than the focal length of the lens. For example, if you have a lens that is 50mm, a shutter speed of 1/60s is probably okay. But if you have a 200mm lens, you’ll probably want to shoot at around 1/250s or higher.

Shutter speed – bringing it together

Remember that thinking about shutter speed in isolation from the other two elements of the exposure triangle (aperture and ISO) is not really a good idea. As you change your shutter speed, you’ll need to change one or both of the other elements to compensate for it.

For example, if you increase your shutter speed by one stop (for example, from 1/125s to 1/250s), you’re effectively letting half as much light into your camera. To compensate for this, you’ll probably need to increase your aperture by one stop (for example, from f/16 to f/11). The other alternative would be to choose a higher ISO (you might want to move from ISO 100 to ISO 200, for example).

I hope you’ve found this introduction to shutter speed useful. I would highly recommend you also put a little time aside today to learn about the other two important elements of the exposure triangle – aperture and ISO.

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Newegg Cyber Monday deals: HP Pavilion, Acer laptops, more

While online retailer Newegg, which has long held a place in the hearts of PC builders and upgraders with its wide assortment of components, has joined the Black Friday shopping hullabaloo in recent years, Cyber Monday is in its wheelhouse. As always, DIY types will get plenty of discounts on upgrade parts, but there are also a number of solid laptop and desktop PC deals that we’ve highlighted below.

$100 off

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While many of the Cyber Monday laptop deals we’ve seen so far in 2020 have featured 10th-generation Intel Core processors, here’s one that includes one of the latest 11th-gen (a.k.a. Tiger Lake) CPU — the Core i5-1135G7, specifically. It highlights a solid lineup of specs this Aspire 5 configuration possesses, including 8GB of RAM, a 512GB solid-state drive, and a 15.6-inch full HD display.

View Now at Newegg

$100 off

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This Legion Tower 5 desktop is a stylish budget tower for gamers on a budget, with specs including a Core i5-10400F six-core processor, 8GB of RAM, and both a 1TB hard drive and a 256GB SSD. Rounding things out is a GeForce GTX 1650 Super graphics card that Nvidia claims can deliver a performance boost of up to 50 percent over the original 1650 card.

View Now at Newegg

$120 off

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Newegg has those who prefer the option to game on the go covered with this Pavilion laptop, which splits the difference between 15.6-inch and 17-inch models with a 16.1-inch full HD display. That keeps the system weight under 5 pounds — not a featherweight, but also not the gaming notebook behemoths of old — even with a Core i5-10300H CPU, 12GB of memory, 256GB SSD, and GeForce GTX 1650 Ti graphics card stuffed inside. 

View Now at Newegg

$164 off

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We haven’t seen a lot of all-in-one PC deals on Cyber Monday, so we definitely took notice of this Newegg sale on an IdeaCentre 3i built around a 23.8-inch full HD touchscreen. The Core i5-10400T chip inside provides a bit more power than Core i3-based AIOs, and your storage needs will be met with both a terabyte hard drive and a 256GB SSD.      

View Now at Newegg

More Cyber Monday 2020 deals

Here are some of the many other sales Newegg is offering:

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AWS brings the Mac mini to its cloud – TechCrunch

AWS today opened its re:Invent conference with a surprise announcement: the company is bringing the Mac mini to its cloud. These new EC2 Mac instances, as AWS calls them, are now available in preview. They won’t come cheap, though.

The target audience here — and the only one AWS is targeting for now — is developers who want cloud-based build and testing environments for their Mac and iOS apps. But it’s worth noting that with remote access, you get a fully-featured Mac mini in the cloud, and I’m sure developers will find all kinds of other use cases for this as well.

Given the recent launch of the M1 Mac minis, it’s worth pointing out that the hardware AWS is using — at least for the time being — are i7 machines with six physical and 12 logical cores and 32 GB of memory. Using the Mac’s built-in networking options, AWS connects them to its Nitro System for fast network and storage access. This means you’ll also be able to attach AWS block storage to these instances, for example.

Unsurprisingly, the AWS team is also working on bringing Apple’s new M1 Mac minis into its data centers. The current plan is to roll this out “early next year,” AWS tells me, and definitely within the first half of 2021. Both AWS and Apple believe that the need for Intel-powered machines won’t go away anytime soon, though, especially given that a lot of developers will want to continue to run their tests on Intel machines for the foreseeable future.

David Brown, AWS’s vice president of EC2, tells me that these are completely unmodified Mac minis. AWS only turned off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It helps, Brown said, that the minis fit nicely into a 1U rack.

“You can’t really stack them on shelves — you want to put them in some sort of service sled [and] it fits very well into a service sled and then our cards and all the various things we have to worry about, from an integration point of view, fit around it and just plug into the Mac mini through the ports that it provides,” Brown explained. He admitted that this was obviously a new challenge for AWS. The only way to offer this kind of service is to use Apple’s hardware, after all.

Image Credits: AWS

It’s also worth noting that AWS is not virtualizing the hardware. What you’re getting here is full access to your own device that you’re not sharing with anybody else. “We wanted to make sure that we support the Mac Mini that you would get if you went to the Apple store and you bought a Mac mini,” Brown said.

Unlike with other EC2 instances, whenever you spin up a new Mac instance, you have to pre-pay for the first 24 hours to get started. After those first 24 hours, prices are by the second, just like with any other instance type AWS offers today.

AWS will charge $1.083 per hour, billed by the second. That’s just under $26 to spin up a machine and run it for 24 hours. That’s quite a lot more than what some of the small Mac mini cloud providers are charging (we’re generally talking about $60 or less per month for their entry-level offerings and around two to three times as much for a comparable i7 machine with 32GB of RAM).

Image Credits: Ron Miller/TechCrunch

Until now, Mac mini hosting was a small niche in the hosting market, though it has its fair number of players, with the likes of MacStadium, MacinCloud, MacWeb and Mac Mini Vault vying for their share of the market.

With this new offering from AWS, they are now facing a formidable competitor, though they can still compete on price. AWS, however, argues that it can give developers access to all of the additional cloud services in its portfolio, which sets it apart from all of the smaller players.

“The speed that things happen at [other Mac mini cloud providers] and the granularity that you can use those services at is not as fine as you get with a large cloud provider like AWS,” Brown said. “So if you want to launch a machine, it takes a few days to provision and somebody puts a machine in a rack for you and gives you an IP address to get to it and you manage the OS. And normally, you’re paying for at least a month — or a longer period of time to get a discount. What we’ve done is you can literally launch these machines in minutes and have a working machine available to you. If you decide you want 100 of them, 500 of them, you just ask us for that and we’ll make them available. The other thing is the ecosystem. All those other 200-plus AWS services that you’re now able to utilize together with the Mac mini is the other big difference.”

Brown also stressed that Amazon makes it easy for developers to use different machine images, with the company currently offering images for macOS Mojave and Catalina, with Big Sure support coming “at some point in the future.” And developers can obviously create their own images with all of the software they need so they can reuse them whenever they spin up a new machine.

“Pretty much every one of our customers today has some need to support an Apple product and the Apple ecosystem, whether it’s iPhone, iPad or  Apple TV, whatever it might be. They’re looking for that bold use case,” Brown said. “And so the problem we’ve really been focused on solving is customers that say, ‘hey, I’ve moved all my server-side workloads to AWS, I’d love to be able to move some of these build workflows, because I still have some Mac minis in a data center or in my office that I have to maintain. I’d love that just to be on AWS.’ ”

AWS’s marquee launch customers for the new service are Intuit, Ring and mobile camera app FiLMiC.

“EC2 Mac instances, with their familiar EC2 interfaces and APIs, have enabled us to seamlessly migrate our existing iOS and macOS build-and-test pipelines to AWS, further improving developer productivity,” said Pratik Wadher, vice president of Product Development at Intuit. “We‘re experiencing up to 30% better performance over our data center infrastructure, thanks to elastic capacity expansion, and a high availability setup leveraging multiple zones. We’re now running around 80% of our production builds on EC2 Mac instances, and are excited to see what the future holds for AWS innovation in this space.”

The new Mac instances are now available in a number of AWS regions. These include US East (N. Virginia), US East (Ohio), US West (Oregon), Europe (Ireland) and Asia Pacific (Singapore), with other regions to follow soon.

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WhatsApp is upping its wallpapers and stickers game – TechCrunch

WhatsApp is finally upping its wallpapers and stickers game, delivering some much-awaited aesthetics updates to the popular app that over 2 billion people use.

The instant messaging service said on Tuesday that it will now allow users to set custom wallpapers for different chats in a bid to make it easier for users to easily distinguish the dozens or hundreds of chats they are simultaneously engaging with. There’s no limit on how many custom wallpapers a user could choose to assign to different chats, it said.

“Make your chats personal and distinguishable by using a custom wallpaper for your most important chats and favorite people, and you never need worry about sending the wrong message in the wrong chat ever again,” the Facebook -owned service said.

WhatsApp is also rolling out doodle wallpaper — the default wallpaper currently — in more colors, and is bulking up the selection of wallpapers with more images of nature and architecture from around the world, it said. Additionally, users can now also set a separate wallpaper which activates when their phone switches from light to dark mode.

Moving on from wallpapers, the messaging app said it is also making it easier for users to quickly search and find stickers with text or emoji, or browse through common categories.

The firm urged sticker creators to tag their stickers with emojis and text moving forward so that their stickers become more easily searchable for WhatsApp users. A company spokesperson declined to share the kind of traction stickers have received on WhatsApp, or how many sticker creators have contributed.

But if stickers are something you enjoy, there are some additional ones you will spot today. The World’s Health Organization’s “Together at Home” sticker pack is now available as animated stickers. (The two began collaborating earlier this year to raise more awareness about the coronavirus pandemic.)

“Together at Home has been one of the most popular sticker packs across WhatsApp, and will now be even more expressive and useful in its animated form. The ‘Together at Home’ sticker pack is available within WhatsApp, including with text localized for 9 languages – Arabic, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Turkish,” WhatsApp said.

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