Cloud RPA allows for the real-time availability of an automation platform: Atul Soneja, Global Head of Edge Products and Infosys Nia- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

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EdgeVerve Systems, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Infosys, has recently launched AssistEdge Cloud RPA (Robotic Process Automation) to help enterprises future-proof their businesses with greater speed, scalability and security through hassle-free and rapid process automation. Atul Soneja, Global Head of Edge Products and Infosys Nia, shares his perspective on the huge growth demand for RPA
Some edited excerpts from the interview:
The BFSI sector is among the first sectors to adopt automation. How do you see this sector leveraging RPA?
As early adopters of technological innovation, the BFSI sector has leveraged RPA to create a real-world impact in terms of enhanced productivity and reduced cost of operations leading to superior customer experiences. Intelligent Automation has helped banks unlock value across the business value chain, accelerating time to market. There has been consistent growth in the adoption of automation across the BFSI industry, and banks have long moved from minor pilot projects to end-to-end automation.
One of our clients, a leading US Bank, was losing hundreds of thousands of dollars from a single process where they were reimbursing clients for fraudulent transactions and not reclaiming it back from debit card and fraud monitoring providers. AssistEdge addressed this business pain point, and in 12 weeks, an automation process was designed and implemented, which saved USD 1.2 million within the first year from a single process alone. Moreover, the process completion time reduced by 80%.
The latest tech adoptions by enterprises have been in the direction of intelligent, scalable, secure, and reliable platforms to realize the full potential of automation. The next phase of innovation in automation will be the evolution of intelligent RPA through the integration of AI and ML technologies. This will enable a powerful blend of the human and digital workforce to reach the highest level of human-empowered automation that we at EdgeVerve call as ‘Automation Singularity’.
Automation often requires high infra cost. Can process automation happen on the cloud?Businesses need to focus on perceiving Intelligent Automation as a long-term value driver instead of a cost center. Infrastructure costs have long been a cause of concern for CXOs. However, the tech landscape itself is going through a constant metamorphosis enabling the management of automation of any scale and complexity on the cloud with stringent governance and compliance framework. Cloud RPA allows for the real-time availability of an automation platform, with access to bots anytime, anywhere.
RPA delivered on the cloud is an illustration of a SaaS-based (Software as a Service) solution as the infrastructure, setup, maintenance, and support are being provisioned as services by the RPA vendor. This allows the clients to take the hassle out of infrastructure installation and ongoing monitoring of the bots.
AssistEdge Cloud RPA revolves around deploying streamlined, secure, scalable, and flexible automation solutions for enterprises. It accelerates time-to-value through AssistEdge RPA and industry-leading RPA delivery capability, coupled with Cloud efficiency.
We have implemented AssistEdge RPA on Cloud for one of the largest global healthcare technology companies for their finance and accounting function. The outcome — 13+ SAP-based, as well as other diverse applications were automated with a 24*7 bot execution schedule.
With large enterprises, scalability is often the biggest roadblock while choosing an AI/Automation solution. How is EdgeVerve solving that problem?
According to me, there are two essential reasons why scaling automation is a challenge for many enterprises — not choosing the right processes to automate and/or getting stuck in the POC or testing phase due to the inability of the RPA platform to scale.
EdgeVerve’s AssistEdge is a true enterprise grade cohesive automation platform that enables enterprises to seamlessly traverse between attended and unattended automation, thus achieving scalability. Identifying the right processes for automation helps enterprises attain automation at scale. With AssistEdge Discover, enterprises can easily tap into a custom-made automation blueprint that maps processes on ‘value’ and ‘feasibility’ of automation. This enables enterprises to start small, but start right, carving a path for long-term, result-oriented automation, promising to deliver sustained scale.
With more than 70% of our customers being Global 2000 enterprises and accredited highly by global analysts by leading analyst firms, EdgeVerve has delivered on scalability to its customers across multiple dimensions. These include the number of bots in production, processes automated, transactions processed, applications integrated, and the reach across several countries worldwide.
Keeping scalability in mind, EdgeVerve is one of the first-ever company to roll out outcome-based models in the RPA space to help customers achieve significant business value.

If you have an interesting article / experience / case study to share, please get in touch with us at [email protected]

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Sonos kills software updates for legacy products and customers aren’t happy – Blog – 10 minute

What just happened? Sonos earlier this week set off a firestorm among its most loyal customers when it announced that some legacy products would no longer be receiving software updates. For transition products like those that came out before software updates were a common occurrence, it is proving to be an issue.
Affected products include the original Zone Players, Connect and Connect: Amp (launched in 2006 and sold through 2015), the Bridge (launched in 2007), the first-gen Play:5 (launched in 2009) and the CR200, also launched in 2009. Updates will stop coming down the pipe in May 2020, the company said.
Sonos said it is proud of the fact that the products they build last a long time, noting that 92 percent of the products they’ve ever shipped are still in use today. Over time, however, technology has advanced at an exponential rate and some of their oldest products have been stretched to their technical limits in terms of processing power and memory.
Without new updates, Sonos said, access to services and overall functionality will eventually be disrupted.
It’s a concern that earlier generations of people and products simply never had to contend with. Back in the day, a new product was expected to perform exactly the same on the day it gets retired as it did on the day it was new. Nowadays, you have to factor software lifespan into the equation as products can be put out to pasture even if their hardware is still perfectly capable.

To help with the transition, Sonos offers a 30 percent discount on the purchase of new equipment when trading in your old gear. Products submitted for trade in will be put into recycle mode which deletes all personally identifiable information and preps them for recycling. Essentially, this irreversible mode bricks the item so it can’t be resold.
If you’d prefer to hang on to your original purchase, that’s perfectly acceptable, too. Just know that, eventually, one day, it will lose functionality and stop working as intended.
Even with the trade in offer, many are miffed. Lots of users have taken to Twitter to voice their displeasure. One user said that nobody spends thousands of dollars on high-end speakers and expects them to be rendered obsolete.
Masthead credit: Sonos dog by Vantage_DS. Plants by Getty.

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Apple is in the business of selling emotions and not just products: Louis Houdart, group CEO, Creative Capital- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

As we enter the Year of the Rat, advertising creatives from across Asia offer their favourite Chinese New Year campaigns from over the years as we celebrate the best work from the festive period and hear their views on what is best in class.
As a Frenchman, I’ve lived in Greater China for the last 20 plus years. So I feel very much at home here.
And living in a sprawling country like China means that most people work far far away from home. As a Frenchman living in China, I can relate to the festive season here when people want to celebrate it with families. The festive season is always associated with long trips back home and childhood memories made of secret recipes from grandma, to hometown speciality food that always tastes better at home.
These values are obviously very deeply rooted in Chinese culture, but also in the French culture where food and family are extremely important.
Some cultural customs can be very specific to some places, but I found Apple’s ‘The Bucket’ campaign beautiful and touching. It managed to be very local, with very touching universal values.
Anybody working and leaving far away from home will know this feeling, of going back to your grandparents or parents home and rushing to the fridge, as well as looking forward to the first family meal with dishes on the tables that are all favourites, and this without the need of requesting anything.
It also manages to be timeless and relevant yesterday, today and tomorrow.
The campaign has a deep emotional connection, touching on childhood memories. It was a massive success not just in China, but also overseas with close to three million views on YouTube only… and all this without ever showing the product.
Apple, once again, proving that it is truly a lifestyle brand, in the business of selling emotions and not just products.
Louis Houdart, group chief executive officer, Creative Capital
Check out the latest holiday ads here, and keep an eye on Tempemail’s ongoing Chinese New Year coverage.

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Detox products have been around, and criticised, for centuries- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

If you use social media platforms such as Instagram, there’s a good chance you’ve seen accounts promoting diet pills and teas. These products often claim to be “detoxifying”, as well as promising weight loss and increased energy.
The promotion of these products has been so pronounced in recent years that the medical director of the NHS, Stephen Powis, has argued that social media platforms should take down posts that promote these products due to their “damaging impact on physical and mental health”. And in recent weeks, Instagram announced it will be removing all posts that make “miraculous” claims about diet or weight loss products.
But while many of these products have specifically targeted millennials, the promotion of diet, detox, and laxative products has been around for centuries. Indeed, in the 19th and 20th centuries, laxative pill products like Beecham’s Pills and Bile Beans enjoyed a particular vogue. They were available over the counter and contained ingredients like ginger, pure soap powder, and aniseed. Although they were primarily laxatives, they also claimed to improve the complexion, boost spirits, and purify the blood.

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Despite being controversial, these products were enormously popular. In the House of Lords in 1938, Lord Horder – a leading physician at the time – stated that the public were spending between £25-30m on these products every year. And consumers probably didn’t know exactly what they were ingesting, because many medicine manufacturers were not legally required to list the ingredients of their products on packaging before 1941.
Trust in advertising
Similar to the way modern diet pills and teas are advertised, testimonial advertising made 19th and 20th century over-the-counter medicine brands appear more personal, trustworthy, and authoritative – with recommendations from non-experts featuring regularly.

Both ‘invaluable’ and ‘worth a guinea a box’ (Wellcome Collection)

There was much debate at the time about whether 19th and 20th century testimonials were authentic. And while testimonials were probably based on genuine correspondence from consumers, they still could have been edited.
Today, it is similarly difficult to tell whether an influencer’s recommendation is genuine. Yet a recent study found that trust in “digital creators” is higher than trust in brands. The study found roughly 37 per cent of people age 18-34 were more likely to trust brands after they had seen sponsored posts from influencers. This trust often leads to a purchase: 42 per cent of those exposed to sponsored influencer content reported trying the recommended product or service, while 26 per cent made a purchase.
Advertising via influencers has transformed modern advertising and marketing. It has created a new league of authoritative “experts” that front brands and make them appear more trustworthy, personable, and familiar. This is key to the promotion of health and medicinal products that can positively and negatively affect the body.
Misleading consumers?
British influencers were criticised in the study for not disclosing when posts on Instagram include sponsored content. This caused concern about influencers misleading consumers, as recommendations can seem genuine when they are, in fact, financially motivated.
As a result, influencers have increasingly come under fire from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in Britain. The ASA and the Competition and Markets Authority launched an “Influencer’s Guide” in September 2018 to ensure influencers make their followers aware of sponsored content.

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Sophie’s choice: ‘Flat Tummy Tea’ fell foul of the authorities (Sophie Kasaei)

But even when influencers do disclose paid advertisements with “#ad” they can still be investigated by the ASA. In 2017, Sophie Kasaei, a reality star with over 2 million followers on Instagram, uploaded a picture with “Flat Tummy Tea” online. The ASA upheld a complaint against her due to a lack of scientific evidence for the claims made. Plus, the name “Flat Tummy Tea” did not comply with the EU’s register of nutrition and health claims.
Debunking ‘nonsense’
The ASA’s concerns demonstrate that modern brands have developed new and increasingly sophisticated ways of overcoming the absence of face-to-face interaction with consumers. And this trust that people invest in social media influencers has led to podcasts, editorial content, and documentaries that aim to “debunk” health trends, products, and diets. BBC podcasts such as All Hail Kale investigate “what foods, therapies and lifestyles to embrace – and which are just nonsense”.

You too can have legs like this… (Wellcome Collection)

Debunking such “nonsense” has similar parallels with the approach taken by the British Medical Association (BMA) towards over-the-counter medicines in the early 20th century. In 1909 and 1912, the BMA set out to “expose” these products by testing their ingredients. They aimed to educate the public, but their approach also cast the public as weak and irrational – ripe for being exploited by “quackery”.

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In the same way, podcasts and articles debunk such health claims as “nonsense”, reminiscent of the use of the word “quackery”. But using dismissive language like this fails to understand why these products, treatments and lifestyles are so popular.
Restricting the advertising of these products on Instagram will not stop people from buying them. Long after the BMA tried to tackle the sale of over-the-counter medicines in Britain in the early 20th century, the public continued to buy them. And in being dismissive of these products and those that use them, there is a failure to understand why people consume them in the first place. Instead, more needs to be done to try to understand the complex structures, beliefs, habits, and traditions that motivate consumption of such products in the first place.
Erin Elizabeth Bramwell is a PhD candidate in history at Lancaster University. This article first appeared on The Conversation

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Presenting CES’s Major Gadgets: Tech Products You Can Take Home- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

CES, or the Consumer Electronics Show, the biggest tech event of the year, is over finally. Over its years of operations, CES has become more about futuristic ideas and also about concept devices. However, here a sad part is that most of the products debuted at CES, don’t actually make it to the market. 
Consider the case of Sony and OnePlus. At a time when Sony launched a self-driving car, OnePlus debuted a smartphone with an electronic glass that can hide rear cameras. Unfortunately, both Sony and OnePlus would not make a commercial debut.
On the positive front, there were a dozen of products launched at CES 2020, that has confirmed to launch in the commercial market. Popular ones among them are Samsung’s Galaxy Chromebook and Sero TV, LG’s rollable Tv, Lenovo’s foldable laptop and more. 
Here’s presenting the top gadgets of CES International 2020.
Samsung Galaxy Chromebook
While Samsung already created headlines with its Bot Chef , it also announced the Galaxy Chromebook, which starts at a price of $999. The Chromebook becomes more aspirational when it comes with a 2-in-1 intense fiesta red. It had an aluminum build and packs a 13.3 inch 4K screen and Intel Core i5 processor. This device is also available with an in-built stylus. 
LG Signature OLED TV R
While the world has been hearing a lot about LG’s rollable TV, the company is ready to finally ship the Signature OLED TV R later this year. The price is approximately at $60,000 when the device would be shipped to customers. The main highlight of the 65-inch Signature OLED TV R is its screen, which can be rolled up to its base when not used. Additionally, the TV base doubles up as a soundbar and can be used in several ways.

Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite and Note 10 Lite
Samsung never fails to surprise, when both the Galaxy S10 Lite and Note 10 Lite are aimed at a premium price segment. Both the S10 Lite and Note 10 Lite would offer top-end features like the S-pen, bigger batteries and excellent cameras at accessible price points. Though the prices are yet to be announced, the Galaxy S10 Lite is confirmed to be launched on January 23. The Galaxy S10 Lite and Note 10 Lite are stiff competitions to iPhone XR and OnePlus 7T.
Samsung Sero Tv
Seems that TikTok fans get a huge breather now. The Samsung Sero Tv can rotate vertically and features a display that can either rotate horizontally and vertically. The 43-inch TV looks like a horizontal television when looked at, but when you press a button, the orientation of the TV changes from horizontal to vertical. Also, the Sero Tv is capable of matching the orientation of the consumer’s phone when paired with a Galaxy device.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold
Lastly, Lenovo has been building the hype around its foldable laptop for the past few months, and the release date of the device is announced finally. The world’s first foldable laptop ThinkPad X1 Fold is a fully-fledged one that has a flexible display, similar to that of a Galaxy Fold or Motorola Razr. However, this laptop is one with an Intel processor that runs Microsoft’s Windows OS. It’s expected to be launched by mid-2020.

Summing Up
This was a wrap of the devices that have been exceptional and unique. We are planning to come up with a detailed video on our upcoming Weekly Wrapup soon. If you got some interesting gadgets to talk about that was launched in CES and we missed accidentally, please let us know in the comments section below.

If you have an interesting article / experience / case study to share, please get in touch with us at [email protected]

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Uber has surveyed some drivers on small loans, suggesting financial products are coming – gpgmail


Back in June Uber went on a hiring spree in New York, hiring at least 100 fintech-oriented tech workers to ostensibly look at creating products to increase loyalty and engagement among users and drivers, including things like banking. Cue a flurry of speculation. It now looks like Uber is taking baby-steps towards building such a raft of products out, potentially by offering loans directly to drivers, according to a report from Recode/Vox.

The story is based on the emergence of an in-app survey which was sent to some drivers talking about a “new financial product” aimed at drivers “in a time of need.” The survey then went on to question drivers’ use of financing loans of $1,000 or less in the last three years. It asked “what amount are you most likely to request?” It then gave them options top pick from “Less than $100,” “Between $100 and $250,” “Between $250 and $500” and “More than $500.”

At this time there’s no indication of timing on a small loans product offering to drivers, and Uber has not publicly commented on the emergence of the survey’s existence.

However, Uber already has form in this space. It has offered cash advance programs to drivers in California and Michigan, although the company was criticised for what some called “pay-day loans”. It’s also offered leases on new cars to drivers in the past and currently offers a co-branded credit card with Visa and an Uber Cash digital wallet for riders.

Uber would not be alone in rolling out small cash loans to its workers, given given that large companies such as Walmart and others already offer lucrative payroll advances and loans to employees.

But the fact that it now has a very large FinTech team suggests this won’t the end of us hearing about Uber’s tentative moves into this space.


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Atlassian launches free tiers for all its cloud products, extends premium pricing plan – gpgmail


At our TC Sessions: Enterprise event, Atlassian co-CEO Scott Farquhar today announced a number of updates to how the company will sell its cloud-based services. These include the launch of new premium plans for more of its products, as well as the addition of a free tier for all of the company’s services that didn’t already offer one. Atlassian now also offers discounted cloud pricing for academic institutions and nonprofit organizations.

The company previously announced its premium plans for Jira Software Cloud and Confluence Cloud. Now, it is adding Jira Service Desk to this lineup, and chances are it’ll add more of its services over time. The premium plan adds a 99.9% update SLA, unlimited storage and additional support. Until now, Atlassian sold these products solely based on the number of users, but didn’t offer a specific enterprise plan.

As Harsh Jawharkar, the head of go-to-market for Cloud Platform at Atlassian, told me, many of its larger customers, who often ran the company’s products on their own servers before, are now looking to move to the cloud and hand over to Atlassian the day-to-day operations of these services. That’s in part because they are more comfortable with the idea of moving to the cloud at this point — and because Atlassian probably knows how to run its own services better than anybody else. 

For these companies, Atlassian is also introducing a number of new features today. Those include soon-to-launch data residency controls for companies that need to ensure that their data stays in a certain geographic region, as well as the ability to run Jira and Confluence Cloud behind customized URLs that align with a company’s brand, which will launch in early access in 2020. Maybe more important, though, are features to Atlassian Access, the company’s command center that helps enterprises manage its cloud products. Access now supports single sign-on with Google Cloud Identity and Microsoft Active Directory Federation Services, for example. The company is also partnering with McAfee and Bitglass to offer additional advanced security features and launch a cross-product audit log. Enterprise admins will also soon get access to a new dashboard that will help them understand how Atlassian’s tools are being used across the organization.

But that’s not all. The company is also launching new tools to make customer migration to its cloud products easier, with initial support for Confluence and Jira support coming later this year. There’s also new extended cloud trial licenses, which a lot of customers have asked for, Jawharkar told me, because the relatively short trial periods the company previously offered weren’t quite long enough for companies to fully understand their needs.

This is a big slew of updates for Atlassian — maybe its biggest enterprise-centric release since the company’s launch. It has clearly reached a point where it had to start offering these enterprise features if it wanted to grow its market and bring more of these large companies on board. In its early days, Atlassian mostly grew by selling directly to teams within a company. These days, it has to focus a bit more on selling to executives as it tries to bring more enterprises on board — and those companies have very specific needs that the company didn’t have to address before. Today’s launches clearly show that it is now doing so — at least for its cloud-based products.

The company isn’t forgetting about other users either, though. It’ll still offer entry-level plans for smaller teams and it’s now adding free tiers to products like Jira Software, Confluence, Jira Service Desk and Jira Core. They’ll join Trello, Bitbucket and Opsgenie, which already feature free versions. Going forward, academic institutions will receive 50% off their cloud subscriptions and nonprofits will receive 75% off.

It’s obvious that Atlassian is putting a lot of emphasis on its cloud services. It’s not doing away with its self-hosted products anytime, but its focus is clearly elsewhere. The company itself started this process a few years ago and a lot of this work is now coming to fruition. As Anu Bharadwaj, the head of Cloud Platform at Atlassian, told me, this move to a fully cloud-native stack enabled many of today’s announcements, and she expects that it’ll bring a lot of new customers to its cloud-based services.  


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Amazon unveils a new Fire TV Cube, soundbar, and over a dozen Fire TV Edition products – gpgmail


At the big European tech trade show, IFA 2019, Amazon today announced over 20 new Fire TV-branded devices, including a next-generation Fire TV Cube, Fire TV Edition soundbar from Anker — its first foray into Fire TV Edition audio products — and 15 new Fire TV Edition products, including the first OLED Fire TV Edition smart TVs.

The announcement represents a significant expansion of Amazon’s Fire TV hardware line and integrations at a time when Roku has gained a lead over Amazon in the U.S., in terms of connected-TV market share, while Fire TV has been claiming the top spot in some European markets and an international lead over Roku.

The company today said its Fire TV devices now have over 37 million monthly active users globally, which is ahead of the 30.5 million Roku reported in Q2. Both companies offer products that may be used by more than one person in a household, of course, but each household only gets counted as one user (or account) as long as they’ve streamed through the platform in the past month. It’s a relatively fair comparison, in other words.

Of the new devices, the new Fire TV Cube is one of the more interesting additions to the lineup as it represents the second generation, and a big upgrade, over the existing product. The device offers a hands-free Fire TV experience, and has become the testing ground for many Fire TV software enhancements before they roll out to the wider product lineup.

The updated Fire TV Cube now includes a faster, “hexa-core” processor that’s twice as powerful as the one that shipped in the first generation device. It provides “instant access” to Dolby Vision and 4K Ultra HD content, Amazon claims, at up to 60 frames per second. The new Cube also includes on-device processing with Local Voice Control, which lets you more quickly execute some of your common voice commands like “Alexa, go home,” or “Alexa, scroll right,” for example. These commands will now execute up to 4 times faster, says Amazon.

The Fire TV Cube will also ship with far-field voice recognition capabilities with 8 microphones and technology that helps to suppress noise, reverberation, content currently playing, and even competing speech so Alexa better hears your voice commands even when the TV is on in a room full of people.

Customers will be able to control their compatible TV, soundbar, A/V receiver, cable or satellite box, as well as other smart home devices by way of the device’s support of multi-directional infrared technology, cloud-based protocols, and HDMI CEC, combined with Alexa. 

“Fire TV Cube was the first hands-free streaming media player powered by Alexa, and since launching last year we have gathered a wealth of feedback from customers about how they use voice in the living room,” said Marc Whitten, Vice President of Amazon Fire TV, in a statement. “Over the past year, we have continued to expand and advance the Fire TV Cube experience based on this feedback with dozens of new features including Multi-Room Music, Follow-Up Mode, and Alexa Communications. These key learnings carried over and guided the development of the second-generation Fire TV Cube, and we are excited to introduce this new-and-improved experience to customers around the world,” he said.

The new Fire TV Cube is available for pre-order in the U.S. for $119.99, in Canada for $149.99, the United Kingdom for £109.99, Germany for €119.99, and Japan for ¥14980.  It ships on Oct. 10 in all markets except Japan, where it ships on Nov. 5, instead. And it will be sold in a package with Ring Video Doorbell 2 for $249.99 (or $69 off).

Fire TV Cube Couch

Amazon’s Fire TV Edition lineup is expanding, too. This is the licensed version of the Fire TV OS available to other manufacturers for use in their own products.

The company announced more than 15 new products from brands including Skyworth, Arcelik, TPV, Compal, and others.

In partnership with Dixons Carphone, Amazon is teaming up to launch JVC – Fire TV Edition Smart 4K Ultra HD HDR LED TVs, which are the first Fire TV Edition products in the U.K. They’ll be sold by Currys PC World and online at Amazon.co.uk and are priced at £349 and up.

With IMTRON, a company of MediaMarktSaturn Retail Group, Amazon is launching a lineup of Fire TV Edition smart TVs under the private label ok. These will be available in Germany and Austria, as will the 11 Fire TV Edition smart TVs from Grundig including the first OLED Fire TV Edition television ( available in 55” and 65” models, starting at €1,299.99 for hands-free; or starting at €1,199.99 if not; pictured below). 

Grundig OLED Fire TV Edition display

Other more affordable Grundig Fire TV Edition products will be sold on Amazon.de in 32″, 40″, 43″, 49″, 55″, and 65″ variations, starting at €239.99. They’ll also come to retailers including MediaMarkt, Saturn, Euronics, Expert, EP:, Medimax, and others.

In the U.S., Amazon and Best Buy announced the first 65-inch Toshiba – Fire TV Edition smart TV with Dolby Vision, which will be available for customers in the United States next month for $599.

Finally, following Roku’s lead into home audio, Amazon also announced the first expansion of Fire TV Edition beyond the TV itself with the launch of the Nebula Soundbar from Anker. (Roku also today launched its own wireless soundbar).

The new device supports 4K Ultra HD, a unified smart TV user interface, near-field Alexa voice control, Dolby Vision pass-through, and more. It can also be added to a multi-room speaker group through the Alexa app, and comes with a 90-day trial to Amazon Music Unlimited. 

Nebula Soundbar – Fire TV Edition 4

It’s available for pre-order today for $229.99 in the United States, $269.99 in Canada, £179.99 in the United Kingdom, and €209.99 in Germany. It will begin shipping on November 21.

The expansion of Fire TV Edition-branded products is also meant to challenge Roku on the success of its Roku TV-branded television sets, which are similarly manufactured by partners but run the Roku OS.

In the U.S., Roku OS is the No. 1 licensed TV OS in the U.S. and now powers more than 1 in 3 smart TVs. Amazon is today is clearly answering that challenge by focusing on the international markets with a suite of new partners for Fire TV Edition.

 


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Apple products under pricing pressure as new 15% tariffs drop Sunday – gpgmail


A new 15% tariff on Chinese imports will go in effect just after midnight Sunday, placing levies on hundreds of household goods and consumer tech, including a bevy of Apple products.

The tariffs, put in place by President Donald Trump as part of an escalating tit-for-tat trade war with China, were entered into the Federal Register on Friday.

Apple, the largest U.S. technology company by market cap, has its products assembled in China by Foxconn and then ships them to consumers all over the world. The Apple Airpods, Apple Watch and accompanying Apple Watch bands and the Apple Homepod are all products subject to the higher tariffs beginning Sunday. The iPhone doesn’t appear to be impacted this round, but could be subject to tariffs that begin Dec. 15.

Apple is hardly the only electronics company — most of which have final assembly in China — to be affected by the tariffs. TVs, speakers, digital cameras, lithium-ion batteries and flash drives are just a few of consumer electronics that will be subjected to a 15% tariff beginning Sunday. But the higher tariffs do threaten to give rival Samsung an edge.

The new higher tariffs come just a few weeks since Apple CEO Tim Cook met with Trump to argue that such a move would benefit its No. 1 competitor Samsung.

The 15% tariff will affect about $112 billion of Chinese goods, lower than the original list of $300 billion imports. Last week, the U.S. Trade Representative office modified the original list, either delaying tariffs on some products until December 15 or removing some goods altogether.

Despite the lower number, the impact is still expected to pinch companies importing products from China. The complete list of products affected by the 15% tariffs is 122 pages long. And eventually, that pain — aka higher prices — will be passed onto consumers.

Apple has not said whether it will increase prices of its products. Analysts from JP Morgan expect Apple to absorb the costs.

Tariffs have already had a cost, according to the Consumer Tech Association. Since July 2018, Section 301 tariffs on China have cost the consumer tech industry over $10 billion, including $1 billion on 5G-related products, the CTA said.

In total, American taxpayers have paid over $27 billion in extra import tariffs from the beginning of the trade war in 2018 through June of this year, most of which can be attributed to the U.S.-China trade war, according to U.S. Census information provided by the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI).

Another 30% tariff on about $250 billion of goods is expected to begin October 1.


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TikTok’s new ‘Hashtag Challenge Plus’ lets video viewers shop for products in the app – gpgmail


TikTok, the short-form video platform favored by young adults and teens, has launched a new feature that allows users to shop for products associated with a sponsored Hashtag Challenge, without leaving its app. These sponsored challenges are Gen Z-friendly marketing campaigns where users are prompted to post videos of them using a product — like showing off favorite outfits from Uniqlo or Guess, for example. Or they might participate in some sort of manufactured viral trend, like singing favorite Disney songs ahead of a Disney-themed episode of American Idol.

The new e-commerce feature, called Hashtag Challenge Plus, adds a shoppable component to the hashtag.

In addition to creating and viewing videos featuring the brand’s sponsored hashtag, a separate tab features an in-app experience where products from the campaign can be purchased within TikTok itself.

Last week, Kroger was the first brand to try out the new feature, according to a report from AdWeek.

While not exactly a company that exudes youth appeal, Kroger found a way to reach TikTok’s young adult audience through their hashtag campaign.

In partnership with four TikTok influencers — Joey Klaasen, Cosette Rinab, Mia Finney and Victoria Bachlet — Kroger prompted TikTok viewers to post videos of their dorm makeovers using the hashtag #TransformUrDorm. Digital agency i360 was involved in the videos’ creation.

What made Kroger’s challenge unique was that it also introduced a dedicated brand page where viewers could actually shop for products, too.

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Kroger paid for its sponsored hashtag to be given placement on TikTok’s Discover page for a week’s time. The tag can still be found via search, even though the campaign has wrapped.

Of course, many of its intended viewers found it by way of their favorite TikTok influencer’s profile, much like how Instagram ad campaigns work.

Since launch, the hashtag has since grown to around 477 million views across hundreds of videos — some labeled “Official,” if from the influencers. The rest is user-generated content from other TikTok users hoping to capitalize on the trend to gain a little TikTok fame for themselves.

On the hashtag’s landing page, there’s a separate tab also labeled “Discover,” but not to be confused with TikTok’s main Discover section. This directs viewers to the new shopping experience.

Here, Kroger shows off a scrollable row of featured products including things like a popcorn maker, a box of snack bars, a toaster, and other items.

Tapping the “Shop Now” link then opens up Kroger’s website where users can add items to their cart and check out online.

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This shoppable experience is really just a mobile-optimized Kroger website pointing to a special search term (btscollege19). It isn’t a TikTok creation, nor built with TikTok’s help. On the mobile site, you can scroll down through a random list of items — from shampoos to coffee filters to toothpaste to hangers and more — or you can filter by category or enter a search term.

It’s unclear if such an offering will actually significantly impact e-commerce sales.

If anything, a hashtag campaign like this is better utilized to remind viewers that Kroger’s grocery store is also a place to shop for back-to-school needs, as an alternative to big-box stores like Target or Walmart or online retailers like Amazon.

TikTok confirmed to gpgmail that Kroger was the first to put it into action last week. A spokesperson declined to say if other campaigns using the new product were in the works, adding that the company couldn’t talk about any plans ahead of their launch.

Sponsored Hashtag Challenges are only one way TikTok is experimenting with generating revenue from its some 500 million monthly users, the majority who are under 30. The company has also tried out full-screen ads at launch, in-feed ads, 3D/AR lenses, stickers and more.

 

 


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