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We take a weekly look at mobile and tech stories from around the world. Headlines include… US TikTok ban would be ‘devastating’, UK firms warn, Meta opens Quest headset OS to other players, ‘Games are more important to Apple than ever’: what’s next for Apple Arcade?, and much more…

US TikTok ban would be ‘devastating’, UK firms warn

BBC

The prospect of a TikTok ban in the US is raising concerns among UK businesses, particularly online traders, who fear the potential impact on their operations. President Biden recently signed a bill requiring TikTok’s Chinese owner, ByteDance, to divest its stake in the app within nine months, or face a ban in the US. While TikTok has announced plans to challenge this decision in court, the uncertainty surrounding the situation is worrying for businesses reliant on the platform.

According to TikTok, approximately 1.5 million UK businesses operate on the app, highlighting its significance as a platform for commerce. Isobel Perl, founder of Perl Cosmetics in London, expressed concerns about the potential ban, noting that a quarter of her sales currently come from the US market. This reliance on TikTok for business growth underscores the potential ramifications of a ban on cross-border trade and revenue generation for UK businesses.

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Meta opens Quest headset OS to other players

Mobile World Live

Meta Platforms, formerly known as Facebook, has announced its intention to open up its Quest headset operating system to third-party hardware manufacturers. This move aims to expand the adoption of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) applications and services by creating an ecosystem around Meta’s Horizon OS, the mixed reality operating system that powers its own offerings.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta Platforms, shared the news in a post on Instagram, revealing partnerships with major companies like Microsoft, Lenovo, and ASUS. These partners will be among the first to utilize Meta’s operating system on their devices. Additionally, Meta is collaborating with Microsoft to develop a limited-edition Meta Quest headset inspired by Xbox, further highlighting its commitment to expanding the AR/VR ecosystem.

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‘Games are more important to Apple than ever’: what’s next for Apple Arcade?

Guardian

Apple’s launch of its games subscription service, Arcade, in September 2019 marked a significant move in the mobile gaming industry. With a monthly subscription fee of £4.99/$4.99 (now £6.99), Arcade offered access to a curated selection of 100 premium mobile games, free from ads and in-app purchases.

The subscription service market has undergone significant changes in the past five years, with a proliferation of options across entertainment sectors like TV, movies, and games. Established platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime have expanded into gaming, challenging Apple’s position in this space. As Apple reevaluates its priorities, the future of Apple Arcade hinges on several factors. 5 years on, the landscape has dramatically shifted. Consumers now face a deluge of subscription options spanning TV, film, and gaming. Meanwhile, industry giants like Netflix and Amazon Prime are aggressively encroaching on Apple’s domain, launching gaming services of their own. In light of these developments, the question arises: Does Apple Arcade still hold sway as a top priority for the tech giant?

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Dashboard confessions: unveiling the privacy issues in connected cars

Reuters

In the digital era, technology has transformed ordinary objects into data-rich sources, notably evident in the automotive sector with the proliferation of connected cars. These vehicles, equipped with internet connectivity, have revolutionized driving experiences by offering features like in-car apps, Wi-Fi access, remote controls, and GPS navigation. Yet, alongside these advancements come significant privacy concerns stemming from the extensive collection of driver behavior data. Automakers gather this data and often share or sell it to various entities, including insurance companies. Such data is utilized for diverse purposes, including determining insurance premiums and policy renewals based on individual driving habits.

However, the transparency and regulation surrounding this data collection and usage remain inconsistent, particularly across different states. While some jurisdictions have enacted laws allowing consumers to opt out of the sale of their personal information, these protections typically do not extend to connected-car data, resulting in significant privacy gaps. Addressing these discrepancies is crucial to safeguarding individuals’ privacy rights in the age of connected vehicles.

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China’s mega-telcos are spending billions on AI servers

The Register

China Mobile, one of China’s largest telecommunications companies with over a billion customers, is seeking to acquire nearly 8,000 AI servers, as indicated in a recent procurement notice. The company aims to deploy these servers by 2025 and may potentially split the purchase among seven different vendors.

This procurement initiative has been described by local media as “the largest centralized procurement of artificial intelligence servers in China to date,” with an estimated total value exceeding 15 billion yuan ($2 billion).

China Mobile’s endeavor is part of a broader trend among Chinese telecommunications companies, with China Unicom recently seeking 2,500 AI servers and China Telecom also pursuing similar acquisitions.

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Apple Pay is the benchmark as crypto mobile payments push for adoption

Coin Telegraph

Stijn Paumen, CEO of Helio, a burgeoning cryptocurrency payments platform, recently discussed the state of the industry in an exclusive interview with Cointelegraph. According to Paumen, despite the gradual integration of cryptocurrency payment platforms into major e-commerce and retail outlets, their user experience and performance still fall short of the seamless experience offered by Apple Pay.

Paumen described the cryptocurrency sector as being in its infancy, emphasizing that while Bitcoin and Ethereum are leading the way in decentralized blockchain protocols, their underlying infrastructure cannot match the performance and functionality of traditional financial systems.

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The role of biometric mobile banking in improving financial inclusion in Pakistan

Biometric Update

Pakistan’s digital payments landscape has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent years, primarily driven by mobile banking, which has played a pivotal role in fostering financial inclusion. According to a report by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), the number of biometric mobile banking users in the country surged to 16 million by the end of 2023, marking an increase of over a million from the previous quarter. Additionally, the report reveals that internet banking users reached 11 million during the same period. This substantial growth underscores a clear preference for digital transactions, fundamentally altering the financial landscape of the nation. Furthermore, there has been a significant uptick in e-wallet registrations, which rose by 15 percent to reach 2.7 million, further indicating a notable shift towards digital finance across Pakistan.

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Accessible Action: Breaking barriers with mobile sports betting apps

Advanced Television

The rise of mobile sports betting apps has transformed the gambling landscape, offering users unparalleled access and convenience worldwide. These apps cater not only to experienced bettors but also to newcomers, featuring user-friendly interfaces and a wide range of betting options. This article delves into how mobile sports betting apps are dismantling barriers and fostering inclusive engagement in the realm of sports betting.

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