Apple, Netflix, Microsoft roll out new features

Godfrey Elimian
Apple, Netflix, Microsoft

Hello! With the conclusion of March, the first quarter of 2023 has officially ended, which has sparked excitement; when you realize that everyone’s paycheck has come and it is time to unwind and flex, the excitement doubles.

While you do that, do not miss out on all the major news making the rounds on the global scene. So, welcome to another roundup of the major global tech news this week.

The users of major apps are set to benefit from feature rollouts of some of their favourite platforms. Netflix announced that it was taking steps to incorporate its video game services into television sets. It would also be available on smartphones and tablets.

In a similar step, Apple has rolled out Apple Pay Later, which allows users to split the cost of an Apple Pay purchase into four equal payments over six weeks without interest or late fees to select users. 

In contrast, Twitter said it would soon display only tweets from Twitter Blue members in the algorithmically curated “For You” feed that users see by default, according to CEO Elon Musk.

If you missed the major news this week, don’t fret; we have curated the best bits to catch up on.

Summary of the Bulletin

  • Netflix to incorporate video game service into television sets
  • Apple rolls out Apple Pay Later
  • Musk says only verified users would be eligible for ‘For You’ recommendations and polls
  • Microsoft Teams now allows avatars for meetings
  • Amazon Web Services has launched a fintech accelerator for Africans

Read also: Google opens early access to Bard, lists 5 limitations of the chatbot

Netflix plans to incorporate video game services into TVs

It is set to be more fun for Netflix users as the streaming platform is set to add video games to its offerings.

Netflix cuts subscription prices in Kenya and Sub-saharan Africa

The streaming giant Netflix Inc is taking steps to incorporate its video-game service into television sets. The service is available on smartphones and tablets, but code hidden within Netflix’s app includes references to TV games, Bloomberg reports.

The move is one of the company’s plans to expand its ambitions. Last year, its gaming chief disclosed that it was “seriously exploring” its cloud gaming service and currently, its mobile games are available on the App Store. The company’s plans for TV gaming are undisclosed, but the code also mentions using phones as video game controllers.

As seen by Steve Moser, an app developer, one line in the code reads, “A game on your TV needs a controller to play. Do you want to use this phone as a game controller?” This might denote that there could be an option of using smartphones as controllers if Netflix incorporates games into its television app.

Apple rolls out Apple Pay Later

Apple has rolled out Apple Pay Later, which allows users to split the cost of an Apple Pay purchase into four equal payments over six weeks without interest or late fees, to select users. The iPhone makers will invite randomly selected users to access a pre-release version, with plans to offer it to all “eligible” users on iOS 16.4 or iPadOS 16.4 in the coming months. according to TechCrunch.

The chosen Apple Pay users can apply for loans from $50 to $1,000 through Apple Pay Later, which they can use to pay for online and in-app purchases made on their iPhone and iPad at shops that accept Apple Pay.

Users can register for a loan within the Wallet app on iOS to begin using Apple Pay Later. They will then be asked to agree to the Apple Pay Later conditions and input the amount they wish to borrow. After a user is accepted, they will see a “Pay Later” option when they select Apple Pay at the checkout when shopping online or in apps on their iPhone and iPad. Apple says a soft credit pull will be done during the application process.

Buy now, pay later (BNPL) services from PayPal, Affirm, Klarna, Sezzle, and numerous others compete head-to-head with Apple Pay Later. According to Grand View Research, the BNPL could be valued $39.41 billion by 2030.

Only verified users eligible for Twitter polls – Musk

Elon Musk said on Monday that only verified Twitter accounts would be eligible to vote in polls starting April 15, a move that the social media company’s CEO believes will address advanced AI bot swarms taking over.

Also in addition, only verified accounts would be eligible to be in Twitter’s “For You’ recommendations, which display a stream of tweets from accounts on Twitter for each user.

The exclusive eligibility to vote in Twitter polls becomes the latest feature among the rollout of the feature the microblogging platform has been introducing to the paid subscription since last year, including the blue verification mark, longer video uploads, and priority ranking in conversation replies. the ability to edit an already-seen tweet, plus custom icons and themes.

Meanwhile, popular basketball player Lebron James stated that he would not be paying for the blue check mark from April after Musk stated that all legacy blue checkmarks would be removed from all accounts to formerly had one.

Musk’s continuous changes to the microblogging platform continue to draw a lot of criticism and backlash from personalities who previously identified Twitter as a free platform for all rather than “a profitable” venture that Musk wants it to be.

Microsoft Teams now allows avatars for meetings

According to a blog post released by Microsoft, the company has announced that individuals who do not feel the need to be available for meetings or have their videos turned on can now use avatars to represent themselves.

It says Avatars for Microsoft Teams begins rolling out to public preview in the Microsoft Teams desktop app on Windows and Mac.

See statement:

You can represent yourself the way you want with customizable avatars and reactions. Avatars for Teams public preview is currently available in the Microsoft Teams desktop app on Windows and Mac. It is not yet available in the consumer version of Teams or in the new Teams at this time.

According to Microsoft, hybrid meetings can be exhausting, especially when you’re distracted by how you or your background looks. It claims that according to research, video usage is highly correlated to meeting participation, inclusiveness, and effectiveness. However, only ~30% of participants meet with their video on. 

Users can take a much-needed break from the camera with the new Avatars for Teams while working successfully together. Include more people in the discussion—whether they want a break from the video because they are getting tired of it, are coming from a different time zone, or prefer it that way.

AWS launches fintech accelerator for Africans

Amazon Web Services (AWS), the cloud computing division of the global e-commerce giant, Amazon, has launched a business accelerator for financial technology companies in Africa. The new program is a sign of Amazon’s growing ambitions on the continent and the direction of this ambition, TechCabal reports.

AWS Opens Lagos Office, increases commitment to Africa

Hosted by AWS’ Startup Loft Accelerator, the program will focus on fintech and fintech-adjacent startups operating in Africa. African fintech companies receive the most venture capital funding compared to other technology categories. 

AWS is now inviting early-stage fintech companies to apply to join the inaugural edition of the AWS FinTech Africa Accelerator. Applications end on the 27th of April.

By focusing on delivering digital hardware and software infrastructure via data centres and AWS, Amazon is highlighting the areas of the African market where it sees value. There are presently three AWS data centres in Africa, two in South Africa and one in Nairobi, Kenya.

Amazon and AWS are sending out a message that they want to forge early alliances with Africa’s future tech behemoths, which will serve as their future target market by focusing on new technology firms.

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