Fresh off the IT Block on 5th August 2020
Welcome to today's fresh off the block from IT Block, today we will be discussing TikTok's impending USA ban, the long awaited release of the Google Pixel 4A, and lastly, going through the sudden bull-run of the cryptocurrency market.
Trump sets out to ban TikTok from operating in USA
We all knew something like this was on its way, and now that it has finally come to fruition, it will seem unsurprising that one of China's biggest conspirators, the USA, is the first to state its intentions of imposing a full ban. TikTok has long been accused of passing on consumer data from its app's users, and the Chinese government accessing this data for their own benefit.
China's communist regime has always been criticised, but there has been a growing fear that China could buy its way to become the world leader of every market, including for social media. TikTok might play fairly with its data privacy policies, but clearly the fear that they work with the Chinese government has blown to levels that have caused the potential for legal action. Donald Trump claims he has the legal right to enforce a ban for the app in the USA. The main question is, how could it be carried out?
The first step might involve requesting that Google and Apple remove the TikTok app from their online stores, but then again, people in the USA could easily use a VPN application and (theoretically) download from a location without the ban, like from Canada next door!
The only issue with removing an app from the app store is that it wouldn't legally give the phone manufacturers the right to delete the app from existing TikTok user's devices. These people who already have the app would still be able to use it, but wouldn't continue to receive updates and security fixes from the time a ban was enforced (If it was enforced).
TikTok's spokesperson Vanessa Pappa has claimed that TikTok "will not be going anywhere", in response to Donald Trump's intentions to ban the mobile app. The TikTok community has come together to stand up for the social media platform. Around 100 million Americans use the app for entertainment and connection, and the scale of usage across the USA has boomed since the coronavirus pandemic took over.
Microsoft had plans to buy into the US arm of TikTok, so that data would be stored only across American data centres, however these plans have been somewhat halted, with Microsoft declining to comment on the rumours. The US tech giant had been claimed to want to rename the app as "Microsoft Teens", a fun play on words inspired by their Teams service.
Although the TikTok app is in the centre of immense tension due to problems between China and the US, it seems unlikely that Americans will be seeing their favourite social media app disappear completely from the app stores. It's hard to see such a change happen any time soon if a buyer comes to light, or if Donald Trump is eventually unable to force a nationwide ban legally.
The Google Pixel 4A is FINALLY set for release on the 3rd August
Exciting news for you mobile phone lovers, Google has finally announced that the new Google Pixel 4A will be released on Monday 3rd August. The model was supposed to be announced back in May, but due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the release had been forced into a long delay.
Back in April, the following features were posted by 9to5Google, which were rumoured to be official for the eventual release of the Pixel 4A:
5.81-inch display (2340 x 1080)
64GB or 128GB storage
12.2MP rear camera
Video recording ability that matches the Pixel 4 - 4K at 30 FPS
8MP front-facing camera (hole-punch cutout)
Rear mounted fingerprint reader
Google's Pixel series of phone has been a big winner in terms of paying for a premium device for under $400 USD (S$550). As you might remember, the Pixel 3A was a steal for the camera you were provided, with a quality that could rival, or even surpass almost any other smartphone. Google's 3A model has been praised for its amazing low-light capabilities, something that a lot of Apple's higher priced models fail to outperform in.
Since the release of the Pixel 3A, Apple did bring out the iPhone SE 2020, which was described as a good deal for a great smartphone. It came onto the market for just $399, with a camera quality that would go on to punch well above its weight class. The SE 2020 did just that and sold very strongly, with fans raving about both the 7MP front camera, and the impressive 12MP rear camera with its f/1.8 aperture.
The Pixel 4A this year will most likely turn a lot of heads though. Think about it, people will more than likely want to be spending less on a phone that does just as much, and the current climate will be the main influencing factor. The Pixel 4 provided features in-line with some of the iPhone's best models, as well as Samsung's. The rumoured $349 USD (S$480) price tag will be well within plenty of people's budget, and if the 5G model isn't too much more expensive, we could definitely see the Pixel 4A being one of Google's biggest successes since the turn of the decade.
After all, we don't think that many people are ready to fork out 4 figures for phones that have 5G, yet don't have a headphone jack. Sure, it is nice to have AirPods or wireless earbuds, but a classic headphone jack is a feature so many people know, love, and will continue to love for the foreseeable, and it's great to see Google bringing it back to the market.
Cryptocurrency market sees sharp rise across the board
As July turned into August, we finally saw a breakout in the crypto market, and no, we're not just talking Bitcoin. Ripple (XRP) has seen its price hit six month highs, with February 2020 being the last peak. Ethereum on the other hand, has rocketed to over $370 USD, hitting levels not seen since July of 2018.
There isn't a single reason for the long awaited crypto bull run, however there are a few important events that may have contributed to the rise.
The first big cause is probably going to be the large trading volume that has been going on over the last few weeks. Traders from decentralised finance platforms have made huge gains recently from the more obscure cryptocurrencies, and it is highly likely they have been stocking up their Bitcoin and Ethereum wallets following these gains.
Something just as important to mention would be the increase in crypto adoption. Banks and payment card companies have been given the green light to store Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for users who would prefer to do so instead of just cash. Banks are giving Bitcoin especially more acceptance as a legitimate form of currency, and a valid method of payment for online shops, entertainment sites and depositing online in general.
Many Bitcoin fanatics are seeing the adoption from finance industries such as banks and card processing companies like VISA as a big bullish signal. It is a good sign that large hedge funds will continue to invest in the likes of Bitcoin, and send it going further to the next resistance point, just shy of $14,000 (USD).
Another possible, yet a little less obvious signal might be general sentiment - As uncertainty in the market continues to be present, investors are turning to assets like Gold, which have long been considered a safe haven. Bitcoin and Ethereum are likely to be adopted the same way, as stimulus packages pump more of the real currencies into the economy, effectively decreases their attractiveness.
With a big rise in Bitcoin also came a resulting crash. Although it wasn't anywhere near the same size as the rise, trading whales recently caused $1 billion USD of Bitcoin to be liquidated from the crypto market. This generally happens when crypto stocks are trading at a much lower volume and these whales can largely move the position of the price.
Combine this with both shorters (hedge funds) and those retail traders betting on the next price movement of these crypto stocks, and you have a much more volatile set of cryptocurrencies. The price movement in Bitcoin in some ways caused a shock wave to other cryptocurrencies, and the same trend line for the last week is visible across the charts for all of the major cryptocurrencies.
Although this huge price move was great to see for crypto traders, there's no saying it will last, and we know from the drops earlier this year that price rises can very easily be a temporary trend.