Light Start: Facebook fights Apple fees, a bald eagle asserts dominance, Courier Guy launches new app and Starlink is in Beta

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Facebook also takes a hit at Apple App Store fee

Last week, Apple faced backlash from Epic, the developers behind the popular battle royale game Fortnite, because of its 30% markup on all in-app purchases made on its i-devices. Fortnite is a free-to-play game, which means the devs only make money from IAPs. But thanks to Apple, they take a 30% cut on all of these transactions. 

Not even a week after the debacle, Facebook is also taking on Apple’s so-called ‘Apple Tax’. Last week Facebook launched a feature that’ll help small businesses earn money from live-streams through the platform. This is perfect for people in the entertainment industry, for example. Most of which have been out of work since March. Now, Apple is insisting on taking its 30% cut of all proceeds earned by these smaller companies. Facebook isn’t taking a cut, with all the money earned this way supposed to go o the creators. Google has waived its 30% cut if users use Facebook’s own payment system called Facebook Pay. But Apple isn’t willing to budge. “We asked Apple to reduce its 30% App Store tax or allow us to offer Facebook Pay so we could absorb all costs for businesses struggling during COVID-19. Unfortunately, they dismissed both our requests and [small businesses]will only be paid 70% of their hard-earned revenue,” says Fidji Simo, the head of Facebook’s main app, according to The Verge. 

All of this comes weeks after Apple CEO Tim Cook sat (virtually) in court facing antitrust allegations due to conduct on its App Store specifically. Maybe this is the push the company needs to make amendments to its policies, and give developers who want their apps on i-devices more opportunity to grow. 

Source: The Verge

A bald eagle took out a manmade eagle drone

As The Verge accurately points out “… it’s 2020 and irony is dead.” As in typical American fashion, the national bird, a bald eagle took back its top spot as the sky’s apex predator when it took down a government drone last month. 

The drone was minding its own business, mapping out the shoreline of Lake Michigan, after which the bird attacked, ripped off its propeller, after which the hardware plummeted back down to earth landing safely at the bottom of the lake. Even more ironic, the company operating the drone is aptly named EGLE. “EGLE environmental air quality analyst and drone pilot Hunter King was using the drone to map shoreline erosion when the drama started. The drone started spinning as it was headed for home, King says, ‘like a really bad rollercoaster ride’,” The Verge reports. Authorities still don’t know why the eagle decided to attack the drone, but good on him/her. The best guess at this stage is that it was a case of fighting for its territory, or maybe the eagle wanted a quick snack, after which it quickly learned that this thing tastes terrible. 

What’s the lesson here? Don’t mess with birds, we guess. It’s not unheard of for these monstrous birds to attack drones, so it could’ve been expected, so maybe the new update to the EGLE-operated drones is to make them eagle-proof. 

Source: The Verge

Courier Guy launches an app to send and receive parcels

It’s kind of shocking that South Africa is only getting this app-based service now, but The Courier Guy recently launched its own app that can be used to send and receive parcels online. 

The app called ‘Pudo’ uses a smart locker system to make customer drop-offs and pickups more convenient. ‘Pudo’ stands for ‘Pick Up, Drop Off, and allows users to schedule and send parcels by dropping them off at a specified locker area and have the parcel delivered anywhere in the country based mostly at shopping centres. The allocated drop-off and collection points are monitored with ample security and video surveillance to make sure they stay safe during the whole delivery process. After drop off, you schedule a delivery of your parcel using the Pudo app. Couriers will head to the point, pick up the parcel from the locker and deliver it to another locker location or directly to your recipient — depending on what you chose on the app. Payment can be made through Pudo directly, as the system tries to reduce human contact. It’s a great innovation in the courier industry in a post-lockdown world, where it’s inherently safer for people not to come in contact with other humans. 

The service is active, with the app being available for download from Google Play Store as well as the iOS App Store. There are currently 300  active lockers around the country, with many more planned in coming months and years. 

SpaceX’s Starlink internet is in Beta, and speeds aren’t great

We know Elon Musk likes to spew strange ideas on the internet, but generally, if the man says he’s going to do something, he does it. Which is the case with Starlink — the initiative that will offer free internet to humans of the world through satellites. 

SpaceX has been sending Starlink satellites up for the past two years — about 600 have made it into orbit successfully, and SpaceX has the go-ahead to send up a total of 12,000. Now the service has entered Beta, with testers limited to what they can share with the world at this point, but we’ve got some speeds. “According to tests conducted using Ookla’s speedtest.net tool. Speed tests showed upload speeds ranging from 5Mbps to 18Mbps,” ARSTechnical reports. But Reddit users quickly added a few more tests to the study, showing latency as low at 20ms to 21ms ping and speeds up to 60Mbps. Although these don’t reach the Gigabits promised by SpaceX, the tech is still in its infancy and speeds should increase as more and more satellites join the network. 

When Starlink is fully operational, it’ll prove extremely useful, especially for people living in areas that don’t support physical web infrastructure. 60Mbps is still on par with cabled networks, which in itself is already impressive. 

Source: ARSTechnica

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Deputy Editor at Stuff. Nevermind the fancy title, I like writing about things that are cool. Like games, gadgets and sometimes even software. Depending on how cool it is.

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