U.S. technology ban on ZTE continues to have major repercussions

The U.S. technology ban on ZTE could result in a $3 billion loss for the Chinese company. Partners and clients are allegedly backing out of deals, contributing to burgeoning costs and expenses that are now mounting quickly. However, in an attempt to appease China, it seems that the U.S. may attempt to ease up just a bit — reports suggest that the U.S. could substitute a $1 billion-plus fine and an agreement by ZTE to a managerial shakeup for the fine.

Meanwhile, ZTE is losing a significant amount of money simply on daily operating expenses, which stand at around $15.7 million. And given that most of ZTE’s 75,000 employees aren’t able to do much of anything right now as a result of the ban, this is $15.7 million practically wasted on a daily basis.

In other bad news, ZTE could be banned from using Google’s Android operating system as a result of an announcement made on Monday, April 16 that banned it from using U.S. technology for the next seven years.

ZTE has articulated its opposition to the ban, complaining that the sentence does not take into account the efforts that ZTE has made to correct the conduct the ban targeted. “It is unacceptable that [the Bureau of Industry and Security] insists on unfairly imposing the most severe penalty on ZTE even before the completion of investigation of facts, ignoring the continuous diligent work of ZTE and the progress we have made on export compliance,” the company said.

“The Denial Order will not only severely impact the survival and development of ZTE, but will also cause damage to all partners of ZTE including a large number of U.S. companies,” ZTE continued, indicating that the future of the company is at stake.

How it started

The ban came following allegations that the Chinese company knowingly made false statements to U.S. officials regarding its sale of American technology to Iran. By the time ZTE settled with the U.S. government, it had emerged that the company had lied to officials about the disciplinary actions taken against staff, and apparently had rewarded some employees for illegal actions. As a result, it is now illegal to sell or supply U.S.-based technology to ZTE — and critically for the Chinese company, that could include the Android operating system.

This is an especially large issue for ZTE. Android powers a staggeringly huge portion of the mobile market, with some sources putting the Google OS’s market share at almost three-quarters of the market, with most of the rest being dominated by Apple’s iOS. If ZTE were to lose access to the Android operating system, it would give the firm very few options in operating systems, with mobile operating systems outside iOS and Android taking up less than 1.5 percent of the market. One option for ZTE might be to reach out to Samsung for the Tizen operating system — but that OS is limited in apps and reach.

By contrast, while the impact on ZTE of this ban would be crippling, the blow to Google would be fairly minimal. While still a manufacturer with respectable sales numbers, ZTE is far from being a major player within the Android ecosphere, and ZTE’s loss would be unlikely to cause issues for Google. Bloomberg reports that ZTE’s lawyers are currently in talks with Google officials regarding the ban and how to proceed. We reached out to Google for comment, but the search engine giant has not responded.

Suspicion toward Chinese tech companies like ZTE and Huawei has intensified as of late, with the U.K. recently announcing that ZTE phones could pose a risk to national security, while both companies have been singled out as risky by U.S. intelligence agencies, and this is likely the reason why many U.S. carriers and sellers have cut ties with Huawei.

Updated May 23: The ZTE ban could cause losses of up to $3 billion. 

Editors’ Recommendations

ProsperWorks CEO Jon Lee: You’re Going to Need Great Data

Jon Lee is the CEO of ProsperWorks.

In this exclusive interview, Lee discusses the importance of high-quality data to CRM success.

ProsperWorks CEO Jon Lee

ProsperWorks CEO Jon Lee

CRM Buyer: What are some of the current trends you see in the CRM space?

Jon Lee: You’re seeing the trend of AI and machine learning. There’s this notion that software is primarily something you have to work for. There’s a lot of data entry, a lot of navigating screens and moving between different windows.

Software as it was designed in the 1980s was a database for recording information. The trend you’re seeing today is that instead of working for my software, what if my software works for me? You see companies trying to use machine learning and AI to record calls and help them sell. Rather than being just a recording device, it’s now a coaching device. That can include recommendations about what to do next, and what to do on your sales calls.

The key is, does the existing software have really good data? AI and machine learning rely on lots of different types of data. That’s the future — software that’s able to take all your data and ultimately provide you with a recommendation for what you should do next, what you should focus on, how you should conduct your sales calls.

The other theme we’re seeing is that CRM is becoming increasingly more important. What’s happened on the macro level is you’re seeing the relationship actually change between the buyer and the seller.

You largely relied on the sales rep before, but now there’s so much information online, and you build a relationship with the community, and the community can tell you want you should buy and purchase. What’s happening is that the original sales person is being intermediated by technology. Companies are moving away from middle people and going direct. We’re seeing it with Tesla, which doesn’t use third-party dealerships.

We live in the relationship era, where human beings still are influenced by a connection with other human beings. It’s more important than ever to differentiate yourself in the market by building a relationship with the customer. Being able to provide a better relationship through personalization is key.

CRM can now help you customize that customer relationship, which can build loyalty and increase sales. CRM as a concept is now bleeding into the tools that we use on a daily basis. The concept of staying within one CRM tab is going away. It will ultimately become transparent and work with the tools you already use. Wherever you communicate with your customer, you’ll have context-rich information.

CRM Buyer: Why is it important that CRM is easy-to-use?

Lee: If you want to get value out of your CRM, it requires great data and the ability to extract that data. If it’s easy to use, it’s easy to create records and find information. When things take a lot of time, you lose productivity, and you’re less likely to do it because the friction is really high.

If you don’t have the data, CRM becomes useless. The purpose of CRM is data and automation — being able to establish a repeatable sales process based on data, so you can make decisions about who’s your target customer, who’s your best-performing salesperson.

All those decisions are based on data. If it’s not easy to use, people won’t use it, and if people don’t use it, you’re not going to be able to get the data.

CRM Buyer: Do businesses of any size need CRM? Why?

Lee: I think all businesses can benefit. The value of CRM is organization, and having a single source of truth. If you’re a productive person with a lot of contacts, you’re going to have to track all of that.

Once you get larger, you have a team, and you have to provide a platform for them to collaborate. As you get larger, you really need to see the larger picture. As you get larger, every CEO loses sleep over numbers and hitting revenue targets.

CRM can help you better understand your customers, so you can market to them better. The utility goes up substantially for larger businesses, but there is real utility for smaller business.

CRM Buyer: How is the CRM industry evolving and changing? What’s in the future?

Lee: You’ll see the future is AI. It really is. It’s being able to make recommendations about what you do next. CRM’s been a backwards-looking tool, since hasn’t been telling you what you need to do. That’s part of the problem, and that’s why people often don’t use it. It’s difficult to use, clunky, and requires data entry. Does it actually help you sell more? Sort of, but not really.

Technology that lets you analyze data and recommend data-driven decisions on the fly before you walk into a meeting, and after you step out of a meeting: That’s the future.


Vivian Wagner has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. Her main areas of focus are technology, business, CRM, e-commerce, privacy, security, arts, culture and diversity. She has extensive experience reporting on business and technology for a variety
of outlets, including The Atlantic, The Establishment and O, The Oprah Magazine. She holds a PhD in English with a specialty in modern American literature and culture. She received a first-place feature reporting award from the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists.
Email Vivian.

ZTE’s U.S. technology ban continues to have major repercussions

The U.S. technology ban on ZTE could result in a $3 billion loss for the Chinese company. Partners and clients are allegedly backing out of deals, contributing to burgeoning costs and expenses that are now mounting quickly. However, in an attempt to appease China, it seems that the U.S. may attempt to ease up just a bit — reports suggest that the U.S. could substitute a $1 billion-plus fine and an agreement by ZTE to a managerial shakeup for the fine.

Meanwhile, ZTE is losing a significant amount of money simply on daily operating expenses, which stand at around $15.7 million. And given that most of ZTE’s 75,000 employees aren’t able to do much of anything right now as a result of the ban, this is $15.7 million practically wasted on a daily basis.

In other bad news, ZTE could be banned from using Google’s Android operating system as a result of an announcement made on Monday, April 16 that banned it from using U.S. technology for the next seven years.

ZTE has articulated its opposition to the ban, complaining that the sentence does not take into account the efforts that ZTE has made to correct the conduct the ban targeted. “It is unacceptable that [the Bureau of Industry and Security] insists on unfairly imposing the most severe penalty on ZTE even before the completion of investigation of facts, ignoring the continuous diligent work of ZTE and the progress we have made on export compliance,” the company said.

“The Denial Order will not only severely impact the survival and development of ZTE, but will also cause damage to all partners of ZTE including a large number of U.S. companies,” ZTE continued, indicating that the future of the company is at stake.

How it started

The ban came following allegations that the Chinese company knowingly made false statements to U.S. officials regarding its sale of American technology to Iran. By the time ZTE settled with the U.S. government, it had emerged that the company had lied to officials about the disciplinary actions taken against staff, and apparently had rewarded some employees for illegal actions. As a result, it is now illegal to sell or supply U.S.-based technology to ZTE — and critically for the Chinese company, that could include the Android operating system.

This is an especially large issue for ZTE. Android powers a staggeringly huge portion of the mobile market, with some sources putting the Google OS’s market share at almost three-quarters of the market, with most of the rest being dominated by Apple’s iOS. If ZTE were to lose access to the Android operating system, it would give the firm very few options in operating systems, with mobile operating systems outside iOS and Android taking up less than 1.5 percent of the market. One option for ZTE might be to reach out to Samsung for the Tizen operating system — but that OS is limited in apps and reach.

By contrast, while the impact on ZTE of this ban would be crippling, the blow to Google would be fairly minimal. While still a manufacturer with respectable sales numbers, ZTE is far from being a major player within the Android ecosphere, and ZTE’s loss would be unlikely to cause issues for Google. Bloomberg reports that ZTE’s lawyers are currently in talks with Google officials regarding the ban and how to proceed. We reached out to Google for comment, but the search engine giant has not responded.

Suspicion toward Chinese tech companies like ZTE and Huawei has intensified as of late, with the U.K. recently announcing that ZTE phones could pose a risk to national security, while both companies have been singled out as risky by U.S. intelligence agencies, and this is likely the reason why many U.S. carriers and sellers have cut ties with Huawei.

Updated May 23: The ZTE ban could cause losses of up to $3 billion. 

Editors’ Recommendations

Cloud Health Services, Part 2: Privacy and Security

Cloud Health Services, Part 1: Benefits and Complications

In response to the migration of health services to the cloud, vendors have been partnering with various organizations to gain a foothold in the market and to test out their solutions.

One of the cloud’s major selling points is security — but it is not as safe as it’s made out to be.

Google’s Healthcare Approach

Google Cloud “recently announced a significant expansion in HIPAA compliance across our portfolio of cloud products,” noted Joe Corkery, Google Cloud’s head of product healthcare and life sciences.

It also launched the Cloud Healthcare API to get around data interoperability issues.

The API works with leading industry standards, and provides DICOM-aware storage. This “can reduce the burden of IT management in medical imaging, in particular PACS migrations,” Corkery told the E-Commerce Times.

Google’s G Suite has been gaining adoption in the healthcare industry as a vehicle for HIPAA-compliant collaboration and data exchange, Corkery said, and Chrome “offers a variety of hardware options” for the healthcare industry.

Google Cloud supports various partners, including Google Brain, Verily Life Sciences and DeepMind, to deploy healthcare solutions on a global scale.

Google Cloud also has invested in genomics, and it offers the Google Genomics API. Further, its team has been working with other Google researchers to bring machine intelligence capabilities to medical imaging.

Google is “really building out the machine learning and neural nets,” Constellation Research Principal Analyst Ray Wang told the E-Commerce Times.

Google Cloud last week announced an agreement to acquire enterprise cloud migration technology provider Veleostrata, a move that will enable its customers to do the following:

  • Adapt workloads on the fly for cloud execution;
  • Migrate virtual machine-based workloads to and from the cloud; and
  • Easily control and automate where their data is held at all times.

Microsoft’s Play

Healthcare NExT is a planned series of collaborations between Microsoft’s AI and Research organization and healthcare partners, beginning with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Other collaborations from Healthcare NExT:

  • HealthVault Insights, a research-based project that lets partners generate new insights about patient health;
  • Microsoft Genomics, which uses an Azure-based genome analysis pipeline;
  • An AI-based health chatbot project; and
  • Project InnerEye, which uses machine learning to build automated tools for quantitative analysis of radiological images.

Microsoft also offers the Microsoft Office 365 Virtual Health Templates, powered by Skype for Business, to build healthcare solutions.

Microsoft earlier this year released the Azure Security and Compliance Blueprint for HIPAA/HITRUST Health Data and AI, which include reference architectures, compliance guidance and deployment scripts.

Apple’s Healthcare Moves

Apple in January updated its Health app in the iOS 11.3 beta with a feature that lets consumers see their medical records on their iPhones. Partners include John Hopkins Medicine, Cedars-Sinai and Penn Medicine.

The App Store offers more than 40,000 healthcare-related apps.

Apple also offers the CareKit and ResearchKit open source app building frameworks.

Facebook in the Wake of Cambridge Analytica

Facebook reportedly began engaging last year with organizations, including the American College of Cardiology, about matching their anonymized health data — related to age and health issues, for example — with anonymized profiles from its pages.

Facebook then would use insights from the users’ behavior on its platform to inform medical treatments.

Facebook apparently shelved the idea following the Cambridge Analytica data-sharing scandal.

Privacy Is a Problem

“The real challenge here is patient — and facility — acceptance of Google or Facebook, for example, as a trusted steward of private and sensitive personal information,” said Rebecca Wettemann, VP of research at Nucleus Research.

Amazon and Microsoft “have strong track records in security and performance with AWS and Azure,” she told the E-Commerce Times, but “the recent [Cambridge Analytica] fiasco and Zuckerberg’s inability to articulate a mature and thoughtful strategy about protecting individuals’ Facebook data would rule it out for most consumers.”

Google “lies somewhere in the middle,” Wettemann added.

Google “has a reputation of taking excessive risks with people’s data,” Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, told the E-Commerce Times.

However, Google Cloud does not have access to the data users bring to it, Google’s Corkery pointed out. That data “is controlled by those organizations and is not used for other purposes.”

The Perennial Bugbear

The move to electronic medical record systems has made patient records vulnerable to cyberattacks, and the rapid rise in healthcare-related Internet of Things devices “has created a new and large attack surface,” said Bob Noel, director of strategic relationships and marketing at Plixer.

IoT devices in healthcare range from small scale test equipment in a doctor’s office to the largest scanners in major hospitals, noted Andrew Lloyd, president of Corero Network Security.

DDoS attacks can result in denial of access to a cloud service, performance degradation, or a data breach, he told the E-Commerce Times. Another possibility is that IoT devices could be compromised and swept up to form a botnet.

“It costs only (US)$100 to rent a DDoS attack on the Dark Web, and individual attacks can cost victims up to $50,000,” Lloyd pointed out.

Public cloud providers are better able to protect against security risks, Google Cloud’s Corkery remarked.

Many healthcare organizations “come to Google Cloud specifically for the security benefits associated with running their infrastructure and applications on Google Cloud,” he said, noting that it has “the highest reliability in the industry.”

Still “the ultimate responsibility for data safety remains with the healthcare provider,” Plixer’s Noel told the E-Commerce Times. “The Google Cloud has gone down a few times this year alone.”

Customers likely will cause at least 95 percent of cloud security failures in the next several years.


Richard Adhikari has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, mobile technologies, CRM, databases, software development, mainframe and mid-range computing, and application development. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including Information Week and Computerworld. He is the author of two books on client/server technology.
Email Richard.

Ring’s Jamie Siminoff and Clinc’s Jason Mars to join us at Disrupt SF

Disrupt SF is set to be the biggest tech conference that TechCrunch has ever hosted. So it only makes sense that we plan an agenda fit for the occasion.

That’s why we’re absolutely thrilled to announce that Ring’s Jamie Siminoff will join us on stage for a fireside chat and Jason Mars from Clinc will be demo-ing first-of-its-kind technology on the Disrupt SF stage.

Jamie Siminoff – Ring

Earlier this year, Ring became Amazon’s second largest acquisition ever, selling to the behemoth for a reported $1 billion.

But the story begins long ago, with Jamie Siminoff building a WiFi-connected video doorbell in his garage in 2011. Back then it was called DoorBot. Now, it’s called Ring, and it’s an essential piece of the overall evolution of e-commerce.

As giants like Amazon move to make purchasing and receiving goods as simple as ever, safe and reliable entry into the home becomes critical to the mission. Ring, which has made neighborhood safety and home security its main priority since inception, is a capable partner in that mission.

Of course, one doesn’t often build a successful company and sell for $1 billion on their first go. Prior to Ring, Siminoff founded PhoneTag, the world’s first voicemail-to-text company and Unsubscribe.com. Both of those companies were sold. Based on his founding portfolio alone, it’s clear that part of Siminoff’s success can be attributed to understanding what consumers need and executing on a solution.

Dr. Jason Mars – Clinc

AI has the potential to change everything, but there is a fundamental disconnect between what AI is capable of and how we interface with it. Clinc has tried to close that gap with its conversational AI, emulating human intelligence to interpret unstructured, unconstrained speech.

Clinc is currently targeting the financial market, letting users converse with their bank account using natural language without any pre-defined templates or hierarchical voice menus.

But there are far more applications for this kind of conversational tech. As voice interfaces like Alexa and Google Assistant pick up steam, there is clearly an opportunity to bring this kind of technology to all facets of our lives.

At Disrupt SF, Clinc’s founder and CEO Dr. Jason Mars plans to do just that, debuting other ways that Clinc’s conversational AI can be applied. Without ruining the surprise, let me just say that this is going to be a demo you won’t want to miss.

Tickets to Disrupt are available here.

The crazy full-screen Vivo Apex concept is being made into a real phone

Vivo Apex Review
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

A pop-up camera, no bezels to speak of around the screen, and an in-display fingerprint sensor that can recognize two fingers at the same time — these were just three of the reasons we were so excited to see the Vivo Apex concept phone at Mobile World Congress this year. However, while Vivo said we may see some of the technology from the phone in a future device, it was never certain the Apex itself would be released. The good news is, Vivo has decided to release the Apex on June 12.

[embedded content]

How similar will it be to the phone we saw at MWC? A teaser video and image show the phone in some detail, and it’s clear two of the three technologies that made the Apex stand out will be in the final version. The bezel-less screen remains, as does the pop-up selfie camera; but it doesn’t appear the exact same in-display fingerprint sensor will make it. That doesn’t mean it won’t have an in-display sensor though. Right at the start of the video, the phone is unlocked with an in-display fingerprint sensor, which more resembles the version we’ve seen on the Vivo X20UD.

It’s likely a sensible decision by Vivo. The Apex’s multi-function in-display sensor wasn’t very reliable, and rarely recognised multiple prints. The Synaptics sensor used on the prototype X20UD was very reliable in our early tests. If it is the same as the X21UD, the Apex has the potential to be a formidable phone.

The screen has almost no bezels at all, no notch, and no chin. Sensors and speakers are all hidden away or sculpted into the body, while the selfie camera motorizes up from the top of the phone when the selfie mode is activated, and then slides away again when it’s not needed. It’s a neat, fun, and eye-catching way to deal with the problem of where to put the lens on bezel-less phones. The Apex phone’s design is likely to be very similar, too, and a render of the phone published on Twitter, apparently based on leaked photos, may show the device in all its glory.

vivo apex news concept

It’s impossible not to be excited about such a futuristic-looking smartphone. Vivo will launch the Apex at an event in Shanghai on June 12, but no price or availability has been provided yet. Vivo does sell some devices internationally, but not officially in the United States, so if you want one after it’s released you’ll probably need the services of an importer. We’ll keep you up to date with all the Vivo Apex’s release news here.

Editors’ Recommendations

How much of your data is Apple collecting? Not much, and here’s how to see it

apple file system

Not so long ago, a New York Times journalist took a look at just how much Facebook knew about him, and was horrified by the answer. Of course, this little experiment begged the question — how much do the other popular tech companies know about their users? To answer that, Jefferson Graham of USA Today looked into how much data Apple had collected from him, and was quite surprised by the answer — not that much.

Now, if you want to see exactly what Apple knows about you, that process has been made a little bit easier — though it’s rolling out first in the European Union. Apple’s new Data and Privacy website lets you download everything that Apple associates with your account, including your Apple ID, App Store activity, AppleCare history, and iCloud data.

For folks in the rest of the world, don’t worry — we’ll get this option in the coming months, too. Apple has also made it easier for you to update your information, deactivate your account, or permanently delete it.

But before we get into how you can go about doing this, let’s take a closer look at what Apple knew about Graham. Like many of us, Graham is quite the avid Apple user, and has an iPhone, iPad, and two Mac computers. As such, it seemed likely that the company could have a veritable treasure trove of key information on someone like Graham. But in a pleasant surprise, this was not the case.

Back in March, Apple made it a bit easier for folks to download their iCloud and Apple ID data in order to comply with European Union rules. Folks also now have the option of correcting personal information, deactivating accounts, or deleting them altogether. But unlike Facebook, these accounts aren’t quite as rife with data as you might expect.

As Graham reported, when Apple finally delivered the requested data (it did take quite a while — eight days, to be exact), it was in a zip file that was only 9 megabytes large. Compare that to Graham’s Google and Facebook files, which were 243 and 881 MB respectively. Part of the reason that Apple’s data package is about 1/100th of the size of Facebook’s is that the majority of your Apple-related information is stored locally on your device, not on Apple’s servers. That means that while Apple has records of your downloads, purchases, and device repairs, it does not have access to your search history either by way of Siri or Safari.

This, Apple says, is a testament to just how seriously the company takes user privacy.

As Graham noted, Apple had time stamps of every time he backed up his iPhone, uploaded photos to iCloud, and his email and physical address. The company also had a copy of every app and song Graham had downloaded over the years. However, Apple did not have the questions Graham had asked smart assistant Siri, even though the company does use user queries to make Siri smarter.

How does this work? Apple says that once you ask Siri a question, Apple uses a “random identifier to mask your identity.” So while Apple knows what questions people are asking, none of those questions can be traced back to a particular user.

While Graham’s data file did include his browsing history from his Macs dating back to July of 2017, Apple claimed to not track that information. That means that Apple doesn’t use this data to send targeted advertisements, again, a very different practice from Google and Facebook. That said, the company does use your data to sell targeted ads based on your activity in the News and App Store apps. You can actually see what information Apple is using here by going to Settings, Privacy, then Advertising. If you tap “View Ad Information,” you’ll see who’s targeting you.

While it’s not quite the case that Apple knows and collects nothing about and from its users, it’s quite clear that in comparison to companies that derive their revenue from advertising (which is to say, Google and Facebook), Apple has relatively little user information.

And with the new Data and Privacy website, you can reduce that information even further. In order to obtain a copy of your personal data (that is to say, information that is personally identifiable as being yours), you’ll need to visit privacy.apple.com. Then, under “Obtain a copy of your data,” click the Get started link. Once you click the boxes of data categories you want to see, you’ll press continue, and select your preferred maximum file size. Apple will send you your data in chunks, up to 25GB. Once you press Continue again, Apple will begin working on sending over your information. You’ll receive a notification when it’s ready to download, and after two weeks, this information will be automatically deleted.

You can also now elect to get rid of your Apple ID, which would mean that you’d be cut off from iTunes, iBooks, and the App Store. You also wouldn’t be able to access any iCloud data, or use iCloud services like FaceTime or iMessage. Apple would also delete all the data it has on you, and this is an irreversible process. So proceed with caution.

Updated on May 23: This is how you can download your own data from Apple. 

Editors’ Recommendations

Vivo’s all-screen phone with a flip-up camera could arrive in June

The all-screen smartphone is an inevitability. The question at this point, really, is who will get there first and how they’ll accomplish that feat. I spoke to a LG rep at the G7 launch, who suggested that the notch is going to be fact of life for the next couple of years, but a number of manufacturers are pushing to get there a heck of a lot quicker.

Back at MWC in Febrary, Vivo’s Apex handset seemed like little more than a concept, but a couple of new teasers suggest otherwise. A new video demonstrates the handset’s flip-up selfie camera in action, along with a “Save the Date” notice for a June 12 event in Shanghai. The handset appears to be, at the very least, a close relative of the concept phone. 

[embedded content]

A February press release highlights the concept in a bit more detail.

“In keeping with the promise to continuously support user habits,” the company notes, “Apex also features an 8MP Elevating Front Camera. The camera seamlessly rises in 0.8 seconds when it is required and retracts after use. Together with the hidden proximity sensor and ambient light sensor, this eliminates the space taken up by conventional front cameras, while offering the same selfie experience to users.”

Vivo’s just one of a number of companies who think they’ve got the answer here. When we met with Doogee back in February, the company showed off a number of prototypes aimed at circumventing the notch, including a similar pop up model and a version that slides to reveal a camera inside.

And then, of course, there’s the Lenovo Z5, which a VP for the company showed off via social media earlier this month. Though that presently seems to amount to little more than a sketch. For the moment, all of this feels like a bunch of companies showing off concepts aimed at demonstrating that they “thought of it first.”

Perhaps next month, however, Vivo will be ready to put its money where its mouth is.

Words lead to actions in the latest version of Slack packing Asana, Jira support

slack actions supports asana bitbucket hubspot

Slack introduced a new feature on Tuesday, May 22 that turns your conversations into “actions.” It’s compatible with Asana, Bitbucket, HubSpot, Jira, Zendesk and more, but as of the time of this publication, Actions weren’t available in the Windows 10 app. Instead, we spotted the new Actions feature within the web-based client by clicking on the “More actions” three-dot icon in any current conversation. 

Initially the “More actions” menu presents a new option labeled as, “Add a message action.” After clicking on the new entry, you’re presented with a page for adding compatible services if they’re not already installed. The app list also includes Guru, Pocket, Teamline (formerly Busybot), and To-do. 

“Using Asana and Slack together keeps projects organized and on track. With the new Asana app for Slack, you can turn any message into an Asana task to keep work moving forward,” the team states. Thus, when you click on the “More actions” icon within a message, you’ll see the “Create a task choice” option for Asana on the list. 

If you have an open issue on Jira Cloud, you can add Slack conversations to that issue for context. In return, the @jirabot will send customizable notifications to any Slack channel you choose. Meanwhile, the new support for HubSpot allows you to create a new task, such as planning a campaign for a big client, and associate that task with a contact or company listed in HubSpot. 

If your team is working on code, support for the Bitbucket repository could be handy. Developed for professional teams, Bitbucket enables code collaboration in the cloud, but Slack makes communication easier by keeping everyone on the same chat channel. The Bitbucket bot keeps an eye on your team’s “usage and patterns” and provides update notifications accordingly. 

“Addressing and responding to pull requests is easy, as they’re automatically updated with the team’s background conversations and decisions discussed in Slack channels,” the Slack team explains. “That means that any important information you need is always available, no matter which tool you’re using.” 

If you’re not familiar with Slack, it’s a cloud-based team collaboration chat client launched in 2013. Short for “Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge,” it started out as an internal IRC-based communication tool for a developer of an online game. And while the current product sheds its ties to the IRC, it’s still IRC-like in that a company can create and manage multiple chat rooms for online collaboration. 

Slack provides three pricing tiers: Free, Standard, and Plus. The free model supports up to 10 apps, one-to-one video calls, and a search tool supporting up to 10,000 messages. For $6.67 per month per active user, teams get group calls with screen sharing, unlimited apps, shared channels, guest accounts, and more. The Plus plan costs $12.50 per active user per month for added user provisioning and deprovisioning, message exports, and more. Slack provides a platform for the enterprise as well. 

Microsoft offers a similar product with Microsoft Teams that’s integrated into the Office 365 subscription. By contrast, Slack is a stand-alone client and service. 

Editors’ Recommendations

You can now hire a plumber or a cleaner on Facebook via Marketplace

facebook marketplace listings

Burned out by Craigslist? Overwhelmed by Amazon? Try Facebook instead.

Back in 2016, the social media site expanded its functionality, dipping its toe into the waters of digital commerce. It did this via Marketplace, a feature within the Android and iOS Facebook app that is described as “a convenient destination to discover, buy, and sell items with people in your community.” Initially, we described it as a yard sale in the palm of your hand, but now, it’s much more than that. The latest offering from Marketplace comes in the form of a home services feature for U.S. users. Now, you can hire a plumber, a cleaner, an electrician, or anything else you need for home improvement straight from the social network.

In order to launch this new feature, Facebook has formed partnerships with service providers like Handy, HomeAdvisor, and Porch. Already, thousands of professionals are available for hire.

“More people ask for recommendations related to home services on Facebook in the U.S. than any other topic,” said Deb Liu, vice president of Marketplace, in a statement. And now, Facebook is providing answers. Marketplace also gives users the option to receive a quick quote for services requested, as well as the ability to send out your project details to several professionals at once. And of course, when you’re connected to a potential service provider, you can chat via Messenger.

Using the feature should be pretty straightforward. From the Marketplace menu, you’ll need to scroll over to Marketplace Services, and select the service you need. Facebook will then ask a number of questions to provide the most helpful potential match. You’ll then enter your zip code, and Facebook will show you the people available for the task. You can browse profiles to see more information about a company or individual, with ratings and reviews to boot. The feature has begun rolling out today and will be made widely available across the nation in the next few weeks.

And this isn’t all that Facebook Marketplace offers. Not so long ago, the social network added apartment listings to Marketplace, and there’s also an automobile selection if you’re looking to make a different kind of major purpose.

Facebook’s Director of Product Management Mary Ku previously noted, buying and selling has been taking place on the social network for years, with more than 450 million people taking to the site to barter and trade each month. Marketplace is Facebook’s attempt at streamlining those processes. “Marketplace makes it easy to find new things you’ll love, and find a new home for the things you’re ready to part with,” Ku wrote. “We’ll continue to build new options and features to make this the best experience for people.”

Facebook Marketplace has steadily expanded over the last couple years, slowly moving away from just another version of Craigslist to a more reputable network of buyers and sellers. Marketplace is also showing job postings, and Facebook has added ticket sales as well as products from other retailers’ shopping pages.

“We’ll kind of look and see what’s popular, what people want to engage with,” Deb Liu, the Facebook VP who oversees Marketplace told Recode. “So if people are searching or looking for something, we want to make that available to them.”

So how do you access Marketplace? When you open the Facebook app on your phone, you should now see a shop icon at the bottom. When you tap on the icon, you’ll find photos of items for sale, and you can filter your results by location, category, and price. Much like other online marketplaces, you can further simplify your results by selecting categories like Household, Electronics, and Apparel. And if you don’t want to search in just your neighborhood, you can use the location tool to switch to a different region.

Once something has caught your eye, simply tap on the image for details, such as a product description, name and profile photo of the seller, and its location. If you’re ready to take the plunge, you can send the seller a direct message from Marketplace to make an offer. From there, you’re on your own — “Facebook does not facilitate the payment or delivery of items in Marketplace,” Ku noted.

Update: Facebook Marketplace now offers home services. 

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