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Microsoft’s new Office app combines Word, Excel and PowerPoint in single app

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Microsoft on Monday unveiled a new Office app for iOS and Android that combines three most popular apps — Word, Excel and PowerPoint — into a single go-to app for mobile productivity.

The users no longer need to download each app separately, the tech giant announced at its flagship “Ignite” conference here.

“With the new Actions pane, you can intuitively complete a variety of common on-the-go tasks, such as creating and signing PDFs and sharing files between devices,” said Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President for Microsoft 365.

Launched as a public preview, the Office app is available to Android users through Google Play Store and to iOS users through Apple’s TestFlight programme.

The new Office app uses the unique advantages of mobile devices to make content creation easier. For instance, you can snap the picture of a document and turn it into an editable word file, or transform tables from a printed page to Excel.

The company also announced the general availability of the all-new Chromium-based Microsoft Edge browser set for January 15 release. The all-new Microsoft Edge offers the enterprise new tab page, where users will have direct access to Microsoft 365 files.

Microsoft Edge is now available across devices, including Windows 10, Windows 8x, Windows 7, macOS, iOS and Android, said the company.

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WhatsApp Group Call now supports eight participants in the latest beta update

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Facebook-owned WhatsApp has taken a call in the right direction on its much-anticipated group call limit. It has increased the number of participants from four to eight.

The instant messaging app was recently reported to be working on increasing the group calling limit to stay relevant in these times of social distancing.

Spotted first by WABetaInfo, a fan website that tracks WhatsApp updates, the latest WhatsApp beta update has revealed the company is set to soon extend the limit of participants in a voice or video group call for its 2 billion users, including over 400 million in India.

“WhatsApp is rolling out the new limit of participants in groups calls, for iOS and Android beta users. The new limit is: 8 participants in group calls,” tweeted WABetaInfo.

WhatsApp has started rolling out a new feature for Android and iOS beta users. WhatsApp looks to take on other popular video conferencing apps like Zoom and Google Duo with this new increased limit as businesses and classrooms deal with lockdowns.

One needs to install the 2.20.50.25 iOS beta update from TestFlight and the 2.20.133 beta from Google Play Store. Other participants also need to be on the same versions otherwise they cannot be added in the group call.

While you’re in a call, WhatsApp also shows a new header, informing that the call is end-to-end encrypted.

Late last month, 70 per cent more people participated in group video calls using Facebook Messenger week-over-week, and the amount of time spent on those group video calls has doubled globally.

Similarly, voice and video call on WhatsApp has more than doubled year-over-year in the places most impacted by the virus. Apple’s FaceTime video calling tool supports 32 people while Facebook Messenger can support up to 50 people in a call.

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Affordable AirPods 3, MacBook Pro 2020 lined up for May launch: Reports

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Cupertino tech giant Apple in a much-delayed launch is likely to showcase the new AirPod 3 alongside a new 2020 MacBook Pro in a virtual event in May.

Jon Prosser, a regular and reliable leaker of Apple news, broke the news on Twitter. The two products were likely intended for a March release, the time of year that Apple tends to hold a product launch event. However, because of complications arising from the coronavirus pandemic, this event was only rumoured and was never even officially announced.

Reports in the past have spoken about the AirPods Pro Lite which are tipped to bring features of the second-generation AirPods but at a relatively affordable price. This would also make a lot of sense because wireless Bluetooth AirPods are part of Apple’s fastest-growing unit called Wearables, Home and accessories. AirPods line-up is currently one of the most popular from Apple, as such any addition to the product list should serve Apple well.

It is also rumored that the new AirPods won’t have the Pros’ active noise cancellation feature, which makes sense if Apple wants to keep the price down.

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Mobiles & Tabs

Apple iPhone 9 Plus in the works along with iPhone 9, iOS 14 code reveals

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There have been several reports on a new low-cost iPhone 9/iPhone SE 2 which was expected to launch this month. Turns out Apple is working on another iPhone possibly iPhone 9 Plus which would most likely debut with the iPhone 9.

9to5Mac found several details of an iPhone 9 Plus along with the iPhone 9 on iOS 14 code. Both the iPhone 9 and iPhone 9 Plus will run on the A13 Bionic chipset. The report also reveals the new iPhones will indeed house a Home button which was discontinued after the iPhone 8 series. With a Home button, the iPhone 9 and iPhone 9 Plus will support Touch ID for biometric authentication. Face ID will be one premium feature the new iPhones will lack.

But the iPhone 9 series will be able to use Apple Pay, scan NFC tags in the background and come with the Express Transit feature as well. These features are available on the iPhone XS and above. There’s no mention of the screen size of the iPhone 9 Plus although we know it will be bigger than the iPhone 9.

As for the iPhone 9 or iPhone SE 2, it has been rumoured to feature a 4.7-inch LCD display. Apple could launch it in two storage variants of 64GB and 128GB. The low-cost iPhone is also expected to be priced around $399 (Rs 28,500 approx) which is the same price the iPhone SE launched at.

The iPhone SE 2 was first expected to launch at Apple’s annual March event which was reportedly cancelled due to coronavirus fears. Apple is still rumoured to unveil a new MacBook and iPad Pro this week.

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