It has been an extremely difficult year for everyone, especially with countries going into lockdown and people being forced to stay away from their friends and families for health and safety reasons. Social and physical distancing regulations have made people crave and miss the communities they are part of. However, content creators on social media, short video, and live streaming platforms have been helping people feel as though they are part of an extremely large online community that transcends international borders.
Singapore-based BIGO Technology (BIGO) is one of the fastest-growing internet technology companies in the world. Powered by Artificial Intelligence, BIGO’s video-based products and services – such as livestreaming platform Bigo Live and short-form video platform Likee – have gained immense popularity and have been at the forefront of connectivity by bringing together users, employees and online communities across the world.
In honor of those who have supported thousands of people around the world, and made them feel happier during hard times, BIGO has announced its upcoming celebration of its creators and users at their annual Awards Gala Ceremony that will be taking place virtually at 8pm (GTM+8) on 21st January 2021, on their Music Livehouse channel (Bigo ID: music).
“BIGO has done it once again and is all set to bring its global online communities together, as they host their annual Gala Awards ceremony virtually in January 2021,” said a spokesperson from BIGO. “BIGO connects its users on a personal level, and users have been able to form lifelong, enduring connections with people across the world, especially now as they have been forced to forego physical and social interaction with their loved ones.”
Although this particular event is more of a celebration to honor its users, BIGO has also always made it a point to do its part to continue to develop its platforms and allow people to showcase and communicate their skills and talents. One such initiative is the BIGOFUN Epsorts tournament that was launched in the MENA region in October 2020. The aim of this tournament is to provide local Esports professionals and enthusiasts with an opportunity to experience an enjoyable and competitive environment via livestreaming.
“There has been a significant increase in the popularity of gaming and Esports activities on our platform. Esports stars are rising from here, showcasing their talents and skills to a broad audience through livestreaming and real-time interactions. We are committed to providing our users and broadcasters with the most enriching experience which is why we have and will continue to invest in Esports activities. We look forward to welcoming gamers from all walks of life in the months to come” said the spokesperson from BIGO.
In addition to creating platforms that allow users to shine, BIGO is also committed to giving back to society. The company has previously hosted several events and initiated campaigns that bring people together in order to raise awareness for various social causes and cultures as well.
One such campaign hosted by BIGO that have helped communities within the MENA region was in-app awareness and education on COVID-19 and the proper safety measures and restrictions to keep users and their loved ones safe and healthy. As well, following the Global Pandemic, BIGO took the initiative to donate over 5,000 masks and 25,000 medical surgical masks to Jordan in a stance to support the country, and combat the pandemic with them. Ultimately, BIGO’s aim is not only to provide a platform for creators to showcase their talents, but also offer users a global support system.
As well as part of their ‘Global BIGOer One World Together’ campaign, BIGO raised a total of $100,000 in donations for goodwill. The amount raised was donated to the World Health Organization’s Solidarity Response Fund, as part of global efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. The event itself included BIGO Live’s music livehouse, where close to 100 broadcasters performed, and had over 3.7 million viewers in attendance.
Alongside these humanitarian efforts, BIGO continues to be a platform that allows users to combat their personal challenges and create connections, including boosting small businesses, or nurturing personal relationships over livestreaming.
“BIGO has brought about so many positive changes in my life,” said Sultan Khalid, a Bigo Live Broadcaster from the GCC region, who won the top regional broadcaster this year. “I have taken my passion for content creation, and am pursuing it as a full-time occupation thanks to BIGO Live. The opportunities I received from creating content on Bigo Live allowed me to connect with so many users from all over the world. I usually do daily livestreams, and at times have up to 15,000 followers tuning in to watch me and talk to me. I am so thankful that BIGO exists, because it truly brings people together. “
Who says you can’t be a part of something meaningful and fun, just because you can’t physically be present? If you wish to be a part of, or even just watch BIGO’s upcoming annual Awards Gala, you can tune in directly via the Bigo Live app which can be downloaded at https://bigolive.onelink.me/sG8X/bigoliveth
Deezer Now Available on Etisalat Youth Plans
Deezer and Etisalat are teaming up to bring prepaid and postpaid mobile users music without any limits. Deezer is now offered as part of ‘Etisalat Youth’ plans. Customers between 18-29 who choose one of the Etisalat youth plans can enjoy their favourite tunes worry-free. Customers who opt-in will be able to stream music on Deezer without using their mobile data. Additionally, as a launch promo, they get their first month of Deezer Premium free upon subscription, then it’s charged at AED 18 a month.
Premium subscribers can enjoy 73 million local and international tracks as well as a wide range of channels, compilations, and playlists curated by Deezer’s local editors. It’s also the only audio streaming service where you can find exclusive content from Rotana, the largest record company in the Arab world.
Deezer is the only streaming service with Flow, for a mix of old favorites and new tunes. Flow is your never-ending soundtrack of music that’s completely tailored to your personal tastes. And when you’re tired of music, you can easily switch to the Podcast tab in the app and enjoy all of your favourite shows. Here you’ll also find personalised podcast recommendations and 15 different categories to pick from.
Deezer’s premium features and benefits include:
- Downloads, so that you can enjoy your favourite tunes and podcasts even when you have no network coverage
- Lyrics, which lets you look up what a song is saying and sing along wherever you are
- Songcatcher, our in-app feature that identifies unknown tracks and lets you add songs directly to your personal library.
- Dark mode gives our users the freedom to switch from their normal light music player to a dark grey background.
- Curated channels let you explore and discover new music and entertainment content by category and genre. We have over 20 categories of music, news, podcasts, and custom-made content based on location and preference.
- Daily mixes offer 40 song recommendations inspired by your listening throughout the week.
- Discovery updated every week, we bring you new music that you’ve never listened to on Deezer, perfectly tailored to your taste. We recommend the tracks based on music favorited on your phone.
“Everyone should have the freedom to enjoy their favourite music without worrying about their data running out. Our partnership with Etisalat makes that a reality for young people in the United Arab Emirates. Deezer is perfectly positioned to be the best audio streaming partner for leading telcos like Etisalat. We have a state-of-the-art platform that listeners love to use over and over again and an agile team that can provide fast and seamless integration for operators. Working with a streaming service like Deezer can help operators reduce churn and grow network usage, especially with young customers,” said Ralph Pighin, Senior Vice President Europe, Africa & Asia at Deezer.
Etisalat customers can subscribe via the USSD code *101*18#, through the My Etisalat app, or via www.etisalat.ae. SWYP users can subscribe through the SWYP app or via USSD to select and subscribe to add-ons.
Facebook, Messenger, Whatsapp, and Instagram Are All Offline
Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp have apparently all gone down in a major outage. The social network and the Facebook-owned platforms all stopped working around 7:30 pm UAE time, today, according to the site Down Detector. The outage affects nearly 7 billion users between the three platforms. Users going to Facebook’s site saw an error page or an onscreen message that said, “Sorry, something went wrong. We’re working on it and we’ll get it fixed as soon as we can.”
Instagram and WhatsApp are not showing new or updated content. On Instagram, messages including “Couldn’t Refresh Feed” or “5xx Server Error” appeared. “We’re aware that some people are having trouble accessing our apps and products,” Facebook communications director Andy Stone tweeted today. “We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible and we apologize for any inconvenience.”
During Sunday’s episode of 60 Minutes, former Facebook product manager Frances Haugen, who worked on Facebook’s civic integrity team, alleged that the company was aware that its platform was used to spread misinformation and violence and that their inaction may have enabled the planning of the January 6 Capitol riot.
“The thing I saw at Facebook over and over again was there were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook. And Facebook over and over again chose to optimize for its own interests, like making more money,” Haugen said on 60 Minutes. “I’ve seen a bunch of social networks and it was substantially worse at Facebook than anything I’ve seen before.”
In its response to Haugen’s claims, Facebook stated in part, “We’ve invested heavily in people and technology to keep our platform safe and have made fighting misinformation and providing authoritative information a priority. If any research had identified an exact solution to these complex challenges, the tech industry, governments, and society would have solved them a long time ago.”
Microsoft Announces New Skype Features
Microsoft has announced that it is planning several new features for Skype, its consumer communications platform. Many reports had earlier suggested that Microsoft had been planning to kill off Skype in lieu of Microsoft Teams for years. But now it says that Skype is “here to stay.”
“Skype has been in our lives for nearly two decades, and we are here to stay,” an unattributed post to the Skype Blogs reads. “We care about all of you, our Skype users, so we … [have] plans for an improved, faster, reliable, and super modern-looking Skype.”
So, here are some of the new features coming to Skype:
Calling stage modernization: Microsoft is adding new layouts, beautiful theming, and other new features to the Skype calling stage, which is its weird name for the interface you see when you’re conversing with one or more other people. You will be able to see yourself on the main view during a call, view multiple people with a more natural grid, disable the video stream, and hide audio-only participants from the calling stage.
Other modern features: The chat header is getting updated with a new layout, a group avatar, and button gradients. The left side panel in the main Skype window is likewise being redesigned with Fluent icons throughout. And Skype will support vibrant new color themes.
Improved Meet Now: This Windows 10-only feature is being redesigned to be even lighter weight, easier to use, and better looking.
Browser support: The web version of Skype will natively support “all browsers,” Microsoft says, alongside icons of Edge, Chrome, Safari, and Opera.
Office Lens on iOS: The iPhone version of Skype is getting camera improvements thanks to Office Lens so you can “capture your memories, create videos or scan documents, whiteboards and business cards in the smartest way.”
TwinCam: This intriguing feature will let Skype users add a second camera—perhaps on their smartphones—to a call so you can show two things at once.
Notification sounds customization: Microsoft will let users choose their own notification sounds.
New reactions chooser: Using a new reactions chooser, you will be able to choose any emotion and react within two seconds. Microsoft claims. It will also support search, reactions organization, and pinned items.
PSTN translation: Skype Universal Translator will be able to translate phone calls on the fly between languages. It supports all languages and works on landlines as well as video calls.
Improved performance: Skype is about to get 30 percent faster on desktop and an incredible 2000 percent faster on Android thanks to modernizing the media stack.
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