L’Oréal, Alibaba introduce new AI Skin-testing Tech for Acne – AlizilaWhat happened: Alibaba and L’Oréal said at the Viva Technology Paris 2019 tech expo on Friday that they are offering an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered acne analysis application dubbed Effaclar Spotscan.Based on 6,000 scientific images of acne skin collected by L’Oréal, Alibaba’s AI scientists used deep learning to create a neural network model for acne testing that detects the link between visual information from a user’s selfie and the type of acne.Based on this analysis, the app provides personalized advice and skin care recommendations to treat acne lesions.The service will debut on the Tmall and Taobao mobile apps in June 2019.Alibaba told TechNode that it is providing the technology for the partnership, developed by the DAMO Academy, Alibaba’s AI and machine-learning lab.
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Chinese PC maker Lenovo on Sunday maintained that it would continue normal business relations with Huawei, after the US President Donald Trump issued an executive order last week to cut the telecommunications company off from American suppliers.Rumors about Lenovo ending business ties with Huawei circulated widely on Chinese social media over the weekend.A netizen using the handle “Huiji” on the Chinese Q platform Zhihu said the PC maker caved to US pressure to avoid joining its fellow compatriot on a US blacklist.Another Zhihu user posted similar answers citing internal sources.The two later apologized and deleted the posts after Lenovo threatened legal action.The world’s largest PC maker said in a WeChat announcement that Huawei was an “important client” and that it is maintaining normal relations with the Shenzhen company.
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What happened: A team from Beijing’s Tsinghua University has won a driverless car race in eastern China, outperforming state-owned auto manufacturers FAW and Beijing Electric Vehicle Co.The event, which took place in Tianjin, consisted of an off-road challenge, an urban race, and a highway contest.The race included obstacles like fake cows and artificial fog on a circuit covering the area of 10 soccer fields.Why it’s important: The competition is meant to act as a driving force to spur China’s efforts in autonomous driving development.Chinese companies, including WeRide, Pony.ai, and Baidu, are looking to take on international rivals like Waymo, and are testing vehicles at home and abroad.California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in February released data on autonomous vehicle tests that had taken place in the state, reporting the total number of “disengagements,” the frequency human drivers were required to take over.
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Transportation management system provider Abivin took home the grand prize of US$1 million in funding at the 2019 Startup World Cup, a series of global pitch contests organized by Pegasus Tech Ventures.Abivin leverages artifical intelligence to drive its logistics optimization platform.It also digitizes and automates business operations to help companies save on cost and improve efficiency.On its way to victory, Abivin edged out 11 other startups from 10 different countries.Canadian startup Klue, which provides a platform that aggregates competitive intelligence, won the second prize.US-based Sonavi Labs, which develops hardware and software for modern medical products, came in third.
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Google has affirmed that its Google Play app store will continue to function for existing Huawei device users, following reports that the US company will suspend business with the Chinese telecoms giant, which last week was added to a US trade blacklist.Huawei Technologies and over 70 affiliates were added to the US Commerce Department’s Entity List last week on national security grounds, restricting the Chinese company from buying parts and components from US companies without government approval.“We are complying with the order and reviewing the implications,” said a Google spokeswoman.“For users of our services, Google Play and the security protections from Google Play Protect will continue to function on existing Huawei devices.”Google’s statement follows a Reuters report on Monday that the US internet giant had halted business that requires the transfer of hardware, software, and technical services to the Shenzhen-based firm, currently the world’s second-largest smartphone supplier behind Samsung and reliant on Google’s Android operating system.Google’s compliance with the US order would mean that future Huawei devices will lose access to Google services including the Google Play app store, as well as popular apps such as Gmail and YouTube.
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Bytedance has on Monday launched a new social app that combines instant message and forum functionalities on iOS and Android, another experiment in the social app landscape following the lackluster January debut of Snapchat clone Duoshan.Feiliao, or Flipchat in English, is described in Apple’s App Store as an “interest-based social app.” Users can join open chat groups centered around different topics, ranging from eccentric boyfriends to popular TV series.There are two kinds of chat groups in the app, open groups and normal groups.Open groups closely resemble forums on Baidu Tieba, where all posts are visible to all users and where there is no limit to the number of members.As of writing, the biggest chat group on the app contains around 3,500 people and appears to be a group for testing features, not posting actual content.Normal groups are similar to private chat groups and have a limit of 100 users per group.
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WeChat Pay’s European Flagship Smart Airport to open at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol accelerating spread of WeChat ecosystem overseas – CISIONWhat happened: Chinese internet giant Tencent and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol have jointly launched the first flagship WeChat Pay Smart Airport in Europe.Chinese tourists will soon be able to use WeChat to pay for goods in shops at Schiphol Airport, as well as to place orders and make purchases via the airport’s mini program.Coupons for preferred currency exchange rate and discounts will also be offered to WeChat Pay users at the airport.Why it’s important: The move comes as Tencent’s messaging app expands its mobile wallet and cross-border payment business in Europe.Tencent stated in its 2019 first-quarter results that fintech and cloud computing helped offset weak revenue from its gaming business.
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What happened: Content aggregator Qutoutiao was briefly removed from Apple’s China App Store, media outlet 36Kr reported.The app was removed on May 18 and restored on the morning of May 20.Users who already installed the app on iOS devices were not affected by the removal, and the app had been available for download in all Android stores.Qutoutiao told 36Kr that it had reached Apple and was actively investigating the cause of the issue.As of March 2019, Qutoutiao had close to 59 million monthly active users (MAU), according to market research firm Questmobile.Why it’s important: Qutoutiao’s brief removal could be the result of minor violations to Apple’s App Store terms, as the suspension was restricted to iOS.
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Exclusive: Google suspends some business with Huawei after Trump blacklist – source – ReutersWhat happened: Google has blocked Huawei from some updates to the Android operating system to comply with a trade blacklist that bans the Chinese smartphone maker from doing business with US companies without government approval.Huawei now only has access to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), which is available for free to anyone who wishes to use it.The company will not be able to use popular services including the Google Play Store, Gmail, and YouTube apps on future Android phones.It also means Huawei will only be able to push security updates for Android once they’re made available in AOSP.Why it’s important: Google apps and services are requisites for Android smartphones in markets outside of China, where smartphone shoppers are unlikely to buy an Android phone that lacks access to Google’s Play Store, which attracts the lion’s share of apps.
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A Huge Chinese Video App Is Charging People, Draining Their Batteries, And Exposing Data Without Their Knowledge – BuzzFeedWhat happened: London-based mobile security firm Upstream discovered major security issues on a Chinese video-downloads app, VidMate, that potentially affected users in Egypt, Brazil, Myanmar, and other countries.The app, which supports downloads from YouTube, WhatsApp, and other platforms, was originally developed by Alibaba’s subsidiary UCWeb.It is accused of displaying hidden ads, exposing user data, draining mobile data and battery life, and subscribing users to paid services without their knowledge.VidMate responded that it is investigating the claims, and that any suspicious behavior is due to third-party partners and software development kits.In 2018, VidMate was sold to a Guangzhou-based company; app representatives claim that despite an ongoing business relationship, VidMate is independent from UCWeb.
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Liu Wenfeng, chief technology officer at Baidu-owned platform iQiyi—sometimes known as the “Netflix of China”—insists that the platform is more than just a copycat.Referring to their expanding range of content formats and methods of monetizing content, he said, “We’d rather call ourselves an online Disney.”Unlike either Netflix or Disney, however, iQiyi is still bleeding cash as it seeks to level up content as well as its paying subscriber base.On March 31, iQiyi reported that subscribers had risen to 96.8 million, up 58% year-on-year, although net losses—RMB1.8 billion—were between four and five times the figure from the first quarter of 2018.Shelleen Shum, forecasting director at eMarketer, told TechNode via email: “[iQiyi’s] investments in premium content have clearly helped to attract more subscribers.The IVP brings together content producers with IP creators and broadcasters in order to publish the new forms of video, and has thus far been used to produce interactive video for iQiyi.
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Tucked away in a refurbished factory building in southwest Singapore, Shopback’s headquarters houses only 50 people – just a quarter of its workforce.The affiliate marketing firm may only have a fraction of the employees that giants like Facebook and Google have, but Shopback has big dreams: to offer businesses a more efficient way of reaching their customers.In Southeast Asia, Shopback has gained traction thanks to its cashback app with more than 8 million users and 2,000 merchants.When users open the Shopback app, they are greeted by merchants ranging from ecommerce platforms like Lazada and Shopee to ride-hailing firm Grab, and food delivery brands like Foodpanda and Deliveroo.Clicking on a merchant redirects the user to the appropriate site, and if they make a purchase, Shopback earns a commission and shares it with the user via a cash rebate.It is seen as a win-win for everybody: merchants only pony up fees if a transaction is made, Shopback takes a cut, and users get money back on their purchase.
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Asia isn’t short of co-working spaces.A report by global real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle shows that the supply of co-working spaces is increasing at a faster rate in the Asia Pacific than in any other place in the world.Flexible floor space in the region is expanding at 35.7% each year, compared to 25.7% in the US and 21.6% in Europe.Co-working spaces believe they are capitalizing on the growth of budding entrepreneurs in Asia, who have unique needs.It is also the reason why Kong Wan Sing founded JustCo with Liu Lu and Kong Wan Long in 2011.
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This article by Nina Xiang originally appeared on China Money Network, the best data intelligence platform tracking China’s tech and venture capital markets (access requires subscription).A camel, though dead, is still bigger than a horse—so goes a Chinese proverb.Such is an accurate depiction of the current US-China relationship.America, a declining world power, can easily push China into a dead end, despite China’s economic rise over the past four decades.Xi Jinping should immediately capitulate in the trade negotiations, as this will inflict the least damage to China.For China’s long-term prospects, to accept US demands, instead of fighting against it, is the best course of action because China is currently too weak to afford any wars.
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What happened: The US Senate Democratic majority leader Chuck Schumer has asked the federal government to investigate whether plans to install new subway cars to the New York City underground system designed by CRRC Corp Ltd, a Chinese state-owned firm, poses a national security threat.A bipartisan bill was introduced to the US House last week that would cut federal funding to transit agencies who secure contracts with the CRCC.The world’s top passenger train maker is eyeing a $500 million deal in the Washington D.C. metro and has secured contracts in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Boston, and Chicago to provide new subway cars.Why it’s important: The move comes as tensions escalate in the US-China trade war with both countries increasing tariffs, and just days after the US President placed Chinese telecoms giant Huawei on a trade blacklist, limiting its access to American technology.More than cybersecurity concerns, this move is aimed towards the CRCC’s takeover of the global rail market, which US lawmakers are scrutinizing as a security and economic threat.It won over the US market by aggressively underbidding competitors, and allegedly has its eyes set on the freight market.
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What happened: Beijing Transport Bureau on Friday announced a RMB 50,000 (around $7,230) fine against Hello TransTech for adding new bikes to the city without permission.It is the first time the Beijing government has penalized a bike rental company.According to a Weibo announcement posted Friday by the government agency, Hello TransTech was originally granted permission to replace 19,000 damaged bikes in suburban areas of the city in December 2017.However, there are more than 50,000 bikes across the city.In addition to the fine, the Ant Financial-backed mobility firm was told to remove the additional bikes within 10 working days.Why it’s important: Hello TransTech apologized for its mistake in a response released Friday, and explained that the actual demand for shared bikes has been increasing since the spring.
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WeChat head Allen Zhang Xiaolong used to approve every change to Tencent’s flagship social media app, down to the colors and fonts.But, as WeChat surpasses 1 billion users and plays host to more than 1 million mini-apps on its ecosystem, operations have finally become too big for him to oversee everything.How to stay agile and nimble in a rapidly changing social media landscape with a top-down approach for a 2,000-strong team, and what happens to strategy should Zhang one day leave or step back, were among the top issues on the minds of WeChat executives as the app enjoys its perch as China’s most dominant super-app.These discussions, gleaned from interviews by the London Business School for a business case study and in written comments provided to the South China Morning Post, offer a rare glimpse into the inner workings of a unit that dominates the country’s social media scene.“I admit I am very dictatorial,” Zhang, 49, told the London Business School for its case study.“A product needs to have a strong identity in order to have everything in coherence.”
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Cities should regulate facial recognition instead of banning it, China’s AI champion SenseTime says – South China Morning PostWhat happened: Xu Li, CEO and co-founder of Sensetime, the world’s most valuable artificial intelligence startup, says governments should craft regulations to govern facial recognition systems, and not impose an outright ban on their use.There should be guidelines that govern the circumstances for which emerging technologies can be used, the South China Morning Post cites Xu as saying.He believes that introducing new rules to control how the technology is implemented is crucial to its widespread adoption.What happened: Lu’s comments come shortly after San Francisco became the first US city to ban the use of facial recognition technology by police and government agencies.The restriction excludes airports and federally regulated facilities.
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What happened: Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi’s consumer finance subsidiary, Xiaomi Finance, has appointed Cao Qiang as its new chief risk officer.Cao previously served a similar role at electronics appliance giant GOME’s financial services arm.Why it’s important: Chinese media previously reported that Chen Xi, the head of risk and credit and loan services at Xiaomi Finance, would be leaving his post to lead the company’s new virtual banking business in Hong Kong.Xiaomi set up Xiaomi Finance in 2015, though it is still small, contributing less than 1% of the company’s 2018 revenue.The subsidiary—which provides a range of financial services including payment, wealth management, loans, and insurance—accounted for nearly 14% of Xiaomi’s total assets as of March 2018.According to its prospectus, Xiaomi intends to spin off the financial subsidiary into an independent entity.
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South Korean conglomerate SK Group agreed to purchase 6.1% of Vietnam’s largest firm, Vingroup JSC, for US$1 billion as it looks to expand its investments in the country, Reuters reports.“Vingroup and SK Group intend to enter into future joint strategic investments that will leverage each party’s expertise and enhance both groups’ ability to serve the Vietnamese market and the region,” the companies jointly said in a statement.In 2018, SK bought 9.5% of Masan Group, Vietnam’s second-largest conglomerate, for US$470 million.
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