Archive for February, 2018

Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ pre-bookings have commenced in India via Samsung’s online and offline channels. Samsung unveiled its latest flagship smartphones with new features at the Galaxy Unpacked 2018 event ahead of MWC 2018. The new handsets feature improved cameras, Bixby Vision, face recognition and AR Emojis, reduced bezels on the top and bottom, faster processors, and AKG-tuned dual speakers. The company will taking pre-orders from March 2 in some countries, and in India, it has just begun taking pre-bookings for the Galaxy S9.

As for the release, Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ launch date is March 16 in select markets – but it remains uncertain whether that date applies to India as well. Meanwhile, interested buyers in India can pre-book their Samsung Galaxy S9 and/ or Samsung Galaxy S9+ for Rs. 2,000 from the company’s website. The pre-booking method will guarantee that you are among the first people to receive the latest flagships from Samsung.

Samsung Galaxy S9, Galaxy S9+ How to Pre-Book
For the online option, the pre-booking can be done on Samsung e-store starting from Monday by making an initial payment of Rs. 2,000. While pre-booking, buyers will have to fill in the required details such as the name, mobile number, email ID, colour of the smartphone etc. Once the pre-booking is done, buyers will receive a notification via SMS/ email from the portal confirming the registration.

After the pre-booking process, Samsung or its authorised third party will provide information regarding the balance amount and the dates by when it will have to be paid to receive the smartphone. If the said balance amount isn’t paid by before the due date, the pre-booking amount will be refunded within 7 working days.

In order to pre-book the smartphones at Samsung’s offline stores, buyers will have to register via the Pre-book app available at the respective outlets, starting from Monday. The same booking amount of Rs. 2,000 is applicable in this method as well.

Samsung Galaxy S9, Galaxy S9+ price, specifications
The Samsung Galaxy S9 price starts at $719.99 (roughly Rs. 46,600) in the US, while the Samsung Galaxy S9+ will be available at $839.99 (roughly Rs. 54,400). Samsung will likely launch this phone in India by March given that pre-bookings are open. The exact pricing details regarding the smartphones are expected to be announced at the India launch event of the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+.

The Galaxy S9 features a 5.8-inch QHD+ Curved Super AMOLED 18.5:9 display. Meanwhile the Samsung Galaxy S9+ packs a 6.2-inch QHD+ Curved Super AMOLED 18.5:9 display. The Galaxy S9 duo is powered by a 10nm 64-bit octa-core SoC, which varies as per region. In the US and other select markets, it is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC, with four cores clocked at 2.8GHz and four cores clocked at 1.7GHz. In other regions, including India, it will be powered by the Samsung Exynos 9810 SoC, with four cores clocked at 2.7GHz and four cores clocked at 1.7GHz. You get the Android 8 Oreo experience out of the box and IP68 water + dust resistance as well.

The Galaxy S9 features 4GB of RAM while the Galaxy S9+ packs 6GB of RAM. Samsung Galaxy S9 has a 12-megapixel rear camera with OIS and f/1.5 and f/2.4 aperture. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S9+ sports a dual rear camera setup with dual OIS, specifically a wide-angle lens with Super Speed Dual Pixel 12-megapixel autofocus f/1.5-f/2.4 sensor and a telephoto lens with 12-megapixel autofocus f/2.4 sensor. Both phones have an identical 8-megapixel autofocus front camera f/1.7 sensor.

The smartphones will be available in 64/ 128/ 256GB storage options with support for up to 400GB microSD cards. Connectivity options include Gigabit LTE, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac, USB Type-C, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, and, yes, the 3.5mm headphone jack. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S9 packs a 3000mAh battery and the Galaxy S9+ is fuelled by a 3500mAh battery.

In terms of dimensions, the Galaxy S9 measures 147.7×68.7×8.5mm and weighs 163 grams; the Galaxy S9+ measures 158.1×73.8×8.5mm and weighs 189 grams.

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Xiaomi Mi TV 4 will be available for purchase once again in India on Tuesday, February 27 in the second round of flash sales. The new Mi TV 4 will be in stock on, Flipkart, and Mi Home offline stores starting 12pm IST on Tuesday, but being a flash sale, we can expect the TV to go out of stock pretty soon. This Mi TV 4 sale comes soon after the inaugural sale on Thursday, February 22 that saw the most expensive Xiaomi product in India go out of stock in 10 seconds, according to the company. The Chinese brand has not clarified how many units were up for sale in the first round.

Mi TV 4 price in India, launch offers
The Mi TV 4 price in India is Rs. 39,999, making it the most expensive Xiaomi product launched in India so far. In terms of launch offers, buyers of the Xiaomi Mi LED TV 4 get free 3-month subscriptions (worth Rs. 619) to Sony Liv and Hungama Play, the Mi IR cable (worth Rs. 299), and on-site installation worth Rs. 1,099 for free. The 11-button Mi Remote that’s bundled with the TV can be used to control a set-top box apart from the television itself, using the Mi IR cable priced at Rs. 299.

Mi TV 4 specifications, features
The Mi LED TV 4 model comes with a 55-inch LED display panel, though in China the Xiaomi had launched it in 49-inch and 65-inch variants as well. The TV supports 4K (3840×2160 pixels) resolution and HDR, and measures only 4.9mm in total thickness. Notably, the panel offers a viewing angle of 178-degrees and has a response time of 8ms.

The TV is powered by a 64-bit quad-core Amlogic Cortex-A53 SoC clocked up to 1.8GHz, coupled with Mali-T830 graphics. It comes with 2GB of RAM and features 8GB of storage. It also features Dolby+DTS Cinema Audio, with two 8W duct inverted speakers, as well as Xiaomi’s AI-powered PatchWall UI that has been redesigned for the Indian market. The PatchWall UI offers personalised recommendations and universal search.

Mi TV 4 in India – How Xiaomi and Sensara Aim to Disrupt the TV Industry

In terms of connectivity, the Xiaomi Mi TV 4 includes three HDMI 2.0 ports, two USB (one USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0) ports, an Ethernet port, an S/PDIF port, dual-band (2.4GHz and 5GHz) Wi-Fi 802.11ac, and Bluetooth 4.0.

Xiaomi promises more than 500,000 hours of content, of which 80 percent will be free. The content will be available in 15 Indic languages. Content partners include Hotstar, Voot, Voot Kids, Sony Liv, Hungama Play, Zee5, Sun NXT, ALT Balaji, Viu, TVF, and Flickstree.

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Facebook and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg have reached a $35 million (roughly Rs. 226 crores) settlement of class-action litigation accusing them of hiding worries about the social media company’s growth prior to its May 2012 initial public offering.

The settlement was filed on Monday in the federal court in Manhattan and won preliminary approval from US District Judge Robert Sweet.

It amounts to a small fraction of Facebook’s current market value of roughly $537 billion (roughly Rs. 3,500 crores) as of Monday’s market close.

Shareholders led by the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System and Fresno County Employees’ Retirement Association in California accused Facebook of concealing internal concerns about how growth in mobile devices might reduce revenue, even as it quietly warned its banks to cut their forecasts.

Unlike in 2012, the Menlo Park, a California-based company now generates most of its revenue from mobile devices and has estimated that mobile advertising generated more than 86 percent of its $40.7 billion (roughly Rs. 2.64 lakh crores) total revenue in 2017.

The settlement resolves claims against Facebook, officials including Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and director Peter Thiel, and bank underwriters covering a five-day period surrounding the $16 billion IPO, from May 17 to May 21, 2012.

Facebook made its market debut on May 18 of that year at $38 per share and saw its share price languish below that level for more than a year before it rebounded.

“Resolving this case is in the best interests of the company and our shareholders,” Associate General Counsel Sandeep Solanki said in a statement.

A lawyer for the shareholders did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sweet scheduled a September 5 hearing to consider final settlement approval.

The accord was reached after mediation, and provides an average recovery of about 11 cents per share, or 7 cents per share after possible legal fees and costs, court papers show.

Insurers may cover some of the payout.

Lawyers for the shareholders called the settlement “fair, reasonable, and adequate,” citing the risk of a loss at trial, according to court papers.

Facebook shares rose $1.64 on Monday to close at $184.93 on the Nasdaq.

The case is In re: Facebook Inc IPO Securities and Derivative Litigation, US District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 12-md-02389.

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The European Commission wants to tax large digital companies’ revenues based on where their users are located rather than where their headquarters are, at a rate between 1 and 5 percent, a draft Commission document showed.

The proposal, seen by Reuters, aims at increasing the tax bill of firms like Amazon, Google and Facebook that are accused by large EU states of paying too little in tax by re-routing their EU profits to low-tax countries such as Luxembourg and Ireland.

The proposal says that the tax should be applied to companies with revenues above EUR 750 million ($922 million or roughly Rs. 6,000 crores) worldwide and with EU digital revenues of at least EUR 10 million (roughly Rs. 80 crores) a year.

The document is subject to changes before its publication which is expected in the second half of March. The tax would be a temporary measure until a more comprehensive solution to fair digital taxation is approved, the Commission said.

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Human Rights Watch says it has found new evidence that authorities in one of China’s most repressive regions are sweeping up citizens’ personal information in a stark example of how big-data technology can be used to police a population – and potentially abused.

The rights group used publicly available government procurement documents, media reports and interviews to assemble details of the policing program called the “Integrated Joint Operations Platform” in Xinjiang, a sprawling area in northwest China that security officials say harbours separatist and religious extremist elements.

Unidentified sources inside Xinjiang described to Human Rights Watch the computer and mobile app interfaces of the IJOP software that tracks almost all citizens of the Turkic-speaking Muslim Uighur ethnic minority and stores detailed information including their travel history, prayer habits, the number of books in their possession, banking and health records.

Procurement notices show that the IJOP also deploys license plate tracking and facial-recognition cameras to follow people in real time and provide “predictive warnings” about impending crime, Human Rights Watch said.

Although surveillance is pervasive in many countries, including the United States, and has the potential for abuse, the technology is being deployed far more broadly in Xinjiang, said Maya Wang, senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch and the report’s author.

“In China the programs are very explicitly focused on people who are politically threatening or an entire Uighur ethnic group,” Wang said.

An official in the press office of Xinjiang police headquarters on Monday confirmed AP’s questions had been received but said leaders were out and he had no idea when or if there would be a reply. The official, like many Chinese bureaucrats, declined to give his name because he wasn’t authorized to speak to reporters.

China’s 10 million Uighurs already face a raft of restrictions not imposed on people of the Han ethnicity, who are the overwhelming majority in China. Uighurs face multiple hurdles in procuring passports and those who have them are required to leave them with the police. Hotels are required to register their presence with the local authorities and frequently turn them away to avoid the hassle. Frequent roadblocks and checkpoints across the vast Xinjiang region enable authorities to stop people and check their mobile phones for content that might be deemed suspicious.

Such pressure was ratcheted up following a series of deadly attacks blamed on Uighur extremists seeking independence from Chinese rule.

A 2017 investigation by The Associated Press showed that thousands of Uighurs in Xinjiang, and possibly many more, have been sent to an extrajudicial network of political indoctrination centres for months at a time for reasons including studying abroad and communicating with relatives abroad.

The AP also found evidence in government documents and procurement contracts of the Xinjiang government compiling biometric and personal data and systematically rating its Uighur citizens’ political reliability.

The Human Rights Watch report reveals for the first time that the disparate data collection efforts appear to be unified under one central digital database that calculates citizens’ political risk.

Use of the integrated computer system has led to people being detained and sent to political indoctrination centres, Wang said, citing interviewees who were kept anonymous out of concern for their safety.

Wang said she has found evidence that Chinese police are building similar big-data tracking capabilities in other parts of the country under a program called the “police cloud,” but do not deploy them to as such an extent as in Xinjiang.

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SIM card provider ChatSim on Thursday announced the launch of its latest ChatSim 2 SIM card in Milan, Italy. The second generation of the company’s proprietary SIM card now claims to offer Internet surfing with “free and unlimited data traffic.” The SIM card can provide data access without limitations, roaming charges, or Wi-Fi connectivity. The annual plan also lets you send text messages across 165 countries. ChatSim 2 will have its world premiere at Mobile World Congress 2018 in Barcelona from February 26-March 1, and more details (including the fine print) about the SIM card can be expected from there.

ChatSim 2 employs the ‘zero rating’ concept for its unlimited packs. The first-gen ChatSim had limitations wherein users had to purchase multimedia credits in order to send photos, videos, and make voice calls. With ChatSim 2, however, the company claims to offer access to surf the Internet and access all mobile apps as part of its core plans.

“ChatSim 2 is a completely new and different version of ChatSim, born from the need expressed in these 3 years by our customers to have Internet as well as unlimited chat apps. With ChatSim 1, with compatible apps (WhatsApp, Messenger, WeChat, etc.), you can send unlimited text messages and emoji in over 165 countries with the annual plan. If you also want to send photos, videos and make voice calls, you can buy multimedia credits. You [cannot] surf the Internet and use other apps. ChatSim 2, instead, lets you surf the Internet and use any application WITHOUT ANY LIMITATION at unbeatable rates anywhere in the world. The messaging applications included (WhatsApp, Messenger etc. the same as ChatSim 1 plus others that will soon be enabled) can be used for free and unlimited, without consuming the gigabytes included in your purchased plan. The traffic is unlimited for everything: text, emoji, photos, videos, calls, etc.,” said Manuel Zanella, founder and CEO of ChatSim.

The company says that ChatSim 2 works with over 250 telecom operators globally across more than 165 countries. All plans offered with the SIM card provide unlimited chat access on apps including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Telegram, Line, Hike among others. The SIM is compatible with iOS, Android, and Windows Phone mobiles and tablets. It is available in an All-In-One size and can be used with Micro, Mini, and Nano SIM slots. Pricing details for ChatSim 2 in India are not yet available on the company’s site, and we can expect further details once the product is showcased at MWC 2018.

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Apple has now allowed app developers to add as many as up to 10 screenshots per device form factor for their apps listings on the App Store. The new change has increased the maximum number of screenshots that can be added to app listings on the App Store from the previous limit of five screenshots per device. The change is applicable to the App Store for iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Apple TV, and it doesn’t affect the number of screenshots displayed in search results. This means search results will still include three portrait screenshots or one horizontal screenshot.

“You can now display up to 10 screenshots on your product page on the App Store for iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Apple TV, to show customers more of your app’s experience,” reads the announcement on the Apple Developer site. The latest development is mainly aimed at helping developers attract new users by showing different features of their apps.

As reported by 9to5Mac, developers can submit up to 10 screenshots for each device form factor their apps support, across all iOS devices as well as 1080p and 4K Apple TV resolutions and Apple Watch form factors. To give more visual cues about their apps in addition to static screenshots, developers have also been provided with the ability to add three video previews.

Notably, Apple hasn’t yet applied the new changes for apps available on the Mac App Store. This means that the apps listed on the Mac App Store will continue to come with up to five screenshots.

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Starting next month, Nissan Motor Co. is testing on regular roads what it calls “a robo-vehicle mobility service.” Called Easy Ride, it uses a cell-phone app to book semi-autonomous driven rides.

But Easy Ride won’t necessarily be easy if poor internet connections mean it won’t work at all.

Nissan says that feedback from the 300 people who have signed up to try out Easy Ride will be used to fine-tune the app. The Japanese automaker hopes to roll it out as a commercial service in the early 2020s. Details, including pricing, are undecided.

The service was developed in a partnership, which began last year, with Japanese mobile game provider DeNA Co. DeNA has been working on driverless bus and delivery services in Japan.

For now, Easy Ride will be limited to a 4.5-kilometer (2.8-mile) course that starts from Nissan headquarters and winds through a shopping mall area in this Japanese port city.

The app is only in Japanese, but there are plans to offer it in several languages for tourists and other travellers.

Like other autonomous drive technology, the Easy Ride vehicle is packed with cameras, sensors and radars to recognize pedestrians, intersections, traffic lights and other vehicles.

It’s still only driverless in principle, though, since Japanese law doesn’t allow totally driverless vehicles. So a human driver in a no-hands position sits behind the steering wheel. The system isn’t flawless, with human intervention sometimes needed to avoid a crash, according to Nissan.

It’s just one of several such kinds of technology being worked on around the world, such as Google’s Waymo and Tesla’s Autopilot. Just about all the major automakers, including Mercedes and Toyota, are working on such technologies. Nissan has been among the most aggressive.

Although opinion is divided on the projection that as many as 10 million driverless cars will be on roads by 2020, everyone agrees the technology is going to grow.

“I think the potential is quite large in the long term, especially in large cities such as Tokyo or Boston, where there is a need for point-to-point transit but little incentive to own cars,” said Nicholas Evans, an assistant professor at UMass Lowell.

However, he cautioned, “In introducing technology, all it takes is for a couple of high-profile accidents for consumers to turn against manufacturers.

“It’s in the self-interest of manufacturers for rigorous testing and public input on this new kind of technology,” said Evans, who studies the ethical dilemmas posed by emerging technologies such as drones and self-driving vehicles.

For Easy Ride, users first download a special app on their cellphones.

After logging on, voice recognition is used to set a destination, and the date and time for when the ride picks you up at one of four possible spots in Yokohama.

Once in the back seat of the vehicle, a display shows your route on a digital map. It also recommends events such as concerts, historical landmarks, restaurants and other places to visit, which pop up as photos and text on the display. The service also includes coupons that can be downloaded and used at those spots.

Easy Ride is still experimental, but future uses Nissan envisions include parents using it to pick up their children and tourists using it to easily find their way around.

Some glitches remain.

In a recent demonstration for reporters, the app had problems launching because of a poor net connection at Nissan headquarters.

When a reporter said, “I want to eat a burger,” it successfully recommended several nearby joints.

But it was not able to find the nearest New Balance store, or any other place to buy sneakers.

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Huawei P20, one of the next flagship offerings by the Chinese company, has purportedly surfaced on the TENAA site. The images available on the certification site show a vertical dual camera setup on the upcoming smartphone and reveal its metal build. Some previous rumours suggested the presence of three rear cameras on the P20, though the new images confirm their absence while showing some similarities with the initial renders.

As spotted by GSMArena, the Huawei P20 has reached TENAA with a codename EML-AL00. The images available with TENAA reveal the vertical dual rear camera setup on the Huawei P20 alongside highlighting a dual camera setup on the front. The rear-facing camera sensor also appears to include Leica optics, laser autofocus module, and dual-LED flash – all aligned vertically, one above the other. There is also a vertically-placed Huawei logo, suggesting a landscape mode for capturing images. Further, the front of the smartphone shows two camera lenses, sitting on top of a notch, similar to the iPhone X.

Despite featuring a notch, the images on TENAA site shows that Huawei P20 will come with a fingerprint sensor. This will be available below the display panel, identical to one featured on the Huawei P10. Also, the smartphone appears to have a volume rocker and power button with a textured surface on top.

Last week, some early renders of the Huawei P20 emerged online, alongside the renders showing the Huawei P20 Plus and Huawei P20 Lite. The P20 is rumoured to include a 3320mAh battery, while the P20 Plus is reported to come with a 4000mAh battery. Additionally, the handset is reported to include HiSilicon Kirin 970 SoC, which is already powering the Honor View 10 and Huawei Mate 10 models.

It is expected that instead of choosing Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2018, Huawei is set to launch the P20, P20 Plus, and P20 Lite at a dedicated event in Paris next month. The event is scheduled for March 27.

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Phone makers will seek to entice new buyers with better cameras and bigger screens at the world’s biggest mobile fair starting Monday in Spain after a year of flat smartphone sales. But with no major innovations awaited in handsets, analysts expect the four-day Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona to focus on new uses for artificial intelligence (AI) and the looming deployment of super-fast 5G wireless networks.

Smartphone giants Huawei, LG or HTC are not expected to launch new flagship devices at the annual show, so Samsung will have the opportunity to grab the spotlight when it unveils its Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ phones on Sunday on the eve of the fair.

The teasers suggest major changes to the camera, which will reportedly allow for “super slow-motion” videos and a new camera lens that improves low-light photos: features some of its rivals already offer. The camera “seems to have become a major source of differentiation for the latest generation of smartphones,” said mobile phone analyst Ben Wood of CCS Insight.

Samsung suffered a humiliating recall of its Galaxy Note 7 device in 2016 after several devices exploded but its Galaxy Note 8 smartphone was a consumer and critical success. The company remained the world’s biggest seller of smartphones in 2017 with a 21.6 percent market share, up from 21.1 percent in the previous year, according to research firm IDC.

Apple, which as usual will not be present at the show, was the second biggest vendor at 14.7 percent.

‘Sea of sameness’
Overall global smartphone sales for 2017 were virtually flat — down 0.1 percent at 1.47 billion units — as phone makers struggled to come up with innovations that encourage customers to upgrade their devices.

“The sea of sameness continues to erode the impact that new models have on the market,” said Wood.

In addition to better cameras, phone makers will focus on introducing bigger screens in mid-market devices, not just flagship ones, to try to boost their sales said Ian Fogg, senior director of mobile and telecom at IHS Markit.

“They are all really struggling to find good differentiation points to drive that upgrade cycle. They are not just competing with each other, they are competing with the phone that consumers already own that they may consider good enough.”

The sector is hoping the introduction of blazing fast 5G mobile internet service — which is about 1,000 times faster than the 4G widely available in the developed world — will trigger a wave of growth in equipment sales and mobile services.

The first deployment of 5G wireless networks, which are quick enough to download a full length film in less than a second, are expected in key markets like the United States, Japan and South Korea at the end of the year.

“We are in a phase of acceleration … as much for 5G as for artificial intelligence,” said Jacques Moulin, the director general of IDATE, a French thinktank on the digital economy.

The tech industry in December agreed on most universal standards for 5G, clearing the way for future wireless connections to support functions such as driverless cars and traffic systems.

“We will hear much more pragmatic discussion around 5G, around commercial trials, around what initial 5G networks will deliver. It is transitioning 5G from a future technology that has many possibilities into more of a business as usual approach,” said Fogg.

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