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Apple will open a new campus as part of a five-year, $30 billion (roughly Rs. 1.91 lakh crores) US investment plan and will make about $38 billion (roughly Rs. 2.43 lakh crores) in one-time tax payments on its overseas cash, one of the largest corporate spending plans announced since the passage of a tax cut signed by US President Donald Trump.

The company has been under increasing pressure to make US investments since the 2016 presidential campaign, when Trump targeted the iPhone maker for making products in Asian factories.

While Apple has announced no plans to change that practice and experts say it would be economically impractical to make iPhones in the United States, the company has begun to emphasise its US economic impact, from developers who sell software on its App Store to the tens of billions of dollars per year it spends with US suppliers.

Between the spending plan, hiring 20,000 people, tax payments and business with US-based suppliers, Apple on Wednesday estimated it would spend $350 billion (roughly Rs. 22.4 lakh crores) in the United States over the next five years.

It did not, however, say how much of the plan was new or how much of its $252.3 billion (roughly Rs. 16.12 lakh crores) in cash abroad – the largest of any US corporation – it would bring home. In addition to the $38 billion in taxes it must pay, Apple has run up $97 billion (roughly Rs. 6.2 lakh crores) in US-issued debt to pay for previous share buybacks and dividends.

Some investors said the US investments would give the company room to make more stock buybacks or pay dividends without criticism. Apple shares on Wednesday closed up 1.7 percent to $179.10 (roughly Rs. 11,450).

Walter Piecyk, managing director for TMT Research at BTIG Research, said he could not yet tell whether the US expansion was an increase from a previous plan or meant investment abroad was being refocused in the United States. Reuters Breakingviews estimated that Apple could have increased US headcount by 24,000 in the last five years.

Trump described the move by Apple as a victory for his efforts.

“I promised that my policies would allow companies like Apple to bring massive amounts of money back to the United States. Great to see Apple follow through as a result of TAX CUTS,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Asked in an interview with ABC News whether the job creation announcements were directly related to the Republican tax plan, Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook gave a measured response.

“Let me be clear: There are large parts of this that are a result of the tax reform, and there’s large parts of this we would have done in any situation,” Cook said in the interview.

Apple services push
About a third of Apple’s new spending will be on data centres to house its iCloud, App Store and Apple Music services, a sign of the rising importance of subscription services to a company known for its computers and gadgets. Apple has data centres in seven states.

The announced US spending would be a significant part of Apple’s overall capital expenditures. Globally, the company spent $14.9 billion (roughly Rs. 95,000 crores) in 2017 and expects to spend $16 billion (roughly Rs. 1.02 lakh crores) in 2018, figures that include both US-based investments in datacentress and other projects and Asian investments in tooling for its contract manufacturers.

If Apple’s overall capital expenditures continue to expand at the same rate expected this year, the $30 billion investment in the United States could represent about a third of its capital expenditures over the next five years.

The announced tax payment was roughly in line with expectations, said Cross Research analyst Shannon Cross. The tax bill requires companies to pay a one-time 15.5 percent tax on foreign-held earnings whether they intend to bring them back to the United States or not.

Apple had set aside $36.3 billion (roughly Rs. 2.32 lakh crores) in anticipation of tax payments on its foreign cash, meaning the payment would not represent a major impact on its cash flow this quarter.

James Cordwell of Atlantic Equities said Apple’s US investment plan could make it easier for the company to give more cash to shareholders.

“Being seen to just hand the cash back to shareholders could spark some political sensitivities,” and the spending announcement could be part of Apple’s efforts to manage this issue, Cordwell said.

Apple also said it would boost its advanced manufacturing fund, used to provide capital and support to suppliers such as Finisar Corp and Corning Inc, from $1 billion (roughly Rs. 6,400 crores) to $5 billion (roughly Rs. 32,000 crores). Apple said it planned to spend $55 billion (roughly Rs. 3.51 lakh crores) with US-based suppliers in 2018, up from $50 billion (roughly Rs. 3.19 lakh crores) last year.

Amazon vs Apple
Apple joins in scouting for a location for a new campus. Amazon finished taking applications from cities in October for its second headquarters.

Amazon set off a scramble between cities across the nation to host the headquarters, and Apple’s announcement stirred broad interest. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel told reporters on Wednesday, “We’re going to go compete and we’re going to put our best foot forward” to compete for an Apple campus. A Philadelphia Department of Commerce spokeswoman said the city would submit a proposal if Apple opened the process for bids.

Apple has not said whether it had settled on a new campus location yet, and it did not make any commitments on the size of new spending or hiring specific to the campus. It did say it would initially house technical support for customers and would announce the location later this year.

The facility would be in addition to its “spaceship” Apple Park headquarters in Cupertino, California; a campus in Austin, Texas, that houses customer service agents and some manufacturing; and an Elk Grove, California, unit with several thousand customer service agents and iPhones refurbishing technicians.

Apple also has built its own data centers in North Carolina, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona and a recently announced project in Iowa, and leases data center space in other states.

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Data centre computers with Intel’s newer chips might reboot more often than normal because of problems with the patches issued to fix the so-called Spectre and Meltdown security flaws, the company said on Wednesday.

Intel confirmed that patches for the security flaws can cause higher-than-expected reboot rates in Ivy Bridge, Sandy Bridge, Skylake and Kaby Lake processors, said Navin Shenoy, general manager of the data centre group, in a statement on Intel’s website.

The Kaby Lake chips are the company’s most recent offering.

Last week, Intel said it had received reports that its security patches were causing problems in systems with its older Broadwell and Haswell chips.

Shenoy said that Intel had issued patches for 90 percent of Intel chips released in the past five years but that the company had “more work to do.” He also said the company would send out initial versions of fixes for the buggy patches to customers by next week.

“We have reproduced these issues internally and are making progress toward identifying the root cause,” Shenoy wrote.

On January 3 Intel confirmed that the Spectre and Meltdown flaws affected its chips, potentially letting hackers steal information believed to be very secure.

The Spectre flaw affected nearly every modern computing device, including those with chips from Intel, Advanced Micro Devices and ARM Holdings.

Intel on Wednesday also quantified how much of a performance hit the patches cause for data centre customers. For common tasks such as running website servers, the patches caused a 2 percent slowdown, Intel said. Another test that simulated online transactions at a stock brokerage showed a 4 percent slowdown, the company said.

For some types for work involving servers that store large amounts of data and try to retrieve it quickly, the company said the slowdown could be as severe as 18 percent to 25 percent. However, it wasn’t immediately clear how common those situations were.

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Apple told its employees on Wednesday that the iPhone maker is issuing a bonus of $2,500 (roughly Rs. 1.6 lakhs) worth of restricted stock units following the new US tax reform, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The company will begin issuing stock grants to most employees worldwide in the coming months, the report said. Apple also said it will match all employee charitable donations, up to $10,000 (roughly Rs. 6.4 lakhs) annually, at a rate of two to one.

Axios has obtained the full email sent to employees regarding the new bonuses and charity donation matching. It has been reproduced in its entirety at the end of the article.

Earlier in the day, Apple said it would make about $38 billion (roughly Rs. 2.43 lakh crores) in one-time tax payments on its overseas cash, one of the largest corporate spending plans announced since the passage of the tax cut signed by US President Donald Trump.

Apple has been under increasing pressure to make US investments since the 2016 presidential campaign, when Trump targeted the iPhone maker for making products in Asian factories.

While Apple has announced no plans to change that practice and experts say it would be economically impractical to make iPhones in the United States, the company has begun to emphasise its US economic impact, from developers who sell software on its App Store to the tens of billions of dollars per year it spends with US suppliers.

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Sony is all set to unveil its latest innovation in consumer technology. The Japanese tech giant has sent out press invites confirming its launch event for MWC 2018. The company will be showcasing new devices on Monday, February 26 which is the inaugural day of this year’s Mobile World Congress, to be held in Barcelona from February 26 – March 1. Rumours suggest Sony will announce the Xperia XZ Pro flagship smartphone at the event.

As is evident from press invites sent to media organisations, Sony will be launching some new products on February 26 during MWC 2018 in Barcelona. The invite does not blatantly mention any details about the products that will be launched, although the rumour mill has been expecting the Xperia XZ Pro to make a debut at the tech show. According to a report by Chinese news site MyDrivers, the Xperia XZ Pro will be launched at MWC 2018. It is expected to sport a dual rear camera setup, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC, and a display with 18:9 aspect ratio.

The MyDrivers report claims that Sony’s CES 2018 mobile announcements were but a mere ‘pre-meal appetizer’. Citing Don Mesa, Vice President of Marketing at Sony Mobile North America, the report says that Sony is looking to launch more smartphones with dual camera setups and fullscreen displays in 2018.

The rear camera setup on the Xperia XZ Pro is expected to feature an 18-megapixel primary sensor and a 12-megapixel secondary sensor. The front camera will supposedly have a 13-megapixel sensor. In addition to that, the phone might be powered by a Snapdragon 845 SoC – making it one of the only few phones to come with the flagship SoC, a minimum RAM capacity of 6GB, inbuilt storage space of 128GB, a 5.7-inch OLED display (possibly 4k), and IP68 water and dust resistance rating. The report also claims that the price of the Sony Xperia XZ Pro will not be less than CNY 6,000 (roughly Rs. 59,600).

Apart from that, a successor to the Xperia XZ1 and some mobile accessories might also be seen at Sony’s launch event during MWC 2018.

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Apple has landed its first scripted TV comedy series, which will produced by and star Kristen Wiig (Saturday Night Live, Bridesmaids, Ghostbusters). The 10-episode series doesn’t have a name for now, but it’ll inspired by an upcoming short story collection by Curtis Sittenfeld called You Think It, I’ll Say It.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Reese Witherspoon will executive produce via her Hello Sunshine production banner, alongside Colleen McGuinness (30 Rock) – who created the show and will serve as showrunner – Hello Sunshine head Lauren Neustadter, and Wiig. Apple will not own the series outright, says THR, which means it could later appear on other networks.

This is the third Apple series for Hello Sunshine, which is also producing the morning talk show drama starring Jennifer Aniston and Witherspoon (for which the two are said to be getting $1.25 million per episode), and Are You Sleeping, a thriller starring Octavia Spencer. For Apple, this adds to a growing slate of content, including a space series from Battlestar Galactica’s Ronald D. Moore, a futuristic show from director of Hunger Games films, and a revival of Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories.

But Apple has yet to talk about how these shows will become available, or give release dates to any of them. It launched the critically-panned reality show Planet of the Apps within Apple Music, but the company’s TV ambitions are starting to eclipse its music streaming service. iTunes is seen by users as a place to rent or buy movies and TV shows, so it’s unlikely streaming will gel with that.

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Honor 9 Lite India launch is set for Wednesday, and will be unveiled at an event in New Delhi. The affordable quad-camera smartphone has been teased for launch in the country since earlier this month, and will be a Flipkart-exclusive. The Honor 9 Lite was first launched in China in late December, and is in fact the second major launch by the Huawei brand in the country this year, following the launch of the Honor View 10 earlier this month. To recall, the View 10 was exclusive to Amazon India. The Honor 9 Lite India launch will be live streamed, and you can check it out below. The launch begins at 12:30pm IST.

Honor 9 Lite expected price in India
Honor 9 Lite price in India can be expected to be roughly around the same as the smartphone’s China price. To recall, in China, the Honor 9 Lite price began at CNY 1,199 (roughly Rs. 11,700) for the 3GB RAM/ 32GB storage variant. Next up, the 4GB RAM/ 32GB storage variant was priced at CNY 1,499 (roughly Rs. 15,600), while the 4GB RAM/ 64GB storage variant ws priced at CNY 1,799 (roughly Rs. 17,500). Notably however, the Flipkart listing indicates that the Honor 9 Lite’s 4GB RAM/ 32GB storage variant will be not be launched in India. Thus, only the 3GB RAM/ 32GB storage variant and 4GB RAM/ 64GB storage variants are expected to be made available in the country. For now, Flipkart has not teased any laucnh offers.

Honor 9 Lite specifications
The dual-SIM (Nano) Honor 9 Lite runs EMUI 8.0, based on Android 8.0 Oreo, out of the box. It bears a 5.65-inch full-HD+ (1080×2160 pixels) IPS display with an 18:9 aspect ratio and pixel density of 428ppi. It is powered by a Huawei HiSilicon Kirin 659 SoC (four cores clocked at 2.36GHz, and four cores clocked at 1.7GHz) coupled with either 3GB or 4GB of RAM.

The Honor 9 Lite bears dual camera setups on both the front and back, as we mentioned. In both the front and back, the smartphone sports a 13-megapixel primary camera with a 2-megapixel secondary camera. The rear camera offers PDAF autofocus, apart from LED flash, in addition. The Honor 9 Lite offers with either 32GB or 64GB of inbuilt storage depending on the variant, both of which are expandable via microSD card (up to 256GB) in a hybrid dual-SIM configuration.

Connectivity options on the Honor 9 Lite include 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth, GPS/ A-GPS, 3.5mm audio jack, and Micro-USB with OTG support. Sensors on board include accelerometer, ambient light sensor, magnetometer (digital compass), and proximity sensor. It is powered by a 3000mAh battery that’s rated to deliver a talk time of up to 20 hours on 3G, and a standby time of up to 24 days – it charges fully in about 2 hours 20 minutes, the company said. It measures 151×71.9×7.6mm, and weighs 149 grams.

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Reliance Jio has upgraded its marquee prepaid tariff pack for the Jio Phone. The Rs. 153 prepaid pack will now offer 1GB 4G high speed data per day, unlimited voice calls (local, STD, and roaming), 100 SMSes per day, and free subscription to all Jio apps. The validity remains the same at 28 days. Additionally, two sachet packs are also available for the Jio Phone. The Rs. 24 pack offers free voice calls, 500MB high speed data per day, 20 SMS, and access to Jio apps for two days, while the Rs. 54 pack offers the same benefits (except 70 SMS) for seven days.

As we mentioned, Reliance Jio is upgrading its monthly pack for the Jio Phone to offer the above mentioned benefits. The Rs. 153 pack, at launch, offered free voice calls, 500MB 4G high speed data per day, 100 SMSes per day. All the packs are subject to unlimited data access at 64Kbps once the daily limit is over.

The refreshed pack for Jio Phone now offers the exact same benefits as the Rs. 149 pack that is available for 4G smartphones. The move is targeted at putting Jio Phone users at par with regular smartphone users in terms of data consumption. Another Rs. 309 monthly pack was also announced at launch. This pack allows Jio Phone users to mirror content from apps like JioTV and JioCinema on to their modern or CRT televisions.

The Reliance Jio Phone (Review) was launched in July last year at the company’s Annual General Meeting (AGM). Buyers need to pay a Rs. 1,500 deposit, which is refundable after a period of three years if the user meets all terms and conditions. The handset has been categorised as a feature phone but with smart capabilities.

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WhatsApp is working on a feature in its app which will empower its users to prevent spam messages, a watcher of the app’s beta changes said.

According to WABetaInfo, a fan website that tests new features, the feature is still in its beta version and isn’t officially enabled yet. This feature will be developed for both Android and iOS, platforms for which it is already being tested (disabled by default).

Spam messages are those which a user sends in bulk to its list of contacts.

“A spammer never sends spam messages to a single contact, but he is used to sending them to multiple users, selecting them in his contacts list, picking these data from the internet or from some registration services,” WABetaInfo said.

“These messages may contain unwanted advertising and fake news, and they often invite you to forward the message to your contacts,” the website added.

Users are used to forwarding one or multiple spam messages to multiple contacts using the Forward option in WhatsApp – for this reason, WhatsApp is going to inform you about messages that have been forwarded many times.

If the user needs to send a message to many contacts, WhatsApp recommends users utilise the Broadcast List feature, where only contacts that have your phone number in their address book will receive your message.

Recently, some WhatsApp for Android users across the world were hit by a version ‘obsolete’ error that was due to the manner in which the app was distributed on Google Play. The Facebook-owned messaging service had said the error was being fixed, and that its occurrence was out of its control.

Separately, WhatsApp was recently spotted testing a feature for groups called ‘Dismiss as Admin’. The feature allowed group administrators to remove admin privileges for other users in the group without first removing them from the group.

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After opening a research lab focused on artificial intelligence (AI) in China – its first such centre in Asia – Google is said to have opened another office in the country.

According to a report in TechCrunch on Wednesday, the new workspace for Googlers is in Shenzhen – a city that is home to Tencent, Huawei, and ZTE.

“We have many important clients and partners in Shenzhen. We’re setting up this e-suite office to be able to communicate and work with them better,” a Google spokesperson told TechCrunch.

The Shenzhen office is likely to be used by teams that already spend a lot of time in the city.

Separately, last month, Google had announced it would open the Google AI China Center in Beijing. Focused on basic AI research, the new Google lab will consist of a team of AI researchers in Beijing, supported by the company’s engineering teams.

Google AI China Centre will publish its own work, support the AI research community by funding and sponsoring AI conferences and workshops and work closely with the AI research community.

“I am excited to launch the Google AI China Centre, our first such in Asia, at our ‘Google Developer Days’ event in Shanghai. This Centre joins other AI research groups we have all over the world,” Fei-Fei Li, Chief Scientist, Google Cloud AI and Machine Learning, wrote in a blog post.

The tech giant has many employees in China who work on its international services. However, its search engine is blocked in the country.

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Flipkart has announced its Republic Day Sale just a day after arch rival Amazon revealed the dates of the next edition of its Great Indian Sale. No surprises for guessing, the two e-commerce sales will clash: the Flipkart sale will begin on January 21 and end on January 23, while the Amazon sale will begin the same day but end on January 24. Popular products such as smartphones, TVs, laptops and other electronics will be available on discount in the Flipkart sale, along with deals on fashion and home décor products.

Flipkart sale offers on mobile phones
The Indian startup will be offering discounts on several Android phones as part of its Republic Day sale. These include Pixel 2 XL at Rs. 48,999 (inclusive of Rs. 10,000 off on HDFC Bank credit card transactions), Samsung Galaxy S7 at Rs. 26,990, apart from additional exchange discount of Rs. 3,000 on Xiaomi Mi MIX 2 (sale price Rs. 29,999). Honor 9 Lite, which the Huawei-owned brand has been teasing for the past couple of weeks, will be launched as part of the sale. Flipkart says “stay tuned for more” deals on premium phones, so we more high-end smartphones may be added to the list in the next few days.

Apart from these, the Samsung Galaxy On Nxt 64GB and 16GB will be available at Rs. 10,999 (MRP Rs. 17,900) and Rs. 9,999 (MRP Rs. 10,999), respectively. Xiaomi Redmi Note 4, Lenovo K8 Plus, Moto G5 Plus and Smartron P will be available at Rs. 10,999, Rs. 8,999, Rs. 10,999 and Rs. 7,999, respectively. The Flipkart sale will also see Infinix Note 4 selling at Rs. 7,999 (MRP Rs. 8,999) and Panasonic Eluga A3 at Rs. 6,499 (MRP Rs. 11,499). iVoomi i1 and iVoomi i1s will also be available at discounted prices in the sale.

Offers on laptops, TVs and other electronics have not been previewed so far by the e-commerce brand. Citibank credit and debit card users will get 10 percent cashback in the sale; the minimum purchase amount and maximum cashback have not been revealed yet.

Flipkart will be offering limited-time offers, which it is calling Grab or Gone Deals as part of the sale. There will also be deals offering products under Rs. 690 and minimum 69 percent off on select products to commemorate India’s 69th Republic Day.

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