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Karbonn ‘K9 Music 4G’ in India for Rs 4,990


New Delhi: Domestic handset maker Karbonn Mobiles on Friday launched “K9 Music 4G” for Rs 4,990 in the country.

Built for music lovers, “K9 Music” is equipped with dual speakers and comes with an offer of unlimited music download on Saavn app for three months, the company said in a statement.

The device packs a 1.3GHz quad-core processor coupled with 16GB internal storage that can be expanded up to 128GB.

The smartphone runs Android 7.0 Nougat operating system (OS) and is fuelled by a 2,200mAh battery.

The device sports a 5-inch display, an 8MP rear camera and a 5MP selfie camera.

Connectivity options include, Bluetooth, GPS and FM radio.

IANS




Chinese smartphone brands dominated Indian market for the year 2017


New Delhi: There are nearly 650 million mobile phone users in India — and over 300 million of them have a smartphone. For these users, Chinese smartphone players became the first choice this year as they launched devices with compelling features, thus dominating the budget and mid-range price segment in the country.

Chinese vendors captured 49 per cent of the Indian mobile phone handset market in the first quarter of 2017 — with a 180 per cent (year-on-year) revenue growth — threatening to wipe out domestic players from the overall handset segment.

Among the top Chinese brands, Xiaomi witnessed the biggest growth this year.

With a market share of 23.5 per cent and having shipped 9.2 million smartphones in the third quarter this year, Xiaomi became the fastest-growing smartphone brand with a growth rate of nearly 300 per cent (year-on-year) in the third quarter this year.

According to IDC, Samsung had 23.5 per cent market share in India, similar to Xiaomi, the Lenovo-Motorola combine was at 9 per cent, Vivo at 8.5 per cent and OPPO at 7.9 per cent.

For Xiaomi, its Redmi Note 4 device that was launched in January at Rs 9,999 for the base model (2GB RAM and 32GB onboard storage) proved to be a game-changer and its best-selling smartphone too. The company shipped approximately four million units of the device in this quarter, said IDC.

Chinese brands like Huawei (which sells its youth-centric sub-brand Honor in India), Vivo, Motorola (a Lenovo brand) and OPPO’s performance remained strong and contributed to more than half of the total smartphone shipments in the country.

Aiming to push its position up in the highly competitive Indian market, Honor launched flagship products at “unbeatable prices”, like the highly-successful Honor 8 Pro (Rs 29,999) and Honor 7X (starting at Rs 12,999).

Also Read : This is how your smartphone can help fight cybercrime

Vivo and OPPO’s aggressive marketing spends also paid them hefty dividends. With smartphone growth nearing saturation in metros, Chinese players were also busy building their base in the tier II and III cities.

When it comes to manufacturing in India, Xiaomi announced its third plant in the country based out of Noida and the first facility for power banks in partnership with Hipad Technology.

Spread across 230,000 square feet, the Noida unit is a dedicated facility for Xiaomi power banks where the Mi Power Bank 2i will be assembled. The company already has two smartphone manufacturing plants in Sri City, Andhra Pradesh, where more than 95 per cent of its smartphones sold in India are assembled locally.

Meanwhile, South Korean giant Samsung also announced that it would invest Rs 4,915 crore in expanding its Noida manufacturing plant to double the production capacity of both mobile phones and consumer electronics.

The Foreign Investment Promotion Board approved OPPO’s request to open single-brand retail stores in the country. With this decision, OPPO became the first smartphone company to get this opportunity in India.

The Chinese players also handled the post-demonetisation ripples well with high decibel marketing, increased credit line to distributors and efficient channel management.

Global vendors, led by Samsung, were able to withstand the aggressive Chinese players post-demonetisation owing to their good distributor coverage and penetration in the Indian market.

Aiming to gain a further foothold in the offline smartphone market, Xiaomi opened its first “Mi Home” store in Bengaluru in May and plans to add 100 such stores in the next two years.

Similarly, Lenovo-owned Motorola opened six “Moto Hubs” in Delhi-NCR and Mumbai and plans to open 50 more by the end of this year.

Also Read : Know Which Apps to be in your smartphone while travelling!

Huawei’s sub-brand Honor announced opening four more exclusive service centres in Kolkata, Hyderabad, Lucknow and Guwahati. Its service centres are already operating in 17 cities.

India this year surpassed the US to become the second-largest smartphone market in the world after China. Yet, according to Counterpoint Research, only one fourth of India’s population uses smartphones, thus making the country an attractive destination for Chinese players in the mobile ecosystem.

— IANS




Reliance Jio again extends its ‘triple cashback offer’ till Dec 25


New Delhi: Reliance Jio has once again extended its offer “Triple Cashback Offer”. Early in November the Offer launched and gives deadline as Dec 15 which benefits Jio Prime Customers worth up to Rs. 2,599 if buying recharges of Rs. 399 or higher.

According to NDTV article, To recall, the cashback vouchers are provided by Reliance Jio itself, apart from payment wallets, as well as fashion and retail websites. The company had extended the cashback offer’s deadline from November 25 till December 15 last month, and now on Monday, has extended the deadline till December 25. With the extension, a slight change to the cashback offer has also been made.

To reiterate, under the Jio Triple Cashback offer, subscribers who purchase recharges of Rs. 399 and above from MyJio or Jio.com site will get Rs. 400 cashback in the form of eight vouchers of Rs. 50. These vouchers can be used to deduct Rs. 50 while purchasing future recharge packs.

Airtel, Jio offers 3GB, 3.5GB Data per day for 28 days, Know the details

If you use digital wallets to pay for the recharge pack, you will get cashback in there as well. So for example, if you join the Jio network as a new user and use Amazon Pay to buy a Rs. 459 recharge, you will receive the vouchers worth Rs. 400 from Jio and Rs. 50 cashback as Pay balance, totalling Rs. 450. Both the wallet cashback and the Jio vouchers can be redeemed immediately. There are only two major changes since the last extension – the Paytm cashback for new recharge users has dropped from Rs. 50 to Rs. 15, while the PhonePe cashback for existing users rises from Rs. 0 to Rs. 10.

On top of the cashbacks, Jio is also offering discounts on online fashion and travel purchases (up to Rs. 1,899) to raise the total value of the offer to Rs. 2,599. Under the cashback offer, you will get Rs. 399 discount on transactions worth Rs. 1,500 and above on AJio.com, and Rs. 500 instant discount on purchases of Rs. 1,999 and above on Reliancetrends.com. Similarly, Jio’s partnership with Yatra.com will give you a Rs. 1,000 discount on round trip domestic flights, and Rs. 500 on a one-way ticket.




Google Pixel 2 XL now available in India


New Delhi:{agency} Google made its flagship smartphone “Pixel 2 XL” available in India on Wednesday in two variants — 64GB model for Rs 73,000 and 128GB variant for Rs 82,000. The devices will be available in two colours (Just Black, Black and White) online on Flipkart, Reliance Digital and retail stores across the country, the company said in a statement.

Running Android Oreo, Pixel 2 XL comes with full screen, 6-inch QHD+ 18:9 display with 3D Corning Gorilla Glass 5, 4GB RAM and houses Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 octa-core processor. The device has 12MP rear camera, 8MP front camera and a 3,520mAh battery.

The rear shooter has been upgraded with a brighter f/1.8 aperture and optical stabilisation (OIS), as well as electronic stabilisation, resulting in detailed images with crisp colour reproduction and accurate tones. The phone uses an aluminium unibody with a hybrid coating, and is IP67 water and dust resistant.
Apart from unlocking the device in a snap, the fingerprint sensor on Pixel 2 XL can also be used to access the notification panel with a swipe down. Pixel 2 XL also includes Google Lens that uses machine learning (ML) capabilities to recognise places, objects and streets, etc, from the clicked images to give more information about them.

Pixel 2 XL comes with Google Assistant that, in the coming weeks, will also be able to help with your daily routines.




Will robots take your job? Well, that depends. . .


At the recently concluded World Economic Forum (WEF) conference, one topic that caught the imagination of almost everyone was “Artificial Intelligence and Robotics” (https://www.weforum.org/agenda/archive/artificial-intelligence-and robotics/?utm_ content= buffer55b47utm_medium=social &utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer).

More oil over the fire was poured by Jack Ma of Alibaba who said that even CEOs could be replaced by robots (https://twitter.com/wef/status/920572853401083905?s=08). Ma believes that companies must be prepared for decades of pain to come to terms with the advance of robots. This sentiment was reinforced by the president of the World Bank (https://www.weforum. org/ agenda/2017/10/the-world-bank-chief-think-robots-have-put-us-on-a-dangerous-path) who believes that robots have put the entire world on a dangerous path.

So are all jobs at risk?  Not really.  But the factors impacting jobs will be many (see chart).  Countries will have to navigate carefully, to find ways to ensure that job formation efforts do not flag. They will have to ensure that the adverse impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics are minimised as far as is possible – at least for the short term.  In the long term, it will depend on how fast robots adapt to the new demands of the market, and how rapidly humans come up with newer ideas than robots can.

An endearing thought is that Germany – which has many more industrial robots than even the US – has not faced job losses (https://www.weforum.org/ agenda/2017/10/germany-has-way-more-industrial-robots-than-the-us-but-they-haven-t-caused-job-losses). By 2014, there were 7.6 robots per thousand German workers, compared to 1.6 in the US. Germany has managed to stay ahead of the curve.

It has come up with more innovations and concepts than can be mastered by robots overnight. So who are the gainers and losers in the advance of AI? According to PWC, the biggest beneficiary will be China see chart, sourced from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/10/AI-transforming-work-relevant) , which wants to retain its position as the world’s biggest exporter of almost everything. China could see almost 26% of its GDP coming from AI and robotics. This would be closely followed by the US (14.5%).

Of course, this would assume that global business would be dependent on mass production.  But that might not be the case. Consider how Germany has almost 6.6% of its GDP coming through exports.  Compare this with 3.5% for China. Germany’s exports come from micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs).

These companies offer the world products that do not have a market for large numbers, but are extremely sophisticated – even customized — and are demanded by countries in small numbers.  That is clearly the strategy India too may want to adopt.  In the coming decade, India may have to work on several policy initiatives.  One of them will be to realise that it will not be able to stave off automation (even in jobs for drivers) for too long. It will therefore have to focus on new job opportunities.  It will have to plan on disruptions that make older models of growth impossible to protect or promote. The need for good school education will therefore be crucial.

One way in which India can create huge numbers of jobs – both directly and indirectly – is by adopting a new model for distributed solar and methane clusters (http://www.asiaconverge.com/2017/10/solar-power-couldtrigger-employment-generation/). By creating a middle layer to install, maintain and regulate decentralised power generation and gas supplies, India could achieve two objectives.  It could create around 83 million jobs directly and indirectly — enough for at least 6-7 years (assuming a minimum demand for 12 million jobs each year).  It could also see a reduction in imports, which then could be used to promote skills development and school education.  Small numbers will matter.

It may be worth recalling that one reason why Indian fabrics got exported in very large numbers was because it could offer countless designs in small runs.  That gave customers greater variety, more exclusivity, and at reasonable prices.

China hasn’t been able to dent this market as yet.

Therefore, the focus will have to be on reinvigorating a shattered and pulverised school education. It means revamping India’s skill development, which remains in a time warp in most places. If India can do all this, it can withstand the onslaught of AI and the robots. If it cannot, expect a lot of pain to follow.




Google launches Pixel 2 smartphones, new devices


San Francisco, Betting big on the best combination of artificial intelligence (AI), software and hardware, Google on Wednesday launched Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones, smaller smart speaker “Home Mini”, a larger version called “Home Max”, high-performance convertible Chromebook called PixelBook and “Google Clips” action camera.

The devices are available for pre-order in the US, Britain, Germany and in India, among other countries. Pixel 2 starts at $649 and Pixel 2 XL is available for $849. Pixel 2 comes with a 5-inch and larger Pixel 2 XL with a 6-inch Full-HD OLED displays with Portrait Modes on both rear and selfie cameras.

Marked 98 on DXOmark ratings, the rear camera comes with OIS and EIS technology to remove jerks and shaky footage. The camera can also click “Live Photos” by recording up to three seconds of footage. It also has AR Stickers and Pixel users would get free unlimited storage on Google Cloud in the original quality. The devices have IP67 water and dust resistance.


Both phones might come with “squeeze” interaction, USB-C charger and stereo speakers. The company claims it has the fastest fingerprint scanner in a smartphone. The devices come with stereo earphones called “Pixel Buds” for $159 available in November.

Google Home Mini is priced at $49 in the US, Britain, France and Australia, among others and users can now pre-order them. Taking potshots at Apple iPhone, Google said that Home can search your Android device and ring it even if it is on silent mode. “For iPhone users, we’ll just give them a call,” the company said.

Reimagining the sound, it also launched Google Home Max, with 2-inch tweeters and 4.5-inch woofers for amazing audio with SmartSound powered by Google Assistant that automatically tunes sound. It supports Chromecast, aux and Bluetooth 5.0. It is available in December for $399.

The PixelBook is 10mm thin and weighs a kilo and has 12.3-inch Quad HD LCD display, 512GB SSD, 16GB RAM and i5 and i7 processors. The device has multiple layers of security, automatic updates and it is the first laptop with Assistant built-in. With USB-C charger, 15 minutes charge gives two hours of backup. It connects automatically to Pixel phones in absence of wi-fi.

The Pixelbook Pen, priced at $99 can help users get information of whatever they have on the screen. Just circle it to get info from it. Write and draw with Pixelbook Pen that has 10ms of latency and 2,000+ levels of pressure sensitivity. Available in three configurations, Pixelbook is priced at $999 and people can pre-order them now.

Google also launched an action cam called Google Clips. All the devices launched on Wednesday deliver an Internet of Things (IoT) experience.




No, MP3 is not dead


MP3 is only set free.

MP3, the much popular audio format famous for its small size, has now got its licensing program terminated.

The Fraunhofer Institute, the developer of the format, recently said it had ended the "licensing program for certain mp3 related patents and software" as of April 23, 2017. The company stated: "Although there are more efficient audio codecs with advanced features available today, mp3 is still very popular amongst consumers. However, most state-of-the-art media services such as streaming or TV and radio broadcasting use modern ISO-MPEG codecs such as the AAC family or in the future MPEG-H. Those can deliver more features and a higher audio quality at much lower bitrates compared to mp3."

What is MP3?

MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 audio layer 3, ubiquitously known as mp3, is essentially compressed music files that allowed the audio file to be as little as 1/10th of its original size. The development of mp3 started in the late 1980s at the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS. Compared to its WAV counterpart, the mp3 format occupied less space owing to its small size and was hence used extensively for sharing and streaming.

Sound engineers use high-resolution audio in formats like AIFF, ALAC, FLAC, WAV, and DSD. But consumer electronics largely use mp3 to take advantage of a large scale user-base.

What does the end of licensing mean for you?

You can still use mp3 files if you want to. Many music streaming sites and services still use mp3 formats, according to Fraunhofer. "If you ever ripped an mp3 from a CD, or bought from an online store, then the company involved paid a licensing fee to Fraunhofer/Technicolor. Now, the company won't have to do this anymore, but your mp3s will still continue to work as they always did," says cnet.com.

The popularity of the mp3 rose in the early 1990s, as people who wanted to listen to songs in their PCs had limited storage space. MP3 stepped in, and for most people, the songs sounded just fine. In the later years, it gained popularity due to underground song networks that were pirating copyrighted content. The advent of WINAMP software too, boosted the audio format’s image, before it became a standard in many mobile phones and compact discs.

However, audiophiles preferred pure music over compressed ones, dissing mp3 for cutting down sounds that are thought to be beyond the audio reception ability of most people.

According to macobserver.com, "MP3 isn’t dead, all your songs will still play, and you can keep buying MP3 tracks from music services. Fraunhofer's announcement means that, as of April there isn’t anything to license because there aren’t any current patents covering MP3. Without those patents there isn’t any value in licensing, and that’s what this comes down to: The Fraunhofer Institute can’t make money off licensing MP3 patents."




Xiaomi’s big screen Mi Max 2 set to launch on May 25, confirms company


Xiaomi’s Mi Max 2 will launch on May 25 in Beijing, China, according to posters shared by the company on Weibo, which highlight the new phone’s upcoming release. Earlier reports had claimed the Mi Max 2 would be unveiled along with the Mi 6, but that didn’t happen.

Then some reports had claimed a release date of May 23, but it looks like the company’s new posters are pegging May 25 as the final date.

Xiaomi’s Weibo page has links to a poster highlighting the Mi Max 2 will be launching on May 25. The poster says the phone will be launched at 2 PM in Beijing at a press conference and will be attended by CEO Lei Jun. Chinese girl band SNH48 will also be at the launch, if you go by the poster.

Interestingly the poster is not the top post on Xiaomi’s Weibo page, and you’ll have to scroll down a bit to find this. Now we’ve seen quite a few incorrect leaks take place around the Xiaomi Mi Max 2, so let’s hope this poster date turns out to be true.

In terms of specifications, Xiaomi Mi Max 2 will continue to feature the massive 6.4-inch full HD resolution display we saw on the earlier phone. Leaked specifications on GeekBench had indicated Snapdragon 626 processor coupled with 4GB RAM and a massive 5000 mAh battery.

Another variant of Max 2 featuring a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 chipset and 6GB RAM might launch as well. Xiaomi Mi Max 2 could come with a 12MP rear camera and a 5MP front camera.

In India, the Mi Max was launched at a starting price of Rs 14,999, and there was a Mi Max Prime version as well that cost more. We’ll have to wait and see if Mi Max 2 actually makes it to the Indian market.

Xiaomi has confirmed that it will launch more Mi branded smartphones in India, but the device name, model remains unknown.




BT Ireland ready to bid for €500m State rural broadband project


New York: Technology enthusiasts in India  will have to wait longer to get their hands on the Apple Watch as the country does not feature in the nine countries chosen by the iconic brand to unveil its much-awaited smart watch. However, the US-based firm will make the Apple Watch available from April 10 for preview in its home ground as well as China, Japan, Hong Kong, Australia, Canada, France, Germany and the UK. The smartwatch will be up for purchase from April 24.

The Cupertino-headquartered firm took the covers off its Apple Watch at an event in San Francisco yesterday, along with two other key announcements – a revamped MacBook range and a health-centred initiative ‘ResearchKit’. According to analysts, the Apple Watch may cost well over Rs 30,000 for the base model. They are of the view that the watch is expected to hit market in July this year. However, a section of the market feels that considering the growing importance of India, the watch could see its India debut even in June.




Millions of young stars in nearby galaxy found


Washington : An international team of astronomers has discovered over a million young stars that are forming in a hot, dusty cloud of molecular gases in a tiny galaxy near our own Milky Way.

The star cluster is buried within a supernebula in a dwarf galaxy known as NGC 5253, in the constellation Centaurus.

The cluster has one billion times the luminosity of our sun, but is invisible in ordinary light, hidden by its own hot gases.

"We are stardust, and this cluster is a factory of stars and soot," said Jean Turner, a professor of physics and astronomy in the University of California - Los Angeles and lead author of the paper that was published in the journal Nature.

The amount of dust surrounding the stars is approximately 15,000 times the mass of our sun in elements such as carbon and oxygen.

The cluster is remarkably young, which about 3 million years old.

It is likely to live for more than a billion years.

The Milky Way is still forming new stars, but not in nearly such large numbers, Turner noted.

Some astronomers had believed that such giant star clusters could form only in the early universe.

The cluster contains more than 7,000 massive "O" stars -- the most luminous of all known stars, each a million times brighter than our sun.

NGC 5253 has approximately nine times as much dark matter as visible matter - a much higher rate than the inner parts of the Milky Way.

--IANS




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