Thursday, January 25, 2018

Google I/O 2018: CEO Sundar Pichai confirms May 8 kick-off date

Google has announced the dates for its annual I/O developers conference. The event kick starts on May 8, and will run until May 10 at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California. As is the tradition with Google, the dates of the conference were also revealed through an online puzzle, which has been finally decoded.

This week, Google Developers Twitter account teased the event through a tweet with binary codes. The binary codes, when converted to text lead to the website where a series of puzzles need to be solved to reveal the dates of the event.

One of the riddles includes a pineapple cake in a room (perhaps that’s what the next Android version, Android P, will be called!). However, what we decipher from Google’s cues, especially for the Android names, is never what it is labeled eventually.

ALSO READ: Samsung Galaxy S9, Galaxy S9+ to launch on February 25

As for Google I/O 2018, it is expected that the focus will continue to be on Google Assistant, Google Photos, Daydream standalone headsets, and of course the successor to Android Oreo. Google CEO Sundar Pichai later tweeted confirming the dates for I/O 2018, with a side note asking the team to make the puzzles harder the next time.

In addition to details about Android P beta, it is expected that Pichai will announce new additions to the Android Wear 3.0 at the conference. In all likelihood, we might also hear a word or two about software improvements to the Google Home smart speaker range.

Samsung Galaxy S9, Galaxy S9+ to launch on February 25

After a myriad of speculations, Samsung has now official marked February 25 on the calendar for the launch of the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+, which also marks the beginning of MWC 2018. The invite for the Samsung Unpacked event is minimal with a big ‘9’ written on it, which is a clear hint on the expected smartphones. Also not to miss is the three words “The Camera. Reimagined”.

Additionally, Samsung released a statement accompanying the invite, which read, “Samsung Electronics will showcase the next generation of Galaxy devices that reimagines the camera and redefines the way you share your moments.” Based on the invite and the information released in conjunction with the announcement, it’s clear that Samsung is touting big changes when it comes to the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+’s photographic capabilities.

In fact, earlier this week, Samsung detailed its new ISOCELL image sensors that are expected to be featured in the new Galaxy smartphones. These image sensors have been revealed to come with technologies such as Tetracell and Smart WDR to enhance image results. It is also revealed to enable features such as a variable aperture and slow-mo video recording.

Essentially, with the new sensors, you can expect improved speed in the future Samsung smartphones to focus, as well as the ability for the camera to keep locked-on and track moving objects. And this will all be possible in low light too. Among the three sensors, there is also a Slim sensor that was revealed, which vows to keep the next smartphone bump-free, while also delivering ‘bokeh’ effects with just a single lens.

Now, if you go back to the ‘9’ on the invite, could Samsung move back to a single-camera setup with the Galaxy S9’s, considering it has teased the Slim sensor just days ahead of the launch?

Apart from that, recently a video of the purported Galaxy S9 has also been spotted on Weibo, which if true, will be the first time we will see the working model of the smartphone. The clip lasts a brief 10 seconds and does not reveal much information to allow us to verify the model. Given the design of the navigation buttons at the bottom of the screen though, you can be pretty sure it is a Samsung device. But because the Galaxy S9 is going to be identical to the Galaxy S8, especially when it comes to the front panel design, there’s no way to prove this is indeed a working Galaxy S9, as claimed.

Samsung is believed to reuse the Galaxy S8 design for the 2018 flagship, although the rear panel will get a significant makeover. When it comes to hardware, the Galaxy S9 will pack the latest chips from Qualcomm and Samsung and storage of up to 512GB according to reports.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

WhatsApp Business app now available on Android in India

To help businesses communicate better with their customers in India, WhatsApp has officially rolled out “WhatsApp Business” — a free-to-download Android app for small businesses — in the country. The new app, available on Google Play Store, will make it easier for companies to connect with customers, and more convenient for its users to chat with businesses that matter to them.

“WhatsApp Business”, yet to come on Apple App Store in India, asks for a separate phone number from the one users have for their individual WhatsApp account. “People all around the world use WhatsApp to connect with small businesses they care about from online clothing companies in India to auto parts stores in Brazil,” the Facebook-owned app had said in an earlier statement.

“WhatsApp Business will make it easier for people to connect with them, and vice versa, in a fast and simple way,” the company added. “WhatsApp Business” was launched last week in Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Britain and the US. The app will help customers with useful information such as a business description, email or store addresses and website.

It will also save time with smart messaging tools — quick replies that provide fast answers to frequently asked questions, greeting messages that introduce customers to your business, and away messages that let them know you’re busy.

“People will know that they’re talking to a business because you will be listed as a Business Account. Over time, some businesses will have Confirmed Accounts once it’s been confirmed that the account phone number matches the business phone number,” WhatsApp said.

People can continue using WhatsApp as usual as there’s no need to download anything new. “People will continue to have full control over the messages they receive, with the ability to block any number, including businesses, as well as report spam,” the company added. In India, 84 percent of SMBs think that WhatsApp helps them communicate with customers, and 80 per cent of SMBs think that WhatsApp helps them grow their business.

WhatsApp Business app download it here

PhonePe app (UPI Payment app) download it here

Google Tez (UPI Payment app) download it here

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Thursday, December 28, 2017

LG V30 getting Android 8.0 Oreo update in South Korea

LG has released Android 8.0 Oreo update for its flagship V30 smartphone. The Oreo beta program went live for LG V30 last month, and now the final build has started rolling out.

The update is about 1,412MB in size, and is available via OTA update as well as LG Bridge software. LG V30 users can either update their device from software update option or by manually downloading the update through the supplied software. The update, for now, is limited to V30 users in South Korea but users in other markets should get the update in the coming months.

The Oreo update brings improvements to V30 in key areas like performance, battery life and speed. The update improves boot time on smartphones and brings streamlined notification cards. Other improvements include Oreo defaulting to the maximum aspect ratio of the screen instead of the 1.86:1 aspect ratio adopted with the previous versions.

The Android 8.0 Oreo version on V30 is based on LG’s own UX, which enhances the screen configuration, graphics and convenience features. On V30, users can watch videos in picture-in-picture (PIP) mode, and apps like Netflix will turn into a small screen when another app is running. The update also brings LDAC-related improvements that minimizes sound source loss.

“We will provide a differentiated user experience with stable and complete software,” said Lee Sang-kyu of LG Electronics Mobile Korea Group.

With the release of Oreo for V30, LG has become one of the very few smartphone makers to release newest version of Android for their devices. Apart from Google, only Nokia, Sony and OnePlus have released Oreo update for their devices. Android 8.0 Oreo had a market share of just 0.5 percent at the beginning of December.

To recall, LG launched V30+, a variant of V30, with more storage in India early this month. The smartphone features a 6-inch P-OLED display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB RAM, and 128GB internal storage. It features dual rear camera setup with a 16-megapixel primary sensor and a 13-megapixel secondary sensor. There is a 5-megapixel front camera with support for 120-degree wide-angle selfies.

The smartphone comes with Quad-DAC support, and is priced at Rs 44,990. Since the V30+ is basically a variant of V30, it should also receive Android 8.0 Oreo in the coming months.

LG V30+

Facebook testing Aadhaar prompt for new users in India, says it's not mandatory

Facebook has started testing a new prompt asking new users in India to sign up using their real name as mentioned on the Aadhaar card. The move comes amidst the ongoing debate whether Aadhaar should be made mandatory for anything beyond mandatory services. The new sign up process encouraged users to use the name on their Aadhaar card but didn’t ask for 12-digit Aadhaar number or other personal details.

Facebook is testing a new “name as per Aadhaar” prompt when users create a new account on its mobile site. The prompt reads “What’s your name? Using the name on your Aadhaar card makes it easier for friends to recognize you.” The mobile version of Facebook with Aadhaar prompt was first spotted by Reddit users and consequently shared on Twitter.

ALSO READ: Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018) and Galaxy A8+ (2018) with dual selfie cameras, Infinity Display launched: Price, Specs and features

Facebook says the new Aadhaar name prompt is designed to curb the number of fake accounts on its social media platform. Facebook has over two billion active users but India is its largest market with over 241 million active users.

The social networking giant says the move will encourage users to sign up with their real identity. “We want to make sure people can use the names they’re known by on Facebook, and can easily connect with friends and family. This is a small test where we provide additional language when people sign up for an account to say that using the name on their Aadhaar card makes it easier for friends to recognize them. This is an optional prompt which we are testing, people are not required to enter the name on their Aadhaar card,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.

ALSO READ: Google Assistant now rolling out to Android Lollipop tablets and smartphones

The prompt is being seen by only a small number of users and it even seems that Facebook is curtailing on its widespread testing since it was spotted by Reddit users. Facebook makes it clear that using the name mentioned on Aadhaar is optional and the only goal is to make sure that people sign up with their real name.

The mobile site only asks users to sign up with their real name as seen on their Aadhaar ID and doesn’t request for Aadhaar details. The Silicon Valley giant is steering away from Aadhaar privacy issues here but it is not clear what Facebook gains by particularly mentioning Aadhaar in its sign-up page.

Aadhaar was conceived to be a unified ID for Indians that would aid in availing critical benefits from the government. However, it was not designed to be used as a verification tool on social media platforms. Facebook has not clarified whether it sought permission from the government or UIDAI before showing Aadhaar prompt to a small set of users.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Samsung Pay update in India now allows users to pay their bills within the app

After launching the Samsung Pay platform in India earlier this year, Samsung has gradually expanded the service by making some strategic investments. Samsung has also partnered with Paytm and Mobikwik to include their respective wallets within the app. Now, the South Korean tech giant has updated the Samsung Pay app in India which brings new features to the platform.

The new update is about 80MB in size. To update, open Samsung Pay, tap on the three dots on the top right > followed by settings > about Samsung Pay. Here, you will see the update button, just click on it. Among the new features, Samsung has introduced utility bill payment option, and the ability to add money to mobile wallet using your favorite cards. You can also save bank account and IFSC information of your family and friends when transferring money using UPI.

ALSO READ: Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018) and Galaxy A8+ (2018) with dual selfie cameras, Infinity Display launched: Price, Specs and features

After the update, you will see the new ‘Pay Bills’ option on the home screen. You can add your Aircel, Airtel, BSNL, Idea, Tata Docomo and Vodafone postpaid mobile numbers under. In case of electricity bill payments, Samsung has added BEST Mumbai, BSES, Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution, Tata Power, Reliance Energy and Noida Power. While DTH operators such as Sun Direct, Dish TV and Tata Sky are included, Reliance Digital TV is not a part of it, yet.

Similarly, you can also make broadband bill payments for ACT Fibernet, BSNL, Connect and MTNL Delhi Broadband; landline payments for BSNL, Airtel, and MTNL (Mumbai & Delhi). Lastly, you also have Adani Gas, Mahanagar Gas and Indraprastha Gas; and Delhi Jal Board and Municipal Corporation of Gurugram.

After you add these billers, the app will alert you when the respective bill is generated. The bill amount will be visible on the ‘Pay Bills’ page, along with the due date. What’s more, once the bill is generated, you can also add a reminder for the same – which could be daily, weekly, monthly or yearly. You can then pay the bills using your bank account linked to the UPI ID.

ALSO READ: Google Assistant now rolling out to Android Lollipop tablets and smartphones

The second feature is the ability to save IFSC code and bank account number of your family or friends, when you transfer money using UPI. This will allow you to save the contacts you frequently transfer money to. Lastly, Samsung has also added the ability to add money to Paytm or Mobikwik wallet from saved credit and debit cards. These nifty additions to the platform prove that Samsung is serious about Samsung Pay as a cashless mode of payment in India.

Source: SamMobile

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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018) and Galaxy A8+ (2018) with dual selfie cameras, Infinity Display launched: Price, Specs and features

Samsung has launched the Galaxy A8 (2018) and Galaxy A8+ (2018), the successors to Galaxy A5 (2017) and A7 (2017). The smartphones bring Samsung’s Infinity Display design to the mid-range price segment and also debuts the new name scheme.

As expected, the Galaxy A8 (2018) and Galaxy A8+ (2018) sport the Infinity Display design similar to the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note8 smartphones. The Galaxy A8 (2018) sports a 5.6-inch display while the Galaxy A8+ (2018) features a larger 6-inch display. Both the models use a Super AMOLED panel with a resolution of 2220 x 1080 pixels and an aspect ratio of 18.5:9.

The display sizes mean that the Galaxy A8 (2018) series sits right between the 5.8-inch Galaxy S8 and the 6.2-inch Galaxy S8+. The use of Infinity Display design supporting Full HD+ resolution means that the new A-series finally support Gear VR.

"With the release of the Galaxy A8(2018) and A8+(2018), we're bringing our customers' favorite features from our flagship smartphones, such as the Infinity Display and our first Dual Front Camera with Live Focus, to our Galaxy A series, which is already known for its premium design", Junho Park, vice president of Global Product Planning, Mobile Communications Business at Samsung Electronics said. 

Apart from display and design, Samsung has also added dual-front camera setup to the new Galaxy A8 (2018) series. The Galaxy A8 (2018) and Galaxy A8+ (2018) feature a combination of 16-megapixel and 8-megapixel front camera setup with f/1.9 aperture and support for Live Focus, that allows users to capture pictures in bokeh mode and add blur even after the picture is shot. The smartphones will seamlessly switch between the two front cameras to get the desired effect.

The rear camera has also been updated with new 16-megapixel sensor and wider f/1.7 aperture. The rear camera lacks optical image stabilization, but there is digital image stabilization for shooting steady videos while added hyperlapse mode allows for shooting timelapse on the go.

The Galaxy A8 (2018) and Galaxy A8+ (2018) are powered by an octa-core processor, but Samsung isn’t confirming whether it’s Exynos or a Snapdragon chipset. The Galaxy A8 (2018) has a 4GB RAM and option for either 32GB or 64GB internal storage. The Galaxy A8+ (2018) comes in two storage variants: 32GB storage with 4GB RAM, and a 64GB variant with 6GB RAM. Both the smartphones are IP68 water and dust resistant and support Samsung Pay for contactless mobile payment.

They run Android 7.1 Nougat out of the box, which is disappointing considering that Android Oreo has been out for nearly four months now. The Galaxy A8 (2018) houses a 3,000mAh battery while the A8 (2018) gets a larger 3,500mAh power pack. Both the devices charge over USB Type-C port and support fast charging. 

Samsung is yet to formally announce pricing for the Galaxy A8 and Galaxy A8+ 2018, it is being speculated that while the A8 will be priced at 499 Euros (roughly Rs 37,755), the larger A8+ will be available for 599 Euros (roughly Rs 45,323). Samsung will likely announce the Galaxy A8 and Galaxy A8+ 2018 for global markets (including India) at CES 2018 in January.

Samsung Galaxy A7 2017

Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 

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