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Facebook India appoints former Uber executive Rajiv Aggarwal as head of public policy

Facebook India appointed former Uber executive Rajiv Aggarwal as its director of public policy in the country, a post that has been vacant for nearly a year since its previous policy head Ankhi Das quit.

Aggarwal, who will work on user safety, data protection and privacy, inclusion and internet governance, will report to Ajit Mohan, managing director, Facebook India, the company said in a statement. His last assignment was with Uber, where he was the head of public policy for India and South Asia.

Aggarwal comes with 26 years of experience as an Indian Administrative Officer (IAS), working from grassroots to the global level, including as a district magistrate in nine districts across the state of Uttar Pradesh. During his tenure as an administrative officer, he steered India's first-ever national policy on Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) as joint secretary in the department for promotion of industry and internal trade (M/o Commerce) and was instrumental in the digital transformation of India's IP offices. He has been closely associated with the India-US bilateral trade forum, besides being India's lead negotiator on IPRs with other nations, the company said in a statement.

"Facebook is an ally for the exciting economic and social transformation that India is witnessing, with digital playing a central role. We realise we are deeply immersed in the fabric of India and we have the opportunity to help build a more inclusive and safe internet that benefits everyone in the country," Mohan said in the statement.

Apple unveils iPad, iPad mini with new features

Expanding its iPad lineup, tech giant Apple on Tuesday unveiled two new iPads -- iPad and iPad mini -- that come with advanced features, at its global event.

The Wi-Fi models of iPad, in silver and space gray finishes, are available at a starting price of $329 and Wi-Fi   Cellular models from $459 in the US.

The Wi-Fi models of iPad mini, in pink, starlight, purple and space gray finishes, are available with a starting price of $499 and Wi-Fi   Cellular models from $649 in the US.

Both the new iPad and iPad mini come with 64GB and 256GB storage options.

"We are excited that our most popular iPad is now so much better," Apple CEO Tim Cook said at the event.

The 10.2-inch iPad features the A13 Bionic chipset, delivering a 20 per cent performance boost over the previous generation.

"With the powerful A13 Bionic, more engaging video calls with Center Stage and double the storage, the new iPad delivers advanced capabilities, versatility and simplicity at an incredible value," Apple's Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Greg Joswiak, said.

The Center Stage experience on iPad Pro is now available on iPad, enabled by the new 12MP ultra-wide front camera and Neural Engine, so users can enjoy even more engaging video calls.

The new iPad comes with support for Apple Pencil (1st generation) and Smart Keyboard and the iPadOS 15.

Apple Pencil (1st generation) is available for purchase separately, for $99, and is compatible with iPad (9th generation).

Meanwhile, the iPad mini, with an 8.3-inch Liquid Retina display featuring the brand new A15 Bionic chip, delivers up to 80 per cent faster performance than the previous generation.

The all-screen design is enabled by moving Touch ID to the top button of the iPad mini. Touch ID delivers the same ease of use and secure authentication users know and love -- to unlock iPad mini, log in to apps, or use Apple Pay.

A new USB-C port allows faster connectivity, and cellular models with 5G bring more flexible mobile workflows.

The iPad mini with advanced cameras, Center Stage and support for Apple Pencil (2nd generation) enables new ways for users to capture photos and videos.

The back camera now features a 12MP sensor with Focus Pixels and a larger aperture to capture sharp and vivid photos. The back camera also features a True Tone flash, perfect for capturing images in low light.

Apple Pencil (2nd generation) is available for purchase separately, for $129 in the US, and is compatible with an iPad mini.

iPadOS 15 brings new features that take advantage of the unique capabilities of the iPad, helping users be more productive.

Apple's next iPhone mirrors last year's, adds more storage

Apple unveiled its next iPhone line-up, including a model that offers twice the storage available in earlier versions and other modest upgrades to last year's editions that proved to be a big hit among consumers devouring the latest technology during the pandemic.

The pre-recorded video event streamed Tuesday gave Apple a chance to present a polished story following a turbulent few weeks. The recent bumps included a hastily patched security vulnerability that could let hackers secretly take control of iPhones and other Apple devices; a backlash to the company's plans to scan iPhones for images of child sex abuse and a federal judge's ruling that chipped away further at the competitive barrier Apple built around its app store, which generates billions of dollars in profits each year.

As has been the case since Apple's late co-founder unveiled the first iPhone in 2007, Apple executives talked reverently about the latest model, even though it isn't dramatically different from the version Apple released nearly a year ago.

Like last year's model, the new iPhone 13 will come in four different designs, with prices starting from $700 to $1,100. They're scheduled to be in stores September 24.

"It's an incremental upgrade," said Gartner analyst Tuong Nguyen. "Some of the new features are impressive, but most of them are not noticeable or practical for most users."

Possibly the most notable change in the latest high-end iPhone 13 will be an option for a full terabyte of storage - that's 1,000 gigabytes - on the device, up from its previous maximum of 512 gigabytes. That's enough storage to accommodate roughly 250,000 photos, or about 500 hours of high definition video.

Having a massive amount of storage could become more important to many consumers with the advent of ultra-high definition video and ultrafast wireless 5G networks that will make downloading content faster and easier, Nguyen said.

Apple is also promising better cameras on the iPhone 13, including an improved ultrawide lens, a cinematic-like video feature and technology for better nighttime pictures. (The latter mirrors a feature Google has long offered in its line of Pixel phones, which haven't been big sellers yet.) As usual, the latest iPhones are supposed to have longer-lasting batteries, too.

"We keep making the iPhone more capable," Apple CEO Tim Cook boasted.

These kinds of incremental upgrades have become routine for Apple and other device makers in recent years as the pace of smartphone innovation slowed, even while prices for some phones have climbed above $1,000. That trend has prompted more consumers to hold on to their older smartphones for longer periods.

But the release of last year's iPhone 12 unleashed one of Apple's biggest sales spurts since 2014, possibly because the pandemic helped make homebound people realize it was time to get a newer and better model than what they had been using. Through the first six months of this year, Apple's iPhone sales have surged by nearly 60% from the same time last year.

That boom has helped push Apple's stock price near its all-time highs recently, giving the company a market value of about $2.5 trillion -- more than twice what it was before the pandemic began 18 months ago.

Apple's shares dipped 1% Tuesday in a sign that that investors weren't excited by what they saw in the new iPhones.

Although the iPhone is still by far Apple's biggest moneymaker, the company has been trying to supplement its success with peripheral products such as its smartwatch. The Cupertino, California, company used Tuesday's showcase to provide a preview of its next Apple Watch, which will feature a thinner, more rounded and brighter display.

Apple hit with lawsuit for 'defective' M1 MacBook screens

Tech giant Apple has been hit with a class-action lawsuit claiming that M1 MacBook models shipped with a concealed defect causing their screens to become easily cracked.

The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, follows an investigation into easily cracked MacBook screens by law firm Migliaccio & Rathod.

The lawsuit has accused Apple of violating various warranty, consumer protection and false advertising laws, reports AppleInsider.

According to the complaint, users have reported MacBook displays becoming obscured by dead spots. It also claims that M1 MacBook models are vulnerable to cracks in their screens.

"These problems often develop while the Class Laptops are closed; many Class Laptop owners have reported that they first observed cracking and/or display malfunction when opening their devices from a closed position. Others report that their screens cracked as they adjusted the screen's viewing angle in an ordinary manner," the lawsuit reads.
"A reasonable consumer would not expect such activity to damage their device, let alone cause an obscured display and/or a screen crack that impairs its functionality," it added.

The lawsuit claims that Apple concealed, failed to disclose, or carried out deceptive marketing practices to cover up the defect, the report said.

For example, it contends that Apple touted the durability of the notebooks while "actively" hiding the defect from consumers' view, it added.

Reports of easily cracked screens among M1 MacBook owners first started to surface earlier in 2021.

Many users reported screen cracks or damage occurring randomly "for no apparent reason." It isn't clear how widespread the issue is, though users have reported it on 13-inch MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models.

In at least one case, a consumer said that they were advised by Apple specialists that the damage -- "contact point crack" -- would not fall under Apple's standard warranty, as per the report.

Pre-orders for iPhone 13 outpace iPhone 12 in China

Customers in China have placed more than 2 million pre-orders for Apple's iPhone 13 lineup, surpassing the number of iPhone 12 pre-orders in 2020, the media reported.

According to AppleInsider, it is likely because of the void left by high-end Huawei handsets.

Chinese customers have already placed more than 2 million pre-orders on retailer alone as of Thursday, citing the South China Morning Post, the report said.

That eclipses the 1.5 million iPhone 12 initial pre-orders placed after those models launched, it added.

The higher demand for Apple's iPhone 13 models appears to stem from Huawei's decline in the country. Because of the US trade sanctions, Huawei is struggling to provide compelling high-end smartphones.

Huawei's latest P50 and P50 Pro, for example, lack 5G connectivity due to the sanctions, the report said.

The South China Morning Post also reports that the iPhone 13 models are priced lower than their iPhone 12 predecessors in China, a fact that surprised many consumers.

Each device is about 300 yuan to 800 yuan cheaper than their iPhone 12 counterpart, as per the report.

Overall smartphone shipments are on the decline in China since Huawei left a void that has yet to be filled by the country's other Android makers.

Apple, however, is thriving. In the second quarter of 2021, Apple ranked as the fourth biggest smartphone vendor in China behind OPPO, Vivo and Xiaomi, the report mentioned.

Hungama forays into audio market with HiLife products starting from Rs 2,199

Digital entertainment company Hungama Friday forayed into India's lifestyle products segment with the launch of 'Hungama HiLife' products priced between Rs 2,199 and Rs 4,999.

The range currently consists of Bluetooth headphones, truly wireless (TWS) earbuds, neckbands, and Bluetooth speakers, and are available on Amazon India and soon will be accessible on Flipkart, Meesho, Simsim, Tata CLiQ along with others.

Users will get annual subscriptions to Hungama Music and Hungama Play music and video streaming platforms, respectively.

User can activate their subscriptions through their NFC-compatible devices using NFC cards provided with each product, or using QR codes.

The company is also looking to expand its presence in more than five categories including mobile and laptop accessories, fashion products and accessories, utility products, and other categories related to entertainment, technology, and lifestyle, as per an official statement.

As for product specifics, Hungama HiLife's Bluetooth headphone, Buzz 101, is claimed to provide enhanced bass, passive noise cancellation and upto 9 hours of playback time. It is priced at Rs 4,999.

The neckband, Jump 101, is priced at Rs 2,199 and claims to offer upto 12 hours of playback time and an 80% charge in 30 minutes of charging.
Meanwhile, the TWS earbuds, Bounce 101, comes with an IPX4 water resistance rating, offers enhanced bass, and are available at Rs 2,999.

Groove 101 is the brand's Bluetooth speaker. Priced at Rs 3,999, Groove 101 offers HD-quality sound, integrated controls and features a lightweight portable design.

"The technical specifications of the range, combined with reasonable pricing will certainly make it an interesting proposition for users looking to get a superior, yet affordable experience. Over the next year, we will expand our presence to more than 5 categories and cover a wider array of lifestyle products," said Neeraj Roy, Founder and CEO, Hungama Digital Media.

According to the market research firm, the global True Wireless Stereo (TWS) shipments grew at 6.4% quarter-over-quarter, reaching 58.3 million units in Q2 2021.

While Counterpoint Research said that India's True Wireless Stereo (TWS) market registered a 68% year-over-year growth in 2Q21 driven by new launches in the affordable price segment along with improved features.

Counterpoint's Senior Research Analyst Anshika Jain had said that the share of the Rs 1,000-2,000 price band grew to 60% of the total shipments in 2Q21, compared to the same quarter last year.

Taboola to power recommendations on Xiaomi's smartphones

 Taboola, a global firm that provides recommendations for the open web, said it has signed a strategic partnership with Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi to power recommendations across its smartphones with Taboola News.

Taboola News leverages Taboola's publisher network to directly offer recommendations on smartphones and web browsers.

"Xiaomi will integrate these recommendations, as part of a long-term strategic partnership with Taboola, on the lock screen of its more than 100 million overseas smartphones," the smartphone maker said in a joint statement adding that the aim is to provide a positive user experience with its devices and keep users engaged with "quality content".

"Our customer base is diverse and lives across more than 60 markets, which means the ability to offer content catered to their interests is a powerful one. We look forward to leveraging Taboola's large publisher network to give our users the best experience possible," said Chan Liu, General Manager of Global Internet Business, Xiaomi.

"At a time when more people are reading news on mobile devices than ever before, we are pleased to partner with Xiaomi, a global technology leader... Our partnership adds Taboola News to millions of new devices and we are honored to have Xiaomi have placed their long-term trust in us to deliver a positive user experience for their customers," added said Adam Singolda, CEO and founder, Taboola.

Furthermore, Taboola News also creates new engagement and revenue opportunities for mobile carriers, device makers, publishers, and brands.

Publishers also receive increased user traffic without additional cost and while advertisers get more opportunities to tap into Taboola's reader scale to reach the right audiences.

Samsung to Apple: We have moved on

Soon after Apple announced the launch of its new range of iPhones, its competitors were ready to make fun of the new iPhone 13 series.

Samsung first took a dig at the new smartphones as soon as Apple boasted about the ProMotion displays with 120hz refresh rate in the new iPhone 13 pro and iPhone 13 pro max. Mocking Apple on Twitter, Samsung tweeted, " We've been refreshing at 120hz for a while now..."

Samsung had introduced a 120hz display refresh rate in its smartphones in March last year when it launched the Galaxy S20, but the new Apple iPhone 13 pro and iPhone 13 pro max come with Super Retina XDR display with variable refresh rate which allows phones to adjust their refresh rate in real-time for smooth display quality.

Netizens were already trolling the new Apple phones for being similar to the previous generation and that band was also joined by Apple's biggest rival. Sharing the image of the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Flip 3. Samsung wrote "There's something to be said about staying the same. We just prefer to stand out a little."

This is not the first instance where Samsung has trolled Apple. The social media banter of the two tech giants has made it to the news many times already in the past.

Apple launched a new range of iPhones this week but it may have failed to impress many this time around. Although the new series of smartphones by Apple may look familiar, it gets better camera performance, faster GPU, better battery life and bigger storage capacity option.

The new smartphones by Apple will be available for booking from September 17 and the shipping of the same will start from September 24.

Apple opens pre-orders for iPhone 13 series in India from Friday

 Apple's latest flagship smartphones, the iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max, will go out on pre-orders in India starting from Friday.

The new iPhones will be open for pre-order at 5.30 p.m. through the Apple online store, e-commerce sites, and offline channels.
All the four new iPhones will be available from September 24.

The company unveiled the iPhone 13 series at the 'California Streaming' event on Tuesday.

The pre-orders will go live in over 30 countries across the globe, including India, Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Japan, the UK, and the US.

Apple iPhone 13 series starts at Rs 69,900 going up to Rs 1,29,900 for the Pro Max. The iPhone 13 mini's 128GB version is priced at Rs 69,900, while the 256GB costs Rs 79,900. The 512GB version costs Rs 99,900.

The iPhone 13 starts at Rs 79,900 for 128GB storage, Rs 89,900 for 256GB and Rs 1,09,900 for the 512GB option. The iPhone 13 Pro series is available a starting price of Rs 1,19,900 for the base 128GB option, while the prices for the other storage versions are: Rs 1,29,900 (256GB), Rs 1,49,900 (512GB) and Rs 1,69,900 (1TB).

The Pro Max starts at Rs 1,29,900 for 128GB storage, Rs 1,39,900 for 256GB, Rs 1,59,900 for the 512GB. The most expensive iPhone is the 1TB version of the iPhone 13 Pro Max at Rs 1,79,900.

The new iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini includes a smaller notch allowing for more display area. The notch is 20 per cent smaller, and the new Super Retina XDR display is 28 per cent brighter with 1200 nits peak brightness.

The iPhone 13 features a 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display.

Additionally, the iPhone 13 sports a new A15 Bionic chipset under the hood, which Apple says is up to 50 per cent faster than the leading rival chips and offers up to 30 per cent better graphical performance.

Verizon sweetens subsidies on iPhones to match competition

Verizon Communications said on Friday it is increasing its subsidies on offer for Apple Inc's newly launched iPhone 13, in a bid to attract more customers to the U.S. carrier's network.

Verizon said it would now offer trade-in subsidies of up to $1000, matching rival AT&T Inc, from $700 previously. The biggest subsidies will be given to customers who turn in the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 models.

Apple's new range of iPhones come at an unchanged price, but carriers are using aggressive subsidies as a way to hold on to existing customers and attract new ones.

The phones will also have custom 5G antennas and radio components for faster speeds. This push towards expanding 5G connectivity comes as telecom firms in the United States race to bolster their 5G infrastructure.

The iPhone 13, starting at $699, promises better display, longer battery life and a Cinematic mode for automatically changing focus while taking videos. It will come with a new A15 Bionic chip that enables features like automatically translating text. All models will be available from Sept. 24.

Critics warn of Apple, Google 'chokepoint' repression

The global dominance of tech giants serves as a convenient online chokepoint for authoritarian governments to crack down on dissent or rig elections, critics of Apple and Google said Friday.

The companies were facing international outrage after pulling a Russian opposition voting app off their online marketplaces in response to authorities' escalating pressure, including arrest threats.

Google and Apple, whose operating systems run on 99 percent of the world's smartphones, have a stranglehold on the markets for the applications that allow users to do everything from watch movies to hail a ride.

"The app stores are the new frontier for censorship," Natalia Krapiva, tech legal counsel at rights group Access Now told AFP. "We're witnessing a new stage of assault on digital rights."

The companies face a growing pile of new legislation, legal trouble and regulators scrutiny over worries their dominance is a competition-killing monopoly.

Concerns recently had been about consumers' choice and app developers ability to avoid paying Apple an up to 30 percent cut on purchases made via its App Store.

But after an app advising opposition supporters on how to vote out Kremlin allies in Russia's parliamentary election was removed from the app stores of both Apple and Google, advocates warned of another threat.

"As long as Apple maintains a stranglehold over what software millions of people (use)... the App Store will continue to be a convenient chokepoint for government censorship and crackdowns on dissent," said Evan Greer, director of digital advocacy group Fight for the Future.

The digital world has been an incubator for opposition from the Arab Spring to Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests by giving people a way to communicate and organize movements rapidly.

Yet that same technology can be turned against people, as was demonstrated by the scandal around Pegasus, a hugely invasive spyware that can essentially turn a phone into a pocket listening device.

Limits of Big Tech

Allegations that the software has been used by governments worldwide to eavesdrop on human rights activists, business executives and politicians sparked a global uproar in July.

In the case of Russia, pressure has been building after Moscow accused the US tech giants of election interference and demanded they remove the app.

"This demonstrates the limits of Big Tech to resist crackdowns with regards to dissent, in Russia and elsewhere, during elections and outside them," said David Levine, an election integrity fellow at think tank Alliance for Securing Democracy.

Sources close to the decision to pull the opposition app said both companies faced threats of criminal charges or the jailing of staff and general "bullying" from authorities.

Levine noted this type of escalating pressure could become a "page in the playbook" for repressive governments.

The firms are for-profit, yet because of their global reach and key role in mass communication, can end up being called on to combat hate, lies and repression on their devices or platforms.

As a result, Big Tech can and will get entangled in these type of fights on delicate matters with the governments of places where they do business.

"Giant IT companies are going to have to think about how they operate in these markets, like how far they'll go in terms of complying and cutting off the freedom of people to see things," said Kathryn Stoner, a Stanford political science professor.

Especially for social media companies like Facebook, the role of information gatekeeper is one that the firms have played with widely varying outcomes.

The case in Russia, though, has resonated in particular because it touches on something deeply personal, which also has tremendous consequences.

"This is the government going into your house and saying you cannot talk about voting against us," Isabel Linzer, a Research analyst at NGO Freedom House, said.

"That is as much election interference as it would be to go and stuff a ballot box," she added.

Moratorium to give Airtel, Jio cash relief of Rs 16,000-crore/year: Analysts

A potential annual cash flow relief of over Rs 16,000 crore from the four-year moratorium allowed on statutory payouts will give Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio the financial headroom to participate aggressively in the 5G airwaves sale likely early next year, analysts said.

Nomura Group estimates the moratorium to "provide Airtel and Jio as much as Rs 11,900 crore and Rs 4,300 crore, respectively, in annual cash flow relief," if the two opt for the offer announced as part of a government package for the telecom sector. They could invest the funds in 5G networks, it said.

Bharti chairman Sunil Mittal has said Airtel will opt for the four-year deferred option for adjusted gross revenue (AGR) and spectrum payments. Jio is yet to take a call.

Different type of gains for Vi

In Jio's case, though, the amount of relief is smaller than the other two, as the market leader has statutory payouts only towards spectrum liabilities and not AGR.

Vodafone Idea (Vi), weighed down by Rs 1.9 lakh crore of debt and with a cash balance of Rs 920 crore, is also widely expected to opt for the deferred payment and benefit the most from it.

But, as things stand, analysts don't expect cash-strapped Vi to participate as strongly in the 5G auction as the others if it's unable to close its much delayed Rs 25,000-crore fund-raising. The company is hopeful the relief package will help boost investor confidence that will help it secure the funding soon.

Jio and Vi did not reply to ET's queries till press time on Friday.

At Vi, the Rs 24,000-25,000 crore annual cash flow relief it is likely to get will mainly be used for debt reduction and much-needed investments in expanding existing 4G networks, say experts.

Another "positive" for the cash-starved telco is the government decision to allow surrender of surplus spectrum after a 10-year lock-in from the year of auction. Loss-making Vi has "significant spectrum holding" currently lying unused, for which it had over-bid in the past, said JM Financial.

"Vi is yet to indicate the extent of unused spectrum, but we estimate there could be savings of Rs 5,000 crore per annum if Vi surrenders unused spectrum," it said.

Next spectrum sale

The success of the 5G spectrum sale, though, will depend if the base price of airwaves is lowered by the government, said analysts. The current price of Rs 492 crore a unit for 5G airwaves in the 3300-3600 MHz band has been deemed too expensive by the operators.

Telecom minister Ashwini Vaishnaw recently told ET the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India was looking at the pricing aspect. "However, if rationalisation is needed in public interest, why wouldn't the government do it?" he had said.

ICICI Securities expects Airtel and Jio to also benefit in the upcoming auction due to the revised spectrum acquisition norms, under which auctioned waves won't attract any spectrum usage charge and securing deferred spectrum liability won't require bank guarantees.

All three telcos say they already operate 5G-ready networks. In the last spectrum sale in March, Airtel and Jio had bulked up on airwaves to cater to a surge in data usage amid the pandemic and also future-proof themselves ahead of 5G rollouts. Vodafone Idea had largely stayed out of that auction.

Analysts feel creation of an auction calendar would allow the telcos to stagger their spectrum purchase decisions in line with ramp-up plans, and the longer 30-year airwaves holding tenure would help improve cash flows.

Google abusing position, playing unfair: CCI probe

In perhaps a damaging finding against Google on abuse of dominance, the investigation arm of the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has said the American search and tech giant is guilty of adopting anti-competitive, unfair and restrictive trade practices in the mobile operating system and related markets.

During the two-year investigation, ordered by CCI in April 2019, the panel questioned Google - the leader of the dominant and ubiquitous Android operating system (OS) with nearly 98% of the smartphone mark- and multiple multi-national and Indian companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Paytm, PhonePe, Mozilla, Samsung, Xiaomi, Vivo, Oppo and Karbonn.

The probe found Google India guilty of stifling competition and innovation to the detriment of the market as well as consumers in order to maintain its grip and dominance in search, music (through YouTube), browser (chrome), app library (Play Store) and other key services. The investigation report, which runs into nearly 750 pages, was reviewed exclusively by TOI.

The probe accuses Google of imposing and forcing one-sided contracts on devices as well as app makers to ensure that its own products and apps maintain primacy in consumer usage, and come pre-installed and as default options to get the highest user preference.

"Google is found to be contravening the provisions of Section 4(2)(a)(i); Section 4(2)(b); Section 4(2)(c); Section 4(2)(d) and Section 4(2)(e) of the Competition Act," the probe report summed up, holding the company guilty of a variety of charges, including abuse of dominance, denial of market access to competitors, and limiting and restricting technical or scientific development relating to goods or services to the prejudice of consumers.

The report has been placed before the CCI for consideration and if found guilty, Google could face penalties or be asked to discontinue practices that are seen to distort competition and are anti-consumer based on market dominance.

Google has faced and is facing antitrust investigations in various parts of the globe - from the US to the European Union, Germany and Japan.

The Indian investigation looked into a variety of issues after CCI first received a complaint alleging that Google India had hindered the development and market access of rival mobile apps or services by requiring smartphone and tablet manufacturers through certain exclusive deals to pre-install its proprietary apps and /or services. Based on its own exclusive terms, the company offered its coveted Google Mobile Services (GMS) suite with popular products as a bundle, and this included Google Play Store, search app, YouTube, and Chrome browser.

A device-maker wanting to go beyond the "bare Android version" and to make use of any of the key Google apps is mandated by Google to sign a Mobile Application Distribution Agreement (MADA) and further an Anti-Fragmentation Agreement (AFA)/Android Compatibility Commitment (ACC), which requires pre-loading of Google apps and a predetermined placement for them on the devices.

Also, device manufacturers and other partners are offered lucrative revenue-share agreements - including top player Apple for search engine option for its Safari browser - so that they give primacy to a Google-only ecosystem of apps and services.

In the search engines category, which is the tech giant's primary business, the CCI probe found that Google has been "foreclosing competition" in the Android operating system as through MADA, the search widget is placed on the default home screen of devices and Chrome browser inserted in a folder of Google apps. "Competing general search services cannot offset the competitive advantage that Google ensures for itself through pre-installation and thus, acting as an entry barrier for competitors," the investigation noted.

With Google controlling nearly all of the smart mobile market in India through Android, this further helps it dominate the search market as it gets access to swathes of user data that makes its results sharper, the report said.

Govt to fund best ideas for taking digital payments beyond cities

With the idea of expanding digital payments beyond the realm of urban areas, the government has invited proposals from startups and fintech firms to build innovative solutions that will take these to the marginalised areas and sections of the country. The shortlisted ideas will be funded by the government.

Voice-based solutions facilitating digital payments using mobile phones, solutions for local language apps, and usage of feature phones for performing digital payments, are some of the areas for which tenable proposals have been called for. These are among areas in which the government has recognised that past efforts have not been successful.

"Though there has been unprecedented growth in digital payments, the potential is still huge. Cash still dominates Indian markets. There is a need to accelerate the adoption of digital payments across the country," the Ministry of Electronics and IT said in its call for proposals.

Companies were given time till September 15 to submit detailed project ideas. These would then be evaluated and finalised. The government is looking for solutions also to increase the use of digital payments by women and the disabled; farmer organisations and in the handicrafts space; and bridging the gap in areas like Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, Tier-III cities and beyond.

There are several companies which are already enabling such solutions and operating in niche areas. The government, however, is looking at promoting these technologies at scale for the country. For instance, ET reported earlier this month that an Amazon and Mastercard-backed firm, ToneTag, is working to enable voice-based payments which will be launched in around 50,000 villages and small towns, wherein people will be able to use voice in their local dialect to complete a UPI transaction on their feature phones.

A report titled 'Rural Covid Barometer' by Kantar and Dialogue Factory noted that there is a significant rise in digital payments as an important mode of transaction in rural areas of the country. This offers a robust platform for rural financial inclusion, as also for suitable hyper local promotions, it said. The Reserve Bank of India's Annual Report 2020-2021 also noted that the Covid-19 pandemic had propelled the country towards less-cash alternatives, an ecosystem that was already beginning to benefit from open innovation.

The call for proposals from MeitY noted that digital payments have seen a huge increase in the last few years. The total transaction volume has increased from Rs 2,071 crore in fiscal 2017-18 to 5,554 crore in FY21. The DIGIDHAN Mission aims to achieve a target of Rs 6,000 crore digital transactions in FY22.

It also noted that during the coronavirus crisis, digital payments have been keeping the economy running and helping people reduce contact with virus, but more needs to be done.

"Digital payment penetration and presence of digital players is substantial across different locations in India, but still lacking in terms of adoption by N-E states, Ladakh, J&K and rural areas due to challenges of Internet availability, connectivity, awareness and demographics," it said, adding that the endeavour is to promote new areas of technology to induce progressive developments and competitive advantage across the board.

Vodafone Idea starts pre-order for iPhone 13 series; brings cashback offers for postpaid users

 Vodafone Idea Saturday said its customers can now pre-order the latest iPhone 13 lineup comprising the iPhone 13 mini, iPhone13, iPhone 13 Pro, and iPhone 13 Pro Max via, Vi App, and across more than 270 retail outlets in India.

While the lineup has been made available for preorder from September 18. 2021, the deliveries commence from September 25, 2021.

"Users pre-ordering iPhone with Vi, will be entitled to get the product on the 1st day of product availability in India in select markets," the telco said in a statement.

It is also providing a cashback offer for postpaid RedX Plans (RedX Family 1099, RedX Family 1699, and RedX Family 2299) with a 100% cashback of the first-month rental over six months as a bill discount.

"Customers can additionally enjoy host of benefits on REDX including premium entertainment on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ Hotstar, travel benefits with complimentary International roaming and airport lounge access, premium customer service and much more. Prepaid customers will get double data benefit on Rs.299 recharge along with weekend rollover benefit," Vi said.

iPhone-maker Apple launched the new iPhone 13 series on Tuesday, at a starting price of Rs 69,900.

The iPhone series went up for prebooking on Friday.

As far as prices are concerned, the iPhone 13 mini's 128GB version is priced at Rs 69,900, while the 256GB costs Rs 79,900, and the 512GB version costs Rs 99,000.

The iPhone 13 starts at Rs 79,900 for 128GB storage, Rs 89,900 for 256GB and Rs 1,09,900 for the 512GB option.

The iPhone 13 Pro is available at Rs 1,19,000 for the base 512GB variant while the 256GB variant is priced at Rs 1,29,000, the 512GB comes at Rs 1,49,900, and the expensive 1TB variant comes at 1,69,000.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max starts at Rs 1,29,900 for 128GB storage, Rs 1,39,900 for 256GB, Rs 1,59,900 for the 512GB, while the top-end Rs 1TB version is available for Rs 1,79,000.

DoT calls for collaborative model to work towards 6G spectrum studies

Telecom industry and the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) should work together to establish a framework for new technologies including 6G, a senior official from the department said.

There is a need to collaborate and work together for establishing infrastructure and organization for 5G and 6G spectrum studies, including jointly collaborating for technology implementation in the country, said A.K. Tiwari, Member Technology, of DoT's Digital Communications Commission (DCC).

Tiwari was speaking during a virtual conference on "Looking beyond 5G: Future Technology trends towards 6G" organized by the ITU-APT Foundation of India (IAFI) and 5G India Forum (5GIF).

Indian telcos Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea have commenced 5G network trials with European gear makers Nokia and Ericsson while Reliance Jio is using its own indigenously developed 5G equipment and technology. It may also team up with Nokia, Samsung, and Ericsson for trials.

Airtel has conducted a cloud gaming session on its trial 5G network in Haryana's Manesar.

The Sunil Mittal-led telco is also spearheading the O-RAN Alliance initiatives in India to build 5G solutions. It has already announced partnerships with Tata Group, Qualcomm, Intel, Mavenir and Altiostar.

Meanwhile, telecom minister Ashwini Vaishnaw while launching wide-ranging reforms for the ailing telecom sector Thursday said the 5G spectrum auctions will "most probably" be held in February 2022, and the government may also try for auctions in January 2022.

Bharat Bhatia, President, ITU-APT Foundation of India (IAFI) said the industry association will continue to work with the telecom department in spectrum-related studies, and 5G and 6G technology developments.

IAFI has proposed the creation of a new 600MHz spectrum band for 4G and 5G networks in the Asia Pacific region that will offer operators 140MHz of spectrum in the 600-700MHz range, including 80MHz in the 600MHz band and 60MHz in the 700MHz band.

Mario Maniewicz Director of the Radiocommunication Bureau of the ITU remarked that ITU's role in developing a single, global 4G and 5G standard has led to an exponential growth of the mobile industry worldwide.

V. Raghunandan- Secretary TRAI emphasized the need for Artificial Intelligence (AI) studies in all technology areas, in particular on spectrum sharing.

T R Dua, Chairman, IAFI called upon the industry and the academia to work on 6G as it brings new opportunities in speed reliability and applications.

The event was also addressed by Aloknath De, Senior VP and Chief Technology Officer of Samsung R&D India, Bangalore, Iwao Hosako, Director General, Wireless Networks Research Center National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, Japan, Magnus Frodigh - Vice President & Head of Ericsson Research & Co-Chair Hexa-X Initiative of the EU, Parag Kar - Vice President, Government Affairs, India and South Asia, Qualcomm.

Apple iPhone makers Foxconn, Wistron on track to achieve targets under PLI; Pegatron manufacturing to take time

Smartphone major Apple's manufacturing partners Foxconn (HonHai) and Wistron are set to achieve targets by end of this fiscal year under the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme, having increased the production of iPhones for domestic and export purposes in the past few quarters, people familiar with the matter said.

Apple's share of made in India iPhones has increased from 17% in 2018 to 76% now, while its share of smartphone exports from the country is now at 5% from zero a couple of years back, as per Counterpoint Research.

"They (Foxconn and Wistron) were not able to fully utilise the installed capacity last year, but they have now picked pace and will achieve this year's target easily before the stipulated time," a person in the know told ET. "Their export run-rate is also very good, which is also helping both Apple's partners. India-made phones are being sold in markets in Europe as well."

Under the handset PLI scheme, foreign companies needed to invest Rs 250 crore each and produce incremental output of Rs 4,000 crore in the first year to get a 6% direct incentive as cashback.

While Apple's existing partners continue to grow, its third partner, Pegatron's India manufacturing plans may take more time to start due to pandemic-related hiccups. It had previously finalised plans to train nearly 5,000 people at its maiden factory in the country in Tamil Nadu.

"They need people to come from outside to install machinery but because of travel restrictions and other issues there are some delays. It will take some time for Pegatron to start production," another person said.

Pegatron, which is Apple's second largest manufacturer after Foxconn (HonHai), registered its India subsidiary last year and is investing $150 million (about Rs 1,100 crore) in its operations initially.

All three Apple suppliers - Foxconn, Wistron and Pegatron - have been approved under the Centre's production-based scheme, which mandates investment and incremental production targets to provide direct monetary incentives in the next five years. They have made a commitment to make Rs 3.6 trillion worth of iPhones in India in five years, out of which 80 per cent will be exported.

Apple, Wistron, HonHai and Pegatron didn't respond to ET's queries.

Tarun Pathak, research director at Counterpoint, expects both Wistron and HonHai to meet PLI targets this fiscal through March 2022, as there is strong demand for iPhones in India, and localising the assembly has helped them.

The year 2017 was Apple's best year where it shipped 3.2 million iPhones. Shah said Apple shipped 3.1 million iPhones in 2020 despite the ongoing pandemic, which shows that the mature smartphone user base is growing fast. He expects Apple's shipments to touch a record 4 million in 2021, while CMR pegs it at close to 5 million, driven by local manufacturing and demand for devices such as iPhone 12 and iPhone 11.

Pathak added that the one year extension granted under the PLI scheme will help Apple partners to further ramp up their business in India.

The US major is launching its latest iPhone 13 series in India along with developed markets like the US and Europe for the very first time. Analysts said that they will now reduce the time between the launch of the new series and its manufacturing in India through partners.

The early availability of the iPhone 13 series in India will help the company further push growth in India with revenue likely reaching $3 billion, market trackers said. CMR estimates close to 3% volume market share in 2021.

Foxconn currently assembles Apple's iPhone 12 in India along with iPhone 11, while Wistron is manufacturing the Apple iPhone SE 2020. Apple still imports the Pro variants of its iPhones for both the 11 and 12 series. But with the launch of the new series, Apple has reportedly discontinued the iPhone XR and the iPhone 12 Pro models.

Wistron is still under probation from December 2020 for non-payment of worker salaries in its Narasapura, Karnataka facility, which means it is not able to manufacture Apple's new devices.

Internet subscribers up 10% in Gujarat

Backed by high demand since the pandemic hit, the number of internet subscribers in Gujarat surged in 2020.

According to data from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), internet subscribers in Gujarat stood at 4.8 crore as on December 31, 2020 against 4.4 crore a year earlier. According to telecom industry sources, with more people working from home, the number of internet users has increased.

"Due to the lockdown, digital adoption grew significantly across all professional spheres and the internet became essential to keep the show going. As a consequence, more and more people opted for both broadband and mobile internet connections. The need only grew as people continued to work from home and education went online," said a source.

According to the TRAI data, the number of connections grew in both rural and urban areas. However, in the rural areas, the rate of increase was faster than in urban areas, albeit on a lower base.

Rural internet subscribers grew by 13% in this period from 1.31 crore in 2019 to 1.47 crore in 2020, whereas urban internet subscriber numbers rose by 8.9% from 3.12 crore in 2019 to 3.41 crore in 2020. The number of people shifting to high-speed connections also increased in this the same period. According to the report by TRAI, the number of narrowband subscribers i.e. those opting for internet connections with slower speeds, fell. The number of people opting for broadband or high-speed connections went up. In 2020, the number of narrowband internet users fell by 17.5 lakh or 28.5%, against 24.5 lakh such subscribers in 2019.

"With more members in every home working from home or taking online education, the requirement for bandwidth went up. Increasing use of video calling and video conferencing, the need for constant internet connectivity, greater online streaming of content, all led to a surge in bandwidth requirements. Thus more people shifted to high-speed connections," said a source in the telecom sector.

AppleCare+ expands to more countries, now in France, Italy

 Apple is expanding the availability of an AppleCare+ option that allows users to extend their warranty beyond the typical coverage period.

Announced in an updated support document, users in France, Italy and Spain might be able to purchase additional coverage if they paid upfront for an AppleCare+ plan for iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch.

The new plan renews on a monthly basis, reports AppleInsider.

Previously, the extended coverage options were limited to Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, the UK and the US.

Owners must purchase new coverage within 30 days of their original plan's termination date, the report said.

Apple notes that extensions are automatically renewed until cancelled, with the company stating that it can end coverage in certain cases including instances in which service parts are no longer available.

A prior written notice will be provided in such cases.

The expansion is the latest change to Apple's warranty service.

In April, Apple began to allow Mac owners in the US to keep their AppleCare+ plan active beyond three years, and in August introduced an option by which new owners can purchase a plan as an annual subscription.

AppleCare+ offers coverage beyond Apple's standard one-year limited warranty and up to 90 days of technical support.

The service extends hardware repair coverage and adds up to two incidents of accidental damage every 12 months, each subject to a service fee.

Clubhouse might be working on 'Waves', a new feature to invite friends to chat

 Clubhouse, which has been one of the fastest-growing social media platforms in 2021, appears to be working on a new way to invite people to audio rooms in its app.

According to The Verge, based on screenshots shared by researcher Jane Manchum Wong, the new invite feature, called 'Waves', will focus on the more casual, social side of Clubhouse, rather than the creator-focused live shows that have had the company's attention.

The screenshot suggests that 'Waves' will let you wave at friends with a button identical to the hand in Clubhouse's logo, used to invite friends to chat. If they reply, they automatically get added to an audio room so you can talk.

Though there has been no official statement from the company regarding the feature, it seems likely that the feature is intended for Clubhouse's social rooms, one of several audio room types Clubhouse offers.

In July, Clubhouse finally got rid of its waitlist and has been picking up new features like spatial audio support in the meantime.

Chalk it up to the current obsession with the "creator economy" or an early business strategy, but Clubhouse has seemed more focused on the professional uses of its app, for example launching a pilot program for new shows, than its use as just another way to hang out online, as per The Verge.

This has also sparked competition all over the place, from Twitter Spaces to Stage Channels on Discord, but Waves seems like a nice step back to the casual uses of drop-in/drop-out live audio.

Realme launches tablet starting at Rs 13,999 along with Cobble Bluetooth, Pocket Bluetooth speakers

Chinese smartphone maker Realme Thursday forayed into the tablet market in India with the launch of the Realme Pad, starting at Rs 13,999, and alongside also launched Realme Cobble Bluetooth Speaker and Realme Pocket Bluetooth Speaker.

Powered by the MediaTek Helio G80 gaming processor and Mali G52 GPU, the Realme Pad comes in three storage variants -- 3GB RAM+32GB memory (Wi-Fi) priced at Rs 13,999, 3GB RAM+32GB memory (Wi-Fi+4G) priced at Rs 15,999, and 4GB RAM+64GB memory (Wi-Fi+4G) priced at Rs 17,999.

The 3GB RAM+32GB memory, as well as the 4GB RAM+64GB memory variants in WiFi+4G configuration, will go on sale starting September 16, 2021, 12 noon onwards on, Flipkart, and mainline channels while the 3GB RAM+32GB memory (WiFi only) will be available at a later date.

The Realme Pad comes with a 10.4-inch WUXGA+ (2000Χ1200 pixels) display with a Reading Mode, Dark Mode, Night Mode, and Sunlight Mode.

The Realme Pad measures 6.9mm in thickness and weighs 440 grams. It comes with an aluminum alloy body.

The Realme Pad runs on a 7100mAh battery that is claimed to provide upto 65 days in standby or 12 straight hours of video viewing. It supports 18W quick charge and reverse charging.

The tablet packs Dolby Atmos-enabled quad speakers and hi-res certifications, along with Adaptive Surround Sound and dual-mic noise cancellation.

It sports the new Realme UI based on Android 11 with a Smart Connect feature that lets users use the tablet using their Realme band/Watch.

In terms of Bluetooth speaker specs, the Realme Cobble Bluetooth speaker has a 5W dynamic bass boost driver and an extra passive radiator. It weighs 200 grams and packs a 1500mAh battery. It features Bluetooth 5.0, stereo pairing, 3-equalizer presets IPX5 water-resistant certification, and 88ms super low latency game mode.

The speaker will be available in two colors -- Metal Black and Electronic Blue. It will go on sale on September 15, 2021, 12 noon onwards on Flipkart, and mainline channels.

The Realme Pocket Bluetooth speaker is equipped with a 600mAh battery. It packs a dynamic Bass Boost+ enhancement solution and features a 3W dynamic boost and a passive radiator, Bluetooth 5.0, IPX5 water-resistant certification, smart-touch functions, a USB Type-C charging port, stereo pairing and three EQ presets for customizable sound quality.

The speaker will be available in two colors -- Classic Black and Dessert White. The first sale is scheduled for September 15, 2021, 12 noon onwards on, Flipkart & Mainline channels.

Lenovo unveils two new 5G tablets, Tab P11 and P12 Pro

Lenovo has announced two new tablets Lenovo Tab P12 Pro and Lenovo Tab P11 5G at its annual Tech World event.

The Lenovo Tab P12 Pro will be available in two versions - Wi-Fi only and 5G. The Wi-Fi model will be available from October starting at $610 and the 5G model is coming soon to Europe, the Middle East at a price of 900 before VAT. Meanwhile, the Lenovo Tab P11 5G is priced at a price of 500 without VAT, reports GSMArena.

Lenovo Tab P12 Pro

The tablet features a 12.6-inch AMOLED display. (This display supports 120Hz refresh rate and has a resolution of 2,560 x 1,600 px (16:10)

The Lenovo Tab P12 Pro houses a Snapdragon 870 chipset paired with 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB storage.

The tablet is powered by a 10,200 mAh battery with 45W fast charging.

The P12 Pro runs Android 11 out of the box and will be the first to showcase Project Unity.

Lenovo Tab P11 5G

The tablet comes with an 11-inch IPS LCD with 2,000 x 1,200 px resolution and 60Hz refresh rate.

It is powered by a Snapdragon 750G chipset paired with 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB storage.

It also comes with four JBL speakers, and a number of handy optional accessories supported.

The device houses 7,700 mAh battery can last up to 12 hours of video streaming and supports 20W fast charging.

Facebook, Ray-Ban launch smart glasses. Who will wear them?

Seven years after the ill-fated Google Glass, and five years after Snap rolled out Spectacles, another tech giant is trying its hand at internet-connected smart glasses, hoping that this time around things might be different and people will actually wear them.

The thing is, it's Facebook. The company's previous forays into hardware have been met with lukewarm enthusiasm at best - and it's not clear if people will wear connected virtual or augmented reality eyewear not meant for gaming.

Hoping to give its specs a boost, Facebook is putting its tech in Ray-Bans in a partnership with the European company EssilorLuxottica. On Thursday, the companies unveiled Ray-Ban Stories - connected eyewear with built-in speakers and a microphone for making calls, a companion app that isn't Facebook, and a charging case. The spectacles cost $299 and are available in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Italy, Ireland and Australia.

In a blog post, Facebook said the glasses let people "capture life's spontaneous moments as they happen from a unique first-person perspective," as well as listen to music, talk to people and, using the Facebook View app, share photos and videos on social media.

Facebook signed a multi-year partnership with EssilorLuxottica. The glasses are the first version of what's likely to be more wearable gadgets as the social media giant looks for platforms beyond smartphones. Ray-Ban Stories come out of Facebook Reality Labs which also oversees the Oculus virtual reality headset and the Portal video calling gadget.

Anticipating privacy concerns, Facebook said that by default the glasses "collect data that's needed to make your glasses work and function, like your battery status to alert you when your battery is low, your email address and password for your Facebook login to verify it's really you when you log into the Facebook View app." Users can take photos and videos using the glasses, but they can't post directly to Facebook or any other social media platform. That's where the separate View app comes in.

Convincing social media users that they need to wear an "all-day" connected device on their face may prove an uphill battle even for Facebook.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max with Wi-Fi 6 launched

 Amazon has launched an updated version of its popular Fire TV Stick 4K called the Fire TV Stick 4K Max.

The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max is up for pre-order starting from Rs 6,499. One can pre-order it from the Amazon India website as well as Amazon kiosks in select malls and will begin shipping to customers from October 7, 2021.

The Fire TV Stick 4K Max supports 4K UHD, HDR and HDR10+ streaming, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos for cinematic experience. It features the latest Alexa Voice Remote to easily search for their desired content, control playback, manage the smart home devices and more.

It comes with a new quad-core 1.8GHz MediaTek MT8696 processer with 750MHz IMG GE8300 that is 40 per cent more powerful than the predecessor. It has 2GB of RAM, 8GB of storage and is the first Amazon Fire TV stick with Wi-Fi 6 support, thanks to MT7921LS chip.

The remote features additional shortcut buttons for popular apps, such as Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, depending upon your region.

The Fire TV Stick 4K Max also supports the live view picture-in-picture feature from the Fire TV Cube.

One can also wirelessly connect Echo Studio or a pair of Echo (4th Gen) smart speakers to the Fire TV Stick 4K Max as well (just like the Fire TV Omni and 4-Series).

Satellite communication may act as a frontline service: Trai's Raghunandan

Satellite communication or satcom can act as a frontline service in some regions where fibre-cable connectivity may not be feasible, and in disaster situations to keep essential services including banking up and running, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (Trai) top official said.

"Satcom can act as a frontline service during natural calamity situations as there are many disaster-prone areas in the country. It can also work as an excellent backup where there is no scope for fibre cable deployment," V Raghunandan, secretary, Trai told ETTelecom.

"It can also be a tremendous support in rural and remote areas especially in northeast and other hilly areas, and also serves as a backup in islands," the official said.

Last month, the sectoral regulator expressed views on satcom, and suggested that the telecom department (DoT) should bring in a comprehensive, simplified, integrated, end-to-end coordinated, single window online common portal for agencies involved in grant of various approvals or permissions.

Satellite communications, according to him, may act as a support to business continuity and maintaining seamless banking services particularly ATM operations during natural calamities.

Following the heightened activity in the satellite space nationally, the watchdog also recommended that the service licensees to obtain bandwidth from foreign satellites across the permitted frequency bands to offer communication services.

Trai sought to make a provision to lease satellite capacity from pre-authorised foreign satellites which, according to industry experts, would also facilitate cost-friendly broadband services across the country, and faster deployments.

OneWeb, a low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite communications (satcom) company, co-owned by Sunil Mittal-driven Bharti group's and the UK government, is planning a satellite-based broadband foray in India by the mid of 2022.

With an apparent competition from Elon Musk's Starlink and Amazon's Kuiper venture in the emerging satcom segment, Bharti Global, the overseas arm of Bharti Enterprises is additionally investing $500 million (about Rs 3,750 crore) in OneWeb to raise its stake to 38.6% taking total spend to $1 billion in the foreign company.

Bharti Enterprises is Airtel's holding company, and has also received a national long distance (NLD) from the telecom department for its satellite venture.

On Friday, Hughes Network Systems and Bharti-backed OneWeb also entered into a space broadband distribution deal for enterprise services in India and the US.

Meanwhile, Bharti Airtel's arch rival Reliance Jio, a telecom arm of billionaire Mukesh Ambani, recently said that with the new satcom policy, the government should continue to ensure that India's space interests and security would never be compromised.

"In fact, cyberspace and cybersecurity is not just about terrestrial networks. It's not about wireline or wireless. In fact, I see the greatest threat among satellite and satcom providers," Jio president Mathew Oommen said.

The Department of Space (DoS), however, is yet to come out with the much-awaited space policy, touted to increase private sector investment to an estimated $350 billion by 2040.

Raghunandan further said that the regulator's recommendations were pathbreaking, and would help in bridging the country's digital divide.

"Satcom can provide capacity to islands such as Andaman & Nicobar, and in scenarios where submarine cable fault restoration takes 2 to 3 months and even more time, satellite broadband can act as a backup," the top official added.

Currently, India's nearly 40,000 villages lack basic telephony, and has close to 750 million broadband users with Jio commanding a lion's share with 415 million subscribers followed by Bharti Airtel's 188 million, and Vodafone Idea's 123 million users, as per latest Trai statistics.

Vivo unveils premium X70 series in China

In a bid to expand its X-series, global smartphone brand Vivo has launched three new phones -- X70, X70 Pro and X70 Pro+ -- for the Chinese consumers.

According to GSMArena, Vivo X70 and X70 Pro are pretty similar, with the major difference being the number of cameras on the back.

Both the smartphones come with a 6.56-inch AMOLED with 120Hz refresh rate that is also found on their predeccessors -- Vivo X60 and X60 Pro. Vivo X70 Pro retains the Exynos 1080, while the Vivo X70 now comes with a Dimensity 1200 by Mediatek.

Vivo X70 has a triple shooter on the back -- 40MP main camera, 12MP ultrawide camera and 12MP telephoto camera with 2x optical zoom.

Meanwhile, Vivo X70 Pro has a 50MP main camera and identical 12MP ultrawide and 2x telephoto cameras. It gains a fourth camera with 8MP sensor and periscope lens with 5x optical zoom. This phone also comes with the custom vivo V1 ISP that should boost focusing speed and image quality.

The X70 Pro+ switches over to a 6.78-inch Samsung E5 AMOLED panel (up from 6.56-inch) and it maintains HDR support.

This new display uses an LTPO panel, meaning it can gradually adjust its refresh rate in the range 1Hz to 120Hz. The touch sampling rate is 300Hz. The E5 panel also uses 25 per cent less power than the older E4 panels.

The vanilla variant is offered in white, black or a nebula gradient and its price start from 3,699 Chinese yuan. The Pro variant starts from 4,299 Chinese yuan.

The Vivo X70 Pro+ will be starting at 5,500 Chinese yuan for the base model.

Xiaomi 11T series to get 4 years of security updates

Beijing: Chinese phone maker Xiaomi has announced that it will release three generations of Android OS upgrades and four years of security updates with its upcoming 11T series.

Xiaomi is gearing up to launch its next-generation flagship model - the Mi 11T series on September 15.

"With the continuous improvement made to smartphone hardware, the life cycle of a smartphone is gradually lengthening, meaning users aren't required to replace their smartphones as frequently. For this reason, more consumers place great importance on receiving the latest operating system updates, along with the latest features," said Albert Shan, Head of Product & Technology, Xiaomi International said in a statement.

In addition to offering four years of updates to these upcoming smartphones, the brand is also planning to bring support for extended Android OS updates and security updates to its previous offerings that exist in the market.

Xiaomi is also planning to offer longer support for its other devices as well.

The Xiaomi 11T and 11T Pro will feature a 6.67-inch AMOLED and a 6.67-inch OLED screen, respectively, with a Full-HD+ (1080x2460 pixels) resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate.

Both smartphones are expected to sport a triple rear camera setup comprising a 108MP primary sensor.

The Xiaomi 11T and 11T Pro may draw power from a 5G-enabled MediaTek chipset and a Snapdragon 888 processor, respectively, coupled with 8GB of RAM and up to 256GB of storage.

They will run on Android 11-based MIUI 12.5 and pack a 5,000mAh battery.

Apple to spend over $500 mln on marketing Apple TV+: The Information

Apple Inc plans to spend more than $500 million on marketing its streaming service, Apple TV+, this year, The Information reported on Friday, citing a person familiar with the matter.

The iPhone maker also intends to significantly increase its output of new TV shows and movies to at least one a week in 2022, more than double its pace this year, according to The Information, which cited another person familiar with the matter.

Apple did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Apple's move to splurge on content and marketing comes as it tries to fiercely compete with established players, including Netflix Inc, Walt Disney Co's Disney+ and Inc's Prime Video.

What's the impact of the Apple app store court ruling?

 Apple was forced to loosen the grip it holds on its App Store payment system, after US judge ruled Friday in a closely watched battle with Fortnite maker Epic Games.

Though app makers will be able to take steps to skirt the up to 30 percent commission Apple takes on sales, the tech giant avoided being branded an illegal monopoly in the case.

Here are some key questions on the App Store and the impact of the ruling:

How does the App Store work?

The App Store acts as the lone gateway for mobile applications of any kind onto iPhones or other Apple devices.

Apple requires developers to adhere to its rules for what apps can or can't do, and makes them use the App Store payment system for all transactions there.

Apple takes a commission of up to 30 percent of app purchases or transactions, contending it is a fair fee for providing a safe, global platform for developers to hawk their creations.

Apple maintains that 85 percent of the approximately 1.8 million apps at the digital shop pay nothing to the Silicon Valley based tech giant.

What was the ruling?

The ruling by US District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez-Rogers said that Apple's control of the App Store did not amount to a monopoly, but that it must let developers include links to other online venues for buying content or services.

App makers will be able to provide links that users can click on to take them to another website to buy content or otherwise interact.

Apple can still require its payment system be used for in-app purchases, meaning it should still get its share of transactions such as buying virtual gear in a game or a subscription.

Gonzalez Rogers wrote that Apple violated California's laws against unfair competition but that it was not "an anti-trust monopolist... for mobile gaming transactions."

Big change?

The biggest change lovers of Apple mobile gadgets might notice is that apps should start showcasing links enticing them to leave the App Store to spend money.

Apple representatives called the ruling a validation of the App Store business model.

The judge did not order Apple to let Fortnite back in the App Store, and studio's CEO Tim Sweeney tweeted the game would only return "when and where Epic can offer in-app payment in fair competition with Apple."

Bite out of Apple's revenue?

It will be difficult to estimate what sort of bite the ruling will take from the company's income.

Most of the offerings at the App Store are created by small developers who haven't built their own payment systems the way Epic Games runs its own online shop, noted analyst Carolina Milanesi.

Small developers likely see benefits to using Apple's payment system and provided perks, such as promoting apps or handling refunds, the analyst reasoned.

App users might also feel more comfortable trusting transactions on Apple's platform rather than entering credit card or other information in on third-party websites.

"How many developers can do something else when it comes to payment systems and how many customers are interested in using something else?" Milanesi asked.

"I don't think this ruling is a problem for Apple from a revenue perspective."

And, Apple may be planning to more than offset any lost revenue with its own advertising business, according to the analyst.

Lava International all set for IPO, seek shareholders approval

Homegrown mobile maker is all set for its initial stake sale as the company has notified shareholders for an extraordinary general meeting scheduled on Friday, September 10.

The company will seek shareholders approval for the initial public offering for up to Rs 2,400 crore, which will consist of an offer for sale by existing shareholders and issuance of fresh equity. has seen the copy of the letter shared with shareholders. As many as seven items will be considered and approved by the shareholders.

The company will also issue bonus shares in 1:1 ratio to existing shareholders. The domestic mobile maker will also seek approval for a stock split of shares in 1:1, to a face value of Rs 5 per share after the split.

According to the dealers in the unlisted market, the stock split and bonus issues were on the cards as shareholders were informed about the same via e-mails by the company earlier.

Following the IPO buzz, the share prices of Lava International have rallied to Rs 600-620 apiece, which was trading at Rs 525-550 at the beginning of the week.

"We expect it to trade in the range of Rs 160-170 after the split and bonus and the company's valuation at this price is about $1-$1.2 billion," said Rajesh Singla, Founder of Planify, a pre-IPO consultancy.

The company is adding more products in its arsenal and has strong hold in small Asian and African countries, he added, who expects the DRHP to be filed in the next few weeks.

The company has overseas operations in 11 countries, including Thailand, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Mexico and some West Asian countries.

The company reported Rs 5,264 crore revenue for the year ended on March 31, 2020, compared with Rs 5,108 crore reported for the year ago. Net profit stood at Rs 107 crore on that revenue, compared with Rs 73 crore in the previous year.

"At current valuations, the company is available at less than twice the sales-to-market cap, which makes it a decent bet," said Dinesh Gupta, co-founder of Delhi-based UnlistedZone. "However, one should wait for the latest numbers."

The Noida-headquartered Lava International has not announced its earnings for the financial year ended on March 31, 2021.

Gupta is bullish on the phonemaker and expects it to be a big beneficiary of the PLI (production-linked incentive) scheme for mobile manufacturing in India.

"The PLI scheme will boost their margins and if the company is able to reap the benefits, the bottomline will substantially improve."

Phonemakers are expected to benefit a lot from the PLI scheme, which offers 4-6 per cent incentive for mobile manufacturers. Lava is one of five domestic manufacturers that have got approvals under the scheme.

S. Korean app market operator One store teams up with Microsoft for global expansion

One store, a South Korean app market operator, said on Monday it has joined hands with Microsoft to develop a global app market by next year in its latest move to boost its presence against bigger rivals operated by global tech giants.

The app market is currently available on the Android mobile operating system as an alternative to Google's dominant Play store in South Korea.

The company said it plans to incorporate Microsoft's cloud technology to create a global platform by next year, reports Yonhap news agency.

In an online press conference, One store's head of strategic partnership Jin Heon-kyu said the company is considering the launch in the Asian market.

The move comes after Microsoft invested 11.3 billion won ($9.5 million) in One store in June.

The homegrown app market is backed by major wireless carrier SK Telecom, which holds a 47 percent stake in the company, as well as other carriers KT Corp. and LG Uplus Corp. that also have minor stakes.

One store also announced it has entered into a strategic partnership with Blizzard Entertainment Inc.

Google and Apple have been under pressure from local lawmakers as they are reviewing a bill that would ban app market operators from unfairly forcing in-app payment systems that levy the commissions.

Govt wants to make India a data centre hub, plans Rs 12,000 crore sops

An ambitious incentive scheme worth up to Rs 12,000 crore is in the works to encourage companies to set up data centres in the country.

The government is targeting an investment of Rs 3 lakh crore in the next five years as part of the hyperscale data centre scheme and is planning to provide between 3% and 4% of capital investment as incentive to companies, along with real estate support and faster clearances.

Government officials said the vision is to "make India a global data centre hub" and termed the scheme's target as the largest so far in terms of expected investment in the country over a period of just five years.

The policy is currently being circulated for inter-ministerial consultations and is expected to be sent for Cabinet approval after it is finalised. The quantum of the incentive is still being discussed and could be in the range of Rs. 10,000 crore to Rs. 12,000 crore.

"Our vision is to make India a global data centre hub. We have proposed that ease of doing business has to be improved and the bottlenecks have to be addressed," a senior government official told ET.

In the recent past, several multinational technology companies such as Microsoft, Amazon and Google have set up data centre regions in the country.

Domestic firms such as Adani Enterprises and Hiranandani Group have also announced aggressive plans to set up data centres in Noida in the National Capital Region.

"No other scheme has such ambition in such a short time, so this will be a major game changer for the high-tech industry in India. We want to invite Rs 3 lakh crore worth of investment in data centres in India in next five years," the official added.

The scheme, which is being spearheaded by the Ministry of Electronics and IT, will also look to promote domestic manufacturing of high-end servers.

"Our focus has been on mobile manufacturing so far; this will change in a very significant way. There will be an incentive of specified percentage on the purchase of servers from domestic manufactured sources which can be deployed in the data centres," the official said.

India is fast emerging as a location of choice for data centre majors.

According to the latest data from Cushman & Wakefield, investment worth a total $11.4 billion has been planned and committed for the development of data centres in the country and the contribution of global firms in this is more than 65%.

The spate of activity has been attributed to the government's data localisation norms, with regulators such as the Reserve Bank of India mandating that all financial services data belonging to Indians has to be processed and stored locally.

The new data centre policy, which is also being finalized by the government, will also play a big part in setting up a national framework aimed at attracting more investment through simplified rules and improved ease of doing business.

Last month, the Noida Authority allotted land to Adani Enterprises and MAQ India to set up data centres, leading to investments of about Rs 2,650 crore.

Earlier, Hiranandani Group was also allotted land for setting up the country's largest data centre of 200 MW, with investments worth Rs 6,700 crore in Greater Noida.

Adani Group, Mantra Data Centers, NTT Netmagic and Web Werks have also proposed to invest about Rs 8,000 crore in data centres in Karnataka, which is also finalizing its data centre policy.

Delhi, Noida, Gurugram, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad have already emerged as large data centre hubs due to the forward policies of their state governments which offer land to players, other concessions and faster approvals.

"Our policy will make the attractiveness national; and the sops will be available to companies for setting up in any part of the country, so this regional imbalance can be addressed," the official said.

The policy is expected to receive Cabinet approval within the next 2-3 months.

Birlasoft restructures service offerings

Mid-size IT services firm Birlasoft has restructured its service offerings to focus on demand-heavy areas.

The company has started declaring revenue breakdown for its three core service lines - business and technology transformation, enterprise solutions and Cloud and base services.

The business and technology transformation business will focus on end-to-end digital solutions and consulting.

With Enterprise Resource Planning moving to the cloud, it is now being integrated on Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions, and the enterprise solutions business will focus on this.

The third unit is cloud and base services for infrastructure application support and maintenance.

"The objective is, how can we upgrade people from the base service, either into enterprise solutions or into the business and technology platforms," said Dharmender Kapoor, CEO and MD, Birlasoft.

Talent management will also be aligned to the new service offerings, he said.

For the first quarter of the ongoing fiscal year, the three verticals contributed 37.1%, 43.1% and 19.8% to revenues, respectively.

Last year, the company had already created a new enterprise solutions channel, and is seeing an improvement in the pipeline on the enterprise side.

The other advantage is that the company is now approaching clients with a full stack of solutions.

There is a lot more scope to grow through cross-selling, said Kapoor.

The company has identified the top 30 accounts it will focus on and intends to have maximum growth through cross-selling, he said.

While signing on net new clients is important, the challenge is that these deals take time and all new engagements come at a higher cost.

"So, from that perspective, we must have a very good balance of cross-selling as well as the net new net clients," said Kapoor.

The company has increased the proportion of business from existing clients to 70% from 51%, with an upside potential going forward.

YouTube's Partner Programme reaches 2 mn creators

Google-owned YouTube now has two million creators who are part of its money-making partner programme, and the company paid more than $30 billion to creators, artists, and media companies over the last three years.

YouTube Partner Programme (YPP) is a first-of-its-kind open monetisation initiative where anyone who qualified could join and start making money.

"Now, more than two million creators participate in YPP globally, including many who might not otherwise have had a platform, from tech reviewers to entertainers. And many of these creators are generating jobs and contributing to local and global economies," Neal Mohan, Chief Product Officer, YouTube, said in a statement late on Monday.

In 2019 alone, YouTube's creative ecosystem supported the equivalent of 345,000 full-time jobs, just in the US.

"YPP continues to be one of the largest drivers of the creator economy in the world. Creators who are part of YPP can make money and earn a living from their content on YouTube with ten different monetisation features (and we keep adding more), from advertiser revenue to selling merchandise," Mohan elaborated.

To qualify for the Partner Programme, creators need at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of overall watch time on their channels in the past 12 months.

Mohan said that in Q4 2020, YouTube's violative view rate was at 0.16-0.18 per cent, which means that out of every 10,000 views on YouTube, only 16-18 come from violative content.

"As a result, we've seen our focus on responsibility benefit creators and our overall business. In Q2 2021, revenues from YouTube ads crossed $7 billion and we paid more to YouTube creators and partners than in any quarter in our history," he mentioned.

The number of new channels joining YPP in 2020 more than doubled when compared to the year before.

"We've also rolled out a new 'Checks' process which automatically screens creators' uploads for potential copyright claims and ad suitability restrictions. This helps creators understand how their videos will monetise and make edits before uploading if they want," Mohan noted.

Synopsys design software uses AI to make chips more power efficient

Synopsys Inc said on Monday one of its customers used artificial intelligence software to get a 26% gain in the power efficiency of a computer chip, a leap that usually has to wait for a new generation of chip manufacturing technology.

Modern computing chips are made of billions of transistors and wires laid down on a piece of silicon the size of a fingernail. Precisely how all the elements are placed on the chip, along with other design and architecture choices, has a major impact on how well they perform and how much they cost to make.

Major chip firms like Intel Corp or Nvidia Corp can spend two years and hundreds of millions of dollars to perfect their designs. Synopsys is one of the major makers of software used to do that work.

The company has started weaving artificial intelligence called into its flagship chip design suite to help chip designers get better results, faster, while trying to balance trade-offs on speed, power efficiency and cost to meet their business goals. Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Renesas Electronics Corp have begun using it, with Samsung last year saying it had cut a chip design step that would have taken months down to weeks.

On Monday, Synopsys said the AI system can now take into account what software will eventually run on a chip to squeeze out more gains. A major cloud computing provider that it did not name got a 26% gain in power efficiency versus the best solution found by human designers.

In the past, gains like those came from a new generation of chip manufacturing technology that would come every two years rather than purely from the design. The new software can squeeze much more out of existing chip factories, said Aart de Geus, chief executive of Synopsys.

"It is significant because design is now actually more of the enabler than ever before," de Geus told Reuters in an interview.

Ethiopia to build local rival to Facebook, other platforms

Ethiopia has begun developing its own social media platform to rival Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp, though it does not plan to block the global services, the state communications security agency said on Monday.

Ethiopia has been engulfed since last year in an armed conflict pitting the federal government against the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), which controls the Tigray region in the country's north.

Supporters of both sides have waged a parallel war of words on social media.

The government wants its local platform to "replace" Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp and Zoom, the director general of the Information Network Security Agency (INSA), Shumete Gizaw, said.

Shumete accused Facebook of deleting posts and user accounts which he said were "disseminating the true reality about Ethiopia".

International human rights groups have criticized the Ethiopian government for unexplained shutdowns to social media services including Facebook and WhatsApp in the past year. The government has not commented on those shutdowns.

Facebook's Africa spokesperson, Kezia Anim-Addo, declined to comment on Ethiopia's plans and did not respond immediately to a query about Shumete's accusations.

But in June, days before national elections, Facebook said it had removed a network of fake accounts in Ethiopia targeting domestic users which it linked to individuals associated with INSA, which is responsible for monitoring telecommunications and the internet.

Spokespeople for Twitter and Zoom did not immediately reply to comment requests.

Shumete declined to specify a timeline, budget and other details, but told Reuters: "The rationale behind developing technology with local capacity is clear ... Why do you think China is using WeChat?"

He said Ethiopia had the local expertise to develop the platforms and would not hire outsiders to help.

Social messaging app WeChat is owned by China-headquartered Tencent Holdings, is widely used in the country, and is considered to be a strong tool by Chinese authorities for monitoring its population.

Shumete also referred Reuters to comments he made on Friday to a local media outlet in which he accused Facebook of blocking users who were "preaching national unity and peace".

He also told Al-Ain Amharic that authorities were working on the platform to replace Facebook and Twitter, while a trial has already been completed of a platform to replace WhatsApp and Zoom and that platform will soon be operational.

Demand for cloud professionals to hit 2 million by 2025: Nasscom

The demand for cloud professionals in India may touch two million by 2025 according to a report by National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom), Cloud Skills: Powering India's Digital DNA, launched in association with Draup. Tata Consultancy Services and Accenture were strategic partners for this research.

India has the potential to become the world's 2nd largest cloud talent hub with the combined effort of government bodies, education and skilling organisations and technology providers. Currently, India ranks third with over 600,000 Cloud professionals across all verticals including technology. However, the demand for cloud solutions is growing exponentially, both in India and worldwide, leading to a higher demand for cloud talent as well. India had about 380,000 job openings for Cloud roles in 2020, a 40% growth over 2019. The demand- for cloud skills far out weights the current supply and needs focus across stakeholders on upskilling.

The need for businesses to migrate critical workloads to the Cloud and modernize legacy on-premise IT infrastructure, especially post the pandemic, has been accelerating growth in cloud adoption. According to Gartner, worldwide end-user spending on public cloud services is projected to grow at 20% YoY by 2022 to $398 billion. India's cloud market is estimated to reach $5.6 billion by 2022, a 26% YoY growth. As enterprises look to increasingly capitalize on Cloud infrastructure, the need to natively procure and build Cloud workloads and skills stacks becomes significant.

Nasscom's Future of Technology Services-Winning in this Decade report estimates the global cloud opportunity at $800 billion by 2025.

"Cloud adoption has witnessed an accelerated adoption during the pandemic as enterprises focused on building hybrid work models, collaboration infrastructure and business continuity. Cloud has moved from being a relative back-end to a front-end (business-facing) technology, enabling on-demand access to resources. For India to carve itself a unique identity as a global hub for cloud solutions, a concentrated public-private partnership, and large-scale skilling is the key," said Debjani Ghosh, President, Nasscom.

The Indian SaaS start-up ecosystem is another driver of cloud demand, currently employing over 40,000 professionals across domains.

While India has the ecosystem to become the cloud solutions hub for the world, it must get its cloud skills stack right. With a baseline growth of 24% CAGR, India's cloud talent pool is expected to grow 2.4 times to nearly 1.5million by 2025. However, there is an urgent need to scale talent further - talent with the right skillsets. The report estimates that with a more aggressive talent building roadmap (30%  growth rate), India can increase its cloud talent pool to between 1.7 to 1.8 million and in the process become world's 2nd largest cloud talent hub.

Nasscom has set up its FutureSkills PRIME initiative in partnership with MEITY to upskill talent in emerging technologies and cloud skills are a key area of focus on this platform.

Facebook to bring voice and video calling to main app

Facebook Inc is letting some users make voice and video calls within its main app on a trial basis, aiming to make it easier to place calls without opening its standalone Messenger app.

The social media giant spun out Messenger from its main app years ago, meaning users would have to download a separate app in order to send messages and make calls.

Facebook has been trying to tie together messaging across its suite of apps and first enabled it between Instagram and Messenger last September. The move enabled users of each service to find, message and hold video calls with contacts on the other without needing to download both apps.

It plans to eventually integrate WhatsApp into the mix.

However, a Facebook spokesperson said on Monday that for a full-featured messaging, audio and video call experience, people should continue using Messenger.

OnePlus launches Buds Pro TWS earbuds with ANC at Rs 9,990

Chinese smartphone maker OnePlus has launched its first smart adaptive noise cancellation (ANC) earbuds, the OnePlus Buds Pro, priced at Rs 9,990.

The OnePlus Buds Pro comes with two 11 mm dynamic drivers and Dolby Atmos support along with a custom-designed OnePlus Audio ID sound profile.

Its smart ANC noise cancellation system is claimed to filter out undesired sound frequencies in real-time.

The OnePlus Buds Pro provides a battery life of up to 38 hours on a full charge along with the charging case and 10 hours of claimed playtime with 10 minutes of Warp Charge.

The OnePlus Buds Pro is also compatible with third-party Qi-certified wireless chargers.

The true wireless earbuds offer Bluetooth 5.2 support and latency as low as 94ms with Pro Gaming mode turned on, OnePlus said.

While the charging case is IPX4 water resistance rated the earbuds are IP55 certified, meaning the device is sweat and dust resistant.

The OnePlus Buds Pro is also enabled with Zen mode that lets users choose from a list of white noise.

The OnePlus Buds Pro will be available in two colors -- Matte Black and Glossy White and will be available on,, OnePlus Experience Stores, and partner stores.

Samsung, LG dominate global TV market in 2021 1st half

South Korea's top two TV makers -- Samsung and LG Electronics -- represented half of the global TV market in the first half of the year, a report showed on Tuesday, as they maintained their leadership in the premium segment.

Samsung accounted for 31 percent of the global TV market in terms of sales revenue to defend its top status in the first six months of 2021, while LG followed with a 19 percent share, according to data from industry researcher Omdia.

Japan's Sony came in third with 9.3 percent followed by Chinese makers TCL with 7.4 percent and Hisense with 7.3 percent.

By volume, Samsung made up 21.2 percent of the global market after shipping 21.03 million TVs in the first half, up 10.3 percent from a year earlier.

It was the first time since 2016 that the company's first-half sales volume topped 20 million units, reports Yonhap news agency.

Samsung's strong performance was led by premium QLED TV sales that topped 4 million units in the first half, up 46 percent from a year ago. The global QLED TV market came to 5.25 million units in the first half.

Samsung also had the dominant position in the 80-inch or larger TV segment with a market share of 51.9 percent.

"Considering second-half TV sales are usually above the first half's, our QLED TV sales are expected to reach 10 million units this year," Samsung said. "We are certain to achieve the No. 1 status for 16 consecutive years."

LG sold 13.56 million TVs in the first half, up 25.8 percent from a year earlier, thanks to increased supply and enhanced price competitiveness of OLED displays.

LG shipped 1.73 million OLED TVs in the first half, representing more than 63 percent of the worldwide OLED TV market. In particular, the company's OLED TV shipments reached 945,600 units in the second quarter, its largest-ever quarterly volume since the introduction of OLED TVs in 2013.

"This is meaningful considering that the average selling price (ASP) of LG's OLED TVs is almost $2,000, nearly four times larger than that of LCD TVs," it said.

The worldwide TV market in the first half posted revenue of US$54.2 billion, up 36.1 percent from a year earlier, while sales reached 99.11 million units, up 7.4 percent from a year ago, Omdia data showed.

When it comes to the second-quarter alone, the global TV shipments came to 47.85 million units, up from 45.64 million units a year earlier.

However, it was down from 51.25 million units in the first quarter due to seasonality and production disruptions from the resurgence of COVID-19.

India smartphone market to reach 173 million shipments in 2021

India's smartphone market is set to hit a record high of 173 million units in 2021 at 14 oer cent (on-year) growth, a new report showed on Friday.

More than 100 million smartphones will be shipped in H2 2021 and 5G devices will make up 19 per cent of the overall market, according to Counterpoint Research's India handset quarterly outlook.

"The market has been experiencing a steady growth curve over the last five years to reach 158 million units in 2019. COVID-19 saw the market experiencing only a minor dip of 4 per cent in 2020, showcasing its resilience as well as the emergence of smartphones in a more important role," said Research Analyst Ankit Malhotra.

The biggest factor pushing the market could be the launch of Reliance Jio's low-cost Android phone JioPhone Next in September, which will enable migration of feature phone users to smartphones.

The country has a considerable installed base of 320 million feature phone users.

"The JioPhone Next phone is expected to be priced below $75, a price point that hasn't seen major activity in the last two years. If it works as expected, we might see the Indian market entering a period of hyper-growth," Malhotra added.

In 2020, 5G smartphones accounted for less than 3 per cent of the market.

But in 2021, the market for 5G devices will grow over eight times to reach 32 million units and make up 19 per cent of the overall smartphone market.

"Our outlook for India for the next five years remains positive, keeping in mind its 1.39-billion (and growing) population, upgrade of users from feature phone to smartphone, and future emergence of new use cases. The market is set to cross the 200-million mark in the next couple of years," the report noted.

OnePlus 9 RT in the works, could launch in October

August 20 (ANI): OnePlus may be getting ready to launch another variant of its 9 series phones, the OnePlus 9 RT.

As per GSM Arena, the OnePlus 9RT has been tipped to launch in India and China in October.

Based on the report, it looks to be a slightly upgraded version of the OnePlus 9R, which was launched earlier this year with more modest specs than the flagship 9 and 9 Pro.

The OnePlus 9 RT will come with a Snapdragon 870 processor, 120Hz OLED, a 4,500mAh battery, and OxygenOS 12 out of the box. For its main rear-facing camera, it will reportedly use the 50-megapixel sensor behind the same ultrawide as in the 9 and 9 Pro.

There are no plans to make the upcoming smartphone available in North American or European markets. That's not too surprising, and it tracks with OnePlus' recent strategy of limiting US releases to the high-end likes of the 9 and 9 Pro, along with the budget-oriented N200 and N10 5G.

This could be the first OnePlus phone to launch with OxygenOS 12 (Android 12) out of the box. The new version of the OS is reportedly adopting more features from ColorOS (which is now the basis for OxygenOS).

Along with the 9 RT, a couple of Nord models are the only new phones that OnePlus will launch this year.

Apple developing new home products: Report

Hiring data suggests Apple is developing a host of new home products and services while preparing for a swell of retail customers ahead of an expected "iPhone 13" launch.

The company has increased hiring to bolster its product development and retail operations arms over the past few months, according to an analysis of Apple job listings conducted by GlobalData, reports AppleInsider.

Apple's job postings, which are readily accessible through the company's website, increased 78 per cent year-over-year in July.

While the tech giant routinely advertises for roles attached to the development of "new products," that category grew from 130 jobs in March to more than 270 jobs in July.

Of note, a listing for "Product Manager, Home Services" hints at work on in-the-home products like Apple TV, HomePod mini and HomeKit.

The post noted ideal candidates must have work experience with home services providers, builders and technology providers, pointing to an ongoing evolution of the HomeKit platform.

A recent report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners found Apple's HomePod and HomePod mini accounted for just a sliver of the overall smart speaker market, with Amazon's Echo line gobbling up a 69 per cent share.

Apple is rumoured to be working on next-generation designs for its at-home suite of hardware including a HomePod with an integrated touch screen and an Apple TV with a built-in camera and HomePod speaker capabilities.

A significant portion of the new listings in July -- more than 370 posts -- were retail positions. The uptick is thought to be related to the reopening of US stores and the launch of upcoming products this fall.

Google Pixel 5, Pixel 4a 5G discontinued: Report

Amid the news of a new Pixel smartphone, tech giant Google has indicated that its current flagship, Pixel 5, will be discontinued alongside the Pixel 4a 5G.

According to The Verge, both are currently listed on Google's online store as sold out, and remaining stock at other retailers likely won't last long.

"With our current forecasts, we expect Google Store in the US to sell out of Pixel 4a (5G) and Pixel 5 in the coming weeks following the launch of Pixel 5a (5G)," a company spokesperson told the tech website.

"These products will continue to be available through some partners while supplies last," the spokesperson added.

According to the report, it is not too surprising that the 4a 5G is being discontinued given that the 5A 5G looks to be a fairly direct successor.

However, it is a little unusual to see the Pixel 5 discontinued well in advance of the Pixel 6's arrival this fall.

Recently, Google announced that it has developed its custom-built chip to power the next generation of Pixel 6 smartphones that will arrive in the market later this year.

Called Tensor, the AI-enabled System on a Chip (SoC) has been developed specifically for Pixel phones.

Nokia shipped nearly 12.8 mn handsets in Q2

Nokia brand shipped nearly 12.8 million handsets in the second quarter (Q2) of 2021, new data has showed.

In terms of smartphones, Nokia Mobile did see an improvement in shipments of 36 per cent compared to Q1 2021, driven by the new Nokia 1.4, G and C series devices, according to Counterpoint Research.

In Q2 2021, the Nokia brand remained the second biggest brand in terms of market share on the feature phone market.

Nokia Mobile grabbed 18 per cent of the feature phone market share.

The number of shipped feature phones decreased compared to previous quarter by 8 per cent, meaning nearly 10.1 million units were shipped.

Global smartphone shipments declined by 7 per cent QoQ in Q2 2021, primarily due to ongoing component shortages as well as the implementation or extension of COVID-19 restrictions across Asia and Europe.

Nearly 329 million units were shipped in Q2.

Shipments, however, grew by 19 per cent YoY as inoculation rates increased in several major economies preventing the need for lockdowns as stringent as those seen in the same quarter of last year.

Lenovo launches upgraded IdeaPad Gaming 3i laptop in India

Lenovo on Monday launched an upgraded IdeaPad Gaming 3i laptop, powered by Intel 11th Gen Core processors and the latest NVIDIA RTX 3050 GPU, at a starting price of Rs 89,990.

This entry-level and affordable gaming laptop is built for overall performance, and aptly fits the needs of young adults and students.

Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i goes on sale on August 24 on and It will soon be available on and other offline channels.

"Boasting of an upgraded keyboard and thermal design, it is a reliable machine for daily tasks, essential gaming needs, and all round performance," Dinesh Nair, Head of Consumer Business, Lenovo India said in a statement.

Lenovo said it will offer one-year of warranty, one-year of premium care support, and one-year of accidental damage protection services, bundled with this device.

In terms of specifications, the device offers up to Intel 11th Gen Core i7, and the latest NVIDIA RTX 3050 GPU with maximum TGP of 90W.

The device features a 15.6-inch FHD IPS display with three sided narrow bezel and a screen refresh rate of up to 120Hz.

It is equipped with the super tactile Lenovo TrueStrike Keyboard, featuring 1.5 mm key travel with backlighting, large arrow keys, a full size number pad and 22 per cent larger touchpad that gets the work done easily.

The IdeaPad Gaming 3i also features a 720P webcam with Trueblock Privacy Shutter for additional security, and a Military Grade certified chassis, which makes it an extremely tough and reliable device.

Realme launches C21Y smartphone at a starting price of Rs 8,999

Chinese smartphone maker Realme Monday launched the Realme C21Y smartphone, the brand's latest addition to the C-series of smartphones, in two variants -- 3GB RAM and 32GB memory at Rs 8,999 and 4GB RAM and 64GB memory at Rs 9,999.

The smartphone will go on sale starting August 30, 2021, on, Flipkart, and mainline channels.

The Realme C21Y has a 6.5-inch HD+ mini-drop fullscreen, with a screen-to-body ratio of 89.5% and a 20:9 ratio.

The smartphone has a 13MP primary camera, which can zoom up to 4X and supports PDAF autofocus. The 5MP selfie camera supports AI beauty, HDR mode, portrait mode, and other filters.

It runs the 12nm octa-core Unisoc T610 processor that clocks up to 1.8GHz. The CPU consists of two high-performance A75s at 1.8GHz and six power-saving A55 cores at 1.8GHz. The GPU is Mali G52, which can reach up to 614.4MHz.

It comes with a 5000mAh battery with reverse charging and super power-saving mode.

The Realme C21Y supports fingerprint unlocking and supports facial recognition.

The smartphone features three card slots, a dual SIM slot, and a dedicated SD card slot expandable up to 256GB.

It is also TάV Rheinland high-reliability certified.

Realme Narzo 30 5G now available in new variant in India

Smartphone maker Realme on Monday announced the availability of a second storage variant of Narzo 30 5G (4GB+ 64GB) priced at Rs 13,999 in the Indian market.

The Narzo 30 5G (4GB+64GB) variant will be available for grabs starting August 24 on Flipkart, and mainline channels.

The Narzo 30 5G debuted in June this year in a 6GB+128GB variant. Earlier this month, Realme also announced a new variant of the Narzo 30 4G.

The new variant has been launched on the occasion of celebrating 100 million fans with Realme Fan Festival starting August 24-28, the company said in a statement.

The Narzo 30 5G features a 6.5-inch FHD+ IPS LCD panel with 600 nits of brightness. It has support for a 90Hz refresh rate and a 180Hz touch sampling rate.

Under the hood, the smartphone is powered by a MediaTek Dimensity 700 5G SoC paired with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.

The smartphone houses a triple-camera setup with a 48 MP primary sensor, a 2 MP monochrome sensor, and a 2 MP macro unit.

On the front, the device has a 16 MP selfie camera. It comes with a 5,000 mAh battery with 30W Dart Charge support.

The device runs on Android 11 with Realme UI 2.0 on top. Connectivity options on the device include 4G, 5G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, and more.

Oppo India says to add 100 service centers to its network by 2022

Chinese smartphone maker Oppo Monday said it will add 100 service centers to its network in India by 2022 to strengthen its after-sales service experience.

The brand currently has over 500 service centers spread across more than 500 cities.

The brand has also expanded its after-sales network in districts including Kudal, Modasa, Nangal, Udhampur, Mayiladuthurai, Dharmapuri, Hingoli, and Thootupupudi.

"The expansion of our After-Sales Service network to over 500 cities in India is an endeavor to offer consumers an amazing and unparalleled experience with our products no matter what part of India they live in," said Damyant Singh Khanoria, Chief Marketing Officer, Oppo India.

As per market research firm Counterpoint, Oppo grew 103% year-over-year in Q2 2021 to account for a 10% market share.

Oppo also launched an e-store in Q2 2021 to expand its online presence. In efforts to help its offline consumer base and channel partners, Oppo started free smartphone deliveries during lockdowns by leveraging digital platforms like WhatsApp.

A separate report by Counterpoint ranks the brand as the leader in after-sales service experience.

It also enabled customer support with most of the users receiving status updates through WhatsApp and SMS.

Oppo India also introduced a dedicated AI-powered Chatbot called 'Ollie' that is available 24X7 for consumers, as well as, a Platinum care hotline for Reno & Find users that provides customer support in Hindi & English.

Willingness highest among millennials to buy a 5G smartphone in India: Study

73% of surveyed smartphone owners are interested in buying a 5G smartphone while nearly 25% (or 1 in 4) MBO consumers are 5G aware, according to a study by homegrown market analytics firm PredictiVu. Both awareness and willingness to buy a 5G smartphone are highest among millennials or people aged between 21 to 30 years old when it comes to 5G interest among consumers.

This is even when commercial 5G network has not been rolled out in India. Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, and Vodafone Idea though have started piloting their 5G networks in association with their equipment partners in various cities.

India has also become the fourth largest market for smartphones supporting the next generation of high-speed, low-latency mobile networks, according to market research firms.

As per Counterpoint Research, the share of 5G smartphones is constantly increasing, crossing 14% in the June-ended quarter itself. As per CMR India, the 5G smartphone shipments accounted for 13% of the overall smartphone shipments in Q2 2021.

PredictiVu's findings stressed that 5G is going to be a major driver for consumers to upgrade their smartphones and Muti Brand Outlets (MBOs) need to have better 5G advertisements and have an effective omnichannel marketing strategy in place to attract more women buyers, a high potential market segment, to their offline stores.

Currently, 94.3% of consumers are buying from local retail stores while only 4.7% of consumers shopped from MBO chains.

MBOs though have a high potential to educate consumers in-store on 5G technology-enabled smartphones.

The findings showed that a better gender ratio in sales staff, hyperlocal marketing, social media for customer experience (CX), and enterprise-wide IT adoption will be key factors driving offline retailers' success in 2021.

"The 5G adoption will be a significant growth driver for the offline retail MBO, given that the pandemic has brought the entire retail industry closer. Raising customer awareness about 5G is imperative now," said Kunal Sarkar, Vice President, PredictiVu.

"Better partnerships with brands, monitoring online exchange schemes to offer better deals, attractive advertisements using omnichannel and hyperlocal marketing strategy can improve foot traffic to physical locations of the MBOs and capitalize on a huge market," Sarkar added.

The findings are the near real-time assessment of datasets of 1,208 consumers and 2,080 retailers which further is bifurcated on the basis of age and gender, as per the analytics firm.

Volkswagen starts production of mid-sized SUV Taigun

Volkswagen Passenger Cars India on Wednesday announced the start of production of its mid-sized SUV Taigun, its first product under the India 2.0 project. The company also opened pre-booking of the new SUV.

Built on the MQB A0 IN platform, the first Taigun was rolled out from the Chakan plant in Pune on Tuesday, the company said in a release.

With deliveries beginning in September, all customers can now pre-book the Taigun across Volkswagen online and offline retail platforms, it said.

"Today, we embark on a journey that marks a significant milestone for Volkswagen, with the start of production of the Taigun. The Taigun retains the German engineering prowess, while achieving a localization level of up to 95 per cent.

"The vehicle has been designed to meet the needs of the discerning Indian customer and will be a competitive product offering in the fast-growing mid-size SUV segment," said Gurpratap Boparai, Managing Director, Skoda Auto Volkswagen India Pvt Ltd.

Under the India 2.0 project, German automotive group Volkswagen had announced in 2018 that it would invest 1 billion euros (around Rs 7,900 crore) between 2019 and 2021 as part of its strategy to enhance presence in the country, which will be led by group firm Skoda Auto.

Under the plan, Skoda Auto was envisaged to set up an engineering design and development centre at Pune, besides enhancing capacities at the group's two plants at Aurangabad and Pune.

The Volkswagen Taigun will be powered by the brand's globally renowned TSI technology and will be available with two engine options -- 1.0L and 1.5L.

Volkswagen now offers its TSI technology across its product line-up, offering customers the right mix of power and performance, the company said.

"With the start of production and bookings open, we are extremely excited to bring the Taigun soon to the Indian market. We are confident that the SUV will be a success in the India market," said Ashish Gupta, Brand Director, Volkswagen Passenger Cars India.

US utility plans to switch 1200 vehicles to electric by 2030

The nation's largest public utility plans to switch out 1,200 of its vehicles for electric ones by 2030, furthering its role in that market for a power supplier that also plans to help add charging stations across the region, the utility's top official said Wednesday. Tennessee Valley Authority CEO Jeff Lyash announced the changeout plans within its current fleet of about 3,800 vehicles during a board meeting.

The plan includes downsizing the fleet's 600 light-duty vehicles to 400 electric versions, which are typically sedans and SUVs; and initially changing out 800 medium-duty vehicles, or about half of the fleet's pickup trucks, TVA spokesperson Jim Hopson said.

The utility is also evaluating reductions in the medium-duty vehicles through efficiency and retirements, Hopson said. Possible switch-out of heavy duty ones depends on technology and price improvements, Lyash said.

The changes will occur as current vehicles reach the end of their usable lives, he said.

The plan coincides with the rollout of efforts to install fast-charging stations every 50 miles (80 kilometers) along major thoroughfares in Tennessee, with the goal of starting to deploy those chargers by the end of the year and having them largely in place by the end of 2022, Lyash said. TVA is also joining with other utilities in a coalition to connect a variety of regions with electric chargers, "from New England to West Texas, and from Detroit to Disney World," Lyash said.

The plan is to have 80 charging locations with at least two fast chargers each across the region by the end of 2026, Hopson said.

On Wednesday, TVA's board also voted for a $220 million plan to extend a pandemic-times credit of 2.5% to its customers, which include local power companies and large industrial entities, through the 2022 budget year with the possibility of continuing it through 2023.

Lyash said the pandemic credit for 2021 totaled $200 million, and local power companies used their share to avoid some planned rate increases; cover losses through unpaid customer power bills; and invest in infrastructure.

Of the 153 local power companies served by TVA, 144 are part of a long-term power initiative that results in another 3.1% credit.

Also Wednesday, the board replaced its chairman, John Ryder, with a new chairman, Bill Kilbride. The board seats of Ryder and Kenneth Allen expired in May, and two other seats are vacant. President Joe Biden has nominated four people for those slots but they have not been confirmed by the Senate yet.

Ryder and Allen remain on the board until or until their successors are confirmed and take office or until the end of the current congressional session, typically in December, whichever comes first.

The Tennessee Valley Authority was created in 1933 under the New Deal to provide electricity, flood control and economic development in Tennessee and parts of six surrounding states.

Its customers include some businesses and local power distributors serving 10 million people. The utility is funded largely by ratepayers and does not use tax dollars.

Kia sells 2 lakh units of SUV Seltos in 2 years of operations in India

South Korean auto major Kia India on Friday said it has sold 2 lakh units of its SUV Seltos in two years of its operations in the country.

According to the company, Kia India has also sold 1.5 lakh units of connected cars in this period. Seltos contributed over 66% of the total sales of Kia India, which has also crossed cumulative sales of 3 lakh units, it added.
"While 58% of Seltos sales came from its top variants, the automatic options of the vehicle contributed to more than 35%," the company said, adding that diesel powertrains accounted for 45% of the overall sales of the SUV.

Tae-Jin Park, executive director and chief sales and business strategy officer, Kia India, said, "Success milestones are always a huge boost to motivation as it enhances our passion for serving customers better. These back-to-back milestones are a testament to our commitment to bringing a revolution in the auto industry and catering to the new age, young-at-heart dynamic buyers with class-leading premium products."

The Indian passenger vehicle (PV) market is undergoing a transformation due to changing customer trends, increased desire for the latest features, and cutting-edge connected-car technology, Park added.

Kia India also said the sales milestone of 1.5 lakh connected cars sales "affirm the brand's technological advancement and understanding of the vast Indian market".

"While Seltos was the flag-bearer of this achievement, contributing over 78%, Sonet accounted for over 19% of the total connected Kia sales," it added.

The carmaker crossed the first one lakh milestone in car sales in July 2020, the next one lakh in January 2021, and the third one lakh in August 2021.

Volkswagen's SEAT partly halts output at Spanish plant due to chip shortage

Volkswagen's Spanish unit SEAT has partly halted car assembly at its plant near Barcelona due to the global semiconductor supply bottleneck, the company said in a statement on Friday .

The plant has idled its assembly line number 2 for two days because it lacks chips, the statement said.

SEAT, which usually closes down the plant in August for summer holidays, had made an exception and opened the factory this month to offset a production shortfall in the first half of the year.

But the scarcity of chips eventually forced a partial closure for two days, it said.

Overall, SEAT produced 8,000 cars in August, partly offsetting a shortfall in the first half.

Car makers around the world have been forced to reduce the pace of production in recent months due to a scarcity of chips.

After idling plants last year as the pandemic took hold, auto makers are now competing with the consumer electronics industry for chip deliveries amid global supply disruptions.

Volkswagen had said it expects the situation to improve by the end of the year and aims to make up for production shortfalls in the second half as far as possible, though the chips crunch is not abating.

Earlier this month, Infineon, the top automotive supplier, said it had suspended production at one of its plants in Malaysia in June.

GM expands Chevrolet Bolt EV recall, adding $1 bn in costs

General Motors expanded a recall of its Chevrolet Bolt on Friday, announcing plans to repair thousands more of the electric autos in a move that will add $1 billion in costs.

The recall will address two manufacturing defects that can be present in electric battery cells, leading to fires in "rare circumstances," GM said in a news release.

The latest moves adds to the $812 million in costs connected to the earlier recall of Bolt vehicles.

GM said it was pursuing reimbursement from the supplier, LG.

The automaker "discovered manufacturing defects in certain battery cells produced at LG manufacturing facilities beyond the Ochang, Korea plant," GM said.

"GM and LG are working to rectify the cause of these defects. In the meantime, GM is pursuing commitments from LG for reimbursement of this field action."

GM is now recalling additional Bolt vehicles from 2019 as well as those of the 2020-2022 model year after the July 23 announcement covered vehicles from the 2017-2019 period.

Friday's recall affects about 73,000 autos in the United States and Canada, a bit more than the 69,000 covered by the initial recall.

"Our focus on safety and doing the right thing for our customers guides every decision we make at GM," said Doug Parks, GM executive vice president. "As leaders in the transition to an all-electric future, we know that building and maintaining trust is critical."

GM reiterated safety steps for consumers as they await notification when replacement parts are ready. This includes adjusting vehicle settings to enable a maximum charge of 90 percent.

Shares of GM fell 2.2 percent to $47.73 in after-hours trading Friday. GM announced the move after the market closed.

GM to recall another 73,000 Chevy Bolt EVs over fire risks

American automaker General Motors said it will expand the recall of Chevy Bolt electric vehicles equipped with South Korean supplier LG's batteries over fire risks, which is expected to additionally cost about US$1 billion.

The latest recall covers 73,000 Bolt EVs and EUVs from model years 2019 through 2022 sold in the United States and Canada to replace the defective battery modules.

It is on top of about 69,000 Bolt EVs from 2017-2019 model years included in the previous recall in July over the same issue, which cost about $800 million.

"In rare circumstances, the batteries supplied to GM for these vehicles may have two manufacturing defects -- a torn anode tab and folded separator -- present in the same battery cell, which increases the risk of fire," GM said in a statement.

The recalls are a blow to GM's plan to go all-electric by 2035 and to LG Energy Solution, which is preparing to go public on the Seoul bourse later this year.

GM said it will pursue reimbursement from LG after further investigation, saying it has discovered manufacturing defects in certain battery cells beyond the Ochang plant in South Korea, reports Yonhap news agency.

LG Energy Solution operates a battery factory in Michigan, while its joint venture with GM, Ultium Cells, has been building another facility in Ohio, with plans to open another in Tennessee.

LG said it has been actively working with its client and partners to ensure that the recall measures are carried out smoothly.

LG Electronics has supplied GM with battery modules that are made with battery cells from LG Chem's wholly owned subsidiary, LG Energy Solution.

"The reserves and ratio of cost to the recall will be decided depending on the result of the joint investigation looking into the root cause, currently being held by GM, LG Electronics and LG Energy Solution," LG said referring to its subsidiaries.

Earlier this month, LG Electronics set aside 234.6 billion won as a provision expense for the Bolt EV recall, while LG Chem earmarked 91 billion won.

Kia India aims to sell 2 lakh units in domestic mkt in FY22;eyes 4 lakh cumulative sales by Jan 2022

Undeterred by COVID-led disruptions, Kia India aims to sell around 2 lakh units in the domestic market this fiscal, as it expects demand to remain strong with consumers opting for personal mobility options amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a senior company official. The South Korean automaker, which sells models like Seltos and Sonet in the domestic market, also aims to ship about 50,000 units to various global markets during the current financial year.

Last year, the company had sold 1,55,678 units in the domestic market and dispatched 40,440 units to various global markets.

"Our first priority right now is to overcome supply chain challenges... The first step is to come back to normal and achieve a target of two lakh units in the domestic market and about 50,000 units in exports so that we can hit the 2.5 lakh sales mark during the year (FY22). This is our short term goal," Kia India Vice-President and Head (Sales and Marketing) Hardeep Singh Brar told PTI in an interaction.

In the medium term, the company would like to hit the cumulative sales milestone of 4 lakh units by end of this year or early 2022, he added.

Kia has already become the fastest player in the Indian automotive industry to cross the 3 lakh cumulative sales mark in less than two years of commencing operations in the country. The company achieved the milestone last month.

Brar noted that pent-up demand plus shift towards personal mobility options due to COVID-19 is expected to drive the sales demand in the rest of the current financial year.

Counting on other positives, he added that people postponed exchanging their cars last year for new ones due to the pandemic and now with situation easing across states, the process is expected to commence once again thereby helping new car offtakes in the market.

"Supply chain challenge is the only negative we can think of at the moment," Brar said when asked about the issues which could derail the growth story.

He admitted that the company's production has been down by around 10 per cent currently due to semiconductor shortage but expressed hope that things would soon return to normalcy.

"By October, we should be running at the capacity we would like to run. Right now, we are doing between 15,000-17,000 units per month and we would be running around 18,000-20,000 units by the fourth quarter (calendar year)," Brar said.

When asked if the company has been able to kickstart a third shift at its Anantapur (Andhra Pradesh) based plant, he noted that the process would be initiated once supply chain issues were over.

"It may happen around the festive period... right now operating at a very low inventory level because whatever we are producing it is getting sold... October is festive period and probably our production by that time would be at the peak and we would be able to serve a much bigger set of customers," Brar stated.

He noted that both Seltos and Sonet currently have a waiting period of about four months.

Even premium MPV Carnival is having a waiting period now with decent demand in the market, Brar said.

On new product launches, he noted that some of the refreshes of the existing model range would be launched during the upcoming festive season.

"We are also planning for a new model next year," Brar said without divulging details.

He noted that the company is taking a lot of steps in order to maintain its position in the country.

"Customers love us and the waiting period on our products clearly shows that. We have strong loyal customers who wait to buy our products. There is a strong pull towards feature rich cars and we fulfill that need," he added.

The company is also expanding its sales network by blending physical outlets and digital reach in order to reach out to different sets of customers, Brar noted.

"We are covering about 200 cities as of now. The company has about 250 sales outlets and about 220 odd workshops, across the country" he added.

He added that the company has been able to book about 2,500 cars through Digi Connect, its digital sales initiative.

When asked about the safety aspect, he said that Kia cars were better than most products in the industry.

"We are fulfilling all the safety related requirements and are better than most players in the industry," Brar noted while adding that nothing much can be done in some cases of unsafe driving.

Asked if the company is also looking to hike vehicle prices to offset the impact of rising commodity prices, he noted that the automaker is evaluating the situation and would arrive on a decision in the next few weeks.

Luxury car makers stepping on gas on used car platforms

Call it the Maruti mantra. Luxury and premium car makers like Mercedes Benz, Audi, BMW, MG Motor and others are getting aggressive with their used car platforms as the pandemic pinches consumer budgets.

Like mass market brands, the luxe brigade is stepping on the gas to bring in first time buyers into the brand fold but at a lower price point. Car marketers say the contribution of the used business is now a sizeable 10-15% and companies are now pushing for a used-only network expansion spree as well.

Take Mercedes Benz India which typically sells over 2,000 pre-owned cars a year led by markets like Mumbai and Delhi. With a trade-in penetration of 10-12% this segment has become very important for the brand during the pandemic years.

Martin Schwenk, MD & CEO, Mercedes Benz India, said: "We are very bullish about our pre-owned car business and as part of scaling up we recently launched an innovative 'Marketplace', a direct-to-customer model with which we expect our pre-owned business to grow by 50% annually and increase online penetration to 30% of our total pre-owned business in 2022." Currently online comprises 20% of pre-owned sales for Mercedes Benz India.

Others like BMW, which sells between 1,400 and 1,700 units of used vehicles a year, are betting on service packages under its BMW Premium Selection used car vertical. All cars under this platform come with 24 month/40,000 km warranty Add ons like Joy rewards scheme offering 14-30% off on service cost and a 2-year roadside assistance are now de rigueur.

"Buying a pre-owned BMW vehicle allows the customers to enter the world of BMW and experience the product, customer service, sales and after sales which is an important decision making factor for customers looking at a new car purchase in the future," said a company spokesman. BMW has sold 663 units in the January-July period this year.

Used car marketers say that a large part of the uptick in used luxury cars is coming from replacement buyers. Ashutosh Pandey, CEO, Mahindra First Choice Wheels, said: "There is certainly an uptick in demand and most of the sales are happening from new car dealerships of the luxury brand since a significant section of the customers are replacement buyers."

Not surprisingly car companies are expanding their used business network. Take premium brand MG Motor which is looking to extend its MG Assure used business from 30% of its dealerships right now to 100% by next year, said MD Rajeev Chaba. "Already 10% of our business comes through the exchange programme, and we will increase this going ahead," he said.

Ditto for Audi India which is looking to double its pre-owned network. Balbir Singh Dhillon, head of Audi India, said: "We will take our Audi Approved Plus showrooms from 7 to 14 by this year-end which along with the 40 plus workshops countrywide will back up pre owned sales."

The used car business, he added, is particularly important now because "it gets first time buyers into the Audi fold and keeps the dealer network profitable."

Upcoming Tata Tigor EV to offer over 300-km range: Report

Tata Tigor EV will offer over 300 km mileage with a single charge, a Times of India report has claimed. To put it in perspective, Tata Nexon EV offers 312 km mileage as well.

The Tigor EV will be Tata Motor's second electric vehicle after Nexon and is likely to be launched this August 31.

Meanwhile, images of the car has surfaced online.

Like the Nexon EV, Tigor EV is also powered by a company's Ziptron electric module. However, the upcoming EV will have a smaller 26 kWh battery pack against Nexon EV's 30.2 kWh.

The company is expected to reveal key details during Tigor EV's launch.

The company has commenced the bookings for the electric sedan at select dealerships at Rs 21,000.

The Tigor EV has borrowed few design elements from its older sibling like blue inserts on brake calipers and grille, and signature tri-arrow shapes.

The Tigor EV delivers a peak power output of 55 kW and a peak torque of 170 Nm. It does 0 to 60 kmph in 5.7 seconds.

"The images surfaced on social media show the driver's display. According to the image, the Tigor EV can run 204 kilometers with 59% battery left. Effectively, this translates into 300+ kilometers on a fully charged battery," the ToI report added.

MG Motor to invest Rs 2,500 cr by 2022-end to ramp up Halol plant capacity

MG Motor India is investing Rs 2,500 crore by the end of next year to increase the production capacity at its Halol plant in Gujarat, as it gears up to launch its mid-size SUV Astor, according to a top company official. Despite the worsening semiconductor shortage situation, which is likely to continue for at least another six months, the company expects its sales this year to grow by up to 100 per cent over last year.

"We have done an investment of Rs 3,000 crore already, and by the end of next year, we will do another Rs 2,500 crore. We will reach a total of Rs 5,500 crore," MG Motor India President and Managing Director Rajeev Chaba told.

The investment will be for adding further capacity as the company prepares to meet demand of new models, including the mid-size SUV Astor, which is expected to hit the market around Diwali.

"Hopefully by quarter one next year, depending on materials supplies, we will start producing 7,000 units a month," he said, adding the company's current capacity is around 4,000-4,500 units a month.

At present, Chaba said the shortage of materials supply, especially that of semiconductors, has constrained production.

"Right now, with the kind of work crew and workforce we have, we can do 4,000-4,500 cars a month but unfortunately because of material shortages, 3,500 to 4,000 units a month is the real availability of the current portfolio," he said.

While the company can even produce up to 5,000 units a month had it not been for the supply constraints, he said, "When we add Aster to it (the product portfolio), we will (have to) increase the capacity."

In 2018, the company had announced plans to invest Rs 5,000 crore over a period of five to six years, with its Halol plant envisaged to have an annual production capacity of 80,000 to 1 lakh units in first phase and take it up to over 2 lakh units in the second phase.

On the semiconductor shortage issue, Chaba said, "It has deteriorated, it has gone worse. We were expecting it will improve... In my opinion, unfortunately it will continue for at least another six months."

Elaborating further he said due to the coronavirus pandemic there has been a spike in demand for semiconductors from almost every industry, including gaming, smart gadgets, laptops and mobile phones.

While the automotive industry accounts for only 10 per cent of semiconductor demand, 90 per cent goes into non-auto industry, he added.

As fabrication units for chips have a long gestation period, he said additional capacities will get added only next year, "because people who have taken the decision, let's say seven, eight months back, those factories will be up and running only next year".

Another factor that's hampering the supply chain, Chaba said, is "the logistics industry or the shipping industry where the situation has deteriorated a lot" due to freight capacity constraints.

When asked about the sales outlook for 2021, Chaba said, "sales are definitely improving over last year because last year a few months like March, April and May were a washout but there has not been a washout this year."

As an industry, he said, "we will expect 20 per cent growth over last year in 2021. As far as MG is concerned, we should do much more. We are targeting anywhere from 75 per cent to 100 per cent over last year despite the semiconductor shortage."

In 2020, MG Motor India had sold a total of 28,162 units, which included 25,834 units of Hector SUV, 1,243 units of ZS EV and 1,085 units of premium SUV Gloster.

Samsung launches Galaxy Z series foldable smartphones

Tech giant Samsung on Wednesday unveiled two premium smartphones - Galaxy Z Fold3 5G and Galaxy Z Flip3 5G, pricing them lower than the last year's lineup as it looks to provide more consumers access to the "unique foldable experience". The company, which competes with brands like Apple in the global market, has also launched new smartwatches and earbuds at its 'Galaxy Unpacked' event.

While Samsung has not announced the launch date of these products in the Indian market, sources said these devices are expected to be available in India from the second week of September.

"With Galaxy Z Fold3 and Z Flip3, Samsung is once again redefining the possibilities with foldable smartphones that empower users with the flexibility and versatility needed for today's fast-paced world," Samsung Electronics President and Head of Mobile Communications Business TM Roh said.

As a pioneer and industry leader in the foldable category, Samsung has further built on its legacy of innovation, he added.

In a statement, Samsung said it is "committed to giving more consumers access to the unique foldable experience".

"That's why we're offering both Galaxy Z devices at the best prices yet. We're offering Galaxy Z Fold3 at the lower price of USD 1,799.99, and Galaxy Z Flip3 for USD 999.99.

"Galaxy Bud2 will retail for USD 149.99, allowing more consumers to experience an immersive sound, with a comfortable all-day design, seamless connectivity and powerful features," it said.

The Galaxy Z Fold3 and Z Flip3 will be available for pre-order beginning August 11 and will launch on August 27 starting with select markets, including the US, Europe, and Korea.

The Z Fold3 features a 7.6-inch Infinity Flex display and includes the first-ever S Pen support on a foldable device.

Galaxy Watch4 and Galaxy Watch4 Classic are the first smartwatches to feature the new 'Wear OS' powered by Samsung, built jointly with Google.

The smartwatches - which are equipped with One UI Watch (Samsung's intuitive user interface) - have been completely redesigned to provide consumers with the best tools to manage their wellness.

"We have seen an incredible amount of growth for the Galaxy Watch series as consumers have discovered the health benefits and convenience of wearables. We understand the path to wellness is different for everyone, so we built a robust suite of health and wellness features to give people a deeper and more helpful understanding of their overall fitness," Roh said.

The company said Galaxy Watch4 is equipped with a new 3-in-1 BioActive Sensor that uses a single chip to precisely run three powerful health sensors - Optical Heart Rate, Electrical Heart and Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis - so that users can monitor their blood pressure, detect an AFib irregular heartbeat, measure their blood oxygen level, and calculate their body composition.

Galaxy Watch4 and Galaxy Watch4 Classic are available for pre-order in select markets starting on August 11, with retail availability starting August 27. Galaxy Watch4 will come in 40mm and 44mm sizes, starting at USD 249.99 for Bluetooth versions and USD 299.99 for LTE models.

Messaging platform WhatsApp is also introducing the ability to move the entire WhatsApp chat history - including voice notes, photos and conversations - in a seamless and secure way if users choose to switch mobile operating systems. The feature will be available to users of both Android and iOS systems - which means that people will be able to switch from both Android to iOS, and from iOS to Android.

The feature will start to roll out on Android initially, and on Samsung's newest Galaxy phones to start with.

In a separate statement, smartphone chipmaker Qualcomm Technologies, Inc said its flagship Snapdragon 888 5G Mobile Platform is powering Samsung's Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 and Galaxy Z Flip3 smartphones.

The Snapdragon 888, which powers both devices globally, packs industry-leading innovations in connectivity, AI, gaming, and photography to enable premium Android experiences for users, it added.

India TWS shipments up 68% YoY in 2Q21, boAt maintains lead: Counterpoint

India's True Wireless Stereo (TWS) market registered a 68% year-over-year growth in 2Q21 driven by new launches in the affordable price segment along with improved features, according to the latest data by market research firm Counterpoint's IoT Service.

Homegrown company boAt maintained its lead for the fourth successive quarter with a 426% year-over-year growth and 37% share of the total shipments.

Aggressive marketing, celebrity endorsements and 'value for money' offerings helped it maintain the dominating position in the market, Counterpoint said adding that inventory of its Airdopes 131 during Flipkart's Big Savings Day sale in Q2 was another driver for its growth.

OnePlus and Realme took second and third place in the market, with 12% and 10% share, respectively. The brands leveraged their existing smartphone user base to grow their presence in the TWS market.

The popularity of Buds Z has also helped OnePlus capture the second spot in the growing market while Realme maintained its position in the top 5 brands owing to affordable launches.

Noise move up one step to take the fourth spot in 2Q21 with a 117% year-over-year growth and 8% share.

"In the next quarter, we will see the entry of more brands (like Nothing Ear, Dizo and Micromax) across price tiers to grab a larger share of this untapped market. Some of the new entrants in Q2 2021 were Lava, Aiwa and TCL. Low-cost offerings have provided the necessary boost to this segment," said

Senior Research Analyst Anshika Jain.

Jain added that the share of the Rs 1,000-2,000 price band grew to 60% of the total shipments in 2Q21, compared to the same quarter last year.

Though the market's growth slowed in April due to Covid-19 restrictions, including on e-commerce platforms but the pent-up demand helped drive momentum in the next two months (May & June), Jain said.

"Players are looking to make these devices locally to reap the benefits of the government's PLI (Production-Linked Incentive) scheme," said Research Associate Anam Padha.

For instance, Padha added, Mivi is the second brand after pTron to launch a Made-in-India TWS product while boAT has also decided to shift its manufacturing base to India.

"The latest entrant, Aiwa, is also exploring a similar possibility, which indicates that more brands are likely to follow this path to offer new features at low price points," Padha said.

Need to rework capping of RoDTEP rates on mobile phones, PCBAs: Handset makers

Handset makers have said that there is a need to rework the capping of the Remission of Duties and Taxes on Export Products (RoDTEP) rates on mobile phones and PCBAs.

Centre has today notified RoDTEP Scheme Guidelines and Rates (Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products). The rate has been capped to Rs 24.5 per unit for smartphones and Rs 2.30 for PCBAs.

"The capping of the RoDTEP rates on mobile phones and PCBAs needs to be reworked. The condition of non-availability of RoDTEP for SEZs', EOUs', Advance Authorization Bond under Section 65 etc., is also not logical since these dispensations also suffer the unabsorbed indirect taxation on fuel, electricity etc," Pankaj Mohindroo, Chairman, ICEA told ET.

The India Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA) had previously proposed a RoDTEP rate of 2% on smartphones, 2.4% on feature phones, 2% on tablets/laptops, 3.4% on battery chargers and 1.48% on battery packs.
ICEA represents phone brands including Apple, Xiaomi, Motorola, Nokia, Lava, Vivo, Motorola, Oppo, Realme, Micromax and others besides contract manufacturers Foxconn, Wistron, Flextronics and Dixon.

The Merchandise Exports Incentive Scheme (MEIS), which offered 2-4% of free-on-board export value as duty credit scrips to handset and component exporters, expired on December 31.

RoDTEP, which replaced the erstwhile Merchandise Exports Incentive Scheme (MEIS) from January 1, 2021, is a WTO-consistent scheme which aims to reimburse the exporters Central and State taxes/duties/levies on electricity, fuel, transport, stamp duty, excise duty, power and other costs.

Mohindroo, however, said that the body is satisfied with the RoDTEP rates on laptops, tablets, desktops, keyboards, earphones, speakers and batteries with the current level of domestic value addition.

ICEA previously estimated that its proposed RoDTEP rates would deliver an annual incentive of close to Rs 120 crore, based on remission of big ticket items such as indirect taxes on transport and power, and embedded taxes on inputs.

RoDTEP in itself is not a stronger scheme than MEIS, which pushed up electronics exports by 85% in 2017. But, coupled with the production-linked incentive, RoDTEP can offset major disabilities in manufacturing compared to countries like China and Taiwan, he previously told ET.

iOS 15 will let users disable Night Mode on iPhones

Apple is introducing a new feature in iOS 15 where the iPhone users will be able to disable the Night Mode feature, and keep it off as they take snaps in the low-light conditions.

Apple introduced Night Mode to iOS in 2019 for low-light photography.

According to 9to5Mac, Night Mode isn't always the right mode and the iPhone excels at taking dark shots accented with light.

Currently, the moment iPhone detects that Night Mode should be used, the camera automatically enables it, and only then can you turn off Night Mode for that image or shooting session.

New, iOS 15 will have an option that effectively lets you disable Night Mode on the iPhone camera. Currently in beta, iOS 15 will be released for public next month.

To achieve this, you will need to go to Settings app, tap Camera section, tap Preserver Settings and turn on the toggle for Night Mode.

"Turning this setting on tells your camera to keep Night Mode off if you've disabled it for a shot," according to the report.

You can still use Night Mode when you need it by manually engaging it in the Camera app.

Motorola expects India business to grow at least in triple digits

Motorola on Tuesday said its focus on bringing innovative smartphones at different price points has helped the company log "profitable, hyper growth", and it aims to grow "at least in triple digits" in the Indian market over the coming quarters. Speaking with PTI, Motorola Executive Director (Asia-Pacific) Prashanth Mani said the pandemic has had varying impact on different industries.

"For the whole (smartphone) industry and specifically for Motorola and Lenovo, I think we have seen a lot of hyper growth to our business overall.

"Last quarter, we finished at 64 per cent revenue growth in Motorola globally and this has not just happened in one region or two, we have seen very high double-digit or triple-digit growth in all the geos across Motorola," he said.

In Latin America, Motorola had about 21.2 per cent market share - its highest ever.

Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and Asia-Pacific have registered five consecutive quarters of profitable growth. EMEA revenue grew 42 per cent year-on-year, while that from APAC was up 161 per cent y-o-y.

"In India, we've had three consecutive quarters of more than 300 per cent y-o-y growth. Last quarter, we had a 349 per cent growth in revenue, profitable growth.

"We've grown 235 per cent faster than the market, we call it premium to market that is a key metric for us," Mani said.

In volumes terms, the company saw 351 per cent y-o-y growth in the June 2021 quarter.

"We are seeing very strong performance across regions, across markets, specifically in India.

"Our aim is to grow at least in triple digits, and obviously, I think we are saying that the market is not going to grow at triple digits. So, we will be gaining shares every month, every quarter," Mani said.

He added that the company is focussed on growing much faster than the market and growing profitably.

Asked about factors that have helped Motorola register such strong growth, Mani said the company is focussed on "bringing in innovations which are at different price points", which is the fundamental core belief of Motorola.

Demand for smartphones and PCs have soared across the globe amid the pandemic as people embraced work and study from home.

The April-June quarter saw the Indian smartphone market clocking 86 per cent year-on-year growth to reach about 34 million units. Xiaomi led the market with a 29.2 per cent market share, followed by Samsung (16.3 per cent), Vivo (14.8 per cent), Realme (14.5 per cent) and Oppo (11.6 per cent) in the June 2021 quarter, as per data from research firm IDC.

Motorola, on Tuesday, also launched two new devices -- to strengthen its position in the mid-premium segment.

These Made-in-India additions to the 'edge' franchise feature sleek and premium designs, powerful processors, 108 MP cameras, 10-bit AMOLED displays, up-to 135G band support and innovation through the 'Ready for' software platform.

The 'edge 20 fusion' is priced Rs 21,499 onwards, while 'edge20' will be available for Rs 29,999. Both smartphones will be available in India later this month.

Apple disables SharePlay for use in iOS 15 developer beta

Apple has announced that its much-awaited feature SharePlay, that allows people to enjoy entertainment together at the same time and syncs everything across Apple devices, has been disabled for use in the developer beta version of upcoming iOS 15.

The company said in an update that SharePlay will be disabled in the next betas of iOS 15, iPadOS15, tvOS 15 and macOS Monterey.

"SharePlay will also be disabled for use in their initial releases this fall. SharePlay will be enabled for use again in future developer beta releases and will launch to the public in software updates later this fall," Apple informed.

With SharePlay, the users can share experiences while connecting with friends on FaceTime, including listening to songs together with Apple Music, watching a TV show or movie in sync, or sharing their screen to view apps together.

SharePlay will work across iPhone, iPad, and Mac, and with shared playback controls, anyone in a SharePlay session can play, pause, or jump ahead. SharePlay has also been extended to Apple TV.

"We're thrilled with the high level of enthusiasm we've seen from the developer community for SharePlay, and we can't wait to bring it to users so that they can experience your apps with their friends and family in a whole new way," Apple said.

This is the first major feature of iOS 15 to be pulled back from the launch release.

Realme launches GT 5G, GT Master Edition 5G priced Rs 25,999 onwards

Chinese smartphone maker Realme on Wednesday launched its Realme GT 5G series comprising the Realme GT 5G and Realme GT Master Edition 5G, priced Rs 25,999 onwards.

The Realme GT Master Edition 5G will be available in three variants -- 6GB RAM+128GB memory at Rs 25,999; 8GB RAM+128GB memory at Rs Rs 27,999; and 8GB RAM+256GB memory at Rs 29,999, in three colors -- Voyager Grey, Lunar White, and Cosmos Black.

Realme GT 5G will be available in two variants -- 8GB RAM+128GB memory at Rs 37,999 and 12GB RAM+512GB memory at Rs 41,999, in three colors -- Dashing Silver, Dashing Blue, and Racing Yellow.

Realme GT 5G is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G platform with Smart 5G feature that can switch from 4G to 5G. It also has dual-channel acceleration which keeps both Wi-Fi and 5G online simultaneously. It contains stainless steel vapor cooling as well.
It has a 6.43-inch Super AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate and 360Hz touch sampling rate.

The Realme GT 5G is powered by a 4500mAh battery with 65W SuperDart charging.

As far as cameras go, the smartphone houses a 64MP Sony triple camera that includes a 64MP primary camera, 8MP ultrawide lens, and a 2MP macro lens along with a Sony 16MP front camera.

It also has dynamic RAM Expansion (DRE) with 7 GB of expandable RAM which bumps up RAM to upto 19GB.

The Realme GT Master Edition 5G packs the Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G 5G chipset with Dynamic RAM Expansion of 5G, which effectively increases RAM capacity to upto 13GB.

It has a 6.43-inch Super AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate and 360Hz touch sampling rate.

The battery capacity is 4300mAh and supports 65W SuperDart fast charging.

The backside features a triple camera setup of a 64MP primary wide camera, an 8MP ultrawide camera, and a 2MP macro camera. Its selfie camera is 32MP in resolution and is housed in a punch hole at the top left corner.

The Realme GT 5G will go on sale on August 25 while the Realme GT Master Edition 5G will be up for grabs a day later, on August 26. Both devices will be available on, Flipkart, and mainline channels from 12 noon onwards.

Realme launches Book Slim laptop with 11th-gen Intel processors, starting at Rs 44,999

Chinese smartphone maker Realme Wednesday launched its first laptop, the Realme Book (Slim) with a 2K display, starting at Rs 44,999.

It will be available in two configurations -- with 11th-gen Intel Core i3 processor with 8GB RAM and 256GB memory at Rs 44,999 and with an 11th-gen Intel Core i5 processor with 8GB RAM and 512GB memory at Rs 56,999.

Realme Book (Slim) comes with a 14-inch screen with IPS technology and a 3:2 screen ratio with a resolution of 2160x1440 pixels that offers a claimed peak brightness of 400 nits.

The laptop comes with Intel Iris Xe Graphics in the Core i5 version while the Core i3 version utilizes Intel HD Graphics.

It measures 14.9 millimeters in thickness and weighs 1.38 kg. The laptop is encased in an aluminium alloy body design.

The laptop comes in two colors -- Real Grey and Real Blue.

It packs a 54Wh battery with support for 65W SuperDart fast charging.

Realme Book (Slim) comes with a Thunderbolt 4 port.

The device supports the new Wi-Fi 6 technology.

For entertainment needs, it packs 2 HARMAN speakers that support DTS HD stereo sound effects along with 2 microphones with Elevoc Vocplus AI Noise Cancellation Algorithms, Vocplus Pre-processing Technology, and Vocplus Scream Suppression Technology.

The Realme Book (Slim) has built-in HD camera as well.

"We are extremely excited to introduce the most important part of our '1+5+T' strategy, our first laptop - the realme Book (Slim)," said Madhav Sheth, Vice President, Realme and Chief Executive Officer, Realme India and Europe, adding that the company aims to address users' need of work and creativity with one device.

This is how much the Reliance-Google made 'JioPhone Next' may cost

Reliance is set to launch a low cost smartphone running Google's Android Go operating system on September 10. This smartphone is said to be super affordable and is primarily meant for those who cannot afford to buy regular Android handsets. India has at least 300 million 2G feature phone users and the JioPhone Next is expected to give these users an opportunity to use a smartphone and experience high-speed 4G internet connectivity.

Reliance Jio hasn't revealed much about the device. Also, there is no official information about the price of the phone. However, media reports claim that the JioPhone Next may cost Rs 3,500 in India. It will be a sub-$50 smartphone and it is estimated to be Rs 3,499. Having said that, Reliance Jio may also look at further incentivising the device through carrier deals and financing options.

The JioPhone Next will be powered by Google's Android Go operating system based on Android 11. With Android Go, users will get basic Android phone experience. While they will get access to Google's services, software updates, Google Assistant and ability to download apps from Google Play store, note that access to all apps will not be there. Due to hardware limitations, users may not be able to download popular games, streaming apps, etc. Having said that users will get access to all Go versions of popular Google apps. Low-end chipset, limited RAM and storage will prevent the JioPhone Next to be a full-fledged regular Android phone.

The JioPhone Next will most likely be powered by a low-end chipset from Qualcomm. As per the tweets by Rahman, the device may be powered by the Qualcomm QM215 platform. It features a 64-bit CPU and dual ISP support. The JioPhone Next will come with a single lens camera at the back with 13MP sensor along with an 8MP camera on the front for selfies. The default camera app will be Google Camera Go.

Optiemus Electronics to manufacture hearables for Noise in India

Homegrown connected lifestyle brand Noise Thursday said it has signed a partnership with Optiemus Electronics Limited (OEL), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Optiemus Infracom Limited for the local manufacturing of Noise products.

In the initial phase, OEL will design and manufacture hearable products for Noise at the latter's plants in Noida. The companies said it will also create job opportunities for the homegrown workforce.

Initially, Optiemus will produce Made in India TWS earbuds and Noise said it intends to launch about six new products in the next six months.

"Today, we are really excited to partner with Noise, India's leading and fastest-growing wearable brand... through this partnership; we are committed to delivering the best value to Noise in line with their business objectives," said A. Gururaj, MD, Optiemus Electronics Limited.

"We are delighted to share that Noise will be enhancing its production to offer Make in India products to the Noisemakers with our partnership with Optiemus Electronics... Our strategic partnership with Optiemus will help us expand our portfolio to deliver on the growing appetite for wearables in the country," added Gaurav Khatri, Co-founder at Noise.

As per IDC, Noise was the top smartwatch brand for the whole of 2020 and it was also the smartwatch segment leader in 1Q21 with a share of 26.7%, followed by boAt with a 21.9% share.

LG successfully demos 6G data transmission

LG Electronics on Thursday said it has successfully demonstrated 6G data transmission using the terahertz spectrum as the South Korean tech giant tries to move ahead in the next-generation communication technology.

LG succeeded in sending 6G terahertz wireless communication signals 100 meters in an outdoor environment in collaboration with Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, Europe's leading application-oriented research organisation, in Berlin last week.

LG said it developed a new power amplifier with Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft in order to deliver stable communication signals at the 6G terahertz spectrum.

The ultrawide band spectrum has a short frequency coverage range, while power losses in antenna transmitting and receiving processes are severe, demanding enhanced power amplifiers to solve such problems, reports Yonhap news agency.

LG said its new amplifier can deliver a maximum output signal of 15 decibel-milliwatts for stable communication in the 155-175 gigahertz band.

LG added it also developed adaptive beamforming and high-gain antenna switching technologies for the 6G terahertz wireless communication demonstration.

LG expects 6G communication to be commercialised in 2029, with talks for standardisation beginning in 2025.

The company believes the next-generation telecommunications network can provide faster data speed, lower latency and higher reliability than 5G, and will be able to bring the concept of Ambient Internet of Everything (AIoE), which provides enhanced connected experiences to users.

LG established a 6G research center with KAIST in 2019 and signed an agreement with the Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science last year to study 6G technologies.

In June, the company's principal researcher was elected the chair of the applications working group in the Next G Alliance, a North American mobile technology alliance for 6G solutions development.

Oppo, Jio partner to offer A15 3GB smartphone at Rs 9,991

Chinese smartphone maker Oppo Thursday said it is collaborating with India's Reliance Jio to offer Oppo A15 3GB model at a price of Rs 9,991, after price support of Rs 999.

As part of the collaboration, customers will be able to avail of no-cost EMI for upto 6 months as well as additional benefits worth Rs 7,000.

"These offers are available to all new and existing Jio users. While customers will have the option to buy the OPPO A15 3GB with or without Jio locking from mainline retail outlets to enjoy all the benefits under this program, customers need a Jio SIM card for both data and voice services," Oppo said in an official statement.

The smartphone otherwise retails for Rs 10,990 on both Amazon and Flipkart.

It comes with an AI triple camera set up, a 6.5-inch HD+ screen with a 3D curved design.

It comes in two color variants-- Dynamic Black and Mystery Blue and is powered by a 4230mAh battery. It runs an octa-core MediaTek Helio P35 processor and weighs 175 grams.

Global chip scramble boosts Applied Materials forecast above estimates

Applied Materials Inc on Thursday forecast sales for the current quarter above market estimates, thanks to demand for its semiconductor manufacturing tools from chipmakers rushing to add capacity amid a global shortage.

A pandemic-driven boom in sales of laptops, gaming consoles and personal vehicles has forced automakers to compete with the consumer electronics industry for scarce chip supplies, boosting orders for chip factory tools from Applied Materials.

Shares were mostly flat in after-hours trading.

The company said it expected current-quarter net sales of $6.33 billion, plus or minus $250 million, compared with analysts' estimates of $6.04 billion, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

It also reported a 41% rise in sales to $6.2 billion for the third quarter, ended Aug. 1.

Profits more than doubled to $1.72 billion, or $1.87 per share, in the quarter, from $841 million, or 91 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned $1.90 per share, beating analysts' average estimate of $1.77, according to Refinitiv data.

The company's semiconductor systems business, which contains most of its tool sales, had sales of $4.45 billion, the highest ever for the segment and above analyst estimates of $4.27 billion, according to data from FactSet. Applied said that only about half of the revenue for computing chip tools came from equipment used for leading-edge chips. The rest came from tools that were once considered legacy tools used to make older styles of chips.

But in recent years those tools have found new life making sensors and radio chips that help connect devices to wireless networks. Everyday things from stop lights to factory machines are now being connected to data centers, where their performance is analyzed and optimized.

"This is a massive transformation of every industry that's going to happen. Semiconductors are at the foundation of that," Chief Executive Gary Dickerson told Reuters in an interview.

Intel unveils its biggest shift in chip architecture in a generation

Chip-maker Intel has unveiled its biggest architectural shifts in a generation for CPUs, GPUs and IPUs to meet the crushing demand for more compute performance.

At its 'Architecture Day 2021', Intel set the stage for new generations of leadership products.

During the event, Intel architects provided details on two new x86 central processing unit architectures -- first performance hybrid architecture and Intel Thread Director; Intel's next-generation data center processors; infrastructure processing unit architectures; and upcoming graphics architectures.

"Today, we unveiled our biggest shifts in Intel architectures in a generation. This includes the first in-depth look at Alder Lake, our first performance hybrid architecture with two new generations of x86 cores and the intelligent Intel Thread Director workload scheduler; Sapphire Rapids, Intel's new standard-setting data center architecture," said Raja Koduri, SVP, General Manager, Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics Group at Intel.

"These architectural breakthroughs set the stage for our next era of leadership products, starting soon with Alder Lake," he added.

Koduri said that the highly scalable x86 microarchitecture addresses compute requirements across the entire spectrum of customer's needs, from low-power mobile applications to many-core microservices.

"Compared with Skylake, Intel's most prolific CPU microarchitecture, the Efficient-core delivers 40 per cent more single-threaded performance at the same power, or the same performance while consuming less than 40 per cent of the power," he informed.

Looking ahead, the world faces a massive demand for compute - potentially a 1,000x need by 2025.

"We face daunting compute challenges that can only be solved through revolutionary architectures and platforms

Our talented architects and engineers made possible all this technology magic," said Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger.

Vivo unveils Y21 with 5000mAh battery at Rs 15,490

Global smartphone brand Vivo on Friday launched a new phone, Y21, that is now available across online and offline channels at Rs 15,490.

The smartphone comes with 4GB+128GB storage (expandable upto 1TB). It also offers Extended RAM 2.0, which makes use of up to 1GB idle ROM space. The 4GB+64GB variant will also be available soon.

"Y21 with its trendy design and latest features will compliment our Y series portfolio. With the launch of Y21, it becomes the slimmest 5000mAh smartphone in the segment," Nipun Marya, Director- Brand Strategy, Vivo India, said in a statement.

"It has been designed for our young Gen-Z consumers in India who want an all-rounder smartphone that caters to the need of their fast-paced lifestyle," Marya added.

The smartphone sports a 6.51-inch HD+ Halo Full View Display with in-cell technology for an immersive viewing experience. The smartphone offers a large 5000mAh battery along with 18W Fast Charge capability.

The device features a 13MP primary sensor and 2MP super macro camera. It is also supported by a wide range of features, including Personalized Portrait Mode, Super HDR, Face Beauty, Filters, and Bokeh providing a delightful photography experience.

On the front, the device boasts an 8MP selfie camera with AI beautification mode.

Users can enjoy the daily dose of entertainment with MediaTek Helio P35 Processor, memory capacity of 128GB ROM and FunTouch OS 11.1 based on Android 11.

Multi Turbo 5.0 enhances data connection, system processor speed and power-saving performance to a whole new level even after prolonged usage.

The new vivo Y21 is available in two dazzling colour options -- Midnight Blue and Diamond Glow -- across vivo India E-store, Amazon, Flipkart, Paytm, Tatacliq, Bajaj Finserv EMI Store and across all partner retail stores.

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Apple seeks up to 20% increase in new iPhone production for 2021

Apple Inc has asked suppliers to build as many as 90 million next-generation iPhones this year, a sharp increase from its 2020 iPhone shipments, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The Cupertino, California-based tech giant has maintained a consistent level in recent years of roughly 75 million units for the initial run from a device's launch through the end of the year. The upgraded forecast for 2021 would suggest the company anticipates its first iPhone launch since the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines will unlock additional demand. The next iPhones will be Apple's second with 5G, a key enticement pushing users to upgrade.

This year's update will be more incremental than last year's iPhone 12, emphasizing processor, camera and display improvements, the people said, asking not to be named as the plans are not public. Apple is planning updates to all of the current models, spanning the 5.4-inch and 6.1-inch regular versions and the 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch Pro models. The phones, codenamed D16, D17, D63, and D64, are all expected to be announced in September, earlier than last year's October introduction partly thanks to the supply chain recovering.

At least one of the new versions will have an LTPO (low-temperature polycrystalline oxide) display capable of alternating its refresh rate based on the content being shown.

Samsung chooses FY21 as first year to avail 6% PLI incentives

Samsung Electronics, the only company to achieve production target for the handset production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme, has chosen FY20-21 as its first year to avail the 6% incentive, a person familiar with the matter said.

"Samsung will take its incentives for the first year - FY20-21. It did all the hard work and met its targets," the person said.

The choice means that while the rest 15 manufacturers including iPhone makers Foxconn, Wistron etc. will produce incremental goods worth Rs 4000 crore in the current fiscal which started on April 1, Samsung will need to manufacture double of that in a year marred by the Covid second wave and an anticipated third wave, to avail of the second year's incentives, say industry experts.

Samsung didn't respond to ET's emailed query.

"Samsung had a quick ramp up last year because of its already installed capacity in their Noida factory and larger dependency on Korea rather than China for its supply chain, which is why they were able to achieve the targets while everyone else lagged behind," said an industry expert who did not wish to be named.

"But in the current year when India was facing a destructive second wave, their factory was working on 50-60% capacity due to the disruptions as well as falling market demand. With another spurt of Covid infections predicted in the fourth quarter, producing an additional Rs 8000 crore worth of goods may be challenging for the company," he added.

The South Korean electronics maker clocked in revenue of Rs 70,628 crore in FY19-20, of which close to 70% came from the mobile phone segment, according to business intelligence firm Tofler.

As per the scheme guidelines, Samsung, having met the Rs4,000 crore production target for the first year, must produce mobile phones worth Rs 8000 crore in the second year over and above their base year (FY19-20) revenues in the above $200 price category, to avail of the second-year incentives of 6% cashbacks.

"In the first year of the scheme, Samsung had started manufacturing high value phones locally while outsourcing the production of lower segment phones via EMS (electronics manufacturing services) players," a smartphone market research analyst said. "We believe it will continue the same strategy going forward, but, it must be kept in mind that demand for above $200 phones in India is limited and they may have to rely on higher exports for meeting targets."

In a relief to the handset manufacturing industry at large, the government earlier this month decided to extend the timeline for PLI scheme by one year while accepting FY20-21 as zero year for companies to make fresh investments and expand manufacturing capacity amid Covid-related difficulties.

But Samsung, being the only producer to qualify the targets, has chosen to stick to the original timeline to avail the crucial 6% incentive.

"It was a wise decision because you can't let go of incentives for already produced output over uncertainties of the future," the person quoted above said.

The ambitious Rs41,000 crore handset PLI scheme-which entails incentives in the form of cash payouts based on investment and targeted increments in production--is aimed at making India a more attractive manufacturing destination and weaning companies away from bases such as China and Vietnam. The Centre is looking to make the country a global manufacturing hub with an export target for phones worth $100 billion over the next five years.

The PLI offers graded incentives of 6% of incremental sales of goods achieved over base year for the first two years each, 5% for the third and fourth year and 4% for the fifth year. To qualify for these, global companies must produce incremental goods worth Rs 4,000 crore, Rs 8,000 crore, Rs 15,000 crore, Rs 25,000 crore and Rs 50,000 crore in five successive years.

Realme X7 Pro starts receiving Android 11 update in India

Smartphone maker Realme is busy rolling out Android 11 updates for its smartphones. Last week the company rolled out Android 11 update for its C-series smartphone and now it is updating the mid-range X-series smartphone.

The company has started rolling out Android 11 update for its Realme X7 Pro smartphone. With the latest Android update, the smartphone also receives Realme UI 2.0 update.

Realme said that in order to ensure the stability of this update is being rolled out in a staged manner. The update will be randomly pushed out to a limited number of users today and will have a broader rollout in a few days after making sure there are no critical bugs.

The update comes with version number RMX2121_11.C.03 and Realme advises the users to charge the smartphone completely before downloading the update.

With Android 11 update, Realme X7 Pro users will be able to experience features like default screen recorder, better media controller, native smart home control, one-time permission to apps, security fixes via Google Play and others.

Here's the complete changelog of the update

• Personalise the user interface to make it your own
• You can now create your own wallpaper by picking colours from your photos.
• Third-party icons for apps on the home screen are now supported.
• Three Dark mode styles are available: Enhanced, medium and gentle; wallpapers and icons can be adjusted to Dark mode, and the display contrast can be adjusted automatically to ambient light.

High Efficiency
• You can now drag text, images or files out of a floating window or from one app to another app in Split-screen mode.
• Optimised the editing page of Smart Sidebar: Two tabs are displayed and the order of items can be customised.

• Added "Tone tunes": Consecutive notification tones will be linked to form a single melody.
• You can now determine a time period when Do Not Disturb is on.
• Added weather animations to provide you with a more interesting experience.
• Optimised vibration effects for text input and gameplay.
• Optimised "Auto brightness".

• You can now remove a folder or combine it with another one.
• Added filters for "Drawer mode": You can now filter apps by name, install time or usage frequency to find an app more quickly.

Security and Privacy
• You can now turn "App lock" on or off in Quick Settings.
• More powerful SOS functions
• Emergency info: You can quickly display your personal emergency info to first responders. The information can be shown even when your screen is locked.
• Optimised "Permission manager": You can now choose "Allow only once" for sensitive permissions to better protect your privacy.

• Added Immersive mode which reduces disturbances while gaming so you can stay focused.
• You can change the Game Assistant call-up method.

• You can share your personal hotspot with others via a QR code.

• Added the Cloud Sync for Private Safe feature which allows you to sync the photos in your Private Safe to the cloud.
• Optimised the photo editing feature with upgraded algorithms and more markup effects and filters.

HeyTap Cloud
• You can back up your photos, documents, system settings, WeChat data and more, and easily migrate to a new phone.
• You can select the types of data to be backed up or restored.
• You can create multiple backups for your phone.

• Added the inertial zoom feature which makes zooming smoother during video shooting.
• Added the level and grid feature to help you compose videos.

• Added "Sound amplifier": You can amplify faint sounds and soften loud sounds when wearing earphones.

Apple may make more units of iPhone 13 than any other iPhone

Cupertino-based tech giant Apple is expected to launch its next-generation iPhone 13 in September this year. Now a new online report suggests that the company is looking at boosting the initial production of iPhone 13 models.

According to a report by Bloomberg, Apple is asking its suppliers to speed up the production for this year's iPhone 13 models. As per the report, by the end of this year, Apple expects to ship 90 million units of the iPhone 13.

Apple's big 'bet' on iPhone 13
The report reveals that usually, Apple orders 75 million units for the new iPhone for its launch period, which runs from September till the end of this year. However, this year the company is planning to increase the production by 20%.

As per Bloomberg, Apple believes that the iPhone models this year will witness stronger sales as the Covid-19 vaccination drive is in progress across the globe. Also, this will be the second iPhone to support 5G network, which will push the users to upgrade.

What to expect from iPhone 13
The Bloomberg report also revealed some details about the upcoming iPhone series. The report added that the iPhone 13 model will have the same size as the current generation ranging from 5.4-inch to 6.7-inch.

Apple is also said to introduce two entry-level models and two advanced models. Bloomberg also reported that at least one iPhone this year will come with an LTPO display, which is designed to offer a variable refresh rate.

Rumours suggest that the display of the iPhone 13 Pro model will offer a 120Hz refresh rate. The company is not said to experiment a lot with the design and the iPhone 13 models will come with a pretty much similar design.

The report also mentions that the upcoming iPhone models will come with updated cameras which will include optical zoom and new video recording functionalities. Apple is also said to be testing iPhone models without a notch and with Touch ID under the screen, but these features will not be included in this year's lineup.

Oppo India R&D team worked on Reno6 Series 5G devices as per operators' needs: Company official

Smartphone maker Oppo India on Wednesday said its R&D in India has contributed to the development of Reno6 Series 5G smartphones to meet the telecom operators requirement. On the sidelines of the launch of Reno6 Pro 5G and Reno6 5G smartphones, Oppo India Vice-President and Head (Research and Development) Tasleem Arif said 5G is a revolutionary technology that is speeding up the advent of digitisation with a shift across industries, and Oppo wants to be a part of this important revolution.

"Innovating for advance 5G technology is a key focus area for us. Aligned with this strategy and our move to make our users future-ready, both Reno6 devices are 5G-enabled.

"Our India R&D team has worked relentlessly on validating Reno6 Series 5G devices as per the operator needs including performing interoperability and compliance tests," Arif said.

In India, the government has allocated three spectrum bands for 5G trials to Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and MTNL, while there is a proposal to add higher frequency bands when the 5G services are commercially rolled out in India.

"Reno6 Series is a true 5G smartphone with Reno6 Pro supporting 11 5G bands and Reno6 supporting 13 5G bands," Arif said.

The company unveiled Reno6 Pro 5G with 12 gb RAM and 256 gb internal memory priced at Rs 39,990, and Reno6 5G with 8GB RAM and 128 gb internal memory priced at Rs 29,990.

Oppo India Chief Marketing Officer Damyant Singh Khanoria said the company started the first quarter of 2021 with 35 per cent year-on-year growth.

"By democraticising 5G technology across price segments, we continue to build our legacy," Khanoria said.

Oppo will sell Reno6 Pro 5G on Flipkart and across all mainline retailers, while Reno6 5G will be only available on Flipkart from July 20.

Mini LED display coming to 11-inch iPad Pro next year

People who like moderately large iPads have a reason to rejoice as the 11-inch iPad Pro might be getting a mini-LED display next year.

Apple is planning to add a Mini LED screen to the 11-inch iPad Pro in 2022, following the introduction of the technology on this year's 12.9-inch model, according to a research note by analyst Ming-chi Kuo, reported The Verge.

Apple released new versions of the 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro this year, both featuring M1 processors but only the larger model including a Mini LED display.

Mini LED is a new screen technology that involves using thousands of tiny LEDs to create focused local dimming zones, allowing for better contrast and HDR performance. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro has 2,500 local dimming zones.

Kuo also said that Apple is planning to bring Mini LED screens to the MacBook line. 14-inch and 16-inch Mini LED models are reportedly going into production this quarter, while Kuo believes a redesigned MacBook Air with the display technology will be released in 2022.

Mini LED technology was reported to have been the cause of supply constraints for the new iPad Pro before it launched earlier this year.

The device still isn't readily in stock, with Apple estimating shipping times of between two to three weeks for most models on its US website.

Zenfone 8 likely to come in India soon as ASUS 8Z: Report

Taiwanese tech giant ASUS is likely to launch its Zenfone 8 smartphone in India soon as ASUS 8Z.

The company has confirmed via a tweet by Dinesh Sharma, Business Head, Commercial PC and Smartphone, ASUS India that the sleek Zenfone 8 smartphone will be launched in India soon.

The tweet didn't reveal the exact date the product will be launched but it states that it is coming soon, GizmoChina reported.

The Zenfone 8 was launched alongside the ZenFone 8 Flip in Europe this year in May.

The Zenfone 8 was later launched in the US not too long ago. The company has not talked about the India launch until now but ASUS India's head did disclose that the smartphone will be released in the country, the report said.

The delay is likely due to the Covid-19 pandemic that gripped India around the period it was launched in Europe.

Considering the court order issued over a trademark dispute about the use of the 'Zen' or 'ZenFone' moniker, the Zenfone 8 will be launched in India as ASUS 8Z.

The device was spotted on Google's website under the ASUS 8Z moniker.

The Zenfone 8 features a 5.92-inch AMOLED screen with a punch hole at the top left corner and FHD+ resolution.

The display has a 120Hz refresh rate, a Pixelworks chip, HDR10+ and is protected by Corning's Gorilla Glass Victus. Powering the device is a Snapdragon 888 processor paired with LPDDR5 RAM and UFS 3.1 storage.

The compact flagship sports a dual-camera setup at the rear of which the main camera is a 64MP Sony IMX686 sensor teaming up with a 12MP ultrawide angle camera that can also shoot macro pictures. For selfies, there is a 12MP Sony IMX363 camera.

The Zenfone 8 packs a 4000mAh battery with support for 30W fast charging.

Huami to unveil new OS, chip for smartwatches on July 13

Wearable brand Huami, which owns the Amazfit and Zepp, is reportedly developing a new operating system and new chipset for its smartwatches.

The company will be announcing its new those at the event dubbed "The Future of Health" on July 13, GizmoChina reported.

A Weibo post by Huang Wang, the founder, and CEO of Huami Technology, revealed that its new self-developed operating system is better suited for watches and can better take advantage of the health features present in wearables.

The CEO also shared a video of what appears to be a redesigned interface for heart rate measurement.

It's unclear if the operating system is still based on RTOS or it is entirely new from scratch. However, one feature is a dynamic watch face.

The Chinese leaker who has had hands-on experience with the new operating system praises the UI and user experience.

More details about its upcoming Huangshan chipset were also revealed.

According to Huang, the new processor, which should launch as the Huangshan 2S, will have an independent GPU.

It will be a dual-core chipset based on the RISC-V architecture, and it will not only be more powerful but also have lower power consumption.

Nothing ear 1 to cost Rs 5,999 on Flipkart in India

Consumer tech brand Nothing on Monday said that its first true wireless earbuds -- Nothing ear (1) -- will cost Rs 5,999 in India, as the wireless hearable market goes through a transformation in the country.

Available on Flipkart after its official launch globally on July 27, Nothing ear (1) features state-of-the-art Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) which uses three high definition mics to bring music, films and podcasts into sharp focus.

The London-based brand, headed by OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei, earlier announced the global price of the earbuds at 99 pounds.

"India is an important market for Nothing and and in partnership with Flipkart, we look forward to introducing ear (1) to Indian users at the same time as our global launch," said Manu Sharma, Vice President and General Manager, Nothing India.

"Starting with ear (1), our products will be uniquely designed and easy to use. Above all, they will be devices we are proud to use ourselves and recommend to our friends and family," he said in a statement.

According to the company, the true wireless earbuds will combine raw beauty and precise engineering for a pure sound experience.

"We believe the earphones market is begging for differentiation, space where we can elevate design and deliver value from day one," according to Sharma.

The company had said that Flipkart will play an integral role in building Nothing's presence in India and launching its highly-anticipated true wireless earbuds.

The earbuds will combine notes of transparency, iconic form and refined functionality.

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Stellantis: Most models to have electric versions by 2025

Stellantis is a little late to the global electric vehicle party, but on Thursday it pledged to catch up and pass its competitors. CEO Carlos Tavares says that by 2025, 98 per cent of its models in Europe and North America will have electric versions. He says the company that combined Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot is developing four electric vehicle platforms with ranges from 500 kilometers (311 miles) to 800 kilometers (497 miles).

The models include a fully electric Ram pickup and Jeep Grand Cherokee, as well as small cars. There even will be an electric Dodge muscle car.

The company says it will use its electric commercial vehicle expertise from Europe to build EV models worldwide.

Tavares says Stellantis will spend no less than 30 billion euros (USD 35.6 billion) over the next five years on EVs. It will build five battery factories in the U.S. and Europe.

Stellantis says the Opel brand will go fully electric in Europe by 2028, with 100per cent of its vehicles in China being electric. It will bring back the Manta sports car with a fully electric version by the middle of the decade.

The company is unveiling its electric vehicle plans with a trans-Atlantic webcast on Thursday.

Tesla sold 33,155 China-made vehicles in June -CPCA

U.S. electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc sold 33,155 China-made vehicles, including those for export, in June, China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) said on Thursday.

Tesla, which is making Model 3 sedans and Model Y sport-utility vehicles in Shanghai, sold 28,138 China-made cars in China and exported 5,017 cars in June.

In May, Tesla sold 33,463 China-made cars.

On Thursday, Tesla launched Model Y cars with a standard driving range in China, lowering the starting price for the vehicle to 276,000 yuan ($42,588) in the world's biggest auto market.

BYD sold 40,532 so-called new energy vehicles, which include battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, last month in China. General Motors Co's venture with SAIC Motor sold 30,479 such cars.

CPCA also said China sold 1.6 million passenger cars in June, down 5.3% from a year earlier.

Jeep unveils the 2022 Electrified Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe

Netherlands headquartered automaker Stellantis marking the celebration of its EV Day 2021, on Thursday revealed the first images of its all-new 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe plug-in hybrid under its Jeep brand.

The fifth generation of the Grand Cherokee, which has sold more than 7 million units worldwide over the past 30 years, will be unveiled at the 2021 New York International Auto Show. This will include the entire Grand Cherokee lineup, the automaker said in a media release.

Further adding to the announcement Stellantis said that in a year when the Jeep brand celebrates 80 years of achievements and innovations, the introduction of the Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe is another step toward expanding electrification and strengthening the Jeep brand's vision of zero-emission, 100 per cent freedom.

Mexico, U.S. agree GM Silao union vote will be held by Aug 20

The United States and Mexico on Thursday agreed that a new union vote will be held at the General Motors Silao plant by Aug. 20, the U.S. Trade Representative's Office (USTR) said.

USTR said Mexico has agreed to a number of safeguards before the vote, including having Mexican federal inspectors and impartial international observers from the International Labor Organization at the facility ahead of the vote.

Mexico said in May that it would review labor practices at the GM plant in central Mexico after a formal complaint from USTR.

German region to fine Tesla for illegal construction

A German regional authority said it was preparing to fine Tesla for illegal building activity on the site of its planned new car factory near Berlin.

The environment ministry for Brandenburg, the state that surrounds Berlin and in which the factory will be located, had found that Tesla had constructed tanks on the territory for which it had no authorization, wrote Tagesspiegel newspaper, which first reported the fine.

The company was banned from using the tanks it had already built, the newspaper added.

Tesla was not immediately available for comment.

Elon Musk's China battery partner is now richer than Jack Ma

Zeng Yuqun, the founder of the world's biggest electric-vehicle battery maker, has overtaken Jack Ma in the wealth rankings, a symbolic moment in the rise of China's green billionaires.

Zeng's net worth has jumped to $49.5 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, as shares of Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd surged this year. That exceeds Alibaba Group Holding Ltd co-founder Ma's wealth of $48.1 billion and makes Zeng one of the five richest people in Asia for the first time.

It's the latest sign of how a new generation of tycoons in China is amassing vast fortunes in the clean-energy boom. Investors have pushed up stocks such as CATL, a key supplier to Tesla Inc, as the country leads the market for electric-vehicle sales and pursues an ambitious policy of reaching carbon neutrality in 2060.

"The billionaire ranking used to be dominated by real estate tycoons and later tech entrepreneurs, and now we are seeing more from the new energy sector," said Hao Gao, director of Tsinghua University's NIFR Global Family Business Research Center. "As the industry leader for electric-vehicle batteries, CATL will benefit most from the carbon emission goal."

A spokeswoman for CATL declined to comment on Zeng's net worth.

Zeng, 53, who hails from a hillside village in Fujian province in southeast China, built CATL into a battery juggernaut in less than a decade, creating the largest global producer of rechargeable cells for plug-in vehicles.

Global electric-vehicle battery sales more than doubled in the first five months of this year from a year earlier, with CATL accounting for 31.2% of the market, the largest share, according to an SNE Research report. New-energy vehicle retail sales in China rose 9.8% in 2020 to 1.11 million units, according to the China Passenger Car Association.

BloombergNEF expects the company's global sales growth to continue, benefiting from economies of scale, a cost-competitive upstream supply chain and an established client base.

CATL's stock has surged more than 20-fold since the company went public in Shenzhen in 2018. It's up 59% this year alone as demand for EVs increases, countries work to reduce carbon emissions and costs tumble.

CATL trades at more than 100 times estimated earnings, compared with about 13 times for competitor Panasonic Corp.

China Tesla Supplier Surpasses Financial Giants in Size: Chart

In addition to Tesla, CATL counts BMW AG and Volkswagen AG among its customers. In an interview last year, Zeng said he and Tesla chief executive Officer Elon Musk text about technology, Covid-19 and Musk's main interest: cheaper batteries and cars.

Zeng, who earned a doctorate in condensed matter physics from the Chinese Academy of Science in Beijing, isn't the only billionaire who's benefiting from the surge in CATL's stock. Huang Shilin, a vice chairman of the company, is worth more than $21 billion, while Li Ping, who's also a vice chairman, has an $8.5 billion fortune.

As Zeng's star rises, Ma's has been on the wane. The value of Ma's fintech arm Ant Group Co has plummeted since the former English teacher openly pushed back against Beijing, prompting Chinese authorities to quash the company's plans for a huge initial public offering. Ma, 56, has all but dropped from public view, and has lost $2.5 billion in wealth this year.

Volkswagen to appeal Italian court decision on class action over Dieselgate

Volkswagen said on Thursday it would appeal against a decision by an Italian court ordering the German group to refund consumers participating in a class action lawsuit over the carmaker's rigging of diesel emissions tests.

Italian consumer group Altroconsumo said a court ordered Volkswagen to pay 3,300 euros ($3,900), plus interest, to each of the more than 63,000 consumers who joined the class action, for a total amount of over 200 million euros ($236 million).

Altroconsumo said Volkswagen was found liable for an unfair commercial practice after installing banned software on EA189 engines in order to lower NOx (nitrogen oxide) emissions during tests.

A spokesperson for Volkswagen said the German automaker considered Altroconsumo's class action inadmissible and that its allegations were without merit.

"Volkswagen will seek to have the judgement overturned by the second instance court in Venice", the spokesperson told Reuters in an emailed statement.

"Class members have not suffered any economic loss because of the NOx issue since all vehicles are technically safe and roadworthy, and no loss in their trade value resulted in the Italian market because of the NOx issue", the person added.

Altroconsumo started legal action against Volkswagen in 2017, together with its sister organisations in Belgium (Test Aankoop/Test Achats), Spain (OCU) and Portugal (Deco), as part of a Euroconsumers coordinated class action.

Volvo Car reports 52 % increase in half-yearly retail sales in India

New Delhi: Volvo Car India on Friday said its retail sales have increased by 52 per cent in the first half of the year at 713 units as compared with the same period of last year. The Swedish luxury carmaker had retailed 469 cars in the January-June period of 2020.

Volvo's mid-size luxury SUV XC60 contributed the most, being the highest selling model in the first half of the year, the automaker said in a statement.

The company is confident and positive about a much stronger growth in the remaining part of the year as it has already announced the launch of its first full-electric SUV XC40 Recharge in the country later this year, it added.

Besides, the company plans to introduce the petrol variants of its premium sedan S90 and XC60 in the second half of 2021.

"A 52 per cent growth in the high-end luxury mobility during a highly depressed consumer sentiment phase and major covid restrictions in the marketplace shows the confidence that the Indian consumer has in Brand Volvo," Volvo Car India Managing Director said.

Despite uncertain conditions, it has been a good first half giving the company a strong base as it moves forward in the year and brings new products for consumers, he added.

Volvo established its presence in India in 2007 and currently markets its products through 25 dealerships.

Volkswagen posts H1 operating profit of $13 billion

New Delhi: Volkswagen first-half operating profit is expected to come in at around 11 billion euros ($13 billion), it said on Friday, even surpassing pre-pandemic levels on the back of strong demand in Europe and the United States.

The good result was driven in particular by demand for premium brands Porsche and Audi as well as the group's financial services arm, Volkswagen said. The Chinese market was slightly weaker in the period, it said, without specifying.

In the same period last year, Volkswagen posted an operating loss of 1.49 billion euros, burdened by the impact of the coronavirus crisis. In 2019, that result stood at around 9 billion.

Along with rivals, Volkswagen has also been hit by a global shortage of crucial semiconductors, and Europe's largest carmaker said it now expected the main impact of the bottleneck to occur in the second half of the year.

Reported automotive net cash flow is expected to reach around 10 billion euros in the first six months, according to preliminary figures, up from the 5.57 billion in 2019 and the negative 4.8 billion last year.

Volkswagen is scheduled to publish second-quarter results on July 29.

EV maker Nio to have 4,000 battery swapping stations globally in 2025

Chinese electric vehicle maker Nio Inc plans to have 4,000 battery swapping stations globally in 2025, its president Qin Lihong said on Friday.

The company, which makes premium electric cars, aims to have 700 battery swapping stations by the end of this year. A battery swapping station allows drivers to change the battery in their cars to power the rides.

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