BSNL Rs 47, Rs 198 STVs revamped to offer more data to users: Report

BSNL seems to be trying its best to stay relevant in the telecom race, where it’s definitely not easy to go head to head against the likes of Vodafone-idea, Jio and Airtel. The state-run telco has reportedly refreshed its Rs 47 and Rs 198 Special Tariff Vouchers to offer more data to its user. TelecomTalk claims that with the Rs 198 recharge, BSNL users will now get to avail additional data benefits, while the Rs 47 plan previously offered only voice benefits, it now offers some data as well. Additionally, the validity of the Rs 198 plan has also been extended. 

As per the report, BSNL’s Rs 198 STV recharge will now credit 2GB data per day to a customer’s account. This plan should now be valid for 54 days. The same plan previously offered 1.5GB data that had a validity of 28 days. After the revamp, users will get to avail 108GB of cumulative data instead of just 42GB. Coming to the Rs 47 plan, BSNL is said to now offer 1GB data with the plan, along with unlimited calling for 9 days. As mentioned, this pack previously came with only voice benefits and no data. The Rs 47 pack is said to be all circles, except Mumbai and Delhi. 

BSNL recently refreshed its STV 35 recharge to offer more data and also revised the Rs 53 and Rs 395 prepaid data vouchers. The Rs 35 STV voucher is said to now offer 5GB data for 5 days, instead of 200MB of data for the same time period. As for the Rs 53 data voucher, users will get to avail 8GB data for 14 days instead of just 250MB for 21 days. The Rs 395 prepaid data voucher now features unlimited voice calling, along with 2GB daily data. Post exhaustion of data, the internet speed will be capped at 80kbps. 

Huawei lists eight phones that will get Android Q update

Following Google’s official Android Q announcement at its annual Google I/O conference, its partner companies have started to reveal which phones would get the stable iteration of the next OS. Huawei is one of those partners and it has announced a list of eight phones that will get the Android Q later this year. Reportedly, this is the first batch of Huawei phones that will receive the update, which means that more phones could be added to this list later.

The phones that will get the Android Q stable update are: Huawei Mate 20, Mate 20 Pro, Mate 20 X, Mate 20 Porsche Edition, Huawei P30, P30 Pro, Honor V20, and Honor Magic 2. However, there is no information about the timeline for this update. In the last two years, Google has rolled out the stable OS update for Pixel devices in August, so this year is likely to be no different.

The upcoming Android release focuses on bringing new mobile experiences, more control of privacy and enhanced security. It introduces several new features, including Live Captions and Smart Replies, Dark Mode, Focus Mode, and a new framework for updates under which the users will receive key updates to the operating system automatically in the background similarly to how Android apps update via the Play Store.

But before this is rolled out, the release will have six betas, out of which three are already out. You can see the list of all phones that will get the Android Q beta update here. Also, you can check this article to learn more about what the next major Android release will offer. Further, if you want to experience the Android Q beta on your Pixel device, you can visit this link to enroll your device, and later receive the beta build as an over-the-air update. For the other devices, you will have to manually flash the beta build onto the phone.

Google Play tweaks how ratings work, announces cash payments for purchasing apps

Google I/O 2019 is in full swing and the company made a slew of announcements during the keynote and on the next day as well. One of the announcements from the event is about how Google Play will be changing a couple of things. TechCrunch reports that Google Play Store policies are being changed to better reflect app ratings. Till now, app ratings were a cumulative representation of how well an app performed over the years. However, this is being changed so that the recent releases of the app ratings are favoured. Another notable announcement for the Play Store from Google is the ability to purchase apps with a new delayed form of payment options like cash.

“You told us you wanted a rating based on what your app is today, not what it was years ago, and we agree,” says Milena Nikolic, an engineering director leading Google Play Console. Explaining more about how the new rating system would work, Nikolic says that the average rating calculation for apps will soon be updated for all Android apps on Google Play and instead of displaying ratings based on lifetime cumulative values, more weight would be given to the most recent users’ ratings. The new rating system makes more sense as many apps start out great but go off the track with subsequent updates. The new ratings won’t be shown to consumers till August but app developers can preview the new system today via the Play Store Console. 

Coming to the new form of payment option, while there are multiple payment options to choose from when buying an app on the Play Store, Google is aiming at emerging markets with the new “pending transactions” option. The new feature will enable users to pay via traditional methods that don’t require online transactions. “We know that emerging markets are a key area of growth for you all, which is why we’re excited to announce ‘pending transactions,’” announced Aurash Mahbod, Director of Engineering at Google, while speaking at Google I/O. 

This new feature enables users to select an alternative method of payment and receive a payment code. They can then show this code to a nearby store and pay for the app they purchase. Google says within 10 minutes, users will receive their purchase and an email with their proof of payment but TechCrunch notes that the process can take up to 48 hours to get through. This would certainly make it easier for some users to pay for apps but in case they want to get a refund, they will receive Play Store credit. The feature is currently available in early access and it remains to be seen whether it will be announced for India as well. 

Samsung Galaxy On7 Prime now receiving Android Pie update with OneUI: Report

Samsung has started rolling out the Android Pie update for its Galaxy On7 Prime (First Impression) smartphone in India, a media report suggests. The latest update brings Samsung’s latest OneUI to the phone, along with the May security patch. It is being seeded as an over-the-air patch and is said to be around 1034 MB in size. Interestingly, several Android-powered phones, which usually get security updates faster than others, are yet to receive the latest package.

As mentioned above, the update brings Samsung’s new One UI, and comes with a slew of other new features. The features include a system-wide Night mode, the Scene Optimizer for the camera, a Kids Mode shortcut in the notification panel, a floating mode of the Samsung Keyboard app, and more. Those who haven’t received the update notification yet can manually check it by navigating to Settings > Software update.

Earlier this week, Google rolled out the May security update to its Pixel and Android phones. The Android bulletin says that the latest patch has resolved a total of 10 issues across Framework, Media Framework and System components. The vulnerabilities range from high to critical, with the most severe relating to the media framework and a remote attacker possibly executing arbitrary code through a crafted file.

According to Google, there were “no reports of active customer exploitation or abuse of these newly reported issues.” However, the update fixes 21 issues with Samsung Vulnerabilities and Exposures (SVE) items. These are the issues that were identified in Samsung’s own software.

The Samsung Galaxy On7 Prime was launched in January last year running on a 1.6GHz Exynos octa-core processor and 3GB RAM/32GB storage and 4GB RAM/64GB storage variants. The device sports 13MP cameras on the front and back with a f/1.9 aperture lens for each. The phone features a 5.5-inch FHD display and comes with Samsung Pay Mini support.

Xiaomi teases triple-camera smartphone for India, possibly a tweaked Mi 9 SE

After launching a 48MP-camera phone in the form of the Redmi Note 7 Pro, Xiaomi is most likely gearing up to launch a triple-camera smartphone in India. The company released a teaser on its official forum on Wednesday and the cryptic graphic seems to tease a smartphone with three cameras on the back. The teaser doesn’t reveal the name of the phone. However, Xiaomi’s Manu Kumar Jain had earlier tweeted about a smartphone powered by the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 7-series chipset (likely the Snapdragon 730 or the Snapdragon 730G), which could launch in India. It could be possible that the two teasers are talking about the same device.

The teaser itself doesn’t give away much. It shows a single-camera, dual-camera and a triple-camera stack orbiting around a planet. Now Xiaomi already has single and dual-camera phones in the country, so it’s likely that the teaser is talking about a phone with two additional camera on the back.

As of now, Xiaomi has two triple-camera powered smartphones — The Xiaomi Mi 9 and the Mi 9 SE, both of which are available in China and some other regions, but not in India. Also, neither of the two phones is powered by a Snapdragon 7-series processor. It could be possible that Xiaomi is planning to launch a new smartphone or a tweaked version of the Mi 9 SE made specially for India.

Considering there’s no other concrete information available about the upcoming device apart from the cryptic teaser, we will have to wait and see what is in store for the Indian market.

Meanwhile, the company is gearing up to launch Redmi’s first Snapdragon 855-powered flagship phone with an in-display fingerprint sensor and triple rear cameras in China. The event is likely to be held on May 13.

Upcoming Redmi flagship to have in-display fingerprint sensor, large battery

Redmi has been intermittently teasing its upcoming flagship device on Weibo and has already confirmed a lot of specs. In the latest development, the company’s General Manager Lu Weibing has teased the in-display fingerprint sensor and the reportedly large battery life of the phone by sharing an image on the Chinese social media platform.

In the image, the phone is seen having a fingerprint impression in the lower half of the display – a place where OEMs usually put a fingerprint sensor, suggesting an in-display fingerprint sensor on it. Further, the phone is seen having 47 percent charge left. The text posted along with the photo reads, “Ready to call it a day, life is very satisfied, exceeded my expectations.” This hints that the phone could have a large battery and may last up to two days in a single charge.

The news comes a day after a leaked image of the phone’s protective display sticker surfaced online suggesting that the phone might be named the Redmi K20 Pro. The stickers suggests that the phone will come equipped with a 6.39-inch AMOLED display. It is said to run on the Snapdragon 855 SoC and come equipped with a 4,000 mAh battery that supports 27W fast charging. The phone could feature a triple-rear camera setup with a 48MP sensor.

The information about the processor and the camera falls in line with earlier reports that claimed that the phone would have Qualcomm’s latest flagship under the hood and sport a 48MP + 13MP + 8MP sensor configuration for the main camera setup. On the front, the phone is rumoured to feature a 32MP sensor.

Apple iPhone XR 2019 renders show a dual camera setup with a square bump

Information circulating the internet suggests that the upcoming iPhone XR will have a bump at the back, similar to the one we saw on the renders of the iPhone XS successor. The back of the iPhone XR 2019 seems to have the same bump we saw on the back renders of the iPhone XI. The only difference is that the smartphone will have a dual camera setup instead of a triple camera setup which is expected on the iPhone XI. It is expected to have a dual 12MP wide + telephoto camera at the back. However, specifications of the camera aren’t officially known. Coming to the front of the phone, it is expected to house a 6.1-inch display. From the front, the renders show the iPhone XR 2019 looks like its predecessor. 

The 2019 iPhone XR is expected to measure 7.8mm in thickness. However, at its thickest point, which includes the camera bump, the smartphone is 8.5mm in thickness. Just so you know, the iPhone XR that’s currently available in the market measures 8.3mm in thickness, not counting the protruding camera.

From the renders, it looks like the 2019 iPhone XR will have a notch which is expected to house the front-facing camera and the Face ID tech. From the renders, it looks like the iPhone XR will still sport a lightning port instead of USB-C. Apple shifted to USB-C for its Pro lineup of iPads and information circulating the internet suggested that the iPhones would follow suit. It looks like the iPhone XR 2019 may miss the USB-C bus. 

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Google Maps with AR navigation now rolling out for Pixel users

Google showed off Augmented Reality (AR) infused Google Maps first at I/O 2018 and in February this year, it was said to be under testing in a closed group. The feature enabled users to find directions using AR, identify landmarks and relay more in real time. The feature is finally being rolled out to the company’s Pixel series of phones and will be available for use when one chooses their preferred method of travel as walking to their destination. The update is being rolled out in phases and all is said to be currently available only to select Local Guides and Pixel users globally.

The rollout of the new feature was announced at Google I/O 2019 event and Google Maps’ official Twitter handle later tweeted about the rollout. When using the AR option to navigate, the real world takes up the majority of space on a screen and a small view of the Google map is present on the bottom of their phone’s display. The options shows useful cues like arrows for directions and banners with street names to help a user find their way. While we have yet to test the option, some users on twitter note that the feature is quite useful to find right directions when the GPS is yet to lock on. 

The new feature was reportedly quite aggressive in saving the phones’ battery. While using the mode, one should be able to view the world via their camera when they lift their phones up and when they put it down, traditional view of Maps should pop-up. In AR mode, landmarks will also be identified when the user comes across them. There is no information on when the feature will be made available for non-Pixel smartphones. However, if the option is now available for Pixel, it can soon be expected to be made available for other devices as well.

EA plans to bring Apex Legends to mobile

It’s no surprise that Apex Legends is a successful battle royale game. But as of now, the free-to-play game is available on consoles and PC. The one platform that it’s missing out on is mobile devices. Games like Fortnite and PUBG Mobile have seen tremendous success on the mobile platform. In its quarterly earnings call, EA said that “We are in advanced negotiations to bring Apex Legends to China and to mobile, and we will update you on time frames when those negotiations are concluded”. So even though the publisher is looking to bring the game to smartphones, there is no defined timeline as to when the game will be launched for mobile devices.

Speaking of battle royale games on smartphones, Fortnite and PUBG Mobile have found immense success. While Fortnite aims to deliver the same experience across mobile, console and PC, PUBG has a separate version – one for PC and consoles and one for mobile. The company is also working on a Lite version of PUBG Mobile for entry-level devices. However, the developer has been silent for quite some time when it comes to PUBG Mobile Lite.  

In other EA news, during the earnings call the company said, “More than a hundred million more players engaged with our FIFA franchise on mobile and PC free-to-play during the year”. EA also said that “Mobile delivered net bookings of $135 million, down 23% year on year, with declines from aging titles across our portfolio not offset by growth from our new title, Command & Conquer: Rivals. Our mobile business remains highly profitable, delivering a contribution margin of over 40%”. This means that EA is looking to leverage the mobile platform a lot more in the future as revenue from current mobile games is dropping. When Command & Conquer: Rivals was announced at E3 last year, it was met with criticism from fans as their beloved franchise was making an appearance on the mobile platform. 

In other EA news, the company has announced a single-player game set in the Star Wars universe. The game is being developed by Apex developer Respawn Entertainment and will be releaseed on November 11 2019. Called Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, it is a single player game with no multiplayer or microtransactions. You can read more about Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order here. 

In other mobile gaming news, Call of Duty: Mobile is expected to be launched in November. The first look of the game was revealed at Unity’s annual GDC Keynote. Call of Duty: Mobile is expected to take on mobile games like PUBG and offer 60fps performance, low latency and responsive controls. At the GDC keynote, Activision’s VP of mobile, Chris Plummer, said, “This is console quality PvP matches right in the palm of your hand, and it’s all built within Unity.”

The game is expected to offer classic multiplayer modes such as Search and Destroy, Free-For-All, Team Deathmatch and Frontline as well as a zombie mode for bot-based single player. It is expected to feature characters from the Call of Duty universe, which could possibly be customised using in-game currency. The trailer of Call of Duty: Mobile shows maps such as Nuketown, Crash, and Hijacked. The game will be optimised for high-end phones and the developers are working to make it more widely accessible to other devices as well. You can read more about Call of Duty Mobile here. 

Google IO 2019: Next-gen Google Assistant announced with offline features, driving mode and others

The first day of Google I/O 2019 has just gone by and Google had a long list of announcements and demos for the entire digital world. Along with its new “entry-premium” smartphone, the Pixel 3a, and changes to the upcoming version of Android, Google announced a list of changes to its popular virtual assistant, Google Assistant. To start with, Google has made its assistant faster—up to ten times faster, it says. Let’s review the changes:

A faster, improved Google Assistant

According to the company, Google Assistant previously relied on speech recognition and language understanding models that weighed up to 100GB on the cloud. Now, however, it has found a way to pack them all into a local package that weighs less than 500MB. The new Google Assistant, with its on-device speech recognition model, is expected to be 10 times faster than before and work even when there’s no internet connection. Google Assistant will continue to use the Continued Conversation feature the company introduced some time ago for smoother interaction. According to Google, the improved Google Assistant will make it Pixel devices later this year.

More personalisation in Google Assistant

According to Google, the Personal References section in Google Assistant has been improved to understand familial connections better. For example, the user could give Google Assistant commands like, “What’s the weather like at mom’s house this weekend?” and “Remind me to order flowers a week before my sister’s birthday,” after relations like “mom” and “sister” have been defined in the “You” section of Google Assistant’s settings.

“Later this summer on Smart Displays, a new feature called “Picks for you” will provide personalized suggestions starting with recipes, events and podcasts. So if you’ve searched for Mediterranean recipes in the past, the Assistant may show you Mediterranean dishes when you ask for dinner recommendations,” writes Google in its blog post on the matter.

A faster way to disable alarms in Google Assistant

According to Google, alarms and timers that are going off presently can be turned off by saying, “Stop”. The user needn’t precede the command with, “Hey Google” or “OK Google” to wake Google Assistant up first. This new feature runs fully on the device and works even when the phone is not connected to the internet. Available starting today, the much-requested feature will also be available on Google Home devices and Smart Displays in English-speaking countries.

Driving mode in Google Assistant

Google Assistant is getting a driving mode for easier use in cars. Launched with the voice command, “Hey Google, let’s drive”, the driving mode will show suggestions to perform the user’s most relevant activities. When in driving mode, Google Assistant will show up as a long, scrolling feed with sections like, “Just for you”, “Recent places”, “Communication”, “Media”, etc. At the top of the feed, it will show ready shortcuts to calls, media, and navigation.

The feed will also have a small media player at the bottom with minimal controls. With certain car models, Google Assistant will be able to respond to commands like, “Hey Google, turn on the car A/C to 70 degrees”. Google hasn’t yet mentioned if this new driving mode will replace the Android Auto app or exist alongside it.

Improved Duplex

At last year’s I/O, Google announced Duplex in the US, an extended feature in Google Assistant that lets users reserve tables at restaurants using just voice commands. This time around, Google says it has worked on the feature some more and improved it. According to Google, Duplex can now help with completing online tasks, like car rentals and buying movie tickets. For example, Duplex will now respond to commands like, “Book a car with national for my next trip.” To perform its duties, it will use the information stored in the user’s Gmail and Chrome.