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Jio and Google decide to launch ‘Make in India’ affordable smartphone

It aims to target the entry-level smartphone segment—priced below Rs 10,000—which sells 60 million phones annually in the country.

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To create an affordable yet powerful smartphone ecosystem for the masses in the country, Reliance Jio and Google on Wednesday announced to launch an entry-level Android smartphone soon.

“I am excited that our joint collaboration will focus on increasing access for hundreds of millions of Indians who don’t currently own a smartphone while improving the mobile experience for all,” said Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai. “Together, we are excited to rethink, from the ground up, how millions of users in India can become owners of smartphones,” he added.

Reliance Jio launched a feature phone called JioPhone in 2017 that currently has an installed base of 20 per cent among the country’s feature phone users.

“Google has empowered millions of Indians to access helpful information and, like Jio, is a force for change and innovation. Together, we hope to play a strong facilitative role in the transformative journey of building a new, Digital India,” said Mukesh Ambani, chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries.

In a mega investment announcement, Google announced to invest Rs 33,737 crore ($4.5 billion) in Jio Platforms for an equity stake of 7.73 per cent. This is the first investment from the $10 billion “Google For India Digitisation Fund” announced earlier this week, which aims to accelerate India’s digital economy over the next five to seven years through a mix of equity investments, partnerships, and operational, infrastructure and ecosystem investments.

 This partnership aims to target the entry-level smartphone segment (less that Rs 10,000) which sells anywhere close to 60 million smartphones annually in India.

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MICROSOFT REPORTEDLY SHELVES WINDOWS 10X, ITS CHROME OS COMPETITOR

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WASHINGTON: Microsoft has been trying to build a lighter version of Windows for more than 10 years without success. The latest effort, Windows 10X, has reportedly now been shelved, in favour of improving Windows 10 instead.

According to Mashable, Windows 10X will no longer ship this year, and the OS will likely never arrive in its current form. Microsoft had originally been planning to deliver Windows 10X, a more lightweight and simplified version of Windows, alongside new dual-screen devices like the Surface Neo. This was before the pandemic hit, and Microsoft decided to prioritize Windows 10X for single-screen laptops instead.

The switch was designed to position Windows 10X as more of a Chrome OS competitor. Windows 10X included a simplified interface, an updated Start menu without Live Tiles, multitasking improvements, and a special app container for performance and security.

Microsoft’s overall goal with 10X was to create a stripped-back, streamlined, and modern cloud-powered version of Windows.

Microsoft has always seen Chromebooks as a big threat in businesses and schools, but over the past year there has been a big increase in demand for regular Windows laptops. Despite a global chip shortage, the PC market hasn’t slowed down during the pandemic.

The company has directly benefited with increased Windows revenue. Windows OEM revenue grew by 10 percent in the recent quarter, reflecting strong consumer PC demand. Windows non-pro OEM revenue also grew by 44 percent.

There are currently 1.3 billion active Windows 10 devices, according to Microsoft. That’s a huge number of existing devices, and it appears Microsoft is now focused on improving the core of Windows instead of delivering a new variant.

Microsoft has been gradually working on improving the user interface of Windows 10, with new system icons, File Explorer improvements, and even the end of Windows 95-era icons.

All of these visual changes are part of a broader effort codenamed Sun Valley. Microsoft has not yet officially detailed this work, but a job listing earlier this year teased a “sweeping visual rejuvenation of Windows.” There are expectations about a lot of visual changes to arrive in the Windows 10 21H2 update that should appear in October.

Elsewhere, Microsoft is also focusing on improving Windows for those who rely on it daily. The software maker is finally fixing the rearranging apps issue on multiple monitors, adding the Xbox Auto HDR feature and even improving Bluetooth audio support.

It’s clear Microsoft is getting back to the basics, after more than a decade of trying to simplify Windows. Windows RT first debuted in 2012, and then Windows 10 S arrived in 2017. Both failed to simplify Windows, but as per Mashable, Windows 10X had some interesting changes that will undoubtedly make their way to Windows 10.

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HEAVY DUTY ISUZU SUVS MAKE A COMEBACK IN BS6 ERA

Isuzu V-Cross and mu-X SUVs get a cleaner diesel heart.

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NEW DELHI: The pick-up truck from Isuzu the D-Max V-Cross has created a unique space for itself ever since it was launched in India a few years ago. It really appealed to the adventure lovers as it promised a combination of rugged and durable off-roading capability and passenger vehicle like comfort. But the arrival of BS6 emission norms meant the Japanese carmaker had to stop the sales of the SUV in the market. After a rather long wait the V-Cross is back with a new BS6 compliant diesel engine and a more affordable Hi-lander variant. Along with it the company has also launched the BS6 version of its 7-seater SUV the mu-X in the market.

D-MAX V-CROSS

The higher Z Prestige and Z variants of the V-Cross come equipped with Bi-LED auto-levelling projector headlights, shark-fin antenna with gun-metal finish, 18-inch alloy wheels and a sidestep to add a sportier look and user convenience. The Hi-Lander has a high ride suspension that offers higher ground clearance, wider track with longer wheelbase. Here the headlamps are not as flashy, outside rear-view mirrors are grey in colour and 16-inch steel wheels come with wheel covers.

Inside the cabin the V-Cross variants come with steering mounted audio controls and a 7” touch screen audio system with USB input, DVD, AUX, iPod and Bluetooth connectivity. The Z Prestige variant has premium finish dashboard featuring piano black highlights with soft-touch panels and comes with a dual tone brown and grey leather seating. It also gets electrically adjustable driver’s seat, 8-speaker audio system with roof-mounted speakers and cruise control. The Hi-Lander and V-Cross variants come with a 3D Instrument Cluster with chrome rings, AC vents on the 2nd row which also gets a USB Charging Port and a black and grey cabin layout. While the Hi-lander gets manual AC and parking sensors the top variant comes with climate control and reverse parking camera.

The pick-up now comes with 1.9 litre diesel engine that produces 163 PS and a peak torque of 360 Nm @ 2000-2500 rpm. Isuzu claims that the technologically advanced engine enables better and complete combustion at all engine speeds and the NVH levels are lower too. You can choose between a 6-speed manual transmission and a 6-Speed Automatic depending upon the variant you buy. The 4WD variants get a terrain command feature Shift-On-Fly drive mode, high ride suspension that offers high ground clearance and wider track with longer wheelbase.

The SUV comes with iGRIP platform (Isuzu Gravity Response Intelligent Platform) for better durability and stability. The BOS (Brake Override System) cuts power to the engine in case of panic braking (when the brake and accelerator pedals are being depressed at the same time). The Z Prestige variant has electronic stability control with traction control System and hill descent control. A 4-Channel, 4-Sensor anti-lock Braking System with electronic brake force distribution which avoids wheel locking is also on offer. Prices range from Rs. 16.98 lakh (ex-showroom) for the 2WD manual transmission Hi-Lander to Rs. 24.49 lakh for V-cross Z Prestige 4WD automatic.

ISUZU MU-X

The MU-X full size 7-seater SUV has not had it very easy in the market because it had to take on the likes of Toyota Fortuner and Ford Endeavour. The BS6 version of the car according to the company comes with soft leather seats, adjustable headrests for all seats and a comfortable third row. The one touch split/fold seats in both, the second and third row is a practical feature to have. It also features a twin cockpit design with controls that are accessible for both, the driver and the front passenger. Other features in the cabin include a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, electrically adjustable driver’s seat, park assist with rear-view camera, automatic climate control, traction control and cruise control.

The 1.9L diesel finds a place here as well which means that the SUV is a little less powerful than earlier. The mu-X is available in both 4×2 (Rs. 33.23 lakh) and 4×4 (Rs. 35.19 lakh) variants but only with a 6-speed Automatic Transmission and there is no manual on offer. The 4×4 variant sports a ‘shift-on-the-fly’ 4×4 select dial for better off-roading capability. Isuzu says the Penta-Link rear suspension provides a comfortable experience for all passengers.

The writer is Senior Editor at carandbike.com.

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FACEBOOK LAUNCHES IN-APP VACCINE FINDER TOOL IN INDIA

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American technology conglomerate Facebook has partnered with the Indian government to roll out a vaccine finder tool on its mobile app in India, which will help people identify places nearby to get vaccinated.

According to Mashable, earlier this week, Facebook announced a USD 10 million grant for emergency response efforts for the COVID-19 situation in the country. The vaccine tracker tool will allow users to find the nearest vaccine centre locations and their hours of operation as shared by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW). The tracker tool will also aggregate and display walk-in options (for 45 years and above) along with a link to register on the Cowin portal and schedule vaccination appointments.

Facebook said in a post on its platform, “Partnering with the Government of India, Facebook will begin rolling out its Vaccine Finder tool on the Facebook mobile app in India available in 17 languages to help people identify places nearby to get the vaccine.”

The company said that it is also will be joining hands with NGOs and agencies — namely, United Way, Swasth, Hemkunt Foundation, I Am Gurgaon, Project Mumbai and US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) — to deploy the funds announced to help build up a stock of critical medical supplies with over 5,000 oxygen concentrators and other life-saving equipment like ventilators, BiPAP machines.

As per Mashable, Facebook also said that the COVID-19 Information Center and in Feed will also have information on how to seek emergency care and how to manage mild COVID-19 symptoms at home, and this will be provided by UNICEF India.

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THE A32 COMES WITH A ONE UI 3.1 VERSION & ANDROID 11

Richa Kapoor

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Time for another Samsung device and this time it is an addition in the A series. I received the Black 6gb model. Inside the box you get it all. Type C charging cable and a 240-Watt power adaptor.

DESIGN

The device comes with in an attractive black color with a tinge of grey to it. The new look to the model gives it the edge it needs. On the side you get a shiny premium plastic finish. The phone gets a nice glass back giving it a premium feel and appeal. On the right side we have the power button &the volume rockers. On the top of the phone there is a Mic sitting in the middle. You get a newly designed camera module which for sure is an attention grabber. On the bottom you get a headphone jack with another Mic. Next to the Mic you have the C port for 15 Watt fast charging and a single bottom firing speaker. Left top you get a sim tray which consists of slots for a micro-SD card and two sim cards. Great for internal storage. The device gets minimal bezel and even gets face recognition now which is easy to log in.

DISPLAY

This phone comes with a 1080p Super AMOLED FHD Display with a 6.4 inches screen size with 90 hertz refresh rate & 20×9 aspect ratio (ratio between the width and height of the screen).

A32 is Samsung’s first non-flagship phone to get a higher refresh rate screen. The Display is good with a good contrast levels and sufficient brightness to give you a smoother experience and keeps the battery life in check as well.

The touch response has left me impressed. Talking about the fingerprint sensor which has been built into the bottom of the display has a quick & accurate response.

PERFORMANCE / SOFTWARE

Samsung A32 comes with a Mediatek Helio G80 4G chip set. This chip is good for day-to-day use. I did a decent amount of gaming on this device played “Call of Duty mobile” with graphics settings set to medium with high frame rate setting. To be honest the experience was quite amazing keeping in mind the underpowered chip set that comes with this device. There were no major lag spikes while gaming on this device.

The A32 comes with a One UI 3.1 version & Android 11. One UI lets you customize your phone to suit your tastes and fully enjoy your comfortable Galaxy experience.

According to Samsung its new devices including the A32 will get software support for good time period with 3 major OS updates & 4 years of Security patches.

CAMERAS

The A32 comes with 4 cameras on the back a 64 mega pixel quad bay or main with face detection autofocus plus a 8 mega pixel ultra wide angle camera , 5 mega pixel macro camera with and a depth sensor.

(16 mega pixel day light photos from the main camera are good overall there’s plenty of detail though. Fine details aren’t the sharpest.) There’s also little to no noise respectable dynamic range and colors that are more restrained than what we’re used to from Samsung.

The Portrait shots look okay for the most part though the subject detection can sometimes get tripped up. The more problematic part is the lack of HDR in portrait mode so you may end up with a blown out background.

The ultra-wide cam delivers decent 8megapixel images with an okay level of detail and not half bad dynamic range. The colors are less saturated than the main cameras and you don’t get distortion correction here so straight lines will appear curved towards the edges of the frame.

Close-up shots from the macro camera are pretty good for this class at 5mega pixel they have a resolution advantage over their competition which are using 2 megapixel sensors. But without autofocus it will be a trial and error to get sharp results.

Low-light photos from the main camera are unimpressive they are generally soft and noisy while the dynamic range is relatively narrow, and you’ll end up with dark shadow missing detail.

The A32 supports night mode on the main camera but for some reason for me it was quite buggy, quite often the camera app would freeze after taking a night mode shot and the images that would get captured in this mode would come out with some clearly messed up processing.

Nighttime shot from the ultra-wide camera are barely usable they’re quite noisy and dark. The dynamic range is narrow with clipped highlights. Luckily the night mode works on this camera without problem. The results are likeable with lifted shadows and recovered highlights and extra details in the dark.

Selfies taken with a 20 mega pixel front facing camera come out at 12 megapixels, but these are okay with good enough detail and natural looking colors

There is no support for 4K video on the A32 and I wasn’t too impressed with the quality of the 1080p video. Footage from the main camera has below average detail; the dynamic range on the other hand is reasonably wide.

Video from the ultra-wide has a heavily processed look that isn’t very appealing.

BATTERY

With the A32 you get a 5000mAh battery which is a good capacity keeping in mind the phones ergonomics. You also get a 15 Watt fast charging which lacks the 25 watt charging which we see on the other models of Samsung. With the fast-charging facility the phone would take about hour and half to reach a full charge. For me the 5000mAh battery in the A32 after a full charge lasted for week according to my usage. Even though Samsung claims that the battery would last for 2 days after a full charge.

VERDICT

Samsung A32 priced at INR21,000 is a great pick for its display, design, and battery for sure. What is lacks a good camera set up which is average and not the best I would say. We would have enjoyed a better processor for sure. More powerful processor would have made the device more desirable.

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KIA LAUNCHES THE REFRESHED SELTOS, SONET IN INDIA

Kia’s successful SUVs now more tech and feature rich, get additional value.

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NEW DELHI: Korean carmaker Kia has been in the Indian car market for just under 2 years and in that short time has hit many important milestones while being in some of the most competitive car segments. 2 of its 3 cars, the Seltos and Sonet have raked in huge numbers since they were launched in 2019 and 2020, respectively. That has ensured that Kia has become the fastest auto manufacturer in India to hit the sales milestone of 2.5 lakh cars. Recently a new identity of the brand was revealed to the world and just a few days ago the 2021 models of the Seltos and Sonet were launched which apart from the new company logo have come with many new features.

KIA SELTOS

The refreshed model of Seltos gets 17 new features. The most notable ones being paddle shifters for automatic variants and the introduction of Intelligent manual transmission or iMT which has been seen for the first time in the segment. This tech will be available on the 1.5 Petrol HTK+ variant of the car while thepaddle shifters will be offered in the GTX+ 1.5D 6AT and 1.4T-GDI 7DCT variants in the refreshed Seltos. Another segment first feature on the SUV is the smart pure air purifier with ‘virus and bacteria’ protectionwhich effectively cleans the air and kills bacteria and viruses to address the need of the hour.

The vehicle also hosts many class leading features including remote engine start in manual transmission which enables the customers to remotely start the engine with their smart keys, wireless phone projection to help the customers to project their phone screens on the car’s touchscreen andover the air (OTA) map updates. There is also an introduction of additional voice commands on the brand’s UVO connected car system including sunroof open & close and driver window control which adds to the overall convenience.

The new-age iMT technology seen earlier on the Sonet and Hyundai Venue offers fatigue-free driving thanks to the absence of a clutch pedal and still gives the same driver control as a manual transmission. The iMT variant of the refreshed Seltos comes with a sunroof, beige and black interiors and fully automatic air conditioner with silver garnish. Kia has also extended safety features like electronic stability control, vehicle stability management, brake assist and hill assist control features to lower variants of the Seltos.

The company has also introduced a new affordable turbo variant on the car – the 1.4T-GDI Petrol GTX (O).The car also gets are multiple new seat material and colour options to choose from. The company has introduced the refreshed Seltos at a starting price of Rs. 9.95 lakh which goes up to Rs. 17.65 lakh (ex-showroom, pan-India) for the top-of-the-line diesel automatic. The new iMT version is priced at Rs. 12.19 lakh.

KIA SONET

The refreshed edition of Sonet has been updated with 10 new enhancements incuding first-in-segment features like rear door sunshade curtains and voice command for sunroof open & close. Here too the paddle shifters have been introduced but unlike the Seltos, all the automatic variants of the car get the feature. So, you can now expect a sportier and more responsive driving experience on the SUV. For that the car also gets Multi drive and traction modes. Along with that an electric sunroof, smart key with push button start, remote engine start, chrome door handles and crystal cut alloys with silver wheel caps have now been extended to the lower variants of the car.

On refreshed Sonet, the most popular HTX trim will now be available with automatic options both with turbo petroland diesel. And just like the Seltos even the lower variants of the Sonet get safety features like Electronic Stability Contro, Vehicle Stability Management, Brake Assist and Hill Assist Control. The starting price of the Sonet remains the same atRs. 6.79 lakh while the most expensive Diesel automatic is priced at Rs. 13.25 lakh (all prices ex-showroom, pan-India).

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ZOOM’S NEW FEATURE ‘IMMERSIVE VIEW’ MAKES MEETINGS FUN

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Zoom has started rolling out a new feature called Immersive View that would make meetings a lot more engaging and collaborative.

As per Mashable, the feature was announced by Zoom at Zoomtopia 2020 and has been rolled out for Windows and macOS desktop clients. The company shared that the Immersive View feature allows hosts to arrange video participants and webinar panelists into a single virtual background. It brings all the people in a meeting (up to 25 participants) together in a fun virtual meeting space.

If there are more than 25 participants, the additional ones will be displayed in a thumbnail strip on the top of the scene.

To make interactions more fun, the scenes for the meeting can be selected by the host. Zoom has already provided a few scenes to help you get started but one can also choose to upload their own scene. These scenes can be anything from a classroom, a boardroom to a conference auditorium, or even a cafe.

Though any image could be used as an Immersive View background, the company has said that matching the file type, aspect ratio, and resolution recommendations it has for virtual backgrounds will deliver the best results. It is important to note that users must have an updated version of Zoom to be able to see the virtual background.

HOW DOES THE IMMERSIVE VIEW FEATURE WORK?’

Hosts can enable the feature in a similar way they select ‘Speaker’ or ‘Gallery’ View. Hosts will be able to automatically or manually place participants into a virtual scene of their choosing. What’s even more fun is that hosts can also easily move participants around that scene and also resize a participant’s image for a more natural experience.Here’s how you can use it:1. Start the Zoom meeting application on your desktop.2. You will find the option to enable Immersive View in the top right corner of the screen, where you find Speaker or Gallery View. Click on the Immersive View feature.3. Choose from one of Zoom’s provided virtual backgrounds to place your meeting participants in. There is also an option to upload your own image.4. Your meeting participants or webinar hosts will now be in the same virtual background and will appear that way on every participant’s screen. Just make sure to use the updated version of the application.

The ‘Immersive View’ is enabled by default for all Free and single Pro accounts using Zoom 5.6.3 or higher, and can also be enabled via the web portal for all other account types. With the ‘Immersive View’ enabled, users on Zoom desktop and mobile apps that do not support the feature will continue to see other meeting participants in either ‘Gallery View’ or ‘Speaker View’.

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