How Alexa wants to be your round-the-clock assistant

The future is inclusive and connected



Amazon is popular for its marketplace but the company has ambitious expansion plans that range from enterprise-grade data centers to an on-demand personal assistant. Dubbed Alexa, the voice-enabled assistant is the backbone of their in-house Echo line of speakers.

We had a closer look at how these devices are going to help users in their day-to-day life and the results so far are amusing as well as promising. The company’s goal is to let you focus on what matters and just dictate commands to the assistant. We’ve seen a similar concept on Google Assistant as well as Apple’s Siri. So, how is Alexa different?

All day, all-around assistant

Thanks to a wide range of speakers that come across all sizes and budgets, Amazon is able to push Alexa right into your bedroom. The service is also available via a standalone app on Android, iOS, Fire TV and Kindle HD tablets.

To start off, the mic onboard Echo speaker’s is always listening by default and can be muted if required. The always-on feature lets you dictate command whenever you want and background noise isolation is excellent. You can ask basic questions like “How’s the weather today?” as well as some complicated trivia like “Who’s the President of Hungary?”

With a well-programmed backend that supports multiple third-party platforms like AccuWeather and WikiHow, any question that you have will never go unanswered. Similarly, Amazon has worked with curated developers to offer additional functionality for display enabled speakers like the Echo Show 5. This includes Prime Video, YouTube, as well as cooking guides.

If you have multiple speakers in your house, they can be synced via a single account and even use to broadcast messages from one room to another. You can also pair the speaker with an Alexa-enabled accessory or appliance like a bulb, geyser, or TV and operate it via voice commands. How cool would it be if you could say “Alexa, switch on the AC”, and you’re done!

For kids, special additions include trivia apps, quizzes, audible stories, and more. Amazon wants Alexa to be a learning companion and security measures have been taken to ensure they don’t veer off.

Apps that are meant for kids need to undergo screening before they get published. For privacy, Amazon guarantees the mic doesn’t store any personal data on their servers and a mute button is provided on almost all speakers. With the recently launched Echo Show 5, a camera has been incorporated on the front and it’s accompanied by a physical shutter to turn it off.

Amazon is working on voice profiling technology that can detect who is speaking to Alexa and provide customized content in return. But, this is still in development and we expect it to materialize in the coming years.

Amazon’s regional push

For India, a few dedicated regional applications have been added like Bollywood Quiz, Curated Cooking Guide by Sanjeev Kapoor, and regional music from Amazon’s library. Additionally, third-party connections like Zomato, Uber, and Ola have also been added. Amazon also announced that Alexa will soon be able to communicate in regional languages.


POCO X2 now official with 120Hz display, Snapdragon 730G

It has finally arrived!



After a long wait, POCO has officially unveiled the POCO X2 in India today. The brand used to be a sub-brand of Xiaomi but recently turned completely independent. The brand has also emphasized that the phone is not a successor of the POCO F1, but a completely new series.

On the front, it has a 6.67-inch screen with a ratio of 20:9 and a 120Hz refresh rate. The brand is calling the higher refresh rate “Reality Flow” and it has been incorporated via an LCD panel. Keep in mind, apps and games need to support a higher refresh rate to fully deliver a smooth experience.

It’s powered by a Snapdragon 730G processor along with an Adreno 618 GPU. Just like the POCO F1, it also gets liquid cooling for enhanced longer periods of gaming. The brand repeatedly compared its offering aginst the Realme X2, the opponent it intends to take on. For power backup, you get a 4,500 mAh battery that supports 27W fast charging. And, the fast charging brick is included with the phone by default.

It houses up to 8GB LPDDR4 RAM and 256GB internal storage. The phone is being targeted as a fast device that can handle any task you throw at it. The fingerprint scanner is now mounted on the side and the back is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5.

On the rear is a Sony IMX686 64-megapixel primary camera paired with a 2-megapixel portrait sensor, 2-megapixel macro lens, and an 8-megapixel wide-angle sensor. This is the first phone to sport the Sony IMX686 sensor in India. On the front is a 20-megapixel primary camera along with a 2-megapixel portrait sensor.

POCO continues to retain the headphone jack. Additionally, it’s splash-proof and also houses an IR blaster on the top.

Pricing and availability

It’ll be available in three colors — Atlantis Blue, Matrix Purple, and Phoenix Red. In India, the 6GB+64GB variant is priced at INR 15,999, the 6GB+128GB is priced at INR 16,999 while the 8GB+256GB option costs INR 19,999.

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Vivo now second-most shipped smartphone brand in India

Their aggressive expansion strategies have paid off



Vivo continues to ride high from its expansion efforts in India. Just last quarter of 2019, it overtook Samsung to become the second most shipped smartphone brand in India.

In the latest findings from Counterpoint Research, Vivo composed 21% of the total smartphone shipped to Indian users. This figure is a sharp contrast to Q4 2018, wherein the company composed of just 10% for all smartphone shipments.  As such, the year-on-year (YoY) growth of Vivo from Q4 2018 to Q4 2019 is an astounding 132%.

The growth of Vivo helped it overtake Samsung to become the second most shipped smartphone brand in India. Samsung’s position dropped from 20% in Q4 2018 to 19% in Q4 2019 – which is not that bad for the Korean company.

While Vivo’s expansion efforts in both online and offline realm propelled the company, it still can’t compete with Xiaomi’s growth for both quarters. Xiaomi posted a 7% YoY growth, composing 27% of all smartphone shipped in India.

The latest findings came from Counterpoint’s research regarding India’s smartphone market. The latest research showed the growing market for smartphones in the country. As a matter of fact, it finally surpassed the US to become the second-largest smartphone market in the world.

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Poco X2 is coming in February

The wait is almost over



The long wait is now almost over. POCO India just revealed that the next Pocophone will launch on February 4, 2020.

Announced in a tweet, the next phone will be called POCO X2 and, according to the company, will make you go “Bruh, it’s Smooth AF.”

Why smooth? It’s likely referring to a high screen refresh rate — a feature that was introduced in 2019 by the likes of OnePlus and ASUS and will likely come to several phones in 2020. It’s possible the POCO X2 will have up to a 120hz screen refresh rate.

The phone’s dedicated website also highlighted the cameras, a Qualcomm Snapdragon chip, liquid cooling, and fast charging. If the POCO X2 will carry on the “flagship killer” tag that the Pocophone F1 carried, then it wouldn’t be a stretch to think that it will carry the latest Qualcomm SoC.

There’s still a lot that we don’t know, but we don’t have to wait too long to find out!

SEE ALSO: POCO is now officially an independent brand

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