India

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

The future is inclusive and connected

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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.

India

A government portal will let you find lost phones

Have you ever lost a phone?

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India is a very happening market for mobile phones right now. Every week we’ve seen a new phone launch in the country and every brand has flooded the markets with options. So far, there are no signs of a cooldown and a vast chunk of the population still hasn’t moved to a smartphone.

With hundreds of millions of phones around us, imagine how many phones would be lost every day. The government of India wants to make it easier for you to find a lost phone and is working on a new project.


Since 2017, the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) has been working on the Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR), a database for storing IMEI numbers. International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) is a 15-digit unique number that identifies mobile devices. India has over a billion wireless subscribers.

Every device with a SIM slot has an IMEI number. In case of a dual SIM phone, each tray has a separate number. These are used to establish a unique identity and help to trace phones via a wireless connection.

Telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad will launch the web portal to report a theft in Maharashtra on Friday. If your mobile phone is stolen or lost, you will have to file a police report and inform DoT via helpline number 14422.

After the police complaint, DoT will blacklist the IMEI number which would result in the handset being blocked from accessing any mobile network in the future. For now, the project is having a pilot run in the state of Maharashtra and will be opened up to the rest of the country soon.

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Entertainment

OnePlus Music Festival: Everything you need to know

Featuring Katy Perry, Dua Lipa, and more

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OnePlus has a significant fan-following in India and the brand has successfully developed a devoted community. While launch events are usually reserved for the media to interact and cover the company’s offerings, OnePlus always lets its followers experience the unveiling live and passes are sold out within minutes.

The company has slowly forayed into the premium segment and intends to establish a brand name. OnePlus is hosting a music festival on November 16 in Mumbai and it’ll be headlined by pop stars Katy Perry and Dua Lipa.


Apart from Katy Perry and Dua Lipa, fans will be able to groove to the rhythm of diverse musical minds like Amit Trivedi, Ritviz, The Local Train and Aswekeepsearching.

More acts part of the music festival

Amit Trivedi has composed numerous hits for movies like Dev.D, Udta Punjab, and Queen. He is a familiar draw for those aware of mainstream Bollywood music. The Local Train is a rock band popularly known for their singles like “Aaoge tum kabhi” and “Choo lo”.

This is the first time OnePlus is hosting a music festival in the country. Previously at the OnePlus 6T launch event in Mumbai, the brand had artists like Brodha V and DJ Ishani performing live.

“We are super excited that Katy Perry will be starring in our first-ever OnePlus Music Festival in India! We decided to host this festival to share our passion for music with our community, who are at the heart of everything we do. With Katy on board, this is sure to be a one of a kind experience,” said Carl Pei, Co-Founder, OnePlus.

Tickets for the concert are on sale now via Paytm Insider. The price starts at INR 2,000 and OnePlus users can avail 10 percent cashback after authenticating their phone’s IMEI number.

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India

Samsung Galaxy M30s launches with a 6000mAh battery

Forget your charger for days

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After a successful launch of the Galaxy M10 and M30 in the beginning of 2019, the brand has unveiled their successor. Dubbed the Galaxy M10s and M30s, the phones are meant to take on the recently unveiled Xiaomi Mi A3 and Realme XT.

Samsung completely revamped its strategy for the affordable and midrange segments this year. Xiaomi has been leading the race for quite some time and Samsung decided to follow a similar pattern to protect its market share.


The Galaxy M30s continues the same design language with a fingerprint scanner located on the rear and a small water-drop notch on the front. Though, it has considerable upgrades from within.

On the front is a 6.4-inch Full HD+ AMOLED display and the water-drop notch houses a 16-megapixel selfie shooter. The rear has a triple camera setup consisting of a 48-megapixel primary camera, an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens, and a 5-megapixel portrait sensor.

Samsung says the camera is equipped with AI-backed Scene Optimizer and intelligent Flaw Detector features for perfect shots. It also gets automatic scene recognition and a dedicated Night Mode for low-light shots.

Powering the phone is an Exynos 9611 octa-core processor that supports the recording of 4K as well as Super Slo-Mo videos. Lastly, backing these internals is a humongous 6000mAh battery that can fast-charge up to 15W.

Pricing and availability

The 4GB+64GB option costs INR 13,999 (US$ 196) and the 6GB+128GB variant costs INR 16,999 (US$ 238). Sales start from September 29 via Amazon.in and Samsung.com. Color options include Opal Black, Sapphire Blue, and Pearl White.

The M10s, on the other hand, gets a 6.4-inch HD+ AMOLED display and is powered by an Exynos 7884B processor. On the rear is a 13-megapixel primary camera and a 5-megapixel wide-angle lens, while the front gets an 8-megapixel selfie snapper.

The 3GB+32GB configuration costs INR 8,999 (US$ 126) and will go on sale alongside the M30s.

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