India

Apple to launch an online store in India soon

Alongside two physical stores

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Apple has always relied on authorized local sellers to sell all its hardware products in India. The presence has been limited to physical stores and online marketplaces like Amazon and Flipkart. Apple does not directly operate an online store like Xiaomi, Realme, and Samsung.

According to a Bloomberg report, this could soon change. Apple is set to open an online store for the first time in India next month. Apple had plans of starting local operations sooner but the Coronavirus-led national lockdown contributed to the delay.

Online sales could start from September, in-time with India’s annual festival season, which got kick-started with Ganesh Chaturthi last week and oncoming Diwali as well as Christmas.

Additionally, the company also plans to open two physical stores in Mumbai and Bengaluru, respectively. The stores are expected to start by next year.

Apple aims to take advantage of the Indian government’s relaxation around foreign direct investment rules that now allows single-brand retail. India is the world’s second-largest smartphone and the demand for premium phones is consistently rising.

Phone makers like Samsung and OnePlus have a significant share of the market. But, Apple has managed to expand in a price-sensitive market like India considerably with almost half the share. The company has bypassed 20 percent import duty by ramping up local production under the government-led Make in India initiative.

It has already started producing the iPhone SE as well as iPhone 11 in India via local partners Wistron and Foxconn.

Apps

Google removes one of India’s top payments app for violating policy

But there’s nothing to worry about

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Google removed one of India’s top payments app Paytm from the Play Store for allegedly violating guidelines. To be more precise, the app violated the app store’s policy by promoting gambling. The app is still available on Apple’s App Store though.

In response, Google said, “The app was blocked for violation of play policies – a clarification of our policy was released earlier today ahead of the IPL tournament.” It further clarified that users aren’t affected and only the app’s availability from the Play Store has changed.

Google strictly prohibits digital casinos or ungoverned gambling apps on its Play Store in India and Paytm’s app was found in violation of this policy. Recently, it launched a fantasy sports service called Paytm First Games and embedded links to this service within the Paytm app.

The standalone Paytm First Games app has also been removed. However, other apps like Paytm Mall, Paytm Money, and Paytm Business are still available and remain untouched. Google said the developer is always notified and the app shall remain unavailable till it complies with the norms.

Paytm has also assured all users that their accounts, wallets, and bank accounts are safe and there’s nothing to worry about. When the news broke, there was some initial panic because the memories of India’s app ban are still fresh and people are worried about their favorite apps going off the shelf instantaneously.

Fantasy sports games and other gambling apps have radically risen in India. The country loves cricket and the Indian Premier League is scheduled to start from tomorrow. Making the coming weeks a very lucrative period for these apps.

All these apps do not depend on Google’s Play Store for distribution and have to be downloaded externally via the developer’s website.

Paytm is hugely credited for encouraging India’s digital economy and has transformed itself into a super app. Besides bill payments and peer-to-peer fund transfer, the app can also be used for tickets, shopping, and entertainment.

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India

Redmi 9i launches with Helio G25, 5000mAh battery

Designed for everyday tasks

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Xiaomi has consistently launched a new phone in the last few weeks. After the Redmi 9 Prime and Redmi 9, the brand has launched a slightly more affordable option — the Redmi 9i.

The body of the phone looks similar to the Redmi 9 Prime but doesn’t have a textured back. On the front is a 6.5-inch LCD display with HD+ resolution and TÜV Rheinland Low Blue Light certification.

Powering the phone is an octa-core MediaTek Helio G25 chipset along with MG PowerVR GE8320 GPU. It doesn’t have a fingerprint scanner and solely relies on face unlock for faster authentication.

On the rear is a single 13-megapixel camera with AI-powered portrait mode, in-built document scanner, and beauty mode. For selfies, a 5-megapixel camera is located on the front in a water-drop notch. The storage is expandable via a microSD card.

Backing these internals is a 5000mAh battery with a 10W charger. Although, this one skips the usual USB-C port in favor of microUSB. It ships with MIUI 12 out-of-the-box.

The Redmi 9i comes in two variants. The 4GB+64GB option costs INR 8,299 while the 4GB+128GB variant is priced at INR 9,299. Sale starts from September 18 via mi.com, Flipkart, Mi Homes, and Mi Studios.

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India

Alexa will soon get Amitabh Bachchan’s voice

Talk to your favorite actor!

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Photo by Piotr Cichosz on Unsplash

Amazon has added celebrity voices to its digital assistant, Alexa, for a long time now. Samuel Jackson’s voice is already available as a skill and you’ll soon be able to add Amitabh Bachchan as well.

The company has announced a partnership with the 77-year-old Bollywood actor that will bring his voice to Alexa. The voice assistant can offer jokes, advice, weather updates, poetry, and more. The company has announced it’ll be launching it in 2021 as a paid experience.

Amitabh Bachchan is a prolific actor who has starred in movies since the 1970s. His movies have been a massive hit globally and played a critical role in evolving the country’s indigenous cinema. His iconic voice can be instantaneously recognized by the masses.

Having hosted thirteen seasons of the Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, he has also dominated the television industry. Despite his age and medical complications, it’s impossible to find his off-screen. Fun Fact: Bachchan has also made an appearance in The Great Gatsby.

“Technology has always given me an opportunity to adapt to a new form,” Bachchan said in a release. “Be it in movies, TV shows, podcasts, and now, I am excited to create this voice experience in partnership with Amazon and Alexa. With voice technology, we are building something to engage more effectively with my audience and well-wishers.”

Amazon said that the Alexa team will work closely with Bachchan to capture his voice. Alexa comes pre-installed on all Echo devices and you can even install it via an app on Android and iOS.

The e-commerce company has been gained a massive foothold in India’s market. Affordable Echo devices have proven to be a hit and the brand is gradually improving its local experience in the country.

Thanks to direct integration, Amazon is also able to push forward its Prime subscription, ensuring the development of an eco-system that contains hardware, software, as well as content.

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