In a press event in New Delhi, Google announced the launch of the Google Home and Google Home Mini smart speakers in India. The niche smart home market in India generated quite an interest last year with the launch of Amazon Echo devices powered by Alexa.
They will be available to buy online in the country exclusively via Flipkart, and will also be made available via offline stores. The speakers will support Google Play Music, YouTube, Netflix, Saavn, and Gaana. Hindi support will be added to Google Home speakers later this year and there are no immediate plans to bring the larger Google Home Max speaker to India at the moment.
Google Home is priced at INR 9,999 (US$ 154) while the Mini retails at INR 4,499 (US$ 70). Customers buying the Google Home or Google Home Mini from Flipkart will get a free JioFi router and when buying a Google Home from a Reliance Digital or MyJio stores, a JioFi router will be included along with 100GB of 4G data worth INR 2,499 (US$ 39). This offer is valid until April 30. Google is also offering six months of free subscription to Google Play Music with both the Google Home and the Home Mini.
Google Home sports a high-excursion speaker with a 2-inch driver and dual 2-inch passive radiators. It will only be available with a White body, but come with different-colored speaker material — the default it ships with is Slate fabric. The speaker also supports Chromecast, letting users stream movies, shows, and music onto their connected TVs or Google Cast speakers.
The Google Home Mini has four lights on top, which show the speaker is working and turn orange when the mic is muted. There is a mic mute switch near the power (micro-USB) port on the back. Its speaker is touted to deliver 360-degree sound and bears a 40mm driver, while its mic supports far-field voice recognition.
While Google has shared that Google Home works with over 1,500 smart home devices from 200-plus brands, only a few like TP-Link, D-Link, and Philips Hue are popular in India — although still expensive with limited mainstream adoption.
Data-friendly Twitter Lite app is available for download in more countries
Installation size is just 3MB
Twitter is among the most popular social networks for the last few years and also the most preferred platform for micro-blogging. From brands to celebrities, everyone prefers it thanks to its simple concept and global reach. The company has now rolled out a new lighter app specially made for developing markets where data networks are slow or bandwidth is expensive.
It’s available in more countries including India, Argentina, Ghana, Turkey, Ukraine, Yemen, and Zimbabwe, taking the total count to over 45 countries. The installation size is just 3MB and it’s optimized to work on 2G and 3G connections. The app was initially available on a trial run in the Philippines last year and since then has expanded to cover more regions. You can download the app from the Google Play Store right away.
Twitter Lite can send out push notifications as well as threaded tweets. Images and videos can be viewed on demand by tapping the “load” option. This ensures that data is consumed only when the user needs it. The app also features the Bookmark option that lets users save tweets for later.
“While using the app on 2G or 3G, you’ll notice that content will load quickly on Twitter Lite. We want to make sure you can see what’s happening no matter what network you’re on,” the company said in a statement.
Since the majority of Twitter users belong to developed regions, Twitter is now focusing on developing regions in a bid to get more users on board. The platform reported a drop of one million monthly active users in the second quarter of 2018.
This isn’t the first time we are seeing companies roll out lighter apps for developing markets. Google has been releasing dedicated smaller apps for its services including YouTube, Gmail, Assistant and more. These apps are designed for devices with lower storage and RAM than your typical midrange or flagship, and are built to make better use of mobile data.
HMD Global finally launches the Nokia 2.1 and Nokia 5.1 in India
Going after the entry-level segment
HMD Global has announced the launch of two new devices in India — the Nokia 2.1 and Nokia 5.1. The two devices were first globally unveiled in May and now have finally made their way to the world’s second-largest smartphone market.
The Nokia 5.1 will be available in Copper, Tempered Blue, and Black for INR 14,499 (US$ 210) while the Nokia 2.1 retails for INR 6,999 (US$ 101). Both phones will ship starting August 12 via offline retail stores, PayTM Mall, and Nokia online store.
This isn’t the first time we are seeing HMD Global have a long delay before launching their phones in India, though. While the competition is spending heavily on marketing their offerings, Nokia-branded phones haven’t been hyped. The brand still has a lot of respect and recognition in the country and HMD Global intends to keep it that way.
The Nokia 5.1 is a midrange offering and will go up against Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 5 Pro. It has a 5.5-inch Full HD display with an aspect ratio of 18:9. The phone is powered by a MediaTek MT6755S SoC paired with 3GB of RAM, and has 32GB of internal storage that can be expanded via a microSD card.
It owns a 16-megapixel rear sensor while the front has an 8-megapixel snapper. The phone is a part of Google’s Android One program and ships with Android 8.0 Oreo. It houses a 3000mAh battery that charges via micro-USB.
The Nokia 2.1, on the other hand, is an entry-level device and sports a 5.5-inch HD panel with an aspect ratio of 16:9. It’s powered by a Snapdragon 425 SoC along with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. It has an 8-megapixel camera on the rear, while the front houses a 5-megapixel sensor.
This phone runs on a lighter version of the popular OS, Android Go. It’s specially designed for entry-level devices and has optimized apps for smoother operation.
Xiaomi launches Mi A2 in India at an irresistible price
Redefining the midrange segment
Xiaomi has been leading the smartphone market in India this year, and it doesn’t look like the trend is going downhill anytime soon. Starting with the Redmi Note 5 Pro, the company has been offering exceptionally good products in a market where price is the most decisive factor for buyers.
The Mi A1 was a huge success in the country and to some extent, it was the device that gave Google’s Android One program a ray of hope. Even though many manufacturers have tried their luck with budget Android One phones, none have been able to make a mark. While all competing phones from makers like Honor, OPPO, Vivo, and Samsung have a custom UI or skin on top of Android, the pure Android experience of the A1 was refreshing for users.
Carrying on the same legacy, Xiaomi has launched the Mi A2 in India today. It’s retailing slightly lower than the global pricing at INR 16,999 (US$ 247) and will be available for pre-order starting tomorrow at 12 noon via Amazon.in and Mi.com. Black, Gold, Lake Blue, and Rose Gold are the available colors. Shipping begins next week.
The phone has a 6-inch Full HD+ display with an aspect ratio of 18:9. Powering the phone is a Snapdragon 660 SoC along with 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage. It has a fingerprint scanner on the back and a USB-C port on the bottom that charges the 3010mAh battery. The phone also supports Quick Charge technology and ships with a 5V/10A charger.
On the rear, it has a 12- and 20-megapixel dual camera combo while the front has a 20-megapixel sensor. Both setups support AI-powered portrait mode and Beautify 4.0. The phone ships with Android 8.1 Oreo, and has a fingerprint scanner as well as Face Unlock for authentication.
The midrange segment has been surprisingly competitive this year and Honor’s recent launch of the Honor Play has further intensified the war. What needs to be seen is how Xiaomi handles the demand.
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