India

Google launches Home and Home Mini smart speakers in India

Hindi support will be added to Google Home speakers later this year

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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.

India

Realme Watch launches with a touchscreen display and HR tracker

High on features, light on the pocket

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This is the first watch from Realme and we’ve been waiting for it for a long time. The company teased its existence multiple times and considering the brand’s reputation, we knew it’ll have a very competitive price. Thankfully, the watch is now official, and here’s everything you need to know.

It comes with a 1.4-inch touchscreen display with a resolution of 320 x 320 pixels, a maximum brightness of 380 nits, and Gorilla Glass 3 protection. Currently, it comes pre-loaded with 12 watch faces and the company has confirmed more than a hundred will be available via an OTA update soon.

The smartwatch offers real-time heart rate monitoring using the built-in PPG sensor and records results every five minutes. Furthermore, it also has a SpO2 monitoring system to track the blood oxygen level.

On the fitness front, it has 14 different sports modes such as Badminton, Cricket, Indoor Run, Outdoor Run, Walk, and Yoga, among others. Health-based features also include sleep monitoring, sedentary reminders, hydration reminder, and meditation relaxing.

Just like all other smartwatches or bands, it can receive notifications from your phone via Bluetooth, control music playback, and unlock the phone via Android’s smart unlock system. Unlike the Apple Watch, you can’t pick-up voice calls but it’ll let you reject the call or mute the notification.

Realme Watch runs on a proprietary OS and can be linked to your phone via the Realme Link app. It supports 20mm removable wrist straps and has an IP68-certified body that can resist dust and water.

The Realme Watch is priced at INR 3,999 (US$ 53) and will be available via Flipkart and Realme.com from June 5. The additional color straps will cost INR 499 (US$ 7) later.

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India

Realme TV is a very affordable option with Android TV and HDR 10

Realme is going after Xiaomi, again!

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Realme is a fairly young brand when compared to established players like Xiaomi, Samsung, and OnePlus. But that isn’t stopping it from making bold moves like taking digs at Xiaomi and aggressively expanding its product lineup.

Today the brand unveiled the Realme TV in India. In comes in two sizes, 32-inch with 1366 x 768 resolution and 42-inch with 1920 x 1080. The brand says the TV has a premium look with a bezel-less design. The smart TV segment is turning out to be a very lucrative segment in developing markets and Xiaomi’s TV lineup currently dominates it.

Coming back to the Realme TV, it has Chroma Boost Picture Engine that optimizes the brightness, color, contrast, and clarity for top-notch viewing experience. The same technology is used in its smartphones as well and can the panel can deliver up to 400 nits of brightness.

It runs on Android TV out-of-the-box, bringing along support for Google Assistant and other bundled apps. Popular media streaming platforms like Netflix, YouTube, Prime Video, and more are also available. In fact, the remote has a dedicated button for YouTube, Netflix, and Prime Video.

Powering it is a MediaTek quad-core processor with in-built support for HDR 10, and 8GB internal storage. For audio, it features four 24W stereo speakers with Dolby audio support. Port options include a couple of USB ports, three HDMI ports, one AV port, and one digital audio port. Wireless connectivity includes Bluetooth 5.0 and WiFi.

The Realme TV 32-inch is priced at INR 12,999 (US$ 170) and the 43-inch model is priced at INR 21,999 (US$ 290). It shall go on sale starting June 2 via Flipkart and Realme.com.

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Apps

Users want TikTok banned over poor content moderation

Play Store rating drops from 4.5 to 1

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Bytedance’s TikTok is viewed as a potential rival of Facebook’s Instagram. However, the app has come under immense criticism over its weak moderation policies. Videos encouraging sexual harassment, assault, and even misinformation have trended on the app. Additionally, content creators have often used this as a tactic to garner more views and engagement.

Indian netizens are furious over the app’s extremely lacking moderation mechanism. Many activists even allege that the app purposely doesn’t take down these videos. In response, people have turned to Google’s Play Store to show their disagreement by downrating the app. A week back, TikTok had a rating of 4.5 out of 5. Today, it has dropped to 1.3 and could further decline.

It all started when CarryMinati, one of India’s most popular YouTubers posted a video roasting TikTok creator Amir Siddiqui. YouTube India soon pulled down the video stating it was in violation of its policies. Since then, the heat against TikTok started rising.

The final nail in the coffin was when creator Faizal Siddiqui posted a video of him throwing water on a girl that transitions to her having makeup similar to assault marks. He had 13 million followers. His account can no longer be accessed on the app.

This isn’t a remote incident. There are numerous videos on the platform that encourages violence against women, patriarchy, and often extremely disrespectful acts. The outrage against the platform reached its peak in recent days and India’s National Commission for Women filed an official complaint against the TikTok creator. #BanTikTok is a frequently trending hashtag in the country.

India is a prime market for the company with 81 million active monthly users, according to 2019 stats. The number has obviously risen since then thanks to the national lockdown due to the Coronavirus. Indians are spending more time than ever online and creators are on overtime trying to bridge the gap.

In response, the company said, “Keeping people on TikTok safe is a top priority and we make it clear in our Term of Service and Community Guidelines that clearly outlines what is not acceptable on our platform. As per the policy, we do not allow content that risks the safety of others, promotes physical harm, or glorifies violence against women. The behavior in question violates our guidelines and we have taken down content, suspended the account, and are working with law enforcement agencies as appropriate.”

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