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Google updates Wear OS with more features

Coming in September!

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A few years ago, smartwatches dominated the hip scene. The market itself was a burgeoning community highlighted by Pebble, Samsung Gear, and Apple Watch. Now, the industry has stagnated into a paltry selection of a few good options and a multitude of copycats.

Following this tempestuous trend, Google is pushing for a new renaissance for the wearable technology. Right on the cusp of new hardware, the Silicon Valley giant is starting things off with the industry’s most neglected aspect — software.


For years, smartwatch makers have neglected to do anything revolutionary with their devices’ insides. Until now, these devices have limited themselves to only a handful of functions — tracking your health and checking your notifications. For a “revolutionary” technology, that’s not saying much.

Unfortunately, we’re not closer to getting industry-defining innovations just yet. However, if anything, Google’s latest updates are making our wearables more streamlined and convenient.

For one, Google is emphasizing the “smart” in smartwatch. Instead of a simple notification display, Google’s Wear OS now infuses Google Assistant with the watch’s software.

With simple swipes, users can access and attend to all their notifications. As is now standard with messaging on Android, users can reply to messages with automated smart replies, instead of texting on their phone.

Additionally, watches can now display Google Assistant’s automated reminders. From Google’s website, Wear OS notifies you on the weather, traffic jams, flight delays, and promos in nearby establishments.

Finally, Google has revamped smart fitness by adding two new metrics to measure your health — Heart Points and Move Minutes. Supported by the American Heart Association and the World Health Organization, the new metrics measure both low- and high-intensity movement including walking, biking, and hiking. With the new feature, Google wants to keep you on the move.

As of now, Google plans to roll the new updates throughout September. If you don’t have a Wear OS smartwatch yet, Google is also planning to launch its own Pixel Watch very soon.

SEE ALSO: Wear OS is Google’s new name for Android Wear

Apps

Google wants to assists users without depending on the Internet

And Google Pay just got more exciting!

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Google is by definition an “internet” company. Every part of its business depends on connectivity, whether its Google Search or AdSense. The company has penetrated every developed market and now intends to grab the untapped markets of India and other Southeast Asian countries.

Google Assistant

Courtesy: Bhardwaj

At its Google for India 2019 event, the company announced the launch of a special helpline that users can call to have their questions answered. We usually use Google Assitant on the go via any Android phone, but it depends on internet connectivity. How do you reach out to a feature-phone user who barely has a 2G connection?


A 24×7 healpline. Teaming up with Vodafone India, users will be able to dial 000-800-9191-000 and they won’t be charged for the call or the service. Early this year, Google also worked with KaiOS to integrate Google Assistant on entry-level 4G phones like the JioPhone.

Google Assistant was launched in India a couple of years back and Hindi is now the second-largest language globally. You can also switch languages by a simple voice command now.

Google Pay

Courtesy: Bhardwaj

Usually, you can use payment solutions like these in the US via NFC. Your cards are saved on the app and a gentle tap to a PoS machine will initiate the transaction. However, in India the app leverages the countries universal UPI protocol to transfer money. Up till now, you had to add your bank account in the app and scan a QR code to send money.

Google has now announced support for NFC cards. This will make the experience much simpler and streamlined. Though your phone needs to have an NFC reader and only HDFC, Axis, Kotak, and Standard Chartered bank are supported for tokenization at the moment.

The company went on to share a few interesting stats about its position in the country. The app handled 918 million transactions a month in the country.

New AI Lab

Courtesy: Bhardwaj

A new artificial intelligence research lab is being set up in Bengaluru to create India-specific products. Google has tied up with state-run BSNL for expanding Wi-Fi hotspots in villages in Gujarat, Bihar, and Maharashtra. They’ve already deployed more than 5,000 WiFi hotspots in partnership with Indian Railways.

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India

India is banning the consumption of e-cigarettes

This includes flavored vapes

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E-cigarettes or vapes are considered to be a better alternative than actual cigarettes. Many active smokers have shifted to these electric pens and have been successful in overcoming their addiction. Countries around the world recognize the benefits of an e-cigarette, but India has a different opinion.

India has banned e-cigarettes amid growing fears over the health risks posed by vaping. The Union cabinet has made the manufacturing, import, sale, distribution, and advertisements of e-cigarettes a cognizable offence.


Justifying the ban, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, “E-cigarettes were promoted as a way to get people out of their smoking habits but reports have shown that many people are not using it as a weaning mechanism but are rather addicted to it.”

E-cigarettes are the most common form of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS). These are basically devices that do not burn or use tobacco leaves. Instead, they vaporise a solution using a battery. This vapour is then inhaled by the user.

The government said the decision to ban e-cigarettes is aimed at protecting the youth, the section that is most vulnerable to the health hazards of e-cigarettes. Though, India isn’t the only country to have concerns.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported six deaths due to unknown lung disease in the last few weeks. Governments have long considered a plan to regulate or limit the usage.

Justifying the ban, Sitharaman cited a US report that said e-cigarette sales have risen 77 percent because of consumption by students. Storage of e-cigarettes shall now be punishable with imprisonment of up to six months or a fine of up to INR 50,000 or both.

Obviously, following the announcement, tocks of cigarette makers ITC and Godfrey Phillips ended higher by 0.9 percent and 5.3 percent, respectively. Conventional tobacco-filled cigarettes are still legal in the country but heavily taxed. The government has repeatedly tried to make them more expensive to discourage consumption, but the plan never worked.

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Enterprise

Apple is trademarking the slofie

Is the slofie a thing now?

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“Selfie” will always be a part of our everyday lexicon. Even if you don’t like taking selfies, you still know what a selfie is. Since the invention of the front-facing camera, everyone has taken a selfie in one form or the other. Likewise, most people also know what a groufie is — the selfie’s group-oriented cousin. Both the selfie and the groufie have seemingly covered all the bases in the front-facing phenomenon. Besides, we have enough of these terms to last us a lifetime.

Apparently, Apple doesn’t think so. At its latest iPhone 11 launch event, the company introduced another monstrosity into our packed vocabulary — the slofie, a selfie but shot in slow motion. The slofie promotes Apple’s newest camera feature. The iPhone 11 Pro’s front-facing camera packs in a slow-motion shooting capability. The camera shoots at an astonishing 120 frames per second.


As with the Animoji years ago, Apple is going all-in on the slofie. The company has applied for a trademark on the term. The trademark application covers all software involved in shooting the slow-motion selfie. Basically, Apple wants to control the market when the iPhone 11 drops. If the slofie does gain traction, it will likely face competitors and imitators. (For example, the Animoji had its fair share of imitators.) A trademark can prevent that from happening.

In another vein, Apple is still trying to make slofies a thing. Apple, please don’t make slofies a thing.

SEE ALSO: The Apple Watch Series 5 is here!

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