Jio GigaFiber Registrations, Xiaomi Poco F1 Leaks, Mi A2 Sale, Samsung Galaxy Note 9 India Launch Date, and More News This Week


Jio GigaFIber registrations opened this week, Xiaomi Mi A2 went on sale for the first time in India, and Redmi Note 5 Pro finally went on open sale, among other news, in yet another busy week in the world of technology. To start off with the biggest newsmaker, the Jio GigaFiber registrations opened up as scheduled, on August 15. For now, users can only express their interest in the broadband service, and areas with the most interest will get priority in the official rollout later this year. While the company has not revealed any Jio GigaFiber plans officially, but details of the alleged preview offer have leaked online. This leak suggests the preview offer will last 3 months provide users 100GB data at 100Mbps, with users getting ‘Data Top-Ups’ that take their monthly data limit up to 1.1TB. Users will have to pay a sum of Rs. 4,500 to avail the Optical Network Terminal, Jio GigaTV and smart home solutions, which will be refunded if the user decides to terminate the connection.

Airtel, of course, responded to the Jio GigaFiber broadband registrations by bolstering its own broadband service. The operator is now providing users home broadband plans with no FUP limit across several cities, such as Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Jamnagar, Chandigarh etc — before this, the truly unlimited broadband was only available in Hyderabad. However, while the old FUP limits are not in place anymore, the company still has a limit on how much data consumers can use in a month — 3.3TB. Separately, Airtel is giving its prepaid users Amazon Pay balance worth Rs. 51 on recharges of Rs. 100 and above; similarly, postpaid subscribers get the same balance for using any myInfinity plan.

Jio Phone 2 went on sale for the first time in India on August 16, a day after its scheduled first sale. The Jio Phone 2 flash sale was, predictably, rather short as the handset went out of stock within minutes of becoming available for purchase. Buyers had to pay the full Jio Phone 2 price in India of Rs. 2,999 to purchase the device. The next flash sale for the model will be held on August 30, again only on Jio.com. Lastly on the Jio front, those waiting for WhatsApp and YouTube apps on the Jio Phone platform will have to wait a little longer as the two apps’ rollout will happen in batches. While the company had announced that WhatsApp will not be coming to the platform on August 15 to most users, it was a surprise that even YouTube was delayed for a majority.

 

Xiaomi Poco F1 was in the news as the company confirmed the handset will be launched in India on August 22 and will be a Flipkart exclusive in the country. The smartphone was spotted on Geekbench, showing the handset will have Snapdragon 845, 6GB RAM, and Android 8.1 Oreo. Previous leaks say the Xiaomi Poco F1 will have a 5.99-inch full-HD+ display, IR Face Unlock, 12-megapixel + 5-megapixel rear camera setup, 2-megapixel selfie camera, 6GB of RAM, and 64GB storage and 128GB storage options.

Redmi Note 5 Pro finally went on open sale in India, about half a year after it first became available for purchase in the country. Both the 4GB RAM and 6GB RAM variants of the Redmi Note 5 Pro are now up for purchase via Mi.com and Flipkart, though not all colour options are available.

Xiaomi Mi A2 went on sale for the first time in India this week, bringing its second Android One phone to the country. Only the 4GB RAM and 128GB internal storage variant of the handset was available for purchase in the first sale, with the Mi A2 price in India set at Rs. 16,999. It comes with a launch offer giving users cashback of Rs. 2,200 and 4.5TB of complimentary data. There is no word on when the 6GB RAM and 256GB storage option will go on sale in the Indian market. Xiaomi Mi A2 (Review) also received its first software update, which brought 60fps video recording as well as the August Android security patch

Xiaomi Mi A2 vs Nokia 7 Plus: Which Offers the Best Bang for Your Buck?

 

Also this week, XIaomi launched a new variant of its premium Mi 8 smartphone, this one featuring 8GB of RAM. This model has 256GB of internal storage, while the rest of the specifications remain the same as those of the previously released variants. As for the price, Mi 8 8GB variant costs CNY 3,299 (about Rs. 33,500) and is already on sale in China.

The company also unveiled the Mi Pad 4 Plus tablet, featuring a 10.1-inch display with 1920×1200-pixel resolution and 16:10 aspect ratio. Key features of the new Xiaomi Mi Pad 4 Plus include Snapdragon 660 SoC, 4GB RAM, 64GB and 128GB storage options, 13-megapixel rear camera, 5-megapixel selfie camera, and an 8,620mAh battery. It costs CNY 1,899 (roughly Rs. 19,300) for 64GB variant and CNY 2,099 (around Rs. 21,300) for the 128GB model.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 India launch event will be held on August 22, and Gadgets 360 has learnt the event will be attended by DJ Koh, President and CEO of Samsung’s IT & Mobile Communications Division. Earlier this week, Koh also said the handset’s 4,000mAh battery is completely safe, showing the shadow of the the exploding battery of 2016’s Galaxy Note 7 and its worldwide recall still haunts the company.

 

The handset also received its first software update ahead of its release; this update brings the August 2018 Android security patch and a toggle for super slow-motion recording mode, one of the highlights of the phone’s rear camera. Separately, Koh has confirmed the first Samsung phone with 5G support will not be the Galaxy S10, even though the next year’s flagship will be supporting 5G. This means another Samsung smartphone with 5G will be launched before the rumoured March 2019 launch of the Galaxy S10, likely the long-awaited foldable smartphone or the Galaxy A series models. In a good piece of news for Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is that DisplayMate has rated its display as the best on a smartphone yet and earned the A+ grade, with praises showered on the brightness, colour accuracy, and viewing angles.

Online consumer rental platform RentoMojo is now giving users the option to rent a smartphone for as long as two years. It also offers the option to own the device after two years of renting. So, consumers will have to pay Rs. 4,299 for 24 months to get the iPhone X for the maximum duration, while it will cost a monthly payment of Rs. 9,299 for a 6-month rental. Other handsets on offer include Google Pixel 2, Samsung Galaxy S9, Samsung Galaxy Note 8, iPhone 8, among others.

Google is under fire after a report this week claimed Google Maps tracks its users’ location even after they have turned off location tracking. This location tracking without consent affects both Android and iOS devices, and was reportedly confirmed by researchers at Princeton University. Even with Location History paused, some Google apps automatically store time-stamped location data without asking, the report claims. The company said, “we continue to use location to improve the Google experience when they do things like perform a Google search or use Google for driving directions.”

Google Is Tracking You: How to Stop It and Delete Past Location Data

Separately, Google has offered help to Android users suffering in the Kerala floods by helping people send their location, which makes it easier for rescuers to find them. Android device users can open Google Maps and create plus codes with their location — these codes can be shared not just online but also offline. Telecom operators Jio, Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, and BSNL have also offered relief in the form of free data and automatically credited talk time for prepaid users, and bill payment extensions for postpaid users.

Motorola launched a new smartphone series in China this week, with the first model being named the Moto P30. The Moto P30 has an iPhone X-like notch and a 6.2-inch display with 18.7:9 aspect ratio, Snapdragon 636 SoC, and a glass back with gradient colour design. Other features include Android 8.0 Oreo, 6GB RAM, microSD support up to 256GB, 16-megapixel + 5-megapixel dual rear cameras, 12-megapixel front camera, 3,000mAh battery, and USB Type-C port. The Moto P30 price is CNY 2,099 (about Rs. 21,400) for the variant with 64GB of internal storage, and CNY 2,499 (approximately Rs. 25,400) for 128GB storage option.

Another smartphone launched this week was the Oppo F9, which has a V-shaped waterdrop display notch and the MediaTek Helio P60 SoC. The key Oppo F9 specifications include a 6.3-inch full-HD+ display, Android 8.1 Oreo with ColorOS 5.2, 64GB internal storage, microSD card support, 16-megapixel + 2-megapixel rear cameras, 25-megapixel front camera, and 3,500mAh battery. It Oppo F9 price is VND 7,690,000 (about Rs. 23,300) for the variant with 4GB RAM and the price of the 6GB RAM variant had not yet been revealed.

The Vivo Y81 also launched in India early this week and is already on sale in India via the official online store as well as Flipkart and Amazon. The Vivo Y81 price in India has been set as Rs. 12,999. It features a 6.22-inch HD+ display, octa-core MediaTek MT6762 chipset, 3GB RAM, 32GB storage, microSD support up to 256GB, 13-megapixel rear camera, 5-megapixel front camera, 3,260mAh battery.

 

 

Rounding up the other news this week from the world of smartphones, the OnePlus 6 received an update that fixed the display flickering issue that users had reported late last month. The Oxygen OS 5.1.11 update for OnePlus 6 also brings improvements for HDR mode and other bug fixes.

The Huawei Mate 20 Lite specifications and price have leaked, suggesting it will have a 6.3-inch HD+ display with V-shaped waterdrop notch, octa-core Kirin 970 chip, 6GB RAM, 64GB onboard storage, 20-megapixel + 2-megapixel rear cameras, 24-megapixel + 2-megapixel front cameras, and 3,650mAh battery. As for the price, it is said to start at EUR 400 (about Rs. 28,000). More details of Honor 8X have leaked online too, with features such as a 7.12-inch full-HD+ display, 1.8GHz octa-core processor, 16-megapixel + 2-megapixel cameras on the back, 8-megapixel front camera, and 4,900mAh battery.

The Nokia 6.1 received a price cut in India this week, which brings down the price of the 3GB RAM and 4GB RAM variants by Rs. 1,500 each. This means the two variants now cost Rs. 15,499 and Rs. 17,499, respectively. This move comes just a week ahead of the launch of the Nokia 6.1 Plus model in India. The Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime 2 price in India was also slashed this week, with the smartphone now available at Rs. 11,990 on Flipkart and Samsung Shop.

The iPhone 2018 models also leaked this week, with the new report claiming the upcoming iPhones will start at about $699 (about Rs. 49,000). The base 2018 iPhone model with 6.1-inch LCD panel is said to have a starting price of around $699 to $749 (from Rs. 49,000 to Rs. 52,600); it is claimed to have 64GB and 256GB storage options and 3GB RAM. The model with 5.8-inch OLED screen will reportedly have a starting price tag of $899 to $949 (from Rs. 63,000 to Rs. 66,000), while the 6.5-inch OLED model will be targeted at the “premium business segment” and have a price tag starting at $999 (about Rs. 70,000). The latter two models are said to come in 64GB, 256GB and 512GB storage options and have 4GB of RAM. These two will also support Apple Pencil, a separate report says.

As scheduled, eBay India stopped taking any more orders starting August 15, and the last date for raising eBay Guarantee claims is August 30. Flipkart will be launching a new site to fill the gap eBay is leaving in India. eBay will also keep an archive of your purchase history on My PaisaPay and My eBay until further notice.

Microsoft has created a software for the CBSE to prevent exam paper leaks. The software ensures papers are not leaked until at least half an hour before the exam, and if the papers are leaked after that, then the leak can be traced using the watermark. The new Microsoft software has already been tested this year in the compartment examinations held for class 10.



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Kerala Floods: How Google, Jio, Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, and BSNL Are Helping the Affected


Kerala floods have ravaged daily life in the state, resulting in the death of over 300 people and displacing more than 3 lakh. A red alert has been issued in Kerala due to the rains and 2,000 relief camps have been set up. Internet search giant Google has joined telecom operators Airtel, Vodafone, Jio, BSNL and Idea in helping the affected people using technology. Google is allowing Android users to share their locations even when they are offline to help rescuers find them. The telcos are offering data and calling benefits to prepaid customers in the state, while postpaid users are getting extension on bill payments as well as uninterrupted services due to the disruption resulting from Kerala floods. Airtel is also providing free Wi-Fi and calling facility to affected users, and is providing them the option to recharge their phones’ batteries at select Airtel stores.

Google Maps users on Android phones and tablets will be able to send the plus code of their locations online as well as offline. They just need to zoom in to their location to the maximum – just touch and hold on the location to drop a pin on the map. At the bottom will be an address – any user can find this code to locate you, and share it with others as well. To share the Google Maps location plus code offline during the Kerala floods, you can send it via SMS or make a call to any number. To share it online, enter the plus code and city name in the search box of the Google Maps or Search app.   

In the aftermath of Kerala floods, Airtel is offering prepaid subscribers in the state auto-approval of talk time credit worth Rs. 30. This sum will be credited automatically to their accounts, and will have to be paid back later on. Along with this, the prepaid users will get 1GB of mobile data with validity of 7 days. Additionally, all STD and local calls made to Airtel numbers will be free from August 17 to August 19.

Postpaid and home broadband users are getting an extension on bill payment as well uninterrupted access to services. Airtel says is also setting up VSAT at five centres to deliver free Wi-Fi and calling to people impacted by Kerala floods.

Additionally, anyone can come to one of the 30 Airtel Stores to charge their phones and to make free calls to their friends and family. These Airtel Stores are located in Thrissur, Calicut, Malappuram, Kannur, Kottayam, Thiruvananthapuram, and Ernakulam.

Jio is doing its bit to help those impacted by Kerala floods by offering customers complimentary unlimited voice and data access for a week to stay in touch with their friends and family.

Vodafone is giving prepaid users talk time of up to Rs. 30 as well as 1GB of mobile data. While the data is being credited automatically, subscribers will have to activate it by sending a text message saying CREDIT to 144 or by dialling *130*1#. Vodafone postpaid customers will get uninterrupted services and extension on bill payments, which should give some buffer to those impacted by Kerala floods.

Idea is offering emergency credit of Rs.10 to all prepaid customers. Customers can dial *150*150# to get the talk time instantly. All Idea prepaid customers will also get 1 GB data free valid for 7 days. This benefit will be automatically credited to customers. Idea says it will also extend the due date for bill payment for all postpaid customers to ensure they continue using the services, uninterrupted. Prepaid users whose recharge validities are expiring by August 18 will get validity of another two days. Idea stores will also allow users to charge their phones’ batteries.

CMD BSNL has announced relief for those impacted by Kerala floods in the form of on free calls to both BSNL and non-BSNL numbers, limited to 20 minutes per day. He added that SMS and data to customers residing in flood affected areas of Kerala will be free for the next 7 days beginning Thursday.

The unprecedented rains have caused Kerala floods of a magnitude not seen in recent times. Kochi airport has been shut down, and the army, the navy, the NDRF and other forces are working on rescue and relief operations in the aftermath of the Kerala floods. Food packets and drinking water are being rushed to Kerala for distribution among the people in 14 worst affected districts, while additional National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams are also being sent to the state to assist the local administration in operations.



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Android Will Get Option to Manually Back Up User Data Via ‘Future’ Update


While Android has the option to back up your data onto Google Drive for a long time, Google is now set to enable an option to let users manually save their backups. The new option, which is likely to ease the backup process especially if you instantly need to preserve your personal data, will be a part of a future Android update. Unlike Android, Apple’s iOS is already offering the way to manually back up the on-device content with a tap of a button in addition to allowing the automatic iCloud Backup feature.

As shared on Reddit, Google through its public issue tracker confirmed the development of the manual backup option that is likely to sit alongside the automatic backup function that we spotted even on devices running Android 4.4 KitKat. One of the early testers of Android 9.0 Pie highlighted the absence of the option to manually start a backup on Android devices. The beta tester said that while the official support document for Android Oreo confirms the availability of the manual backup setting, it doesn’t exist in reality. This causes the inconvenience as users need to plug in their devices to trigger the automatic backup functionality.

“We’ve deferred this issue for consideration in a future release. Thank you for your time to make Android better,” Google said in response to the issue raised by the Android Pie beta tester on the public issue tracker.

It is unclear whether Google will be able to push the manual backup option to Android 9.1 that will be an upgraded version of Android Pie or bring it to Android Q. Nevertheless, there is a way to start manually backing up your data by rooting your Android device. But for the unofficial method, you need to set up ADB (Android Debug Bridge) and then pass the command “adb shell bmgr backupnow –all” each time when you want to manually back up your data onto Google Drive.

Notably, we don’t recommend you to root your device to manually back up your data. It is, therefore, better to wait until the official debut of the manual backup option.

As we mentioned, Apple is already offering a way to manually back up user data on iOS devices alongside offering the option to automatically back up the data onto iCloud. You just need to go to your Apple ID profile from the Settings menu and then navigate to iCloud > iCloud Backup > Back Up Now.

The manual backup option requires your device to be connected to the Internet, either using a data connection or a Wi-Fi network. Also, your handset must have enough battery charge to perform the backup process flawlessly.



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Tesla Could Make a $25,000 Electric Car in 3 Years: Elon Musk


After giving a “tearful” interview to The New York Times, Tesla Chairman and CEO Elon Musk sat with popular YouTuber Marques Brownlee for a chat, revealing his plans for a mass-market electric vehicle priced as low as $25,000 (about Rs. 17.45 lakh).

“That’s something we could do. If we work really hard, I think maybe we could do that in three years,” Musk replied to Brownlee (who goes by the handle @MKBHD on YouTube) on Friday. 

The interview took place on August 15 but a 17-minute video was uploaded by Brownlee on YouTube on Friday — a week after Musk tweeted about taking Tesla private with “funding secured” that created a storm at the Tesla board and amid market watchers. 

 

According to The Verge, Musk said in the YouTube interview that he hoped to scale production at Tesla and lower their design and technology costs enough to be able to offer a truly mass-market electric vehicle.

Currently, the price for Tesla Model 3 starts from $35,000 (about Rs. 25 lakh) and Model S from $75,000 (about Rs. 52 lakh).

Musk also expressed a desire to improve production to the point where Tesla can make two cars at once, said the report. “We’ve really gotta figure out how to make two new vehicles at the same time,” Musk told Brownlee.

The YouTube interview came a day after Musk spoke to NYT about “excruciating” times at Tesla, noting that he “nearly missed his brother’s wedding this summer and spent his birthday holed up in Tesla’s offices as the company raced to meet elusive production targets on a crucial new model”.

Earlier this week, Musk confirmed that he is closely working with Goldman Sachs and private-equity firm Silver Lake to take the electric carmaker private – a deal that would need nearly $70 billion (about Rs. 4.88 lakh crores) in funding.

“I’m excited to work with Silver Lake and Goldman Sachs as financial advisors, plus Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and Munger, Tolles & Olson as legal advisors, on the proposal to take Tesla private,” Musk tweeted.

Musk said that in late July, he met Saudi Arabian sovereign fund representatives to discuss the electric carmaker’s possible exit from the stock market.

He said in a statement that the Saudi sovereign fund had first contacted him “at the beginning of 2017 to express (their) interest because of the important need to diversify away from oil”.

“I continue to have discussions with the Saudi fund, and I also am having discussions with a number of other investors, which is something that I always planned to do since I would like for Tesla to continue to have a broad investor base,” he added.

He said he had most recently met with the Saudis on July 31 and left that meeting “with no question that a deal with the… fund could be closed, and that it was just a matter of getting the process moving”.

“This is why I referred to ‘funding secured’ in the August 7 announcement,” he said, referring to his surprise tweet on that date that he was thinking about taking Tesla private.

According to Musk, “two thirds” of Tesla’s current stockholders would be interested in continuing to hold the firm’s shares once it goes private.

On August 7, Musk surprised the investment world with a Twitter announcement that he was considering taking Tesla private and that the funds needed to do so – which some financial analysts estimate at more than $70 billion – were “secured”.

Musk’s tweet caused a financial firestorm with Tesla shares immediately skyrocketing by almost 11 per cent, although in the coming days they lost a good part of what they had gained and tanked further after Musk’s interview with the NYT.



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Microsoft Working on Next-Gen BP-Monitoring Smart Glasses


Microsoft is developing the next version of its smart glasses, called Glabella, that can work as a cuff-less, wearable and unobtrusive blood pressure measuring device, according to a new report.

The device incorporates optical sensors, processing, storage, and communication components, all integrated into the frame to passively collect physiological data about the user without the need for any interaction, according to a paper published on Proceedings of the ACM Journal of Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies.

Glabella continuously records the stream of reflected light intensities from blood flow as well as inertial measurements of the user’s head.

From the temporal differences in pulse events across the sensors, this prototype derives the wearer’s pulse transit time on a beat-to-beat basis.

A person’s pulse transit time – the time delay following each heartbeat as the pressure wave travels between two arterial sites – provides an indirect measure of blood pressure, according to a report in IEEE Spectrum.

Although the glasses did well in a test run, they are not yet ready to hit the store shelves as the Microsoft researchers plan to evaluate the Glabella glasses in a clinical setting.

The team is also developing a next version of the device to make it more power efficient while making the frame smaller, the report added. Currently, a small chargeable coin battery keeps the device running.

The aim is to shrink the device to such an extent that it could become a clip-on that works with anyone’s regular glasses, the report added.



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Samsung Brazil Caught Using Stock Photos to Promote Galaxy A8 (2018) Selfie Camera


Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018) was launched in December as the company’s first handset to sport a dual selfie camera setup. While two sensors at the front are being marketed for enhancing your self-portraits, Samsung Brazil has been spotted using some stock photos from Getty Images to promote the frontal camera setup of the Galaxy A8 (2018). The stock photos that the local division of Samsung had professedly posted on its official Twitter account were found to be captured back in 2015. The company eventually even deleted the tweets carrying the photos in question to silently prove its fault.

Twitter user with @feliperas username noticed that Samsung’s Brazilian division was using two stock photos from Getty Images to promote the selfie functionality of the Galaxy A8 (2018). The division posted the photos through the Samsung Brazil account on Twitter along with the hashtag Galaxy A8. One of the images was uploaded on stock photo site Getty Images in April 2015 – over two years before the formal launch of the Galaxy A8 (2018).

After being called out, Samsung’s Brazilian division said that the spotted photos were captured internally. The division, however, in a later tweet highlighted that while many of the photos it posted were taken using Samsung phones, some of them, like the ones in question, were intended to express how the photos taken using the phone will appear. Instead of explicitly confirming the fallacy, it eventually deleted the tweets carrying the stock photos.

To recall, the Galaxy A8 (2018) debuted with a dual selfie camera setup that includes a 16-megapixel sensor along with an f/1.9, fixed focus lens and an 8-megapixel sensor along with an f/1.9 aperture. The two sensors are powered by preloaded Live Focus feature that is designed to adjust the Bokeh effect even after capturing the self-portraits. On the back, there is a 16-megapixel sensor along with an f/1.7 aperture lens. The rear camera sensor is supported by video digital image stabilisation (VDIS) and has features such as hyperlapse and a Food mode. The smartphone features a 5.6-inch full-HD+ (2220×1080 pixels) Super AMOLED display with an 18.5:9 aspect ratio and is powered by an octa-core SoC, coupled with 4GB of RAM and up to 64GB of onboard storage.

As AndroidAuthority notes, Samsung’s isn’t the only smartphone vendor that is misleading customers by posting stock images. Huawei in 2016 also misled the public by posting photos from a Canon DSLR camera that were pretended to be captured from the Huawei P9. Likewise, Nokia in 2012 used a setup to falsely market the optical image stabilisation of the Lumia 920.





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Android Messages Silently Discards Dark Mode, Revamped UI, and Smart Reply Feature


Android Messages earlier this week received an update that brought offerings such as a dark mode and a Smart Reply feature. While that update was yet to reach the passes through a wider rollout, Google has suddenly rolled back the entire experience altogether. Instead of pushing a new update through Google Play to bring back the old Messages app, the search giant has apparently opted for a server-side update to completely discard the new features. The company has also brought back the dated interface that was replaced by Material Theme elements in the last version.

As noticed by a Reddit user, the Android Messages app moved back to the pre-update experience all of a sudden. “I updated the Messages app earlier today and turned in the dark mode but when I opened the app a few minutes ago it cracked and I no longer have the dark mode option [sic],” the user wrote in a Reddit post.

We were able to spot the change on one of our devices running Android 8.1 Oreo on which we originally tested the update earlier this week. Interestingly, we didn’t install any new version of Android Messages from Google Play. The changes, however, happened unexpectedly the moment we accessed the app after seeing the Reddit post. The Messages app interface went back to its previous form and abandoned the Material Theme elements as well as features including the dark mode and Smart Reply that lately made it a strong contender against Facebook’s Messenger and proprietary messaging apps from manufacturers such as OnePlus and Samsung.

Google hasn’t revealed any details about the reversal. However, it is safe to say that the recent changes will soon make a comeback to Android Messages. There might be some bugs that caused the rollback.

We’ve reached out to Google for clarity on the development and will update this space accordingly upon the receipt of an official response.



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E-Sports’s 2022 Asian Games Medal Status Put on Hold


The inclusion of e-sports as an official medal sport for the 2022 Asian Games cannot yet be confirmed, an Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) official said Saturday.

A meeting of the OCA executive committee in Jakarta approved a programme of around 40 sports for the 2022 Asiad in Hangzhou, China, where e-sports had been expected to make its full debut.

Instead the OCA ratified all 33 Olympic sports from Tokyo 2020 – with the possibility of adding up to six disciplines from Paris 2024 – plus one sport nominated by each of the OCA’s five regions, and two by the local organising committee.

OCA director general Husain Al Musallam said e-sports, whose competitions are currently organised by a diverse range of entities, needs a single international federation before it can be included as a medal sport.

“E-sports is not finally decided to be officially in the programme,” he said on the sidelines of the OCA executive board meeting.

“There needs to be one international federation. Now there are so many international federations for e-sports,” Musallam told AFP. “They have to get together to decide one governing body. To be ‘official’ in the programme and not ‘demonstration’ it has to be one international sport.”

The nature of e-sports could make that difficult given the millions of dollars invested by individual game creators who then need to control how their product is used and marketed in global competition.

Another huge stumbling block will be ensuring gamers comply with anti-doping regulations.

At a first-of-its-kind summit in Lausanne, Switzerland, last month, e-sports leaders met International Olympic Committee (IOC) executives to try to chart a way forward.

Last year IOC chiefs declared that e-sports could now be considered truly “a sport”, but that violent or shooting games could never be considered for inclusion in any future Olympics.

“In order to be recognised by the IOC as a sport, the content of e-sports must not infringe on the Olympic values,” they said.



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Apple Watch’s Time Travel Feature to Be Killed With watchOS 5


Apple is saying goodbye to Time Travel — one of Apple Watch’s under-used features — with watchOS 5 this fall.

According to an Apple Insider report, the Time Travel feature debuted as part of the watchOS 2 update. It lets users turn back (or forward) time to display certain information from a different date and time. It lets you go back and forth in digital time to see everything that was — or going to be — displayed on your Watch face.

The feature is utilised by rotating the Digital Crown on the Apple Watch clockwise or counter-clockwise, which would move time on the device in the appropriate direction. The Time Travel feature was used by some watch faces and developers could integrate it in their own apps.

Some app categories that could integrate the ability, such as weather, travel, and health. However, it never got traction among users and remained only a darling of the developer community.

“Developers testing the beta releases of watchOS 5 noticed the toggle disappear from settings — before the feature stopped operating completely,” said the report.

The watchOS 5 update will be rolled out later this year, with a bunch of new features. These include walkie-talkie, third-party app support on the Siri watch face, live sports scores, commute time from one place to another, and heart rate after a workout. The update will come  as a free update for Apple Watch Series 1 and later, dropping the support for the original Apple Watch.



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Netflix Testing Running Ads Between Episodes, Users Protest


Nobody likes ads during regular shows and Netflix is reportedly trying to insert video promos in between episodes of a show. Clearly, not many would be in agreement with the company.

As TechCrunch reports, Netflix is testing the feature to run full-screen video promos which are personalised based on the user’s viewing history. What perhaps make the promos more annoying is that they replace the preview for the next episode of the running show, including the title, description, and thumbnail.

In a statement to ArsTecnica, Netflix said, “We are testing whether surfacing recommendations between episodes helps members discover stories they will enjoy faster.”

The company also commented, “A couple of years ago, we introduced video previews to the TV experience, because we saw that it significantly cut the time members spend browsing and helped them find something they would enjoy watching even faster.”

Users took to Twitter and Reddit to file their complaints about the annoying new test. The company has responded saying that it is a limited test being run on a small percentage of its global audience.

Netflix conducts such experiments round the year and not all of these features make it to the original format. Given that it is a paid subscription service, users evidently demand a no-ad experience.

Separately, the company has removed user comments from its website earlier today. The feature was only available via the website and via the desktop.



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