Emerging trends: data, technology and wellness now the focus of healthtech

One of the biggest sectors in the startup ecosystem, healthtech is evolving significantly. Amid a government-backed push, the spotlight is now on innovations, including artificial intelligence (AI) and other technology.

Just off the first half of the year, India’s startup ecosystem has seen a whole lot of action on several levels. According to YourStory Research, the first half saw close to $7 billion raised in funding across 455 deals. By comparison, the first half of 2016 had over 552 deals but funding raised was far lower at $2.3 billion.

What is an interesting trend is that while the number of deals is lesser, deal sizes are larger. And this holds true for the healthcare sector as well. YourStory Research shows that there were 99 deals amounting to $161 million in 2016; this year, there have been 55 deals, which have already touched $302 million.

Srini Vudayagiri, of PE firm Peepul Capital, believes that even if Flipkart and Paytm gobbled up close to $3 billion of the $7 billion funding, sectors like healthcare and financial services stood out.

Apart from funding, healthcare has grown a big way this year. Beginning from the budget this year, there seems to be a focus on healthcare. The government’s key areas of focus were access to healthcare, amending drug rules and emphasis on data.

A government-backed push towards healthcare

The funding pumped into the healthcare sector has also seen a shift. While aggregator models for doctors, diagnostic centres and healthcare were key last year, there is a strong focus on specialisation, online pharmacy and data-driven approach this year.

In the budget in February, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced that the government has prepared an action plan for poor health. The government is also targeting elimination of tuberculosis by 2025. The budget proposal said 1.5 lakh health sub-centres will be transformed into health and wellness centres.

Stock-taking will take place towards the end of this financial year.

The renewed focus on amending drug rules comes as a relief to many. As of last year, India recorded one of the highest percentages of out-of-pocket expenditure towards medicines.

A report by NSSO stated that over 72 percent of out-of-pocket health expenses were on buying medicine in rural areas while 68 percent was spent in urban areas. For online healthcare companies, this focus on making drugs available at a reasonable price comes as a welcome move.

The online-offline tussle: push towards technology

Prashant Tandon, Co-Founder and CEO, 1mg, an online healthcare startup, says the new drugs and cosmetics rules will ensure availability of drugs at reasonable prices and believes there is a shift towards technology.

“Telemedicine using digital technologies in DigiGaon is another great thought and key to bringing healthcare access to all. We are waiting to see details of the blueprint and how we can participate,” Prashant says.

1mg, which raised additional Series C funding this year, is set to focus on data and AI. However, there still has been an online and an offline tussle. In May this year, offline pharmacies had gone on strike against online pharmacies to speak up against e-portals as mandated by the government. They also wanted to have their views on the central drug act amendment, where the government has mandated the presence of pharmacies in all stores taken into consideration.

This tussle has been on since online pharmacies grew across the country in late 2015 and early 2016.

Prashant, however, believes that over the several years there has been little technology shift in the healthcare ecosystem, but there are now several players bringing in the much-needed technological change in the healthcare space.

“We are at the cusp of a massive change. Data-based and technology-based healthcare is coming of age. I think the next year is going be exciting and the year of healthcare,” Prashant says.

Top startups that got funded in 2016
Image Credit: Avinash

A focus on wellness

By July last year, the healthtech world started seeing a push towards wellness and fitness, especially when Mukesh Bansal and Ankit Nagori’s Curefit raised $15 million in funding led by Kalaari Capital, IDG ventures and Accel partners. This was before they had launched the platform.

This year, even Practo, which started as a SaaS platform and evolved into a doctor consultancy platform, has ventured into healthcare insurance. The startup is now looking at healthcare from a more holistic perspective.

Four months shy of raising Series D funding, Practo has unveiled its brand identity and positioning as a complete health platform.

Varun Dubey, VP, Marketing, Practo, during the rebranding said,

“When we first started in 2007, we had Practo Ray, a SaaS platform for doctors. Our branding and positioning focused on that. But now with us focusing on everything to do with healthcare, whether it is consultations, discovery, record keeping and even insurance, we felt that we needed our brand to reflect that change clearly.”

Top funded startups 2017
Image credit: Avinash

Post GST impact on healthcare

The GST has started to have a strong impact on the healthcare sector, despite being exempted under GST. However, the consumer will end up spending more in terms of medical bills and hospitalisation costs.

Drugs, disposables and reagents are under the 12 percent GST bracket, and procedures and cost of surgeries are likely to rise.

Sanjay Anandaram, a well-known mentor in the startup ecosystem, believes that like the e-commerce sector, the healthcare sector too will continue to grow and have a significant impact.

“In recent years there seems to be a growing awareness towards a healthy lifestyle, rather than just preventive care. Therefore there needs to be a larger market for this,” Sanjay says.

Source:-yourstory

Google Pixel 2 Live Photos Leak, Show Off Stereo Speakers and Wide Bezels

Google Pixel 2 Live Photos Leak, Show Off Stereo Speakers and Wide Bezels

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Pixel 2 live photos tip sufficient bezel on top and bottom edge
  • The smartphone is seen having two stereo speaker cut outs
  • The fingerprint scanner sits at the rear end

Google’s Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2 smartphones are slated to release this fall, and ahead of the launch event, leaks have been flowing aplenty, with the most recent detailing the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack, the presence of bezels in the smaller variant, as well as the different manufacturers of both devices. Fresh tips today come in the form of live photos showing the front and back of the Google Pixel 2. The smartphone appears to be a bit wider, with sufficient bezels, and two stereo speakers in the front.

GSMArena has gotten hold of two photos showing the Google Pixel 2 smartphone from the front and back. The smartphone’s overall shape seems to have changed, with the rounded corners retained, but the overall frame being a bit wider and rectangular than the current generation Google Pixel. There is a wide bezel on all sides, disappointing us a little bit, and stereo speaker cut-outs are seen on the top and bottom edge as well. This hints at better audio output, as the current generation only has a single cut-out at the top.

At the back, there is a single camera setup, reiterating previous rumours, and the fingerprint sensor sits at the back as well, in the centre. These images show a Black colour variant, however a Silver renderhas also been spotted in the past. The Google Pixel 2 is expected to ditch the 3.5mm audio jack, come with a support for USB Type-C, and the camera is expected to bump out a little bit at the rear.

Another recent leak hints that the Pixel 2 will be made by HTC, and sport the ‘squeezable’ frame and EdgeSense seen in the HTC U11, apart from the stereo BoomSound speakers the company is known for. It will also not feature a bezel-less display. On the other hand, the Pixel XL 2 is said to be manufactured by LG, and sport a FullVision style display seen on the LG G6.

Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2 are rumoured to feature a 4.95-inch full-HD and 5.99-inch QHD (1440×2560 pixels) displays that will be manufactured by LG. The smartphones will sport 4GB RAM, apart from 64GB and 128GB of internal storage options. So far, they have also been tipped to sport an ‘Always On’ display mode. recent report also suggests that the upcoming Pixel smartphones will be the first to sport Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 836 SoCs.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Amazon looks to new food technology for home delivery

Developed for U.S. military, the food-prep tech obviates the need for refrigeration

Amazon.com Inc. is exploring a technology first developed for the U.S. military to produce tasty prepared meals that do not need refrigeration, as it looks for new ways to muscle into the $700 billion U.S. grocery business.

The online retailer has discussed selling ready-to-eat dishes such as beef stew and a vegetable frittata as soon as next year, officials at the start-up firm marketing the technology told Reuters.

The dishes would be easy to stockpile and ship because they do not require refrigeration and could be offered quite cheaply compared with take-out from a restaurant.

If the cutting-edge food technology comes to fruition, and Amazon implements it on a large scale, it would be a major step forward for the company as it looks to grab hold of more grocery customers shifting toward quick and easy meal options at home.

Complement groceries

Delivering meals would build on the company’s AmazonFresh service, which has been delivering groceries to customers’ homes for a decade. It could also complement Amazon’s planned $13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods Market Inc. and Amazon’s checkout-free convenience store, which is in the test stage.

The pioneering food-prep tech, known as microwave assisted thermal sterilisation, or MATS, was developed by researchers at Washington State University, and is being brought to market by a venture-backed start-up called 915 Labs, based in Denver.

The method involves placing sealed packages of food in pressurized water and heating them with microwaves for several minutes, according to 915 Labs.

Unlike traditional processing methods, where packages are in pressure cookers for up to an hour until both bacteria and nutrients are largely gone, the dishes retain their natural flavour and texture, the company said. They also can sit on a shelf for a year, which would make them suitable for Amazon’s storage and delivery business model.

“They obviously see that this is a potential disruptor and an ability to get to a private brand uniqueness that they’re looking for,” said Greg Spragg, a former Wal-Mart Stores Inc. executive and now head of a start-up working with MATS technology. “They will test these products with their consumers, and get a sense of where they would go.”

Amazon declined to comment.

Mr. Spragg’s company, Solve for Food, plans to acquire a MATS machine from 915 Labs that can make 1,800 packages an hour. The company aims to use the machine at a new food innovation centre in northwest Arkansas, near the headquarters of Wal-Mart.

MATS technology grew out of efforts by the U.S. Army’s Natick laboratories more than a decade ago to improve food quality for soldiers in combat. Washington State University, a five-hour drive from Amazon’s Seattle headquarters, received U.S. funding and became the research hub for MATS.

915 Labs said it formed in 2014 and acquired the assets of a business called Food Chain Safety, which previously was working on MATS before facing financial trouble in 2013.

915 Labs also licensed the original patents from the university, its chief executive Michael Locatis said, and its MATS dishes are now pending U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval.

In addition to ongoing work with the U.S. military, the company has sold machines to the Australian government and to food companies in Asia.

Hiring food people

“They have to leapfrog to MATS because they don’t have the refrigerated supply chain like we have in the U.S,” said Mr. Locatis, who was an assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security until 2013.

Amazon invited the startup to Seattle after learning about MATS technology last year at the SIAL Paris food trade show, according to Mr. Locatis.

In February, Amazon sent a team to Washington State University that met with Juming Tang, chair of the school’s biological systems engineering department and a key developer of the technology.

And in March, Amazon joined the university’s researchers and other companies in Seattle for the inaugural meeting of the Industrial Microwave Alliance.

“Amazon just started this,” Mr. Tang said in an interview. “They need to deliver meals to homes… They’re hiring food people like crazy.”

[“Source-thehindu”]

These Technology Index Funds Are Crushing It in 2017

The technology industry is a great place to find innovative stocks with the potential for huge gains, and many investors like to use index-tracking investments like exchange-traded funds to take advantage of opportunities in particular niches of the market. The most popular ETFs in the technology space are heavily weighted toward the behemoths of the industry, but for top returns, you have to drill down a bit deeper and find the most promising corners of technology. The funds below are among the top-performing index ETFs in technology in 2017, and they’ve all attracted at least $100 million in assets because of their success.

Technology Fund Assets Under Management Expense Ratio Year-to-Date Return
Guggenheim China Technology (NYSEMKT:CQQQ) $155 million 0.70% 49%
Global X Social Media Index (NASDAQ:SOCL) $155 million 0.65% 39%
PowerShares Nasdaq Internet (NASDAQ:PNQI) $467 million 0.60% 32%
iShares North American Tech-Software (NYSEMKT:IGV) $1.07 billion 0.48% 29%
iShares Global Tech (NYSEMKT:IXN) $1.26 billion 0.48% 27%
Robo Global Robotics and Automation Index (NASDAQ:ROBO) $1.01 billion  0.95% 26%

DATA SOURCE: FUND PROVIDERS.

What you should know about these tech funds

Each of the funds above focuses on a different area of the technology sector, but they’ve all found ways to profit. The Guggenheim China fund concentrates its portfolio on Chinese stocks, with all of the nation’s top e-commerce and internet companies represented among the portfolio’s top holdings. The idea of the fund is to benefit from China’s goal to become a digital nation both for enterprises and for ordinary citizens, and that theme has worked extremely well so far this year as investors rediscover the growth potential of the Chinese economy.

The Global X Social Media ETF has also benefited from the rise of Chinese tech companies, with about a third of its assets in emerging markets in the Asia-Pacific region. Yet this fund isn’t afraid to tread in busier areas, with the two top social media plays in the U.S. also among its top holdings. You’ll find a variety of approaches to social media, including microblogging and video-gaming companies, as well as more traditional social networking tools. Strong performance globally in this niche has sent shares of the ETF sharply higher in 2017.

The PowerShares Internet fund offers a more domestically focused equivalent of what the Guggenheim China fund does internationally, with broad-based exposure to companies that benefit from the internet. From social networks and video-streaming services to online travel and e-commerce websites, the PowerShares fund tracks Nasdaq-listed internet stocks, so about three-quarters of its holdings are U.S. companies, with most of the remainder giving it exposure to China.

Three-dimensional graphs and charts on a blue background.

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

Going beyond the internet

Internet stocks have been hot, but they aren’t the only investment vehicles to make money in technology. The iShares North American Tech-Software ETF focuses on software development companies, and among its top holdings, you’ll find some of the colossuses of the tech world. The top producers of database, publishing, office, customer relationship management, and video game software are all among the fund’s top holdings, and solid performance from these stocks in general has helped lift the fund higher.

The iShares Global Tech fund goes even further, giving investors the who’s who of technology companies around the world. U.S. companies dominate the list, making up all of the top five holdings and representing more than 75% of the fund’s assets. Stocks from Japan, Korea, China, and various parts of Europe round out the portfolio, offering a well-diversified but megacap-heavy set of holdings to its investors.

Finally, the Robo Global ETF focuses on companies in the robotics and automation fields from various corners of the world. The fund has a decidedly smaller-company focus, with a third of its assets invested in small-cap stocks and another 42% in mid caps. You’ll find producers of unmanned aerial vehicles, robotic surgical equipment, and autonomous vacuum cleaners among its holdings, along with makers of enabling technology to help further robotics and automation enterprises.

Profit from tech

The technology sector is a fertile ground for high-growth companies, and there are many ways to position yourself to produce long-term gains. The six funds above have been among the most successful this year, but dozens of other tech ETFs have the potential to become the winners of tomorrow as well.

Source:-fool

Google Pixel 2 Live Photos Leak, Show Off Stereo Speakers and Wide Bezels

Google Pixel 2 Live Photos Leak, Show Off Stereo Speakers and Wide Bezels

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Pixel 2 live photos tip sufficient bezel on top and bottom edge
  • The smartphone is seen having two stereo speaker cut outs
  • The fingerprint scanner sits at the rear end

Google’s Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2 smartphones are slated to release this fall, and ahead of the launch event, leaks have been flowing aplenty, with the most recent detailing the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack, the presence of bezels in the smaller variant, as well as the different manufacturers of both devices. Fresh tips today come in the form of live photos showing the front and back of the Google Pixel 2. The smartphone appears to be a bit wider, with sufficient bezels, and two stereo speakers in the front.

GSMArena has gotten hold of two photos showing the Google Pixel 2 smartphone from the front and back. The smartphone’s overall shape seems to have changed, with the rounded corners retained, but the overall frame being a bit wider and rectangular than the current generation Google Pixel. There is a wide bezel on all sides, disappointing us a little bit, and stereo speaker cut-outs are seen on the top and bottom edge as well. This hints at better audio output, as the current generation only has a single cut-out at the top.

At the back, there is a single camera setup, reiterating previous rumours, and the fingerprint sensor sits at the back as well, in the centre. These images show a Black colour variant, however a Silver renderhas also been spotted in the past. The Google Pixel 2 is expected to ditch the 3.5mm audio jack, come with a support for USB Type-C, and the camera is expected to bump out a little bit at the rear.

Another recent leak hints that the Pixel 2 will be made by HTC, and sport the ‘squeezable’ frame and EdgeSense seen in the HTC U11, apart from the stereo BoomSound speakers the company is known for. It will also not feature a bezel-less display. On the other hand, the Pixel XL 2 is said to be manufactured by LG, and sport a FullVision style display seen on the LG G6.

Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2 are rumoured to feature a 4.95-inch full-HD and 5.99-inch QHD (1440×2560 pixels) displays that will be manufactured by LG. The smartphones will sport 4GB RAM, apart from 64GB and 128GB of internal storage options. So far, they have also been tipped to sport an ‘Always On’ display mode. recent report also suggests that the upcoming Pixel smartphones will be the first to sport Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 836 SoCs.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

LG V30 Launch Set for August 31, Gets Leaked in Company’s Own Video Promotion

LG V30 Launch Set for August 31, Gets Leaked in Company's Own Video Promotion

HIGHLIGHTS

  • LG V30 is expected to be launched on August 31
  • The smartphone has been tipped to feature dual camera setup
  • LG has previously collaborated for its products with HitRecord

LG on Tuesday announced the launch date of the V30, it next flagship smartphone. LG had already sent a ‘save the date’ invite last month, and in the latest invite (seen below), it clearly mentions the LG V30 by name. The invite also bears the words ‘Lights. Camera. Action.’ The invite also reiterates the launch event will be in Berlin, Germany, and the date hints it will be a pre-IFA 2017 event.

With its previous products, LG has partnered with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and his HitRecord organisation to showcase new products’ capabilities through innovative videos. However, this time around, the new video entries have appear to have given us our first glimpse of the company’s yet-to-be-released LG V30 flagship smartphone.

lg v30 invite gsmarena lg

Photo Credit: GSMArena

Through a competition organised in collaboration with Gordon-Levitt’s c, LG encourages people to shoot videos with new products from the company and this year’s entries have provided us with clean shots of the unreleased LG V30, as pointed out in a report by Droid Life. While the videos are not in high-resolution, they do show the smartphone with dual camera setup, metal body back, and a fingerprint sensor along with ‘V’ moniker at the rear end.

lg v30 story2 droid life LG V30 Story 2

Photo Credit: via Droid Life

Notably, the design on the handset in the videos is similar, if not identical, to the one that was earlier leaked in a render video back in July. The alleged LG V30, in the submitted videos, can be seen sporting a FullVision Display with thin bezels across top and bottom of the display and rounded corners, just like the LG G6 and the Q6 smartphones from the company..

To recall, LG recently confirmed that its next major smartphone, i.e. LG V30, will feature a 6-inch FullVision QHD+ P-OLED display. As we reported earlier, the LG V30 display will come with the 18:9 aspect ratio, just like the LG G6, and the company has said that it will cover 109 percent of the DCI-P3 colour space and support HDR10 as well.

The secondary display on the LG V30 is believed to have been ditched by the company and the smartphone has been tipped to pack a Snapdragon 835 SoC. The handset is expected to house a 3200mAh battery and measure at 151.4×75.2×7.4mm. It can be offered by the company in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB storage capacities.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

SoftBank adding technology ambitions, with ARM, robotics

In this July 20, 2017 photo, SoftBank Group Corp. Chief Executive Officer Masayoshi Son speaks during a SoftBank World presentation in Tokyo. SoftBank said Monday, Aug. 7, 2017 its quarterly net profit was 5.5 billion yen ($50 million), down from 254

In this July 20, 2017 photo, SoftBank Group Corp. Chief Executive Officer Masayoshi Son speaks during a SoftBank World presentation in Tokyo. SoftBank said Monday, Aug. 7, 2017 its quarterly net profit was 5.5 billion yen ($50 million), down from 254 billion yen the previous year. Quarterly sales added 3 percent to 2.19 trillion yen ($20 billion). (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

Photo ops of SoftBank Chief Executive Masayoshi Son sometimes show him chatting happily with his company’s humanoid robot, the childlike Pepper, or grinning as President Donald Trump heaps praise on him for creating American jobs.

It’s clear Son, Japan’s richest person, stands out in Japan Inc.

He is no “salaryman” president, those typical executives who rise gradually and quietly through the ranks, Japan-style, in a corporate culture that frowns upon mavericks and tends to squelch self-made ventures.

Since founding SoftBank in 1981, Son, a Japanese of Korean ancestry who graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, has won both criticism and accolades as a daring investor who has gathered partners in diverse technology sectors from around the world.

Sometimes those adventures cost him. But often, they have paid off.

SoftBank Group Corp. reported Monday a 98 percent drop in its April-June profit at 5.5 billion yen ($50 million) on losses stemming from investments in the Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba.

Quarterly sales rose 3 percent to 2.19 trillion yen ($20 billion), while the Tokyo-based company’s operating profit, which highlights core operations, logged a 50 percent increase year-on-year as its U.S. mobile carrier Sprint, previously a drain on the bottom line, boosted profitability.

The first telecoms carrier to offer the iPhone in Japan, SoftBank has bought British semiconductor company ARM. Its acquisition of U.S. robotics pioneer Boston Dynamics is awaiting regulatory approval. Recently, it has announced it will invest in Encored, a U.S. company specializing in IoT technology in the energy sector.

Son believes artificial intelligence combined with data gathered by billions of sensors will benefit people more than the 19th Century Industrial Revolution, helping to treat cancer, deliver accident-free driving and grow safer food.

Son also has money to invest: a private fund he set up last year for global investments in the technology sector, called the Vision Fund, with the potential to grow to as much as $100 billion. Trump has praised him for promising to invest $50 billion in U.S. startups to create 50,000 jobs.

Son stressed at a news conference Monday that his company was neither an old-style Japanese “zaibatsu,” a business conglomerate with roots dating to the 19th century Meiji Era, nor a venture capital outfit pursuing a quick payback.

SoftBank tries to influence strategy in the businesses it invests in, without exerting outright control or overhauling their management, he said, instead collaborating on a shared vision of what he called the “information revolution.”

“We don’t try to stamp our color on our group companies,” he said. “We feel a brand should be free.”

Son’s spectacular rags-to-riches story, making one big acquisition after another including an approximately 40 percent stake in Yahoo in the 1990s, has left many skeptical over what appears to be a risky way to run a business, said Satoru Kikuchi, a senior analyst at SMBC Nikko Securities Co.

But as he added stakes in one technology powerhouse after the other, names like Microsoft Corp., Novell, Cisco Systems, Ziff-Davis and Comdex, Son has shifted gears when necessary, adjusting his portfolio and often emerging a winner and winning trust from key investors, Kikuchi said.

“His goal is to become the No. 1 company in the world through expanding in the technology area,” he said. “He has the ability to gather money and information. He can act, and he can make decisions.”

In a recent, nearly three-hour presentation in Tokyo, Son presented some of the ventures he is partnering with, including OneWeb, whose founder and chairman Greg Wyler wants to use satellites instead of underground cables to provide affordable internet access for everyone.

He showed off Spot, a four-legged robot that can climb steps and dance. ARM’s chips are found in nearly all smartphones and wearables, he noted. Data gathered from such omnipresent sensors provide far more comprehensive data than what can be gathered through mobile phones or computers, Son said.

“Those who rule chips will rule the entire world. Those who rule data will rule the entire world.” Son said. “That’s what people of the future will say.”

SoftBank also runs a solar power business, which Son plunged into with fervor after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in northeastern Japan. His business empire also includes financial-technology, ride-booking services and a baseball team, the Softbank Hawks.

Takenobu Miki, who worked closely with Son in the late 1990s and early 2000s, says Son excels in bringing together partners whom he thinks will be instrumental in the future.

Big Japanese companies often hoard resources like money, facilities and employees. Son doesn’t, says Miki, who now has his own business, Japan Flagship Project Co., which provides consulting and project management, among other services.

He says those who criticize Son for chasing quick bucks misjudge him.

“What you don’t want is an unprofitable company,” said Miki. “And he has a passion, a dream.”

 

[“Source-abcnews”]

BSNL’s Rs. 74 Rakhi Plan, Samsung’s Flip Phone, Smartphone Sales Drop, and More: Your 360 Daily

BSNL's Rs. 74 Rakhi Plan, Samsung's Flip Phone, Smartphone Sales Drop, and More: Your 360 Daily

HIGHLIGHTS

  • BSNL has a short-term Rs. 74 prepaid recharge for Rakhi
  • Samsung has launched a flip phone with dual full-HD displays
  • Motorola phones will be available offline in Delhi and Mumbai

For everyone who uses a mobile phone in India, every day must feel like some kind of festive occasion. Nearly every telecom operator has been offering one great deal after another ever since Reliance Jiocame along. The latest deal to join the party is BSNL’s’Rakhi pe Saugaat’ recharge plan for its prepaid customers. For Rs. 74, BSNL customers can get unlimited on-net voice calls, full talk value, and some data benefits as well. The catch is that this plan is valid only for five days and the recharge will be available from August 3 to 12.

Under that Rs. 74 BSNL plan there’s a limit of 1GB of data per day. The company has also launched other combo offers for Rs. 189, Rs. 289, and Rs. 389 ahead of the Indian festival of Raksha Bandhan. This comes after BSNL’s ‘Sixer 666’ pack for prepaid users that offered people 2GB of data per day for 60 days. The company had also announced increased data offers for its postpaid customers. All of this makes us believe that as long as these plans last, everyone can make hay while the sun shines.

Here’s everything else that made news in tech today.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 specs leaked; flip phone launched
Samsung has already announced that the company will launch the Galaxy Note 8 smartphone on August 23 and several leaked renders have given a fairly good idea about the handset’s design. Now, the final specifications that will be offered by the smartphone have also been leaked and suggest that the upcoming Galaxy Note series flagship will pack 6GB of RAM. As per the leak, Galaxy Note 8 will sport a 6.3-inch QHD Infinity Display with an aspect ratio of 18.5:9. It is expected to be powered by Exynos 8895 SoC globally, but use Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 in the US, just like the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+.

Samsung seems to be reserving all its flip phones for China. Take the Samsung G-9298 for example. The flip phone comes with two 4.2-inch full-HD Super AMOLED displays. It’s powered by a quad-core Snapdragon 821 SoC and 4GB of RAM.

Xiaomi grows fast in smartphones, wearables shipments; Mi 6c leaked
Xiaomi’s global smartphone shipments grew 58 percent year-on-year to 23.2 million during Q2 2017, according to Strategy Analytics. Thanks to its range of Android smartphones including Redmi 4A, which is proving “wildly popular” in India, Xiaomi was able to capture 6 percent of global smartphone marketshare in Q2 2017, snatching volumes from competitors such as Micromax and Lenovo in the country.

Xiaomi is also making steady progress in the wearables segment. According to a fresh research report from Strategy Analytics, Xiaomi is now the world’s largest wearables vendor, beating competition from Fitbit and Apple as well. One of the reasons behind this could be the fact that Xiaomi’s wearables are priced lower than the competition, which makes them accessible to more people.

Meanwhile, more details about Xiaomi Mi 6’s toned-down version – Xiaomi Mi 6c – have emerged with the usual disclaimer that accompanies every bit of leaked information: take this with a pinch of salt. The leaks feature enough details for us to believe that the launch of the Mi 6c is near. The smartphone, according to this leak, features a home button, perhaps with an embedded fingerprint sensor. The Xiaomi Mi 6c has been tipped to become available in a 4GB/64GB (RAM/storage) variant and another 6GB/128GB variant. The price is expected to be between CNY 2,000 (roughly Rs. 18,900) and CNY 2,500 (roughly Rs. 23,600).

Global smartphone sales drop, says IDC
Global smartphone sales have shown a decline in the second quarter of 2017, but don’t worry, it’s not much. The top five smartphone vendors showed positive growth while declines were seen for other manufacturers. Market leaders Samsung and Apple consolidated their positions. The IDC survey showed South Korean giant Samsung maintaining the top spot by delivering some 79.8 million handsets for a 23.3 percent market share.

Netflix announces 2 more original series from India
Two more original series from India are coming to Netflix. The first is ‘Selection Day’ a movie based on Aravind Adiga’s bestselling novel The White Tiger. The second is Again, a female-led detective series set in New Delhi. It will be written by Marisha Mukerjee, known for her work in Quantico and Justified.

The company is facing tough competition in India from the likes of Amazon Prime Video, which had announced 17 originals from India, and Hotstar. As of now, there are no details on when to expect these two shows to be available, but you can bet that it will not be anytime soon.

iPhone glitter cases recalled after causing chemical burns
Nearly 275,000 liquid glitter iPhone cases have been recalled after reports that the fluid leaked out and caused skin irritation, blisters and chemical burns. MixBin Electronics, which sold the cases, said in a statement that there was a risk that the cases could crack or break and the liquid could leak out and irritate users’ skin. These cases were sold at Henri Bendel, Tory Burch and Victoria’s Secret. The cases, which were sold for the iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, and iPhone 7 from October 2015 through June 2017, resembles a snow globe – with glitter that floats inside the liquid.

Karbonn Aura Note Play smartphone launched
Karbonn Mobiles has launched a new Android smartphone called the Karbonn Aura Note Play, which has been priced at Rs. 7.590. The smartphone runs Android 7.0 Nougat, has a 6-inch HD screen with a resolution of 720×1080 pixels, and comes with 16GB of storage that can be expanded via a microSD card (up to 32GB). The smartphone supports 4G VoLTE, is powered by a 1.3GHz quad-core processor, 2GB RAM, and features an 8-megapixel rear camera with a 5-megapixel front camera. It has a pretty big 3300mAh battery too.

Uber crosses 500 million rides in India
Uber has hit a big milestone as it revealed that over 500 million rides have been taken on its platform in India. The taxi-hailing app has also revealed that demand for its cabs has more than doubled between June 2016 and June 2017. While Uber wants everyone to believe that it is “winning in India”, the fact is that it is competing against Ola, which still is the bigger player in the market. The company also revealed a slew of statistics such as the driver and rider with the most number of the trips on the platform. Just because you are curious, the driver with the most number of trips in India is from Chandigarh and he’s taken 12,574 trips. The most prolific Uber rider is from Chennai, with 3,485 trips till date.

Moto Hub exclusive offline retail stores opened in India
Lenovo has decided that its Motorola branded smartphones need more of an offline presence. It has taken a big step in that direction by opening six Moto Hub retail stores in Delhi-NCR and Mumbai. As is obvious, these stores will only stock Motorola smartphones. The company plans to open 50 more of these in various cities in India by the end of this year. If you are one of those people who didn’t buy any Lenovo smartphone because it was an online exclusive, these stores will allow you the chance to check it out before buying.

Paytm for Android now lets you send money via phonebook
Paytm now allows its users on Android to send money to their contacts in a much easier manner. You can do this by going to the phone book on your Android smartphone. The process isn’t complicated at all. What you need to do is go to the contact and tap the Send Money option. This could be a precursor to the company’s plan to introduce a messaging service and take on WhatsApp.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

FENDER FXA9 REVIEW: TECHNOLOGY WITHOUT SOUL

ust why am I reviewing $1,299 earphones? I found myself pondering this question while rolling Fender’s new FXA9s around in my hand like a pair of translucent, expensive pebbles. The number of people in the market for such things is obviously limited, and I can’t imagine many of them would be making the decision based solely on my review. But I think of it the same way that I think of cheat codes in video games: I use those to understand the game without its usual constraints, which tends to help me win when I get back to playing without cheating.

The Fender FXA9s are professional in-ear monitors (IEMs) designed to be used onstage. Their price is close to three times that of Fender’s previous flagship model, the FXA7, and it seems to have been set only after the product was developed. In other words, Fender set out to make the best possible in-ear headphones it could and let the price take care of itself. So what is there to learn from these technologically marvelous and visually mesmerizing new earphones? Quite a bit, actually.

I loved last year’s FXA7s for one simple reason: they had beautifully exaggerated bass that made me laugh and giggle at the way it turned all my music into a booming freight train ride. There was no pretense of fidelity that I could detect, just a joyous caricature of every song that was nevertheless realistic enough to be charming rather than grotesque. From among the headphones I reviewed in 2016, many of which were more accurate and had a wider soundstage, it was those Fenders that I missed the most after the review period. Forget technical performance numbers and charts, the FXA7s warmed my soul.

This year’s FXA9s reprise the 3D-printed shells and unique silicone eartips of Fender’s FXA range, so I was rather hopeful for an FXA7 with just more of the same. Nothing could be further from the truth. The FXA9 flagship is the clean-shaven, suit-and-tie Fender earphone that’s grown out of the collection of grungy, long-haired bassheads that characterize the rest of Fender’s lineup. It’s a jarring change, especially since the company’s entire expertise — derived from Aurisonics, the small Nashville boutique that Fender acquired to design and build its IEMs — is in making the earphones with the biggest and baddest bass.

While I was adapting to the FXA9s’ entirely different sound, I still appreciated the familiar comfort and fit that they carried over from the Fender FXA7s. The Aurisonics / Fender team developed the shape of its in-ear buds by studying scans of the ears of thousands of people, and the end result is said to fit 95 percent of ears. I’m among the 95 percent of satisfied users, finding the bulbous FXA9s a relaxed and easy fit that doesn’t fatigue or irritate me at all.

Fender also has the best silicone eartips in the industry: they are super malleable and ensure a solid seal that passively neutralizes a lot of exterior noise. Unlike the Beyerdynamic Xelentos that I just reviewed, Fender’s earphones are as good out on a busy road as they are when listened to in a quiet room. I really like the way they re-create the advantages of custom high-end IEMs — great noise isolation; contoured, ear-fitting shape; and multi-driver balanced armature architecture — in a design that has a universal fit. I have a couple of custom IEM sets, which I love dearly, but they do go quite deep inside the ear and are not the best for casual listening in bed, for example. Fender’s FXA9s compare favorably because of their reliable comfort and slightly lower price.

I find the FXA9s very easy to wear, handsome to look at with that big Fender “F” logo, and easy to maintain. But I could say all of these things about all of Fender’s preceding FXA models. What distinguishes the FXA9? The answer is in what’s on the inside, where Fender has moved to an array of six balanced armatures per earbud, each one covering a particular range of frequency response. The advantage of this sort of internal architecture is the advantage of specialization over general competence: each individual mini-speaker can be perfected for its specific task and thus its sound can be as pure and distortion-free as possible. So goes the theory, anyway.

What I found while listening to the FXA9s was a total absence of distortion, harshness… and excitement. Fender has tuned these with a very smooth high end and a shy low end. Putting on my favored hip-hop albums by Run the Jewels and Sage Francis, I feel none of the bass. I can hear it, but I never feel it; and I’m of the opinion that bass should be more felt than heard. The FXA9s certainly demonstrate good technical ability by extending to reproduce very deep bass notes and high treble (this wide dynamic range is what makes the multi-armature design appealing), but they don’t really do much with that ability. Where Run the Jewels 2 on the FXA7 used to make me smile with joy at the overwhelming bassline battling for primacy with Killer Mike’s rapping, the same album on the FXA9 feels dry and unemotional.

Fender will tell you that the FXA9s are neutral, authentic, and faithful to the music. I disagree. This goes beyond my own preference for a warmer sound: I know how albums like PJ Harvey’s Uh Huh Her should sound, and the FXA9s come close but fail to re-create that. Their sound feels somehow thin, artificial, and unconvincing. Playing music with these earphones is like playing basketball with a ball that’s been pumped up too much. The usual bounce, snap, and rhythm just aren’t there.

The laudable goal behind the FXA9s was to elevate the Fender IEM sound beyond the category of a mass-pleasing bass thumper and into the professional realm of accurate, precise sound reproduction. That’s possible to do, and I would argue that the Beyerdynamic Xelento are a great example of an in-ear headphone that doesn’t serve lashings of extra bass, but can still provide an engaging listen. Unfortunately, Fender just didn’t execute the plan it set out for itself. Balanced armatures have often been guilty of sounding unnatural, and the Fender FXA9s are a salient example of that. They give you lots of technical precision, but lack the subtle cues of realism that our minds register unconsciously. (Distortion, especially in the bass region, might be an aspect of that, as we’ve all grown accustomed to hearing it. Its absence, even if technically desirable, could make music feel less believable.)

It’s almost an unwritten rule in the headphones industry that as the price of a product goes up, its bass response goes down. I’ve never been a fan of that move, which would suggest that audiophiles are miserly sonic accountants instead of lovers and fans of music. Alas, Fender’s FXA9s only serve to illustrate why this trend is inadvisable, deadening the sound with a presentation that lacks dynamism and excitement. I guess the lesson we can draw from this is that not everything that has a higher price and model number is necessarily better.

I review earphones that cost unreasonable sums of money because sometimes, as with the Beyerdynamic Xelento, I find rare examples that could be justified as unreasoning, emotional purchases. I also review them just to know what the rest of us are missing out on. In the case of the Fender FXA9s, the answer is nothing. I still miss the FXA7s.

6VERGE SCORE

FENDER FXA9-PRO

GOOD STUFF

  • Easy to wear and maintain
  • Very good passive noise isolation
  • Technically precise and distortion-free sound

BAD STUFF

  • Unexciting
  • Unaffordable
  • Unimpressive
Buy for $1,999.99 from Amazon
[“Source-theverge”]

mAadhaar App Review: The New UIDAI App Is a Work in Progress

mAadhaar App Review: The New UIDAI App Is a Work in Progress

HIGHLIGHTS

  • mAadhaar is a free app to store your Aadhaar on your Android phone
  • Issues with SMS OTP and crashes mar the user experience
  • The app itself has very limited use-cases for now

Carrying around the Aadhaar card, the biometrics-based unique identifier, recently became a lot easier when the supervisory agency UIDAI launched the mAadhaar app for Android devices. The app enables you to store all your Aadhaar details, such as name, date of birth, gender, address, etc. on your smartphone, instead of having to keep the physical card with you anymore. But the UIDAI clarified, the mAadhaar app is still in beta testing stage, and we quickly realised this to be true when we checked it out. Here we take a look at the mAadhaar app, its features, and areas where it can do with some improvements.

mAadhaar app: What is it?

For one thing, the features present in the mAadhaar app are still pretty limited. Using the app, you can download you Aadhaar details to your device, which can be used in place of the Aadhaar card itself. The downloaded details include your photo, name, date of birth, Aadhaar number, and a QR code that people can scan to get your Aadhaar information.

Beyond that, you can use the mAadhaar app for Android to see if your biometrics are locked or unlocked, and you can change this status. Of course, it was already fairly simple to lock and unlock your biometrics, via the UIDAI website, but having it available through an app on your phone should simplify things.

One more thing that you can do with the app is generate a time-based OTP (TOTP) through the app, which can be used instead of the SMS-based OTP. This is a useful feature given how unreliable SMS networks can be – if you’ve tried to authenticate anything (such as e-verifying your tax filings, perhaps) with your Aadhaar number, then you know how much of a delayed response this can lead to at times. Having a TOTP option should, hopefully, be much more reliable and faster.

maadhaar app review android google play how it works maadhaar_app_review_android_google_play_how_it_works

mAadhaar app is a work in progress, and has several areas of improvements for now

In fact, the mAadhaar app itself is a great example of why SMS OTP does not really work. That’s because, in order to use the app, when you enter your Aadhaar details, you’re verified via SMS OTP. Except of course, when we tried to use it, there were a huge number of issues. The SMS did not come and it took multiple attempts before we finally got it. The app tries reading the SMS automatically, except the app would freeze automatically, and we had to start over from the beginning.

This went on multiple times, with the app crashing rather than being willing to add us, until finally, with no real explanation, it worked and we were in.

mAadhaar app: Areas of improvement

Another issue with the way SMS OTP has been implemented with this app is that you can’t manually enter the OTP. You have to give the app access to your SMS inbox, and if you were thinking that you could keep the app on your tablet while getting the OTP on your phone – that’s not going to work. This also means that you can’t store your family members’ Aadhaar details using the Aadhaar app, as the number that’s linked to your Aadhaar should match with the SIM card in your phone. That’s quite likely intended as a security precaution, and thus not likely to change over time.

On the other hand, the mAadhaar app is expected to add new features over time, which would be great, because right now it’s of limited use. TOTP is one reason why we would want to have this app; unlocking biometrics quickly is another area which could be useful. But unless you’re using the Aadhaar for a lot of authentications, it’s not clear why you’d need to have these features on your phone.

5 things you should know about the mAadhaar app

Watch the video below to check out the five things you need to know about the new mAadhaar app, such as checking out the updated look of the Aadhaar card if you update some details, among others.

For example, if you need a local copy of your Aadhaar, you could just take a picture of the card with your phone, and store that on your gallery. If you’ve taken a decent photo, even the QR code on the card should remain readable, and other data such as your photo, name, date of birth, gender, and card number are all present there as well. Remember, the physical Aadhaar card itself holds no significance – the number is the important part.

One feature that is lacking is biometric authentication to the app – the only way to use the app is by entering a password, and you have to enter the password anytime that any action is carried out. This can be disabled, though it probably isn’t a good idea to do that. However, the password requirements are pretty annoying – it requires a length of between eight characters, with one uppercase letter, one special character, and one number. It’s the kind of thinking that leads to thousands of people sharing bad passwords like [email protected] Also, given that most modern phones come with fingerprint scanners now, having the option to sign into your app with a fingerprint could have been a big plus.

mAadhaar app: Where to download?

Finally, one word of warning, if you are planning to download this app, make sure you download the official mAadhaar app – the name of the app developer should say Unique Identification Authority of India. This isn’t the UID’s fault – app stores have long had a clone problem – but right now, the top results for mAadhaar do not include the official app so be careful you don’t end up downloading another app and handing over all your data to it.

mAadhaar app is available for Android, with an iOS version ‘coming soon’.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]