Windows 10 Mobile: Microsoft Expected to Launch Operating System Update Thursday, Reports Say

window 10

Microsoft is expected to roll out the operating system for select Windows Phones Thursday, multiple outlets reported. On Wednesday, Twitter launched a version of its app for Windows 10 Mobile.

Here Maps announced its plans to drop support for Windows Phone and Windows 10yesterday. As the primary mapping service for Windows Phone, it leaves existing users with Microsoft’s own lackluster maps app. Thankfully, Microsoft appears to be ready to improve its own maps situation. In a post on Reddit, a verified Microsoft employee identified as Dave_MSFT reveals that the company has an “exciting update” planned for the Windows 10 maps app.

The upcoming update will include an improved driving mode, which is one part of Microsoft’s maps app that has fallen behind the Here version. Microsoft is planning to release the update to Windows 10 testers first, before rolling it out to existing devices. Dave_MSFT appears to be very active in collecting feedback for Microsoft’s maps app on Reddit, so it’s clear the company is listening to how it can improve its maps experience now that Here is disappearing.

WhatsApp: Messaging App Adds Document-Sharing Feature in Latest Updates for iOS and Android

WhatsApp: Messaging App Adds Document-Sharing Feature in Latest Updates for iOS and Android

The feature allows users to share PDF files from services including iCloud, Google Drive and Dropbox, multiple news outlets report. WhatsApp has not formally announced the feature.

WhatsApp now supports document sharing: Here’s how to use

WhatsApp has finally rolled out the ability to share documents, both on the Android and iOS versions of the app.

We had spotted the ‘Share Document’ feature in our iOS app yesterday, but we were unable to share any document as other users did not appear to have the supported version. Today however, we were able to send documents from iOS to Android and Android to Android, etc. The document sharing option is also available for groups on WhatsApp as well.

In order to share a document, just tap on the share attachment option in iOS or Android and one of the tabs should reflect Share Documents. In iOS, you’ll be able to share documents from iCloud, Google Drive, OneDrive, if they are installed on your smartphone. In Android, WhatsApp lets you share documents from the File Folder itself.

whatsapp-file-sharing

WhatsApp’s document-sharing is a much-needed feature. Rival apps like Telegram, WeChat, etc already allow file-sharing from within the app.

WhatsApp had also announced that it plans to start testing tools to allow users to communicate with “businesses and organizations” that they might be interested in, directly from the app itself. WhatsApp’s announcement indicated that it was looking at ways of including communications with say a bank about a transaction or with an airline about delayed flight.

The Facebook-owned Instant messaging app could soon become the hub for messages and alerts, that we normally get on our phones. And document sharing support is one important feature if WhatsApp aims to convince more businesses and organisations to use the app.

 

Miramax: BeIN Media Group Announces Acquisition of Film Company

BeIN Media Group Announces Acquisition of Film Company

The Qatari company acquired 100 percent of Miramax from a consortium of investors, beIN Media Group said Wednesday. Layoffs are not expected, and current management will remain in place.

Miramax: BeIN Media Group Announces Acquisition of Film Company

 

Miramax, the film studio behind hundreds of hit movies including “Pulp Fiction” and “Chicago,” has been sold to the Doha-based beIN Media Group, the companies announced on Wednesday.

BeIN, which runs sports networks and movie channels in 24 countries in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and the U.S., said Miramax would continue to operate as an independent film and television studio under its new owners.

“We are extremely excited to have achieved this key milestone within our strategy,” said Nasser Al-Khelaifi, chairman and CEO of beIN Media Group.

Miramax’s back catalogue of more than 700 movies have won a total of 68 Oscars, including for “The English Patient,” “Shakespeare in Love,” and “No Country for Old Men.”

The company was founded in 1979 by Harvey and Bob Weinstein, who sold it on to the Walt Disney Company for $60 million in 1993.

It was bought for more than 10 times that amount in 2010 by an investor group led by real estate magnate Ron Tutor, private equity firm Colony Capital and the Qatar Investment Authority, although Tutor later sold his stake to the Qataris.

Colony and Qatar had reportedly been looking to offload the company with its library for at least a year, although no investor came in for the $1 billion asking price.

Financial terms of the deal announced on Wednesday were not disclosed.

Qatar-based beIN

In 2016, Miramax has invested or will be investing and co-distributing a number of titles including “Bad Santa 2,” “Bridget Jones’s Baby,” “Southside with You,” “The 9th Life of Louis Drax” and the TV show “From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series,” based on the film of the same name.

BeIN acquired the entire company from a group of investors, including the Qatar Investment Authority — the country’s sovereign wealth fund — and Tom Barrack’s Colony Capital, for an undisclosed sum

The purchase will help BeIN broaden its holdings from sports networks and movie channels in 24 countries including the US, France, Hong Kong and Australia. Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, BeIN chairman and chief executive, said Miramax would complement his company’s “plans to grow across the entertainment industry and develop new content production”.

Miramax’s library comprises more than 700 titles, including award winners such as No Country for Old Men and commercial hits such as the Scream franchise. The studio has recently resumed investing in new productions, including the forthcoming Bridget Jones’s Baby and Southside With You, a film based on the first date of Barack and Michelle Obama.

“In concert with BeIN leadership, we look forward to further expanding our film and television output, broadening our distribution capabilities and fortifying our position as the premiere independent studio brand,” said Steve Schoch, Miramax chief executive.

Redmi Note 3: Xiaomi Launches New Smartphone in India

xiaomi-mi-4

The new smartphone will be available in dark grey, champagne gold and silver. It features a hexa-core Snapdragon 650 processor and a 5.5-inch full-HD 1080×1920 pixel display.

 

Xiaomi-redmi-l
Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has launched the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 priced at Rs 9,999 in India with a Snapdragon 650 processor. So far the Redmi Note 3 was available with a Mediatek chipset. The sale starts from March 9, 2016, for pre-registered users.

Xiaomi-Mi-India-Store-792x356

 

At a media event in New Delhi, Xiaomi has unveiled the Redmi Note 3 in the Indian market. The handset is priced at ₹9,999 ($146), and is set to go on sale starting March 9 on the vendor’s online portal as well as Amazon.

The metal-bodied Redmi Note 3 features a 5.5-inch Full HD IPS LCD display, Snapdragon 650 SoC with four Cortex A53 cores clocked at 1.4GHz and two newer Cortex A72 cores at 1.8GHz, microSD slot, 16MP camera with phase detection autofocus, 5MP front shooter, LTE connectivity, Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 4.1, and a 4000mAh battery. There’s also a fingerprint sensor at the back. On the software front, you’re looking at the latest version of MIUI 7 running on Android 5.1 Lollipop.

The phone comes in two variants: a model with 3GB of RAM and 32GB internal memory for ₹11,999 ($176), and a base model with 2GB of RAM and 16GB internal memory for ₹9,999 ($146). The handset will be assembled in India under the government’s “Make in India” initiative.

Xiaomi was the first Chinese vendor to offer attractive hardware in the budget segment, but the market has matured since the launch of the Mi 3 a few years ago, with the likes of Lenovo, Huawei, and LeEco aggressively targeting the segment. As such, the Redmi Note 3 goes up against Lenovo’s Vibe K4 Note, the Honor 5X, and the LeEco 1S.

 

There’s no question that the Redmi Note 3 holds its own — at least in terms of specs — when compared to other handsets on sale in this segment, but it remains to be seen if the vendor manages to make enough units available at launch to deal with the inevitable demand.

Last year was a largely forgettable one for Xiaomi in India due to its litigation with Ericsson, which prevented the manufacturer from launching its marquee products in the country. With the case now settled, it looks like Xiaomi is gearing up for a massive 2016, with its flagship Mi 5 slated to make its debut in the coming months.

Indian readers, how many of you are looking to buy the Redmi Note 3?

Nasa Releases New Image of Mars’ Moon

The images will allow Maven scientists to better assess the composition of this enigmatic object, whose origin is unknown, Nasa said.   Comparing Maven's images and spectra of the surface of Phobos to similar data from asteroids and meteorites will help planetary scientists understand the moon's origin -- whether it is a captured asteroid or was formed in orbit around Mars.   The Maven data, when fully analysed, will also help scientists look for organic molecules on the surface.   Evidence for such molecules has been reported by previous measurements from the ultraviolet spectrograph on the Mars Express spacecraft, according to the US space agency said.   The observations were made by the Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph instrument aboard Maven.

Phobos as observed by MAVEN’s Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph. Orange shows mid-ultraviolet (MUV) sunlight reflected from the surface of Phobos, exposing the moon’s irregular shape and many craters. Blue shows far ultraviolet light detected at 121.6 nm, which is scattered off of hydrogen gas in the extended upper atmosphere of Mars. Phobos, observed here at a range of 300km, blocks this light, eclipsing the ultraviolet sky.Credits: CU/LASP and NASA

NASA scientists are closer to solving the mystery of how Mars’ moon Phobos formed.

In late November and early December 2015, NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission made a series of close approaches to the Martian moon Phobos, collecting data from within 300 miles (500 kilometers) of the moon.

Among the data returned were spectral images of Phobos in the ultraviolet. The images will allow MAVEN scientists to better assess the composition of this enigmatic object, whose origin is unknown.

Nasa Releases New Image of Mars' Moon

The images will allow Maven scientists to better assess the composition of this enigmatic object, whose origin is unknown, Nasa said.
Comparing Maven’s images and spectra of the surface of Phobos to similar data from asteroids and meteorites will help planetary scientists understand the moon’s origin — whether it is a captured asteroid or was formed in orbit around Mars.

The Maven data, when fully analysed, will also help scientists look for organic molecules on the surface.

Evidence for such molecules has been reported by previous measurements from the ultraviolet spectrograph on the Mars Express spacecraft, according to the US space agency said.
The observations were made by the Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph instrument aboard Maven.

Freedom 251 scam of Millenary saying Congress MP

freedom-251-scam

Congress MP Pramod Tiwari on Friday said the scheme of giving smartphones at Rs.251 was the “biggest scam of the millennium” during the BJP regime.

He demanded the money which had been received by the company should be kept secure.

Tiwari said in the Rajya Sabha that the government needs to clear the facts about the “fraudulent ‘Freedom 251’ phones”.

Ringing Bells had launched “Freedom 251” smartphone that, it said, has been developed “with immense support” from the government.

Ashok Chadha, the president of the company, had said the company will hand over 25 lakh “Freedom 251” phones to the people who have registered for it online.

Ringing Alarm Bells: Could Freedom 251 be a fraud?

freedom-251

Ringing Bells Pvt Ltd, a hitherto-little-known Noida-based company, has suddenly caught people’s popular imagination after it announced it would launch Freedom 251, an Android mobile phone priced at Rs 251. The company says that the phone, which carries budget-phone specifications, will be shipped to buyers by June. The company’s website, which opened a purchase window this morning, says it has suspended sales for now after getting 6 lakh orders. But many things have looked suspicious from the get-go: the phone looks eerily similar to Adcom Ikon 4 , which retails for about Rs 3,600. Reviewers from several publications and tech websites that the test unit had had its branding whitened out . Others said their test units didn’t work; everyone pointed out that software’s look-and-feel resembles the iPhone operating system. Further, the Indian Cellular Association, the apex body of mobile phone manufacturers, claims that the bill of materials for a phone of this specification comes to around Rs 2,700, and has raised concerns that the phone doesn’t pass the smell test. The ICA even wrote to the Telecom Industry warning that the government keep its distance from the phone company — which claims to be furthering the cause of Make in India — following which Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar did not show up at the launch event despite being scheduled to. On his part, Ringing Bells President Ashok Chadha, in an interaction with media persons last night, put out some fuzzy numbers: saying that the company will save Rs 400-500 each by manufacturing in India (and benefiting from a duty differential), using economies of scale and by selling only through the online route. In an interview with CNBC-TV18’s Nayantara Rai, ICA President Pankaj Mohindroo explained what was wrong with Ringing Bells’ math.

Below is the interview transcript on CNBC-TV18.

Q: We have seen the company actually explain on how it is possible to price the phone at Rs 251. He talks about passing on 13.8 percent duty to the benefit to the customers saying this is the Make in India duty. Now we understand there is a differential pricing for imported phones and those that are made in India which is 13.8 percent in effect from March 1, 2015. The question I want to ask you is then why are all the manufacturers anyway passing on this benefit to customers. For him it works out to be Rs 470. For other manufacturers it will be a lot more?

A: It doesn’t add up like that. The bill of materials for a product like this — the specs that are being claimed — is approximately USD 40. This cost is very optimised, very sharp and without any margins added. So, that is about Rs 2,700 per phone. On top of that, you add import duty or manufacturing duty, value added tax (VAT), retail margins, distribution margins. And let me tell you the mobile phone industry is extremely cut throat. It is extremely optimised, retail margins are very small, 1-3 percent. Distribution margins are very small, 1-3 percent. There is no place to hide. Nobody can keep a margin up his sleeve. It is absolutely cut throat, dog eat dog industry. There is a differential duty margin [when you manufacture in India as opposed to importing] and this is not something we have to learn from a gentleman like this. There is a 11.5 percent duty differential which translates into Rs 60 for a Rs 700 phone and Rs 7,000 for an Apple product. So, there is a duty differential and it is being passed on to the consumers. But look at the sums, look at the dynamics of the bill of the material which I have told you. This phone should be costing Rs 4,000.

 

Q: Ashok Chadha is saying if you look at the economies of scale they will save an additional Rs 530, he is going to save another Rs 460 by not getting into traditional advertising and marketing and saying he only has to back up and cover up Rs 550, which will be done from the marketplace. You have raised alarm bells to the telecom ministry…

A: I am leaving this to the court of the media by giving facts. I gave you the numbers, when I said USD 40 bill of material — USD 40 is bare bone, very large volume economy numbers. I am not talking about any margin, I am talking about the bill of material. So, if you are talking about normal trading, which is a very economy brand this phone should sell for Rs 4000. If you are talking about a job lot being sold in the e-commerce type of business, it should be about Rs 3500.

 

Q: I want to understand why are you so alarmed? If you look at Ringing Bells explanation he seems to have it all covered. Sometimes things are too good to be true but he does explain it. He is going to pass on 13.8 percent duty, he says he is going save additional Rs 530 from economies of scale, he is going to save Rs 460 by not getting into traditional marketing and says then I am only left with Rs 550 which he will do with his market place. So, he is going to get probably apps or get other people to sell on his phone. Are you alarmed because people will buy his phones and not the phones of all traditional companies?
A: I am saying USD 40 bill of material with very large volumes of millions of phones. That is the starting of the building block, where is this duty coming into place?

 

Q: What happens when he has to make deliveries?

A: I am placing the facts in front of you. We have no vested interests in anything. We are promoting the nation’s manufacturing, we are promoting the industry. If there is a person with a business model like that we would love to promote it. We have spoken to all the operators, there is no hidden subsidy in this. There is no bundling, which is happening with any operator. So, something where the bill of material is Rs 3000, how is he undercutting it, that is the question I want to ask.

 

Q: Why is it that you all have made a representation to Ravishankar Prasad the telecom minister explaining all of this and then saying that it is perhaps not prudent for a senior minister to attend the launch. We do understand that defence minister Manohar Parrikar was supposed to attend the launch, his name was there on the invite as well and then post your letter and conversations with the telecom minister, we did not see Parrikar there at the launch yesterday. So, I want to ask you why is it that you are association was worried? If there is somebody who is trying to make false claims that person would be brought to justice.

A: Absolutely, that is the thing we pointed out to the minister. We have said that we do not understand this business model. It is beyond us, what is the business model. It looks extremely suspicious. In these circumstances, if you think we are worth anything, we are proposing to you that there should be no direct or quasi endorsement from a government leader for this company till the air is clear.

 

A viral message is circulating on social media which reads, ‘Beware of scam- This Company can do fraud in the name of giving Smartphone for Rs 251’.

‘This is the new company and Company’s website is just 4-5 months old which started in September 2015 and

Google Is Offering Free Storage Space Of 2GB And Today Is The Last Day For Getting It

google

Google wants you to take your online security seriously. On the occasion of Safer Internet Day which was on 10 February, the tech giant rolled out a feature for users to verify their security information and make changes if required. As detailed in its blog post, you need to complete a security check by clicking this link.

Once you click on the link, you will be prompted to enter your Google account information and complete your security review in a couple of steps. You can check your phone number and recovery email address, the devices connected to your account as well as the apps and websites that you have given permission to access your Google account.

Google Is Offering Free Storage Space Of 2GB And Today Is The Last Day For Getting It

© Google

After this is done, you will automatically receive an upgrade of 2GB in your Google account that can be used across services like Gmail, Google Plus and Google Drive among others. This means that apart from the standard 15GB space on your Google account, you can bump it to 17 GB after completing this review in less than a couple of minutes. You can read the complete blog post here.

Surely a win-win!

Photo: © Reuters (Main Image)

TRAI Gives Its Verdict In Support Of Net Neutrality With Its Latest Regulation

There is good news for all the supporters of net neutrality as the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued regulations against the differential pricing by the service providers. So, from now on according to ‘The Prohibition of Discriminatory Tariffs for Data Services Regulations 2016’, ‘no provider should charge discriminatory tariffs for data based on its content.’ In fact, with this regulation, TRAI can now prevent the service providers from entering into any contract that has any effect of discriminatory tariffs for data services.

TRAI will also check if any attempts are being made to violate these regulations and can even issue a penalty of Rs. 50,000 a day for discriminatory tariffs. However, TRAI has made one exception that differential prices can be offered in case of emergency, but then, the service providers will have to inform TRAI about this within 7 days.

TRAI had earlier criticized the way in which Facebook urged millions of users to send emails to TRAI in support of the super hyped ‘Free Basics’ campaign. As per this Free Basics service, people who do not have internet can access some websites freely from their mobile phones.

This net neutrality debate was started by Airtel who decided on charging separately for the internet-based calls, but later withdrew it after protests by people.

As the nation is fighting for ‘net neutrality’, let’s know what exactly it is. Basically, net neutrality means that every user should get equal treatment and that no company or individual entity should be preferred based on the payment made by them to the content or service providers.

Android Circuit: Apple’s Android Mistake, Samsung Confirms New Phone, Google’s Browser Wars

Taking a look back at seven days of news across the Android world, this week’s Android Circuit includes the launch dates for #TheNextGalaxy, Samsung accidentally confirming the S7 Edge, the updated Apple Music for Android app, BlackBerry’s commitment to Android, Marshmallow’s market share of Android, Samsung and Google kick off the new browser wars and the ad blocking wars in one week, and Microsoft’s purchase of SwiftKey.

Android Circuit is here to remind you of a few of the many things that have happened around Android in the last week.

Samsung Announces Date For Galaxy S7 Reveal

Samsung has announced the details of the 2016 ‘Unpacked’ event. Revealed in a short promotional video with the tag #TheNextGalaxy, expectations are incredibly high that this is the Galaxy S7 family. Taking place the day before MWC starts in Barcelona should guarantee a strong turnout from the press… but will that be enough to excite the fifth estate and start a successful PR campaign to sell the handsets?

The package has to be seen to be more than an iterative update. Going from the biggest numbers on the spec sheet last year to the slightly bigger numbers this year is not enough for Samsung’s mobile division to turn round its poor performance. The return of waterproofing and microSD card support will help, but Samsung needs to do more than say ‘it has all you want’, it needs to present everything a customer wants and a little bit more magic.

That magic will be found in the presentation, the initial reception, and the enthusiasm that comes out of the Unpacked event. Samsung needs to start a fire and get people excited. The leaks up to this point make it a harder job as the geekerati are going to see ‘same old Samsung we all expected’. How Samsung breaks out of that story and if it can frame a new successful story is what I’ll be watching for from Unpacked.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Galaxy S6 Edge (image: Ewan Spence)

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge (image: Ewan Spence)

Samsung Accidentally Confirms S7 Edge

Samsung also managed to confirm the S7 Edge smartphone. Thanks to a leak on the Samsung Developer page that details the new widgets to be attached to the ‘edge’ of the screen, we know the widgets run on the S6 Edge, S6 Edge Plus, and the S7 Edge. And now we know the new handset will be called the S7 Edge.

 

Most notable with the latter element is the addition of ‘Wide Type’ edge panels which will also come to the S6 Edge and S6 Edge Plus with their impending upgrade to Android Marshmallow. As the name suggests, Wide Type panels allow for richer functionality including a compass, phone status and news widgets rather akin to the ‘Live Tiles’ Microsoft MSFT -3.64% uses on Windows Phone/Windows 10 Mobile.

As with ‘Narrow Type’ edge panels, Wide Type panels are accessed with a swipe from the edge of the phone. The exact position for the swipe and which panel(s) you prefer to see can be customised in settings, along with the ability to add multiple panels that can be cycled through with additional swipes. It remains something of a gimmick, but is improving month on month.

Well played, Samsung. What was that about keeping surprises back for the reveal?

Apple Music For Android Updated, But What’s The Endgame?

Apple has updated its Apple Music client for Android to include offline listening and saving songs to a microSD card. While it is one of many monthly music subscription services, Apple Music for Android is trying its best to not look like a trojan horse to bring users into iCloud. It’s not acting like one either:

Apple Music for Android could have taken that approach – should have taken that approach in my opinion – and use it as a lead generating app for future hardware sales.

Instead it’s making a play to get users signed up to iCloud and… then what? Unlike Microsoft, which is putting software services first and hardware sales second, Apple is still leading with hardware. Apple Music is a tool that you would expect to lead a software charge, but there’s no second wave or further apps to support this strategy.

With the update to the Android client, Apple is offering Android users another reason to stay on Android, and making it easier and more attractive for iOS users to move back to Android.

Apple Music for Android could have taken that approach – should have taken that approach in my opinion – and use it as a lead generating app for future hardware sales.

Instead it’s making a play to get users signed up to iCloud and… then what? Unlike Microsoft, which is putting software services first and hardware sales second, Apple is still leading with hardware. Apple Music is a tool that you would expect to lead a software charge, but there’s no second wave or further apps to support this strategy.

With the update to the Android client, Apple is offering Android users another reason to stay on Android, and making it easier and more attractive for iOS users to move back to Android.

BlackBerry Priv (image: Gordon Kelly)

BlackBerry Priv (image: Gordon Kelly)

BlackBerry Commits To Android

Following the BlackBerry PRIV’s release at the end of 2015, the Canadian manufacturer’s Senior Director of Product Management has all but confirmed BlackBerry’s move to Android, the depreciation of BB10, and the increased focus on security BlackBerry will need to make a successful OS transition:

If it can build secure software for the platform and move the brand association of security over to its new Android platform then it has an attractive selling point. If it can transition the existing enterprise users (especially government departments) to the Android platform over the next few years then the goal of five million smartphone sales per year is reachable.

I don’t think BlackBerry has enough to survive in the consumer market alone. The BlackBerry PRIV is either under-powered for its price point, or too expensive for the specifications on offer. In a straight race to the bottom, BlackBerry is going to lose, every time. But if it can be seen as the Android device that is demanded by enterprise and governments around the world, then it will have found a profitable niche that could turn a profit for years to come.

 

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