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Friday, March 15, 2019

March 15, 2019

Amazon Prime subscription to Nirvana postpaid customers to Idea offers free one-year

Amazon Prime with its Nirvana postpaid plans Idea is offering free one-year subscription. Amazon Prime service bundles access to Prime Video, Prime Music and as well as early and exclusive access to deals on the e-commerce site.

To avail the offer, Idea customers will need to download the Idea Movies and TV app from App Store or Google Play Store. Users can then generate OTP and validate by entering their mobile number. Click on the Idea – Amazon offer banner in the app to activate the membership.

Amazon Prime yearly subscription at no extra cost is available for Vodafone Red customers as well. Vodafone Red postpaid plans start at Rs 399.

Today’s customers are digitally savvy and want more freedom and flexibility in the way they consume content. We understand the need to offer a great content experience to our consumers. Through this strategic relationship with Amazon Prime, we are further strengthening our content proposition and our commitment to offer the best to our customers,” Avneesh Khosla, Operations Director Marketing, Vodafone Idea Ltd said in a press statement.

Monday, March 11, 2019

March 11, 2019

Apple makes better IPhones thanks to obscure this Japanese firm

After two decades in development, chipmakers are making a costly bet on a technology that will cram even more transistors onto silicon. Their success may hinge on a little-known company in the suburbs of Tokyo.

Lasertec Corp. is the world’s sole maker of equipment that tests glass squares slightly bigger than a CD case that act as a stencil for chip designs. By shining light through the squares, circuits smaller than the width of a few strands of DNA are imprinted onto silicon wafers in a process called lithography. These templates have to be perfect: even a tiny defect can make every single chip in the batch unusable.

Consumers take it for granted that gadgets will keep getting slimmer, more powerful and cheaper, but the chip companies are running out of ways to etch ever smaller circuit patterns onto silicon. After years of setbacks, the industry has settled on extreme ultraviolet lithography, which uses plasma as the light source to draw lines smaller than 7 nanometers. That’s the size seen in Apple Inc.’s A12 Bionic chip, featured in the iPhone XS and XR.

In 2017, Yokohama, Japan-based Lasertec solved the final piece of the puzzle when it created a machine that can test blank EUV masks for internal flaws, giving it a monopoly. The company’s stock has tripled since then.

Lasertec has already received orders for 4 billion yen ($36 million) machines that test EUV blanks, according to Lasertec President Osamu Okabayashi. The company may see additional sales as soon as this summer, depending on how quickly Samsung Electronics Co. and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. ramp up mass production, he said. Lasertec shares climbed as much as 6 percent in Tokyo on Tuesday, the biggest intraday gain in 10 days.

“We spent six years developing this equipment,” Okabayashi said in an interview. “At this point it’s become an industry standard and it would be very difficult for somebody else to enter the space.”

An EUV mask, a sandwich of about 80 alternating layers of silicon and molybdenum, can fetch as much as $100,000. Only two companies – glassmakers Hoya Corp. and AGC Inc., both in Japan – manufacture the blanks. Lasertec’s machines can spot problems early on, which is critical to making the technology cost competitive. “For EUV, masks have to be perfect,” Okabayashi said.

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EUV lithography is so complex and expensive that so far only Samsung and TSMC have said they will use it to move to 7-nanometer chipmaking. Intel Corp. has delayed its introduction, while difficulties in making EUV economically viable have prompted Globalfoundries Inc. to reportedly abandon it altogether.

Samsung has said that the move lets it use chip area 40 percent more efficiently, improves performance by 20 percent and halves power consumption. Apple’s 7-nanometer processor is manufactured by TSMC and is specialized for machine-learning applications. In the past few months, Qualcomm Inc. and Huawei Technologies Co. unveiled a 7-nanometer chip that will power 5G devices.

“It used to be that chip demand was completely dependent on product cycles for personal computers,” Okabayashi said. “But then came smartphones and pretty soon we’ll be able to add AI, IOT and 5G to the list of applications driving demand.”

It will take a while for the impact from new orders to show up in earnings, because EUV blank testers take about two years to build. Lasertec is forecasting that sales will climb 32 percent to 28 billion yen in the year to June 30, while operating income will grow 14 percent. Revenue may jump about 50 percent next fiscal year and profit could double, according to analyst estimates.

The company’s shares have climbed more than 50 percent this year, approaching the 4,590 yen record high set in March 2018. Of the eight analysts tracked by Bloomberg, six recommend buying the shares.

“Earnings have a lot of room to grow because we haven’t even seen the spending on 5 nanometer process yet,” said Yasuo Imanaka, an analyst at Rakuten Securities Inc. “This is a very good company.”

Sunday, March 10, 2019

March 10, 2019

flag data privacy concerns over Sebi's KYC database plan of FPIs

Large overseas fund managers such as Templeton, Fidelity and BlackRock have opposed the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) proposal to create a central database containing the personal information of all beneficial owners of offshore funds, said two people with direct knowledge of the matter. Such a database held by an external agency in India would violate the law in their home countries, they argue.

The issue pertains to disclosure of know-your-customer (KYC) information of beneficial owners (BOs). Sebi had issued a circular on April 10 last year asking foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) to identify the BO of a fund based on not just ownership but control as well. 

In cases where there is no significant BO based on economic ownership, fund managers and other senior management officials of the funds were to be considered BOs. All publicly pooled funds such as foreign mutual funds have no significant BO since they raise money from thousands of small unit holders. In such cases, the chief investment officers or other senior management officials become the BOs.

Stiff opposition from FPIs, especially non-resident Indians (NRIs), on this issue forced Sebi to water down the rule. The regulator restricted the new interpretation of beneficial ownership to KYC purposes. Under this, FPIs will have to submit KYC documents of beneficial owners to custodian banks, which in turn will share them with registrars.

Sensitive issue for investors 

Sebi has asked registrars to create a centralised database of documents that can be accessed even by other market intermediaries provided they obtain consent from the FPIs. Sebi, Templeton, Fidelity and BlackRock did not respond to queries.

The issue was brought up at several meetings of the Sebi-appointed HR Khan Committee on foreign portfolio investment. FPIs have suggested that, as an alternative, they will obtain all KYC and submit an affidavit to Sebi stating that they have done so and any details will be provided to the regulator when demanded. While the proposal was initially considered, it was eventually dropped because the regulator felt funds could use such exceptions to hide beneficial owners.

Some FPIs suggested Sebi should manage the data itself instead of asking third parties to do so.

"Sebi is aware of these challenges and the HR Khan committee is exploring suitable solutions," said Sriram Krishnan, head of securities services, Deutsche Bank. "We are confident that all the investor feedback in this regard will be suitably addressed soon."

Many offshore funds had opposed the proposal on the grounds that employee data cannot be saved outside the home country in accordance with the local law.

The issue is sensitive, especially to investors from Europe, where new data privacy laws such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) have come into effect.

"Under GDPR, organisations cannot force their employees to share personal data with a third party," said one of the persons cited above. "These funds will have to comply with their domestic laws as well."

However, Sebi is unwilling to budge on the matter because FPIs have complied with such requirements in some other countries.

"Some of the funds which are opposing Sebi's proposal now have previously complied with similar laws in countries like the US and Canada," said one of the people cited above.

Sebi has assured offshore funds that their data will be safe and it is planning stiff penalties against entities or individuals trying to access confidential information without the regulator's approval. The regulator could also revoke the licence of such violators.

"Sebi shall have to work out measures which will convince FPIs that their data will be confidential and shall never be parted with," said Neha Malviya, director of Wilson Financial Services, an FPI brokerage.

In the past, regulators and companies have squabbled over data privacy and localisation. The Reserve Bank of India and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India have also faced similar resistance in the past.


Friday, March 8, 2019

March 08, 2019

Samsung Galaxy S10e, S10 and S10 Plus launch in India

Samsung already launched its Galaxy S10 series of smartphones at the Galaxy Unpacked event last month. However, the formal India launch of the Galaxy S10e, S10 and the S10+ took place today at an event, which was hosted by the company’s President and CEO, DJ Koh. The company reiterated the features and hardware capabilities of the phones, along with their India pricing. The launch offers on the handsets have also been detailed and Samsung announced the truly wireless Galaxy Buds earphone, and its price has been lowered as a launch offer. 

Samsung Galaxy S10e, S10 and S10 Plus specifications
The three phones come equipped with an Infinity-O Dynamic AMOLED display with HDR10+ support. The Galaxy S10+ sports a 6.4-inch display, while the Samsung Galaxy S10 has a smaller 6.1-inch screen. The Galaxy S10e features a 5.8-inch 19:9 Full HD+ Flat Dynamic AMOLED. The Galaxy S10 and the S10+ also feature an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor under the display. 

In the camera department, both the Samsung Galaxy S10+ and the S10 sport triple cameras with Dual OIS support. They get 12MP telephoto + 12MP wide-angle + 16MP ultra wide-angle cameras on the back. On the front, the Galaxy S10+ has dual cameras with a 10MP sensor that supports dual pixel AF and an 8MP RGB sensor. The Galaxy S10 has an 8MP ultra-wide selfie shooter. The Samsung Galaxy S10e sports a dual 12MP + 16MP camera setup with a wide angle and ultra wide angle lens respectively. It gets a 10MP camera on the front. 

The three phones are powered by the 7nm Exynos 9820 SoC. Samsung says that the new processor enables for a 29 percent jump in CPU performance and 37 percent boost in graphics processing. The Samsung Galaxy S10+ is backed by a 4100mAh battery while the Galaxy S10 has a 3400mAh battery. They both also support wireless charging and reverse wireless charging, which the company calls Wireless PowerShare. The Galaxy S10e gets a slightly smaller 3100mAh battery that can also be charged wirelessly. 

Coming to the Samsung Galaxy Buds, they directly go up against the Apple AirPods and other truly wireless earbuds. The new Galaxy Buds feature a compact form factor and come with new features like wirelessly charging support. In case one is running out of power on the earphones, they can simply use Wireless Power Share on their Galaxy S10, or any other wireless charger, to top them up. As most wired headphones, the Galaxy Buds are also tuned by AKG. The earphones come with adaptive dual microphones that switch the source of audio between the outer and inner mic depending on how noisy the ambient environment is. The device is touted to be 30 percent lighter than its predecessor with an individual earbud and the charging case weighing 5.6g and 39.6g respectively. The device is claimed to stream up to 6 hours of music on a single charge and also comes with Bixby to support voice commands. The Galaxy Buds come equipped with a 5.8pi Dynamic Driver and feature a Type-C connection. It supports SBC, AAC, and the company’s proprietary Scalable audio codec. 

Samsung Galaxy Buds, Galaxy S10e, S10, and S10+ Price, Availability 
The Samsung Galaxy S10 series of handsets will be available across select retail stores and online platforms starting March 8, 2019.

The Samsung Galaxy S10+ comes to India in 1TB, 512GB and 128GB storage variants, which are priced at Rs 1,17,900, Rs 91,900 and Rs 73,900 respectively. There are also Ceramic White and Ceramic Black colour variants of the 1TB and 512GB storage model respectively, while the 128GB variant will come in Prism Black, Prism White and Prism Blue colours.

Coming to the Samsung Galaxy S10, it will be available in Prism White colour model and in 512GB storage version for Rs 84,900. It’s 128GB version comes in Prism Black, Prism White and Prism Blue colours with a price tag of Rs 66,900. Additionally, the Galaxy S10e will be available in only a single variant of 128GB storage and in Prism Black and Prism White colours. It is priced at Rs 55,900. Do note that the Galaxy S10e also comes in other colours but it seems like the company is not introducing them in the market, at least for now. 

As a launch offer, the Galaxy Buds are being priced at Rs 4,999, along with HDFC cashback offer of up to Rs 6,000 or upgrade offer of up to Rs 15,000 on the Galaxy S10.

Operator Offers 
Samsung has partnered with Jio, Airtel and Vodafone to provide offers for its customers. Jio users who buy the Samsung Galaxy S10 will get to avail an additional one-year of unlimited services for free, along with double data benefits when recharging with the Rs 4,999 annual plan. Airtel users on the Galaxy S10 series of device will get to avail cashbacks of up to Rs 3,600 on 24 recharges when topping up with Rs 349 using the My Airtel App. Additionally, the phones will also be available for purchase via the Airtel online store with a down payment starting at Rs 7,499 and EMI of Rs 2,599, which feature an integrated postpaid plan. 

Vodafone users that have subscribed to the Red Postpaid plans starting at Rs 499 and above will get to avail one year of free Netflix subscription with the phones.


Thursday, March 7, 2019

March 07, 2019

Fitbit launches Versa Lite Edition, Inspire HR, Fitbit Inspire and Fitbit Ace 2 in India

Fitbit on Thursday, March 7 refreshed its lineup of fitness trackers by introducing four new fitness tracking devices in India. The updated lineup of budget friendly fitness trackers includes -- the Fitbit Versa Lite Edition, the Fitbit Inspire HR, the Fitbit Inspire and the Fitbit Ace 2.
"With our newest products, we're delivering high-quality, easy-to-use wearables that are more affordable, so getting healthy can be accessible to people of all ages and activity levels - even those who have never tried a wearable," Fitbit co-founder and CEO James Park said in a statement.

Talking about the newly launched devices, the Fitbit Versa Lite Edition is an addition to the Versa family and it includes a host of features such as automatic activity tracking, 24x7 heart rate and sleep stages tracking, over 15 goal-based exercise modes, connected GPS, more than 4 days of battery life and relative SpO2 sensor, which can help track conditions such as sleep apnea. It features a swim-proof design in five new bold colours -- white, lilac, mulberry, marina blue and charcoal. The Fitbit Versa Lite Edition is priced at Rs 15,999 in India.

Fitbit Inspire HR, on the other hand, packs 24x7 heart rate tracking all-day automatic activity, exercise and sleep stages tracking, with over 15 goal-based exercise modes, connected GPS, and relax guided breathing in a slim design. Inspire HR features a swim-proof design with a display and a battery that can last up to 5 days on continuous usage.It will be available in three colour variants -- black, lilac and two-tone black and white for Rs 8,999 in India.

As far as the Fitbit Inspire is concerned, features automatic activity tracking, sleep and exercise tracking, goal celebrations, reminders to move, timer and stopwatch apps to help users stay on track. Just like Inspire HR, it features a swim-proof design with a touchscreen display and a battery life that can last up to 5 days on continuous usage. It will be available in two colour variants -- black and sangria for Rs 6,999 in India.

Lastly, the Fitbit Ace 2, which is targeted at kids aged 6 years and above is also priced at Rs 6,999. It features a swim-proof design with a bumper to protect the screen during kid-related activities. Ace 2, as Fitbit said, debuts new animated clock faces, 11 motivating challenges to keep kids moving, and colorful avatars and cover photos to personalize their profiles within the Fitbit app. "Additionally, parents must create a Fitbit family account in order to set up Ace 2 with their child's account which helps them stay on top of their kids' activities," Fitbit wrote in the press release.

As far as the availability is concerned, while Ace 2 will be available in the second quarter of 2019, Fitbit Versa Lite Edition, Fitbit Inspire HR and Fitbit Inspire will be available in stores and online in the Americas, Asia Pacific and Europe, Middle East and Africa starting in March 2019.

Apart from this, Fitbit also announced that it would soon rollout an rejigged version of its app. "The new design will make it easier to view and understand their health and fitness stats, log data, discover new content, see their progress in Challenges, and better connect with Fitbit's large global health and fitness social community," Fitbit said.

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March 07, 2019

Redmi 7 with Redmi Note 7-like design Hands-on video shows but toned down specs

Xiaomi just launched the Redmi Note 7 series in India. The company is now working on the successor to the Redmi 6 aka the Redmi 7. Under the Redmi 6 last year Xiaomi launched three phones Redmi 6A, Redmi 6 and Redmi 6 Pro, this year we are hearing just about the Redmi 7. The Xiaomi Redmi 7 has been subjected to several leaks and rumours of late but the biggest of them all is the hands-on video that has been posted by YouTuber Boby Do. In the video the presenter compares the alleged Redmi 7 with the Redmi Note 7.

The leaked hands-on video shows Redmi 7 from all sides. Overall the Redmi 7 appears to be like the Redmi Note 7. The video reveals that unlike the Note 7 series the Redmi 7 will come with a polycarbonate back and not glass. Such compromises are understandable considering similar to the Redmi 6 the Redmi 7 is also said to be an entry-level smartphone.

The hands-on video further reveals that the Redmi 7 will sport the same design as the Redmi Note 7. This means that the Redmi 7 comes with Dot Drop notch display with slim bezels on the sides. The Redmi 7 also includes the Redmi by Xiaomi logo on the bottom of the back panel yet again much like the Redmi Note 7. The back panel also includes dual camera setup with the primary 12MP sensor. The details of the secondary are yet to be revealed. On the rear panel the phone also includes a circular fingerprint sensor. For selfies, the Redmi 7 is said to sport an 8MP camera.

Xiaomi has some more compromises on the Redmi 7 to cut down the overall cost of the phone. The video reveals that the Redmi 7 will come with micro USB port for charging and not USB Type C which the Redmi Note 7 series of phones pack.

The video also reveals the complete specs of the Redmi 7. It reveals that the Redmi 7 will come packed with a 6.26-inch display with HD+ display with screen resolution 720 x 1440p. The video also reveals that the Redmi 7 also includes a Dot Drop notch which includes the single selfie camera. The video further notes that the Redmi 7 will be powered by Snapdragon 625, in contrary some other report suggest that Xiaomi may use Snapdragon 632 for Redmi 7.

Going in line with the TENAA listing the hands-on video also reveals that the Redmi 7 will come in three variants - 2GB RAM/16GB storage, 3GB RAM/32GB storage and 4GB RAM/64GB storage. The phone is said to pack a 4000mAh battery.

The hands-on goes even further and reveals that the expected price of the Redmi 7. It suggests that the Redmi 7 may be priced around RMB 900 which is roughly translated around Rs 9,000. In India, we expect the price of the phone could be much cheaper considering the Redmi Note 7 comes for Rs 9,999.

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Saturday, July 28, 2018

July 28, 2018

Google Partners NIH to Accelerate Biomedical Research Using the Cloud


The US medical research agency National Institutes of Health has partnered with Google Cloud for a new initiative that aims to harness the power of commercial cloud computing and provide biomedical researchers access to the most advanced, cost-effective computational infrastructure, tools and services.

The initiative named STRIDES (Science and Technology Research Infrastructure for Discovery, Experimentation, and Sustainability) will reduce economic and technological barriers to accessing and computing on large biomedical data sets to accelerate biomedical advances.

"NIH is in a unique position to bring together academic and innovation industry partners to create a biomedical data ecosystem that maximizes the use of NIH-supported biomedical research data for the greatest benefit to human health," NIH Principal Deputy Director Lawrence Tabak, said in a statement late on Tuesday.

"The STRIDES Initiative aims to maximize the number of researchers working to provide the greatest number of solutions to advancing health and reducing the burden of disease," he added.

The partnership with Google creates a cost-efficient framework for NIH researchers, as well as researchers at more than 2,500 academic institutions across the nation receiving NIH support, to make use of Google Cloud's storage, computing, and machine learning technologies.

In addition, it will enable the establishment of training programmes for researchers at NIH-funded institutions to use Google Cloud Platform, the statement said.

"Today, we are announcing a partnership with the National Institutes of Health to make it easier to access and analyse large biomedical data sets, which we believe will accelerate efforts to find treatments and cures for disease," said Diane Greene, CEO at Google Cloud.

NIH's initial efforts will focus on making NIH high-value data sets more accessible through the Cloud, leveraging partnerships to take advantage of data-related innovations such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, and experimenting with new ways to optimise technology-intensive research.

"Through our partnership with NIH... we are making it easier for scientists and physicians to access and garner insights from NIH-funded data sets with appropriate privacy protections, which will ultimately accelerate biomedical research progress toward finding treatments and cures for the most devastating diseases of our time," explained Gregory Moore, Vice President-Healthcare, Google Cloud.