Micromax Canvas Spark 2 With Android 5.1 Lollipop, 3G Support Launched

Continuing its years-long effort to tap the affordable segment of the increasingly competitive smartphone market, Indian mobile manufacturer Micromax on Monday launched the Canvas Spark 2. The highlight of the handset is its impressive set of specifications, latest Android version, and support for 3G connectivity at a low-price tag of Rs. 3,999. The handset will go on sale in its first flash sale starting September 30 at 12 noon on Snapdeal. The registration for it will begin on Wednesday at 10am.

Being touted as “India ka 3G phone,” the handset comes with a range of enticing features for its price category. It sports a 5-inch display of FWVGA (480×854) screen resolution. It is powered by a quad-core chipset clocked at 1.3GHz paired with 768MB of RAM. Other features of the handset include a 5-megapixel rear camera and a 2-megapixel sensor placed upfront. It comes with a 4GB internal storage, which can be expanded using a microSD card (up to 32GB).

The dual-SIM capable Canvas Spark 2 supports 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and other standard connectivity options. There’s an 1800mAh battery, which the company claims can last for more than 300 hours on standby mode. On the software front, the phone runs on Android 5.1 Lollipop, which is rather impressive for a phone of sub-Rs. 4,000 category.

“The Canvas Spark proved to be a huge success for Micromax, selling over half a million units in less than two months of its launch […] The Canvas Spark 2 is the most affordable 5-inch, 3G, Android Lollipop device available in the Indian market, making it a great value proposition for the consumers. Our association with Snapdeal has been long standing, and we expect sales of Canvas Spark 2 to touch newer heights in the coming weeks, which will further strengthen our leadership position in India”, said Vineet Taneja, CEO, Micromax.

Micromax Canvas Spark 2

Micromax Canvas Spark 2

Display

5.00-inch

Processor

1.3GHz

Front Camera

2-megapixel

Resolution

480×854 pixels

RAM

768MB

OS

Android 5.1

Storage

4GB

Rear Camera

5-megapixel

Battery capacity

1800mAh

UberPool Carpooling Service Launched in India

Uber on Monday announced the launch of its carpooling service in India. Called UberPool, the service will be available in beta in Bengaluru in the coming weeks.

The firm said apart from Bengluru, it is looking to launch the UberPool service in select other cities in India. The UberPool service has so far been rolled out to San Francisco, New York City, Boston, Austin, and Paris.

With UberPool, commuters can share a ride – and split the cost – with another person who happens to be requesting a ride along a similar route. Riders can save up to 50 percent of their trip cost, “while adding only a few minutes of time per trip.”

(Also see:  Meru Launches App-Based ‘CarPool’ Service)

The company says with UberPool, users can “move past car ownership, as taking Uber becomes less expensive than using and maintaining a personal vehicle.”

Bhavik Rathod, GM Bangalore, Uber said, “India is a top global priority for Uber along with China and UberPool. Today, we’re thrilled to announce that we’ll be bringing Uber’s groundbreaking product UberPool to India very soon. Our vision for UberPool means helping solve some of the toughest problems cities are facing today, whether it’s congestion, pollution, or lack of access to transportation. We are working tirelessly towards that vision as we aim to transform urban mobility for over 1.2 billion Indians. With UberPool we’ll aim to achieve this vision, one we share with policy makers, to make Bangalore a city of the future – one that looks a whole lot greener, cleaner, and more efficient thanks to fewer cars and more shared rides. We know UberPool has the ability to help us achieve this and Bengaluru, our first city in India, will serve as the ideal proving ground to make this happen.”

iBall Slide Brillante 3G Voice-Calling Tablet Launched

iBall has launched the Slide Brillante voice-calling tablet in India. Priced at Rs. 5,799, the 3G-enabled tablet will be available via retail stores within a week.

The company in a press statement announced that it worked with Intel to develop the new iBall Slide Brillante tablet. It is powered by a 64-bit 1GHz dual-core Intel Atom x3-C3130 processor, the highlight of the tablet.

The tablet also features dual-SIM (3G+2G) and supports GPS/ A-GPS connectivity options. The Slide Brillante supports voice-calling.

It features a 7-inch display and comes with 1GB of RAM. The tablet features 8GB of built-in storage and supports expandable storage via microSD card (up to 32GB). It sports a 2-megapixel sensor for both the rear and front camera.

The Android 4.4 KitKat-based tablet is backed by a 3000mAh battery and supports up to 15 regional languages. There is FM radio and Micro-USB, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and OTG connectivity options on the tablet.

Commenting on the launch, Sandeep Parasrampuria, Director, iBall said, “We are proud to launch Intel processor based first calling tablet in 7-inch in India. iBall Slide Brillante with the 64 bit Intel Processor and 3G calling function we believe would deliver world-class experience offering users a plethora of features at a very affordable price.”

Anand Ramamoorthy, Director Consumption Sales, Intel South Asia said “We are very proud to collaborate with iBall in bringing the Brilliante tablet, the first Intel Atom x3 processor based tablet to India. The Intel Atom x3 processors is the first Intel architecture based mobile SOC with built-in connectivity.”

Earlier this month, iBall launched the Andi 5U Platino smartphone at Rs. 4,599.

iBall Slide Brillante

iBall Slide Brillante

Display

7.00-inch

Processor

dual-core

Front Camera

2-megapixel

Resolution

RAM

1GB

OS

Android 4.4

Storage

8GB

Rear Camera

2-megapixel

Battery capacity

3000mAh

Intex LED-4300 FHD 43-Inch Full-HD Television Launched at Rs. 32,000

Intex, expanding its full-HD television portfolio, launched the LED-4300 FHD at Rs. 32,000. The new LED TV is now available via physical retail stores as well as online e-commerce websites.

Notably, the company already has 42-inch and 50-inch full-HD LED television sets available in the market at Rs. 41,999 and Rs. 49,000 respectively. The new Intex 43-inch LED TV comes with two built-in speakers, producing sound output of 10Wx2.

The company touts that the LED-4300 FHD television features Power Save Facility, which helps in reducing power consumption. The company adds that the new LED TV offers fast response time of 8ms and also features auto channel search, sleep timer, and full-HD Video playability via USB 2.0.

The Intex LED-4300 FHD TV offers several connectivity options including one RF, two HDMI, two AV-in, one AV-out, two USB, YPbP, VGA, PC audio-in and headphone out.

Commenting on the launch, Nidhi Markanday, Business Head, Consumer Durables and IT, Intex Technologies said, “We all have witnessed the evolution of television from black & white boxes to flat screens. With this new offering, Intex Technologies has created another yardstick in this evolving process. With rich features, elegance and fine detail, the LED 4300 is a great deal for the consumers.”

Earlier this month, Intex launched the 48-inch LED-5010 FHD TV at Rs. 39,990. Last month, Intex unveiled the 2111-FHD television at a price of Rs. 9,990. The 21-inch television featured a full-HD (1920×1080 pixels) resolution display. The standout feature of the Intex 2111-FHD television was its full-HD resolution, which promised to offer more detail and a sharper picture, despite the small dimensions.

Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller Launch Date Announced

The Xbox One Elite wireless controller that was unveiled by Microsoft in June finally has a release date. October 27 is when US consumers can pick it up for $149.99 (around Rs. 10,000). Incidentally, that’s the same date as Halo 5: Guardians.

While no release date has been given for the rest of the world, we won’t be surprised if Microsoft announces it shortly.

As for India, we doubt that a Rs. 10,000 controller would be made available at retail. Considering we don’t get special editions of Xbox One games a heavily redesigned edition of the Xbox One controller seems unlikely. The controller sports hair-trigger locks, enhanced sensitivity, and swappable parts such as different directional pads. You will be able to remap the buttons as well.

(Also see: Halo 5, Forza 6, Rise of the Tomb Raider Are the Most Expensive Xbox One Games on Pre-Order)

Furthermore, the company will be launching its Elite bundle on November 3 for $499 (around Rs. 33,000) in the US. This consists of the Elite controller and an Xbox console with a 1TB solid state hybrid drive. Meanwhile, the new Xbox Chatpad is also due to launch on November 3 in the US, at $34.99 (roughly Rs. 2,300).

With a host of games such as the aforementioned Halo 5, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and Fable Legends out around the same time on the Xbox One, it’s shaping up to be Microsoft’s season in terms of exclusive games. Better bundles and peripherals simply serve to sweeten the deal. Earlier in the year it launched the Forza 6 limited edition console and announced a Halo 5 variant as well. Needless to say, no matter what kind of Xbox One you’re looking for, Microsoft has you covered.

France Rejects Google Appeal on Cleaning Up Search Results Globally

google_employee_ap.jpg

French data privacy regulators took a step towards sanctioning Google by rejecting the company’s request to drop a case against it for refusing to clean up information from its search engine results.

Under Europe’s so-called right to be forgotten, individuals can ask search engines such as Google and Microsoft’s Bing to remove information that appears under a search of their name if it is incorrect, out of date, irrelevant or inflammatory.

Since the European Court of Justice ruling last year that granted this right to European residents,Google has fielded nearly 320,000 requests, granting about 40 percent of them. But it only de-lists the links on European versions of its sites, such as Google.fr or Google.de not globally, meaning the information remains available.

The French authority, the CNIL, in June ordered Google to de-list on request search results appearing under a person’s name from all its websites, including Google.com.

The company refused in July and requested that the CNIL abandon its efforts, which the regulator officially refused to do on Monday.

“The President of the CNIL rejects Google’s informal appeal against the formal notice requesting it to apply delisting on all of the search engine’s domain names,” the watchdog said.

France is the first European country to open a legal process to punish Google for not applying the right to be forgotten globally.

But an umbrella group of European data protection watchdogs took a similar position in December on the issue of cleaning up search results globally, saying that it was the only way to ensure the “effective and complete protection of data subjects’ rights and that EU law cannot be circumvented”.

A CNIL spokesman said Google was required to comply immediately and begin de-listing information about French residents from all of its sites.

If it refused, the CNIL will spend the next two months preparing sanctions that can include up to EUR 150,000 ($169,000) in fines, climbing to EUR 300,000 for repeat offences.

Google said it had worked hard to implement the right to be forgotten ruling “thoughtfully and comprehensively in Europe” and would continue to do so.

“But as a matter of principle, we respectfully disagree with the idea that a single national Data Protection Authority should determine which webpages people in other countries can access via search engines,” said a spokesman for the company.

In July, Peter Fleischer, Google’s global privacy counsel, called France’s request to clean up global results “troubling” and said it could risk “serious chilling effects on the web”.

“While the right to be forgotten may now be the law in Europe, it is not the law globally,” Fleischer wrote.

Nasa Reveals the Fact and Fiction of Martian Dust Storms

As people await the release of Hollywood actor Matt Damon-starred science fiction “The Martian,” Nasahas revealed what actually happens on Mars which is infamous for intense dust storms that sometimes kick up enough dust to be seen by telescopes on Earth.

Beyond Mars’ large annual storms are massive storms that occur more rarely but are much larger and more intense.

“Every year, there are some moderately big dust storms that pop up on Mars and they cover continent-sized areas and last for weeks at a time,” said Michael Smith, planetary scientist at Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

“Once every three Mars years (about five-and-a-half Earth years), on average, normal storms grow into planet-encircling dust storms, and we usually call those ‘global dust storms’ to distinguish them,” Smith noted in a statement.

However, it is unlikely that even these dust storms could strand an astronaut on Mars.

The winds in the largest dust storms were unlikely to tip over or rip apart major mechanical equipment.

The winds in the strongest Martian storms top out at about 60 miles per hour, less than half the speed of some hurricane-force winds on Earth.

Focusing on wind speed may be a little misleading as well. The atmosphere on Mars is about one percent as dense as Earth’s atmosphere.

“That means to fly a kite on Mars, the wind would need to blow much faster than on Earth to get the kite in the air,” Smith added.

Scheduled for worldwide release on October 2, “The Martian” is based on a 2011 best-selling novel by former computer programmer Andy Weir.

The film begins with a massive dust storm that strands fictional astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) on Mars.

In the scene, a powerful wind rips an antenna out of a piece of equipment and destroys parts of the astronauts’ camp.

For years, science fiction writers from Edgar Rice Burroughs to C.S. Lewis have imagined what it would be like for humans to walk on Mars.

As mankind comes closer to taking its first steps on the Red Planet, authors’ depictions of the experience have become more realistic.

“The key difference between Earth and Mars is that Mars’ atmospheric pressure is a lot less. So things get blown, but it is not with the same intensity,” explained William Farrell, plasma physicist who studies atmospheric breakdown in Mars dust storms at Goddard.

Mars’ dust storms are not totally innocuous, however.

Individual dust particles on Mars are very small and slightly electrostatic so they stick to the surfaces they contact.

“If you have seen pictures of Curiosity after driving, it is just filthy. The dust coats everything and it is gritty. It gets into mechanical things that move, like gears,” Smith informed.

In “The Martian,” Watney spends part of every day sweeping dust off his solar panels to ensure maximum efficiency, which could represent a real challenge faced by future astronauts on Mars.

When faced with a larger dust storm in the book, Watney’s first hint is the decreased efficiency of his solar panels, caused by a slight darkening of the atmosphere.

“That’s a pretty accurate depiction of what large dust storms can do,” Smith said.

Scientists have been tracking global dust storms on Mars for more than a century, using both telescopes on Earth and spacecraft orbiting Mars.

Aircel to Add 13,000 Mobile Sites by the End of 2015

mobiles_dual_pixabay.jpg

Mobile operator Aircel Monday said it will expand its network by adding 13,000 2G, 3G and 4G sites across the country by December 2015.

The company, which has pan-India 2G operations, said the plan is in line with the growing demand for mobile services and to offer better customer experience, uninterrupted services and enhanced data speeds.

The company has 3G spectrum in 13 circles and Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) or 4G airwaves in 8 circles. As a part of the plan, Aircel has already rolled out close to 7,400 sites this year and has added approximately 2.2 million hours per day of voice capacity and 200TB/day of data capacity to its network, it said in a statement.

“Aircel consistently upgrades and optimises its existing network to increase capacity, achieve higher efficiency and reduce existing pressure on networks,” the company said. The government has asked all mobile operators to invest in network capacity so as to check the call drops problem.

“Out of the 13,000 sites that will be rolled out, 5,300 sites are 2G and the remaining 7,700 are 3G and 4G sites combined. While the 3G sites are planned primarily in regions such as Chennai, TN, Kolkata, WB and Odisha; the focus for the 2G network expansion are regions such as Delhi, Bihar and Rajasthan to improve network performance,” Aircel Chief Technology Officer Sameer Dave said.

Creative SBS E2800, SBS E2400 2.1 Speaker Systems Launched in India

Creative has announced the launch of two new home entertainment 2.1-channel speaker systems for the Indian market, the SBS E2800 and SBS E2400. The E2800 will retail at Rs. 4,599, while the cheaper E2400 will cost Rs. 3,599. Both speaker systems will go on sale by the end of September.

The Creative SBS E2800 has a range of connectivity options, including RCA (for connectivity with TVs and DVD players), FM radio, USB and 3.5mm line-in. A remote is also included in the sales package to control the system. The system is a powered 2.1-channel speaker set, with two satellite speakers and a combined amplifier/input/subwoofer unit, with an output of 50 Watts.

creative_e2400_main.jpgThe second system launched is the cheaper Creative SBS E2400. It has a lower power output rating of 24 Watts, but is similar to the E2800 in all other ways. Both devices notably lack Bluetooth connectivity, which is commonly available in other 2.1-channel home entertainment speaker systems at similar prices.

“We’re extremely excited to be introducing this amazing sound system to the Indian market. It’s the perfect solution for anyone looking for a powerful yet affordable all-in-one home entertainment speaker system,” said Ernest Sim, Regional Sales Manager of Creative Technology Ltd, adding, “And it’s the perfect audio upgrade. Just connect the SBS E2800 to your TV set or tablet and experience a whopping 50 watts of audio power, together with powerful bass from the subwoofer – you’ll be absolutely blown away with its powerful room-filling audio performance for movies, music or gaming.”

Google, Udacity Partner for 1,000 Android Nanodegree Scholarships in India

google_ap_13.jpg

Search giant Google and Tata Trusts on Monday launched a programme in partnership with Udacity under which 1,000 Android Nanodegree scholarships will be offered to developers.

The Android Nanodegree is an education credential that is designed to help developers learn new skills and advance their careers in a few months from anywhere on any device at their own pace.

Google said India being the second largest developer population in the world with three million software developers, has the potential to become the #1 (number one) developer population by 2018, with four million developers.

“While India has millions of software developers, we still lag behind in creating world-class apps. Today, only 2 percent of apps built in India feature in the top 1,000 apps globally and our goal is to raise this to 10 percent in the next three years,” Google South East Asia and India, VP and Managing Director, Rajan Anandan said in a statement.

The Udacity Android Nanodegree programme comprises of courses developed and taught by expert Google instructors from the Google Developer Relations team and will include project reviews, mentorship and career services from Udacity.

The curriculum will be updated regularly with new releases and will provide developers with a certificate that will help them to become a more marketable Android developer.

Tata Trusts and Google will give 500 Nanodegree scholarships each. The programme, which is open for enrollment right now, takes an average of 6-9 months and costs Rs. 9,800 per month with Udacity refunding 50 percent of the tuition upon completion.

“With over 381 million Internet-enabled mobile phone subscriptions in India, there is a growing demand for the Internet as a multi-purpose solution provider,” Tata Trusts Development Manager Ganesh Neelam said.