SoftBank to Shun Huawei in Favour of Ericsson, Nokia Equipment: Report


SoftBank Group Corp plans to replace 4G network equipment from China’s Huawei Technologies Co with hardware from Nokia and Ericsson, Nikkei reported on Thursday, without citing sources.

The move comes at a time of heightened scrutiny of Chinese tech firms by the United States and some prominent allies over ties to the Chinese government, driven by concerns they could be used by Beijing for spying.

SoftBank, Japan’s third-largest telco, will also order equipment for its next generation 5G network from the two European suppliers instead of Huawei, Nikkei reported.

A SoftBank spokesman said the report was “based on speculation and no decision has been made”.

Nokia and Ericsson are already big suppliers to SoftBank.

It also has the longest running relationship with Huawei among Japan’s top three telcos, but the firm has previously said that the amount of equipment it uses from Chinese makers “is relatively small”.

Replacing the 4G equipment, which Nikkei reported will be done over several years, is likely to be time-consuming and expensive, industry sources have said.

The Nikkei report on the supplier switch comes as SoftBank is preparing to list its telecoms unit in Tokyo on December 19.

This week, SoftBank’s telecoms unit priced its IPO at an indicated JPY 1,500 ($13.22) per share and said would sell an extra 160 million shares to meet demand, raising about $23.5 billion in Japan’s biggest-ever IPO.

The report also comes on the heels of Japan issuing a policy document on maintaining cyber-security during procurement.

While Huawei was not explicitly named, sources have said that the policy document was aimed at preventing government procurement from the company as well as China’s ZTE Corp.

Huawei has already been locked out of the US market, and Australia and New Zealand have blocked it from building 5G networks amid concerns of its possible links with China’s government. Huawei has said Beijing has no influence over it.

Japan’s decision to keep Huawei out would add to the woes of the firm, whose chief financial officer was recently arrested by Canadian officials for extradition to the United States.

© Thomson Reuters 2018



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Metro Exodus Release Date Announced


Post-apocalyptic shooter Metro Exodus for PS4, Xbox One, and Windows PC has a new release date of February 15. This comes after developer 4A confirmed that the game has gone gold which is industry parlance for being ready for release. The previous release date for Metro Exodus was February 22. Showing up a week earlier is an interesting move. This is because February 15 is when Crackdown 3, Far Cry New Dawn, and Anthem (for EA Access and Origin Access members) are out too.

“Fans will also be pleased to hear that Metro Exodus has gone gold, and the game will officially launch one week earlier than previously communicated,” a post on the official Metro website reads. “Play the game on February 15th 2019.”

Metro Exodus release date and editions

Metro Exodus price is $60 (around Rs. 4,200) on PS4, Xbox One, and Windows PC. This is for the standard edition of the game. In terms of pre-order bonuses, Xbox One owners get a code for Metro 2033 Redux, PS4 owners get a dynamic theme, while PC owners get a digital art book and OST. There’s a Metro Exodus Gold Edition and and an Aurora Limited Edition. These are what they come with.

Metro Exodus Gold Edition

  • Metro Exodus game
  • Metro Exodus expansion pass

Metro Exodus Gold Edition Digital pre-order bonuses

  • Xbox One – Digital Code for Metro 2033 Redux on Xbox One
  • PS4 – Two dynamic PS4 dashboard themes and Metro Exodus OST
  • PC – Digital artbook and Metro Exodus OST

Metro Exodus Aurora Limited Edition

  • Metro Exodus game disc
  • Metro Exodus expansion pass
  • Exclusive steelbook
  • The World of Metro art book
  • Bespoke metal case

Metro Exodus Aurora Limited Edition pre-order bonuses

  • Xbox One – Digital Code for Metro 2033 Redux on Xbox One
  • PS4 – Two dynamic PS4 dashboard themes and Metro Exodus OST
  • PC – Digital artbook and Metro Exodus OST

Metro Exodus India price and editions

Metro Exodus does not have an official India release date, price or editions outside of the Microsoft Store, PS Store, and Steam right now. Though that should change closer to its arrival sources at retail tell Gadgets 360. Metro 2033 for the Xbox 360 and PC was published by THQ and distributed by Mumbai-based E-xpress in India back in 2010. Its price was Rs. 2,499 on Xbox 360 and Rs. 699 on PC at the time. Metro: Last Light released two years later for Rs. 999 on PC and Rs. 2,799 on PS3 and Xbox 360. It was published by Deep Silver (following THQ’s bankruptcy) while distribution duties were managed by the now defunct Milestone Interactive.

For a brief period after this, games from Deep Silver were distributed by Sunder Electronics which brought in the critically-panned Homefront: The Revolution. Gadgets 360 has been given to understand that Deep Silver does not have an Indian distributor for its games at the moment. However, given the fan following that the Metro games have in India, we won’t be surprised to see an announcement regarding an official Indian release at retail soon enough.


If you’re a fan of video games, check out Transition, Gadgets 360’s gaming podcast. You can listen to it via Apple Podcasts or RSS, or just listen to this week’s episode by hitting the play button below.



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Final Fantasy XV PC Now Supports Nvidia DLSS Tech


Final Fantasy XV PC finally gets support for Nvidia’s deep learning supersampling or DLSS as it’s known. An update for the game on Steam saw the addition of DLSS according to patch notes released by Final Fantasy XV publisher Square Enix. In addition to this, Nvidia has stated that the feature has also been implemented in its latest GeForce Game Ready driver allowing 60 frames per second at 4K with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080Ti at maximum settings. While DLSS is capable of being twice as efficient compared to other anti-aliasing methods, allowing for sharper image quality without a massive drop in performance, you’ll be shelling out a pretty penny to play Final Fantasy XV with this level of fidelity. More so when you consider that the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti price is Rs. 105,000 in India ($1,200 in the US).

Also keep in mind that Final Fantasy XV PC DLSS is still in beta. Yes, one of the major promises of the RTX launch (aside from ray-tracing) isn’t complete just yet with the company requesting “feedback on the first DLSS beta so we can continue to train and refine the performance and image quality of the deep learning network via future Nvidia software updates.”

“To enable DLSS, download the Final Fantasy XV Windows Edition update once available on Steam, open the in-game options menu, set your resolution to 3840×2160 (4K) and enable DLSS under Graphics -> Anti-aliasing setting,” a post from Nvidia reads.

It’s interesting to see DLSS added in. Previously it was revealed that DLSS and RTX planned for Final Fantasy XV PC would not see the light of day following the departure of Final Fantasy XV producer Hajime Tabata leaving the company.


If you’re a fan of video games, check out Transition, Gadgets 360’s gaming podcast. You can listen to it via Apple Podcasts or RSS, or just listen to this week’s episode by hitting the play button below.



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Best TV Shows of 2018: Gadgets 360 Staff Pick Their Favourite TV Shows of the Year


We love binge-watching TV shows just as much as we love watching movies. It takes a lot more time to watch a TV show than a movie (obviously), but we still managed to binge quite a few of these through 2018. When we began compiling our favourite TV shows of 2018, we asked our colleagues to limit it to shows that aired new episodes this year.

However, some of us are always catching up with last year’s shows so this piece doesn’t always follow the criteria we set. You will find some who watched five great TV shows in 2018 and others who picked a 2017 TV show that they watched this year. From Japanese anime to Indian sitcoms, our colleagues have as wide a taste in TV shows as you can expect.

Here are our favourite TV shows of 2018.

Abhinav Lal: Megalo Box, Adam Sandler 100% Fresh, Castlevania, The Final Table, and Devilman Crybaby
For this list, I went through my Netflix viewing activity – rather exhaustively (I gave up when I reached as far back as April). I’ve watched several shows this year, and many to their completion (whether of the season or the show), and of course, a significant proportion of those weren’t made in 2018.

By nature, I dislike arranging the entertainment I view into ‘Best of’ ranked lists, and for that reason, let me just name a few titles I really enjoyed this year. Megalo Box, an anime that featured better action than I expected from a boxing show, and had a classic underdog storyline. Adam Sandler 100% Fresh, the Netflix comedy special, because I’ve always been a fan of Adam Sandler. I was rather ‘meh’ about his musical comedy, but this one changed my mind.

 

Castlevania Season 2, an anime show with amazing artwork, kickass action, and a tragic storyline. The Final Table — a culinary show — while I am still on the fence about the show’s judging system, and I disagreed with the verdict, the creativity of the chefs was interesting.

Finally, Devilman Crybaby (yes, I like anime). While I have mixed feelings about the show, its great artwork and action certainly made it stand out for me in 2018. But caution: it’s extremely NSFW.

Watch Megalo Box, Adam Sandler 100% Fresh, Castlevania, The Final Table, and Devilman Crybaby, all on Netflix

 

Aditya Shenoy: Grand Tour and Sacred Games
Thanks to streaming services, the amount of quality content I watch in the comfort of my home has gone up. One of my favorite TV shows is Grand Tour which is on Amazon Prime Video.

Grand Tour, of course, is a British motoring television series hosted by Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond. These three hosted BBC’s Top Gear for years and have reviewed countless number of cars. The show is part of pre-recorded sections and in-studio audience segments which makes it interesting.

Watch Grand Tour on Amazon Prime Video

 

The second season released in 2018 and I thoroughly enjoyed watching Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and, James May doing what they do best.

Sacred Games was another series I enjoyed thanks to the story line and the direction. The characters really came alive on the screen. I’m looking forward to the next season.

Watch Sacred Games on Netflix

 

Akhil Arora: The Americans
2018 was filled with great TV and it’s good to see my fellow colleagues recognise some of those below in Killing Eve, Sharp Objects, Barry, and Better Call Saul. All four of those would be in my top 10 but since I have to name one, I’m going to go with something that’s been largely ignored from start to finish, despite delivering some of the best writing, acting, direction, and character growth since Breaking Bad. And with the show ending this year, I can’t allow it to be forgotten.

I’m talking about The Americans. I can see why it doesn’t show up on the radar for most people, since it’s as understated as they come. But that’s one of the several reasons why I loved it so much. Better yet, The Americans closed things out with one of the best series finales of all-time — this is not an exaggeration — one that was heartbreaking, surprising, and thoughtful. It tied together its core themes in a characteristic fashion, and went out not in a typical bang, but by doubling down on what made it so special. Dasvidaniya.

Watch The Americans on Hotstar

 

Akshay Jadhav: Better Call Saul
Having barely watched any new TV series this year, I managed to catch up with the latest season of Better Call Saul. It’s the prequel to Breaking Bad, one of my favorite series of all time, it showcases the storyline of ex-con artist Jimmy McGill turning into a small-time attorney, Saul Goodman — his series of trials and tragedies. He is one of the best characters ever on the small screen.

 

Along with this, Better Call Saul retains the same intriguing storyline, masterful writing and direction of Vince Gilligan and breathtaking cinematography, which make it irresistible for binge-watching.

Watch Better Call Saul on Netflix

 

Aman Rashid: Sacred Games
There were a lot of interesting TV shows that I got to watch this year thanks to Prime Video and Netflix, but still if I must choose one then it will be the Netflix Original Sacred Games. Why? Well, I really liked the screenplay and the direction.

The crew did a commendable job and the dialogues were intense. Not to forget Saif Ali Khan who did justice to the character of Sartaj Singh. And finally, Nawaz and Radhika being the icing on the cake.

Watch Sacred Games on Netflix

 

Gagan Gupta: Barry
With so many great shows out this year, if I had to pick the one that I found the most impressive and refreshing, it has to be Barry. Starring one of the most underrated deadpan comedians, Bill Hader, the show revolves around Barry the hitman who has suddenly developed an interest in an acting career.

The first season had a great range of intense and shocking moments, all tied together with some great dark comedy.

 

Besides Barry, I’d also like to give an honourable mention to Better Call Saul, which is getting better with each season.

Watch Barry on Hotstar

 

Harpreet Singh: Killing Eve
My favorite TV show this year was Killing Eve. It’s an insanely addictive show if you’re into thrillers. It feels like a British version of Fargo, but on steroids. If you could watch just one TV show before this year ends, Killing Eve has to be the one. It’s dark, unpredictable, and doesn’t let you turn off your TV unless you finish up all the episodes in one go.

Check out Killing Eve

 

Jagmeet Singh: Young Sheldon
Young Sheldon is the American comedy series that I consider as my favourite TV show of 2018. The series, which is a prequel of sorts to The Big Bang Theory, is set in East Texas.

As the name suggests, the show features a young Sheldon Cooper as the main character who, among other things, impresses everyone around him with his great IQ. How little Sheldon helps and troubles his family makes the storyline fairly interesting for a person like me who’s otherwise not fond of watching TV shows.

Watch Young Sheldon on Amazon Prime Video

 

Jamshed Avari: Star Trek: Discovery
With minor reservations, I’m picking Star Trek: Discovery. The second half of the first season aired early this year and seemed to have pretty good momentum overall, with strong plot and character development. Production value on this show has been spectacular, and the teasers for Season 2 are looking good right now.

I do think it was a mistake to complicate things with the Mirror Universe this early in the series, and the split-season structure forced stories into arcs that didn’t necessarily work.

I just think this would have been a better standalone show, rather than trying to force itself into the pre-TOS Star Trek canon where it completely breaks continuity and the spirit of the franchise. Unfortunately, in the age of on-demand services and instant gratification, I don’t think shows are allowed to have slow-burning first seasons anymore.

Watch Star Trek: Discovery on Netflix

 

Kunal Dua: Atlanta
Atlanta was my favourite show of 2016 — I catch myself humming ‘Paper Boi’ even today — and somehow the second season of the show managed to hit even greater heights. Though nearly every episode is great, S02E06 Teddy Perkins is a masterpiece that’s up there with the best TV episodes of all times.

Between Atlanta and This Is America, Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino also has my vote for artist of the year. What do you mean we are not doing a story around that? Who decides these things around here?!

 

 

Prabhakar Thakur: House of Cards
I don’t watch many TV shows but the one that really caught my attention was House of Cards. Being a politics buff, I loved the way how they showed dirty tricks being played in the corridors of power.

I loved the storytelling in the first 2 seasons but after that it became slow and boring. At some point in the future, I hope to watch a show along these lines on Indian politics.

Watch House of Cards on Netflix

 

Pranay Parab: Rick and Morty
I did watch quite a few TV shows that aired in 2018 but I didn’t like any of those enough to mention them here. This is why I’m going to cheat a bit and pick a show that I watched in 2018, but one that aired earlier.

Rick and Morty has become my favourite science fiction TV show now, thanks to extremely creative storytelling and great use of animation to depict various alien races, worlds, and creatures. It’s a dark and twisted show, but I just love how it bends and breaks all rules to tell a good story.

 

For instance, Rick and Morty can die but in the show there are infinite parallel universes so the same two characters from another timeline can easily replace the protagonists.Pickle Rick (Season 3, episode 3) is my favourite episode so far because it highlights Rick’s ingenuity and just how broken the Smith household is at the same time. The characters are great and I love the art style.

It’s a disturbing TV show and starts off a little slow in season 1, but I love it.

Watch: Rick and Morty on Netflix

 

Rishi Alwani: KickScammers
KickScammers on YouTube channel DJ Slope’s Game Room isn’t exactly a TV series by the traditional definition of the term, but with regular episodes, most of which rarely go past the half an hour mark, it works just like one.

As the name suggests, the series delves into what goes wrong with crowdfunded projects such as the Vega+ retro console scandal and the oft-forgotten Bob’s Game. Each episode sheds light on the seedy underbelly of crowdfunding and where it tends to go awry. Thanks to slick editing and a great narrator, it’s one series that never gets boring.

Watch KickScammers on YouTube

 

Roydon Cerejo: Sharp Objects
It’s tough picking a single show as we’ve had so many good ones. Still, the one that I’d pick is HBO’s Sharp Objects. Starring Amy Adams, it’s a mini-series that’s based on a book by Gillian Flynn.

It’s a phycological thriller that follows the main protagonist, a reporter, who travels back to her small hometown in Wind Gap Missouri to write about a murder that’s taken place. However, it soon becomes clear that something’s not right with the town and we get to learn more about her past and her dysfunctional family.

 

It’s well paced and keeps you on your toes at all times. The other thing that drew me to this show was the direction, which is simply amazing. It’s directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who also directed Big Little Lies, another fantastic show.

The cinematography, choice of music tracks and editing is so well done, I would say it’s easily fifty percent of why the show is so good.

Watch Sharp Objects on Hotstar Premium

 

Sandeep Sinha: Barry
Ever since Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, and Netflix arrived on the scene, we’re definitely not short of shows to watch. This year I’ve watched several old and new TV series, of which Barry (available on Hotstar) is my favourite.

I love its plot — an American Marine becomes a hitman and for an assignment he joins an acting class, leading to all kinds of hilarious and weird circumstances in Barry.

Bill Hader has done justice to the lead character. The show is a shining example of the dark comedy genre and it has a knack for surprising twists that make it even more enjoyable.

Watch Barry on Hotstar Premium

Shobhit Varma: The Tick
While I make it a point to catch every good movie in the theater, I am not really a fan of TV shows in general. The whole concept of a story stretched over multiple episodes does not really appeal to me.

That said, one TV show called The Tick (Review) did take my fancy this year. It is based on the comic book character of the same name and can be found on Amazon Prime Video.

 

The Tick is a witty, satirical take on the superhero genre almost bordering on parody. The way it embraces superhero clichés head on and then twists them in the most bizarre way possible makes it a thoroughly enjoyable watch.

Watch The Tick on Amazon Prime Video

 

Sumit Garg: Flames
My favourite TV series of 2018 is TVF’s Flames. It’s a short four-episode love story based on the life of school students. Talking about characters, well I really loved Gaurav Pandey the most. I like his way of speaking and his regular doses of humour in Flames.

Watch Flames on TVF Play

 

Tarun Chadha: Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashma
I’ve been watching SAB TV’s popular show Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chasma for a few years now. Even today I enjoy older episodes of this show just as much as I did when I first watched them. Sometimes I feel that instead of 30 minutes, this show should switch to hour-long episodes. I really enjoy the performances of all the actors in Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chasma.

Watch Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashma on YouTube

 

Tasneem Akolawala: Sacred Games
I watched Sacred Games starring Radhika Apte, Saif Ali Khan and Nawazuddin Siddique this year on NetFlix. The representation of the underworld culture, the raw and exceptional acting skills of all the actors including Kubra Sait, and the gripping plot kept me hooked. Cannot wait for the next season.

Watch Sacred Games on Netflix

 

Yousuf Jawed: Bodyguard
Bodyguard on Netflix was my favourite show of 2018. Starring Richard Madden, the show starts with an attempted suicide bombing on train. Then it revolves around David Budd (Richard Madden), who is a veteran suffering from PTSD.

The show portrays terrorism and internal politics of different security agencies as well as internal corruption. Above all it shows the limitations of the human mind to identify problems due to emotion and biases.

 

The best part about the show is that it keeps you hooked from the first episode to the last. From the train incident to David Budd trapped in bomb vest, everything about this show is epic.

Watch Bodyguard on Netflix

Which is your favourite TV show of 2018? Let us know via the comments.

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Google Chromebooks Get Better Parental Controls With Improved Family Link App


Google brought its parental control app called Family Link on Android smartphones a little over a year ago. This app’s primary purpose was the help parents control how their younger ones use their Android smartphones. The app gave them complete control over which sites they could access, which apps they could download and even lock the device down. Now, it is Family Link is bringing parental controls to Chromebook.

Family Link started out as a beta for US users only and required an invitation to join. But it was rolled out to the public on Google Play after a couple of months. Google has also rolled out Google Assistant features which lets them lock their kid’s devices by a simple command to the assistant.

The Family Link app was rolled out to Google Chromebooks some time back but offered limited functionality at that time. Now, Google has rolled out more features that help parents control how their kids use these Chromebooks. With the new features whitelist websites, monitor usage, establish a bedtime, set a screen time limit, and remotely lock devices down. Also, if parents set up supervised accounts, kids will have access to the Google Play store and Chrome Web Store, and parents can review and approve apps downloaded.

Parents will be able to whitelist apps or even hide the ones available on the device. It also offers control over in-app purchases on these supervised accounts. The app also generates an activity report giving parents and the kids a breakdown of how the device has been used. This includes the amount of time the kids have spent on each app.

Google also lets users set up supervised accounts for their teenage kids. Teenagers do have the option to opt out of Family Link and turn off those controls. But parents will get a notification if they do so. The Family Link app for parents is available for Android and iOS.

“Today we’re sharing more Family Link features that can help parents of kids who use Chromebooks, like setting time limits, managing the apps kids can download and more,” Zach Alcorn, Product Manager, Chrome OS said in a blog post. The Family Link app is available for Android and iOS.



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Lenovo Z5s Teasers Tip 10GB of RAM, Camera Samples Released


Photo Credit: Weibo

Lenovo Z5s is set to launch on December 18

Lenovo is scheduled to launch the Lenovo Z5s on December 18, and the company has been rolling out teasers after teasers running up to the launch. It has now released as many as four teaser posters on Weibo, revealing the smartphone’s spec details. Lenovo VP Chang Cheng has also shared sample shots of the Lenovo Z5s camera, and the watermark on these photos suggest that the smartphone will come with AI mode. Past teasers suggest that the Lenovo Z5s will be powered by the Snapdragon 678 processor and run on Android Pie.

Lenovo Z5s teaser posters have been shared on Weibo by Cheng and by the company’s official handle as well. The teaser posters suggest that the Lenovo Z5s will pack more than 8GB of RAM, which indicates that the smartphone may pack 10GB of RAM. The other teaser posters indicate that the smartphone may come with powerful innards to withstand intense gaming sessions.

Cheng has also shared camera sample photos showing off the triple camera setup capabilities. Two of the three photos have been taken in portrait mode, and going by the watermark on all the photos, the camera is backed by AI intelligence as well.

lenovoz5s camerasamples main cheng lenovo z5s

Photo Credit: Weibo/Chang Cheng

He also shared another poster claiming that the triple camera setup of the Lenovo Z5s can take better pictures than the Xiaomi Mi 8 flagship. To recall, the Xiaomi Mi 8 is equipped with dual camera setup at the back – with one 12-megapixel wide-angle lens and another 12-megapixel telephoto lens. There is a 20-megapixel selfie sensor up front. While the specifications on the triple camera setup are not known, the Lenovo Z5s’ arrangement appears to be similar to the Huawei P20 Pro smartphone.

In any case, we recommend you take all the details with a pinch of salt, as Lenovo is known to make tall claims and fall short when it comes to delivering promises. As per a TENAA listing, the Lenovo Z5s is expected to sport a 6.3-inch waterdrop-shaped notch display, and 156.7×74.5×7.8mm dimensions. As mentioned, the smartphone is teased to be powered by the as-yet-unannounced Snapdragon 678 SoC, and run on Android Pie out-of-the-box. So far, this is all we know of the Lenovo Z5 and all details will become official next week.



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Eight Popular Tech Products That Shut Down In 2018


Nothing is forever. The circle of life isn’t limited to just humans. Technology products go through a similar phase. From being a promising ‘next big thing’ to ‘why did we even launch this in the first place?’, technology products and services get unlucky too. Sometimes it’s just a massive failure, while on other occasions better alternatives ensure an early death of some technologies and gadgets. At times, some products grow so old that they must be phased out. Whatever the cause, we must take the time to mourn these iconic products.

Here are eight of the biggest technology products and services that died in 2018.

1. Yahoo Messenger
Yahoo Messenger was an iconic app, a one of its kind when it first launched, and probably the first messaging app for a lot of people during its time. Although the native desktop apps were shut down back in 2016, the messaging app was officially discontinued in July this year and users were able to download their chat history until November.

Yahoo Messenger allowed users to chat privately and in public chat rooms as well. It was a decent alternative to ICQ back in the days with some innovative and fun-filled features.

2. Google+
Google doesn’t have a good history when it comes to social products. The search giant surprised many when it announced its plans to shut down Google+ in the coming months. The company claims it found several major challenges in maintaining Google+ for its consumers.

Google also found that over 90 percent of the user sessions recorded on Google+ lasted less than five seconds. Another reason for discontinuing Google+ was a security flaw that exposed its users’ personal information.

But things turned pretty bad rather quickly with Google deciding to shut down its social network well ahead of its initial plans. Google+ will now be discontinued in April instead of August.

3. Google Allo
Google had big plans for its AI-powered Allo back when it was announced in 2016. Two years down the line, Google has probably realised that no one wants a chatbot anywhere near their personal conversations.

Allo couldn’t compete with messaging giants like iMessage and WhatsApp. Google’s experiment with Allo is over but you can still download your personal data.

4. StumbleUpon
Earlier in June this year, StumbleUpon co-founder Garrett Camp announced that his Internet discovery platform will be shutting down after being in existence for around 16 years.

StumbleUpon was an interesting tool that let internet users discover new content based on their interests and likings. It was a tool that allowed anyone to kill all the extra time they had on their hands. Social media may be one of the reasons why StumbleUpon had to shut down, owing to the evolving habits of Internet users over the years.

5. Google Inbox
Google is also shutting down its email app titled Inbox, giving users time until March next year to complete the transition to Gmail. The decision hasn’t surprised a lot of users but the app’s absence will be felt by many.

inbox google inbox

Inbox was developed to coexist with Gmail with a number of interesting and useful features. Inbox made lives easier for those who deal with a lot of emails on a daily basis. But with Gmail getting all the attention, Inbox had to die its death.

6. Google URL Shortener
Google’s URL Shortener (Goo.gl) was one of the easiest, sweetest ways to shorten URLs all these years. But Google announced in March this year that it will be shutting down its popular URL shortening service to replace it with Firebase Dynamic Links (FDL). These are smart links that enable users to send users to a specific location within a mobile or web app.

All existing goo.gl links will continue to work through.

7. Path
Path was meant to be a social network built specifically for mobile phone users. The app initially limited users to keeping just 50 friends, then later expanded to 150 friends, and then eventually 500. Path rose to popularity between 2011 and 2012.

path path

However, it wasn’t probably good enough once Facebook started ramping up its mobile efforts. Path shut down this year though users had a chance to back up their data until mid-November.

8. Klout
There’s more to social media than just showing off your flashy outings. Klout helped users analyse their social media activities and awarded them with a score that they could brag about.

But just like most things social on the Internet, numbers aren’t everything. After 10 years, Klout is finally shutting down. The company was squired Lithium Technologies which will leverage its data for its own AI-based products.

Did you lose your favourite technology product or service this year too? Do let us know via the comments section below.

 



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Indians Are Reshaping the Internet


It is perhaps the silliest spat of the year. Since September, PewDiePie, a Swedish Internet personality whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, has waged a war of words with T-Series, an Indian record label and film producer. For five years, PewDiePie has been the most subscribed channel on YouTube, amassing more than 76 million subscribers. T-Series, however, is threatening to usurp his crown with its mix of Bollywood and devotional songs. With millions of movie-mad Indians becoming YouTube viewers, T-Series’ victory is inevitable.

This is part of a striking trend: Indians are an increasing powerful presence online. Even with an Internet penetration rate of less than 30 percent, India is the largest market for WhatsApp and its parent company, Facebook. It ranks third by users on Instagram and fourth on Twitter, according to eMarketer, a research firm. Four of Tinder’s top 10 cities by paying users are in India. And 1 in 10 Uber rides globally occurs in India, a proportion that is set to grow.

Tech leaders look at these statistics with cartoon dollar signs on their eyes. India was the only country to get its own section in the “recent milestones” section of Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos’s letter to shareholders this year. (Bezos also owns The Washington Post.) And Sundar Pichai, the Indian-born chief executive of Google, has mentioned India in six out of the company’s last seven earnings calls. The investment bank Morgan Stanley expects smartphone penetration to more than double between 2017 and 2020.

India represents a microcosm of the world’s unconnected markets. User growth in the United States is stagnant; Europe is a regulatory morass. And unlike China, India imposes few restrictions on foreign Internet firms. Its Web users are keener on Western brands than on homegrown ones.

But for years, data prices remained high and growth slow. That changed in September 2016, with the launch of Jio, a mobile network offering low-cost, high-speed data. Other networks scrambled to compete, offering ever-greater data allowances at lower prices. The effect is startling: Mobile Internet connections grew from 346 million in late 2016 to 491 million this year, according to India’s telecoms regulator. In the same period, monthly data consumption jumped by a factor of more than 13, to 3.2 gigabytes per user.

As Indians come online in the hundreds of millions, the first thing they do is connect with their friends on WhatsApp and Facebook. They then stream Bollywood movies and pornography. Lots of pornography. Searches for “Hindi sexy film” on PornHub grew 27,814 percent in 2018.

There is one thing missing from this spectacular story of falling costs and rocketing growth: profit. India remains too poor for premium services. Apple, which does not discount its phones, sells just 1 percent of smartphones in India. A Netflix subscription is unaffordable for about 99 percent of Indians. And revenue from India remains stubbornly low for Facebook and Google. Amazon’s Indian subsidiary saw losses grow 30 percent to Rs. 63 billion ($880 million) in the year ended March 2018.

That hardly seems to matter. Silicon Valley firms are clear that they don’t expect returns from India in the short or even medium term. Apple’s Tim Cook has said his company will be in India for a thousand years. Free, ad-based services are more focused on getting in and exposing new users to their services before another company captures their attention. The hope is that Indians will stick around.

They might. A bigger question is whether the firms themselves have staying power. Google is struggling to match Facebook’s momentum in ad sales in India. Facebook is bleeding goodwill, plagued with regulatory and legal challenges and facing a lawsuit on its data-sharing practices before India’s Supreme Court.

Yet even in the short term, India is having a profound effect both on tech firms and the Web at large. Companies have been experimenting with products specifically for India, including adding payments and other business services to WhatsApp and cash payments to Uber, both of which have spread to multiple countries. Uber offers or is planning novel services, such as booking three-wheeler auto-rickshaws or arranging multiple modes of transport through the app. And Tinder picked India, where men far outnumber women on dating apps, to launch My Move, which allows women to choose whether men can approach them.

Indians may have another, subtler effect on the Web. As they become the largest market on the open, non-Chinese Web, content-creators will turn their attention to serving them. Amazon and Netflix are already spending heavily on Indian shows and movies for their streaming services. YouTube is crucial to Google’s future in India. And last year, Facebook bid $600 million for online rights to the Indian Premier League cricket tournament. It lost to Hotstar, a runaway streaming success owned by 21st Century Fox. This year Facebook appointed Hotstar’s chief executive as its new India boss.

Tech companies’ experiments in India will determine not just the future of tech business but also how the Internet is experienced as the rest of the world comes online. Even PewDiePie will have to acknowledge this: An insult video aimed at T-Series, released in October, is one of his most-watched ever, no doubt owing to Indian viewers tuning in. As more Indians come online, he too will learn that he can’t beat them.

© The Washington Post 2018



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OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition Now on Sale in India: Price, Specifications, Launch Offers, and More


OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition is now available via Amazon India and the OnePlus website. The latest OnePlus 6T variant sports a Speedmark McLaren brand logo and has top-notch specifications, including 10GB RAM and 256GB of onboard storage. The most premium variant in the entire range, the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition also has the company’s Warp Charge 30 charging technology. There is a signature Papaya Orange colour wrapped around the borders of the phone. Further, the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition comes bundled with gifts and redesigned USB cables.

OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition price in India

The OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition price in India has been set at Rs. 50,999 for the lone 10GB RAM and 256GB onboard storage configuration. The price is notably higher than the 8GB RAM/ 256GB storage variant of the regular OnePlus 6T that was launched at Rs. 45,999.

As far as its availability is concerned, the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition is now on sale via Amazon India and the OnePlus India website. It is also available for offline purchase from OnePlus exclusive offline stores in select cities. Notably, the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition went on sale exclusively in a special sale earlier this week at the OnePlus Experience Store in Connaught Place, New Delhi.

On the part of launch offers, OnePlus announced that on the occasion of its fifth-anniversary celebrations, offers will be available from December 15 to December 24 on the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition as well as other OnePlus 6T variants. These offers include Rs. 2,000 cashback on all EMI transactions on Axis Bank cards and Rs. 1,500 cashback on all transactions made using Axis Bank credit or debit cards across all offline and online platforms.

Customers purchasing the OnePlus smartphone will also get up to six months no-cost EMI on Amazon.in, Oneplus India, and all OnePlus exclusive offline stores; additional Rs. 3,000 discount on an exchange of any old OnePlus handset; and Rs. 2,000 off on exchange of other devices on Amazon.in, OnePlus India, and all OnePlus exclusive offline stores.

 

OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition specifications

The dual-SIM (Nano) OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition runs OxygenOS on top of Android 9.0 Pie and features a 6.41-inch full-HD+ (1080×2340 pixels) AMOLED display with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio and sRGB support. Under the hood, there is an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC, coupled with 10GB of LPDDR4x RAM and 256GB of internal storage that is not expandable via microSD card.

In terms of optics, the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition has a dual rear camera setup that includes a 16-megapixel Sony IMX519 primary sensor and a 20-megapixel Sony IMX376K secondary sensor. The camera setup supports 4K video at 60fps, Super Slow Motion video, and dual-LED flash. For selfies, the handset has a 16-megapixel sensor at the front along with an 1-micron pixel size, f/2.0 aperture, and EIS support.

The OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition has 4G VoLTE, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth v5.0, NFC, GPS/ A-GPS, and a USB Type-C (v2.0) port. It has an in-display fingerprint sensor and a software-based Face Unlock feature. The smartphone packs a 3,700mAh battery that supports Warp Charge 30 to offer up to 30W fast charging support for enabling a day’s worth of charge in 20 minutes. Lastly, it measures 157.5×74.8×8.2mm and weighs 185 grams.

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