Reliance Jio bounced back from the forced cancellation of its previous Jio Summer Surprise offer with the new Dhan Dhana Dhan offer with remarkable speed, and now its main competitors are trying to match it. Airtel, Vodafone and Idea are Jio's three biggest rivals, and each of them has launched a counterattack designed to attract or retain customers who are heavy data users.
Airtel's new Rs. 244 recharge pack will give users 1GB of 4G data per day - the same amount of daily data that Jio is offering at Rs. 309 for 84 days to its Prime members - for 70 days as well as free local and national phone calls for up to 300 minutes per day or 1200 minutes per week. With a recharge of Rs. 399, users get the same 1GB per day of data but the free call limit goes up to 3,000 minutes over the 70-day validity period. Beyond the free call limit, customers will be charged at Rs. 0.10 per minute. For those who want more data, there's also a Rs. 345 pack which gives buyers 2GB per day without the previous time slot restrictions which imposed a FUP between 6am and midnight. This pack is valid for 28 days.
Airtel's new offers will become active on April 15 even if you buy them beforehand. Also, these plans are reportedly only available to existing users who can find them on the My Airtel app, and not to all Airtel customers. Users will need a 4G-capable smartphone and a 4G SIM to be able to take advantage of these offers.
Vodafone's response to Jio Dhan Dhana Dhan offer is a recharge pack priced at Rs. 352, which gives users 1GB of 4G data per day for 56 days plus unlimited local and STD voice calls for that duration. Again, the offer is not being widely publicised. Users can dial a USSD code to express interest in the offer, after which they are directed to visit a Vodafone store in person.
Idea is reportedly offering two packs priced at Rs. 297 and Rs. 447. Similar to Airtel's plans, both give users 1GB of data per day for 70 days. The difference is in the number of free calls - up to 300 minutes per day or 1200 minutes per week for the former, and up to 3000 minutes for the latter. Calls beyond the free allocation are billed at Rs. 0.30 per minute.
Meanwhile, Airtel has filed a petition with the TDSAT tribunal against Jio's delays in withdrawing the Summer Surprise offer, and is objecting to the fact that those who had already subscribed prior to the cancellation date are being allowed to continue receiving benefits.
BHIM-Aadhar platform incentivises users and merchants with bonuses and cash back
The National Payments Corporation of India has updated the BHIM virtual payments app to support more Indian languages, new safety features, and more flexible ways to send and receive money. On the same day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced a new BHIM-Aadhar platform along with incentive schemes aimed at customers and merchants.
The BHIM Referral Bonus Scheme gives anyone who refers a new user Rs. 10, while the new user gets Rs. 25. The bonuses are given out after the new user performs three successful transactions of at least Rs. 50. The BHIM Merchant Cashback Scheme rewards merchants with Rs. 100 for each month that they perform between 50 and 100 transactions with a minimum of 20 unique customers. Merchants who conduct ove 200 transactions per month will also receive Rs. 0.50 per transaction up to a maximum of Rs. 200, for a maximum potential payout of Rs. 300 per month. This offer will last for six months, so merchants can earn up to Rs. 1,800.
The BHIM-Aadhar platform is aimed at promoting digital payments and reducing the amount of cash circulating in the Indian economy. Users will be able to make payments with their Aadhar details using the biometric authentication features of their smartphones.
Samsung to launch Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+ in India on April 19
Samsung is all set to bring its 2017 flagships, the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+, to India. The pair will launch on Wednesday, April 19. Preorders are already open, although exact prices are not yet known. Samsung will be selling the international versions of these phones, which use its inhouse Exynos 8895 processor rather than Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835. Interestingly, the phones are set to go on sale in South Korea and the USA two days later, on April 21. Over 720,000 units have been preordered in South Korea.
Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ on March 29. Both models feature large edge-to-edge "infinity display" screens with curved sides, a new virtual assistant called Bixby, and iris recognition for security. The Galaxy S8 has a 5.8-inch screen and 3000mAh battery while the bigger Galaxy S8+ has a 6.2-inch screen at 3500mAh battery. Both phones have 64GB of storage and run Android 7.0 Nougat.
Instagram Stories beats Snapchat in popularity after copying its core features
Instagram Stories are already being used by over 200 million people per day, edging out rival Snapchat, according to a statement made by Facebook. That number is a significant increase from the 150 million that the company reported in January. Shares of Snapchat, which pioneered the popular medium of expression, fell 1.2 percent as a result. Snapchat reported 161 million daily users at the end of last year.
Both Snapchat Stories and Instagram Stories let users post a string of video and photo messages which play in sequence but expire after 24 hours. Instagram has also recently copied Snapchat's stickers and geofilters. Most recently, the company announced new features such as the ability for users to create stickers of themselves, plus custom stickers for different cities and a favourites tab to make searching easier.
Whatsapp will take steps to fight abusive videos being shared
Facebook-owned Whatsapp has told the Supreme Court of India that it will cooperate with efforts to block sexually suggestive videos on its messaging platform. Company representatives agreed to meet with a committee set up by the court within two weeks to tackle this issue, and explore technical solutions to block such videos. A meeting has been scheduled for April 27.
The statement comes after Whatsapp was issued a notice by the apex court on April 11 as party to the matter of a petition filed by a Hyderabad-based NGO. Other companies named during proceedings have included Google India, Microsoft India, Yahoo India and Facebook.
Meanwhile, a tipster has claimed that a forthcoming update to Whatsapp for Android as well as its Web client will introduce the ability for a user to revoke messages after they have been sent, as well as easier controls for formatting bold, italicised and underlined text.
Xiaomi Mi 6 leaks tip specifications and design
Multiple reports have pointed to the imminent announcement of new flagship smartphones from Xiaomi, called Mi 6 and Mi 6 Plus, and now we might have our first look at the larger of the two. An image claiming to show the Mi 6 Plus has surfaced on Chinese social media site Weibo. The device appears to have a large display occupying almost its entire front, and a physical Home button right at the bottom edge of the front. Twin speaker grilles and a USB Type-C port can also be seen on the bottom of the purported Xiaomi Mi 6 unit. There is no branding or indication of how accurate this leak might be.
At the same time, new entries in the online Geekbench score database seem to confirm that the Xiaomi Mi 6 models will be powered by Qualcomm's latest and greatest Snapdragon 835 SoC with integrated Adreno 540 graphics, and will be able to beat Samsung's Galaxy S8. The single-core and multi-core results for the purported Mi 6 were 2,006 and 6,438 respectively, compared to 1,916 and 6,011 for a Galaxy S8.
Nokia 3310 (2017) set to launch in the UK through multiple carriers
Following reports by UK carrier Carphone Warehouse of unprecedented demand for the newly reborn Nokia 3310, Vodafone and EE have announced that they too will sell the classic phone. Carphone Warehouse has been taking preorders for the new Nokia 3310 for over a month. The device will be priced at EUR 49 (approximately Rs. 3,200), but there is no confirmation of when exactly it will be available for purchase.
The Nokia 3310 (2017) is a featurephone just like its namesake, and rides on a wave of nostalgia for one of the most iconic phones of the pre-smartphone era. It might not have any powerful features, but is certainly serving to raise the profile of Nokia's brand, in preparation for new smartphone launches coming later this year.
Xbox Scorpio to be unveiled on June 11
Microsoft has announced that its souped-up Xbox, codenamed Scorpio, will be unveiled on June 11 at the 2017 edition of the annual E3 games expo. The new console is designed for gaming at 4K, and features a GPU capable of 6 Teraflops of pixel-pushing bandwidth as well as a custom designed 2.3GHz CPU. Microsoft shared these specifications recently, and has also previewed a development kit used to get games ready in time for the console's launch.
The new Xbox model will go up against Sony's PS4 Pro. However, it will go on sale only in the US holiday period towards the end of this year.
Nintendo kills off its popular NES Classic Edition despite high demand
In a puzzling move most likely calculated to promote sales of its new Nintendo Switch console, Nintendo has announced that it is ending production of the NES Classic Edition. The miniature version of the NES plays 30 of its original games and supports modern TVs with an HDMI output. It has been sold out regularly because Nintendo severely underestimated demand. Fans of retro console games and those who just wanted a taste of nostalgia flocked to the $59.99 device, but now there will be no new stocks after the few remaining in circulation are snapped up.
Global sales of the NES Classic Edition have touched 1.5 million units, with 200,000 of those in North America. Prices have been inflated by up to three times due to high demand, and fans have expressed surprise and grief on social media. The only silver lining is that Nintendo's statement alludes to the end of shipments "for this year", which might indicate that Nintendo will release additional batches at some point down the line.
OnePlus 5 leaked on Chinese regulatory site
In more flagship phone news, it appears that OnePlus will be launching a new flagship called the OnePlus 5 in the near future. Previous rumours have suggested that the company will skip the number 4, which is associated with death and bad luck in many Asian countries. A listing on China's Radio Regulation Authority website appears to confirm this.
The OnePlus 5 could launch in the second half of 2017 and feature a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC and a 5.5-inch QHD screen. Other features purportedly include a 23-megapixel primary camera and 16-megapixel front camera. The phone could also have as much as 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.