Today in the world of personal technology, Airtel and Vodafone announced new offers to lure customers away from Reliance Jio, government announced new steps to push cashless payments, and Pebble was shut down. Read your 360 Daily round-up of the top tech news for these stories, and more.
Airtel offers unlimited voice calls, Vodafone cuts 4G rates by 50 percent
To compete with Reliance Jio and its Happy New Year Offer, Airtel and Vodafone have released new offers to entice users. Airtel has launched two new recharge packs that provide unlimited voice calls, along with data benefits. The Rs. 345 Airtel prepaid pack allows users to make unlimited local and STD calls to any network, as well as 1GB of 4G data. The Rs. 145 pack, on the other hand, limits the unlimited calls across the country to just the Airtel network.
Vodafone’s offer gives prepaid 4G users double the data for recharge values of Rs. 255 or more. For example, a Vodafone 4G customer will now get 2GB of data of mobile data instead of the 1GB they used to receive till now. This offer is limited only to Delhi circle for now.
No service tax on credit, debit card transactions under Rs. 2,000
The government has announced several new measures to promote cashless payments. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said that two point of sale (PoS) machines will be provided to 1,00,000 villages, and farmers will be provided card facilities for digital payments. There will be no service tax on credit and debit card payments under Rs. 2,000, buying petrol and diesel without cash will entail a 0.5 percent discount, and digital payments for railways facilities will give a 5 percent discount. Those who purchase monthly seasonal tickets for suburban railways will also get 0.5 percent for digital payments. A 10 percent discount will be provided for cashless payments for general insurance policies from public sector insurance companies, while 8 percent discount will be provided for life insurance.
Paytm app now features password protection
Paytm has updated its Android app to include password protection in order to keep customers money safe on mobile devices; fingerprint sensor integration is coming for the Paytm iOS app soon. The Paytm security feature uses Android's authorisation mechanism, and so it will only work on a phone that has a screen lock - it can be a PIN, password, pattern, or fingerprint. You will have to enter the password or pattern or PIN in order to make payments of open the passbook.
Apple may launch iPhone 7s, iPhone 7s Plus with red colour option
Apple will launch the iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus smartphones next year, instead of the widely rumoured iPhone 8, according to a new report. It adds that Apple will introduce the iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus in Red colour variant, alongside the other hues in which the smartphone is available. Further, the iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus will not feature wireless charging and glass casing, as has been rumoured for long. Instead, the new iPhones will – unsurprisingly – run on a more powerful A11 chip, the report says.
Demonetisation effect: Micromax says sales down 25-30 percent
Demonetisation of the Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes and the seasonal slowdown post Diwali have taken a toll on Micromax, with sales plummeting 25-30 percent. The company says that most of the impact was on online channels, and claimed that its sales decline was lower than that of the rest of the industry. The impact on distributors has been 15-18 percent, but in some cases it is as high as 60 percent, Micromax marketing chief Shubhajit Sen said.
Alcatel Idol 4 smartphone launched in India
The Alcatel Idol 4 smartphone with bundled virtual reality headset and JBL earphones has been launched in India at Rs. 16,999. Available exclusively on Flipkart, the Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow -based Alcatel Idol 4 has a 5.2-inch full HD display, a Snapdragon 617 processor, 3GB RAM, 16GB internal storage, microSD expansion support up to 512GB, a 13-megapixel rear camera, an 8-megapixel front camera, and a 2610mAh battery.
Fitbit buys Pebble for software assets
Fitbit has acquired smartwatch pioneer Pebble for an undisclosed sum, the two companies have announced. With this deal, Pebble will be shut down, and its software assets and key personnel will become part of Fitbit. Upcoming Pebble hardware, such as the Pebble Time 2 and Pebble Core smartwatches, will be cancelled, while further fulfilment of Pebble 2 orders will cease. Refunds will be issued to Kickstarter crowdfunding backers.
YouTube starts showing more local language content to Indian users
YouTube has started showing its Indian users more content in local languages, the company said. The video sharing service will use the watch history, language preferences and location to automatically determine the user’s preferred language, and show more content in the same. The languages being pushed by YouTube currently include Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Punjabi, Tamil, and Telugu. The local language content will appear in the Home and Trending tabs of YouTube.
Microsoft reveals plans for Amazon Echo, Google Home rival
Microsoft has announced that it is partnering with Intel on Project Evo, which seemingly lays the groundwork for the hardware of the software giant’s rumoured plans to take on Amazon Echo and Google Home. Under Project Evo, Microsoft will be working on far-field speech communications that will enable users to operate Cortana from across the room, mixed reality experiences, gaming innovations, and security from malware and hacking attempts. This will only be a software product, allowing manufacturers to integrate it into their own hardware, much the same way Android can be used by any smartphone maker. The first hardware under Project Evo is not expected to arrive until late 2017.
Disclosure: Paytm's parent company One97 is an investor in Gadgets 360.