We are back with your weekly round of everything important that happened in the tech industry in India and worldwide. The 2018 editions of WWDC and Computex, Redmi Y2 and Moto G6 series India launch, and major changes to the telecom plans took the spotlight this week, though there were several other developments that kept everyone busy as well. So let's dive straight into it.
Looking to outsmart Jio at its own game, Airtel that is said to be providing a small number of consumers with 2.4GB data a day, up from 1.4GB data per day; this upgrade is only for subscribers who were getting 84-day validity on the Rs. 399 pack — those who were getting validity of 70 days will continue to get 1.4GB daily data allocation. Then it was the Rs. 149 Airtel pack that has been reportedly refreshed once again to now offer 2GB data per day, up from 1GB data daily. Both these packs offer more data than their respective Jio counterparts, though it should be pointed out they are restricted to small number of users only for now.
BSNL has reportedly announced both FTTH and non-FTTH plans this week as it trains its guns on the broadband market ahead of the long-awaited launch of Jio Fiber. The non-FTTH plans are priced between Rs. 99 and Rs. 399, and offer up to 600GB data — all these plans come with 20Mbps speed (1Mbps after FUP is exhausted), free email ID, and 1GB cloud storage. Under these plans, BSNL users will get 45GB data (at 1.5GB a day) at Rs. 99 a month, 150GB (at 5GB per day) for Rs. 199, and 300GB (at 10GB per day) for Rs. 299. Lastly, there’s the Rs. 399 plan that is said to provide 600GB data for a month at 20GB per day. In the FTTH realm, starting June 12, users will reportedly get two new plans priced at Rs. 777 and Rs. 1,277 a month. The former will provide users with 500GB data a month at 50Mbps speed, while the latter 750GB per month at 100Mbps speed. Both plans will come with 1 free email ID with 1GB free storage.
TRAI this week also released the MySpeed app data for download and upload speeds for the month of April. It shows the Jio 4G download speed continued to dip for the second consecutive month, delivering 14.7Mbps download speed to lead the market. It was followed by Airtel, Idea and Vodafone at 9.2Mbps, 7.4Mbps and 7.1Mbps, respectively. In 4G upload speeds, Idea continues to lead the market at 6.5Mbps. Vodafone, Jio and Airtel take the next spots with 5.2Mbps, 4Mbps and 3.7Mbps, respectively.
In other telecom news, Idea launched a Rs. 149 pack with bundled voice calls (250 minutes a day, 1,000 minutes a week) for 21 days, and 100 SMS. It is also offering a Rs. 20 cashback on recharge of Rs. 100 between June 5 and August 15. BSNL is said to have launched a Rs. 99 plan for landline users in 27 circles, providing unlimited calls to BSNL numbers without any daily or weekly restrictions. Airtel announced it will be deploying over 7,000 new mobile sites that will include the large-scale deployment of pre-5G Massive MIMO technology to help boost the current data and voice service standards for its users. Also this week, Google announced it has completed the rollout of free public Wi-Fi at 400 railway stations in India.
The Redmi Y2 was launched in India this week, its new selfie smartphone aimed at the youth. Its notable features are the AI-powered 16-megapixel selfie camera, Face Unlock capabilities, and an 18:9 display. Other key Redmi Y2 specifications include a 5.99-inch HD+ display, Snapdragon 625 SoC, 12-megapixel primary and 5-megapixel secondary camera sensors on the back, dedicated microSD card slot, and 3080mAh battery.
The Redmi Y2 price in India is Rs. 9,999 for the variant with 3GB RAM and 32GB internal storage, and Rs. 12,999 for the 4GB RAM and 64GB inbuilt storage option. The smartphone takes over from the Redmi Y1 as the company’s new affordable selfie phone. It will go on sale in India starting June 12 and will be available online via Amazon and Mi.com, and offline via Mi Home stores; it will hit the shelves of Xiaomi’s offline retail partners in a few weeks.
Xiaomi also announced the MIUI 10 Global ROM Beta at the Redmi Y2 launch event. Focusing on speed, design and sound, the new MIUI 10 Global ROM Beta will be rolled out for select Xiaomi handsets in June, while the rest will get the stable build in September. The company has also started recruiting beta testers for the build in order to receive feedback. Users can still sign up to become a tester by signing up for the programme by June 11.
Another major smartphone launch this week was the Moto G6 series. Comprising the Moto G6 and Moto G6 Play, this affordable range takes on the popular Redmi Note 5 Pro and Redmi Note 5, respectively. The Moto G6 has a 5.7-inch full-HD+ display and Snapdragon 450 processor, along with stock Android 8.0 Oreo. It has a 12-megapixel + 5-megapixel dual camera setup on the back, and 16-megapixel selfie camera. Other key features include a 3000mAh battery with TurboCharge support and Dolby Audio integration in the speakers.
As for the Moto G6 Play, the smartphone has a 5.7-inch HD+ panel, stock Android 8.0 Oreo, and Snapdragon 430 SoC. Its highlight is the 4000mAh battery with TurboCharge support. As for the camera configuration, there’s a 13-megapixel rear camera and an 8-megapixel selfie shooter. Both the smartphones support microSD card-based storage expansion up to 128GB.
The Moto G6 price in India is set as Rs. 13,999 for the variant with 3GB RAM and 32GB storage, and Rs. 15,999 for the 4GB RAM and 64GB storage option. On the other hand, the Moto G6 Play comes in only one configuration, with 3GB RAM and 32GB storage, priced at Rs. 11,999. The former is an Amazon exclusive in India, while the latter can be purchased via Flipkart.
Lenovo Z5 was the big international launch this week, though it did not entirely live up to everything the teasers promised. While it was claimed to be the first fully bezel-less smartphone in the teasers, it turned out to be just another affordable Android phone with a notch at the top and a chin at the bottom. The Lenovo Z5 price is CNY 1,399 (about Rs. 14,700) for the 64GB storage variant and CNY 1,799 (around Rs. 18,900) for the 128GB storage option, and it will go on sale in China on June 12.
As for the Lenovo Z5 specifications, you get a 6.2-inch full-HD+ display with 90 percent screen-to-body ratio, and Android 8.1 Oreo-based ZUI 3.9 skin. The handset is powered by an octa-core Snapdragon 636 SoC, coupled with 6GB RAM. There is a 3300mAh battery under the hood, with support for 15W fast charge. For the optics, the smartphone features a 16-megapixel primary rear camera sensor and an 8-megapixel secondary sensor, vertically stacked and complete with AI capabilities and HDR+ support. On the front, the handset bears an 8-megapixel selfie camera.
Along with the Z5, Lenovo launched the A5 and K5 Note (2018) smartphones in China. Both are affordable Android phones with 18:9 displays, with Android 8.1 Oreo software underneath, though neither sports the notch. The Lenovo K5 Note (2018) costs CNY 799 (roughly Rs. 8,400) for the 3GB RAM/ 32GB storage variant, and CNY 999 (roughly Rs. 10,500) for the 4GB RAM/ 64GB storage option. Lenovo A5, on the other hand, is priced at CNY 599 (roughly Rs. 6,300).
Coming to the specifications, Lenovo K5 Note (2018) sports a 6-inch HD+ display, is powered by the octa-core Snapdragon 450 processor, and has a 3760mAh battery. On the back, it has a 16-megapixel autofocus primary sensor and a 2-megapixel fixed focus secondary sensor. The camera setup comes with a monochrome flash. At the front, there is an 8-megapixel camera with f/2.0 aperture and it comes with beautification features.
Lenovo A5 features a smaller 5.45-inch HD+ screen and is powered by the quad-core MediaTek MT6739 SoC, with 3GB of RAM. The storage will be either 16GB or 32GB, depending on market, with microSD card support up to 256GB. Fuelling it all will be the 4000mAh battery. Talking about the optics, there’s a 13-megapixel sensor with monochrome flash on the back and an 8-megapixel front camera.
Xiaomi confirmed the Redmi 6 series will be launched in China on June 12, a few weeks after a number of Redmi 6 models started appearing online. While the poster mentions the number ‘6’, it is not yet clear whether it will just be the Redmi 6 or also the 6A series that will be unveiled at the event. Earlier leaks have pointed to models such as the Redmi 6, Redmi 6 Pro/ Plus, as well as multiple variants of Redmi 6A in the offing.
In a separate teaser, the company hinted that the upcoming Redmi series phone will deliver lag-free performance even with long-term usage. For those unaware, the Redmi 6 is said to have a 5.45-inch HD+ display with 18:9 aspect ratio, Android Oreo, and octa-core Snapdragon 625 processor. It is said to come in three variants, with 2GB/ 3GB/ 4GB of RAM and 16GB/ 32GB/ 64GB of internal storage, respectively. As for battery specifications, a 3000mAh unit is expected.
Other Xiaomi leaks this week revealed the upcoming Mi A2 and Mi A2 Lite smartphones. The Mi A2 was spotted on Geekbench, with Snapdragon 660, Android Oreo, and 4GB RAM. It scored 1,630 on the single-core test and rose to 4,657 on the multi-core test. The smartphone is expected to be the rebranded version of the Mi 6X in India, following a similar pattern followed by Xiaomi with the Mi A1.
Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite, on the other hand, will be headed to Singapore as it has been spotted on a certification website in the country. The listing shows the Mi A2 Lite will run on Android 8.1 Oreo, have a 5.84-inch full-HD+ display, and will be powered by a 2GHz octa-core processor. It will reportedly come in 2GB RAM + 16GB storage, 3GB RAM + 32GB storage, and 4GB RAM + 64GB storage variants. As for the cameras, there is a dual rear camera setup with a 12-megapixel primary sensor, while the second in not known for now. At the front, there is a 5-megapixel sensor. It is tipped to pack a 3900mAh battery.
UIDAI has announced a new feature that allows users to download their Aadhaar Update History. The update history can be downloaded and provided to authorities on demand for availing various services. It shows date-wise details of updates made in address, and other fields on the Aadhaar since its generation. It could be any update relating to name, date of birth, gender or address, or addition/deletion of mobile or email.
WhatsApp, likely in a bid to combat spam on the platform, has started labelling forwarded messages. The new feature is presently only on Android Beta v2.18.179 of the app, and puts a small ‘Forwarded’ label on all such messages in the chats of both the sender and the recipient. There is no option to disable the feature in the WhatsApp beta yet.
Amazon this week celebrated its fifth anniversary in India, with CEO Jeff Bezos saying the company is still in Day 1 despite half a decade here, and that he is humbled by the opportunities that lie ahead. To celebrate the occasion, the company announced a Rs. 250 cashback on all orders of Rs. 1,000 and above on payments made via digital payment methods.
Separately, the Echo and Echo Dot smart speakers have received price cuts in India. The price of the Amazon Echo has been slashed by Rs. 1,000 in the country, bringing it down to Rs. 8,999. On top of this, those who buy two Echo units on the same order will get another Rs. 1,000 discount. As for the Echo Dot, the price cut is Rs. 400, which brings down the price to Rs. 4,099. Apart from this, the company unveiled a new Fire TV Cube globally, a voice-controlled box that aims to replace the TV remote. It is not entirely hands-free yet, however, and some apps or services may require viewers to pick up the included remote to rewind or stop a show. The Fire TV Cube will go on sale in the US at $120 (roughly Rs. 8,000).
Apple hosted the WWDC 2018 developer conference this week, where it unveiled iOS 12, macOS Mojave, and other next-generation software for its devices. Starting with iOS 12, it will primarily focus on performance upgrades and improved animations. Among the key new features will be better Siri Shortcuts, Search Suggestions in Photos app, tongue detection and wink support in Animojis, four new Animojis and Memojis, and a screen time monitoring feature. Other notable features iOS 12 will bring include group FaceTime calls, grouped notifications, and improved privacy and security.
With iOS 12, Apple is also adding the option to report spam SMS, a feature that was demanded by telecom regulator TRAI. There will also be Automatic Updates, which will presumably install future software updates without manual intervention. Support for multiple looks in Face ID has been spotted too, along with iPad support for the facial recognition service. The update will be available for iPhone 5s and above, all iPad Air and iPad Pro models, iPad 5th generation and above, iPad 6th generation and above, iPad mini 2 and above, and the iPod touch 6th generation.
Coming to the other Apple software, macOS Mojave is the new software for the desktops, featuring a new Dark Mode, Apple News app, an overhauled Finder with Gallery View, refreshed Mac App Store, and on-screen controls for screenshots, among others. WatchOS for Apple Watches also received new features, such as Hindi support, walkie-talkie mode and podcasts, and upgraded Activity Sharing. Lastly, tvOS is getting a zero sign-on feature, aerial screensavers, AutoFill passwords, and the Apple TV remote on Control Center on iPhone and iPad.
Microsoft acquired popular coder hangout GitHub this week for a sum of $7.5 billion (roughly Rs. 50,300 crores) in stock. Created in 2008, GitHub allows developers to cooperatively manage software and has more than 28 million users around the world. Microsoft said GitHub will retain its developer-first ethos and will operate independently. The world’s biggest software maker started moving towards an open source software culture, proposing, for example, Linux on its Windows Azure cloud service. Microsoft Corporate Vice President Nat Friedman, an open source veteran, will become GitHub CEO.
Ending this roundup with the phone launches and leaks this week, the Moto Z3 Play made its global debut at a mid-week event in Brazil. The smartphone has a One-Button Nav bar, similar to iPhone gesture controls. Moto Z3 Play is an Android 8.1 Oreo-based handset sporting a 6.01-inch full-HD+ Super AMOLED display with 18:9 aspect ratio, octa-core Snapdragon 636 SoC and 4GB of RAM. It will come in 32GB and 64GB onboard storage options, both expandable via microSD card (up to 2TB). It has a 3000mAh battery that is said to offer half a day’s power in 30 minutes of charge.
The Moto Z3 Play has dual rear camera setup, with 12-megapixel primary sensor and 5-megapixel secondary depth sensor. On the front, there is an 8-megapixel sensor with group selfie mode and Face Unlock. Like other Z-series phones, this model also supports Moto Mods, and comes bundled with a Moto Power Pack mod to widen its battery life as long as 40 hours on a single charge. The Moto Z3 Play price in Brazil has been set at BRL 2,299 (approximately Rs. 40,000), with global availability starting later this month.
The upcoming Motorola One Power smartphone leaked once again this week, with the latest reveal giving away the key specifications. The phone reportedly has a 6.2-inch full-HD+ display with aspect ratio of 19:9, a display notch, and Android 8.1 Oreo. It is also expected to be powered by the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 SoC, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of inbuilt storage, and a 3780mAh battery. In terms of optics, the Motorola One Power will reportedly sport a dual camera setup at the back, with a 12-megapixel primary (f/1.8 aperture) and a 5-megapixel secondary sensor (f/2.0 aperture). On the front, the Motorola One Power is expected to get an 8-megapixel selfie sensor with f/2.2 aperture.
BlackBerry brand licensee TCL has unveiled the KEY2 smartphone, the successor the KeyOne. It is a QWERTY phone with Series 7 aluminium alloy frame, a textured diamond grip back panel, and is claimed to deliver two-day battery life. There’s also a dual rear camera setup with two 12-megapixel sensors, while the selfie shooter has 8-megapixel resolution. The new BlackBerry KEY2 has a 4.5-inch full-HD panel with 3:2 aspect ratio, Android 8.1 Oreo, and a 64-bit octa-core Snapdragon 660 SoC, paired with 6GB of RAM. It will come in 64GB and 128GB inbuilt storage variants, expandable via microSD card (up to 256GB).
Closer home, HTC launched Desire 12 and Desire 12+ in India, featuring 18:9 aspect ratios and durable acrylic glass back surface. The new HTC Desire 12 features a 5.5-inch HD+ display and has a quad-core MediaTek MT6739 SoC, coupled with 3GB RAM options. It sports a single 13-megapixel camera on the back and a 5-megapixel selfie camera. The smartphone has 32GB of inbuilt storage, expandable via microSD card (up to 2TB) and 2730mAh battery.
Its sibling, the Desire 12+, has a 6-inch HD+ panel, octa-core Snapdragon 450 SoC, and 3GB RAM. It features a dual rear camera setup with 13-megapixel primary sensor and 2-megapixel secondary sensor. For selfies, there is an 8-megapixel sensor. It also has 32GB of internal storage that is expandable via microSD card (up to 2TB) and packs a 2965mAh battery. The Desire 12 price in India is Rs. 15,800, while the Desire 12+ costs Rs. 19,790.Now moving to Computex 2018, Asus launched ROG Phone, its pureplay gaming smartphone. It is being touted as the world's first smartphone with a 3D vapour-chamber cooling system. The smartphone also has ultrasonic AirTrigger touch sensors, a gamer-centric design with side-mounted ports optimised for landscape-mode, an AMOLED display with HDR visuals and 90Hz refresh rate, and a 1ms response time. Asus ROG Phone price and availability details are not yet known but the company did say it will be launched in India soon.
The company also announced the refreshed ZenBook Pro 14 and ZenBook Pro 15 laptops with a 5.5-inch touchscreen instead of the trackpad at Computex 2018. Along with these, Asus unveiled a bunch of accessories and peripherals at the event, such as the TUF Gaming M5 mouse and TUF Gaming K5 keyboard, along with the TUF Gaming FX10CP desktop. There were also the ROG Strix SCAR II and ROG Strix Hero II gaming laptops, the ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 tri-band 802.11ax router with Wi-Fi speeds of over 10,000Mbps, and the Delta gaming headset.