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Pixel 3 XL: Flawless camera, great Android experience



Google reveals Pixel 3, bigger Pixel 3 XL smartphone

New Delhi, Oct 22 : Last year’s Pixel 2 was practically the best smartphone camera that Google made. However, the screen’s dreaded blue tint and other hardware issues overshadowed a capable phone.

It is good to see Google taking serious note of the flaws in the Pixel 2 XL and changing vendors (from LG to Samsung) for this year’s Pixel 3 XL.

What you get for Rs 83,000 is the base variant of Pixel 3 XL with 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage with the top-of-the-line Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chipset. The 128GB storage variant costs Rs 9,000 more. Pixel 3 costs Rs 71,000 for the 64GB storage variant.

This year’s iteration packs in a better looking body with matte finish, refreshed colours (just black, clearly white and not pink) and a big notch which many people have deemed “ugly”.

Google shipped nearly twice as many smartphone units in 2017 as compared to 2016, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC). However, Google’s numbers are still pretty low when compared to the volumes shipped by Apple and Samsung.

Let us see if the Pixel 3 XL will help Google convince buyers to choose it over other flagship competitors.

We have to admit the Pixel 3 XL is a camera smartphone at heart, despite not having a dual lens set-up like the new Apple iPhone models and Samsung Galaxy Note 9.

Google’s Machine Learning (ML) and image processing technology gets the job flawlessly done with the help of a Pixel Core chip. A single 12.2MP primary lens with an f/1.8 aperture and optical stabilisation delivers a great camera experience.

Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL review: Android’s finest

The images were beautifully detailed and had accurate colours, sans any sort of over-processing. Not to forget the camera’s impressive dynamic range and low-light performance; it can be said that Pixel 3 XL has the best smartphone camera out there.

Close-up images taken in normal mode had a natural, shallow depth-of-field, so we didn’t feel the need to switch to the Portrait mode often. The Portrait mode particularly churned out images with a high level of detail and sharpness around the edges of the subject.

It’s worth mentioning that Google has added features such as the motion auto-focus to this year’s iteration which essentially locks focus on a subject and tracks it around the frame.

The company has added an 8MP+8MP dual camera set-up in the front that makes the Pixel 3 XL a great selfie camera as well. The wide-angle sensor makes sure you get a larger view of the background or squeeze in more people into the frame for group selfies.

Another significant improvement over 2017’s Pixel 2 XL is the screen. The bigger 6.3-inch screen with QHD+ resolution (1440×2960) and a ppi of over 400 results in sharper and brighter text and images. The OLED display also means lower power consumption and deeper blacks.

The screen space is bigger thanks to slimmer bezels and taller aspect ratio but there’s a chin and a much-talked about notch on the bigger Pixel.

The glass panels on the rear and front are made of Gorilla Glass 5. The top portion is slightly glossy while the bottom is absolutely matte and non-slippery.

Google has accommodated front-facing stereo speakers that, it says, are 40 per cent louder. Well, these are certainly louder than those in the Galaxy Note 9 and have no distortion.

There’s no standard 3.5-mm headphone jack but the company’s bundled Pixel USB-C earbuds with Google Assistant means that notifications will be read out to you.

The Pixel 3 XL, with its 3430mAh battery, lasted close to 24 hours with mixed use of video and audio streaming and simultaneously running several apps.

What does not work?

The only thing which might be a put-off for some users would be the notch on Pixel 3 XL which houses the dual-selfie cameras. One way to hide it is to turn it off in developer settings and Google has promised a future update to address this.

Conclusion: A significant improvement in the display department coupled with the matte glass rear and impeccable cameras make Pixel 3 XL the best Android camera phone in the market. Also comes with it the best Android (stock) experience.

(Krishna SinhaChaudhury can be contacted at [email protected])


SC directs no coercive action be taken against Facebook VP till October 15



Supreme Court

Supreme Court issued notice on Facebook India’s VP and MD, Ajit Mohan and directed that no coercive action will be taken against him till 15 October, when it will take up the matter for further hearing in the case.

The Apex court was hearing the petition filed by Mohan against the notice issued by Delhi Legislative Assembly for deposing before it.

A 3-judge bench was headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul.

Moreover, the top court issued notice to Delhi Assembly, Centre on plea by Facebook VP on summons asking him to depose on Delhi riots. SC recorded that Delhi Assembly’s Peace and Harmony Committee will not hold a meeting, till further orders.

Earlier, Mohan moved Supreme Court against the summons of the Delhi Assembly Committee, a notice issued by Delhi Assembly’s Peace and Harmony Committee to appear before it for its alleged role in the Delhi violence in February.

Facebook, Mohan, and others had filed the plea in the top court against the Delhi Assembly panel. Since Facebook had refused to come on first summon, the assembly panel had to sent second summon.

The petitioners had moved the apex court challenging the two summons issued by the respondent, Legislative Assembly, NCT of Delhi and others, against them — on September 10 and 18 — on the grounds that they violated the fundamental rights of the petitioner under Article 19(1)(a) and Article 21, guaranteed under part III of the Indian Constitution, the petition claimed.

The petitioners had approached the top court to quash these two summons issued by the Legislative Assembly, NCT of Delhi and others, against them.

The petitioners said that the first summon and second summon issued by the Peace and Harmony Committee of Legislative Assembly, NCT of Delhi and others directed one of the petitioners, the Vice President and Managing Director to appear before the Committee on September 23, 2020.

Facebook provides a safe place for expression. Notably, the petitioners also provide easy-to-use tools that allow users to report objectionable content. The petitioners provide users with options to report content that violates its publicly available community standards, the petitioners claimed.

The Committee’s insistence on compelling Ajit Mohan, to speak, and its categorical threat to his non-appearance as a “breach of privilege of the Committee and [to take] necessary action as deemed fit”, gives rise to a clear and present danger to the fundamental rights and liberties of petitioners in the ultra vires proceedings before the Committee, they claimed.

Accordingly, the petitioners are compelled to approach this court to avoid imminent irreparable harm to themselves, they added.

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Bharti Airtel, VIL shares plunge after Jio unleashes postpaid tariff war




Jio Bharti Voda

Mumbai, Sep 23 : Shares of telecom majors Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea Ltd (VIL) were under pressure on Wednesday after Reliance Jio announced a range of postpaid plans with several benefits, to take on both Airtel and Vodafone Idea in the postpaid segment.

Brokerages retained their bullish stance on Bharti Airtel NSE -7.64 % even after billionaire Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio on Tuesday unveiled postpaid plans, bundling up to 500 GB of data and subscription to Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney + Hotstar.

Shares of Bharti Airtel, however, traded 5.78 per cent lower at Rs 443.80 at around 11:30 am (IST), while Vodafone Idea traded 5.56 per cent down at Rs 9.68 at around the same time. On the other hand, the benchmark BSE Sensex was up 0.62 per cent at 37,966.

JioPostPaid Plus for mobile customers will have a monthly tariff varying from Rs 399 to Rs 1,499 with different benefits, the company said in a statement.

According to ICICIdirect, the move creates a new layer of tariff-based competition in the segment that was so far unchallenged and lucrative.

“Both Airtel, Vodafone Idea (VIL) are exposed to this risk of churn, the pressure on VIL will be more. The theme of prepaid tariff hike in near term also remains questionable. We await incumbent’s move before incorporating any impact in our financials and valuations. We retain ‘Buy’ on Airtel with an unchanged target price of Rs 700 given comfortable leverage and superior customer quality. However, we maintain ‘Sell’ on VIL with an unchanged target price of Rs 6 per share, given the difficult path ahead to assure survival.”

Reliance Jio added that the main objective of the newly-launched JioPostpaid Plus service is to provide superior services across connectivity, entertainment, and experience.

“There can’t be a more opportune time to introduce JioPostpaid Plus. After having earned the trust of close to 400 million satisfied customers in the prepaid smartphone category, we want to extend our customer obsession to the postpaid category,” Akash Ambani, Director, Jio, said in a statement.

Axis Capital sees this as an attempt by Reliance NSE 1.21 % Jio to add high-Arpu customers and shift some of its customers from prepaid to postpaid.

“There will be no impact on incumbents as only 5 per cent and 8 per cent of Bharti Airtel and VIL customers are on postpaid plans. Most postpaid are enterprise customers who are sticky and incumbents also have comparable plans which can match Jio with some tweaking. Incumbents provide additional features like handset protection. We see it as a positive for the sector as it will attract a new generation of OTT aficionado subscribers which will expand the postpaid market,” Axis said while maintaining a positive stance on Airtel and Reliance Industries.

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Microsoft announces bold features in video meet app Teams

Presenters can choose to hop between breakout rooms, make announcements to all breakout rooms, and/or close the breakout rooms that then bring everybody back into the main meeting.




Microsoft Teams

Seattle, Sep 22 : Microsoft on Tuesday announced several new capabilities to help people stay connected, collaborate and build solutions in its video meet app Teams.

While there isn’t a limit on the number of people in a Teams tenant, team membership is currently limited to 5,000 members. Later this year, it will be increased to support up to 25,000 members per individual team, the company said.

Coming in October, breakout rooms will allow meeting organisers to split up participants into smaller groups to facilitate brainstorming sessions or workgroup discussions.

Presenters can choose to hop between breakout rooms, make announcements to all breakout rooms, and/or close the breakout rooms that then bring everybody back into the main meeting.

“With the new Together mode scenes coming this year, you can transport your team to a variety of settings that can help set the tone and create the experience for your meeting, whether it be an auditorium, a conference room, or a coffee shop,” the company said during the ‘Microsoft Ignite 2020’ virtual conference.

Coming later this year, custom layouts will allow for a more dynamic content viewing experience and enable presenters to customise how content shows up for participants during a meeting.

For example, when a presenter is showing a PowerPoint slide, participants will be able to see the presenter’s video feed transposed onto the foreground of the slide they’re showing.

Microsoft said that later this year, Teams will have the option for a recap with the meeting recording, transcript, chat, shared files and more that can be automatically shared in the meeting Chat tab and viewable in the Details tab for each meeting.

The recap will also be available in the meeting event in the Outlook calendar.

“For more structured meetings such as customer webinars, organisers can use event registration with automated emails to make it easier to manage attendance. After the meeting, a detailed reporting dashboard will help understand attendee engagement,” Microsoft announced.

Microsoft Teams will have a streamlined view that shows contacts, voicemail and calling history at once, making it easier to initiate or return a call with a single click.

A new search experience in Teams, powered by Microsoft Search and available late this year, will make finding messages, people, answers, and files faster and more intuitive.

“This redesigned search results page provides better context and faster results, with AI-powered relevance based on the people and content you engage with most in Teams and other Microsoft 365 services,” the tech giant announced.

Also, new personal well-being features like a virtual commute, integration with apps like Headspace, and an emotional check-in experience will be available in the first half of 2021.

In an effort to strengthen security, Mcrosoft will enable customers to add a layer of encryption using their own keys for Teams, similar to Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and OneDrive.

“Customer Key for Teams is targeting public preview before the end of this calendar year”.

Developers will soon be able to integrate their apps into Teams meetings and create scenarios that have deep awareness of the meeting context – including roster, roles, and permissions, Microsoft said.

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