Xiaomi launches Mi Sports Bluetooth Earphones Basic in India for ₹1,499

Today, at a launch event in New Delhi, India, Xiaomi launched its two anticipated smartphones — Redmi Note 7 and Redmi Note 7 Pro. Along with those two phones, the company also launched wireless Bluetooth earphones — Xioami Mi Sports Bluetooth Earphones Basic.

mi-sport-bluetooth-earphones-basic-e1551344997110

In terms of design, it comes with self-adjusting ear plugs that ensure that the earphones stay snug and secure even during the toughest workout. The company says that since the ear hooks are made from premium soft and flexible material, you can slide the adjustable hook to hold your earbuds in place.

They are also IPX4 rated, ensuring splash and sweat resistance. So you don’t have to worry if you are sweating it out at the gym or running through heavy rain. It also comes with an in-line smart remote for controlling the playback.

There’s a microphone that lets you talk over a phone call, which you can either pick or reject through the in-line remote controller. The company says that the Mi Sports Bluetooth Earphones Basic comes with an enhanced bass response for thumping music experience.

Further, the earphones also come with support for Google Assistant, allowing you to do various tasks and functions just through simple voice commands. It connects to your smartphone through Bluetooth 4.1. As for the battery life, it comes with 120mAh battery and the company says that it can last for up to 9 hours on a single charge.

The Xiaomi Mi Sports Bluetooth Earphones Basic is priced at ₹1,499 in India and is now available for pre-orders from the company’s offline online store, Mi.com. The company has not yet revealed the exact shipping date.

Folding Phones Aren’t Going To Save The Industry

With both Samsung and Apple struggling to fight the wave of apathy that has overcome the smartphone sector, industry analysts are hoping that an injection of fresh ideas in 2019 will give the market the boost it badly needs, and one of those ideas is folding phones.

We know that the major players are working on handsets which fold out to create tablet-style monsters, but they’ve yet to officially show them off. However, the likes of Samsung and LG have been beaten to the punch by a tiny firm known as Royole, and its shiny new FlexPai.

With its massive foldable 1920 x 1440 pixel OLED screen, this is effectively an Android tablet which can fold into a more pocket-sized package. It’s not a prototype or proof-of-concept, either – the FlexPai is available right now in China, and costs 8,999 yuan (approximately $1,320 / £1030). If you were resourceful enough, you could own one of these right now – not that you’d want to, based on The Verge’s hands-on impressions.

As you can see from the video below, the FlexPai is something of a disaster. From a hardware perspective, it’s impressive – build quality is apparently very good, although the OLED screen is quite weak compared to modern efforts – but when it comes to software, the phone simply isn’t up to scratch.

According to The Verge, the FlexPai gets confused when you rotate or fold and unfold it, with apps and UI layout being sent into a spin by the transition between phone and tablet mode. The custom Water OS UI skin appears to have the failings that many Android skins have, but these faults are made worse by the fact that it’s having to cope with some pretty drastic screen changes. Because the screen wraps around the whole of the phone, it sounds like apps getting opened by mistake is also a common headache.

Foldable phones are certainly going to make headlines this year, but based on this evidence, it may be a case of a solution in search of a problem; do we really need phones which open up to tablet size when they’re so unintuitive to use? The FlexPai may not be a phone you see in the wild all that much – especially here in the west – but it serves as a stark warning about the issue of innovation for innovation’s sake.

While we don’t doubt that Samsung’s much-hyped folding phone – which we’re sure to see later this year – will be a lot better than Royole’s effort, the company will still be struggling with the same basic issues, and we wonder if folding phones will go the same way as phones with 3D screens – another short-lived fad which was proclaimed as the future not so long ago.

Mobile sales are stagnating, that’s beyond dispute – and given that companies like Samsung and Apple gain so much of their revenue from this sector, it’s understandable that they’re keen to find ways of overcoming this funk and pushing sales up. However, using folding phones to do this strikes me as a desperate move; it’s a lunge at new, untested tech which could blow up in the faces of these companies.

If you think of all the technological advancements that have taken place in the mobile phone arena, they’re all been ones that have directly benefitted the consumer. Colour screens. Touch panels. Cameras. Fast charging. All of these evolutionary updates have served a purpose – but a phone that folds is more about showing off what modern screen technology can do, rather than offering any tangible benefit to the end user.

Sure, a folding phone offers more screen real estate, but when was the last time you honestly looked at your gargantuan iPhone XS Max or Pixel 3 XL and thought to yourself, “Man, that screen just isn’t big enough”. Phones are overkill as it is; we don’t need a PC in our pocket because we can only interact with these devices using our sausage-like fingers, so a PC monitor-style display isn’t any benefit. Sure, a folding phone will be helpful if you consume a lot of video content on the move, but why not just buy yourself a cheap tablet in that case, and save £1000?

You could argue that sales of smartphones are slowing because the concept has reached its final form; all companies like Samsung and Apple can do now is improve things like processing power, screen quality and camera performance. Phones underwent a particularly dramatic period of evolution when the iPhone arrived over a decade ago, but now they all (mostly) look identical – and there’s a good reason for that. They’ve arrived at what is, for now, at least, the perfect form factor. A screen that fits in your pocket. Adding bells and whistles to that concept – such as an awkward and unintuitive folding mechanism – isn’t going to please anyone.

Because phones have reached that sweet spot, people are understandably holding onto them for longer periods of time. Why upgrade when you’re perfectly happy with the phone you own right now? It’s also possible that consumers are becoming more conscious of waste, and the idea of updating your handset every 24 months is actually rather shocking when you considering the ecological ramifications of getting rid of all those phones. Whatever the reason, people need something stunning to convince them to buy a new device every two years, and folding screens doesn’t strike me as a good enough selling point.

I’d be happy to be proved wrong in this case, but given my complete lack of excitement for folding phones, I have a feeling that it will be something that hangs around for 18 months then is slowly forgotten as people return to the familiar slabs they know and love.

Main image credit: The Verge

Samsung Galaxy A30 and Galaxy A50 launched in India

Samsung today launched the Galaxy A10 budget smartphone in India. But alongside that, it also launched the Galaxy A30 and Galaxy A50 smartphones in the country. Both these smartphones were unveiled earlier this week.

Samsung Galaxy A30

galaxy-a30

The Galaxy A30 is a mid-range smartphone. It is powered by Exynos 7904 SoC which is mated to 3 or 4 GB RAM. The 3 GB RAM variant comes with 32 GB storage and the 4 GB RAM variant comes with 64 GB storage. However, Samsung has only launched the 4 GB RAM variant in India.

The smartphone flaunts a 6.4-inch Full-HD+ Super AMOLED Infinity-U display and rocks a dual-camera setup at the back which includes 16 MP and 5 MP cameras. The former has f/1.7 aperture whereas the latter has f/2.2 aperture. On the front, the Galaxy A30 has a 16 MP camera.

The Galaxy A30 has a fingerprint scanner on its back, and it ships with a 4000 mAh battery with support for 15W fast charging. The smartphone is offered in Red, Blue, and Black colors.

Samsung Galaxy A50

galaxy-a50

The Galaxy A50 falls on the higher end of the spectrum compared to the Galaxy A30. It is powered by Exynos 9610 SoC and comes in two memory configurations – 4 GB RAM + 64 GB storage and 6 GB RAM + 128 GB storage. But in India, the 6 GB RAM variant is offered with 64 GB storage.

The smartphone also features a triple-camera setup at the back which consists of 25 MP, 8 MP, and 5 MP cameras. It also has a 25 MP camera on the front.

The Galaxy A50 boasts a 6.4-inch Full-HD+ Super AMOLED Infinity-U display and features an in-display fingerprint scanner as opposed to the conventional one on the Galaxy A30. The smartphone has a 4000 mAh under the hood and it comes in three colors – White, Blue, and Black.

Samsung Galaxy A30 Specifications

  • CPU: Exynos 7904 SoC
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Operating System: Android
  • Display: 6.4-inch Full HD+ (2340 x 1080 pixels) Super AMOLED Infinity-U display
  • Rear Camera: 16 MP (f/1.7) + 5 MP (f/2.2, ultra-wide angle lens) with LED flash
  • Front Camera: 16 MP with f/2.0 aperture
  • Internal Storage: 64 GB
  • External Storage: Expandable up to 512 GB via microSD card
  • Other: Fingerprint Scanner, Face Unlock
  • Colors: Red, Black, Blue
  • Battery: 4000 mAh with 15W Fast Charging

Samsung Galaxy A30 Price in India and Availability

  • Price: ₹16,990
  • Availability: To be available from March 2

Samsung Galaxy A50 Specifications

  • CPU: Exynos 9610 SoC
  • RAM: 4/6 GB
  • Operating System: Android
  • Display: 6.4-inch Full HD+ (2340 x 1080 pixels) Super AMOLED Infinity-U display
  • Rear Camera: 25 MP (f/1.7) + 5 MP (f/2.2, depth sensor) + 8 MP (ultra-wide angle lens, 123-degree FOV) with LED flash
  • Front Camera: 25 MP with f/2.0 aperture
  • Internal Storage: 64 GB
  • External Storage: Expandable up to 512 GB via microSD card
  • Other: In-Display Fingerprint Scanner, Face Unlock
  • Colors: White, Black, Blue
  • Battery: 4000 mAh with 15W Fast Charging

Samsung Galaxy A50 Price in India and Availability

  • Price of 4 GB RAM + 64 GB storage variant: ₹19,990
  • Price of 6 GB RAM + 64 GB storage variant: ₹22,990
  • Availability: To be available from March 2

Source

Apple removes VoIP app clones from the App Store – TechCrunch

Following my report from yesterday, Apple has removed many of the apps I pointed out. When you try to find them on the App Store, they are no longer available.

App Store Review Guidelines are very clear when it comes to app duplicates. According to rule 4.3, you can’t release the same app multiple times on the App Store as it is considered as spamming.

But that rule has been poorly enforced, and some companies have taken advantage of that. In my original report, I focused on one category in particular — VoIP apps that let you get a second phone number and send and receive calls and texts from that new number.

Developers release multiple versions of the same app so they can use different names, different keywords and different categories. This way, they can cover a wide range of keywords when you’re searching for an app in the App Store.

So let’s look at the developers I called out yesterday. It’s still unclear if some of these apps will reappear after some changes.

TextMe, Inc.

BinaryPattern and Flexible Numbers LLC

Appverse Inc.

Dingtone Inc.

This case illustrates once again that Apple holds the keys to the App Store kingdom. The company acts as a judge and can make or break some companies.

Some of those companies have released clones of their apps and benefited from that strategy for many years. The main issue here is that App Store rules aren’t enforced consistently.

Plenty of clones in other categories

The clone plague is far from over. Many categories also use this App Store optimization strategy.

JPEG Labs has released four different apps that let you print photos in Walgreens or CVS stores around you. They all do the same thing but have different names and keywords. (They also tell you to leave a review right after opening the app.)

Photo Prints: 1 Hour Photos

Print Photos: 1 Hour Prints

Printmatic 1 Hour Photo Print

Same Day Canvas Photo Prints

When you can’t beat them, acquire them

Another good example is MailPix, Inc. You can find multiple copies of the same app. The company is also slowly expanding its App Store footprint by acquiring competitors and changing those apps into duplicated versions of the main app.

MailPix acquired Photobucket’s printing app to turn it into a clone.

In-App Mobile Ad Fraud Up 800 Percent

Media Announcement: DoubleVerify (“DV”), the leading independent provider of marketing measurement software and analytics,today announced a partnership with InMobi,a global provider of enterprise platforms for marketers. As part of the partnership, DoubleVerify will provide always-on fraud filtering and measurement for mobile in-app advertising campaigns across the InMobi Exchange globally.

The integration with InMobi covers pre-bid targeting for all InMobi Exchange impressions within the leading mobile in-app platform, as well as monitoring of post-bid fraud activity, such as spoofing – enabling InMobi to continuously refine the quality of its mobile ad inventory.

“DV’s partnership with InMobi demonstrates our commitment to provide consistent, comprehensive quality coverage for global brand advertisers,” said Matt McLaughlin, COO at DoubleVerify. “With ad spend increasingly concentrated in mobile, it’s imperative that brands have transparency into the quality of mobile app inventory. We are proud of our partnership with InMobi, which expands the footprint of our fraud prevention capabilities and further distinguishes DV as the leader for mobile app verification.”

“InMobi is committed to providing transparency, building trust and delivering business results to our advertisers. This partnership, along with our support for DoubleVerify viewability, is a giant step toward that,” said Anne Frisbie, SVP, Global Programmatic and North America at InMobi. “InMobi is proud to partner with DoubleVerify in this critical battle against mobile app fraud. We strongly believe that only through open collaboration will the industry be able to eliminate fraud.”

As part of its industry-leading mobile app fraud solution, DoubleVerify identifies and screens the most comprehensive types of in-app fraud, including background ad activity, hidden ads, app misrepresentation (spoofing) and measurement manipulation. In March 2017, DV received Media Rating Council (MRC) accreditation for its technology to detect and block sophisticated invalid traffic (SIVT) for mobile app video and display advertising.

Samsung’s Going To Have The Same Problem As Apple With The S10

So, Samsung has fired its 2019 flagship salvo, and – as leaks had indicated over the past few weeks – the S10 range consists of three main phones and a 5G variant coming later in the year. Oh, and let’s not forget the Galaxy Fold, Samsung’s much-hyped take on the whole folding phone concept.

The range looks great; the S10E, S10 and S10 Plus feature top-line specs – they all have powerful processors, amazing screens and impressive camera setups. They’re likely to be the cream of the crop as far as Android phones are concerned this year; packing Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 855 chipset, these are sleek and potent smartphones and will sell millions, I don’t doubt.

However, I can’t see the S10 overcoming the slump that the smartphone sector currently finds itself in. People are holding onto their phones for longer as prices rise and innovations slow down; Apple is experiencing the exact same issue with its iPhone range, and I think Samsung will be no different. The S10 is obviously going to sell millions – it’s the flagship phone of the world’s biggest smartphone maker, after all – but I’m not sure it’s going to be enough to help Samsung’s market share grow and restore some forward momentum in the industry.

Sure, the S10 has some neat features – the Infinity O display is cool, the in-screen fingerprint scanner feels futuristic (and makes Apple look a bit silly after it went all-in with the less-than-perfect FaceID) and the three-camera setup (on the S10) looks interesting – but all of these elements are available elsewhere already. The Honor V20 has a similar screen and costs significantly less, while the OnePlus 6T has an in-screen fingerprint scanner (again for much less than the S10). And there are already phones out there with three camera setups – many of which do as good a job as the S10 when it comes to photography (if not better). Even the ability to charge other devices using the phone’s wirelessly charging tech isn’t new – Huawei got there first.

Of course, like Apple, Samsung’s talent is taking established ideas and making them sing all in the same piece of hardware. The Korean company is pulling in all of these amazing concepts and putting them in a single phone – and one that looks drop dead gorgeous, at that. It’s vital to not underestimate this skill; so many phone companies make the mistake of thinking a single idea is enough to ensure commercial success. Samsung knows that you have to score points in every area to make a best-seller. Even so, I don’t think the S10 is groundbreaking enough to change the current pattern of consumer apathy.

As phones become more and more expensive, consumers are voting with their wallets and sticking with their current device beyond the typical two-year cycle. It’s easy to see why; outside of processor speeds, the advancements made in the smartphone sphere have been painfully limited over the past few years. Screen tech has reduced bezels to practically nothing, but is that enough to convince you to part with almost £1000 when you’re perfectly happy with your S7? And if you already own the ‘big screen’ S8, there’s even less point in upgrading as it already has a pretty roomy screen.

Indeed, to someone who knows nothing about smartphones, a comparison of the S8 and S10 might lead some to suspect there’s little difference between the two. The S8 remains a solid device and none of the ‘improvements’ the S10 offers are life-changing – not in the same way that OLED panels, fingerprint scanners and dual-lens cameras were.

It’s almost as if Samsung knows this, as it has augmented its traditional two-phone lineup with three additional models this year. The S10E is the smaller, cheaper member of the Galaxy S10 family and loses some of the big-name features (no in-screen fingerprint scanner, fewer cameras) but will be perfect for those who crave smaller handsets. It also looks fantastic and shouldn’t be considered the ‘budget’ option; it has the same amazing build quality as the S10 and S10 Plus. I personally think the S10E could be the surprise seller of the entire range, giving the Pixel 3 and iPhone XR a serious rival.

At the other end of the scale is the S10 5G, which feels like Samsung really swinging for the fences. It offers 5G support – which could be 2019’s biggest innovation – and is utterly huge. The issue with this device is that 5G isn’t going to roll out everywhere this year so the potential market for the handset is limited. 5G is going to break in 2019, but it’s unlikely to hit its stride until next year, or perhaps even the year after that.

That leaves us with the Galaxy Fold, which – as we’ve already spoken about – is a gimmick. Folding phones are more about showing off what companies can do with folding screens than they are about offering any kind of advancement in the smartphone sector. Samsung even admits that the Galaxy Fold’s mechanism has built-in obsolescence – it’s good for 200,000 folds, which is around 100 folds a day for five years. That’s going to be long enough for most people, but when you consider that smartphones have a built-in timebomb thanks to their non-replaceable batteries, is this really a good idea?

2019 is going to be an interesting year for smartphones, there’s no doubt about that. The market needs something significant to break the downward cycle we’ve seen over the past 12 months. In the past, that means groundbreaking ideas and life-changing improvements – and beyond 5G support (something that other companies will have as well, of course) I don’t see any of the S10 handsets offering that – which means, like Apple, I suspect Samsung will be issuing conservative sale projections later this year.