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3.5 Million eSIM-Capable Smartphones to Ship in India in 2020: Report

With Samsung embracing eSIM technology made popular by Apple and Google, shipments of eSIM-capable smartphones are set to double in India in 2020 to top 3.5 million units, according to a projection by CyberMedia Research (CMR). “eSIM-capable smartphones have slowly gained traction over the past two years, with 2019 clearly emerging as a landmark year with eSIMs gaining prominence in India. This can be traced to the success Apple enjoyed in India with its recent iPhone launches, including the XR and iPhone 11, among others,” Anand Priya Singh, Analyst — Industry Intelligence Group (IIG), CMR, said in a statement.

The shipments of eSIM phones quadrupled from a quarter of a million in 2018 to 1.5 million in 2019, with Apple contributing the most. Apple accounted for nearly 98 per cent of the eSIM phones shipped in India, with three out of its five phones supporting eSIM. While Google was the first to launch eSIM capable smartphones, such as the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2XL in late 2017, the eSIM ecosystem got a significant boost with Apple’s embrace of the technology in its premium smartphones in 2018, including the iPhone XR, XS and XS Max. The phones feature dual SIM technology with both a Nano-SIM and an eSIM.

With new players, such as Samsung, also embracing eSIM in its uber-premium Galaxy Fold, and its other flagship smartphones, including the Samsung S20, the shipments of eSIM capable smartphones are set to grow. “With Samsung embracing eSIM technology, and introducing it in the Galaxy Fold, and other smartphones, and Apple building on its recent momentum in India, we foresee a dramatic spike in eSIM-enabled phone shipments in 2020,” said Prabhu Ram, Head — Industry Intelligence Group, CMR.

“On the back of Apple and Samsung’s support for eSIM-capable phones, other Android OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) will also aim to launch phones with eSIM capabilities. This, should, in fact, be on top of OEM agenda alongside 5G phones,” he added.

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Coronavirus Effect: Teleconference Apps Witness a Surge of 6.7 million in First Week of March

Image for Representation
(Image: Reuters)

Image for Representation
(Image: Reuters)

The outbreak, which reached global pandemic status this week, has forced companies to rely heavily on business conferencing tools as workers stop commuting to offices.

  • Reuters
  • Last Updated: March 14, 2020, 1:46 PM IST

Global downloads of business apps including Tencent Conference, WeChat Work, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Slack have risen nearly fivefold since the start of the year, data showed, as the coronavirus outbreak changes how corporations work. While such apps attracted 1.4 million new users across the App Store and Google Play in the first week of January, that figure jumped to a record 6.7 million in the first week of March, according to app analytics firm Sensor Tower.

The outbreak, which reached global pandemic status this week, has forced companies to rely heavily on business conferencing tools as workers stop commuting to offices. These services range from video conferencing apps such as Zoom and Google Hangouts Meet to cutting edge tools inspired by “Star Wars” to make remote work more manageable.

Some of these newer services such as Rumii and Spatial, which let users attend meetings in digital rooms where they can see and interact with digitized, 3D versions of their coworkers. Zoom Video Communications Inc’s daily active user base grew by 67% since early January, data from Apptopia showed. Analysts, however, warn that not every business app would see a corresponding financial gain from the demand surge.

“Most of them offer a freemium version so why would users pay when they can use for free,” Summit Insights Group analyst Jonathan Kees said, pointing to services like Microsoft Teams and Zoom, which recently expanded their free offerings. Zoom last week said it had seen a jump in usage, but added it was early to say whether such users will convert into paying customers. Shares of the company have surged more than 60% since the beginning of this year, even as broader markets have been volatile on fears that the fast-spreading virus could lead to a global recession.

VIRTUAL REALITY

Rumii, a virtual reality training and education platform by Doghead Simulations, which costs $14.99 per month per user, last week began offering its services for free after noticing an uptick in use as the coronavirus spread in the United States. New York-based augmented reality software company Spatial also saw usage of its service double over the last month. Spatial Chief Executive Officer Anand Agarawala said that coronavirus concerns have led to a 400% surge in requests for the company’s licenses in the last month and a 50% increase in usage within the past week.

Some analysts say the accelerated adoption of business apps cannot be dismissed as a blip. “We have to consider that some of these changes may be irreversible, when (hopefully) things return to normal,” DA Davidson analyst Rishi Jaluria said. “You’ll see more companies adopting these technologies and using them on a regular basis. So the benefit is more long-term in nature.”

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Whisper App Leaks Personal Data of Nearly 900 Million Users: Report

Whisper App logo
(Image for Representation)

Whisper App logo
(Image for Representation)

The leaked data included users’ intimate messages, fetishes, workplaces, locations and other personal information, including that of 1.3 million 15-year-olds.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: March 11, 2020, 3:35 PM IST
  • Edited by: Chhavianshika Singh

Whisper App, the proprietary Android and iOS mobile app, which lets people anonymously post confessions and secrets, has exposed data of millions of users. The data included their intimate messages, fetishes, workplaces, locations and other personal information. A reporter was able to freely browse and search through the records, many of which involved children: A search of users who had listed their age as 15 returned 1.3 million results, The Washington Post originally reported.

The Whisper App left the information of nearly 900 million users exposed to anyone that wanted to view it, located in a database that was not protected by passwords and was open to the public. However, the database of users did not contain real names but tied anonymous whispers to “a user’s stated age, ethnicity, gender, hometown, nickname and any membership in groups, many of which are devoted to sexual confessions and discussion of sexual orientation and desires, according to the CNET.

According to security researchers Matthew Porter and Dan Ehrlich, who run the firm Twelve Security, the Whisper App’s database comprised the user records from the app’s release more than eight years to the present day. The researchers had reportedly said that they informed Federal Law Enforcement of the situation, as well as the Whisper App, before reaching out to The Washington Post.

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Grindr Dating App is Being Sold For $608.5 Million

Chinese gaming company Beijing Kunlun Tech Co Ltd said on Friday that it has agreed to sell Grindr LLC, a popular gay dating app it acquired in 2016, for about $608.5 million. The deal comes after a U.S. government panel set a June 2020 deadline to sell the app. The panel, dubbed the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, has not disclosed its concerns about Kunlun’s ownership of Grindr.

However, the United States has been increasingly scrutinizing app developers over the safety of personal data they handle, especially if some of it involves U.S. military or intelligence personnel. Kunlun said it agreed to sell its 98.59% stake in Grindr to San Vicente Acquisition LLC. Reuters reported earlier on Friday that Kunlun was close to signing a sales deal, citing people familiar with the matter.

One of the investors in the group that is nearing a deal to acquire Grindr is James Lu, a former executive at Chinese search engine giant Baidu, three of the sources said. The identity of the other investors in the consortium could not immediately be learned. Kunlun is one of China’s largest mobile gaming companies. It acquired a majority stake in Grindr in 2016 for $93 million and bought out the remainder of the company in 2018. It did so without submitting the transactions for CFIUS review.

Kunlun’s control of Grindr has fueled concerns among privacy advocates in the United States. Democratic U.S. Senators Edward Markey and Richard Blumenthal sent a letter to Grindr in 2018 demanding answers about how the app would protect users’ privacy under its Chinese owner. Reuters reported last year that Kunlun had given some Beijing-based engineers access to the personal information of millions of Americans, including private messages and HIV status.

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Samsung Starts Work on $220 Million R&D Centre in Vietnam

Image for Representation
(Reuters)

Image for Representation
(Reuters)

Samsung is the largest single foreign investor in Vietnam, with investments worth $17 billion.

  • Reuters
  • Last Updated: March 2, 2020, 1:32 PM IST
  • Edited by: Chhavianshika Singh

Samsung Electronics has started building a $220 million research and development centre in Vietnam, the South Korean tech giant’s local unit said. Construction of the centre in Hanoi will be completed by the end of 2022, Samsung Vietnam said in a statement, adding that the centre will employ between 2,200 and 3,000 people. Samsung is the largest single foreign investor in Vietnam, with investments totalling $17 billion, it said.

The centre is the largest of its kind in Southeast Asia and will enhance the company’s research capability in such areas as artificial intelligence, internet of things, big data and 5G, it said. The Vietnamese government earlier on Monday announced the commencement of the building of the R&D centre.

Vietnam’s exports of smartphones and spare parts, mostly produced by Samsung Electronics, rose 4.4 per cent last year to $51.38 billion, according to government customs data.

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SpaceX Plans to Send Tourists into Deep Orbit by 2022 for Over $100 Million

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft on board, takes off during the Demo-1 mission at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on March 2, 2019.

(Image: AFP Relaxnews)

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft on board, takes off during the Demo-1 mission at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on March 2, 2019.

(Image: AFP Relaxnews)

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, which was developed to transport NASA astronauts, will carry these space tourists into deep orbit, thrice the height of the ISS.

  • AFP Relaxnews
  • Last Updated: February 19, 2020, 1:47 PM IST
  • Edited by: Chhavianshika Singh

SpaceX announced a new partnership to send four tourists deeper into orbit than any private citizen before them, in a mission that could take place by 2022 and easily cost more than $100 million. The company signed the deal with Space Adventures, which is based in Washington and served as an intermediary to send eight space tourists to the International Space Station (ISS) via Russian Soyuz rockets.

The first of these was Dennis Tito, who paid $20 million for an eight-hour stay on the ISS back in 2001. The last to go was Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte, in 2009. The new tourists would be carried on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, which was developed to transport NASA astronauts and is due to make its first crewed flight in the coming months.

“Our goal is to try to get to about two to three times the height of the space station,” Space Adventure’s president Tom Shelley told AFP. The ISS orbits at 400 kilometres (250 miles) above Earth’s surface, but the exact altitude of the Space Adventures mission would be determined by SpaceX, added Shelley. At its earliest, it could take place by late 2021, though “probably more likely is sometime in 2022,” he said.

The capsule was designed to take astronauts from the surface to the ISS. Just nine square meters in volume, there are no private areas to sleep wash or use the bathroom. Mission duration will depend on what the customers want, said Shelley.

– Weeks of training –

Asked about the cost, Shelley replied: “It’s not cheap.” The cost of launching a Falcon 9 rocket is $62 million, according to publicly available figures, then there will be the cost of building a fresh Dragon capsule. Could it exceed $100 million? “Your assessment is correct, I can’t comment specifically on the numbers, but yeah those are the cost components,” he said. “We have a pretty good network of high net worth individuals around the world, many of whom we know are interested in spaceflight,” he added.

Unlike space tourism to the ISS, which required six months of training in Moscow, the next mission will need four weeks of participation in the US. After a gap of 12 years, Space Adventures also wants to send two more tourists to the ISS onboard a Russian rocket in 2021. Back in 2005, the company announced, amid great fanfare, that it planned to send two tourists around the Moon but that mission has now been abandoned, confirmed Shelley.

Other companies involved in space tourism are Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin. The two are developing vessels to send tourists just beyond the border of space (80 kilometres or 100 kilometres, depending on the definitions chosen by both). Tickets for Virgin started at $250,000 when they first went on sale in the mid-2000s.

SpaceX’s offering is far more ambitious and powered by the same reusable Falcon 9 rocket that puts satellites into space and sends astronauts to the ISS. At the same time, Boeing is also developing a crew capsule called Starliner, also with the intention of transporting US astronauts to the ISS. Like SpaceX, Boeing also envisages sending tourists into space, but the program’s development is hampered by major glitches that resulted in the early termination of an uncrewed test flight in December.

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Hershey's Chocolates Valentine’s Day Campaign Reaches over 12 Million Instagram Users

This Valentine’s Day Hershey’s chocolates launched a quirky Instagram campaign called ‘That’s What We Said’ in the first week of February. The campaign made couples ask fun and interesting questions about each other and their respective relationships. The cinch here was that the answers had to match, and if they did, the couples scored a point.

In an innovative twist, the campaign utilised the existing Instagram feature, ‘pull and zoom’. Each partner was asked to place his or her fingers on the image and zoom in to read the question and answer accurately. Once the couples got their score, they could share them along with their experience and flaunt their compatibility on their own Insta stories.

Sharing his views on the campaign, Sarosh Shetty, Marketing Director, Hershey India said: “Instagram is integral to Gen Z’s life where they express and celebrate all their relationships. Hence, Hershey’s launched this Insta-first digital campaign to bring their loved ones together and strengthen their bond through a fun and quirky game – ‘That’s What We Said’, this Valentine’s Day. We are happy that we were able to grab the attention and garner such a huge organic engagement with our audiences through this campaign.”

Heeru Dingra, CEO, WATConsult said, “The acceptance of Instagram amongst millennials is huge and we wanted to optimise this knowledge in an innovative way rather than through the traditional portrayal of Valentine’s Day. Leveraging the ‘pull and zoom’ feature of Instagram, we made the couples have some fun and build a stronger bond. The campaign has created a fantastic buzz since its launch.”

‘That’s What We Said’ has already marked over 17.09 million impressions, with a reach of 12.91 million on Instagram. Since the game was played on Hershey India Instagram page, Hershey’s also witnessed a massive surge in profile visits amounting to 42,000 and over 900 mentions of the brand.

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Samsung Galaxy S20 Series Estimated to Sell 32 Million Units in 2020

Reputed TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo expects Samsung to sell around 32 million units of the recently launched Galaxy S20 in 2020, which compared to the previous-generation models is not much. According to Kuo, Samsung sold around 36-38 million Galaxy S10 models last year, news portal GizmoChina reported. Interestingly, the report from Kuo contradicts what Counterpoint Research firm which said that the newly launched Galaxy S20 will outsell its predecessor.

Galaxy S20 smartphone price in India is set at Rs 66,999, while S20+ price is set at Rs 73,999 and the Galaxy S20 Ultra will cost Rs 92,999. In terms of specifications, Galaxy S20 comes in Cosmic Grey, Cloud Blue, Cloud Pink colours; Galaxy S20+ comes in Cosmic Grey, Cloud Blue, Cosmic Black and Galaxy S20 Ultra comes in Cosmic Grey, Cosmic Black colours.

The Galaxy S20 series comes with a 25W fast charger (S20 Ultra supports 45W superfast charging). S20 houses 4000mAh battery, S20+ has 4,500mAh battery while Ultra has a huge 5,000mAh battery. The entire series is equipped with massive storage as standard, S20 in 128GB variant LTE version with 8GB variant while S20+ and S20 Ultra in 128GB, 256GB and 512GB variants.

S20 and S20+ have a triple camera system at the rear with main 64MP camera and a 10MP selfie shooter while S20 Ultra has main 108MP camera and 40MP front camera. The S20 Ultra takes things a step further with the option to shift dynamically between a high-resolution 108MP mode and a 12MP mode, thanks to “nona-binning” technology which combines nine pixels into one at the sensor level.

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Unexplained Radio Signal from 500 Million Light Years Away is Repeating Every 16 Days

The Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment, or CHIME, which is instrumental in detecting radio signals originating in outer space. (Photo: CHIME Experiment Gallery)

The Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment, or CHIME, which is instrumental in detecting radio signals originating in outer space. (Photo: CHIME Experiment Gallery)

Hello, is there anybody out there?

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: February 14, 2020, 8:14 PM IST

Earlier this week, a group of scientists revealed the detection of a repeating radio signal from outer space. While such radio signals are not entirely unprecedented, what makes the latest finding all the more interesting is that for the very first time, these radio signals appeared to repeat themselves uniformly, and in clear intervals. With outer space research always being a matter of great intrigue, the latest discovery has sparked off expected discourse among conspiracy theorists and space enthusiasts regarding a hint of extraterrestrial life.

In reality, there might be multiple explanations for the occurrence of such signals. Referred to as Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs), radio signals originating in space are known to only be milliseconds long, and are typically sporadic in nature. The repeating signals in question were reportedly detected by collaborating scientists between the FRB Project and the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment, more commonly known as the Chime telescope. According to their paper that is yet to be peer-reviewed, and has been made available to the public on Arxiv, the radio signals were detected for a consistent period between September 16, 2018 and October 30, 2019.

During the period of the repeating signals, the FRBs would be consistently received once every hour or two for a period of four days, following which things would go quiet for 12 days. The pattern would repeat itself after an exact period of 16.35 days, and the incident continued for over one year. Post discovery, the signal was assigned nomenclature of FRB 180916, and was one of eight new FRBs that we at Earth detected. The source of the signal in question is believed to be in the spiralling, star-forming arm of a galaxy that is nearly half a billion light years away.

The researchers have noted the enigma of the uniformly repeating radio signals, stating that the clue behind tracing and studying the signals further would lie in their repeating pattern. Plausible clues that have been discussed on paper include the interaction between a star’s orbit and a nearby celestial body. Alternately, this might also signify a binary star unit within the galaxy’s cluster, such as a dense neutron star and a massive, supergiant star. Theoretically, based on scientific observations made so far, it is possible for such binary star units to exist in unison, and generate a rhythmic signal.

While further details of the study are yet to shed light upon this rather mysterious and unexplained discovery, a portion of hopefuls would not entirely give up the dystopian melancholy of an existence such as Miller’s planet from Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. Was this a last ditch, desperate attempt from a spaceship belonging to a faraway civilisation, as it traversed outer space trying to find sources of life elsewhere? Science fiction aside, the forever intriguing nature of space research means that until an occurrence is clearly studied, one may never know for sure.

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5G Smartphone Sales to Hit 170-200 Million Mark in 2020, Expects MediaTek

Representative image. (Illustration: CC0 Public Domain)

Representative image. (Illustration: CC0 Public Domain)

MediaTek had initially expected 5G smartphones to sell over 200 million units, prior to the Coronavirus outbreak in China.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: February 11, 2020, 3:14 PM IST

Taiwanese fabless semiconductor company MediaTek has announced that it is reducing the projected 5G smartphone sales from over 200 million to between 170-200 million in 2020 due to the ongoing Coronavirus crisis in China. China is a major market where it expects most 5G smartphones to be shipped. As per report, MediaTek predicts China will still ship around 100-120 million 5G smartphones this year, accounting for a global market share of 60 per cent, news portal GizmoChina reported on Monday.

Earlier, US based investment banking and financial service company Goldman Sachs is forecasting a hefty 200 million 5G smartphone shipments globally in the coming year. The predicted value is about 20 times more than the sales figure of 2019. According to estimates, there will be about one million new 5G base stations in China this year. This is higher than the original 600,000 prediction by Goldman Sachs.

Additionally, Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi co-founder Lei Jun announced the company is planning to pump $7 billion in 5G, AI and IoT over the next five years. Last month, Chinese local research agencies suggests that 20 per cent of all mid range smartphones will support 5G, thanks to the expansion of the network in the country. An estimated five million 5G capable smartphones were sold in December 2019 alone it is expected that more than 20 per cent of the smartphones under $290 will be 5G enabled this year.

The revised shipment estimates truly highlight the impact that Coronavirus has had on all fronts. With a rising count of deaths due to the virus, major provinces in China, which heavily contribute to the manufacturing and assembly of electronics, have been put in lockdown to prevent the spreading of the virus and protect new individuals from being affected. This has led to factories being closed as well, hence taking a toll on the estimated number of devices that may be sold through the year.

(With inputs from IANS)