Viaan Mobiles With V-Assist Service Launched by Shilpa Shetty, Raj Kundra

Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty and her businessman husband Raj Kundra on Wednesday launched Viaan Mobiles in India, named for their three-year-old son.

Viaan Mobiles will be launched in India with five handsets boasting of a personalised concierge service, and will be priced between Rs. 849 to Rs. 12,999.

The phones were launched at a ceremony held in Mumbai with celebrity guests Malaika Arora Khan, Farah Khan, Manish Paul, and Jeetendra in attendance.

“The statistics say that India happens to be the second-largest consumer of mobile phones. And that was the deal-clincher for us to even make a foray here. I’ve also heard that we buy around 2 crore phones in a month in just India and 80 percent of those phones are below Rs. 10,000,” Shilpa said at the event.

“And we cater to that market. I think even if we are able to conquer around 2-3 percent, which is about 500,000 mobiles in a month, we’ll be home and that’s what we’ve stepped out to do,” she added.

Raj Kundra told media, “For us in India, the choice was mass or class, and we decided with Viaan to bring the class to the mass.”

“I get to launch not only a mobile phone in this booming mobile phone market but it’s also in my son’s name. I’ve been part of this since inception and we’ve made sure that in this cluttered phone market, what could we do different than what’s been there and done already,” he said

“We are the first Indian phone brand to launch simultaneously in seven countries,” he added.

The unique selling point of Viaan Mobiles is the V-Assist offered – a 24×7 personalized concierge service which will provide users details on best deals on products and services. Currently, V-Assist offers services in the field of travel, entertainment, shopping, gifting and utilities. The services will provide offers for any additional transactions such as travel, movie and event bookings, cruises, shopping with Shilpa and Raj’s Best Deal TV and also other services such as delivering cakes, flowers, mobile recharges, bills, et al. The services are currently available through a phone call in two languages, English and Hindi.

The phones are launched at different price ranges to suit the needs of multiple consumers and each includes a one-year free subscription to V-Assist.

The five models are V-1.8 (Rs. 849), V-Emerge (Rs. 3,499), V-Empower (Rs. 4,899), V-Encore (Rs. 5,499), and V-Eternal (Rs. 12,499 for Black colour variant, and Rs. 12,999 for Gold colour variant), with the first a feature phone.

Kundra, chairman, Viaan Industries, said that “resonating with the brand name Viaan, meaning full of life and energy, we hope to provide consumers with smart phones that not only help them connect with loved ones but also take complete care of their needs”.

“Viaan mobiles are trendy, strong and work on the latest technology,” he added.

UK Police Make Fifth Arrest in TalkTalk Hack Inquiry

An 18-year-old youth from Wales who was detained on Tuesday in the fifth arrest connected to a cyber-attack on telecom company TalkTalk was bailed on Wednesday pending further investigations, police said in a statement.

Police searched an address in the town of Llanelli on Tuesday and took the youth into custody on suspicion of blackmail. They did not name him or provide any further details.

He was bailed to a date in March 2016 while police inquiries continue.

TalkTalk said on October 23 it had received a ransom demand from an unidentified party claiming responsibility for the attack. It said the demand for payment came by email into the corporate email account of Chief Executive Dido Harding.

The four others who have been arrested as part of the investigation into the TalkTalk hack are three younger teenagers and one 20-year-old man.

All four are suspected of Computer Misuse Act offences and have been bailed pending further inquiries.

The October 21 attack, which experts said appeared to use well-established hacking techniques, resulted in the theft of data from some of the phone and broadband provider’s 4 million customers.

TalkTalk earlier this month put the cost of last month’s cyber-attack at GBP 30 million to GBP 35 million ($45.43 million-$53.00 million or roughly Rs. 303 crores – Rs. 353 crores), and said it was too soon to gauge the impact on customer numbers, although it did see an immediate spike in defections. Chief Executive Dido Harding said it had been a “challenging time” for the broadband company’s 4 million customers.

Google Drive for iOS Gets 3D Touch and Multitasking Features

More apps are now embracing 3D Touch, a flagship feature Apple introduced with iPhone 6s andiPhone 6s Plus. After Facebook, Dropbox, WhatsApp, and Waze among other apps enabling support for the feature, Google has updated Drive, a productivity suite to add support for 3D Touch, as well as support for multitasking features.

The company updated Drive for iOS to version 4.4 to add 3D Touch functionality. Apple’s new smartphones come with a pressure sensitive display that recognises the amount of pressure a user puts with a finger and triggers options accordingly. A hard-press on an app icon, or an icon inside the app, gives users a set of contextual actions without opening an app.

Drive offers users the ability to quickly upload photos, or make a search for content stored, when pressed hard on the app icon. The app is also getting the ability to receive push notifications whenever a user receives a new file. In addition, the changelog notes that Drive now works with Spotlight, which means that you will be able to look for your Drive files right from the homescreen.

The Drive v4.4 for iOS is interestingly also adding support for Split View and Slide Over multitasking features, according to a report. These features will allow you to open the app on one part of the screen, right next to another app, and also let you drag and drop data from other apps.

HTC One A9 and Desire 828 Dual SIM Announced for India

HTC has announced its much-talked-about One A9 smartphone for India, alongside the Desire 828 Dual SIM. Both smartphones will go on sale in the country in December, and for now, no pricing information been provided. The company said pricing will provided closer to availability, and it hopes to ship the smartphones to India within two weeks.

Running Android 6.0 Marshmallow with the HTC Sense UI skin on top, the HTC One A9 is the company’s first Marshmallow-based handset. The company has announced only the 32GB inbuilt storage and 3GB of RAM variant of the One A9 for India, and has eschewed bringing the cheaper 16GB storage and 2GB of RAM variant. This may change in the future however, it added at the New Delhi event.

One of the most notable features of HTC’s new One A9 smartphone is the guarantee for Android updates. At the global launch late last month, HTC America President, Jason Mackenzie, promised that the unlocked HTC One A9 will receive every Android OS update within 15 days of the Nexus range.

The One A9 is powered by an all-new 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 octa-core processor with 1.5GHz quad-core and 1.2GHz quad-core modules. The smartphone supports expandable storage via microSD card (up to 2TB).

Featuring a 5-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixels) display, the One A9 also comes with Corning Gorilla Glass 4 for protection. There is a 13-megapixel rear camera with sapphire cover lens. It comes with f/2.0 aperture, autofocus, BSI sensor, OIS (optical image stabilisation), support for 1080p video recording, and a LED flash module. The smartphone will sport a 4-megapixel UltraPixel front-facing fixed-focus camera.

Connectivity options include 4G LTE, 3G, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Micro-USB. Other notable features include fingerprint sensor, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor, gyro, and magnetic sensor. It is powered by a 2150mAh battery.

To recall, HTC One A9 has been much in the news for the much-reported similarity of its design to theiPhone 6. The Taiwanese manufacturer however has refuted these claims, and said that is in fact Applethat had copied HTC, not the other way around.

HTC later went on to say that it will be bringing the design philosophy of the One A9 to future handsets in its One M and Desire range.

htc_desire_828_dual_sim.jpgAs for the HTC Desire 828 Dual SIM (seen above), the company launched the handset in China earlier this month. The smartphone is the company’s first Desire-range handset that comes packed with OIS (optical image stabilisation). The HTC Desire 828 Dual SIM runs Android 5.1.1 Lollipop with HTC Sense and features a 5.5-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixels) IPS display. It packs a 13-megapixel rear camera with LED flash, OIS, BSI sensor, and full-HD video recording. The handset packs an UltraPixel front camera with a BSI sensor.

The dual-SIM (both Nano-SIM cards) dual-4G HTC Desire 828 Dual SIM is powered by an octa-core MediaTek MT6753 SoC (clocked at 1.5GHz) and 2GB of RAM. The 16GB inbuilt storage on the smartphone is expandable via microSD card (up to 2TB). Connectivity options on the handset include Wi-Fi, FM radio, Bluetooth, GPRS/ EDGE, GPS/ A-GPS, 3G, Micro-USB and 4G LTE connectivity with support for Indian networks.

The HTC Desire 828 Dual SIM, the handset is backed by a 2800mAh battery. It measures 157.7×78.8×7.9mm. Much like other recently launched HTC Desire smartphones, the Desire 828 Dual SIM features HTC BoomSound technology, which is complemented by Dolby Audio as well. The handset packs ambient light, accelerometer, compass, and magnetic sensors.

Flipkart Hires Former Twitter Executive as Product Manager for Ads Group

Indian e-commerce giant Flipkart announced the appointment of Tarun Jain as the Head of Product of the Ads group.

He will be reporting to Ravi Garikipati, Entrepreneur in Residence at Flipkart at the Bengaluru office. In his role, he will be accountable for driving business strategy, product vision, product roadmap, execution, partnerships and customer adoption.

Prior to Flipkart, Jain worked with Twitter as the Group Product Manager in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he led development on a on a number of Twitter products. Before Twitter, as a Lead Product Manager at Google, he built and scaled various new products such as AdWords Express (SMB Places), Dynamic Ads, Google Offers and Google Shopping/ PLAs.

Jain joins Flipkart as the Head of Products for its ads group, which aims to disrupt the mobile ads ecosystem in India. The company says it sees a gap in spends on mobile in India, compared to global figures.

Flipkart had acquired Bengaluru-based mobile ad network AdIQuity in March 2015, and has made no bones about being a mobile-first company. The company launched an app-like mobile Web experienceearlier this month.

Flipkart’s international hires this year include ex-Googlers Punit Soni, who joined the company as Chief Product Officer, and Peeyush Ranjan, who joined as CTO. Former McKinsey director Saikiran Krishnamurthy joined the company as COO in March.

Google Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X Users Reporting More Handset Issues


The Huawei-made Google Nexus 6P is now in the news for having voice quality issues. Its smaller sibling, the LG-made Google Nexus 5X, is also reportedly facing issues with touchscreen responsiveness during charging.

According to user complaints on several threads from XDA forum and Google Product Forum, many Nexus 6P users are facing weak and spotty voice quality problems. This means that receivers are not able to hear Nexus 6P users properly. Majority of the users are facing problems using both the regular call mode and in speaker mode, all of which is resulting in them questioning the handset’s microphone quality.

According to some users on the Google Product forum, the problem may be linked with the handset’s noise cancellation setup. While some say that covering the rear microphone (placed below the rear camera) fixes the issue, some say that it actually is the reason why the problem occurs. A users named Nicholas Fitchett posted on Google Product forum saying that he disabled noise cancellation completely from the hardware via a build.prop modification and the smartphone worked just fine since then.

However, as more complaints continue to pour in to the forum, Google representatives have replied to the forum posts and are investigating the issue. “Thanks for your continued reports regarding poor call quality. The product team is investigating, and I’ll update this thread as I have more information. I may reach out to a few of you for bug reports as well,” said a Google employee named Orrin. In a separate forum post, Google product experts are recommending users to start their handsets in Safe Mode and see if the issue still exists. If it does, then Nexus 6P users can contact the Nexus support team for further help. If the problem does not exist in Safe Mode, this means a third-party app downloaded on the handset is causing the problem.

On the other hand, Nexus 5X users are facing a touchscreen issue while handset is charging, as seen from some forum posts. Some users are saying the reduced touchscreen responsiveness is most noticeable while typing fast on the keyboard while the handset is on charge, even with the original charger. Others are finding lags while scrolling or swiping on the display.

“Has anyone else found the scroll/swipe speed to be slow on the Nexus 5X compared to other handsets? Annoyingly, I can’t find any settings for this. The issue is global and not limited to one app. With pointer trails on, there is visible lag between my finger’s input and what happens on-screen. I’ve never seen this on any other device,” said a user on XDA forum.

However, a final edit on the Reddit forum posts claims the chargers as the issue and not the Nexus 5X. “We’ve also worked out the issue – it’s with the chargers, not the phones. They’re insufficiently grounded. When a charger with a proper metal grounding pin is used, there are no problems. The grounding pin on the supplied LG charger is plastic,” posted the user. Google is however, yet to address the issue. This is not the first time the LG-made Nexus 5X has been in the news for user issues. To note, soon after its launch in October, some Nexus 5X users also reported their handset displays had a yellow tint.

Intel India Launches Village Digitisation Initiative in Telangana

Intel on Wednesday launched a centre in a Telangana village under a new initiative aimed at working with the governments of various states to create a blueprint for digitisation of rural India.

The first such Digital India Unnati Kendra under the initiative “Ek Kadam Unnati Ki Aur” has come up in Nadimpalle village in Mahabubnagar district.

It will be used to create the framework for the Telangana model digital village.

Besides providing various citizen services under the Telangana government’s e-panchayat programme, the centre will provide devices, relevant local content and training for citizens thereby creating opportunities for development and empowerment.

Intel has roped in Micromax, HP, Snapdeal and Shweta Computers and Peripherals as partners for the initiative.

Gregory R. Pearson, senior vice president and general manager for sales and marketing group of Intel Corporation, Debjani Ghosh, vice president of sales and marketing group and managing director of Intel South Asia, launched the centre at an event held here.

Papa Rao, advisor to the state government, local legislator G. Balaraju and Jayesh Ranjan, secretary for information technology of the Telangana government, were present on behalf of the state government.

Debjani Ghosh said Intel would work with 10 states to create a blueprint to drive technology enabled transformation at the grassroots. She said the company was in talks with various state governments.

Jayesh said the government has already set up 100 e-panchayats, offering various citizen services to people in the villages.

It plans to have e-panchayats in all 8,750 village panchayats in the state. They will also offer banking and insurance services besides working as a platform to train famers and provide coaching for job aspirants.

The official said the state government was also ready to work with other companies under the digital Telangana programme.

India Funding Roundup: Ola, ConveGenius, Goodbox, Craftsvilla, ScoopWhoop

Taxi aggregator Ola has raised $500 million (roughly Rs. 3,299 crores) from Baillie Gifford, Tiger Global, SoftBank Group and others on Wednesday. Ola’s founder and CEO Bhavish Aggarwal said that the company has grown by over 30 times in the last one year, and now fields over one million booking requests a day.

Noida-based edutainment startup ConveGenius has raised Rs. 2 crores in a pre-Series A round of funding from ‘Enablers’, a Web-based platform that connects and facilitates fundraising transactions between investors and startups. Founded in 2013 by Jairaj Bhattacharya and Shashank Pandey, ConveGenius is focused on mobile-based learning using gamification, adaptive analytics and intelligent content aggregation. ConveGenius claims to have reached out to more than 50,000 students in the last one and half years through its products.

Bengaluru-based Goodbox, which provides a mobile app to chat and order from local businesses, announced Wednesday that it has raised $2.5 million (roughly Rs. 16.5 crores) in Series A from Nexus Venture Partners. Founded in 2014, the company’s mission is to get every business to create their store on the app and make that their primary way to interact with consumers, and is currently operational in Bengaluru with over 1200 merchants.

Mumbai-based Craftsvilla, an online marketplace for handmade and handcrafted products has reportedly raised $34 million (roughly Rs. 220 crores) led by existing investors Sequoia Capital India and Lightspeed Venture Partners. The company is reportedly looking to go public in the next 12-18 months.

New Delhi-based Internet media and news startup, ScoopWhoop has raised $4 million (roughly Rs. 26.4 crores) from Kalaari Capital. The company plans to use the latest round of funding for aggressive expansion of its video production unit, ScoopWhoop Talkies. ScoopWhoop reportedly drives almost 20 million unique visitors monthly across its portals.

Huawei P9 Max Leaked Benchmark Results Reveal Kirin 950 SoC

The Huawei P9 Max, the Chinese telecommunications giant’s rumoured large-screen smartphone, has appeared on AnTuTu benchmarks, giving us partial information on the specifications. The benchmark results also reveal the inclusion of company’s recently launched Kirin 950 SoC processor.

The phablet device, which went through AnTuTu benchmarks by the P9 50S moniker, would be sporting a 6.2-inch screen size with 1600×2560 pixel resolution display. The pixel density would be 486ppi. The results also show the inclusion of Huawei’s home-made octa-core Kirin 950 processor along with Mali-T880 MP4 GPU and 4GB RAM. Notably, the Kirin 950 SoC was unveiled by Huawei last week in an event in Beijing. The chipset features four Cortex-A72 cores clocked at 2.3GHz and four Cortex-A53 cores clocked at 1.8GHz.

huaewi_p9_max_antutu_gizmochina.jpgThe AnTuTu benchmark results shared by GizmoChina also shows the Huawei P9 Max to run Android 6.0 Marshmallow and house 64GB of inbuilt storage. It scored 73,759 in the benchmarks, while the 3D graphics score was 16,822. However, both were not as impressive as that of Meizu Pro 5, which scored 76,244 and 23,393. It is worth mentioning that the Meizu handset under-the-hood carries the octa-core Samsung Exynos 7420 processor with Mali T-760 MP8 GPU. There are no launch date and price details for the Huawei P9 Max phablet yet.

Talking about phablets, Huawei would soon be launching its Mate 8 phablet as well. The company in ateaser last week suggested the launch date of the device as November 26. The phablet is also said to house the company’s Kirin 950 processor. An earlier leaked roadmap of the company tipped that the Mate 8 may feature a 6-inch QHD display, Kirin 950 SoC, and a 16-megapixel rear camera with OIS.

Vodafone, Airtel, BSNL, Idea Offer Free Data, and More

Telecom operators are leaving no stone unturned to woo consumers at Diwali, popularly known as the festival of lights in India. Soon after Vodafone announced a special Diwali offer that will offer users 100MB of free data on November 11, Idea and Bharti Airtel have also come with offers for their subscribers.

Idea Cellular has introduced its all-new Idea Freedom Packs with which the company is targeting limited subscribers including students, housewives, and new users. Under the new Idea Freedom Pack (available only for prepaid users), the company is offering up to 300MB 2G data at Rs. 100 and up to 500MB 3G data at Rs. 175. Both the packs come with a validity of 28 days.

Announcing the new packs, Sashi Shankar, Chief Marketing Officer, Idea Cellular said, “Idea Freedom packs target those consumers who want to stay digitally connected throughout the month, however at 30-40% lower costs. These packs would help us enhance convenience for prepaid customers, who have to otherwise depend on multiple sachet recharges to manage their costs and internet needs throughout the month. These packs could serve as a one stop solution for them.”

Bharti Airtel, on the other hand, has announced multiple offers catering to various subscribers. The latest pack from Airtel offers new smartphone users up to Rs. 750 for signing up for the company’s data packs. The company late last month had introduced 50 percent daily cashback offer for mobile data. Airtel subscribers under the offer received daily morning credit of 50 percent of data, be it 2G ,3G or 4G, that they consumed between 12am to 6am.

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has announced two special recharge vouchers that come with reduced call rates and also offer free talk-time. The new special tariff vouchers include STV35 (Rs. 35) offering local and STD voice calls to any network at Rs. 0.20 per minute, and STV48 (Rs. 48) offering 80 free minutes on local and STD calls on any network on national roaming. The company has confirmed that the special vouchers can be only availed till November 17. Notably, the new special vouchers come with limited validity.

Apart from 100MB free data, Vodafone India for its subscribers in South has also introduced ‘One Rate, One South’ pack in five south states. The Rs. 57 pack will offer outgoing mobile calls (local, STD and while roaming) at Rs. 0.01 per second in South India. The five states which will get the offer include Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Telangana, and Tamil Nadu.

Vodafone is also offering its subscribers in Mumbai the chance to win an iPhone 6s by sharing their selfies on Facebook with hashtag Vodafone Diwali (#VodafoneDiwali).