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Isro successfully launches PSLV rocket, 100th satellite Cartosat-2 placed into orbit

NEW DELHI, Jan 12: The successful launch of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle or PSLV C-40 that placed a 710-kg Cartosat-2 satellite, seventh of the series, and 30 co-passenger satellites on Friday morning was met with elation and relief at Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

“ISRO is starting 2018 with the successful launch of Cartosat, a nanosat, microsat and 28 customer satellites,” ISRO’s outgoing chairperson AS Kiran Kumar said.

“We are happy to provide a new year’s gift to the country,” he added.

The agency’s 100th launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Andhra Pradesh’s Sriharikota was closely watched in India and across the world after a failure on August 31 last year.

The 41st flight had a normal lift-off and everything happened as planned, according to ISRO, but failed to launch due to a glitch in heat-shield separation.

Kiran Kumar said that the heat shield problem had been addressed.

“The problem is properly understood and rectified,” he said.

It has been an eventful week for India’s space agency. The launch that was earlier scheduled for January 10 was deferred to Friday. And, the government announced earlier this week that K Sivan will take over as ISRO chairperson replacing Kiran Kumar.

“It is a befitting tribute to our beloved chairman, who has been a driving force for ISRO, and an excellent welcome launch for our new chairman designate,” P Kunhikrishnan, director of Satish Dhawan Space Centre, said.

The Cartosat-2 remote-sensing satellite, the main payload onboard the PSLV C-40, will boost data services for users that will be used in urban and rural applications, coastal land use and regulation, monitoring of road networks, water distribution, land use mapping.

The co-passenger satellites comprise one microsatellite and one nanosatellite from India as well as three microsatellites and 25 nanosatellites from Canada, Finland, France, Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States. The total weight of all the 31 satellites onboard the PSLV-C40 is about 1323kg.

The 28 international customer satellites are being launched as part of the commercial arrangements between Antrix Corporation Limited (Antrix), the commercial arm of ISRO, and the foreign countries.

“The mission was important. We were coming to the launch pad after a major failure,” Sivan said. “Many customers came to us even after the failure, that shows their confidence in us,” he added.

The space agency is looking forward to major missions - the second onboard the GSLV and the Chandrayaan II launch - this year and by June, it hopes to deploy 250 satellites.

ISRO made almost Rs 300 crore from foreign satellite launches in 2016-17 and officials have maintained over the past year that smaller satellite launches will play a big role in the future.

FCC vote against net neutrality is not the end of digital commons, even in USA

WASHINGTON, Dec 17: Under the pretext of “helping consumers and promoting competition”, the US’ Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted on Thursday to repeal guidelines on net neutrality that had been put in place to ensure that internet providers in the USA could not block access to certain websites or give preferential treatment to others.

Setting a terrible example for the rest of the world, the FCC voted to allow internet providers to be able to privilege one form of content over another on the internet.
Even though several providers have assured their customers that they will not block or throttle content, the new guidelines give them enough room to ensure prioritised delivery of their own or partners’ content.

But this is far from the end for internet neutrality, even within the United States. Once the new recommendations are formally published and take effect in the next few months, they will almost certainly be challenged in court. Within hours of the announcement of the new guidelines, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman had already pledged on Twitter to sue; and several advocacy groups are also likely to join in. While it will still be an uphill task to fight the case in court, whether or not the new guidelines will pass the scrutiny of the American judicial process is anybody’s guess.

The existing 2015 rules for net neutrality considered the internet a communications service – more like an essential utility than a product – and therefore subjected it to similar consumer protection requirements. This was challenged on the basis that such regulations would hurt further investments in infrastructure for broadband, etc. However, several studies have shown that since the 2015 rules came into effect, many internet providers have actually increased their investments and not the other way around.

The US is no longer setting the standards for laws and regulations on techno-legal issues; and this vote is another step down in the international discussion on the importance of preserving the digital commons.

Samsung launches $994 Galaxy Note8 Enterprise Edition in the U.S.

NEW DELHI, Nov 1: Samsung has announced a new enterprise-grade version of its Galaxy Note8 phablet for the U.S. market.

Priced at $994, the aptly named Galaxy Note8 Enterprise Edition is available to order from today through “authorized Samsung channel partners.”

The device comes unlocked and ships with a number of enhancements compared to the consumer incarnation that launched a few months back, including Samsung Knox Configure, which makes it easier for administrators to remotely configure and deploy devices across the company. Admins can also manage large batches of devices through a centralized OS and software version control system that allows them to update every device in a fleet simultaneously.

Additionally, the enterprise version of the Note8 will receive more regular security updates for up to three years.

Samsung actually launched the Galaxy Note8 Enterprise Edition in Germany earlier this month, alongside an enterprise version of the Galaxy S8. There is no word yet on whether the S8 enterprise version will be arriving in the U.S., but we’ve reached out to Samsung and will update here when we receive a response.

The Galaxy Note8 Enterprise Edition is only about $50 more expensive than its consumer-focused counterpart, and the extra security and management features should go some way toward enticing enterprises and SMBs to consider upgrading to the gargantuan smartphone.

Round 360: Samsung’s new camera has 17 lenses and shoots 4K 3D videos

NEW YORK, Oct 18: Samsung on Wednesday introduced a new high-end camera that can capture and stream high-quality 3D content. Announced at the Samsung Developer Conference (SDC 2017), the 360 Round is touted as the first-of-its-kind device that combines high-quality 360-degree imagery with advanced 3D depth.

Samsung hasn’t announced the price of the 360 Round yet, but claims the device comes with “a reasonable price compared to other professional 360 cameras.” According to Cnet, the 360 Round costs $10,500 which translates to a whopping Rs 6.83 lakh.

The 360 Round has 17 lenses with eight set in stereo pairs — an arrangement that is the basis of 3D photography — and one single lens which combine to deliver 3D video in 4K resolution, 3D stills with depth, and spatial audio. Resembling the form-factor of a spaceship, the Samsung 360 Round comes with IP65 certification for water and dust resistance.

The device has built-in PC software that helps developers control the images as well as manage storage.

“We have developed a product that contains innovative VR features, allowing video producers and broadcast professionals to easily produce high quality 3D content,” said Suk-Jea Hahn, executive vice president of Samsung Electronics’ Global Mobile B2B Team on the company’s website.

Airtel offer on Apple iPhone 7, starts at Rs 7,777

NEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel has announced the launch of its Online Store ( that the company claims will offer a range of premium smartphones at affordable down payments. Buyers can also avail of facilities like instant credit verification and financing, and bundled monthly plans at the company's Online Store.

As part of the inagural offer, the country's number one mobile service provider is offering Apple iPhone 7 at attractive down payments. The company plans to soon add other premium smartphones to its store.

Apple iPhone 7 (32GB) is available at a down payment of just Rs 7,777 and 24 monthly installments of Rs 2499 each. The monthly installments have a built-in high-end postpaid plan which offers 30GB data, unlimited calling (local, STD, national roaming), and Airtel Secure package that covers the device against any physical damage and offers cyber protection.

Airtel's Online Store launch is part of its Project Next, the company's digital innovation program aimed at transforming customer experience across all of its services and touch points.

In a statement, Airtel said that it plans to invest up to Rs 2,000 crore under Project Next.

An integrated digital platform, Airtel Online Store aims to make it easier for customers to upgrade to high-end smartphones, without the constraint of high put-down prices and cumbersome financing schemes. According to the company, all smartphones on the platform will come with down payments that are a fraction of the market price of the device and the convenience of easy monthly instalments with a built-in postpaid plan.

Harmeen Mehta, Global CIO & Director - Engineering, Bharti Airtel said, "This is yet another exciting digital innovation from Airtel to delight customers. Not only are we making it easier for millions of customers to upgrade to devices they always wanted, we are also making the entire process seamless and simple through digital technologies. Imagine getting your dream device, instant credit to purchase it and a great plan to go with it, all available in one place with a few clicks. All this is a product of some cutting-edge digital engineering by the in-house teams at Airtel. We would also like to thank our partners for integrating their APIs seamlessly with our platform to enable a great customer experience."

Apple CEO Tim Cook 'joins' Akash Ambani at iPhone 8's India launch

MUMBAI, Sept 29: For the first time ever, Apple CEO Tim Cook addressed media at an India launch even of the new iPhones. The Apple CEO 'joined' Reliance Jio's chief of strategy Akash Ambani via video conferencing as the company rolled out the all-new iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus smartphones today at the company's headquarters in Navi Mumbai.

In the short video, Cook greeted with 'Namaste' and talked about the new iPhone 8 models and their key features. He spoke about the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus' glass and metal design and added that the new smartphones come with a more powerful chip, cameras and a new operating system. He said that the latest handsets feature an improved HD display.

"Namaste, to all my friends in India. Thank you for coming out today for the launch of iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. A special thanks to Mukesh and everyone at Jio for hosting the celebration for iPhone customers. At Apple, we are incredibly excited about this new generation of iPhone - iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. They make everything we love about iPhone even better," said Cook.

For India, Cook said that the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus now support a keyboard in Hindi and can also take dictation in the same language. He thanked all the app developers from India for contributing. He concluded his message with Diwali greetings, wishing everyone a 'Happy and safe Diwali'.

"We're excited to be building so many new relationships in India, including tens of thousands of developers across the country now writing apps for iOS. I want to thank everyone again for joining us on this journey and being here today. I wish I could be there with you. Enjoy iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 plus. I wish everyone a very happy and safe Diwali," he added.

At the event, the Ambani scion who is on the board of Reliance Jio Infocomm (Jio) revealed a bunch of offers that the company is giving with the new iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus phones. The two smartphones that were unveiled earlier this month, will be going on sale later today in the country.

For those unaware, Reliance Jio is offering a monthly plan of Rs 799 along with the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus. The plan includes 90GB 4G data, free calls and free text messages. Furthermore, buyers will get up to 70% cashback if they enrol for the company's iPhone upgrade programme. Under this buyback scheme, they can return their handsets after a year and get 70% value of the device deducted from the cost of their next purchase.

Other Apple iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus offers

Flipkart's offers on iPhone 8 include EMI options starting at Rs 2,188 per month and 5% cashback for those who purchase the device using Axis Bank Buzz Credit cards. The EMIs for the 256GB variant will start at Rs 2,632 per month.

As for the iPhone 8 Plus, the e-commerce firm is giving EMI option starting at Rs 2,495 per month for the 64GB version. The 256GB version will start at 2,940 per month.

Interested customers can also get up to Rs 23,000 off on the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus as a part of an exchange offer. Cashback offers of up to Rs 10,000 from Citi Credit and World Debit Cards are also applicable.

Amazon is also offering the iPhone 8 at up to Rs 12,100 discount as a part of an exchange offer. Customers who already own an iPhone will get an additional Rs 3,000 off in exchange. In addition the e-commerce giant is offering the handset on 3,6,9 and 12 month no cost EMI options on select credit cards. regular EMI options are also available starting Rs 3,043 (iPhone 8 64GB). These are available on all three colour variants and both the storage variants.

Apple launches iPhone 8, 8 plus and X

Sept 12: Alongside the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the iPhone X (pronounced as iPhone Ten) which features several cutting edge technologies including near-bezel less display, and support for wireless inductive charging. The iPhone X comes in two storage variants - 64GB and 256GB - priced at $999 (roughly Rs. 64,000) and $1,149 (roughly Rs. 73,600) in the US. iPhone X price in India starts at Rs. 89,000, and the country will be among the first wave of launches. Pre-orders (including India) start on October 27, and will hit stores from November 3.

The first thing you notice on the iPhone X is a near bezel-less display on the front side. It is larger than ever at 5.8-inch. There is a notch on the top, but the company has pushed the screen resolution to 1125x2436 pixels, more than any previous generation iPhone models, and calls it the Super Retina Display.

The iPhone X is the future of smartphones, the executives said. Apple is doing away with the Touch ID, the fingerprint scanner embedded with Home Button that it introduced with iPhone 5s model. The iPhone X hosts a range of sensors including flood illuminator, infrared camera, front camera, and dot projector to allow customers to unlock the iPhone X by just looking at it - a system called Face ID.

Face ID is faster and more secure than the Touch ID, thanks to specialised hardware and algorithm driving that hardware. "The facial recognition grows with time. It learns your face and adapts to your face" Phil Schiller, Apple VP of Worldwide Marketing said. "It works in day, it works in night." While Touch ID could be tricked one in 50,000 times, Apple said, Face ID sees one error in one million times, citing its own internal data. Face ID will work with third-party apps as well, Schiller said.

The depth-gauging front camera can be used for another purpose, Schiller said. You can create animated emojis - called Animoji - that resemble your facial expressions. Users can make use of this feature in Messages. The company is also betting on augmented reality as a selling point in the iPhone X model.

The iPhone X features a duo of 12-megapixel rear cameras, that are larger (f/1.8 and f/2.4 apertures), and faster. It has deeper pixels, quad-LED True Tone flash, Schiller said. For the 7-megapixel selfie camera, the company says it is bringing Portrait mode feature, which it introduced with the iPhone 7 Plus last year.

In some ways, the company is testing the loyalty of its customers with the $999 price tag, about 50 percent more than the iPhone's usual $650 starting price, and more than it has ever asked before for its phone. Analysts however noted that the company might still be able to sell enough of these models. In a survey earlier this month by Creative Strategies and SurveyMonkey, 21 percent consumers said they would buy the costlier iPhone regardless of the price, though 33 percent existing iPhone users said they would not upgrade if it was too expensive.

"The most expensive iPhone model, an iPhone 7 Plus with 256GB storage, already costs USD 962 unlocked and SIM free. If Apple adds a new model which costs a few dollars more it will have no impact on consumers who are looking to spend $150. They are completely different market segments," Ian Fogg, an analyst with IHS Markit told Gadgets 360.

Apple didn't immediately share how much it had planned to charge Indians for the new iPhone models in India. But Fogg shared two possibilities on how it could play out in the country. "If the new flagship iPhone is genuinely different to other smartphones it will do two things for the mainstream India smartphone market: It will set a design theme which we will see other smartphone makers copy over the next few years, and eventually these design cues will be available in sub $150 smartphone models," he said. The sub-Rs. 10,000 smartphone market is the most popular in India, according to data from several marketing research firms.

"And, it will act as a halo product to encourage consumers to buy Apple’s entry level smartphone models, currently the iPhone SE and iPhone 6, so consumers who are attracted to Apple’s brand pick the models they can afford," Fogg added. "There will of course be some consumers in every country who are able to afford the most expensive iPhone whatever the cost. But Apple aims to create mainstream quality products, not a super niche luxury, not commodity products. A product which may fall into the luxury niche in India, could be a mainstream quality smartphone in Japan, USA, or parts of Western Europe."



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