Apple iPhone SE off to a slow start, iPad Pro 9.7 fares better

Apple iPhone SE off to a slow start, iPad Pro 9.7 fares better

Apple’s new iPhone SE is off to a slow start, according a report by Localytics. The analysis done by the firm shows that the new phone has so far captured 0.1 per cent of the iPhone market and has the lowest market share of any iPhone currently sold. While the low share is understandable given fact that the phone went on sale just recently, the rate at which it is selling is very slow.

While launching the iPhone SE, Apple said that more than 30 per cent users were still using the smaller iPhones and the new phone was an attempt to appease that market. The iPhone SE has been billed as a successor to the iPhone 5S, which was launched back in 2013. However, the iPhone 5S still commands 18 per cent marketshare, while the new SE is stuck at 0.1 per cent.

When the iPhone 5S was launched it managed to capture 0.9 per cent of the market in the first few weeks after the launch. Even the iPhone 6 Plus did better capturing 0.3 per cent of the market.

The new iPhone 6S did better too as it managed to capture a healthy 1 per cent of the market at the launch. The iPhone 6 has been the best performing iPhone in recent history as it managed to capture 2 per cent of the market.

The new iPad Pro 9.7-inch, meanwhile, is performing better. As per the report, the iPad Pro 9.7-inch has managed to capture 0.4 per cent of the market share, which is the same as the iPad Air 2 that Apple launched back in 2014. In fact, it has done better than the iPad Pro which launched back in 2015 as it only managed 0.3 per cent of the market.

Things could improve for the new iPhone SE as it launches in a multitude of countries starting this week. It is also launching in India on Friday for Rs 39,000.

The phone combines elements from multiple iPhones launched in the last two years. Its chassis and display is similar to 2013’s iPhone 5S. Its wireless stack is borrowed from 2014’s iPhone 6 and its application processor and rear camera gear is the same as the new iPhone 6S.

New Twitter feature to make it easier to share tweets privately

New Twitter feature to make it easier to share tweets privately

Twitter Inc is offering a new feature that would make it easier for users to share tweets privately with friends, the company said in a blog post.

The feature, “Message button”, updates an existing option that allows tweets to be sent privately through direct messages.

Twitter said the feature would be available from Tuesday for the iOS and Android mobile platforms.

Apple iPad Pro 9.7 India launch tomorrow, price starts

Apple iPad Pro 9.7 India launch tomorrow, price starts at Rs 49,900

While Apple is launching the iPhone SE in India on Friday April 8, the new iPad Pro 9.7-inch is actually launching a day earlier on April 7. The iPad Pro 9.7-inch which was announced late last month alongside the iPhone SE starts at an MRP of Rs 49,900.

Apple is also releasing an array of accessories for the tablet which include cases, adaptors for connecting gadgets like a camera or SD cards and even a smart keyboard case like it did for the larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

With the new iPad Pro 9.7-inch model, the pricing ranges between Rs 49,900 for the basic Wi-Fi only 32GB model of the tablet to Rs 85,900 for the top of the line cellular 256GB model. It is offered in 32GB, 128GB and 256GB models for both Wi-Fi only and cellular.

The iPad Pro 9.7-inch becomes the first iOS device have the 256GB memory SKU, which furthers Apple’s attempts at promoting it as a laptop replacement.  Apple is also now offering a 256GB 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

The iPad Pro is powered by the A9X processor which Apple says is 70 per cent faster than the iPad Air 2.  It even gets the imaging stack of the iPhone 6S. By this we mean, it has the same 12-megapixel camera with support for live photos and 4K video on the back. For selfies, it gets a 5-megapixel front facing camera and also a retina flash system embedded in the display. All this also means that it gets an iPhone 6S style camera bump on the back.

Apple is touting the display technology on the iPad Pro 9.7-inch. It even claims that it is better than the one on the larger iPad Pro. It has a 9.7-inch screen with a 2048×1536 pixels resolution which Apple says is its most popular iPad screen size but it also talks about true tone technology which adjusts the screen colours and brightness according to the ambient light of its surroundings. Basically, Apple is trying to make the display react to light like paper does. This display also supports the Apple Pencil which retails for Rs 8,600.

Apple is also talking up the speakers on the iPad Pro.  Like its larger sibling, it gets a 4 speaker setup which Apple believes will provide for an enriching multimedia experience.

Apple has also revealed the pricing of the 64GB iPhone SE. Come Friday; it will cost Rs 49,000, which is Rs 10,000 more than the base 16GB model. Apple has also made changes to its India website. Now onwards, the website will show Indian pricing of Apple products in Rupees.

As Apple plots India push, Samsung stakes turf with revamped phones

As Apple plots India push, Samsung stakes turf with revamped phones

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd is regaining smartphone share in India with a revamped line-up packed with special features including a safety mode for motorcyclists, as rival Apple Inc readies a renewed push into the world’s fastest-growing market.

Long the leader in price-conscious India, the South Korean giant had been losing ground to local rivals such as Micromax and Lava, as well as Chinese brands. But Samsung’s Indian market share rose to 30 per cent as of February this year, from 28.6 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2015 and 27.4 per cent in the final quarter of 2014, research firm Counterpoint says.

The company credits strong sales for its mid-tier products, particularly its new Galaxy J series phones.

“Differentiated offerings are driving the trend in the mid-to-low-end segment,” said Manu Sharma, vice president of product marketing for Samsung India Electronics.

For example, Samsung recently introduced its “S bike” mode, a feature targeted at India’s legions of motorbike riders that, when activated, notifies callers that the phone’s owner is riding and cannot answer.

Other draws for Indian buyers include models with features for using less data or keeping the phone alive for longer when charging is not possible.

Researcher GfK says the J2, J5 and J7 account for nearly 20 per cent of the Indian mobile market by value. Production cost savings are also enabling Samsung to sell higher-quality phones for less, analysts said.

CUTTING PRODUCTION COSTS

Samsung’s surge in the No. 2 smartphone market behind China comes as arch-rival Apple struggles to gain a footing with its expensive phones, holding market share of just 2 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2015. The U.S. firm’s renewed efforts to import and sell used iPhones, meanwhile, are facing opposition from local vendors.

Samsung’s gains also underscore how the world’s No. 1 smartphone maker, with just under a fifth of the global market as of the end of 2015, is finding its footing after a long slide.

Though still squeezed by Apple in the premium segment and by Chinese rivals such as Huawei Technologies Co Ltd at the lower end, analysts say Samsung is righting itself by launching more attractive products and shaving production costs to compete better on price.

“Samsung mid-level smartphones, especially the J series, have been doing quite well in emerging countries, especially in India,” said Tarun Pathak, an analyst for Counterpoint Technology, noting that budget-tier products have driven volumes for the South Korean firm in recent quarters.

Such efforts, and better-than-anticipated sales for its flagship Galaxy S7 devices, are expected to lift Samsung’s earnings. Some analysts now expect Samsung’s January-March profit to top 6 trillion won ($5.2 billion), compared with the Thomson Reuters StarMine SmartEstimate of 5.6 trillion won derived from a survey of 22 analysts.

Though Samsung will offer no details beyond estimated January-March revenue and operating profit when it gives guidance on Thursday, analysts expect its mobile division to have been its top earner for the first time in seven quarters.

PRODUCT OVERHAUL

Since mid-2014, Samsung has been overhauling its product design, particularly in the mid-to-low tier segments, phasing out old and unpopular models and launching new devices including the A, E and J series.

The newer devices incorporate parts and features traditionally found only in high-end phones, such as metal frames and organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screens.

As well as giving the phones a premium feel, that also enables Samsung to increase the number components common across its products, cutting costs and enabling more aggressive pricing, analysts said.

Dongbu Securities analyst Yoo Eui-hyung said such efforts could boost mobile division margins by 1 or 2 percentage points, although savings were likely to be offset by price cuts.

“Samsung is trying to hold its ground,” he said.

Still, Samsung is expected to remain under pressure from Chinese competitors growing more aggressive overseas as growth at home slows.

“Samsung has regrouped itself but will have to be constantly on its toes,” IDC analyst Kiranjeet Kaur said.

In addition to trying to secure permission to sell used, or refurbished, phones in India, Apple is betting its new 4-inch iPhone SE can help it gain new customers in the country.

The cheapest iPhone SE will sell at 39,000 Indian rupees ($587), before discounts or promotions, compared with 8,350 rupees for the Galaxy J2 or 14,249 rupees ($215) for the J7, according to the companies’ Indian online stores.

Despite the price gap, Apple’s emerging market-focused phone could pose a threat to Samsung, some analysts say, particularly if it wins approval to import refurbished iPhones.

“Apple’s portfolio strategy with the iPhone SE launch is particularly designed to make room for refurb devices for sub-$300 price-points,” said Neil Shah, another Counterpoint analyst. “So Samsung and others who are playing in the $200-$400 segment should be worried.”

Facebook adds dedicated tab, infinite likes, filters and more to Live Video

Facebook adds dedicated tab, infinite likes and more to Live Video

Facebook on Wednesday added dedicated tab, infinite likes, filters and more to its Live Video feature in a bid to offer “more ways to discover, share, and interact with live video.”  The social media giant introduced the feature – which essentially allows users to broadcast live video from their smartphones, much like Periscope – in December last year. It is available for Android and iOS platforms.

To begin with, the Facebook app has been updated with a new dedicated tab in the centre that will allow users to search both live and archived videos. The tab includes different sections to show broadcasts happening around the world as well as those that are broadcasted by a user’s friends and pages they follow.

The tab is now rolling out to a very small percentage of users, said Facebook.

The update also allows for users to send a broadcaster infinite likes — much like how it is on rival platform Periscope – with the option of sending along hearts, wows, and rest of Facebook’s reactions.

“Using the same reactions we launched in News Feed, viewers can select Love, Haha, Wow, Sad or Angry, and the reactions animate right on top of the video,” Facebook said.

Moreover, broadcasters can now also apply filters to their broadcast. Currently limited to basic color effects, broadcasters will soon be able to draw on their broadcasts as well, said Facebook.

The company has also added a live map of broadcasts to it, however, the feature is only available on the desktop for now.

“People in more than 60 countries can now share live video, and we’ve been inspired by all the different global broadcasts, the company said.

HP's new Spectre 13 is the world's thinnest laptop

HP's new Spectre 13 guns for Apple's MacBook Air

Apple’s MacBook Air for the last 8 years has set the standard for what one defines as a great laptop. It created the ultrabook category, but nowadays, it is showing its age as Apple hasn’t refreshed its design in a couple of years. HP is taking this as a window of opportunity with its new Spectre 13 notebook, which it unveiled on Monday.

It doesn’t come with ancillary bells and whistles, but HP’s new machine is the world’s thinnest notebook at 10.4mm. It is a good deal thinner than Apple’s MacBook Air which measures at 13.2mm.

HP focusses on the essentials. So it has managed to outfit the laptop with a powerful Intel core i7 processor coupled with 8GB RAM. Most Windows machines of this class normally come with Intel’s Core M processor which is more power efficient but also less powerful. Even the new MacBook with retina display has an Intel Core M processor.

HP hasn’t even opted for a touch-screen or an outlandish 4K resolution on the display. Instead, it has a standard 13.3-inch Full HD display.

HP has focussed on design and used a combination of aluminium and carbon fibre in its construction to keep things light. It also gets a large bronze element along its edge for the sake of aesthetics that HP is hoping will lend the device a level of panache that’s not seen on most notebooks.

It also manages to pack three USB-Type C ports of which two double as a ‘Thunderbolt ‘ connectors too. So, there are no Retina MacBook like trade-offs.

HP claims 9.5 hours of battery life which will be lesser than the MacBook Air’s 12 hours, but still close enough. The company is also adopting leanings from smartphones in the device. It has added a heat pipe in the notebook for insulation as it has a powerful processor. Heat pipes have off-late propped on smartphones like the Galaxy S7 and the Microsoft Lumia 950.

The Spectre 13 will be launched in the US for $1,169.99 or Rs 78,000 approximately. Currently, there is no word when the notebook will be launched in India.

Microsoft's Surface Phone delayed till 2017, may come in 3 variants

Microsoft's Surface Phone delayed till 2017, may come in 3 variants

Microsoft may not release anymore phones in 2016. In fact even its rumoured Surface Phone may not emerge till early 2017 if a report by WindowsCentral is to be believed. According to the report, Microsoft is readying three models of the Surface Phone which will target the average consumer, businesses and enthusiasts.

In the meantime, Microsoft is working on improving Windows 10 for the phone with two updates called RedStone 1 and RedStone 2. RedStone 1 is actually the recently announced Windows 10 anniversary update which will launch in July end and RedStone 2 will be something that gets released in early 2017 coinciding with the launch of the Surface hardware.

This also means it is the end of the line for Microsoft’s Lumia brand which it inherited from Nokia when it acquired its hardware business.

While the new Surface hardware is being readied, Microsoft is apparently targeting OEM partners to use Windows 10 in their phones. It hopes that as it is not the sole driver of the OS and hardware, more brands may come on board.

For the Surface phone, Microsoft is also waiting for a new Intel chip called the Kaby lake, which may be used across an array of Surface branded products like the Surface Pro 5 and a new Surface Book. Microsoft is reportedly trying to avoid the chipset level hassles it has faced with Intel’s Skylake family of processors. If this is the case, the launch of the entire product line could get pushed back to spring 2017.

For the Surface phones, however, Microsoft could make inking a big feature. It has already unveiled a universal pen framework in the new Windows update. It could also come with a bolstered Continuum feature which could either work with the help of an x86 Intel processor in the phone or in a dock.

Overall this means that Microsoft will likely not release an affordable smartphone in the next year or so. It will likely focus on reinventing what one can do with a smartphone.

Apple fixes iOS screen bypass bug

Apple fixes iOS screen bypass bug

Apple has fixed the iOS 9 screen bypass bug which allowed users to use Siri to launch the Twitter app which in turn bypassed the lock screen. Interestingly, the Cupertino based company hasn’t released an update for the operating system, but updated its servers which now require Siri to ask for passcode ‘when applicable’ while launching the Twitter app.

As Siri queries the Apple server when a user asks a question, so all Apple had to do was to fix the instruction set coming from its server to release an update for the issue.

With the bug, users could theoretically bypass the lock screen password and access things like the Photos and contacts apps. At the time, we recommended that users disable Siri access on the lock screen to avoid a security breach.

Apple’s server update also fixes another minor issue. With iOS 9.3, Apple has released a new feature called ‘Night-Shift’ . Users could activate the feature via Siri even when the phone was in low-power mode with Siri promoting the user about disabling low-power mode. Now, it prompts the user.

Overall, 2016 has been a little troublesome for Apple in terms of iOS updates. It is not only battling the FBI with regard to encryption on iOS, but its OS had a problem called Error 53 which was bricking phones in working condition. Even when Apple pushed out iOS 9.3 to users a couple of weeks ago, the software update bricked a number of older iOS devices like the iPad 2 which didn’t come with the Touch ID scanner.

All this is happening as Apple prepares to launch the iPhone SE and the iPad Pro 9.7 in global markets like India later this week.

Google calendar reminders are now available on web

Google calendar reminders are now available on web

Google’s ‘Reminder’ feature in its Calendar app will now be available on the web as well. The feature was added last year in December for Android and iOS users.

The Calendar web version will also receive features similar to those of Android and iOS platforms. Unlike events, the app will continue showing the reminders until the user marks it as done.  Also, the reminders would work across Google apps like Inbox, Keep, and Google app. Reminders created in mobile will also be visible on the web and vice versa. So users can stay on track from just about anywhere.

Google’s Calendar is a time management application created by Google in 2006.  The app received its latest update in January adding a Smart Suggestion feature which is available in 30 different languages.  As soon as the user starts typing, the Calendar starts giving suggestions. Users can choose to select one or keep typing to refine the suggestions or even manually enter the text.  For adding the location, tap “at” and to add people user needs to tap “with.”  User can also specify the exact date, time and duration of the event by further tapping the “on.”

Google on Wednesday also announced Health Cards Features in collaboration with Apollo Hospitals in India. The feature is live on Android, iOS and desktop versions. These Health Cards have been integrated into the Google Knowledge graph which powers the search experience in India. The feature basically helps find relevant and verified medical info, reflected as cards on the search page when searching for health-related topics.

Indians access Facebook 2.4 times more than Twitter

Indians access Facebook 2.4 times more than Twitter: StudyPeople in India access social networking site Facebook 2.4 times more than microblogging site Twitter and two times more than video sharing website YouTube, a study has found.

“Facebook’s following is truly pan-India. The number of people on the platform in the non-top eight metros is more than twice that of the top eight cities,” said the study conducted by market research and business consultancy firm IMRB.

The study, commissioned by the social networking giant, also found that 70 per cent people on Facebook own a smartphone and 88 per cent of them use a prepaid connection.

Android was found to be the most popular operating system for Indians on Facebook, followed by iOS and Windows.

“Almost all people” or “a substantial majority of people” on Facebook in India also access instant messaging service WhatsApp.

According to IMRB, 63 per cent Facebook users in India have 3G connections, while 38 per cent use a 2G connection to access the social network.