Xiaomi’s refreshed Mi Notebook lineup and the upcoming WhatsApp features like dark mode, fingerprint authentication on Android, consecutive voice messages, and updated picture-in-picture mode were some of the tech news that grabbed the headlines this week. Additionally, Samsung unveiled its Galaxy A70 smartphone, Huawei took the wraps off P30 and P30 Pro phones, and Motorola finally launched its Moto G7 and Motorola One phones in India. Apple too made news this week with its upcoming Apple TV+, Arcade, and Apple Card as well as the newly launched Apple News+ service. Read on to get all the details about the biggest tech happenings of the week.
Mi Notebook Air 12.5-inch (2019), Mi Notebook Air 13.3-inch (2019), and Mi Notebook 15.6-inch (2019)
Xiaomi announced the upgraded versions of pretty much its entire laptop lineup except the Mi GameBook. The company unveiled the 2019 versions of its Mi Notebook Air 12.5-inch, Mi Notebook Air 13.3-inch, and Mi Notebook 15.6-inch laptops. While the 12.5-inch model of the Mi Notebook Air got upgraded to the eighth-generation Intel Core i5 or Core m3 chips with onboard graphics, the 13.3-inch model of the Mi Notebook Air received a bump to Nvidia GeForce MX250 GPU from earlier available GeForce MX150 GPU. The Mi Notebook Air 13.3-inch had already got the 8th-generation Intel Core chips.
The revamped Mi Notebook 15.6-inch (2019) primarily received optional 256GB SSD and 512GB SSD options. The earlier available Mi Notebook 15.6-inch models were limited to just 128GB SSD, which is not very much. Unlike the Mi Notebook Air models, which are ultrabooks, the Mi Notebook 15.6-inch a full-fledged notebook with a full-size keyboard, including a numeric keypad.
According to Xiaomi, the upgraded Mi Notebook Air 12.5-inch (2019) and Mi Notebook Air 13.3-inch (2019) models are already available in the China market, whereas the upgraded Mi Notebook 15.6-inch (2019) laptop will go on sale starting April 9 next week. In terms of the pricing, the Mi Notebook Air 12.5-inch (2019) starts at CNY 3,599 (roughly Rs. 38,400) and goes up to CNY 4,299 (roughly Rs. 45,900). The Mi Notebook 13.3-inch (2019) starts at at CNY 5,399 (roughly Rs. 55,600) and goes up to CNY 5,999 (roughly Rs. 64,000).
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WhatsApp beta updates
The folks at WhatsApp were quite busy this week and pushed multiple beta updates for the Android version of their app. While these WhatsApp beta versions didn’t necessarily bring new features, except consecutive voice messages playback, they did reveal several of the upcoming features for Android, including dark mode, fingerprint authentication, and updated picture-in-picture (Pi) mode.
Talking about the feature that is now available in WhatsApp beta for Android – consecutive playback of multiple voice messages – first, the WhatsApp beta will now play one voice message after the other if they have been sent without a break. The users will just have to tap on the first voice message in a list of multiple consecutive voice messages and WhatsApp will play all of them one after the other. This feature was present in WhatsApp v2.19.86 for Android and should be available in all future beta versions. There is no word on when it might make its way to the stable version.
Moving to the upcoming WhatApp for Android features that were spotted in the recent beta versions, the messaging app is working to bring the biometric authentication support to the Android version of the app. The feature is already available in the iPhone version but Android has been missing out for a while. If the traces found in WhatsApp v2.19.83 beta are any indication, we should see the feature soon in beta and then the stable version. The WhatsApp is also working to improve the picture-in-picture mode in the app as well as bring a dark mode. The indications of a dark mode were found in WhatsApp v2.19.82 beta, whereas the improved PiP mode was seen in version 2.19.86 beta.
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Samsung A70 launch
Continuing to expand its revamped Galaxy A Series, Samsung earlier this week unveiled the new Galaxy A70 smartphone. The South Korean company has not revealed the pricing or availability details of the phone at this point, but it is believed that we will get to know this information on April 10 when Samsung is planning to unveil even more Galaxy A Series phones including Galaxy A90 and Galaxy A40.
The Samsung Galaxy A70 features a waterdrop-style notch, an in-display fingerprint sensor, and up to 8GB of RAM. The phone sports a 6.7-inch full-HD+ screen and is powered by an octa-core processor. The Galaxy A70 runs on Android 9 Pie with Samsung’s One user interface and includes a 4,500mAh battery. Additionally, the phone also includes a triple camera setup, which houses a 32-megapixel primary sensor with f/1.7 lens, an 8-megapixel sensor with an f/2.2 ultra-wide lens, and a 5-megapixel depth sensor with f/2.2 lens. Up front, there is a 32-megapixel selfie camera with f/2.0 aperture.
Samsung Galaxy A70 wasn’t the only new device from the company this week, the company also quietly introduced the Galaxy Tab A 8.0 (2019) with cellular connectivity. The tablet debuted in Thailand but the pricing and availability details remain a mystery at this point. The Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0 comes equipped with an 8-inch WUXGA TFT display with support for S Pen input. The tablet is powered by an octa-core SoC clocked at 1.8GHz, coupled with 3GB of RAM and 32GB onboard storage with microSD card slot. In the imaging department, the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0 packs an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front camera. There is also a 4,200mAh battery onboard.
Huawei P30, P30 Pro, P30 Lite launch
After months of speculation and leaks, Huawei unveiled its flagship P30 and P30 smartphones at a press event in Paris earlier this week. The Chinese smartphone maker is hyping the imaging capabilities of the two phones and has even called them its “most advanced camera smartphones to date.” We will surely put these claims to test when we review the phones in the coming weeks, but for now let’s just talk about what we currently know about the two phones.
Huawei P30 and P30 Pro run on Android 9 Pie with the company’s EMUI 9.1 on top. Both P30 and P30 Pro smartphones sport almost bezel-less front with dewdrop notches. The P30 Pro features a 6.47-inch full-HD+ OLED screen, whereas the P30 comes with 6.1-inch full-HD+ OLED display. Also, the P30 Pro screen can turn itself into a speaker like LG’s G8 ThinQ smartphone. The smartphones are powered by 7nm manufacturing process-based octa-core Kirin 980 SoC with Mali-G76 GPU. Further, the Huawei P30 features 6GB of RAM, 128GB of onboard storage while the Huawei P30 Pro includes 8GB of RAM, and up to 512GB of onboard storage.
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In addition to these top-of-the-line specifications, Huawei has included a quad-camera setup on the P30 Pro, which houses a 40-megapixel primary camera with 1/1.7-inch Huawei SuperSpectrum Sensor and f/1.6 (27mm) lens, a 20-megapixel ultra-wide-angle secondary camera with an f/2.2 (16mm) lens, an 8-megapixel telephoto camera with an f/3.4 (125mm) lens, and a Time-of-Flight (TOF) camera. The P30 packs a triple camera setup with a 40-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera with an f/1.8 (27mm) lens, a 16-megapixel ultra-wide-angle secondary camera with an f/2.2 (17mm) lens, and an 8-megapixel sensor along with a telephoto lens (80mm) featuring an f/2.4 aperture.
Both smartphones are already on order in various markets and will go on sale in a number of these next week. There is no word on the India release date or pricing of the two phones. In addition to P30 and P30 Pro, Huawei quietly made the P30 Lite phone official as well. The P30 Lite includes 6.15-inch full-HD+ display, HiSilicon Kirin 710 SoC, up to 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of inbuilt storage. There is a triple rear camera setup onboard as well.
Huawei also announced a number of other devices at the P30 and P30 Pro launch event, including Freelace wireless headphones, FreeBuds Lite wireless headphones, Watch GT Active Edition, Watch GT Elegant Edition, and Smart Eyewear. This isn’t all, among other Huawei smartphones, we saw the launch of Enjoy 9S, Enjoy 9e, and Tablet M5 in China as well as the release of Huawei Y6 Prime (2019) in Pakistan.
Motorola Moto G7, Motorola One India launch
Over seven months after the Motorola One was announced and almost two months after the debut of the Moto G7, both smartphones made their way to India this week. Motorola has priced the Motorola One at Rs. 13,999, whereas the Moto G7 will retail at Rs. 16,999. Both phones are going to face intense competition from the likes of Redmi Note 7, Redmi Note 7 Pro, Samsung Galaxy A30, Samsung Galaxy M20 phones.
To recall, the Motorola One packs a 5.9-inch HD+ screen, Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 SoC, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of onboard storage, and Android 8.1 Oreo. The Moto G7, on the other hand, comes with a 6.24-inch full-HD+ screen, Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 SoC, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of onboard storage, and Android 9 Pie. Both phones include dual rear cameras and single selfie shooters.
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Apple TV+, News+, Arcade, and Apple Card announcements
Apple’s much anticipated services announcement took place this week and while it remains debatable whether the event was underwhelming or not, the company did unveil its TV+ video streaming service, News+ subscription service, Arcade game subscription platform, and the Apple Card service. Apart from the Apple News+, none of the new subscription services are immediately available to the consumers. Also, except probably the updated Apple TV app and Apple Arcade, we won’t see any of the services in India anytime soon.
Talking about the individual services, the Apple TV+ announcement included three main things – the updated Apple TV app, Apple TV channels, and the TV+ streaming service. Apple TV+ will debut in the fall, however the recently released public beta 1 of iOS 12.3 does offer the consumers a look at the updated TV app and Apple TV channels. There are very little details available right now.
Apple News+, on the other hand, is a magazine subscription service, which is available right now to the consumers in US and Canada. More countries will be added over the coming months. News+ cost $10 a month and gives access to 300 popular magazines and newspapers. Apple Arcade is going to be the company game streaming service, which will allow the consumers access to games on mobile devices, desktop computers and “living room” devices. It also goes live in the fall and Apple is working with Disney, Sega, and Annapurna Interactive for games.
Lastly, the Apple Card marks the Cupertino, California-based company’s entry into the financial services segment. The company has partnered with Goldman Sachs to offer consumers a physical as well as digital credit card that comes with a number of cashback offers as well as privacy safeguards. The security and privacy features are going to be main draw for the consumers as rewards and cashbacks are nothing new for the credit card industry. The Apple Card is also Goldman’s first credit card as the investment bank delves more into the consumer business.
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In other Apple news, the company released iOS 12.2 and watchOS 5.2 earlier this week. The new iOS update brought support for Apple News+, four new Animoji characters, ability to enable Siri to control Apple TV from an iPhone or iPad, and support for the second-generation AirPods.
On the other hand, the new watchOS version expanded support for the ECG app to Hong Kong and as many as 19 European markets. The update also added support for the second-generation AirPods. Further, Apple officially cancelled its AirPower wireless charging mat on Saturday. It was announced back in 2017.
Moving on to other smartphone news, Vivo announced its S1 smartphone in China this week. The phone looks very similar to the company’s V15 but there are a number of differences between the two phones. The Vivo S1 comes with Helio P70 SoC, a full-HD+ screen, triple rear camera setup, and dual-SIM support. The pre-bookings for the phone open tomorrow, whereas the actual sales will start April 3.
Talking of Vivo V15, the Chinese smartphone maker’s India unit started taking pre-orders for the V15. The sales open on April 1. The phone will be offered via Vivo e-store, Flipkart, Amazon, Paytm Mall, Tata CLiQ, and all offline channels.
In telecom and DTH news, BSNL launched new Wi-Fi hotspot vouchers on Friday. These new Wi-Fi hotspot vouchers start at as low as Rs. 19 and come with multiple validity options — from two days to 28 days. The vouchers will give the consumers access to BSNL’s 30,400 Wi-Fi hotspots over 16,300 locations in India.
On the other hand, Airtel Digital TV and Tata Sky have started offering sports channels at no additional cost to celebrate the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) 2019. Airtel is giving complimentary Star Sports channels to its new and existing customers, whereas select Airtel Digital TV subscribers have reportedly received free preview sports channels.
In pop culture and entertainment news, Angelina Jolie is reportedly in talks to join Marvel Cinematic Universe as a part of the Eternals movie. The film is being directed by Beijing-born Chloé Zhao (The Rider), off a script by Matthew and Ryan Firpo. It’s unclear whom Jolie will play in the film. The Eternals film forms a part of the Marvel Studio’s post-Avengers: Endgame slate, though it’s unclear when it will release.
Also, YouTube has released an original show featuring Priyanka Chopra. Called ‘If I Could Tell You Just One Thing’, the special shows Chopra interviewing rapper-actress Awkwafina, artistic gymnast Simone Biles, and fashion designer Diane von Fürstenberg, to ask them “just one thing — the one piece of advice that has shaped their lives.” ‘If I Could Tell You Just One Thing’ is available for free on YouTube.
Getting to gaming, Epic Games rolled out a new update for Fortnite this week. The Fortnite update 8.20 adds a new limited time mode called Floor Is Lava. The Floor Is Lava LTM has lava rising from the lowest parts of the map. Epic Games suggests that players drop in and quickly loot as well as gather building materials to reach high ground.
The much-anticipated Borderlands 3 was finally announced at PAX East 2019. The gameplay trailer showed off new villains, returning characters, and fresh character classes. No release date for Borderlands 3 has been revealed yet, though it will be out on PS4, Xbox One, and Windows PC.
Also, we now know the India pricing and pre-orders details for Mortal Kombat 11. The Mortal Kombat 11 Premium Edition price in India is Rs. 6,999. The standard edition of the game will sell at Rs. 3,499. The pre-orders for the game are already open and it will be released on April 23.
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Lastly, FitBit announced the launch of its Versa Lite smartwatch as well as Inspire and Inspire HR activity trackers in India. All three wearables are now on sale via from Amazon, Flipkart, Reliance Digital, Croma, and Helios websites as well as select brick-and-mortar stores. The company has also promised to bring the Ace 2 activity tracker for kids to the country later this year.
Xiaomi has revealed that it will start selling its Mi Men’s Sports Shoes 2, Mi Sports Bluetooth Earphones, and Mi 2-in-1 USB Cable (30cm) starting April 4 in the country. While Mi Men’s Sports Shoes 2 were earlier listed on the company’s crowdsourcing platform, the Mi Sports Bluetooth Earphones and Mi 2-in-1 USB Cable (30cm) are new products.
The Chinese company has also announced a number of new features that will be making their way to MIUI 11. The upcoming operating system will include redesigned icons, monochrome low power mode, and more.
In other news, Vivaldi released a new version for its Web browser and Mozilla started offering the Firefox Lockbox password manager for Android devices.