Google Play Points Rewards Programme Now Available in USA

Google is launching a new rewards programme called Play Points in USA. According to the blog post, the rewards programme will let users earn points for various ways in which the Google Play Store services are accessed. Play Points reportedly has millions of people in Japan and South Korea already on it, and has now been introduced to users in USA as well. It is free to join for all users, and can help them earn ‘Play Points’, which in turn can be used for certain items.

They can also be utilised for discounts in games like Candy Crush Saga and Pokemon GO, or exchanged for Google Play Store Credit, which in turn can be used for a range of apps, games, movies and books. As is the rule with Play Store Credits, the rewards programme credits can also be used to renting a film, or buying an audiobook. Users will earn points on everything they buy from the Play Store, while reward points will also apply upon downloading free apps and games from the ‘Featured’ section.

Furthermore, weekly points can even boost a user’s earning rate on select games and other features. Google also revealed that the Play Points are being introduced in four levels — from Bronze to Platinum, and a user’s level will depend on how many points they have collected. Google has also stated that the users can spend collected rewards points to support causes such as Doctors Without Borders (US), and Save the Children, among others.

Realme 3 Pro Latest Update Brings Dark Mode and Better Gaming Experience

Realme 3 Pro, which was launched back in April, is all set to get a new update. The update is said to bring a few interesting features and according to Realme the update, which is rolling out as RMX1851EX_11_1.20 is being done in a staged manner to ensure the stability of the OTA (over the air) update.

Here’s what Realme said in a recent forum post “In order to ensure the stability of this OTA, it will have a staged rollout. The OTA will be randomly pushed out to a limited number of users today and will have a broader rollout in a few days after making sure there are no critical bugs. If no critical bugs are found, the full rollout will be completed in the upcoming days.”

The update includes the October Android security patch and also brings dark mode to the Realme 3 Pro. Notably, this is not the Android 10 update that natively supports Dark Mode. The Realme update, on its part, also has a new toggle in the notification center to quickly switch between SIMs and incorporates improved touch response for an optimised gaming experience. The update also removes the reminder when the hotspot is enabled, removes the prompt when the phone is rooted and has an added option to swipe down on the home screen for global search or notification center, the forum report reveals. Realme 3 Pro is powered by the Qualcomm 710 AIE processor, along with options for 4GB or 6GB memory and 64GB or 128 GB of internal storage. It also has a 6.3-inch full HD+ display with a 2340×1080 pixel resolution

Xiaomi Mi TV 4X 50 Review: What More Do You Want From a Truly Affordable 4K TV?

Last year, around the same time when Xiaomi launched the Mi TV, the Mi LED TV 4A Pro 49 in India, we had said “we are rubbing our eyes, this just cannot be real.” The ingredients were simple—a very attractive price tag (a 49-inch TV at Rs 29,999), a very good Full HD IPS panel, Android TV plus Xiaomi’s own PatchWall curation platform and the sheer simplicity of it all. Fast forward to now, 12 months later, and the evolution of technology becomes all the more apparent. In rolls the Xiaomi Mi TV 4X 50. This Mi also keeps things simple. It keeps things smart. But everything is better.

The price tag remains the same—Rs 29,999. Instead, what you get now is infinitely more smartness. A 4K display with HDR, Android TV plus an updated PatchWall and perhaps the most important of them all, the Netflix and Amazon Video apps are now available on the Mi TV. Finally!

More of the same, yet different

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That is the mantra Xiaomi has followed with the design of the Mi TV 4X 50, which retains a lot of the familiarity with the Mi TVs that we have seen over the years. That means you get a slightly glossy black finish on the thin frame around the display and a matte finish on the panel behind. The design language remains sharp and to the point, with no unnecessary bells and whistles. To be honest, there isn’t much to say about the design of the Mi TV 4X 50. It just looks pretty and understated, with no experience crippling faults. What more could one want.

I continue to have this complaint that the table-top stand is designed to be fixed close to either edge of the panel, which means you need a table as wide as the TV itself to install this safely. This is something we have seen on a lot of TVs over the past couple of years. Please, TV makers, just stop it.

In terms of the connectivity options, you have three HDMI ports, with one of them supporting the audio return channel (ARC) for connecting soundbars etc., in case that is what you fancy. Which I feel you will, considering the sound didn’t really impress me much—more on that in a bit.

Harbinger of tremendous happiness

While the design is more of the same (and rightly so, in my opinion), the first indication that this is a new TV comes when you hold the remote in your hand. Specifically, there are two new buttons on the remote which make all the difference. Netflix and Amazon Video get their dedicated shortcuts on the remote itself. This indicates a larger change, which sees Amazon Video and Netflix streaming services arriving on Xiaomi Mi TVs for the first time. The layout remains uncluttered as before, even though there is a third new button on the remote—Google Assistant. What Xiaomi has done with the Mi TV 4X 50 just builds on from this point

4K at this price, is priceless

Keeping up with the user preferences and requirements of time, Xiaomi has swapped a Full HD panel with a 4K one for the Mi TV 4X 50. This is a 10-bit display, supports HDR and takes advantage of Xiaomi’s new Vivid Picture Engine. Switch this on, and you’ll probably want to change the picture settings to get the true essence of 4K brilliance. Turn down the backlight from 100 to any level that suits the lighting of the room, reduce the contrast a bit, increase the colour saturation, slightly dial up the sharpness and turn up the noise reduction settings to get the best possible picture for home usage scenarios. This is a very bright panel, so you’ll probably not have any issues with bright ambient lights as well.

Once you have the settings dialed in (it may take a couple of days to get these at the most comfortable level for you), I am sure you will agree with me that the Xiaomi Mi TV 4X 50 is by far and away the best 4K TV that you can find this side of the Rs 50,000 price point, for a 50-inch display size. Fast moving visuals exhibit no tearing or distortion, colours look well separated, contrast looks good and the sharpness is more than generous.

Be it binge watching a TV show on Netflix, an HDR movie on Amazon Video or even Full HD content on Tata Sky, this panel handles pretty much all sorts of content very well—sports, movies, shows, the lot. A lot of TVs struggle to reproduce the ball correctly in fast paced football matches, but the Mi TV 4X 50 has no such problems at all. It is a lot of fun watching Jordan Henderson, Sadio Mane, Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino run rings around opposition defenses. Skin colour tones look better than before, but there is still some work to be done—not everyone looks the whiter skin tones that the Mi TV tends to reproduce.

The melody is missing

The Mi TV 4X 50 promotional material talk about the powerful 20-watt speakers built-in, with support for Dolby Audio and DTS-HD audio formats. On paper, that sounds good. In the real world, not so much. While loud (and yes, these can go very loud), the sound is flat and there isn’t much depth. I am sure the audio hardware packed inside the Mi TV 4X 50 is not the limitation, but it is perhaps the audio processing that could be throttling the performance in a way. There is hardly any bass so to speak of, vocals can sound too sharp if you tweak the audio settings too much (there are very few settings anyway) or nasal-y (if that gets the message across) in the typical talk shows.

Smartness all the way

The sound issues are exactly why I have a Bose soundbar connected with the Mi TV 4X 50. It doesn’t have an HDMI port, which is why the connection is done why the coaxial port. Luckily for me, the Mi TV recognizes the Bose soundbar seamlessly and lets me connect the volume from the TV remote itself. That is infinitely convenient, though I still need to reach for the Bose soundbar remote from time to time to power on the soundbar—it doesn’t automatically switch on with the TV, in this state of connectivity.

Unlike its predecessor, the Mi TV 4X 50 also supports 5GHz Wi-Fi networks as well. Even better then, because 5GHz networks offer better speeds because of lesser interference, which should be handy when you tap “Play” on a 4K movie title on Netflix.

Xiaomi has updated the PatchWall to PatchWall 2.0 and there are visual changes that immediately are noticeable. The lighter theme is one of them (this is a nice move, in a day and age when everyone is going towards the Dark Mode. Now, PatchWall can curate content from Amazon Video and Netflix as well, apart from Hotstar, Zee5, Hungama, YouTube, Voot, Jio Cinema and more.

There is a new Data Saver option in the settings. Not sure if this will at all be useful if you are on a fast enough home broadband connection with enough data (these days, that isn’t really a problem), but if you are using a mobile connect hotspot, enabling this will allow the Mi TV 4X 50 to automatically adjust the picture quality to save data.

The Mi TV 4X 50 smart TV features are powered by a 64-bit Amlogic processor along with 2GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. At no point did I find the Android TV or PatchWall performance stutter. All streaming apps also run smoothly, including for 4K streaming and there is no lag while navigating the interface or any stutters during the video playback.

Your next TV?

As one would perhaps expect, there are some good things about the Xiaomi Mi TV 4X 50. And some not so good. With a price tag of Rs 29,999 for this 4K TV, it is really hard to pick a deal-breaking shortcoming. There really is nothing, to be honest, except for the less-than-brilliant audio performance. But with software updates, that performance could also see a significant improving, if at all. But let us look at the brighter side. A 4K TV with very good picture quality, image processing is visibly better than before, Android TV is just as slick as ever, Netflix and Amazon Video are on board and even the soundbar can be controlled with the TV remote. What more could you want from a TV as brilliant as this, and as affordable as this?

Samsung Galaxy Note 10, Note 10+ Officially Launched in India

After showcasing the Galaxy Note 10 and Galaxy Note 10+ at its UNpacked event earlier this month, Samsung has brought the duo to India. Both the Galaxy Note 10 and Galaxy Note 10 Plus feature similar camera setups on the front and rear, and come with a near-full screen display.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 is priced at Rs 69,999 for the 8GB RAM + 256GB storage variant. The Samsung Galaxy Note 10+, is priced at Rs 79,999 for the 12GB RAM + 256GB storage variant, while the 512GB storage option is priced at Rs 89,999. Both the phones will be available in Aura Black, Aura Glow, and Aura White colour options. There is also an Aura Red colour variant which will be available only on the Galaxy Note 10.

If you have pre-booked your new Galaxy Note 10 or Galaxy Note 10+ by paying with your HDFC credit or debit card on the Samsung website or at the retail outlets, you will be eligible for a cashback of Rs 6,000. If you pay with an ICICI Bank credit or debit card on Flipkart, Amazon, Paytm and Tata CLiQ , you will also get a cashback of Rs 6,000. Also, anyone pre-booking a Galaxy Note10 and Note 10+ would also have the option to buy a Galaxy Watch Active for Rs 9,999 which otherwise is priced at Rs 19,990 or the Galaxy Buds wireless earbuds at a discounted price of Rs 4,999.

The handsets will be available for purchase in India starting August 23 while customers who have pre-ordered the Galaxy Note phones will get their shipments on August 22.

The Galaxy Note 10 smartphones are powered by the new Exynos 9825, which is fabricated using the new 7nm extreme ultraviolet lithography process to pack in more transistors for more performance firepower. This is in comparison to the 8nm-built Exynos 9820, which fell behind its competitors such as the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, Apple A12 and the HiSilicon Kirin 980. The processor gets an integrated neural processing unit (NPU), and graphics duties are taken care of ARM’s semi-flagship, 12-core G76 MP12 GPU. As for variants, the Galaxy Note 10 features 8GB RAM and 256GB storage in the 4G storage, and 12GB RAM and 256GB storage in the 5G variant. The Galaxy Note 10 Plus, meanwhile, features 12GB RAM as standard, with storage options of 256GB and 512GB. Both the notes also feature an improved Samsung S-Pen, now with enhanced functionalities.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 features a 6.3-inch full HD+ display with a dynamic AMOLED panel and 19:9 aspect ratio. The Galaxy Note 10 Plus, meanwhile, features a 6.8-inch Quad HD+ dynamic AMOLED display. Both the panels are HDR10+ certified, and feature punch-hole modules for accommodating the front-facing camera. In a rather surprising development given how flagships work, the Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10 Plus both feature a single front camera module, placed at the centre of the display, near the thin top bezel. At the rear, the Galaxy Note 10 features a triple camera module, featuring a 12-megapixel dual-phase detection camera with optical stabilisation and variable aperture of f/1.5-2.4 as the primary camera module. This is combined with a 16-megapixel sensor with f/2.2 ultra-wide angle lens, and a 12-megapixel sensor with f/2.1 telephoto lens aided by OIS. In addition, the Galaxy Note 10 Plus gets a 0.3-megapixel DepthVision camera to assist augmented reality features.

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Apple Music Student Plan to Provide Apple TV+ Subscription At No Extra Cost

Apple has announced that the subscribers of Apple Music Student plan will get access to Apple TV+ at no extra cost. The offer was first revealed by Hailee Steinfeld, the star of the upcoming Apple TV+ show, Dickinson, via Instagram on Wednesday. According to a report, Apple TV+ and Apple Music Student plans have been bundled and students can get these both by just paying $4.99 per month. To get access to the discounted rate, subscribers will just have to verify that they are enrolled in a degree-granting university or college.

On the other hand, regular Apple Music subscribers will have to pay $9.99 per month. According to a report, an Apple spokesperson said that the Apple Music and Apple TV+ bundle would be available for “a limited time”. It was earlier rumoured that Apple was considering to bundle Apple TV+ and Apple Music into a single package at a subscription fee of $12 or $13.

Apple TV+ was announced by the Cupertino-based tech giant sometime in March and complete details of the same were made public last month. The service is said to be available worldwide in over 150 countries. At its monthly subscription price of $9.99, the fee might sound a tad-bit higher compared to Amazon Prime or Netflix, which provides basic subscription plan starting $8.99 (approx. Rs 644) per month and $9 per month, respectively. In India, the service will be available at a low cost of just Rs 99 a month.

Apple iPhone 12 to Feature Improved 120Hz ProMotion OLED Displays

Apple launched the iPhone 11 series which includes iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max in September this year. A month after introducing its latest series in the market, Apple seems to have now started working on the next-generation iPhone, which is expected to be the iPhone 12. Leaks and rumours of the upcoming iPhone have already started to pour in. According to a report, the upcoming iPhone, also known as the iPhone 2020, will come with an enhanced display that is expected to enhance the user’s experience.

We could possibly see next year’s iPhone or the iPhone 12 to make use of 120hz ProMotion OLED screens. This will be the first time that an iPhone will feature a display with such a fast refresh rate. A certain report also mentions that all three devices under the iPhone 12 series will come with 120hz refresh rate panels.

Apple had introduced its ProMotion display on the iPad Pro series back in 2017 and ever since then, rumours have been doing the rounds that it would soon make its way to the iPhone lineup. However, the past two generations Apple chose not to bring the feature and sticking with the regular 60hz refresh rate displays.

Latest iOS 12.4 Update Unpatches Bug Making it Vulnerable to Exploits and Jailbreak

Apple has reportedly unpatched a bug in the latest iOS update 12.4 that it had fixed in the earlier iOS 12.3 update — leaving its most up-to-date iPhones vulnerable to hacking risk. According to Motherboard, security researchers have already exploited the vulnerability in iOS 12.4 and released a public “jailbreak” on open-sourced software development platform Github — the first free public jailbreak for a fully-updated iPhone that’s been released in years.

As a result of the mistake, all iPhones running iOS 12.4 can now be jailbroken and several iPhone users have already tweeted that they are successfully running the “jailbreak”. Jailbreaking an iPhone lets people customize their iOS devices and run unsupported apps. Apple never allows unsupported apps on its iOS platform, which makes its devices extra secure. The Cupertino-based tech giant was yet to respond to this.

Apple had fixed this flaw, found by a Google hacker, in the earlier iOS 12.3 version. “Due to 12.4 being the latest version of iOS currently available and the only one which Apple allows upgrading to, for the next couple of days (till 12.4.1 comes out), all devices of this version are jail breakable and vulnerable to what is effectively a 100+ day exploit, Jonathan Levin, a security researcher was quoted as saying. A security research that goes by the name of “Pwn20wnd” has published a jailbreak for iOS 12.4.

“The exploits for the iPhone can sell for millions of dollars, which means that no one has been willing to release jailbreak code publicly because Apple will quickly patch it,” said the report. Security experts have warned to be careful what apps they download with this jailbreak.

Apple recently announced to pay up to $1 million to security researchers for finding flaws and vulnerabilities as part of its bug bounty programme. The announcement was made by Ivan Krstic, head of security engineering and architecture at Apple, during the annual Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas.

Xiaomi Mi A3 Android One Phone With 48-Megapixel Triple Camera Launched

Xiaomi has launched its third Android One smartphone in the country, the Mi A3. The Chinese company had announced the handset last month in Barcelona, Spain, and the highlights of the phone include triple cameras at the back with a 48-megapixel primary sensor, a 32-megapixel selfie camera and a Super AMOLED display with an in-display fingerprint sensor.

The new handset is priced at Rs. 12,999 for the 4GB RAM + 64GB storage variant and Rs. 15,999 for the 6GB RAM + 128GB storage option. Xiaomi will be offering the handset in “Not Just Blue”, “More Than White”, and “Kind of Gray” colour options. The phone will be available on Amazon India, Mi.com, and Mi Home stores on August 23 starting at 12 noon. The Mi A3 is being offered with some launch offers including a Rs. 750 cashback on HDFC Bank credit cards, and an additional Rs. 250 on EMI transactions, during the early few weeks. Customers can also get double data and unlimited calling from Airtel when they recharge using the Rs. 249 recharge.

The Mi A3 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 SoC, and sports a triple camera setup on the rear with a 48-megapixel primary camera sensor. Talking about the display, the phone has 6.1-inch HD+ (1560×720 pixels) OLED panel with an aspect ratio of 19.5:9. It is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5 and has an in-display fingerprint scanner for additional security. It also has a waterdrop notch which houses the selfie camera.

For photos and videos, the Mi A3 has a primary 48-megapixel shooter with an f/1.78 aperture without any OIS. The triple camera setup also has an 8-megapixel ultra-wide (118-degree) angle camera and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. In addition, the phone has a 32-megapixel front camera. The Mi A3 has a battery capacity of 4,030 mAh. While it can support up to 18W chargers, the phone comes with a 10W charger in the box.

Redmi Note 8 Pro With 64-Megapixel Quad Camera to Launch on August 29

Xiaomi is hosting a special event in China to launch new Redmi products. The Redmi Smart TV is one of the rumoured launches along with the company’s new smartphone range. It is being said that we might see the Redmi 8, Redmi Note 8 and the Redmi Note 8 Pro launch during the event.

Just a couple of days back we reported about the Redmi 8 and the Redmi Note 8, and now we have some scoop around the Redmi Note 8 Pro. Xiaomi will be bringing its 64-megapixel camera to the Note 8 Pro, which makes a lot of sense. The sub-brand has shared a poster on popular Chinese social network Weibo giving us an early look at the Note 8 Pro. As we can see, the phone will include three vertically aligned cameras at the back with a fourth one placed on the right. There is also a fingerprint scanner which means that the company is not going to bring an in-display fingerprint sensor, which also kind of hints that the phone will make use of an LCD display rather than an OLED.

The poster also confirms that one of the sensors will be a 64-megapixel sensor, the same that the company teased earlier this month. The poster also confirms the fact that the company will introduce the Redmi Note 8 as well.

As the launch date gets closer, more details around the two phones should surface in the coming days.

OnePlus 7 Pro Leaks With Dual-Edge Display, Triple Camera And Special 5G Variant

OnePlus is expected to refresh its flagship device this year and rumours around the upcoming OnePlus 7 are coming in rather frequently. We have multiple leaked cases confirming that the handset will have a full-screen display, triple camera at the back and a pop-up selfie camera. A new leak now suggests that there might be more than one variant of the handset.

According to popular tipster, Ishan Agarwal OnePlus could be working on three variants of the OnePlus 7. These will include the OnePlus 7 itself, the OnePlus 7 Pro, and the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G. Recently the OnePlus 7 Pro was also spotted on Bluetooth SIG certification website. According to Agarwal, the model numbers for the three variants are GM1901, GM1903, and GM1905 for the OnePlus 7, GM1911, GM1913, GM1915, and GM1917 for the OnePlus 7 Pro, and GM1920 for the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G.

A post on Weibo shows a glimpse of the alleged device sporting a dual-edged display, similar to the bunch of Samsung Galaxy flagship devices. The display is notch and hole(s) free just like the leaked OnePlus 7 renders, which means this one will also come with a pop-up selfie camera. There is no photo of the back, so we can’t confirm what kind of primary camera setup it will have. There is however an ‘About Phone’ screen of the alleged OnePlus 7 Pro revealing that the handset will feature a 6.67-inch Super Optic display, a Snapdragon 855 processor, 8GB RAM, 256GB of internal storage, and a triple rear camera setup – with a 48-megapixel sensor, a 16-megapixel sensor, and an 8-megapixel sensor. We can’t vouch for the leaked information, but if we are to believe them, then it will be the first time OnePlus will launch multiple variants of its flagship phone.