Origin Access Now Available In India

Origin Access Now Available In India

A month after being made available in select countries like the US and Canada, Electronic Arts’ Origin Access service is now available in India.

As we reported, it would follow the same pricing as the Xbox One version of the program known as EA Access. Simply put, Rs. 315 per month is what you’ll need to pay for access to the latest and greatest from EA on Windows PCs. There is no annual plan yet, though it’s safe to say it would cost Rs. 1,990 much like it does on the Xbox One.

(Also see: EA Wants to Win PC Gamers Back, but Its Actions Say Otherwise)

Origin Access grants users to a collection of Windows PC games from EA’s catalogue (though there are games from other publishers and developers) as well as giving users access to check out new EA games before they’re released. Also the service lets subscribers save 10 percent on Origin purchases. You can check it out here.

The games playable at the moment are as follows:

  • Battlefield 4
  • Battlefield Hardline Digital Deluxe
  • Battlefield 3
  • SimCity
  • FIFA 15
  • Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare
  • Need for Speed Rivals: Complete Edition
  • Dead Space 3
  • Dragon Age II
  • Dead Space 2
  • Dragon Age: Origins – Ultimate Edition
  • Dead Space
  • The Sims 3 Starter Pack
  • This War of Mine

You can also try out new indie platformer, Unravel and avail of a 10 percent discount if you choose to buy it. Though other regions get Dragon Age: Inquisition, Indian users will not for obvious reasons.

Higher education tie-up on agenda during Japanese PM’s visit to India

Higher education tie-up on agenda during Japanese PM’s visit to IndiaDelhi: Japanese PM Shinzo Abe will arrive in India on December 11 on a three-day visit to hold annual summit talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a focus on forging greater synergies between two major Asian economies and take forward the special strategic ties.

Also on the agenda may be collaboration in higher education between the two countries.

As per a report in Hindustan Times, Japan is keen to attract more Indian students and academics.

As of now, Indian and Japanese universities are already in collaboration but Abe’s visit could lead to inter-government collaboration in the field.

The report also said that an agreement could be signed on promoting the Japanese language in India’s educational institutions.

The Daily quoted sources as saying that the Japanese language could especially be promoted in the IITs.

As per government records, there are just 500 Indian students in Japan.

On the other hand more than 100,000 Indian students enrolled in the US.

A knowledge of Japanese language may help more Indian students to opt for higher education in Japan, especially when the cost of education there is lower compared to US.

Meanwhile, a number of India-Japan education summits reportedly have been planned for the academic year 2016-17.

The visit of Abe is for the Annual Summit meeting with PM Modi.

The summit meeting will be held on December 12 and Abe is likely to visit Varanasi, the Parliamentary constituency of Modi, on the same day, as per PTI.

Modi will accompany Abe during his visit to Varanasi.

During his visit, Abe is expected to go to the Buddhist site Sarnath and also attend theaarti on the banks of river Ganga.

At the last Summit meeting held in Tokyo last year, the two PMs had agreed to elevate the relationship to “Special Strategic and Global Partnership”.

PM Modi had visited Japan from August 30 to September 3 last year.

OnePlus to narrowly miss India smartphone sales target

Chinese smartphone maker OnePlus will miss its target of selling 1 million handsets in India in 2015 – its first year in the country – but not by much, a company executive said.

OnePlus’s high-spec mid-range phones have proven to be a hit, but supply chain issues have limited the company’s ability to take a bigger share of one of the world’s fastest growing smartphone markets.

Even so, India accounts for more than a third of the company’s annual sales.

“In the initial two months, we weren’t able to get stock, due to which we lost almost 6-8 weeks of sales,” Vikas Agarwal, general manager of the company’s India operations, told Reuters.

The company, which sells premium phones at less than half the price of top-end handsets by Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS), launched OnePlus 2 in July and received 5 million registrations globally.

To smooth supply channels and cut production costs, OnePlus entered into an agreement with Foxconn Technology Co Ltd (2354.TW) in October to manufacture phones in India, joining the likes of Gionee and Xiaomi.

But OnePlus’ plans to start selling made-in-India phones by the end of this year will be pushed back slightly due to delays in receiving required certification.

Phones made at the Foxconn facility in SriCity, a special economic zone near the southern Indian city of Chennai, are now expected to go on sale by mid-to-late January, Agarwal said.

Manufacturing in India will help OnePlus and its rivals avoid import taxes and plays into Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plans to reboot manufacturing in the country.

The Foxconn agreement allows for a peak production capacity of 500,000 phones per month.

Agarwal declined to forecast a sales target for India for 2016 but said it would certainly exceed one million.

Founded by Chinese entrepreneur Pete Lau, a former vice president at smartphone maker Oppo, OnePlus started selling phones in India in December last year.

AMAZON TO OLA

Agarwal, sporting a white T-shirt emblazoned with the OnePlus tagline “Never Settle”, spoke extensively about the company’s marketing plans in India.

OnePlus ran a unique one-day marketing blitz on Tuesday that allowed people to order phones through Indian cab-hailing app Ola.

The company plans to roll out more such marketing initiatives, said Agarwal, who joined OnePlus in October last year.

An alumnus of Harvard Business School, Agarwal previously worked at Ivanhoé Cambridge India, a unit of Quebec’s public pension fund manager Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec.

The OnePlus office in Bengaluru occupies half the floor of a building that overlooks a park and boasts a corner office with a great view.

The corner office isn’t Agarwal’s.

It is used by all 20 employees in the office, and by the office puppy – a three-month-old golden retriever called Laila.

Vodafone launches 4G network in India, starts with Kochi

Vodafone, which is one of the world’s largest telecom operators has finally started rolling out its own 4G network in India. On Tuesday, the company announced that it is rolling on its 4G services in the southern Indian city of Kochi, which is in the state of Kerala. Notably, Vodafone is operating on the efficient  1800 mHz band.

“We are delighted to launch our ultrafast 4G services in India that will give customers the power to experience the most advanced wireless broadband experience available across the globe today. As a steadfast partner of Digital India, we remain focused on deploying multiple technologies – be it 2G, 3G and now 4G-for optimum use as  each technology has its own vital role to play in servicing the myriad connectivity needs of consumers across the country,” said Sunil Sood, MD & CEO, Vodafone India.

Vodafone also plans to launch its 4G services in New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, and Kolkata, in the first phase. The company claims that the testing has already commenced in these cities.

For users in Kochi, Vodafone is offering a free upgrade to 4G connectivity along with a 4G SIM. Vodafone has also tied up with Hungama for a content deal, which will allow its users to access more than 7,500 movies for 3 months. They will also get free access to Vodafone Music, which is its music streaming service with more than 1.2 million songs.

Users will also be able to setup mobile hotspots in up to 10 devices. The packages that Vodafone is overing range between Rs 29 per month for 120 MB of data to Rs 2,499 per month for 120GB of data, which isn’t too bad.

Vodafone users can get their SIMs swapped for free immediately at all Vodafone stores. They can also request for the 4G SIM by SMSing “4GSIM to 199. Post paid customers of Vodafone will also get a same day home delivery service for their SIMs, much like the one Airtel is offering.

This comes after Airtel has announced a 60,000 crore investment to improve its infrastructure and announced Pan-India 4G connectivity. Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio is also slated to launch a Pan-India 4G network with a bouquet of content and hardware services.

India’s ‘Replacement GPS’ to Have Better Accuracy: Isro Official

India’s indigenous position determination system being developed by national space agency Isro will serve as a “replacement GPS” for the public with enhanced access in remote areas, an official said in Kolkata on Saturday.

It will also aid in navigation and monitoring of fleet (trucks and ships) movement, the official added.

“We will have our own position determination system using our own navigation constellation, the IRNSS series which will be operational by middle of next year. It is a kind of replacement GPS,” said Deviprasad Karnik, the director, publication and public relations, Isro.

“The US is offering the GPS navigation. IRNSS is indigenous,” he added while talking to reporters Kolkata on the sidelines of a lecture on India’s Space mission and use of Space Technology as a solution to Sustainable challenges of Kolkata’ at Birla Industrial and Technological Museum.

Four of the seven satellites in IRNSS constellation (IRNSS-1A, 1B, 1C, and 1D) are in orbit. Remaining three satellites (IRNSS-1E, 1F and 1G) are targeted for launch during January 2016 to March 2016, he said.

“Once the constellation is completed, we need some time to establish the accuracy part, validation and other things. The advantage is that the navigation range has been designed to span around 1,500 km radius around India,” he said.

“GPS is not available at all places. Signal is weak in remote areas but our own signal will be available in remote areas with better accuracy.”

As an example of the app-based positioning service, Karnik said, it will help in effective management of fleet movement.

“Monitoring and effective management of fleet of trucks or ship monitoring will be done through spacecraft. For example, for ships the system can inform which route will be more effective. That will save time and fuel,” he said.

India Top in Censoring Facebook Content

like_on_hand_instagram.jpg

India once again tops the list of countries where governments make the maximum number of demands to remove content from Facebook, according to a report released by the company.

Notably, there has been a three-fold increase in such demands in the first six months of this year as compared to last year.

According to the data released by Facebook in its biannual government requests report, India made 15,155 demands, outnumbering 92 other countries in the list, Mashable reported.

In comparison, India had made 5,832 requests for content removal between June and December 2014.

The company said the posts were censored to prevent religious unrest in the country and had mostly been reported by government agencies.

“We restricted access in India to content reported primarily by law enforcement agencies and the India Computer Emergency Response Team within the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology because it was anti-religious and hate speech that could cause unrest and disharmony within India,” the report read.

Turkey came second at 4,496 requests followed by France with 295 requests.

India has topped the social network’s content removal list for the third year in running, since it began releasing the data in 2013.

India, Germany Decide to Extend IGSTC Beyond 2017

To enhance cooperation in the field of science and technology, India and Germany on Monday decided to extend the bi-national Indo-German Science & Technology Centre (IGSTC) beyond 2017 with a two-fold increase in funding every year, a move that will help in supporting industrially relevant research and development (R&D) projects.

The move will see the funding going up from EUR 2 million to EUR 4 million in IGSTC projects that have potential to generate novel technologies and new intellectual property in sectors such as advance manufacturing, embedded systems, renewable energy, food security, clean water and health care technologies – all of which are in tune with present national missions of the government of India.

India is the only country with whom Germany has such a bilateral R&D Centre dedicated to promote applied and industrial research. The IGSTC is already supporting 15 joint projects and pro-types of some new technologies have been co-developed in solar-thermal energy, stress tolerant chic-pea variety, and high altitude cold resistance plants.

Vardhan also offered Germany to participate in some of the future mega science projects, which India will be embarking upon.

At the meeting held before the 3rd Indo-German Consultative meeting, Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for S&T, and his German counterpart Johanna Wanka said the two countries would continue to support and strengthen the basic research component of collaboration which will underpin future technology developments.

The Indian side emphasised on new areas such as anti-microbial resistance and regenerative medicine, earth science system including monsoon studies and marine sciences required to understand the climate change process.

India is investing approximately EUR 14 million for the construction of an additional beam line and access to the synchrotron facility at PETRA-III in DESY at Hamburg.

Similarly, India is equity share holder with investment of EUR 36 million in the construction of the international ‘Facility for Antiproton-Ion Research’ (FAIR) at Darmstadt.

These state of art facilities will further enable Indian scientists to conduct high impact and frontier research in material science, nuclear and high energy physics.

Both the Ministers reiterated the need for “concerted effort” to promote exchanges of young scientists and student researchers. To this end, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) through a Letter of Intent agreed to continue the support for participation of 25 Indian science and medical students to the annual Nobel Laureate meet in Lindau.

The two, also echoed that the future cooperation should focus on programmes to promote innovation and techno -entrepreneurship by linking the Small and Medium Enterprises and Start-up enterprises of both the countries in order to make meaningful contribution.

Lenovo Phab Plus With 6.8-Inch Display Available in India

Lenovo’s Phab Plus smartphone, which was unveiled in China in August, has finally made its way to the Indian market via a third-party online retailer. The Lenovo Phab Plus is now available to buy via Amazon India at Rs. 18,490. Unfortunately, there is no official word on the launch of Phab Plus from Lenovo. The smartphone, at the time of writing, was not listed on company’s India site.

The Lenovo Phab Plus smartphone features a 6.8-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixels) display offering a pixel density of 326ppi, the highlight of the smartphone. Lenovo’s new Phab Plus can be expected to compete against Huawei’s Ascend P8max, which also features a similar 6.8-inch full-HD display. Last month, we spent some time with Lenovo’s new Phab Plus at the IFA in Berlin and you can read our first impressions here.

The Lenovo Phab Plus packs a 64-bit octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor clocked at 1.5GHz coupled with an Adreno 405 GPU and 2GB of RAM. The handset features 32GB inbuilt storage and also supports expandable storage support via microSD card.

Running Android 5.0 Lollipop with the Vibe UI skin on top, the Phab Plus sports a 13-megapixel rear camera with dual-LED flash and also comes with a 5-megapixel front camera. The dual-SIM based Phab Plus supports one Micro-SIM card and the other Nano-SIM.

Connectivity options on the new phablet from Lenovo include 4G, 3G, GPS/ A-GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Micro-USB. As of now, there is no word whether the Phab Plus supports Indian LTE bands. Under the hood, Lenovo packs a 3500mAh battery which the company claims can deliver up to 24 hours of talk time and up to 350 hours of standby time. It also features a rear speaker with Dolby Atmos. The Lenovo Phab Plus measures 186.6×96.6×7.6mm and weighs 220 grams. The smartphone will be available in Metallic Grey and Midnight Blue colours. The Phab Plus is currently available via Amazon India.

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Lenovo Phab Plus

Lenovo Phab Plus

Display

6.80-inch

Processor

1.5GHz

Front Camera

5-megapixel

Resolution

1080×1920 pixels

RAM

2GB

OS

Android 5.0

Storage

32GB

Rear Camera

13-megapixel

Battery capacity

3500mAh

India Funding Roundup Chillr, Shopalyst, Eywa Media, FirsTouch, Wydr

Chillr
Mumbai-based Backwater Technologies Pvt. Ltd, makers of Chillr, a smartphone application for P2P money transactions has received Rs 40 crore in funding from venture capital firm Sequoia, ET reported. The Chillr App lets users send or receive money with phonebook contacts without having to know their account number, IFSC code, or requiring an OTP SMSs. The full set of features of the app are presently available only to HDFC Bank and Bank of Baroda customers on Android, iOS, and Windows. Other bank customers can only receive money.

Shopalyst
Bengaluru-based Shopalyst, founded by four veterans from Infosys in 2014 has has reportedly raised $2 million (roughly Rs. 13 crores) in funding from VC firm Kalaari Capital. Its flagship product Shortlyst enables publishers and developers to add in-app buy buttons enabling retailers to sell their products directly in the apps.

Eywa Media
Eywa Media Innovations Pvt Ltd, a data analytics startup that provides digital signal processing solutions for broadcasters, has raised $1 million (roughly Rs. 6.6 crores) in seed funding from ah! Ventures, PE fund Viktor Koenig and Mantra Ventures. The Bengaluru-based firm uses analytics and audio detection technologies to improve audience interaction and measurement engagement.

FirsTouch
Mumbai-based MoFirst Solutions, makers of FirsTouch OS, which claims to be India’s first regional smartphone operating system has reportedly received funding from angel investors. The Firstouch OS, built on Android features a virtual keyboard that supports 10 Indian languages, with Matra and word predictions.

Wydr

Droom founder and ex-Shopclues CEO Sandeep Aggarwal has invested an undisclosed amount inWydr, which claims to be India’s first performance based wholesale marketplace. The company is reportedly in talks with potential investors for another funding round of $2 million (roughly Rs. 13 crores).

Facebook Lite for Android Made for India

While phone makers are now launching 4G handsets and companies like Airtel and Reliance working towards bringing the networks in India, you might think that there’s no need for apps that minimise data use. The fact of the matter though is that even in a metro like Delhi, 3G access depends greatly on which part of the city you’re in at the time.

That’s where Facebook Lite for Android comes into the picture. The app was launched in Asia earlier this month, and on Monday, Facebook Lite became available in India.

Facebook Lite is available on Google Play and it is just 435KB in size, runs on Android 2.2 and above, so even if you’re using an older phone, you can probably take advantage of the application. According to Shankar, Facebook Lite was designed to solve two challenges – 2G Internet and low-end smartphones – and based on our experience with the app, it seems to have accomplished those goals.

What is Facebook Lite?
As the name suggests, Facebook Lite is a light version of Facebook. It looks like an old version of the Facebook app, with blocky looks and limited features. The full-fledged Facebook app has large cards with neat gutters, expands all pictures and fills up your screen, supports gestures to move between the different Facebook functions.

Facebook Lite on the other hand shows all these previews at a much smaller size, and when we were using it on a 2G network, images took forever to show up. The difference between how posts are displayed between the two versions of Facebook is dramatic, and it’s definitely much more appealing to use Facebook on the full application.

facebook_lite_example.jpgOne other thing we noticed as soon as we started the application is that the Facebook logo is absolutely tiny, and this continued as we used the app too – images attached to posts are tiny thumbnails, filling the width of the screen, and they load after you tap on them. On the full Facebook application, images are much bigger, and they’re likely being preloaded, because they popped up in full size as soon as we tapped on the thumbs. The catch is that you’re pre-loading a lot of images you might not want to click on, using a lot of your mobile data along the way.

facebook_example.jpgShankar also points out that in the Facebook Lite settings, you can also choose the image quality, between low, medium and high. Facebook uses proprietary compression algorithms to deliver the images at the desired size, without losing too much visible quality.

Overall, the experience of using Facebook Lite is a lot less refined than the full version, but you’re able to see posts and links more quickly while on the road, and you’re using less mobile data to do so as well. All the features you’d expect – the news feed, friend requests, messages, notifications, and search, all show up. You can easily post status updates, or photos, just like you can on the full application. Messenger is built right into Facebook Lite, so you don’t need to have Facebook Messenger installed to chat anymore.

How well did it perform on 2G?
While it’s less refined, Facebook Lite loaded up posts much more quickly than the full version of the app when we switched to Edge connectivity. Usually, when we’re on the road in remote areas, we give up on Facebook because it’s almost certainly not going to load more posts.

The experience with Facebook Lite was a lot closer to using that other social network – Twitter. There are still problems, and posts still take some time to load. Images don’t pop up right away, and take even more time to load. But it does show you new posts and you can at least read what people are saying while you wait for a picture to load, which is a step forward.

Doing all this required some sacrifices. For one thing, the app does not support videos yet, though that is on the roadmap, according to Shankar. It also doesn’t support advanced location features – basically anything that requires the GPS. And while you can post comments on updates and pictures, you can’t reply to comments for now. And while the main Facebook app allows you to work offline, and make post updates when it connects to a network, Facebook Lite does not have this feature.

facebook_lite_settings.jpgWho should use this?
If you’re using an older Android phone, or if you bought a budget Android device, then the amount of storage available will can often be quite limited.

In such a case, the small size of Facebook Lite might actually be a big plus point, and you might be willing to sacrifice a little bit of the polish of Facebook, but an app that actually works smoothly and loads quickly on your phone which also frees up a lot of space. While Facebook Lite takes less than 1MB, Facebook can be a lot bigger – a few random checks all turned up usage of over 150MB. Smaller footprint also means that app updates take less data.

But the most important thing was that Facebook Lite uses less data. Facebook says that the app gives a reliable experience, even when bandwidth is at a minimum.

That means that if you’ve already started using an LTE connection on your flagship Android phone with a quad-HD screen, then you should will probably find this app boring and pointless. If you spend most of your time at home or in office, with a steady Wi-Fi connection, then you can probably give this app a miss.

On the other hand, if you’re on the move a lot and travel in areas where getting a 3G signal is still a rare thing, or if you’re trying to reduce the data usage you see for Facebook, then this app will be appealing.

On a smaller, lower resolution screen, the difference between the two versions of Facebook wasn’t so pronounced, so you might prefer it if you have an older device, or if you bought a budget phone. And as we mentioned, it will probably be a good idea if you’re using a phone with limited storage space as well.

The app isn’t for everybody, but frankly, the number of people with good connectivity and high-end devices is definitely smaller than people with spotty Internet access and entry-level devices. Based on that, launching Facebook Lite seems like a great move, and will likely find plenty of takers in India.