WhatsApp Web Will Soon Get Picture-in-Picture Mode, ‘Reply Privately’ Option: Report

WhatsApp seems to be planning to add Picture-in-Picture mode to the Web client, a few months after the feature was rolled out to mobile devices across the world. The WhatsApp Web feature will be rolled out with a future update, which is said to be adding an option for users to reply to messages privately in group messages. For now, the feature is not available to download, but may be rolled out soon. Earlier this month, WhatsApp was found to include a ‘Restricted Groups’ settings to help administrators restrict group members from sending text messages, photographs, video, GIFs, documents, or voice messages.

WhatsApp Web Picture-in-Picture mode

According to a brief report by WABetaInfo, which is a popular source for unannounced WhatsApp features, the company has submitted the version 0.2.7315 of its Web client that includes the two new features. The first in the series is the Picture-in-Picture mode that lets users watch videos in a separate pop-up screen that includes controls such as a play/ pause button, volume controller, and timeline slider. A new icon apparently enables the Picture-in-Picture video content in a new screen to let you continue your chat or any other work on the existing screen. The new video-centric feature appears to work similar to the Picture-in-Picture mode available on the mobile versions of WhatsApp that was debuted in September.

whatsapp picture in picture wabetainfo WhatsApp Picture-in-Picture WhatsApp

WhatsApp Web with Picture-in-Picture mode
Photo Credit: WABetaInfo

WhatsApp Reply Privately option
Alongside the new mode, the reported WhatsApp Web update includes a ‘Reply Privately’ option that allows you to communicate with one of your group members privately. As per the screenshot provided by the folks at WABetaInfo, the new option will be available alongside the existing ‘Reply’ and ‘Forward message’ options and will quote the group message alongside your private message. It is expected that the new ability to privately send messages to group members would also soon debut on WhatsApp for Android/ iOS.

The said features are not currently available on WhatsApp Web but are likely to go live on the Web-based interface in the near future.

 

WhatsApp Web Reportedly Getting Picture-in-Picture Mode, ‘Reply Privately’ Option

Months after adding it to mobile devices, WhatsApp is now said to be bringing its Picture-in-Picture mode to desktops through a new update to the WhatsApp Web client. The new update is also reported to add the option to let users privately reply to a message they received in a group. Earlier this month, WhatsApp was found to include a ‘Restricted Groups’ settings to help administrators restrict group members from sending text messages, photographs, video, GIFs, documents, or voice messages.

According to a brief report by WABetaInfo, which is a popular source for unannounced WhatsApp features, the WhatsApp team has submitted the version 0.2.7315 of its Web client that includes the two new features. The first in the series is the Picture-in-Picture mode that lets users watch videos in a separate pop-up screen that includes controls such as a play/ pause button, volume controller, and timeline slider. A new icon apparently enables the Picture-in-Picture video content in a new screen to let you continue your chat or any other work on the existing screen. The new video-centric feature appears to work similar to the Picture-in-Picture mode available on the mobile versions of WhatsApp that was debuted in September.

whatsapp picture in picture wabetainfo WhatsApp Picture-in-Picture WhatsApp

WhatsApp Web with Picture-in-Picture mode
Photo Credit: WABetaInfo

Alongside the new mode, the reported WhatsApp Web update includes a ‘Reply privately’ option that allows you to communicate with one of your group members privately. As per the screenshot provided by the folks at WABetaInfo, the new option will be available alongside the existing ‘Reply’ and ‘Forward message’ options and will quote the group message alongside your private message. It is expected that the new ability to privately send messages to group members would also soon debut on WhatsApp for Android/ iOS.

The said features are not currently available on WhatsApp Web but are likely to go live on the Web-based interface in the near future.

 

Sachin Saga Cricket Champions Review

A game that lets you relive the career of Sachin Tendulkar, one of the most prolific batsmen cricket has ever seen, is bound to be extremely popular in India, where the Master Blaster has a massive fan following. The game is free to download for Android and iOS, and when you put all of these elements together, you know that this is a recipe for huge success in India. That was our mindset when we started playing Sachin Saga Cricket Champions, but unfortunately the game isn’t the polished masterpiece that we wanted to see.

Sachin Saga Cricket Champions has the official blessing of the cricketer, which is how the game uses his name and likeness. This is pretty much the biggest selling point of the game, and will draw a lot of people to it. Sachin Saga greets you with a tutorial that briefs you about the basics — a short swipe is a defensive stroke, long swipe is an attacking stroke, and a normal swipe will play a regular stroke. The controls are quite responsive and we faced no issues with them. The game begins in Legend mode, which is where you’ll be replaying famous matches from Sachin’s career. This starts with domestic cricket matches and takes you through his international career.

We really wanted to like this game mode but it got tiring really fast. While each scenario features a different opposition, it began to feel repetitive by the time we reached the tenth scenario. In each case you’ll be tasked with scoring some runs within a specific amount of overs without getting out. Some scenarios will be clearly described as a Test match where Tendulkar batted to earn India a draw, but the target will be something like: “Score 50 runs in 10 overs.” This doesn’t make much sense as ideally the target should be to survive X number of overs to save the match.

In every scenario, the AI bowlers do the same things. There’s no variation in bowling to make you feel like you’re facing entirely different teams. Facing the fearsome pace attack of Pakistan in the 90s should ideally feel a lot different than facing the mediocre bowlers of the Ranji Trophy team of Delhi, but it doesn’t. That’s why this game mode falls flat an hour after you start playing.

You can only play as Tendulkar in this mode and the game takes some generous liberties here. Even if Tendulkar scores one run and goes to the other end, he will face the next delivery, when ideally the non-striker should be doing so. Still, this mode is all about Tendulkar, so it’s acceptable.

sachin saga cricket champions sachin_saga_cricket_champions

Sachin Saga Cricket Champions also has all the annoying free-to-play elements that we’ve come to expect from the most popular mobile games. Got out? You can watch an unskippable ad to play that ball again. Each legend mode match costs one energy point to play, and the bar recharges whenever you level up, otherwise you get one energy point every 30 minutes. You can buy unlimited energy for 450 gems, which you can purchase for around Rs. 250. The game also has other consumables such as Event Tickets, Coins, and Starter Packs.

That brings us to the Events mode in Sachin Saga Cricket Champions. This is ‘inspired’ by FIFA Ultimate Team, where you get to pick a squad of 11 players and achieve targets in matches — essentially score a certain number of runs in four overs. Every event lasts for a limited time, such as 48 hours, and if you win the most number of games within that time, then you can top the online leaderboard for big rewards, such as new players, Coins, Event Tickets, and so on. To enter any event, you need Event Tickets, which you can buy using Coins, which you earn in Legend mode (or buy with real money via the in-app store).

It’s easy to guess that to win these rewards, you will have to pay, simply because the top scores are just way too high for people to achieve without paying. Are the rewards really worth it? We don’t think so. This is exactly the kind of thing that makes us suspect that the game was built for maximum monetisation rather than a good gameplay experience.

There are a bunch of things that the Sachin Saga Cricket Champions could’ve featured instead of this Events mode, one of them being bowling. The developers have said that bowling will be added to the game later, but the current state of the game makes us worry whether it’ll be any good. We say this because of numerous technical flaws that we noticed in the game.

sachin saga cricket champions pre match

The biggest of these is run-outs. When there’s an appeal for a run-out that gets referred to the third umpire, the game shows a replay on a big screen (full of sponsor logos) in the stadium. The replay doesn’t accurately reflect the batsman’s position at the time of the run-out. When playing the game, many times we noticed that the batsman was too far from the crease in the replay, but much closer during gameplay. Quite a few times, the replay showed a completely different sequence — the batsman had made it to safety before the bails were whipped, but the replay showed him outside and hence he was declared out.

We also noticed that the ball often conveniently teleports itself to the middle of the bat right before you hit some shots. If you pay attention to the ball, you’ll see that it’s often going to miss your bat but somehow you end up timing it perfectly, which is perplexing. There’s another big bug when you’re running between the wickets. Once the batsmen cross the halfway point, hit the Cancel Run button on screen. Both players will return to their original positions and yet you’ll see one run being added to the scoreboard.

The problems don’t end there. Commentary sounds good for the first five minutes, and then you’ll realise that there are about ten phrases repeated over and over, which gets annoying really fast. The fielding AI is very bad too as you’ll regularly see fielders running in slow motion behind the ball instead of diving to cut it off. The developers have also used a few shortcuts — fielders will always score a direct hit and they’ll always throw at Tendulkar’s end in the Legend mode. The game doesn’t even have a practice mode where you can improve your batting skills.

All of these things make Sachin Saga Cricket Champions almost feel like a beta build of the game. The game is very buggy, lacks basic features such as a practice mode or bowling, and it gets repetitive way too soon. There are two things this game has done well — getting Sachin Tendulkar’s official license, and throwing in aggressive monetisation tactics. Thanks to the license, this game will likely find a lot of takers but we strongly feel that these players deserve a lot more than the unfinished beta that is Sachin Saga Cricket Champions.

Pros

  • Sachin Tendulkar
  • Historically accurate Legend mode

Cons

  • Major bugs
  • No bowling or practice mode
  • Stale gameplay
  • Poorly thought out Events mode
  • Aggressive monetisation

Overall rating (out of 10): 3

Gadgets 360 played Sachin Saga Cricket Champions on a Samsung Galaxy S8. The game is available for free (with ads and in-app purchases) via Google Play and the App Store.

Windows 10 could introduce smart tricks for ‘always connected’ laptops

The next major update for Windows 10 (likely to emerge next spring) may well yield better power management functionality – and therefore boosted battery life for notebooks. On top of that, it’s expected to enable seamless set-up of a mobile data plan on a laptop that boosts cellular connectivity.

The latter will obviously be a boon when it comes to the ‘always connected’ Qualcomm-powered notebooks (powered by Snapdragon 835 chips with integrated LTE) which were unveiled earlier this week.

As ZDNet reports, all this comes from slides revealed at the recent WinHEC workshop in Taipei. Some LTE-toting notebooks already come with bundled SIM cards (or options for them), but the idea with the next version of Windows 10 will be to introduce a full ‘consumer eSIM’ capability. (An eSIM is an embedded SIM card, built into the device so you don’t have to mess around swapping fiddly little bits of plastic as per the traditional SIM model).

What that means is you’ll be able to seamlessly hook up your Windows 10 tablet or laptop with a data plan from your mobile carrier, with the ability to grab an eSIM profile straight from the cloud. As ZDNet clarifies, you won’t need any in-store activation to use this functionality, and it sounds like it’ll be a truly no-fuss procedure.

It’s certainly a neat idea, although there will be caveats, such as it only being available in certain geographical markets, and it will also be dependent on mobile carriers as well.

On the business front, an enterprise eSIM will also be piloted, allowing companies to purchase bundled-together subscriptions for multiple staff members, utilizing device management capabilities for easy deployment across the workforce.

Power to the people

As we mentioned at the outset, the other interesting development unearthed pertains to power management, and a considerable boost is expected on this front in the next big update for Windows 10.

Specifically, Microsoft said that it was working closely with Intel (note that there will be ‘always connected’ PCs built around Intel chips as well as Qualcomm) to push forward with driving the ‘accelerated readiness’ of Modern Standby devices.

Any power-efficiency improvements will obviously be very welcome for all notebooks in terms of extending battery life. Qualcomm-powered ‘always connected’ laptops are already set to offer a claimed battery life of up to 20 hours when these devices launch in the spring of next year, possibly to coincide with 2018’s first big Windows 10 update.

Apparently both Microsoft and Intel are also keen to get Modern Standby going on desktop PCs and not just laptops, with a ‘Wake-on Remote Desktop’ feature planned for jolting your machine into action in order to use it from a remote location.

Just a few months ago, Microsoft was pushing to boost battery longevity for portables with Windows 10. So, this news that said laptops should last even longer should come as music to users’ ears.

Android 7 Nougat release date: when you’ll get the update and every new feature

Latest news: Android 8 Oreo is also out now, so we expect to see a lot of manufacturers focusing efforts on updating devices to the newer software rather than Android 7. We will keep this list up to date with the latest Nougat information as and when we have it.

Android Nougat was Google’s big refresh of its phone and tablet operating system in 2016. Android is an OS that’s been so thoroughly refined that the company is now more than halfway through the alphabet with names.

It hasn’t stopped at Nougat either as there’s now the eighth iteration of Google’s OS called Android Oreo. That is out now for a select number of devices, so it may be worth checking whether your phone is ready to upgrade to even newer software.

Google released the latest version of Nougat as Android 7.1.2 software in July 2017, and many phones are still being upgraded to it now. There’s a good chance your phone already has the latest Android Nougat software update waiting, or it’s coming very soon.

Below we’ve listed all of the devices we know have the update already and the latest information on when it will launch. That said, you need to bear in mind the official release date for the update won’t always be reflected in the software update section on your phone.

Manufacturers decide when the software is ready to rollout, but mobile carriers and networks can also cause delays to an update so it may be worth checking with your phone provider if the update isn’t ready for you yet.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The second most recent version of Google’s mobile OS
  • When is it out? Right now, but you’ll need to wait for some devices though
  • When will I get it? Dependent on your phone and tablet maker, read on below
  • What will it cost? The best news is it’s free

Android Nougat release date

Android Nougat is out right now, but when you’ll get the upgrade is going to dependent on your device. The release date is rather staggered.

It’s came pre-loaded on the Google Pixel and Google Pixel XL and it’s available to download on Google-made devices like the Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6, Nexus 9, Google Pixel C, and the Nexus Player. That said, Android Oreo is also ready for these devices too.

Sadly, if you have a Nexus 5, you’re going to miss out on the Android Nougat upgrade altogether. It misses Google’s two-year cut off by a year. But it’ll still get another year of Google’s all-important security patches.

Samsung, LG, HTC and other phone makers, meanwhile, have to rework their own version of the software and push it out to users, and that can take months. We’ve listed below the devices we know about:

Samsung phones with Android Nougat

Samsung has updated a variety of its devices to Android Nougat including the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge. The update is also ready and waiting on the Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 Edge and Galaxy S6 Edge+.

Those who own the Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) or Galaxy A7 (2017) can download Android 7 right now to their devices, but if you own the Samsung Galaxy A8 or Galaxy A5 (2017) you won’t be able to get the update yet.

All of these software updates may hold you over until you decide to buy the Samsung Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8 Plus and Galaxy Tab S3, all of which come with Android Nougat pre-loaded.

LG phones with Android Nougat

LG technically launched the first Android Nougat phone back in September 2016 with the LG V20. But that was a ‘world’s first’ title only South Koreans benefited from initially.

Thinking of upgrading to the LG G6? Well, everyone, right away, can get in on the Android Nougat action that way. It launched with the Android 7.0, the AI helper Google Assistant and a killer 18:9 screen in a slim body.

Both the LG V20 and LG G6 came running Android 7 software out of the box, but LG G5 owners yearning for the same Nougat update need to check the Software Update menu right now. It’s available for all G5 phones. The LG V10 also has the update to Android 7 ready and waiting.

Things are still moving slowly for the LG G4, which is now confirmed to receive Android Nougat but it’s low-priority for the 2015 phone so those who have that may have to wait a while longer.

Sony phones with Android Nougat

Sony’s Xperia XZ Premium launched with Android 7.1 software onboard, but you can now get the most recent Oreo software on it too. What about the older range of Sony phones though?

The Xperia X Performance, Xperia X, Xperia X Compact, Xperia XA, Xperia XA Ultra and Xperia XZ are now up to date with Android 7.0 Nougat. Even older phones like the Sony Xperia Z5, Xperia Z5 Premium, Xperia Z5 Compact and the Xperia Z3+ all have Android Nougat and so does the Xperia Z4 Tablet.

You won’t find it on the Xperia Z3. It’s an odd twist, for sure. While we were surprised to see Sony weigh into the Android Nougat developer with the Z3, it didn’t follow through with the full Nougat upgrade for this phone.

HTC phones with Android Nougat

If you’ve bought an HTC phone launched in the past year or two, you may have access to Android Nougat already. It launched on the HTC U Ultra and U Play and it’s not rolling out to unlocked HTC 10, One A9 and One M9 handsets in the US and UK. While the update was delayed in the rest of Europe, everyone there should have it now, too.

HTC had confirmed it would bring the Google update to the HTC 10, One A9 and One M9 by the end of the 2016. It didn’t make that deadline everywhere. But, it’s here now and that’s all that matters.

Android Nougat isn’t available for HTC One M8 and never will be. HTC told TechRadar that it will not get the latest upgrade. You’re going to have to buy a new phone for this update.

Motorola phones with Android Nougat

Motorola has now confirmed which phones it will upgrade to Android 7, and its list of phones is rather long.

Android Nougat is out for the Moto Z and Moto Z Force, and it also launched on the Moto Z Play – both the unlocked and Verizon versions of the battery-life-focused smartphone.

Nougat also launched for the Moto G5 Plus and Moto G5, which came out after the update, plus you can also get Android 7 for the Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus.

Its X-series phones – like the Moto X Style, Moto X Play and Moto X Force – also have the update now, as well as Verizon’s Droid Turbo 2, and stay tuned for updates on the Droid Maxx 2.

Huawei phones with Android Nougat

So far the Huawei Mate 9, Mate 8 and P9 have all been upgraded to Android 7 software upgrade, while 2017’s P10 comes with it onboard straight away.

The Chinese manufacturer has updated the Huawei P9 Plus, P9 Lite and the Huawei Nova while the Huawei Nova Plus update isn’t yet set.

The Huawei P8 won’t be getting the upgrade to EMUI 5.0 (which comes with Android 7 features). It looks like both of those phones are set to be left behind, despite being quite recent devices.

Honor phones with Android Nougat

The Honor 8 and Honor 6X now have the Android Nougat update while those with an Honor 5C will have to wait a bit longer.

OnePlus phones with Android Nougat

OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T both have Android Nougat 7.0, but if you own a OnePlus One or a OnePlus 2 you’ll miss out.

ZTE phones with Android Nougat

Android 7.0 Nougat is now on the ZTE Axon 7 and it gets owners of this unlocked phone a way to step into virtual reality with Daydream VR compatibility.

Axon 7 was the first Android Nougat phone to be “Daydream-ready,” and while phones like the Google Pixel and Moto Z launched with the VR software first, ZTE has made good on its promise.

Other phones with Android Nougat

BlackBerry has confirmed it won’t be upgrading the Priv to Android 7 software and there has been no confirmation whether the DTEK50 from BlackBerry will get the update either.

Bluecoins App on Android Is Great for Travellers Who Need To Track Their Budget

There are a lot of ways to track your finances using your smartphone. Expense diaries that let you log your spending are nothing new, and they come with a number of financial planning features including analytics that make them quite useful. I’ve personally become very reliant on apps that automatically track your spending by reading bank SMS updates, and these are really a great option. Then I had to travel out of the country for a while without international roaming, and that meant no more SMS updates, rendering the automatic tracking featured useless.

Instead, I realised I had to manually track every spend, and that’s were things started to get a little complicated. Especially because my spending was happening in both dollars and rupees, using a mixture of cash, a forex card, and my debit card. It became hard to properly keep track of everything in multiple currencies with the apps I had been using already.

Hence began my search for a new expense tracking app and I had a few requirements in mind. First, the app had to work offline since I didn’t have Wi-Fi everywhere I go. Second, it had to support entries in multiple currencies – if I make a payment to the local burger store in dollars using cash, then take an Uber and pay the fare using an Indian debit card so I am charged in rupees, and then watch a movie where I pay through my forex card, paying in dollars again, I should be able to track it all together. Reconciling this into a single account manually is confusing and the app should be able to handle this. Finally, I wanted an app that looks good, is easy to use, and provides useful analysis.

I tried using the various money tracking apps that we had tested in the past to see if any had updates that met all three criteria. After that, I tried out a number of newer apps as well. After about a week of testing, and juggling multiple expense tracking apps, I finally found a favourite – Bluecoins.

Although I really liked Bluecoins, it’s important to point out that it isn’t the only app that I found useful, and if it’s not the right one for you, then there are a few others you should try out. Some of the other contenders are Pocket Expense (Android | iOS), Toshl Finance (Android | iOS), and Expensify (Android | iOS), all with their own pros and cons. That said, here’s why Bluecoins has become my top pick, and is going to be my go-to application for tracking spends while I’m traveling (and perhaps even afterwards).

bluecoins convert bluecoins

The first thing that I noticed about Bluecoins is how simple it is to use. Just tap a button, enter the amount, add a label, and it’s done. Many other apps are like that but Bluecoins stands out because simplicity doesn’t come at the cost of functionality. The app actually shows a very detailed demo mode on first run, where the app has already been filled out with a lot of data. This way, you can explore the different features such as the summary, reminders, balance sheet, and so forth. It also asks for a default currency, which can later be changed in settings.

The first thing to do is add accounts – things like cash in hand, bank balance, and so on. This is all done manually so I just entered in the details, and then once I started spending it became easy to track how much money was still available, and where. Like we mentioned before, adding expenses as they happen is quite straightforward. There’s a big ‘+’ sign at the bottom right corner of the screen. To add an expense, just tap that and then enter a name, and the amount, and then add the category, and where you’re paying from. This is all pretty easy to do and you can also attach a photo of the bill at this point.

When entering the amount, the app also shows a handy calculator view – so if you want to put different cab bills together in a single entry, for example, you could just total them up directly at this point. On the right, the currency is shown in a big button. Tapping that changes the currency for each transaction – so although my default currency is rupees, I can change it to dollars to match my spending, instead of having to do any conversions. In the settings you can mark it to remember the last currency used, which I’ve turned on, or you can have it switch to your default for every new transaction if you prefer.

There’s also a travel mode – this assigns the travel label by default to all new transactions. What’s the benefit of this? If I had already been using Bluecoins at home, ahead of my travel, then I would have found this handy. The way it works is to create a special label for when you’re traveling, and then it automatically applies that label to all new entries. Then, if you want to see the money you’ve spent while travelling, you can just check by the label, rather than having to manually track entries.

bluecoins add bluecoinsYou can add up expenses before entering them

Bluecoins automatically shows the latest exchange rate, so I can see the amount I just spent in dollars, along with the rupee equivalent right away. This feature works offline, but it needs to connect to the Internet periodically to update the conversion rate.

All of this is possible using the free version of the app. Extra features can be unlocked via an in-app purchase for $6.49, or Rs. 418.85 in India, which I didn’t find necessary for my usage. The free version is limited to 13 accounts and 30 categories of spending, but since I’m currently using this only for travel, didn’t come anywhere near hitting those limits. The other big advantage that the paid version has is SMS banking notifications – so it can automatically record transactions and offer bill reminders with notifications for due bills and credit card payments.  The paid version is also ad-free, but the ads in the free version are pretty discreet and they didn’t bother me.

Five Android Apps That Can Automatically Track Your Spending

These are useful features and I’ve had a good experience with Bluecoins, so after the travel is over, I’m going to purchase the premium upgrade, and enable these features as well, and see how it does as my only expense tracking application. From the perspective of simple tracking for travel though, I already love it with just the free mode. You can download Bluecoins for Android and try it out for yourself.

Google Go App: How Is It Different From the ‘Main’ Google App?

At the Google for India 2017 event in New Delhi on Tuesday, the search giant released the Google Go app, a streamlined version of the original Google app. The new app is touted to make discovering, exploring, and sharing on the Web “easy and fast”, and will come preloaded on Android Go devices. It also comes in less than 5MB of file size that makes it suitable for devices with lesser internal storage. We put the app to the test to see how it measures out, and whether it is a good enough option. Here our first impressions that highlight all the key features of the Google Go app, and how it is different from the flagship Google app.

As Google VP of Engineering Shahidhar Thakur stated at the sidelines of Google for India, the prime aim of developing Google Go is to help new smartphone users “come on the Internet”, and help them access the Web easily. “We gathered feedback from 100 of Indian cities to make the power of the Internet accessible for new users through Google Go,” said Thakur. Unlike the original Google app that uses system’s default language, the Google Go app allows you to choose an additional language apart from English, in order to search in a localised way. There are language options like Bangla, Hindi, Nepali, and Punjabi, among others. The app also has some international languages such as Afrikaans, Deutsch, and Filipino. There is also a language “chip”, which is a one-tap button available at the bottom of the search results that helps you switch from default English results to the ones in your preferred additional language.

In addition to the additional language support, the Google Go app has a Data Usage feature that, once enabled, helps you to load a lighter version of webpages using Google’s Weblight project. Google says that the app is designed to consume 40 percent fewer data. During our testing on a 3G network, we found that the app generates search results in a couple of milliseconds. We also noticed the reduced impact on memory after switching from the original Google app to Google Go. While the flagship app consumed over 330MB memory on average in three-hour span on our Oreo-running smartphone, the lightweight Go version used merely 32MB in the same time frame and on the same device.

As Google Go is primarily targeting the users who are new to the Internet, it has a simple, “tap-first” interface that doesn’t require much typing on the screen. There is a unified screen that welcomes you with major Google services such as Search and Voice search. There is a search bar near the bottom of the screen, with a dedicated button for voice search. Tapping on the search bar shows what’s all in trend at the moment. This means that you don’t need to type any trending topic, and just a tap takes you to its Web results.google go screenshot 073317 183355 4436 Google Go GoogleTapping on the search bar shows what’s trending at the moment. This means that you don’t need to type any trending topic, and just a tap takes you to its search results. The app also allows you to share your searches with a single tap. Likewise, your search history is available in the form of chips just alongside the Share button. If you want to get notified of updates to your search results, the app also has an option to send you push notifications. This means you can get real-time updates on topics that are developing, such as election results or cricket scores.

Apart from that, there is also access to Images and GIFs that you can share with your friends with a couple of taps. Similarly, you can access YouTube, Weather, Google Translate, or Maps directly from the Google Go home screen. The app opens the relevant apps if they are already installed on your device. Otherwise, it loads their Web versions natively.

Do ‘Lite’ Android Apps for Entry Level Phones Involve Much Compromise?

If you don’t want to access any Google services, Google Go also has shortcuts of popular websites, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Once again, these shortcuts take you to the sites directly from the Google Go app or open the third-party apps if they’re installed on your smartphone. You can also replace these shortcuts with your favourite sites, just like you can change the homepage items in Chrome browser. Additionally, the app lists categories such as Social, Entertainment, Sports, News, and Shopping; each of which has different sites.

The overall user interface of Google Go is sleek and clean, with circular icons – matching the default icon pack on Android Oreo – and a light theme. You can also customise the experience a bit by adding your custom app background.

All in all, Google Go is a must-have app for all first-time smartphone users. It neither consumes a lot of storage space nor spends a large amount of data. Yet, the app offers a one-stop solution to search online as well as access various Google services and sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter with few taps on the screen – without typing much through a virtual keyboard. The available additional language support also brings the Web world closer to all non-English speaking mobile users.

You can experience the changes for yourself by downloading Google Go on your Android device from Google Play right now. The app is compatible with devices running Android 4.3 and above and is initially available as a preview in India and Indonesia.

We discussed Google’s announcements for India, including Google Maps’ two-wheeler mode, Android Oreo Go, and Google Tez on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast. You can listen to it via Apple Podcasts or RSS or just listen to this episode by hitting the play button below.

Hooq Aims to Take on Hotstar, Netflix, and Prime Video With Pay-per-View Content and Hindi Dubs

With the recent proliferation of video streaming services in India, it’s sometimes hard to remember that the space is still very nascent. Not too long ago, consumers didn’t have a lot to choose from, and the few options that did exist were either too expensive, or had really small catalogues. So when Hooq launched in India nearly three years ago promising to bring the best of Hollywood to your home at just Rs. 199 per month, it was offering something new and different. A lot has changed since then, with the likes of Hotstar and Amazon Prime Video having established themselves in the same space, while Netflix has slotted into the premium end of the market.

Hotstar benefits from exclusive Disney and HBO content, while Amazon Prime and Netflix both have their own range of must-watch originals. To find its place in the market, Hooq has worked on its pricing, with a Rs 89 three-month subscription plan effectively making it the most affordable subscription option with a large Hollywood catalogue. Hooq has also bolstered its library with popular shows like The Big Bang Theory that aren’t available on the other platforms. But more than this, Hooq is betting on dubbed content, says Salil Kapoor, who heads the company’s India operations.

“The overall OTT space in India, about a year, year and a half ago, got pretty crowded, with 25-plus players,” says Kapoor. “When we had announced our plans to come in, after that we had Hotstar acquiring cricket rights, two global biggies coming in, and the local telcos also getting into the space.” That’s right, apart from the aforementioned trio, and a host of local players ranging from Eros Now to Hungama and Spuul on the one hand, telcos with their own offerings like Airtel Movies and Jio Cinema on the other.

To do well in such a market, getting the right content is critical, and according to Kapoor, in India, the right content strategy needs to stand on four basic pillars. “You need Hollywood, Bollywood, local regional, and sports,” says Kapoor. “Someone who has to play here has to have very good content in all four, and that was looking to become very expensive.”

hooq

“And most of the Indian market is still on the AVOD [ad-supported video on demand] side of things,” he adds. “So we needed to look at which vertical to focus on. We identified Hollywood, because we have strength in Hollywood, and it would narrow the competitive landscape.”

The problem with focussing on Hollywood is that you’re competing with the biggest global players, and you’re all fighting over the relatively small audience in India that seeks entertainment in English. Hooq sidestepped this problem with a focus on dubbed content.

“We decided that while we focus on Hollywood, we need to build up local scale, and that’s why we started to focus on the dubbed part, while being able to focus on Hollywood,” says Kapoor, adding, “Hollywood content in local languages gives you an edge over others.”

Although this means that the shows and movies that are a part of your Hooq subscription are also available in Hindi (and other Indian languages), the big seller, according to Kapoor is pay-per-view. “We have this feature called Transactional VoD, where you can watch any latest movie for Rs. 59, even if you’re not a subscriber,” explains Kapoor, “and that includes movies like Wonder Woman, Dunkirk, and so on.” The app also allows you to download movies and watch them later if you want.

This means that if you’re someone in a small town where Dunkirk may not have been released at all, you can now watch the film in a language of your choice for a fairly reasonable price. However, since Hooq itself doesn’t do the dubbing in most cases, you are restricted to movies that saw a theatrical release in India in that language. This means your choice for most popular Hollywood movies you can choose between the likes of Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu.

wonder woman story 1496380601164 Wonder Woman

According to Kapoor, Hooq sees most demand for Hindi, followed by Tamil and Telugu. “We also do subtitling on our own, but our experience tells us that dubs are more popular in India as compared to subs, which are more popular in other South East Asian countries,” he says. “Some of those countries prefer subtitles in English, some in their local language, but in India, dubbing is most relevant.”

In case a film wasn’t released with Hindi audio, Hooq is willing to do the dubbing itself, but it has to be done with approval from the studio, he adds, because it’s an IP issue. “The content is the only product that they have and they want to be very, very sure that the quality is maintained for the brand,” says Kapoor.

However, on the different streaming services, much of the content already comes with a language switch so you can listen to it with the subs and dubs of your choice – or so we thought. Actually looking through the catalogues of the providers reveals that it’s mixed bag. For example, Batman v Superman on Prime Video has no Hindi dub, although Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them does. The Prime Video exclusives don’t even have subtitles in Hindi. On the other hand, while Netflix’s Originals are largely available with Hindi audio, third-party content is almost entirely missing Hindi dubs.

So it’s clear that there is a niche left and it’s a space Hooq wants to claim. For now though, pay-per-view remains much more active on the English side of things, Kapoor says. “There is a huge English speaking audience around the country but not enough screens, so the pay-per-view is quite popular,” says Kapoor. “Dubbed is growing now, and be believe it will become even bigger. And unlike other options like Google Play, we also support all payment options, like Paytm, so it’s very easy for anyone to use.”

Google Tez Now Has 12 Million Users in India, Gets Bill Payments Feature

Google had a lot of statistics to share at its Google for India event held in New Delhi on Tuesday. Among these, were details about Google Tez. Caesar Sengupta, VP of Product Management and lead for the Next Billion Users initiative at Google, shared that Google Tez will pass 12 million active users in India within the next couple of days. This number represents a big jump over the last figures shared by Google, when CEO Sundar Pichai had revealed during the company’s earnings call that the app had over 7.5 million users in 5 weeks since its launch in September.

Sengupta also revealed that Google include the fact the app has processed 140 million transactions since launch – seeing a 4x growth in average transaction size so far, indicating a growth in user trust. According to NPCI data, Sengupta says that in October-November period, Tez accounted for 70 percent of transactions on BHIM UPI. Sengupta also revealed that there are 5.25 lakh merchants already on Tez. Small businesses are also using Tez to pay suppliers, and transfer money to employees.

At the Google for India event, Sengupta announced the launch of bill payments on Google Tez. The app, starting Tuesday, now supports bill payments for Tata Power, Airtel, ACT, DishTV, DoCoMo, and other utility provider. The app can also fetch all unpaid bills from a biller. At launch, it will support over 70 billers, including national and state electricity providers, gas and water, and DTH recharge. The feature will be rolled out gradually over the next few weeks to users, who will receive a notification when the feature becomes available to them.

google tez bill payments google

Sengupta said that bill payments are a key use case, and that the company will keep rolling out improvements on this front every few weeks. Alongside, he also announced a new feature internally called ‘Sparks’. This was described as “little moments of delight” that are triggered when a specific word or phrase was included in a message along with the payment.

There several updates planned for Google Tez in 2018, Sengupta, with some “big features” for merchants.

 

Google Go App Launched, Files Go Comes to All Android Devices, Oreo Go Edition Goes Live

A new app, named Google Go, has been launched to give the unified Google experience to Internet users on low-end handsets. The app provides access to Google services such as Search, Voice Search, GIFs, YouTube, Translate, and Maps and includes a search bar to provide a unified experience. Google Go also offers search trends and top stories from the Web on any particular topics. It was launched by the company at its Google for India event on Tuesday. Also announced was the Android Oreo (Go Edition) for entry-level smartphones, as well as the official launch of Files Go.

Shashidhar Thakur, VP engineering, Google, said at the event, “We gathered feedback from hundreds of Indian cities to make the power of Internet accessible for new users through Google Go.”

Apart from Google services, the new Go app provides users access to Facebook, CricBuzz, and Instagram. It includes a button that helps users translate their search queries with one tap. Weighing less than 5MB size, Google Go consumes 40 percent less data and is optimised for devices with less than 1GB of RAM. It will be available for download for all Android devices starting Tuesday and will come pre-installed on Android Go devices.

For smartphones with 512MB-1GB of RAM, Google announced Oreo Go, a version of Android 8.0 Oreo optimised for low-end smartphones. It will become available over the next few months, while its code is now available for developers through Android 8.1. Devices running on Oreo Go will have an average 15 percent faster app startup time, the company said, and preloaded apps will be optimised will take up 50 percent less space on the available storage. Google said an average Oreo Go device will be able to store an extra 1,000 photos with these optimisations.

“Android Oreo (Go edition) will help improve the experience on entry-level phones while new apps like Files Go will ensure their experience is smooth and they consume less data,” Caesar Sengupta, Vice-President, Next Billion Users, said. He told PTI that he expects handset makers to bring smartphones based on Android Oreo (Go) edition in early 2018.

Oreo Go will come with get the same security features as available on the standard version, including Google Play Protect. Go edition devices will come with Data Saver features active by default. The users will be able to download any apps, but there is a new section that includes optimised apps especially for the Go edition devices, such as Facebook Lite and Flipkart. Google apps have been worked upon as well to work better on low-end devices, and the Go versions of Assistant, Gmail, Chrome, Search, Maps, YouTube, and Gboard will be preloaded on all Oreo Go devices.

Apart from Google Go and Oreo Go, the Files Go app was officially launched at the event, after being spotted in testing last month, and will also be pre-installed on Go edition devices. It has been custom built for Go edition devices and helps free up space on the phone, find files faster, and share files offline with people in the vicinity. The app prompts users to delete heavy files or files from a particular sources (for example, WhatsApp), and allows them to delete the said files in just two taps. With advances in computer vision, the Files Go app will let users delete certain images (such as images received in ‘good morning’ messages on instant messaging apps).

files go app Files Go

It will also let users create a closed network accessible only by approved smartphones in the vicinity to share files by creating a hotspot, which the company says is 200 times faster than Bluetooth transfers. Files Go is also designed to help users find files faster, by segregating files by type and allowing quick uploads to the cloud.

A special edition of Google Assistant was also announced for the Jio Phone at the event, the first AI-based digital assistant for a feature phone.