Hello, world! On behalf of the entire TechLila team, let me extend my warm wishes to all of you who celebrate Dusherra. Have a great festival. Nowadays coming back to the moment, it’s 29th September and we’re closing in October fairly quickly. So let’s follow our good old tradition and let’s get started with our weekly tech news roundup. This week’s news covers –
- Google launching a new payments app for India
- Twitter announced a big update to its service
- Google announced a new app to turn old tablets into kid-friendly devices
- Amazon announced a bunch of new products in a surprise event
- Blackberry making a comeback in the tech industry
That’s a lot of juicy tech news we’ve got so without any more delays let’s get right in.
Google Launches a New Payments Solution for India
Ever since the Indian Prime Minister announced the demonetization in the country, payments solutions and fin-tech startups have seen a significant boost in their adoption. The major one among the crowd happens to be Paytm. But in the recent months, a number of other solutions from competitors have starting spawning in the market to give Paytm a run for its money like PhonePe, the payments solution owned by Flipkart which is powered by UPI. Well, a new player just entered the market and it’s got some serious tricks up its sleeves.
It’s Google, yes you heard that right. Google quietly unveiled their new payments app/solution for the Indian market. It’s powered by UPI and has some neat tricks to lure you in. Once you signup you’ll be able to send money instantly to friends and family and pay for stuff at physical stores. As it has been newly launched, they’re offering you some rewards. For every friend that you refer on the platform, you and your friends both get Rs 51 when they make their first transaction. You also get scratch cards on making a transaction of Rs 50 or more. There are weekly draws as well offering you a chance to grab a loot of Rs 1,00,000. Best part, the offer is not one time, you can avail them every single week. We’d suggest you give it a shot.
Twitter Brings a Massive Update to its Service
Twitter is the most impactful social network in my opinion. It lets you reach out to people and companies in the most real way possible, no “make them your friends first” crap. Up until now though, you were restricted by 140 character limits for expressing your thoughts and if somehow the thoughts were too complex to express in 140 characters you would have to break your tweets into multiple parts and send them out. Not the most elegant way.
This was also a problem for people speaking languages other than English. It was extremely difficult to compose a proper sentence in some languages in just 140 characters. In light of the same, Twitter just announced that they’re gonna double their character limits from 140 characters to 280 characters. The company said that 140 characters was an odd choice for the character limit and was just decided upon just to mimic the SMS. The update will roll out incrementally across the globe and if you are among the few who’ve received the update, reach out to us on Twitter. The announcement had mixed reviews in the crowd. Some people were thrilled while some were afraid that the president of a certain country might start pissing the people off even more with the increased character limit. Well it’s 2017 now and we still can’t edit Tweets so it’s a meh! in my opinion.
Google’s New App lets you Turn your Old Android Tablet into a Kid-Friendly Tablet
Google just released the Family Link app to the public this week. We covered it in the past. It’s basically an app that would allow parents to turn an old Android tablet into a kid’s friendly tablet. Parents no longer need to request Google for an invite, they can simply download the app on the tablet and create an account for their kids.
The app will allow parents approve apps that their kid’s download, monitor their screen time and the content they’re watching, and set device time limits. The app is sort of like giving admin access to their kid’s device where the kids will be granted only limited controls. When it’s bedtime the App would block usage, thus making sure that the little ones actually go to sleep instead of binging on YouTube. With Family Link, Google is directly targeting the Amazon Fire tablets.
Amazon Announces a Bunch of New Products in a Surprise Hardware Event
Amazon has had a pretty great year so far. Their earnings have increased rapidly year on year. The company acquired Whole Foods and the CEO, Jeff Bezos was the world’s wealthiest person briefly. Amidst a lot of great things, Amazon just held a hardware event at their Seattle campus. The company announced a bunch of new devices under the Echo lineup. We’ll go through all of them. The first one is a smart alarm clock called the Echo Spot, it is capable of video calling and can be connected to external speakers via cable or Bluetooth. The Echo Spot flaunts features from both the Echo Dot and the Echo Show. It has a 2.5-inch screen and can also work as a nursery monitor.
The Echo Spot goes on sale, December 19th and costs $130. Next, we have the new Echo Plus. It’s essentially the next generation of the original Amazon Echo device but it’s the same size as the last generation. The Echo Plus will also double down as a smart home hub. It has better reach and also supports the Zigbee technology. It will cost $149 and is compatible with over 100 smart home devices. It’s available for pre-order immediately and ships October 31st. There’s another, a smaller version of the Amazon Echo which comes in at $99 and is about half the size of the Echo Plus. It comes in at $99 and for the first time offers a cloth texture and wood texture. You can also opt in for a multi-room audio setup with 3 Echo devices coming in at $249. The cheapest device announced was the Echo buttons which are small hockey puck shaped and allow you to play games with other Echo enabled devices. Lastly, we have the new Fire TV which now supports 4K HDR with Dolby Atmos integration. The new Fire TV comes in at $69.99. With all these new devices, Amazon’s holiday lineup looks pretty great. It’s only time that will tell if Amazon will win the home automation war, or if it will get defeated by the likes of Apple and Google.
Blackberry is Making a Comeback, and you can’t Guess what it is
Remember Blackberry? The company which brought you the incredibly iconic Bold and Curve line of devices? Well while the company may have had rough time building smartphones, it’s apparently making a comeback as a software company under the CEO John Chen, the company is re-entering the tech scene as software company specializing in security. From a hardware manufacturer perspective, Blackberry might have nothing much to offer and flaunt, but as a software company, it’s still got something to show for.
You do need to remember that one of the key things that attracted enterprise customers to BlackBerry apart from their chicklet keyboards was the software suite and the enterprise-grade security those devices offered. After all, there’s a reason the former US President used to flaunt a BlackBerry even in 2017. While their hardware business is nearing demise, if it leverages its software offerings to still form a viable business, it will be worth seeing. The company is trying to redefine itself as a software company and we’ll have more news on the same when they pivot.
That’s all for this week’s tech news, we’ll see you again next week. Until next time, this is Prateek, signing off!