Destiny 2 on PC Is Exclusive to Battle.net and That’s Great. Here’s Why.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Steam may be convenient but the user experience is dated
  • Valve’s new restrictive policies don’t bode well for consumers either
  • The outrage over not using Steam goes against the PC as an open platform

Destiny 2 for PC will be available on Blizzard’s Battle.net instead of Steam. There’s been a tremendous amount of outrage from the community due to this, with many citing the inconvenience of using another client to play Destiny 2. Some people even plan to boycott the game because of it.

There are plenty of reasons for Destiny 2 publisher Activision to keep it exclusive to its own platform – thirty at the very least. That’s the percentage of revenue Activision would have to pay Valve, if Destiny 2 was on Steam. This alone is a massive plus point for Activision. However, having Destiny 2 on Battle.net will be great for gamers too.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYxVRWAJnNg?ecver=2]

For one, Battle.net is a better client. Sure, it might not have the Big Picture Mode of Steam, or the sheer number of games on sale, but the desktop and mobile apps are easier to use, sporting an intuitive design that’s slick and stylish. On the other hand, Steam resembles something that would have been cutting-edge in 1995.

If looks or usability aren’t a problem for you – and they probably aren’t for a majority of the millions of users on Steam – there is also the question of policy. Right now, Valve has been clamping down on some of the core features of Steam, such as gifting games.

Gone are the days when you could buy games and store them in your inventory to gift at a later date, nor can you send gifts via email. Valve’s also done away with cross-region gifting, which means games that weren’t available in India – such as those in the Dragon Ball Z series – for reasons such as licensing restrictions, can’t be obtained anymore either.

On the other hand, Battle.net makes gifting easier, allowing you to do so via email. This is not just just limited to games either. World of Warcraft for instance, allows users to gift pets, mounts, items, or even game time. In fact, you can even buy Destiny 2 using World of Warcraft’s in-game currency. The ease of use where it matters is what makes Battle.net a better choice for gamers.

destiny 2 squad destiny_2

Beyond that, while Steam has made strides in customer support over the years, it still trails behind Battle.net. Blizzard has been the gold standard for years thanks to its thorough approach and speedy responses. We’ve all experienced this time and again, after experiences like being locked out of the Battle.net account due to hackers, or simply forgetting the password and secret question. Regaining access usually happens in under a day and is hassle-free. Steam on the other hand, is still figuring out how to serve its users better in this regard.

Much like GOG Galaxy, Battle.net’s treatment of its users is something Valve should take notes from. Steam has its fair share of fanboys thanks to its regular game discounts, but it lags in other departments that are often glossed over. Steam Greenlight for instance has resulted in a seemingly infinite assembly line of cookie cutter games borne out of stock assets bought from the Unity Store. It’s taken Valve the better part of five years to realise the need to replace Steam Greenlight and even then, it hasn’t decided what should take its place.

With Destiny 2 coming to Battle.net, it opens the doors for other non-Blizzard games to as well, which sounds like a net positive for gamers. Sure, you might just boycott Destiny 2 on the PC anyway, but in doing so, you’re essentially casting your vote for the future of PC gaming to be utterly dominated by Gabe Newell and friends, with Steam’s restrictive practises, and poor policies, instead of the PC being an open platform, unlike consoles.

How to Stop WhatsApp from Downloading and Saving Photos, Videos Automatically on Android, iPhone

WhatsApp is used by over a 1.2 billion people worldwide, and 200 million in India alone. In fact, it is probably one of the first apps anyone in India downloads when they get a new smartphone as it has become the default means of texting in the country. However, it can become an annoyance too when it downloads all the media files automatically, from pictures to videos to, more recently, GIFs, not to mention audio files and videos. These not only clutter your phone’s gallery and music player, but also eat up a lot of storage and data. Here’s how you can stop WhatsApp from automatically saving photos and audio on your phone.

How to Stop Auto Downloading and Saving of Pictures, Videos and Other Media on Whatsapp for Android

WhatsApp for Android has a switch that lets you stop images and videos from downloading. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Open WhatsApp, make sure you are seeing the main window – where all your chats are displayed. Tap the three vertical dots on the top right > Settings.
  2. Now tap Chat settings > Media auto-download. You’ll see three options: When using cellular data, When connected on Wi-Fi and When roaming. Tap each one and disable auto-downloads by unchecking all three options – Images, Audio and Video.

To view photos, you will have to download them. When you do, WhatsApp saves them in a folder, and you can get inundated with stupid memes and other unwanted content, which is visible to anyone who open’s your phone’s Gallery App. However, it is possible to stop these photos from appearing in the Gallery app. Here’s how:

How to Stop WhatsApp from Downloading and Saving Photos, Videos Automatically on Android, iPhone

  1. Download Quickpic and open the app.
  2. Navigate to the WhatsApp media folders. The location of the WhatsApp folder varies across devices but it should typically be the following: Internal Storage (sometimes labelled sdcard0) > WhatsApp > Media > WhatsApp Images, > WhatsApp > Media > WhatsApp Audio, and WhatsApp > Media > WhatsApp Videos.
  3. Long-press the WhatsApp Images folder and make sure that it is selected. Do the same with the WhatsApp Video and WhatsApp Audio folders.
  4. After selecting the three folders, tap the three dots icon on the top-right > Hide. This will ensure that the Gallery app doesn’t show them. You can still view these images and videos within WhatsApp and through any apps that let you view hidden folders. But if you pass your phone to someone, you no longer need worry about them seeing the WhatsApp photos and videos through the Gallery app.

How to Stop Auto Downloading and Saving of Pictures, Videos and other Media on Whatsapp for Android

How to Stop Auto Downloading and Saving of Pictures, Videos and Other Media on WhatsApp for iPhone

You can turn off media auto-download on iPhone too via the Settings menu.

  1. Open WhatsApp and tap the Settings button at the bottom-right, and tap on Data and Storage Usage
  2. In this menu, you will see the Media Auto-Download option on top
  3. For Photos, Audio, Videos, and Documents, select the Never option

Now only the files you choose to download manually will appear on your phone, and you can even choose to stop the photos and videos from appearing the phone’s Camera Roll. All you need to do is to go to Chats in the Settings menu, open the Save to Camera Roll menu, and turn it to off. This stops the pictures people are sending from showing up in the camera roll, and taking over your synced Photo Stream.

WhatsApp how to stop auto download saving photos videos GIFs WhatsApp how to stop auto download saving photos videos GIFs

How to Block a Contact on WhatsApp

Not saving images automatically has its advantages, but it also means that you will have to download each photo manually. If you end up downloading each and every image anyway, then it’s probably best to leave this feature active. Let us know if this tutorial helped you via the comments. For more such useful articles, visit our How to section.

Samsung Pay Is Here, and It Could Be the Best Reason to Get the Galaxy S8

On a trip to the mall late last year, as I got to the checkout kiosk to pay for the clothes I had just bought, I realised I didn’t have my wallet on me. Forced to make the walk back to where I had parked, I envied people living in countries that have had the option to pay with their phones for a few years, and wondered when I would be able to have that luxury too.

Well, that day has come. Samsung Pay launched officially in India on Wednesday, allowing you to simply make payments with your phone – as long as it’s one of six Galaxy devices, including the Galaxy S7, and Galaxy Note 5. If you have one, then all you need to do is get the app, and enter your card details on first run (assuming your account is with one of the supported banks, such as HDFC and ICICI). Voilà! Who knew the future would be so easy?

Of course, India isn’t the only region to get Samsung’s mobile pay service. Samsung Pay launched in Korea in late 2015, before moving to the US a month later. Since then, Samsung Pay has expanded to the likes of Australia, Brazil, China, and Russia. It’s a tiny market right now, overall, but there’s growing competition from all sides, mostly Apple Pay and Android Pay, at least in markets outside India.

Samsung Pay been here slightly longer for more enterprising people, thanks to an early access programme Samsung made available earlier this month. I’ve tried the beta several times during those weeks, and it’s worked flawlessly so far. To be honest, I have had reservations every time I stepped up to the head of the queue, but the only issue has been the curious/ puzzled faces of the people behind the counter.

It is also really easy to use, too. Like Apple Pay, it’s accessible from the lock-screen. Simply swipe from the bottom, and then swipe left or right to pick the desired one. It remembers what you used last time around, so if you frequently make payments with the same card, you’re good to go with one swipe. Then, align your phone’s back with the card reader, and authenticate using your fingerprint/ PIN combination.

Now if I find myself having forgotten my wallet again, all I’d have to do is get my phone out, and I’d have all my cards with me. Soon, the Gear S3 will have it as well, so you won’t need your phone either. Much more importantly, it’d allow me to leave my clunky wallet behind that I hate having to carry in my back-pocket. It’s a constant annoyance when I’m sitting, and I’d be glad to get rid of it.

Samsung Pay Is Here, and It Could Be the Best Reason to Get the Galaxy S8

This won’t be as universal for everyone, as it depends on your lifestyle. Samsung Pay doesn’t work with ATMs, so you’ll still need to carry your card around if you tend to withdraw cash frequently. Fortunately, I live a cash-less life for the most part, and visit the ATM roughly once every three months, so it’s not a bother for me. But that may not work for you. For what it’s worth, Samsung Pay already has Paytm support, and UPI is on its way, so you can use those routes if you prefer.

The biggest concern for most seems to be security, but mobile payments can actually be more secure. For one, card skimming isn’t possible since you don’t need to physically give your card to anyone, and two, like a chip-and-pin card, Samsung Pay only shares a random token with the reader, not the card number. Plus, it also needs your fingerprint/ PIN for authentication, so you don’t have to worry if your phone gets stolen – although the fact that your phone’s been stolen will still be worrisome.

The other problem with digital payments methods is that support can often be limited. Samsung Pay supports both NFC – which is the common standard for mobile payments – and MST (magnetic secure transmission), which works with most existing card readers, as it emulates the presence of a card by wirelessly transmitting, well, magnetic waves. NFC might be the true future of payments, but it’s a future that’s still not here, even in places such as the US. Samsung Pay’s MST feature is essentially a form of backward compatibility, so you can use this method of payments nearly everywhere, though the people working there might themselves be unaware.

For Samsung, this feature is a fantastic trick up its sleeve, as it gives the Korean company a leg up on its competition. By comparison, the other big two – Apple Pay, and Android Pay – will be limited to NFC-equipped readers even when they do make it to India. Samsung then has a clear advantage in that regard, and one that it can leverage to market its smartphones, and peripherals.

With the launch of the Galaxy S8 just around the corner, Samsung Pay looks like a real selling point. No thanks red iPhone, I know which one I want.

What’s Yours is Mine? The New Sharing Economy and Small Business

In recent years, many workers have found new ways to earn a living, becoming their own bosses as they enjoy a freelance lifestyle. Whether they’re offering rides to the airport through Lyft or Uber, or running errands through TaskRabbit, people are redefining the way they earn a living and blazing a trail for future generations.

But there are downsides to working this way. For freelancers, the unpredictability of work and changing pay structures make it sometimes difficult to make a reliable living. But for businesses and the American economy as a whole, the impact can be far more widespread.

Pros and Cons of Our New Sharing Economy

Pro: Growth of Outsourcing Opportunities

The increase in freelance workers gives businesses a great alternative to hiring full-time, salaried workers. Instead they can outsource work on a per-project basis and continue working with those employees if they do well.

Additionally, errand services like TaskRabbit give professionals the ability to outsource mundane personal tasks, like picking up dry cleaning or running errands. They can then focus on their own work. For traveling professionals, Lyft and Uber have proven to be a better alternative to taxis and public transportation, allowing them to call for a car and pay all on their mobile devices.

Con: Shortage of Skilled Workers

Unfortunately, a sharing society also means fewer professionals in the workforce. As the unemployment rate drops, this could result in there being a national labor shortage, where businesses scramble for help from what is a much smaller pool of skilled workers who are willing to work a structured office schedule.

The Millennial generation is now filling the workplace, and they have expressed their preferences for a fun and flexible workplace. The workforce of the future will require a performance-based workday rather than one that is measured by time clocks and traditional 40 hour work weeks.

Pro: Entrepreneurs Working Together

The ad hoc environment can be very good for business owners, who can take advantage of the large variety of skilled freelancers available.

More shared work spaces like Canvs are opening up across the country, providing desks and meeting space for a variety of talented independent workers and small businesses. Co-working spaces encourage collaboration, prompting entrepreneurs to learn from and help each other as they build their businesses.

These centers also serve to help build the local economy by encouraging business growth.

Con: Wage Degradation

There are some who are concerned about these shared labor concepts. Economist Dean Baker pointed out to the New York Times, that the wages workers make in these gigs can equate to less than minimum wage. He expressed concern that in time, this could create a downward pressure on wages overall that could impact the earning ability of mainstream America.

However, for the most entrepreneurial-minded workers, this type of work can help build the confidence they need to start their own businesses.

The new sharing economy opens opportunities for both consumers and workers, allowing people to work on their own terms. With the unemployment rate still high, this sharing economy is enabling people to make money while they wait for job opportunities to open up.

It seems to me that the freedom of being your own boss is empowering and has the potential to inspire many to start their own businesses – which benefits the economy as a whole.

Yuvika Diamond Jewelry Shows in DE, MD and VA States

Newark/Hockessin, DE
Friday, June 9, 12pm to 7pm

Hindu Temple of Delaware
760 Yorklyn Road, Hockessin, DE 19707
RSVP to claim the discounts at Newark/Hockessin exhibition

Ellicott City/Columbia, MD
Saturday, June 10, 11AM to 7PM

Sheraton Columbia Town Center Hotel
10207 Wincopin Circle, Columbia, MD  21044
RSVP to claim the discounts at Ellicott City/Columbia exhibition

Ashburn/Reston, VA
Sunday, June 11, 11AM to 6PM

Sheraton Reston Hotel
1810 Sunrise Valley Dr, Reston, VA 20191
RSVP to claim the discounts at Ashton/Reston exhibition

Full schedule of Yuvika USA exhibitions

Contact: Mahesh Babu (858) 951-7660  info@yuvika.com

Follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/YuvikaUSA for latest updates.

Yuvika Diamond Jewelry Shows in DE, MD and VA States

Yuvika’s certified diamond and 22K/18K gold jewelry exhibitions invite you to come behold the spectacular collection of charming diamond and gold jewelry pieces. Yuvika’s each jewel is a glamorous blend of beauty, art, quality and exceptional craftsmanship.

Whether you are a sophisticated socialite looking for stylish contemporary designs or a cult fan of timeless classics with an eye towards the intricate artistry, Yuvika’s extraordinarily versatile collection impresses you for sure.

All Yuvika’s diamonds are E-F in color and with VVS clarity that are considered to be the best standards in the industry. Yuvika stands by its jewelry by providing the diamond jewelry certificates from government licensed bodies like International Gemological Institute.

With its dazzling collection of stunning jewelry and the knowledgeable representatives who are ready to answer any of your questions in a convivial atmosphere, Yuvika diamond and gold Jewelry exhibitions are the events you don’t want to miss!

Yuvika is conceived, founded and operated by the promoters of Namaste Plaza and 8Elements.

Press note released by: Indian Clicks, LLC

– See more at: http://www.gulte.com/overseas/58646/Yuvika-Diamond-Jewelry-Shows-in-DE-MD-and-VA-States#sthash.REeEfwHM.dpuf

 

Apple to Reportedly Use Micro-LED in 2017's Apple Watch 3 and Later iPhone Models

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Apple has been working with LuxVue to develop new micro-LED screens
  • Apple was granted patents related to LuxVue and micro-LED
  • The company is also looking to invest in Toshiba’s chip business

Apple’s plans to replace OLED with micro-LED in 2017 Apple Watch 3 and iPhones has raised concerns in Samsung as Apple’s expected use of Samsung OLED screens for a new iPhone model this year may only be temporary.

“Apple has been working with LuxVue (which it acquired in 2014) to develop new micro-LED screen production in the two years since the technology began gaining public attention in the 2015,” Apple Indiser reported on Wednesday, citing a Business Korea report.

Apple was granted patents related to LuxVue and micro-LED, that also explains the inclusion of sensing Infrared diodes with the ability to read fingerprints on the surface of the display.

In addition to the loss of a billion dollars worth of OLED screens, Samsung and LG are also increasingly concerned that Apple will start sourcing its RAM and cameras elsewhere, too, the report noted.

Aiming to secure a stable supply of memory chips for its iPhones, Apple may invest billions of dollars to obtain a substantial stake in struggling Japanese conglomerate Toshiba’s chip business, ending nearly two decades of being among Samsung’s largest RAM customers.

Apple to Reportedly Use Micro-LED in 2017's Apple Watch 3 and Later iPhone Models

Apple executives are also considering joining hands with chip manufacturer Foxconn, formally known as Hon Hai Precision, for taking a big stake in Toshiba’s semiconductor business.

Early this year, Foxconn announced that it is teaming up with Apple to set up a display-panel manufacturing facility in the US at an investment of $7 billion.

The facility could create between 30,000 and 50,000 new jobs and could include the production of TV screens in addition to smartphone displays.

Foxconn has most of its factories in China where it assembles Apple’s iPhones.

Twitter Starts Rolling Out New Look for Web, Apps, TweetDeck, and Twitter Lite

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Changes designed to make Twitter feel lighter, faster, and easier to use
  • Update brings bolder headlines and more intuitive icons
  • Users’ profile images changed from square-shaped to round

Twitter has unveiled a new look, and much like some previous changes the company has made to its short-messaging service, it’s not going over so well with the Twitterati.

“Today, with lots of feedback and ideas from you, we’re refreshing our product too and making it feel lighter, faster, and easier to use. We listened closely and kept what you love,” Twitter said in a blog post announcing the new design.

The San Francisco company says the new design emphasises simplicity, making it faster and easier to use, with bolder headlines and more intuitive icons. It also changed users’ profile images from square-shaped to round. On its apps and TweetDeck, tweets will “now update instantly with reply, Retweet, and like counts so you can see conversations as they’re happening,” Twitter added.

twitter ios app redesign twitter

The company said the new user interface will roll out on twitter.com, Twitter for iOS, Twitter for Android, TweetDeck, and Twitter Lite in the coming days and weeks.

Twitter users immediately responded Thursday by tweeting jokes and memes critical of the changes. There were almost 30,000 tweets about the new user interface, or UI, within hours of the change, the vast majority of them either complaining about the new look or mocking it. A popular image was a suddenly round SpongeBob SquarePants.

twitter ios redesign twitter

Twitter also took heat from users last year when it changed its algorithm that orders the tweets users see. Users also tweeted their dismay when the company rolled out its Moments feature, and when it got rid of its star icon signifying a “favorite” tweet, in favor of a heart icon, similar to Facebook’s “like” button.

The redesign is Twitter’s latest attempt to freshen the messaging service, which has struggled to attract new users at the same pace as Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. Twitter revenue growth has stalled for years, and the company has cut costs and shuffled executives while still never posting a quarter of profit.

New Year 2017 Wishlist: What Gadgets 360 Staff Are Looking to Buy for Themselves – and Why

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Predictably, there’s a couple of new iPhones in there
  • VR gets a couple of shouts too
  • Gaming seems to be the most in-demand category for 2017

Now that 2017 is upon us, the talk inside the Gadgets 360 lab has shifted to things such as CES, MWC, and of course, iPhone 8 rumours. And, since we spend too much time shopping for tech, we’re also predictably talking about all the gadgets we want to buy.

For many of us, this is also a bit of a break from reality – we’ve had people in our team dream of buying an Xbox One for a couple of years before taking the plunge – but who doesn’t enjoy planning that next big tech buy?

If you’re curious about the gadgets that will be filling the Gadgets 360 office in the coming months – hopefully – then read on to see everyone’s top pick for buying in 2017.

Abhinav Lal: HTC Vive – While this will also entail a PC upgrade for me, I want to enter the world of PC gaming VR, and the HTC Vive looks like the best bet so far.

Akhil Arora: 4K HDR TV – Good 4K HDR TVs are way too expensive right now. I was lucky enough to witness the capabilities of one such TV when it landed in our office, and when Netflix showed off the high-end version. Despite the lack of content heading into 2017, I’m sold on the idea of buying one – if money was no barrier – more so because of how much TV I tend to watch.

Sony Z9D

Devika Chitnis: JBL GO – I am in dire need of a portable speaker. JBL Go has a clean design which is awesome and comes in different pop colours that make the speaker look alive. I am eyeing the orange one. The sound quality is surprisingly good for an affordable portable speaker.

Gagan Gupta: Bose QC35 – Now that I’ve said goodbye to the 3.5mm jack thanks to my iPhone 7 Plus, I need a good pair of over the ear headphones that can keep out noise, expecially on flights and cabs. While the Bose QC35 may not be every audiophile’s headphones of choice, it’s still the best when it comes to active noise cancellation, and it sounds just right with my classic rock collection.

Gopal Sathe: Zotac VR GO Backpack – I’ve been interested in VR since the Oculus Kickstarter first got off the ground. That we are finally “there” is hard to believe. That you can now put on a backpack and enjoy a (largely) mobile yet high quality VR experience is nothing short of magical. If I have the money, I’d absolutely be getting the Zotac VR GO Backpack.

zotac vr go box contents

Jamshed Avari: Geforce GTX 1070 – It really is time to get serious about tackling my Steam backlog. I’ve been putting this off for a long time, but looking at the kind of performance that both Nvidia and AMD have both brought to the table this year, it’s finally time. I’m leaning towards the GTX 1070 because I want enough performance headroom to drive top-tier games at 1920×1200 pixels for at least a few years. The specific graphics card will depend on prices and availability at the time of purchase.

Ketan Pratap: Next iPhone – I have been an Android user all of my life but I guess it’s about time to go for my first iPhone. Considering this year is the tenth anniversary of the first iPhone launch, I expect the next one to come with decent changes both in terms of innards as well as design.

Kunal Dua: What Gagan said.

Naina Gupta: Next iPhone – I have heard too much about iPhone around me but never used it. I want to take experience of 3D Touch, Live Photos, and other unique features of iPhone.

Pranay Parab: Board/ Card games – I’ve been meaning to reduce screen time and spend more time with my friends and family. Card games and board games sound like a way to accomplish this, without spending obscene amounts of money at cinemas and restaurants.

We’ve all played and hated Monopoly (aka Business), but there are great alternatives such as Pandemic, Resistance, Catan, Game of Thrones, Star Wars: Rebellion. I’m also planning to play funny card games such as Exploding Kittens with my friends.

Ravi Sharma: Nintendo Switch – I am not much of a gamer, but the Nintendo Switch (and its hybrid form factor) may finally be the device that pulls me into the fold. The rumoured price tag of $250-300 makes the Switch cheap enough for me to afford it, without sacrificing my budget for a mid-range laptop that I am also planning to buy in 2017.

And games such new Sonic, Mario, Dragon Quest X, Legend of Zelda titles that are expected to be released for Nintendo Switch are enough to satiate my appetite for nostalgia, while the exclusives will hopefully be engaging enough to retain me on the platform.

switch

Rishi Alwani: Project Scorpio – The PS4 Pro has a one year headstart over Microsoft’s next iteration on the Xbox One, that will remain a highly competent piece of kit in 2017. However I’m extremely curious to see how Microsoft leverages its fantastic first-party franchises, such as Forza and Halo to make full use of Project Scorpio, more so with the likes of Scalebound and Crackdown 3 on the way.

Rohan Naravane: Google Pixel 2 – It was great to see Google finally taking hardware into its own hands, and launch the Pixel phones. Since there’s been only one Pixel phone till now, there’s no guarantee if, or when, we’ll see another one. If Google does release a ‘Pixel 2’, which I’m hoping will happen around the end of 2017, then I would certainly want to buy one.

Roydon Cerejo: Manfrotto Advanced Camera and Laptop backpack – I’ve been looking to replace my Lowepro Photo Hatchback (which is still serving me brillliantly) with something that can accommodate a laptop too. This particular Manfrotto backpack seem like the prefect combination of size, versitality and price, for me anyways.

manfrotto bag backpack

Sandeep Kumar Sinha: Sony Smart TV – I need to synchronise my playlists and other streamable content on the devices I own, and, in 2017, my television should have this feature. A Sony Smart TV is a likeable product that I am looking to buy in 2017 as most of the apps I use could be mirrored and projected easily.

Sanket Vijayasarathy: PlayStation 4 – I’ve been meaning to get my hands on the PlayStation 4 for a while now. I’ve played a bunch of PS4 titles at friends’ places, but seeing as how the console is now available for around Rs. 26,000 (for the 500GB model, whenever there’s a sale on), I think the time has come for me to move on to a current-gen console.

ps4 black white

Shekhar Thakran: Tekken 7 – I still have fond memories of playing Tekken 3 as well as Tekken 5 on my Playstation 2 from several years ago. As the game franchise is finally coming to PC with Tekken 7 next year, it is a no-brainer for me. With much-improved graphics and the same old characters, nothing that can go wrong.

Shubham Verma: Microsoft Surface Studio with the Microsoft Dial – The beautiful, large-screen monitor is worth swooning over, and the Microsoft Dial takes things to another level. I keep making different art designs on my laptop, and the Microsoft Dial and Surface pen would make this so much easier. While the price will probably keep me from ever actually buying this gadget, if I had the money, the considering the features and the advanced actions enabled by them, this would be the must-buy package of 2017.

Why Ecommerce is Both a Burden and a Boon for Retailers

On those days when the weather is terrible, or you’re sick and stuck in bed, and you drag out your laptop to do some online shopping, there are people watching you. Or rather, there are computers watching you. Databases are gathering every click of a product and every word entered into the search engine of the website, all to present you with a plethora of their products to buy without doing any searches.

For the buyer and the retailer these monitoring techniques are often seen as both a benefit and a curse. But as buyers venture into the future of online retail and ecommerce, these techniques are ultimately what is keeping these businesses alive.

Predictive analytics is increasingly being used to improve businesses and fine-tune marketing strategies by forecasting which products are most likely to be purchased by which customers, while also influencing buying behavior. It’s the power behind the suggestions of other items you may like when browsing or shopping online. Think of this as a virtual sales associate.

This technology is becoming more advanced as buyer behavior shifts towards more elaborate research on a variety of platforms prior to purchasing, especially mobile. Efficiency within the buying process is increasingly vital, along with the predictability of consumer behavior and buying decisions. Being in sync with customers enables ecommerce companies to essentially streamline the journey and determine the most likely moment when a browser becomes a buyer. The more accurate their predictions, the greater the likelihood that shopper will return.

The ability to predict a customer’s next purchase is also tied into how well a company knows her. Each customer is different, even if they sometimes share the same buying patterns. The most effective predictive strategy is one that is effectively linked with a long-term appreciation and relationship for each consumer. Such an approach will prove the most effective in the long term and the most fruitful in terms of anticipating buying patterns.

Forecasting customer buying behavior is possible by creating a statistical model using predictive analytics, along with complex mathematical equations and algorithms drawing on huge stores of customer data. Once this statistical model is complete – using such variables as past purchases, personal income and buying frequency – predictive buying patterns can be generated. Each variable can be essentially ranked by how leads to the ultimate goal of predicting consumer purchasing patterns.

Predictive analytics can certainly be a competitive advantage for online retailers. In the first instance, promotions and predictive search features can be enhanced. The most effective promotions can be determined in real time using a customer’s buying and browsing history, including of course promotions that have worked well in the past. Intelligent predictive search functions utilize machine learning to analyze data and past search patterns to determine appropriate product matches. Pricing and supply chain management can also utilize data analysis and predictive analytics to efficiently match specific product pricing to buying history, while consumer demand can be effectively monitored in order to optimize inventory management.

Predicting customer buying depends a great deal on the amount and type of data that can be collected from their previous visits to the ecommerce site. Past behavior can be extremely significant when predicting a customer’s next purchase. By focusing on clusters of customers, the differences between them can be identified, which in turn could help in identifying purchasing patterns.

Being able to predict a consumer’s possible spending patterns concerning specific products allows a company to anticipate and estimate a variety of business elements, such as future sales, inventory management and income slumps. All of this can determine a company’s future and its ability to survive the dynamic shifts in the online retail space.

Nokia 6, Asus ZenFone AR and Other CES 2017 Launches, Vodafone's Rs. 499 Plan, More News This Week

HIGHLIGHTS

  • New products at CES 2017 dominated the news this week
  • Nokia 6 launch on Sunday stole CES’ thunder a little bit
  • Vodafone now has a Rs. 499 unlimited calling postpaid plan

Predictably, CES 2017 dominated tech news this week with a range of exciting launches and demos, but just as we were putting the finishing touches to this piece, another launch grabbed the headlines. HMD Global, the new custodians of the Nokia brand, announced the launch of Nokia 6, a phone that runs Android 7.0 out of the box.

The Nokia 6 has a 5.5-inch full-HD display wrapped in 2.5D Gorilla Glass. The smartphone is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 SoC alongside 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. The Nokia 6 is a dual SIM smartphone that is backed by a 3000mAh non-removable battery. See full specifications of the Nokia 6, which will unfortunately be a China-exclusive smartphone. HMD Global confirmed more Nokia Android phones are coming soon.

Before we get to all the CES launches from this week, let’s take a look at some important stories from closer home. Vodafone is taking the battle to Reliance Jio and Airtel with the launch of a new postpaid plan that offers unlimited calling, and 3GB of 4G data each month. The revamped Vodafone Red postpaid plans come soon after Airtel started offering 3GB of free mobile data per month to prepaid and postpaid customers switching to its 4G network.

Nokia 6, Asus ZenFone AR and Other CES 2017 Launches, Vodafone's Rs. 499 Plan, More News This Week

Friday saw the launch of the Samsung Galaxy J1 (4G) in India – the same phone was launched in Russia in March last year, after quietly making its way to Dubai in January. In both those markets, it was sold as the Samsung Galaxy J1 (2016). This is an entry level phone from Samsung, priced at Rs. 6,890.

From CES, one of the highlights was the launch of the Asus ZenFone AR, the first smartphone with 8GB of RAM. It also come with support for Google’s Tango augmented reality programme and DayDream virtual reality software. Asus ZenFone AR, like the other Tango device – the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro – is designed around machine vision with a camera and sensor setup that provides motion tracking, depth perception, and area learning.

In addition to the ZenFone AR, Also also unveiled the Asus ZenFone 3 Zoom camera smartphone with 5000mAh battery at the event. The phone has dual rear cameras and offers 2.3x optical zoom.

Samsung used CES to showcase the new A (2017) smartphones launched earlier this week. The Galaxy A3 (2017), Galaxy A5 (2017), Galaxy A7 (2017) sport “enhanced” cameras compared to their predecessors, optimised for low-light conditions.

Later, pricing of the two of the new Samsung phones came to light as well.

LG also unveiled its K-series phones on the CES floor – the range covers the LG K3 (2017), LG K4 (2017), LG K8 (2017), and the LG K10 (2017).

LG also showed the LG Stylus 3. The South Korean company says that the new 2017 variants of the LG K3, K4, K8, K10 smartphones, and the Stylus 3 will strengthen its portfolio in the mid-range segment.

At its CES 2017 event, Xiaomi unveiled the latest Mi TV 4 and Mi Router HD, apart from announcing a brand new White colour variant of the Mi MIX smartphone. All the Xiaomi CES 2017 devices will be available later this year in China. Slimmer than an iPhone 7, the Mi TV 4 is the company’s thinnest TV to date.

The Xiaomi Mi MIX was unveiled as a limited edition concept smartphone, made in collaboration with French designer Philippe Stark, in October last year, and it will go on sale later this year.

Chipmaker Qualcomm finally took the wraps off its Snapdragon 835 SoC. Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 packs an Adreno 540 GPU, and is 30 percent smaller than the Snapdragon 820. The first 10nm chip by Qualcomm comes with longer battery life and will enable thinner designs.

Nvidia launched a new version of its Shield Android TV, called just Shield, at CES 2017. It comes with Google Assistant integration and supports 4K HDR. The new Nvidia Shield will cost $199 (roughly Rs. 13,200) but the company has not announced the availability of the device yet. It will be the first Android TV with Google’s Assistant, but others will follow, and it will come to other platforms over time.

There were also a lot of laptop launches at CES – Dell launched a range of products including a Latitude 2-in-1 business laptop, XPS 13 2-in-1, as well as new Alienware and Inspiron 7000 Gaming laptops. It also launched the new XPS 15 laptop, a Rose Gold variant of the XPS 13, and the XPS 27 AIO.

Asus launched the ZenBook 3 Deluxe UX490UA, and unveiled a new, slimmed-down business laptop, along with a VR-ready compact PC.

LG launched its new Gram 14 laptop, which it claims offers a battery life of around 24 hours. However, the benchmark test used by the company for this claim has turned out to be a 10-year old measurement tool. LG’s new Gram 14 laptop weighs around 980 grams, and is powered by Intel’s latest Kaby Lake processors. It comes with up to 16GB of RAM and houses up to 512GB of SSD storage.

Toshiba expanded its Portege laptop portfolio to launch a 2-in-1 offering – Portege X20W – pricing details of the 2-in-1 have not been announced yet. The Portege X20W convertible’s main highlight is touted to be its 16-hour battery life. Meanwhile, HP unveiled the refreshed EliteBook x360, a 15.6-inch Spectre x360, alongside the new Envy Curved AIO 34, the new Sprout Pro by HP, and Omen X 35 Curved Display.

Lenovo refreshed the ThinkPad X1 line, launching a host of products under its portfolio including the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, ThinkPad X1 Yoga, ThinkPad X1 Tablet, Miix 720, Lenovo Active Pen 2, Lenovo Legion Y720 Laptop, Lenovo Legion Y520 Laptop, Lenovo Smart Assistant, Lenovo Smart Assistant Harman Kardon Edition, Lenovo Smart Storage, Lenovo 500 Multimedia Controller, and Lenovo New Glass C200.

Asus also showed the Chromebook Flip C302 2-in-1 convertible, a high-end Chromebook. Samsung unveiled a Chromebook with stylus support, while Acer showed off a rugged Chromebook, targeted at classrooms.

Dell also launched a range of new gaming laptops in its Alienware and Inspiron lines, and Lenovo showed its range of Legion gaming laptops, and also a new VR headset, which will work with Microsoft’s Windows Holographic Program. Samsung also showcased a new gaming laptop, the Notebook Odyssey. The most jaw-dropping of the lot though was probably Razer’s Project Valerie concept laptop, which comes with three 4K displays, for “total immersion gaming”.

On the audio front, JBL launched the Pulse 3, Flip 4, Playlist, and BassPro Go speakers; Sennheiser unveiled wireless headphones and recording earbuds; Sony showed Google-Home friendly soundboards, along with new headphones and speakers; and LG announced a Dolby Atmos capable soundbar.

As usual, CES also saw a number of wearables being launched – some of the highlights were the Misfit Vapor, the Casio WSD-F20 rugged Android Wear watch, and the Motiv fitness ring, which comes with a heart rate sensor. There were a few VR related announcements for new accessories from HTC Vive, while the other products are still works in progress.

Outside of CES, we had two more launches in India this week. We saw the launch of the Xolo Era 2X – the 2GB RAM variant has been priced at Rs. 6,666 while the 3GB RAM variant has been priced at Rs. 7,499. It replaces the Xolo Era 1X, which launched with a price tag of Rs. 4,999 last year. Other than this, we had the launch of the Sennheiser HD 200 PRO closed-backover-ear headphones in India, priced at Rs. 6,490.

Besides this, TRAI released a consultation paper on net neutrality – you have till February 15 to send in your responses to the regulator on this important issue.

Paytm also announced an interesting development this week – it’s finally received approval to launch its payments bank – the actual rollout will still take a little time, but it’s expected in the coming months. Paytm had earlier announced that it’s going to merge its Wallet and Payments Bank, so your wallet balance will automatically become your bank balance.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai visited India this week, and launched new programs to help SMBs go digital. He visited his alma mater IIT-Kharagpur, where he talked to students, and told NDTV’s Vikram Chandra in an interview Google is keen to work on UPI. He also met IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad who says Google should tailor its services to local needs.

These were the highlights of the week for us, let us know via the comments what caught your eye this week.