Xiaomi Mi Band Maker Huami Launches Amazfit Health Band With Built-in ECG Chip

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The Amazfit fitness brand has been launched at CNY 699
  • The fitness tracker has been launched in China
  • It comes with an inbuilt chip that tracks ECG data

Huami, the company that makes the Mi Band in collaboration with Xiaomi, has unveiled a new fitness tracker under its Amazfit branding. The all-new Amazfit Health Band fitness tracker has been launched at CNY 699 (approximately Rs. 6,500) in China, and will be going on sale in Deep Black, Rose Gold and Sapphire Blue colours.

The Huami Amazfit Health Barnd fitness tracker can be expected to soon go on sale in other markets as Huami has its presence in several western markets including the US.

The Amazfit Health Band comes with all standard features seen in any fitness band. It can record movement and sleep while can monitor heart rate with a PPG photoelectric sensor. The Amazfit Health band also comes with an inbuilt chip that can record ECG data. It is one of the highlight features of the Amazfit Health Band.

Xiaomi Mi Band Maker Huami Launches Amazfit Health Band With Built-in ECG Chip

The band features an OLED display measuring 0.42-inch and can connect to smartphones. The band sports aluminium body and stainless steel casing which measures 19mm in width and weigh only 10 grams.

The Amazfit Health band comes with a 95mAh battery and is said to have battery life of up to 7 days while takes roughly 2.5 hours to fully charge. The Amazfit Health band also comes with IP67 certification which means it can survive in water if submerged up to a metre for around 30 minutes. The China launch was first reported by PhoneRadar.

Last year, Huami in collaboration with Xiaomi launched the first smartwatch, the Amazfit smartwatch in China. It was priced at CNY 799 (roughly Rs. 8,100).

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.

 

Secure OS Tails 3.0 Launches With Debian 9 Base, Redesigned Interface

Tails, the “read-only” Linux-based operating system that routes all internet traffic through the Tor anonymity network, has now reached version 3.0. The new release dropped 32-bit support to increase security and adopted the latest Tor Browser 7.0, and it also comes with a more polished desktop interface.

How Tails Works

Tails, the operating system that Edward Snowden used to reveal the NSA documents, is typically run from a DVD or USB stick (the latter is less secure) in a “read-only” mode so that malware can’t be written on the storage. Malware can still be activated in RAM during a Tails session, which is why it’s important to keep the sessions short and reboot the Tails operating system often. At reboot, you get the same clean image you have on your DVD.

Because of how it works, Tails is not well-suited for everyday computing (Qubes OS would be preferable for that); it’s for moments when you most need that increased anonymity. It also means that you need to write a new DVD or install it again on your USB stick every time there are new security patches out, to minimize the risk of hacking.

Security Improvements

The new Tails 3.0 dropped 32-bit support because of potential attacks against weak ASLR protection. Support for “No Execute” (NX) bit is also mandatory, but this feature should already be available on all 64-bit computers. The NX bit separates areas of memory that are used for the storage of processor instructions from areas used for processor data storage, offering increased resistance against hacking.

The Tor Browser 7.0 comes pre-installed, so Tails users can take advantage of an overall faster and more reliable browser due to the new multi-process architecture enabled in Firefox ESR 52, as well as the content sandboxing functionality.

Debian 9 Base With Redesigned Interface

The new Tails 3.0, which is now based on the latest major version of the Debian operating system, brings a new more modern-looking Gnome interface, too. Because Tails’ focus has been primarily on user anonymity, the interface has been lacking over the years; having a good user experience is key for user adoption, so the new look is an important development.

The Tails Greeter, which is the application that is used to configure Tails at startup, has been completely redesigned for ease of use. Now, all options are available from a single window, including the language and region settings, which should simplify the setup process for international users.

The shutdown experience has also has also been redesigned to make it more reliable, as well as more discrete so that it looks “less suspicious.”

The “Files” application has also been redesigned to reduce clutter and make the interface easier to use. The developers also added the ability to rename multiple files at the same time and extract compressed files without a separate application.

The notification area has been improved, as well. It now allows easy access to previous notifications, and the notification pop-ups have been made more noticeable.

Shortcut windows have also been added to help users discover keyboard shortcuts in applications.

Software Upgrades

Some of the first-party applications have been updated to their latest versions, too, as part of the migration to the latest Debian 9 base:

  • KeePassX from 0.4.3 to 2.0.3
  • Your password database will be migrated automatically to the new format of KeePassX2.
  • LibreOffice from 4.3.3 to 5.2.6
  • Inkscape from 0.48.5 to 0.92.1
  • Audacity from 2.0.6 to 2.1.2
  • Enigmail from 1.8.2 to 1.9.6
  • MAT from 0.5.2 to 0.6.1
  • Dasher from 4.11 to 5.0
  • git from 2.1.4 to 2.11.0

If you want to maximize your anonymity–when the Tor Browser running on Windows is just not good enough for you–you can now download Tails 3.0 from the project’s website. Those who are already using an older version of Tails should also upgrade to patch multiple security bugs.

Cheetah Mobile Launches Live.me Broadcasting App in India

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Live.me live broadcasting app available in India
  • The app is available to download via Google Play and App Store
  • Cheetah Mobile is maker of popular utility app Clean Master

Cheetah Mobile, the maker of popular mobile utility apps like Clean Master, CM Security, and Battery Doctor, has now launched its live broadcasting app for Indian users. Live.me app is now available to download via Google Play and App Store.

Live.me app will provide video-broadcasting features with interactive stickers with face-mapping technology to interact with the audience. The app also offers users to interact with other users and social influencers ‘live’. As add-ons, users can purchase digital “gifts” like emoji for favourite live creators. The app also supports social media integration to allow users to share their broadcasts to friends.

The app maker has plans to build fan communities by promoting Indian artists through live events and promotions within the app and on social media. The app can also identify sensitive Indian keywords in both English and Hindi that will block and report users with unsavoury content. Currently, Live.me features over 50 ‘influencers’ to engage with including artists such as Vishakha Sodha, Shruti Singh, Sonel Singh, Avanie Joshi, Shahzan Mujeeb, Nalin Swami, RJ Diamond, and RJ Kalpesh.

Cheetah Mobile Launches Live.me Broadcasting App in India

Announcing the launch, Yuki He, VP of Cheetah Mobile said, “Live.me is a platform of expression and creativity. We recognize the bursting creativity and passion among the people in India and we are proud to bring Live.me to empower this passion and bring it alive. We hope that users in India embrace the app and give voice to their talents and reach a global audience. The introduction of Live.me in India will shape the future of mobile broadcasting.”

Cheetah Mobile claims that Live.me has been ranked as top app under social category on Google Play for the US region while it’s third top on the App Store. Other markets where Live.me is available include Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Middle East.

 

Dell Launches New Inspiron AIOs and Gaming Desktop at Computex 2017

Dell Inspiron 27 7000

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Dell has launched two new Inspiron AIOs
  • It has also launched a new Inspiron Gaming Desktop
  • Dell has also refreshed the XPS 27 AIO

Computex 2017 is underway, and Dell has launched two new AIOs and one new Gaming Desktop updating its Inspiron lineup further. The new line-up includes Inspiron 27 7000 AIO, Inspiron 24 5000 AIO, and a new Inspiron Gaming Desktop. The company has also updated its XPS 27 AIO to make it more VR compatible.

Dell Inspiron 27 7000 and Inspiron 24 5000

AIOs Starting with the new models, the Inspiron 27 7000 and Inspiron 24 5000 both sport edge-to-edge displays with what Dell likes to call the InfinityEdge display technology, and they are VR ready. The Inspiron 27 7000 AIO sports a 27-inch 4K UHD display and offers the latest multi-core Ryzen AMD processors and AMD Polaris RX500 Series graphics. It runs on Windows 10 with Hello support, has a USB Type-C 3.1 port, and comes with Dual Drive options with SSD storage. The Dell Inspiron 27 7000 AIO is available in China on Dell.com and at select retailers starting at $999.99 (roughly Rs. 64,600). The all-in-one will be made available worldwide in the coming weeks.Dell Launches New Inspiron AIOs and Gaming Desktop at Computex 2017

Coming to the Inspiron 24 5000 AIO, the desktop offers a 24-inch Infinity Edge IOS full-HD display. it is powered by the latest seventh generation AMD processor and AMD Radeon R560 graphics. It also brings Windows Hello support, Cortana with far-field speech recognition, USB Type-C 3.1 and Dual Drive options with SSD storage. The device is available in China starting at $699.99 (roughly Rs. 45,200), and will be made available worldwide in the coming weeks. Both the devices are claimed to be VR ready.

Dell Inspiron Gaming Desktop

The Inspiron Gaming desktop runs on Windows 10 and sports the latest AMD multi-core Ryzen processors featuring SenseMI, which is said to optimise power consumption, task routing, and clock speeds to deliver more responsiveness and performance whether it’s gaming, virtual reality, or streaming. For keeping the system cool, Dell has introduced thermally optimised airflow routing. It has Polar Blue LED lightning, and supports HTC and Oculus VR headsets. Discrete graphics card options include Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 and AMD Radeon RX 580, and the desktop offers up to 32GB DDR4 memory. Ports include USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C port and up to six SuperSpeed USB 3.1 Gen one ports. Power supply options are up to 850 watts for supporting dual discrete graphics, and a selection of high-capacity hard drives with responsive SSD and dual-drive options plus up to five bays for future storage upgrades is also provided. The desktop is available in China starting at $599.99 (roughly Rs. 38,700), and will be made available worldwide in the coming weeks.

dellgaming main dell

Dell Inspiron Gaming Desktop

Dell XPS 27 AIO

Lastly, Dell has also refreshed its XPS 27 AIO with new graphics and CPU to make it more VR compatible. The company brings support of up to Intel Core i7-7700 processors, and AMD RX 570 GPUs. The AIO has a 27-inch 4K UHD display and connectivity options include Wi-Fi 802.11ac, a GbE port, five USB 3.0 Type-A headers, one HDMI output, one DisplayPort 1.2, two Thunderbolt 3 ports (USB Type-C), an SD/MMC card reader, a 720p webcam with an IR sensor for facial recognition, and a microphone.

There’s a non-touch model priced at $1,999.99 (roughly Rs. 129,200) and it comes with a 2TB hard drive and 32GB of M.2 SATA SSD cache. The higher-end touchscreen model is priced at $2,649.99 (roughly Rs. 171,300), and it comes with a 512GB, PCIe SSD. Both the AIOs are packed with 16GB RAM that can be configured up to 64GB.

MEL Science Launches Daydream VR App for Chemistry Education

HIGHLIGHTS

  • MEL Science wants to bring together chemistry kits and VR
  • It wants students to explore the inside of atoms to understand reactions
  • It’s starting with Google Daydream, with Cardboard and Gear VR next

Virtual reality is slowly gaining steam, and although gaming takes up the lion’s share of attention, many experts believe that areas like education will be powerful drivers for growth when it comes to VR. This is steadily becoming reality, according to Vassili Philippov, Founder and CEO of MEL Science. In an emailed conversation with Gadgets 360, Philippov talks about why he believes virtual reality is going to become extremely important in the education sector, and gave us an early look at the company’s Chemistry VR application, which releases on Tuesday.

MEL Science is a London-based company that is building a technology-enabled approach to science education. It’s using educational videos, virtual reality explanations for the underlying science, and combining that with hands-on experiments using real chemistry kits.

MEL Science Launches Daydream VR App for Chemistry Education

Philippov says that the new VR application is being released as a subscription service – with the first six VR classes free – and each month, consumers will get two new chemistry sets to do experiments with their kids at home, alongside the VR and video experiences. Philippov says the chemistry sets are important, because he does not believe that VR alone can replace a chemistry set.

MEL build atom MEL

“Virtual reality can be used to simulate a real lab. So instead of using real chemicals, test tubes, and burners you will use virtual ones,” he writes. “Indeed, real hands-on experiments are more engaging for kids. Every time I do experiments with kids, I see their eyes light up. We do not want to take it away from our kids by replacing real hands-on experiments with a VR lab.”

VR is perfect for explaining how the science behind the experiments works, according to Philippov. “VR is perfect to place kids inside a chemical reaction where molecules fly all around them, where they see how these molecules interact with each other,” he writes. “We can let them play with atomic orbitals. We can encourage kids to touch them, build their own atoms and molecules and see what happens.”

“You can explain to kids what happens inside a chemical reaction or inside a cell,” Philippov continues. “You can also explain why. And you can show pictures. Imagine how much more they would understand if they were to find themselves inside a chemical reaction.”

The idea behind the MEL VR application is that it becomes easier for children to understand basic concepts by enabling them to visualise things that happen at a micro level in a very interactive manner. The free lessons that MEL will be releasing cover atoms in solids, atoms in gases, atoms in structure, electron orbitals, and create your own atom. This will enable children to learn about the structure of the atom, and the differences between the elements.

MEL in lab MEL

Starting with Google Daydream
One of the challenges with virtual reality is that there are too many platforms out there, which is a problem for those developing new applications. In the high-end VR space, we’ve got three systems: the Playstation VR, which is a closed system that only works with the PS4; and the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, which are both powered by high-end PCs. Software for the latter two has some degree of interoperability, with a raft of caveats.

Then there’s a whole range of mobile VR headsets as well – starting with Google Cardboard, the Samsung Gear VR developed wth Oculus, and most recently, Google’s Daydream.

MEL Chemistry VR is being launched for Google Daydream – coincidentally, just one day after the Daydream Viewer headset was launched in India on Monday – which is supported on only a handful of phones. As of now, Daydream is limited to the Google Pixel, Pixel XL, and Moto Z, and it is coming to Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ soon. On the other hand, you can use Cardboard with almost every phone, including Apple’s iPhone.

MEL first person MEL

However, Philippov writes that MEL Science wanted to focus on Daydream first because it offers much more functionality than its cheaper, and more widespread cousin, Cardboard. That said, the company will release a Cardboard build, and then a Gear VR build as well, he adds. “Gear VR is a great platform, although most schools use Cardboard as it is much cheaper,” he writes.

On the other hand, Philippov is of the opinion that high-end PC VR setups are not likely to find much use in education, at least not at the school level. “We believe mobile based VR will be the way to go in schools,” he continues.

A concern we raised is whether it would be safe to use a VR headset for extended periods, particularly for children whose bodies are still developing. Philippov admits that there’s no data yet on this space, but he points out that Google has already been using VR for education, with some success.

“Google did quite large scale pilot program with Google Expedition in schools,” he writes. “More than one million students have tried this VR experience. I have not seen the official papers but what I heard that no big concerns were identified to use of VR in schools. It is still early days for VR technology, but I am sure that it will be a great tool in science education.”

Facebook Launches Features to Connect US Users to Elected Officials

HIGHLIGHTS

  • New features intended to boost civic engagement among users in the US
  • New offerings come as Facebook tries to rehabilitate its image
  • Constituent Badges, Constituent Insights, District Targeting announced

Facebook announced a set of three new features on Wednesday intended to boost civic engagement among users in the United States on its platform by connecting them more easily with their elected representatives.

The new offerings come as the social media juggernaut has sought to rehabilitate its image as a credible source of information following a wave of criticism after last November’s presidential election that the company did too little to combat misleading or wholly fabricated political news stories during the campaign.

Facebook Launches Features to Connect US Users to Elected Officials

 

Among the features, Facebook will now allow users to turn on “Constituent Badges” to identify them as living in their elected officials’ district. The opt-in badge will be visible when a user comments on content shared by their federal, state and local representatives.

“District Targeting” creates a new preset audience selection that lets politicians’ pages target posts to people likely to be their constituents.

Facebook has continued to come under attack from prominent Democrats and some technology experts despite a raft of changes it has made in recent months that seek to help users consume more legitimate political news.

Hillary Clinton, who ran for president as a Democrat last year but lost to President Donald Trump, a Republican, said last week that Facebook was flooded with false information about her during the campaign and that people were understandably misled. She said she wanted Facebook to curate its network more aggressively.