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Alexa, Smart Home Speakers Get Popular in India

Echo Plus has come a long distance in terms of look and feel.

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Google , US, Alexa, Amazon, Drones, e-commerce
The logo of Amazon, online retailer is seen at the company logistics center in Lauwin-Planque, France. VOA

 Smart home speakers are steadily gaining ground in India and Amazon’s Echo range has been appreciated the most so far, followed by Google Home.

Led by Amazon Echo, with 59 per cent market share, the smart speakers category in India grew 43 per cent in the second quarter (July-September) this year, according to an International Data Corporation (IDC) report.

Analysts see the nascent smartphone market in India growing beyond entertainment and Amazon, with its top-of-the-line voice-based Alexa platform, has brought the second iteration of its Echo smart home speaker to the country that is able to control connected devices around you and does not need third-party support.

The Indian smart home devices market which consists of connected lights, smart speakers, connected thermostats, smart TVs, home monitoring/security products and digital media adapters saw a healthy year-on-year growth of 107 per cent to hit 1.4 million shipments in the second quarter.

Google , US, Alexa
In this March 2, 2016, file photo, David Limp, Amazon Senior Vice President of Devices, pushes down on an Echo Dot in San Francisco. VOA

Let us see what the Rs 14,999 All-New Echo Plus (2nd Gen) with a smarter Alexa has to offer.

The top has four buttons — two to adjust volume, one to wake up Alexa and one mute button — along with seven ergonomically-placed microphones.

This time, the 780-gram device goes beyond reading daily news, playing music, announcing weather or ordering food.

The All-New Echo Plus comes with a built-in smart hub that helps you set up compatible Zigbee-enabled smart home devices directly, just using your voice.

Amazon Alexa. Flickr
Amazon Alexa. Flickr

Zigbee is a wireless technology developed to enable low-cost, low-power wireless machine-to-machine (M2M) and IoT (Internet of Things) networks.

Just ask Alexa to discover your devices and begin controlling compatible lights, plugs, locks, thermostats, sensors and in-wall switches.

For example, Echo Plus connected directly to Philips Hue light-bulbs.

Insert the bulb into a receptacle and tell Alexa to discover new devices. Within no time, she will throw up the name of the device (in this case, the light-bulb).

Start controlling the device, like “switch on the light Alexa”.

You can also control compatible lights and plugs from Syska, TP-Link and Oakter.

With seven microphones, beam-forming technology and noise cancellation, Echo Plus heard us from almost all directions.

Google , US, Alexa
Alexa, which comes with Echo speakers and other gadgets, starts recording after it hears its name or another “wake word” selected by users. Pixabay

Housing new speakers powered by Dolby and enhanced back volume, the bass felt stronger and the sound crisp and clear.

One feature that is worth mentioning is the equaliser (EQ) feature that allows users to personalise sounds by adjusting the bass, mid-range and treble.

Just ask Alexa to increase or decrease a specific band like “turn up the bass” or “decrease the treble” and she does it for you.

We could also made adjustments through the Alexa app.

The new Echo Plus also has a temperature sensor, making it possible for Alexa to tell the temperature in any room (it works with a compatible smart home thermostat).

With the device, call or message your friends and members in the family who also has an Echo device or the Alexa App.

Google , US, Alexa
The Alexa Echo Dot devices include the official Saint Louis University logo and are equipped with specific skills to provide information on local events and campus life. VOA

Simply ask “Alexa, how do I set up calling?” and get started.

What doesn’t work?

Alexa is getting smarter by the day and we will soon have more local functionalities in it. At the moment, the device gives the best smart speaker experience.

Also Read: Snapchat’s Camera May Help You Shop at Amazon

Conclusion: From a tall, metal cylinder look in the first generation, Echo Plus has come a long distance in terms of look and feel. The second-generation Echo Plus with a far more intelligent Alexa is a real upgrade if you have experienced the first generation Echo. (IANS)

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Google Maps Allows Android Users to Share Locations Using Plus Codes

The update aims at easy sharing of locations using Plus Codes

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Plus Codes
Android users can now share their location using Plus Codes in Google Maps. Pixabay

Google Maps app for Android has received a new update where users can share their locations using Plus Codes.

Google Maps has the option to show Plus Codes since August 2015. The new change, however, is aimed to expand Plus Codes usage by allowing users to easily share their locations.

A Plus Code is essentially a digital address and it’s derived from latitude and longitude coordinates. It can be generated for any location.

“The technology to generate Plus Codes is also open source, which means the technology is easy and free to use, so anyone can see how the technology works and develop their own applications for any use case,” David Martin, Director of Program Management, Google Maps, said in a statement on Friday.

Users will be able to tap on the blue dot representing their current location and get a Plus Code for it.

Plus Code
Users will be able to tap on the blue dot representing their current location and get a Plus Code for it. Wikimedia Commons

Alternatively, they can long tap on a spot to put a pin on it and get a code for that.

Also Read: Canada Faces Sharpest Downturn in GDP Since 2009

Alongside the Plus Code, the application will also show other options including options to see nearby places, share your location and save your parking.

Once the app shows the Plus Code on the screen, one will be able to copy it just by tapping on it. Now, one will be able to share it among contacts by pasting it on apps like WhatsApp, Messages and more. (IANS)

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80% Maharashtra School Students Don’t Report Cybercrimes: Survey

It is also reportes that 33% students deleted content due to which they were targeted for cybercrimes

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cybercrimes
37 per cent of the students revealed that they were affected by some sorts of cybercrimes. Pixabay

At least 80 per cent of school students in Maharashtra aged between 10-17 do not report cybercrimes they face online to their parents, teachers and the police, a new survey revealed on Thursday.

The study done with 1,148 children studying in the 6th-9th standard across 18 schools in Maharashtra, found that 33 per cent students deleted content due to which they were targeted for cybercrimes, while 31 per cent informed their friends about it.

The survey by a non-profit startup Responsible Netism and Cyber Peace Foundation, Maharashtra State Council of Educational Research and Training (MSCERT) was conducted between October 2019 to February 2020 to understand internet usage trends of children across Maharashtra.

The research found that 37 per cent of the students revealed that they were affected by some sort of cybercrime including their accounts being hacked, cyberbullying, being threatened online, harassment by strangers and even receiving pornographic content.

“Millions of kids in Maharastra today are being exposed to cybercrimes owing to the ease of access and anonymity that internet offers,” Sonali Patankar, Founder President, Responsible Netism, said in a statement.

Cybercrimes
60 per cent of students faced other Cybercrimes such as cyberstalking, online gambling, etc. Pixabay

“Our research points to the fact that technology companies are not stringently safeguarding the interests of children towards ensuring their cyber wellbeing,” Patankar added.

Also Read: Every 4 in 10 Adults Suffer From Gastrointestinal Disorders Globally: Researchers

The findings showed that at least 60 per cent of students faced other crimes such as cyberstalking, online gambling, body shaming, added to inappropriate groups online, threatened online, etc.

According to the study, 46 per cent of the students revealed that they were dependent addicted to their devices (phones, tablets, computers) and it affected their studies. The report also revealed that Whatsapp and Tiktok are the two most-used apps by children in the state while PUBG and GTA are the most popular online games amongst children. (IANS)

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Amazon Alexa Powered Mi Band 5 to Check Blood Oxygen Saturation

The band will come with NFC support feature in China

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Mi Band 5
A picture of Mi Band 4, prequal to the upcoming Mi Band 5. Wikimedia Commons

Xiaomi is reportedly working on next-generation fitness tracker Mi Band 5 with features like SpO2 detection that checks the blood oxygen saturation along with Amazon Alexa support.

The latest fitness band will also come with NFC support though the feature would be limited to China.

The fitness tracker is likely to feature 1.2-inch OLED display which is bigger than the one on the Mi Band 4 and is expected to come with a bigger battery.

According to Tizen Help, the Mi Band 5 will have a “Personal Activity Intelligence (PAI)”.
This feature will essentially show users how much activity is required to stay healthy and the band will make such suggestions based on the user’s heart rate data.

 Mi Band 5
The fitness tracker in Mi Band 5 is likely to feature 1.2-inch OLED display. Wikimedia Commons

Also Read: WhatsApp Beta to Add New QR Code Feature for Easy Contact Sharing

The band may also come with a Women menstrual cycle feature (the one available in Apple Watch). This will allow female users to keep a track on their menstrual cycle.

The smart band will be launched in China first and will be available in other countries later. (IANS)