Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Officially Recalled in US; Replacements Due September 21

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission on Thursday announced a recall of around one million Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones plagued by incidents of batteries bursting into flames.

The move by the US safety agency formalizes the recall underway in 10 countries after reports of faulty batteries that caused some handsets to explode during charging.

Samsung meanwhile announced replacements for the faulty phones would be available to US customers next week.

In the United States, there have been 92 reports of batteries overheating, including 26 reports of burns and 55 reports of property damage, including fires in cars and a garage, the commission said in a notice.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Officially Recalled in US; Replacements Due September 21

The US notice affects around one million of the global total of 2.5 million handsets being recalled, which has cast a cloud over the South Korean electronics giant and world’s largest smartphone vendor.

Samsung has advised consumers in 10 countries to trade their handsets for temporary replacement phones until it releases an updated flagship device.

But many users have snubbed the offer, choosing to wait until the new phones were available, citing the inconvenience of switching devices for an interim period.

And different regulatory practices in different countries – as well as varying reactions from carriers – have caused a degree of customer uncertainty and confusion that is hampering Samsung’s efforts to get the recall behind it as quickly and painlessly as possible.

In a half-page ad carried by major South Korean newspapers on Wednesday, Samsung announced a Note 7 software update that will limit battery recharges to 60 percent of capacity. It would prevent the phones from overheating, and thus exploding, but would effectively mean a downgrade of the high-end device.

Replacements coming
Samsung Electronics America announced that replacements for Galaxy Note 7 smartphones will be available at retail locations in the US by September 21.

“Our collaboration with the CPSC to fast-track a voluntary recall in the US addresses safety concerns by ensuring we reach Note 7 owners quickly to exchange their devices,” Samsung America president Tim Baxter said.

“We are asking owners to act now by powering down their Galaxy Note 7 devices and receive a replacement devices or a refund through our exchange program.”

In an effort to steal a march on Apple, the Galaxy Note 7 was given an early launch in the key US market, making that a priority for the recall effort.

US and Japanese aviation authorities have urged passengers not to turn on or charge the large-screen phones on aircraft, while the US Federal Aviation Administration has told passengers not to stow the device in checked baggage.

Samsung’s recall trouble comes as rival Apple seeks to regain momentum with the Friday release of new-generation iPhone 7 models.

The newest versions of the California-based technology giant’s lifestyle-changing iPhone aim to win over users with sophisticated camera technology, water resistance, more power and other improvements.

Google, AppNexus Distance Themselves From Adblock Plus' Acceptable Ads Platform

Google, AppNexus Distance Themselves From Adblock Plus' Acceptable Ads Platform

Eyeo, the maker of the Adblock Plus ad-blocking extensions and apps, recently unveiled its Acceptable Ads Platform to sell and serve ads. When the announcement about the platform was made by the company, it said that it will supply ads from both Google and AppNexus. However, it seems like Eyeo was solely relying on development partner company ComboTag’s association with Google and AppNexus to bring them the ads from these companies.

In a strong statement to Engadget, Google said, “We were surprised by the announcement and learned of it when we were contacted by press. We have no involvement in their program and this is not a business we want to be part of. We are moving to terminate ComboTag’s AdX account. Ad blocking is a symptom of bad ads online and that’s why we believe the industry needs to align around a standard – backed by data and insights from conversations with real consumers – for what constitutes a better ads experience online.”

The Acceptable Ads Platform is essentially an advertisement network that serves ads that adhere to the company’s non-intrusive advertisement policy. These ads are whitelisted, and will also be served by in place of ‘intrusive ads’.

Google’s senior VP of Sales Sridhar Ramaswamy has told Engadget that the company was not only caught off-guard by the Adblock Plus announcement but was also “uncomfortable” with its transition from completely blocking ads to pushing them.

He added that the industry as a whole should start working towards ads that are less intrusive and are therefore acceptable to the users, eliminating the need to block them altogether.

AppNexus, the other company involved in the matter, has also denied its involvement with the Acceptable Ads Platform. In a statement to Business Insider, the company said, “We informed ComboTag this afternoon that they had no authorisation to announce such a partnership, and that we are definitively refusing to make Acceptable Ads Platform available on AppNexus.”

It added, “AppNexus does not work with companies like Eyeo; we regard their business practices as fundamentally harmful to the ecosystem. Essentially, Eyeo, via its Adblock [Plus] product, erects toll booths on a public road and siphons off advertising dollars that should be going directly to publishers. We hold that practice in low regard.”

In the meanwhile, ComboTag CEO Guy Tytunovich reacted to the AppNexus ban, with these words to AdExchanger: “We are surprised and disappointed that AppNexus had this sudden change of heart. However, we’d prefer not to speculate about what happened in the course of yesterday, or who spoke with whom about what, or what conversations may have happened on Twitter.”

The Acceptable Ads Platform is clearly off to a rough start and these statements by Google and AppNexus are likely to hurt the reputation of not just the platform but Eyeo and ComboTag as well.

Videocon Cube 3 With 4G VoLTE Support, Panic Button Launched at Rs. 8,490

Videocon on Wednesday launched the Cube 3 smartphone in India, featuring a panic button that was recently made mandatory by the government to include in both smartphones and feature phones. The 4G VoLTE-enabled Videocon Cube 3 has been priced at Rs. 8,490, and will available from offline stores in the country.

The company says that with the launch, it will be introducing the panic button across its entire portfolio. The panic button is found inside the SOS-Be Safe app, which according to Videocon uses the power button as a panic button to send out an SOS alert to pre-registered numbers in an emergency.

The SOS-Be Safe also offers features like Alert, Walk with Me, and Reach on Time. Users can trigger these features from their smartphone’s status bar and set security preferences like time, distance and contacts. The app makes the use of GPS to provide a map view of nearby police stations and hospitals for any critical situation.

Videocon Cube 3 With 4G VoLTE Support, Panic Button Launched at Rs. 8,490

Getting back to the launch, the dual-SIM supporting Videocon Cube 3 runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow, and sports a 5-inch HD (720×1280 pixel) IPS display with 2.5D curved glass and Dragontrail X protection. It is powered by a 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6735 SoC, coupled with 3GB of RAM.

The Videocon Cube 3 bears a 13-megapixel rear camera with dual-LED flash and PDAF, and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera with LED flash. The smartphone comes with 32GB of inbuilt storage that’s expandable via microSD card. In terms of connectivity options, it offers 4G, VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth v4.0, GPS/ A-GPS, FM radio, a 3.5mm audio jack, and Micro-USB. The smartphone is powered by a 3000mAh battery.

Speaking on the launch, Akshay Dhoot, Head – Technology and Innovation, Videocon, said, “Videocon Smartphone is a consumer-first brand aiming to create indigenous devices, matching up the growing needs of consumers and smartphone eco-system in the country. Smart devices packed with powerful and utility led features are shaping the consumer aspirations and industry growth. With smartphones impacting our lives in many ways, emergency response system or panic button is certainly the need of the hour. We welcome the recent provision by government for devices with emergency response facilities as it will provide a new direction for the industry to empower smartphone users. We are confident that our latest Cube 3 handset featuring ‘SOS-Be Safe’ will assist smartphone users during different kind of emergency situations and enhance consumer experience.”

Amazon Unveils New Echo Dot Speaker at Just $49.99

Amazon Unveils New Echo Dot Speaker at Just $49.99

Amazon announced on Wednesday that its voice-controlled speaker Echo will be released in UK and Germany this fall and a new white model will be launched in the US. Interestingly, Amazon didn’t stop with the announcements there and also launched a new version of Echo Dot, shaped like a hockey puck like its predecessor, at just $49.99 (roughly Rs. 3,350).

The first version of Echo Dot was launched by Amazon in March this year and was available for $90 (roughly Rs. 6,000). Just like the first version, the new Echo Dot is also controlled by voice controlled assistant Alexa. The new version allows also users to connect it to larger speakers.

Amazon has not detailed just why the new Echo Dot is cheaper. It in fact bears some improvements over its predecessor, including an improved speech processor for better voice recognition. Amazon has also introduced Echo Spatial Perception (ESP), which will ensure users with multiple Echo Dot devices will be served by the one closest to them.

As for multiple Echo Dots, Amazon is making them available in a six-pack (buy five, get 1 free) and a 12-pack (buy 10, get 2 free).

Regarding improvements to Alexa, Amazon said in its release, “Since Alexa runs in the cloud, she is always getting smarter-plus, it is simple and free for developers to build Alexa skills and integrate Alexa into their own products. In the US, there are already over 3,000 skills available for Alexa.”

The voice-controlled speakers are always ready to take commands from the users and can answer questions, read news, or even play music.

Amazon further announced that there will be thousands of Alexa skills available for UK customers at launch including skills from Spotify, Uber, Philips Hue, Hive, Just Eat, National Rail Enquiries, and more.

“Millions across the US have already fallen in love with Alexa. And, predictably, she’s even more likeable with a British accent,” Amazon’s Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos was quoted as saying in the release regarding the UK launch of the voice-controlled assistant.

Recently, Amazon.com also unveiled a cheaper, voice-assisted version of its Fire tablet, Fire HD 8, at at a price of $89 (roughly Rs. 6,000).

OnePlus Starts Rolling Out Community Builds for OnePlus 3 and OnePlus X

OnePlus has started rolling out community builds of OxygenOS for the OnePlus 3 and OnePlus X smartphones. Unfortunately, the new OxygenOS builds are not based on Android 7.0 Nougat but they bring several new features to the phones.

The Chinese company says that users who have already flashed a previous community build will receive the new update via OTA (over-the-air). Users who are running stock OxygenOS will have to flash the build with the help of ADB sideload. The company recommends users to backup all data on the phones before flashing the build, warning of a possibility of losing personal data. Once the community build is flashed, users will get community OTAs.

OnePlus Starts Rolling Out Community Builds for OnePlus 3 and OnePlus X

OnePlus 3 users can now download the OxygenOS 3.5.2 community build which adds “kill all background processes” button in recents menu; adds long press options in messages app; enhance incoming call notification UI; adds manual “check for update” button; adds additional directions for first fingerprint configuration; add back contacts widget in launcher; new night mode and battery saver modes added in control panel, and support for PIN codes up to 6 digits added. The new community build for the OnePlus 3 also improves dialler speed and brings battery saver mode optimisations and enhancements. Users can download the OxygenOS 3.5.2 community build from here.

The OxygenOS 3.1.1 Community build for the OnePlus X adds the ability to move apps to SD card; improves touch responsiveness, speed, and accuracy; improves HFR setting in video capture; implements September Android security patches, and brings general bug fixes. OnePlus has fixed some of the known issues for SD card stability which was first reported that “Move to SD card” in settings sometimes did not work. The new build also fixes the issue of apps or device crashing if the SD card tray was removed. Users can download the OxygenOS 3.1.1 Community build for the OnePlus X from here.