After being launched last month, Amazon has made the Echo Plus and Echo Dot White colour variant available in stock in India. The Echo Dot Grey variant and Echo Sub variants are still listed to be available late October and mid-November respectively. Separately, Amazon has introduced new APIs for developers to support more smart home functionalities into Echo and Alexa-enabled devices. The new Doorbell Event Source, Alexa.RTCSessionController and Motion Sensor APIs will enable users to connect their doorbell press and camera motion sensors to Alexa. This will allow Alexa to shout out when someone is at the door, and turn on voice announcements for the smart home camera, and even allow it detect motion in the house.
Last month, Amazon launched a slew Echo products at its Alexa event, and made a few of them available in India as well. Most of the devices were up for pre-order, and still are, but the Echo Plus and Echo Dot White variant is finally in stock on Amazon. In India, the third-gen Echo Dot (Grey and Black) is listed to be in stock from October 25, and the Echo Sub is said to arrive on November 14. The Echo Plus and the third-gen Echo Dot (White) are in stock, with delivery promised by tomorrow for Prime members. The Echo Dot (3rd generation) is priced at Rs. 4,499, the Echo Plus is priced at Rs. 14,999, and the Echo Sub is priced at Rs. 12,999. As part of the Amazon Great Indian Festival offers, the e-commerce giant is offering the Echo Dot at a discounted rate of Rs. 2,999 and the Echo Plus at a discounted rate of Rs. 11,999. Echo Show and Echo Input were also announced, and are expected to come to India soon, while the Echo Auto, Echo Link, and Echo Link Amp are three interesting products that aren’t coming to India at this point.
In the US as well, the Echo Plus and the Echo Dot are in stock and other devices are back-ordered, with the Sub shipping in late October, and the Echo Show shipping from November 6. Amazon is allowing users to buy the devices, but delivery is promised at a later date. The US availability was first spotted by Android Police.
Separately, Amazon has introduced the new Doorbell Event Source, Motion Sensor, and 2-Way Communication (Alexa.RTCSessionController) APIs to enable Alexa to make voice announcements regarding someone at the door, motion detection in smart home cameras, and build a two-way link between smart display devices like the Echo Show and Echo Spot. These can be used in the US only currently, and other region support will be added soon. “Customers can also set up smart home automations using doorbell or motion events like turning on lights, playing music or custom announcements using Routines within the Alexa app,” Amazon noted on its developer blog.
Smart devices from Ring and August have already implemented Doorbell and Motion Sensor APIs, and the 2-Way communication API has been implemented by Ring, while August is looking to implement it soon. For the 2-Way Communication API, Amazon notes that “it currently supports only WebRTC compliant cameras or 3Ps who use a WebRTC bridge to connect to Alexa. Alexa voice commands are currently only available for full duplex cameras. Half duplex cameras will have push to talk capabilities on the Echo Show or Echo Spot.”
BBM Aka BlackBerry Messenger to Shut Down in May, but BBM Enterprise Becomes Available to Individual Users
BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) is shutting down. Emtek, an Indonesia-based company which had taken over the development of BBM consumer version in 2016, on Thursday announced that it will be winding down the messaging service on May 31, 2019. In light of Emtek’s announcement, BlackBerry has stated it is releasing BBM Enterprise (BBMe) for the individual users. The Android version of the BBMe is already available for download, whereas the iOS version will be coming soon. BlackBerry Messenger once used to be one of the most popular messaging apps in world and a key feature of the BlackBerry devices. It was later introduced on Android and iOS platforms, but its popularity dwindled as competing chat apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger gained momentum.
Emtek blamed the difficulty of bringing new users to BBM as one of the reasons why it is closing down the service. BlackBerry Messenger will continue to remain functional up to May 31, after which the app will cease to operate.
“Three years ago, we set out to reinvigorate BBM consumer service, one of the most loved instant messaging applications, as a cross-platform service where users can not only chat and share life experiences, but also consume content and use payment services,” Emtek wrote in a blog post. “The technology industry however, is very fluid, and in spite of our substantial efforts, users have moved on to other platforms, while new users proved difficult to sign on.”
It is important to note here that BBOS or BlackBerry 10 users will remain unaffected as BlackBerry continues to manage BBM for the platform, but they won’t be able to send and receive messages from BBM for Android/ iOS users after Emtek shuts the app down.
Meanwhile, following Emtek’s decision, BlackBerry has decided to step in, and the company revealed in a press release that it is bringing BBM Enterprise to the individual users. The service was earlier limited to the company’s enterprise customers. BBMe is now available as a free download from Google Play Store and it will be coming to Apple App Store soon.
According to BlackBerry, BBMe will be free to use for the first year, following which the users will have to buy a six-month subscription at $2.49 (roughly Rs. 170).] Given that BBMe includes built-in enterprise-grade end-to-end encryption, which is not available in BBM consumer version, the subscription may be worth price for avid BBM users.
“This decision [to release BBMe for individual users] was made out of BlackBerry’s respect for loyal BBM users and was not a contractual obligation,” BlackBerry said in a statement.
Instagram testing co-watching feature on app
Facebook-owned photo-messaging app Instagram is testing a new feature that would let users co-watch on-platform video content with friends, while being able to see their reactions on the video via the phone cameras.
The option would start with a split-screen view, where users would be able to apply face filters and other visual tools to their personal camera feeds, Social Media Today reported on Thursday. “Instagram’s co-watching media picker is essentially tabs of Explore, Saved and Liked.
It’s somehow also showing me photos though.
Unless Instagram designed co-watching so we can stare at an image together, it will be fixed when released,” reverse engineer Jane Manchun Wong tweeted.
The feature would let users watch Instagram videos together with added interactive elements of being able to see and hear their co-viewer in a minimised window.
At present, the option appears to only support two concurrent viewers, alongside the Instagram Live functionality.
“That could be somewhat restrictive, but then again, previous research has shown that 85 per cent of the messages shared on Instagram are distributed to the same three friends, highlighting a desire for more intimate communication on the platform,” report added.
The photo-messaging app’s test feature is similar to Facebook’s previously launched “Watch Party” feature — that lets users watch public videos in real time with a group of friends on the app.
Since launching Watch Parties in groups last July, Facebook says that it has facilitated more than 12 million “Watch Parties” within Groups alone, while “Watch Parties” also garner 8 times more comments than regular videos in Groups, the report noted. Instagram has not commented on testing or availability of the feature as yet.
F&D R3 Wireless Speaker Launched in India, Priced at Rs. 4,990
Audio brand F&D, also known as Fenda Audio, has made a name for itself in the audio accessories space, and sells a wide range of affordable speaker systems, headphones, portable speakers, soundbars, and more. The brand is available both online and offline, and is considered a good entry-level option for aftermarket speaker systems. The latest product from the company is the F&D R3 wireless speaker, which is priced at Rs. 4,990. The product is available online through major portals, as well as offline in retails stores across the country.
The F&D R3 is a portable wireless speaker which uses Bluetooth to connect to various source devices, such as smartphones and computers. The speaker uses two 3-inch full-range drivers along with passive radiators, for a total of 12W of output. The speaker has a frequency response range of 70-20,000Hz, and weighs about 950 grams. For connectivity, the R3 uses Bluetooth 4.2, and also allows for FM radio, TF cards, auxillliary, and USB drives for music playback.
The speaker has a 4,500mAh battery which promises battery life of up to five hours on a single charge. The speaker features an interesting pattern on the exterior, along with controls for power and playback at the top. The speaker has an MRP of Rs. 4,990 and will be available to buy at various online retailers, among other offline retail stores.
F&D is better known for its 2.1-channel and 5.1-channel speaker systems, but also has a large range of wireless speakers, headphones, earphones and soundbars. The company has been present in the Indian market for some years now, and offers buyers affordable options for home and portable audio equipment.
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