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Xiaomi launches Mi A3 Android One smartphone with 48MP rear camera in India for $181 – TechCrunch

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Google has found a committed Android One partner in Xiaomi. The Chinese electronics giant today announced the launch of the Mi A3, its third Android One smartphone, in India as the company looks to expand its handset offering in its most important market.

The Mi A3 features mid to high-end hardware modules and follows Xiaomi’s tradition of punching above its price class. It sports a 6.088-inch HD+ (1560X720 pixels) AMOLED display, a trio of 48MP, 8MP and 2MP camera sensors on the back to capture detailed and sharp photos, and a 32MP selfie shooter.

The Mi A3 comes in two variants: one that bundles 4GB of RAM and 64GB storage. It is priced at Rs 12,999 ($181). The second variant, which features 4GB of RAM and 64GB storage, is priced at Rs 15,999 ($223). Both of them are powered by the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 processor.

A lot about Android One’s future is riding on the Mi A3, which was first unveiled by Xiaomi in Spain last month. Xiaomi said the Mi A1 and Mi A2 handsets that it launched in last two years remain the most popular Android One handsets.

For Android One, a program announced by Google in 2014, the Android maker works with phone vendors closely to ensure timely software updates and clean and “stock” Android experience without the bells and whistles that carriers and phone companies pre-install on their devices.

Android One saw significant momentum in its early years when many top smartphone vendors including LG, HTC, and Motorola launched several handsets under the program. But for a while, it appeared that the Google initiative had lost its momentum. Things have picked up pace in the last two and a half years.

Xiaomi, which ships MIUI Android skin on its standard smartphones, has tried to not cut any corners to make up the cost, Manu Jain, the head of Xiaomi India and VP of Global operations, said at a media conference in New Delhi Tuesday.

(Xiaomi makes a significant amount of its revenue from its services and apps, all of whom are not pre-installed on the Mi A3 handset.)

On the contrary, Jain said Xiaomi has added some of the familiar features to appease users. The Mi A3 handset houses a fairly large 4030mAh battery, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and supports external microSD card should you need more storage — three things that are too often too much to ask for.

Xiaomi says it has also incorporated a fingerprint sensor into the display to allow users to quickly unlock the phone. (It also supports unlocking via facial recognition.) You can check rest of the specs here.

For Xiaomi, which entered India in 2014, the world’s second largest internet and smartphone market, has become its most important region. The company has been the top smartphone vendor in India for eight straight quarters.



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Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner software fix promised in the coming weeks

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The company behind the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaners, iRobot, has announced that the software updates it issued have been causing problems for some of its robotic vacuum cleaners. Models specifically impacted by the software issue are Roomba i7 and s9 robots. The company states that it is currently working on a software upgrade to fix issues owners have complained about.

The issue for owners of the impacted robotic vacuum cleaners is that the update will be rolled out over the next several weeks. Owners of impacted Roomba vacuums say that the recent 3.12.8 firmware has caused navigation issues with the vacuum cleaners. After applying that software update, one user says their Roomba acted “drunk,” spinning around and bumping into furniture.

The owners also said the vacuum cleaned in strange patterns and would get stuck in an empty area along with not being able to return home to its dock. Other users have reported that the updates wiped out environmental maps made by the Roomba vacuums essential to their cleaning function. Impacts from the bad software update have caused a variety of issues, with some taking longer to clean than usual. Units unable to make it back to their docking station are unable to charge, leaving them unusable.

iRobot has been working with users impacted to roll back the update, but even after the update is rolled back some report they still have issues. Some users who were promised help rolling back the software update say they have waited weeks and still haven’t received help. These robotic vacuum cleaners are typically quite expensive, and a software update leaving them unusable understandably angers owners.

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Joby Aviation unveils its eVTOL air taxi flight video for the first time

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Joby Aviation certainly isn’t a household name today, but that could change the future. Joby is one of the companies trying to bring affordable and efficient air travel to the masses for short distances. Joby has spent more than a decade developing piloted, all-electric vertical takeoff and landing passenger aircraft and has conducted more than 1000 test flights so far.

The goal is to operate a clean, quiet, and affordable air taxi service starting in 2024. One notable thing about Joby Aviation is that it was the first company to get a certification basis for an eVTOL aircraft with the FAA. It has also been granted airworthiness approval for an eVTOL aircraft by the U.S. Air Force. The merger with Reinvent Technology Partners values Jobi Aviation at $6.6 billion and is expected to generate about $1.6 billion in gross proceeds.

The deal includes $910 million in fully committed funding, including an $835 million fully committed PIPE. The investment was anchored by strategic partners and institutional investors, including Uber Technologies and more. The agreement has up to a five-year lock-up and price-based vesting on certain sponsor shares. Some of the shares don’t vest until the company reaches a $30 billion market capitalization.

Proceeds from the deal will fund Joby Aviation through the start of passenger service, including the aircraft’s certification and development of manufacturing facilities. The company’s goal is to change how people move by unlocking the possibility to fly sustainably over gridlock and traffic via piloted, four-passenger, emissions-free aircraft.

The aircraft the company is developing can travel up to 150 miles at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour. It’s unclear at this time how much passengers might pay to use the air taxi service when it launches.

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Telegram improves self-destructing chats, expiring invite links

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WhatsApp’s Facebook-friendly privacy changes have caused many users to flock to other secure messaging services. Those services, in turn, have rapidly pushed out changes to improve their features as well as prepare their servers for the sudden influx of new users. For its latest set of updates, Telegram is adding a touch of transience to some of its features, such as public chats as well as invite links, while also making sure that refugees from other messaging platforms will feel at home as well.

Telegram has had support for chats that delete themselves after a period of time for quite a while now but those were limited to Secret Chats. With the latest version of Telegram, any and all chats can automatically delete themselves for all participants in 24 hours 7 days after sending. Sadly, it doesn’t seem that users will have fine-grained control over those.

New users will probably want to invite their friends to their groups or channels and Telegram is making that both easier and safer. You can now use QR Codes instead of obscure links and you can even set those invite links to expire after a certain period of time, number of users, or even both. Together with the ability for Broadcast Groups to have unlimited members, Telegram is making the platform both personal and massively social at the same time.

With a massive influx of new users, there will undoubtedly be some people who might not want to play by the rules, both Telegram’s as well as your social circles. Telegram is updating its reporting system to both make complaints and reports clearer, like allowing comments to be added for an explanation, and make it less likely for others to abuse the system.

The latest Telegram update also improves home screen widgets on both iOS and Android, like adding a Chat Widget that shows the most recent messages. Because of the usual platform differences, however, only Android will always show the latest messages with iOS’ widget will only be updated at intervals.

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