Technology US

Samsung’s Galaxy S21 event: the biggest announcements

Samsung just finished its first Unpacked event of 2021. The headline announcements were the three new phones in its S21 lineup, but the company also announced new true wireless headphones, an item tracker, and a few other things.

We’ve rounded up all of the biggest announcements from the event right here.

Photo by Chaim Gartenberg / The Verge

Samsung announced the $799 Galaxy S21 and $999 S21 Plus, which are available for preorder today ahead of availability on January 29th. They’re largely the same phones, except for their physical size. And their camera module takes up an entire corner of the phones, giving them a whole new look.

Photo by Chaim Gartenberg / The Verge

Samsung announced the $1,199 Galaxy S21 Ultra, its newest top-of-the-line flagship smartphone. It has a bigger screen and more cameras than the S21 and S21 Plus, and, in a first for Samsung’s S line of smartphones, support for the S Pen stylus. It’s also available for preorder today and will launch on January 29th. Samsung is also working on an S Pen Pro with Bluetooth, which is coming later this year.

The Galaxy S21 Plus box.
Image: Samsung

Samsung is following Apple in not including a charging brick in the box with its newest phones. The phones will come with a USB-C to USB-C cable, but you’ll need to own a compatible charging brick or buy a new one if you want to plug your brand-new phone into a wall. The S21 lineup also won’t include headphones in the box.

Image: Samsung

Samsung’s new Galaxy Buds Pro true wireless earbuds have improved active noise cancellation, a refined ambient sound mode, an IPX7 rating for water resistance, and more. They cost $199, are available for preorder today, and you’ll be able to buy them in stores on Friday.

Photo by Chaim Gartenberg / The Verge

Samsung announced a Tile tracker competitor called the SmartTag. It’s a small Bluetooth Low Energy dongle that you can attach to things, and you can pair it with Samsung’s SmartThings app. The SmartTag only works with Galaxy devices, though. The SmartTag will be available on January 29th and it will cost $29.99. Samsung also announced the Galaxy SmartTag Plus, which uses ultra wideband for more precise tracking. The SmartTag Plus is launching later this year, and you’ll be able to buy one for $39.99.

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Mass Effect Teaser, New Among Us Map, More Announcements at The Game Awards

The Game Awards 2020 celebrated the best video games of the year and also made some exciting announcements, ranging from much-awaited sequels to worthwhile additions to popular games. Owing to the ongoing coronavirus-induced pandemic, the event was hosted virtually this year. The most notable among new announcements include an upcoming Mass Effect title, a new Among Us map, and two legendary characters to be introduced to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Fortnite. Take a look at some of the most notable announcements made at The Game Awards.

Mass Effect teaser

“Mass Effect will continue” – the new teaser for a possible new chapter in the popular BioWare sci-fi action adventure doesn’t reveal much except these words towards the end. However, it’s enough to get fans excited for the next chapter in the space saga. The teaser video shows Liara (or someone strongly resembling her), one of the recurring characters from the series. The teaser doesn’t even announce a release window for the game, but developer BioWare tweeted via the official @masseffect handle that a new Mass Effect is in “early production.”

Dragon Age 4 sneak peek

As if a new Mass Effect wasn’t enough, developer BioWare also teased an instalment to yet another hugely popular series – Dragon Age. While the new trailer didn’t showcase actual gameplay, it did show the return of some series favourites, including everyone’s favourite mage, Solas. Just like Mass Effect, the trailer didn’t confirm the name of the upcoming chapter or even the release window or compatible platforms.

Among Us gets a new map

The Airship, the new map on Among Us will now let players deceive and backstab each other aboard, well, an airship. The new map is massive, with several floors, contraptions, and tasks. For some reason, video game journalist Geoff Keighley will be featured as a mask in the game. The new update will arrive sometime in early 2021.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate gets a Final Fantasy touch

Nintendo has been known not to hold back when it comes to adding new characters to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. From Mario to Pac-Man, from Pikachu to Ryu, the fighting title already has an impressive roster of characters to choose from. Now, iconic Final Fantasy VII baddie Sephiroth joins the fray, as he is revealed to be a new fighter in the franchise, slated to arrive this month. We can’t wait to see how Sephiroth’s masanume sword fares against Mario’s super-powered stomp!

Fortnite adds Master Chief

Speaking of character additions, Halo’s iconic gun-toting hero Master Chief is now available for purchase as a skin in Fortnite. The Walking Dead fans has a reason to rejoice as well, as series favourites Daryl and Michonne will join the roster on December 16.

Warhammer 40,000: Darktide drops gameplay trailer

Chainswords, lascannons, and vile monsters – Warhammer 40,000: Darktide’s new gameplay trailer promises exactly what we hoped for from the upcoming co-op action survival shooter. Developed by Fatshark, the game is slated to release exclusively on Windows PC and Xbox Series S/X in the coming year.

Forza Horizon 4 gets a Cyberpunk 2077 car

The crossover no one asked for, but still is pretty exciting. Forza Horizon 4 will be adding a shiny new Quadra Turbo-R V-TECH vehicle from the recently released action-RPG, Cyberpunk 2077. It will be available for free within the game starting today.

Ark 2 stars Vin Diesel

Fast and Furious star Vin Diesel will take on menacing dinosaurs in the sequel to 2017’s Ark: Survival Evolved. The cinematic trailer for Ark 2 sets the mood for the upcoming game that will revolve around two warring tribes as they try to survive against prehistoric monsters. The game will also be accompanied by an animate series featuring voices of Michelle Yeoh, Jeffrey Wright, Elliot Page, Russel Crowe, Gerald Butler, and more, apart from Diesel. More details are expected to be announced soon.

Elder Scrolls Online is set to get a new chapter called Gates of Oblivion sometime in 2021. The cinematic trailer doesn’t reveal much, except set the mood for the upcoming instalment that stays in line with the previous chapters in Bethesda Softworks’ expansive online RPG. Further details are expected to be announced at a global reveal event on January 21.

Evil Dead: The Game announced

The shotgun-toting demon slayer Ash Williams is set to hit the gaming world with a Evil Dead: The Game. Based on the eponymous movies and TV series, the game is a third-person shooter that will allow co-op gameplay with four distinct characters and a whole lot of deadly weapons, including Ash’s gauntlet, chainsaw, and even a broomstick! The PlayStation-exclusive title will launch on both PS4 and PS5 in 2021.

Fall Guys gets a third season

Fall Guys, the fun battle royale survival title that tasted great popularity during the lockdown, is set to get a third season, bringing in some winter-themed content to keep up with the holiday season. Launching on December 15, the new season will add a handful of new levels and several fun costumes.

Monster Hunter Rise new demo announced

Capcom dropped a new trailer for its upcoming action RPG, slated to release on March 26, 2021, on Nintendo Switch. While the trailer showed off some impressive new monsters, the developers announced that the game will get a demo in January 2021. All Monster Hunter titles usually get a demo before actual release, and it would be interesting to see which creatures end up getting featured in the early demo.

Call of Duty Black Ops: Warzone season one trailer drops

New maps, characters, weapons, and more were unveiled by Activision for Call of Duty Black Ops: Warzone in its season one trailer. The sleek trailer does a good job of showcasing the brand new map – Rebirth Island – topped off with an explosive rendition of Black Sabbath’s ‘War Pigs’ playing in the background. The season one update will be available on December 16 across all platforms.

Back 4 Blood, Returnal new trailer, more announcements

Turtle Rock Studios, the developers behind the popular zombie survival shooter Left 4 Dead, announced a new co-op survival shooter at The Game Awards. Judging by the cinematic trailer, Back 4 Blood appears to be in the lines of the Left 4 Dead franchise, complete with hordes of zombies, powerful guns, and unique characters to play with.

Apart from that, Sony also unveiled a trailer for the much-awaited PS5 shooter, Returnal. While maintaining classic action-shooter gameplay, the title promises to blend sci-fi and psychological horror in a unique mix that could set the game apart from other titles in the coming year. Returnal is set to launch on March 19, 2021.

Just Cause, the popular sandbox action adventure, is set to get a mobile game of its own for the first time, that promises multiplayer and co-op mode as well. Lastly, Microsoft announced that Flight Simulator will be coming to Xbox Series S/X in summer 2021 with the same level of depth as its PC version. It will be interesting to see how the game, that taxes even the most high-end PCs, fares on the next-gen console.

Will Xbox Series S, PS5 Digital Edition fail in India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.

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The 14 biggest trailers and announcements from The Game Awards 2020

There weren’t any bombshells on the scale of last year’s Xbox Series X reveal, but the 2020 edition of The Game Awards was still packed with news and trailers. There were game reveals like Perfect Dark and Open Roads, more characters for Fortnite and Super Smash Bros., and a lot more. If you missed the show, or just need a refresher, here are the biggest moments.

Master Chief comes to Fortnite

As has been long-expected, Epic revealed that Halo star Master Chief is coming to Fortnite. He’s available today, and joining him later this season will be characters from The Walking Dead.

Among Us gets a new map

The breakout social hit Among Us is getting a bit bigger. At The Game Awards the development team revealed a brand-new map, which should give you even more ways to mess with your friends. It’s an airship, and it’s launching early 2021.

A better look at It Takes Two

A Way Out developer Hazelight showed off its next game, called It Takes Two, which is described as “a genre-bending platform adventure game created as a purely co-op experience.” It’s slated to launch on March 26th for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

A new virtual pop group debuts

One of the night’s musical acts was also the announcement of a game. We Are OFK is an interactive series slated to debut in spring 2021, covering the rise of an aspiring pop group called OFK, and fans got an early taste with a virtual performance at the event.

A new game from the creators of Gone Home

Gone Home developer Fullbright is back with a new release, called Open Roads, which is slated to launch next year. It tells the story of a mother and daughter on a road trip through a desolate landscape, and it stars both Keri Russell and Kaitlyn Dever.

The latest fighter for Super Smash Bros. is Sephiroth

Another Final Fantasy VII character is joining Cloud in battle: Nintendo made a surprise reveal that the game’s villain Sephiroth and his giant sword are coming to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. He may have even killed Mario.

Left 4 Dead has a spiritual successor

Left 4 Dead studio Turtlerock previously revealed it was working on a similar zombie-themed co-op shooter, and the developer showed off just what it looks like in a new gameplay trailer. Really, it’s just what it sounds like: Back 4 Blood features four players teaming up to fight off waves of the undead.

Dead Space also has a spiritual successor

Striking Distance Studios, a new team helmed by one of the creators behind the original Dead Space, announced its debut project: The Callisto Protocol. As you’d imagine, it’s a horror-themed sci-fi game that looks plenty scary, though it’s not expected to launch until 2022.

Perfect Dark is back

We’ve been waiting to hear what new Xbox studio The Initiative is working on, and the studio finally revealed its debut game: a modern reboot of the classic Perfect Dark series. No word on when it will be available, nor exactly which Microsoft platforms it will be playable on.

Dragon Age 4 gets a(nother) tease

EA and BioWare just can’t stop teasing the next Dragon Age, and at The Game Awards the showed the best look yet with a trailer that gives a good sense of the fantasy world. It’s still missing unimportant details like the release date, though.

And a Mass Effect tease

If that wasn’t enough, BioWare also provided a very brief glimpse at the next Mass Effect. it doesn’t tell us much, but hey, at least we know the game is alive.

Play as Vin Diesel, dinosaur hunter

The latest trailer for survival game Ark 2 contained a nice surprise: Vin Diesel stars as the lead, so you can control him while taking on monsters and dinosaurs. He’ll even be in a new animated series set in the game’s fantastical world.

A peaceful trip to the end of the world

The gorgeous-looking Season has a premise that’s both peaceful and full of sorrow. It’s described as “a third-person atmospheric adventure game” where “you play as a young woman from a secluded village exploring the world by bike for the first time, collecting artifacts and memories before a cataclysm washes everything away.” No word on when it will be available.

Flight Simulator is finally coming to console in 2021

One of this year’s biggest games, Microsoft Flight Simulator, is coming to consoles next year. Microsoft officially revealed that the game will be on Xbox next summer — though it’ll only be on next-gen hardware.

Technology US

The 5 biggest announcements from Apple’s ‘One More Thing’ hardware event

Apple just wrapped up its “One More Thing” hardware livestream, where it announced new versions of the MacBook Air, the 13-inch MacBook Pro and the Mac mini each with its newly announced, promising M1 silicon. Apple first detailed its transition from Intel to its own processors earlier this year — but this event was all about diving deep into what that reality now looks like, and when you’ll be able to get your hands on a computer featuring the just-announced M1 chip.

If you missed out on the stream, I highly recommend taking the purist route of rewatching it alongside our liveblog coverage to get the moment-to-moment commentary on each announcement. Otherwise, if you just want the headlines and the major details, that’s what I’m here for! Here are all the biggest announcements.

Image: Apple

Apple is making the jump to a 5nm chip called M1. It’s comprised of a octa-core processor, which Apple says contains the fastest CPU cores of any processor ever made, and the best performance per watt of any CPU in its class on the market.

The M1 also has an eight-core integrated graphics processing unit, and Apple again touts that it’s able to provide better performance than the “latest PC laptop chip” while demanding less power.

Apple’s new MacBook Air.

Apple launched the new $999 MacBook Air with M1, one of the first macOS devices to feature its new chip. The overall design looks the same as the previous model, but the company says that the M1 enables better battery performance (up to 18 hours of video playback) and better general performance with intensive apps like Adobe Lightroom, as well as games that tap into the integrated graphics. Apple also says that the M1’s flash controller makes accessing storage for read/write faster than before.

The MacBook Air is available for preorder today and will release next week.

Image: Apple

The new M1 processor is heading to the Mac mini desktop. This makes sense, given that Apple’s developer kit for the new silicon was in this Mac mini chassis. Apple says the M1-equipped Mac mini boasts three-times the performance of the previous iteration that housed a quad-core CPU.

The Mac mini’s rear I/O panel supports USB 4 and Thunderbolt and can connect to the Pro Display XDR with 6K resolution. It will start at $699, and you can tweak it with up to 16GB of RAM and up to 2TB of internal storage.

Like the MacBook Air, the mini is available for order now with release coming next week.

Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Pro is the next macOS device to get the M1 chip. It features the longest battery life of any Mac according to Apple, with up to 20 hours of video playback. The M1’s camera ISP will enhance the image during video calls, as it will on the MacBook Air that was also announced today. Apple says its Thunderbolt USB 4 ports support 6K resolution with the Pro Display XDR. It starts at $1,299 and is available for preorder now.

Image: Apple

The new macOS Big Sur operating system upgrade was made to take advantage of the M1 chip, which could explain why it has taken a while for the software to release. Apple demoed how quickly a laptop that looked like a MacBook Pro could power up when opened, as well as how swiftly apps can load.

The new OS upgrade launches this Thursday, November 12th.

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Apple’s ‘One More Thing’ event: rumors, news, and announcements

Don’t let the name fool you: Apple’s “One More Thing” hardware event on Tuesday, November 10th, is likely more than just an add-on to October’s iPhone 12 announcements. The event is set to be the launch of the first of Apple’s promised Arm-based computers, marking the start of the company’s separation from longtime partner Intel and the first time Apple-designed silicon will appear in Macs outside of T2 security chips.

The move was announced back at WWDC, and alongside a (hopefully) smooth transition, Apple promises improvements in performance and battery life from the new, still unnamed chip. Aiding the transition is Rosetta 2, a new version of the emulator that Apple used during its last processor transition from PowerPC to Intel. Rosetta 2 should allow you to run emulated versions of your old macOS apps on the company’s new Arm-based products when it ships with macOS Big Sur.

Big Sur (macOS 11.0) should also receive a final release date. The operating system will arrive with a new visual design that lifts a lot of elements from iOS 14 and a lot of features, too, like updated iMessage and Maps applications, widgets, and the Control Center interface. There’s also the possibility of other long-rumored products to finally appear — from AirTags to an updated version of the Apple TV 4K from way back in 2017. However this event shakes out, you can keep up with all of the news and announcements right here.

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Apple’s iPhone 12 event: the 7 biggest announcements

Apple has just finished its “Hi, Speed” event, where it finally took the wraps off the four new iPhone 12 phones, which have all-new designs and will all support 5G wireless networks. Apple also unveiled the HomePod mini, a smaller and more affordable version of the HomePod smart speaker.

If you want to read the play-by-play of the event, check out our live blog with commentary from Dieter Bohn and Nilay Patel. But if you just want to read the biggest news from the show, we’ve got you covered right here.

Image: Apple

The iPhone 12 has a new design with flat edges that harkens back to the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5. The standard 6.1-inch iPhone has two rear cameras, and both of them will now support night mode. It, and the entire iPhone 12 line, support 5G. And the iPhone 12 lineup’s screen also has a new “Ceramic Shield” glass cover that Apple claims will make the screen more durable. You can preorder the iPhone 12 on October 16th for $799 ahead of its October 23rd release.

Image: Apple

Apple also revealed a new smaller iPhone, the iPhone 12 mini, which has a 5.4-inch screen and similar specs to the full-sized iPhone 12. You can preorder it on November 6th for $699, and it will be released on November 13th.

Image: Apple

Apple announced a new Max-size iPhone, and its 6.7-inch screen is the biggest on an iPhone yet. The iPhone 12 Pro Max has three back cameras that offer a 5X optical zoom, a LIDAR sensor for things like improved augmented reality apps and faster autofocus, and a stainless steel outer band. It will be available to preorder on November 6th for $1,099 and will launch on November 13th.

Apple is also launching a 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Pro, which will cost $999 and will be available for preorder on October 16th ahead of an October 23rd release date.

Image: Apple

The new HomePod mini is smaller than the original model with a new rounded shape. Like the full-size HomePod, the mini has touch controls on the top, integration with Siri, and comes in two colors (space gray and white). It’s powered by an S5 chip, which first debuted in the Apple Watch Series 5. The HomePod mini will be out on November 16th for $99, and you can preorder it on November 6th.

Verizon said that it’s now rolling out its nationwide 5G network, which it says will reach 200 million people. Previously, Verizon 5G exclusively used mmWave technology, which can be very fast but has limited coverage. Verizon’s nationwide 5G will take advantage of dynamic spectrum sharing” (DSS) technology, which allows the carrier to run both LTE and 5G side by side.

Apple has reintroduced MagSafe charging, though this time, it’s in the form of wireless charging pads for the new iPhone 12 lineup. There are two different options: the MagSafe Charger for charging one device at a time and the MagSafe Charger Duo for charging two at a time, including a flip-up spot to charge your Apple Watch.

Apple’s iPhone 12 cases also have a magnet inside so you can still use MagSafe chargers and also attach additional accessories like a wallet clip.

Like with the Apple Watch, Apple has chosen to remove the wall charger from the iPhone 12’s box, and the wired EarPods won’t be included, either. The included cable will be USB-C to Lightning.

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iPhone 12 and more: all the announcements from Apple’s October 13th event

After unveiling its new line of iPads and Watches last month, Apple is announcing its 2020 iPhone on October 13th with the phrase “Hi, Speed.” Normally, Apple would have already unveiled its next iPhone in September, but due to the pandemic, the company confirmed the phone would be delayed until October.

Like last year’s event, we expect Apple to unveil more than one iPhone, four to be precise. Many rumors have previously said the names for the iPhones would be called the iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max. Apple has yet to release an iPhone with the “mini” moniker, but it would not be the first mini Apple product.

Spec-wise, rumors suggest the iPhone 12 mini will have a 5.4-inch screen, which would be smaller than the iPhone 11 Pro, which was 5.8 inches. Two iPhones with a 6.1-inch screen — one low-end model with specs similar to the 5.4-inch model and a second one with higher-end specs. Plus a 6.7-inch model, which will be bigger than the iPhone 11 Pro Max, which is 6.5 inches.

However, one thing to keep in mind is that it’s unlikely this year’s iPhones will have high-refresh 120Hz displays. The next iPhone line may also include a brand-new design, ditching rounded edges with squared ones, similar to the design found on the iPhone 4, iPhone 5, and iPhone SE. Other signs hint that this year’s iPhones could support 5G, delivering faster speeds once your network rolls out support in your area.

One of the biggest changes to this year’s iPhone event might be how the devices are packaged, with Apple rumored to include only a charging cable, but no EarPods or power adapter, something that has been included in every iPhone since 2007. If Apple plans to support the same power adapter for its next smartphone, this is likely a decision to reduce the amount of e-waste.

Apple also has a lot of other products in the works, such as over-ear headphones, a Tile competitor rumored to be called “AirTags,” and its first ARM-based Mac that will launch by the end of this year. But it’s unclear whether Apple is setting the stage for any additional announcements outside of its next smartphone.

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Big Story Coronavirus COVID-19 Delhi

“Mere Announcements”: Congress On Finance Minister’s Stimulus Package

Nirmala Sitharaman announced a Rs 73,000 crore package on Monday (File)

New Delhi:

The Congress on Monday said the government’s measures of providing LTC benefits and a festival advance to its employees are mere announcements and a fraud with people to make headlines that would not help boost demand in the economy.

Addressing a joint press conference, Congress leaders Gaurav Vallabh and Praveen Chakraborty said Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has given a new definition to “fiscal stimulus” by announcing measures that she thinks would stimulate demand and investments.

They said the minister has given the government employees their own salary and money and has now directed them to spend according to her wishes.

“The measures announced today are merely announcements. There was no extra spending to boost demand and the increase in the states’ capital expenditure is paltry and untimely. This is yet another vindication that the Modi government is at its wits’ end when it comes to managing the economy,” the Congress leaders said in a statement.

Mr Vallabh, who is the party’s spokesperson said Ms Sitharaman has belatedly realised that consumer demand needs to be stimulated in the economy, something that the Congress and many economists have been calling for the last six months.

“I call upon the government to bring concrete plans for stimulating demand in the economy and bring it out of the current recession. I also urge the government to provide more money in the hands of people and stop befooling the people,” he added.

Critical of the measures announced on Monday, Mr Vallabh said “it is like taking out money from one pocket and putting in another. By doing so, you are committing a fraud with the people of the country”.

He said by these measures, the government is hitting the tourism industry and urging employees to give a boost to the FMCG sector.

Mr Vallabh said the finance minister first announced a hastily designed economic package that had no impact.

“It was also a clear admission that the much hyped Rs 20 lakh crore “Aatmanirbhar” plan announced by the Prime Minister in May is a dismal failure in protecting and reviving India’s ravaged economy.

“But, evidently, lessons from that experience have not been learnt yet. Just because the PM or the FM call these measures an economic stimulus does not mean the economy will obey and get stimulated. The economy cannot be dictated to or swayed by headlines,” he noted.

Chakravarty, the chairman of the All India Congress Committee’s (AICC) Technology and Data Cell, said the Congress has been calling for implementation of the NYAY scheme proposed by it by giving money directly in the hands of people to help stimulate demand.

“It should truly be cash in hand and not diversion of cash from one area to another like the government has announced in case of the LTC cash voucher scheme and festival advance,” he said.

The Congress leader said unless there is additional money, people are not going to spend more and asked where is the demand stimulus.

On capital expenditure in states, he said it is a policy in the right direction, but the Centre must give more money to the states.

Mr Vallabh pointed out that the finance minister announced an extra Rs 12,000 crore to the states for capital expenditure, which is a paltry 1.3 per cent of the states’ total capital expenditure budget of nearly Rs 9 lakh crore for financial year 2020-21.

The amount is no more than a “lame joke on the economy”, he said, asking, “What effect will a 1.33-per cent increase in capital spending by states have on the economy?”

Ms Sitharaman announced a Rs 73,000 crore package on Monday, including advance payment of a part of wages to central government employees and cash in lieu of LTC, to stimulate consumer demand and investment in the economy damaged by the coronavirus pandemic.

As much as Rs 11,575 crore would be paid as LTC allowance and advance to central government and PSU employees on the condition that they spend on non-essential goods before March 31, she said.

The states would separately be eligible to get Rs 12,000 crore in 50-year interest-free loans for capital expenditure, while the Union government will spend an additional Rs 2,500 crore toward capital expenditure on roads, defence infrastructure, water supply and urban development.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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The 7 biggest announcements from Google’s Pixel 5 event

Google just wrapped up its fall hardware event where it debuted the Pixel 5, the less expensive Pixel 4A 5G, the oft-rumored Chromecast with Google TV software built in, as well as the Nest Audio smart speaker. It’s a lot of good news for people who like new hardware. All said, the quick half-hour event contained mostly announcements we expected, but there were a few unexpected surprises. Here’s everything you might have missed at Google’s event.

In the case of specs, the Pixel 5 isn’t trying to go up against the most powerful phones in the world. Instead of beating them when it comes to raw speed (it has a midrange Snapdragon 765G processor, but the 8GB of RAM should deliver some snappiness), Google is focused on delivering some unique features along with — for the first time — 5G support.

For one, it has a 90Hz refresh rate FHD display, which will make every little animation appear to run smoother. It’s also rated IPX8, so it’s both waterproof and dustproof. Google also says its camera is still amazing, and this new phone has an ultrawide lens. In terms of camera software, it will have Night Sight working in portrait mode, a mode that lets you adjust the lighting in post-processing, and — finally — Google seems to be making some improvements to video recording. The phone costs $699, and it will be released on October 15th in two colors: green or black.

Image: Google

The second phone Google debuted today is a Pixel 4A with 5G support. It’s more than just the same phone with a new feature, though. For people who wished Google had released a Pixel 4A XL, this is essentially that phone. It has a 6.2-inch OLED screen (the 4A has a 5.8-inch OLED). It shares the same Snapdragon 765G processor found in the Pixel 5 (a step up from the 730G in the smaller 4A), though it lacks a fast-refreshing display or waterproofing of any kind. This model costs $499, making it one of the more affordable 5G phones on the market. It’s going to be available in black or white, and it will launch in November in most countries.

Google is adding group watch to Duo video chats

In Google Duo, you’ll soon be able to screen share with whoever you’re chatting with. As Duo’s functionality stands today, you’re simply able to chat with the front- or rear-facing cameras, so sharing a screen seems great if you want to watch a movie together, or help walk your family or friends through some tricky steps in an app or game.

Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

Google’s new Chromecast is different from previous models in a few ways: it doesn’t require a phone to play content (though you can still cast from your devices), it includes a dedicated remote in the box with its own Assistant button, and has YouTube and Netflix quick launch buttons. It runs on its own OS called Google TV. Google has priced this new model at $50, which is great for a device that supports 4K HDR and a fleet of streaming apps. The Chromecast will come in three colors: snow (white), sky (blue) and sunrise (salmon pink)

Google Stadia Controller

You’d think Google would have given Stadia some stage time at its event. Alas, Stadia cloud gaming isn’t officially supported at launch (a shame!). But it will come at some point. That certainty comes from the fact that we actually got our hands on one of these Chromecasts already because they were available to purchase at Home Depot. And with a little fiddling, we got Stadia running on it.

As part of the announcement of the new Chromecast running Google TV software, the company’s own Google Play Movies & TV app will be merged into a app called — you guessed it — Google TV. Expect this change to occur on Android phones first. Like the app that’s being phased out, you’ll be able to rent or purchase movies with Google TV. If you sync your other streaming services to the app, Google TV can pull titles from each service into genres to make it easier to find something to watch. Google says this Google TV software will make its way to some devices currently running Google TV.

Google’s latest smart speaker is called the Nest Audio, and it looks like the byproduct of the original Google Home and the Home Max merged into one. It’s covered all over with Google’s almost-signature mesh fabric used in previous speaker models. There’s not much we can say about this one without trying it out, but Google says it should be a powerful speaker.

According to my colleague Dan Seifert’s post, “Google claims the Nest Audio is 75 percent louder than the Google Home it replaces, and has 50 percent stronger bass response. Its enclosure is made from 70 percent recycled plastic.”

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Amazon’s fall hardware event: the 13 biggest announcements

Amazon just wrapped up its fall hardware event, and it was packed with a number of big announcements. There are a number of new Echo devices, such as a spherical redesign of the tried-and-true Echo. Amazon also showed off improvements for Alexa, including new security features. We saw a bunch of new Ring devices — one of which was a drone that can autonomously fly around inside your home. And Amazon finally took the wraps off its long-rumored cloud gaming service, Luna.

If you want the play-by-play, check out our live blog with commentary from Dieter Bohn and Nilay Patel. And if you want the rundown of the biggest news from the show, check it out right here:

Amazon showed off a totally redesigned Echo with a new spherical look. It has Zigbee support, functions as an Amazon Sidewalk bridge, and has “premium, adaptive sound” from Dolby. It will cost $99 and will release on October 22nd.

Amazon has also brought the new look to the smaller Echo Dot ($49.99) and Echo Dot with Clock ($59.99). They’re available for preorder today. And new Echo Dot Kids Edition designs have cute panda and tiger designs, and they’ll cost $59.99. They’re also available for preorder today. (The regular Echo Dot ships on October 22nd, while the clock model ships on November 5th.) Alexa can also now recognize and respond to children’s voices with new voice profiles for kids.

Amazon’s new Echo Show 10 smart display is attached to a motorized base that automatically moves to face you as you move around a room and interact with the device. The smart display will cost $249.99, and preorders begin today, although there’s no exact release date yet.

The Echo Show 10 already lets you watch Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, but now it’s getting support for Netflix.

Amazon has finally revealed its AWS-powered cloud gaming service to compete with the likes of Google’s Stadia and Microsoft’s xCloud. It’s called Luna, it’s coming to Fire TV, PC, Mac, and iPhone (via web app) at launch, with support for Android “coming soon.” You can request early access to it today.

Amazon also revealed the Luna Controller, which the company promises will have lower latency when you use it with its “Cloud Direct” technology. You can buy the controller for an introductory price of $49.99 during Luna’s early access period.

Ring is launching the Always Home Cam, an autonomous security drone for your house. It can patrol your home on its own and return to a special dock to charge up its battery. It’s set to cost $249.99 and will ship next year.

Amazon showed off a new Fire TV Stick, which has HD Streaming, Dolby Atmos, and comes with the Alexa Voice Remote. It costs $39.99. There’s also a new Fire TV Stick Lite, which has a simplified Alexa remote and costs a bit less at $29.99. Both will be available on September 30th.

Amazon also took the wraps off a new Fire TV UI, which has a new look and starts from the profile page. The new UI launches later this year.

Image: Amazon

Amazon announced a new set of Wi-Fi routers, the Eero 6 and Eero Pro 6. They support Wi-Fi 6, have a built-in Zigbee Smart Home Hub, and work with Alexa. The Eero 6 will cost $129.99, while the Eero Pro 6 will cost $229.99. They’re available to preorder today and will ship on November 2nd.

Ring announced a set of security cameras for cars: the Car Alarm and Car Cam. They’ll be available next year. The company is also announcing Ring Car Connect, an API that other car manufacturers can use to integrate their car cameras into Ring’s platform.

Ring will offer end-to-end encryption for video footage for free to all users by the end of this year.

Amazon announced the AZ1 Neural Edge, a chip developed alongside MediaTek that will help Alexa respond to voice queries faster by processing them on-device. It’s built into the new Echo Show 10 and will be included in other Echo products in the future.

Amazon showed off a number of machine learning-powered technologies to help Alexa better understand multiple people at once and ask clarifying questions if needed. In one demo, Alexa helped two people ordered a pizza, and it understood when they were talking directly to Alexa and when they were just talking to each other.

Amazon says all new wall-powered Echo devices will have “low power mode”

As part of its efforts to make more sustainable products, Amazon said all new wall-powered Echo devices will have a new “low power mode.” The company said it will come to older Echo devices via a software update. In addition, the company will be rolling out an energy dashboard to help customers understand how much energy their Echo and Alexa devices are using.

The company also announced Alexa Guard Plus, which offers some new features on top of the company’s free Alexa Guard security monitoring system. It costs $4.99 per month.

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