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‘No better person’: Google’s Sundar Pichai named CEO at parent firm Alphabet

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Google chief executive Sundar Pichai will assume the CEO role at parent firm Alphabet in a shakeup at the top of the Silicon Valley titan, the company said Tuesday.

Pichai will take over from Larry Page, a co-founder of the internet giant, at the holding firm which includes Google as well as units focusing on “other bets” in areas including self-driving cars and life sciences.

Page and Google co-founder Sergey Brin “will continue their involvement as co-founders, shareholders and members of Alphabet’s board of directors,” the company said.

In a letter to employees, Page and Brin wrote: “We’ve never been ones to hold on to management roles when we think there’s a better way to run the company.”

They added that Pichai “brings humility and a deep passion for technology to our users, partners and our employees every day” and that there is “no better person to lead Google and Alphabet into the future.”

Alphabet was formed in 2015, giving a separate identity to the original company Google and other projects such as autonomous car unit Waymo and smart cities group Sidewalk Labs.

The 47-year-old Pichai, born in India, takes the helm at a time when Page and Brin have been noticeably absent and the company faces a torrent of controversies relating to its dominant position in the tech world.

Pichai is likely to fill a void at the company as it faces antitrust investigations and controversies over privacy and data practices in the United States and elsewhere.

The company has also faced allegations of failing to adequately address sexual harassment in the workplace and of straying from the ideals espoused by the founders in the company’s early code of conduct which included the motto “don’t be evil.”

“He’s a technologist but he’s been a steady hand for the last few years and has proven his ability to conduit business at the highest level,” said Roger Kay, analyst at Endpoint Technologies Associates.

Kay added the move “ratifies that the (Google) founders have stepped aside almost entirely.”

Pichai will have a new role as he faces up to claims from President Donald Trump of “bias” in internet search results, and the latest charge from Amnesty International that its business model leads to human rights violations by enabling surveillance of users.

Earlier this year, Pichai met with Trump and appeared to ease the US president’s concerns that Google was unwilling to help the US military but was boosting China and its military.

Trump tweeted after the March meeting that Pichai was “totally committed” to US security.

Last December, Pichai kept calm as he parried US lawmakers over complaints of political bias and intrusive data collection.

“We build our products in a neutral way,” Pichai said in one exchange with a lawmaker, and added later: “We approach our work without any political bias.”

Chennai to Silicon Valley

Born to humble beginnings in the southern city of Chennai, he studied engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Kharagpur before heading to the United States to further his studies and career.

After leaving India, he attended Stanford University and later studied at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

In recent years, Alphabet has become one of the world’s most valuable companies, with a 2018 profit of some $30 billion on revenue of $110 billion.

The 2015 reorganization appeared aimed at installing the startup mentality for new ventures, described by Google as “moonshots.”

These ventures, including the life sciences group Verily and the biotech operation Calico, have been losing money.

Kay said the “other bets” have been struggling because even though they have the financial backing from Google’s profits “they don’t have the do-or-die element” of other startups.

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Mobiles & Tabs

Vivo V17 expected to launch in India on December 9

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Vivo is slated to launch a new V-series smartphone in India on December 9 as the company sent out media invites for the event. Vivo is expected to launch the new Vivo V17 smartphone which made its debut in Russia few days back.

The media invite for the Vivo event features a punch-hole camera display for the upcoming smartphone. Vivo V17 which launched in Russia features a notched display instead of the one displayed on the invite. However going by a 91 mobiles report, Vivo V17 will launch with a punch-hole display in India. The report also suggests the Vivo V17 will flaunt a design like the Galaxy S10.

In terms of specifications, Vivo V17 features a 6.38-inch Full HD+ AMOLED display. The smartphone is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 665 processor coupled with 8GB of RAM and 128GB storage. It also has a microSD card slot for storage expansion up to 256GB.

For photography, Vivo V17 sports a quad camera setup with a 48MP primary sensor, 8MP ultra-wide angle lens, a 2MP macro sensor and a 2MP depth sensor. The smartphone also has an interesting diamond shaped camera design. For selfies, Vivo V17 comes with a 32MP camera up front. Connectivity features on the Vivo V17 include dual SIM, 4G VoLTE, NFC and Bluetooth 5.0. The smartphone also packs a 4,500mAh battery with USB Type-C port for charging.

Vivo V17 will be the second smartphone in the series following the Vivo V17 Pro. This smartphone was launched in India earlier this September at Rs 29,990. The highlight of Vivo V17 Pro is its six rear cameras and also its pop-up selfie camera.

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Nokia 2.2 gets permanent price cut, now starts at Rs 5,999

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HMD Global’s budget smartphone Nokia 2.2 has just received a price cut in India. Nokia 2.2 arrived in India earlier this year at a starting price of Rs 6,999 and in two storage variants. The budget phone has received a price cut of Rs 1,000.

Nokia 2.2 will now be available at Rs 5,999 for the base model with 2GB RAM and 16GB storage. Nokia 2.2 with 3GB RAM and 32GB storage will be available at Rs 6,999 down from its original price of Rs 7,999. HMD Global’s VP for India and APAC Ajey Mehta announced the price cut for Nokia 2.2 on Twitter. Interested users can purchase the Nokia 2.2 from Flipkart.

Nokia 2.2 features

Nokia 2.2 is said to deliver better lowlight photos using AI. The smartphone also comes with support for face unlock. It also has a dedicated Google Assistant button. Nokia 2.2 comes with a 3.5mm headphone jack, HDR support, Google Lens, Bluetooth 4.2 and microUSB port for connectivity.

Nokia 2.2 specifications

Nokia 2.2 features a 5.71-inch HD+ display with 19:9 aspect ratio. Under the hood of the phone runs MediaTek’s Helio A22 processor. The smartphone also offers a microSD card slot for expandable storage up to 400GB. Nokia 2.2 is fuelled by a 3,000mAh battery and with support for 5W charging.

For photography, Nokia 2.2 sports a 13-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front facing camera. On the software front, it runs Android Pie out-of-the-box. Nokia 2.2 runs on Google’s Android One programme which ensures up to two years of OS upgrade and three years of monthly security upgrades.

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Mobiles & Tabs

Realme X2 Pro, Realme 5S launch in India soon: Specs, features and everything else we know so far

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Realme is gearing up for an event on November 20. The company is set to unveil Realme 5S and Realme X2 Pro smartphones. Ahead of the official launch, Realme has already revealed some important features and specifications of the two phones. Realme’s new phones are going to be available online via Flipkart. Let’s take a closer look at the two upcoming smartphones.

Realme X2 Pro

Realme X2 Pro has already launched in China. The first premium smartphone from Realme comes with Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 855 Plus processor with up to 8GB of RAM and up to 256GB storage. It also has a 4,000mAh battery with 50W Super Vooc flash charge. For power users, Realme X2 Pro offers vapour cooling technology for better heat dissipation.

Another highlight of the phone is 90Hz display which is available on select handsets such as Google Pixel 4. The upcoming Realme phone has a 6.1-inch full HD+ Super AMOLED display with dewdrop notch on the front.

In the camera department, Realme X2 Pro offers as many as four rear cameras – 64-megapixel primary sensor, 13-megapixel telephoto lens, 8-megapixel ultra-wide angle sensor, and 2-megapixel depth sensor. For selfies, it offers a 16-megapixel camera.

Other key features of the phone include NFC and in-display fingerprint sensor.

Realme 5S

Realme 5S is the latest addition to Realme’s budget and mid-range portfolio. The smartphone is confirmed to come with a 6.51-inch HD display. It’s powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 655 processor and is fueled by a 5,000mAh battery.

Realme 5S will come with four rear cameras including a 48-megapixel as primary sensor. The camera setup includes wide-angle lens, macro sensor and a depth sensor. According to the official teasers, Realme 5S will sport Realme 5-like look and feel.

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