Microsoft showcases gameplay from Xbox Series X titles

Agencies
July 23, 2020

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Washington D.C, Jul 23: Tech giant Microsoft on Thursday showcased the gameplay from its 13 new titles for its Xbox Series X.

According to The Verge, the company had announced the new titles back in Many but on Thursday they provided a clearer look of what the gaming console will have to offer gaming buffs.

The Chief of Xbox Phil Spencer kicked off the showbase and noted that there would be titles from 9 of the total 15 Xbox developers on display. This also includes the five first-party games.

The company also kicked off the 'Halo Infinite' which is the latest version of Halo. 

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Agencies
September 18,2020

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New Delhi, Sept 18: Ending months of speculation, Apple is launching its first exclusive branded online store in India on September 23 just ahead of the festive season, offering a full range of products, support and premium experience to consumers and the large aspirational fan base across the country.

For logistics support, Apple has partnered with Blue Dart to be its on-ground fulfillment partner. Given the current pandemic situation, customers can expect safe, contactless deliveries in 24-72 hours from the date of purchase of all premium and new products, including the ones (Apple Watch Series 6 and new iPad Air) launched earlier this week.

"We are super excited to bring Apple Store Online to India. We love the passion Indians have for our products and supporting them has been our passion too. The Online Store will ensure seamless, safe and contactless delivery of our products in these Covid times as safety of staff and customers is our topmost priority." Deirdre O'Brien, Apple's Senior Vice President of Retail + People, told IANS.

The Apple India store, the 38th online store worldwide, would have specialists to lend expert advice and support to the Indian customers.

From learning more about product features to setting up new devices, customers can receive guidance directly from Apple, including online support in English and phone support in Hindi and English.

Those who buy Apple products will be eligible for a 30-minute, one-on-one online session with a trained executive to explore more about the device, set it up and or solve any other query.

The online store also provides the ability to custom-configure any Mac with just a few clicks.

With financing options and available trade-in programme, the Apple Store Online offers a range of affordability options.

Students can shop for a Mac or iPad with special pricing, and receive discounts on accessories and Apple Care+ that extends warranty with up to two years of technical support and accidental damage cover.

Apple currently has third-party reseller outlets and online channels to sell its devices in the country and its own branded online store will certainly help the company in giving a controlled experience of its devices and services.

Welcoming the Narendra Modi cabinet's decision to ease the 30 per cent local sourcing norm in single-brand retail (SBRT) in August last year, Apple said it looks forward to welcoming customers at its first retail store in India soon.

"We love our customers in India and we're eager to serve them online and in-store with the same experience and care that Apple customers around the world enjoy," Apple said.

Apple, which has already started manufacturing certain iPhone models in India, has reportedly selected locations for its exclusive retail stores in the country as well.

Apple currently has over 500 physical retail stores worldwide, with the world's first floating retail store at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.

On its online India store, customers can expect free online 'Today at Apple' sessions led by local creative professionals, focused on photography and music in October.

Just in time for the festive season, signature gift wrap and personalised engraving will be available for select products.

Engraving of emojis or text in English, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil, and Telugu will be available for AirPods, and English engraving will be available for iPad and Apple Pencil.

For the health and well-being of Apple's teams, customers, and communities, all orders from the Apple Store Online will ship with contactless delivery.

Orders that do not require a signature will be left at the customer's door, and those that do will need only a verbal confirmation from a safe distance instead of a written signature.

Apple has been operating in India for more than 20 years, and the company's ongoing investment and innovation support almost 900,000 jobs across the country.

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Agencies
September 17,2020

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New Delhi, Sept 17: In a setback to the automobile industry looking for a reduction in GST rates to help tide over the present crisis, the finance ministry has said current taxes on the sector were lower than pre-GST times and the industry should rather look at reducing their costs by cutting down the royalty payments to parent companies abroad instead of asking the government to change the GST rates.

Top sources in the finance ministry said that India's tax policy on automobiles has been quite consistent for the last three decades now in the form of allowing foreign investment and incentivising domestic manufacturing by providing reasonable protection from imports.

"The industry has on its part delivered. It has contributed by way of large investments and employment. All of a sudden, dissent in some quarters on tax rates on automobile is surprising. In fact these companies should cut down their costs of manufacturing by cutting down the royalty payments to their parent companies abroad instead of asking the government to reduce GST," finance ministry sources said.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's recent statement at an industry event suggesting that concerns of the industry in GST would be taken to the GST Council, fuelled speculation that rates on automobiles may be reduced. Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Prakash Javadekar early this month also said the central government is looking into the automobile industry's recommendation for a reduction in Goods and Services Tax (GST) rates by 10% across all categories of vehicles.

However, sources said that the GST Council is unlikely to accept a cut in rates as most states are not in favour in tampering with the tax rates during the current pandemic. The Council is now focused on GST compensation and how to mobilise resources to bridge the gap between expected and actual GST collection this year.

With the introduction of GST, multitude of taxes in the form of excise duty, special excise duties, cesses, VAT, CST etc, gave way to uniform GST. Vehicles, based on their high pre-GST incidence have been placed in 28 per cent slab. Passenger vehicles also attract compensation cess ranging from 1 per cent to 22 per cent. Finmin sources said, even with compensation cess the taxes on automobiles have not gone beyond pre-GST incidences except may be in few that were enjoying certain duty concessions.

Official sources in finance ministry said that there has been complete certainty as such in the auto sector taxation in India. Certain concessions have been provided to electric vehicles and to hybrid vehicles. Also, the most established players of the auto sector have been in India for quite some time and are used to the regulatory and taxation environment and have flourished in this regime. It is evident from the huge payouts in the form of royalty made by these auto companies to their parent companies located abroad. So the contention that high taxation in auto sector is causing a demand slump and difficulty in scaling up for auto players does not hold, they said.

Asked whether the present GST structure along with compensation cess makes Indian automobiles sector pay among the highest taxes globally, the top government source quoted above said that this was not true.

"The GST on automobiles is in the highest GST bracket across the globe without much exception. In fact, world over, automobiles are subject to taxation on the higher side. Say, for example, Japan currently has three types of taxes on automobiles - once on purchase, then an annual automobile tax (yes, an annual tax) based on engine size and finally a weight tax at inspections required once every two years. Over and above this, there is GST at the highest of the applicable rates."

"Also, in EU, the base rate for VAT/GST on automobiles ranges from 20 to 25 per cent with plotters of other taxes varying with jurisdiction. UK charges vehicle excise duties which varies with car emission norms and has 14 rate slabs varying from 0 pounds a year to 2,175 pounds a year with surcharge of 325 pounds in the first year and 150 pounds for expensive vehicles. Besides, there are road usage charges. Further, high parking charges are common across the globe. Most of the countries provide certain concessions to electric vehicles. Given this, it would be unfair to claim that the GST rates in India are astounding or a demand dampener."

As per figures for the month of August 2020 released by automobile body SIAM, the domestic production of 2 wheelers has outdone the numbers of August 2019. While in August 2019, 18.58 lakh units were produced, in August 2020 the numbers have risen to 18.59 lakh units. This is up from a mere 3 lakh units in May 2020. Similarly, in the Passenger Vehicles segment, while in August 2019, 1.89 lakh units were sold, in August 2020 around 2.16 lakh units have been sold.

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Agencies
September 25,2020

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Taking on Google Stadia, Apple Arcade and Microsoft xCloud, Amazon has introduced Luna, a new Cloud gaming service that will run on Amazon Web Services (AWS).

The Luna Controller with Cloud Direct technology is simple and intuitive. The controller is Alexa-enabled and connects directly to the cloud to effortlessly control your game. 

"In fact, we removed 20 milliseconds of roundtrip latency via Luna Controller with Cloud Direct technology vs. a local Bluetooth connection when playing Luna on a Fire TV Stick," the Amazon Devices & Services team said in a statement late on Thursday.

Players can easily switch between screens — such as Fire TV to mobile phone — without additional pairing or configuration changes.

The company also introduced the Luna+ game channel. 

During early access, people will have popular games like ControlResident Evil 7GRIDYooka-Laylee and The Impossible Lair, and Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

"Customers can request early access starting today. Luna+ will be offered at an introductory price of $5.99 per month during the early access period and Luna Controller will be available for an introductory price of $49.99. 

Amazon also announced a new gaming channel with leading global video game publisher Ubisoft, available directly through Luna.

The Ubisoft channel will be available later this fall.

Amazon owns Twitch, one of the most popular live streaming services in the world with nearly 10 billion hours of video watched in 2019.

Inside the Luna experience, people will see Twitch streams for all the games in the service, and from Twitch, they can instantly start playing games. 

In July, AWS announced the general availability of its Twitch-inspired Interactive Video Service (IVS) that will help customers set up live, interactive video streams for a web or mobile app in just a few minutes.

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