India

At a media event in Mumbai, Facebook announced that it is teaming up with Indian carrier Reliance in launching the Internet.org initiative in the country. The project, which aims to provide free access to basic internet services on mobile, will be available exclusively to Reliance subscribers in six Indian states, with more being added at a later stage.

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On the sidelines of the launch of HDFC Bank's Go Digital campaign in Varanasi, the spiritual capital of India, the bank's Windows Phone app got a fine update as well, with more capabilities coming soon. The launch saw HDFC Bank announcing a technology agnostic Bank Aap Ki Muththi Mein (Bank in your hand) offering which aims to turn a mobile phone into a bank branch.

The official HDFC Bank app has been very efficient, and has garnered positive reviews and small updates every now and then, but a major refresh in the first week of December went awry. The update brought a set of new features allowing customers to use the app without logging in for contacting the bank for various services and support channels, sharing feedback, and locating nearby ATMs and bank branches.

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Microsoft's Satya Nadella made his second visit to India visiting with key leaders to discuss future investment in that country. Nadella met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, promising support for Modi's Digital India initiative to modernize that country's infrastructure.

No announcements of investments or projects were made, making this trip more of a 'courtesy visit' according to Nadella rather than anything substantive.

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Cleartrip is one of the more popular travel websites in India, which allows booking of flight and train tickets as well as hotels. Incidentally, two years ago, Cleartrip was one of the first OTAs (Online Travel Agent) in India to launch a Windows Phone app, and Windows Phone was also their first platform of choice.

While that gave the service a positive mindshare among Windows Phone users, the app was long due for an update and the limited ability irked most users, as reflected in the reviews on the Windows Phone Store. The app finally got a decent refresh in June this year while still being limited in functionally.

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Lava International, a leading domestic handset maker in India, today announced the launch of its first Windows Phone, the Iris Win1. The device will be exclusively available online on Flipkart starting December 4 at a price of ₹4,999 ($80).

The Lava Iris Win1 is a 4-inch device with a WVGA TN display. Powered by a 1.2 Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 quad-core processor, the device packs in 1GB RAM and 8GB internal storage. That's double than what the similarly-priced Celkon Win 400 offers. The smartphone comes with a 5MP auto-focus rear camera with LED flash and 0.3 MP front camera. Unlike many budget devices, the dual-SIM device does not miss out on sensors and packs in all the three – accelerometer, proximity sensor, and ambient light sensor.

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In a press event in Hyderabad today, Celkon Mobiles, one of India's largest domestic handset makers, officially launched the Celkon Win 400, the company's first Windows Phone device.

The dual-SIM entry-level Windows Phone device packs a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 quad-core processor with 512 MB RAM. The Win 400 will be available in online and offline stores in two color variants – black and white – starting today at a price of ₹4,979 ($80).

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A product from an Indian startup, the GOQii Life includes the GOQii band, an advanced fitness tracker and a GOQii coach, a virtual yet human coach that guides you on daily exercises, nutrition, sleep, stress management, and lifestyle change.

The GOQii band is available in India and the Middle East at the moment, and will expand to other markets soon. The official GOQii app for Windows Phone devices has recently arrived on the Store after being in a closed beta since a while.

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Celkon Mobiles, the Indian smartphone vendor, has finally put their first Windows Phone device – the Celkon Win 400 - up for sale. While there hasn't been a formal announcement or a press release, the device is now available for sale on Snapdeal.com, a leading online retailer in the country.

Priced at ₹4,999 ($80), the Celkon Win 400 is the cheapest Windows Phone device. That makes it a great entry level Windows Phone device to counter the cheap Androids in the market, but the phone sports modest specifications as one would expect.

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Lumia 535, the first Windows Phone from Microsoft, was announced earlier this month adding another affordable Windows Phone device to the budget Lumia range.

At a press event in New Delhi today, Microsoft launched the Lumia 535 in India. While the Lumia 535 sounds like an upgrade to the Lumia 530, thanks to 1GB RAM, front camera, and rear camera flash, it is a considerable upgrade over the Lumia 630 as well. The Lumia 535 that will be available in India is a dual-SIM version.

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Lumia 535, the first Windows Phone from Microsoft, was announced earlier this month adding another affordable Windows Phone device to the budget Lumia range.

In a press invite sent out on November 21, Microsoft has hinted at the launch of Lumia 535 in India on November 26. The invite has an emphasis on the number '5', which makes it a fair assumption.

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Once upon a time, I wrote about mTranslator, an interactive Windows Phone 8 app that allowed you to translate English to nine Indian languages. It was a fine idea since it wasn't just helpful for tourists and expats in India, but even the citizens of the country like me who often struggle with basic communication and instructions when travelling to another state or region.

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