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japan

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The INFOBAR xv is a gorgeous Japanese feature phone that can run a limited number of Android apps

This fall will mark the 15th anniversary of the original INFOBAR feature phone in Japan, and telecoms corporation KDDI is releasing a new edition of the device to celebrate. The INFOBAR xv will be the third in this series, and it's by far the most striking of the bunch. And sure, it will run a very short list of Android apps, but let's be honest — this is more about indulging our eyes than anything else, because this feature phone is a stunner.

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InBrief
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Google Pay adds support for Suica and WAON prepaid cards in Japan

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[Update] You can now set up a Google Assistant payment method in six countries outside the US

Your Google Assistant settings have had a "Payments" section for quite some time where you can set up a payment method and address. This is used for both making purchases through Google Express merchants as well as sending payments to other users. However, both options are only available to users in the US. So if you tried to add a new payment method outside the US, you wouldn't be able to complete the setup. But that seems to have changed.

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Google Pay v1.54 continues ride toward transit tickets, merging P2P money transfers [APK Teardown]

The first update to the Google Pay app since the rebranding has been making its way out into the world. The new version doesn't appear to bring any visible changes beyond a few pixel-level adjustments, but it includes a couple of neat topics for a teardown. We'll briefly discuss the imminent merger of Google Pay Send, then dive into the subject of supporting transit tickets, where they might be supported first, and some of the other quirky details to look forward to.

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Fujitsu selling majority stake in mobile phone division to investment firm

Japanese IT firm Fujitsu has announced a plan to spin off their mobile device business into a separate company. Under the deal, investment firm Polaris will take over management and assume control of 70% of the company, while Fujitsu will retain a 30% stake. While Sony is the largest Android device manufacturer in Japan, Fujitsu is also a major contender. Fujitsu's Arrows series of smartphones and tablets are available primarily on NTT Docomo, the largest mobile network operator in Japan.

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Earthquake and tsunami warning messages in Japan coming directly to Android 8.1 Oreo

Given Japan's propensity for earthquakes and tsunamis, having a standardized system to alert people of the risk of danger would be a beneficial tool to prevent injury. Unfortunately, this alert system had been implemented at the carrier level, requiring carrier-specific apps. For users of unlocked phones on an MVNO, the ability to receive these notifications ranged from zero to inconsistent, dependent on the model of phone used. Now, the Telecommunications Carriers Association has announced that as of Android 8.1, these phones can receive emergency alerts.

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Rakuten seeking to acquire spectrum rights to create its own mobile network in Japan

Rakuten, the increasingly diversifying Japanese e-commerce giant, is looking to establish its own independent mobile network. The company intends to apply for part of the 1.7GHz and 3.4GHz spectrum rights in Japan when the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications opens applications for those frequencies early next year. Presently, Rakuten operates an MVNO using leased capacity from market leader NTT Docomo. Alongside second and third-place carriers au and SoftBank, the three companies effectively hold control of the Japanese mobile network.

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Credit card-sized 'NichePhone-S' coming to Japan, runs Android 4.2

Eastern Asia is home to some interesting smartphones, like various Android-powered flip phones from Samsung and LG. Earlier today, the 'NichePhone-S' from FutureModel was announced in Japan. It's a phone the size of a credit card priced around 10,000 yen (or $88 USD), with a heavily customized version of Android.

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Alexa and Amazon's new Echo devices come to India by invitation, Japan following later this year

Amid all the Google fuss yesterday, we nearly missed the news that Amazon was paving Alexa's way to Asia by launching in India first, with Japan said to be following later this year.

The new second-gen Echo, the Echo Plus, and the Echo Dot will be available exclusively on Amazon.in by invitation, so you'll need to request one and hope for the best. If you decide to grab one, expect shipping to begin on the week of October 30. And if you want to wait, Amazon says the Echos will come to Croma and Reliance Digital stores after the invite period is over (no deadline set for that).

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Google Home is coming to Japan next week

Home-related news continues. Google has just announced at its event that Google Home will be coming to Japan next week. The company originally made the promise back at I/O, but now we've got a definite timeframe. Looks like they just missed the original "end of summer" expectation. 

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