Hopeful of Touching 500 Million Internet Users in 2016: Prasad

Hopeful of Touching 500 Million Internet Users in 2016: Prasad

The government is hopeful that India will touch 500 million Internet users mark by the end of 2016, union Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in New Delhi on Wednesday.

“India now has 400 million Internet connections. We thought we will have 500 million users by 2017. But now I am hopeful that it will happen this year,” he said.

He was speaking at the book launch of ‘Digital Desh 2.0’ by NowFloats.

Corroborating the growing penetration of internet, Sharad Sharma, co-founder of iSPIRT, said more people at present read newspapers online than the readership top 10 Indian newspapers taken together.

Saying that the country is in the cusp of digital revolution the minister added, India first observe technology, then adopt it and finally enjoy it.

Prasad said the people of the country are forcing change in the technology sector.

Talking about the present National Democratic Alliance government’s pro-technology approach, he said: “We even take complaints from people in social media. Social media is empowering and enlightening people.”

Google Rolls Out May Android Security Update for Nexus Devices

Google Rolls Out May Android Security Update for Nexus DevicesGoogle, as expected, has released its monthly security update for its Nexus range of the devices. Apart from the monthly security update, Google has also released the latest Nexus factory images on the developer site.

The company says that the source code patches for the new issues will be released to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) repository over the next 48 hours. Google notes that partner OEMs were notified about the issues described in the May bulletin on April 4. One of the most severe of these issues was a critical security vulnerability that could enable remote code execution on an affected device through multiple methods (including email, web browsing, and MMS when processing media files).

According to Google, the latest build MTC19T is available for the Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X; the MOB30I build is available for the Nexus 6, MOB30G Nexus Player, Nexus 9, Nexus 9 LTE;  MOB30H for the Nexus 5; MOB30J for the Nexus 7 (2013) and Nexus 7 3G, and MXC89F for the Pixel C. Users can manually download and flash the zip update file for the Nexus devices from Google’s Nexus Factory Images page.

One of the most notable changes announced with May security bulletin was that Google renamed the bulletin (and all following in the series) to the Android Security Bulletin. Previously it was dubbed Nexus Security bulletin. Google says, “These bulletins encompass a broader range of vulnerabilities that may affect Android devices, even if they do not affect Nexus devices.”

Google also updated the Android Security severity ratings which are based on the result of data collected over the last six months on reported security vulnerabilities. The bulletin says that there were no reports of active customer exploitation or abuse of these newly reported issues.

The latest May update patches six vulnerabilities that have been flagged as “critical” by Google, and 12 vulnerabilities that fall on the spectrum of “high” severity. The company has also listed six “moderate” security glitches that have also been resolved.

The critical security vulnerabilities fixed in the update by Google include remote code execution vulnerability in mediaserver, which if left untreated could allow an attacker to cause memory corruption and remote code execution as the mediaserver process.

Other vulnerabilities such as elevation of privilege vulnerability in debuggerd, elevation of privilege vulnerability in Qualcomm TrustZone, and elevation of privilege vulnerability in Qualcomm Wi-Fi driver, and elevation of privilege vulnerability in NVIDIA video driver can lead to the possibility of a local permanent device compromise, which may require re-flashing the operating system to repair the device.

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Uber Paytm Tie-Up Will Let You Pay for an NYC Cab in Rupees

If you’ve used Uber in India, and then tried to use it in the US, you would have run into a small problem – your payment wallet doesn’t work, which could leave you stranded. In the US, Uber takes your credit card information which is used to pay for rides. In India too, the company started off that way, but later switched to a wallet based system powered by Paytm, because of RBI regulations.

The catch here was that if you’re an Indian Uber user, your Paytm wallet doesn’t work outside the country, meaning you can’t pay your fare. This looks set to change soon, according to Paytm and Uber.

On Tuesday, Uber announced a partnership with Alipay, enabling the wallet in China. This partnership is a two way street, and Uber users from China will be able to use the Alipay wallet to pay their fares when travelling in the rest of the world.

Alipay backed Paytm is also working on implementing the same feature, and Indian users will be able to use the wallet to make payments around the world. The payments will be made in rupees, converted on current rates and without any additional fees, which means it’s going to be pretty easy for a Paytm user to keep track of their spending, instead of registering a credit card and trying to keep track of dollars and rupees. The implementation will be done by the end of the month, according to Paytm CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma.

Paytm Says May Begin Payments Bank Operations in August

Paytm Says May Begin Payments Bank Operations in August

Digital payments firm Paytm expects to start its payments bank operation in the country by August.

The Noida-headquartered company had received an in-principle approval from RBI to set up a payments bank in August last year.

Payments bank can accept demand deposits and savings bank deposits from individuals and small businesses, up to a maximum of Rs. 1 lakh per account.

“We hope to complete all the requirements and hand them to RBI for their go-ahead by August… by then, we will also have a brick and mortar set-up in place,” Paytm co-founder and CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma told reporters in New Delhi.

However, the focus will be on using technology and connecting the unbanked and underbanked population, he added.

“We will start with north east and central as we mentioned during the licence process,” he said.

Post the launch of the bank, Paytm will become an end-to-end payment financial services firm with banking and mobile wallet services. It also has an e-commerce platform as well as supports digital payment of recharge and utility bill payment.

“One of the things we are doing is introducing cards with QR codes, which will enable users without smartphones to transact,” Sharma said.

According to reports, Paytm has partnered Wipro to create the requisite technology infrastructure for the payments bank business

App to Identify Poorest Girls in India Can Help Prevent Trafficking: Charity

App to Identify Poorest Girls in India Can Help Prevent Trafficking: Charity

A tablet-based application that helps to identify some of the poorest girls in eastern India has the potential to prevent human trafficking, early marriage and child labour, according to a charity which has developed the app.

The GPower, or Girl Power, app developed by AccentureLabs and the charity Child in Need Institute (CINI), has been used to track more than 6,000 families in 20 villages in West Bengal.

The application sets out a series of questions on health, nutrition, protection and education to determine the vulnerability of the respondent.

“The technology helps us identify the most vulnerable of the girls in minutes,” CINI’s assistant director Indrani Bhattacharya told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“So we can plan our intervention and bring immediate solutions to prevent the occurrence (of trafficking, child marriage and child labour), rather than trying to do something after the fact.”

The questionnaire take about 30 minutes to complete and the analysis takes minutes. Based on the information collected, a community worker decides whether girls are candidates for government welfare schemes, counselling or vocational training, Bhattacharya said.

West Bengal is both a source and a transit state for women and children trafficked into the sex trade. The state accounted for about a fifth of India’s 5,466 cases of human trafficking reported in 2014, according to official data.

Many of the victims are from rural areas in the state or from neighbouring Bangladesh, lured by the promise of good jobs or marriage. Instead, they end up sold into prostitution in cities such as Mumbai and New Delhi.

GPower is particularly suited for rural India, where mobile connectivity is patchy and electricity supply is irregular, said Sanjay Podder, managing director at Accenture Labs in Bengaluru.

“It can easily be scaled up to include other parameters or to address other social problems in the country,” he said.

India is the world’s second-biggest market for mobile phones, with more than 1 billion users. Mobile applications for services ranging from weather reports to commodity prices and health services are gaining popularity among rural users.

“The problem in India is one of scale – there is only so much that an NGO can do in terms of reach,” Podder said.

‘Jugnoo Bot’ Enables Auto Rickshaw Bookings on FacebookMessenger

'Jugnoo Bot' Enables Auto Rickshaw Bookings on Facebook MessengerAuto rickshaw aggregator Jugnoo Tuesday announced the launch of Jugnoo Bot, which enables users on Facebook to book a ride through Facebook Messenger, Jugnoo’s website, or its Facebook page.

The Jugnoo Bot enables users to book a ride by typing a text message in Facebook Messenger or by clicking on ‘Book-a-Ride’ option. Jugnoo automatically authenticates users through their Facebook login details, eliminating the need to login into the Jugnoo account separately.

Jugnoo’s AI-based engine then detects their ride location and suggests nearby multiple locations to choose from. Users can also share their location by using the FB Messenger location button. The Jugnoo Bot then shares ETA and fares with users to confirm their ride. Once confirmed, a Jugnoo driver is assigned and the driver details (name, phone number, vehicle number, and a driver picture) are shared with users. The bot also allows real-time tracking of the ride by users.

The chatbot was developed in association with Fugu, a US-based firm which uses AI to understand and respond to user requests.

“There are many people who like to keep their mobile phones clutter-free and just keep some basic apps. Jugnoo Bot is for such people, where they can easily book autos using their Facebook account, making the process more conversational,” said Samar Singla, Founder and CEO of Jugnoo in an emailed statement.

Founded in 2014, the Chandigarh-based startup said that it receives 30,000 daily requests, and has 10,000 autos on board its network.

RBI Working on Regulations to Curb Fraud in Electronic Transactions

RBI Working on Regulations to Curb Fraud in Electronic Transactions

The RBI is working to put in place a regulatory framework to address customer grievance and liability issues arising out of frauds in electronic transactions, Government said Tuesday.

“The matter is being further examined by the RBI to put in place a regulatory framework for addressing customer grievance and liability issues arising out of such frauds,” Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha said during the Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha.

He said the Banking Codes and Standards Board of India (BCSBI) had in 2014 come out with a recommendation of limiting the customer liabilities in case of frauds taking place through electronic channels.

Replying to supplementaries, Sinha said there was too much of cash transaction in the Indian economy.

“87 percent transaction happens in India in cash, which is not the case in other countries. So much use of cash transaction is not good…this increases cost of handling besides inconvenience,” he said and underlined government’s committment to encourage cashless financial transactions.

The RBI in its ‘Payment System Vision Document 2012-15’ for ushering in a less cash economy suggested drawing up of a policy framework establishing roles and responsibilities of banks and customers in electronic transactions to minimise fruads, fix responsibilities and zero liability protection to increase customer confidence.

The Document had also suggested drawing up a strategy for disincentivising usage of cheques above a certain threshold limit by customers and corporate which may include prescribing a cut off limit for cheques cleared through clearing house arrangements.

Sinha said a white paper was placed by the department for public comments in 2013. “Based on the response from the public, the department has not initiated any further action”.

Sinha further said the government had come out with a white paper on disincentivising paper cheques and sought public comments on it.

“However, the comments were not very encouraging. The charges levied for electronic transactions operated by the bank are low and transparent,” he added.

Sinha further said that National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has been given in-principle approval to be the Bharat Bill Payment Central Unit (BBPCU) under Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS), an integrated bill payment system.

BBPS is an integrated bill payment system to function as a tiered structure for operating bill payment system in India with a single brand image, providing convenience of ‘anytime anywhere’ bill payment to customers.

The present scope of BBPS will include utility bill payments such as electricity, water, gas, telephone and Direct-to-Home (DTH).

“We are brining a revolution in digital payment,” Sinha said listing various initiatives taken by the government to bring down the level of cash transactions in the country. “When we have cash in circulation in economy, we create a drag. If we move to digital, we will remove these difficulties,” he added.

Twitter’s Live Video App Periscope Hires an Editor in Chief

Twitter's Live Video App Periscope Hires an Editor in ChiefTwitter’s live video-streaming application, Periscope, has hired an editor in chief, Evan Hansen, who says he plans to showcase the best content and help develop the platform.

Hansen himself revealed his appointment to Periscope, which lets users broadcast live video free of charge from smartphones running Android or Apple iOS software. The videos remain available for 24 hours before disappearing.

“I am joining Periscope as editor in chief,” he wrote in a farewell blog on story-sharing site Medium where he is an editor.

“I still love the written word and Medium but I honestly can’t think of many things more interesting than helping build a new platform with mobile phones and real time video,” he wrote late Monday.

Hansen, who was editor in chief of technology news site Wired before he joined Medium, said he would start on May 16 at Periscope, which last week boasted that more than 200 million broadcasts had been created on its platform since it was launched a year ago.

In an interview with CNNMoney, Hansen said the role would involve developing the site and “surfacing the most interesting content to the people most likely to want to see it.”

Periscope faces a challenge from Facebook’s Live video streaming feature, which was launched in mid-2015.

In its job advertisement, Periscope said the editor in chief would establish a global editorial team to discover and highlight the most important, newsworthy and entertaining content.

HTC Desire 830 With 5.5-Inch Display, 13-Megapixel Camera Launched

HTC Desire 830 With 5.5-Inch Display, 13-Megapixel Camera LaunchedFeaturing a 5.5-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixel) display, the HTC Desire 830 runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow with the company’s Sense UI on top. It is powered by a 64-bit octa-core MediaTek Helio X10 SoC (MT6753) clocked at 1.5GHz, coupled with 3GB of RAM.

The HTC Desire 830 sports a 13-megapixel rear camera with optical image stabilisation (OIS) and an f/2.0 aperture. It sports a 4-UltraPixel front-facing camera with an f/2.0 aperture as well. It bears 32GB of inbuilt storage that’s expandable via microSD card (up to 128GB).

The Desire 830 comes with a 2800mAh battery, and measures 157.5×78.9×7.79mm. The smartphone will be available in Blue and Red colour variants.

Alongside, HTC launched the Desire 825 in Taiwan. To recall, the smartphone had been unveiledwithout price back at MWC 2016. The company has now revealed a price of TWD 7,990 (roughly Rs. 16,500).

To recall, the HTC Desire 825 sports a polycarbonate shell with a specially-created micro-splash effect. The handset also sports a BoomSound stereo speaker with Dolby Audio enhancements and packs a 2700mAh battery. The Desire 825 also features a HTC Sensor Hub, a feature which will let users keep tabs on well-being and record activity, gestures and movement, and will provide real-time statistics to users.

New Tool Can Help Measure Lung Function Over a Phone Call

New Tool Can Help Measure Lung Function Over a Phone CallIndian-origin researchers have developed a new health sensing tool that can accurately measure lung function over a simple phone call made with any phone not just smartphone from anywhere in the world.

The findings could be of special help for people in the developing world who have asthma, cystic fibrosis or other chronic lung diseases know how well their lungs are functioning without visiting a doctor or a clinic, which in some places can take days of travel.

“We wanted to be able to measure lung function on any type of phone you might encounter around the world smartphones, dumb phones, landlines, pay phones,” said Shwetak Patel, professor at the University of Washington.

The new tool is called SpiroCall.

“With SpiroCall, you can call a 1-800 number, blow into the phone and use the telephone network to test your lung function,” Patel said.

The patients take a deep breath in and exhale as hard and fast as they can until they can’t exhale any more. The phone’s microphone senses sound and pressure from that exhalation and sends the data to a central server, which uses machine learning algorithms to convert the data into standard measurements of lung function.

“People have to manage chronic lung diseases for their entire lives,” lead author Mayank Goel, computer science and engineering doctoral student at University of Washington, said.

“So there’s a real need to have a device that allows patients to accurately monitor their condition at home without having to constantly visit a medical clinic, which in some places requires hours or days of travel,” Goel noted.

SpiroCall is an advancement over SpiroSmart which the researchers introduced in 2012 to let people monitor their lung function by blowing into their smartphones.

Over the last four years, the team has collected data from more than 4,000 patients who have visited clinics in Seattle and Tacoma as well as in India and Bangladesh, where clinicians have measured lung function using both SpiroSmart and a commercial spirometer.

In surveying patients from India and Bangladesh, though, the team realised that a significant percentage did not own smartphones and would be unable to use SpiroSmart in their own homes which was a key goal of the project.

The team realised that the only sensor they were using was a microphone, which all phones have.

So the researchers decided to develop a system that would work with any phone anywhere in the world by having the patient use a call-in service.

How the tool meets the medical community’s standards for accuracy will be described in a paper to be presented in May at the Association for Computing Machinery’s CHI 2016 conference in San Jose, California.