Free messaging and calling app Viber today announced that it has than 40 million registered users in India. Viber is in direct competition to VOIP services like Skype that offers high-quality audio calls to users globally. Viber commenced its operations in India in December 2013 with13 million users. Viber has over 516 million unique users in 193 countries. Viber has added multiple features considering the requirements of the Indian users. One of the key releases last year was Viber Public Chats, a feature that allows users to discover, share and interact with conversations, communities and content on mobile. “This is a significant achievement for Viber and its users in India. Within a very short time span we have trebled our reach in India. Today, we are a strong community of 40 million users, our growth bears testimony to the fact that we are committed to our users in India and are consistently innovating to offer a variety of messaging and entertainment features. ” said, Anubhav Nayyar, Country Head, Viber India. Key part of Viber’s feature offerings is stickers that users can utilize to visually convey emotions during text chats. The app also includes the ability to send text messages, photos, videos and doodles and make outbound calls to cellular phones and land lines across the globe. Viber is available across virtually every mobile and desktop platform including iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Windows, Mac, Linux and Symbian devices. The Viber’s ability to attract 40 million users is a great achievement for Viber India. This is because of the user friendly approach of the Viber by providing the features as required by the Indian customers. By Premji
Researchers at Oregon State University have invented a new technology which can boost the bandwidth of WiFi systems by 10 times, using LED lights to transmit information. The technology can be integrated with existing WiFi systems to reduce bandwidth problems in crowded locations, such as airports or coffee shops and in homes with multiple WiFi devices. The invention will pave way for higher data accessibility and adds more number of users. This will also help to boost the technologies which are dependent on WiFi. Recent advances in LED technology has made it possible to modulate the LED light more rapidly, opening the possibility of using light for wireless transmission in a "free space" optical communication system. "In addition to improving the experience for users, the two big advantages of this system are that it uses inexpensive components, and it integrates with existing WiFi systems," said Thinh Nguyen, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering. "I believe the WiFO system could be easily transformed into a marketable product, and we are currently looking for a company that is interested in further developing and licensing the technology," Nguyen said. The prototype, called WiFO, uses LEDs that are beyond the visual spectrum for humans and creates an invisible cone of light about one meter square in which the data can be received. For addressing the issue of a small area of usability, the researchers created a hybrid system that can switch between several LED transmitters installed on a ceiling, and the existing WiFi system. The system can potentially send data at up to 100 megabits per second. Some current WiFi systems have similar bandwidth, but it has to be divided by the number of devices connected, so each user might be receiving just 5 to 10 megabits per second, the hybrid system could deliver 50-100 megabits to each user, researchers said.The research team has already secured a provisional patent for WiFO and is now looking for sponsorships and partners for manufacturing WiFO commercially. Nguyen said that the WiFO can easily be made in as low as a dollar and is adaptable to USB standards. By Premji
Twitter began implementing a new policy aimed at curbing use of the social network to incite violence and to crack down on abuse and harassment on the service. The new rules are the latest, implemented by social media networks aiming to stem violence and harassment while attempting to safeguard freedom of online speech. “We need to ensure that voices are not silenced because people are afraid to speak up,” said Twitter’s head of product management Shreyas Doshi in a blog post. “To that end, we are today announcing our latest product and policy updates that will help us in continuing to develop a platform on which users can safely engage with the world at large.” Doshi noted that Twitter had updated its policy on violent threats “so that the prohibition is not limited to ‘direct, specific threats of violence against others’ but now extends to ‘threats of violence against others or promoting violence against others.” He said the previous policy “was unduly narrow and limited our ability to act on certain kinds of threatening behavior.” New policy allows the social network to “lock” abusive accounts for specific periods of time, which could help crack down on so-called cyber-bullying and spam. “This option gives us leverage in a variety of contexts, particularly where multiple users begin harassing a particular person or group of people,” Doshi said. He added that Twitter would be testing “a product feature to help us identify suspected abusive Tweets and limit their reach.” The new tool will help Twitter to identify abusive activity by looking at “a wide range of signals and context, that frequently correlates with abuse including the age of the account itself and the similarity of a tweet to other content that our safety team has in the past independently determined to be abusive,” said Doshi. By Premji
Indian railways have launched a mobile app for paperless ticketing for unreserved category. Commuters of Indian railways can now use a mobile phone App to get tickets in the unreserved category as the Indian railways takes forward its initiative for paperless ticketing from today. "We are launching a mobile-based paperless unreserved ticketing application today," said a senior Railway Ministry official. When the ticket is bought using the App, a commuter need not take a print-out of the same and can show its soft copy on the cellphone to the ticket checker on the train. The paperless ticketing system would also save time for passengers as it allows them to avoid lining up at the ticket window. You can download the App from the Google App store for Android-based mobile phones. After the download, the user will get a registration ID number for creation of a railway e-wallet. Money for buying tickets will have to be loaded through the e-wallet mobile payment system either online or at a ticket counter at any station. Passengers have the option of topping up the e-wallet at ticket counters or on the Indian Railways (IRCTC) website using a credit or debit card. You can even renew season tickets using the App. Mobile app will be a great help for commuters in the unreserved ticketing segment and also for season ticket holders. App-based ticketing system was experimented in the Mumbai suburban sector on a pilot basis and found very successful. The App will be available for cellphones running on the Android operating systems. By Premji
Google is planning to send helium balloons around the world and deliver Internet to users in remote areas. The project is named ‘Project Loon’ and was started in June 2013 by the top secret Google Division X and now is going for beta phase. Google will be conducting Project Loon trials in Australia, New Zealand and Latin America. Mike Cassidy from Google says that Google will be using its own manufacturing facility and automated systems to deliver a balloon in hours instead of days. He stated that the company is ready to launch thousands of balloons in the skies. Google has already tied up with leading service provides like Telstra in Australia, Telefonica in Latin America and Vodafone in New Zealand for end point connectivity. Cassidy stated that their testing of Project Loon revealed that the helium balloons can stay afloat for six months. Google can keep a real time track of the balloons and retrieve them once they have outlived their life or run out of helium. Cassidy said that Google has developed allied software systems and hardware for the same. Google has said that the helium powered balloons can be used in disaster regions like earthquake or tsunami affected areas, where on-ground communication has been destroyed, can provide much necessary real time information about the situation on ground.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India will propose 10 point recommendations to improve the broadband connectivity. Broadband may soon become a basic utility like electricity that will fuel economic growth. The telecom regulatory authority of India (Trai) has urged the central government to take urgent steps within the next three to six months to ensure faster penetration of broadband. The national telecom policy-2012 targets the provision of affordable and reliable broadband-on-demand by 2015 and to achieve 175 million broadband connections by 2017 and 600 million by 2020 at minimum 2 mbps download speed and make available higher speeds of at least 100 mbps on demand. Spectrum licensing should be considered as a lever to drive penetration, efficiency and reinvestment in the industry rather than a convenient source of income for the government. The government has to align spectrum bands with globally harmonised bands to achieve interference-free co-existence and economies of scale. “Additionally, it is important that spectrum is reasonably priced and made available in significant quantities so that a balance can be maintained in the payments to the government for spectrum and the investment required for network expansion and equipment. There is an urgent need for audit by an independent agency of all allocated spectrum both commercial as well as spectrum allocated to various PSUs/ government organisations. This ought to be a national priority and must be undertaken within the next three months,” Trai has said. The 10 points suggested by TRAI are as follows: 1. Institutional Revamping – The TRAI believes that WPC has to be converted into an independent body by delinking it from DoT. It also suggested that the multi layered structure for NOFN is not suitable for a project and needs to be executed in mission mode.2. Aligning Spectrum Bands – Present spectrum bands should be aligned with globally harmonized bands to achieve an interference free coexistence. 3. Single Window Clearance for RoW –Ideally, there has to be a single-window clearance, which is to be administered online with a pre defined turnaround time.4. Private Sector Involvement in NOFN – Implementation of Center-State-Public-Private partnership by involving state government and the private sector should be considered. 5. Single Window Clearances for Towers –Time bound clearances and single window should be encouraged in the installation of new towers.6. Promote Fixed Line Broadband – License fee on the revenues, which are earned from fixed line broadband, should be exempted for a minimum period of 5 years.7. Promote CATV – Cable operators should be encouraged to acquire the role of resellers of ISP license holders and help them to take advantage of their existing cable networks to provide broadband connections.8. Restructuring in Satellite – There is an urgent need to address the issue of coordinating additional spectrum in the 2,500 to 2,690 MHz with DoS.9. Hosting of Content in India – Government has to encourage local and foreign companies to build “Data Center Parks” on regions of SEZ and other industrial parks by providing land, infrastructure and uninterrupted power supply at an affordable cost.10. Universal Adoption – Governments are required to act as model users by delivery of e-government services such as m-health, m-banking, e-education etc. Government schools in rural and remote areas are to be provided with broadband connectivity at a subsidized rate from the USOF. By Premji
Mark Zuckerberg says Internet.org and net neutrality “can and must coexist,” despite a backlash against his organization, which aims to bring free internet access to the developing world. It can’t, at least not from where users sit. The trouble started this week when several Indian publishers decided to remove their services from the Internet.org app, claiming the app violates the basic tenets of net neutrality. The app offers users in developing countries access to a select group of services, like Facebook, news sites, and health information, without paying data charges. That’s possible because, in the countries where Internet.org operates, the group has negotiated these terms with local carriers. The Indian publishers took issue with this setup, often referred to as “zero-rating,” arguing that giving away some services puts those services that aren’t available on the app at a disadvantage. Arguments about net neutrality shouldn’t be used to prevent the most disadvantaged people in society from gaining access or to deprive people of opportunity. Mark Zuckerberg “We support net neutrality because it creates a fair, level playing field for all companies—big and small—to produce the best service and offer it to consumers,” The Times Group, one of the publishers that withdrew from Internet.org, said in a statement. Today, Zuckerberg offered a rebuttal in a lengthy Facebook post, arguing that net neutrality “ensures network operators don’t discriminate by limiting access to services you want to use,” a policy he says he fully supports. “Internet.org doesn’t block or throttle any other services or create fast lanes—and it never will,” he writes. And yet, Zuckerberg glosses over the fact that Internet.org is providing its own kind of preferential treatment. Technically, Internet.org is an open platform any website or app can join, but as Zuckerberg notes, it would be impossible to give the entire Internet away for free. “Mobile operators spend tens of billions of dollars to support all of Internet traffic,” he writes. “If it was all free they’d go out of business.” That means most services necessarily must be left out if Internet.org is to be financially viable for carriers. This creates a system of fundamentally unequal access for the companies trying to reach these users and for users themselves. For the companies, it means the power to decide which Internet users they’re able to reach is out of their hands. Instead, it’s up to Internet.org, local governments, and carriers to decide which services are vital enough to secure a space within the Internet.org app. And for users, it means having access to only a sliver of what is supposed to be the worldwide web. As we’ve said before, this creates “an Internet for poor people.” It can also create the expectation that access to the Internet always will be free, a mindset that, as venture capitalist Fred Wilson has noted, can be difficult to overcome. “Soon, a startup will have to negotiate a zero rating plan before launching because mobile app customers will be trained to only use apps that are zero rated on their network,” Wilson writes, referring to data plans in the United States “zero-rated” for specific apps. So the question Zuckerberg ought to be answering is not whether the Internet.org model runs counter to the core tenets of net neutrality. That answer seems obvious. Instead, the question is whether the same rules should apply in places where people don’t have access to the Internet at all, let alone equal access. In other words, is it okay to suspend some of the net neutrality absolutism the tech community has rallied behind in the US if it serves a greater good in the world’s poorest countries? Zuckerberg doesn’t admit it outright, and of course, he probably never could, considering how the tech world at large feels about net neutrality. But his post makes it clear that he believes the positives of giving people even limited free access to the internet outweigh the concern about playing favorites, when the alternative is no access at all. “Arguments about net neutrality shouldn’t be used to prevent the most disadvantaged people in society from gaining access or to deprive people of opportunity,” he writes. “Eliminating programs that bring more people online won’t increase social inclusion or close the digital divide. It will only deprive all of us of the ideas and contributions of the two thirds of the world who are not connected.
The agreement includes "Bing services, Skype, OneDrive, OneNote, Outlook, and Microsoft Office." Cyanogen started as an aftermarket Android ROM maker, but recently the group went pro, formed a company, and started taking VC funding. It got an outside CEO, Kirk McMaster, who has stated that the new company's (very ambitious) goal is to "take Android away from Google." Cyanogen wants to supply its Android distribution to OEMs as a kind of outsourced software house, and currently Cyanogen OS powers the OnePlus One. The Wall Street Journal reported that Microsoft was going to invest in Cyanogen, but the deal fell through at some point, apparently in favor of this partnership. "People around the world use Cyanogen's operating system and popular Microsoft services to engage with what matters most to them on their mobile devices," said Cyanogen's CEO. "This exciting partnership with Microsoft will enable us to bring new kinds of integrated services to mobile users in markets around the world." Android is open—except for all the good parts.If Cyanogen really wants to ship a Googleless Android, it will need to provide alternatives to Google's services, and this Microsoft deal is a small start. Microsoft can provide alternatives for Search (Bing), Google Drive (OneDrive and Office), and Gmail (Outlook). The real missing pieces are alternatives to Google Play, Google Maps, and Google Play Services. Cyanogen has said it will develop an app store in-house, but we haven't heard plans for a mapping client or media stores, though it could just leave that up to users and it wouldn't be a huge deal. What is a big deal for any non-Google Android fork is Google Play Services. Many apps depend on it, and without it, Cyanogen won't be able to run apps that use Google's push notifications, in-app purchases, Ads, Google Cast, Google Play Games, location APIs, and a ton of other features. Amazon combats this on the Kindle line by offering drop-in replacement APIs for Google Play Services, and if Cyanogen wants a serious app ecosystem it will need to do the same. Microsoft has been increasingly taking a "horizontal" approach to Android, seeing it as a platform it should expand to. The company brought Office over to Android tablets and will reportedly bring its voice assistant, Cortana, to Android as well. It also collects patent royalties from just about every major Android OEM, and the company signed a more limited distribution agreement with Samsung, which shipped OneNote and OneDrive on the Galaxy S6. "We aspire to have our tools within arm's reach of everyone, to empower them in all aspects of their lives. This partnership represents another important step towards that ambition," said Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of Microsoft Corp. "We'll continue to deliver world-class experiences across productivity and communications on Windows, and we're delighted that Cyanogen users will soon be able to take advantage of those same powerful services."
In a bid to lure auto enthusiasts of the country, Fiat India is planning to launch more powerful versions of the Punto and Avventura Crossover under its performance brand 'Abarth'. Though the first to enter between these two could be the Abarth Punto Evo, as the vehicle was recently spotted in India. Powering this performance-oriented version of the car will be a 1.4-litre T-Jet turbocharged petrol unit that will churn out a whooping 135bhp of power. The same engine will also do duty on the Abarth Avventura. Just so you know, the regular Punto Evo models come with three engine options - 1.2-litre and 1.4-litre naturally-aspirated petrol units and a 1.3-litre multijet diesel unit. Fiat Punto Abarth T-Jet The Punto Evo T-Jet will take head on against the country's only hot-hatch - the Volkswagen Polo GT TSI. The Polo GT TSI derives its power from a 1.2-litre TSI petrol motor that, mated to a 7-speed DSG automatic gearbox, produces 105bhp. So the Punto Evo T-Jet, at 135bhp, will be about 30bhp more powerful than the VW's hot-hatchback. Tata Motors too might launch a performance-oriented version of Tata Bolt in the country, which was recently unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show.
Gone are the ‘nasty’ plastics of Galaxy past. No faux leather finish as with the Note here either. Instead, the S6 has a metal chassis, and glass covering the front and back. The fit and finish makes you want to use words such as ‘chamfer’, ‘roundel’ and ‘drilled’, whatever they mean. While the S6 Edge gets a racy green finish to itself, the S6 gets a surfy blue. Both phones alternatively come in charcoal, white and gold – the finish is described by Samsung as ‘jewel-like’. Fortunately it’s classier than that sounds. The metal edges are almost imperceptibly darker from the white version to the charcoal version. The glass back and the front screen edges curve slightly into the chassis, and there’s a very thin bezel on either side of the 5.1in, QHD Super AMOLED screen. Yep, no 4K screen – but that was never the most desirable of the S6 rumours anyway. Despite the addition of all this glass and metal, the new S6 is lighter than the outgoing S5, albeit by only an imperial smidge. It feels solid and balanced, with a more traditional hand feel than the S6 Edge’s sharp sides. The power button is situated in the center of the right-hand side of the phone, above the pin-and-socket type SIM tray, and the volume controls are high up on the left side. The top has only a wee microphone hole and the IR sender. There's much action on the bottom edge, with the headphone socket, microUSB and a newly placed, power-boosted speaker. Samsung say it's 1.5x louder, a fact that we were unable to verify having left our portable anechoic chamber on the train. It’s got a lovely drilling, that speaker, but we daresay that HTC’s twin front-mounted BoomSound setup will still be the choice of the boom-tish social misfit. But what price beauty? Of course the downside to that unibody shell, for Samsung fans, may be that there’s no removable back panel – a sacrifice for the new classy build. So no removable battery either, nor the ability to swap out your memory card. It's not like you get a much bigger battery either: capacity is 2550mAh, compared to 2600mAh for the S6 Edge and 2800mAh for the outgoing S5. But there’s wireless charging built in, compatible with an optional Samsung charger and, claimeth they, with the majority of wireless charge points in Starbucks, McDonalds, etc. Its cable charger apparently provides two hours of HD video playback for just 10mins of charging. The lack of microSD card slot may be an issue for some too. Still, the S6 will come with 32, 64 or 128GB of memory built in, and it’s the new-fangled UFS 2.0 type too. ‘All the faster to fill it up’ a cynical wolf would say, using his sharpest claw to tiddly-wink his now-redundant microSD collection into the bin. Less doom-laden data hounds might look to a product such as the Leef Bridge to stay on top of their hoardage and backup needs. Camera and software The camera lens on the back of the S6 protrudes. Forgivable, if its optical image stabilisation and low-light-loving f1.9 aperture hold up in real-world testing. The front camera is 5MP, compared to 16MP round the back, but it also gets the big eye. Both are made slightly easier to use by some camera app tweaks that add text identifiers to the previously inscrutable on-screen icons. But, before you begin groaning about Samsung adding yet more depth to its Marmite-effect TouchWiz UI, there’s good news. It was at pains to point out that it’s taken out a lot of the unnecessary extra steps in the UI – there are now fewer confirmation dialogs, for example. That should make things faster. Or, more accurately, that should clear the way for the 64-bit processor to perform as it’s efficient 14nm architecture suggests. Helped by 3GB of special LPDDR4 RAM, which Samsung says is 88% faster than the ridiculous RAM in the S5. Tech specs Screen: 5.1in, QHD, 1440x2560, 572ppi, Super AMOLED Processor: 64-bit Exynos, 14nm process RAM: 3GB LPDDR4 Storage: 32/64/128GB using UFS 2.0 tech – no microSD Camera: 16MP, f1.9, Smart OIS, HDR (rear); 5MP, f1.9, HDR (front) Battery: 2550mAh Dimensions: 143.4x70.5x6.8mm, 138g Colours: White, charcoal, gold, blueInitial verdict There are lots of ‘mays’ and ‘shoulds’ here, because while impressions can be formed about the look and feel of a phone quite quickly, OS and processor and camera testing take a longer look. And fewer Samsung execs peering over one’s shoulder. We’ll be getting a review sample very soon. But as an answer to the criticisms thrown at Samsung phones for the past few years, the S6 is a success. It’s a desirable, flagship- feeling object. Were it not for the bendy screen smarts of the S6 Edge, we’d be disputing Samsung’s enthusiastic use of the word ‘innovation’ – and no doubt Apple fans will be quick to shout ‘copycat’ at any forum that will receive them. There’s a danger, too, that the S6 will simply be the poor man’s S6 Edge – we’d drop the S6 in a hot minute if the Edge was within ?10,000 of it. Manohar M
Asus Asus ZenFone 2 smartphone with 5.50-inch 1080x1920 display powered by 2.3GHz processor alongside 4GB RAM and 13-megapixel rear camera. - Manohar
Consumers in Australia flocked to Apple Inc's store in Sydney on Friday to get the world's first up-close look at the tech giant's smart-watch. The Apple Watch, CEO Tim Cook's first new major product, was available for pre-order online and to try out in stores - but not to take home. On April 24, consumers will be able to buy it online or by reservation at high-end fashion boutiques in Paris, London and Tokyo. This is the part of Apple's strategy of positioning the wearable computer as a must-have accessory. Apple Watch starts at $349 and the standard version comes in at $549 in the US. High-end "Edition" watches with 18-karat gold alloys are priced from $10,000 and go as high as $17,000. Alexander Bock, a backpacker from Germany, stood outside the shop's towering glass facade. "I feel naked without a watch. I think I will buy the Apple watch with the sports band. I'm working very hard right now so I can buy this watch," Bock told. "I actually tried it on briefly, and it's so light it doesn't feel like it's on my wrist," 26-year-old salesman Yosuke Hosoi told. Apple expects demand for the watch, which allows users to check email, listen to music and make phone calls when paired with an iPhone, to exceed availability at launch. Apple's watch is widely expected to outsell those by Samsung, Sony Corp and Fitbit that have attracted modest interest from consumers. Sales estimates for 2015 vary widely. Piper Jaffray predicts 8 million units and Global Securities Research forecasts 40 million. Experts said Apple's offering was unlikely to displace the market share of luxury-brand watch makers. By Premji