Google unveils new India-first products to connect next billion

Dec 5, 2017 0

New Delhi– Firming up its commitment to connect the next billion Indians by focusing on entry-level smartphones, Google on Tuesday announced several India-first products and features, some of which will be rolled out in other countries soon.

Currently, there are nearly 400 million Internet users in India, along with over 300 million smartphone users and about 650 million mobile phone users.

“On average, a connected mobile Internet user in India today is consuming over 4GB of data per month. At the current growth rate and given the connectivity environment, we expect this number to reach 11GB per user per month in the next four years and Google is here to help connect all,” Rajan Anandan, Vice President, South East Asia and India at Google, said at the company’s third annual “Google for India” event here.

“There are 230 million Indian language users online on Google today and 170 million of them are using messaging service. Yet, we have over 900 million Indians who aren’t connected to Internet. Our mission is connectivity for every Indian. We’ll stay focused until every single Indian is connected,” Anandan said.

At the event, Google announced Android Oreo (Go edition) that will be available for entry-level smartphones, for which India is a huge market.

“Oreo devices with 512MB to 1GB of RAM will get all the optimisations that come with Android Oreo (Go edition), including a better performing OS with built-in data management features and security benefits,” said Caesar Sengupta, Vice President, Next Billion Users Team at Google.

“Our partners’ phones running Android Oreo (Go edition) will hit shelves in early 2018,” he added.

To help bikers find the most suitable route in India, Google has incorporated navigation routes for two-wheelers with Voice Assistant capabilities in its Maps feature.

“India is the world’s largest two-wheeler market and the navigation needs of these millions of riders are different from automobile drivers. Two-wheeler mode in Maps gives routes that use shortcuts not accessible to cars. It also provides customized traffic and arrival time estimations,” said Martha Welsh, Director, Google Maps.

The two-wheeler mode uses machine learning to suggest more relevant routes for riders, using smaller roads and two-wheeler-friendly shortcuts.

The two-wheeler mode will arrive in more countries later, Google said.

In a move to empower feature phone users in the country, Google announced to bring its Voice Assistant on Reliance JioPhone.

The Google Assistant for JioPhone will be available in English and Hindi. This is the first time Voice Assistant will be available in any feature phone.

“For the first time ever globally, the Google Assistant will be available on a feature phone. Whether in entry-level smartphones or JioPhones, the Google Assistant can help you call, text, play music and videos, and access other apps,” said Gummi Hafsteinsson, Product Management Director at Google.

The company also announced a new set of pre-installed Google apps, including Google Go (a new lighter app from Google Search) and Google Assistant for Android Oreo (Go edition).

Google Go is light on storage and data and works efficiently on patchy connections. “It’s less than 5MB to download, and search results in Google Go are optimized to save up to 40 per cent data,” Sengupta added.

Google also announced “Files Go,” an app that will help free up space, find files faster and share files offline on smartphones that come with less internal storage.

The company also brought bill payment facilities on its digital payment app “Tez”.

“More than 70 billers will be supported, including utilities and direct-to-home service providers, on Tez,” Sengupta told reporters here.

“Tez” will support bill payments for Tata Power, MTNL, DishTV, CPDCL and other utility providers that will include national and state electricity providers, water, DTH and gas recharges.

“Tez” has processed over 140 million transactions from nearly 12 million active users. There are more than 525,000 merchants already on the Google mobile payment app. (IANS)

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Samsung files patent for palm scanning as password hint

Dec 1, 2017 0

Seoul– Samsung has reportedly filed a patent that explores using palm scanning to remember forgotten passwords.

“Samsung thinks a person’s palm can be used to help users remember their password by hiding the hint in those scattered lines, tech website SamMobile reported late on Thursday.

According to the 42-page patent, the company has envisioned a way for devices to use the front camera to take a picture and then the phone will be able to verify the identity, as long as palm lines match with the ones already stored in the smartphone.

“This isn’t a method for unlocking similar to iris or fingerprint scanning; instead, Samsung wants to use palm scanning to ensure that the user requesting for the password hint is the owner of the device,” the report added.

The company currently offers eye scans, facial recognition, fingerprint identification, pattern and PIN codes as security measures.

The South Korean tech giant is also expected to unveil its flagship Galaxy S9 and a foldable Galaxy X at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2018 in Las Vegas. (IANS)

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Windows 10 now running on 600 mn devices

Nov 30, 2017 0

San Francisco– The Windows 10 operating system (OS) is now running on 600 million monthly active devices, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced at the company’s annual shareholders meeting.

“The number is up from the 500 million devices touted by Microsoft earlier this year, but it’s still well short of the company’s original goal of one billion Windows 10 devices within two to three years of its 2015 release,” GeekWire reported late on Wednesday.

Earlier, the tech giant had acknowledged that it would not be able to reach the original goal.

It took the latest Windows OS almost 27 months to hit the milestone.

Windows 10 was built in a very different way from its predecessors so that it could be regularly updated with not only fixes but also with new features.

Microsoft has released four major updates for Windows 10 so far which are the “November Update”, “Anniversary Update”, “Creators Update” and “Fall Creators Update”. (IANS)

 

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Lenovo tops Indian tablet market with 94% growth

Nov 27, 2017 0

New Delhi– While the Indian tablet PC market recorded a 4 per cent decline (Year-on-Year) in the third quarter this year, Lenovo captured 20.3 per cent share to lead the segment, witnessing 94 per cent growth over the previous quarter, market research firm CMR said on Monday.

Acer grabbed the second spot with 16 per cent market share in terms of unit shipments.

“Over a period of time, tablet PCs are finding improved adoption in corporate as well as government segment. Education was the key segment for B2B sales and the key driving force behind the growth in 3Q 2017,” Narinder Kumar, Lead Analyst, CMR, said in a statement.

Lenovo’s growth was attributed to its plan of distribution of its tablets towards “NAMO E-Tab Tablet Sahay Yojana” in August.

The company’s tablet model “Tab3” 7-inch was the highest contributor with 13 per cent market share in overall tablet market in terms of unit shipments.

According to CMR’s India Quarterly Tablet PC Market Review, 0.94 million tablets were shipped in India, recording 38 per cent growth over the previous quarter.

“Tablet PCs in consumer space are sidelined by phablets (Mobiles with 5.5-inch and above screen size) due to lack of product differentiation and compelling use cases,” Kumar added.

In terms of unit shipments, 4G, 3G and Wi-Fi-based tabs witnessed a quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) growth of 53 per cent, 44 per cent and 22 per cent respectively in the third quarter, while 2G tablets witnessed a decline of 15 per cent in the same period.

In terms of Operating System (OS), Android continued to be the top operating system choice with 92 per cent market share due to the increased availability of affordable Android-based tablets in the market.

The Android market grew 43 per cent from the last quarter while iOS grew only 5 per cent and its market share remained steady at 8 per cent.

The tablet market in the segment of Rs 5,000-10,000 witnessed a huge growth of 160 per cent. Tabs in the price category of less than Rs 5,000 witnessed sharp sequential decline of 27 per cent in the third quarter of 2017.

“With the cost of 4G data going down, the demands for 4G devices will significantly increase in the coming quarters. This will increase affordability of 4G tablets. Hence the demand for low-cost tablets is likely to grow significantly,” said Menka Kumari, Analyst at CMR. (IANS)

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Penalise companies for failing to protect data: Huawei

Nov 27, 2017 0

By Gokul Bhagabati

New Delhi– With a viable and immediate solution to the growing problem of data breach eluding the international community for years, governments the world over should consider instituting a system of incentives and disincentives whereby companies failing to protect personal data could be penalised, suggests Chinese technology giant Huawei’s global head of cybersecurity John Suffolk.

“There is no magic solution for cybersecurity, but the governments can start by putting in place a system to entourage companies that do a good job in protecting personal data of users and penalise those found wanting in doing their job,” Suffolk, President of Cybersecurity and Privacy at Huawei, told IANS in an interview here.

The latest report of a massive data breach came from the ride-hailing platform Uber, which disclosed this month that the breach that occurred almost a year earlier affected 57 million customers and drivers.

And Uber is not alone in that league.

Earlier, US-based credit reporting agency Equifax announced that hackers had gained access to the company’s data, potentially impacting approximately 143 million consumers. A hacking attack dating back to 2013 reportedly affected three billion of Yahoo’s user accounts.

The 2012 LinkedIn breach, in which millions of passwords were stolen, will also be fresh in the memory of many. And the list, on which no one wants to be, could go on.

If heads do not roll and businesses run as usual, even after losing records of millions of people, how can we expect enhanced protection of data in the future, Suffolk asked.

“I think one of the gaps that we have at the moment is that we have not really worked on the incentives and disincentives to get the basics of cybersecurity done,” he added.

Finding a practical solution to the threats posed to the cyber space has become all the more urgent in view of the increased digitisation process currently underway in many parts of the world, including India, according to Suffolk, who served as the UK Government CIO and CISO from 2006 to 2011, before joining Huawei.

“The world, including India, rightly wants to digitise much of the public service and use technology to drive growth and innovation. While everybody is using technology to rebuild their economy, there also arises the need to protect the data and services,” Suffolk said.

“The importance of privacy and cybersecurity increases as an economy relies on digitial technology,” said Suffolk, who was in India for the just-concluded fifth edition of the Global Conference on Cyber Space (GCCS) here.

Data breach is a major concern because it can be used for illegal purposes. With personal data available at their disposal, criminals could use it for extracting money or applying for a bank loan in someone else’s name.

Ensuring cybersecurity, according to Suffolk, comes down to getting the basics right every day.

“Many people many not find this exciting, but it is also very important. In the case of Equifax, for example, they did not do the patching, something which is basic cybersecurity,” he pointed out.

“What I have to do to secure your phone may be different from what I have to do to secure telecommunication infrastructure, or for that matter a cloud infrastructure. There are differences in terms of scale, but the basics are similar,” Suffolk said, adding that putting in place just four simple controls can prevent 80 per cent of the attacks.

The governments should give incentives to those who do a good job at protecting data, he added.

Suffolk, however, did not discount the importance of global collaboration, which was the focus of discussions at GCCS 2017, for ensuring cybersecurity.

Because the world is becoming more and more reliant on digitisation, global network and global supply chains, Suffolk believes, every country has the responsibility to keep that inter-connected world up and running in a safe and secure way.

“It would be worthwhile to have real action-oriented statements of intents on a code of conduct on cybersecurity from leaders across the world. It may not be possible to declare every norm in one statement. But there should be a gradual progress forward in evolving such a mechanism on cybersecurity,” he added.

“Creating awareness among the people on how to use the digital platforms safely is also important for the governments. Teaching people how the crooks work is very significant because everybody may not be an expert,” Suffolk said.

He said that Huawei, which works on a range of areas, from chip manufacturing to cloud computing to telecommunications to device management, has a “built-in” approach, not an add-on approach, when it comes to security. (IANS)

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Indian firms fast embracing Microsoft 365 for modern workplaces

Nov 16, 2017 0

New Delhi– With the Indian enterprises, along with over 50 million small and medium businesses (SMB), aiming to embrace digital workplaces, the cloud-powered productivity solution Microsoft 365 is fast helping the CIOs and CTOs meet their IT goals in a secure way, a top company executive said here on Thursday.

Microsoft India on Thursday showcased Microsoft 365 — a complete, intelligent solution, which brings together Office 365, Windows 10 and enterprise mobility and security.

“With a rapid adoption of Cloud-enabled intelligent solutions at workplaces in India, Microsoft 365 is offering built-in, intelligent security and helps streamline IT by unifying management across users, devices, apps and services,” Alok Lall, Partner Technology Lead, Microsoft India, told IANS.

Owing to a diverse and increasingly mobile workforce, Indian organisations are faced with the challenge of safeguarding customer data, company data and intellectual property.

“With Office 365, sectors across the spectrum, especially the SMBs, in India can leverage their true potential and create a modern, secure workplace,” Lall added.

Microsoft 365 is available in India starting at Rs 661 per user per month. The company offers Microsoft 365 Enterprise, Microsoft 365 Business and Microsoft 365 Firstline solutions.

“The adoption of Microsoft 365 has helped us become well-equipped to the rapidly evolving industry needs. The solution has helped us simplify processes, enable productivity, creativity and teamwork amongst the employees,” said Ramana SV, Senior Vice President and Head Global IT, HCL Technologies.

According to Subramanyam Putrevu, Chief Information Officer, Mindtree Consulting, using Microsoft 365, they are finding ways to empower everyone in the organisation to be more creative, to be more collaborative and to be more engaged to do their best work.

The State Bank of India (SBI) has chosen Office 365, the cloud-powered productivity solution, from Microsoft to improve communication and collaboration among its workforce.

This is one of the largest deployments of Office 365 in India, spanning SBI’s countrywide network of 23,423 branches, enabling 263,000 employees and servicing more than 500 million customer accounts.

According to Madu Ratnayake, Chief Information Officer and Head of Business Process Excellence at VirtusaPolaris, with Microsoft 365, they are fostering a new culture at work enabled by technology.

Microsoft 365 has also seen significant adoption with organisations around the world such as Aston Martin and Dentsu Aegis Network.

According to a latest “Workplace 2020 Study” by Microsoft, 45 per cent workers face key gaps at the workplace today, especially those at the firstline.

“Sixty-three per cent of respondents said they needed to be in office as special tools that they use are only available in office – signifying a lack of flexibility in the way they work, or innovate,” the findings showed.

While 41 per cent can only have full access to important information when they are in the office – restricting on-the-go productivity and innovation, 68 per cent workers are checking personal emails on company-issued devices – thus exposing their work devices to potential security risks, the study emphasised.

“For a mobile-first country like India which has second highest number of smartphones users, Office 365 can help organisations address these key challenges with modern tools and solutions that make employees more productive, creative and secure,” Lall noted.

Microsoft 365 Firstline is designed to maximize the impact of the Firstline worker. The product will help foster culture and community, train employees, digitize processes and deliver real-time expertise while minimizing risk and cost for enterprises.

Microsoft 365 Enterprise is built on the foundation of a secure productive enterprise, giving people flexibility and choice in how they connect, share and communicate.(IANS)

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Emami looks at inorganic opportunities in ayurvedic space

Nov 14, 2017 0

Guwahati–  FMCG major Emami Ltd, which is looking at inorganic opportunities in the ayurvedic segment in India as well as abroad, is hoping that its future growth would come from “core brands and brand extensions” in the space, a company official said on Tuesday.

“In the ayurvedic business, our growth will come from core brands, it could also come from brand extensions,” the company’s Chief Financial Officer N.H. Bhansali told reporters here on the sidelines of inauguration of firm’s third manufacturing plant at Pacharia in Assam’s Kamrup district.

“The company is also looking at inorganic opportunities in India and overseas.”

The new facility, spread over a total planned floor area of over 50,000 sqm for a total capacity of 90,000 mtpa, is built at an investment of Rs 300 crore.

The brand extensions can take place in haircare, personalcare and skin care, he said, adding that everywhere there is a lot of scope.

Asked whether the company is looking into brands or business acquisitions, he said: “It will depend whether we will be looking into brand acquisition or acquisition of production facilities… it will depend on the opportunities which will come.

“What makes sense for us, we will look into them. But generally, in our business, the brands are very important.”

On the possible geographies for any acquisitions that may take place, he said its focus countries would be Middle East, Russia, Africa, South East Asia.

The Rs 50,000 crore Emami group of companies has a portfolio of nearly 300 products based on ayurvedic formulations.

Asked whether the company would consider any price reduction of its products following tax rate cuts of some of FMCG items under Goods and Services Tax (GST), Bhansali said: “We need to evaluate the situation in totality.”

Further, he said, while there have been some relaxations, still there is no clarity on the refunds, which were earlier available for the exemptions for Northeast and other exempted zones.

“Those refunds have been restricted or halved in many of the cases. So a full clarity is required before we take a decision. And before that we need to make our calculations first.”

He also said the wholesale trade channel has been amongst the worst affected post demonetisation and roll out of GST. However, normalcy is coming in now, he added. (IANS)

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Phishing bigger threat than data breaches: Google

Nov 13, 2017 0

San Francisco– Phishing attacks via fake emails pose the greatest threat to people, followed by keyloggers and third-party breaches as account hacking increases globally, a new Google study has revealed.

Keystroke logging is a type of surveillance software that once installed on a system, has the capability to record every keystroke made on that system. The recording is saved in an encrypted log file.

According to Google, enterprising hijackers are constantly searching for, and are able to find, billions of different platforms’ usernames and passwords on black markets.

A Google team, along with the University of California, Berkeley, tracked several black markets that traded third-party password breaches as well as 25,000 blackhat tools used for phishing and keylogging.

“In total, these sources helped us identify 788,000 credentials stolen via keyloggers, 12 million credentials stolen via phishing, and 3.3 billion credentials exposed by third-party breaches,” Google said in a blog post late on Friday.

Account takeover, or ‘hijacking’, is a common problem for users across the web. More than 15 per cent of Internet users have reported experiencing the takeover of an email or social networking account.

“From March 2016 to March 2017, we analysed several black markets to see how hijackers steal passwords and other sensitive data,” said Kurt Thomas from Anti-Abuse Research and Angelika Moscicki from Account Security teams at Google.

The tech giant then applied the insights to its existing protections and secured 67 million Google accounts before they were abused.

“While our study focused on Google, these password stealing tactics pose a risk to all account-based online services. In the case of third-party data breaches, 12 per cent of the exposed records included a Gmail address serving as a username and a password,” the blog post read.

Of those passwords, 7 per cent were valid due to reuse. When it comes to phishing and keyloggers, attackers frequently target Google accounts to varying success: 12-25 per cent of attacks yield a valid password.

However, because a password alone is rarely sufficient for gaining access to a Google account, increasingly sophisticated attackers also try to collect sensitive data that we may request when verifying an account holder’s identity.

“We found 82 per cent of blackhat phishing tools and 74 per cent of keyloggers attempted to collect a user’s IP address and location, while another 18 per cent of tools collected phone numbers and device make and model,” Google noted.

“While we have already applied these insights to our existing protections, our findings are yet another reminder that we must continuously evolve our defenses in order to stay ahead of these bad actors and keep users safe,” it added.

There are some simple steps people can take that make these defenses even stronger.

“Visit Google’s Security Checkup to make sure you have recovery information associated with your account, like a phone number, and allow Chrome to automatically generate passwords for your accounts and save them via Smart Lock,” Google cautioned. (IANS)

 

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Tech Mahindra, Toshiba Digital Solutions to boost smart factory market

Nov 13, 2017 0

Tokyo–  Toshiba Digital Solutions and Tech Mahindra on Monday joined hands to help manufacturers adopt integrated smart factory solutions across production lines.

The two companies will synergise group manufacturing heritage, domain expertise and existing customer base to expand business in the smart factory market.

“Our integration capability in information technology and operational technology, and global experience in Manufacturing Execution System and allied systems, would make us an ideal partner for companies embarking on their journey of digital transformation,” said Karthikeyan Natarajan, Senior Vice President and Global Head, Integrated Engineering Solutions at Tech Mahindra.

Considered as one of the leaders in the IoT space, Tech Mahindra has been building capabilities through a mix of organic and inorganic means.

Toshiba Digital Solutions has developed “Meister” series, a suite of smart manufacturing solutions.

Based on “Toshiba IoT Architecture SPINEX, the series collects, accumulates and utilises IoT data generated on production lines to optimise manufacturing processes, improve quality and productivity and provide support throughout business lifecycles.

“Teaming up with Tech Mahindra will expand the availability of Toshiba’s smart factory solutions to serve customers in different regions of the world more efficiently,” added Shunsuke Okada, Vice President, Industrial Solutions Division, Toshiba Digital Solutions.

In the first half of its financial year, Japan’s Toshiba Corporation incurred a net loss of 49.8 billion yen ($438 million) — compared to a profit of 115.3 billion yen during the same period last year.

The operating income in this period rose to 231.8 billion yen, which is a record figure for the company and more than double the income during the same period in 2016.

The net sales also rose to 2.4 trillion yen, which has been attributed to the higher sales of its storage and electronic devices, although the company registered lower sales in the energy and infrastructure sectors. (IANS)

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Coal India app for smooth fuel delivery by road launched

Nov 7, 2017 0

New Delhi– The Union Coal Ministry launched a mobile application to facilitate smooth despatch of coal by road transport to customers of state-run Coal India Ltd (CIL), an official statement said on Tuesday.

The “Grahak Sadak Koyla Vitaran” app was unveiled recently in Kolkata by Coal and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, a Ministry statement said here.

“This app is a step towards transparency in the system of loading programme and despatch. It also helps in logistics planning for lifting of coal in tune with the loading programmes,” it said.

“It helps achieve transparency in despatch operations, as a tool to monitor whether the despatches are made on the fair principle of ‘First in First Out’ and keeps track of all the activities from issuance of sale order to physical delivery of coal by road,” it added.

The app also provides details of coal allotment and lifting status for the convenience of customers from different sources.

In a move to provide more coal to power stations, CIL had earlier directed supplies via road to plants located at shorter distances.

The Ministry said that of Coal India’s total despatch of 542 million tonnes (MT) in the last fiscal, 140 MT, or around 26 per cent was despatched by road.

“The impetus given in the current fiscal has improved movement of coal through road considerably. At the end of October 2017, the movement of coal through road at a little over 93 MT accounted for 29 per cent of the total coal despatch of 317 MT,” the statement said.

“The despatch of coal through roads in the current fiscal so far has gone up by 12 MT, as compared to the same period last fiscal,” it added. (IANS)

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