New Twitter feature to make it easier to share tweets privately

New Twitter feature to make it easier to share tweets privately

Twitter Inc is offering a new feature that would make it easier for users to share tweets privately with friends, the company said in a blog post.

The feature, “Message button”, updates an existing option that allows tweets to be sent privately through direct messages.

Twitter said the feature would be available from Tuesday for the iOS and Android mobile platforms.

Facebook adds dedicated tab, infinite likes, filters and more to Live Video

Facebook adds dedicated tab, infinite likes and more to Live Video

Facebook on Wednesday added dedicated tab, infinite likes, filters and more to its Live Video feature in a bid to offer “more ways to discover, share, and interact with live video.”  The social media giant introduced the feature – which essentially allows users to broadcast live video from their smartphones, much like Periscope – in December last year. It is available for Android and iOS platforms.

To begin with, the Facebook app has been updated with a new dedicated tab in the centre that will allow users to search both live and archived videos. The tab includes different sections to show broadcasts happening around the world as well as those that are broadcasted by a user’s friends and pages they follow.

The tab is now rolling out to a very small percentage of users, said Facebook.

The update also allows for users to send a broadcaster infinite likes — much like how it is on rival platform Periscope – with the option of sending along hearts, wows, and rest of Facebook’s reactions.

“Using the same reactions we launched in News Feed, viewers can select Love, Haha, Wow, Sad or Angry, and the reactions animate right on top of the video,” Facebook said.

Moreover, broadcasters can now also apply filters to their broadcast. Currently limited to basic color effects, broadcasters will soon be able to draw on their broadcasts as well, said Facebook.

The company has also added a live map of broadcasts to it, however, the feature is only available on the desktop for now.

“People in more than 60 countries can now share live video, and we’ve been inspired by all the different global broadcasts, the company said.

Google calendar reminders are now available on web

Google calendar reminders are now available on web

Google’s ‘Reminder’ feature in its Calendar app will now be available on the web as well. The feature was added last year in December for Android and iOS users.

The Calendar web version will also receive features similar to those of Android and iOS platforms. Unlike events, the app will continue showing the reminders until the user marks it as done.  Also, the reminders would work across Google apps like Inbox, Keep, and Google app. Reminders created in mobile will also be visible on the web and vice versa. So users can stay on track from just about anywhere.

Google’s Calendar is a time management application created by Google in 2006.  The app received its latest update in January adding a Smart Suggestion feature which is available in 30 different languages.  As soon as the user starts typing, the Calendar starts giving suggestions. Users can choose to select one or keep typing to refine the suggestions or even manually enter the text.  For adding the location, tap “at” and to add people user needs to tap “with.”  User can also specify the exact date, time and duration of the event by further tapping the “on.”

Google on Wednesday also announced Health Cards Features in collaboration with Apollo Hospitals in India. The feature is live on Android, iOS and desktop versions. These Health Cards have been integrated into the Google Knowledge graph which powers the search experience in India. The feature basically helps find relevant and verified medical info, reflected as cards on the search page when searching for health-related topics.

Indians access Facebook 2.4 times more than Twitter

Indians access Facebook 2.4 times more than Twitter: StudyPeople in India access social networking site Facebook 2.4 times more than microblogging site Twitter and two times more than video sharing website YouTube, a study has found.

“Facebook’s following is truly pan-India. The number of people on the platform in the non-top eight metros is more than twice that of the top eight cities,” said the study conducted by market research and business consultancy firm IMRB.

The study, commissioned by the social networking giant, also found that 70 per cent people on Facebook own a smartphone and 88 per cent of them use a prepaid connection.

Android was found to be the most popular operating system for Indians on Facebook, followed by iOS and Windows.

“Almost all people” or “a substantial majority of people” on Facebook in India also access instant messaging service WhatsApp.

According to IMRB, 63 per cent Facebook users in India have 3G connections, while 38 per cent use a 2G connection to access the social network.

WhatsApp is now probably illegal in India

WhatsApp is now probably illegal in India

Last night WhatsApp turned on encryption within the app. This means, by default, if you are using the latest version of WhatsApp all your communication through the app will be encrypted. This also – probably, and that is a big probably – makes WhatsApp illegal in India. The reason? Our IT laws and rules are so outdated that a case can be made against WhatsApp because now it is using 256-bit encryption by default.

This is legally a grey area and given the fact that WhatsApp is popular in India, the government may not go after it, but in theory it can very well declare the chat app illegal. None of the Indian IT-related regulations permit 256-bit encryption in private services. Although, none of them also specifically outlaw it. But there are some guidelines issued by Department of Telecommunications, which the government can use to term WhatsApp illegal.

According to rules issued by DoT in 2007, License Agreement for Provision of Internet Service (including Internet Telephony) mandates that private parties in India cannot use encryption that is higher than 40-bits without explicit permission from the government.

Also, the permission is granted only if the entity that intends to use encryption submits decryption keys to the government, which in the case of WhatsApp is going to be impossible because it has implemented the encryption in a way where even WhatsApp doesn’t have the keys.

Now, the interesting bit here is that WhatsApp is not an ISP and neither it needs any DoT licence to offer its services in India. So it is not clear if the encryption rules formulated by DoT apply on it or not. Although, due to the lack of clarity in this matter, if the government wants, it can clearly chase WhatsApp out of the country with its 40-bit stick.

India is, however, in the process of formulating some sort of coherent encryption policy. Last year, the government floated a draft proposal for the use of encryption in India. It was a bad bad draft, which government pulled back because of criticism. One of the suggestions in the draft was that people using encrypted services will be asked to keep the decrypted data for at least 90 days. If something like that makes its way to whatever new policy the government comes up with, it will definitely make the WhatsApp illegal, especially after its decision to turn on strong encryption by default for all users across the world.

WhatsApp encryption feature is security threat, say security agencies

WhatsApp encryption feature is security threat, say security agencies

Security agencies have expressed concern over the new encryption feature introduced by popular messaging giant WhatsApp saying it could be misused by anti- national elements for achieving their nefarious designs.

The just-introduced end-to-end encryption of WhatsApp will protect texts and voice calls and gives no access to the security agencies, making it much tougher for them to tackle any situation arising out of messages, videos being circulated through the messaging service.

WhatsApp has puts out a one-line advisory to its users: Messages you send to this chat and calls are now secured with end-to-end encryption.

“The move is a potential security threat,” said a security official.

WhatsApps action came close on the heels of a legal battle between Apple and FBI over the US agencys demand that the iPhone maker help unlock its mobile phones.

The popular messenger was being used excessively in Jammu and Kashmir by separatists and anti-national elements for spreading rumours which have often led to violent clashes.

The security agencies will be taking up the matter with the Telecom ministry to ensure that proper safeguards are in place before the services could be allowed in the country, the sources said.

In past, the government had red-flagged BlackBerry Internet Services (BIS), BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) and BlackBerry Enterprise Servers (BES) of smartphone maker Research-In-Motion (RIM) until the company installed a server within India for real-time information to the security agencies.

Former Google Search boss Amit Singhal joins board of GOQii

Former Google Search boss Amit Singhal joins board of GOQii

Amit Singhal, who until recently was leading Google’s Search efforts has joined Indian start-up GOQii as a board member. Singhal, who was the senior vice president for search and a Google Fellow, resigned from the tech giant in February. GOQii is is a fitness focused start-up based out of both California and India. It is run by Indian entrepreneur Vishal Gondal.

GOQii has a unique business model as it gives away the fitness tracker for free to its users and makes money on the basis of the subscriptions from the coaching service. GOQii gives users access to certified coaches who give direction to the fitness regimes of its users. The service also works with wearables from Apple, Jawbone and Fitbit.

“Wearables are great but most people don’t know what to do with the data,” CEO Vishal Gondal told ReCode. “The problem we are solving is the problem with engagement,” he added.

GOQii is also using machine learning technologies and the addition of Amit Singhal is a huge coupe for the company. Singhal, who is a former IIT alumnus and also comes from a research background in search technology, has been credited for rewriting the original page rank algorithm for Google Search which was invented by Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

Singhal has also been behind Google’s voice search efforts and also the knowledge graph which is the engine powering Google Search. He was also behind the machine learning and AI efforts which have culminated in the Google Now service which is a part of every Android smartphone and also the iOS Google app.

Singhal famously has been quoted saying that the iconic science fiction show Star Trek was the inspiration behind his efforts at Google. He always wanted to make Google Search work like the Star Trek computer.

Amazon's big India plan: Offer shop owners chai pani and Tatkal

Amazon's big India plan: Offer shop owners chai pani and Tatkal

Amazon is aggressively pushing in India. And now chief Jeff Bezos is detailing some of the initiatives that the company has launched to woo Indian consumers, and more significantly Indian shopkeepers so they are willing to sell goods online.

In a letter to shareholders, Bezos not only talks about some of the big business strategies but also highlights projects like Tatkal and Chai Cart through which the company has tried to attract shopkeepers in India.

“India is another example of how we globalize an offering like Marketplace through customer obsession and a passion for invention. Last year we ran a program called Amazon Chai Cart where we deployed three-wheeled mobile carts to navigate in a city’s business districts, serve tea, water and lemon juice to small business owners and teach them about selling online,” Bezos writes in the letter.

He says that in four months, the team “travelled 15,280 km across 31 cities, served 37,200 cups of tea and engaged with over 10,000 sellers”.

Bezos says Chai Cart goes to a city’s business districts, serves tea, water and lemon juice to small business owners and teaches them about selling online

The engagement led to the learning that even though Indian sellers wanted to reach out to consumers on the web, they believed the process to sell goods online was tedious and fraught with risk. “So, we invented Amazon Tatkal, which enables small businesses to get online in less than 60 minutes. Amazon Tatkal is a specially designed studio-on-wheels offering a suite of launch services including registration, imaging and cataloguing services, as well as basic seller training mechanisms. Since its launch on February 17th, we have reached sellers in 25 cities,” writes Bezos.

Amazon entered India in 2013 and since then has ramped up operations aggressively. It is investing billions of dollars in the country, with the belief that the huge number of online users in India will give opportunity to do big business. In its market, the company is also battling India’s own e-retail firms like Flipkart and Snapdeal.

To make the shopping experience less fussy, the company has moved to open fulfilment centres. ” In India, we launched a program called Seller Flex to combine Amazon’s logistics capabilities with sellers’ selection at the local neighbourhood level. Sellers set aside a part of their warehouse for storing items to be sold on Amazon, and we configure it as a fulfillment center in our network that can receive and fulfill customer orders. We’ve now launched 25 operational Seller Flex sites across ten cities,” writes Bezos.

In his letter Bezos also says that Amazon Web Services will be available in India “next year”.

Google brings game streaming to India with YouTube gaming

YouTube's Twitch rival is now available in India

YouTube’s new gaming app which was launched last year has finally arrived in India. The YouTube gaming app for was launched back in August 2015 in UK and the US for Apple’s iOS and Google’s own Android platforms. In addition to the mobile apps, the service is also available on the main YouTube website.

“Today, we’re making the YouTube Gaming mobile app available on Android and iOS in India. YouTube Gaming is an app that keeps you connected to the games, players, and culture that matter to you, with videos, live streams, and the biggest community of gamers on the web-all in one place,” says Ines Cha, Head of YouTube Gaming Content & Partnerships, Asia Pacific in a blogpost .

YouTube Gaming is a platform that is set to take on Amazon’s Twitch service which allows users to stream their gameplay online. Using YouTube gaming users can broadcast their gameplay sessions online.

On YouTube gaming there are more than 25,000 dedicated pages for games like Zelda and Asteroids. These pages have the best videos and live streams for all these games.

“We know live streams bring the gaming community closer together, so we’ve created a dedicated destination for them within YouTube Gaming. On Android, we’ve also made it simpler to broadcast your gameplay to YouTube. You can now record and live stream mobile gameplay on-the-go directly from Android devices using Mobile Capture in YouTube Gaming. You don’t need any additional hardware or software-just tap Go Live in the YouTube Gaming app, turn on your selfie cam and record your commentary with your phone’s microphone,” explains Cha in the blogpost.

Apart from this, Google has also optimised the search engine for gaming. It knows what games you’re talking about and doesn’t mistake them for music videos, claims Google.

“When you want something specific, you can search with confidence, knowing that typing “call” will show you “Call of Duty” and not “Call Me Maybe,” said Cha.

FB says Messenger has over 900 million users, rolls out codes

FB says Messenger has over 900 million users, rolls out codes

Facebook has announced that over 900 million users are now active on Messenger, the company’s other chat app. Apart from providing the usage figures, the company has also rolled out several new features for the app.

The update includes new features like scannable codes, usernames, messenger links and messenger greetings. Here is a quick summary of what each feature does:

1. Usernames:
If you own a business page on Facebook, people can now easily find your business page and contact you with this new update. Previously it was a little confusing for people to track the original page on messenger but now users can find the unique username of the page just below the page title. In short from now onwards your username will show up directly on your Page, underneath your Page title with an @ symbol before it. Pages that do not have a username set up will see the option to select their username directly from their Page.

2. Messenger Links: Messenger Links are your personalised links, linked to the Page’s username. When clicked, this opens a conversation with the business in Messenger.

3. Messenger codes:
Similar to Snapchat, Messenger codes are basically the unique codes which user can scan in Messenger using the camera in their phones to open a thread with any business. When someone scans one with their camera, it’ll apparently add that person as a contact.

4. Messenger greetings:
Facebook is also announcing a new feature called Messenger greetings. These are customisable notes from the business that appear in a new message thread before messages are sent.  To set and edit greeting, user has to go to Page’s Message Settings.

With the recent update, Facebook probably aims to make Messenger a broader service than just a chat app. Facebook recently also announced a tie up with the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines where the air travellers will receive each and every information related to their travel  including boarding pass through the Messenger app.