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Left in lurch with ban, TikTok stars stare at a grim future

Written by Thursday, 28 September 2017 08:47

The jokes contained not only funny lines but also music, dance, acting, emojis and a whole lot of wackiness. Thousands of those went viral in the 12-odd hours that the app was functional on Indian smartphones after the government banned it, citing cybersecurity worries.

The best jokes about India banning Tik-Tok were on Tik-Tok, but people not on the popular Chinese app probably wouldn’t have got them.

The jokes contained not only funny lines but also music, dance, acting, emojis and a whole lot of wackiness. Thousands of those went viral in the 12-odd hours that the app was functional on Indian smartphones after the government banned it, citing cybersecurity worries.

Scores of users had already uninstalled the app in the name of patriotism since border tensions escalated between India and China earlier this month, but many refused to hit delete. As a popular creator said in her latest video while spinning on her heel: “They are making Tik-Tok videos to order us to delete Tik-Tok. No chance!”

On Tuesday morning, the company voluntarily disabled the app that opened up social media celebrity to millions of people in small-town and rural India but also sparked concerns about mass surveillance and large-scale transfer of data to the Chinese government.

By then, many Tik-Tok stars had already posted videos urging their fans to follow them to rival platforms such as Instagram or YouTube. But as some of them pointed out themselves between sobs and sniffles, it won’t be the same. They would need talent for YouTube, coolness for Instagram, irony for Snapchat.

“It may be just an app for some people, but for me it translates to four years of sweat. Hundreds of apps like this can come and go, but this is where I could make 6.8 million people laugh,” said a comic star in his goodbye video. He will never know if it was the quality of his jokes that attracted 6.8 million followers, but what made TikTok special was that being bad at something could make you as popular as being good at it.

No one knew what worked, so everyone had a chance, and millions went for it regardless of looks, location and language skills.

Israil Ansari was one of them.

In 2018, the then 18-year-old posted his first TikTok, a 15-second video of himself dancing to a Bollywood song with the rice fields of his Uttar Pradesh village in the backdrop. Ansari looks funny dancing, as he is happy to admit, but that didn’t stop his video from becoming viral — or perhaps that’s what did it. “Hanse toh phanse (laugh and you are hooked)” is how he explained his wild success on the platform.

Since 2017, when he left his village and his job at the local hardware store to move to Lucknow and then Mumbai, Ansari, a school dropout, has earned more than two million followers and over Rs 1 lakh in monthly income from public appearances and brand endorsements. All he had to do, he says, was stay true to his character. Now that TikTok’s gone, he is trying his best to brave it out. “Koi dikkat nahin hai (no issues). The public knows me, and that’s what matters. I will find another platform from where I can earn an income,” he said.

“The fact that someone like Shilpa Shetty or Riteish Deshmukh has to do duets with this dancer from a village in order to be popular on TikTok explains its appeal to users,” says Sheikh Khalfan whose Mumbai-based online channel tracks TikTok celebrities.

He now spends his entire time consoling them. “The stars are in a frenzy trying to build their presence on YouTube or Instagram. But they are too used to the rhythm of TikTok,” Khalfan said. “A 30-second video is all it took to get famous overnight so people put out all their creativity into it, whether it was comedy or karaoke. And even after they earned followers, that’s how they approached every video. That habit will be hard to break out of it,” he said.

For the followers, too, it won’t be an easy switch from TikTok to another video entertainment platform.

“On TikTok, you like something and it keeps giving you more and more of that. I like dance videos, for example, and my feed never runs out of it. The platform understands the human brain,” Khalfan said.

He is not wrong. TikTok users spend most of their time on the app going through a feed made for them via artificial intelligence. The AI-system offers them a random stream of popular videos when they sign up and studies how they react to each one, from the time they spend watching a video to the speed with which they swipe up or down, besides reading the obvious signals such as likes, comments and follows.

The more time users spend inside the app, the better it becomes at predicting what they will like. To be sure, experts have long questioned this system, saying the data collected on users was not only being transferred to third-party businesses but also possibly to the Chinese government. Moreover, TikTok was found last month to have intercepted personal data of users by logging their keystrokes in an attempt to circumvent end-to-end encryption.

The effect of its algorithm was often addictive. Through most of India’s months-long coronavirus-sparked lockdown, TikTok remained the country’s most downloaded app as people sought an escape from the reality. Now, they will have to find another distraction.

To Sabira Khan, a popular creator known for posting sad videos, this feels like an end. “The news has broken me. I have been crying since I heard. I had just reached a million followers, and it had taken me a lot of hard work through these months of lockdown,” said the creator. Source : ht

 

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How Google will simplify your sign-in process in Android 11

Written by Saturday, 23 September 2017 10:03

Google has introduced two new solutions – One Tap and Block Store – that will simplify the sign-in process for users.

Google recently kicked off its 11 Weeks of Android program. As a part of the program, the company, in a series of videos, has detailed how it is going to simplify the sign-in process for both developers and the end users.

This involves two new initiatives: One Tap and Block Store.

As of now there are three sign-in solutions available online. First is the Google sign-in, which enables users to use their Google Accounts to log into third-party apps. The second is Smart Lock for Passwords, which helps users sign in automatically when they open an app or visit a website. And the third is the Android Autofill. However, the issues with these methods, as Google explains is that they are not only complex for the users but also for the end users who may not trust these solutions enough.

Enter: One Tap. One Tap is a cross-platform sign-in supporting technique that allows users to sign-in or sign-up on a website or in an app using a single tap. New users can sign up using One Tap without being interrupted by a sign-up screen wherein they will be given a “secure, token-based, passwordless account” that will be associated with their Google Accounts. Users will then be prompted to save the password using Autofill or an ‘explicit password saving option’ that is provided by One Tap. On the other hand, users who are revisiting an app or a website can sign-in using One Tap on any device whether they are using a password or a Google account. This feature is available on both Android and on the web.

The second solution that Google is working on is called Block Store. It is a “secure end-to-end encrypted credential storage solution” for developers that stores usernames and passwords in the form of tokens instead of plain text. When a user signs in or sign-up in an app, developers can save the authentication token generated by that transaction to the Block Store. This token is then encrypted and stored locally on the device. If the user has enabled the cloud, the token is end-to-end encrypted and also stored in the Google Cloud. Later, when the user returns to the app on a new device, Block Store will restore the token allowing developers to keep the user signed in on the new device.

Both these solutions, that is One Tap and Block Store, are a part of a unified Google Identity Services (GIS) library for Android and they will eventually replace Google Sign In and Smart Lock for Passwords. Source : ht

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Some of the popular OEMs are confirmed as one of the partners for Qualcomm that will soon bring handsets with Snapdragon 690 processor.

Qualcomm has just introduced its Snapdragon 690 processor, which aims to bring 5G support to even more mid-range phones. The chipset also features some abilities that were not there in the Snapdragon 600 series before. However, the biggest question here is that when will users see smartphones with this processor and what brands will bring it first.

As it turns out, some of the popular OEMs are confirmed as one of the partners for Qualcomm that will soon bring handsets with Snapdragon 690 processor.

One of the leading OEMs is Nokia. HMD’s chief product officer, Juho Sarvikas confirmed that Nokia will launch smartphones with SNapdragon 690. One can also expect these handsets to include PureDisplay tech and ZEISS imaging solution. “Now with the Snapdragon 690 Mobile Platform, we are excited that our vision of future-proof 5G and global 5G roaming can be made more accessible to even more fans of Nokia phones. You can expect 5G worthy experiences powered by our PureDisplay and ZEISS Imaging innovation, now at an even more affordable price. We can’t wait to share more details on this exciting product with you, stay tuned,” he said.

Other than Nokia, Motorola is also planning to soon launch Qualcomm Snapdragon 690 based smartphones. “We’re committed to expand 5G into our portfolio and we will rely on the new Snapdragon 690 Mobile Platform to continue to do it,” said Sergio Buniac, president, Motorola Mobility. “It’s incredibly important, especially now, for us to make 5G accessible to even more consumers around the world. As networks expand, so are our offerings.”

LG is also planning to tap on to the 5G market with the Snapdragon 690 processor. “5G is truly redefining how consumers interact with their devices. LG is supportive of bringing this enabling technology down to lower priced products through its integration of the Snapdragon 690 Mobile Platform,” said Dr. In-Kyung Kim, senior vice president, 5G and network technology and strategy, LG Electronics.

Besides these three, some other OEMs that are looking forward to use Snapdragon 690 are TCL, Wingtech and Sharp.

It has also been mentioned that Qualcomm's new 5G chipset for mid-range phones will be commercially made available in the second half of 2020. However, it is yet to be seen which Snapdragon 690 device comes to India and when. Source : ht

 

 

 

 

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Reliance Jio responds to the fake JioCoin apps flooding the Google Play Store.

Reliance Jio on Wednesday cautioned users against downloading any application that claims to offer JioCoin, a new cryptocurrency reportedly in the works.

“Reliance Jio has come across reports in media and other websites about the existence of purported JioCoin Apps on the Internet that are soliciting investments in crypto currencies from people,” said the company in a statement.

“Reliance Jio would like to inform the public and media that there are no such apps offered by the company or its affiliates/ associates. Any such apps using the JioCoin name are fake and people are advised to refrain from dealing with any of them.”

“Reliance Jio takes a serious note of such fraudulent attempts by unscrupulous persons to misguide the public in the name of Jio and reserves the right to take appropriate legal recourse,” it added.

Jio’s statement comes as response to a growing number of fake mobile applications and websites tricking customers into downloading them.

A quick search of “JioCoin” on Google Play Store shows more than a dozen fake applications. Also, there are a number of websites cashing in on the buzz around the JioCoin.

It’s recommended that users should not download such malicious applications as they could inject malware or adware into your phone, ultimately putting your privacy at risk. Source : ht

 

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Hyundai cars get costlier by up to Rs 84,867

Written by Saturday, 16 September 2017 08:51

NEW DELHI: Hyundai Motor India Ltd (HMIL) today increased prices of its various models by up to Rs 84,867, following a hike in GST cess rates.

The price hike will range from 2 to 5 per cent and will be effective from September 11, the company said in a statement.

HMIL, which is country's second largest passenger car manufacturer, has hiked the price of 1.4-litre petrol automatic variant of its premium hatchback Elite i20 by Rs 12,547.

Besides, it has raised prices of the newly launched mid-sized sedan Verna by up to 29,090. Similarly, prices of SUV Creta have been hiked ranging between Rs 20,900 and Rs 55,375.

The automaker has also raised prices of its premium sedan Elantra ranging between Rs 50,312 and Rs 75,991. It has also increased the price of its premium SUVTuscon between Rs 64,828 and Rs 84,867.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has also announced a hike in prices of its Jeep and Fiat range of vehicles by up to Rs 6.4 lakh. 

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Google to Introduce Mobile Payment Service in India

Written by Friday, 15 September 2017 06:16

 

Alphabet's Google plans to introduce a localised digital payment service in India as early as next week, technology website TechCrunch reported, citing a report from news site The Ken. The payment service, called Google 'Tez', will offer payment options beyond the existing ones like Google Wallet or Android Pay, the report said.

Tez, meaning fast in Hindi, will include support for the government-backed Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and other consumer payment services including Paytm and MobiKwik, according to the report. Google did not comment on the report, but sent a media invite for the launch of a new product for India on Sept. 18.

Google, Facebook and WhatsApp were in talks with the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) to provide UPI-enabled payment on their platforms, the Mint daily had reported in July. The internet giant launched its payment app Android Pay in the United States two years ago.

 

 

 

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WhatsApp Co-Founder Brian Acton to Leave Company

Written by Wednesday, 13 September 2017 06:18

 

Brian Acton, co-founder of WhatsApp, now owned by Facebook, will leave the messaging service company to start a new foundation, he said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.

Acton spent eight years with WhatsApp, which Facebook bought in 2014 for $19 billion in cash and stock.

A Stanford alumnus, Acton co-founded WhatsApp with Ukrainian immigrant Jan Koum in 2009. The duo worked at Yahoo before starting WhatsApp.

Here's Acton's Facebook post announcing his departure from WhatsApp, and explaining his reasons, in its entirety.

"After 8 years at WhatsApp, I have decided to move on and start a new chapter in my life.

I am very fortunate at my age to have the flexibility to take new risks and focus on what I'm passionate about. I've decided to start a non-profit focused at the intersection of nonprofit, technology and communications. It's something I've thought about for a while, and now it's time to just focus and execute. I'll have more to share in the coming months.

This decision is, of course, a tough one. I'm proud of what our team has accomplished in only a few years, and it's humbling to see that so many people rely on WhatsApp every day.

 

 

 

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Micro-blogging website Twitter is reportedly testing a feature that will simplify the way users post "tweetstorms" — a series of related tweets posted by a user in quick succession.

According to a report on Engadget on Monday, A user has discovered a hidden, experimental "tweetstorm" feature in Twitter's Android app that simplifies the process. "Instead of posting tweets one at a time and replying to them in sequence, you compose everything behind the scenes and share it all at once," the report added.

Hidden inside the Android app is a way to write a "tweetstorm" and see it broken into distinct tweets and then tweet them all at once.

Twitter, however, declined to comment on the feature which is yet to be made available to the public.

Twitter has lifted the 140-character limit for its 328 million-plus users to send direct messages. While Twitter is largely a public experience, direct messages let you have private conversations about the memes and news that unfold on the micro blogging site. The company said last year that it would stop counting photos, videos and GIF animations toward the 140-character limit.

This report comes a day after Twitter started allowing users to share access to multiple accounts via iOS and Android applications without needing to share that account's password.

 

 

 

 

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WhatsApp rolls out two new feature for both Android and iOS users. One of them is the Picture-in-Picture video calling feature and the second one is the text status update. To recall, both the features were earlier available for the beta users, but now WhatsApp has pushed out both the features to stable builds. WhatsApp has been rolling to several new features almost every other day; this is basically because the Facebook-owned messaging platform is aiming towards improving its functionalities.

The new Picture-in-Picture video calling feature allow users to multitask. The feature basically allows the users to make video calls and send messages to friends simultaneously. For instance, if a user is on a video call and also wants to talk to some other friend via message, they can simply resize the video calling screen so they can talk to one friend via video call, and message the other one. After resizing the video call screen will appear at one side of the mobile screen, while the background will be that of the chat box. It is noteworthy, the resized video calling screen can be resized as per requirement and it can also be dragged to any corner of the phone screen.

This is the Picture-in-Picture feature, also known as PiP. Now the text status updates feature. Like we share pictures and videos as status, iOS and Android users will now be able to set a text status as well. It is different from the profile text status. We know that picture and videos on WhatsApp status last's only for 24 hours. The scene will be the same with the new WhatsApp text status as well. So, how does this feature work?

 

 

 

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In collaboration with Reliance Jio, domestic consumer electronics brand Intex Technologies on Friday announced data benefits up to 25GB for its 4G smartphone users.

Under this scheme, all Intex 4G Smartphone users using a Jio connection will get additional 5GB 4G data per recharge, over what they normally get on a recharge of Rs. 309 or above.

"The world's largest end-to-end IP network of Jio and Intex's pan-India mobile distribution network will together be a delight for consumers," said Nidhi Markanday, Director and Business Head, Mobiles, Intex Technologies, in a statement. The offer is limited to a maximum of five recharges.

Late last month, Chinese manufacturer Oppo also partnered with Reliance Jio to offer data benefits to its smartphone customers.

Those customers who purchase an Oppo smartphone and enrol themselves in Jio Prime membership will get additional data benefits.

As per the new offer, buyers of Oppo's F3F3 Plus, and F1 Plus smartphone models can get additional data up to 10GB on every recharge of Rs. 309 or above (making it up to 60GB of additional data). On the other hand, those customers who purchase Oppo F1sA57A37, and A33 models can get additional data up to 7GB on every recharge (making it up to 42GB of additional data). Notably, customers can avail these additional data benefits for a maximum of six Jio recharges.

 

 

 

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