Apple steps up the Watch game   

Originally positioned as a luxury brand, Apple Inc. has recently focused more on fitness, and is planning to make its best seller a smarter watch. The company plans to release a version of its smartwatch towards the end of this year, which connects directly to cellular networks. This is to reduce the device’s reliability on its own products, untethering to new range of functionality.

Apple watches currently need wireless connectivity, but this will change. The latest watches come with LTE chips, which are planned for release by the end of this year. The technology jumbo is currently in talks with carriers in the U.S. and Europe to offer cellular networks. But in the wearables market, Apple stands third preceded by Xiaomi and Fitbit. Apple clearly has big plans for Watch both in the health segment and as a gateway to the connected home,” said Carolina Milanesi, consumer tech analyst at Creative Strategies.

According to Bloomberg‘s report, the new Watch gets its modem by Intel Corp. after legal troubles with Qualcomm Inc. This is a big win for Intel, which has been trying to get its components into more Apple gadgets for many years.

Apart from adding a cellular chip, Apple is also looking at software changes – more of Siri enabled features with payment options in iMessage and much more in WatchOS 4.

Sources: Bloomberg, BBC

Aadhar Data leaked, software engineer accused

Our Aadhar details are promised to be kept secured with the government of India. After numerous breeches and data leaks, yet again a software development engineer working in Ola’s head office at Koramangala was arrested on account of misusing Aadhar data obtained without authentication.

A complaint was filed by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) against Abhinav Srivastav (31), an IIT Kharagpur graduate who is accused of hacking into the data repository of UIDAI, gaining access through the e-hospital server, an initiative by the Government of India.

The complaint to the police was made on 26th July, which stated that Srivastav had accessed the data without authorization between January 1  and July 26 via an app called ‘eKYC Verification’.

The app is developed by an entity linked to a start-up Quarth Technologies, which is acquired by taxi service giant Ola. The app provided demographic details to users, it had 50,000 downloads. Srivastav had already earned Rs. 40,000 through advertisements.

After hacking into the server, he used it to send verification requests to the UIDAI database for his own app. The UIDAI system allowed access under the impression that the authentication requests were from the e-hospital system hence not unauthorized,’’ a police source said. Investigations proceed to confirm if the app he developed was used in any form by Ola.

The e-hospital app, hosted on the cloud services of NIC, facilitates online appointments at hospitals using eKYC data of Aadhaar number, if patient’s mobile number is registered with UIDAI, if not it uses the patient’s name. Srivastava’s eKYC Verification app mimicked the e-hospital app in accessing the identity authentication services of UIDAI.

SOURCES: TIMES OF INDIA, INDIAN EXPRESS

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India starts paying for Apps

Indian consumers spent three times more on smartphone apps in the past year. This has led to India becoming the largest downloader at Google’s Play Store. According to Google this is an inflection point in the country’s digital ecosystem which will allow developers to monetize their creations.

“If there’s one thing that the Indian internet ecosystem has been challenged with, it is monetization. But we have monitored a change, I believe the time has come.” Said Rajan Anandan, managing director, Google India- at Bengaluru in the very first App Excellence Summit. In a country like India where monetization has been difficult, there is a need for experiments on ways to monetize the existing services available. Google plans on building robust payment gateways, involving popular digital wallets. Anandan added “The challenge is that when one would try, it’s going to take a lot of time to make consumers used-to the change. So, the sooner the experiments begin, the better.”

One of the biggest contributing factors is the enormous shift witnessed in the internet ecosystem over the past year. The data rates have fell to as low as Rs.15 a GB, because of Jio causing Airtel and others to provide free data- perfect market. This not only lured users online, but caused a spike in internet usage per person. “In a span of 10 months we have gone from having a large number of users spending hardly any time on the internet to having a large number of users and magnificent rise in time spent online.” Anandan said.

SOURCES: Times of India, Business Standard

 

 

After Diesel and LPG, kerosene subsidy pulled off

The government has taken further steps to gradually reduce subsidy on kerosene, impelled the petroleum sector and attracted investment. This has happened after excessive controversies and un-targeted subsidies that made private companies suffer.

State oil companies have been asked to make constant rise in kerosene prices, by 25 paise every fortnight until the subsidy is eliminated, or until further orders. The demand for kerosene is at acute fall, its consumption has dipped by 21 percent to 66,78,447 liters in 2016-17, according to a newspaper report. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Tuesday stated that the administered prices of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and kerosene are set to rise with the calibrated reduction in subsidy

In line with this decision, 2.5 crore villagers are being rapidly exhilarated, and supplied free gas connections, under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojna. This is to massively encourage people to move towards cleaner sources like liquefied petroleum gas.

The present reforms are a boon to the oil industry. Dharmendra Pradhan, Oil Minister, said he is keen to ensure that market pricing of fuels do not trouble the poorest station. By eliminating the subsidies, the government brings commodity closer to the market price, which will prevent adulteration of diesel using kerosene.

Pradhan had earlier lifted controls on Diesel which prompted new petrol pumps by Essar and Reliance Industries. Rather a $6 billion investment has been announced by Reliance and BP (British oil major) in developing a deep-sea gas field. To this, the government has allowed higher rates for gas in challenging areas. The government had been taking measures to bring down other factors that made it difficult for private companies to operate, according to a newspaper report.

Sources: Asian Age, Times of India

Image Source: Bloomberg

Trump spells Trouble For North Korea

On June 30, 2017, United States President Trump said at a press conference with South Korean President Moon Jaein that, “Together we are facing the threat of the reckless and brutal regime.” Aiming at North Korea to “choose a better path…quickly.” Pointing out the importance of their alliance and targeting Seoul over trade and sharing the cost of defense.

The US President said that North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missiles program required a “determined response,’ and stressed that ‘strategic patience’ with their government had come to hault. Moon said that it is really important to engage in dialogue with North Korean Leaders. The South Korean President added, that his country would continue defense reforms and build up the capacity to defend itself. “North Korea issue is top priority- the only strong security can bring about genuine peace” in the Asia-Pacific region, added Moon.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has warned against the consequences of any military solution to be “tragic, on an unbelievable scale”. Trump’s only hope lies in persuading China, North Korea’s neighbor and prime trading partner, to handle rein in Pyongyang, even though he has lately been frustrated that Beijing hasn’t been a great help. Moon and Donald Trump are open to any new discussion with North Korea, but only under certain circumstances that would lead to Pyongyang get rid of its non-benefiting weapon schemes.

Further events, where North Korea executed a missile launch that failed, and held a military parade in show of strength, and US deployed a submarine and group of warships to the region, has further raised tensions between them.

Source: Reuters, CNN

Iran accuses US of Interventions

Rex Tillerson, US Secretary of State accused by Iran on brazen plans to change the current government, violating international law and the U.N. Charter. Tillerson said “U.S. policy is only to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons and encourage support on elements inside Iran, that would lead to peaceful transition of that government“. In a hearing held on 14 June, before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the 2018 State Department budget.
Iran’s U.N. Ambassador Gholamali Kohshroo said in an open letter that, ”Tillerson’s comments are contradicting the pledge made by United States to shun any interventions- directly or indirectly, politically and militarily, in Iran’s internal affairs.”
“The people of Iran have proven that they are capable to decide their own destiny and attempts by the U.S. will be doomed to failure,” said Kohshroo. “They have learned how to stand strong, as evident in the Islamic Revolution of 1979.”
With release of the newly declassified documents in sheer coincidence with Tillerson’s statement, clarified how U.S. agencies were after Mohammad Mossadegh’s throw. The popular and democratically elected, prime minister of Iran, 1953. On 5 June, the Senate approved a sweeping sanctions bill- a mandatory sanction on individuals who are involved in the ballistic missile program, and anyone who does business with them.
Iran ridicules any advancement from the U.S. who has tried to meddle in Iranian affairs. Qassemi, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson called the opposition “confused”. New sanctions won’t bother enforcement of the landmark nuclear deal that former president Obama and others reached with Tehran two years ago, insist Senators.