Swasthya Samiksha App to Help MPs Track Women’s Health

Swasthya Samiksha App to Help MPs Track Women's HealthA mobile application Swasthya Samiksha was launched here on Thursday which enables Members of Parliament to track women’s reproductive health in their constituencies and bring improvement.

White Ribbon Alliance India, Centre for Catalysing Change and Swaniti Initiative, all not-for-profit organisations, collaboratively launched the app to help the MPs oversee the maternal health related indicators in their constituencies.

The app – Swasthya Samiksha – which is still in its experimental phase, will be providing district-wise data for states of Jharkhand, Bihar, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh initially.

“Swasthya Samiksha aims to engage and encourage the Members of Parliament to take necessary steps to ensure better health for women in their constituencies. It is an attempt to provide data on health indicators in an easy and convenient way,” Aparajita Gogoi, Executive Director of Centre for Catalysing Change and National Coordinator of White Ribbon Alliance India, said in a statement.
“In line with the government’s Digital India initiative, we are trying to leverage technology to make information accessible and to provide the MPs a platform where they can access information and take action in improving women’s health,” she added.
Swasthya Samiksha App will enable real time tracking of women’s health indicators in locations at district level, selectable display of indicators, data to assess impact, maternal and reproductive health policy updates and accessing comparison with other locations.

Google Play Store Gets Net Banking as a Payment Option in India

Google Play Store Gets Net Banking as a Payment Option in IndiaGoogle has started rolling out net banking as a payment option for apps, music, movies, books, etc. on the Google Play marketplace in India. This is the fourth payment method that Google has added for the platform, after credit cards, debit cards, and gift cards.

The net banking payment option on Google Play comes soon after Google released a report saying that Indians are among the likeliest groups to pay for digital content and apps. The service is rolling out slowly, and appears to be enabled by a server side update.

Many of the smartphones we tried this new feature did not have net banking payment option on Google Play. These included smartphones running on Android 6.0 Marshmallow and Android 7.0 Nougat, while models running on Android 5.0.2 Lollipop had the option. Therefore, it is likely that the new payment feature is being added irrespective of the version of Android or the Google Play app.
To see if your Google Play account has net banking as a payment option, slide out the menu from the hamburger icon on the left of the screen, and go to Accounts. Here, choose Payment Methods and tap on the + button at the bottom right. If you have Add Netbanking as an option, click on it and see if your bank is listed. Google has tied up with 38 banks so far to let users pay on Google Play via online banking.
Once you select a bank, you can go to any paid app or content listing and make it your default payment option. In order to do so, look for the current default option (as shown in the screenshot below) and tap on the downward arrow icon. This will open up new payment options; just select the bank option you want and then add the net banking details when prompted. The net banking account will be your default payment option then onwards.

Android Auto 2.0 App Makes Safer Driving Accessible to Most Android Users

Android Auto 2.0 App Makes Safer Driving Accessible to Most Android UsersAndroid Auto was launched over two years ago in an attempt to bring a driving-friendly user interface to the console displays in cars. Much like Apple’s CarPlay, it requires an Android phone to be connected to a compatible infotainment system. Until now, Google partnered with over 50 car-related brands to bring this interface to users, either via a built-in system or an aftermarket solution. But this meant people would only get access to this interface when they upgrade their cars or swap out their stereo sets for ones that are Android Auto compatible. So early this year at the Google I/O, the company demoed version 2.0 of the Android Auto app, that brought the same interface to any smartphone with Android 5.0 and above. Google finally released this version to the public on Monday.

The Android Auto 2.0 app features large, easy-to-read fonts as the phone is meant to be mounted to the windscreen. A card-based interface shows contextually-relevant information and only allows relevant services that are required while driving (like Maps, Music and Communication). The app can automatically launch after pairing with a Bluetooth-enabled car stereo. The display by default is set to an always-on mode, so needless to say that it’ll be a good idea to keep the phone plugged to a car charger. The primary interaction is expectedly via voice by tapping the mic button and saying the command (say, “Navigate to Bandra Kurla Complex”). It can also read out incoming communication like text messages and even WhatsApp messages that you receive.

Google’s blog post on the matter suggests that the popular “Ok Google” phrase to use voice commands hands-free will be added in a few weeks. You can use all the voice commands you typically would in the Google app (like “How’s the weather” or “How many bits in one byte?”), but it resorts to an audio-only response, so that the driver’s eyes aren’t distracted from the road. With respect to music, currently it only supports playback of songs that are stored on your phone or bought via Google Play Music. Streaming music services like Pandora and Spotify are supported, but unfortunately neither of them are officially available in India yet. Using India-centric services like Saavn, Gaana etc via Android Auto isn’t possible today.

A phased rollout of the v2.0 app is commencing currently in the 30 countries where Android Auto has been available (India included). You can go to the Google Play Store and see if the new version is made available to you, or if you are impatient to try it out, you can sideload the APK file (ARM64, ARM, x86).

Android 7.0 Nougat Now Present on 0.3 Percent of All Active Android Devices, Says Google

Android 7.0 Nougat Now Present on 0.3 Percent of All Active Android Devices, Says GoogleAlmost two months after last updating its Android distribution chart, Google has now revealed the number of devices that are currently running the various versions of its mobile OS. The search giant, in its latest distribution chart, on Monday revealed that only 0.3 percent of all active Android devices are currently running on Android 7.0 Nougat. Google did not reveal the reason it didn’t publish its distribution chart in October, though it may be related to the launch of the Google Pixel smartphones.

Even though the adoption rate for Nougat cannot be termed impressive, it should be noted that Android 6.0 Marshmallow also debuted at the distribution chart with same percentage share last November. Now, the number of active devices running Marshmallow has climbed up to 24 percent, a 5.3 percent jump from September, as per Google’s latest distribution chart.
The data regarding the distribution of its Android versions is collected by the company on the basis of the devices that check into Google Play via the app, which supports Android 2.2 Froyo and higher devices. This is why the term “active devices” is used while describing the figures, and any version with less than 0.1 percent share is not shown in the chart. The data was collected in a 7-day period ending November 7. It should be noted that Android 7.1 Nougat, which the Google Pixel phones launched with, is still not mentioned in the distribution chart – implying a share of less than 0.1 percent.

Android 5.0 Lollipop continues to be present on most Android smartphones with 34.1 percent of overall share, down from 35 percent in September. Android KitKat follows behind and is down from 27.7 percent in September, now present on 25.2 percent active Android smartphones, as per the data revealed by the company.
As per the latest distribution chart, Android versions Gingerbread, Ice Cream Sandwich, and Jelly Bean are currently running on 1.3 percent, 1.3 percent, and 13.7 percent of overall active Android devices respectively, compared to 1.5 percent, 1.4 percent, and 15.6 percent in September.

Looking at the OpenGL distribution numbers, we see saw OpenGL 2.0 at 43.1 percent (dropping from 44.9 percent in September), and OpenGL 3.0 at 42.2 percent (dropping from 42.3 percent), and OpenGL 3.1 at 14.7 percent.

In comparison, Apple revealed last month that the latest version of its operating system – iOS 10 – is now running on 60 percent of overall active iOS devices. Considering the recent reports about Android’s earlier versions still being vulnerable to dated malwares, the platform does face a real task at hand to bring more users to its new platform.

HomeAppsApps News Google Working on Prisma-Like ‘Style Transfer’ Technology That Lets You Blend Styles in Real-Time

Google Working on Prisma-Like 'Style Transfer' Technology That Lets You Blend Styles in Real-TimeImage filter app Prisma drew attention from around the world when it launched in July this year. The app’s popularity gave way to a sea of clone apps that tried to emulate the original app’s success. Recently, even big names like Facebook have joined the list of companies that are trying to implement style transfer tech, similar to that of Prisma to its own products. Now, Google has unveiled its own style transfer technology, which might take the competition to the next level.

Google’s style transfer technology doesn’t just apply filters to videos but allows users to create their own by blending various filters. The most exciting part about this technology is that shows the results to users in real-time – similar to Facebook’s technology. Google describes its technology as, “a simple method to allow a single deep convolutional style transfer network to learn multiple styles at the same time.”

Users are provided with 13 different painting styles and their respective strengths in the final style are adjustable with the help of sliders. Even though the blend of styles is a demanding task, the company says its technique is “simple to implement and is not memory intensive.” The style transfer network makes use of artificial intelligence to apply filters to the app.

“Unlike previous approaches to fast style transfer, we feel that this method of modeling multiple styles at the same time opens the door to exciting new ways for users to interact with style transfer algorithms, not only allowing the freedom to create new styles based on the mixture of several others, but to do it in real-time,” Google said in its official blog post.

The app allows users with even more options for creativity and enables them to create their own piece of art using famous painting styles. However, Google has currently not provided any information regarding the release plans for this new technology

Vine Co-Founders Unveil ‘HYPE’ Live Video Broadcasting App

Vine Co-Founders Unveil 'HYPE' Live Video Broadcasting AppLast week, Twitter announced its plans to shut down its once-popular video sharing platform Vine as the company is planning to cut down on its costs after performing below Wall Street’s expectations in quarterly earnings. Even though Vine was not performing as well as some of the other social media platforms, the news did come as a shock to many. Now, the co-founders of Vine have unveiled their new live video broadcasting app, named HYPE, which might act as a direct competitor to Facebook’s live videos.

Launched first in the beta phase, the HYPE app is now available to download via the App Store. The live video broadcasting app will soon be made available for Android, its founders said. HYPE may have a few tricks up its sleeve that might concern its competition. HYPE allows users to add music as well as other animations to their videos. Colin Kroll and Rus Yusupov, both co-founders of Vine, introduced their app through website Product Hunt on Thursday. To recall, the duo alongside Dom Hofmann had sold Vine to Twitter in 2013 for $30 million.

Kroll and Yusupov held a live session on their upcoming app, during which they and talked about Vine and tooks questions from their viewers, as reported by Fortune.

It will be interesting to see if HYPE will be able to compete against the already established players as big names are increasingly taking interest in live video broadcasting. The app will compete head on against Twitter’s Periscope and Facebook’s Live video efforts.

Facebook has recently taken many steps to provide support for its live video feature. The social networking giant announced last week the support for streaming Live Videos through devices such as Chromecast. Recent leaks have further suggested that company’s photo sharing platform Instagram will soon be getting the support for live videos.

Given that Facebook’s live videos feature already has a head-start and a much larger ecosystem than the upcoming app will have, it will definitely need more than a few tricks to survive this battle between David and Goliath.

Google Allo Gets Netflix’s Stranger Things Sticker Pack for Halloween

Google Allo Gets Netflix's Stranger Things Sticker Pack for HalloweenIf you are not living on a secluded island in middle of nowhere, you might have heard about the Netflix show named ‘Stranger Things’ in last few months. The thriller TV series set in 80s with supernatural elements has captured the imagination of audiences around the world since its release in July. The theme for this year’s Halloween is likely to be influenced heavily by the show and in order to make use of the show’s success, many companies are expected to associate themselves with Stranger Things.

The first in line seems to be Google, as the search giant has now announced its partnership with Netflix to bring stickers from the show to its Allo app for Halloween. The stickers, 24 in total, include the show’s cast and some famous catchphrases that are likely to add some interesting flavour to your conversations. Next time your friend makes a mistake, instead of calling them stupid yourself, you can just let Eleven call them a “mouth-breather” for you.

(Also See: Stranger Things – E.T. Meets Poltergeist)
For all the Barb fans out there, unlike her friends in first season, Allo has not forgotten her as there is a dedicated sticker for the character in the pack. Then there are other stickers for Demogorgon, the famous kids squad, and everybody’s favourite Dustin. The stickers mostly include some references from the show and will likely cause many giggles this Halloween.
The Stranger Things sticker pack is available for both Android and iOS, a special that’s been timed around Halloween. In order to get the pack, users need to head to the sticker section inside any conversation and select the add option. Then they can select the Stranger Things pack from the ‘Browse All’ tab. Now, you can go ahead and try to add that much-needed spooky flavour to your conversations with the help of these stickers from Stranger Things.

In the meanwhile, 9to5Google tore down the recently released Allo 2.0 app, which brought splitscreen multitasking, app shortcuts, gif keyboard, and quick replies to the app. The teardown revealed that the company would soon introduce a theme picker. Users would be asked to choose a theme every time a user starts a new conversation, and the theme can be changed at any point as well. Themes spotted so far include Moon, Sorbet, and Clouds. Currently, users can access a single Theme called ‘Monochrome’, via General Settings.

Google Assistant Lets You Share Articles via Voice Command to Google+, Twitter

Google Assistant Lets You Share Articles via Voice Command to Google+, TwitterGoogle Assistant is an important component of Google’s vision and more importantly for its self-branded Pixel smartphones. Even though the voice-based virtual assistant has received praise for its ability to carry a conversation while keeping earlier messages in mind, there are some new features that are still being discovered by users. Now, a user has found out that the Assistant makes it easier to share articles that you are currently reading to Twitter and Google+.

Google+ user Corey Stock, as pointed out by 9to5Google, discovered that you can share the articles by giving a voice command to the Assistant while reading them. However, 9to5Google has found out the feature works for only Twitter and Google+ as of now, it was not able to work on other services such as Facebook, Allo, Hangouts, or Gmail.

In order to share the articles using Assistant, users need to say, “OK Google, share this with Google Plus” when browsing an article on their Pixel phones. The Assistant then automatically transcribes the title and the link.

There are many reviewers who have termed Assistant to be a better and more intelligent virtual assistant than Apple’s Siri. It remains to be seen how Apple will improve Siri from here onwards.

BlackBerry in Software Deal With Ford, First With an Automaker

BlackBerry in Software Deal With Ford, First With an AutomakerBlackBerry Ltd has signed a deal to work directly with Ford Motor Co to expand the carmaker’s use of its QNX secure operating system, the Canadian technology company said on Monday, as Ford develops increasingly automated vehicles.

The deal with Ford is the first BlackBerry has done directly with a major automaker, though it currently sells its technology to auto industry suppliers.

The company is betting its future on expanding sales of software products, including to automakers and other manufacturers, after largely ceding the smartphone market to rivals including Apple, Alphabet’s Google and Samsung.

Panasonic Automotive currently uses QNX software in the Sync 3 infotainment console that it supplies to Ford.

BlackBerry is hoping the new deal will expand use of BlackBerry’s software in Ford vehicles as the two companies identify other systems where it might be used.

“We can form the basis of the entire vehicle all the way from autonomous drive through to infotainment,” John Wall, the head of BlackBerry’s QNX unit, said in a phone interview.

Ford is ramping up its driverless vehicle efforts and plans to offer a fully automated vehicle for commercial ride-sharing in 2021, it announced in August.

QNX’s software is certified for use in autonomous driving and active safety systems, according to Wall.

“In the initial engagements you can think of an expansion into the cockpit; telematics, infotainment, cluster,” Wall said.

BlackBerry and Ford declined to say how QNX might be rolled out into new systems or discuss financial terms of the deal.

A dedicated team of QNX engineers based in Ottawa and Waterloo will work with Ford to expand the carmaker’s use of the Neutrino industrial operating system, as well as an overarching programme that can control other operating systems and related security technology, BlackBerry said. “We’re providing the plumbing for the vehicle that is both robust and safe and secure to allow the customers to build their applications on top of that,” Wall said.

Dan Dodge, who founded QNX in 1982, and stayed on after BlackBerry bought the company in 2010, left QNX at the end of 2015. Bloomberg reported in July that Apple hired him as part of its own self-driving plans.

© Thomson Reuters 2016

Uber to Go It Alone as It Expands Into Southeast Asia

Uber to Go It Alone as It Expands Into Southeast AsiaRide-hailing service Uber Technologies Inc will focus on organic growth as it expands into Southeast Asian markets, a senior vice president told Reuters on Friday.

It will also seek to work with Taiwan’s government towards a regulatory environment that will allow ride-sharing to flourish, David Plouffe, Uber’s senior vice president of policy and strategy, said in an interview during a visit to Taipei.

Uber faces increasing competition in Southeast Asia, such as from Gojek in Indonesia. Analysts have said such competition could prompt Uber to try to acquire some of its rivals as it expands.

“I think our view is that we prefer to build and succeed on our own, and that’s what our focus is,” Plouffe said, declining to comment on questions on fundraising plans.

While competition is increasing in other parts of Asia, the US start-up is facing specific challenges in the Taiwan market, mirroring legal and regulatory scrutiny in other parts of the world.

(Also see: Uber Rolls Out Its Biggest Redesign Yet, Introduces ‘Shortcuts’)

“It would be amazing if a country like Taiwan that wants to be seen as such a bastion of innovation and embracing technology would turn a cold shoulder on something like ride-sharing,” said Plouffe, who was President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign manager.

Taiwan has asked Uber to pay a sales tax bill estimated by local media to be up to about $6.4 million (roughly Rs. 42.7 crores).

Taiwan’s Investment Commission once considered ordering Uber to exit the market, saying the company misrepresented its business as an internet-based technology platform rather than a transportation service.

“We are a technology company, and we’re not regulated as a transportation company anywhere in the world,” Plouffe said.

As Uber continues to work with the Taiwan government, it sees challenges ahead.

“Not every county understands the benefit. So we just have to agree with the right way forward… We do want to be regulated,” he said.

“I think here in Taiwan the government understands and embraces ride-sharing. That’s a great start… But you also have to understand that you have to have the right regulatory environment to allow that to flourish. That’s the challenge.”

© Thomson Reuters 2016