Worldwide Protests Supporting Apple in Encryption Fight With FBI Planned By Internet Rights Group

Worldwide Protests Supporting Apple in Encryption Fight With FBI Planned By Internet Rights Group

Protesters are preparing to assemble in more than 30 cities to lash out at the FBI for obtaining a court order that requires Apple to make it easier to unlock an encrypted iPhone used by a gunman in December’s mass shootings in Southern California.

The protests organized by the Internet rights group Fight for the Future are scheduled to occur Tuesday outside Apple stores in the US, the U.K., Hong Kong and Germany.

The US protests will be in cities scattered across more than 20 states, including in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington, where protesters plan to express their discontent outside the FBI’s headquarters.

The gatherings will come a week after the FBI went to court to force Apple to weaken the security built into most iPhones to help a terrorism investigation in San Bernardino, California. The FBI wants Appleto remove a feature that erases the information stored on an iPhone after 10 unsuccessful attempts to enter a password, preventing unauthorized users from accessing the device.

The iPhone that the FBI is trying to examine was used by Syed Farook, who along with his wife killed 14 people in December.

Apple is fighting the court order issued in the case, arguing that the special software sought by the FBI could be used to break into millions of other iPhones. The FBI contends Apple is exaggerating the security risks of complying with the court order in a marketing ploy aimed at selling more iPhones.

Fight for the Future believes Apple’s concerns are warranted and is hoping the protests will persuade the Obama administration to take a stand against the way the FBI is trying to break into Farook’s iPhone, said Evan Greer, the group’s campaign director.

The White House so far has stood behind the FBI in its battle with Apple Inc.

Now, Free Video Streaming in Some Trains With PressPlay TV

Now, Free Video Streaming in Some Trains With PressPlay TV

Video streaming application PressPlay TV has started offering free video service in some trains, and is in talks to expand service to about 30 trains soon.

PressPlay TV has tied up with Northwestern Railways to offer free VoD service on Delhi-Bikaner bound Bikaner Intercity, and Delhi-Udaipur bound Chetak Express respectively.

“The company is in talks with Northwestern Railways to offer this service on 30 more trains in the next quarter. The service is absolutely free,” PressPlay TV co-founder and COO George Abraham said in a statement.

PressPlay TV offers content such as movies, songs, and news that users access through its Wi-Fi hotspots. To access the content, users need to install its free Android application. This content is hosted locally at PressPlay TV hotspot, so it does not need to connect to the Internet.

The PressPlay TV app automatically downloads when phone is connected to the hotspot, and users can start streaming movies and videos for free without using their mobile data, the company said.

HTC One M10 Camera Details, Launch Date Tipped

HTC One M10 Camera Details, Launch Date Tipped

Another day, another leak for the upcoming HTC One M10 flagship smartphone has hit the Internet. This time tipsters have given details on the handset’s camera and the launch date.

According to LlabTooFer, a developer turned reliable HTC tipster, the HTC One M10 will be sporting a 12-megapixel Sony IMX377 camera sensor, with 1.55um pixel size, laser autofocus, and phase detection auto focus (PDAF) at the back. The front-facing 5-megapixel UltraPixel camera will be powered by Samsung s5k4e6 sensor. It is worth mentioning that the rear camera sensor is the same as the one used in one of the top-rated Android smartphones – the Nexus 6P.

HTC flagship smartphones have not gained much popularity when it comes to their camera quality. The Taiwanese tech firm even tried its luck with the ‘UltraPixel’ camera technology. However, if the rumour is any indication, the One M10 might have one of the best cameras in the smartphone market.

Evan Blass, another popular tipster, has tweeted about the smartphone’s launch date. According to him, the upcoming HTC One M10 will be launching in the US in the week of May 9. Nothing has been confirmed as of yet.

A report from last month indicated that HTC would not be launching its One M10 at the upcoming MWC 2016 trade show.

Until now, we’ve heard the handset will be featuring a 5.2-inch QHD resolution display along with theQualcomm Snapdragon 820 and a fingerprint scanner. Also tipped is that the smartphone will be running Sense 8.0 skin on top of Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow.

HTC One M10 supposedly leaked in an image suggesting a design similar to the company’s HTC One A9 smartphone.

Trai to Set Interconnection Charges for VoIP Calls

Trai to Set Interconnection Charges for VoIP Calls

Sector watchdog Trai will set inter-connection charges for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls once the Department of Telecom (DoT) amends the relevant clause of the Unified Licence framework.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has recommended amending the licence provision for inter-connection at the IP level, which would facilitate Internet-based calls, alternatively known as VoIP calls.

A telecom company is required to pay inter-connection charges when its subscriber makes a call to one on another network. The charge gets added up in the final price, which the subscriber has to pay.

Currently, there are inter-connection charges for VoIP calls as the licence did not have a clause for inter-connection at IP level.

“How can we determine charges till the time licence is not amended? When this licence condition is accepted… we will determine the inter-connection charges for the IP-based network,” a senior Trai official told PTI.

He added that Trai has only recommended to amend, and not regulate, the licence provision.

“It’s Trai’s domain to determine charges. However, till the time DoT accepts the proposition, we can’t determine the charges,” the official explained.

Proposing to amend the licence, Trai has said there is no explicit clause relating to inter-connection at the IP level in the existing licence, which necessitates insertion of such a clause.

Since IP-based networks, Trai said, continue to proliferate and traditional circuit switch networks are gradually being phased out, there exists the need t facilitate inter-connection.

Once the Department of Telecom (DoT) amends the licence, it will benefit telecom operators as they can terminate Internet calls on each other’s network.

The new IP-based network as well as its co-existence with legacy network is expected to give rise to operational, inter-connection and service quality issues, which need to be addressed for successful migration to IP-based networks, Trai had said earlier in a consultation paper.

Networks of all telecom companies are inter-connected, which is vital for completion of calls or sharing of messages through mobile or landline phones.

The clause 27.3 of the Unified Licence specifically deals in inter-connection between networks of different licensees for carrying circuit-switched traffic. It also provides for inter-connection between a circuit-switched network and an IP-based one through a media gateway switch.

But there is no explicit mention of an inter-connection at the IP level between two licensees.

DoT, in its letter dated November 10, 2015 to Trai, had flagged industry concerns on removal of inter-connection restrictions at the IP level to ensure seamless connectivity and requested Trai to indicate an expected timeline for the same.

Apple Pay Launched in China, Takes on Country’s Internet Kings

Apple Pay Launched in China, Takes on Country's Internet Kings

Apple Inc launched its mobile payment system in China on Thursday in a bid to convince the hundreds of millions of users of the country’s entrenched, dominant services to switch.

“We think China could be our largest Apple Pay market,” Jennifer Bailey, vice president of Apple Pay, told Reuters in an interview in Beijing.

In an early boost, China’s biggest lender, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd (ICBC), was among the banks that said earlier this week that customers would be able to use Apple Pay from Thursday.

However, Apple Pay has not had an easy ride so far in China, the fifth country to get the service. Even in its US home market, Apple has faced sceptical retailers in its effort to develop a new revenue stream.

China is not likely to prove any easier to crack.

“People switch applications for significantly better experiences, it (Apple) has to deliver not just a little bit more secure, or a little bit easier to use,” said Mark Natkin, founder of Marbridge Consulting.

Greater China is Apple’s second-largest market by revenue, and the world’s biggest smartphone market. By the end of 2015, 358 million people, more than the US population, had already taken to buying goods and services by mobile phone, according to the China Internet Network Information Center.

The vast majority are using payment services from China’s two biggest Internet companies that have existed for years.

Social networking and gaming firm Tencent Holdings Ltd operates WeChat Payment, and e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, through its Internet finance affiliate Ant Financial Services Group, runs Alipay.

“With 100 percent saturation of local payment systems, no one in China is clamouring for Apple Pay,” said one retailer who declined to be named for fear of harming business prospects. “Today, everyone has a local payment option on their phone, so Apple Pay is a solution in need of a problem.”

Banks on board
Deeply ingrained in China’s Internet, domestic payment services cover much more than ride hailing, food delivery and online shopping. Users can invest in wealth management funds, pay utility bills, send gifts to friends and give to charity.

An Ant Financial spokeswoman said Alipay has over 400 million active users, with 80 percent on mobile.

“Alipay is an app for both (Google software) Android and (Apple’s) iOS system and has little requirements for the make and model of the mobile phone,” she said.

The US firm has 19 of China’s biggest lenders as partners. That means 80 percent of China’s credit and debit cards are eligible for Apple Pay, usable at about one-third of all locations that accept those cards, Apple’s Bailey said.

Apple’s approach is to not compete with banks and UnionPay, said Bailey.

“China UnionPay and our Apple Pay solution has a huge advantage, given the footprint of China UnionPay,” she said. “Its merchant acceptance network far exceeds what any of the other mobile platforms have today.”

Though banks have been rivals elsewhere, industry watchers say this tactic may offer Apple its best prospect.

Zhao Longkai, associate professor of finance at the Peking University Guanghua School of Management, said China’s banks, and state-backed payment card monopoly China UnionPay, have rankled at the popularity of alternative mobile systems associated with Alibaba and Tencent.

“The entry of Apple Pay has the potential to change the strategic landscape,” said Zhao. “UnionPay now has an opportunity to bring a new alliance to defend the market that it is losing to Tencent or Alibaba – Apple Pay first needs to figure out a way to win over Chinese customers.”

Google ‘Project Loon’ Balloon Enters Sri Lanka for Internet Tests

Google 'Project Loon' Balloon Enters Sri Lanka for Internet Tests

Google’s balloon-powered high-speed Internet service known as “Project Loon” began its first tests in Sri Lanka Monday ahead of a planned joint venture with Colombo, the country’s top IT official said.

One of three balloons that will be used in the trials entered Sri Lankan airspace Monday, the Information and Communication Technology Agency chief Muhunthan Canagey said.

“The first balloon entered our airspace this morning. It was launched from South America.” Canagey told AFP. “It is currently over southern Sri Lanka.”

He said a Google team was expected later this week to test flight controls, spectrum efficiency and other technical matters.

The government announced earlier this month it would take a 25 percent stake in a joint venture with Google to deliver a high-speed Internet service powered by helium-filled balloons.

Sri Lanka is not investing any capital, but will take the stake in return for allocating spectrum for the project. A further 10 percent of the joint venture would be offered to existing telephone service providers on the island.

It promises to extend coverage and cheaper rates for data services.

Service providers will be able to access higher speeds and improve the quality of their existing service once the balloon project is up and running.

The balloons, once in the stratosphere, will be twice as high as commercial airliners and barely visible to the naked eye. The balloons will have a lifespan of about 180 days, but can be recycled, according to Sri Lankan officials involved in the venture.

Official figures show there are 3.3 million mobile Internet connections and 630,000 fixed line Internet subscribers among Sri Lanka’s more than 20 million population.

Sri Lanka became the first country in South Asia to introduce mobile phones in 1989 and the first to roll out a 3G network in 2004. It was also the first in the region to unveil a 4G network two years ago.

Alphabet’s X Lab Chief Sees Internet Reaching Billions

Alphabet's X Lab Chief Sees Internet Reaching Billions

The “captain of moonshots” at Google parent company Alphabet sees widespread, world-changing wireless Internet on the horizon.

Astro Teller, head of the boundary-pushing X research team, shared his vision of the future during a talk at the TED Conference here late Monday.

Teller shared insights into the X team’s balloon-powered high-speed Internet service known as “Project Loon,” which aims to get billions more people online by reaching remote or rural regions that are not yet connected.

“There is a lot of different technology out there, rolling them out will be complicated,” Teller said.

“But, somewhere between five and ten years, it will change the world in ways we can not possibly imagine.”

Project Loon began its first tests in Sri Lanka on Monday ahead of a planned joint venture with the government there, the country’s top IT official told AFP.

It promises to extend coverage and cheaper rates for data services.

Service providers will be able to access higher speeds and improve the quality of their existing service once the balloon project is up and running.

Once in the stratosphere, the balloons will be twice as high as commercial airliners and barely visible to the naked eye.

Teller told the TED audience that he expected Project Loon balloons to be tested over Indonesia this year.

Craziest idea to date
The project, he quipped, might be the craziest to date at the X lab, which was once part of Google but became a separate unit with a restructuring that created parent company Alphabet.

The name of the project was intended to remind the team how bizarre it initially seemed.

As with all their projects, members of the X team first tackled the toughest technical challenges facing Loon with an eye toward quickly scuttling the mission if the goal was not realistic, according to Teller.

“We had round silvery balloons; giant pillow-shaped balloons, balloons the size of a blue whale,” Teller said.

“We busted a lot of balloons.”

Each potentially terminal technology challenge for Loon has been surmounted well enough to continue the project.

The current design is a balloon within a balloon, one containing helium to keep it aloft and the other with air that can be released or added to alter the weight and, as a result, move up or down to ride the wind.

The balloons can navigate fairly well, and send Internet signals to each other in order to increase their reach into remote areas.

As a Loon balloon floats out of an area, it hands the connection off to another floating into that same area.

And, Teller said, the bandwidth is good enough to stream free online TED talks for which the conference is renowned.

Last year, one of the balloon stayed up for 187 days, he said, circling the world more than a dozen times.

“Our balloons today do everything we need,” Teller said. “So we are going to keep going.”

Kudos for failure
Teller said his team refers to their base as “The Moonshot Factory” because their goal is to blend audacious ideas with the realities of getting them to market.

People on the X team get kudos, bonuses and even promotions for finding fatal flaws that kill projects and thereby let resources shift to more promising dreams.

“We use the word ‘moonshot’ to remind us to keep our vision big, and the word ‘factory’ to remind ourselves that we need concrete plans to make them real,” Teller said.

“We spend most of our time trying to break things and prove we are wrong.”

X lab’s work on an automated system for vertical farming was killed last year when the team couldn’t get it to grow staple crops such as grains or rice.

An ultra-light air-ship for hauling cargo was abandoned after the team realized the costs to build the first prototype would be astronomical.

“We can’t spend $200 million (roughly Rs. 1,364 crores) to get the first data point about whether we are on the right track,” Teller said. “So we killed it.”

The lab’s self-driving car was a natural moonshot, and is humming along, according to Teller.

Office Space: Nissan’s Intelligent Chairs Can Park Themselves

Office Space: Nissan's Intelligent Chairs Can Park Themselves

Our phones have already gotten smarter. The car industry is slowly embracing the trend too. The Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as light bulbs are already capable of switching themselves on and off when it senses your presence in the room. So it was a high time our dumb, disconnected chairs got intelligent too. Automobile company Nissan has an idea.

Imagine walking into your meeting room with every single chair positioned in a disarrayed fashion. Showing up at work is a tedious task as it is, but the pain in seeing disorderly chaired, or worse, sorting them in the order only makes things worse. The solution is already here, provided you work at Nissan.

The company this week gave us a glimpse inside its office, where chairs are smart enough to assemble themselves back to their original, supposed order and position – much like some of its cars that can steer themselves to the desired parking spot on their own. Called “Intelligent Parking Chair,” the chairs are are able to rotate around 360-degree and find their own position on your command – in this case, the sound of your clap.

The company asserts that the technology behind its Intelligent Parking Chair is the same it employs on its cars. A chair starts to move, reverses its direction if it has to, make the required turns, and parks itself to the supposed position. The smart chair houses a setup of four cameras, and Wi-Fi adapter which you use to control them.

Several cars including many by Nissan’s rival Tesla today offer the ability to self-park themselves. Many can self-drive as well. Are we slowly driving to the utopian society?

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Price, Box Contents Purportedly Leaked Ahead of Launch

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Price, Box Contents Purportedly Leaked Ahead of Launch

A new leak has surfaced on the Internet claiming to show the Galaxy S7 Edge box contents as well as tipping pricing details of the handset ahead of MWC launch on Sunday.

First picked up by PhoneArena, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge has been posted on Dubizzle, a Dubai-based website, with box contents images as well as price. According to the listing, the Galaxy S7 Edge is up for sale at exorbitant AED 4,500 (approximately Rs. 84,000) while the Galaxy S7 is listed for AED 4,200 (approximately Rs. 78,000). The listing has a tagline that says, “Get before commercial launch, imported from USA.”

Looking at the purported images, the Galaxy S7 Edge is seen sporting a design similar to the Galaxy S6 Edge. The front is seen housing the physical button while the back is again seen featuring a glass rear. Unlike what the recent press renders of the Galaxy S7 Edge have showed, the images on the Dubai-based site don’t have the Galaxy S7 Edge printed at the back of the handset.

It’s worth noting that all these leaks should be taken with a pinch of salt as Samsung has not mentioned anything about the upcoming device and the legitimacy of the leaks remains questionable. In other leak, a report says that Samsung Pay payment service may launch in Russia alongside the Galaxy S7 smartphone. Sammobile has cited a Twitter user who shared an image of promotional material featuring a handset, very likely the Galaxy S7, with a tagline that says Samsung Pay supported.

Case maker Spigen has listed new Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge cases which corroborate previously leaked design of the handsets. The new listing of the case maker for the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge also suggests early March release.

A recent report had suggested that the Galaxy S7 will come at a starting price of EUR 699.99 (approximately Rs. 53,500) for the 32GB model while the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge will start at EUR 799.99 (approximately Rs. 61,000) for the 32GB model. Earlier reports have suggested that the both the phones will start to ship only starting March 11.

China to Tighten Control Over Internet Content

China to Tighten Control Over Internet Content

China’s plans to tighten internet censorship will continue with a new measure which will come into effect from next month and will involve content published by foreign companies and their joint ventures in the country.

From March onwards, foreign firms will not be permitted to publish their “creative” content online in China without prior approval of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, EFE news reported on Tuesday.

The new measure also empowers local governments to monitor the publications of these companies.

According to experts in Hong Kong – which enjoys a greater freedom of the press than the mainland, the measure is a further attempt by Beijing to control the internet.

An earlier law dating back to 2002 allowed foreign firms to publish creative content directly on the internet.

During the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, in Zhejiang last year, President Xi Jinping had called for greater “order” in the management of the internet.

China, with a strong censorship system known as the Great Firewall, has imposed more restrictions on the internet since Xi assumed power three years ago, and approved a controversial national cyber security law that, for the first time, speaks of protecting “cyber sovereignty”.