Google Releases February Android Security Update for Pixel, Nexus Devices

Google has released its monthly Android security update for the month of February for its Pixel and Nexus devices. The company however was second to rollout the security update as Sony released the update to its Xperia devices last week. Similar to previous releases, Google’s February Android security update focuses on fixing security issues in the operating system.

Google Releases February Android Security Update for Pixel, Nexus Devices

The February security update includes two patch levels, as per Google, the first was released on February 1 and it fixes critical security vulnerability that could enable remote code execution on an affected device through media files. The second patch level string was released on February 5 which fixes the rest of issues. Google adds that supported devices will receive a single OTA (over-the-air) update with the February 5 2017 security patch level.

The latest security bulletin for February fixes eight critical issues while 18 issues are rated as high severity, and nine issues are rated as moderate. Some of the critical security vulnerabilities fixed in the update by Google include remote code execution vulnerability in Surfaceflinger, remote code execution vulnerability in Mediaserver, remote code execution vulnerability in Qualcomm crypto driver, elevation of privilege vulnerability in kernel file system, elevation of privilege vulnerability in Nvidia GPU driver, elevation of privilege vulnerability in kernel networking subsystem, elevation of privilege vulnerability in Broadcom Wi-Fi driver, and vulnerabilities in Qualcomm components among others.

The February Android security update changes build numbers of the devices including the Pixel and Pixel XL which will receive update with NOF26V build. The Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X will receive an update with build number N4F26O while Nexus 6 will receive update with NBD91Y. The Nexus 9 and Nexus Player will receive update with build N4F26Q and NMF26X respectively.

Google says that OEMs were notified of the issues in the latest bulletin last month and source code patches for these issues have been released to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) repository.

Myntra CTO Shamik Sharma quits: Sources

Image result for Myntra CTO Shamik Sharma quits: SourcesMyntra’s chief technology and product officer Shamik Sharma has moved into an advisory role at the Flipkart-owned fashion e-tailer, sources told TOI. According to people aware of the development, he is expected to leave Myntra after a four-year stint. Sharma is currently transitioning out of his role at the company while also mentoring other startups, it is learnt.

His move comes at a time when Myntra is trying to re-position the recently acquired smaller rival Jabong amid talks of it being shut down as a separate entity. When contacted, a Myntra spokesperson confirmed the development, saying, “Shamik Sharma has moved on to an advisory role. In his previous role as the company’schief technology & product officer, he led several breakthrough technological innovations. Shamik will continue as technology adviser and play a key role in Myntra’s product and technology growth.” The company added that Shamik is succeeded by “Ajit Narayanan, who has been appointed as the new CTO of Myntra.”

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“Ajit was earlier heading storefront engineering and has been a key leader in several of Myntra’s innovations. Ajit has been elevated to head all engineering at Myntra. With our mission of using technology to democratise fashion, we are very excited about the new leadership role that Ajit has assumed. He will strengthen the platform and further build upon the strong technological foundations of the company.”

 

Narayanan is a former SAP Labs executive who had joined in April last year as its CTO, while former Google executive Ambarish Kenghe is head of products.

 

 

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Sharma, who has previously worked with Yahoo, is moving out at a time when Myntra is in the midst of seeing other top-level exits like that of Prasad Komapalli, head of commerce, and Abhishek Verma, head of private brands. Prabhakar Sunder, who was CFO of the company, left to join rival Voonik, while Gautam Kotamraju, chief creative officer, went on to join e-commerce giant Amazon.

 

In addition to the acquisition of Jabong which has given Myntra clear dominance in the online fashion space. the company at present is also working to launch its long planned omni-channel strategy with physical presence. Myntra is likely to open its first offline branded store this year starting from Bengaluru, while it is also in talks with traditional retail major Shoppers Stop to sell its private brands, TOI reported in its October 17 edition.

UK government revises draft internet spy law after criticism

UK government revises draft internet spy law after criticism
The British government says it has amended a proposed internet surveillance law to strengthen privacy protections after criticism from lawmakers.

Home secretary Theresa May published the Investigatory Powers Bill on Tuesday, saying she hoped it would get parliamentary approval and become law by the end of the year.

The bill gives police and spies broad powers to obtain records of websites, apps and messaging services people have visited, and requires telecommunications companies to keep records of customers’ web histories for up to a year.

The bill was revised after lawmakers recommended changes to protect privacy and spell out authorities’ powers more clearly.

The new version clarifies the section on encryption, which had concerned Internet service providers. It says firms can only be asked to remove encryption when it is “practicable.”

Google Maps for iOS introduces real-time detour mapping

Google Maps users, you can now easily add pit stops to your trips on iPhones. The feature, which was added to Android sometime back, is now available on iOS too. An yes, it is available all over the world.

This means next time you stop for a change of tyre, to find a rest room or something to eat, Google Maps will not reroute you.

As Google says in its blog post, “Life is full of the unexpected—things that send us scrambling for a gas station in the middle of nowhere, looking up a florist on our way home from work or searching for a restaurant as we tour the back roads of our latest vacation destination. Finding and navigating to these last-minute pit stops used to force you out of navigation mode in Google Maps -— and away from the traffic updates, turn-by-turn directions and map you rely on to stay on track.”

As to how it works? Here’s what Google says on its blog:

When you’re in navigation mode, simply tap the magnifying glass at the top right corner of the screen to see a menu of helpful options for places you might need to stop at, like gas stations, grocery stores, or restaurants. If the drop-down options aren’t what you need, you can tap the search icon or use voice commands to search by specific name or category to find what you’re looking for. Search results include ratings and the estimated amount of time the detour will add to your trip, so you can choose the one that’s best for you.

Whether you’re running an errand in your own backyard or roadtripping through a foreign land, Google Maps helps you get where you’re going, even if you have to make some stops along the way.

Last November, Google introduced a feature which saw Maps getting ‘disconnected’. This means, users will be able to search nearby businesses and get driving directions, including turn-by-turn voice prompts, even if their internet connection is spotty or non-existent.

Is the time up for food tech startups like Foodpanda, Zomato?

Is the time up for food tech startups like Foodpanda, Zomato?
Food tech startups were the toast of the town not long ago. Today, most are well, toast. Take a look. Dazos has shut shop. So has Eatlo. SpoonJoy has been snapped by grocery shopping app Grofers. Tiny Owl and Food Panda are struggling.

According to a January 28 report in The Times of India, Rocket Internet backed Foodpanda has not found a buyer even with a rock bottom price tag of $10-15 million.

The company laid off 300 people in December 2015, about 15% of its workforce. In September 2015, TinyOwl had fired 100 employees in its Mumbai and Pune offices. And in October, Zomato sacked 300 workers.

UK based Just Eat entered and exited the market faster than you would order and receive pizza. Most of the startups are barely surviving. Of course, there are a few that continue to receive funding. Yet, there seems to be ruin all around the segment in which barely 18 months ago there was a scramble to launch business.

How did things come to such a pass? For starters, the prize was too good to resist. The size of the food ordering business over phone is $15 billion and startups waded in, aiming to move the business to apps. Investors were lavish with funds.

In 2015, there were 54 deals in the food startup space with investments totalling $235.66 million, according to VCC Edge. But the deals also created many ‘metoo’ businesses, when the need of the hour was building scale, by carefully connecting the back-end (restaurants) with the front-end (customers). The fierce Darwinian struggle among businesses didn’t help – companies began to woo customers with deep discounts.

“Food is a scale business — optimizing on pricing and managing costs is very important,” says Rajan Anandan, managing director, Google South East Asia & India.

Problem was startups were reckless. Unlike selling T-shirts or mobile phones online, food business needs a deep understanding of the locality to be relevant to the user.

They must be connected to as many restaurants as possible in a city, even neighbourhood, so that they can take orders and deliver food regardless of where the order comes from.

Some of the startups that failed were a victim of underestimating the business. At first glance, the food ordering business is simple. Scores of people eat out every day, right? How difficult can it be to coax them to become customers? The rub is these customers face a problem of plenty.

They not only have more than 20 food tech startups apps to choose from, but also have food directories of their own. Rashmi Daga, CEO, Fresh menu, a cloud kitchen company, says, “Everybody eats food and the opportunity is huge. But the shakeup has come in little faster than in other sectors.”

K Ganesh, a serial entrepreneur and promoter of FreshMenu, says recent months have seen uncontrolled and sometimes an insane amount of funding. “Business models and excesses in the space that have led to the current situation.” Let’s talk about the business models first and how they are faring. Startups typically target three opportunities in the food business. One, a directory of restaurants, with revenues coming from ad sales.

Restaurants advertise on the site and the startup can get about 80% margin. Users come to check out restaurants, menus, ratings and reviews. This accounts for 80% of the business for Zomato, which started in 2008 as a restaurant listing site. Zomato, funded by InfoEdge, Sequoia, Tamesak, and others, is the dominant startup in the segment with 5,000 restaurants in India advertising on the site.

This segment is doing alright. Restaurants are keen as ever to list on such apps and websites. Two, food ordering, which is the largest space and the most crowded segment.

Zomato entered this space in mid-2015 while Tiny Owl, Food Panda, Swiggy and at least a dozen others started as food ordering sites and apps. Says Niren Shah, managing director, Norwest Venture Partners India, “It’s the way Ola, Uber work with cab drivers. Food tech startups use the platform to connect users with restaurants.”

A Menu of Models
The top 25 cities have around 75,000 restaurants, including organised chains and standalone restaurants). The number of daily orders over phone for food (mainly lunch and diner) range between 0.7 million and 1 million. Dominos alone does 1.8 lakh to 2 lakh orders a day and has built a Rs 1,800 crore business in India. Swiggy, which recently raised a fresh round of funding, does about 15,000 orders a day and Zomato does 13,000. Overall food tech startups cater to less than 50,000 orders a day. That’s just 5% of the total daily orders.

Evidently, the potential is huge. Which explains why more than 20 startups entered the space within 18 months, most with me-too models. Desperate to convert users from phone to apps ordering, startups sold meals at deep discounts, upsetting the unit economics and making their business unviable.

Not surprisingly, this is the category which has seen most pain points as well. Companies have laid off staff, cut back expansion plans and have had to shut shop as they ran out of money. Anandan says this space has been challenged due to unit economics.

“You can’t sustain if you sell a Rs 130 meal for Rs 100 and that’s what happened.” Deepinder Goyal, co-founder, Zomato, says companies were buying at 100% prices and selling at discount.

“This led to negative gross margin.” Sumer Juneja, principal, Norwest Venture Partners India, argues companies have not been smart about discounting.

“Restaurant food cost is 30-35% and margin is 60-65%. Startups can manage without discounts, by entering into arrangements with restaurants. Besides, in this space customer experience is important as well as shown by Domino’s and its 30 minute delivery. Customer will pay and give repeat orders if he has a good experience.” Norwest is one of the investors in Swiggy.

The third model is cloud kitchen. Here the startups such as Hola Chef, Fresh Menu, Bhukkad own the food and delivery part of the business. This gives better margins but the challenge is to build scale with an army of chefs in various cities.

Saurabh Saxena, CEO, Holachef, says customers recognize who is making their food and this creates an emotional, personal touch. “The centralised kitchen is an opportunity for our chefs to scale.” Holachef operates in Mumbai and Pune and plans to add two more cities by end -2016.

Fresh Menu operates in three cities — Bengaluru, Mumbai and Gurgaon. It has a central team of five chefs in Bengaluru and the satellite kitchens have two chefs each. This segment is relatively new, with fewer players than its counterparts in the other food tech segments. So these are early days to estimate how it is faring.

As is happening with other e-commerce sectors, many food startups are caught in a vicious cycle. To woo customers, they resorted to offering deep discounts.

If they don’t, they risk losing customers reaching out to restaurants directly. Deep discounts delay profits. That strategy itself might not always pay off because of the fierce competition and customer’s fleeting loyalty.

The food business also has a unique set of challenges. “A new mobile phone purchase or clothes purchased online can be delivered in one, two or more days and it won’t bother people. But in the food business, fulfillment has to be within 30-40 minutes,” says Daga. “Besides, there has to be a very tight control on quality of food and service, else people will reject it. Customer expectations are high.”

Fixing the kitchen
The business came under a cloud when a raft of players began entering the segment in a short span. Soon, many players faced a cash crunch, which eventually led to a massive shakeup of the segment.

Even Zomato was not spared. On January 11, Zomato announced shutting down business in four cities—Coimbatore, Indore, Kochi and Lucknow. It runs a food ordering business in 10 cities now.

“From a management bandwidth view, these (cities) were not viable as we were getting just 2% of business from here. We had a bigger fish to fry in other cities and hence cut back,” says Goyal. Goyal does not deny that it is a tough business. Once the platform is there (app), a startup needs customers and restaurants.

“It’s a chicken and egg problem—customers won’t come if restaurants aren’t on your list and restaurants won’t come if you don’t have enough customers. You have to give choice to users. Some startups used our listing and gave a perception of choice to their users. It doesn’t work that way. Market has had a reality check,” says Goyal.

Zomato, which has raised $225 million so far, says it will break even by June.

Fortuitously for startups, the steady stream of negative news has not driven away investors. According to VCCEdge, January 2016 alone has seen three deals with around Rs 300 crore being raised by food tech companies. The largest was Rs 230 crore raised by Swiggy from Norwest Venture Partners, Saif Partners and others.

Investors have turned wiser. Only the good businesses (those not depending solely on discounts to acquire customers) are getting funds now. The focus has shifted from acquiring customers anyhow to unit economics, much like it has in other e-commerce segments.

Some companies like Swiggy now run on a ‘no discounts’ strategy. “Competition is de-intensifying due to capital and quality issues,” says Sriharsha Majety, CEO, Swiggy.

No one is doubting the potential of the business in India though. Experts point to global companies in the space as evidence.

In China, food tech startups have attracted $3 billion in funding (more than six times that in India) and have built companies with multi-billion dollar valuations.
Chinese startups Meituan-Dianping and Ele.me are now valued in excess of $5 billion each. Meituan now also delivers movie tickets.
Anandan, who had to write off his investment in Dazos as it could not raise Series A funding, believes there will be at least three big players in food tech in India.

“In this business being small is trouble. A business needs good unit economics and money to scale rapidly. Startups realize that throwing money at the problem (of acquiring customers) won’t help and they have to focus on unit economics and great service, he says. “This shakeout is good for the sector.”

Andhra Pradesh okays Internet of Things policy

Gartner also said that through 2018, there will be no dominant IoT ecosystem platform and companies will still need to compose solutions from multiple providers.Andhra Pradesh cabinet has approved the first-of-its-kind policy on Internet of Things (IoT) with the prime objective of turning the state into an IoT Hub by 2020 and achieve a sizeable share (at least 10%) in its market in the country.

The state government will promote setting up of 10 IoT hubs with active participation of the private sector and create 50,000 direct employment in different IoT verticals.

“Our aim is to attract at least 100 IoT companies/entities to set up their operations and development centres in AP. We want to create a world-class ecosystem through the proposed hubs for the growth of IoT entities,” minister for information technology Palle Raghunadha Reddy said.

Briefing reporters about the cabinet decisions today, the IT minister said the Centre was currently drafting a policy to create an IoT industry worth $15 billion by 2020.

“We want to position AP as the IoT Hub in the country and accordingly approved the IoT Policy 2016-20 to grab a market share of $1.5 billion by 2020. We will develop state-of-the-art IoT infrastructure — both physical and technical — that matches to international standards in all major towns of the state,” the IT minister added.

Research and development, lab/assembly/systems integration, device and hardware manufacturing, software applications and analytics have been identified as different IoT segments.

Under the policy, the state government would also endeavour to set up IoT centres of excellence and create an innovation fund. Incentives, both financial and non-financial, would be extended to eligible companies and would be granted by the Consultative Committee of IT Industry, he said.

The Information Technology, Electronics and Communication Department would soon issue operational guidelines for implementing the IoT policy, Reddy added.
Meanwhile, the IC2 Institute of the University of Texas and the Federation of Andhra Pradesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry have come forward to open a world-class IT incubation centre in the temple town Tirupati.
According to the minister, IC2 and FAPCCI would work with the AP Innovation Society under the ITE&C Department to set up the incubation centre under the Global Accelerator and Incubator Programme.
“This programme is intended to develop over 1,000 innovative companies and train over 6,000 scientists, innovators, engineers and entrepreneurs in AP. Hundreds of new jobs will be created in the first phase and over 2,500 jobs over the next five years,” Reddy said.

Messaging will become the OS of internet

<p>We want Hike to become a browser-like destination.<br></p>
WhatsApp is the de facto messaging platform for most smartphone users.Up against this Goliath is homegrown Hike. Started in 2012 by Kavin Mittal, son of Bharti Airtel founder Sunil Bharti Mittal, Hike has over 10 crore users and is popular particularly among the youth. Mittal, who has worked previously at McLaren Racing, Google and Goldman Sachs, spoke recently to TOI.

Does Hike stand a chance against WhatsApp?When people realize that what we are building is not just messaging, the perspectives change. For us to win, WhatsApp need not lose. People are using different apps for different use cases. What we offer is the whole world of internet, with news, sports and chat, on a single app. On he desktop, people spend 90% of the time on a browser On mobile phones, an app is similar to a tab. We want Hike o become a browser-like des ination. The current app mo del is broken and will become obsolete. Most of the time spent on mobile devices wo uld be restricted to four or five apps. People are social beings and messaging apps would be he most used apps. And they would like to see news, crick et alerts all coming on the chat platform.With 10 crore users, you could start thinking about monetization. Or are consumers unwilling to pay for apps and internet services?We are not focusing on ma king money for now. Monetization is the easy part and lot of models have proved successful globally, whether it is WeChat or Line. Utility services and brands interacting with consumers are avenues to make money. It is about how tastefully you can do it, without spamming the consumer. We also have a virtual economy of stickers, games etc. But you need a critical mass of people with their lives deeply entrenched in the internet. Only then can you sell online, and the 10 crore users we have is still small compared to the overall market -there are 110 crore sim cards in use.

A couple of years ago Hike was focusing on offline features. With explosive smartphone adoption now, do those features have any relevance?Do you know that data is expensive in this country! While in China, you need to work 3.5 hours to afford 1 GB of data, in India, you need to work for 12.5 hours. So even when one of the parties does not have data, Hike works with Hike Direct feature, which uses a wifi hotspot to transmit data. People are transferring 4.1 terabytes of data on Hike Direct. That is how you bring more people online.So what is Hike, an app for all apps?Windows was the operating system (OS) for desktops, while Netscape became the OS for the internet. In the mobile world, Android is the OS for the phone, while messaging will become the OS for the internet.So you are adding more features to Hike?We had actually built a thousand things but users will only see ten, and use even fewer. Our job is to make the features better, so that people don’t just use them, but love them. The way people in China use WeChat is mind-boggling. However there are complications in replicating the same model in India -how do you do payments, how do you deliver products, etc.

Delhi HC pulls up excise department over arrest of Makemytrip official

Delhi HC pulls up excise department over arrest of Makemytrip official
Disapproving the manner in which officers of Directorate of Central Excise arrested an official of online travel portal makemytrip for alleged evasion of service tax of about Rs 67.44 crore, Delhi High Court said that such conduct cannot be “countenanced”.

“In how many cases of massive defaulters have you made arrests? This (conduct of excise department) will not be countenanced on our watch. We cannot countenance that you arrest without issuing a show cause or demand notice or without informing the person in writing..,” a bench of justices S Muralidhar and Vibhu Bakhru said.

The court directed the portal to file an affidavit naming the excise officers who were involved in the arrest of its vice president (finance) as well as those who allegedly made threats to coerce the company to deposit the service tax.

The bench then told the excise department that the officers named in the affidavit will have to file their responses to the allegations against them and then the court will take the matter to its “logical conclusion”.

Makemytrip was asked by the court to file its affidavit by March 10 and the excise officers concerned would have to file their replies by March 21.
The court was hearing arguments on behalf of the online portal against the arrest of its vice president (finance) MK Pallai as well as the service tax of Rs 67.44 crore demanded by the excise department.
The portal has contended that it is only an intermediary or a booking agent and that it could not have been asked to pay service tax on services availed by customers from hotels and flights.
The excise department contended that the portal was collecting service tax from customers and thus it was liable to deposit it with the government.

Google engineers working with UNICEF to map Zika

Alphabet’s Google has said that its engineers were working with UN child agencyUNICEF to analyze data in an effort to map and anticipate the spread of the Zika virus, linked to birth defects among children in Brazil.

Google said in a statement it was providing a $1 million grant to the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund to help their volunteers on the ground, mostly in Latin America. The US company said that it was also updating its products to make information on Zika more available.

The outbreak of Zika in Brazil, first detected last year, has been linked to 4,863 confirmed and suspected cases of microcephaly, a condition defined by unusually small heads that can result in developmental problems.

The Zika virus, transmitted by mosquitoes, is spreading rapidly in the Americas, according to the World Health Organization, which last month declared the outbreak a global health emergency.

But much about Zika remains unknown, including whether the virus actually causes microcephaly. One of the difficulties in tracking the outbreak is that no reliable test for the virus exists, and in many cases victims present no symptoms.

Google said a volunteer team of its engineers, designers, and data scientists was helping UNICEF build a platform to process data from different sources, including weather and travel patterns, in order to visualize potential outbreaks.

“The goal of this open source platform was to identify the risk of Zika transmission for different regions and help UNICEF, governments and NGOs decide how and where to focus their time and resources,” the company said.

Chris Fabian, UNICEF Innovation co-lead, said the open source platform could be expanded for global use and employed in future disease outbreaks.
Caryl M Stern, president and CEO of the US Fund for UNICEF, said the Google grant would help UNICEF to reach 200 million people in the region who are either affected by or vulnerable to Zika with information on how they can protect themselves.

Google Photos get new editing tools

Google Photos Android app too has received slight redesign. Uers of Google Photos have just got more tools for editing their photos. The web version of Google Photos has rolled out batch of new online editing tools.
Users can now navigate between photos while staying in editing mode. And while doing this they will not lose any changes and will be able to revert to the original. The edits made will be automatically saved, and in case they want to undo a change — all that is required is just a click on “Revert to Original”.

There’s also a new aspect ratio selector to help users get an exact crop. Users can choose from Original, Square, 16:9, and 4:3.

Google Photos Android app too has received slight redesign. The app now has a bottom bar that replaces the sliding screens. This, the company claims, “makes it easy to move between the Assistant, Photos, and new Albums view.” This means users will have to spend less time flipping menus.
Collections too has been renamed to Albums, and features a new scrolling carousel on top with easy access to your shared albums, people, places, things, animations, collages, movies and device folders.
The company said that the changes will be available for iOS users too in the coming days.
Google launched the photos app in May 2015. It was originally part of Google+ social network.