Google Play Store Safer Than Ever but About Half of Android Devices Didn’t Receive an Update in 2016

The Android security team has released its annual security report, which looks at data on Potentially Harmful Apps (PHAs) across Android devices, and explains how the mobiles operating system checks apps for unsafe behaviour, as well as provide statistics on the state of software updates for Android devices.

Google Play Store Safer Than Ever but About Half of Android Devices Didn't Receive an Update in 2016

The report says that more than 735 million devices from 200+ manufacturers received a platform security update in 2016 as Google “released monthly Android security updates throughout the year for devices running Android 4.4.4 and up”. However , about half of devices in use at the end of 2016 had not received a platform security update in the previous year. To deal with this, the Android security team said it is working to streamline the update program and make it easier for manufacturers to deploy security patches.

Keeping your Android devices safe

The team revealed that Android’s ‘Verify Apps’ feature conducted 750 million daily checks in 2016, up from 450 million the previous year, enabling it to reduce the PHA installation rate in the top 50 countries for Android usage.

android security total android

The report also talks about the improvements to security in Nougat, but there’s a note of warning in there as well – for devices overall, particularly those that install apps from multiple sources. The percentage of devices with PHAs actually went up in 2016, though the overall number is still very low. According to the team, only 0.71 percent of all Android devices had PHAs installed at the end of 2016, but that number was 0.5 percent in the beginning of 2015.

Although that is a very low percentage, it’s worth pointing out that according to the report, there are 1.4 billion Android users so 0.71 percent works out to nearly 10 million devices with potentially harmful applications installed.

What’s clear from the report is that it is a really good idea to stick to only installing applications from Google Play. According to the report, the number of PHAs on devices using exclusively Google Play has dropped by a huge percentage from 2015. The number is only 0.05 percent, down from 0.15 percent in 2015, compared to 0.71 percent on devices that go beyond just Google Play. Installs of PHAs from Google Play decreased in nearly every category: trojans are now 0.016 percent of installs, while hostile downloaders, and backdoors each account for just 0.003 percent of installs, and phishing apps are a mere 0.0018 percent, according to the Android security team.

android security upates android

Android Nougat’s security features

The Android security team added that it thinks it can reduce the number of devices affected by PHAs, no matter where people get their apps. To that end, the team highlighted new security protections in Android Nougat.

“In Nougat, we introduced file-based encryption which enables each user profile on a single device to be encrypted with a unique key. If you have personal and work accounts on the same device, for example, the key from one account can’t unlock data from the other,” the report said. Encryption has been enabled on over 80 percent of Android Nougat devices.

There are also new audio and video protections, so even if one media component is compromised, it doesn’t have permissions to other components, which helps contain issues. And there are further measures for enterprise users, such as an always-on VPN, among other measures.

Uber Raises Fares by Up to 100 Percent Within Delhi NCR

Uber Raises Fares by Up to 100 Percent Within Delhi NCRNew price revision only valid within Delhi NCR
UberGo rates see up to 100 percent hike in fares
UberX fares also receive a bump
Uber has announced raise in its operating prices within Delhi and NCR. With the new changes, UberGo fares will be raised by up to 100 percent. The company announced the news in a blog post saying that the revised fare structure will be applicable for trips longer than 20 kilometres.

 

With the price revision, UberGo rate for up to 20 kilometres will Rs. 6/km while rate after 20 kilometres will be Rs. 12/km. Likewise, taking an UberX for up to 20 kilometres will cost you Rs. 9/km while the rate will go up to Rs. 13/km after 20 kilometres.

Announcing the price revision, Uber India noted, “To ensure a reliable ride when you are travelling long distances within Delhi NCR, we’re introducing a revised fare structure for trips longer than 20km. The change aims at ensuring you get a ride when you need one by justifying economics for our driver-partners.”

 
Uber claims that the new price revision is a “marginal increase in pricing” and the company still offers the “most affordable ride.”

To recall, Uber competing against Ola’s Micro service back in June cut its rate to just Rs. 6 per kilometre. Previously, UberGo fares in Delhi started from Rs. 8 per kilometre.

Last month, Uber announced the availability of the Schedule a Ride feature that allowed users to book an UberX or UberGo ride from 15 minutes to up to 30 days in advance.

Sony to Reportedly Launch PlayStation-Inspired Mobile Games in 2018

Sony to Reportedly Launch PlayStation-Inspired Mobile Games in 2018
Sony plans to release five or more smartphone games around late March 2018, the Nikkei business daily said on Thursday.

Sony Interactive Entertainment, Sony’s video game development arm, is looking to develop smartphone games based on popular PlayStation titles, which will target Japan and other parts of Asia, the Nikkei added.

The game titles are expected to be revealed by year-end, Nikkei said.

Sony was not immediately available for comment.
The company launched its Virtual Reality (VR) headset for PlayStation on Wednesday, the consumer electronic giant’s latest foray into video games and entertainment.

Isro’s GSAT-18 Communication Satellite Successfully Launched on Ariane 5 Rocket

Isro's GSAT-18 Communication Satellite Successfully Launched on Ariane 5 RocketAn Indian communication satellite GSAT-18 was successfully put into orbit by Ariane 5 rocket belonging to French company Arianespace on Thursday, Indian space agency said.

The rocket lifted off from its spaceport in Kourou (French Guiana).

According to Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) its Master Control Facility (MCF) at Hassan in Karnataka took control of GSAT-18 and performed the initial orbit raising activities by firing the motors onboard the satellite.

 

The satellite was placed in a circular geostationary orbit, Isro said.

GSAT-18 is India’s latest communication satellite with 48 transponders that receive and transmit communication signals.

The 3,404 kg satellite will provide services in normal C-band, upper extended C-band and Ku-bands of the frequency spectrum.

The satellite carries Ku-band beacon as well to help in accurately pointing ground antennas towards the satellite.
Its designed in-orbit operational life is about 15 years.

“It is now the fifth time this year that ArianeA5 has performed flawlessly, and this launch celebrates as well its 74th success in a row, now equalling (that of the predecessor) ArianeA4,” Arianespace’s Chairman Stephane Israel was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the company.

Apart from the Indian communication satellite, the Ariane 5 rocket put into orbit Australian Sky Muster II satellite.

Overall, Arianespace has won 86 percent of all geostationary launch contracts the country has opened to non-Indian launch systems – including those for GSAT-11 and GSAT-17, to be lofted on future missions from the Spaceport in French Guiana, the company said.

Carrying 12 transponders in Ku-band and another 24 in C-band, GSAT-18 will provide telecommunications services for India once in its final orbital position (74 deg. East), strengthening Isro’s current fleet of 14 operational satellites.

The Thursday flight was Arianespace’s eighth of 11 launches targeted in 2016.

Google Play Music Service Finally Comes to India

Google Play Music Service Finally Comes to India
Google Play Music is live on Android and the Web
Users can purchase songs and albums individually
A song costs Rs. 15 while an album will charge you Rs. 100 – Rs. 200
It has been a long time for the users in India waiting for Google to introduce its Play Music service in India. And the wait is finally over. Google has quietly opened its Play Music store in India, with songs and albums now available for purchase. The Play Music was rumoured to launch back in July but it didn’t happen at that time. Notably, the subscription service – known as Google Play Music All Access – is not yet available in the country.

The news comes after the Google for India’s event on Tuesday where the company launched a bunch of apps and new features suited for the Indian users. However, there is no official announcement by Google India to add to the same on its blog. With the new Play Music service, Google will enter the digital music market in India to compete with the likes of Apple’s iTunes and Airtel’s Wynk Music.

Google Play Music doesn’t let you stream music as of now, with no Google Play All Access subscription plan, no radio, and podcasts services in India. You can only buy songs and albums individually on the app. With no support for streaming, Google may fall behind Apple Music, Saavn, and Gaana that currently occupy the streaming market in India.
Detailing on the pricing, Google Play Music hosts individual songs of the genres like Bollywood, regional, Indian Pop, and International starting Rs. 15 per song, while an entire album costs within the Rs. 100 – Rs. 200 range. You can preview the tracks and pay for them as per your suitability using your debit/ credit card, or with Google Play cards.

The Web version of Play Music is also live with a support for Google Chrome extension for desktops in case users want a player app. Interestingly, the Play Music app on iOS didn’t let us successfully sign into the app, suggesting the service might roll out on iOS platform later. Users can also upload music via Google Play Music on the web – users will be required to download the Music Manager app, which then allows you to upload files from your computer, or playlists via iTunes and the Windows Media player. Users will then be able to listen to the uploaded music anywhere once they sign into the Google Play Music service, whether on Android or the Web.

You Can Now Book an Ola Cab via Siri on iOS 10

Ola Gets Siri and Maps Integration for iOS 10 Users
One of iOS 10’s biggest new features was the opening up of the Siri voice-based virtual assistant to third-party apps. Alongside SiriKit, Apple also unveiled MapKit to allow third-party integration with Apple Maps. One of the first such integrations was with Uber, and now its biggest rival in India – Ola – has rolled out the same functionality, including Apple Maps support.

iPhone users running iOS 10 with the latest version of Ola can now ask Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant, to book cabs for them. The update, which also includes Apple Maps integration, marks Ola’s growing focus on making cab booking even more accessible and convenient for iPhone users in India, Ola said in a statement.

(Also see: iOS 10: Ten Cool Things to Try in Apple’s Latest Mobile OS)

“Using just their voice, iPhone users running iOS 10 can simply say, ‘Hey Siri, get me an Olacab’ to book their next ride,” it added.

“Technology is at the core of all our solutions aimed at providing enhanced mobility to our customers. Integrating our app with iOS 10 is a step towards redefining customer experience. We are proud to be one of the early adopters of Sirikit and Mapkit in the world,” Ola co-founder and CTO Ankit Bhati said.
With this update, Apple users will also get access to Ola directly from Apple Maps while searching for their destination, he added.

Besides, Ola has launched an independent app on Apple Watch to ensure a consistent experience across all Apple devices.

Pokemon Go Will Get New Pokemon Says Maker; Update Introduces Wrist Accessory Support

  • Pokemon Go will get new Pokemon going ahead
  • Niantic discussing player-versus-player battles
  • Pokemon Go Plus wrist accessory launched at $35

It is not a hidden fact that Pokemon Go has moved past its prime. Several reports have depicted the fall in popularity that the augmented reality game has suffered. However, the game still enjoys a huge user base and if the latest words by Niantic CEO John Hanke are anything to go by, the lost players might be interested in coming back to the game.

At TechCrunch Disrupt, Hanke discussed Niantic’s plans to develop the game further and how it will be adding various features going forward. Regarding introduction of new Pokemon to the game, Hanke said, “It’s always been the intent to gradually introduce more Pokémon into the experience over time. It’s a natural way to keep the game fresh. Some Pokémon are highly coveted and people are going to be really excited when they show up in the game,” reports Venture Beat.

He said that the company always looked at Pokemon Go as a game that will develop over several years. He said, “We got the minimum viable product into the marketplace, and that’s the tip of the iceberg in terms of where we’ll ultimately take the game.”

Hanke said that the company is trying to figure out the best ways to include features like player- Pokémon trading, versus-player battles, while providing more stable servers over time. Hanke didn’t provide any specific timeline for introduction of these features.

Niantic also launched its much-awaited Pokemon Go Plus wrist accessory, which was revealed by the company at the game’s launch. Pokemon Go Plus connects with your Android or iOS phone, alerts you about in-game events like the presence of PokeStops or Pokemon by vibrating or by flashing an LED light.

However, the company has clarified that the accessory will only be available in select markets and limited quantities.

The accessory is fairly useful and will help its users save battery-life on their phones and will cost $34.99 (roughly Rs. 2,350). Notably, Pokemon Go is coming to the Apple Watch to offer similar companion app functionality to augment gameplay.

Niantic has also updated both Android and iOS apps to support the wrist accessory, adding a quick help guide apart other minor fixes.

 

Paytm Now Lets You Make IRCTC Train Ticket Bookings

Paytm Now Lets You Make IRCTC Train Ticket Bookings

  • Now you can book rail tickets via the Paytm app and website
  • Paytm also now powers payments for the IRCTC website
  • Its goal is to become the largest travel booking platform

Paytm has been partnering to offering more and more services via its app and website, and now it is allowing users to book train tickets via IRCTC direct from the Paytm platform. On Friday Paytm announced that it is powering the payment gateway for the rail-booking platform. The Paytm wallet was already available as a payment option for IRCTC, and the integration of Paytm’s payment gateway was something that would not visibly affect most users. However, it now appears that there was more to the deal with IRCTC.

On Monday, Paytm announced that IRCTC tickets are now going to be available from Paytm’s app and website. The company noted that in recent months, it has seen huge growth in its travel marketplace, and stated that its bus ticket business has broken even, while flights bookings have been growing at a 4x rate month on month since launch in May. With the availability of rail tickets via IRCTC, Paytm hopes to become the biggest travel booking destination across categories.

“At Paytm, our endeavour is to solve for every need of a traveller,” said Abhishek Rajan, Vice President, Paytm. “Our alliance with IRCTC is a major leap as it completes the spectrum of air, road and rail ticket booking solutions available on Paytm. This is a significant milestone in our efforts to build India’s largest travel marketplace.”

Of course, all the major OTA websites also allow you to book train tickets using your IRCTC credentials, so it will be interesting to see what value addition Paytm can bring to the table with this offering.

Earlier, Paytm also tied up with IRCTC for e-catering payments. IRCTC has also tied up with online delivery firm FoodPanda, enabling consumers to order from a variety of cuisine options.

 

Humble Mobile Bundle 20 for Android Features Tomb Raider 1 and 2, Last Horizon, and More for $1

Humble Mobile Bundle 20 for Android Features Tomb Raider 1 and 2, Last Horizon, and More for $1
You get Cloud Chasers, Last Horizon, and Tomb Raider 1 and 2 for $1
The bundle is available for just two weeks
You can choose the charity you want to support while making purchase
If you can support a charity of your choice while enjoying paid Android mobile games at a reduced price, you really cannot ask for more. Humble Mobile Bundle aims to provide this very same deal to you. The 20th version of this mobile games bundle is now available for purchase and has brought along famous titles like Tomb Raider, Cloud Chasers, and Last Horizon this time around.

The aptly named Humble Mobile Bundle 20 consists of three tiers in total. If you pay $1 (roughly Rs. 66) or more, you get the games Cloud Chasers, Last Horizon, and Tomb Raider 1 and 2. If you pay more than the average price (currently at $4.40), you will additionally get the games Always Sometimes Monsters and Shooting Stars!, with more games due to be unlocked soon.

If you pay $5 (roughly Rs. 330), you will not only get the games mentioned above, but will also get mobile games Space Grunts and Cosmonautica. If you desire to contribute more to the charities, you can also choose to buy the games at a higher price than mentioned.

All the games available in the bundle are DRM-free and are specifically for Android. The bundle is available for purchase for just two weeks.
“Choose where the money goes – between the developers, The Electronic Frontier Foundation, Child’s Play, and, if you’d like, a third charity of your choice via the Paypal Giving Fund,” the company says in its bundle description.

For comparison, Tomb Raider 1 and 2 are available on Google Play Store for Rs. 60 each while titles Last Horizon and Cloud Chasers and are available at Rs. 65 and Rs. 270 respectively.

WhatsApp Beta for Android Now Lets You Share Videos as Animated Gif Images (Sort Of)

WhatsApp Beta for Android Now Lets You Share Videos as Animated Gif Images (Sort Of)

  • WhatsApp for Android now allows gif image sharing
  • The latest app version supports the feature
  • Unfortunately, the gif image support is not available to iOS users

WhatsApp for Android looks set to finally get support for sharing animated gif images or at least, to share videos as gif images (sort of). The new feature from WhatsApp will let users convert a video of 6 seconds or less to a gif image. The new gif image support is available to WhatsApp for Android users who are running beta versions 2.16.242 to 2.16.244. The latest beta version WhatsApp for Android version available on Google Play supports the gif image feature.

Android Police first reported that the gif image support was seen on the 2.16.242 beta version of WhatsApp for Android. Gadgets 360 however independently tested the gif image support on the 2.16.242 to 2.16.244 beta versions of WhatsApp for Android.

 To send a gif image, WhatsApp for Android beta users will have to head to the attachment icon on top of a chat screen in the app. After selecting attachment, users will head to record video option and record a 6 second video (or less than 6 seconds). Before sending the recorded attachment, the trimming video page will appear with a camcorder icon on the top right corner of the page. On selecting the icon, the recorded video will convert into a gif image. Notably, the feature will also work when sharing existing videos from your gallery that are 6 seconds or less, or trimmed to be less by using WhatsApp’s built-in video trimmer. It also works for when users are attaching am existing video from another app and sharing via WhatsApp. It’s worth pointing that the camcorder icon doesn’t appear for videos that haven’t yet been trimmed in size to 6 seconds or less.

Android Police also points out that the files are actually converted and transmitted as audioless mp4 files that auto-play inline in the chat window. The files users receive or send are saved in WhatsApp > Media > WhatsApp Animated Gifs as mp4 files as well. Only on the front end do users receive a notification that a gif image has been received, which was also shows in the Chat tab.

To recall, WhatsApp was first rumoured to add gif image support back in June. The feature however was then expected to land on iOS first. Unfortunately, there is no word when the feature will reach iOS users.

WhatsApp recently added the call back and voicemail feature to its Android app. The feature arrived on iPhone devices first, and later rolled out for Android users via Google Play.