Convergence Plus
Friday, June 25, 2021
Facebook to roll out revamped website for all desktop users in coming weeks

Airtel, Vodafone Idea, Tata Tele likely to pay AGR dues on Monday: DoT source Social media site Facebook announced on Friday that it is set to roll out its redesigned desktop website to all its users over the next few weeks. It said that the new version of Facebook will be the default for all its users who use the platform on their computer, as per the TechCrunch report.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg made the announcement of the new desktop version for Facebook in October last year at F8 2019. Earlier this year, Facebook rolled out the new version for a small percentage of users. As of last month, the "majority of people on Facebook" had the option to enable the new interface.

The TechCrunch report further revealed that with the new interface, Facebook has simplified its navigation with a top bar that provides easy access to the website's home, watch, marketplace, groups, and gaming pages.

Users can also notice Facebook's signature blue tone no longer displayed on the top navigation bar. Facebook tweaked the design element so that it could more easily build a dark mode into the website. Users can enable the feature through a toggle located in the drop-down settings menu.

The company said that the home page will load faster and the search results will be more effective and efficient. Another change it has incorporated is that the website's responsive design now better scales to different window sizes. It's particularly noticeable if you use Windows 10's snap functionality or if you have a window manager on macOS.

Users may have to wait for a week or two for the changes to get reflected on their desktop. While the company works on completing the rollout, users can switch back to the classic interface through the drop-down settings menu, TechCrunch report added. (Source: The Hindu Businessline)

Aarogya Setu app crosses 75 million downloads

Telcos Estimate AGR Dues at Half the DoT DemandAarogya Setu, a government app for tracking coronavirus patients, has recorded 75 million downloads till date, the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) said on Friday.

The information was shared by MeitY officials with Minister of State for Electronics and IT Sanjay Dhotre during a review meeting held earlier in the day. “The Minister was informed that 75 million people have already downloaded Aarogya Setu app on their mobile phones. He called this app one of the most important tools in fighting Covid-19 and one of the lifelines for common people during this global pandemic. He asked the officials to make all-out efforts to popularise the app,” MeitY said in a statement.

Dhotre discussed opening of information technology (IT) and IT-enabled service (ITeS) companies gradually after the lockdown. “He expressed that in this time of crisis, the Government of India is working ceaselessly under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” the statement said. Dhotre has asked the services of common service centres for providing telemedicine services, especially in remote parts, during this moment of crisis, as it will bring a much-needed relief to people who are finding difficulty in accessing medical services during this lockdown. (Source: The Hindu Businessline)

TikTok Emerges Most Downloaded Social Media App

Telcos Estimate AGR Dues at Half the DoT DemandByteDance-owned short video app TikTok is the most downloaded app in India in the social media category during the government enforced lockdown to battle Covid-19, followed by WhatsApp and Facebook, data shared exclusively with ET by app analytics firm App Annie showed.

Compared to January 2020, social media downloads on iOS and Google Play during the lockdown in India in the first week starting March 22 went up 20%, exceeding over 49 million new downloads, the mobile and data analytics company said.

In a televised address, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced a 21-day nation wide lockdown on March 24 which is to end on April 14.

Overall, excluding gaming apps, AajTak (Living Media), Zoom Cloud Meetings (Zoom Video Communications), Uvideo (OneSmile), Instagram (Facebook), Jio TV (Reliance Industries) and Amazon Prime Video (Amazon) were the most downloaded apps in India in the week starting March 22 compared to the previous week starting March 15.

AajTak and Zoom Cloud Meetings jumped 56 and 54 places respectively in terms rank.

The San Francisco-headquartered App Annie said news apps, video conferencing calls and entertainment apps gained significant momentum during the lockdown in India.

TikTok (ByteDance), WhatsApp (Facebook), Facebook, Helo (ByteDance), Instagram (Facebook) and VMate (Alibaba Group) were the most downloaded apps categorised under the social networking category on iOS or the social, communication category on Google Play in the week starting March 22.

Industry insiders had told ET earlier that usage and engagement rates of TikTok and Instagram's live videos have gone up significantly during the lockdown with more content and views being generated by users.

TikTok said its #GharbaithoIndia campaign, launched in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme asking users to suggest ways to beat the lockdown blues generated 4.6 billion views. Instagram told ET its live views increased more than 60% in week one of the lockdown.

App Annie said it has not seen any significant movements in ranks for dating apps like Tinder and Bumble in India in terms of new downloads. (Source: Economic Times)

E-comm players, online brands launch trade association TECI

Huawei CFO sues Canada for wrongful detention E-commerce companies such as Snapdeal, ShopClues, UrbanClap, Shop101, Flyrobe, Fynd and scores of others have come together to establish a trade association, The E-Commerce Council of India (TECI).

Online brands such as Mamaearth, Superbottoms and Azah, which focus on specific segments such as baby care products and women’s hygiene products, are also part of the group that has collaborated to launch TECI.

Kunal Bahl, CEO and co-founder of Snapdeal, said the e-commerce sector in India is an increasingly important part of the economy, unlocking tremendous value for buyers and sellers. “It is catalysing growth opportunities for allied businesses, and MSMEs and has the potential to create large scale employment across the country,” he added.

TECI’s vision is to help and guide the growth of the e-commerce ecosystem in India. It also seeks to engage closely with private and public stakeholders with the aim to help develop a robust digital commerce sector.

TECI members account for more than 7.5 lakh online sellers and service providers. Every month, more than 100 million users interact with the online businesses operated by members of TECI.

More than 30 global and domestic institutional investors have invested more than $2.25 billion in the enterprises founded by TECI members. “The e-commerce sector adds to the nation's growth and help small businesses reach nationwide,” said Siddharth Munot, co-founder of (Source:The Hindu Businessline)

WhatsApp Said to Be Bringing 'Swipe to Reply' Feature to Android; Dark Mode May Arrive Soon Too

WhatsApp Said to Be Bringing 'Swipe to Reply' Feature to Android; Dark Mode May Arrive Soon Too WhatsApp is reportedly working to bring the Swipe to Reply feature to its Android app. The messaging app has had an eventful 2018 as it has been launching and testing new features with high frequency. The WhatsApp iPhone app already has the Swipe to Reply feature, which seems set to be making its way to Android devices. The new feature will let WhatsApp users quickly reply to a message using a swipe right gesture. It essentially means you will no longer need to tap and hold the message to get the Reply button. Additionally, the app is also said to be working on a Dark Mode.

As per a WABetaInfo report, WhatsApp is working on the Swipe to Reply feature in the Android app. The messaging app has recently submitted a new update through the Google Play Beta Programme, bringing the beta version up to 2.18.282. The report claims that the feature is currently not available due to "development reasons" and that it needs to receive several improvements before being officially available for all WhatsApp for Android users. However, the report adds that the new WhatsApp feature may be available in one of the next few updates.

When the Swipe to Reply feature is available on WhatsApp for Android, you will be able to swipe a message that you want to reply to, towards the right side. Following this, WhatsApp will automatically load the message in the reply context.

Coming to the Dark Mode, WhatsApp is finally said to be working on adding the much-awaited feature. According to a tweet posted by WABetaInfo, WhatsApp has finally started working on a Dark Mode for both iOS and Android. However, the report does not mention the exact timeline for the Dark Mode to roll-out to WhatsApp.

The upcoming dark mode feature will help reduce strain on user's eyes while using WhatsApp at night or in low-light conditions. It will also help conserve battery on phones that have OLED displays.(Source: NDTV)

WhatsApp may back payments from UPI apps

WhatsApp may back payments from UPI appsWhatsApp has updated its privacy policies with regards to safety of user data and is looking to offer interoperable payment transactions from other BHIM-UPI applications to address multiple controversies around its payments service and allay fears over data safety.

In a statement to ET, a spokesperson of the California-based instant messaging app confirmed that it uses parent Facebook’s infrastructure for offering payments in India, but ensures that the data stored is encrypted and is not used for commercial purposes.

“We have permission from NPCI (National Payments Corporation of India) and our bank partners to use Facebook as a service provider,” the spokesperson said. “WhatsApp is using Facebook payment infrastructure to enable the payments feature. Facebook does not use WhatsApp payment information for commercial purposes, it simply helps pass the necessary payment information to the PSPs.”

WhatsApp is working with ICICI Bank to offer mobile payments through Unified Payments Interface (UPI) system developed by NPCI to facilitate interbank transactions in India. It is also in the process of partnering with Axis Bank, HDFC Bank and State Bank of India for payments.

With Facebook being embroiled in user privacy and data safety scandal, WhatsApp, a part of the Facebook family, having access to payments in India had become a cause of concern. Even the ministry of electronics and IT, which manages all the digital initiatives of the government, is said to have written a letter to NPCI regarding this matter.

Allaying such fears, WhatsApp said the data that flows through its systems during a transaction include the likes of user name, payment address, receiver and senders’ account status, balance sufficiency and others. Few of this data is retained for future reference and all transaction information is stored in an encrypted format, it said. With respect to the user’s debit card details, UPI pin, card expiration date, these are taken by WhatsApp at the time of on boarding for customers who do not have any prior UPI registration, but these are not retained, it said.

Bankers in the know of the matter said WhatsApp as a third-party service provider gets only limited access to the financial data of the user. It will be able to track customer payment behaviour and might be using it for their own marketing offerings.

WhatsApp, which is thought to have more than 250 million active users in India, is currently operating a test function of its payment offering with ICICI Bank. They have been permitted by NPCI to run the beta testing of their payments product till they reach 1 million customers.

WhatsApp spokesperson did not confirm the date when its payments offering will be available for all its customers in the country. It would not also provide the exact timeline within which other partner banks will go live on WhatsApp Payments.

With respect to storage of payments data within India that has been mandated by the Reserve Bank of India, WhatsApp said its partner ICICI Bank will be in a better position to address such concerns since they are the regulated entity. ET had previously reported that WhatsApp’s payments offering is getting delayed due to privacy concerns raised by various stakeholders post the Cambridge Analytica incident with Facebook. (Source: Economic Times)

MobiKwik invests Rs 2 cr in Pivotchain Solutions

MobiKwik invests Rs 2 cr in Pivotchain SolutionsMobiKwik, a full stack fintech platform, has invested Rs 2 crore in Pune-based data science company, Pivotchain Solutions. This is the first-ever investment for MobiKwik in a data science company and will further strengthen MobiKwik's fintech offerings, said Bipin Preet Singh, Founder & CEO, MobiKwik.
Pivotchain is a Predictive Analytics company with expertise in Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI). It has built exclusive AI and deep learning models for MobiKwik. These models will be instrumental for MobiKwik as it rolls out numerous lending products to address the credit requirements of its user base.

"Pivotchain is doing incredible work in alternate data scoring, predictive modelling and risk management. This investment will give us an edge over competition. We will continue to invest in companies that can add value to our business," Bipin said.
Deepak Rao, Founder & CEO, Pivotchain Soultions said: "We are glad to be part of MobiKwik family. We look forward to working with MobiKwik and deliver the right lending solution across the user base". (Source: The Hindu BusinessLine)

Hike Messenger lays off 25% of its workforce

Hike Messenger lays off 25% of its workforceHike Messenger has begun laying off 20-25% of its workforce, with a significant portion of the affected employees coming from its two acquisitions — hardware maker Creo and social networking venture InstaLively — that it announced last year.

According to a source with knowledge of the matter, the total number of retrenchments could range between 50 and 75 employees across locations. When contacted by ET, Hike Messenger spokesperson confirmed the layoffs but did not comment on the numbers.

“We made a few acquisitions last year that skyrocketed the team size, mostly in Bengaluru. We’re integrating and streamlining these teams. Just business as usual,” a company spokesperson wrote in response to an email from ET. The layoffs are expected to be across functions, including human resources, accounting and finance, among others.

Employees, according to the source cited above, are being provided with a severance package, starting with two months salary and upwards. Hike had announced its acquisition of Creo, the maker of Teewe, a HDMI media streaming device in August last year, for an undisclosed sum, but which was widely reported to be an acqui-hire. At the time of the announcement, Creo was reported to have 50 employees.

Prior to that, in February 2017, it acquired social networking app Pulse, which was owned and operated by InstaLively, also for an undisclosed sum.

The latest developments come about five months after the Delhi-based company, founded by Bharti Airtel scion Kavin Mittal, unveiled a brand new mobile operating system, Total, that offer services, such as, messaging and recharging without using data, targeting the lower end of smartphone users to take on leader WhatsApp in a better way. (Source: Economic Times)

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