Ola, Uber Enter Skill Development Pact With Rajasthan Government

Taxi aggregators Ola and Uber have signed agreements with the Rajasthan government for skill development and creation of entrepreneurial opportunities in the state.

Under the partnership, Ola will team up with the state government to provide skill development for 50,000 men and women over the next five years, it said in a statement.

It also spoke of introducing offerings like Ola Autos and Ola Share in the state in coming months. Uber, on its part, will also collaborate on skills training and development programmes in the desert state and create over 35,000 entrepreneurial opportunities.

Additionally, the US-based firm will work with the government to roll out a pilot for its peer-to-peer ridesharing product, Uber said.

“Our vision is to use technology to encourage the spirit of entrepreneurship among the youth of Rajasthan… This initiative will help further expand the ecosystem and make more choice of mobility to the citizens at large,” Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje said.

Innovation and technology have to go hand in hand for making Rajasthan the most developed, front-runner state in the country, she added.

In early 2014, Ola had launched services in Rajasthan and operates in its five major cities – Jaipur, Udaipur, Kota, Ajmer and Jodhpur.

“By bringing more mobility use cases onto its app using technology, Ola is looking to serve the 75 million people in the state, giving them instant access to reliable and convenient personal transportation of their choice,” Ola Chief Operating Officer Pranay Jivrajka said.

The Bengaluru-based taxi hailing service has a similar tie-up in place with the Andhra Pradesh government and has committed an investment of Rs. 150 crores to be made over the next three years.

Last week, Uber had inked an agreement with the Punjab government for running a pilot for peer-to-peer ridesharing.

Currently, Uber only has drivers with commercial licences on board in India. In the US, a major chunk of the rides is peer-to-peer that allows private car owners to register on the Uber app and ferry passengers.

“Uber is thrilled to collaborate with the Rajasthan government and contribute to the economic development of the state through skills training and creation of tens of thousands of flexible and sustainable entrepreneurial opportunities,” its Head of Operations and General Manager North India Gagan Bhatia said.

India Funding Roundup: Twigly, Jugnoo, Toppr, Moglix, BeaconsTalk

Gurgaon-based curated food marketplace startup Twigly announced Monday that it had received seed funding from TracxnLabs and angels Amit Gupta, Aloke Bajpai, and Ashish Kumar, as well as partners and employees of SAIF Partners.

Twigly is currently based in Gurgaon, and claims to have a gained a base of over 500 customers during its first month of operations. The startup claims to offer better ingredients and taste than the offline quick service restaurants, at a 20-30 percent lower price point. In an emailed statement, Neha Singh, co-founder of Tracxn said that there will be 15-20 large food tech brands in India providing quality meals to busy Indians.

Chandigarh-based Jugnoo, has reportedly received $10 million (roughly Rs. 65 crores) in funding from Paytm. The company is reportedly in talks with Japan’s SoftBank for possibly a bigger round of fund raise.

Toppr, an online platform for students to prepare for entrance tests, said it has raised $2 million (roughly Rs. 13 crores) from venture-debt provider InnoVen Capital. The platform reportedly has about500,000 enrolments, and plans to use the funds for two acquisitions.

The Singapore and Noida-based startup Moglilabs Pvt Ltd, which runs Moglix, an online marketplace for industrial tools, raised an undisclosed sum in its pre-Series A funding from Accel Partners and Jungle Ventures.

Mumbai-based Proximity marketing firm BeaconsTalk has reportedly raised Rs. 52,00,000 in seed funding. The startup’s ad exchange platform claims to be India’s first IoT sensor (Wifi, BLE, NFC) network and ad-exchange for contextual mobile advertising.

Skype Apps for Android and iOS Updated With Video Filters and More

Microsoft has rolled out an update to Skype’s Android, iPhone, and iPad apps to add a shiny new feature. Users with any of the said clients will be able to add video message filters. In case you’re wondering, yes, it is indeed similar to Snapchat’s recently rolled out video filters.

Users will now be able to add filters such as balloons and ghosts to their video messages. The option appears at the bottom left of the video message window. “Add balloons to your video message to celebrate any occasion. If you’re feeling goofy, change the appearance of your face to make it look rounder or longer – we love this one!” Skype team wrote in a blog post.

The feature is similar to the additions Snapchat introduced in its app last month. The video-centred ephemeral messenger added lenses, trophies, and paid replays to its app. Using these features, users were able to take a selfie and then choose face filters, and add awards icons to the images.

Additionally, the team has also added support for 3D Touch in its Skype app for iPhone. Users with aniPhone 6s or an iPhone 6s Plus will now be able to force touch the Skype icon and see search and calling options in the contextual menu without having to open the app. In addition, inside the app, users can get a peek into conversations and video chats.

Separately, at an event in New Delhi, the company announced that it will be adding Bollywood content to Skype Mojis. For those unfamiliar, Mojis is a feature that the company introduced in Skype last month. Using this, users are able to add short clips of their favourite movies and TV shows right into a Skype chat. The company said that it has partnered with Yash Raj Films and Eros Now to get content. The company says that it will also add several India-centric emoticons.

Skype is in an interesting spot right now. On one hand, it is seemingly losing relevance in the aggressively growing instant messaging market, but on another, it holds the tentpole position in the enterprise space. In the recent months, it has ostensibly grown interest to make its instant messaging client appealing to the younger audience. A recent example of it is the upcoming Dialer app, an India-optimised Skype app we exclusively reported about earlier this month.

Apple Music for Android Screenshots Leaked Ahead of Launch

When Apple officially introduced Apple Music back in June, it promised to release an Android version of the service by this fall. Now, a bunch of screenshots purported to be of Apple Music for Android have leaked, indicating that the Cupertino-based company may release the app for the Android platform soon.

The leaked screenshots show the Apple Music app for Android in detail and was first reported by Mobile Geeks. The website has also shared a Google community link that tips the app is currently in beta testing with limited number of users. When we tried to signing-in with our Gmail credentials, thepage read, “A testing version of this app hasn’t been published yet or isn’t available for this account.”

It further added, “If you’ve been invited to become a tester, make sure that you’re signed in to the account that was invited to the testing program. If you’ve been invited to a Google Group or Google+ Community as part of the program, make sure that you’ve joined the Group or Community.”

apple_music_android_leaks_mobile_geeks.jpgThe Apple Music for Android settings can be accessed with a swipe from left menu. Majority of Apple Music features from iOS such as Beats 1, For Me recommendations page, and Apple Music Connect are available for Android users. The Apple Music for Android will also offer users ability to change size of cache for offline music stored on the device. Notably, the screenshots show that the Apple Music for Android supports the entire Apple Music catalogue.

Going by leaked screenshots, the Apple Music app for Android app retains much of the design of the iOS app, but brings new design elements for the platform such as the traditional menu access option. This could mean that Apple will try to make its Apple Music Android app look and feel like an iOS app just as Google tries to keep its Material Design alive in its iOS apps.

Considering that Apple had announced a fall release for Android version of its Apple Music, the company can be expected to announce it by next month.

It’s worth noting that the Apple Music for Android will get some serious competition from already popular services such as Google Music, Spotify, and Rdio, among others.

App to Help Spina Bifida Patients


A system incorporating a smartphone app can help adolescents and young adults with spina bifida, a disabling congenital condition affecting the spine, and improve their daily self-management skills, scientists say.

The “iMHere” (interactive Mobile Health & Rehabilitation) system features mobile reminders and messaging with healthcare providers and is feasible for use by young patients with spina bifida.

“This system holds promise for use in many diverse chronic care models to support and increase self-management skills,” said Dr Brad E Dicianno of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

The randomised pilot study evaluated the iMHere system in 23 patients, aged 18 to 40, with spina bifida. The patients in the study had myelomeningocele – the most severe type of spina bifida.

One group of patients received the experimental iMHere system, which combined a suite of smartphone modules and a web-based portal for healthcare providers, linked by a two-way communication system.

The modules were tailored to the key issues of spina bifida self-management, including information on medications, reminders to perform important daily self-care activities, and monitoring of mood and depression symptoms.

The other group of patients received routine spina bifida care and follow-up. After one year, use of the iMHere system and self-management skills were compared between groups, along with other key outcomes.

Patients met or exceeded expected levels of use of the iMHere system.

They were most likely to use modules that reminded them to perform self-care steps that occurred less than every day; and to remind them to take medications, which changed frequently. iMHere users “were also more likely to communicate new information or symptoms to a wellness coordinator by secure message, survey, or photograph,” according to the study.

Higher use of reminders did not decrease the rate of events requiring medical attention. However, patients who were high users of the iMHere system gained new independence in certain spina bifida self-management skills.

All types of medical events tended to be less common for patients using iMHere, although the differences were not significant.

The preliminary results suggest that the iMHere system may enable young patients become more independent in managing their spina bifida – especially those who use the system frequently, Dicianno said.

The study is published in the American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, the official journal of the Association of Academic Physiatrists.

Facebook for iOS Updated With Fixes for Battery Drainage Issue

Facebook has released a update for its iOS app which addresses the recently-reported battery drain issue. While the release note of the app doesn’t specify such changes, the company’s engineering manager has confirmed that the company has indeed patched some bugs that ate up battery on iOS devices.

Earlier this month, many users reported that Facebook app on their iPhone was mysteriously consuming a lot of battery life. The company had acknowledged the issue at the time and assured that it is looking into it. Ari Grant, Engineering Manager at Facebook now said that the new update fixes many of the bugs causing the issue. If chatter on Twitter is to be believed, the update does seem to help lower battery consumption.

Grant said that the update also fixes a bug that caused a silent audio stream to run in the background when a user switched to the other app. This as you would realise, also consumed a significant amount of battery life.

“The first issue we found was a “CPU spin” in our network code. A CPU spin is like a child in a car asking, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” with the question not resulting in any progress to reaching the destination. This repeated processing causes our app to use more battery than intended. The version released today has some improvements that should start making this better,” Grant said in a post on his Facebook profile.

Last week it was reported that constant location tracking, on by default, was the bottleneck that was causing the battery drainage. Grant has dismissed all such theories. He noted that location features (mostly optional Location History) have nothing to do with the bugs that caused the battery drainage.

Instagram Launches Boomerang App to Help Create 1-Second Video Loops

Instagram unveiled a new feature allowing users to post one-second video “loops” in an effort to keep up with rivals offering animated images.

“Boomerang” is a new video application “that lets you turn everyday moments into something fun and unexpected,” the Facebook-owned picture-sharing network said in a blog post.

“Capture a friend jumping off a diving board, defying physics as she flies back and forth through the air. Transform an ordinary selfie with your friends into a funny video. Get that exact moment your friend blows out his birthday candles, then watch them come back to life again and again.”

The Instagram feature is shorter than the six-second video segments on Twitter-owned Vine but aims for a richer experience than animated images known as gifs.

Instagram said recently its user base has climbed past the 400-million-user mark, but it is facing intense competition with other services such as Snapchat, which is popular among young smartphone users.

Instagram said more than 80 million pictures were shared daily at the Facebook-owned service.

The number of people sharing pictures and videos each month using Instagram soared from 300 million at the start of this year and tops the number of people using Twitter monthly by nearly 100 million.

More than half of the last 100 million people to join Instagram live in Europe or Asia, with Brazil, Japan, and Indonesia seeing the strongest growth, according to the service.

“Boomerang takes a burst of photos and stitches them together into a high-quality mini video that plays forward and backward,” Instagram said.

Google Play Now Shows If an App Has Android Wear Support

Google Play has started receiving a major update that brings a design overhaul among other changes. Another addition set to arrive on Google Play is quick glance information about if an app supports Android Wear.

Currently Skype for Android listing on the Google Play shows an additional detail under “Read More” section that reads ‘Android Wear’ and has ‘Enhanced for Android Wear’ listed below (see below screenshot). The added detail will simply confirm whether the app will support Android Wear devices or not. Unfortunately, only selected apps on Google Play are currently showing the new detail.

The Google Play revamp expected in coming days was recently teased by Kirill Grouchnikov, a user interface engineer on the Android project at Google, who had shared an image of the Google Play redesign over the years in a Google+ post. The revamp in coming days is likely to create Apps & Games and Entertainment tabs, amongst other changes.

skype_for_android_screenshot_ndtv.jpgNow, Android Central reports that the new Google Play redesign has started landing on devices; though the update is still not available worldwide. We can expect the new Google Play update to start rolling in the coming weeks, if not days.

“The new pill-shaped buttons are a theme throughout the new app, used in place of the scrolling tabs in use before,” notes the report.

The new interface will replace the current setup that shows Google Play homepage with combined contents from all the sections including Apps, Games, Movies and TV, Music, Newsstand, and Books.

There are still not many details about the new design; though by looking at the images shared, it was clear that the ‘Entertainment’ tab would have content from movies and TV, music, books, and the newsstand. The ‘Apps & Games’ tab will feature apps and games, along with sub-tabs for top charts, games, and categories among others. The new Google Play interface definitely looked simpler compared to the current setup with six tabs for Apps, Games, Movies & TV, Music, Books, and Newsstand appearing on top on mobile device.

App to Register Governance-Related Grievances

People can now register their governance-related grievances through mobile phones.

A mobile application for Centralised Public Grievances Redress and Monitoring System (CPGRAMS) portal was launched in New Delhi on Wednesday by Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions Jitendra Singh.

CPGRAMS is a central government portal aimed at providing the citizens with a platform for redressal of their grievances. The complaints received on this platform are redressed by the ministry, department or state concerned.

Singh hoped the common people will make maximum use of the mobile application since the mobile phone has emerged as the easiest way of communication from anywhere across the country.

A Quick Response (QR) code has been provided on the portal which can be scanned on to the smart phone after which the grievance can be sent from the phone directly on to CPGRAMS, he said.

“This is another step towards translating Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of ‘ART of Governance’ as spelt out by him, with A for Accountability, R – Responsibility and T- Transparency, forming the bedrock of the government,” the minister said.

Singh said the goal is that the administration should be citizen centric, transparent and responsive. “More than six lakh public grievances have been settled since the NDA government assumed office,” he said.

In his address, Secretary, Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG), Devendra Chaudhary said the mobile app will not only allow lodging of grievances, but people can also track the grievance status.

DARPG is also carrying out analysis of the grievances and a systematic response is being worked out on how best to address the grievances, he said.

DARPG has been making efforts to improve public service delivery and redress grievances of citizens in a meaningful manner by effectively coordinating with different ministries and departments of the government, besides trying to eliminate the causes of grievances.

CPGRAMS was launched by DARPG in 2007. More than 16 lakh grievances have been lodged since January 1, 2012. In last 12 months, nine lakh grievances have been lodged and 6.47 lakh disposed of.

Microsoft’s Parchi Note-Taking App for Android Launched

Microsoft’s Garage project has already released Keyboard for Excel, Send, and Next Lock Screen apps for Android users. Now, a new Android app named Parchi, which is also a release from the Microsoft Garage project, is available to download via Google Play. The app is available in limited markets including India and is currently not available to download in the US.

The app is compatible with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean & above, and is just 3.6MB in size. Parchi is a quick note-taking app allows users to jot down small bites of information.

“Parchi, a Microsoft Garage project, is a quick note-taking app – think paper-pencil, sticky notes, edge of a paper, the last page of every notebook, you get the idea,” explains the Google Play listing.

The app allows the use of hashtags to filter the search later and even allows ‘Quick notes’, allowing taking notes from the lock screen. The Parchi app includes text, list, and pictures. Users get the option to add coloured notes, mark as favourite, or pin to lock screen features.

The Parchi app also comes with share option that allows sharing the notes over WhatsApp, mail, and SMS among others. The app even offers option to backup notes.

For those unaware, Microsoft’s Garage project is the company’s community of interns, employees, and teams who come together to turn ideas into real projects.

Last month, Send, the part messenger and part email client, was released and was under Microsoft Garage project.

Similar to lines of Microsoft’s Garage project, Google also launches apps under Android Experiments. It includes experimental apps – from camera experiments to Android Wear apps and more. The company had clarified that Android Experiments (http://gadgets.ndtv.com/apps/news/googles-android-experiments-site-to-feature-innovative-apps-for-android-727356 ) was open to creators globally, and anyone, whether a student or developer, could submit their experiments.