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Tech

Google to Deploy Its Free Digital Learning Tools For 23mn Students & Teachers in Maharashtra

Image for Representation.

Image for Representation.

This makes Maharashtra the first state in the country to launch G Suite for Education and Google Classroom for the students currently engaged in online learning.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: August 7, 2020, 12:28 PM IST

As part of the policy for universal education, the Maharashtra government has tied up with Google to enable remote learning for 2.30 crore students and teachers, officials said here on Thursday. Under this collaboration, students and teachers will access blended learning programmes that combine classroom approach with online learning including free tools like G Suite for Education, Google Classroom, Google Meet and others.

This makes Maharashtra the first state in the country to launch G Suite for Education and Google Classroom for the students currently engaged in online learning, owing to the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown. The state government will provide individual educators and students with their own G Suite ID to ensure all students in private or government schools in the remotest areas can experience continuity in learning, besides enhancing the teaching capabilities of educators.

“In the Corona crisis when the world is at a standstill, how to restart education is one of the primary concerns we face today. I feel this global crisis has led us from the present to the future,” Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said at the launch. Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said during these tough times, education must not stop and everyone should get access to education like before.

“With this cooperation, Google has enabled access to G Suite for Education and Google Classroom programme for our state schools, students can sit at home and learn, ask questions, clarify doubts, save lectures, etc,” he said. School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad stressed the power of the Internet to take education to the masses and reduce the learning gap.

“With an emphasis on online resources, platforms, bandwidth, and availability of technological solutions, we aim to make Maharashtra the most progressive state on education,” she said. Google India Vice-President and Country Head Sanjay Gupta said since the Covid-19 outbreak, over 32 crore children have been hit by school closures, making access to quality education even more critical.

“This collaboration builds upon our commitment to create useful tools that make information accessible over the internet so that teachers and students continue to benefit from it,” he added. Gupta said that this month, the Maharashtra government rolled out a survey asking teachers to register for the first batch of training programmes and out of the 700,000 educators across the state, Google received 150,000 sign-ups in less than 48 hours.

Google for Education solutions helps teachers provide excellent educational experiences and enable students to learn better by nurturing individual needs. Each solution has been designed to be easy to use, flexible and scalable. They are built for collaboration, secure by design, and will now be available to scores of teachers and students across Maharashtra, for free.

At the sixth Google for India event, Google announced that it will enable over 1 million teachers across 22,000 schools in India with blended learning by the end of 2020. Earlier this year, Google collaborated with FICCI Arise to ensure teachers and students can transition to remote learning seamlessly, and trained teachers in over 250 schools across 23 states to use digital tools such as Google Meet.


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Tech

Latest Airtel Thanks App Update Hints At A New Xstream Fiber Plus Mesh Plan For Broadband Users

With home broadband plans in heavy demand, Airtel has hinted at a new Xstream Fiber Plus Mesh Plan for broadband users in India. This comes as part of the latest update for the Airtel Thanks app, presently visible for iPhone users on the Apple App Store. However, there are no further details about the Airtel Xstream Fiber Plus Mesh Plan within the app for Airtel Xstream broadband users. That leads us to believe that the offer will be rolled out on the app in the coming days, and the update just provides the groundwork for the same. Airtel says this plan will be listed with the other Xstream broadband plans, but at this time, we do not know how much this will cost. When this does roll out, this will be the first of its kind broadband plan to be launched in India that bundles a premium Wi-Fi mesh system.

So, what do we know about the Airtel Xstream Fiber Plus Mesh Plan so far? Not much, to be honest. Except that Airtel is perhaps going to bundle a Wi-Fi mesh system with the Xstream broadband plans for those who want a better Wi-Fi coverage at home. At present, Airtel provides pretty basic Wi-Fi routers, at least as far as the Wi-Fi range in the home is concerned, with the Airtel Xstream broadband plans. These routers are made by Nokia or Huawei, and what you get depends on what is available in stock at the time. This will be fantastic news for those who are currently using a basic Wi-Fi router at home or still using the default router that Airtel offered with their broadband connections—you will not need to spend on buying a new router or Wi-Fi Mesh system now.

Wi-Fi Mesh systems are basically a set of multiple Wi-Fi units that can be placed at different places in your home to ensure seamless connectivity all through. These connect to each other via what are called backhaul channels, on the 5GHz network. You need to hook up the primary unit of a Wi-Fi system to the internet line to get this going. The additional units, known as satellites, are linked wirelessly to the primary unit—they have their own dedicated backhaul channels for communication and data transfer, which minimizes speed drops that the Wi-Fi repeaters otherwise struggle with. These satellite units can be spread across your home as required, where Wi-Fi signals tend to be weak, for seamless internet coverage. Most Wi-Fi mesh systems cover between 2,000 square feet to 6,000 square feet of indoor space.

At present, you can buy Wi-Fi mesh systems in India from multiple networking equipment and router manufacturers, including Linksys who have the Velop range of Wi-Fi mesh systems and Netgear who have the Orbi Wi-Fi mesh systems. It is not clear which mesh system Airtel will provide with the Xstream Fiber Plus Mesh Plan, or how much it will cost.

At this time, the Airtel Xstream broadband plans are priced between Rs 799 to Rs 3,999 per month. The Basic plan priced at Rs 799 per month bundled 150GB data at speeds of 100Mbps. The Entertainment plan is priced at Rs 999 per month and bundles 300GB data at 200Mbps speed. The Premium plan offers 500GB data at 300Mbps speeds for Rs 1,499 per month. With these three plans, you can choose to add-on the unlimited data usage top-up for an additional Rs 299 per month, which takes your data usage limit per month to 3333GB. Last but not least is the flagship VIP plan, that offers unlimited data usage at 1Gbps speeds and is priced at Rs 3,999 per month.


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Categories
Tech

Google Rolls Out Pin Encrypted Safe Folder to Let Users Safeguard Their Private Files

Image for Representation (Reuters)

Image for Representation (Reuters)

Google said that the folder is securely locked as soon as you switch away from the Files app, so none of its contents can be accessed when the app is in the background.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: August 5, 2020, 10:37 AM IST

As children share your devices for online classes and connect with friends in the social distancing times, Google has launched a new feature called Safe Folder in its Files app to help you keep personal content safe. ‘Safe Folder’ is a secure, 4-digit PIN encrypted folder that protects important documents, images, videos and audio files from being opened or accessed by others.

Google said that the folder is securely locked as soon as you switch away from the Files app, so none of its contents can be accessed when the app is in the background. “As a security assurance, it will ask for your PIN again on reentry. Even people that don’t share devices can benefit from keeping the most important files safe,” the company said in a statement on Tuesday. Google launched the Files app in 2017 to help people who live in countries such as India, Nigeria and Brazil and often run out of space on a daily basis. The app is now being used by over 150 million people globally each month.

Since launch, the app has deleted over 1 trillion files of digital clutter, which would take over 30,000 years “if you were to manually remove a duplicate, old meme or junk file every second”. It has helped save over 400 petabytes of space on people’s phones – around 1,400 years of nonstop HD video recording. The Files app has freed about 12GB of space every second, equivalent to 5,000 photos per second.

The company said that the ‘Safe Folder’ feature will start rolling out in beta for Files by Google now and will gradually expand over the following weeks. One can get the app at g.co/getfiles to keep the content safe and free up space.


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Tech

Apple Has Updated The iMac Family And You Might Feel Like Splurging On The 27-inch iMac

Apple has announced updates for the 21.5-inch iMac and the 27-inch iMac with the new line of Intel processors as well as specification upgrades all round. The biggest change has to be the switch to the Intel’s 10th Gen Comet Lake processors for the entire iMac line now, which could perhaps make this the last iMac refresh on Intel before the expected switch to Apple’s own processors, the Apple Silicon, sometime next year. There are now SSDs that are standard across the line, the displays get some new capabilities and the FaceTime camera has finally been given an upgrade to 1080p resolution. There are three variants in the 21.5-inch iMac lineup and three in the 27-inch iMac line-up, with further configuration options available. The prices for iMac line-up in India start at Rs 99,900 for the entry spec 21.5-inch iMac with the Retina 4K display options priced at Rs 1,19,900 and Rs 1,39,900. The larger and more exciting 27-inch iMac is priced Rs 1,69,900 onwards.

With work from home very much a reality for many of us, at least for the foreseeable future, there are changed to the iMacs which should help in that regard. Apple has added a new nano-texture glass option to the iMac line, which is basically a less reflective matte glass. This should be good for those who may be working on the iMac in less than perfect ambient lighting at home. We may have never realized this, but the iMac didn’t have the True Tone ambient display capabilities till now—something that all MacBook options have had for a while now. That changes too, with the True Tone feature now standard on the new iMac, the 27-inch option. The FaceTime camera, the 720 affair that has been the same for many years now, has finally been swapped for a new 1080p camera, at least on the 27-inch iMac. That’s a demand we have had for a while now for MacBook line-up as well, and the change is happening. Apple says the new T2 chip will also improve tone mapping, exposure control, and face detection for video calls.

As far as the processor options go, you can have the 21.5-inch iMac with up to an Intel Core i7 processor with up to 32GB RAM, while the larger 27-inch iMac can be configured with an Intel Core i9 processor with as much as 128GB RAM. With SSD storage now standard across the options, performance will get a significant boost as well—these will be much faster than Fusion Drives and can be configured for your storage needs. That’s up to 1TB for the smaller iMac and up to 8TB for the 27-inch iMac. As standard, the 21.5-inch iMac is configured with Intel Core i3 and Intel Core i5 processor options with with 8GB RAM and 256GB SSDs. The 27-inch iMac standard configurations can be had with the Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processors, with 8GB RAM and 256GB or 512GB SSDs.

The 21.5-inch iMac is available in the Full HD display option as the entry-spec variant, with the Retina 4K display available for the more powerful configurations. The larger iMac gets the 27-inch Retina 5K display with the 5120×2880 resolution.


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Categories
Tech

Mobile Game Downloads in India Clocked Nearly 1bn in India in Q2 2020; PUBG Tops the Chart

Global player spending in mobile games increased by 27 per cent year-over-year in the second quarter of this year to $19.3 billion even as game downloads in India increased by nearly one billion during the quarter, said a report by analytics firm Sensor Tower. From 1.8 billion game downloads in Q1, the figure rose by 50 per cent to 2.7 billion in India in Q2, the data showed.

Besides India, the other two top countries for downloads were the US and Brazil. Compared to the massive downloads generated in the last two quarters in India, the US accumulated more than 1.4 billion in both quarters. Brazil generated close to 1.1 billion installs in the first quarter of this year, with downloads surging nine per cent to 1.2 billion in the second quarter, Sensor Tower data showed. The peak for the revenue was in May this year, which generated $6.6 billion, registering a rise of 21.5 per cent year-on-year.

Titles such as Roblox from Roblox Corporation and Fortnite from Epic Games experienced a surge in popularity on mobile amid Covid-19. Globally, PUBG Mobile from Tencent was the highest-grossing game during Q2 2020, generating close to $621 million in the quarter.

That was down eight per cent from Q1 2020, when it generated $674.5 million. Fortnite was one of the top-grossing games on the App Store globally in Q2, with player spending rising 110.7 per cent quarter-over-quarter to $146.5 million. Pokemon GO from Niantic also saw a major revenue boost in Q2, rising 32.7 per cent quarter-over-quarter to more than $254 million in the quarter. In terms of revenue generation, the US ranked No. 1 in the first half of 2020, followed by Japan and China, said the report.


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Tech

As Confusion Reigns About N95 Masks & COVID, Made In India Airific Masks Are Just What You Need

It is a well-recognized fact that wearing masks that filter the air you breathe is one way of keeping yourself protected against COVID, or Coronavirus. Yet, there is still some confusion about which masks work, which don’t and why exactly. It all started when the World Health Organization (WHO) in the early days of the COVID spread around the world, dithered and remained unsure about the recommendations. For the longest time, they said masks don’t protect us against COVID. Then they said wearing masks is essential to stay protected from COVID. Along the way, it became as essential as fashionable to wear masks. And we now have multiple masks available. The N95 masks, surgical masks, cloth masks, sponge masks, activated carbon masks and others. However, not all are the same when it comes to protecting you against viruses, including the Coronavirus.

Within this bunch of masks, the N95 masks are the most effective in general with regards to filtering the air out before you breathe it. They have the maximum protection against dust, particles, bacteria, pollution, pollen and virus. Something that held it in good stead in the not too recent past when we struggled with extremely high pollution levels in our cities, and indeed in cities around the world. In July, the Director General of Health Services (DGHS) said that N95 masks with valves are detrimental to the fight against COVID. These masks have the one-way valve, either a single valve or a double valve depending on what you pick, which protects the wearer against the airborne virus, but they let back out the particles which means the virus can be airborne again.

Yet it would be absolutely incorrect to say that all N95 masks are bad. Not many people may have noticed, but you can also buy N95 masks without valves. Which means top-notch protection for you, as much as masks can provide, and not put people around you at risk. “N95 respirators are designed to protect against particulate matter such as dust, fumes, mists, aerosols, and smoke particulates. It is also effective against biological particles such as pollen, mold spores, bacteria, viruses, animal dander and allergens. An N95 respirator is particularly effective against aerosolized droplets that are invisible to the naked eye,” says the California Department of Public Health.

Indian environmental tech company Nirvana Being has a made-in-India solution for this exact conundrum. The company has a range of Airific N95 Anti-Viral Mask which are certified to filter out particles as small as 100 nanometers (0.1 micron) with a 99.7% filtration efficiency. For this, the mask uses nanotechnology that can filter particles as small as 0.1 micron when most rival masks can filter out particles up to 0.3 micron in size, but not even smaller. Coronavirus, or COVID particles, are around 0.125 microns or 125 nanometers in size. For this, the company uses electro-spun nanofibers infused with antibacterial additives that are designed to filter out particles smaller than most other masks can. It is also the density and volume that matter—each mask holds over 25km of nanofiber in an area less than 1mm thick. The rest of the construction includes cotton, linen, hemp and flax materials. The Airific N95 Anti-Viral Mask range is made in India while the nanotech filter layer is imported.

The Airific N95 Anti-Viral Mask are washable and reusable, as long as you follow the correct washing guidelines. Nirvana Being sells the Airific N95 Anti-Viral Mask for Rs 995 each and is available in as many as 14 style statements, and are available in small, medium, medium+ and large sizes, depending on body weight and face measurements.

Airific N95 Masks COVID-2

There is a rather helpful size guide that Nirvana Being has for the Airific N95 Anti-Viral Mask range, unlike a lot of other mask companies that simply write “free size”, which may not always fit everyone well. You can choose the mask size for the corresponding body weight range, for it to fit your face better. This is quite light and very comfortable to wear. In fact, unlike many other masks, this also doesn’t leave any crease lines on your skin if you wear this for a long enough duration either. While these masks can be washed following the instructions that come as standard in every box, I do preferred to sterilize these in a UV-C sterilizer regularly—it is an option if you have one of these at home.

The thing is, you really don’t need an N95 mask with a valve to protect yourself against COVID. The valve came in handy for the heavily polluted days because they allowed for somewhat free-er breathing in case someone was out running, jogging or training while wearing the mask. It is not necessary at this time, and you should instead look for the protection of an N95 without any valves, during this Coronavirus pandemic. The Nirvana Being Airific N95 Anti-Viral Mask is perhaps packing in the slickest technology to provide you the protection that a lot of other masks that are otherwise designed to protect you against pollution in the normal world scenarios, just cannot. This is worth your money.


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Tech

Want To Buy A New Samsung Galaxy Phone? You Will Get A Demo At Your Home Before You Decide

Samsung has announced a rather cool new initiative for customers in India, wherein the company will provide a demo of the Samsung Galaxy phones to potential customers, in the comfort of their home. It is called the ‘Experience Samsung at Home’ service and this covers all Samsung Galaxy smartphones, tablets and wearables that the company currently sells in India. This is designed to help customers experience and buy smartphones, tablets and wearables without having to step out of their homes as the Coronavirus pandemic continues to make the rounds. Samsung is roping in the services of offline stores for the ‘Experience Samsung at Home’ service.

Samsung has a new Experience Samsung at Home’ service portal where you can share your contact details. A Samsung Exclusive Store nearest to your location will contact you within 24 hours to understand what Galaxy phones, tablets or wearables you are considering, and confirm an appointment time at your home. Samsung sales all their Experience Consultants (SEC) are trained to follow the proper safety and sterilization guidelines in line with the COVID prevention regulations. You can select the products after the demo, and they will be delivered to your home. “We have taken a number of measures to ensure consumer safety as social distancing is important to fight this pandemic. ‘Experience Samsung at Home’ is yet another initiative to create new shopper journeys as it will aid physical distancing by leveraging our deep retail presence in India,” says Mohandeep Singh, Senior Vice President, Samsung India.

Samsung is roping in the services of offline stores for the ‘Experience Samsung at Home’ service. Samsung believes that the ‘Experience Samsung at Home’ service will enable consumers to explore and purchase the products online and get deliveries offline from their neighborhood Samsung Exclusive Stores. “Our new initiatives are also helping our offline retailers and have resulted in a sharp recovery in our smartphone business post lockdown,” says Singh.

The ‘Experience Samsung at Home’ service remains unavailable in Red zones or containment zones for COVID, as classified by local authorities from time to time. Samsung also clarifies that for any purchases that you make, the payment must be made directly to the Samsung Exclusive Store which is providing the demo and the product for purchase, and a variety of payment options will be available.


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Microsoft is Reportedly Planning a Six-Phase Re-opening of Its Offices in US on January 19, 2021

Image for Representation
(Photo: Associated Press)

Image for Representation
(Photo: Associated Press)

With Covid-19 Crisis hardly showing any sign of slowing down, many tech giants like Google and Apple have extended their work from option until next year.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: August 1, 2020, 10:56 AM IST

Microsoft has reportedly chosen January 19, 2021, as the date for reopening its US offices. According to The Verge, the tech giant is planning a “hybrid workplace” for a six-phase reopening of its offices. “Stage six will be when offices are ready to fully reopen for employees to return to work,” the report said on Friday. The six stages are: Closed; Mandatory working from home; Working from home strongly encouraged; Soft opening; Open with restrictions and finally, Open. “In the US, we have established that the earliest possible date for Stage 6 is now January 19, 2021,” read an internal memo from Kurt DelBene, Microsoft’s head of corporate strategy.

“Our goal for Stage 6 is to return to normal operations while being prepared to back off to an earlier stage if a significant resurgence in the virus occurs,” the memo added. Google is planning to keep its employees working remotely until July 2021 while Apple employees will not return to offices until early next year. With the COVID-19 pandemic hardly showing any sign of slowing down, Google said it would allow employees to work from home till the middle of next year if their roles permit.”To give employees the ability to plan ahead, we are extending our global voluntary work from home option through June 30, 2021, for roles that don’t need to be in the office,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in an email to employees, according to a CNBC report.

In May, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg laid out a detailed remote-working plan to make half of his 50,000-strong workforce work from home by 2030. According to him, about half of Facebook employees would work from home five to 10 years from now. While Amazon and Apple expect their employees to return to their respective offices in January, most other tech companies have also allowed work from home till the end of the year.


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Google to Extend Work From Home Policy for Employees Until July 2021 Amid Covid-19 Pandemic: Report

Image for Representation (Reuters)

Image for Representation (Reuters)

Google is the first tech company to extend its work from home policy to next summer due to the Covid-19 crisis.

  • Reuters
  • Last Updated: July 27, 2020, 7:43 PM IST

Alphabet Inc’s Google will keep its employees home until at least next July, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai made the decision himself last week after debate among an internal group of top executives that he chairs, as per the report by the Wall Street Journal.

Google did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. Google had earlier said it would begin reopening more offices globally as early as June this year, but most Google employees would likely work from home until the end of this year.


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Majority of Professionals Confident About Business Revival Despite Covid-19 Crisis: Cisco

FILE PHOTO: The Cisco logo is seen at their booth at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 26, 2018. REUTERS/Sergio Perez/File Photo

FILE PHOTO: The Cisco logo is seen at their booth at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 26, 2018. REUTERS/Sergio Perez/File Photo

Nearly 9 out of 10 managers who responded to the survey said that they had to increase emphasis on employee well-being and work-life balance as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: July 27, 2020, 10:50 AM IST

A Cisco survey of IT and business professionals globally has revealed that 74 per cent of them think their businesses would emerge stronger, despite the challenges of the current business environment. While 82 per cent mentioned the need for greater IT support, 77 per cent were worried about maintaining customer service levels and satisfaction and another 76% feared a disruption of workflow and processes.

According to Aruna Ravichandran, VP of Marketing, Cisco Collaboration, the dramatic shift in the percentage of employees working from home created unexpected challenges. “We’re finding that best practices emerged to empower employees: 67 per cent have implemented social video conferencing ‘meetups’ to compensate for lack of face-to-face social interaction, and 54 per cent have implemented social chat channels,” Ravichandran said in a blog post this week.

The organizations that have fared best this year are typically farther along with their workplace transformation and embrace this future of work. “Having the right IT architectures allowed them to scale fast and respond quickly to meet ever-changing opportunities and challenges,” she added. Organisations are also putting employees first. Nearly 9 out of 10 managers who responded to the survey said that they had to increase emphasis on employee well-being and work-life balance as a result of the pandemic.

Additionally, 53 per cent of respondents said that trusting and empowering employees will be maintained over the long-term. “In the future, we’ll see trust continue as a hallmark of the future of work: just over 60 per cent of employers think more employees will be offered flexible/remote working arrangements,” said Ravichandran. Nearly 49 per cent said that enabling flexible working hours will?be maintained over the long-term. From 1:1 meetings and group brainstorming to real-time creative iterations and document sharing, Cisco Webex has built-in, end-to-end security that inspires trust.

Due to the unprecedented shift to remote work, leading enterprise video conferencing solution Cisco Webex supported half a billion meeting participants who generated 25 billion meeting minutes in the month of April. “I believe collaboration technology is critical as we move into the next iteration of work. Together with modernised IT architectures, Cisco Webex has proven it’s worth many times over and stands ready to meet new challenges and changing work habits,” said Ravichandran.