#StayHome: Netflix is Reducing Video Quality to Ease Internet Access in India

It was reported yesterday that the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) had written to over-the-top (OTT) streaming platforms requesting them to temporarily move to SD (Standard Definition) rather than HD (High Definition) streaming. As a response, Netflix has announced that it is lowering video quality in India for the next 30 days. The move has been taken by the streaming company to reduce network traffic. The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic has led to an increased need for internet services as people have been advised to isolate themselves at home.

According to Netflix, this will not affect the video resolution so you will still get HD and 4K quality depending on the plan you have paid for. The company is lowering bitrates which is expected to cut traffic by 25 percent. A similar change was implemented by the company in Europe last week.

“Given the crisis, we’ve developed a way to reduce Netflix’s traffic on telecommunications networks by 25 percent while also maintaining the quality of our service. Consumers should continue to get the quality that comes with their plan, whether it’s ultra-high, high- or standard-definition. We believe that this will provide significant relief to congested networks and will be deploying it in India for the next 30 days,” said Netflix’s VP of content delivery, Ken Florance in a statement.

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As of now, Netflix is the only streaming platform that has pledged to make changes to its service so as to help in reducing internet traffic in India. A majority of Indians have been using Netflix’s mobile plan priced at Rs 199 that streams only in standard-definition (SD) on their mobile phones. Even Hotstar, which is one of the most popular OTT players in India said that most of its users are streaming at SD since they are on the basic ad-supported tier.


Coronavirus Oubreak: Extra-Marital App Gleeden Subscriptions Jump by 70% in India

In COVID-19 times, love seems to be blossoming on online dating platforms and extra-marital dating app Gleeden has seen subscriptions increased by over 70 percent in India as more people stay home, the company said on Monday. Gleeden which has registered a longer time spent on the website globally said it expects subscriptions to rise further in India as most parts of the country are observing lockdown till March 31.

The extra-marital dating app Gleeden has seen longer threads in chats (2.5 times longer than usual), an increase in the upload of pictures in both public and especially private albums and in the number of members who are updating their profiles with a new description. Gleeden started its operations in India in 2017 and now claims to have over 8 lakh active Indian users.

In Italy, where mandatory quarantine started on March 4, the platform has seen a boom in subscriptions after the first week that has tripled in the past two weeks. “The traffic on the website has been increasing by 300 percent and the time spent on the website went from an average of 2 hours to a current average of 3 hours every day in Italy,” said Gleeden. More and more people are using Gleeden to meet strangers (online) or spending their time in order to know people in a better way than they were already talking to. In France and Spain, where the lockdown started a few days ago, the platform is witnessing a surge in subscriptions.

“Discreet platforms like Gleeden that put members’ privacy in the first place and guarantees privacy and secrecy is in high demand these days. This is because it’s easier and more discreet to connect from the phone, where members can activate the “discreet mode” where Gleeden’s interface looks like Facebook’s,” said the company. Gleeden is also witnessing an increase of sudden disconnections because members are taking advantage of the “Shake To Exit” function, which allows them to disconnect immediately and close the Gleeden app with just a quick shake of their device. “Very useful when the spouse sneaks up on you!” said the company.


Xiaomi Mi 10 5G With 108-Megapixel Camera Launching in India on March 31

Xiaomi India has just confirmed that it is bringing its Mi branded flagship smartphone to the country after a long hiatus. The Mi 10, which launched in China back in February, will be making its way to India on March 31. It is, of course, the company’s latest flagship series and by the looks of the teaser, the company is only planning to bring the Mi 10 5G and not the Pro variant, which sort of makes sense.

The smartphone is pretty similar to the Mi 10 Pro, with a few differences. It is powered by the new Snapdragon 865 chipset and will be supporting 5G connectivity. It comes with a 6.67-inch 1080p AMOLED display the refresh rate of 90Hz. The company says it offers a peak brightness of 1,120 nits and offers 5,000,000:1 contrast ratio. Xiaomi launched the phone with up to 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM and 256GB of UFS 3.0 storage.

In terms of camera, the Mi 10 houses a 108-megapixel camera with a 1/1.33-inch sensor along with OIS (Optical Image Stabilisation), the second camera is a 13-megapixel ultra-wide camera with 123-degree FOV. The other cameras include a 2-megapixel macro sensor and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. The front camera of the device is 20-megapixels and is placed in the punch-hole cutout.

The battery is rated at 4,780mAh along with support for 30W fast wired and wireless charging. The brand has further included Wi-Fi 6 to make for overall faster download and upload speeds via Wi-Fi networks. It runs on the latest MIUI 11 based on Android 10.

The Mi 10 was launched in three variants in China including an 8GB RAM and 128GB storage variant for CNY 3999 (Rs 41,000 approx), an 8GB RAM and 256GB storage variant priced at CNY 4299 (Rs 44,000 approx) and the top-end variant with 12GB RAM and 256GB storage priced at CNY 4699 (Rs 48,000 approx). Pricing is going to be crucial for Xiaomi as it will be competing with the likes of OnePlus, iQoo and Realme.


3.5 Million eSIM-Capable Smartphones to Ship in India in 2020: Report

With Samsung embracing eSIM technology made popular by Apple and Google, shipments of eSIM-capable smartphones are set to double in India in 2020 to top 3.5 million units, according to a projection by CyberMedia Research (CMR). “eSIM-capable smartphones have slowly gained traction over the past two years, with 2019 clearly emerging as a landmark year with eSIMs gaining prominence in India. This can be traced to the success Apple enjoyed in India with its recent iPhone launches, including the XR and iPhone 11, among others,” Anand Priya Singh, Analyst — Industry Intelligence Group (IIG), CMR, said in a statement.

The shipments of eSIM phones quadrupled from a quarter of a million in 2018 to 1.5 million in 2019, with Apple contributing the most. Apple accounted for nearly 98 per cent of the eSIM phones shipped in India, with three out of its five phones supporting eSIM. While Google was the first to launch eSIM capable smartphones, such as the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2XL in late 2017, the eSIM ecosystem got a significant boost with Apple’s embrace of the technology in its premium smartphones in 2018, including the iPhone XR, XS and XS Max. The phones feature dual SIM technology with both a Nano-SIM and an eSIM.

With new players, such as Samsung, also embracing eSIM in its uber-premium Galaxy Fold, and its other flagship smartphones, including the Samsung S20, the shipments of eSIM capable smartphones are set to grow. “With Samsung embracing eSIM technology, and introducing it in the Galaxy Fold, and other smartphones, and Apple building on its recent momentum in India, we foresee a dramatic spike in eSIM-enabled phone shipments in 2020,” said Prabhu Ram, Head — Industry Intelligence Group, CMR.

“On the back of Apple and Samsung’s support for eSIM-capable phones, other Android OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) will also aim to launch phones with eSIM capabilities. This, should, in fact, be on top of OEM agenda alongside 5G phones,” he added.


Elon Musk Thinks Coronavirus Panic is Dumb, But Chances Are He is Absolutely Wrong

Billionaire and the man behind SpaceX and Tesla, Elon Musk, has really stirred the hornets’ nest this time around. In a letter to SpaceX employees, Musk has reportedly downplayed the Coronavirus, or COVID-19 threat. He says people, such as you and I, are at a greater risk of dying in a car crash than from Coronavirus. This comes as the global reported Coronavirus cases have now clocked the 1,69,387 mark. Remember, these are official figures reported by the WHO, CDC, ECDC and governments around the world—the COVID-19 infection has now been clocked in 110 countries. The World Health Organization wouldn’t classify something as a pandemic lightly. Not everyone has been tested yet, and in reality, the number of infected cases could be much higher. Musk may have a statistical point, at least valid thus far, but for the rest of his letter, he doesn’t seem to make much sense. In fact, it all sounds very irresponsible.

“As a basis for comparison, the risk of death from C19 is *vastly* less than the risk of death from driving your car home. There are about 36 thousand automotive deaths per deaths [sic], as compared to 36 so far this year for C19,” Musk has said in the letter to SpaceX employees as seen by Buzzfeed News. Yes, he might be right to an extent. Perhaps Musk is of the opinion that Coronavirus isn’t that big a deal as we speak, because the death toll still remains low. Granted, purely from a statistical standpoint. So far. In the past 24 hours and a bit more, Italy has clocked 368 deaths, its single day record thus far. It was a similar unfortunate achievement for Spain, France and the UK, which clocked maximum deaths in a day so far. This letter isn’t the first time Musk has taken the Coronavirus threat lightly. On March 7, he had tweeted, “The coronavirus panic is dumb”.

In the past 24 hours and a bit more, Italy has clocked 368 deaths, its single day record thus far.

People who know more about the Coronavirus are almost unanimous in the opinion that the risk of passing on Coronavirus is big worry for the medical community. And particularly when the possibility of infecting the elderly, who are at a much greater risk. Let us take this tweet by Harvard scientist Eric Feigl-Ding in which he writes, “Korea’s pop wide #COVID19 tests have revealed something scary: YOUNG PEOPLE are leading carriers. (Italy only tests the rather sick, biases to old people). If the socially active age20-29 truly carry 30% of all cases— that means trouble!” And then he adds, “So next time someone says “Oh don’t worry, it’s mild for young people” — explain that complacency and ignorance of this virus’s true infectious reservoir of mild carriers — will actually spur on the outbreak more. #COVID19 has an epidemic doubling time of ~6 days. Do the math.”

That is exactly why there is a concerted effort to raise awareness about social distancing to reduce the scenario of community spread. This is to go with the preventive measures that include generous use of hand soap and sanitizers on person and on surfaces around you. There is no vaccine yet for the Coronavirus and no treatment as well—except that doctors will treat the accompanying symptoms and the human body’s immune system has to do all the fighting with the COVID-19.

There is a concerted effort to raise awareness about social distancing to reduce the scenario of community spread

“Public health measures can slow the transmission and spread of infectious diseases. These measures can take the form of personal protective, environmental, social distancing, and travel related interventions. Currently, there are no vaccines or specific pharmaceutical treatments available for COVID-19,” says the WHO in the latest guidance for responding to the community spread of Coronavirus.

While Musk can perhaps keep his SpaceX employees’ morale up by telling them to fear car accidents more, Helen Branswell of STAT News has some very helpful advice for everyone. She tweets, “If you have elderly people in your family or your acquaintance, teaching them how to Facetime, Skype or WhatsApp call — if they don’t know how to already — would probably be a good thing. Social distancing is going to be very hard on the elderly.”

In the US, a nationwide mobile Coronavirus testing system is expected to be rolled out next week, in order to speed up the testing of people who may be reporting symptoms of Coronavirus or may have come in contact with someone who may have later had a confirmed Coronavirus status. In Italy, the national health service called the Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN) fears that their system is groaning under the weight of the Coronavirus infections. “This is a war,” said Massimo Puoti, the head of infectious medicine at Milan’s Niguarda hospital, as reported by the New York Times. Niguarda is one of the largest hospitals in Lombardy, in north Italy, which has been badly hit in the Coronavirus pandemic. In India, most states have shut down cinema halls, partially restricted mall operations, nightclubs and large gatherings, for instance, in an effort to contain the community spread of the Coronavirus.

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Twitter Down for Desktop Users in India, Japan, Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia

Image for representation. (Photo: Reuters)

Image for representation. (Photo: Reuters)

Website outage metric platform Downdetector’s outage map showed Indian users in Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Chennai were the most affected.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: March 13, 2020, 1:55 PM IST
  • Edited by: Chhavianshika Singh

Twitter users in India on Friday experienced difficulties accessing the platform on desktops as an outage was reported in Japan, India, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. Most users reported they were not been able to access Twitter on desktops (85 per cent) and 8 per cent on Android devices, according to website outage metric platform Downdetector. The problem started in the morning and Japan appeared to be the most affected country.

The outage map showed Indian users in Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Chennai were the most affected. The desktop users were greeted by a Twitter message saying do not panic. Twitter was yet to officially report the problem. In mid-February, Twitter faced an outage in India as users were not able to post tweets for several minutes. The company has made it mandatory for its 5,000-strong workforce to work from home in lieu of new coronavirus pandemic.


Mobile Gaming Experience Rated Poor in India, Ranked 64 out of 100 Countries

Confirming that mobile games experience in India is indeed “poor”, a new report has found that India ranks 64th among 100 countries tested for the gaming experience. Mobile games players in India reported that they noticed a delay between their actions and the outcomes in the game, suggests the report by mobile analytics company Opensignal. Open signal quantified the real-world mobile games experience users have on mobile networks around the world on a 0 to a 100-point scale.

With a score of 58.4, India ranked above countries like Pakistan and the Philippines said the report titled “State of Mobile Games Experience”. In Opensignal’s new measure of multiplayer mobile games experience, Singapore took the gold medal with a score of 85.5. It was followed by the Netherlands in second with a score of 85.4 on a 100 point scale, and Japan in bronze position scoring 85.3.

Mobile players enjoy “excellent” games experience in only four countries. Besides Singapore, the Netherlands and Japan, the Czech Republic was the only other country where players enjoyed a premiere mobile gaming experience. 28 out of 100 countries the company analysed achieved an “excellent” or “good” mobile games experience. But large esports markets, based on player earnings, underperformed.

Of the countries Opensignal analysed the US ranks top in esports earnings, but is placed 35th in mobile games experience. Similarly, South Korea which is second in esports earnings placed 14th, far below the leading advanced markets. For this report, Opensignal collected and analysed over 128 billion measurements, taken from over 37 million devices during a three-month period –October 2019 to January 2020.

This technical data was then combined with detailed feedback from players who tested a range of mobile games, including games such as battle royale style game: Fortnite, and multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game: Arena of Valor. From this primary research, Opensignal created a mean opinion score (MOS) model which characterises the exact relationship between real-world technical measurements and the actual gaming experience.


Want to Buy and Invest in Cryptocurrencies in India? Four Things to Keep in Mind

With cryptocurrencies being legalised in India, the sector finally received a much needed fresh gust of wind. The move will potentially bring back investors – something that startups in the Indian crypto space have already claimed to be seeing. However, for many, cryptocurrencies are an entirely new concept, and will likely remain so until India’s own public blockchains are established, and the idea of decentralised digital currencies go mainstream.

That being said, if you are looking to get an early piece of the pie, it is important to look at the new technical investment space with caution and understand its benefits. Speaking with News18, Michael van de Poppe, chief executive of Dutch crypto trading news portal BonSanca and a regular trader at the Amsterdam Stock Exchange, took us through a number of key points that should always be kept in mind about cryptocurrencies.

Getting started on crypto

Talking about how investors can get started with their cryptocurrency investments, van de Poppe states that the key is to read whitepapers exhaustively, get a full understanding of the technology of crypto-coins, and avoid weaning information off social media. He says, “Usually, people enter the market and come to social media (for information), which is the hardest place to be on for your information. The whole marketing plan of exchanges comprises getting new members through leveraged trading, and getting pulled into that is the worst way to start.”

Despite crypto opportunities seeming very spontaneous and being a bit of a hit or miss concept, there is no need to rush into any investment.

Continuing on what should be the first steps for a first-time crypto investor, van de Poppe further adds, “Start slow, read whitepapers, understand what blockchain is. Then, register on exchanges, through which ‘paper trading’ (or writing down trades without using actual money) is the first way to go, hence using a dummy account. After that, slowly start building your portfolio.” He insists that despite crypto opportunities seeming very spontaneous and being a bit of a hit or miss concept, there is no need to rush into any investment.

“There’s always an opportunity lying in the markets,” he adds.

Keeping investments secure

Once the basic learning procedures are clear, van de Poppe states that the next frontier lies in understanding the cyber risks, and ensuring complete online security of transactions and the investment portfolio.

Elucidating on the matter, van de Poppe says, “Use 2FA (two-factor authentication) for your exchange accounts. Do not use your primary mobile phone – ideally, an offline phone or device would do. The reason for this is simple – if you get SIM-swapped or someone steals your phone, they have the ability to access the exchange through your device, and in turn, your funds. Then, use a complicated password, and a different one for every exchange. Finally, don’t have all your coins on one exchange. This creates significant risk, as no exchange typically provides you keys for the coins you own. As a result, if an exchange gets hacked, you lose your investment. To prevent this, keep a large amount of the coins outside the exchanges, on secure offline wallets.

Investing 5 percent of your portfolio in a lower cap coin is a decent approach, while using 80 percent of your portfolio for one small coin would give you a very high risk.

Identifying the right bets

van de Poppe interestingly addresses a key question that many investors often have in the crypto space – should you put your money in established blockchains such as bitcoin and ethereum? Or, would you rather put your faith in newer, smaller coins that can potentially bring you a windfall?

On this, he says, “The more significant the potential reward (return on investment), the higher the risk. In the crypto space, this means that established currencies in the top 10 such as bitcoin and ethereum have lower risk than coins outside of the top 100 public blockchains. While one can safely invest in smaller cap coins (with lesser valuation and public trade), it should be done with proper research on the blockchain whitepaper. To factor these risks, disciplined risk taking and portfolio management should also be accounted for. Investing 5 percent of your portfolio in a lower cap coin is a decent approach, while using 80 percent of your portfolio for one small coin would give you a very high risk, and probably higher losses.”

In bad economy

So, with the nature of these digital currencies, would it mean that cryptocurrencies may remain immune to market forces, and hence not react the way public equities do in various markets? According to van de Poppe, while such a scenario is yet to arise, the initial signs have been positive.

When people lose their faith in the currency, it will lose its value.

He says, “The moment an economy gets into a recession, the potential of cryptocurrencies start to show. If cryptocurrencies become easily accessible and usable, they could potentially take over established national currencies. However, such a scenario is yet to materialise – thankfully, we have not experienced recession on such a scale, yet. However, the numbers from the economies of Argentina and Turkey largely suggest that the demand for crypto increases in economic downturns.”

At the end of the day, van de Poppe believes that despite cryptocurrencies being at the bleeding edge of technology, it is, at the end of the day, a private asset, and the core nature of that still remains the same. “People should understand that national currencies are based on trust. When people lose their faith in the currency, it will lose its value,” he concludes.

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Govt Asks Telcos to Put Coronavirus Awareness Messages in Place of Ringing Tones

New Delhi: Dial any number and chances are high that you might get to hear awareness messages on coronavirus, instead of ringing tones.

The move follows an order in this regard from the government which has shared the audio clip of the message with telecom operators.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) in an email to telecom operators on Friday asked to incorporate an audio clip in the ring back tone until further orders.

One of the telecom operators said the audio clip has not been made available on those numbers where subscribers are paying for caller tunes.

Corporates have swung into action to tackle the spread of coronavirus. While some of the companies like Paytm, Twitter etc have given their employees the option to work from home, Reliance Jio is learnt to have disabled biometrics system from attendance and asked employees to use an internal app to mark attendance.

Ride-hailing app Ola has started offering sanitisers and masks to its driver-partners.

“Our walk-in centres across cities have been equipped with a steady supply of health advisory material, sanitisers, and masks which can be picked up and used by the driver-partners to ensure the highest levels of cleanliness for themselves and their vehicles. This will help create a safer and cleaner ride experience for our customers as well,” Ola said in a statement.

The company has set up task-force consisting of members from various internal departments for continuous monitoring and support for all stakeholders.

“We urge customers to join us in this initiative by adhering to health guidelines including personal hygiene and seeking immediate medical attention if they have any flu-like symptoms. This will go a long way in ensuring their well-being as well as that of fellow passengers and driver-partners,” Ola said.

In the wake of 31 confirmed cases of coronavirus in India so far, the Union Health Ministry has made functional 52 laboratories for testing samples while 57 labs have been designated for helping in sample collection for COVID-19 to enhance capacity for diagnosis and detection of the disease.

As of March 6, a total of 4,058 samples from 3,404 individuals have been tested by the network. This includes testing of 1,308 samples from 654 individuals evacuated from Wuhan, China and quarantined at ITBP and Manesar Camp and tested twice on days 0 and 14.

Subsequently, another 236 individuals evacuated from Wuhan and Diamond Princess Ship, Japan on February 27 were tested on day 0. Repeat testing will be done on day 14.

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Coronavirus in India: Jio, BSNL, Airtel Use Caller Tunes to Spread Covid-19 Awareness

Passenger travelling in a crowded metro wears a face mask in wake of the recent coronavirus cases, in New Delhi, Friday, March 6, 2020. (Image: PTI)

Passenger travelling in a crowded metro wears a face mask in wake of the recent coronavirus cases, in New Delhi, Friday, March 6, 2020. (Image: PTI)

Beginning today, calling Jio users will play a caller tune that offers updates, health advice and helpline numbers for assistance on the coronavirus outbreak.

  • Last Updated: March 7, 2020, 3:56 PM IST

Reliance Jio has introduced a new awareness campaign for the ongoing coronavirus outbreak situation in India. Beginning today, calling a user on the Reliance Jio network from any network will play an automated caller tune that functions as a health advisory on coronavirus. Aspects covered in the caller tune will include updates on the present coronavirus situation in India, as well as suggesting users ideal healthcare practices to adopt in light of the Covid-19 novel coronavirus outbreak in the world.

Jio’s automated caller tune service will be enabled for any user that does not have a pre-assigned caller tune, and also offer helpline numbers for concerned individuals to reach out on, should patients or individuals require assistance. The awareness campaign will help individuals reach out for help on the coronavirus scare, while also being in the know in terms of the latest news regarding reported cases of coronavirus in India.

The move is based on a directive by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), through which the government of India has devised using caller tunes to reach out to more individuals and make them aware of the ongoing coronavirus scare. So far, while Airtel has claimed to have implemented the caller tune offering already, News18 could not independently confirm if the same has rolled out to all users. Vodafone-Idea, the other major telecom operator in India, has not made any announcement regarding incorporating this initiative, at the time of publishing of this report.

Yesterday, Mumbai-based startup Haptik also introduced a similar venture via an automated chat bot on WhatsApp. By messaging the chat bot’s assigned number on WhatsApp, individuals can get to know about ideal healthcare practices that should be adopted during this period, and sources data from the WHO database to answer common queries during coronavirus. Services such as the WhatsApp chat bot, as well as Reliance Jio’s caller tune awareness campaign, are geared towards helping individuals get a better understanding of the presently prevailing condition pertaining to coronavirus.

Jio’s awareness campaign will also help individuals get accurate information, thus avoiding any misinformation that may be spread on coronavirus through unverified links forwarded on social media. The Jio caller tune service is being offered at no additional cost, and will be enabled for all Jio users except for those who have voluntarily opted for a specific caller tune on the network.