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Jio Platforms Strengthens its Role For India's Digital Transformation With Latest TPG Investment Deal

Image for Representation (IANS)

Image for Representation (IANS)

With Jio Platforms poised as a transformative player in India’s technology industry that has drastically transformed the telecom industry of India, TPG’s investment in Jio Platforms has further cemented the company’s position as a market leader.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: June 13, 2020, 9:59 PM IST

Reliance Industries today announced that Jio Platforms is getting its ninth major investment in the company. The latest investment has come from global alternative asset firm TPG that has invested Rs 4,546.80 crore in Jio Platforms at an equity value of Rs 4.91 lakh crore and an enterprise value of Rs 5.16 lakh crore. Reliance Jio has previously announced investments from Facebook, Silver Lake, Vista Equity Partners, General Atlantic, KKR, Mubadala Investment Company and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), over the past few weeks. With a total investment of Rs 102,432.45 crore, Reliance Jio Platforms has proven to be one of the most lucrative companies for foreign investors.

Reliance Jio and its investments in India’s telecom space have changed the face of the industry. Jio Platforms could definitely evolve as a technology company that has expertise in multiple domains. Jio’s technology umbrella already includes broadband services, smart devices, cloud and edge computing, Big Data analytics, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), Augmented and Mixed Reality and blockchain. The money invested by Mubadala, as well as the likes of KKR, General Atlantic, Facebook, Silver Lake Partners and Vista Equity Partners will help the company achieve the Digital India vision for 1.3 billion people and businesses across the country, including small businesses, micro-businesses and farmers.

Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries, said, “Today, I am happy to welcome TPG as valued investors in our continued efforts towards digitally empowering the lives of Indians through the creation of a digital ecosystem. We have been impressed by TPG’s track record of investing in global technology businesses that serve hundreds of millions of consumers and small businesses, making the societies we live in better.”

TPG is a leading global alternative asset firm founded in 1992 with more than $79 billion of assets under management across a wide range of asset classes, including private equity, growth equity, real estate and public equity. Over TPG’s more than 25-year history, the firm has built an ecosystem made up of hundreds of portfolio companies and a value-added network of professionals, executives, and advisors around the world. Its investments in global technology companies include Airbnb, Uber, and Spotify, among others.

Jim Coulter, Co-CEO TPG, said, “We are excited to partner Reliance to invest in Jio. As an investor in growth, change, and innovation for over 25 years – and with a longstanding presence in India — we are excited to play an early role in Jio’s journey as they continue to transform and advance India’s digital economy. Jio is a disruptive industry leader that is empowering small businesses and consumers across India by providing them with critical, high-quality digital services. The company is bringing unmatched potential and execution capabilities to the market, setting the tone for all technology companies to come.

With Jio Platforms poised as a transformative player in India’s technology industry that has drastically transformed the telecom industry of India, TPG’s investment in Jio Platforms has further cemented the company’s position as a market leader. With investments from abroad going over Rs 1 lakh crore, Jio Platform is set to revolutionise India’s digital endeavours by leading on all grounds – from enterprise to consumer technologies alike.


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Is Google Ready to Invest in Vodafone Idea? Reports Indicate Google’s Latest India Push

Is Google Ready to Invest in Vodafone Idea? Reports Indicate Google’s Latest India Push

This comes at a time when Reliance Jio has secured more than $10 billion in investment from Facebook as well as private equity groups KKR, General Atlantic, Vista Equity Partners and Silver Lake.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: May 28, 2020, 6:39 PM IST

At a time when investment by tech companies and tech-focused investment funds in telecom companies seems to be in vogue, it is believed that Google may be considering investing in Vodafone Idea. If this investment was to go through, it would suit both parties quite well. Google will be able to battle rival Facebook on an equal platform, and it would give Vodafone’s struggling India arm a much needed boost.

Google is considering buying stake of about 5 per cent in Vodafone Idea, a partnership between the UK telecoms company and India’s Aditya Birla Group that has been under severe financial strain, reports the Financial Times. It is being reported that the process is at a very early stage. This comes at a time when Reliance Jio has secured more than $10 billion in investment from Facebook as well as private equity groups KKR, General Atlantic, Vista Equity Partners and Silver Lake.

There is an even greater emphasis on mobile services in India over the past few months as the country has been under multiple phases of lockdown due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. Users are paying more than ever before for mobile data, and the situation has also given another push to digital transactions such as online shopping and digital payments. Important to note that Google also has the Google Pay digital payments app in India, competing with the likes of Paytm and PhonePe.

Vodafone Idea has not had the best of times recently, and is under serious financial strain in the uber-competitive Indian telecom space which has the world’s lowest tariffs. Vodafone Idea also has to pay the retrospective fees, as mandated by the Supreme Court.

In India, Vodafone Idea is competing with Reliance Jio and Airtel in the telecom space.




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Gmail's Latest Update Now Lets You Personalise Your Inbox: Here's How to Do It

Pic Source: Google

Pic Source: Google

The new ‘Quick Settings’ feature, once rolled out, will be available by clicking the ‘See all settings’ button at the top of the new quick settings menu.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: May 28, 2020, 4:05 PM IST

Google has rolled out a new “Quick Settings” menu on Gmail that will help users find and use different themes, layouts, and settings to customise their email experience in a unique way. Google said that the new settings on the desktop interface will not improve the UI but also makes Gmail much easier to access.

Detailing the announcement via a blog post, Google said the new settings will also include customising the email density, choosing a new inbox type, adding reading panes to quickly see email contents, and applying new themes to personalise the Gmail inbox. Notably, the company said that the settings will be updated in real-time on the user’s screen.

Talking about the Quick Settings feature, it will be available by clicking the “See all settings” button at the top of the new quick settings menu. Once you click that, Gmail will pop up multiple options on the right side of the inbox for easier access. And, as Google mentioned, you will be able to see the change almost immediately.

“We’re making these options easier to find, and letting you explore them in real-time, so your actual inbox will update immediately to show you exactly what the setting will do. We hope this makes it easier to set up Gmail the way that works best for you,” Google said in the blog post.

Google further said that it launched the new update for G Suite customers on Rapid Release domains on May 26 with the rollout completing within 15 days. On the other hand, those on Scheduled Release domains will see the new feature starting on June 22. However, Google didn’t mention as to when personal Gmail users would finally get the update.




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Apple Fixes Latest iOS 13.5 Bug That Prevented Some iPhone Apps From Opening

Image for representation.

Image for representation.

The bug impacted apps such as Audible.com, Discord, Facebook, WhatsApp, and YouTube, among others.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: May 27, 2020, 12:03 PM IST

Apple has fixed a bug in its Family Sharing system that prevented some iOS and iPadOS apps from opening. The bug led to iOS users getting an error indicating that an app was “no longer being shared with you” and directed them to buy the app from the App Store.

Apple has now resolved the bug that affected iPhone and iPad apps over the last weekend, reports TechCrunch. Several iOS users earlier reported that they were seeing dozens of pending app updates for their iOS devices. Some of them even saw as many as 100-plus new updates to install. The bug impacted apps such as Audible.com, Discord, Facebook, WhatsApp, and YouTube, among others.

Even before Apple worked to fix the bug, some users found that they could solve it by deleting and redownloading specific apps. Apple confirmed the problem has now been resolved for all affected customers.




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You Can Now Play Microsoft's Latest Surf Game Inside the Edge Browser: Here's How

Pic Source: Microsoft

Pic Source: Microsoft

You can play this game anytime by going to edge://surf inside the Microsoft Edge browser.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: May 27, 2020, 11:31 AM IST

Let’s admit it, whenever you were offline or your internet connection was down, you tried your hand on making that T-Rex jump over cactus on your Google Chrome browser. Well, Microsoft, it seems, is determined to outflank Google in every way possible, and this time it has come up with a cute mini-game that lets you surf when you are offline in its Chromium-based Edge browser. You will see a link within Edge to play this surfing game or you can play it anytime by going to edge://surf inside the Edge browser.

Microsoft Edge Surf Game: What Is This All About?

It’s a typical surf game where you have to zig-zag around obstacles. There are monsters in the form of Krakens that make you crash, while there are several ways to get speed boosts. Therefore, the goal remains the same – go as far as you can before running out of health and stay one step ahead of the Kraken. To keep you entertained, there are a few different game modes such as an objective-based time trial. Moreover, you can also use your mouse, keyboard, touch or even a gamepad to play this game.

Microsoft launched the surfing game for the first time in the Edge browser in November 2019, but it was part of the Easter Egg Hunt. It was also under previews for quite some time, however it is now available to all. All said and done, the game does provide users with an easy way to kill their time when, especially, when they need to reboot their modem or are when they are bored with their work-from-home routine.




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Jio Platforms' Latest Investment Deal With KKR to Push the Digital India Dream

Reliance Jio’s technology platform, Jio Platforms, has been making headlines thanks to a slew of global investments. It all began with the world’s largest social media company, Facebook making a $5.7 billion, or Rs 43,574 crore investment, earning a 9.99 percent stake in Reliance Jio.

This was shortly followed by Silver Lake, which invested Rs 5,655.75 crore for a 1.15 percent stake and Vista Equity Partners, an American investment firm that bought a 2.3 percent stake in Jio Platforms, worth Rs 11,367 crore. A few days ago we saw an investment by General Atlantic acquiring a 1.34 percent stake worth Rs 6,598.38 crore. Today marks the fifth big investment for Jio as private equity firm KKR has offered Rs 11,367 crore in Jio Platforms for a 2.32 percent stake.

Reliance Jio and its investments in India, particularly in the telecom space, have changed the very dynamics of the industry. This is the time when Jio Platforms evolves as a technology company that has expertise in multiple domains. Jio is already present in the broadband space, smart devices, cloud and edge computing, Big Data analytics, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), Augmented and Mixed Reality as well as blockchain. The money invested by KKR will help the company achieve what it calls a Digital India vision for 1.3 billion people and businesses across the country, including small businesses, micro-businesses and farmers.

jio-kkr-infograph

According to the latest investor, Jio Platforms is a true homegrown next-generation technology leader in India that has the ability to deliver technology solutions and services to a country that is experiencing a digital revolution.

“I am delighted to welcome KKR, one of the world’s most respected financial investors, as a valued partner in our onward march to growing and transforming the Indian digital ecosystem for the benefit of all Indians. KKR shares our ambitious goal of building a premier Digital Society in India. KKR has a proven track record of being a valuable partner to industry-leading franchises and has been committed to India for many years. We are looking forward to leveraging KKR’s global platform, industry knowledge and operational expertise to further grow Jio,” says Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries.

Founded in 1976, KKR has been investing in businesses in the technology sector, including BMC Software, ByteDance and GoJek through its private equity and technology growth funds. Till date the firm has invested over $30 billion (total enterprise value) in tech companies, and currently the firm’s technology portfolio has more than 20 companies across the Technology, Media and Telecom sectors.

“We are investing behind Jio Platforms’ impressive momentum, world-class innovation and strong leadership team, and we view this landmark investment as a strong indicator of KKR’s commitment to supporting leading technology companies in India and Asia Pacific,” said Henry Kravis, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of KKR.

Disclaimer: News18.com is part of Network18 Media & Investment Limited which is owned by Reliance Industries Limited that also owns Reliance Jio.



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Latest MHA Order on Aarogya Setu Shows Why Contact Tracing Apps Won't Work in India

Representative screenshot of the Aarogya Setu app. (Image: MyGov)

Representative screenshot of the Aarogya Setu app. (Image: MyGov)

Majority of India’s mobile phone users still use feature phones. The new MHA order on Aarogya Setu underlines this, and the problem with contact tracing.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: May 21, 2020, 11:50 AM IST

Earlier this week, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) released its latest order for regulations to be followed during Lockdown 4.0. Among the various sections, one of the key points was around the use of Aarogya Setu on phones, going forward. Following the past order’s decision by the Indian government to make downloading of Aarogya Setu compulsory for all employees (both private and public), the new order dated May 17, 2020 switched the government’s decision from ‘mandatory’ to ‘best effort basis’.

This ruling led many to assume that the central government has “softened” its stance on the use of the Aarogya Setu app. However, a closer look reveals the government’s appreciation of the on-ground situation, where nearly 55 percent of all mobile phone users still use feature phones, and close to a quarter of the population still do not have mobile phones.

The feature phone problem

Elucidating the connectivity problem, Navkendar Singh, director of research at IDC India, tells News18, “There are about 550 million feature phone users in the market in India, and somewhere between 450-500 million smartphone users, which is less than half the mobile phone market size in India.”

Feature phones in India

Feature phones still play a major role in India. (Photo: Reuters)

Even as Aarogya Setu was stated to have crossed the 100 million registered users mark, this covers less than 8 percent of the total population of India. To make matters worse, Singh adds that the adoption of more smartphones in India isn’t really happening. He says, “The growth in the number of smartphone users is not happening. Whoever needs and can afford a smartphone right now, already has one — but, nobody is really doing anything for the so-called “next billion” demographic of India. Out of India’s 550 million feature phone users, about 40-50 percent of them are using devices that cost less than Rs 1,000. For smartphones, even a bad user experience, low-cost smartphone would cost at least Rs 3,500-4,000. The cost of a smartphone for the feature phone demographic is actually too high.”

As the Indian government attempts to reopen various industries across the country, it is this issue that prevents app-based contact tracing from being mandatorily enforced. For example, as factories and supply chains are being opened up, many daily wage and low-salary workers would be coming back to work. However, not all of them would have smartphones at hand, and it hardly seems possible to mandate the use of smartphones all across the country, just to get the contact tracing app installed. In some corners, the government’s rebranding of the status of Aarogya Setu installation is being seen as just this — not a step-down from its previous order, but a realignment to accommodate the reopening of various sectors.

It will be difficult to use technology to track the coronavirus in a country where the statistical majority still live without it.

Singh says that while the stagnation in India’s smartphone adoption was expected to happen in 2021, the Covid-19 pandemic has only brought it forward. As a result, it will be difficult to use technology to track the coronavirus in a country where the statistical majority still live without it. Moreover, issues such as the ongoing migrant crisis across India further underline why the mandatory use of Aarogya Setu for travel across the country is also a difficult idea to implement.

Why the ‘best efforts’ approach might not work

As Apar Gupta, lawyer and executive director of the Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) explains to News18, “Legally, “best efforts” implies that if you fail to follow the government’s suggestion in certain circumstances, there are no legal consequences to be pursued, and the suggestion works in good faith. Hence, there is ambiguity in the explanation of Aarogya Setu’s scope right now. Giving discretion to employers can create trouble for small and medium businesses, since it hands over more power to authorities such as district magistrates, who may then hold an employer accountable for not following a suggested procedure.”

A photo illustration of the Aarogya Setu app logo

The prevalent ambiguity around Aarogya Setu usage right now is what raises the need for a standard operating procedure even more. (Photo: Reuters)

Gupta states that in order to implement a “best effort basis” operation of the Aarogya Setu app, it is critical to have a standard operating procedure (SOP) issued. The SOP would then work as a guideline for all purposes linked to Aarogya Setu. However, even before the SOP is issued, what needs to be taken into account is the fact that most Indians, particularly in the unorganised and daily wage sectors, do not even own a smartphone.

Gupta further observes that the recent revision of the government’s stance on Aarogya Setu has come without much fanfare. He says, “The MHA has still not issued a press statement explaining the rationale behind revising the Aarogya Setu usage basis. What we can infer is that while it places the obligation of implementing the app on employers, this will only raise obstacles due to logistical difficulties.”

The petition that IFF filed against the compulsory Aarogya Setu mandate with the Kerala High Court was also done from an employer’s end, highlighting exactly how difficult contact tracing of Covid-19 would be in India. With a stagnated number of smartphone users, unclear guidelines towards employers and continuing concerns about privacy, contact tracing in India looks set to be a job half done, at its very best.



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Dell's New Business PC Lineup Gets Upgraded With Latest 10th Gen Intel vPro Processors

Dell logo

Dell logo

The Dell business PC lineup is available across three portfolios – Latitude, Precision and OptiPlex.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: May 20, 2020, 9:20 PM IST

Dell Technologies on Wednesday unveiled new business PCs across Latitude, Precision and OptiPlex portfolios. Latitude 9510 is available starting at $1,899 and Latitude 7410 and 7310 PCs are available from at $1,499. Dell Precision 5550 is available from $1,999 while Dell Precision 5750 is available in early June, starting at $2,399. The India pricing will be revealed at a later date. “We are driving innovations that offer more intelligence, longer battery life, powerful speakerphones, compact designs and 5G support – all while moving our sustainability goals forward,” Darrel Ward, senior vice president, Client Product Group, Dell Technologies, said in a statement.

Available with 10th Gen Intel vPro processors and Intel Wi-Fi 6 (Gig+)8 for nearly three times faster speeds, the Latitude devices offer businesses power, performance and global connectivity. Latitude 9510 is the smallest and lightest 15-inch business PC. Starting at 3.1 pounds, the PC offers built-in 5G-ready design, up to 34 hours of battery life. According to the company, it offers the power and performance teams need to be productive anywhere as the first Project Athena-verified commercial PC with 10th Gen Intel vPro processors. Designed for balancing performance and portability, Latitude 7410 and 7310 are the smallest 14-inch and 13-inch premium business laptops.

Also configurable as a 2-in-1, the Latitude 7410 features the industry’s first 4K low blue light screen on a premium business PC15 for better readability. Dell Precision 5550 and 5750 features 15-inch and 17-inch mobile display, respectively. The all-new Precision 5750 is also VR/AR and AI-Ready to handle fast rendering, detailed visualizations and complex simulations.




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Latest iPhone 12 Leak Suggests Base Model to be Priced at $649 With 128GB Storage

Representative Image.

Representative Image.

Apple is expected to unveil its iPhone 12 lineup in September, although, there is no official word yet.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: May 12, 2020, 8:09 PM IST

Apple is expected to launch four new iPhones under the iPhone 12 series and now a new report has claimed that the upcoming lineup will start with 128GB of storage. This would be twice as much base storage as the 64GB that iPhone maker has offered for the last three years, according to Jon Prosser, a reliable Apple insider.

Apple has increased the base storage capacity of its newest iPhones over the years, going from 16GB to 32GB with the iPhone 7 and from 32GB to 64GB with the iPhone 8 lineup, and iPhone X. Prosser, who correctly reported the release date of the iPhone SE said that 5.4-inch and 6.1-inch iPhone 12 models will be available with 128GB or 256GB of storage and that 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro models will have 128GB, 256GB and 512GB storage options.

Prosser has claimed that the upcoming 5.4-inch iPhone 12 may start from $649 while 6.1-inch iPhone 12 may come with a price tag of $749. Like the 5.4-inch iPhone, the 6.1-inch device will sport 5G connectivity and a dual-camera setup at the rear. The only difference is that it would come with a bigger 6.1-inch OLED display, said Prosser. There will be two ‘pro’ iPhone 12 models as well.




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Google Releases New Pixel ‘Feature Drop’ With Latest March Security Patch

Pixel owners are getting new features on their devices as Google has started rolling out a new update. The update brings the second Pixel ‘Feature Drop’ available all across the Pixel smartphone range. The latest update also brings the latest March security patch.

Now the new features vary depending on the Pixel device that you have. Google has also said that while the update will bring new features, some of them might be activated through server-side rollouts, while some might need users to update the built-in apps. Now for Pixel 4 and 4 XL users will now be able to use Motion Sense to pause and resume music with a tapping gesture above the phone. This is in addition to the previous skip forward or go back gestures.

Google has also added car crash detection for Pixel 4 owners under the Personal Safety app for US users. This feature makes use of the phones’ sensors to detect if the user has been in a severe car crash, checks with you to see if you need emergency services and quickly makes a call. This feature will be available for users in Australia and the UK as well. If a user doesn’t respond, the Pixel device shares relevant information with emergency responders. There are also some improvements in portrait mode selfies. Pixel 4 devices also get a high brightness mode when the screen is in auto-brightness mode – this will be effective when you’re out under very sunny conditions.

Next, Live Captions is now making its way to Pixel 2 and 2 XL users. For those who don’t know, this feature can automatically add captions to almost any media playing on your phone. New AR effects will now be available for Duo video calls and about 169 new emojis have been added for all Pixels.

A new menu has also been added when you long-press the power button. This shows the users’ Google Pay wallet while other options like shut down and reboot have been moved to the bottom. It also brings support for screenshots of your boarding passes with real-time flight updates for Pixel 3 and all phones launched after that. This feature is coming to the US, UK, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Ireland, Taiwan and Singapore

There is also the addition of a new Rules section in Settings which can automate certain tasks on the device based on your location or which Wi-Fi network you’re connected to.