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Tech

With TikTok Banned in India, Is It The Perfect Time to Launch Facebook Lasso & Instagram Reels?

Just a few hours ago, the Government of India issued an order banning as many as 59 Chinese owned smartphone apps in the country. The notification issued by The Ministry of Information Technology of the Government of India derived powers under the section 69A of the Information Technology Act read with the relevant provisions of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules 2009 citing the concerns about the security, integrity and defense of India. The apps that now stand banned in India, across all platforms now include TikTok, Shareit, WeChat, Helo, Likee, UC News, Bigo Live, UC Browser, ES File Explorer and Mi Community. All big names, but one does truly stand out.

But does this open up the door for Facebook to take advantage of the situation and introduce the Facebook Lasso and Instagram Reels products in India. At this time, with TikTok inaccessible, all the creators and influencers on the platform are searching for a viable alternative to ply their trade. And show their creative side. This could be a good time for Facebook to simply bring their TikTok alternatives, because people need to switch. And fast. Never has there been a more ready-made demographic of users, just waiting to sign up.

Facebook Lasso and Instagram Reels, With WhatsApp as the secret ingredient

Facebook Lasso also has similar set of features as TikTok, including the ability to shoot and post 15-second videos. You can overlay these with popular music tracks, filters, effects, hashtags, the ability to directly share to Facebook and more. At this time, Lasso has pretty limited availability around the world, including the US, though it has already seen more than 5,000,000 downloads just on the Google Play Store till now. Facebook, which also owns Instagram, has a similar product for that photo sharing social media platform as well. It is called Instagram Reels and that’s also all about the magic of 15-second videos, dressed up with a variety of music tracks, filters and editing tools. This app also has limited availability right now, including Brazil, Germany and France.

In India, WhatsApp could prove to be the secret ingredient for Lasso or Reels, whichever one Facebook does eventually decide to launch in India. If at all. A simple integration in the most popular instant messaging app could make all the difference in terms of popularizing the new video sharing platform and give it the sort of adoption push that would otherwise be unimaginable.

TikTok’s numbers must have worried Facebook

TikTok, owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, has climbed the popularity charts rapidly. The ability to showcase creativity and talent in quick 15-second videos had caught the attention of the masses. And that is truer in India than anywhere else in the world. According to data analytics firm App Annie, India accounted for 323 million, which is 44%, of the total 740 million TikTok app downloads in 2019 across all platforms. They also suggest that Indians spent 5.5 billion hours on the TikTok app last year. In fact, at the beginning of this year, it was reported that ByteDance was targeting Rs 100 crore in revenue in India, banking on new quick advert formats for brands as well.

While TikTok’s revenue targets were still no match for Facebook, TikTok’s active user base was proving to be a headache for the world’s largest social media platform, Facebook. According to regulatory filings by Facebook, they clocked Rs 892 crore in revenue in India in 2018-19.

Does TikTok still have a future?

TikTok has confirmed that they have been invited to meet with the Government to respond to the order and submit clarifications. TikTok, a popular social media platform owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, is on the list of banned apps. At this time, TikTok is also not available for download on the Google Play Store for Android phones and the Apple App Store for the iPhone. “The Government of India has issued an interim order for the blocking of 59 apps, including TikTok and we are in the process of complying with it. We have been invited to meet with concerned government stakeholders for an opportunity to respond and submit clarifications,” says Nikhil Gandhi, Head of TikTok, India, in a statement. The company says they continue to comply with all data privacy and security requirements under Indian law and has not shared any information of our users in India with any foreign government, including the Chinese Government. Gandhi insists that even if they are requested to do so in the future, they would not. “We place the highest importance on user privacy and integrity,” says Gandhi.


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Tech

Banned in India, TikTok to Meet Govt Panel to Present 'Clarification', Says Will Comply With Privacy Needs

Image for representation (Reuters)

Image for representation (Reuters)

The Chinese apps banned in India include TikTok, Shareit, WeChat, Helo, Likee, UC News, Bigo Live, UC Browser, ES File Explorer and Mi Community.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: June 30, 2020, 10:47 AM IST

Just a few hours after the Government of India issued an order banning as many as 59 Chinese owned smartphone apps in the country, TikTok has confirmed that they have been invited to meet with the Government to respond to the order and submit clarifications. TikTok, a popular social media platform owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, is on the list of banned apps. At this time, TikTok is also not available for download on the Google Play Store for Android phones and the Apple App Store for the iPhone.

“The Government of India has issued an interim order for the blocking of 59 apps, including TikTok and we are in the process of complying with it. We have been invited to meet with concerned government stakeholders for an opportunity to respond and submit clarifications,” says Nikhil Gandhi, Head of TikTok, India, in a statement. The company says they continue to comply with all data privacy and security requirements under Indian law and has not shared any information of our users in India with any foreign government, including the Chinese Government. Gandhi insists that even if they are requested to do so in the future, they would not. “We place the highest importance on user privacy and integrity,” says Gandhi.

Late yesterday, India banned as many as 59 popular smartphone apps for Android smartphones as well as the Apple iPhone. The notification issued by The Ministry of Information Technology of the Government of India derived powers under the section 69A of the Information Technology Act read with the relevant provisions of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules 2009 citing the concerns about the security, integrity and defense of India. The apps that now stand banned in India, across the Google Android ecosystem and the Apple iPhone as well as the iPad platforms now include TikTok, Shareit, WeChat, Helo, Likee, UC News, Bigo Live, UC Browser, ES File Explorer and Mi Community.

For the millions of users who may also have these installed on their Android phones and iPhones, there will be checks at the Internet service provider (ISP) and mobile service provider stage to ensure that traffic to and from these apps is blocked on the network, thereby rendering them in-operational. It is expected that all mobile service providers will block these apps on the 3G/4G networks while all broadband companies will enable these filters on wired and wireless broadband options.


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Tech

India Bans 59 Popular Chinese Apps: Status Check On TikTok, Likee, Helo, WeChat, CamScanner & More

Late yesterday, India banned as many as 59 popular smartphone apps for Android smartphones as well as the Apple iPhone. The notification issued by The Ministry of Information Technology of the Government of India derived powers under the section 69A of the Information Technology Act read with the relevant provisions of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules 2009 citing the concerns about the security, integrity and defense of India. The apps that now stand banned in India, across the Google Android ecosystem and the Apple iPhone as well as the iPad platforms now include TikTok, Shareit, WeChat, Helo, Likee, UC News, Bigo Live, UC Browser, ES File Explorer and Mi Community. As we do a status check this morning on some of the popular apps in this list, we notice that some are available on the Google Play Store for Android phones and the App Store for the Apple iPhone, yet some app listings have been removed.

A quick search for the incredibly popular TikTok on the Google Play Store for Android and the Apple App Store for the iPhone doesn’t reveal favorable results for fans and users. The app, developed by Chinese tech company ByteDance, has been taken down, for the time being on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. Incidentally, another social media app Helo is also presently unavailable on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.

TikTok has been taken down, for the time being on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store

It is expected that while app listings for all 59 apps on the list issued by the Government of India will be taken down from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store at some point. For the millions of users who may also have these installed on their Android phones and iPhones, there will be checks at the Internet service provider (ISP) and mobile service provider stage to ensure that traffic to and from these apps is blocked on the network, thereby rendering them in-operational. It is expected that all mobile service providers will block these apps on the 3G/4G networks while all broadband companies will enable these filters on wired and wireless broadband options.

The purge on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store may take some time though. As of the time of writing this, apps including Likee, Vigo Video, WeChat, CamScanner and UC Browser are still available for download on both Android and iOS platforms.

This announcement on the ban on 59 popular smartphone apps, owned by Chinese tech companies, comes at a time when tensions between India and China are at an all-time high, after the military skirmishes earlier this month. There have been suspicions that the apps developed and or owned by Chinese companies and developers collect user data from their phones without their permissions and transmit it back to the owners.

or the millions of users who may also have these installed on their Android phones and iPhones, there will be checks at the Internet service provider (ISP) and mobile service provider stage to ensure that traffic to and from these apps is blocked on the network

“The Ministry of Information Technology has received many complaints from various sources including several reports about misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India. The compilation of these data, its mining and profiling by elements hostile to national security and defence of India, which ultimately impinges upon the sovereignty and integrity of India, is a matter of very deep and immediate concern which requires emergency measures,” says the Ministry of Electronics and IT in an official statement.

This move could also have a cascading effect, as more countries could end up banning these apps in the coming days. There has been a global conversation over the past few months about the possible backdoors in Chinese company Huawei’s 5G mobile network infrastructure allowing the company or even the Chinese government to snoop in on user data. Many countries have either banned Huawei’s 5G network hardware altogether or are reluctant to use it.

This ban on popular Chinese-owned apps, including social networks such as TikTok, could have a longer-term impact on the company valuations as well, after a large chunk of their user base has been effectively shut out. At this time, it is not clear how long the ban will be in place but there are multiple recommendations in place on how to block these potentially malicious apps from being used on internet networks within India.

This announcement on the ban on 59 popular smartphone apps, owned by Chinese tech companies, comes at a time when tensions between India and China are at an all-time high


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Tech

Modi Govt Bans 59 Chinese Apps In India: A Blow To China’s Digital Silk Route Ambitions?

Image for representation. REUTERS/Amit Dave

Image for representation. REUTERS/Amit Dave

The apps that now stand banned in India, across the Google Android ecosystem and the Apple iPhone as well as the iPad platforms now include TikTok, Shareit, WeChat, Helo, Likee, UC News, Bigo Live, UC Browser, ES File Explorer and Mi Community.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: June 29, 2020, 9:45 PM IST

The Ministry of Information Technology of the Government of India has banned as many as 59 apps in India. This has been done deriving powers under the section 69A of the Information Technology Act read with the relevant provisions of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules 2009 citing the concerns about the security, integrity and defense of India. The apps that now stand banned in India, across the Google Android ecosystem and the Apple iPhone as well as the iPad platforms now include TikTok, Shareit, WeChat, Helo, Likee, UC News, Bigo Live, UC Browser, ES File Explorer and Mi Community.

This announcement comes at a time when tensions between India and China are at an all-time high, after the military skirmishes earlier this month. There have been suspicions that the apps developed and or owned by Chinese companies and developers collect user data from their phones without their permissions and transmit it back to the owners. Experts suggest that this could hit China’s Digital Silk Route ambitions in a big way. India has a large existing user base on these apps, and a fairly large potential user base waiting to sign up.

The banned apps include TikTok, Shareit, WeChat, Helo, Likee, UC News, Bigo Live, UC Browser, ES File Explorer and Mi Community

“The Ministry of Information Technology has received many complaints from various sources including several reports about misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India. The compilation of these data, its mining and profiling by elements hostile to national security and defence of India, which ultimately impinges upon the sovereignty and integrity of India, is a matter of very deep and immediate concern which requires emergency measures,” says the Ministry of Electronics and IT in an official statement.

The Digital Silk Route is the technology equivalent of the BRI project, the Belt and Road Initiative which China has initiated to get an edge as a global technology and economic giant. The BRI attempts to connect Asia with Africa and Europe with land and maritime networks along six corridors, in an attempt to boost trade. China has also tied up with 16 other countries but has also been investing its own resources and creating a digital framework abroad. This includes optical cable lines, data hubs and other critical infrastructure projects which China needs to control the global digital discourse.

The Digital Silk Route is the technology equivalent of the BRI project, the Belt and Road Initiative which China has initiated to get an edge as a global technology and economic giant

This move could also have a cascading effect, as more countries could end up banning these apps in the coming days. There has been a global conversation over the past few months about the possible backdoors in Chinese company Huawei’s 5G mobile network infrastructure allowing the company or even the Chinese government to snoop in on user data. Many countries have either banned Huawei’s 5G network hardware altogether or are reluctant to use it.

This ban on popular Chinese-owned apps, including social networks such as TikTok, could have a longer-term impact on the company valuations as well, after a large chunk of their user base has been effectively shut out. At this time, it is not clear how long the ban will be in place but there are multiple recommendations in place on how to block these potentially malicious apps from being used on internet networks within India.

There has been a global conversation about the possible backdoors in Chinese company Huawei’s 5G mobile networks allowing the Chinese government to snoop in

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Tech

Over 30 Malicious Apps Banned by Google, Make Sure You Remove These Immediately

Google has reportedly removed 30 apps from the Play Store for pushing unwanted ads and intrusive browser redirects to users without them even clicking on a link. While the apps have been removed, security researchers at WhiteOps have issued a warning asking Android users to uninstall them in case they have installed any of them on the smartphone in the past.

These apps were specifically designed to target the beauty and selfie market and were uploaded to Google’s app store starting in January 2019. Notably, Google’s security service on the Play Store had identified these apps and were deleted only a few weeks after they rolled out. However, in the 17 days of their existence on the Play Store, these apps were downloaded over 5,00,000 times.

According to reports, a total of 38 apps have now been blocked and removed but during their course, they have been downloaded a total of 20 million times making this a pretty significant attack. According to a blog post by WhiteOps, “What these apps all have in common—besides their fraudulent tactics—is their focus on beauty. Most purport to be selfie apps that add beauty filters to users’ pictures, while at the same time showing ads out of context and making it nearly impossible to remove the apps themselves.”

Here is the list of apps that you should delete from your Android devices

-Yoroko Camera – 100k installs

-Solu Camera – 500k installs

-Lite Beauty Camera – 1 million installs

-Beauty Collage Lite – 500k installs

-Beauty & Filters Camera – 1 million installs

-Photo Collage & Beauty Camera – 100k installs

-Beauty Camera Selfie Filter – 10k installs

-Gaty Beauty Camera – 500k installs

-Pand Selife Beauty Camera – 50k installs

-Caoon Photo Editor & Selfie Beauty Camera – 1 million insalls

-Benbu Selife Beauty Camera – 1 million installs

-Pinut Selife Beauty Camera & Photo Editor – 1 million installs

-Mood Photo Editor & Selife Beauty Camera – 500k installs

-Rose Photo Editor & Selfie Beauty Camera – 1 million installs

-Selife Beauty Camera & Photo Editor – 100k installs

-Fog Selife Beauty Camera – 100k installs

-First Selife Beauty Camera & Photo Editor – 500k installs

-Vanu Selife Beauty Camera – 100k installs

-Sun Pro Beauty Cameraa – 1 million installs

-Funny Sweet Beauty Camera – 500k installs

-Little Bee Beauty Camera – 1 million installs

-Beauty Camera & Photo Editor Pro – 1 million installs

-Grass Beauty Camera – 1 million installs

-Ele Beauty Camera – 1 million installs

-Flower Beauty Camera – 100k installs

-Best Selfie Beauty Camera – 1 million installs

-Orange Camera – 500k installs

-Sunny Beauty Camera – 1 million installs

-Pro Selfie Beauty Camera – 500k installs

-Selfie Beauty Camera Pro – 1 million installs

-Elegant Beauty Cam-2019 – 50k installs


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Tech

Mitron, Remove China Apps: Blind Nationalism Has Cost Users Before, And Can Hurt Again

As we slowly resume churning the wheels of our economy again, there is a growing chorus to replace China-made products with those made in India. A nationwide survey by Network18, which had over 31,000 participants, showed that over 90 percent of people would prefer an Indian product over Chinese counterparts. While it is a noble sentiment, and you should buy the lock made in Aligarh over the one imported from Shanghai, implementing it online requires due diligence from all quarters. This trend has perhaps been most visible on social media and in the tech space. The Remove China Apps app was designed to feed off this new-found sentiment, and the app promised to find any Chinese apps on a user’s phone and uninstall it for them. No one really cared about data privacy. That is before Google took it down from the Play Store for Android phones, because it violated more than one guideline.

Case in point is an incident from 2016, where an Indian government-backed researcher discovered that three apps, which claimed to offer ‘patriotic’ news related to the defence services, were actually data-stealing malware. The three apps – Indian Sena News, Bharatiya Sena News and India Defense News (IDN), were available for download till early-2016. While they claimed to curate news pertaining to the Indian military, the underlying app infrastructure hosted Remote Access Trojans (RATs), a commonly used type of malware that steal data and even control your device activity from a remote server.

Before being taken down, IDN’s page on Facebook had over 1,200 likes from users with direct connections to the Indian Army. Among infiltrations that the apps could do were SMS theft, unauthorised video and call recording, and background uploading of device files and screenshots. Using them, Pakistan’s ISI was able to take over more than 40,000 Indian devices, and in turn, sensitive data linked to individuals in critical roles.

Have you Also read?

Hundreds of Defence Personnel Fell for ISI Malware in ‘News Apps’

Fast forward to the past few weeks, and over 5 million social media users learnt it the hard way that their love for ‘swadeshi’ had made them download an app whose source code was, ironically, written by a Pakistani coder. Mitron, which was attempting to tap into both the ‘vocal for local’ and the anti-TikTok narratives, had actually bought the entire source code and implemented all features and even the user interface from a Pakisatani software developer, Qboxus. All they did was stick their own logo and claim that they made the app from scratch.

Around the same time, another app began trending on Google’s Play Store. Remove China Apps, which did exactly what its name suggested, cashed in on the anti-China trend as well. Soon, Twitter was full of screenshots where people flaunted all the ‘Chinese’ apps that they proudly deleted. Pity, that very few paused to think of app permissions they were giving away in exchange for a fleeting notion of patriotic pride.

Have you Also read?

Wonder Why Google Took Down Remove China Apps From Play Store: Here is The Real Reason

Some of the information that the app collected included ‘the number of clicks on the app feature’, full identification of what network you were on, and detailed information about other apps installed on the phone. While it claimed to collect user data to ‘improve’ features, the developers disclosed no details on where user data was stored, and there was no redressal clause in case of a data breach. Essentially, it had all the information about everything that you had on your phone, and you had no clue on how this data was going to be used.

Naturally, it was only a matter of time before it came under Google’s microscope. Its ban from the Play Store expectedly caused furore against the company, but Google was only abiding by its policies. Sameer Samat, vice president of Android and Google Play, said that when apps are allowed to specifically target other apps, it can lead to behaviour that Google believes is detrimental towards both its developers and consumers. “This is a longstanding rule, designed to ensure a healthy, competitive environment where developers can succeed based upon design and innovation. We have enforced this policy against other apps in many countries consistently in the past, just as we did here,” he said.

Have you Also read?

Amul Twitter Account Restored After Brief Outage Following Ad Targeting China

What every smartphone user needs to understand today is, if your data falls in the wrong hands, it can substantially damage you. It is not even about potentially compromising pictures – access to your messages can let an attacker get your financial credentials (in a technique known as ‘fingerprinting’), and subsequently dupe you with spam calls and ransomware emails. From contacts to IDs, what happens once all this data falls in the wrong hands?

Many such breaches happen in emotional moments, such as bouts of patriotism. Reports have cited up to 667 percent increase in the frequency of cyber attacks in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. As we tried to read more about the virus, many found simple ways to hide malware inside unassuming PDFs which you thought gave news and insights, but were actually executable trackers that created a bridge between your data and remote servers.

Have you Also read?

Remove China Apps Banned from Play Store: Did it Violate Privacy, Google Policies?

Such emotional nationalists are the favourite targets of every PSYOPs (psychological operations). Numerous attacks on rival defence establishments have been made using nationalistic messaging, and the technique isn’t new. It is this that further emphasises the need to remain careful, when downloading apps that want a bit too much of your data. Thankfully, Mitron and Remove China Apps were not known cases of malware or RATs, but that does not guarantee that a similar future app would not be directly harmful.

The next time you see a social media wave promoting any little known app which promises something over the top, think twice. Do not give permission without reading terms and conditions thoroughly. Remember, one emotional moment can wipe out your identity or your bank balance. At worst, such apps can do both.



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Tech

Tata Sky Has a New Binge+ Android TV STB With 6 Months of Free Disney+ Hotstar And More

Tata Sky Has a New Binge+ Android TV STB With 6 Months of Free Disney+ Hotstar And More

Tata Sky Binge+ Android STB runs the full Android TV smart TV software and you will get access to a wide library of compatible video streaming apps from the Google Play Store, as well as built-in Google Assistant and Google Chromecast.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: June 1, 2020, 10:16 AM IST

The direct to home (DTH) battles seem to have resumed with Tata Sky now joining the party with their own set top box (STB) that runs Android TV and allows slick access to OTT video streaming apps as well. The Tata Sky Binge+ Android STB is priced at Rs 3,999 and there is a lot of bundled goodness that comes with it. For starters, Tata Sky is bundling three months of free subscription to Amazon Prime, which includes the Amazon Prime Video streaming service, Amazon Music as well as shopping benefits on Amazon India. The Tata Sky Binge+ Android STB also comes bundled with 6 months of free subscription to Disney+ Hotstar, SunNxt, Hungama Play, Eros Now and ShemarooMe.

“Entertainment consumption is evolving rapidly. As content becomes multi-platform, we are constantly pushing the envelope to expand our expertise so that we can take content to our viewers through whichever touchpoint they are most attuned to. Bringing the strengths of traditional DTH with next-generation features and the world of OTT content together, the fully integrated Tata Sky Binge+ device delivers an enriched viewing experience, with the highest image quality and a consistent end-user experience on their TV screens,” says Pallavi Puri, Chief Commercial & Content Officer, Tata Sky. Tata Sky also says subscribers can catch-up to and access shows they may have missed on their favorite TV channels, for the past 7 days.

Since the Tata Sky Binge+ Android STB runs the full Android TV smart TV software, you will get access to a wide library of compatible video streaming apps from the Google Play Store, as well as built-in Google Assistant and Google Chromecast. This one STB will give you access to Live TV channels as part of your regular Tata Sky subscription, as well as all the video streaming apps.

The Tata Sky Binge+ Android STB is going into battle with the Airtel Xstream Box, which also runs Android TV, which means it can run Netflix, Amazon Prime and other video streaming apps as well—this is priced at Rs 3639.




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TikTok Rating Jumps to 4.4 Stars on Play Store as Google Removes Negative Feedback

TikTok

TikTok

According to a Google spokesperson, the company can take corrective actions to remove inappropriate ratings and comments when it considers incidents of spam abuse.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: May 29, 2020, 4:24 PM IST

TikTok has been making headlines yet again but for all the wrong reasons. A couple of weeks back the platform faced backlash due to a controversial video posted by popular TikTok user Faizal Siddiqui. While the video was removed and the user account banned, hashtags including #IndiansAgainstTikTok were surfacing all over social media. This had also led to a massive drop in the app’s rating on the Google Play store going as low as 1.2 stars.

However, it seems that Google is already working on changing that. TikTok is now rated at 4.4 stars which seems to be a result of Google removing millions of negative ratings and reviews. Google has taken down nearly 80 lakh one-star ratings against TikTok from the Play store.

The company has followed one of its guidelines specified in the comment posting policy of Google Play, where users aren’t allowed to manipulate the ratings of an app. Google doesn’t allow users to post similar reviews from different accounts nor does it allow political commentary to be used to justify ratings or give reviews.

According to a Google spokesperson, the company can take corrective actions to remove inappropriate ratings and comments when it considers incidents of spam abuse. Play Store ratings enable users to provide helpful feedback about their experience with apps and content, for the benefit of others to make informed decisions.




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MobiKwik Disappeared From The Google Play Store Because of Aarogya Setu Ads, But is Now Back

MobiKwik Disappeared From The Google Play Store Because of Aarogya Setu Ads, But is Now Back

The MobiKwik app for Android phones does not have the Aarogya Setu app advert now.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: May 29, 2020, 9:22 AM IST

Popular mobile payments app MobiKwik disappeared from the Google Play Store for a while but is now back. Thankfully. The reason for why the MobiKwik app was de-listed from the Play Store, albeit for a while, is most likely because the app provides a link to the Aarogya Setu app. At least that is what MobiKwik claimed. Google’s systems perhaps flagged MobiKwik for violating the Deceptive Ads policy that is part of the guidelines for all app developers who publish on the Play Store for Android devices.

While Google is yet to offer an official statement on why this happened, the MobiKwik app has been relisted and is available on the Play Store for the millions of Android smartphones and tablets. Interesting enough, the MobiKwik app for Android phones does not have the Aarogya Setu app advert now. It is likely that the app developers published a new version of the MobiKwik app on the Play Store, after removing the Aarogya Setu app advert, to confirm with the Play Store policies regarding in-app advertising.

Earlier, Bipin Preet Singh, the CEO of MobiKwik had tweeted, “Hey @GoogleIndia @GooglePlay you removed @MobiKwik app from play store because we had a link to Aarogya Setu app. We were asked to do this by regulators (@RBI) and understand it’s in public health interest. You have too much power!”

At the time of writing this, the Google Play Store lists the MobiKiwk version 20.16.4 which was updated and published on May 28. The changelog for the update simply says “Multiple bug fixes and performance enhancements’. In India, digital payments and transactions are gaining traction during the lockdown. MobiKwik is competing with the likes of Paytm, PhonePe, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, WhatsApp Pay and Airtel Payments Bank, to name a few.




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Apple, Please Give Truecaller on my iPhone More Power to Fight Against Spam Calls

This is the updated Truecaller for Android, which is more powerful at blocking spam (Image: News18)

This is the updated Truecaller for Android, which is more powerful at blocking spam (Image: News18)

Just recently, Truecaller gave the Android app its biggest update in a while—complete with a redesign, much more powerful spam blocking tools for calls and messages and a very useful full-screen Caller ID.

  • Last Updated: May 24, 2020, 11:56 AM IST

How irritating is it that you are in the middle of a busy workday, some busybody is intent on sharing creative ideas that you don’t really need, and deadlines are looming large. It is all going pear shaped, perhaps. In the midst of all this, your Apple iPhone rings. It’s an unknown number. You probably think it’s the restaurant calling to confirm the reservation for your special date with the very special someone later in the evening. Or it is some important work call. Or maybe an update on the courier package you were waiting for—after all it has to arrive today, before the date. But no, it is an unwanted, unsolicited and unwarranted call by a very persistent tele caller convincing you need a new car and a loan to go with that. Doesn’t this happen with you quite often? Does it get on your nerves? It happens with me much more than I would strictly prefer, and it really does get on the nerves.

You and I are not alone in this. Truecaller, the most popular app in the world for managing spam calls and messages, says that in 2019, there were 26 billion spam calls detected. That is pure spam, not unknown calls identified. India logged 25.6 spam calls per user per month on an average, up from 22.3 calls on an average per user per month a year ago. That makes mobile phone users in India the fifth most troubled when it comes to spam, behind Brazil, Peru, Indonesia and Mexico. “Another devastating fact we found during this year is that 1 out of 3 women in India receive sexual harassment or inappropriate calls and SMS on a regular basis,” says the Truecaller data specifically about India.

Community platform LocalCircles also has worrying data to share. The Do Not Disturb (DND) registry is absolutely not working in India. More than 70% of smartphone users still get unwanted SMS even though they are on the DND list. A lot of those come from the mobile service providers themselves. Oh, the irony.

The thing is, when it comes to someone having your back in terms of dealing with spam, there really is no better app to have on your phone than Truecaller. Unfortunately, the experience and spam protection capabilities still are significantly different between Android phones and the Apple iPhone.

Just recently, Truecaller gave the Android app its biggest update in a while—complete with a redesign and much more powerful spam blocking tools for calls and messages. Oh, and the full-screen Caller ID as well, which can save you from engaging with absolutely unnecessary spam calls the moment your phone rings. “Truecaller has been invested in spam blocking for over 10 years now. Our primary purpose is to make communication more efficient for everyone. We have the highest accuracy because our spam and scam markings are community driven. For instance, in India alone, we have over 150 Million active users who help us by identifying spam, scams and fraud calls,” says Rishit Jhunjhunwala, Vice President of Product at Truecaller.

Have you also read?

Truecaller Gets a New Coat of Paint For Android, But in Reality it is Much More Than That

As an iPhone user, it is but obvious to feel left out.

Let me start off by saying that I absolutely love the Apple iPhone experience. Everyone who knows me even remotely knows I’ll not give up an iPhone for an Android phone, as my primary communication device. For me, no other phone comes close to the iPhone for everything that I need. Be it iMessages, FaceTime, Photos, Notes, Apple Music or iCloud, everything just comes together brilliantly, on the hardware and software side of things. The attention to detail to the smallest of things, be it the UI or the UX, make all the difference between an ecosystem that includes an iPhone, a Mac computing device, an iPad, AirPods and an Apple Watch, as against a loosely cobbled together ecosystem that would try to bring together an Android phone, a Windows 10 computing device, some smartwatch and some tablet.

Have you also read?

How I Got My Work Machine Just Right: Apple MacBook Pro, Microsoft 365, Google Drive & More

Yet, even though things have changed significantly over the years, the walled garden problem still remains. And that is perhaps most highlighted every time the phone rings. Truecaller for the iPhone, no matter how robust its foundations may be, simply cannot provide me the same level of spam call or even spam SMS protection that Android users get. The simple reason—Truecaller isn’t allowed access to the CallKit in the way it needs to work effectively. Simply put, CallKit is what dictates the display for incoming or outgoing calls on the calling screen on your iPhone, the call dialing, third party calling services including WhatsApp, as well as any Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service. A few years ago, Truecaller just got enough access with iOS 10 and beyond to show a pop-up detailing who was calling. But that has, at best, been spotty and doesn’t always work well—sometimes the notifications pop up, and mostly they don’t. The thing is, such a method was always going to be a compromise.

Spam management shouldn’t be a compromise, to be very honest.

In my humble opinion, iOS 14 could just be the perfect time for Apple to do a course correction in the battle against a global scourge—spam calls. It has done so before. Apple allowed CallKit to handle VoIP apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Skype and more to integrate into the Phone app on the iPhone. So much so that WhatsApp call screens and interface also looks the same as a regular voice call landing on an iPhone. In fact, I’ve noticed WhatsApp calls also show in the call history in the Phone app.

It is most certain that Apple continues to focus on user data privacy and doesn’t want any app to compromise the security of iOS. However, Truecaller’s case has merit. It is perhaps worth the time and effort to figure out a solution for millions of iPhone users around the world, who struggle with spam calls on a daily basis. I really hope the day when Truecaller works on my iPhone like it works on an Android phone, comes sooner rather than later.



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