Google Play Music Offering 120-Day Free Subscription to New Subscribers

Google is offering a four-month free subscription on its music streaming service Google Play Music for new subscribers, allowing users to scan up to 50,000 songs from their music library.

Typically, Google offers a 90-day free trial when a user signs up, but the offer has been extended by one month, AndroidPolice reported on Friday. The new special offer can be availed here.Google Play Music Offering 120-Day Free Subscription to New Subscribers

Users can listen to custom radio stations on their computer or mobile device using Google Play Music service. However, users who use the free service face ads on their app, unlike those subscribers who pay around $10 (roughly Rs. 645).

Such users can also listen to over 35 million songs, download music to listen offline, and get access to YouTube Red. Though Google has offered similar deals in the past, it was not clear how long the deal would remain active.

Google Play Music All Access was launched in India in April, priced at Rs. 99 per month. As an introductory offer, users were offered a 30-day free trial and a subscription fee of Rs. 89 per month.

In India, the entire music collection licensed by Google – about 35 million songs – is available for streaming or download for offline listening. Google’s offering is also cheaper than its biggest rival by volume of music, Apple Music, which comes in at Rs. 120 per month in India.

Asus Blue Cave Router Launched at Computex 2017

Asus has launched a new router at Computex 2017 called the Blue Cave. If you’re wondering why it’s called so, that’s because there’s a blue-coloured hole in the middle, shaped a bit like a vortex.

There are no ugly antennas here, with the Asus Blue Cave aiming to be pleasing to the eyes. The antenna issue has been solved by using internal antennas, much like Netgear Orbi or Google Wifi, which allows for a much neater look.

But the Blue Cave isn’t designed to support a mesh network system unlike those two. It does have a few smarts, though, namely a security solution powered by Trend Micro (it’s called Asus AiProtection), and an app that allows you to monitor usage per user, network activity, security reports, and restrict apps. The app also sends out a notification when a new, unknown device connects to the router, and if AiProtection detects a hack.Asus Blue Cave Router Launched at Computex 2017

The Blue Cave has also got support for IFTTT, through which you can create automated tasks for any IFTTT-equipped device or service, and Alexa, which should help you talk to other Internet-of-Things devices.

Inside, it has the latest Intel Wi-Fi chipset which allows for AC2600-class dual-band Wi-Fi speeds, which Asus claims should be good for “smooth 4K UHD video streaming, lag-free gaming and fast file downloads”. The new Asus router also claims to support more devices simultaneously than most routers, without listing a number.

Microsoft Reveals Plans to Store Data in DNA

Microsoft is planning to start storing its data on strands of DNA within the next few years, the company’s computer architects have revealed.

Microsoft expects to have an operational storage system using DNA within a data centre by the end of the decade, according to a report in MIT Technology Review.Microsoft Reveals Plans to Store Data in DNA

Currently, one of the best and cheapest ways to store a lot of information in a small space is magnetic tape which is rugged enough to hold information for up to 30 years.

But as the data generation has reached an exploding stage, even magnetic tapes seem to be of little use.

Therefore, Microsoft computer architects are considering a biological material such as DNA to be an odd choice for backing up large amounts of digital information, ScienceAlert reported on Saturday.

Its ability to pack enormous amounts of data in a tiny space has been clear for more than 70 years.

“While strings of nucleic acid have been used to cram information into living cells for billions of years, its role in IT data storage was demonstrated for the first time just five years ago, when a Harvard University geneticist encoded his book – including jpg data for illustrations – in just under 55,000 strands of DNA,” the report said.

With the evolving technologies, scientists have been able to record 215 petabytes (215 million gigabytes) of information on a single gram of DNA.

But scientists face a challenge in recording data in the form of a nucleic acid sequence.

The tech giant demonstrated its DNA data storage technology last year by encoding roughly 200 megabytes of data in the form of 100 literary classics in DNA’s four bases in a single process.

“This process would have cost around $800,000 (roughly Rs. 5.1 crores) using materials on the open market, meaning it would need to be thousands of times cheaper to make it a competitive option,” the report stated.

But the speed of data stored on DNA strands was as slow as 400 bytes per second. It poses as another challenge for the company to get around 100 megabytes per second to be feasible.

According to the ScienceAlert report, new technologies have been seeing the cost of gene sequencing drop in recent years, which hints that Microsoft’s end of the decade target may be realistic.

Google Helps Communicate Japan’s Craftsmanship to the World

A collaboration between US company Google Inc. and university students in Kyoto has created a website to introduce Japan’s craftworks to the world.

The website (g.co/madeinjapan) currently features about 140 traditional craftwork items from the nation’s 47 prefectures in Japanese and English. The list includes Nishijin brocade from Kyoto Prefecture and Arita porcelain ware from Saga Prefecture.Google Helps Communicate Japan's Craftsmanship to the World

Using photographs, text and movies showing the processes involved in craftworks, the Google-run website features various Japanese artworks in an unprecedented endeavour.

“We worked hard to create the website using smart, stylish images and atmospheres just like those in fashion magazines,” said a student who edited material and created designs for the site. “We hope visitors to the site will appreciate how wonderful Japanese craftworks are.”

One of the movies on the site shows a craftsman hitting a brass board with a hammer on a wooden work table. The man checks the curve of the board and starts hitting it again to gradually form the rolled mouthpiece of a kiseru pipe.

The man in the video is Seizo Tanigawa, 67, a kiseru pipe artisan and the ninth-generation operator of Tanigawa Seijiro Shoten in Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto. The pipe specialty shop was founded in the 18th century.

Tanigawa hopes the movie will spread awareness of the craftsmanship. “Kiseru pipes are a perfect example of Japan’s chic culture and accomplishments, so I wanted to make them widely known,” he said.

According to Google Japan G.K., this is a part of “Google Arts & Culture,” a global-scale project to compile various forms of arts and documents into an online database. The ongoing project has focused on Japan’s handiwork.

The company hoped to create a site that would attract young Japanese and foreigners who are not familiar with craftworks.

It asked Shinya Maezaki, 40, an associate professor of Kyoto Women’s University who is an expert in craftwork, for his cooperation in the project.

Maezaki and about 40 students taking his seminar and several students from Ritsumeikan University started working on the project in the summer of 2015. The students received a large number of photographs and movies taken by photographers and text written by staff members of museums across the nation. They examined which aspects to use in the final versions and edited material on computers and created the entire design for the website.

In Kyoto and other cities, the students visited local artisans to improve the editing process.

“We tried hard to find the best way to create a site that viewers would find cool and attractive,” said Mitsuki Iwata, 21, a fourth-year student of Kyoto Women’s University.

The website launched in January last year, with programs featuring 83 items, including Miyama washi paper from Yamagata Prefecture.

Later, some craftworkers who were suffering from a lack of publicity and struggling to find successors showed interest in cooperating with the website. This was followed by more artisans who were in similar situations.

The website was completed in March, with programs introducing 141 items from all of Japan’s prefectures.

The number of page views is undisclosed, but the site has received comments from people in Europe and the Middle East who admire Japanese craftworkers’ excellent tradition.

“The students successfully presented the attraction of Japanese craftsmanship (to the world) using their young sensibility,” Maezaki said, speaking about the positive responses from visitors.

Cultural Heritage Online, run by the Cultural Affairs Agency, also serves as an online database of cultural assets, arts and crafts, but it mainly deals with items designated as national treasures.

Naoto Ikegai, a visiting associate professor at the University of Tokyo, said, “This website is valuable as it covers craftsmanship, a field that wasn’t fully covered by digital archives before, and introduces content rich in both quality and quantity.”

China to Launch Cyber-Security Law Despite Concerns

China will implement a controversial cyber-security law Thursday despite concerns from foreign firms worried about its impact on their ability to do business in the world’s second largest economy.

Passed last November, the law is largely aimed at protecting China’s networks and private user information at a time when the recent WannaCry ransomware attack showed any country can be vulnerable to cyber threats.

But companies have pleaded with the government to delay the legislation’s implementation amid concerns about unclear provisions and how the law would affect personal information and cloud computing.China to Launch Cyber-Security Law Despite Concerns

The government appears to still be scrambling to finalise the rules.

Just two weeks ago, Zhao Zeliang, director of the cyber-security bureau, gathered some 200 representatives from foreign and domestic companies and industry associations at the new headquarters of the Cybersecurity Administration of China (CAC) in Beijing.

The May 19 discussion centred on a draft of the rules for transferring personal data overseas, participants told AFP.

Attendees received an updated version of the document, as well as Zhao’s assurance that regulators would remove some of the language that had received strong objections, they said.

The new document, obtained by AFP, removed a contentious requirement for companies to store customers’ personal data in China.

‘Headaches for companies’
But concerns remain.

“The regulator is unprepared to enforce the law” and it is “very unlikely” anything will happen on June 1, said one participant, who asked for anonymity to discuss the sensitive issue.

That impression was only strengthened a few days after the meeting, when authorities issued 21 new draft documents describing national standards on topics from cloud computing to financial data, noting they would be available for public comment until July 7.

More new drafts, including detailed guidelines on cross-border data transfers, were published Saturday.

It is “crystal clear that the regulatory regime is evolving and does not simply switch on like a light June 1”, said Graham Webster, an expert on Sino-US relations at Yale Law School.

Beijing, he said, is “wrestling with legitimate challenges that every country faces, and … much of the caution and ambiguity comes from a desire to get things right.”

But the process is causing “headaches for companies, Chinese and foreign alike”.

Protecting ‘national honour’
China already has some of the world’s tightest controls over web content, protected by what is called “The Great Firewall”, but even some of its universities and petrol stations were hit by the global ransomware attack in May.

The draft cyber-security rules provided at the CAC meeting address only one part of the sweeping law.

The legislation also bans internet users from publishing a wide variety of information, including anything that damages “national honour”, “disturbs economic or social order” or is aimed at “overthrowing the socialist system”.

Companies are worried that the new law could lock them out of the market.

Paul Triolo, a cyber-security expert at the Eurasia Group, wrote in a research note that regulators will likely introduce “new hurdles for foreign company compliance and operations” in industries, such as cloud computing, where China is actively seeking a competitive advantage.

As a result, “companies with politically well-connected competitors could see their profile raised for things such as cyber-security reviews”.

The European Union Chamber of Commerce, among other groups, has urged Beijing to “delay the implementation of either the law or its relevant articles”.

It “will impose substantial compliance obligations on industry” and “cautious, sound, consistent and fully reasoned supporting mechanisms related to its implementation are essential,” the group said in a statement last week.

The chamber called on policymakers to follow a “transparent” process that will help eliminate “discriminatory market access barriers”.

While there is no indication the law itself will be pushed back, the draft rules distributed at the CAC meeting says companies will have until December 31, 2018 to implement some of its requirements.

“It’s been enormously difficult for our companies to prepare for the implementation of the cyber-security law, because there are so many aspects of the law that are still unclear,” said Jake Parker, vice president of the US-China Business Council.

IRCTC to Enable ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ Feature in Partnership With ePaylater

The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation, popularly known as IRCTC, soon after adding cash on delivery service for railway tickets, is all set to add another feature for booking tickets. You can soon buy your railway tickets via IRCTC website and pay later, which could reduce the hassle of going through the payment process at the time of booking.IRCTC to Enable 'Buy Now Pay Later' Feature in Partnership With ePaylater

The new IRCTC feature is being enabled in partnership with Mumbai-based ePaylater which is a provider of “Buy now. Pay later” payment solutions, and is targeted at frequent online purchasers with a credit term of 14 days.

ePayLater says that the “Buy Now Pay Later” feature will be available to eligible customers who can book their railway tickets without paying at that moment. Under the new payment solution, customers at IRCTC can make the payment for their tickets within 14 days from the date of transaction.

Talking about the partnership, ePayLater says that it targets to capture at least 5 percent of the 6 lakhs transactions per day in next six months.

The company explains that in order to be applicable for new “Buy Now Pay Later” feature, users will have fill in basic details including Aadhaar and PAN card details after which they will be able to use the feature with a One Time Password (OTP).

Explaining the process, Akshat Saxena, Co-Founder and Head of Business Development – ePaylater says that eligibility of a customer for the new “Buy Now Pay Later” on IRCTC will be checked through old transactions and other factors.

Uday Somyajula, Co-Founder, ePayLater announcing the partnership said, “We are excited with this development. At ePayLater, it’s been our primary focus to leverage data science to solve real life challenges. Partnering with India’s largest online portal is a strong testimony to our technology and analytics leadership. By providing customers this deferred payment option we not only simplify the checkout experience but also help them manage their short term income-expense mismatches better.”

ePaylater was founded in December 2015 and is based in Mumbai. The company provides 14 days free credit period strategy within which users can make the payment. ePaylater currently accepts payments online through NEFT. The new IRCTC feature was first reported by BusinessWorld Disrupt.

Indian Online Education Industry to Hit $1.96 Billion by 2021, Claims Google-KPMG Study

With increased Internet penetration amid a surge in smartphone ownership, the online education industry in India is poised to hit $1.96 billion (roughly Rs. 12,670 crores) by 2021, a joint report by Google and KPMG said on Tuesday. The report finds that the paid user base will grow 6X from 1.6 million users in 2016 to 9.6 million users in 2021.Indian Online Education Industry to Hit $1.96 Billion by 2021, Claims Google-KPMG Study

According to the report, titled ‘Online Education in India: 2021’, there has been a two-fold increase in online searches for education and a three-fold growth in searches from a mobile device over the last two years. Also, 44 percent of education searches are now coming from beyond the top 6 metros and there has been a 4X growth in education content consumption on YouTube in the last one year.

“It is also interesting to note that high growth in education search queries is now coming in from tier 2 and tier 3 cities such as Patna, Guwahati, Aligarh and Kota, which points to the opportunities that growing penetration of smartphones and improving quality of Internet have opened up,” said Nitin Bawankule, Industry Director, Google India, in a statement.

There has been a four-fold growth in education content consumption on YouTube in the last one year.

The primary and secondary education category has the largest addressable audience with a student base of around 260 million when compared to the other categories.

Owing to this, the primary and secondary supplementary education segment was the second largest category in 2016, and will grow at a CAGR of 60 percent to reach $773 million (roughly Rs. 4,998 crores), making it the largest category in 2021, the findings showed.

“There are several evolving trends in the Indian online education segment. These include emergence of hybrid learning channels, continuous need for working professionals to learn new skills as well as emergence of technologies such as big data and artificial intelligence that is enabling online education vendors to design customised content,” noted Sreedhar Prasad, Partner, KPMG India.

Snapdeal HR Chief Saurabh Nigam Resigns

Beleaguered online retailer Snapdeal continues to lose members from top leadership, the latest to join the list being its Human Resources Head Saurabh Nigam.Snapdeal HR Chief Saurabh Nigam Resigns

Nigam’s exit comes amid talks of a potential sale of the e-commerce firm to larger rival Flipkart.

A Snapdeal spokesperson confirmed the development. “After spearheading Snapdeal’s Human Capital function for more than three years, Saurabh Nigam has decided to move on to pursue further career interests in a field close to his heart,” the spokesperson said in an emailed response.

Post the transition, Pravin Kutty, Associate Vice President – HR and Administration, will head the Human Capital function, the spokesperson said.

Snapdeal, over the past many quarters, has seen exit of senior executives like Tony Navin, Sandeep Komaravelly, Anand Chandrasekaran, Abhishek Kumar and Amit Maheshwari.

Nigam’s exit comes at a time when Snapdeal’s largest investor SoftBank has been proactively mediating a potential sale of Snapdeal to Flipkart for the last few weeks.

The Japanese investment firm, according to sources, has succeeded in getting board members to agree to the said sale and a term sheet for due diligence with Flipkart has been signed.

One of the leading contenders in the Indian e-commerce space, Snapdeal has seen its fortunes failing amid strong competition from Amazon and Flipkart.

Google Says Nik Collection Photo Editing Tools Will Longer Be Updated

Google brought ample delight to professional photographers last year as the search giant made its set of photo editing tools – Nik Collection – completely free of cost from its price tag of $150 earlier. However, it seems like the party has now ended as the search giant has now announced that it will no longer be updating the collection going ahead.Google Says Nik Collection Photo Editing Tools Will Longer Be Updated

Interestingly, the announcement made by Google, spotted first by PetaPixel, was quietly added to Nik Collection’s official homepage. In the announcement banner, Google says: “The Nik Collection is free and compatible with Mac OS X 10.7 through 10.10; Windows Vista, 7, 8; and Adobe Photoshop through CC 2015. We have no plans to update the Collection or add new features over time.”

The search giant acquired Nik Software back in 2012. Notably, the company was also the creator of Snapseed, which was initially seen as a rival for Instagram. While the drop of price tag came as a pleasant surprise last year, in hindsight it seems like an appropriate move towards a dying product.

Those who are interested in using the advanced set of picture editing tools can still get hold of it till it remains relevant but the latest announcement will likely come as a shock for Nik Collection loyalists who were expecting more features to be added going ahead.

Shadow Brokers Says Will Release More Data in July to Paying Customers

A group that published hacking tools that security experts believe were stolen from the US National Security Agency said on Tuesday it plans to sell a new batch of stolen code in July to customers willing to pay more than $22,000 (roughly Rs. 14.2 lakhs) for it.Shadow Brokers Says Will Release More Data in July to Paying Customers

The Shadow Brokers group said in an announcement on the Internet that it has not yet determined what files will be in the collection. It has previously said it has access to tools for hacking into web mobile handsets and Microsoft Corp’s Windows 10 operating system, web browsers and network routers.

It is not clear whether the group actually possesses those tools, or would make good on its promise to release them.

Security researchers have urged taking the threat seriously after the Shadow Brokers released a group of NSA hacking tools in April, including one that was used to launch this month’s massive “WannaCry” cyber-attack.

WannaCry crippled some 300,000 computers worldwide, causing disruptions at hospitals, post offices, auto plants and government offices.

“This is potentially disastrous,” said Matt Suiche, founder of cyber-security firm Comae Technologies, who closely follows the Shadow Brokers.

It is not clear who is behind the Shadow Brokers, though some security experts have said they believe the group is tied to the Russian government and working to embarrass the United States.

NSA officials could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. The agency has declined to say if it built the hacking tools released by Shadow Brokers, or discuss the group’s activities.