Majority of people in Asia use smartphone as communication tool: Survey

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A study highlighting the role of smartphones in people’s lives in Asia has found that 60 percent people use them to primarily communicate with one another, 24 percent consider them as companions, while the age group of 20 and under use their devices for music and entertainment the most. The survey, conducted by leading Chinese language internet search provider Baidu, also showed that almost 50 percent of Asians get worried when their smartphones run out of battery, which is quite high compared to people from other demographics.

According to Baidu’s “Global Smartphone Usage and Trends-2015″ survey report, 36 percent people across the world update their smartphones once a year.

“If we compare results from different regions we see that three out of 10 people in Asia update their smartphones once a year which is consistent amongst all the age groups but again the age group of 20 to 29 leads it with 38 percent,” it said.

So far as charging frequency is concerned, almost half the user base of smartphones in the world charge their devices just once in a day, according to the survey. But it also found that 35 percent people charge their smartphones multiple times a day, “which speaks about the heavy usage of battery due to the apps on their smartphones”. Nearly 40 percent of all users surveyed installed between 21-50 apps on their phone. However, Asians tend to keep their apps below 20, Baidu reported.

Battery-related overheating issues were particularly found prominent among users in Asia.  ”Overall, the most common problem faced across the globe due to excessive smartphone usage is the ‘phone overheats’ issue which is a whopping 44 percent, ‘trash size’ and ‘slow online’ speed come second and third in the list with 38 percent and 32 percent respectively,” the survey said.

It was also found that Asians are more dependent on their smartphones than the users in the West.  Forty-seven percent of North American users waited for their phones to run out completely. But users in Asia preferred to use a power bank or a battery-saving app when running out of power.

Freedom 251: Ringing Bells to refund pre-booking money to 30,000 customers

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Ringing Bells, the makers of the controversial “Freedom 251” smartphone, has reportedly claimed to have paid back the money it generated from the first 30,000 pre-booking orders on the first day of the sale this month. Mohit Goel, managing director of the Noida-based company, has claimed that the money of all 30,000 customers has been refunded and the company will now accept cash on delivery only, according to news channel ABP News.

Ringing Bells had received 30,000 orders on the first day and the rest of the customers will be selected on first-come-first-serve basis as the company received a mammoth over seven crore registrations. Earlier on Friday, Ringing Bells president Ashok Chadha had announced that the Rs.251 (less than $4) “Freedom 251″ smartphone customers will be required to make payment only when the smartphone is delivered to them.

“The company has decided that we will, henceforth, offer ‘cash on delivery’ mode of payments for those who have placed an order for the ‘Freedom 251′ smartphone. This will ensure further transparency and clear any misgivings,” Chadha said in a statement.

The company plans to give 25 lakh handsets in the first phase before June 30. Ringing Bells has been facing an FIR and defamation suit amid serious questions being raised over the world’s cheapest smartphone. The Noida-based startup claims to have tied up with the payment gateway provider PayUbiz so that it receives payment only on the submission of proof of delivery (POD) to the payment gateway.

“Our humble beginning to provide a high-tech gadget that will benefit all in the hinterlands and bridge the huge gap that clearly exists between the metros and semi-urban/rural areas is in keeping with the government’s initiatives,” Chadha said.

However, Noida-based data centre and BPO Cyfuture, said on Friday they were set to file an FIR against Ringing Bells and deliberating on filing a defamation suittoo. According to Anuj Bairathi, Cyfuture founder and CEO, they met Vishwajeet Srivastava, Gautam Budh Nagar Superintendent of Police (crime branch), who looked into the matter and assured them of a suitable course of action.

“After deciding to file an FIR for fraud and non-payment of dues, we are now thinking to file a defamation suit against Ringing Bells as their allegation of non-performance has tarnished our image,” Bairathi told IANS.

Taking the world by surprise, Ringing Bells launched “Freedom 251″ smartphone that, it said, has been developed “with immense support” from the government. As the makers of the smartphone went gaga over being part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” and “Digital India” initiatives in the last few days, a topgovernment official clarified on Thursday that the government has nothing to do with the “Freedom 251″ smartphone.

“This is not a government project. ‘Make in India’ team has nothing to do with this,” wrote Amitabh Kant, secretary of the department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP), in a Twitter post.

Watch India vs Pakistan T20 live streaming; mobile apps to check live score of Asia Cup 2016

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An India versus Pakistan Cricket match doesn’t really require any previews or analysis. It is purely a game of passion. In just an hour, the fourth T20 match in the ongoing Asia Cup 2016 kicks off between India and Pakistan. The match is live on Star Sports, but in case you are not at home, here’s how you can watch the live stream online.

The match will be live streamed on StarSports.com or the HotStar app. Tata Sky and Dish TV users can also watch the match live on their respective apps. The T20 match kicks off at 7:00PM IST, and you can also follow the live score with ball by ball commentary.

This is the first time that the Asia Cup is being held in T20 format, and an India vs Pakistan Cricket match is sure to provide a lot of entertainment. India is fresh off a huge series win in Australia, and have kicked off the Asia Cup strongly as well. Pakistan players, on the other hand, will be raring to go on the international stage after participating in the Pakistan Super League (PSL).

This will be a battle between India’s famed batting order, and Pakistan’s strong bowling contingent. Both teams will be raring to get a win before they clash again at the ICC World T20 2016, starting next month.

Mario Kart fans race through a shopping mall on Razor Crazy Carts

What happens when you take a group of Mario Kart fanatics, equip them with Razor Crazy Carts (which are insanely cool, by the way) and set them loose in a London shopping mall (uninvited)? If you answered loads of fun, you’re right.

That’s exactly what takes place in the clip above. The impromptu Mario Kart race played out at Westfield in London, much to the dismay of local security. If you haven’t already checked out the clip or seen Crazy Carts in action, it’s certainly worth a watch (even if it doesn’t have a ton of virtual effects edited in).

Smartphones with a 7-day battery life will be here within two years, says fuel-cell maker

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Today’s smartphones may have features we never thought possible many years ago, such as high-speed internet access, biometric scanners, 4K video recording, and even limited VR capabilities, but this all comes at the expense of one area that many older cell phones are fondly-remembered for: battery life.

While plenty of upcoming smartphones are said to have massively improved batteries, such as Samsung’s S7, they still need fairly regular charges, especially with heavy use. But one UK-based company claims that it is developing a system that would allow a smartphone to work for an entire week before requiring a charge.

Intelligent Energy Holdings Plc said its hydrogen-based fuel cell will be small enough to fit inside a smartphone yet powerful enough to keep it running for seven days, and could be available to the public within two years.

The company said that one “emerging” smartphone maker is so impressed with the technology that it’s investing $7.6 million in its development, reports Bloomberg.

“Embedding fuel-cell technology into portable devices provides a solution to the current dilemma of battery life,” Julian Hughes, acting managing director for Intelligent Energy’s Consumer Electronics division, said in a statement. “With consumers demanding more and more from their phones, battery innovation has not kept up.”

Intelligent Energy Holdings Plc has 25 years experience in the energy field and has already worked on a zero-emission, hydrogen-powered black cab in London and a fuel-cell-powered aircraft for Boeing. The technology works by converting hydrogen into electricity, leaving only water as a byproduct.

Last year, the company revealed a prototype iPhone 6 that used hydrogen fuel cells. The only change to the original design was some tiny rear vents so an imperceptible amount of water vapor could escape.

There are still some hurdles to overcome, but should Intelligent Energy Holdings’ technology find its way into commercial smartphones, charging our devices almost every day could become a thing of the past.

1Password adds family subscription plan, access for five members for $5 per month

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Sharing passwords typically isn’t a good idea but hear me out on this one. Popular password manager 1Password has introduced a new family plan that allows up to five people to create their own personal accounts, share a group of passwords and more – all under one subscription.

1Password for Families builds on the company’s Teams infrastructure and allows five people (or more, for an added fee) to have individual accounts. The subscription includes access to the latest, full versions of 1Password for Mac, Windows, Android and iOS and updates to the latest versions when they’re released.

Subscribers also get 1GB of encrypted storage space for documents, data synching across all devices, an item history backup that allows users to recover passwords accidentally deleted within the last 30 days, the ability to reset accounts and more.

1Password for Families is priced at $5 per month for five people although additional members can join for $1 per month, per person. 1Password is offering a free one month trial; once that expires, you’ll be asked to provide credit card information for billing moving forward (should you decide to keep it).

Those that sign up before March 21 will receive a $10 credit added to their account (essentially two additional months for free), twice the document storage (2GB) and the ability to invite two additional members to the plan at no extra charge (for a total of seven users).

Hollywood hospital pays ransomware attackers $17,000 to release its systems

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As anyone who has experienced it will tell you, ransomware can be a nightmare. Once it infects a network, it can encrypt all the files and will demand payment (nearly always Bitcoin) before it hands over an unlock key. These attacks often come with a warning that unless the ransom is paid within a set time, the key will be destroyed and the user will never be able to access their data.

While finding you’ve been infected with ransomware is bad, it can be especially problematic for organizations such as hospitals. Such was the case for the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, which had its network locked up by a ransomware attack on February 5, and has only recently regained control of its systems after paying $17,000 to the attackers.

After the ransomware was discovered, staff at the hospital were forced to use land lines, fax machines, and keep paper records for the ten days that the network was locked down. Some patients had to be sent to other hospitals for procedures such as CT scans.

Reports claimed that the attackers had originally demanded 9000 bitcoins, or about $3.5 million, to release the system. But it appears that this was negotiated down to 40 bitcoins, equal to around $17,000.

Speaking about the hospital’s decision to pay the ransom, CEO Allen Stefanek said in astatement: “The malware locks systems by encrypting files and demanding ransom to obtain the decryption key. The quickest and most efficient way to restore our systems and administrative functions was to pay the ransom and obtain the decryption key. In the best interest of restoring normal operations, we did this.”

CSO reports that it’s highly unlikely the hospital was specifically targeted, and that the ransomware was likely down to an employee clicking on a malicious link or downloading an unexpected attachment on a hospital computer.

The hospital has stressed that there is no evidence to suggest any patient records were compromised. It will continue to work with security consultants, local authorities, and the FBI, who are investigating the matter.

MasterCard wants to replace passwords and PINs with selfies

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In the ongoing search for the successor to unsecure passwords and PINs, financial services giant MasterCard is taking a modern approach to authenticating transactions called MasterCard Identity Check.

Last year, MasterCard completed a pilot program for a feature that allows users to authenticate online transactions using facial recognition. Dubbed by many as “Selfie Pay,” the app maps the user’s face and requires them to blink to eliminate fraud by using a still photograph. The company says its algorithms can also detect if someone is trying to fool it by using a video.

Ajay Bhalla, MasterCard’s president of enterprise security solutions, told The Verge that the facial recognition system won’t be used to authenticate every transaction. Instead, it may be utilized if the context of a purchase seems abnormal such as, for example, if you’re shipping an item to an unfamiliar address.

It may seem silly to some but it could come in handy if your phone doesn’t have a fingerprint scanner.

Following the successful trials, MasterCard said it will be rolling out the technology to 14 countries over the summer including Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, the US, the UK, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Norwary, Switzerland, Denmark and Finland.

Within five years, Bhalla believes the technology will be ubiquitous. It’s unclear if that prophecy will indeed come to fruition but it’s encouraging to see large players like MasterCard moving past the traditional password and PIN approach.