Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Whatsapp Reaches a Billion Monthly Users


WhatsApp – Communication Offering Low Cost Chat

As reported by Facebook, WhatsApp, mobile messaging service is being used by billions of people each month. The app owned by Facebook tends to have overtaken the social network’s own Messenger mobile app that has around 800 million monthly users.

The company has informed that 42 billion messages together with 250 million videos have been sent through WhatsApp on a daily basis. However, one analyst has stated that WhatsApp tends to trail behind local competition in some of the key markets. Jack Kent, mobile analyst at IHS, has commented that there are big markets where WhatsApp is not the leading player.

WeChat in China tends to have over 500 million users while Line is well-known in Japan and Kakao Talk is big in South Korea. However, WhatsApp seems to be certainly most successful, internationally and part of that tends to focus on communication offering low cost chat which is very trustworthy.

While other apps have focused on monetisation, stickers and games,WhatsApp has appealed that it is light on monetisation and has now dropped its annual fee entirely. In 2014, Facebook had bought the mobile messaging app in a deal worth of $19bn.

Secured/Easy Option of Staying Connected

WhatsApp, founded only seven years back has altered the way users seem to message one another and has only one focus which is a secured and easy option for anyone to stay connected with their family and friends all across the globe without the tension of cost etc. that other messaging services tend to burden on their users. Hence whether it is for sharing information during calamity or simply staying connected,

WhatsApp is always available for its users. With their ambitions to grow still further, it would not be surprising to see WhatsApp improve with new features and probably with some enhanced ways of communicating. WhatsApp, not too long ago had planned to drop the $1 yearly subscription fee and since then, WhatsApp had promised not to show ads for their own users’ sake, it leaves one wandering on how the messaging platform intends to make money.

Usage data which the platform tends to generate for Facebook could support the company in improving its targeted advertising that is its fundamental business model according to Mr Kent.

Added Feature – Voice Calling

He has mentioned further that `Facebook had started pushing people to its own standalone Messenger appwhen it had purchased WhatsApp. However, according to him, there was a risk that it could have been attained by a competitor and Facebook could lose millions of highly engaged mobile users to a rival, but WhatsApp still tends to face those challenges from local players who seem to monetise their services well and the same remains to be a competitive space.

In 2015 WhatsApp had up to 700 million monthly users and thereafter WhatsApp has added voice calling wherein users could have another option of getting in touch with their contacts. On addition of the voice calls, it has also decided to develop a web client which reflects the app from the phone and the team tends to continue making improvement with speed and reliability of the app, while ensuring it to be simple and secure.

Samsung Allows Ad-Blocking on New Mobile Web Browser


Android Phone – Install Ad-Blocker Extensions

Latest form of the default web browser on Samsung’s Android phone will now enable users to install ad-blocker extensions that were an update by Apple in September which permits ad-blockers to be installed for the Safari browser as extensions. Samsung phones blockers would have to be added in the same way and would not come as standard. It is said that the new browser would be rolled out for Android Lollipop or advanced users.

Well-known ad-blockers are already available for Samsung phone such as Adblock Fast and Crystal. Besides making web page less messy, mobile ad-blocking is considered to reduce the time of web-page loading as well as mobile data usage wherein the ad-blockers tend to improve the performance of browser by lessening to draw on phone batteries as well as data plans.

`Consumers using ad-blockers would probably use other browsers than the default one’ according to Daniel Knapp, the advertising industry analyst at IHS and `it is nonetheless important for Samsung to jump on the ad-blocking bandwagon. It wants to show customers that it is a premium brand which protects them and Apple’. He also informed BBC that there had been a `seismic change in the ad industry, wherein the marketing budgets had been increasingly moved from traditional forms of advertising, for instance, to sponsorship deals.

Eliminates Scripts in Web-Page Code

He also added that it was the most highly prized by advertisers, young as well as affluent users, who would in the first place, probably use ad-blockers. According to him it is an expression of massive consumer dissatisfaction in the way the ad industry tends to work.

 Ad-blockers tend to work by eliminating scripts in web page code which would then pull content from servers of ad networks. Around 18% of British adults online had been utilising some kind of ad-blocker in November and up 3% from June as per a report from the Internet Advertising Bureau – IAB.

In the meantime, in the annual financial filing of Facebook, the social network had announced advertising earning of $5.64bn for the fourth quarter of 2015 though cautioned that ad-blockers could affect future profits, adversely.It stated that if such technologies tend to continue to thrive especially with regards to mobile platforms, the future financial results could be affected.

Ads Delivered through Third Party Apps

However, Mr Knapp informed that companies like Facebook would be less likely than the other content publishers to get affected by mobile web ad-blockers since ads could be delivered through their third party apps. Thinking of ad-blockers being admitted to iOS 9, they were all completely focused on the in-browser environment and not for third party apps like Facebook.

Samsung had been contacted by Business Insider asking for more information on why the company had released this update. Details are awaited and will be provided on receiving from them. Ad blocking apps had come to the top of App Store charts when the iOS 9 update had been released.

 Though some Wall Street analysts had first feared a worst case scenario, this was Apple against the whole mobile publisher and advertiser ecosystem. Though ad-block apps tend to get lots of downloads, the fraction of users utilising them on regular basis seems to be quite small.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Pilotless Drone to Transport Humans


Autonomous Aerial Vehicle - EHang

One of the transport innovations which had been on display at the CES tech show in Las Vegas was a human-carrying drone. Announced by Chinese company the so-called EHang, the company’s new Autonomous Aerial Vehicle – AAV is a large scale drone which has been designed to separately fly people from one point to another.

The personal minicopter is not operated through manual controls and the passenger can choose a point on a map to travel to a particular place. The device is said to be costing more than $200,000 and could be illegal to ride in public in several countries.Huazhi Hu, CEO of Ehang had started designing the one seater electric drone a couple of years back after two of his pilots had been killed in plane crashes. He had decided that people required a short-to-medium-distance personal air transport where a pilot’s license would not be needed and that took off most of the danger of out of low-altitude flight.

The notion of creating the Chinese built-184 is that users could get to power it and select their destination using a 12-inch touchscreen tablet display and then use the `take-off’ button. The automated flight systems of the drone will then take over from here, handling task like communication with air traffic control together with the other aircrafts, avoid obstacles and navigate.

Safe/Smartest -FailSafe System

It will tend to use the fastest and the safest route between its current place and its destination. Besides being safest, the company has described it as the smartest low altitude autonomous aerial vehicle on the market. The Failsafe system will apparently take control in case of any malfunctions and the passenger would also get the drone to stop and hover in place if required.

If one tends to travel short distance often, this is appropriate option to reduce the strain of traffic and transport through air. One could hop into the only passenger vehicle and go up and away to their choice of destination.

According to EHang, passengers only need to sit back and permit the software and machine to do the work where no piloting or license is needed and flights have now become very easy. EHang also envisages the 184 for shipping medical transport and much more.

Eight Propellers/Four Arms

The craft comprises of eight propellers together with four arms which is created with reinforcements in place should a component tend to fail. EHang has also mentioned that while one is in the air and attacked by a bird, the 184 tends to take suitable action.

Should anyone attempt to hack the 184, the oversized drone is built with encryption which means that one need not worry about someone despicable sending you travelling into a building. The 184 is quite small for an aerial transportation which tends to weight around 440 pounds having a rated load capacity of 220 pounds.

However, the EHang 184 death machine does not seem to be powerful enough to carry across any sort of distance. EHang states that it promises limitless possibilities and would influence the way one tends to travel in profound ways.

These Driverless Pods will Hit the Streets of London in July


First Autonomous Vehicles – Driverless Pods

The first autonomous vehicles hitting the streets of London are the driverless pods and the vehicles have already being used on tracks at Heathrow Airport. It will be adjusted for use from July in Greenwich. The association behind the test have mentioned that the changes would be made in order that the pods need not run on tracks.

Created by the GATEway group, seven of the electric pods would be placed on the runway of the Greenwich Peninsula, where the routes would probably include residential streets, the North Greenwich underground station as well as areas in the vicinity of the O2 Arena. They would be experimented for three months by invited users prior to being opened to the general community. Individual pod would be carrying six passengers though one of the passengers would be a steward and the task would be to press the emergency button in case of any problem arising during the trip.

The pod would also be the first driverless vehicles to hit the streets of London as well as a part of a huge national project. Various companies around the world including Ford, Tesla, Google, probably Apple have been developing autonomous vehicles.

Three Companies Working on the Pods

Besides just self-driving cars and pods which are being created, Switzerland is all set to introduce nine seater autonomous busses somewhere this year, where the driverless shuttles have been tested on public roads already, in Netherlands.

Greenwich is one of the four areas in the UK where the driverless vehicles are expected to be experimented while Bristol, Coventry as well as Milton Keynes would also be experimenting later in the year. It is said that the pods have been utilised at Heathrow Terminal 5 for about five years and as per those behind the project, they have carried around 1.5 million passengers and have travelled set tracks of 1.8 million miles. There are three companies that have been working in making the pods functional on the roads instead of tracks.

These include Westfield Sportscar, a West Midlands company which develops classic automobiles. Project organiser Transport Research Laboratory – TRL has stated that it would be acting as an `integrator and manufacturer’ designing and testing the vehicles to make sure that they meet up with road safety standards while Oxbotica, a research based team which was rolled out of Oxford University’s Mobile robotics Group would be working on the software as well as the hardware which deals with mapping, perception and localisation.

Project Funded By Government Agency/Industry

Finally, Heathrow Enterprise the company which tends to operate the UK’s busiest airport, having plenty of first-hand experience with the dome shaped pods will be designing the software.The UltraPODs as they have been named are presently being adjusted for use on the roads but their precise design has not been disclosed though it has been confirmed that they will not be running on dedicated tracks.

The project is said to be equally funded by government agency Innovate UK and industry. The present set of UltraPODs tends to have a top speed of 40kph. Though they are not the most exciting vehicles in appearance, they tend to get the job done at Heathrow and have shown the capabilities of a fully-fledged mode of public transportation.

Monday, 1 February 2016

The Smartphone Case with a Built-In Hand Crank


Smartphone case with Built-in Charger/Pop-up Crank

When phones tend to lose power they are not of much use and it could happen to anyone especially those that are smaller or older. However a phone case with a spare battery built-in could solve the problem. Usually power cases tend to be bulky and not so attractive but there are some new devices which have been slimmed down while helping to charge up the device.

Smartphones when they tend to be drained off would cause a bit of inconvenience to the user.The creation of a smartphone case with a built-in charger together with pop-up crank could keep the phone powered and in use. The design of the Ampware, putting the case in production is in the pipeline which tends to charge within a minute to keep the smartphone running for extra 40 minutes of talk time.

If an additional five full minutes to crank is done, the user could use the phone for an extra three hours. This is a first run through of hand wrench which has been shaped as a part of a telephone case. Besides this, it also has a USB port wherein one could use the case to charge other devices also and not just the phone to which it has been connected

Charge Phone - Spinning Handle

A smartphone case capable of charging the phone with built-in hand crank has been put up for sale. A wind up iPhone case which could charge a phone by spinning a handle towards the back could solve the problem of battery anxiety. According to the designers the Ampware CrankCase offers three hours of power on winding the handle for only five minutes.

The technology which tends to make the work is not revolutionary but has been incorporated in a solid though possibly life-saving smartphone case. Co-founder of Ampware, Mark Gabriel based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana had stated that he was inspired to develop the device after he had been separated from his family by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He realised that without power, there was no way where one could stay in touch with friends and family.

With several of the people having the same problem during the incident like Karina as well as the recent happenings during Hurricane Sandy, he had to find a way in order to enable people to stay connected irrespective of access to a traditional power source. According to him `CrankCase tends to leverage the prevailing technology in a new way in generating power, keeping the mobile device charged without the need to depend on the traditional power outlets.

CrankCase – Magnetic Dynamo generator

CrankCase tends to use a magnetic dynamo generator in order to create the power required to charge the phone. It utilises a rare earth metal spinning within a magnetic field in order to generate electrical current in a coil of wire rolled around the magnet. Mr Gabriel had mentioned that spinning the handle on the back of the case for a minute could provide adequate battery life of 40 minutes of standby use for an iPhone and 20 minutes for an iPad mini.

 The handle towards the back of the case could also be utilised as a means of support for propping up the phone while watching videos. Mr Gabriel has now launched a campaign on Indiegogo in order to fund the development of the case and the team intend to start shipping the device at a cost of $59.

To pre-order the Ampware case, an early bird donation of $29 is essential wherein the estimated delivery would be in October this year.