5 things you can do to get most of your Android smart TV


Increased cognitive arousal prior to sleep (being mentally alert) is the mechanism explaining the effects of binge viewing on sleep quality.
Increased cognitive arousal prior to sleep (being mentally alert) is the mechanism explaining the effects of binge viewing on sleep quality.

Android is the operating system of choice for many brands of smart TVs. This opens your TV up to a number of additional features. Here is a look at some of them.

Do More With Apps

Considering that most TVs are not ‘official’ Android TVs, they may not have access to the Google Play Store to add apps.

To install additional apps, you have two options: sideload them (transfer installable files using a USB drive) or install a third-party app store. The catch is you have to sideload the third-party app store in any case.

On your TV’s web browser, go to and Install Aptoide — this is a free third-party app store. Aptoide has many apps that you can download directly.

For sideloading, you will have to download APK (Android installer) files for each app you want to install on your TV. You can find APK files for many popular apps on Copy these APK files to a USB drive and plug into the TV.

You may need to allow app installation from ‘unknown sources’ in settings. Keep in mind that not all the apps installed via the sideload will work — it’s a little bit of a hit and miss.

Connect Bluetooth Accessories

Almost all smart TVs come with built-in WiFi as well as Bluetooth. A majority of smart TVs support various Bluetooth accessories such as Bluetooth wireless headphones, keyboards, and mice. The BT headphone option is great if you do not want to disturb others while watching TV. As for the keyboard, you can get compact Bluetooth options online for as less as Rs 599.

Local Multimedia Streaming

Typically, TVs that run the official Android TV OS come with a built-in Chromecast that allows you to stream content from a smartphone/computer. However, since most smart TVs do have WiFi or Ethernet connectivity, you can use free apps to stream content. We recommend Plex ( or Kodi (

Both apps come with a server app that is easy to setup on a computer/ phone. And there’s a companion APK file that you can install on your TV (use the sideload method outlined in this article). Once you install the server software on your computer, you can stream content from the computer/phone wirelessly over your local home network.

5 things you can do to get most of your Android smart TV

Wireless File Transfers

The trouble with most smart TVs is that they have limited internal storage — this means you cannot store content. One solution is to connect an external drive, but you will have to keep updating content from a computer. A simpler way is to transfer files wirelessly to the TV. We recommend using ES File Explorer for its simplicity.

On a Windows computer, create a new folder, right click on it and open Properties. In the prompt that opens up, click on Sharing and then the Share button. A new box will open asking you to choose people on your network with whom the folder will be shared. Select Everyone, tap on add and in the permissions setting, choose Read Only.

Once you have finished this setup on your computer, open ES Explorer on the smart TV. In the directory menu on the left, select LAN and the shared folder from your computer will be visible there — you can select files from the folder and copy them to your TV easily. Keep in mind that both the TV and computer need to be on the same WiFi network for this to work.

Playing DVDs Without a DVD Player

Even though DVDs are becoming a thing of the past, you may need to re-watch something from an old collection you have. It’s not worth investing in a DVD player for occasional use because they don’t last very long. The other option is to convert the DVD to a digital file — a laborious process.

Instead, some portable DVD writers have a feature that allows them to work with TVs that have USB ports. This is in addition to the usual connection to a laptop/desktop. We recommend LiteOn’s external DVD writer (Rs 1,199) with the Link2TV feature. Just connect it to a TV’s USB port and use it to access the DVD without installing any extra app or drivers.

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Deadline to re-verify mobile nos through Aadhaar extended till SC judgement


Deadline to re-verify mobile nos through Aadhaar extended till SC judgementThe telecom department on Wednesday has extended the time limit for re-verifying mobile numbers through Aadhaar till the time the Supreme Court decides on an ongoing case on the validity of the identification number and its enabling law.

“In compliance with the directions of the SC…the last date of reverification of existing mobile subscribers through Aadhaar-based E-KYC process, is further extended till the matter is finally heard and the judgement is pronounced by the Hon’ble Supreme Court,” the telecom department said in a notification dated March 21.

It added that as per the changes, all communications including voice or text messages sent by carriers to their subscribers should not include any last date for re-verification.

The directions were issued on the back of SC’s March 13 order, where it extended the March 31 deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar to avail of various services and welfare schemes run by the government till the verdict is delivered. DoT had earlier extended the February 6, 2018 deadline to re-verify all mobile numbers to March 31.

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Vivendi selling Ubisoft stake for $2.45 billion, ends battle for control


Vivendi selling Ubisoft stake for $2.45 billion, ends battle for control

French media giant Vivendi is selling its stake in Ubisoft for 2 billion euros ($2.45 billion) to investors including Chinese tech titan Tencent, ending a potential takeover battle for the French video games maker.

Billionaire Vincent Bollore’s Vivendi, which had been raising its holding in Ubisoft, has agreed to sell its 27.3% stake in the company, best known for its Assassin’s Creed and South Park games.

Tencent Holdings Ltd, which dominates China’s mobile gaming market, is investing almost 370 million euros for a 5% stake, while the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan is spending 250 million euros for a 3.4% stake.

Ubisoft and Tencent will also form a strategic partnership to boost Ubisoft’s reach into China, the world’s largest video game market with estimated sales of $32.5 billion last year, according to data from gaming consultancy Newzoo.

The move represents a strategic setback for Bollore and Vivendi, which has pledged to make video gaming one of its key pillars along with advertising, music, and pay-TV. As part of the deal, Vivendi has committed to not acquire any further shares in Ubisoft for five years.

Vivendi’s stake-building since 2015 had prompted Ubisoft’s founding Guillemot family to court Canadian investors to fend off any hostile takeover.

After the sale, Vivendi will remain active in video gaming through its acquisition of mobile game maker Gameloft, which was also founded by a Guillemot brother but is much smaller than Ubisoft, the French leader in this market.

Along with the investments from Tencent and Ontario Teachers, the deal also includes a share buy-back by Ubisoft that adds up to an 8.1 percent stake, as well as a share purchase by Guillemot Brothers SE and an accelerated book building with institutional investors.

Ubisoft said Vivendi had approached it several weeks ago about its intention eventually to sell its stake. Ubisoft started tapping up potential investors at that stage.

Tencent, Asia’s biggest listed firm with a market value of around $540 billion, is investing heavily to expand its gaming empire at home and abroad. It launched some of its top games overseas last year, and last month invested 3 billion yuan ($474.73 million) in Chinese peer Shanda Games.

The firm, which stretches from social media to online payment, announced a strong fourth-quarter profit on Wednesday, but said mobile gaming revenue growth had slowed.

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PhonePe gets Rs 518 cr from Flipkart Payments


PhonePe gets Rs 518 cr from Flipkart PaymentsFlipkart promoted digital payments company PhonePe has received Rs 518 crore of fund infusion from Flipkart Payments, a Singapore-based subsidiary of the e-commerce giant.

The investment is part of the $500 million commitment Flipkart made to invest in PhonePe last year.

In a note shared with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, the Bengaluru-based payments company said it received Rs 518.2 crore in lieu of 24.5 lakh equity shares in the company.

This fund infusion comes at a time when global players Google and WhatsApp have forayed into Indian digital payment space. Bigger rival Paytm has also entered the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) space.

PhonePe, which works with Yes Bank for UPI payments, was one of the first entrants into this space and still commands a significant share of the UPI payments pie.

Both Google Tez and Paytm have lately claimed that they have overtaken PhonePe in this space. PhonePe, however, in a blog post earlier this month claimed that the numbers quoted by the rivals were “inflated” and not as per the usual payment trend on UPI.

Flipkart acquired PhonePe in April 2016. The app has around 75 million downloads and claims to have the highest share of merchant transactions on UPI through bill payments, merchant payments and recharges. The company has also ventured in the offline business with its point of sales terminal that runs on Bluetooth.

Read: PhonePe signs its first major PoS deal with Indian Oil Corporation

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Data drive results in a surge of app-based calls like WhatsApp


For the time being, experts say telcos don’t need to lose sleep over the growth of OTT traffic.
For the time being, experts say telcos don’t need to lose sleep over the growth of OTT traffic.

Indians are talking more on the phone than ever before. And while a large portion of these calls continue to be made over traditional networks, the popularity of calling apps such as WhatsApp is growing at a fast clip, thanks to the improved quality and plunging data prices.

According to data from Warp Speed Reads, a telecom and technology research firm, call volumes on WhatsApp and other app platforms jumped by 87% to 86.4 billion minutes in 2017 over 2016. This was preceded by a 51% growth in 2016 over 2015.

In comparison, call traffic on traditional networks rose on a year-on-year basis by 28.2% to 3.04 trillion minutes in 2017 and by 5.35% in 2016.

“There is a bump in overall calling traffic in 2017, which includes (4G) LTE calling traffic. There is growth not only in the total volume of calls but also minutes per subscriber per month… clearly the Reliance Jio effect has helped telco calling traffic,” said Warp Speed Reads founder and former Ovum analyst Neha Dharia.

Deloitte Haskins and Sells partner Hemant Joshi said a section of consumers has taken to making (data, or app) calls from Wi-Fi networks.“The use case (on app-based calls) would have increased in the past months with the number of call drops on traditional voice networks increasing, as carriers move to upgrade their networks to 4G,” said Joshi.

But he added that the share of smartphones in India is only 35-38%, with the balance being feature phones. And as older operators Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular try to match Jio’s free voice and ultra-cheap offers for both smartphone and basic phones users, there has been an increase in their network traffic.

In the quarter ended December 2017, the number of minutes used on Vodafone India’s network was up 8% sequentially, Idea’s was up 11%, and market leader Airtel’s rose 13%. For Jio, which started its services in September 2016, the minutes of use rose by 29.5% on quarter.

But that would have been higher still, had people not had the option of app-based, or data calls, mainly on WhatsApp, with the price of the mobile internet having plunged some 90% in the year, say analysts.

Telco Minutes may plateau out in 2019 and 2020

In addition to plunging data prices and improvement in calling clarity, some also use OTT or app-based calls as they ensure privacy and cannot be tracked, said Navkendar Singh, research director at International Data Corporation India. “We can confirm that voice and video calls are on the rise,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said in response to ET’s queries, adding that since it launched voice calling in 2016, it has worked continuously on improving the quality and reliability of calls.

“Last month, we added a button that makes it possible to easily switch between voice and video without interrupting the call,” said the world’s largest messaging platform, which has India as its largest market with over 200 million users.

Over a billion Indians use mobile phones Interestingly, globally, cross-border OTT traffic has already surpassed carrier traffic — 552 billion minutes on average in 2016 for apps compared with 546 billion minutes of carrier traffic — as per data from TeleGeography. “As traditional carrier traffic has slumped, OTT traffic has risen to fill the void,” the research firm said in a blog post last month.

For the time being, experts say telcos don’t need to lose sleep over the growth of OTT traffic. “The rise in OTT calls is to a limited extent adding to the data revenue of telcos, as all OTT calls use data,” said Mritunjay Kapur, TMT head for KPMG India,” said KPMG India TMT head Mritunjay Kapur.

Warp Speed Reads’ Dharia expects telco minutes to grow slightly in 2018 and then plateau out in 2019 and 2020, with more subscribers opting for app-based calling, given regulations, caps on unlimited free minutes in traditional calling plans and the Indian customer warming up to mobile internet services. In comparison, app voice call volume is set to grow by 39% on year in 2018, 44% in 2019 and 46% in 2020.

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Some Ola, Uber drivers continue strike in Delhi


The current strike is expected to end within a few days to a week.
The current strike is expected to end within a few days to a week.

After three to four days of going on strike, drivers on homegrown cab hailing application Ola called off the strike on Wednesday.

Drivers on Uber followed suit 24 hours later by calling off the strike in Mumbai and other cities after meeting the driver union on Thursday.

However, drivers of Sarvodaya Drivers Association, the main cab drivers’ union in Delhi-NCR claims the drivers will be on strike for a day more. According to commuters and analysts in Delhi, there has been a delay of half an hour to one hour in getting cabs, but rides are still available.

“We have decided to press our demands further, as members of the union we plan to stop operations temporarily for at least 24 hours,” said Kamaljeet Gill, president of the union. According to Sanjay Naik, representative of MNS drivers’ union, union members met with Uber’s management and the police and have reached an agreement to improve the condition of drivers.

“We have a written agreement that our demands will be met,” added Naik. The driven union belongs to the transport wing of the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena which led the strike in Mumbai.

An Uber spokesperson confirmed the development in a statement claiming to have met the driver partners in Mumbai and that they had addressed their concerns.

“We met with a delegation of driver partners and continue to engage with driver partners on a one-on-one basis. We have heard their concerns and taken note of the feedback. We remain committed to serving the city, ensuring driver partners can continue to access stable earning opportunities, while giving riders a convenient option to get around Maharashtra,” said an Uber spokesperson.

Analysts estimate the Delhi-NCR region strike will have a temporary effect on consumers getting rides with close to no impact on the operations of the cab-hailing applications. “This is yet another temporary strike that is unlikely to have any impact on either of the cab-hailing applications,” said Jaspal Singh, partner at Valoriser Consultants.

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Reliance Jio board to meet on March 23 to consider raising up to Rs 20,000 crore


Reliance Jio Infocomm has said its board will meet on March 23 to consider raising Rs20,000 crore through debt in tranches.

Reliance Jio, with over 160 million subscribers, has already invested over Rs 200,000 crore in its network.
Reliance Jio, with over 160 million subscribers, has already invested over Rs 200,000 crore in its network.

In a notice to the National Stock Exchange late Tuesday, the new telecom entrant, wholly-owned by Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL), said its board will meet to get approval “…to raise funds by way of issuance of listed/unlisted, secured/unsecured, non-convertible debentures for an amount upto Rs 20,000 crore on a private placement basis in tranches/series and also to approve ancillary actions for the said issuance of debentures.”

The move to raise funds comes a few days after its bitter rival and market leader Bhati Airtel announced plans to raise Rs 16,500 crore via the debt market to refinance existing debt and pay for spectrum.

Both telcos are locked in a bitter fight for subscribers and need to invest in expanding their 4G network.

Reliance Jio, with over 160 million subscribers, has already invested over Rs 200,000 crore in its network. Previously, its preferred route to raise funds has been through the issue of optionally convertible preference shares (OCPS) to its shareholders.

Its parent RIL itself is in the process of refinancing $1 billion syndicated commercial loans.

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What India can learn from the Japan Internet separation mandate?


What India can learn from the Japan Internet separation mandate?By Jagjit Arora, VMware

It is quite a common sight these days to find people juggling multiple mobile phones in order to keep their business and personal activities separate.

When this extends to government organizations with executives trying to clumsily manage multiple devices, the situation exposes citizen organizations to real security risks. Further, governments which are responsible for delivering various citizen services while maintaining strict security and privacy of citizen personal data, start to falter.

This explains the clamour and the concerns in the courts today about security guarantees from Central Government’s extensive Aadhaar implementation initiatives in various citizen and financial services.

There is a definite upswing today in the extent and volume of government services such as Cash Benefit Schemes (Cooking gas subsidy etc.), passport services and income tax services, going digital across the country.

This is only going to ramp up with time and so are the security challenges. With the steep rise in the ubiquity of mobile devices, workers increasingly prefer to access both business and personal digital services right on their mobile devices.

It becomes extremely difficult to manually comply with organizational mandates on following internet separation among multiple devices being used. There are bound to be violations due to policy breaches forcing organizations to become reactive.

This is certainly not an efficient or a desirable way to manage security or scale digital services especially when citizen and national security considerations are paramount.

As more and more government services move online, several corresponding public sector organizations such as power corporations, natural gas agencies also follow suit in order to fulfill the government mandate. This creates a compounding momentum in digital service proliferation across the board. These initiatives are most often announced with aggressive deadlines.

In fact, to effectively resolve this, we just need to take a cue from countries like Japan who have established a national policy on Internet separation through secure digital workspace as a fundamental requirement and a core design principle for all its digital initiatives moving forward.

So, going down the path of internet separation through physically separate devices is neither effective nor sustainable and won’t just do.

On the other hand, the rapid increase in cybercrimes targeted at government agencies has sparked the need for resilient technologies to protect the government institutions from the Internet.

In government departments, a large number of desktops and other end user devices are typically connected to the internet for browsing and email while they are simultaneously connected through internal networks to other desktops and critical application servers. Hence, if there is an infection, it starts spreading to critical applications and databases on the LAN leading to a widespread threat.

Managing government organizational needs and security risks through physical internet separation also disrupts natural workflows, impairs organizational collaboration, slows down productivity and increases costs while not adequately addressing the security exposure of the governments and its citizens.

With secure digital workspace, it is possible to achieve internet separation by secure access to the Internet from an officer’s single terminal to improve defense against security threats and operational efficiency.

Apart from providing internet separation, a secure digital workspace is also the most effective solution that prevents unauthorized content from going out and malicious code or files from coming in, detects/neutralizes threats, cleanses dormant/sleeper malware and prevents unauthorized traffic flows.

Virtualized digital workspaces provide secure access to any application on any device based on the role defined in the central Active Directory.

At the backend, they provide micro-segmented, zero trust security at a fine granular level and implement one-way-trust for clients accessing the Internet. With an advanced security firewall architecture that authorizes internal as well as external traffic flows, the solution offers a centrally managed and secure solution that provides unfettered access to all authorized applications on any device.

Most importantly, digital workspaces provide a firewall at every virtualized client level to ensure that potential threats don’t spread beyond the affected client.

Leading public sector institutions have embraced virtualized digital workspace solutions with complete branch automation through virtual desktops, micro-segmented applications, and secure file servers providing access to employees on a wide variety of devices.

Government and its agencies are at the forefront of digital adoption in the country. They need to adopt secure digital workspace as the new model of internet separation to address the challenges of cybersecurity while enhancing the user experience, improving workforce productivity and reducing costs.

However, IT departments at various government agencies are at differing levels of maturity. Accordingly, they should begin to virtualize their data centers, architect private clouds and begin to project infrastructure in terms of cloud capacity based on a 6-9 month project roadmap in place of project-wise HW budgets.

Public cloud can also be a viable option in future once regulatory concerns are addressed. The government in India should take a leaf out of nations like Japan and implement internet separation more as an overarching policy than as a manual workaround.

(Jagjit Arora is senior director-sales, VMware. Views expressed above are his own)

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IBM unveils Watson Assistant that takes over many customer tasks


IBM unveils Watson Assistant that takes over many customer tasksTech giant IBM on Tuesday unveiled Watson Assistant, a voice-based virtual assistant that can be tied to many products from cars to homes, at its four-day flagship client event Think 2018 that began here on Monday.

The company had been developing the product with its client firms. It combines AI with cloud and IoT to provide “a transforming experience to customers”.

How does the product work? Kareem Yusuf, General Manager, Watson IoT at IBM explains the technology with an example.

You are on a business trip. Upon landing at the airport, Watson Assistant automatically checks into your hotel and your preferred rental car is not only ready, it has the hotel destination pre-programmed along with suggestions on where to get a latte on the way.

Nearing the hotel, the Watson Assistant in your car signals your arrival to the hotel and not only updates the room with your preferences for music, temperature, and lighting, it syncs your smartphone, calendar and email with the in-room wall dashboard.

“It doesn’t just respond to a person’s commands and provide generic information that’s publicly available. It can be accessed via voice or text interaction and gets to know a person more through each and every interaction, gaining greater insight into who they are, what makes them happy and more,” according to Yusuf.

Tech firm Harman demonstrated the product in its digital cockpit solution featured in a Maserati GranCabrio. “Airwire, Munich Airport, Kaon Media, The Royal Bank of Scotland and our newest partner, IFTTT, all of which are turning to Watson Assistant to better engage their customers,” said Yusuf.

These partners, he said, recognize that Watson Assistant can be embedded in any “thing” – a car, hotel room, retail store, conference room and more.

“It doesn’t just respond to a person’s commands and provide generic information that’s publicly available. It can be accessed via voice or text interaction and gets to know a person more through each and every interaction, gaining greater insight into who they are, what makes them happy and more,” Yusuf wrote in his blog.

(The journalist was in Las Vegas on the invitation of IBM)

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EC ascertaining 'role' of Cambridge Analytica in Poll Indica


Social networks are now a critical part of the election campaigns, used actively by parties to spread their message.
Social networks are now a critical part of the election campaigns, used actively by parties to spread their message.

The Election Commission has quietly begun ascertaining the facts of the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica case to determine if it needs to probe their alleged role in influencing the Indian electoral process.

Those familiar with the details told ET that the Commission has asked its officials to look into the details emerging from data theft revelations on Cambridge Analytica, the company with which Facebook shared its data.

This information, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has now claimed, was misused by Cambridge Analytica for political purposes. The firm advised US President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and allegedly used this data to profile as well as influence potential voters.

“At this stage, we are only looking into the details. We will see what to do next only after studying what has happened,” an official told ET. Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has alleged that the firm had an association with Congress, and that it was possibly used for the Gujarat elections.

Congress has denied these charges, claiming it was BJP that had links with the firm through JDU leader KC Tyagi’s son Amrish Tyagi, who was representing the firm in India. BJP is in coalition with JDU in Bihar. While no complaint has yet reached EC, the Commission is making itself aware of the details in anticipation of this matter reaching its doorstep.

This achieved more significance after Zuckerberg’s assertion that he wanted to “fix” this matter soon in the light of important elections coming up in India and Brazil. “We have a responsibility to do this, not only for the 2018 midterms in the US… but there’s a big election in India this year… and you can bet that we are really committed to doing everything that we need to make sure that the integrity of those elections on Facebook is secured,” he told CNN in an interview.

Social networks are now a critical part of the election campaigns, used actively by parties to spread their message. India has the largest user base for Facebook at 241 million users. The allegation against Cambridge Analytica is that using this database, its scientists indulged in ‘psychological profiling’ of Facebook users in order to target them with personalised advertisements.

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