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Digital Apprentiships Offers Real Opportunoitys For Young People

Posted on November 27, 2014 at 5:51 PM Comments comments (0)
Young people will be able to gain a full honours degree while earning a wage and paying no fees, under a scheme backed by government and industry.
The new Degree Apprenticeship qualifications will be taught in England from next September, starting in the digital and software field.
The government will pay two-thirds of the costs and fees while employers pay trainees' wages and other costs.
The government says employers of any size can take part in the scheme.
It stems from government collaboration with higher education and industry, said Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey.
Some 150 places have already been guaranteed on the programme by the employers involved, in subject areas ranging from software design to information technology for business.
'Integrated' learning
The aim is to integrate academic learning at degree level and on-the-job practical training - "to ensure that education and training routes are providing the skills which employers need now and in the future", said Mr Vaizey.
The employers involved include Accenture, BT, Capgemini, Ford, Fujitsu, GlaxoSmithKline, HM Revenue and Customs, Hewlett Packard, IBM, John Lewis, Lloyds Banking Group, Network Rail and Tata Consulting Services.
The academic side of the courses will be provided by universities including Aston, Exeter, Greenwich, Loughborough, Manchester Metropolitan, University College London, the University of the West of England and Winchester.
Capgemini's UK chairman Christine Hodgson said the scheme would "enable young people to build the academic and practical skills needed for success in the tech sector and help create the talent needed to boost the digital economy".
Richard Pettinger, director of information management for business degree programmes at UCL, said the university was delighted to collaborate with employers and government on the new qualifications "to help increase the flow of skills into the tech industry".
'Massive demand'
Head teachers also welcomed the scheme - Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders described it as "a really interesting development in the growing range of alternatives to traditional university courses".
"There is massive demand for recruits to these industries who are highly skilled and knowledgeable," said Mr Lightman.
He added that it was vital that enough information and guidance on the new options was made available to schools.
The government hopes that if the programme is successful in the digital sector, it could be extended to other industries. (bbc) FCW says "Fantastic intiative which we will follow with great interest..."

Right To Forget Gains Momentum For Google

Posted on November 26, 2014 at 2:21 PM Comments comments (80)
Google is under fresh pressure to expand the "right to be forgotten" to its international .com search tool.
A panel of EU data protection watchdogs said the move was necessary to prevent the law from being circumvented.
Google currently de-lists results that appear in the European versions of its search engines, but not the international one.
The panel said it would advise member states' data protection agencies of its view in new guidelines.
At present, visitors are diverted to localised editions of the US company's search tool - such as Google.co.uk and Google.fr - when they initially try to visit the Google.com site.
However, a link is provided at the bottom right-hand corner of the screen offering an option to switch to the international .com version. This link does not appear if the users attempted to go to a regional version in the first place.
Even so, it means it is possible for people in Europe to easily opt out of the censored lists.
An option to switch to Google.com is available to those who do not want to use its regional search tools
The data watchdogs said this "cannot be considered a sufficient means to guarantee the rights" of citizens living in the union's 28 member countries.
A spokesman for Google said: "We haven't yet seen the Article 29 Working Party's guidelines, but we will study them carefully when they're published."
Balancing act
The right to be forgotten was established in May by a ruling from the Court of Justice of the European Union.
It said a Spaniard had the right to stop an article referring to his financial troubles appearing in Google's results, bearing in mind the event had happened 16 years before and he had put his troubles behind him. The decision did not affect the article actual presence on the net.
The court added that judgements about other complaints would need to balance "sensitivity for the data subject's private life [against] the interest of the public in having that information".
The European Commission later clarified that search engines would have to delete information if they had received a request from the person affected by the result and had judged that it met the court's criteria for deletion. In cases where search engines decide not to remove the links, the person involved can take the matter to their local data watchdog or the courts.
Google has resisted previous calls to extend the right to be forgotten
Since then, Google has received more than 174,000 requests concerning more than 602,000 links.
The company says it has removed 41.5% of the links it has weighed up, and left 58.5% of them as they were.
Examples include the Google's removal of a webpage about a murder that mentioned the name of the victim's widow, and its refusal to delete links to recent articles about a man's arrest for financial crimes that he wanted deleted.
'Huge burden'
The US tech giant has previously defended its interpretation of the law, saying less than 5% of Europe-based users opted to switch to Google.com, and that most of those who did were travellers abroad.
"Europe is much more concerned than the US about issues of privacy, particularly the Germans," commented Daniel Knapp, director of advertising research at the consultancy IHS.
"But what has come about as a result is a regional approach to a global problem. It has put a huge administrative burden on Google to verify the right-to be-forgotten claims, and it doesn't really want to take on that role.
"So, resisting the right to be forgotten on a global scale is also a tactic for it to exert pressure on the European Commission to revisit this right and to highlight that it isn't practically feasible." (bbc) - FCW Says.."a game changer for sure...watch this space"

Microsoft Admits 19 Yr Old Bug In Code

Posted on November 12, 2014 at 5:45 PM Comments comments (0)
Microsoft has patched a critical bug in its software that had existed for 19 years.
IBM researchers discovered the flaw, which affects Windows and Office products, in May this year - but worked with Microsoft to fix the problem before going public.
The bug had been present in every version of Windows since 95, IBM said.
Attackers could exploit the bug to remotely control a PC, and so users are being urged to download updates.
In a blog post explaining the vulnerability in depth, IBM researcher Robert Freeman wrote: "The bug can be used by an attacker for drive-by attacks to reliably run code remotely and take over the user's machine."
In computer security, a drive-by attack typically means making users download malicious software.
The bug had been "sitting in plain sight", IBM said.
The vulnerability - dubbed WinShock by some - has been graded as 9.3 out of a possible 10 on the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS), a measure of severity in computer security.
Six figures
The bug also exists in Microsoft's Windows Server platforms - putting the security of websites that handle encrypted data at risk.
Specifically, it related to Microsoft Secure Channel, known as Schannel, Microsoft's software for implementing secure transfer of data.
Schannel now joins the other major secure standards - Apple SecureTransport , GNUTLS, OpenSSL and NSS - in having a major flaw discovered this year.
The bug has been likened to Heartbleed, a major security issue also affecting secure data transfer
Security experts had compared this latest flaw to other significant problems that had come to light this year such as the Heartbleed bug.
However, they added that while its impact could be just as significant, it might be more difficult for attackers to exploit.
As with Heartbleed, the exploit relates to vulnerabilities in the technology used to transfer data securely - known as SSL (Secure Sockets Layer).
There is no evidence the bug identified by IBM has been exploited "in the wild", but now that a patch has been issued and the problem made public, experts have predicted attacks on out-of-date machines would be "likely".
The bug would have probably been worth more than six figures had it been sold to criminal hackers, the researchers added.
Gavin Millard, from Tenable Network Security, said the fact there had been no known attacks yet should not dampen concerns.
"Whilst no proof-of-concept code has surfaced yet, due to Microsoft thankfully being tight-lipped on the exact details of the vulnerability, it won't be long until one does, which could be disastrous for any admin that hasn't updated.
"Is WinShock as bad as Heartbleed? At the moment, due to the lack of details and proof-of-concept code, it's hard to say, but a remote code execution vulnerability affecting all versions of Windows server on a common component like Schannel is up there with the worst of them."(bbc) 

UK Govt look for solution to mobile network black spots

Posted on November 5, 2014 at 5:20 PM Comments comments (0)
The government plans to oblige mobile operators to improve their coverage, possibly by sharing rivals' networks.
Partial 'notspots', where there is coverage from some but not all of the mobile networks, affected a fifth of the UK, leaving people unable to make calls or send texts, it said.
One possible solution would see people transferred to rival networks when they lose signal.
But experts are not convinced this would work.
Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said he was determined to sort out the issue of mobile notspots.
Culture Secretary Sajid Javid speaking on BBC Radio Four Today programme
A series of talks held with mobile operators has so far failed to find a solution.
"It can't be right that in a fifth of the UK, people cannot use their phones to make a call. The government isn't prepared to let that situation continue," he said.
The proposals to end the frustration - currently only aimed at improving 2G services - are as follows:
  • National roaming - phones would use another network when theirs was unavailable, similar to how roaming works when abroad
  • Infrastructure sharing - mobile networks would be able to put transmitters on each other's masts
  • Reforming virtual networks - agreements that companies such as Tesco and Virgin currently have with single operators would be extended to all four networks
  • Coverage obligation - obliging the networks to cover a certain percentage of the UK - and leaving them to decide how to do it
The government has given the industry, businesses and the public until 26 November to respond to the proposals.
Leaked letter
Mr Javid may face opposition to the move from within his own party.
The Times newspaper has reported that a leaked Whitehall letter contains a warning from the Home Secretary Theresa May that allowing people to roam between networks could compromise efforts to track criminals and terrorists.
Mr Javid's plan is reported to have prompted Theresa May to warn of security issues
"[It] could have a detrimental impact on law enforcement, security and intelligence agency access to communications data and lawful intercept," states the letter.
It adds that further research is needed to ensure the change would not make it more difficult for police to access information about calls and emails that is "crucial to keeping us safe".
The Labour Party has seized on the apparent clash.
"The detail of this policy needs careful consideration," said Harriet Harman, shadow culture secretary.
"Rather than briefing against each other as part of the ongoing Tory leadership squabble to replace David Cameron, cabinet ministers should be making clear what the impact will be on 4G services for consumers and the emergency services, as well as any possible implications for national security and the fight against serious crime."
Phone masts
BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones said mobile phone operators had indicated that national roaming would be bad for the consumer.
"Operators argue that roaming would shorten battery life as phones searched for the strongest signal, and pose a risk to the security of their networks," he said.
He said the operators wanted changes to planning laws and the ability to build and share more phone masts.
Matthew Howett, an analyst with research firm Ovum, also thinks that the government's preferred plan of national roaming is "a messy solution that ought to be abandoned".
"The cost, complexity and side-effects of national roaming make it such an unworkable fix that the industry thought had been dropped," he told the BBC.
"What needs to happen over the next month is collectively for the the mobile operators to work with government to come up with an agreeable fix that addresses not only poor voice coverage, but also data too," he added.
Making it easier for operators to put up masts quickly in a cost-effective way would also help current coverage issues, he added.
Mobile spectrum auctioned last year was well-suited to covering rural areas and operators were starting to make use of it and that too should help improve the situation, he said.
While the government's consultation is looking specifically at 2G services, a study commissioned by consumer watchdog Which indicates 3G and 4G coverage is also patchy around the UK.
The report into the state of the mobile phone network found big differences between the four operators in different parts of the country.
  • Both 3G and 4G are best in London and worst in Wales
  • Three had the best 3G coverage and Vodafone the worst, but Vodafone offered the fastest 4G speeds
  • Three was the slowest 4G network and had the worst coverage, while EE had the best 4G coverage
The report, compiled by OpenSignal, a company that crowd sources phone signal strength, looked at the 3G and 4G mobile signals of nearly 40,000 phone users of EE, 02, Three and Vodafone's networks.
It found that 4G speeds have almost halved in the past year as more people sign up to such services.
The difference between operators in different parts of the country highlighted the need for detailed information for consumers before they signed up to a particular service, said Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which.
"We're calling on providers to publish the reliability and speeds their networks actually achieve, so people can make an informed choice before signing on the dotted line," he said.
Vodafone agreed that an industry-wide standard for measuring network performance was needed.
"We've now had numerous different reports with different conclusions," said a spokesman.
All the operators are currently investing in their networks and offering more rural coverage. (BBC) - FCW says "We have all experienced the ravages of network coverage issues and we think this practical suggestion coulfd work on many levels...however for operators who invest in infrustrucutre in an area where others dont it wouldnt be unreasonable for there subscribers to enjoy some form of service improvement...we dont have the answer to that but think the solution will need to cater for these diverse needs.

HP enter 3D market

Posted on October 30, 2014 at 6:26 PM Comments comments (99)
Technology giant HP has announced the launch of a 3D printer it claims will be 10 times faster than current models.
The company also unveiled a new computer with built-in scanner, projector and touchpad at an event in New York on Wednesday.
The firm is hoping the products will help stir up a stagnant PC market.
One expert said printing companies were facing tough times and that HP needed its 3D printing to "work and to work well".
The firm said that 3D printing remained a niche technology because it was a slow process and, besides very expensive models, the printers turned out low quality products.
But it claimed that its own printer would be faster - and consequently cheaper - for manufacturers. HP also said that, for its price, it would turn out a better-quality product than its competitors.
HP's senior vice-president, inkjet and web solutions, Steve Nigro, said the printer would be on sale for a "lower cost than any others in its class". But he did not specify an expected retail price.
'Dwindling prospects'
Analysts identified HP as one of the companies that needed to capitalise on the potentially large market for 3D printing to offset the stagnation in their core areas of business.
"We estimate that the global 3D printing market is set to grow from $1.15bn (£930m) in 2013 to $4.8bn in 2018," said Arnaud Gagneux, vice-president, technology transformation, at CCS Insight.
Joris Peels, an expert on 3D printing, said: "The existing 2D printing companies face dwindling prospects, with kids increasingly growing up in a world virtually without paper."
Mr Peels worked for HP as a consultant on its 3D printing endeavour but was not employed to work on this project.
"Competing tablet products such as Amazon's also have better business models than HP's tablets since Amazon's and Apple's tablets put a store in the consumer's hand letting these vendors make more revenue over time.
"HP needs 3D printing to work and to work well," he said.
Peels said that the printer technology differed from other methods because it "hardens the entire layer in one pass and also uses several chemical compounds to do so. Existing technologies draw out a layer one curve at a time using heat or light".
This, he said, accounted for its purported relative speed.
The "multi-jet fusion" 3D printer is scheduled for release in 2016
The "multi-jet fusion" printer will not be released to the open market until 2016, following a period of collaboration with certain users, during which it hopes to fine-tune the product.
Sprout venture
In a departure for the firm, HP also announced that it would share its 3D printing technology in a bid to get feedback from experts.
The company said it had waited until it had the right product ready before moving into 3D printing.
But Mr Peels said that by "announcing now and only launching in 2016, HP is giving EOS, 3D Systems and Stratasys years to come up with alternatives and build competing machines."
The Sprout computer, which combines scanner, projector and touch pad, will be available to order online from Thursday 30 October and will be for sale in stores in the US from 9 November. It will cost $1,899 and the company said that launch dates for other countries would follow.
It has a sensor-laden mat on the desktop, instead of a mousepad and runs on Microsoft's Windows 8. It also has display-mounted 3D scanner and projector that creates a digital image of objects placed on the mat.
The Sprout computer has a touchpad mat and a mounted 3D scanner
The images are projected on to the desktop, which a user can edit by touch. At its launch event, HP demonstrated how items could be placed on the mat, scanned and incorporated into designs on the screen.
Eric Monsef, who heads the project for HP, said the initial production run would be modest but could be scaled up if needed.
The key is to attract developers for a new Sprout marketplace or apps store, for specifically designed software that can take advantage of 3D capabilities.
'No competition'
It would come with apps from Dreamworks Animation, Skype and Evernote, among others.
"It's about getting people excited again," Mr Monsef told Reuters. The hope is that Sprout will entice more developers as time goes by, who will in turn devise novel ways to make use of the technology, he said. "Day of launch, we're not even at the halfway point of our work."
Mr Gagneux said: "Sprout is a unique product which will undoubtedly appeal to hobbyist and creative workers. It has no competition.
"Both Stratasys and 3D Systems have to be concerned about this launch as the marketing and commercial might of HP can potentially dwarf any initiative they had to grow their business."
Earlier this month, HP said it would separate its better-performing computer and printer business from its corporate hardware and services operations.(bbc) FCW saya - We cant wait for affordable and effective 3S printing to become reality...we wish HP well.

Blackberry Passport Offers Corporate Hope

Posted on September 24, 2014 at 5:13 PM Comments comments (0)
Blackberry has launched a distinctive handset featuring a square screen and a keyboard that offers both physical keys and touch-enabled gesture controls.
It said work-focused users in particular should benefit from the Blackberry Passport's innovations.
Sales of the company's handsets - which are powered by its own operating system - have been in decline.
Analysts said the new device should appeal to existing Blackberry owners but might struggle to win over others.
The Canadian company's chief operating officer said the handset's release was part of a broader turnaround strategy led by John Chen, who became chief executive in November.
"You're going to see us be very focused," Marty Beard told the BBC.
"Potentially, in the past we got a little too broad a little too aggressively.
The Passport's unusually wide screen makes it possible to see the full width of documents in larger type than in rivals
"Our target segment is more enterprise-focused. It's the power professional. It's someone who wants to be productive.
"Those users tend to be in regulated industries like banking or healthcare or government. We know those segments really well - in a way it's getting back to the Blackberry roots."
Push and swipe
The Passport got its name because its dimensions resemble a thick version of the travel document.
It has a 4.5in (11.4cm) touchscreen with a resolution of 453 pixels per inch - higher than Apple's iPhone 6 Plus, but lower than Samsung's Galaxy Note 4.
Blackberry suggests documents are easier to edit because of the extra width provided by having a square screen, even if it is less suited for watching video.
The keyboard buttons are also touch-sensitive. This allows gesture-based shortcuts that were previously restricted to Blackberry's all-screen devices.
For example, swiping a finger quickly leftwards along the keys deletes the previous word, while sliding a thumb along them more slowly moves the cursor in the same direction.
Flicking up on the left, middle or right-hand side of the keyboard selects the word above
In addition, users can select from three anticipated words - shown near the bottom of the screen - by flicking upwards beneath the desired one. This saves having to type the text in full.
"In some cases it takes a while to learn it, because even if you're familiar with a Blackberry it's a little bit different because it's that combination of physical plus virtual," acknowledged Mr Beard.
"So there may be that learning curve in the beginning, but it's well worth it, and once people learn it they are flying."
One expert who has tested the handset supported the claim.
"It certainly made me respond more eloquently to emails rather than just triaging them with a 'Yes, no, I'll call you back or see you later'," said Shaun Collins, founder of the telecoms consultancy CCS Insight.
"However, it's going to divide opinion - it gives you the Blackberry experience on steroids. But for a broader audience it will be a curiosity."
The phone is being sold at an "introductory rate" of $599/£529/649 euros.
Sales slump
Blackberry's own figures indicate it sold about 1.6 million smartphones over the three months to June.
That compares poorly with the 6.8 million handsets it sold in the same quarter in 2013, and 13.2 million over the corresponding period in 2011.
The Blackberry Passport can run both Blackberry 10 and Android apps
Its fortunes contrast with the wider smartphone market, which has expanded.
Having pioneered the sector, the company now accounts for only 1% of sales in the UK, according to research firm Kantar Worldpanel.
Even so, one company watcher said Blackberry still had appeal to certain organisations, even if they had not purchased its other recent releases in large numbers.
"The key markets it holds are financial services and security-oriented industries," said Martin Bradley from Strategy Analytics.
"Blackberry continues to offer the most secure end-to-end communications architecture in the mobile market, and its devices provide business users with that reassurance."
Voice commands
Other features introduced by the handset and its new operating system - Blackberry 10 OS 10.3 - include:
  • Access to the Amazon Appstore - the phone can run the 240,000 Android apps it contains. But the store lacks some popular products, including photo-sharing network Instagram, and newly released games, such as Fifa 15, both found on Google Play
  • Blackberry Blend - this allows certain tasks on the phone to be controlled by a wi-fi-connected PC or tablet that does not store the data involved, letting users take advantage of bigger screens when available
  • Blackberry Assistant - a facility that recognises voice commands and speaks back in English, French, German, Spanish and Italian
  • A 3,450 mAh battery - this is bigger than most of its rivals, and allows the Passport to promise up to 25 hours of mixed use
Blackberry Blend allows the phone to be controlled by a larger connected device
The company has also added a new, tougher level of encryption to messages sent via its BBM messaging app to protect them from eavesdropping and manipulation.
"We've already got a lead - we're not going to sit on our laurels," said Mr Beard.
He added that Blackberry also intended to add encryption to voice calls made between its devices in the future but it was "still to be decided" if this function would come to the Passport.(bbc) FCW Says " Blackberry, the giants of the past of smartphones, have taken a hit in recent years and suffered massive market loss....The Passport offers a new lease of life and hope of retaining/recapturing corporate power users, but will likely not appeal to a wider market...FCW hopes Blackberry prosper with this device to ensure it remains viable moving forward

IBM's Supercomputer Helps Business

Posted on September 17, 2014 at 5:01 PM Comments comments (0)
IBM's supercomputer Watson is being made available to businesses to answer tricky questions such as: "Which deals are most likely to close?"
The cognitive platform can understand questions posed in natural language and crunch vast amounts of data.
Watson Analytics is the latest step in IBM's $1bn (£610m) investment in the platform, which is already available for medical research.
But one expert questioned whether it could live up to past successes.
Watson is a computer system capable of artificial intelligence. In 2011 it was tailored to answer questions on the quiz show Jeopardy and won. It had access to 200 million pages of content but was not connected to the internet.
Since then IBM has worked to find more practical uses for the machine, such as helping to make decisions about cancer treatment at a US hospital.
This latest move is part of an attempt to commercialise the platform.
"Watson Analytics is designed to help all businesspeople - from sales reps on the road to company CEOs - see patterns, pursue ideas and improve all types of decisions," said IBM's senior vice-president Bob Picciano.
The first version of Watson Analytics, ready in test form in November, will be available as a cloud-based service, with both free and premium services, which can analyse more complex datasets from a wider array of sources.
Track record
Most existing business analysis tools assume users have data ready to look at, a clear idea of what they want to analyse and the skills and time to do it.
IBM hopes that a tool offering to do much of this work will prove a draw.
Watson does have a good track record, according to Gartner analyst Frank Buytendijk.
"IBM Watson has proven itself very capable to achieve astonishing results, way beyond traditional analytics," he said.
"But most of this work has been done in controlled environments and for very specific topics. There is not a lot of market feedback on Watson performing 'out there in the wild.'"
The decision to offer business analytics via the platform could open up an interesting dilemma for IBM.
"From what I understand of it so far, Watson Analytics is not really the big Watson Jeopardy Supercomputer Cognitive thing, but a next generation of IBM's business analytics software, now also labelled Watson," said Mr Buytendijk.
"Clearly Watson Analytics is a step forward compared to the traditional business analytics market, and it is clearly very innovative. At the same time, labelling it Watson creates a very, very high level of expectations, which is hard to fulfil."

Android One Smartphone Hits India

Posted on September 16, 2014 at 4:42 PM Comments comments (0)
The first Android One-branded budget-priced "high quality" smartphones have been released in India.
The handsets provide a minimum set of features determined by Google, which has sourced several of the components to help cut manufacturing costs.
The company has also teamed up with a local network to make it cheaper to download Android updates and new apps.
Experts suggest the move should help address criticism of earlier entry-price smartphones.
Sundar Pichai, who oversees Android, said the Android One scheme had delivered economies of scale that meant the first batch of phones could be offered for as low as 6,399 rupees ($105; £65) if bought contract-free.
Three Indian companies have released the first Android One handsets, as Shilpa Kannan reports
"Our goal was to develop high quality smartphones at an affordable price, with access to connectivity, done at scale around the world," he told the BBC ahead of the launch in Delhi.
"We provide our OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] a menu, effectively.
"They can choose the CPU [central processing unit], the GPU [graphics processing unit], the storage, the type of battery, the type of camera.
"It really saves them a lot of effort in terms of identifying the right hardware [and] doing all the testing you need to do to get the software to run on this hardware.
Mr Pichai chose India, the county of his birth, as the first nation to get Android One phones
"We tune it, we work out the bugs… we keep it secure, we update it and so on."
He added the scheme should soon expand to Indonesia, Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
There are no plans to launch the handsets in the West, but Mr Pichai did not rule it out.
Matching specs
The first Android One devices are made by Micromax - already India's bestselling mobile-phone maker - Karbonn and Spice.
Three Indian companies have released the first Android One handsets, but others are planning other versions
To meet Google's minimum standards they all have:
  • a 4.5in (11.4cm) display
  • 1GB of RAM (random-access memory)
  • a 5MP rear camera and a 2MP front one
  • a quadcore processor sourced from Taiwanese company Mediatek
  • the ability to run the next version of Android, due for release soon
In addition, they have been tailored to suit the local market by including a micro-SD (Secure Digital) slot, a replaceable battery, a built-in FM radio and the ability to support two Sim cards simultaneously.
If connected to Airtel - one of India's most popular networks - data used to download Android updates will not be subtracted from a customer's allowance for the first six months. Users can also download 200MB worth of apps from Google Play on top of their data plan.
Google said it had also customised some of its own apps for India, including:
  • the addition of railway bookings and cricket scores to Google Now's card-based results
  • an "offline" version of YouTube, so videos can be re-watched without incurring extra data charges after the initial download
  • the introduction of 13 local publications to Play Newsstand
The handset makers are allowed to add services and wallpapers of their own, but cannot run a "skin" on top of Android that significantly changes the user interface - something manufacturers have commonly done in the past to distinguish their models.
"We want to deliver a consistent experience on these devices," said Mr Pichai, adding this should prevent the devices taking a performance hit or being incompatible with software updates.
Word of mouth
About 400 million smartphones will be sold in India over the next five years, according to a forecast by PricewaterhouseCoopers, with the majority bought at Android One's price point.
Google said only one in 10 people in India currently have access to a smartphone
"A lot of the phones that have been sold in this price zone to date have not been particularly high performance or high quality," said Mohammad Chowdhury, the company's Mumbai-based (Bombay) telecoms expert.
"That's meant the experience for users has been less than satisfactory.
"If Google can start convincing people that the experience of using data will be better on these phones, I think that will result in fairly fast uptake, particularly as word of mouth is quite good in India."
Android One's launch comes less than a month after two low-cost smartphones running Mozilla's rival Firefox operating system were launched in India.
The Wall Street Journal has also reported that Samsung intends to sell budget-priced Tizen phones in the country, a system it currently uses to power cameras and smartwatches.
Indian smartphone makers Spice and Intex released Firefox handsets in the country in August
"India and other emerging markets are being targeted by other potentially low-cost platforms," said Chris Green, from the Davies Murphy Group consultancy.
"Google needs to protect Android's market base in these countries, as the low-cost users of today will be the premium users of 10 years time."
More smartphones
Mr Pichai said Google would "constantly evolve" Android One's minimum standards to suit both the needs of future software and the tastes of the various markets it launched into.
He added that handset makers Lenovo, Acer, HTC, Asus, Panasonic and Alcatel had recently joined the programme along with the chipmaker Qualcomm, all of which would launch devices at a later point.
That leaves the bestselling Android handset-maker, Samsung, as a notable holdout.
Even so, Mr Pichai said he expected the company would play a "huge role" in helping offer Android to the "next four billion users". (FCW Says - "Wow..fantastic offering to make technology accessible to more and more people HAS to be good! Great stuff

Popular Smart Phone Apps Leave Users in Dark On Privacy

Posted on September 10, 2014 at 12:12 PM Comments comments (406)
The vast majority of popular apps are guilty of basic failings over user privacy, a report has warned.
The Global Privacy Enforcement Network (Gpen) looked at 1,211 apps and found 85% were not clearly explaining what data was being collected, and for what reason.
Almost one in three apps were requesting an excessive amount of personal information, the report said.
The UK's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has backed the findings.
"Today's results show that many app developers are still failing to provide this information in a way that is clear and understandable to the average consumer," said the ICO's group manager for technology, Simon Rice.
"The ICO and the other Gpen members will be writing to those developers where there is clear room for improvement.
"We will also be publishing guidance to explain the steps people can take to help protect their information when using mobile apps." (bbc) FCW says "For sometime we have felt smart phone apps not exactly revealing the full picture on privacy and this seems to bear this out.

Google Hold Public Forums About "right to be forgotten"

Posted on September 8, 2014 at 5:01 PM Comments comments (0)
Google is holding seven public meetings across Europe to debate issues raised by the "right to be forgotten" ruling.
The ruling by the European Court of Justice lets people ask Google to remove some types of information about them from its search index.
Google opposes the ruling, which has led more than 90,000 people to apply for data about them to be scrubbed.
One privacy expert was sceptical about the meetings, saying they had more to do with PR than open discussion.
Data decisions
The first meeting takes place in Madrid on 9 September, with the other six due to be held in other European capitals before 4 November.
The meetings will be chaired and run by an advisory council Googleset up in the wake of the ruling. The council includes Wikimedia founder Jimmy Wales, former privacy officials and ex-judges.
Google is seeking input from experts to speak at the meetings, which it said were being held to discuss how "one person's right to be forgotten should be balanced with the public's right to information". The ruling only affects searches done in Europe.
It said the obligation to remove some information was a "new and difficult challenge" and it wanted help to guide its decisions about when to remove links to information and when to refuse.
Up to mid-July Google said it had received about 90,000 applications to remove data applicants considered to be "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant". The requests have involved criminal trials, embarrassing photographs, bullying and news articles that portray some people in a poor light. The search giant is believed to have acted on about half of these applications. Applicants can appeal if their request is refused.
The European Commission welcomed the meetings, spokesman Michele Cercone told Bloomberg, adding that exactly how the ruling should be enforced was the responsibility of national data protection regulators.
Google's meetings start just before a 15 September gathering at which European data protection regulators will hash out guidelines on the "right to be forgotten" for all search engines to ensure all requests to remove are treated consistently.
Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, head of CNIL - France's data protection body - said the debates were more about getting good PR for Google.
"They want to be seen as being open and virtuous, but they handpicked the members of the council, will control who is in the audience, and what comes out of the meetings (bbc) FCW says "a difficult social decision but ultimatly FCW thinks it all depends on what "needs to be forgotten" - things which could prevent someone from getting hurt or loss must surely be available? What do YOU think?

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