Telegram App Used in Saint Petersburg Bombing, Says Russia

Russia’s FSB security agency on Monday said the Telegram messaging service was used by those behind the Saint Petersburg metro bombing, the latest salvo by authorities after they threatened to block the app.

“During the probe into the April 3 terrorist attack in the Saint Petersburg metro, the FSB received reliable information about the use of Telegram by the suicide bomber, his accomplices and their mastermind abroad to conceal their criminal plans,” the FSB said in a statement.

They used Telegram “at each stage of the preparation of this terrorist attack,” it said.

Fifteen people were killed in the suicide bombing, which was claimed by the little-known Imam Shamil Battalion, a group suspected of links to Al-Qaeda.

Telegram is a free Russian-designed messaging app that lets people exchange messages, photos and videos in groups of up to 5,000. It has attracted about 100 million users since its launch in 2013.

But the service has drawn the ire of critics who say it can let criminals and terrorists communicate without fear of being tracked by police, pointing in particular to its use by Islamic State jihadists.

The FSB charged that “the members of the international terrorist organisations on Russian territory use Telegram”.

The app is already under fire in Moscow after Russia’s state communications watchdog on Friday threatened to ban it, saying the company behind the service had failed to submit company details for registration.

Telegram App Used in Saint Petersburg Bombing, Says Russia
Telegram’s secretive Russian chief executive, Pavel Durov, who has previously refused to bow to government regulation that would compromise the privacy of users, had called that threat “paradoxical” on one of his social media accounts.

He said it would force users, including “high-ranking Russian officials” to communicate via apps based in the United States like WhatsApp.

The 32-year-old had previously created Russia’s popular VKontakte social media site, before founding Telegram in the United States.

Durov said in April that the app had “consistently defended our users’ privacy” and “never made any deals with governments.”

The app is one of several targeted in a legal crackdown by Russian authorities on the internet and on social media sites in particular.

Since January 1, internet companies have been required to store all users’ personal data at data centres in Russia and provide it to the authorities on demand.

Draft legislation that has already secured initial backing in parliament would make it illegal for messaging services to have anonymous users.

 

UberPASS Rollout Begins in India, Flat Fees Start From Rs. 49

Last week, Uber had announced the launch of a new feature called UberPASS in select cities as a pilot. Now, the company has started rolling out the option to users. With UberPASS, you pay a flat fee to ride, with no cancellation fees or subscription – however, at least during the current pilot, you have to complete a minimum number of rides this week, to continue accessing it next week. The UberPASS fares are being applied to UberGO rides, and don’t apply on shared rides, or higher car categories.

The UberPASS feature is being rolled out to users in a phased manner – the only way to access it is if Uber sends you an email or SMS alert. After that, you can select it while booking the car.

According to the company, select riders will receive an email to unlock the feature. There is no specific eligibility criteria, but about 10 percent of riders in the four cities will get access to UberPASS. These riders will then get offers (which could include flat fares) on UberGO rides, which would vary from city to city. This in turn would unlock UberPASS.

UberPASS Rollout Begins in India, Flat Fees Start From Rs. 49
In Mumbai, for Rs. 99, you can take an Uber for up to 8km, and Rs. 159 for 8-15km. As mentioned above, there are no cancellation charges or subscription fees with UberPASS, and no promo code either; UberPASS is simply an option in the ride types, along with UberX and UberGO.

In Bengaluru, the company is offering fares of Rs. 49 for 6km, and Rs. 99 for up to 12km. An Uber representative who spoke to us said it wouldn’t be able to share a city-specific breakup, but it appears that the Chennai fee is Rs. 100, and it’s pointed out that actual drop location and pickup location must be entered correctly – changes could mean that the flat fee does not apply.

 

Google Talk Is Officially Dead, Switch to Hangouts Complete

It was inevitable that Google would one day start cutting down its confusing array of chat-based applications, and the Internet search giant has done just that. The company has finally killed off its Google Talk service and has replaced it with Hangouts, keeping true to the promise made back in March.

Google Talk, aka Gchat or GTalk, which came into existence back in 2005, is among the company’s oldest messaging applications that has been in a state of limbo given the various new messaging apps that the company has introduced including the more recent Google Allo. Killing off GTalk essentially means that anyone who was still using Google Talk rather than Hangouts will now be forced to shift to the latter to continue messaging on Gmail. The transition will go through smoothly and you’ll find all your chat contacts now in Hangouts.

Google Talk Is Officially Dead, Switch to Hangouts Complete
Even though Gchat may be gone now, you’re still left with a number of chat-based services from Google to suit your needs. It’s also perhaps not a bad thing as not only does Hangouts cater to modern sensibilities with chat bubbles and GIF support, but also allows Google to focus more of its resources on its remaining apps. It’s a major step in the company’s effort too streamline its services.

Google in March also announced that it would drop support for carrier SMS on Hangouts and would instead be shifting it to Android Messages. The company in recent months has been trying to rewire Hangouts to serve G Suite and enterprise users, much like Slack or Microsoft Teams, and making it the default chat for Gmail is an effort towards the same. The same month, the company also rolled out Hangouts Meet video conferencing service along with text-based messaging service Hangout Chat for enterprise users.

 

Google Hit by Record EUR 2.42-Billion Fine for Breaching EU Antitrust Rules

The EU hit Google with a record EUR 2.4 billion ($2.72 billion or roughly Rs. 17,541 crores) anti-trust fine Tuesday for favouring its own shopping service, in a fresh assault on a US tech giant that risks the wrath of President Donald Trump.

Hard-charging European Commission competition chief Margrethe Vestager said Google had “abused its market dominance” as the world’s most popular search engine to give illegal advantage to its Google Shopping service.

“What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules. It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate,” Denmark’s Vestager told a news conference.

“And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation.”

Google now has 90 days to “end this conduct” or face further penalty payments, Vestager said.

The fine broke the previous EU record for a monopoly case against US chipmaker Intel of EUR 1.06 billion in 2009.

Google said that it “respectfully” disagreed with the EU decision, which followed a seven-year investigation, and was considering an appeal.

“We respectfully disagree with the conclusions announced today. We will review the Commission’s decision in detail as we consider an appeal, and we look forward to continuing to make our case,” Kent Walker, the company’s senior vice president and general counsel, said in a statement.

Google insisted that it “shows shopping ads, connecting our users with thousands of advertisers, large and small, in ways that are useful for both.”

‘Market dominance’
The decision comes less than a year after Vestager shocked Washington and the world with an order that iPhone manufacturer Apple repay EUR 13 billion in back taxes in Ireland.

Google Hit by Record EUR 2.42-Billion Fine for Breaching EU Antitrust Rules
Crucially for Google, Brussels has demanded that the US tech giant change the business model for Google Shopping to meet the EU’s concerns.

While an EU record, the amount is below the maximum possible of more than EUR 8 billion or 10 percent of Google’s total revenue of 90 billion dollars last year.

Brussels accuses Google of giving its own online service, Google Shopping, too much priority in search results to the detriment of other price comparison services, such as TripAdvisor and Expedia.

“Google’s market dominance has given the company power to decide the fate of all but the biggest online service providers – in other words nearly every company,” said Fairsearch, a lobby of complainants, in a statement.

The case, launched in 2010, is one of three against Google and of several against blockbuster US companies including Starbucks, Apple, Amazon and McDonalds.

In the other Google cases, the EU is examining Google’s AdSense advertising service and its Android mobile phone software.

The cases have stoked tensions with Washington and could now face the wrath of Trump, the real estate tycoon who won office on his “America First” slogan.

The decision come after a long negotiation period with many twists and turns in which the two sides tried to settle the case amicably.

Vestager’s predecessor, the Spaniard Joaquin Almunia, made three attempts to resolve the dispute but in each case intense pressure by national governments, rivals and privacy advocates scuppered the effort.

 

US Government Websites Restored After Pro-Islamic State Hack

Ohio officials have restored 11 government websites that were hacked with a message purporting to be supportive of the Islamic State terrorist group.

The Department of Administrative Services says affected websites were restored by Monday. They’d been hacked Sunday with a message that included: “I love the Islamic state.”

The Department of Public Safety says the FBI and US Department of Homeland Security are investigating the hacking.

US Government Websites Restored After Pro-Islamic State Hack
It affected websites for the governor and his wife, the lieutenant governor and the inspector general, as well as Ohio’s Medicaid and prisons agencies. The list also included sites for Ohio’s casino and facilities commissions, the offices of Health Transformation and Workforce Transformation, and the government streamlining effort LeanOhio.

The same message infiltrated government websites in Brookhaven, New York, and Howard County, Maryland.

 

Telegram App Used in Saint Petersburg Bombing, Says Russia

Russia’s FSB security agency on Monday said the Telegram messaging service was used by those behind the Saint Petersburg metro bombing, the latest salvo by authorities after they threatened to block the app.

“During the probe into the April 3 terrorist attack in the Saint Petersburg metro, the FSB received reliable information about the use of Telegram by the suicide bomber, his accomplices and their mastermind abroad to conceal their criminal plans,” the FSB said in a statement.

They used Telegram “at each stage of the preparation of this terrorist attack,” it said.

Fifteen people were killed in the suicide bombing, which was claimed by the little-known Imam Shamil Battalion, a group suspected of links to Al-Qaeda.

Telegram is a free Russian-designed messaging app that lets people exchange messages, photos and videos in groups of up to 5,000. It has attracted about 100 million users since its launch in 2013.

But the service has drawn the ire of critics who say it can let criminals and terrorists communicate without fear of being tracked by police, pointing in particular to its use by Islamic State jihadists.

The FSB charged that “the members of the international terrorist organisations on Russian territory use Telegram”.

The app is already under fire in Moscow after Russia’s state communications watchdog on Friday threatened to ban it, saying the company behind the service had failed to submit company details for registration.

Telegram App Used in Saint Petersburg Bombing, Says Russia
Telegram’s secretive Russian chief executive, Pavel Durov, who has previously refused to bow to government regulation that would compromise the privacy of users, had called that threat “paradoxical” on one of his social media accounts.

He said it would force users, including “high-ranking Russian officials” to communicate via apps based in the United States like WhatsApp.

The 32-year-old had previously created Russia’s popular VKontakte social media site, before founding Telegram in the United States.

Durov said in April that the app had “consistently defended our users’ privacy” and “never made any deals with governments.”

The app is one of several targeted in a legal crackdown by Russian authorities on the internet and on social media sites in particular.

Since January 1, internet companies have been required to store all users’ personal data at data centres in Russia and provide it to the authorities on demand.

Draft legislation that has already secured initial backing in parliament would make it illegal for messaging services to have anonymous users.

Facebook Reportedly in Talks to Produce Original TV-Quality Shows

Facebook Inc is in talks with Hollywood studios about producing scripted, TV-quality shows, with an aim of launching original programming by late summer, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

The social networking giant has indicated that it was willing to commit to production budgets as high as $3 million per episode, in meetings with Hollywood talent agencies, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Facebook is hoping to target audiences from ages 13 to 34, with a focus on the 17 to 30 range. The company has already lined up “Strangers”, a relationship drama, and a game show, “Last State Standing”, the report said.

Facebook could not be immediately reached for comment.

The company is expected to release episodes in a traditional manner, instead of dropping an entire season in one go like Netflix Inc and Amazon.com Inc, WSJ reported.

Facebook Reportedly in Talks to Produce Original TV-Quality Shows
The company is also willing to share its viewership data with Hollywood, the report said.

Apple Inc hired co-presidents of Sony Pictures Television, Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, earlier this month, to lead its video-programming efforts.

Apple began its long-awaited move into original television series last week, with a reality show called “Planet of the Apps”, an unscripted show about developers trying to interest celebrity mentors with a 60-second pitch on an escalator.

The company’s future programming plans include an adaptation of comedian James Corden’s “Carpool Karaoke” segment from his CBS Corp show that will begin airing in August.

Facebook Celebrates 20 Years of Harry Potter by Letting You Cast Spells

On June 26 1997, J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone hit the bookstores for the first time, which started us on a magical journey that spanned seven books and as many movies that continues to hold a special place for millions of Potterheads around the world 20 years on. Many are proving their love for the series in their own ways, and so is Facebook, which has introduced an interactive new feature that casts spells with status updates.

The way it works is simple enough. Post a status update on Facebook using any of the terms – Harry Potter, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff or Slytherin – and the update will display an animation of a wand casting a spell. It also works on clicking the term on your friend’s status update. The terms are highlighted in colours that signify them. For example, Gryffindor will be highlighted in red while Slytherin will be highlighted in green, and so on. And the feature also works within comments.

Facebook Celebrates 20 Years of Harry Potter by Letting You Cast Spells

But it’s not just Facebook. Twitter too is showing its love for Harry Potter, by launching a special emoji that will show up if you tweet with the hashtag #HarryPotter20. The hashtag will bring up Harry’s iconic rounded spectacles with the ‘lighting bolt’ scar on top.

Google late last year also brought a touch of magic for Android users who could activate certain features, such as turning the flashlight on or off or switching on the silent mode by saying “lumos”, “Nox”, or “Silencio”, respectively to Google Assistant.

Rowling’s Harry Potter series has enjoyed a massive fan base around the world for its magical storytelling and lovable characters. The books span the titular character’s journey over the years in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, facing unexpected evils and challenges with the help of his friends. The world of fantasy that author J.K Rowling created is unlikely to fade away anytime soon, with spin-off movies in the pipeline as well. And this only brings to mind one of the most memorable lines from the series – “After all this time?”

 

Lenovo K6 Power, K6 Note Start Receiving Android 7.0 Nougat Update in India

The Lenovo K6 Power and K6 Note were launched in India late last year running Android 6.0 Marshmallow and the company has now confirmed that the Nougat 7.0 update has started rolling out for the smartphones in the country. The update will bring features like multi-window support, data saver, smart notifications, and quick app switching to the smartphones, both of which are available on Flipkart and via retail outlets.

Lenovo says that the Android 7.0 Nougat update for the K6 Power and K6 Note will let users experience a new interface wherein they will now be able to reply directly from the notification bar, save on battery life with an updated Doze mode, and play around with the font and display size, among other things.

To recall, the Lenovo K6 Power was launched starting at Rs. 9,999 and features a 5-inch display with full-HD (1080×1920 pixel) resolution. It is powered by a 1.4GHz octa-core Snapdragon 430 SoC with a choice of either 3GB or 4GB of RAM. Inbuilt storage is at 32GB, which is expandable via microSD card (up to 128GB).

Lenovo K6 Power, K6 Note Start Receiving Android 7.0 Nougat Update in India
The smartphone sports a 13-megapixel rear camera with a Sony IMX258 sensor, PDAF and LED flash, and an 8-megapixel front camera with a Sony IMX219 sensor and a wide-angle lens. Connectivity options on the dual-SIM (Nano SIM) K6 Power smartphone include 4G LTE, VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2, FM radio, Micro-USB, and GPS/ A-GPS.

Meanwhile, the Lenovo K6 Note starts at Rs. 13,999 and features a larger 5.5-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixels) IPS display. It is powered by an octa-core Snapdragon 430 SoC coupled with either 3GB or 4GB of RAM with 32GB or 64GB of internal storage respectively, expandable via microSD card (up to 128GB).

Optics for the Lenovo K6 Note includes a 16-megapixel rear camera with dual-tone LED flash, and an 8-megapixel selfie camera. Connectivity options include 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.1, and GPS.

Google Pixel 2 Phones Leak Tips Design and Specifications

While there have been several leaks about the upcoming second generation Pixel smartphones in recent months, the specifications of the handsets have now allegedly been leaked on the Internet. Though both Walleye and Taimen, tipped codenames of the successors to Pixel and Pixel XL respectively, have been tipped to feature Snapdragon 835 SoC and 4GB of RAM, their designs are expected to be different from each other.

First coming to the larger variant of the upcoming Pixel 2 series of smartphones, ‘Taimen’ Pixel XL 2 will feature a 5.99-inch QHD (1440×2560 pixels) display that will be manufactured by LG, as per an XDA Developers source who has reportedly handled at least one of the two Pixel devices. This sits in line with the earlier report that suggested that Google will be using LG AMOLED displays on the upcoming Pixel smartphone.

While Taimen has been tipped to feature narrower bezels than the Pixel XL, the smartphone is still said to retain a similar glass and metal design like its predecessor. Notably, the glass part is said to be reduced and no longer includes the fingerprint sensor within it, as per the XDA report. The smartphone will reportedly be made by LG, which goes in line with information leaked earlier.

As mentioned earlier, Taimen is expected to be powered by a Snapdragon 835 SoC clocked at up to 2.45GHz and will pack 4GB of RAM. Interestingly, the smartphone has been tipped to feature a single rear camera with dual-LED flash support. If you were expecting dual cameras, now is the time to sigh.

While the presence of 128GB storage variant has been suggested, other variants are also likely to be introduced.

Google Pixel 2 Phones Leak Tips Design and Specifications
Moving to the smaller variant of the Pixel 2 smartphone, Walleye is said to come with a 4.97-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixels) display. Just like the larger variant, it is also expected to be powered by a Snapdragon 835 SoC and pack 4GB of RAM. Notably, Walleye has been suggested to come in a 64GB storage variant as well, which was missing from last year’s models.

In terms of design, the Walleye is said to feature “almost identical” design as the original Pixel smartphone but ditch the 3.5mm headphone jack to make way for a set of stereo speakers. This means that the successor to the Pixel smartphone will feature the same thick bezels that were present on last year’s model.

Interestingly, the pre-production software on the Taimen referred to the fingerprint sensor as ‘Nexus Imprint’ while the one on Walleye referred to the same as ‘Pixel Imprint’, as per the XDA Developers report. This could potentially indicate a difference in terms of branding that the smartphones will be offered under.

Previous leaks have suggested that Google has ditched the third variant of the smartphone that was earlier under consideration and Taimen is going to be largest among the Pixel 2 variants that will be launched by the company.

However, as these are leaks, we would advise our readers to take this information with a pinch of salt till the official confirmation from the search giant comes through.