Facebook to Thwart Candy Crush Spam: Mark Zuckerberg at IIT Delhi Q&A

For all those people tired of unwanted invitation to play Candy Crush, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday said his team is working on finding a “solution” to the problem.

Addressing his first Townhall in India, Zuckerberg was questioned by a member from the audience as to how they could stop getting invitations to Candy Crush.

While the question received a huge cheer from a 1,000-strong audience, Zuckerberg looked a bit surprised at the query.

“This is why such townhalls are so useful. This was the top voted questions on our thread. So I sent a message to the person who runs the team in charge of our developer platform and I said by the time I do this Townhall Q&A? I think it would be good if we had a solution to this problem,” he said.

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There were some tools that are outdated, allowing users to send invitations to people who have already received the requests in the past and those who don’t play games on Facebook.

“…if this is the top thing that people care about then we’ll prioritise that and we’ll do it. So we’re doing it,” he said without disclosing further details.

Users across the globe have complained and even signed online petitions demanding that Candy Crushnotifications be blocked.

During the Townhall, Zuckerberg also talked about future of the Oculus Rift virtual reality system, artificial intelligence and the controversial Free Basics programme.

He cited the example of using artificial intelligence to describe a picture to a visually impaired user, so that they could also engage on the platform.

Zuckerberg, who on his arrival in India visited Taj Mahal at Agra on Tuesday, on Wednesday went for a morning jog at the sprawling India Gate lawns.

“I went for a run in Delhi around India Gate this morning with Chris Daniels, head of Internet.org, Ime Archibong, who runs Internet.org partnerships and a few members of our Facebook team,” he wrote in a post.

Zuckerberg’s trip to India comes after a visit to Tsinghua University in Beijing where he delivered a 20-minute speech in Mandarin, a language he has been studying since 2010.

Tokyo Motor Show Kicks Off With a Spotlight on Self-Driving Cars

Self-driving cars, the latest fuel-cell technology and a concept vehicle with tablet-style touch screens aimed at the digital generation were among the innovations on display at the Tokyo Motor Show Wednesday.

Nissan unveiled an autonomous electric vehicle that it said would “revolutionise the relationship between car and driver, and future mobility”, while Volkswagen shifted into damage control with another apology for an emissions scandal that has rocked the auto industry.

The biennial motor show’s 44th edition, which runs until November 8, features 160 exhibitors from a dozen countries including foreign automakers such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Peugeot Citroen, Porsche and Jaguar.

It starts a week after Honda said it would put a commercialised self-driving car on the road by 2020, as automakers bet on vehicles that can drive and, in some cases, park themselves.

Its bigger rival Toyota plans to roll out an autonomous car by 2020, when Tokyo hosts the Olympics.

Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn said it was on track to put the self-driving technology in multiple vehicles by 2020. The company aims to put an experimental automated car on Japan’s highways as soon as next year.

“It compensates for human error, which causes more than 90 percent of all car accidents,” Ghosn told reporters.

“As a result, time spent behind the wheel is safer, cleaner, more efficient and more fun.”

Google has been testing self-driving cars in Silicon Valley, as have US-based Tesla and General Motors.

But the technology is far from perfect and is widely seen as limited in the short term to highway driving rather than urban traffic jams.

‘Digital space’
Japan’s auto giants will also be showing off their latest concept cars including Toyota’s Kikai.

The eye-popping vehicle conjures up images of the Terminator films with parts of its underbelly – including fuel tank and hoses – exposed, giving an inside look at the car’s machinery.

Nissan, a leader in electric vehicles, is showing a concept car with knobs and buttons replaced by tablet-style touch screens featuring controls and maps on a white instrument panel.

Music, video games and movies can also be played on the screens, in a nod to the smartphone generation.

“The car becomes a digital space when it’s parked,” said Nissan’s product planning general manager Hidemi Sasaki.

Toyota and Honda are exhibiting their latest fuel-cell offerings, seen as the holy grail of green cars because they emit nothing but water vapour and can operate on renewable hydrogen gas.

Toyota last year started selling the world’s first mass market fuel-cell car in Japan, the four-door Mirai.

The auto giant is hoping to build on the success of its popular gasoline-electric hybrid Prius to sell tens of thousands of the eco-friendly Mirai over the next decade, as it looks to stop producing fossil-fuel based cars altogether by 2050.

Honda’s rival Clarity Fuel-Cell vehicle features a cruising range of more than 700 kilometres (430 miles), which it said would be the longest on the market, and can store enough power to supply an average household’s energy needs for a week.

“By connecting the Clarity fuel-cell vehicle with hydrogen stations and external power providers, Honda wants to see a society where we’ll generate power, use it and connect through hydrogen-made energy,” said Honda president Takahiro Hachigo.

Limited range and lack of refuelling stations have hampered development of fuel-cell and all-electric cars.

For Volkswagen the show was a chance to start working on regaining customer trust after it admitted fitting 11 million of its vehicles with software designed to cheat official checks.

The revelation threatens to dent Volkswagen’s sales as it falls behind Toyota as the world’s biggest automaker.

“On behalf of my entire company, I’d like to apologise,” new VW chief executive Herbert Diess told reporters.

“I am sure we will overcome this crisis.”

Flipkart 'Goes Offline' to Let Customers Preview Phones Before Ordering

Flipkart announced Wednesday its partnership with Spice Hotspot stores, where its ‘exclusive’ portfolio of phones will be showcased offline, on its retail store network. Under its new assisted e-commerce model, customers can try and buy Flipkart’s range of smartphones at selected Spice Hotspot outlets, the company said.

The store staff will assist them to place their order on the Flipkart app and customers can take the delivery of the phones at the store or at their home.

A quick analysis of the six smartphones listed on the OnlyOnFlipkart page reveals that most of the phones are not exclusive to Flipkart any more. The Galaxy J5 is available on Amazon India, and Motorola’s phones are not exclusive to Flipkart since September, The Asus ZenFone 2 is not longer an online exclusive, while the Nexus 6 is available on the Google Play store. That leaves the Micromax Canvas Xpress 2, and the two Huawei phones, the Honor 4X and Honor Holly.

Flipkart will also be unable to leverage some its online exclusives at offline stores, considering brands like Asus and Samsung have their own priority stores.

According to Flipkart, the association is aimed at reaching out to a larger target audience, especially the not-so-tech-savvy customers as they can now get a first-hand experience of these exclusive products and place their order conveniently at a store near them.

In an emailed statement, Sandeep Karwa, Director Retail, Flipkart said that this initiative will become a big customer conversion tool for Flipkart’s smartphone category, empowering customers from from Tier-3 and Tier-4 towns to shop online.

Spice Hotspot has over 300 retail stores across key metro cities in India. A company spokesperson was unable to state at time of writing how many of them will showcase Flipkart’s exclusive range of phones

Pepsi-Branded Mobile Phones, Accessories Coming Soon

PepsiCo Inc said on Monday it is working with a licensing partner to market a line of mobile phones and accessories in China in the next few months.

The food and beverage company however has no plans to get into the mobile phone manufacturing business, a PepsiCo spokeswoman said by email.

“Available in China only, this effort is similar to recent globally licensed Pepsi products which include apparel and accessories,” the spokeswoman said.

The spokeswoman did not name the licensing partner or give any further details about the phone.

Technology website Mobipicker was the first to report, on October 11, that PepsiCo would release a smartphone, called Pepsi P1, with “decent but not high-end specs” on October 20.

PepsiCo already has many licensees across a number of categories. Last year, it tied up with companies such as Danish luxury stereo and TV maker Bang & Olufsen and Italian shoemaker Del Toro for a range of products for its football campaign.

PepsiCo’s shares were down 0.5 percent at $99 in late afternoon trading on Monday, while the broader market was flat.

Indian Startups on Track to Get $5 Billion in Funding

Indian startups are on fire, as they are on target to get a whopping $5 billion (Rs. 32,558 crores) funding by this year-end, IT industry representative body Nasscom said in a report on Tuesday.

“Total funding in the India-based startups is estimated to be around $5 billion by 2015, which is a massive 125 percent growth from $2.2 billion (roughly Rs. 14,270 crores) in 2014,” National Association of Software and Services Companies said in a report here.

Overtaking Israel, India has emerged as the third biggest startup market worldwide after the US and Britain, with 4,200 startups, growing 40 percent over 2014.

“Our technology startup landscape has seen a phenomenal growth in 2015, with the country moving up to third position in terms of investments secured from private equity, venture capitalists and angel investors and number of startups,” Nasscom president R. Chandrashekhar said, quoting from the report.

The report – “Startup India-Momentous Rise of the Indian Startup Ecosystem” is the second edition the apex IT body prepared with the city-based business management consultant Zinnov and released at its ‘Product Conclave’ here.

The report found cumulative funding of startups was $3.2 billion (roughly Rs. 20,748 crores) in 2010-14.

“India is the world’s youngest startup nation, as 72 percent of its founders are younger than 35 years. What’s more, share of female entrepreneurs has jumped 50 percent this year from last year and nine percent of all startups are founded by women as co-founders,” Chandreshekhar said.

“About 1,200 startups have been set up so far this year, with majority of them in B2C (business to customer) category spanning e-commerce, consumer services and aggregators,” the report said.

Bengaluru, Mumbai and the National Capital Region (NCR) account for 93 percent of investments and 66 percent of all starts-ups are located in these three hi-tech clusteRs. Ahmedabad, Chennai, Hyderabad, Jaipur and Pune are emerging as startup cities.

The sunrise sector has created about 80,000 jobs till date across the country.

“We have been partnering with governments for startup warehouses to create a micro-ecosystem where starts-ups and entrepreneurs can work together,” said Nasscom product council chairman Ravi Gururaj.

Global investors are betting big on the India startup market with Tiger Global, Sequoia Capital, Softbank, Warburg Pincus and Alibaba being among top investors, participating in deals valued at $500 million (roughly Rs. 3,242 crores).

Investors have access to more exit opportunities, with 65 mergers and acquisitions deals struck in 2015, worth about $800 million (roughly Rs. 5,188 crores).

While overall VC/PE funding has grown by 2.2 times over 2014, seed stage funding has grown by a dramatic 6.5 times.

“About 390 starts-ups received funding this year as against 175 in 2014, while number of incubators and accelerators grew by 40 percent to 110 from 80, with 50 percent of them outside Bengaluru, Mumbai and NCR,” the report added.

Facebook Drains Your iPhone Battery Because It's Tracking Your Location

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Have you ever wondered as to why using Facebook drains your iPhone’s battery like no other app? It is because the social networking platform is constantly tracking your location using your iPhone’s GPS module.

Security researcher Jonathan Zdziarski analysed the Facebook app’s code and found that the app is sending devices’ location information to Facebook in the background, Motherboard.com reported.

“If you move around a lot, you are likely to use more battery but the combination of GPS and networking going on in the background is likely the majority cause of battery drain,” Zdziarski was quoted as saying through email.

However, this is not surprising as Facebook’s in-app location settings clearly state that if you have location history and access set to “always”, then Facebook “will build a history of our precise location, even when you are not using the app”.

“We are not tracking background location if the location setting is off on your device or in the app,” a Facebook spokesperson said.

Still, the idea of Facebook tracking you everywhere is bound to be an unsettling one for the more privacy-conscious, and thankfully there is an easy solution: turn your location settings off for Facebook.

“We are not collecting background location on iOS unless Location Access is set to Always on your device and you have enabled Location History in the Facebook app,” the spokesperson reiterated.

Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan Reveal Plan to Start 'The Primary School'

Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg and his doctor wife on Friday revealed plans to start a private school in a hardscrabble Silicon Valley town, mixing education with health care.

Zuckerberg voiced pride in his wife, Priscilla, for the plan to create “The Primary School” in the working-class city of East Palo Alto.

Chan works as a pediatrician and has also been a teacher, seeing first-hand how poor health hinders learning in classrooms, her husband said.

“Health and education are closely connected,” Zuckerberg said in a post on his Facebook page.

“When children aren’t healthy, they can’t learn as easily.”

Despite being located between high-income Palo Alto and thriving Menlo Park where Facebook has its headquarters, East Palo Alto has long had a reputation for crime, gangs and poverty.

Chan has been working over the past year with the community to combine early-childhood through 12th grade education with pre-natal support and on-site healthcare for children, according to the blog post.

“By bringing healthcare and education together in one place, the goal is to support families and help children from underserved communities reach their full potential,” said Facebook co-founder and chief executive Zuckerberg.

“It’s inspiring to see Priscilla grow as an entrepreneur and leader.”

In June of last year, Zuckerberg and Chan began pumping $120 million (roughly Rs. 780 crores) into San Francisco Bay Area schools.

Distribution of the money is being spread over five years, with initial grants going toward initiatives for providing computers and Internet access in public schools as well as training teachers and enlisting parents in efforts to keep students on track.

“Improving public education in our country and our community is something Priscilla and I really care about,” Zuckerberg said at the time.

More than five years ago Zuckerberg channeled $100 million (roughly Rs. 650 crores) to improve schools in the New Jersey city of Newark in an early foray into improving public education that got failing grades.

Facebook '2G Tuesdays' to Slow Down Internet for Employees

Facebook has been continuously working towards improving the overall experience of browsing on the social platform on slow Internet connections. Earlier this month, the company updated its News Feed making it easier to load content on 2G connections.

Now, Facebook has announced an internal initiative called “2G Tuesdays” that will help employees better understand how hard it is to use the social platform on slow Internet connections, like the kind prevalent in India and other emerging markets. Announcing the news, Product Manager Chris Marra in a blog post explained the whole idea behind 2G Tuesdays.

“People are coming online at a fast rate in emerging markets. In most cases, they are doing so on mobile via 2G connections. But on a typical 2G network, it can take several minutes to download a webpage. That doesn’t make for a great experience when sharing content with friends and family. To build for a global audience like ours, we know that we need to design features that work seamlessly even on a 2G network,” Marra said.

Under Facebook’s 2G Tuesdays, employees will have to use the social platform as well as other related apps such as Messenger on slow Internet connection. Notably, the new initiative has an opt-in option and employees will only have the slow Internet connection for an hour.

“We’re taking another step toward better understanding by implementing ‘2G Tuesdays’ for Facebook employees. On Tuesdays employees will get a pop-up that gives them the option to simulate a 2G connection. We hope this will help us understand how people with 2G connectivity use our product, so we can address issues and pain points in future builds,” added Marra.

Detailing how the new initiative will work, Tom Alison, Facebook’s Director of Engineering, told Business Insider, “For that next hour, their experience on Facebook will be very much like the experience that millions of people around the world have on Facebook on a 2G connection. They’re going to see the places that we need to improve our product, but they’re also going to see the places where we have made a lot of progress.”

Facebook back in June had rolled out a new Android app called Facebook Lite, which was available in countries across Asia and was also planned to roll out in parts of Latin America, Africa and Europe.

Indian Net Neutrality Activists Pen Open Letter to Mark Zuckerberg

Even as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg expressed commitment to Net neutrality, volunteers of savetheinternet.in have raised questions over the Internet.org platform.

In an open letter to Zuckerberg, the Save the Internet team said it’s “a matter of distress” that Facebook through its Internet.org platform and lobbying on regulatory consultations, has sought to undermine net neutrality in India.

During his townhall address at IIT Delhi on Wednesday, Zuckerberg said his company is committed tonet neutrality, but supported zero-rating plans which have been criticised by many as violative of the principles of a free Internet.

“Even today, Internet.org has restrictions that those services which compete with telecom operator services will not be allowed on it,” the letter said.

The letter said its concern with Internet.org/ Free Basics is that it will create a new digital divide: those who access Facebook and its partner services, and those who access the open Internet.

The letter said Internet.org is not an open platform and “all we are asking for is for you to ensure that any such effort to bring access to the Internet ensure that users get access to the entire Internet, and not through a pre-determined menu or filter, which primarily benefits those who are selected for the platform”.

The letter flagged worries that data for all the websites on Internet.org will be with Facebook and restrictions on them publicly disclosing usage of their sites and services by users on Internet.org.

“Facebook, along with its intention to connect billions to the Internet, should support and advocate net neutrality and permission-less innovation in India, the way it has done in the US,” the letter argued.

Internet.org, which aims to bring free Internet access to the developing world, has faced a backlash, with activists alleging that it violates net neutrality, an idea which means that all online traffic should be treated equally.