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YouTube becomes India’s fastest growing market

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Abhiramy R

India is one of the fasting growing markets for the digital industry. In India, Google is synonyms for searching. Acknowledging this immense market, Google CEO, Sundar Pichai said, “India offers great potential for Google-owned YouTube’s growth and the latest in the journey is YouTube Music that has been downloaded more than 15 million times in the country”. Recent changes in YouTube set yet another milestone with top-line growth.

Addressing this growth, Pichai said, “YouTube Music and YouTube Premium are now available in 43 countries up from five markets at the start of 2018. In mid-March, we launched YouTube Music in India, one of YouTube’s fastest growing markets”.

Further, he added, “Since launch, the YouTube Music app has been downloaded more than 15 million times in the country. YouTube’s ad business, for both brand and direct response campaigns, continues to grow and support our creators”.

Addressing the issue about content, Sundar Pichai expressed, “Maybe I will start with the YouTube comments. I talked about in the area of content responsibility, we are definitely focused on making sure we are constantly improving how we are handling both in terms of reducing the content and shouldn’t be there on the platform”. He stated that, More importantly, making sure when we recommend content that we are recommending high-quality content as well as reducing harmful content or low-quality content is recommended.

Earlier this year, YouTube declared changes that decrease recommendations of content that comes close to violating its guidelines or that misinforms in harmful ways. “There are a lot more improvements, which we will be rolling out in the next few weeks and our work is ongoing,” Pichai said.

On Cloud, Pichai said that nine of the world’s 10 largest media companies, seven of the 10 largest retailers and more than half of the 10 largest companies and manufacturing, financial services, communications, and software use Google Cloud.

“Thomas (Kurian) is really building upon a strong foundation, but we are really accelerating and scaling up go-to-market both internally and through our channel partners has been a huge focus,” Pichai noted.

Thomas Kurian, former Oracle President of product development, joined Google Cloud early this year. Pichai also said, “I think we are building a strong business across all our verticals, and we are definitely seeing strong momentum, and look forward to being able to share more at the appropriate time”.

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Infotaiment

Whatsapp to deny screenshots of Private chat?

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Abhiramy R

Facebook-owned instant messaging app WhatsApp is testing an ‘Authentication’ feature which would bar users from taking screenshots of their private conversations.

The new feature comes as part of a plethora of security changes that the app has been working on and introducing, keeping in line with the app’s commitment to user-privacy, web portal Independent reported on Tuesday.

The screenshot-blocking feature would be made available to users whenever WhatsApp plans to release the ‘Authentication’ feature, which is currently under development. Before accessing into the app, the ‘Authentication’ feature would ask users to confirm their identities via their fingerprints, WABetaInfo reported.

On enabling the feature, even after confirming their identities, users would not be able to take a screenshot of their chats.

“Fingerprint Security: When enabled, fingerprint is required to open WhatsApp and conversation screenshots are blocked. You can still reply to messages from notifications and answer calls if WhatsApp is locked,” a screenshot of the beta version of the ‘Authentication’ feature reads. Information surfacing about this upcoming feature has left users in a state of confusion.

“I don’t get it. What’s the point. How’s this useful. You’ve authenticated fingerprint security, that means your chat is secured. Why blocking screenshot, after all its your own chat, its your own WhatsApp, you should be able to do what you want,” a user replied on WABeta’s tweet informing users about the feature. Details about the roll-out of the feature remains unknown.

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Is TikTok ban in India causing $500,000 daily loss?

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Abhiramy R

Ban of an app can cause these much? We have heard news like, TikTok App is banned, then it got revamped.. etc. But some other factors which we should have a look is this. India’s ban on popular Chinese video app TikTok is resulting in “financial losses” of up to $500,000 a day for its developer, Beijing Bytedance Technology Co, and has put more than 250 jobs at risk, the company said in a court filing seen by Reuters.

TikTok allows users to create and share short videos with special effects and is one of the world’s most popular apps. It has been downloaded by nearly 300 million users so far in India, out of more than 1 billion downloads globally, according to analytics firm Sensor Tower.

Earlier this month, an Indian state court ordered the federal government to prohibit its downloads, saying the app was encouraging pornography. Acting upon instructions from the federal IT ministry, Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google last week removed TikTok from their India app stores.

The developments have dealt a blow to the India growth plans of Bytedance, which is backed by Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp and by private equity. Bytedance, one of the world’s most valuable startups potentially worth around $75 billion, was considering a public listing in Hong Kong this year, sources told Reuters in August. The ban has also worried the social media industry in India as it sees legal worries mounting if courts increasingly regulate content on their platforms.

In the filing made to India’s Supreme Court on Saturday, Bytedance urged the court to quash the ban and direct the federal IT ministry to tell companies such as Google and Apple to make the app available again on their platforms. The court filing is not publicly available and its contents have not been previously reported.

Bytedance pegged financial losses at $500,000 each day, which it said includes destruction in the value of its investments and loss of commercial revenue. It added the ban would result in its reputation and goodwill taking a hit with both advertisers and investors.

“Banning has had adverse impact on the user base of this app, losing close to 1 million new users per day … It is estimated that approximately six million requests for downloads could not be effected since the ban came into effect,” the company said in the filing.

A spokesman for TikTok and the federal IT ministry did not respond to requests for comment. The Supreme Court has so far not provided any interim relief on repeated pleas by Bytedance and referred the case back to the court in southern Tamil Nadu state, where the case will next be heard on Wednesday.

Memes and music videos thrive on TikTok, although some clips show youngsters, some scantily clad, lip-syncing and dancing to popular tunes. Its growing popularity has drawn criticism from some Indian politicians and parents who say its content is inappropriate. The Tamil Nadu court, which ruled against TikTok after individual filed public interest litigation, has said the app could also expose children to sexual predators.

The Supreme Court filing included a table in which Bytedance compared TikTok to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter by listing 13 of its implemented safety features, including parental controls.

A “very minuscule” proportion of TikTok’s videos were considered inappropriate or obscene, the company has said.

“The constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights of free speech and expression … of numerous Indian citizens have been severely impacted,” the company said in its latest filing.

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Watch videos with your friends: Instagram is testing new feature

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Abhiramy R

Instagram is transforming. Facebook is working on adding a number of new features to the popular photo-sharing app that are aimed at helping users get the best out of the popular app. Earlier this week it was reported that Instagram was testing a new feature that would hide the total number of likes recieved in a post from a user’s followers. Now, a new report suggests that the company is working on a new feature that would enable Instagram users watch videos on the platform with their friends.

According to app researcher Jane Manchun Wong, who is known for discovering new features in an app by reverse engineering them, Instagram is testing AR effects and co-watching in video calls. This feature would enble users to apply augmented reality stickers on Instagram in addition to watching videos on the platform. To put it simply, users would be able to watch funny dog videos together with their friends in the app as they put on the funny dog face AR stickers.

Notably, the present option, as the researcher demonstrated in simulataneous tweets, appears to be supporting only two users at a time. However, that could change when the photo-sharing app finally rolls out the feature.

Wong had first reported this feature last month when she said that Instagram’s co-watching feature is like Facebook’s Watch Party feature, except that it works for Instagram Direct. Her tweet at the time had indicated that a suggested tab in the app would pull in all the related videos in Instagram Direct and that users could also watch a list of videos that they had selected.

Now over a month later, the feature has surfaced in her research again. However, Facebook hasn’t commented on the availability of the feature yet.

Apart from the co-watching videos feature, Instagram is also working on a new feature that, as I mentioned before, would hide the like count of an Instagram user from his/her followers. As per a separate tweet by Wong, the like count on a post will only be visible to the profile holder while the followers would be able to see who all liked a particular post.

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