Google Now Lets You Install Apps Directly From Search Results

Google Now Lets You Install Apps Directly From Search Results

Google last year started prompting users to install an app on mobile if it had relevant content to the user’s search query. Now, the company has taken a step ahead and is allowing users to install the apps directly from the search results without opening the Google Play store.

Android Police reports that the feature is not available to everyone and can be expected to roll out slowly. It does not yet appear to be available in India, and we were directed to Google Play on hitting the Install button.

Previously, Google’s mobile search results on Android prompted users to install an app if it had relevant content to the user’s search query.

(Also see: Google Now Lets You Stream Android Apps From Mobile Search Results)

The report adds that on tapping the Install button with the new feature enabled, users will get the permission popup message, which users usually received during app installs from the Google Play. On giving permission to install the app, a new Google Play-style overlay would appear, with user acceptance of the app’s permissions and the final, install button. It adds that the feature is currently only visible on the Google app and is not found on Chrome.

While Google last year introduced app indexing for iOS apps which showed iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch users content from within mobile apps straight from Google Search, it is not clear if Google will be able to roll out similar install functionality for users via Apple’s App Store.

[“source-gadgets”]

Flipkart Invests in Parenting Social Network Tinystep

Flipkart Invests in Parenting Social Network TinystepTinystep, a parenting social network, Tuesday said it has raised an undisclosed amount in seed funding from Flipkart.

The Bengaluru-based startup plans to use the funds to develop the product, enhance user experience and strengthen its team, Tinystep said in a statement.

The funding will also be utilised to further accelerate the company’s growth and user engagement, it added.

Tinystep is a mobile app that helps parents connect with each other to communicate, guide and collaborate with each other on parenting with features like Q&A Forum, individual and group chats.

“Silicon Valley has given us Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and many more awesome social products, Tinystep can be a tiny gift from India. Flipkart is helping us with the required guidance to continue our excelling growth,” Tinystep founder Suhail Abidi said.

The 20-member team of Tinystep comprises mostly of engineers from colleges like Stanford and IITs.

The app has many features lined up to for a baby’s milestones, baby’s first steps, first tooth, memories etc, meetups to encourage parents to organise meet ups directly through the app, and others.

“This concept has great potential in the existing market, and it is the much needed tech product in the parenting domain,” Flipkart Head Corporate Development Nishant Verman said.

The child care industry holds massive potential and Tinystep being a community driven product is definitely going in the right direction towards dominating it, he added.

One of India’s largest online marketplaces, Flipkart has so far raised over $3 billion (roughly Rs. 20,288 crores) from institutional investors.

It has, in turn, also backed a number of startups in the mobile technology space in the past few months.

It has invested in media technology startup ZAPR, mobile gaming company Mech Mocha Game Studios and MadRat Games, and mobile technology startup Cube26.’

[“source-gadgets”]

Delighted, charmed and horrified: Steve McCurry’s vibrant photos of India (and Indians)

Delighted, charmed and horrified: Steve McCurry's vibrant photos of India (and Indians)
Photo Credit: Photograph by Steve McCurry (courtesy Phaidon/Roli Books)
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“There’s a lot of people here.”

This was Steve McCurry’s first thought when he arrived in India for the first time in 1978 with just a few clothes and a bag of film. Over the next three decades, the celebrated American photographer returned more than 80 times to the country that would steadily “delight, charm and horrify” him.

McCurry is best known for his portrait of a green-eyed Afghan refugee girl with a fierce gaze that made it to the cover of the National Geographic magazine in 1985. The photo changed his life, he says.

This time, the award-winning photographer is back with Steve McCurry: India, an exquisitely-produced book of photographs of the multitudes who so overwhelmed him during his first visit. The photographs span decades. One, taken in 1994, captures Mumbai’s milling masses with the moon rising over the city. In another, crowds walk on pontoon bridges built across the Ganges during the 2001 Kumbh Mela.

Crowds gather for the Kumbh Mela, 2001. (Photograph by Steve McCurry. Courtesy Phaidon/Roli Books)
Crowds gather for the Kumbh Mela, 2001. (Photograph by Steve McCurry. Courtesy Phaidon/Roli Books)

McCurry has travelled across India – from Kashmir to Kerala – capturing the extremes in culture, class and landscape that make up this vast country.

“Perhaps the most stark among the extremes McCurry illustrates are those between India’s rich and poor,” writes author and historian William Dalrymple in the book’s introduction, referring to McCurry’s ability to throw light on India’s “extraordinary contradictions”.

The contradictions are evident. On one page is a 1993 photograph of a homeless boy trying to sell roses at a traffic signal in Mumbai, while in another taken in 1996, Harshvardhan Singh, the “yuvraj” of the erstwhile state of Dungarpur, sits regally amid a collection of snarling heads topping tiger skins rolled neatly into rugs, and several deer and other animal heads mounted on the wall.

Young boy sells flowers, 1993. (Photograph by Steve McCurry. Courtesy Phaidon/Roli Books)
Young boy sells flowers, 1993. (Photograph by Steve McCurry. Courtesy Phaidon/Roli Books)
Harshvardhan Singh of Dungarpur at home, 1996. (Photograph by Steve McCurry. Courtesy Phaidon/Roli Books)
Harshvardhan Singh of Dungarpur at home, 1996. (Photograph by Steve McCurry. Courtesy Phaidon/Roli Books)
Steam engine passes in front of the Taj Mahal, 1983. (Photograph by Steve McCurry. Courtesy Phaidon/Roli Books)
Steam engine passes in front of the Taj Mahal, 1983. (Photograph by Steve McCurry. Courtesy Phaidon/Roli Books)

Each photograph captures people as they go about their daily lives – a boy with a sand boa coiled around his neck, a gnarled old man with Holi colours settled on the wrinkles on his face and a figure draped in a pink tarpaulin for protection from the Mumbai rain.

Man covered in gulal during Holi, the festival of colours, 2009. (Photograph by Steve McCurry. Courtesy Phaidon/Roli Books)
Man covered in gulal during Holi, the festival of colours, 2009. (Photograph by Steve McCurry. Courtesy Phaidon/Roli Books)
Woman and child on the Howrah Mail train en route to Kolkata, West Bengal, 1982. (Photograph by Steve McCurry. Courtesy Phaidon/Roli Books)
Woman and child on the Howrah Mail train en route to Kolkata, West Bengal, 1982. (Photograph by Steve McCurry. Courtesy Phaidon/Roli Books)

The photographer says he consciously gave ‘regular’ people pride of place in his book. “During my time in India I met Amitabh Bachchan, the Dalai Lama and Indira Gandhi, but they are not in the book,” he said. “I have never really gravitated towards celebrities. The book is about ordinary people – those living in villages or working in the city. It’s about a million stories or situations of certain kindnesses, of people opening up their homes and lives.”

He added: “The book is more like a poem – expressions and moments with the people I thought were some of the most interesting encounters I had had here.”

Couple wades through monsoon waters, 1983. (Photograph by Steve McCurry. Courtesy Phaidon/Roli Books)
Couple wades through monsoon waters, 1983. (Photograph by Steve McCurry. Courtesy Phaidon/Roli Books)

It is difficult to visit India without getting a sense of the importance religion plays in people’s lives, and McCurry hasn’t missed this. A scene from 1996 shows a Sikh devotee praying with the Golden Temple glowing in the background, while another captures devotees carrying a statue of Ganesha into the sea at Mumbai’s Chowpatty beach. Yet another is a portrait of a blue-skinned child dressed as Shiva seeking alms.

Young child, dressed as Lord Shiva, seeks alms, 1998. (Photograph by Steve McCurry. Courtesy Phaidon/Roli Books)
Young child, dressed as Lord Shiva, seeks alms, 1998. (Photograph by Steve McCurry. Courtesy Phaidon/Roli Books)

McCurry has covered war and conflict during his career. In such areas, he says, many people simply want their stories to be told. “That is what I’m basically doing in most cases,” he said. “Letting them know that their story matters.”

He equates photography to writing: “Things that interest or fascinate you – could be a person or a place you want to explore or write about – inspire you. Pictures, like words, are just another way to describe the world we live in.”

Father and daughter on Dal Lake, 1996. (Photograph by Steve McCurry. Courtesy Phaidon/Roli Books)
Father and daughter on Dal Lake, 1996. (Photograph by Steve McCurry. Courtesy Phaidon/Roli Books)

But he admits that photographers always suffer from a bit of self-doubt about whether they have managed to get everything they needed from a shoot. “Photographers deal with something like a blank canvas,” he said. “Sometimes you think you’ve taken a great picture but nobody responds to it. You’re never quite sure you have everything, but at some point you have to stop shooting because otherwise you never will.”

And what does he think of that bane of the smartphone generation, selfies? “I wish I had taken more selfies,” said McCurry who, over the decades, made the transition from analog to digital cameras.

He appreciates how technology has allowed almost everyone to take photographs. But he is careful to differentiate it from art. “Technology is now small and easy,” he said. “It’s just an inevitable progression like the typewriter to the laptop. All the selfies in the world are great but it doesn’t count as great art. It is the same as sending a text to a friend. A text is not great literature. Your text to a friend about getting lunch won’t bring a reader to tears. Similarly, a selfie won’t move a viewer.”

Agra Fort train station at dusk, 1983. (Photograph by Steve McCurry. Courtesy Phaidon/Roli Books)
Agra Fort train station at dusk, 1983. (Photograph by Steve McCurry. Courtesy Phaidon/Roli Books)

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Connecting everyone to the internet won’t solve the world’s development problems

Connecting everyone to the internet won’t solve the world’s development problems
Photo Credit: Noah Seelam/AFP
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By 9.30am today I will have skyped Malawi, emailed Ghana, Facebooked Nepal, paid a bill online and used the satnav on my mobile phone. It feels a long time since we first got colour TV at home and, years later, when I accessed the internet using a dial-up modem. When I recalled these moments to my son he yawned. Aged, 19, he doesn’t remember a time before ubiquitous connectivity.

According to a new report from the World Bank, more than 40% of the global population now has internet access. On average, eight in ten people in the developing world own a mobile phone. Even in the poorest 20% of households this number is nearly seven in ten, making cellphones more prevalent than toilets or clean water.

Digital technologies are spreading rapidly in developing countries. Digital Dividends Report
Digital technologies are spreading rapidly in developing countries. Digital Dividends Report

There is no doubt that the world is experiencing a revolution of information and communication technology, bringing about rapid change on a massive scale. But despite great expectations for the power of digital technologies to transform lives around the world it has fallen short and is unevenly distributed, with the most advantages going, as ever, to the wealthy. The World Bank argues that increasing connectivity alone is not going to solve this problem.

Digital dividends

Around the world, digital investments bring growth, jobs and services. They help businesses become more productive, people to find better life opportunities and governments to deliver stronger public services. At their best, the report finds that inclusive, effective digital technologies provide choice, convenience, access and opportunity to millions, including the poor and disadvantaged.

For example, in the Indian state of Kerala the community action project Kudumbashreeoutsources information technology services to cooperatives of women from poor families – 90% of whom had not previously worked outside the home. The project, which supports micro-credit, entrepreneurship and empowerment, now covers more than half the households in the state.

The World Bank also emphasises that the poorest individuals can benefit from digital technologies even without mobile phones and computers. Digital Green, an NGO working with partners in India, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Ghana, Niger and Tanzania, trains farmers using community-produced and screened videos.

Many governments are using the most of positive digital dividends to empower their citizens. In countries with historically poor birth registration, for example, a digital ID can provide millions of people with their first official identity. This increases their access to a host of public and private services, such as voting, medical care and bank accounts, enabling them to exercise their basic democratic and human rights.

Digital divides

For every person connected to high-speed broadband, five are not. Worldwide, around four billion people do not have any internet access, nearly two billion do not use a mobile phone, and almost half a billion live outside areas with any mobile signal. Divides persist across gender, geography, age and income.

Across Africa the digital divide within demographic groups remains considerable Digital Dividends Report
Across Africa the digital divide within demographic groups remains considerable Digital Dividends Report

Those who are not connected are clearly being left behind. Yet many of the benefits of being online are also offset by new risks.

The poor record of many e-government initiatives points to high failure of technology and communications projects. Where processes are already inefficient, putting them online amplifies those inefficiencies. In Uganda, according to the World Bank, electronic tax return forms were more complicated than manual ones, and both had to be filed. As a result, the time needed to prepare and pay taxes actually increased. The report cites the risk that states and corporations could use digital technologies to control citizens, not to empower them.

The general disruption of technology in the workforce is complex and yet to be fully understood, but it seems to be contributing to a “hollowing out” of labour markets.

The labour market is becoming more polarised in many countries. Digital Dividends Report
The labour market is becoming more polarised in many countries. Digital Dividends Report

Technology augments higher skills while replacing routine jobs, forcing more workers to compete for low-skilled work. This trend is happening around the world, in countries of all incomes, demonstrated by rising shares in high and low-skilled occupations as middle-skilled employment drops. The World Bank notes that:

The digital revolution can give rise to new business models that would benefit consumers, but not when incumbents control market entry. Technology can make workers more productive, but not when they lack the know-how to use it. Digital technologies can help monitor teacher attendance and improve learning outcomes, but not when the education system lacks accountability

Not surprisingly, the better educated, well connected, and more capable have received most of the benefits —- circumscribing the gains from the digital revolution.

A tremendous challenge

The report emphasises that investment in connectivity itself is not enough. In order to achieve the full development benefits of digital investment, it is essential to protect internet users from cybercrime, privacy violations and online censorship, and to provide a full set of “analogue complements” alongside. These include:

  • Regulations, to support innovation and competition
  • Improved skills, to enable access to digital opportunities
  • Accountable institutions, to respond to citizens’ needs and demands

Ultimately, while the World Bank continues to champion connectivity for all as a crucial goal, it also recognises the tremendous challenge in achieving the essential conditions needed for technology to be effective.

In my privileged home, digital technology brings me choice and convenience. It will be a long time before the digital revolution brings similar returns for everyone, everywhere.

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