GrabTaxi, Asia-Based Uber Competitor, to Open Tech Centre in Seattle

GrabTaxi, Asia-Based Uber Competitor, to Open Tech Centre in SeattleGrabTaxi, the on-demand ride service and Uber competitor in Southeast Asia, is opening a technology centre in Seattle, marking the company’s first physical presence in the United States.

GrabTaxi said on Wednesday the new centre will work on cloud computing and data projects to support the smartphone app its customers use to hail rides in a car or motorbike.

GrabTaxi said it hired Raman Narayanan, a former Microsoft engineer, as technical adviser to the centre and to lead recruitment efforts. The company plans to hire a full team over the next year.

Seattle is home to e-commerce giant Amazon as well as a growing startup scene. Microsoft is located in nearby Redmond, Washington.

The Seattle centre will complement GrabTaxi’s engineering centres in Singapore and Beijing.

GrabTaxi is the leading ride-hailing app in Southeast Asia, serving Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand. Its services include private cars, taxis, carpooling and deliveries.

Created in 2012, GrabTaxi says it has 185,000 drivers and up to 1.5 million bookings a day.

While the Seattle centre is GrabTaxi’s first physical presence in the United States, the company has a budding relationship with San Francisco on-demand ride service Lyft.

The two are part of a ride-hailing coalition created last month that also includes China-based Didi Kuaidi and India-based Ola that will allow passengers to use all platforms to hail a ride as they travel between the United States and Asia.

Seattle lawmakers last month approved an ordinance that gives drivers for on-demand ride companies, well as taxi and for-hire drivers, the right to collectively negotiate on pay and working conditions.


Google Chrome to Get Native Cast Support

Google Chrome to Get Native Cast Support

Google is working on a way to build a casting service inside the Chrome browser. Until now users would have to download and install Google Cast Chrome extension to stream music, videos, and other webpages from the browser to their Chromecast-connected TV.

Francois Beaufort from the company’s Chrome division on Tuesday posted that the Chromium team is “currently experimenting in Beta Channel with casting tabs without the Google Cast extension installed thanks to the new Media Router.” This will let users simply right+click on any page in Chrome browser and then select Cast to stream it to a nearby Chromecast-connected TV without using the extension.

As per Beaufort, the new feature has not yet arrived in the general release of Chrome. However, beta users can try it by enabling the “Media Router” feature at chrome://flags/#media-router.

Google at CES 2016 announced a slew of companies it’s working with to expand the reach of Android TV and Google Cast. Google says that more Android TV-supported devices will be available from Arcelik, Vestel, RCA, Hisense, TCL, and Bang & Olufsen around the world sometime this year.

Chromecast Audio released last year, and promises to replace all your speakers around the house with “smart” speakers. Google Cast for Audio, which is the core underlying technology that also enables multi-speaker and soon multi-room setups, will soon get devices from B&O Play, Harman/Kardon, Onkyo, Philips, Pioneer, and Raumfeld.

Google with Chrome 47 for Android last month introduced download ‘snackbar’ at the bottom of the screen. The app version also brought the ability for developers to add splash screens to Web apps when a site is launched from the Android home screen. Chrome 47 for Android also featured support for theme-colour attribute without merging tabs and apps.

With Chrome 47 for Windows, Mac, and Linux, Google removed the desktop notification centre. Google in October announced its plans to remove the Chrome desktop notification centre because not many users utilised it, and some had even disabled it. It was introduced in 2013. The feature however, is still present in Chrome OS for now. On iOS, Chrome 47 adds support for more hardware keyboard shortcuts along with support for 3D Touch for iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus models.


Government Will Act on Facebook Posts, WhatsApp Pics of Accidents: Gadkari

Government Will Act on Facebook Posts, WhatsApp Pics of Accidents: GadkariTransport Minister Nitin Gadkari Thursday floated an idea that a simple click of the mouse or a snap onWhatsApp about an accident or the site itself can help the government machinery swing into action and thus, save lives.

He exhorted people to leverage the Internet to make India accident-free.

“I do not want anyone else to suffer as I did after a road accident. It deeply pains and hurts me to see India top on global list with 5 lakh accidents every year,” the Road Transport and Highways Minister said while attending a road safety forum here.

“Come join the government in drive to make the nation accident-free like Sweden.”

Launching a Facebook page to generate awareness, Gadkari made a strong case for using the Internet technology to alert authorities about accidents, regardless of such mishap spots.

A Road Safety Authority, he said, is also on the anvil and the Prime Minister has given his nod for it.

“We are committed to minimising deaths due to road accidents by 50 percent in 5 years and government has identified 726 black spots where at least 50,000 people have lost their lives,” he said.

Gadkari disclosed that the government has already got on to the frontfoot to address critical issues, be it faulty designing or lack of over- or under-passes on roads, and Rs. 11,000 crore will be spent to fix the same.

India sits on the top of the heap as it accounts for the highest number of 5 lakh road accidents in a year, in which 1.5 lakh lose their lives and another 3 lakh are maimed for life.

“It pains me to see the huge number of accidents as such magnitude of casualties neither happens in a war or extremist killings,” the minister pointed out.

He went on to add that not just 30 percent of driving licences in India are “bogus”, but a large number of government drivers suffered from cataract problems. He put the shortage of drivers in India at 22 percent.

He was clear that government is committed to addressing all these issues and will set up 3,000 driving, vehicle fitness and pollution certification centres across the country where driving licences will be issued only after computerised tests.

Also, he asked NGOs to impress upon people the need to adhere to traffic norms, safe driving and the like. Those doing exemplary work on road safety issues will be chosen for annual awards, the minister added.

“We have constituted annual awards system for NGOs doing exemplary work in road safety with Rs. 10 lakh for the winner and Rs. 5 lakh and Rs. 3 lakh for second and third slots, respectively,” he said.

Also, talks are on with state governments for mandatory lessons to school kids on road safety, besides an all-India exhibition through a train, for which consultations are going on with the Railways Ministry.


Windows 10 Mobile Update Starts Rolling Out for Microsoft Lumia 640

Windows 10 Mobile Update Starts Rolling Out for Microsoft Lumia 640

Microsoft confirmed last month that it had delayed the release of Windows 10 Mobile, the latest version of its mobile operating system. And it seems the delay is finally over. The company has apparently started to seed the Windows 10 Mobile software upgrade in at least one region.

T-Mobile has confirmed (via WMPU) that it has begun to release Windows 10 Mobile for Lumia 640handset users in Poland. The build version that the company has released is 02177.00000.15184.36002. We realise that most of you don’t live in Poland, and/ or sport a Lumia 640, but the big news is that the software you’re anxiously waiting for has started to trickle out fromMicrosoft.

Microsoft had previously committed to releasing Windows 10 Mobile to all eligible handsets in December. However, the company confirmed last month the time-frame had been extended to “early 2016.” As you may remember, all Windows 8.1-powered smartphone that have more than 4GB of internal storage are eligible to receive the free software update.

Many smartphones that have launched in the past few months are already running Windows 10 Mobile. Some of these include the Lumia 950, the Lumia 950 XL, and the Lumia 550. To recall, Windows 10 Mobile offers a range of features including Continuum and Universal Windows Apps, and some enhancements to Message and Photos apps.

According to media reports, Microsoft is working on an app that will allow Windows Phone handset owners to know whether their smartphone is eligible to receive the software upgrade. The app dubbed “Upgrade Advisor,” will also let users clear up storage space on the device to accommodate the new software upgrade.