Delhi’s Odd-Even Rule: 5 Apps to Make Your Life Easier

Delhi's Odd-Even Rule: 5 Apps to Make Your Life Easier

There are a lot of different apps that claim they will be able to help you manage your commute while the odd-even scheme is being trialled in Delhi from January 1. From autorickshaw aggregators to carpooling, many websites and apps have come up, but not all are helpful – some are just hastily put together solutions that crash at all the wrong moments. Here are some apps that will actually help you to commute without difficulty once the odd-even rules go into force from Friday.

1) Odd Even Ride
This free Android app lets you find people nearby you can carpool with. You just have to enter your car and phone number, and then you get a list of all the other people who are on a similar route, with similar timings. You can contact them with the press of a button, either by SMS, or via a call, and one your details are saved, you don’t need to enter them again if you want to see who is free to commute with you.

odd_even_ride.jpg2) Ola CarPool/ Ryde/ BlaBlaCar
If you’re not keen to agree to a fixed carpool with someone – maybe your timings are variable, or your destination location isn’t always fixed – then you could look at carpooling through services like Ola CarPool (iOS | Android), BlaBlaCar (iOS | Android), or Ryde (iOS | Android). You can register your car with these services, and once you do, you can tell the company that you’re driving, and set the origin and destination.

ola_carpool.jpgOther people can now log into these services, and see if they want to carpool with you – carpooling is free on Ola, but allows you to “gift” money to the person you took a ride with via Ola Money. BlaBlaCar and Ryde have a straightforward payment system which is handled within the app.

3) UberPool/ Ola Share/ Meru
You’re probably already familiar with Uber (iOS | Android), Ola (iOS | Android), and Meru (iOS |Android). All these platforms now allow you to “share your ride” – tap a button on the screen to let the app know you’re willing to share, and it will allow other people who are headed in the same direction to take the cab too. It’s voluntary, but also cheaper than riding alone. Save money and the environment too.

uber_pool_twitter.jpg4) Zoomcar
Don’t want to hire a cab, and aren’t comfortable with carpooling? You could try one of the self-drive car rental apps, such as Zoomcar (iOS | Android). You’ll get a car with the right numberplate when you need it. It’s pretty easy and takes just a few taps on your phone, delivered and picked up from your home. It’s not the most cost effective solution though – booking a car from Sunday night to Friday night will cost you at least Rs. 3,000 – around Rs. 600 per day. This includes not just the price of booking the car, but also fuel.

Not an app, but a useful website anyway, Odd-Even is a simple website that can help you find a commute partner to carpool with. Just enter your details – location, whether your car is odd/ even, and then search for a commute partner. You can also specify age and gender preferences if you want.

odd_even_dotcom.jpgOther than these apps, you could consider using apps like Grofers and Peppertap to take care of your day to day needs, but if it’s close enough, walk to the market instead – you’ll get a little extra exercise in the process as well.


Message Apps Pose Growing Risk for China Securities Regulator

Message Apps Pose Growing Risk for China Securities Regulator

A growing number of China’s retail investors are opening trading accounts on messaging and social media app WeChat, and some institutional investors are even using it to instruct brokers, making it harder for regulators to monitor trades and spot illegal activity, traders and investors told Reuters.

While using mobile messaging and social media apps for trading is not unlawful in China, regulations require reliable monitoring and recording of trades to prevent activities such as insider trading or market manipulation, and to keep on top of threats to market stability such as excessive margin trading.

China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) has been clamping down on breaches, including fining four brokerages in September for failing to collect information about the identities of clients who traded stocks through external systems.

It also shut down third-party trading software used by brokers that helped traders skirt regulations by dividing one account into many sub-accounts without the need to register a name, according to local media.

Even so, using apps to buy and sell stocks over mobile phones is common in a country where retail investors account for 80 percent of share market volume.

Despite closer scrutiny from China’s regulators, brokerages including large listed firms like China Galaxy Securities and smaller entities such as Great Wall Securities, started offering WeChat share trading account services last year in a bid to access the growing pool of retail traders.

China Galaxy Securities and Great Wall Securities did not return requests for comment.

Overall account openings swelled to around 46 million in the first half of 2015, from around 2 million over the same period in 2014, according to official data.

For brokers, the advantages of using WeChat are obvious, since it is the preferred means of communication for many of its 600 million users.

But a case in Hong Kong last month highlights regulators’ concerns with the trend.

The regulator there suspended a trader for receiving a buy order on WhatsApp, a messaging app owned by Facebook Inc , in breach of the internal communication policies of the firm he then worked for, BTIG, noting that the company had no control over the recording and retention of such messages.

Growing risks
While the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission code of conduct does not prohibit the use of social messaging apps, it encourages the strict recording and time stamping of all communications and says the use of mobile phones for orders is “strongly discouraged”.

Some of China’s institutional investors are also using WeChat to instruct their brokers.

“In practice lots of people don’t care about compliance and take orders on WeChat,” said a Hong Kong-based institutional sales trader specialising in China.

The CSRC did not respond to requests for comment, nor did Tencent Holdings Ltd, the owner of WeChat.

Such concerns are not limited to China.

Clara Shih, chief executive and founder of Hearsay Social, Inc, a San Francisco-based social media compliance company, said messaging apps are also a potential gap in the compliance systems that US financial services firms have spent years building.

US brokerages must monitor and store copies of employees’ electronic communications for three years and have a duty to protect clients’ personal information and confidentiality, tasks made more complicated by the proliferation of social media platforms.

Technology has evolved in recent years to make it easier for companies to monitor employees’ activity on traditional social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. But WhatsApp and WeChat are not compatible with that technology, Shih said.

Using social media for business is a growing trend but also a growing risk for compliance, said Craig Brauff, chief executive of Erado, a social media compliance company in Renton, Washington.

“Regulations are designed to keep honest people honest. If someone really wants to be dishonest, there are lots of ways around it,” he said.


5 Net Neutral Apps That Give You Free Mobile Internet Data

5 Net Neutral Apps That Give You Free Mobile Internet Data

Getting data access without spending money sounds great, but this usually involves some kind of catch. That’s why different platforms such as Airtel Zero and Facebook’s Free Basics triggered such a debate about net neutrality, and why zero rating (or making sites free to access) can be bad for the users. It’s been over a year since this debate really kicked off in India and the issues are still developing, but there are a number of apps on the market that are offering users free data, without any exclusivity or limitations. All these apps are for prepaid users. Here’s what we found:

1) Gigato
Probably one of the best known apps in the category, Gigato has been around for a while and allows users to “earn” data on the app, which can then be redeemed from your carrier. The way it works is simple – just install the Gigato app, and it will show you a number of apps you can try or use to earn data. The earned data is usually a little higher than the used data, so although the initial usage is cut from your data plan, you come out ahead. For example, you could use 20MB of mobile data on WhatsApp or Twitter, and earn 25MB which can be redeemed from your carrier.

When you launch the app, you can see a list of supported apps you already have on your phone, and Gigato will also recommend other apps you can install to get data benefits. Since Gigato includes many popular apps, it probably won’t require you to change your habits to get a little extra cash on the side, which is great.

gigato_app_splash.jpgWhen installing Gigato, you give it permission to check your apps, so it can see how much mobile data is being used by its ​partners​, and give you rewards accordingly. Based on user and expert reports ​online​, it doesn’t seem that Gigato snoops on your data to see what you are doing on the Internet, so it should be without any privacy concerns, but it’s certainly something you should be aware of.

Get Gigato on Google Play, free.

2) Earn Talktime
The Earn Talktime app is pretty similar to Gigato in that it incentivises you to use different apps, but the way it works is a little different. While Gigato gives you recharges for using mobile data on apps, Earn Talktime pays out money which can be used to pay for prepaid recharges when you download apps.

So, you can make Rs. 5 if you download the Droom app, or Rs. 20 to download Myntra. Downloading Lybrate and then asking one question on the app will earn you Rs. 50.

earn_talktime_screens.jpgYou also earn money for referring friends, and you can then use this to recharge your data via your mobile operator. From what we’ve found through searching online, there have been no reports of privacy problems with this app, and our own usage showed that it works without any real problems, but considering that Earn Talktime incentivises specific actions you should be aware of potential privacy concerns with this kind of app.

Get Earn Talktime on Google Play, free.

3) Paytunes
While Gigato or Earn Talktime need you to actively do different things to earn talk time, the Paytunes app replaces your ringtone with advertisements and you’re paid for each call that you get. There are some checks in place to keep people from gaming the system, but for users, Paytunes actually fits into the day to day flow of actually using your phone.

paytunes_splash.jpgThe payouts aren’t very high – you have to answer at least three calls to get 1 Rupee worth of points in the app, but even if you get around 15 calls in a day, that works out to a payout of Rs. 150 per month, which can be used to recharge your data pack, or pay other bills via MobiKwik.

Get Paytunes on Google Play, free.

4) My Ads (India)
Watch an ad, and then answer a few simple questions and you earn money. The concept is so simple that it doesn’t really need to be explained. You can watch the ads over Wi-Fi, and don’t need to download or use any other apps. It’s just like the apps you watch on TV, except that here, you aren’t forced to watch an ad in the middle of your shows, it’s just something you’re doing for a little talk time.

myads_india_app.jpgIt’s not the most convenient way to consume ads, but getting paid Rs. 8 to watch a 45-second ad sounded reasonable enough to us. That money can then be used to recharge your phone, so you can use the money for mobile data.

Get my ADs (India) on Google Play, free.

5) Recharging your phone
Apps like Freecharge, Paytm, or Mobikwik or Airtel Money, just about every app that allows you to recharge your phone online also offers special deals and cashbacks. This means that when you’re recharging your phone, using any of these apps can get you a great deal. The specific deals vary on a day to day basis, so keep one or two of the apps you liked the most installed on your phone, and check these before hitting the recharge button to save a little more money.

paymobicharge_app.jpgThese are the five methods of getting free Internet access we found that worked. Have you tried any of these? What was your experience like? Tell us about that, or any other similar apps you liked, via the comments.


Google Play Now Supports Promo Codes for Paid Apps, In-App Purchases

Google Play Now Supports Promo Codes for Paid Apps, In-App PurchasesGoogle has announced that developers now have the ability to create a promo code for a paid app. With the introduction, Google says that developers can now offer a paid app or in-app product to users for free with a promo code.

It’s worth noting that the promo code feature has been available to iOS (App Store) users for a long time but Google was missing on the feature until now.

The company on its Developer site says that promo codes allows developers to give content or features to a limited number of users for free. “Once you [developers] create a promo code, you can distribute it subject to the terms of service. The user enters the promo code in your app or in the Play Store app, and gets the item at no cost. You can use promo codes in many ways to creatively engage with users,” noted Google. The company says that developers can create promotions in the Google Play Developer Console.

Google details some of the scenarios where a developer can offer a promo code to users. “A game could have a special item, such as a character or decoration, that’s only available to players who attend an event. The developer could distribute cards with promo codes at the event, and users would enter their promo code to unlock the item,” notes Google. Further, developers may hand over promo codes at local businesses, in an attempt “to encourage potential users” to try the app. App developers can also offer promo codes to its employees to share with “friends and family”.

The company has also listed some instructions for developers creating promo codes such as for each app, an app developer can create up to 500 promo codes per quarter. “To reach that limit, you can use any combination of paid app and in-app promo codes,” adds Google.

The company however limits that if a developer do not use all 500 promo codes in a quarter, access to them will be lost and unused codes will not carry over to the next quarter. For app developers who wish to create promo codes for their apps can head to the Developer Console.