Microsoft India partnered with The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs [MoHUA] to deploy Microsoft’s Project Sangam [cloud-hosted, mobile-first community learning platform] to train functionaries and officers across India on Swachh Bharat e-Learning Portal. Through this partnership, MoHUA has successfully trained 1,10,000+ municipal functionaries on best sanitation practices across 4000 plus cities in India.

Swachh Bharat Mission [SBM] is a nation-wide campaign in India that aims to clean up the streets, roads and infrastructure of India’s cities, towns, and rural areas. To successfully execute this campaign, MoHUA wanted to standardize, centralize, modernize, and establish systems for knowledge exchange and capacity development to train thousands municipal functionaries spread across cities in India.

Partnership with Microsoft to use the cloud powered Project Sangam, enabled delivery of large-scale, far-spread training programs with high quality and efficiency. The Sangam platform was designed to train municipal functionaries of state sanitation missions, city managers – engineers, administrators, field supervisors and sanitation workers with an aim to equip, assess, measure and accredit training of these officers.

Project Sangam empowered the Municipal functionaries by enabling MoHUA to run custom community training courses and track their process, manage content, users and analytics across the program in one place. It also provided video-based learning for users who have low-bandwidth supporting offline learning for the Swachh Bharat e-Learning Portal users.

Commenting on the partnership Shri V.K. Jindal, Joint Secretary & National Mission Director – SBM (U) said

The objective behind Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has been to improve urban sanitization by encouraging large scale participation and spreading awareness amongst all sections of society. This partnership with Microsoft has helped increase adoption of best practices and equipped the workers with the knowledge they need to perform their tasks much more efficiently. We are already witnessing the phenomenal success of this partnership and the technology support by Microsoft is integral to that.

Anil Bhansali, Corporate Vice President, Cloud & AI, Microsoft, said

As there are different states working towards a common mission of Swachh Bharat, there is a need for having standardized and centralized practices for cleanliness. Project Sangam is a perfect fit for training the municipal workers with skilling content that is simple and easy to consume, ensuring high course completion rates and increased attendance.

It has been designed to enable organizations to reach the length & breadth of their target audience. Irrespective of the end user, the Sangam portal provides an excellent opportunity for a continuous learning process. This is a great example of how innovative use of technology can be leveraged to empower organizations and individuals from all walks of life.

In the phase two of this Swachh Bharat e-learning mission, the Ministry will now roll out Citizen Training program with aim to train citizens of India on subjects like public toilets hygiene, waste management, household hygiene, sanitation practices. The citizen training app can be downloaded from here.

Aimed at bridging the learning gap in education, Google launched a new app ‘Bolo’ that parents can download to help primary grade children improve their Hindi & English reading skills. The beta version of Bolo, launched in India first, is optimized for native Hindi speakers, and uses Google’s speech recognition and text-to-speech technology. It comes with a built-in fun and helpful reading buddy, ‘Diya’, that encourages, aids, explains, and corrects the child, as they read aloud. Designed to work offline, Bolo is available on the Google Play Store, in India, for all smartphones running Android 4.4 [Kit Kat] and higher.

As per the annual ASER 2018 report, of all students enrolled in grade 5 in rural India, only about half of them can confidently read a grade 2 level textbook. Lack of reading ability can significantly impact further education, and ultimately children’s ability to realize their full potential. While the reasons behind the lag in learning levels are varied and complex, limited access to quality material, under-resourced infrastructure, and barriers to learning outside the classroom, are amongst the primary ones.

Nitin Kashyap, Product Manager, Google India said

Bolo is designed as a reading-tutor app that helps primary grade students to improve their reading anytime, anywhere. With Bolo, we aim to encourage and engage kids so their love for reading grows and it becomes a daily habit. We believe that technology can be a powerful enabler, and we want to ensure that students, parents, teachers and the education ecosystem, benefit from it. We have been piloting Bolo in 200 villages, and the early results are very encouraging.  We are now actively working with a number of nonprofit partners to take it to more people across the country who could benefit from it.

Zohair Hyder, Engineering lead for Bolo said

We all have our own personal experience and know that reading aloud with someone giving 1:1 feedback helps improve reading skills.  Many children, especially those in rural India don’t have this support. With Bolo we wanted to bring a similar experience to anyone who needs it, via their smartphone.

Bolo helps children in many ways, as mentioned below

  • Read all by themselvesJust like a personalized reading tutor, the app assists them at every step, giving both positive and corrective feedback.
  • Choose from a large variety of engaging stories – All the reading material on the app is completely free and the initial catalogue from Storyweaver includes 50 stories in Hindi & 40 in English; with more being added soon.
  • Enjoy as they learn – Children can also play interesting word games and earn in-app rewards and badges, helping reading become both fun, and a daily habit.
  • Improve at their own pace – Multiple children can use the same app, and track their progress separately. Over time the difficulty level of recommended stories adjusts to their reading skills.
  • Understand English better – Diya: the reading buddy in the app can not only read out the text to your child, but also explain the meaning of English text in Hindi.
  • Read without distractions [and without data too] – The app works even when offline, so children can just focus on reading, and is completely ads free.
  • Stay safe and secure – The app has been designed with children’s safety and security in mind and all personal information always stays on device.

Google has been piloting Bolo with over 900 children in 200 villages in Uttar Pradesh, India, with the help of ASER Centre. The results are very encouraging, with 64% of children showing an improvement in reading proficiency in just 3 months. You can read more about the pilot results here.

Google will be working closely with four non-profit partners including Pratham Education FoundationRoom to Read, Saajha and Kaivalya Education Foundation – a Piramal Initiative, who have extensive experience of working in this space to take Bolo to more children, and further expand their efforts across India. More partners can also join in.

Find out more about Bolo here

Truecaller has reached the 100 million Daily Active Users [DAUs] milestone in India. Moving beyond just a ‘Caller ID and Spam blocking app’, Truecaller has emerged as one of the most preferred applications and a one-stop communication app for its users offering a variety of services including messaging and payments. With this achievement, Truecaller now has 130 million daily active users globally, and over 500,000 premium subscribers.

In addition to this, Truecaller also announced that every tenth active user in India has linked their bank account to Truecaller Pay, and 60% of all the people who are coming onboard on Truecaller Pay happen to be experiencing UPI for the first time.

Sharing his thoughts on the occasion, Alan Mamedi, CEO & Co-founder, Truecaller,said

India is one of our focus markets and we are very pleased to have hit this landmark. We feel extremely privileged to know that there are 100 million people in India who trust our brand and use our services daily.

There are limited mobile-only services that have an impact on a large scale of users every day, and we are very proud to be a part of this exclusive group. We will continue to expand in the Indian market and integrate more services to create a robust unified communication platform that simplifies the lives of our users.

With the boom of smartphones over recent times in the country, they have become the primary gateway to access the internet for millions of people.

Truecaller with its integrated services like Caller ID, SMS, Instant Messaging, Flash Messages, Video Calling, and Truecaller Payments, goes synonymously with smartphones as more users are relying on the platform on a daily basis.

Additionally, Truecaller has evolved to become more than just an app on the user’s phone, it has helped in bridging the digital divide between the urban and growing semi-urban/rural markets in India. Further, enabled and empowered users and businesses by making communication more safe and efficient.

About Truecaller

People use Truecaller to stay ahead. It helps them know who’s getting in touch, filter out unwanted calls and SMS, and focus on what really matters. The company provides a suite of unique services such as a dialer that offers caller ID, spam detection, messaging and more. Truecaller’s mission is to build trust everywhere by making communication safe and efficient. Headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, the company was founded in 2009 by Alan Mamedi and Nami Zarringhalam. Investors include Sequoia Capital, Atomico and Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers.

In its continued effort towards building a Digitally empowered India, Jio is redefining convenience for its users yet again. For the first time, IRCTC reserved ticket booking service is available for users on any JioPhone through the brand new JioRail app. The app will allow customers to book and cancel tickets by using debit cards, credit cards and e-wallets, check PNR status, train information, timings, routes, seat availability and several other services at a click of a button on their JioPhones.

Available on the Jio App Store, the JioRail app also allows Tatkal booking for any last minute travel plans. If a user does not have an IRCTC account, the app also allows them to create an account and then proceed for the required ticket booking. With JioRail, users can also check the PNR status for tickets booked through the app. The app also plans to offer enhanced services like PNR status change alerts, locate train and food ordering in future.

Train ticket booking has been made quite simple on the JioRail app. With this unique service, India’s consumers can avoid standing in long queues or pay agent fees to book tickets and instead enjoy an enhanced digital life experience.

To ensure the data of its Indian users remains secured and to provide faster and more reliable services, Truecaller confirmed that its entire Indian user data is hosted in India. Truecaller is one of the first international tech companies to proactively take the step of storing its Indian users’ data locally in India. This is a user-centric move that is aimed at safeguarding personal data and encouraging more transparency in the ecosystem.

With locally stored data, and significant investments in its Indian infrastructure, Truecaller has also doubled the search result speed for its core services like Caller ID and Spam detection within the app to ensure users are protected from unwanted calls and potential fraud. It is worthwhile to note that Truecaller was already storing its Indian user’s payments data of its popular Unified Payment Interface [UPI] based payment service in India. Payments as a vertical was built from scratch entirely out of India last year after the acquisition of the Indian payments start-up Chillr. This made Truecaller fully compliant to RBI’s data localization norms from the start, compared to other international entities.

Over the past 24 months Truecaller has invested heavily in the India market, and today more than half of its employees are from India with offices in Bengaluru, Gurgaon, and Mumbai.

Speaking on the development, Nami Zarringhalam, Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer at Truecaller said

This is one of the many steps we are taking to ensure better quality of our core services across payments, messaging and Caller ID features that Truecaller offers. This also safeguards our user’s privacy and is our way of showing commitment towards our users and their data while being compliant with laws of the geographies we operate in. Truecaller has in the past years built a considerable user base in India with over 100 Million daily active users. To support all of the exciting developments we last year also acquired a company in India and now have half of our headcount in India.

About TrueCaller

People use Truecaller to stay ahead. It helps them know who’s getting in touch, filter out unwanted calls and SMS, and focus on what really matters. The company provides a suite of unique services such as a dialer that offers caller ID, spam detection, messaging and more. Truecaller’s mission is to build trust everywhere by making communication safe and efficient. Headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, the company was founded in 2009 by Alan Mamedi and Nami Zarringhalam. Investors include Sequoia Capital, Atomico and Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers.

Truecaller introduces three new smart updates called SMS Classification, ‘Smart Notification‘ and Messages Backup‘ to its existing Messaging Inbox feature, to enhance the SMS messaging experience for all Android users. Truecaller in its continued effort to make life easier by providing safe and efficient communication tools, has launched the new features to empower users to effectively manage their cluttered Messaging Inbox while ensuring they don’t lose out on valuable information every time they uninstall the app or change their smartphones.

SMS’s are so frequent that sometimes even important messages are treated no differently than spam-led, coupon codes or promotional updates. SMS Classification, equipped with advanced machine learning algorithms will help sort messages in 3 groups [contacts, others, spam] based on the content of the message. For instance, personal messages will be shown under the contacts tab, blocked/top spammer messages will directly land under the SPAM tab while the rest of the messages will be classified under the others category based on the content. The classification happens offline and locally on the user’s phone without any data being stored on Truecaller’s servers.

The Smart Notification feature scans through incoming SMS locally on the phone without touching Truecaller’s servers, and creates a smart card highlighting relevant data like OTP number, transaction amount or payment reminders for the users to act on. Additionally, the user will also be able to perform certain actions like recharge or pay bill straight from the smart card that appears on the notification tab by just clicking on the pay option provided.

The first update will initially show smart messages from HDFC, AXIS, ICICI, CITIBANK, SBI, Bank of Baroda, PNB, BOI, Union Bank and mobile operator including Airtel, Idea, Jio and Vodafone. In line with Truecaller’s aim to provide secured tools, this feature is also designed to work completely offline and will take place only on an individual’s handset ensuring that none of the user’s transactional info or OTPs touch Truecaller servers. Users can choose to disable this update when preferred.

Further, one of the key pain points identified by users is the process of resetting a fully functional Truecaller account in case a user accidentally uninstalls the app or changes phones. The new Message backup feature is built to securely backup and recover all messages [SMS and Truecaller Chat], contacts [saved and ones identified by Truecaller], call history, block list and other preferences with just the click of a button. Integrated with Google Drive, Android phone users can enable the backup feature through the Truecaller app settings. Users can then select their own Google account and grant access to Truecaller to create a private folder on Google Drive to store the backed-up files. Truecaller does not inspect nor have access to this folder making the process entirely secure.

These updates have already been rolled out to all Android users. More support questions for Truecaller Backup can be found on their support page.

Running a small business in an ultra-competitive business environment successfully often means that the owner has to take up several roles and juggle multiple tasks. On one side you need to hire a great team that can take your business to the next level and on the other side, you need to ensure a steady stream of cash to keep operations up and running.

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From planning and budgeting to staffing and selling, every department demands a great deal of your time, attention and effort, especially in the first few years. All of these challenges explain why more than 20% of small businesses fall flat by the end of their very first year. Not to mention the need to strike a perfect balance between a strapped budget and business growth.

Staying organized and focused amidst all this chaos and confusion can be quite a challenge for an already overburdened business owner. Thanks to technological advancements today, productivity apps for android smartphones can help ease the burden of managing multiple tasks and make the process simple and efficient.

Let’s take a look at six such productivity apps for smartphones which offer big benefits for small business owners.

Evernote – There are thousands of thoughts running through your mind during the day. It’s impossible to pen down each and every thought and keep track of the details over a period of time. Well, Evernote app is a boon which can simplify storing and managing information. Evernote allows you to:

  • Create notes and share them easily
  • Sync and access all the information from multiple devices
  • Attach audio notes and voice memos
  • Tag or flag ideas to go back to them without having to search
  • Put reminders

With this app in your smartphones, you will never have to worry about jotting down a single word or remembering details from that important call with your client. You can create, organize and share content easily with your team members.

Vivial – You don’t have to worry about wasting time by logging on to various platforms for publishing news, deals, events, promotions etc., regarding your business. You can do all of this with a click of a button and make your business visible on multiple websites, local web directories and social media platforms using the Vivial app.

InDinero – Need help with managing your business finances? InDinero lets you manage the cash flow and all the other business related finances with ease. The app also has a feature which lets you sync your bank account and credit/debit cards. InDinero can even predict future cash flow on the basis of past trends collected from the data stored.

Wave – Turn a cumbersome task of handling the entire billing process into a simple one with this wonder app. Wave lets you manage important tasks such as creating invoices, sending estimates, processing and tracking payments efficiently and easily. It allows you to design and send invoices as well as estimates within few seconds. You can also manage payrolls and track payment status effortlessly with Wave app.

Salesmate – Enhance your sales performance with this smart sales CRM app. It automates most of the processes for you so that you can dedicate your precious time towards more important tasks. It centralizes data and keeps you organized so that you don’t waste time in searching for important information in different places. It streamlines your pipeline to help you effortlessly manage, nurture and close deals quickly. This helps you boost your sales productivity. Salesmate also sends notifications so that you can stay on track and complete your tasks on time.

DO – It is one of the most reliable apps to log and track all your to-dos. It has a stunning interface which is extremely easy to use. The signature feature of this app known as Moment encourages better task management practices. Its basic version is free to use but you can unlock some of its great features with the paid version. For instance, you can share multiple tasks with unlimited options for recurring tasks. Also, you can benefit from the location-based reminders feature with the paid version. You can download the Any.Do app from here.

These apps promise to make managing your business easier. Their efficiency also depends on how you use them. If you use them dedicatedly and integrate them with your business process aptly, you can boost your productivity and in turn the growth of your business.

Which are your favorite productivity apps, do leave the name in the comments section…

K7 Computing Private Limited, a homegrown cybersecurity industry leader, hosted The Association of Anti-Virus Asia Researchers International Conference [AVAR] in association with Indian Computer Emergency Response Team [Cert-In]. The conference was held at Holiday Inn resort, Goa from the 29th to 30th of November, 2018. The gathering of more than 400 participants along with 67 speakers from 25 different international security companies addressed and discussed the significant and acute aspects of cybersecurity. The theme of the conference was ‘The Dynamic Security Ecosystem‘.

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The International security conference in its 21st year saw one of the largest gathering of cybersecurity experts, researchers, product developers and eminent speakers from around the world, engaging in panel discussions and paper presentations.

K7 Computing has been associated with AVAR since its inception and has previously hosted the conference in Chennai, in 2013. Hosting the event for the second time and bringing back the event to India for the third time, J Kesavardhanan, MD & CEO, K7 Computing said

Since its inception, AVAR has witnessed increasing participation from leading cybersecurity players from around the world. It has also evolved as a platform to discuss on the latest trends, innovations and disruptions impacting the cybersecurity industry. This year we had participation from more than 25 leading cybersecurity players from across the globe.

It is our privilege to be associated with AVAR and to host it again in India. We are very happy with the success of AVAR 2018. With initiations like these, we aim to further our cybersecurity mandate of bringing the industry together to discuss and develop an advanced roadmap to curb cyber threats.

Commenting on AVAR 2018, Allan Dyer, Chairman, AVAR said

We are very glad to have held the 21st edition of AVAR in India in association with K7 Computing; for the second time. Considering the expanding digitalization, India is one of those nations where the need for cybersecurity solutions and awareness on cyber threats is immensely required. Therefore, forums like AVAR, play a pivotal role in bringing the cybersecurity industry together to brainstorm on the complexities of the threat landscape and discuss the way forward to deal with these.

It is very satisfying to see the increasing participation at AVAR every year. We congratulate K7 Computing on the successful completion of AVAR and on taking this initiative further, the second time.

One of the findings which K7 researchers presented was the ‘New Android Denial of Service Vulnerability‘. K7 researchers explained how the ADB [Android Debug Bridge], a tool used to set or modify android phone’s authentication PIN or pattern can be leveraged by attackers to lock the user out of his/her own phone without their knowledge. Exploitation of this vulnerability via ADB, which had already been disclosed to Google, was demonstrated live, rendering a smartphone inaccessible by modifying its device security settings.

At the prestigious event, K7 computing also announced its partnership with PolySwarm, the first decentralized threat intelligence marketplace to further advance its ecosystem of quality malintent detection where K7 Computing will integrate its malware detection engine into PolySwarm’s network.

About K7 Computing Private Limited

K7 Computing is a global provider of leading IT security solutions for enterprises and consumers. Incorporated in 1991, K7 Computing has its registered office in Chennai and a strong presence in all Indian states. With more than 20,000 channel partners, K7 Computing is protecting more than 25 million customers worldwide against the threats to their IT environment. The recent notification from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology [MeitY] on procurement of 100% indigenous cybersecurity products establishes K7 Computing as the sole Indian player to comply with the Public Procurement Order 2018 for Cyber Security Products.