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Xiaomi launches Pocophone F1 globally

Monitoring Desk

BEIJING: At the time of writing, Xiaomi is holding simultaneous events in Paris, Jakarta and Hong Kong, detailing the Pocophone F1’s availability.

In France (with other European markets likely to follow) the Pocophone F1 will start at €330 for a 6GB+64GB configuration. The 6GB+128GB model will cost €370. Sales will open in September. In Spain, the Pocophone F1 will be up for sale on 30 August starting at €300 for the 6GB+64GB model.

In Hong Kong the Pocophone F1 will retail from August 30 for HKD 2,800 (€300) (the 6GB+128GB version).

In Indonesia the 6GB+64GB Pocophone F1 will retail for RP 4.4m (€260), the 6GB+128GB model will cost RP 4.9m (€290) and finally the Armored Edition (with the Kevlar back) with 6GB+128GB will cost RP 5.1m (€300).

The Pocophone F1 may be priced like an upper midranger, but is a flagship through and through. It packs a Snapdragon 845 chipset, a 6.18-inch IPS LCD of 1080x2246px resolution, a dual 12MP f/1.9 + 5MP f/2.0 main camera, 20MP f/2.0 selfie camera and an infrared-assisted Face Unlock. And, Xiaomi has promised the Pocophone F1 will get Android P by the end of the year. You can read all about the Pocophone F1 in our detailed review.

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Google is irresponsible claims Fortnite’s chief in bug row

LONDON (BBC News): The leader of the firm behind the hit game Fortnite has accused Google of being “irresponsible” in the way it revealed a flaw affecting the Android version of the title.

On Friday, Google made public that hackers could hijack the game’s installation software to load malware.

The installer is needed because Epic Games has bypassed Google’s app store to avoid giving it a cut of sales. Epic’s chief executive said Google should have delayed sharing the news.

“We asked Google to hold the disclosure until the update was more widely installed,” tweeted Tim Sweeney. “They refused, creating an unnecessary risk for Android users in order to score cheap PR points.” A spokesman for Google declined to comment.

Google has been criticised in the past by Microsoft for sharing details of vulnerabilities in the Windows-maker’s products before they had been addressed.

The Android developer’s security team has also caught out Apple and Samsung in a similar manner.

But in this case, one independent cyber-security expert said Epic was responsible for getting into this situation.

“People will argue until the cows come home the a period is either too long or not long enough depending on which side you’re on,” commented Troy Hunt.

“I’m still surprised Epic didn’t put it in the Play Store to begin with – and yes, I get the financial incentive.”

Google’s terms dictate that Epic would have had to have handed over 30% of its in-game fees. The developer has, however, agreed to such terms on Apple’s equivalent app store since iPhones are restricted from adding software from elsewhere.

Fast fix

According to Google’s documentation, its security team shared a screen recording with Epic on 15 August demonstrating a way to fool the games’ Android installer into loading malware.

Epic responded two days later saying that it was distributing a fix after “working around the clock” to create it.

“We would like to request the full 90 days before disclosing this issue so our users have time to patch their devices,” the games company added.

Google’s disclosure rules state that it reveals details of bugs to the public 90 days after reporting them to the developers responsible if they have not been tackled, but only waits one week after a patch is made “broadly available”.

As such, it rejected the request.

Mr Sweeney has said he is grateful that Google audited his firm’s software and notified it of the flaw.

But he denied suggestions that the tech giant had acted in users’ interests by refusing to keep the matter private until mid-November.

“Epic Games’ decision to bypass the Google app store shows that when security conflicts with commercial interests, often the commercial interests win but at the cost of the public’s safety online,” commented Professor Steven Murdoch, a security researcher at University College London.

“Security is no longer just the result of people making good technical decisions, but also that the complex commercial structures in place work for, and not against, better online security.”

In a separate development, Epic has announced an incentive for all Fortnite players to activate two-factor authentication to reduce the risk of their accounts being stolen.

This requires gamers to enter a code sent to their phone or email address in addition to their password when signing in.

Those that adopt the practice can use the game’s Boogiedown dance moves.



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Google deletes blogs, YouTube accounts linked to Iran

NEW YORK: Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google said that it had identified and terminated 39 YouTube channels linked to state-run Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting.

Google has also removed 39 YouTube channels and six blogs on Blogger and 13 Google+ accounts.

“Our investigations on these topics are ongoing and we will continue to share our findings with law enforcement and other relevant government entities in the US and elsewhere,” Google said in a blog post here.

On Tuesday, Facebook Inc (FB.O), Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) and Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) collectively removed hundreds of accounts tied to an alleged Iranian propaganda operation.

Google, which had engaged cyber-security firm FireEye Inc (FEYE.O) to provide the company with intelligence, said it has detected and blocked attempts by “state-sponsored actors” in recent months.

FireEye said here it has suspected “influence operation” that appears to originate from Iran, aimed at audiences in the United States, the UK, Latin America, and the Middle East.

Shares of FireEye rose as much as 10 per cent to $16.38 after Google identified the company as a consultant. (Reuters)

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Microsoft claims win over ‘Russian political hackers’

LONDON (BBC News): Russian attempts to launch cyber-attacks against US conservative groups have been thwarted, Microsoft says.

The software company said Russian hackers had tried to steal data from political organisations, including the International Republican Institute and the Hudson Institute think tanks.

But they had been thwarted when its security staff had won control of six net domains mimicking their websites.

Microsoft said the Fancy Bear hacking group had been behind the attacks.

Domain control

“We’re concerned that these and other attempts pose security threats to a broadening array of groups connected with both American political parties in the run-up to the 2018 elections,” Microsoft said in its blog detailing its work.

The thwarted attack was likely the start of a “spear phishing” campaign, said Microsoft. This would involve tricking people into visiting the mimicked domains allowing the Fancy Bear group to see and steal login information that people use.

As well as the two think-tanks, the domains seized were associated with several Senate offices and services. One domain sought to mimic Microsoft’s Office 365 online service.

The New York Times suggested that the two think tanks were targeted because they were former supporters of President Trump but were now foes who had called for more sanctions to be imposed on Russia.

The International Republican Institute’s directors include Senator John McCain and General HR McMaster who was replaced earlier this year as the White House national security adviser.

IRI president Daniel Twining told the Times that the attacks were consistent with the “campaign of meddling” the Kremlin is known to have indulged in.

In its blog, Microsoft president Brad Smith said it had grabbed dodgy domains 12 times in two years to shut down 84 websites associated with Fancy Bear.

It said that, so far, it had no evidence that the domains had been used in any attacks. The domains could have been set up to help a future planned assault.

Microsoft added that the attack activity seen around the domains “mirrors” what it saw in 2016 in the US and during the 2017 election in France.

Microsoft’s action comes soon after the US charged 12 Russian intelligence officers with hacking computer networks used by Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party.

Russia has consistently denied meddling in the elections or mounting any cyber-attacks on US institutions.


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Apple ‘pulls gambling apps from China App Store’

LONDON (BBC News): Apple has removed thousands of gambling apps from its China app store, according to reports.

The tech giant would not confirm reports suggesting it had pulled 25,000 apps, but in a statement the firm said “gambling apps are illegal and not allowed on the App Store in China”.

The cull follows criticism from state broadcaster CCTV for not doing enough to filter out banned material. Apple currently offers more than 1.8 million apps in China.

The removal of the gambling apps has been widely reported, but originated from CCTV which claimed that Apple had carried out a “large-scale removal of illegal apps that sold fake lottery tickets and offered gambling services”.

In its statement, Apple said: “We have already removed many apps and developers for trying to distribute illegal gambling apps on our App Store, and we are vigilant in our efforts to find these and stop them from being on the App Store.”

Under fire

It is not the first time that the tech giant has been criticised by Chinese state media for having illegal apps in its store.

In the past year, Apple has removed Skype, as well as hundreds of virtual private networks, or VPNs which are used to send secure emails, transmit data and access websites that are blocked in China.

Apple has also been accused of not doing enough to filter banned content on its iMessage service.

In a report on Sunday, CCTV said “Apple itself has set up the rules on how to allow apps onto its store, but it didn’t follow that.”

The network said that resulted in the proliferation of “bogus lottery apps and gambling apps”.

The latest media attack comes at a sensitive time for US companies operating in China, amid worries about the fallout of the trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

Yet despite the tit-for-tat trade tariffs threatened by both sides, American goods such as Apple’s iPhones continue to be popular in China.



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Cellular technologies serving as basic needs of life in modern age

F.P. Report

PESHAWAR: The cellular technology in modern age has become a strength in common man’s lives and its importance has exponentially grown over the years with its ever increased usage.

It is not a luxury commodity or service anymore as it serves as a basic need of life to the people.

A cell phone helps us to be in touch with our families and maintain a smooth relation with business associates.

In short, the advent of cell phones had really changed the way people to help them communicate with each other. The use of cellular technology has also evolved since the time of its inception and “we have seen countless changes in shape of cell phones and their communication methods”.

The combination of science, engineering and innovation had transformed use of cell phones in a way that now one can communicate with anyone from any part of the world within no time.

A senior official at a mobile phone company on Sunday commented that prime objective of cell phone is that it keeps people connected and makes anyone’s everyday business smooth as one can schedule meetings and can update one’s business associates about new developments to maintain efficiency and trust.

The users can even send important files to their clients with a strong Internet access through phone.

The official said modern day devices with advanced features are capable of sending as well as receiving files, Internet access and most of them have GPS technology that is very helpful for those in business of transportation.

A user of this technology, Shehryar Ahmed Bhatti said in  beginning, the cellular services and handsets were so expensive that a common man could not afford their usage but time changed and now the same were in the range of most of the people living on the planet.

There were billions of active users of mobile phone and many of them  were using it to facilitate their lives and businesses.

Another user, Muhammad Irfan, who operates rent-a-car service in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, is also one such man.  He is in services sector but cannot get into direct contact with his each client, however, client satisfaction is essential for him to keep his business running smoothly. Since he is not running a large corporate, he has to maintain personal contact with new and existing clients to make them feel comfortable and satisfied.

The simplest solution he got for this is staying in contact with his clients through his cell phone.

Whatever business  he is doing, connectivity and service efficiency are vital to be successful and Muhammad Irfan knows this very well that’s why he  is able to manage a small business with limited resources wonderfully well.

He said the key in his profession is to be in contact always not only with customers but employees, drivers, investors and mechanics as well, adding that the best way of getting connected with all of them is a reliable cellular connection that enables  to stay in touch with all stakeholders of his business instantly.

“I started the business at a small scale but now I have 15-car fleet and I am dealing with clients like embassies, foreign NGOs and corporates,” Irfan said.

He said, “The thing I like the most about profession is that it gives me a chance of getting connected with people and this habit helps me facilitating customers on a personal level and in return they regard my services by continuity of their business to my company.”

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Digital banking moving nation towards paperless economy

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The emerging trends of digital transactions offered by various banks vitally contribution towards boosting paperless economy.

Cashless transactions are becoming the most favorable mode of transactions throughout the world and the effects are also visible in Pakistan.

A spokesperson Information Technology ministry Saghair Watto said, “Availability of 3G and 4G service and new technology becomes available to improve data storage and electronic communication has shifted toward a paperless environment that increases each year.”

Economy experts view that paperless economy is eco-friendly, reducing the cost of production of cash and saving the paper used for making cash and it saves individuals from carrying a large amount of cash in their wallets, reducing the possibilities of theft. Risks of counterfeit money are also absent in electronic transactions. A house wife Shumaila Inaam said, Digital banking is so convenient for a women who’s husbands are settled abroad and they can’t leave the house due to other responsibilities.

She said online banking also allows you to transfer money between accounts, abroad and bill payments and online shopping more easily and quickly without leaving homes.

A very important influence in the running of such an economy is the self-confidence that the people’s money is safe in banks and reliable online store and convenience provided to public offered by various bands and telecom operators., she added.

Paper based transactions remained less than half of digital and other electronic related transactions during the second quarter of FY18, according to a statement released by the SBP.


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Huawei to launch window for Mate 20 series

Monitoring Desk

BEIJING: Huawei has announced that its Kirin 980 chipset will power the Mate 20 series of flagship phablets. The processor will be the first commercially available 7nm smartphone chipset as well.

“According to Mr. Richard Yu, the CEO of Huawei CBG [consumer business group – ed], Huawei will unveil the Kirin 980 at IFA, which will be the first commercially available 7nm chip in the world,” read an official press release sent to South African media (h/t: Gearburn) and obtained by Android Authority. “The Kirin 980 will power the Mate 20 series.”

Furthermore, the press release also gives us a launch window for the Mate 20 family.

“Huawei Mate 20 will launch with the world’s first 7nm chipset this October,” reads another excerpt of the release.

A move to a smaller manufacturing process usually yields a more powerful and efficient chip. So we can reasonably expect better-sustained performance, improved performance in general, and longer endurance from the new Huawei processor.

It’s widely expected that Qualcomm and Apple will join Huawei in offering a 7nm smartphone chip. Qualcomm traditionally reveals its latest flagship chip at the end of the year, with commercially available phones in the new year. Meanwhile, both Apple and Huawei tend to reveal their new chips in the second half of the year, with commercially available phones before the year’s end. So it seems like a race between Huawei and Apple to be first to market with 7nm chips.

We wouldn’t put much faith in these rumored specs (particularly the in-house GPU claim), even if the Chinese manufacturer is itself discussing them. The company issued a similar release for the Mate 10 series last year, and some information didn’t exactly pan out…

“According to industry insiders, the Mate 10 may come with a dual-lens 20MP rear camera and a dual f/1.7 large aperture lens,” read an official release sent ahead of the Mate 10’s launch last year. Of course, the Mate 10 series has a 20MP+12MP dual camera setup with f/1.6 apertures.

What we can take away from Huawei’s latest communiqué for sure is that the Kirin 980 will be built on a 7nm manufacturing process, and that it’ll land in the Mate 20 series in October.





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Motorola phone ‘brazen copy’ of iPhone X

LONDON (BBC News): Smartphone brand Motorola has been criticised for revealing a “shameless” copy of the iPhone X as its new model.

Many phone-makers have copied the look of the iPhone X, which has a smaller bezel around the screen and a “notch” at the top that houses a camera.

However, reviewers said the new Motorola P30 was a “brazen” and “egregious” rip-off of Apple’s flagship device.

Lenovo, which owns the Motorola brand, has not yet responded to the criticism.

Motorola was a pioneer in the mobile phone industry, but its sales fell in the smartphone era and its handset division was sold to Google in 2012.

The division was then sold to Chinese computer firm Lenovo in 2014, where it has continued to produce smartphones running the Android operating system.

Commenting on the similarity between the Motorola P30 and the iPhone X, technology blogger Marques Brownlee called it the “most shameless rip yet”.

News site Mashable said Motorola “even went so far as to adorn the screen with a wallpaper that’s a dead ringer for Apple’s default wallpaper”.

News and reviews site Technobuffalo said the design was an “egregious clone” that was “nearly impossible to distinguish” from the iPhone X.

Tech news site The Verge pointed out that Google’s image recognition algorithms described photos of the P30 as “iPhone”.

“The growing number of identikit smartphone designs is a depressing trend and it’s little wonder consumer apathy is on the rise and replacement rates are slowing,” said analyst Ben Wood from the CCS Insight consultancy.

“One starts to wonder whether Jony Ive’s design group at Apple has become the de facto owner for the reference design for all high-end smartphones.

“Phone makers need to innovate and find ways to differentiate if they want to maintain consumer desire to upgrade their phones,” he told the BBC.

On Thursday, Lenovo posted an operating profit for the first quarter – after making a loss the previous year.

Bloomberg attributed the rise to an increase in sales, but also cost-cutting measures in its mobile division.

Lenovo plans to sell the Motorola P30 in China, but has not announced its availability in other countries. The device is expected to cost about $350 (£275) – less than half the price of Apple’s flagship device.





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Objectionable content: PTA demands to ban Twitter in Pakistan

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Twitter might be banned in Pakistan as Government couldn’t force twitter to work in the constitutional realm of legitimate free speech. PTA asked to ban Twitter in Pakistan as it doesn’t respond to Government’s Demands.

Ban Twitter in Pakistan for Not Responding to Government Demands

On Cabinet Secretariat, PTA informed Standing Com­mittee on Cabinet Secre­tariat that other social media networks like Facebook, YouTube and Instagram agreed to the government’s request to block content that is full of hatred or other objectional material. However, Twitter did not agree to the terms and conditions.

Nisar Ahmed, Director General of PTA’s Internet Policy and Web Analysis told the committee that:

“Out of a hundred requests from Pakistan to block certain offensive material, roughly five per cent are entertained. Twitter ignores all the remaining requests.”

The standing committee discussed the penalties fixed by PTA to curb offensive content that spreads throughout social media and especially such content which targets Pakistan as a nation, its citizens and institutions.

Mr Nisar told the committee about the Islamabad High Court order ie; to give Twitter a final notice which includes inquiring the website to respond to requests from Pakistan or face the risk of being blocked in the country.

Mr Nisar further added that the PTA has conveyed the high court’s concern to Twitter but has not got a response. The regulatory authority will implement court orders if Twitter does not respond to the final notice

According to the PTA, social media websites such as Facebook, YouTube and DailyMotion now saw Pakistan as an emerging information technology market. They can tap in here to exponentially grow their businesses.

Let’s see Whether Twitter will ban in Pakistan or not!