Weekly Bytes | NASSCOM’s ‘AI Gamechangers’ programme, Starlink orders open in India, and more


Here’s our curated list of important tech news from this week in byte size.

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NASSCOM launches the AI Gamechangers programme

National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) has launched the ‘AI Gamechangers’ programme, to promote artificial intelligence (AI) led innovation in India, with Microsoft as the ‘Innovation Partner’. The programme will serve as a platform for startups, enterprises, academia, governments, and NGOs to showcase their AI-based products and solutions. It will recognise innovators for their successful AI implementation at NASSCOM’s Xperience AI Summit. The entries will be judged on three primary aspects of problem selection, solution innovation, and impact achieved. The nomination window will be open till April 16, 2021, which will be followed by screening and the final presentations. “While the country continues to leap forward to become the global innovation hub, we expect AI to unlock $500 billion of value to India’s GDP by 2025,” Debjani Ghosh, President, NASSCOM, said in a release. In another development, AI finds that Bollywood’s association of beauty with fair skin has not changed.

SpaceX opens Starlink orders in India

SpaceX has started taking orders for its Starlink internet service in India. The satellite-based broadband service aims to start coverage in the country next year, according to a Starlink order page. “Availability is limited. Orders will be fulfilled on a first-come, first-served basis,” it noted. Recently, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk had said on Twitter that the aerospace company plans to bring Starlink service to most parts of the globe by the end of 2021, and everywhere by next year. Interested people can visit Starlink’s website and place the order with a $99 deposit (about ₹7200). The internet service presently claims to offer speeds in the range of 50 to 150 Mbps, which according to Musk will be doubled by the end of 2021. Earlier this week, it had launched 60 Starlink satellites, which will join over thousand other Starlink satellites operating at 550km above the Earth’s surface in low Earth orbit. This week, SpaceX Starship rocket prototype achieved its first upright landing, then blew itself to pieces.

Google announces new enhancements for Pixel devices

Google has announced new Pixel features that include the ability to easily access and share audio recordings, a new way to use the Pixel Camera app underwater and new wallpapers. Pixel owners can share links to their Recorder audio files, so anyone can listen, even if they don’t have a Pixel, and at recorder.google.com, people can hear recordings, see transcripts and even search through files, Google said in a blog post. In addition, divers will be able to use their Pixel camera with the Kraken Sports’ Universal Smart Phone Housing to capture marine life and seascapes, it added. Also, Smart Compose is now available for select messaging apps on Pixel devices, suggesting common phrases to help users cut back on repetitive typing and potential typos, the search giant noted. In another update, Google will not use other web tracking tools after phasing out cookies from its Chrome browser next year.

Square to take majority stake in Jay-Z’s music platform

Square has announced its plan to buy a majority stake in Jay-Z’s music and entertainment platform, TIDAL. The Jack Dorsey-founded company expects to pay a mix of cash and stock of $297 million for “a significant majority ownership stake,” and existing artist shareholders will be the remaining stakeholders. “TIDAL will operate independently within Square, alongside the Seller and Cash App ecosystems,” the payments firm added. TIDAL has an extensive catalogue of over 70 million songs and 250,000 high-quality videos. It has a global presence with listeners in more than 56 countries and relationships with more than 100 labels and distributors. “It comes down to one simple idea: finding new ways for artists to support their work,” Dorsey said in a release. Jay-Z is expected to join Square’s Board of Directors subject to the closing of the transaction. In another development, Twitter has rolled out Spaces, its Clubhouse-equivalent audio chat feature, to Android devices.

Cisco Webex App will add real-time translation to 100+ languages

Cisco said in a blog post that it will begin a trial of real-time translation from English to 100+ languages in the Webex App later this month. The feature will be more broadly available in May. This will enable non-native English speakers and hearing-impaired participants to choose closed captioning translation from English to one of the 108 additional languages supported, it added. The trial will also be enabled on Webex website with some restrictions. The collaboration platform also gets support for Q&A during meetings allowing attendees to post questions in the Q&A panel with answers provided by the host and co-hosts. Further, it has improved the attendee join experience with a pre-meeting lobby, where attendees can wait until the host arrives and even notify the host that they are waiting, Cisco noted. Last week, Zoom had said it is working towards making automatic closed captioning available to all its users later this year.

Instagram introduces Live Rooms

Instagram has introduced Live Rooms that will enable users to go live on the platform with up to three people. Earlier, the Facebook-owned platform allowed only two people in a stream. “We’re now letting you ‘double up’ on your live broadcast,” it said in a blog post. Instagram users can swipe left and pick the Live camera option to start a Live Room, then they can add a title and tap the Rooms icon to add their guests at once or one by one. Features that are currently available to Live hosts, such as the ability to report and block comments, and apply comment filters will also be available to hosts of Live Rooms, the social networking platform noted. Live Rooms will soon be available globally for everyone on Instagram, it added. In another development, WhatsApp may roll out a feature similar to Snapchat’s, which will make photos from the sender disappear after the receiver opens it.

You can read more at thehindu.com/technology

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