First National Drone Delivery Service Launched — in Rwanda

Rwandan Drone Delivery Service First of Its Kind

Rwandan President Paul Kagame on Friday launched the world’s first national drone delivery service at a ceremony in Kigali. This comes at a time when U.S. regulatory agencies are yet to clear any kind of commercial drone delivery service here in this country.

Rwandan Drone Delivery Service First of Its Kind

The drone delivery service will make up to 150 on-demand, emergency deliveries per day of life-saving blood. The blood will be delivered to 21 transfusing facilities located in the western half of the country, where poor roads and healthcare infrastructure make it difficult to reach patients in need.

But even if the delivery service isn’t here, the drones that helped launch it are built and operated by an American robotics company, Zipline of San Francisco, California. An international partnership between Zipline, UPS, Gavi (the Bill Gates-backed vaccine fund) and the Vaccine Alliance will help Rwanda quickly expand the types of lifesaving vaccines and medicines that can be delivered.

“Drones are very useful, both commercially and for improving services in the health sector. We are happy to be launching this innovative technology and to continue working with partners to develop it further,” said Pres. Kagame, according to the official release from UPS.

According to UPS, which has supported the project with a $1.1 million (USD) grant through The UPS Foundation, the commercial partnership between Rwanda and the companies is expected to save thousands of lives over the next three years. The partnership also hopes to use the knowledge gained in Rwanda to export this delivery service around the world.

“The shared belief in the ability to save lives through applied innovation, combined with Rwanda’s vision, is now not only poised to advance humanitarian logistics — and logistics as we know it — around the world, but also to save lives,” said Eduardo Martinez, president of The UPS Foundation and chief diversity and inclusion officer at UPS. Martinez’s remarks were also included in the company’s official release.

Image: UPS


Facebook Starts Rolling Out Shop and Service Sections to Pages

Facebook Starts Rolling Out Shop and Service Sections to Pages

In a move to make its Pages feature valuable for businesses online, Facebook on Thursday announced two new Page sections – Services and Shop – for emerging markets including in India where 57 percent of people on Facebook are connected to a business.

The Shop section provides businesses with a new way to prominently display the products they are selling on their Page.

It allows people to easily discover, browse and make offers to purchase products through messaging from the businesses they care about, Facebook said in a statement.

The Services section allows service businesses to showcase a list of their offerings on their Page.

If we look at the Indian small and medium businesses (SMB), over 1.99 billion interactions are being generated between businesses and people in the country.

There were two million SMB Pages on Facebook in India as of October last year.

“With the Shops and Services sections on Pages, businesses around the world can help people discover the products and services they care about in a more visually appealing way,” said Adrian Nam, a product marketing manager at Facebook.

Facebook launched Pages to help people market their businesses and make customers learn about products and services for free.


Services section makes it easier for people to find the information they are looking for and decide whether to work with the business.

Globally, more than one billion people on Facebook are connected to at least one business.

“The Shops and Services sections are a continuation of our efforts to make Facebook Pages the most valuable online presence for the more than 60 million businesses around the world that use Pages each month,” added Ryan Ebanks, another product marketing manager at Facebook.

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Tags: Apps, Facebook, Facebook Pages, Shop, Social


Samsung Cloud Service Unveiled Alongside the Galaxy Note 7

Samsung Cloud Service Unveiled Alongside the Galaxy Note 7


  • Samsung Cloud backup and restore service was unveiled Tuesday
  • Galaxy Note 7 users to get 15GB of storage free on Samsung Cloud
  • Samsung describes service as enhancement of its Smart Switch feature

Samsung alongside the Galaxy Note 7 launch on Tuesday also unveiled its Samsung Cloud service, which will allow phone users to make backup of their mobile phone data on the cloud.

The South Korean consumer electronics giant announced that Galaxy Note 7 users will be able to use up to 15GB of free space to store and restore information on its cloud service. Interestingly, the company has introduced its cloud storage by describing it as an enhancement of its Smart Switch feature.

Smart Switch feature essentially allows Galaxy phone users to transfer data from their old devices to the new devices. The feature is available in both PC and mobile versions.

(Also see: How Is Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Still a Thing?)


As the cloud service is an enhancement of this particular feature, it is expected to be used to create a backup of entire phone instead of acting like a backup for just your multimedia files. Apart from backup, the cloud service also allows for easy transfer of data, apps, settings, and layouts between devices.

The company has not given many details about its cloud service but is expected to eventually start enhancing its cloud services in lines with its competitors like Apple and Google.

Samsung on Tuesday launched the Galaxy Note 7 at its Galaxy Note Unpacked 2016 events in New York, London, and Rio de Janeiro, and the smartphone will go on sale in several countries this month.

The smartphone sports a 5.7-inch QHD (1440×2560 pixels) dual-edge Super Amoled display and is powered by either a Snapdragon 820 or Exynos 8890 SoC depending on the region. Samsung launched the phone with interesting new features like iris scanner and also upgraded its stylus, which is now water and dust resistant.

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Samsung Galaxy Note7

Samsung Galaxy Note7








1440×2560 pixels




Android 6.0.1







See full Samsung Galaxy Note7 specifications
Tags: Android, Cloud Storage, Mobiles, Samsung Cloud, Samsung Cloud Service, Samsung Galaxy Note 7


Sony’s Vue Web TV Service Said to Surpass 100,000 Subscribers

Sony's Vue Web TV Service Said to Surpass 100,000 Subscribers

PlayStation Vue, the web-TV service for owners of Sony Corp.’s video-game consoles, has signed up more than 100,000 subscribers since its March 2015 debut, people with knowledge of the matter said, good news for entertainment companies that are losing pay-TV subscribers.

The service has been adding customers at a faster rate since Sony began a nationwide rollout in the US three months ago, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private figures. Sony, based in Tokyo, declined to comment on the number. One person put the total near 120,000.

Media companies like Walt Disney Co. and Time Warner Inc. are looking to internet services to counter or slow the decline in traditional pay-TV subscribers for channels like ESPN and TNT. Shrinking audiences have sapped growth at many cable networks, which are the primary contributors to sales and profit at most major media companies.

Sony created Vue to give owners of its PlayStation consoles the option to watch live and on-demand TV without switching away from their gaming systems, an effort to make the device the centerpiece of the living room. Sony sells different programming plans nationally, in part depending on the availability of the major broadcast networks. Where they are provided on Vue, prices range from $40 a month for about 60 channels to $55 for about 100.

The company also recently began offering the service on other devices, including Roku players, Inc. products, and iPhones and iPads.

Media companies are banking on web services to attract younger viewers, those less likely to have cable or satellite TV, and are encouraged by the early results from Sony and Dish Network Corp.’s Sling. Sling has more than 700,000 subscribers, according to one of the people. The company declined to comment.

That means participating media companies are close to reaching 1 million new customers with their web services. While that doesn’t make up for the subscribers lost over the past few years, it may quiet some of those more pessimistic about the future of TV.

“They haven’t been public with their numbers, so I can’t be specific. But what we’ve been told is that their numbers in terms of sub-adoption has gone up tremendously,” Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger said of Vue at an investor conference in May.

AT&T, owner of DirecTV and the largest US pay-TV service, has said it plans to have three web-based services operating later this year. Hulu has said it is working on such a product, while Apple, and YouTube are all exploring the idea as well.

Vue rolled out more slowly than Sling TV. Sony introduced Vue in three markets, adding a few more last summer before making it available in more than 200 markets around the country in March. Live feeds of broadcast networks are only available on Vue in select markets for now.

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Tags: Amazon, Apple, Gaming, Home Entertainment, Hulu, Internet, PlayStation, PlayStation Vue, Roku, Sony, US

Weather Service Forecasts Will Stop SHOUTING at You Next Month

After having published all of its forecasts IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS for more than a century, the National Weather Service will finally switch to normal sentence style next month, the agency announced Monday.

The NWS’ distinctive style — IN WHICH FORECASTS RUN ON FOR PAGES AT A TIME IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS — is a remnant of the days of teleprinters, which didn’t have lowercase letters.

For decades, local meteorologists and news outlets that bring you the weather started by deciphering something that looks like this — Monday’s forecast for New York City:

IMAGE: NWS forecast
The National Weather Service’s forecast for Monday for New York City. National Weather Service

The agency has been trying since the 1990s to modernize its typography, but “it took the next 20 years or so for users of Weather Service products to phase out the last of the old equipment that would only recognize teletype,” the agency said Monday.

Any government change like this requires a 30-day notice period for customers to prepare, so it won’t be until May 11 that the NWS — as it wrote itself in its announcement — “WILL STOP YELLING AT YOU.”

“People are accustomed to reading forecasts in uppercase letters, and seeing mixed-case use might seem strange at first,” said Art Thomas of the agency’s Digital and Graphical Support Branch.

“It seemed strange to me until I got used to it over the course of testing the new system, but now it seems so normal.”


Star India to Launch Hotstar Service Overseas

Star India to Launch Hotstar Service Overseas

Star India plans to launch its over-the-top platform Hotstar in other countries over the next few months, a senior company executive said Wednesday.

“This infant service is already becoming a product of habit in the country and now this year, we have set our sights on creating the first global media and entertainment product born out of India, when we take Hotstar to the rest of the world in a few months,” Star India Chief Executive Officer Uday Shankar said at the Ficci Frames event in Mumbai.

He said the numerous and affluent South Asian diaspora, which for the longest time had been frustrated by the lack of access to its favourite content, will be able to watch cricket, movies and other shows through Hotstar.

“While we are satisfied that Hotstar is the pioneer, we are aware that this is a trend that will get replicated again and again, very quickly,” he added.

Hotstar was launched in February last year and has been downloaded over 50 million times.

Shankar said more people watched the popular football tournament English Premier League on Hotstar last year than on television.

Even for cricket, Hotstar’s watch time in the larger cities has now started to reach 50 percent of television, he added.

The digital enterprise provides a platform to have different content from what television offers, he added.

Shankar said there is a tectonic shift happening in the industry and yet, what we see in the world of traditional television is just stagnation, which has been made worse by a state of denial.

“I see an even more obsessive desire to protect the antiquated business models that we have painstakingly built over the years that technology and the youth are decimating like a bulldozer rolling over glass bottles,” he said.

Shankar explained that print companies found it difficult to make the transition to TV and almost all the digital successes generally come from companies that did not exist even a decade ago.

“This is because these are companies and people who are not chained by their legacy businesses. Just imagine where businesses like Netflix, Twitter and Facebook were a decade ago and what global empires they have created in this short span of time,” Shankar added.

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Tags: Apps, Facebook, Home Entertainment, Hotstar, India, Internet, Netflix, Star, Star India

Samsung Follows Apple Into China With Its Own Mobile Payment Service

Samsung Follows Apple Into China With Its Own Mobile Payment Service

South Korea’s Samsung Tuesday announced the launch of its mobile payment service in China, where it is likely to struggle in an already crowded market that arch-rival Apple entered nearly six weeks ago.

The world’s second largest economy is also the world’s biggest smartphone market, and Samsung Payhas a powerful partner in China bank card provider UnionPay which has links to the central bank.

But unlike most other countries, mobile payment systems are already well-established in China, with local providers dominating the market.

As an outsider Samsung will also have to compete with Apple, which launched its own Apple Paysystem last month also in partnership with Union Pay.

The South Korean electronics giant said its service currently supports selected credit and debit cards from nine Chinese banks and is available on its top-end Galaxy smartphones, with mid-range models to follow.

Like its California-based rival, Samsung Pay’s initial challenge will be securing a foothold in such a competitive market place.

China had 359 million online payment users in mid-2015, up almost 18 percent in six months, according to the state-backed China Internet Network Information Center.

Mobile transactions were valued at some CNY 9.3 trillion ($1.4 trillion) last year, up an annual 57 percent, one industry estimate showed.

The dominant mobile and online payment providers are e-commerce giant Alibaba with nearly three-quarters of the market, followed by Tencent operator of the popular messaging app WeChat which has some 17 percent, according to Beijing-based BigData Research.

A major issue for Samsung is the recent downturn in the popularity of its smartphones in China.

It was China’s top smartphone maker in 2012 and 2013, but domestic manufacturer Xiaomi took the throne in 2014.

In the fourth quarter of last year, Samsung ranked sixth in China with a 7.0 percent market share, compared to 13 percent for third-placed Apple.

The Apple brand commands a strong following in China, especially as a status symbol among the emerging middle class.

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Tags: Apple, Apps, Samsung, Samsung Pay

Telangana ropes in NIC for its own e-mail service

Telangana ropes in NIC for its own e-mail service

Telangana government has introduced an exclusive e-mailpolicy to be implemented from next month. Move aims to create a secure environment for e-mail communication system used by state machinery.

The new e-mail policy mandates all the staff to use only the official e-mail service being provided by the NationalInformatics Center (NIC). The state government’s ITdepartment will begin training from next week to enable all 33 departments switch to the new system.

“Currently about 60-70% of the senior officers are using the official service for e-mail transactions within and outside the government while the usage of the official mail service at the lower levels is just around 30-40% as staff and officers at the lower rungs prefer using Yahoo, Google services etc to send the mails even for official purpose,” Jayesh Ranjan, IT secretary of Telangana government told Business Standard.

This practice will be replaced with a new system of usage of e-mail service with all the built-in security protocols from next month, according to Jayesh Ranjan.

Once the new e-mail policy regime comes into force, an adverse ACR (annual confidential reports) entry will be made against any official who is found using a mail id other than official mail id provided by the state government.

The new policy also bars the officers and staff from down-loading the mails from their official account on any other e-mail service as the policy doe’s not allow its users to provide their account details to private e-mail service providers. The official e-mail service has been provided to all the states by the NIC, which works under the Department of Electronics and Information Technology, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology of the Central Government.

“There are certain security related risks inherent in e-mail communications which necessitate the adoption of requisite precautionary measures. Use of digital signature certificate and encryption shall, therefore, be mandatory for sending e-mails deemed as classified and sensitive, in accordance with the TS Information Security Policy and Guidelines to be notified by the GoTS (government of Telangana state),” the IT department stated in its orders.

The government has gone to the extent of recommending the officials on overseas trips to use only static IP addresses/Virtual Private Networks (VPN) or one-time password for accessing the official mail services in view of the security concerns that exist in other countries.

The government has also mandated all the users of official mail accounts to maintain latest operating system, anti-virus and application patches on their access devises.

The government machinery comprises of around 3 lakh employees at various levels in the state. Of this, clerical staff such as typists and other lower level employees are a not a part of this system as they need not have official e-mail accounts.

The state government has formulated its e-mail policy in line with the e-mail policy notified by Government of India last year.


Google Opens Access to Mobile Phone Service Project Fi

Google Opens Access to Mobile Phone Service Project Fi

Google on Monday opened its Project Fi mobile phone service to anyone in the United States using its latest model Nexus smartphones.

The public launch of Project Fi marked the end of a 10-month, invitation-only test phase and comes as the Internet giant’s first foray in being a mobile phone service provider.

“We’re excited to be exiting our invitation-only mode and opening up Project Fi so that people across the US can now sign up for service without having to wait in-line for an invite,” product manager Simon Arscott said in a blog post.

“With Project Fi, we deliver fast wireless service with the flexibility to use it where you want even internationally and a monthly bill that’s simple and easy to understand.”

Project Fi is only available for Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, and Nexus 6 smartphones from Google and work with a special SIM card that supports connections to multiple cellular networks.

Project Fi enabled smartphones can link to one of two 4G LTE networks or to Wi-Fi, automatically selecting optimal connections and switching from one to another without interrupting service, according to Google.

“As you go about your day, Project Fi automatically connects you to more than a million free, open Wi-Fi hotspots we’ve verified as fast and reliable,” Google said in a blog post.

“Once you’re connected, we help secure your data through encryption.”

Basic Project Fi plans cost $20 monthly for unlimited domestic voice calls as well as unlimited domestic and international text messaging. Fi boasts cellular coverage in more than 120 countries.

Data service costs $10 per gigabyte, with people only charged for what they use.

Google promoted Fi service with discounted prices on Nexus 5X smartphones.

The move by Google is seen as a way to lure consumers away from Apple and promote Google-branded Android phones with an a low-cost mobile plan.

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Tags: Google, Internet, Project Fi, Telecom

India Funding Roundup: An On-Demand Laundry Service, Sports Discovery Platform, and More

India Funding Roundup: An On-Demand Laundry Service, Sports Discovery Platform, and More

Our latest funding roundup compiles investments in Indian startups engaged in on-demand laundry, automotive sales, sports discovery, prescription medicine delivery, and credit score management.

Gurgaon-based on-demand laundry service OneClickWash has received an undisclosed sum of funding from Unitus Seed Fund. Founded in 2015 by Vivek Iyer and Saurav Killa, the startup provides doorstep delivery of laundry services in monthly packages, which includes washing, drying, and ironing, at Rs. 2,500 for a family, and Rs. 800 for an individual.

Girnar Software, which runs Indian auto portals,, and has received an undisclosed investment from Google Capital with participation from existing investor Hillhouse Capital. A major part of the new funding will be used to further bolster technology, R&D, and expansion within and outside of India, in Asia and the Middle East, the company said. The latest investment for Girnar Software follows a $50 million (roughly Rs. 332 crores) funding round led by Hillhouse Capital, with participation from Sequoia Capital and Tybourne Capital.

Gurgaon-based sports discovery and venue booking platform goSporto has reportedly raised $30,000 (roughly Rs. 20 lakh) in seed funding. Founded in 2015, the startup is currently operational in Delhi NCR, claims to have over 10,000 players and over a 100 venues on its platform. The startup reportedly plans to use the funds for increasing outreach and scaling its presence to multiple cities.

Jaipur-based LifCare, which provides a subscription based pharmacy service for chronic diseases, hasreportedly raised $1 million (roughly Rs. 6.65 crores) in angel funding. The startup and provides an online app on Google Play, and plans to expand its presence in Jaipur, and launch operations in a few more cities.

(Also read Order Prescription Medicines Online in India With These Apps)

Credit management platform CreditSeva has reportedly secured Rs. 2.4 crores in a bridge round of funding from investors including Pix Vine Capital and Infocomm Investments Pte Ltd (IIPL). Founded in 2014, CreditSeva is focused on helping the unbanked people in India manage their credit score.

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Tags: Apps, CarDekho, CreditSeva, Funding, Gosporto, India, Internet, Investment, LifCare, OneClickWash, Startups