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Google chases businesses to maintain its payments lead in India – TechCrunch

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Google said today it is bringing its mobile payments app — Google Pay — to businesses in India as the Android-maker rushes to maintain its payments lead in one of its key overseas markets before its global rival Facebook sets off a similar play in the nation.

Even as more than 400 million users in India are online today, most businesses in the nation remain unconnected, Google executives said at their annual event in New Delhi. Google, which has previously launched a handful of tools in India to help businesses build some presence on the web, is having another crack at it.

The company today unveiled Google Pay for Business, a standalone app that will enable businesses to accept online payments without doing much work.

The company also unveiled a software platform called Spot that will allow businesses to easily create their own branded commercial fronts that will be accessible to customers through Google Pay app. The company said several businesses in India like UrbanClap, Goibibo, MakeMyTrip, RedBus, and Eat.Fit are already making use of this feature.

“We hope these initiatives will help merchants adopt digital payments with more confidence, and help contribute to the long term growth of online financial services for the benefit of every Indian,” said Ambarish Kenghe, director and product manager for Google Pay.

The company is also bringing a feature that will enable users to discover jobs through Google Pay app. “Jobs will be available as a Spot on Google Pay to help job seekers find and prepare for entry-level positions that fit their needs,” said Caesar Sengupta (pictured above), VP of Next Billion Users Initiative and Payments at Google.

About two dozen companies including Swiggy, Zomato, Dunzo in delivery and logistics and 24Seven and Healthkart in retail are early partners of Google to use Pay’s jobs discovery feature, the Mountain View giant said.

Google launched its payments app Google Pay (called Tez then) in 2017. Pay is built on top of Indian government-backed UPI payments infrastructure and rivals with Flipkart’s PhonePe app for the tentpole position.

The payments market in India — which is projected to be worth $1 trillion by 2023, according to a Credit Suisse — is becoming aggressively crowded and competitive. Google today competes with PhonePe, Amazon Pay, and Paytm, the country’s most popular mobile wallet app whose parent company has raised over $2.3 billion from investors.

Google also announced that it is bringing tokenized cards for debit and credit cardholders in India, which will allow them to pay for things using a digital token instead of their actual card number. The company said it will roll out the feature to Google Pay users in the coming weeks, starting with Visa cards for HDFC, Axis, Kotak, and Standard Chartered banks. The feature will also support Mastercard and Rupay at a later stage.

The addition of new features is crucial for Google Pay, which prior to today’s announcements did not have many differentiating elements. It is also racing against time as Facebook’s WhatsApp, which has over 400 million users in India, is set to expand its UPI-based payments service to all its users by the end of the year.

In the meantime, Paytm is working to expand its reach in the nation, too. The company, which posted an yearly loss of over $500 million last year, said earlier this month it intends to invest another $3 billion into its business in the next two years.



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Ring Car Cam leaks: This could be Amazon’s Alexa dash-cam

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Details and what appears to be an image of Ring’s upcoming Car Cam have leaked, with the connected dash cam expected to add security both when the vehicle is parked and while it’s on the move. The newest addition to Ring’s line-up was actually announced in September 2020 as part of Amazon’s big device launch, though at the time no pictures of the Car Cam hardware itself were shared.

Still, Ring’s description painted a fairly comprehensive picture of what it was intended to do. As well as tracking bumps and attempted break-ins, and notifying owners via the Ring smartphone app, it can also be used to record journeys and summon emergency services in the case of an accident being detected.

If you’re being pulled over by the police, meanwhile, saying “Alexa, I’m being pulled over” will automatically begin video and audio recording. At the same time as that’s being uploaded to the cloud, the system will send a notification to pre-selected family members to let them know the stop has taken place. Ring said there would be a physical privacy shutter, too, and a choice of WiFi or LTE connectivity. The whole thing would be $199.99, though cellular plans would be on top of that.

Since then, we’ve not heard anything more about the new dash camera. A leak on The Tape Drive, though, has revealed what it could look like, and it’s certainly an unusual design.

The camera assembly looks to be mounted on some sort of bracket, either to be positioned above the dashboard or potentially hung from above the rearview mirror. There’s presumably a fish-eye camera on both sides – only visible from one side in the render – to capture footage both inside and outside of the car.

As for functionality, ZatzNotFunny spotted a seemingly prematurely-published Ring Car Cam information document on the company’s support site. It reconfirms some of the details which Ring told us late last year, but also adds a few extra tidbits.

For example, the camera will connect via the vehicle’s data port, not just hook up to a USB or 12V outlet for power. “Ring Car Cam easily installs directly to the OBD-II port in your vehicle, located behind your steering wheel in most cars,” Ring explains. “It securely attaches to the windshield and dashboard of the car, and the cable can be neatly tucked away and out of sight.”

It’s unclear what extra data Ring might be gathering by using that approach. The OBD-II port typically grants access to various driving metrics, and though originally intended as a way for vehicle technicians to diagnose faults and issues in increasingly computerized models, has also gained traction as a way for third-party devices to tap that same stream of information. Amazon had also announced Ring Car Alarm, a cellularly-connected dongle that plugs into the ODB-II port.

The Ring Car Cam itself won’t require a subscription, though you won’t get all of the features in that case. “You can access video stored locally on the device via the Ring app when the car is within range of wifi,” the company explains. “With an optional Ring connectivity plan, you can access video from anywhere via LTE as well as advanced features like Emergency Crash Assist.”

The connectivity plan for Ring Car Cam will also unlock features like real-time tracking, to help locate a stolen vehicle.

What remains to be seen is how Ring Car Cam will fit into Ring’s existing sharing policies with police departments. The Amazon-owned company has found itself mired in controversy in recent years, after inking deals with law enforcement that saw many requests for footage from connected security cameras and video doorbells. Ring had been accused of fueling privacy infringement and supporting racial profiling.

Earlier this month, the company announced a new policy around sharing with public safety and law enforcement agencies. Moving forward, such agencies will ahem to request information or video from communities through a publicly-viewable category on Ring’s Neighbors app. This new section, “Request for Assistance,” will allow communities to see just what sort of data is being shared, Ring says.

“All Request for Assistance posts will be publicly viewable in the Neighbors feed, and logged on the agency’s public profile,” Ring explains. “This way, anyone interested in knowing more about how their police agency is using Request for Assistance posts can simply visit the agency’s profile and see the post history.”

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YouTube on iOS PiP makes it much easier to watch videos while multitasking

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YouTube is now rolling out the ability for all users to watch videos with picture-in-picture mode, which reduces the video players to a small floating screen on one’s phone or tablet. This feature won’t be limited to only premium customers as some had previously speculated, though those premium customers will get access to the PiP support first.

Android users have had access to YouTube’s picture-in-picture mode for a while; it has become increasingly useful as devices get larger, higher-resolution displays, leaving ample room for using more than one app at a time. With PiP, someone can watch a video in a small corner of their device’s display while doing something else, such as browsing social media, messaging, or playing games.

There have been concerns over recent months that YouTube wouldn’t only make its picture-in-picture mode available to paying Premium subscribers on iOS, but that’s not the case, according to confirmation given to MacRumors.

The feature is now rolling out to all iOS users in the United States, with Premium customers getting it first followed by free users ‘soon.’ Some iOS users have already had access to the YouTube picture-in-picture feature, though its availability has been touch and go with it working only sometimes.

The official support will eliminate the need to deal with difficult workarounds and buggy Safari streaming, though you may need to remain patient if you’re not a Premium user. The feature will be most useful on larger iPhone models where there’s enough screen space to watch a video in the mini player and engage in a second activity.

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Researchers say they’ve found the ideal strategy to pay off student loans

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When many people near college graduation, they begin to contemplate how they’ll deal with the student loans they’ve racked up over the past few years. The burden — which grows more substantial with every generation — can result in stress and, if not managed properly, may throw one’s life plans off track for several years. Mathematicians with the University of Colorado at Boulder may have a solution, explaining that they developed a mathematical model to explore the ideal repayment strategy.

Generally speaking, college graduates get a brief grace period after graduation during which time they aren’t required to make payments on their loans. Two different options are available once payments start: an income-based repayment strategy that involves paying a certain amount monthly based on one’s salary or simply throwing as much money at the loan as possible to pay it off in a shorter period of time.

In many cases, graduates are often advised to pay the loans off as quickly as possible if the funding amount is on the smaller side. On the flip side, graduates are typically told to take the income-based repayment option if they’ve taken out a substantial amount of funds in the form of student loans. The new study suggests a hybrid approach may be more ideal.

The mathematical model takes into account things like compounding interest rates, the income tax that may need to be paid, and more. The findings indicate that some graduates may benefit from a hybrid-style repayment approach that involves paying off as much as possible for the first several years, then switching over to an income-based repayment plan for the remainder of the balance.

The team of researchers hasn’t made their work available as a calculator for the public, but they do plan to improve it and potentially make it available to existing repayment calculators that may integrate the model. The ideal repayment method will ultimately depend on personal factors that must be accounted for, including things like anticipated salary and more.

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