Government might Set Guidelines for Google

Internet giant Google stood its ground on Tuesday against the government’s directive to websites to remove “controversial” content. “We work really hard to both follow the law and also give people as much access to information as we can. So we follow the law when it comes to illegal content,” the Google spokesperson said.

“But it also means that when content is legal but controversial we don’t remove it because people’s differing views should be respected, so long as they are legal.” Citing its censorship policy, Google said “even where content is legal but breaks our own terms and conditions, we take that down, too, once we have been notified about it”. Google has more than 100 million users in India.

Facebook, which has more than 25 million users in India, on the other hand, adopted a relatively softer stance. The rapidly growing social networking site said it recognised the government’s interest in removing abusive content and will engage with Indian authorities on the issue.

“We want Facebook to be a place where people can discuss freely while respecting the rights and feelings of others. We already have policies and on-site features in place and will remove any content that violates our terms,” an official statement from Facebook said.

According to an IT ministry source, the problem started with some Facebook pages like’I Hate Sonia Gandhi’,’Manmohan Singh Is Puppet of Sonia Gandhi’ and a highly objectionable morphed photograph, which was widely circulated during the anti-corruption protests against the UPA government.

The internet companies say India has no clear guidelines about what constitutes’offensive’ and hateful. “The government should come out with clear guidelines regarding use of certain keywords or certain content as illegal rather than sticking to vague terms such as offensive and objectionable. It will help the companies to control the content better as it happens in the case of China,” a senior official with Google said. “But here they want to control the content, at the same time advocating freedom of speech as well.”

An IT department source said the officials had got instructions to draw up the guidelines soon. “We are working on the guidelines, but it will take at least two-three months to complete them,” the official said.

According to Google’s transparency report, India has made nearly 70 requests to Google to remove content between January and June 2011.

TRAI raises SMS limit to 200 per day per SIM

Telecom consumers will now be able to send up to 200 SMSes per day from a SIM, as against the earlier limit of just 100 SMSes per day imposed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).

“The authority has received representations from some of the service providers and consumers to increase the limit of 100 SMSes per day per SIM. The authority has considered these representations and decided to increase the limit of 100 SMSes per day per SIM to 200 SMSes per day per SIM,” Trai said in a statement today.

To deter unsolicited SMSes by telemarketing companies, Trai had earlier restricted the number of non-commercial SMSes that can be send from a SIM to 100. There was no restriction on commercial messages sent through telemarketing companies registered with Trai.

The new cap of 200 SMSes per sim per day will be effective from today.

After much delay, TRAI in September this year came out with recommendations to stop pesky calls and text messages, directing that no operators will permit the transmission of more than 100 SMSes per day per SIM.

In a bid to clamp down pesky SMSes, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had said that it will impose a termination charge of 5 paise per SMS on operators from whose networks commercial messages originate.

Termination charges are paid by an operator from whose network calls or SMS originate to the one on whose network these communications end. These charges impact tariffs.

“The promotional SMS charge shall be Re 0.05 (five paisa only). The Originating Access provider may collect the promotional SMS charge from the registered telemarketer,” TRAI said in a notification.

At present, some operators charge a termination fee of up to 15 paise per SMS. The current directive would make it mandatory for all operators to charge the termination levy for commercial SMSes.

Worlds Cheapest Tablet is Out

India’s much-hyped $35 tablet was finally launched in October, at the list price of Rs 2,999, or just over $60. The Akash is a bid to bridge the digital divide for India’s students. Designed and manufactured by DataWind (in partnership with IIT Rajasthan), the tablet is being manufactured in the company’s Hyderabad factory.

At that price, the Akash is impressive, for it is a functional Android tablet. We at PCQuest got to play around with Aakash and here is what we found.

It has the basics you’d expect to see in a tablet -connectivity, a web browser and media players, PDF readers, downloadable apps. There’s even two USB ports, a rarity in tablets and a micro-SD card slot, and a 3G version is also planned.

A subsidized version of the Aakash tablet will be available to post-secondary students through the National Mission on Eduction through ICT (NME-ICT) project. DataWind will offer a commercial version, called the UbiSlate, starting late November at an MRP of Rs 2,999 ($62) including 12 months of warranty. Internet access via mobile networks will be priced at Rs 98 for 2GB of data, in the commercial version of the UbiSlate, which includes a cellular modem and SIM card slot.

Feature and functionality

The Aakash is a really light tablet, weighing just 350 gm, with a 7-inch display and an almost pocket-able form factor. Its surprise feature is two USB ports, apart from a micro-SD card slot. It supports external memory up to 32GB.

The device’s software is limited by its spec (a slow processor and low memory) and cost: it runs the Android 2.2 Froyo operating system, intended for low-cost smartphones. This further means no Android Market, the standard tablet-and-phone app store that Google doesn’t allow access to from Froyo 2.2 devices. Instead, there’s GetJar, a more limited app store largely for phone apps. This means most apps on the tablet will run in a smaller size, or in lower resolution if expanded to fulls screen.

The battery life is a let-down; the 2100mAh battery lasted less than the rated 3 hours. The device also warms up in use, which means precious battery power is getting wasted as heat; and it also means that there is little power-optimization that has been done in the design and development.

This also means that each school kid who uses it will need a charging socket in her desk. And that’s not likely to happen soon in India’s schools. (Leaving it to charge repeatedly in common areas is not practical, for obvious reasons.)

Because of its Froyo (Android 2.2) OS, there’s no Android Market; and GetJar is a poor substitute. However, the commercial version of Aakash UbiSlate will support Android Market, according to DataWind CEO Suneet Singh Tuli. This is apart from the cellular modem and SIM card slot that version will have.

For students, the other missing piece is the educational content and courseware. Though there are many good videos on YouTube and there are apps elsewhere, the curriculum-orientation of India’s schools would mean there would be a tendency to “stick to the course”, and as of now, the courseware isn’t there.

Motorola to Launch India’s First 4G Phone This Month

Motorola Razr, which was unveiled last month during an event, is set to come to India in this month. A spokesperson of the company who reveled this to The Mobile Indian, however, did not confirm any particular date.

Sporting a mere 7.1 mm thickness, Motorola Razr features a dual-core processor and full HD recording capable camera. Most likely the Motorola Razr will be the first 4G LTE supporting Android smartphone for India unless Motorola brings its 3G version. Notably, India will see the 4G LTE roll out sometime next year.

Motorola Razr smartphone comes with a massive 4.3 inch Super Amoled display and supports qHD 960×540 pixel resolution. The first of its kind display supporting higher resolution certainly has raised expectations of many. The slim 7.1 mm razor like profile has Kevlar plastic built body to offer stylish and premium look.

Under the slim and strong Kevlar body, Razr packs a dual-core 1.2 GHz processor paired with 1 GB RAM. That means hardware is good enough to play your latest Android games and browse the web effortlessly. By default, the Razr will come with Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread and would be upgradable to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich whenever it is released.

One of the pain points of Motorola has been the software updates but with recent acquisition by Google, that might be taken care of. Bootloader of this smartphone won’t be unlocked so developers can create some splendid applications.

Shutterbugs are in for a treat with 8 megapixel camera with LED flash that will allow recording full 1080p HD video and capture high quality images using the image stabilisation technology. This smartphone also has a front facing HD camera for video calling and chat.

Motorola may also offer the MotoCast, a wireless media streaming enabler application along with the heavy encryption promising security features.

Price of the Motorola Razr is expected to hit somewhere between Rs 31,000 to Rs 34,000 approximately.

Google Maps Taking Viewers Inside Shops

Google’s free online map service is letting shops, gyms, restaurants and other small businesses provide viewers glimpses of what lies behind facades seen on Street View.

A test program launched in April of last year was bearing fruit in a growing array of panoramic images taken inside businesses that volunteered to be part of the project.

“We’ve been seeing renewed interest in the past few days because, as promised, we’re getting more imagery online,” Google spokeswoman Deanna Yick told AFP yesterday.

“The 360-degree views are really visually engaging, so we’re glad users are excited,” she continued.

Small businesses in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States have been able to invite Street View photographers into their shops or eateries to capture images then served up with Google online maps.

“With this immersive imagery, potential customers can easily imagine themselves at the business and decide if they want to visit in person,” Google Maps product manager Gadi Royz said in a blog post early this year.

Google is blurring faces of bystanders in pictures to allay privacy concerns that have arisen with Street View, which lets people click spots on online maps to see recently-taken images of locations.

Vodafone unveils App store in India

Vodafone India has launched a mobile application store powered by Appia, one of the world’s largest open application market place. The new mobile application store provides over 10,000 paid and free apps to over 145 mn subscribers of the operator in the country across all the major operating systems including Java, Symbian, Android and Blackberry.

The application store includes apps centered across popular categories including games, entertainment, social networking and local culture, offering all Vodafone India Mobile (2G/3G) customers to purchase and download applications and games for use on their GPRS enabled handsets.

” The store will present the best the world has to offer in mobile applications, giving Vodafone subscribers an expansive catalog of games and apps to entertain and enrich their lives”, said Kumar Ramanathan, Chief Marketing Officer, Vodafone India talking about the app store.

The store currently supports over 3,500 different devices, and is optimized to match applications to each subscriber’s specific device, said a company statement.