EA’s Mass Effect Infiltrator and Dead Space Removed From App Store

One of Electronic Art’s better mobile games, Mass Effect Infiltrator, has been removed from the App Store. And if the company’s post regarding the game is any indication, you can expect it to disappear from Google Play and any other stores it is currently present in as well.

“On September 1, 2015, we will be removing Mass Effect Infiltrator from the mobile app stores. We will not be supporting or updating this game going forward. We are focusing our efforts on developing new and exciting titles, as well as bringing new content and updates to existing popular games,” EA’s support website states.

Considering the game was released on March 6, 2012 for iOS devices and saw a release on Android, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry 10 thereafter, the move to remove it completely is surprising.

(Also see: Need For Speed No Limits Announced For iOS and Android)

This isn’t all, Dead Space on iOS has been removed as well. Speculation on gaming forum NeoGAFsuggests that this is due to complications in supporting these games with new OS versions for Android and iOS on the horizon. Reportedly, both games had issues on newer smartphones and tablets wherein sound effects would not work barring for a few menus. However, if you already own either game, you’ll still be able to download and play it.

This marks yet another set of games pulled from digital storefronts. Granted neither are as high profile as the demo for P.T., it just goes to show that the digital future of gaming isn’t as stable as most consumers have perceived it to be.

Bengaluru’s Momoe Extends Mobile Payments Service to Grocery Stores

Bengaluru based mobile payments app Momoe announced its partnership with with more than 35 grocery chains, extending its network to 60 stores in the city on Friday.

The Momoe app works with a ride range of retail chains, ranging from restaurants, spas, salons, apparel, electronics outlets, and the auto segment in Bengaluru. The foray into the grocery space is an attempt to address the needs of new age women, the company said.

Users can now make cashless payments from Rs. 20 to Rs. 4,000 for their grocery purchases, using the app to pay merchants from their phone. The Momoe app now displays a Groceries tab, with all the stores grouped by their proximity to the user’s location.

The company said that it has more than 150,000 users using the app, with over 5,000 people paying with Momoe on their phones every week.

Momoe is live at over 1,000 retail outlets in Bangalore, and supports credit cards, debit cards, and net banking.

Utkarsh Biradar, CEO and Founder of Momoe said that the firm was trying to expand its capabilities to include all user touch points, from restaurants, grocery stores, apparel stores, spas, salons, to auto-rickshaws in the city. The app is currently testing out MomoeExpress, which brings a one-click checkout experience to payments. Users can reserve an invite to try the feature.

Launched in August 2014, Momoe has raised $1.2 million (roughly Rs. 8 crores) in two funding rounds. Mumbai-Based Pointshelf, another player in this space disclosed its plans to add Bitcoin payments in September.

Uber’s Chinese Rival Invests in US Opponent Lyft

China’s top taxi hailing app Didi Kuaidi has taken a stake in US archrival Uber’s own domestic competitor Lyft, the Wall Street Journal reported, as the firms spend fortunes competing for market share.

The Chinese company teamed up with two of its investors, Chinese Internet giants Alibaba Group andTencent Holdings, in a May funding round for Lyft, the report said, citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter.

The size of their share investment was not disclosed but the exercise valued the American firm at $2.5 billion (roughly Rs. 16,610 crores), the WSJ said.

None of the three companies would comment on the issue when contacted by AFP, and Alibaba, which the report said had already taken a stake in Lyft last year, would not reveal the size of its initial investment.

Uber, valued at $50 billion (roughly Rs. 3,32,207 crores) and backed by Chinese search engine giant Baidu, launched operations in China last year and its chief executive Travis Kalanick announced an ambitious goal to expand to 100 more cities in the country in the next year in Beijing this week, reports said.

He was quoted as claiming its market share in China had risen from one percent to about 35 percent.

But a release by Didi Kuaidi in July cited data from research firm Analysys International as showing it holding a hugely dominant position in the Chinese market, with 80 percent of private car services and 99 percent of the taxi-hailing market.

The two are locked in a fierce battle for customers, offering both riders and drivers subsidies and discounts that are costing the companies vast sums.

Uber raised $1.2 billion (roughly Rs. 7,972 crores) this week in an ongoing financing round, with Baidu increasing its share after a December investment of around $600 million (roughly Rs. 3,986 crores).

But Didi Kuaidi and its sponsors hope to distract the global industry leader by boosting the competitive threat in its home market, the WSJ said.

Lyft operates in 65 US cities and has not announced plans to grow abroad, it added.

India Funding Roundup: IndustryBuying, OnlineTyari, Instacab, Nudge Foundation

IndustryBuying
Delhi-based Industrybuying, a B2B e-commerce marketplace for industrial supplies has secured Rs. 60 crores in Series B funding, led by Kalaari Capital, with participation from SAIF Partners and BEENEXT,Yourstory reported. Sumit Jain of Kalaari Capital has joined the company’s board. Founded in 2013 by Rahul Gupta and Swati Gupta, the website states over 250,000 products and over a thousand brands on its marketplace, the largest collection of tools and machinery in India.

OnlineTyari
Gurgaon-based test preparation platform, OnlineTyari has raised Rs. 5 crores from a clutch of marquee global angel and VC investors, including Tandem Capital, 500 Startups, Vikram Chachra of Eight Capital, Aloke Bajpai of Ixigo, and Mohandas Pai. OnlineTyari allows users to prepare for job-oriented tests including – civil and banking services. Currently available in Hindi and English, the company claims to have over 20 million app downloads and daily active user base of more than 200,000 people.

Instacab
Delhi-based outstation taxi cab aggregator Instacab has secured around $400,000 in seed capital from an unknown VC firm, Yourstory reported. Instacab is a mobile-first taxi aggregator with an app for Android, currently operating in the Delhi – NCR region. The company was founded by IIT Kharagpur alumni, and claims to work with a pool of 2,500 cab drivers who operate from Delhi-NCR to over 30 cities.

Nudge Foundation
Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani has committed $200,000 to The Nudge Foundation, a non-profit organisation that focuses on sustainable poverty alleviation, the foundation received contributions of $50,000 from GWC (Great Wall Club), $75,000 from InMobi and $40,000 from Paytm at the event’s fundraiser, the Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) in Bengaluru. Founded by former InMobi executive Atul Sathija in July 2014, it prepares individuals from below-poverty line for grey collar jobs such as housekeeping, delivery, beautician, driving and housekeeping.

Hike for Android Gets Free Group Audio Calling Feature

Hike on Friday announced that it is introducing free group calling ability to its mobile messenger app. The feature would allow up to 100 people to talk to each other in a group call. It is available for free on the Hike Messenger Android app, which you can download from Google Play.

While group audio calling isn’t an exclusive feature, is not available on most instant messengers, including and especially WhatsApp, the mammoth in the category which announced earlier this month that it has 900 million monthly active users. Line had recently launched a group calling app called Popcorn Buzz, letting users speak over 200 people at a time.

Hike said that members in a group could initiate the audio calling to every member, and the other members can join. The company is targeting students and families. The feature, however, will require the participants to be on either 4G cellular network or a fast Wi-Fi network, the company said. Free group audio calling feature will arrive on Hike Messenger iPhone and Windows Phone clients later this year.

“Many of us at hike were quite frustrated by how hard it is to make a Group Call today. […] Now with the tap of a single button, you can connect up to 100 people in one call. It’s that simple. One tap and hike does the rest,” said Kavin Bharti Mittal, Founder and CEO of Hike.

As the markets for instant messenger clients heats up, concerned players are aggressively adding new features and refinements to their app to make it more competitive. Earlier this year, many apps including Hike Messenger and WhatsApp, for instance, added the ability to make free audio calls using the Internet data. Hike last month rolled out version 4.0 of its apps, which brought chat search, new themes, and more.

With over 35 million users as of last year, Hike Messenger is one of the most popular instant messaging clients in India. It has added a number of features, including the ability to search chat messages and new themes.

New York Taxi Lenders Face Risks After Uber Suit Dismissed

New York credit unions that have run up large exposures to the city’s iconic yellow cabs are facing a sharp increase in loan losses after a judge threw out a legal challenge to ride-hailing service UberTechnologies Inc.

Four credit unions that have lent out large sums of money for taxi medallions, which yellow cab drivers need to operate, had sued the city of New York, arguing that Uber’s technology infringed on the drivers’ exclusive rights to pick up passengers who hail them on the streets.

Queens County Supreme Court Judge Allan Weiss dismissed the suit on Wednesday, saying that the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission has actively engaged in regulating the introduction of “e-hailing” services.

“A catastrophe is unfolding, as an entire industry continues to be illegally destroyed, while elected officials allow it to happen on their watch,” Todd Higgins, attorney for the lenders, said in a statement.

Taxi medallions are metal shields bolted to the hood of yellow cabs in New York City. The number of medallions is limited by the city and they sell for very high prices – as much as $1 million (roughly Rs. 6 crores) as recently as 2011.

The four lenders – Melrose Credit Union, Montauk Credit Union, Progressive Credit Union and Lomto Credit Union – have argued that Uber has driven down the value of New York Taxi medallions by as much as 40 percent.

They hold nearly $2.5 billion (roughly Rs. 16,613 crores) in taxi medallion loans covering around 5,300 medallions.

Delinquencies at the credit unions have soared in the past year, according to financials filed with their regulator, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).

Melrose, for instance, had more than ten times as much in loans that were more than sixty days delinquent than a year earlier. The credit union said it has nearly $400 million (roughly Rs. 2,658 crores) in delinquencies and troubled debt restructurings in its medallion loan portfolio.

Lomto, which had only $73,000 of delinquent loans in June 2014, has more than $9 million (roughly Rs. 59 crores) of loans that are more than 60 days delinquent as of the end of June 2015.

The credit unions are not the only ones making loans for taxi medallions. Other lenders include large banks like Citibank and specialty lender Medallion Financial Corp, whose shares are at their lowest level since 2010 and have lost more than 60 percent of their value since their 2013 peak.

Credit unions are non-profit, member-owned financial institutions. Members’ accounts are insured to the limits of the NCUA’s insurance fund.

The NCUA said it carefully reviews its credit unions’ lending and risk-mitigation plans and has issued guidance about taxi medallion lending.

“Like any other form of lending, the agency expects credit unions that offer this product to analyse the potential risk and have proper mitigation in place,” NCUA spokesman John Fairbanks said.

Microsoft Office 2016 for Windows Rollout Begins September 22

Microsoft has announced that Office 2016 for Windows will be available starting September 22.

Announcing the release date, Julia White, General Manager of Office 365 Technical Product Management in a blog post detailed how the Office 2016 productivity suite for Windows will be rolling out “broadly” to users. An earlier report citing Microsoft memo had claimed September 22 release for Office 2016.

For users with volume licensing agreements, Office 2016 can be downloaded from the Volume Licensing Service Centre starting October 1. Users of Office 365 ProPlus, the subscription version of Office apps for companies and organisations, will receive the new features in an update starting September 22 and will include all of the new Office 2016 app updates. Office 365 Personal and Office 365 Home users can start installing Office 2016 apps starting September 22 from office.com while the automatic updates will begin rolling out in October. To recall, Microsoft had releasedOffice 2016 for Mac back in July.

office_2016_laptop_tab_press_image.jpgThe company stresses that Office 2016 brings additional IT capabilities to the Office platform. Apart from IT features, the new Office also brings support for Data Loss Prevention across the Office 2016 apps, Multi-factor Authentication and other mission critical control capabilities.

Office 2016 comes with a number of other new features and improvements, including the much-anticipated dark theme, and a ‘Tell Me’ help assistant which can be found in the Ribbon UI. The new Office also comes with automatic rotation feature which automatically detects and fixes the orientation of an image. Furthermore, Outlook sync options now allow users to download 1, 3, 7, or 14 days of recent emails.

Some of the new features in new Office 2016 include math input control (which is already available in OneNote and Window); improved conflict resolution in PowerPoint; Quick Shape formatting; new timeline view in project; higher DPI support for 250 percent and 300 percent; pan and zoom while loading large charts/SmartArt; Colourful Office theme; insert images with the correct orientation; Lync is now Skype for Business, and read-only mode for Excel.

Google packs in more content to its Play Newsstand, News and Weather apps

google news app android 1Google sometimes makes two products that compete with each other, which is why it has different news apps: Play Newsstand and News & Weather.

They’re both getting some love, however, with some pretty nice sports-friendly additions to Play Newsstand and behind-the-scene work to News & Weather.

The story behind the story: Google uses both apps for different angles on the news. News & Weather is designed to give you an aggregated list of links to various articles around the web. Google Play Newsstand is more akin to a newspaper or magazine rack, with designated spots for different publishers and the ability to subscribe to digital publications.

More sports for Play Newsstand

The most prominent new feature here is the inclusion of sports scores, articles, and the option to choose a favorite team to follow. Google says you can choose a team from the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB with a pledge for more to come.

play newsstand sports
Sports scores and team news get prominent play in the newest edition of Google Play Newsstand.

However, if you use Google Now to follow sports it may feel like a duplication of service. What would make this even smoother would be if Google could automatically import the teams you’ve told Google Now you like to follow.

Get the update in Google Play or from APK Mirror.

Publishers may start pushing apps in News & Weather

While the most visible change to the News & Weather app update is Google’s new logo, a look at the code reveals a bit more. It appears that publishers will soon be able to promote their own apps, with the ability for you to install them from the Play Store.

Google has used its search app, Play Store advertisements, and other methods to push more Android app installations. This looks to be another tool for that effort.

As always, the update is rolling out in Google Play or is now available on APK Mirror.

How Debian and other open-source projects are making software more trustworthy

debianOpen-source software is especially trustworthy compared to closed-source software because you can see the source code of the program you’re running.

Or can you?

You probably aren’t compiling all your software from source—you’re getting packages provided by your Linux distribution. But how do you know those binary packages were actually compiled from that source code and weren’t tampered with?

Why you should care

There’s typically been no way to actually check that a binary was compiled from some source code. Even compiling that application a second time and comparing the two binaries wouldn’t work, as you’d need to reproduce the exact build environment and ensure the source code didn’t pull in changing information, such as current date and time. But Debian and other free software projects are charging ahead with “reproducible builds,” allowing anyone to compile a piece of software from source and confirm the binary package they get matches the one being offered for download.

Want to stay up to date on Linux, BSD, Chrome OS, and the rest of the World Beyond Windows? Bookmark the World Beyond Windows column page or follow our RSS feed.

The reproducible builds (or “deterministic builds”) provide a complete chain of trust from a binary all the way back to the source code. This helps confirm that no attacker—whether it’s a government agency, a group of black-hat hackers, or one person with access to a free software project’s servers—have compromised the system to produce packages with backdoors.

How much progress have they made?

Debian’s reproducible builds project is making a lot of headway here. In a recent talk at the Chaos Communication Camp, Debian developer Jérémy Bobbio (aka Lunar), explained Debian’s progress and the rationale here. (Here’s the full text of the talk.)

debian reproducible builds progress
Debian’s reproducible builds progress.

More than 83 percent of Debian’s packages are now reproducible. That’s over 18,000 packages, with the results visible on reproducible.debian.net. The team believes reproducible builds should become the norm across the entire free software ecosystem and has information about for developers explaining how to make software reproducible.

Bitcoin and Tor are already reproducible, which is no surprise as these are two projects where trust is key and tampering would be particularly dangerous. There are efforts underway to make theCoreboot free software BIOS replacement, the OpenWrt router firmware, FreeBSD, NetBSD, and even Fedora reproducible.

This isn’t a sexy new feature, but it is a big security improvement in an age where increasingly sophisticated attackers and various governments want to insert backdoorsinto the software we use. It’s something only free software can do—letting you confirm a binary program was compiled from specific source code that you can actually see. With closed source software, all you can do is confirm a program is identical to the one being offered by the developer.

Microsoft Shares Apple Event Stage in Tech World Twist

Loyal Apple fans likely shuddered on Wednesday as longtime nemesis Microsoft was welcomed at a high-profile media event to show off software tailored for a new iPad.

The US software titan had been mocked at previous Apple events as not just an entrenched adversary but as a copycat waiting to duplicate the company’s innovations.

Yet Apple chief executive Tim Cook offered the surprise introduction by saying, “Who knows more about productivity than Microsoft?”

Building on the surprise, an Adobe demonstration came in the wake of a presentation by Microsoft executive Kirk Koenigsbauer at the San Francisco event which featured a new iPad Pro and other devices.

(Also see:  iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus With 3D Touch Display Launched)

“Now Adobe, it’s like a parade of conquered rivals paying homage,” well-known technology journalist Walt Mossberg of Re/code wrote as he covered the event.

Technology news website Mashable marked the moment with the headline “Hell freezes over: Microsoft makes surprise appearance at Apple event.”

 

The Mashable writer went on to put the Microsoft appearance on par with a Steve Job’s nightmare.

Late Apple co-founder Jobs unabashedly fired barbs at Microsoft, which was portrayed as an evil empire overlord while the iconic California was a rebel force.

Microsoft and Apple fans have clashed in San Francisco coffee houses with the kind of intensity though more common for lovers of rival sports teams.

(Also see:  iPad Pro With 12.9-Inch Display, Apple Pencil Stylus Launched)

Microsoft’s unprecedented appearance on an Apple event stage left those fans to now argue whether it was a sign of Microsoft’s defeat in the long-running war or whether Apple needed them as an ally to push iPads deeper into the business world.

“We are focused on reinventing productivity,” Koenigsbauer said.

“Today, more than ever we are supporting productivity on Apple devices.”

He showed off Office work software tailored for a new, larger-screen iPad Pro.

Adobe, whose Flash program was banned from iOS by Jobs in 2010, meanwhile showed off a new application designed for the iPad Pro, dubbed Photoshop Fix.