North Korea: Home to Some of the Best Hackers in the World

In 2013, banks in South Korea were attacked through its networks and servers. One bank and around three television stations suddenly found themselves having frozen computer terminals. These halted financial transactions, affecting even the ordinary people as ATMs were rendered unusable. South Korea became yet another victim of cyber attacks. This time, the country’s top government officials were targeted. According to South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, the smartphones of these government officials were hacked. Critical information such as SMS and voice calls were compromised.

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Halfway around the world, the hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment did not only send waves to the cyber community but also the entertainment industry. Confidential information from the company, including movie scripts, copies of entire films, even personal information of the employees, were leaked by a hacker group which called itself as “Guardians of Peace”. This was in retaliation to the then-upcoming release of the Sony Entertainment’s film “The Interview” which is a comedy film about journalists recruited by the CIA to assassinate North Korean Leader Kim Jong-Un.

The parties, both private and government agencies, that investigated these cyber attacks all point to one country as the culprit: North Korea. During this time, when the world uses nuclear and economic threats to gain leverage over others, a new type of weapon is rising and it may be where we are most vulnerable. Various national defense agencies claim that North Korea is now using cyber attacks to make waves in the global political arena as well as to provide money for the cash-strapped nation. The cybersecurity world is now coming to accept that North Korea is home to some of the best hackers in the world.

Professor Kim Heung-kwang, a defector from North Korea, claimed that the country’s army of hackers could be as many as 6,000. What we currently know is that the country has its own military academy which produces hundreds of hackers annually. The academy is situated in the region of Hyungsan, and specializes primarily in cyber warfare. Yet unconfirmed, South Korea’s Defense Agency claims that a certain Mirim College in the North produces graduates which are highly skilled in writing virus programs, hacking even the most secured servers, and writing weapons programs particularly in guiding systems. If weapons-guiding systems sound familiar, it may be because these are the systems used in controlling unmanned missiles which North Korea has been infamously testing for a long time now. These hackers started their careers as early as primary school. Highly intelligent kids, whom the government believes to have great potential in cyber warfare, are recruited as early as elementary.

Although all these are still just accusations from governments and cyber security groups, one cannot say that these are baseless accusations. In fact, research from the cyber security firm Kaspersky Lab claims that the infamous hacking group “Lazarus” once, though very briefly, routed their signal to North Korea. The Lazarus group was responsible for a series of attacks on financial institutions last 2016. The largest attack was in February 2016 wherein $101 Million was transferred out of the Bangladesh central bank’s account at the New York Federal Reserve, and was fraudulently distributed to banks in Sri Lanka and the Philippines. Almost the same method of attack was used to victimize banks in Vietnam and Ecuador. A major piece of the code used by the Lazarus Group had large similarity with the code used in attacks on Sony and South Korea. The similarity of the code, as well as the signal coming from North Korea, led many to believe that the Lazarus Group has ties, if not are from, North Korea. The WannaCry virus, the ransomware which victimized hundreds of thousands of computers around the globe, including the U.S., is also thought to be from North Korea. Current U.S. President Donald Trump issued statements condemning the attack. Donald Trump news reports have already encouraged the public to strengthen their cyber defense and be vigilant in the midst of these attacks.

For a cash-strapped country like North Korea, cyber warfare is one of the most economical and critical weapons out there. As North Korean officials continue to fight for leverage and legitimacy in the political arena, they are not only focused on launching missiles, but they are also looking at cyber warfare to gain presence in the political playing field.

Oppo F3 Plus With Dual Selfie Camera, 4000mAh Battery Launched at Rs. 30,990: Release Date, Key Features, and More

Oppo F3 Plus has been launched in India with a price tag of Rs. 30,990. At an event in New Delhi on Thursday, the Chinese smartphone manufacturer announced that the new Oppo F3 Plus (Review) will go on sale from April 1, both online and offline. Pre-orders for the new Oppo smartphone begin on Thursday itself, and will extend till March 31. It will be available in Black and Gold colour variants.

Oppo F3 Plus With Dual Selfie Camera, 4000mAh Battery Launched at Rs. 30,990: Release Date, Key Features, and More

The highlight of the Oppo F3 Plus is its dual selfie camera setup. It bears one 16-megapixel 1/3.1-inch sensor with an f/2.0 aperture and one 8-megapixel sensor. While the former sports a 76.4-degree wide-angle lens, the latter sports a 120-degree wide-angle lens that allows for 105-degree field-of-view group selfies. Users can choose which lens they want to use, and, the smartphone comes with a Smart Facial Recognition feature that Oppo says automatically suggests which lens is ideal. The smartphone comes with various camera features, including the Beautify 4.0 app, Selfie Panorama, Screen Flash, and Palm Shutter.

Oppo F3 Plus key specifications

The Oppo F3 Plus also bears a fingerprint sensor on the home button, said to unlock the smartphone in as little as 0.2 seconds. The company is touting fingerprint activated app and call shortcuts as well.

The dual-SIM (Nano-SIM) Oppo F3 Plus runs ColorOS 3.0 based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow. It bears a 6-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixels) JDI In-Cell 2.5D curved display with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection. It is powered by a 1.95GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 653 SoC that’s coupled with the Adreno 510 GPU and 4GB of RAM.

Oppo F3 Plus back images Oppo F3 Plus pictures Oppo F3 Plus photos

On the rear, the Oppo F3 Plus sports a 16-megapixel Sony IMX398 sensor with 1.4-micron pixels, with dual-PDAF, an f/1.7 aperture, and dual-LED flash. The smartphone bears 64GB of inbuilt storage that’s expandable via microSD card (256GB). The smartphone bears a triple-slot tray, letting users utilise two SIM cards and one microSD card at the same time.

Connectivity options on board the Oppo F3 Plus include 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4GHz and 5GHz), Bluetooth v4.1, GPS/ A-GPS, 3.5mm audio jack, and Micro-USB with OTG. It is powered by a 4000mAh battery with the company’s own VOOC Flash Charge fast charging tech that is claimed to deliver up to 2 hours of talk time in 5 minutes of charging. Sensors on the smartphone include accelerometer, ambient light sensor, gyroscope, magnetometer, and proximity sensor. It measures 163.63×80.8×7.35mm, and weighs 185 grams.

Samsung Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+ Leaked Teaser Hints at Iris Scanning; Retail Box Spotted

Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ are set to launch in under a week, and every new day brings a new bag of leaks. Fresh reports shed light on the changing display resolution feature, more pictures that show the phone from various angles, a video teaser that hints at iris scanning, photos of the internal battery, and images of the retail box.

Samsung Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+ Leaked Teaser Hints at Iris Scanning; Retail Box Spotted

First up, tipster Ice Universe has shared multiple images of the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ showing us the device’s front and a unique screen resolution changing feature. According to the image shared, the smartphones will give you three options for screen resolution: HD+ (720×1480), FHD+ (1080×2220), and QHD+ (1440×2960). Of the three, the default resolution is QHD+, and this option is given to users who prefer smaller icons and need more to fit on a screen. This isn’t a new Samsung feature, and has been spotted on previous versions as well.

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The same tipster also leaked the retail box of the Galaxy S8+ confirming that the larger variant will sport the ‘+’ symbol, and not the word Plus. The retail box also reveals that it will contain a charging adapter, a Micro-USB connector, and a pair of headphones. According to previous leaks, Samsung is expected to bundle AKG-made earbuds, but there’s no clarity on that from the leaked retail box.

s main Samsung Galaxy S8

Separately, the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ batteries have been leaked by Slashleaks. The battery images confirm that the smartphones will pack 3000mAh and 3500mAh batteries, reiterating previous rumours. If this leak is true, then the Samsung Galaxy S8 will sport the same battery as its predecessor Samsung Galaxy S7, and the Samsung Galaxy S8+ will have a smaller battery capacity than the Galaxy S7 Edge, which packs a 3600mAh battery. Notably, the Samsung Galaxy S8+ has the same battery as the Galaxy Note 7 that was shelved last year. As for the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ battery specifications, even though they haven’t increased on paper, Samsung presumably should have integrated internal optimisation for more juice. The other reason for not pushing the limits on battery size could be the disaster that ensued with the Note 7 last year, and given the casualties, we are glad Samsung is taking the safe road.

Samsung’s new teaser has also been outed, and it hints at iris scanning capabilities. The video teaser shows a man standing in a green field, and once the camera pans out to show the whole garden’s aerial view, it forms the shape of an eye. This could mean the introduction of iris scanning on the Galaxy S8, a feature that was also seen on the Galaxy Note 7. See the video teaser here.

The smartphones are all set launch at the company’s Galaxy Unpacked 2017 event on March 29 in New York, and it will kick off at 11am EDT (9:30pm IST). According to the rumour mill, the Samsung Galaxy S8 price will start at EUR 799 (roughly Rs. 56,000), Galaxy S8+ at EUR 899 (roughly Rs. 63,300), new Gear VR will cost EUR 129 (roughly Rs. 9,000), new Gear 360 will be priced at EUR 229 (roughly Rs. 16,100), and an accessory that could provide a Continuum-like called DeX could be priced at EUR 150 (roughly Rs. 10,500).

Nvidia and Bosch team up on self-driving car AI supercomputer

Nvidia’s new partner in bringing AI-powered self-driving tech to the masses definitely has the experience needed to go truly mass-market – it’s Bosch, leading tier one auto industry supplier. Bosch will build an AI supercomputer designed for use in vehicles using Nvidia tech, which means Nvidia now has a partner that works as a tier one supplier to all major car maker in the world.

It’s only the latest partner for Nvidia’s AI-powered self-driving car tech, which also include automakers like Audi and Mercedes-Benz, but it’s the one that could potentially have the most impact in terms of giving Nvidia reach and influence across the industry. Bosch, the german company whose product portfolio ranges from home appliance, to infotainment solutions, to virtually everything in between.

This is the kind of strategic tie-up that lets both partners do what they do best – Nvidia can focus on developing the core AI supercomputing tech, and Bosch can provide relationships and sales operations that offer true scale and reach.

 Nvidia’s deep learning model does not depend on specific rules being coded for each individual situation; instead, it provides the systems with a number of examples from human behavior, and then the AI can determine on its own what to do in specific scenarios. The mid-step implementation of this tech is Nvidia’s AI co-pilot, which will allow the vehicle to work with a human driver to understand where their attention is directed and provide warnings about undetected hazards, as well as read a driver’s lips and use audio cues to understand commands regardless of the in-vehicle noise environment.

Bosch’s super computer will use Nvidia’s Drive PX line with Xavier architecture, which is the world’s first single-chip processor that can manage Level 4 autonomous driving capabilities.

Carbon moves into high-volume manufacturing with SpeedCell system, and bigger 3D printers

Additive manufacturing startup Carbon is on a mission to help manufacturers and designers cut their costs, waste less energy and materials while speeding up the time it takes to get from concept to product on the market. The company, which has raised $221 million in venture capital, is firing up a new service aimed at contract manufacturers, and other high volume manufacturing businesses, called SpeedCell, which includes an industrial sized version of its 3D printer and software that enables the use fleets of internet-connected Carbon 3D machines.

According to Carbon CEO and cofounder Joseph M. DeSimone, customer and partner requests from the likes of the BMW Group, GE, Sculpteo, The Technology House and others, pushed Carbon to develop machines for mass-production. “Once you have a real part that doesn’t look like a 3d-printed part, but has a smooth surface finish and the right mechanical properties, then what happens is people want lots of those parts,” he said.

Earlier, Carbon’s M1 3D printers became famous in tech and manufacturing for a couple of reasons. For one, they work with resins and “continuous liquid interface printing” technology, meaning they form objects with the same kind of strength you’d see in traditional thermoplastics. Secondly, they print ultra-fast when compared to peers. And finally, they are available on a subscription basis so smaller manufacturers and industrial design studios can afford them, and don’t have to worry about paying for equipment upgrades when new versions are released.

 The new M2 printers from Carbon, which are part of its SpeedCell system, have twice the build-area and therefore build volume of the M1 printer. That means users can make more parts per run or bigger parts than they previously could with Carbon. The M2’s were also designed to interface with robots, which are increasingly being added to factory operations. “You could have a fleet of printers serviced by robot-mechanics,” DeSimone said. And the M2 printers have expansion ports allowing Carbon users to plug in new that can add capabilities to the printers down the line.

With the launch of SpeedCell, Carbon is also taking the wraps off something called the Smart Part Washer. This machine helps users move freshly printed parts into a washer where they can be serialized, and data-scanned. This means manufacturers can automatically keep a record of which printer, day and location made a particular object, which resin was used and more. The washer will Carbon’s service particularly useful for the creation of medical products, and other items that require careful tracking of their provenance to satisfy safety regulations.

A Link to the Past

I chalked this up to the usual pre-release silliness; how could a brand-new game be anything like something released in 1986? It turns out I’d underestimated both Nintendo’s candor (understandable) and the timelessness of the first Zelda’s design. This leads to a strange paradox: That Breath of the Wild is so like its ancient ancestor makes it both the most Nintendo game in a long time and the least Nintendo game in a long time. Perhaps, after years of limping, the company has once more found its stride.

The similarities are striking. In both games, you begin in a rocky, forested wilderness with nothing but the clothes on your back and hardly any idea what you are to do. In a cave near your place of rebirth (in the original, it’s where you’d appear if you’d die; in BotW, it’s where you are literally reborn) you find a friendly old man by a fire who sends you on your way (he doesn’t give you a sword, but he does give you an important item later, and advises you on finding a weapon).

Armed thus in the most scanty fashion, you charge forth into the unmapped wilderness, where monsters swarm, countless secrets hide in the landscape, and a nebulously articulated quest beckons you forth from biome to biome and dungeon to dungeon.

One could say some of these things about a number of Zelda games, of course, but Breath of the Wild takes these parallels much further than any other.

zeldaoverworldmapq1bgThink back, if you can, to the time you first played the original Zelda. Remember how enormous the world felt, and how every screen seemed to hold potential.

How many bombs did you waste scouring the mountains for hidden rooms? How many times did you leave and re-enter a screen to try your Blue Candle on every suspicious tree? How proud were you when your painstaking searches of the graveyard revealed (in addition to dozens of ghosts) the resting place of the Master Sword? The world was so big you could barely wrap your head around it, and the feeling of discovery and triumph whenever you proved your worth in it was real.

Yet today’s game market is full of enormous open worlds that fail to elicit similar feelings; despite high production values, they often have the feeling of dolled-up checklists.

Breath of the Wild, however, successfully conveys that feeling of inviting grandeur.

Part of that is the lack of any impelling narrative, which allows you to appreciate the world at your own pace. Oh yes, you’re the legendary hero and you need to stop Ganon. That part hasn’t changed. But the game doesn’t constrain you into a series of quests.

 In the original Zelda, your starting screen has three exits. None is the correct one. It doesn’t tell you, “head north and look for the first dungeon!” You are free to wander, to encounter enemies you have no chance of beating, places and items you can’t reach and experience the controls and rules of the world for yourself, on your own time, in your own way. It’s like this again in Breath of the Wild.

Once you complete the initial handful of temples awarding you the core abilities and paraglider, you are free to go anywhere in the wide world — you’re encouraged, in fact, to just strike out in literally any direction from the central plateau on which you had hitherto been stranded.

switch-2270013And once you do, you find that the world is interesting not just for the waypoints you’ll be hitting — towers and shrines, mostly — but for the world itself. Hyrule is sculpted with such care that not a single prominence or declivity marks the land that does not invite you to visit it. I have had to stop myself from marking up my map with symbols — oh, that looks like a path that leads into that canyon. Oh, I think I saw something between those cliffs. Oh, if I get up there I can probably glide to the island in the middle of that lake. Wait, where was I going again? It doesn’t matter. You’re going where you’re going, and if you’re supposed to be somewhere, you’ll get there eventually.

zelda_1But all the time you are gently being taught: the flora and fauna around you, critical to (among other things) crafting dishes and elixirs that will save your life later. The habits of enemies, which have their own little lives and cycles. The limits of your own endurance — can you climb that? Not while it’s slippery with rain, but mark it and come back when it’s sunny. The formal and informal tricks of combat — well-timed dodges and parries can put powerful foes off balance, but why bother when you know that, in this storm, they’ll be struck by lightning before long because they’re using a metal sword and you’re using a wood spear? Usually nothing is explained to you until after you try it. After a few hours have passed, you’ve become an expert in the world, and all without cumbrous tutorials or invasive fairies whispering tips in your ear.

And all the time you are steadily growing more powerful: you likely dispatched your first Bokoblin with a straight-up stick picked up from the ground. But it had a better stick, which you took (every enemy drops the weapon it holds — why should it be otherwise?), and used to venture further. As you wend your winding way toward the outskirts of the map, you encounter more powerful enemies wielding deadlier tools and guarding more precious treasure. Every dungeon you encounter yields an orb, four of which you can spend toward increasing your heart count or stamina. By the time you get to your first real destination, you’re stronger by far than when you set out, and all you’ve been doing is exploring and solving puzzles.

zelda_2What a treat this natural, almost unnoticeable progression is after the artificial skill trees and ability points so common these days! Yet you are never wanting for challenges. Frequently enemies appear that can strike you down with one hit, or puzzles and locations that baffle you. You are always looking forward to overcoming something, finding something, figuring something out.

This is what we’ve been missing; This is why we trust Nintendo even through years with hardly a bone thrown to the fans of old. This sense of trusting the player to figure everything out, making the game world consistent, tough and fair, and keeping in all things a healthy feeling of fun. It’s a game, after all. In the end it should come as no surprise that the first Zelda and the latest Zelda are in many ways the best; both are Nintendo in its purest form, game design that is instinctual, inimitable and perhaps timeless.

Breath of the Wild is, more than anything, natural. In a time of unprecedented artificiality, that’s about the highest compliment I can give. Play it.

Uber will apply for a self-driving test permit in California

Uber is now in the process of getting a permit from the California DMV to resume testing its self-driving vehicles on public state roads. Uber started testing its self-driving Volvo XC90 SUVs in San Francisco last year – but the state DMV ultimately opposed the tests since Uber had not applied for its autonomous testing permit prior to beginning service.

While Uber took its test fleet of XC90s on the road to nearby Arizona, where Governor Doug Ducey and regulators welcomed them with open arms – the company said at the time that it was committed to California, and reiterated that position in a statement provided by a spokesperson to TechCrunch today:

These cars are legally registered and are being driven manually. We are taking steps to complete our application to apply for a DMV testing permit. As we said in December, Uber remains 100 percent committed to California.

As Uber notes, the self-driving vehicles made a return to SF streets recently – but they aren’t employed in picking up passengers. Instead, they’re being used to map the city for improvements to local maps for autonomous driving and other navigation purposes. Uber self-driving sedans have been spotted on streets in SF since the ban by local residents, but the company also now says two of its Volvos have had their registrations reinstated by the DMV, following their revocation last year.

Uber hasn’t yet applied for the permit, as implied in the statement, and first reported by The Mercury News. But the DMV tells the Mercury that it’s working with Uber on the application process, and the company does intend to go forward.

Despite that, its views on the legality of its tests and requirements regarding self-driving testing haven’t changed – Uber’s original reasoning for not applying for the permit was that it didn’t require this special permission under the letter of the law. Still, it now appears focused on the pragmatic task of redeploying its test vehicles regardless of its position on legality, something that makes a lot of sense given the wealth of other challenges the company is currently facing.

Sony Xperia XZ Premium, Xperia XZs, Xperia XA1, Xperia XA1 Ultra Smartphones Launched at MWC 2017

As expected, Sony has launched the Xperia XZ Premium, Xperia XZs, Xperia XA1, and Xperia XA1 Ultra smartphones at MWC 2017 in Barcelona. The XZ Premium is a high-end variant of the Xperia XZ, while Xperia XZs is essentially a smaller variant. Similarly, the Xpera XA1 and Xperia XA1 Ultra are successors to the Xperia XA and Xperia XA Ultra smartphone launched last year.

Sony Xperia XZ Premium, Xperia XZs, Xperia XA1, Xperia XA1 Ultra Smartphones Launched at MWC 2017

Starting with the Sony Xperia XZ Premium, the smartphone sports a 5.5-inch Triluminos HDR display with 4K (2160 x 3840) resolution. It is powered by the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor (Gigabit LTE speeds with X16 LTE modem) paired with Adreno 540 GPU and 4GB RAM. The new Xperia XZ Premium offers 64GB of inbuilt storage with the option to expand further via a microSD slot (up to 256GB).

The new Xperia XZ Premium camera on the back has a 19-megapixel sensor with Sony’s new Motion Eye camera system (based its new memory stacked 1/2.3-inch Exmor RS CMOS sensor) that provides 5x faster image scanning and data transfer. This means you can create videos by recording in 960 frames per second, providing Super slow motion video playback that is apparently four times slower than other smartphones in the market. There’s also a 13-megapixel front camera with 1/3.06-inch Exmor RS sensor for selfies.

Sony XZ Premium packs a 3230mAh battery, runs on Android 7.0 Nougat, measures at 156x77x7.9mm, and weighs 195 grams. Connectivity options include Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS + GLONASS, NFC, and USB Type-C (USB 3.1) port.

The new Sony Xperia XZ Premium will be available globally sometime in late Spring in Luminous Chrome and Deepsea Black colours. Sony will also launch a range of accessories including the Quick Charger UCH12Wix which offers hours of battery time by plugging in for just a few minutes and Bluetooth Headset with Speaker SBH56 which enables hands free talking through the loud speaker whilst multi-tasking and has a remote camera shutter.

The Sony Xperia XZs is essentially a smaller variant of last year’s Xperia XZ smartphone with a 5.2-inch (1080×1920 pixels) Triluminos display. It is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor with Adreno 510 GPU and 4GB RAM. The new Sony smartphone offers 32GB and 64GB of internal storage options with the option to expand further via microSD slot (up to 256GB).

Sony Xperia XZs battery is capacity is rated at 2900mAh, and the device measures 146x72x8.1 mm, and weighs 161 grams. All of the other Sony Xperia XZs specifications are identical to that of Xperia XZ Premium. The smartphone will be available in select markets from April onwards in Ice Blue, Warm Silver and Black colours.

Design wise, Sony Xperia XA1 and Xperia XA1 Ultra resemble the previously launched Xperia XA smartphone a lot. Starting with the larger Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra, it features a 6-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixels) display, and is powered by a 64-bit MediaTek Helio P20 octa-core (quad core 2.3GHz + quad core 1.6GHz) SoC with Mali T880 MP2 900MHz GPU and 4GB RAM. The smartphone offers 32GB and 64GB of internal storage, which is expandable further via a microSD card slot (up to 256GB).

The big highlight of Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra is the cameras at the back and front. At the rear, there is a 23-megapixel Exmor RS image sensor with hybrid autofocus, 24mm wide-angle lens, f/2.0 aperture, 5x zoom, and HDR mode. The Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra bears a 16-megapixel Exmor RS sensor at the front with front flash, 23mm wide-angle lens, f/2.0 aperture, OIS, and autofocus. The battery is a 2700mAh, and the smartphone runs on Android 7.0 Nougat. Connectivity options include LTE (4G), LTE Cat6/4, GSM GPRS/EDGE (2G), and UMTS HSPA+ (3G).

The smaller Sony Xperia XA1 smartphone features a 5-inch HD (720×1280 pixels) display, packs a 3GB RAM, 32GB of internal storage, and offers a 2300mAh battery. The Sony Xperia XA1 front camera is at 8-megapixel with no front flash or OIS. All the other specification details remain the same as the XXperia A1 Ultra smartphone. Both the smartphones will be made available in Spring in White, Black, Pink, and Gold colours. Sony will also launch matching Style Cover Stands alongside in White and Black colours, along with a range of complementary accessories. Price of all the smartphones will vary depending upon the regions.

Paytm Mall App Launched for Standalone E-commerce Services

Paytm has launched Paytm mall, a standalone e-commerce app. For years, Paytm has run its mobile wallet and e-commerce divisions together, and you use the same app to access both sides of the business. However, the company has been planning to separate the two as the wallet becomes a part of its payments bank, and the launch of Paytm Mall shows that this is now happening. Interestingly, Paytm Mall also evokes the name T-Mall, one of China’s biggest e-commerce players, and a part of the Alibaba Group, which is an investor in Paytm.

Paytm Mall App Launched for Standalone E-commerce Services

Earlier this month, there were reports that Paytm was raising $200 million from Alibaba, for its e-commerce business. Alibaba is also an investor in Snapdeal, and in 2016, was contemplating entering the country as a standalone entity in India. This investment in Paytm would show that it has chosen a way forward in India, at a time when Snapdeal is in trouble, clearly strapped for cash.

The Paytm Mall app was launched on Monday, and has all the expected categories, such as electronics, fashion, furnishings, and so on. As usual for Paytm’s marketplace, there are plenty of cashback offers, which will fill up your Paytm wallet in lieu of a discount. In that sense, the new app seems to simplify the Paytm experience, with shopping and wallet not having to compete for attention, while the features and experience remain otherwise the same.

The main Paytm app was also updated recently – on Friday, according to a blog post. The update promises faster responses and better experience, and has added new uses such as paying loan instalments, and simplifying utility bill payments. There’s also a sample electricity bill feature that’s been added, which lets you see sample bills for different service providers that highlight the different fields, so you can more easily find the relevant information on your own bill.

The Paytm Mall app itself looks and functions a lot like the main Paytm app – tap the mall button on the latter’s navigation pane, and the experience seems largely identical. Does this indicate that the mall is going to go away entirely from the main Paytm app? On Monday, Paytm announced that it has crossed 200 million wallets, so it might feel that it is beneficial to let transactions take the focus on the new app.

ZTE is set to announce its 5G-compatible ‘Gigabit’ LTE smartphone at MWC 2017

While we are still trying to move to 4G network, Chinese network tech giant ZTE has announced that the company will will be unveiling one the first gigabit LTE smartphone. The launch will take place at the Mobile World Congress ( MWC ) in Barcelona later this month.

“The ZTE Gigabit phone will revolutionize connectivity with a new standard of download speeds, 1Gbps, bringing a qualitative leap to a new world of mobile experience by making 360-degree panoramic VR video, instant Cloud storage, entertainment upgrades and fast cache of ultra Hi-Fi music and movies possible,” the company said in a statement on Friday.
The first devices to have the gigabit LTE support were showcased 2016, when Qualcomm joined with Netgear, Telstra, and Ericsson. In the beginning of this year, the widely known chip maker Qualcomm announced that its gigabit LTE supporting X16 modem will be baked in its next flagship chipset Snapdragon 835.
The company has not unveiled any other detail about the upcoming device yet, but it will be interesting to see what comes ahead. No doubt, ZTE will set a milestone by bringing one of the first smartphone with gigabit LTE that supports such insane speed.
Related: ZTE Blade A2 Plus vs ASUS Zenfone 3S Max: Which one should you go for?
ZTE will be showcasing some other devices at the MWC, including a range of devices adding up to company’s well known Blade series. It will also come up with the updated version of the “Axon 7” with Google’s Daydream and latest Android 7.0 Nougat.