Google Jio See Late Summer Release For High-Quality Low-Cost Smartphone

Google, Jio See Late Summer Release For High-Quality, Low-Cost Smartphone

June 24, 2021 at 06:48PM

Google and Jio Platforms said that work is progressing on their jointly developed made-for-India smartphone, adding that the release date is set for Friday, September 10, according to a Thursday (June 24) press release. The concept is to provide an affordable phone that will meet the needs of millions of Indians.

The companies said in the release that the phone, called JioPhone Next, will be based on an “optimized” version of Google’s Android operating system. Jio is a majority-owned subsidiary of India’s Reliance Industries.

Google and Jio’s “teams have optimized a version of our Android OS especially for this device,” said Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google and Alphabet. He added that the smartphone “will offer language and translation features, a great camera, and support for the latest Android updates. It is built for India and it will open up new possibilities for millions of new users who will experience the internet for the very first time.”

The “Google and Jio teams have jointly developed a truly breakthrough smartphone,” said Mukesh Ambani, Reliance’s chairman and managing director. “While being ultra-affordable, JioPhone Next is packed with cutting-edge features.” These include the Google Assistant, automatic read-aloud of screen text, language translation and a camera with “augmented reality” features.

The phone will allow users to take in content in a choice of Indian languages, which vary widely across the subcontinent.

Last September, Reliance said the goal for the new cellphone was to offer its phone-service customers a low-cost version of the Jio smartphone for $54.

At the time, Google was also buying a $4.5 billion stake in Jio, or about 8 percent of the tech company. Jio already had about 400 million Indian subscribers then, or more than 35 percent of the market. It also has a music-streaming service called JioSaavn and a streaming TV business called JioTV.

In March, Reliance reportedly was looking to link up with Facebook and Google in a bid to get a digital payments license from the Reserve Bank of India to serve the country’s growing eCommerce market.

Google Japanese Antitrust Regulators Could Launch Probe Into Apple

Japanese Antitrust Regulators Could Launch Probe Into Apple, Google

June 14, 2021 at 07:50PM

The Japanese government is reportedly launching an antitrust investigation into deals Apple and Google have made with the country’s smartphone makers, The Japan Times and other news outlets reported, citing a report in Nikkei. The probe could lead to stronger antitrust regulations.

A government panel in Japan is anticipated to begin discussions on the issue this month, given that 90 percent of Japanese smartphones use Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android software, Nikkei reported. The panel — composed of government officials, bureaucrats and outside experts — will seek input from handset makers in the country as well as smart speaker manufacturers and PC developers. The panel is expected to take a look at the Japanese business landscape to determine whether the deals are comparable with what happens on a global level.

Japan announced in June of 2020 that it was collaborating with the U.S. and Europe to tackle suspected market abuses by the Big Tech companies — Google, Amazon, Facebook and Amazon. The move was interpreted as a sign that Tokyo would align with global efforts to regulate digital platforms.

“If the size of any merger or business tie-up is big, we can launch an anti-monopoly investigation into the buyer’s process of acquiring a startup,” Kazuyuki Furuya, chairman of Japan’s Fair Trade Commission, had told Reuters at the time, per the Business Standard. “We’re closely watching developments including in Europe.”

Five antitrust bill drafts are being introduced by the U.S. House of Representatives related to Big Tech and antitrust issues. Four of the five bills are targeting the influence of tech firms and could be launched sometime this month.

The European Union (EU) in March hit Apple with antitrust violations that originated with Spotify’s allegations. The accusations are part of an international issue concerning fees for app downloads and Apple’s 30 percent commission.

Alibaba Ant Group Seek Payment Licenses In Singapore Google

Google, Alibaba, Ant Group Seek Payment Licenses In Singapore

June 04, 2021 at 06:41PM

Is Singapore poised to become Asia’s Silicon Valley? It might, if Sopnendu Mohanty, the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) chief FinTech officer, has anything to say about it.

Speaking to Bloomberg News on Friday (June 4), Mohanty noted that FinTech investments in Singapore have ballooned in the last seven years, from $20 million in 2014 to a record $1.1 billion last year. That number is expected to rise even further this year.

“The MAS’ aspirations are central to Singapore’s aim to fortify its position as a global financial center, where incumbent banks and contesting tech firms compete to provide services to consumers and corporates, though it is also a gatekeeper of standards as companies roll out their businesses,” the report noted.

The MAS is also processing applications from companies that want licenses to operate payment services and cryptocurrency exchanges in Singapore.

According to Bloomberg, these companies had been operating under a grace period that began when the MAS instituted the Payment Services Act that went into effect last January. So far, more than 300 companies have applied, with the MAS looking for ways to speed up the process and find a balance between promoting entrepreneurship and adhering to regulations.

Some recognizable names have sought licenses from the MAS, including Alphabet Inc./Google, Alibaba Group Holdings and Ant Group.

“Giving licenses to somebody is a premium — it is not something to be taken lightly,” Mohanty said. He did not disclose when the first license would be issued. “We are ensuring that whoever gets a MAS license will be credible.”

Last year, the MAS gave non-bank lenders in Singapore access to the country’s digital payments platforms PayNow and FAST, which let people move money between banks and digital wallets. The access, which went into effect this year, was through a new API developed by the two payment platforms.

Google HCA Developing Healthcare Algorithm Using Patient Records

Google, HCA Developing Healthcare Algorithm Using Patient Records

May 26, 2021 at 04:18PM

Alphabet’s Google and the national hospital chain HCA Healthcare are teaming up to create healthcare algorithms using patients’ medical records. 

The multi-year strategic partnership with Google Cloud aims to tap HCA Healthcare’s information technology to advance the company’s digital transformation, according to a press release on Wednesday (May 26). The goal is to develop a “secure and dynamic data analytics platform” for HCA in order to advance operational models that will target “actionable insights and improved workflows,” stated the release.

“Next-generation care demands data science-informed decision support so we can more sharply focus on safe, efficient and effective patient care,” said Sam Hazen, chief executive officer of HCA Healthcare. 

The company anticipates that its partnership with Google Cloud will provide the necessary tools to enable physicians, nurses and other medical professionals to act fast if a patient’s condition changes.

“The cloud can be an accelerant for innovation in health, particularly in driving data interoperability, which is critical in streamlining operations and providing better quality of care to improve patient outcomes,” said Thomas Kurian, CEO, Google Cloud. 

“Data are spun off of every patient in real time,” noted Dr. Jonathan Perlin, HCA’s chief medical officer, per a Wall Street Journal report report. “Part of what we’re building is a central nervous system to help interpret the various signals.” 

HCA, which has hospitals in 2,000 locations in 20 states and the U.K., will give Google consent to tap data when needed, but the search giant can also develop analytic tools without patient records. HCA can then test the models independently, Chris Sakalosky, managing director of healthcare and life sciences at Google Cloud, told the WSJ. “We want to push the boundaries of what the clinician can do in real time with data,” he added.

The deal gives Google a deeper reach into the $3 trillion healthcare industry. The use of digital records has triggered mountains of data, making the industry ripe for tech companies and startups. Data analysis can lead to better care and new treatments, but privacy issues remain as more tech companies team with hospitals, the WSJ reported.

Healthcare data breaches are an unwelcome side effect of digitizing records, with cyberattacks increasing since the pandemic took hold last year. In March alone, there was a 37 percent increase in attacks compared to last year, and cybercrime is up 58 percent since January.

Amazon and Microsoft are also making inroads into the digital healthcare space. Microsoft is working with the hospital system Providence to develop cancer algorithms using shared patient data stripped of identifying information. 

In a PYMNTS interview, Dr. YiDing Yu, chief medical officer of healthcare-centric artificial intelligence (AI) platform Olive, said that the healthcare system will be improved by using advanced technology. The firm is in the process of developing automated workflows using AI with an eye on streamlining manual tasks.