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Uber Is Investing $1B To Grow Its Business In India To 1M Rides Per Day


Not content with raising $1 billion to fund a major expansion in China, Uber has announced that it is putting aside another billion dollars in resources to grow its business in India.

The U.S. company, valued at more than $40 billion based on its latest financing, is crunching through the gears in the world’s two most populous countries in response to strong competition from domestic rivals Didi Kuaidi (China) and Ola (India) — both of which count SoftBank, itself a burgeoning taxi app player, among their investors — and the opportunity to reach more people as smartphones sales continue to increase in India.

Leaked communications from Uber CEO Travis Kalanick last month revealed that the company is handling one million rides per day in China, which is expected to surpass the U.S. as its busiest market before the end of the year. India isn’t at that level yet, but Uber said this new billion dollar investment is designed to take its business there to that same one million rides per day milestone — that’s a figure that it expects to cross within the next nine months at the latest.

Uber didn’t reveal how many rides it currently processes in India, which is now its second largest market worldwide (geographically) with 18 cities covered, but the firm claimed to see “robust” 40 percent growth month-on-month.

“India is one of Uber’s big priorities, along with China and uberPOOL. We are extremely bullish on the Indian market and see tremendous potential here. This is why Uber is committing an additional $1 billion to India in the next nine months so we can expand and improve our operations, expand into newer cities, develop new products as well as payment solutions, and establish a great support network,” Uber India President Amit Jain — who took the newly created country-lead role in May — said in a statement.

The alleged rape of a passenger in New Delhi last December threw Uber’s presence in India into question, as authorities banned the appand other ride-hailing apps — in response to the incident. In response, Uber improved its driver vetting process and introduced a range of safety measures — it has even since cozied up to some regional government organizations — but an ongoing thorn in its side is local rival Ola.

The company, which TechCrunch understands in the process of raising a new round of funding (timing ftw) — it closed a $400 million Series E at a $2.5 billion valuation in April — is present in over 100 cities in India, with more than 250,000 vehicles on the road. An Ola representative told TechCrunch that the firm is currently handling 750,000 rides per day (Uber did not share its number when we asked, but said it aims to create 200,000 “jobs” by 2016), while that person said Ola is also onboarding 1,500 new drivers each day.

At this point, Ola’s service — which was boosted when it paid $200 million to buy smaller rival TaxiForSure — has far greater coverage across India than Uber, but that is exactly why Uber is responding with a war chest for expansion. Uber didn’t reveal its new launch plans when we asked, but you can expect it to have major aspirations, just as it does in China where it is aiming to expand from 11 to 50 cities.

Uber’s push is reminiscent of Amazon’s own foray into India, which ignited last year when the U.S. firm pledged to spend $2 billion in the country. It made that announcement just one day after local rival Flipkart revealed a $1 billion funding raise. Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal are the three giants duking it out for India’s online retail crown, and Ola and Uber look like continuing their fierce rivalry in a similar fashion.

We’ve posed a range of questions to Uber to lean more about its plans for India, we’ll be sharing the responses once we have them.

Featured Image: Ismagilov/Shutterstock (IMAGE HAS BEEN MODIFIED)

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Major Security Bug In Aptean’s Customer Response System Puts User Data At Risk


A bug discovered by security researchers Eric Taylor and Blake Welsh can change a standard customer feedback system called Aptean SupportSoft into a method for hackers to grab passwords, credit card information, and usernames. Taylor and Welsh have also been able to inject code into chat sessions that makes small windows appear when a customer service chat session is initiated.

The exploit allows a hacker to add a bit of code to the end of a customer support URL ("") that will then load another URL into the main “frame” of the website where the customer support chat screen usually appears. They have run the exploit on a number of sites including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Sage, CGI, and Cognizant. The exploit, called a cross-site scripting attack, has been tested on each of these sites.

The bug can be innocuous. For example, Taylor and Walsh were able make their own blog appear on Time Warner’s customer support page.

However, hackers could use the same technique to grab user data. Here they have injected a fake login page hosted on their own server:

Into Xfinity’s customer support page:

Finally, they were able to create a dangerous phishing exploit by masquerading as a page served by Comcast’s secure servers.

“We successfully replicated Comcast’s login page on our test site,” said Taylor. “We then injected this test page into the Comcast XSS to test the vulnerability further and it had indeed injected our html page from of the exact replicate of Comcast’s Sign-in page and Forgot Username Recovery page, which contains personal information.”

The exploit works by tricking a third party service called Aptean SupportSoft into displaying code from outside of the main, secure domain. By “calling” the outside server, SupportSoft allows hackers to inject nearly any code into the customer service system, including Javascript alerts.

Aptean’s own support system is hidden behind a login screen but the vast majority of these implementations are open and vulnerable to attack.

I’ve contacted Aptean and Comcast regarding the hole. Comcast is repairing it but Aptean has not yet replied.

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JustTheBell Is Just The Bell


Sleeping with a cellphone in your room is, according to scientists who aren’t real, akin to sleeping with a radioactivity-emitting sleeplessness machine. That’s why artist and designer Ignasi Giro made JustTheBell. This box is quite literally just a bell. You set your alarms on via Bluetooth, leave your cellphone in another room, and go to bed. The box rings to wake you up and you shake it to snooze or turn it off, much like the alarm clocks of yore. In short, it’s just the bell.

This is not the first quirky project by Giro. His Timeless Box was a simple box that opened at a preset time and he has made a number of other clever projects. He currently lives in Paris and works for TBWA.

“I can’t stand it anymore: my girl and I chatting and mailing minutes before turning the light off, then waking up in the morning and 1st thing is turning the alarm OFF… and then wifi ON… and then jumping into mails and sms-es and whatsapps even before leaving the bed,” wrote Giro breathlessly. “It’s too much. Does not feel that cool anymore :-( And that’s a feeling we share with many members of the team here in Paris.”

The product is available for pre-order here and is handmade in France of solid beechwood. Early birds can grab it for a mere €50 and Giro will deliver next spring if he wakes up on time.

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Apple To Release New Apple TV In September, Report Says


Rumor has it that Apple should soon release a new version of its set-top box as well as a new streaming service for TV content. According to a new report by Buzzfeed, Apple was supposed to announce the new Apple TV at WWDC, but it was delayed for a September launch

The current Apple TV was released in 2012 and runs an underclocked A5 chip, which was originally developed for the iPhone 4S. This time, the Apple TV should use a much more recent chip, such as the iPhone 6’s A8 chip. A slimmer design and more internal storage wouldn’t be a surprise as well.

Yet, two big questions remain on the user interface and Apple’s content strategy. The current interface of the Apple TV is cumbersome and the company knows that it has to do something to fix it. Using Siri for voice queries would be a first step as both Google and Amazon provide a similar feature with the Nexus Player and Fire TV.

Recent patent applications have also indicated that Apple has been working on some sort of touch interface for the Apple TV. It’s unclear whether Apple will take advantage of your iPhone or create a brand new remote with a touch screen.

On the content front, the Apple TV service has been rumored for years and it seems that it’s not quite ready yet. While the new Apple TV announcement has been delayed, you shouldn’t expect to see an Apple-branded streaming service in September. Instead, the company wants to release the new device with existing third-party services, such as Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now and Showtime as the existing Apple TV has been around for too long. Similarly, Apple wants people to buy as many new Apple TVs as possible in order to be ready when it launches its new streaming service months later.

As a reminder, Apple announced the Apple Watch during the iPhone event last year. Supply chain leaks indicate that Apple is working on iPhone 6S — Apple won’t spend an hour and a half talking about the new iPhones 6S, leaving room for another announcement. Announcing a new Apple TV during the same event would make sense.

Finally, Apple should release an SDK as well as a dedicated App Store for the TV. It would bring the Apple TV up to par with Android TV and make the device much more powerful. Even if Apple doesn’t launch its streaming service at the same time, third-party developers could start developing for the new device right away before the Apple TV becomes a must-have.


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Nvidia Issues Recall For Shield Tablets After Overheating Poses Fire Hazard


Nvidia is issuing a voluntary recall for its 8-inch Shield tablets after determining that they may, in fact, combust.

The company has learned that the battery in the device has the potential to overheat and catch fire, and thus Nvidia will be replacing the products with versions that don’t burst into flames.

The exact wording from the release:

NVIDIA has determined that the battery in these tablets can overheat, posing a fire hazard. The recall does not affect any other NVIDIA products.

Not surprisingly, Nvidia’s Shield tablet was targeted at gamers, with an Nvidia Tegra K1 Kepler GPU, 2.2GHz ARM Cortex A15 CPU, 2GB RAM, and 4K video output. In terms of Android gaming, it is likely the best option on the market.

But all that processing power generates plenty of heat, and sustained use at the gaming level can apparently heat the device up enough to catch fire.

That said, Nvidia is voluntarily recalling the 8-inch tablets sold between July 2014 and July 2015. If you happen to be a proud owner of this fire hazard, you can head over to this website to get a replacement.

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Klarismo, A Service That Makes A 3D Model Of The Inside Of Your Body, Raises $2.1M


Klarismo, which takes existing MRIs and other kinds of body scans to build a 3D model of a person, has raised $2.1 million and launched out of Y Combinator.

Klarismo is an online service where users are able to take a much deeper look at their body’s internal structure. It takes MRI scans and other kinds of scans that people are getting already and then uses that to build a 3D model of the person. That 3D model is then available online, where users can take a look at how their bodies have changed over time — from muscle growth and fat reduction to other things, like what their spleen looks like.

“This is focused on your internals; it’s super interesting if you’re an athlete or trying to lose weight or gain weight or build muscle,” CEO Marcus Foster said. “This is the only way you can actually track whether your body is changing in the ways you want it to. We literally can show you every little bit of muscle tissue you’ve built, or fat you’ve lost inside your body, which you couldnt see any other way. We let you look at your body in a way you’ve never seen it before.

Klarismo currently partners with a number of institutions to produce those full-body scans, which Foster says will cost around $250. The goal, eventually, is to partner with all of the big-name organizations that have hundreds or thousands of scanners around the world, and encourage people to go in and get scanned regularly.

All of that data would be easily searchable to the point that a user could type “where is my spleen” and it would show it on the scan, Foster said.

Foster had ended up in several bicycle accidents and also discovered he had a tumor in his head. That made him question why he wasn’t able to look at a more comprehensive set of data he was generating anyway.

“Typically you get the scan done, a radiologist writes two sentences about it, and then prescribes you some treatment basically,” he said. “You usually don’t get to interact with the data much, even though there’s amazing data about your body.”

“Today the situation is, we only scan people when they’re sick, which means usually it’s too late,” Foster said. “When you’re sick you are already showing symptoms. With disease development, with cancer we scan you when you’re on Stage 3. That’s often too late to do anything about it. We basically thought about, how do we get to a place where people get scanned regularly.”

The new funding, in addition to funding coming as part of being in Y Combinator’s summer class, comes from Khosla Ventures, lowercase capital and Atomico.

The other benefit of collecting all this data, he said, is to generate additional information and research about how the human body works. The company could anonymize the data generated by its users in order to learn more about how parts of the body work, and then use that to discover new strategies and treatments.

“The hypothesis is, if you build a homogeneous dataset of hundreds of thousands or millions of scans, theres gonna be some pretty interesting stuff you can do with that,” Foster said. “Our approach is, how do we get to big numbers like that? We need to build a consumer product basically. And that’s how we came up with this.”

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