A Few Simple Tips To Prevent Content And Design Theft

The last thing a web designer, developer, or web administrator wants to see is that their content has been stolen and posted on another site. Not only is this plagiarist scheme detrimental to your earnings and the value of your content, it can sometimes confuse consumers, and even web crawlers, as to who originally created the content, possibly harming your spot in search engine rankings. Luckily, there are several ways to stay on top of your intellectual property and prevent content and design theft altogether. Follow these expert security tips to make sure you content and designs aren’t stolen or copied by other websites.

Copyright Your Content

When you post content online, including designs, articles, and other intellectual property, you are often covered by copyright and intellectual property laws, depending on your jurisdiction.

In order to be sure your content is protected from a legal standpoint you may want to add an additional set of terms in your terms and conditions or policies page to describe how visitors may use the information they find on your site. You can get some solid templates for these pages from legal notice generator sites like Terms and Conditions Sample or premium, business-tailored legal notices from companies like LegalZoom.

How to Monitor Content Theft

When you’ve posted your content online, even with a legal disclaimer stating that users don’t have a right to copy it and paste it on other sites, you may still be surprised to find it’s been copied. That’s because many nefarious or oblivious websites owners, bots, and scripts try to find their content from existing sites without permission or an offer of attribution.

Whether the content and design theft was done knowingly and intentionally doesn’t matter, as it can harm your business and confuse potential clients either way. This is why it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your content and monitor the web for content theft. The best way to do this is the setup a series of Google Alerts with exact phrases, images, and designs used on your website. Setting up Google Alerts is easy and will result in an email notification anytime your selected content shows up on the web.

Content Theft Detection Software

Aside from setting up Google Alerts, there are several other online tools and resources you can use to find out if your content has been stolen. One of the most popular anti-plagiarism tools used by web admins is CopyScape. Registered users of CopyScape can login and run any length of text through a copy-paste submission field and check for copies of it on the web. It’s a good idea to run your articles and other text content through this online utility at least once a month to make sure no new websites are posting your verbatim content online.

If you have WordPress hosting then you’re content theft detection task has been made easy. The WordPress tool Trackbacks allows you to see who has linked to your content. In order to use this tool to detect content theft simply link back to your own content within your articles. If the article is later stolen by a scraper-site, or plagiarist, it will notify you that the links have been shared.

Another online resource for website owners who want to prevent design and content theft is the use of RSS feeds. By making sure your posts are contained in an RSS feed on your website, it will be easy to bots and other content generators who crawl the web for copied content to give you credit and link to your work. Simply add an RSS feed to your site to let other sites properly attribute their links to your content. WordPress hosting users can accomplish this with the YoastSEO plugin.

Encrypting and Protecting your Online Content

One way to protect your content from being copied or stolen by other websites is to restrict access to the content and its source code. You can do this by loading your scripts and codes on the backend of your website with JavaScript or PHP, or by simply encrypting the coding altogether using an HTML Encrypter. Consider using passwords, logins, and paywalls to protect your paid and premium content and designs, and don’t forget to de-list any premium content that you don’t want to appear free in search engines with an edit to your robots.txt file.

By setting up monitoring software or services like Google Alerts you can ensure you’ll be notified when anyone tries to steal or copy your content and designs. With online tools like CopyScape and WordPress Trackbacks you can keep an even closer eye on your hard word. To take it a step further setup paywalls, password-protected user accounts, and other security measures including robots.txt files to protect your private content from public website scrapers. These measures, along with other online website security resources like DMCA notices can keep your designs, content, and website secure and private.

The Growing Tensions With North Korea Threatens Americans in South Korea

With the election of a new President last May, South Korea has found a leader in liberal candidate Moon Jae-in. A former human rights lawyer, Moon has promised to bring change to the country including the country’s relationship with North Korea. With promises of doing everything he can to bring peace to the Korean Peninsula, the elected President has even talked about the possibility of engaging with its neighbor if the opportunity arises. Moon’s optimism and pro-engagement stance regarding North Korea have shown his ideals as a leader. However, his advocacy is in stark contrast with the view of the US which is pushing for further isolation and more international sanctions on the reclusive country.

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In spite of Moon’s willingness to hash it out with Kim Jong-un, tensions in the Korean Peninsula are higher than ever as North Korea threatens its neighbor with all-out war. Regional experts are also speculating that North Korea is once again preparing for another nuclear missile test. It is estimated that North Korea has already held around 10 missile tests over the past year. Tensions may be arising between the two countries, but it is important to remember that caught in the middle of it all are South Korean allies the United States and Japan.

With the possibility of all-out war in the region, the US and Japan have made efforts in pacifying this difficult situation. Both countries have made efforts to prevent war, but they have also made it clear where their loyalties lie. In fact, earlier this year, the US unexpectedly started deploying the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD) to South Korea. THAAD is a US missile defense system with the purpose of defending South Korea against missile attacks from enemies. It works by intercepting and destroying missiles before hitting their target. This move was a preemptive measure in the event of war although many locals opposed it saying it was too early for such a move. China also condemned the deployment of THAAD, seeing it as a threat to the nation as well. US officials are insisting, however, that THAAD is only meant for defensive and not offensive purposes.

With things getting more serious and complicated in South Korea, locals and tourists alike are sure to be on edge with North Korea’s threats. There are an estimated 230,000 Americans living in South Korea today. This is why the US forces in the country are planning to train their soldiers in evacuating Americans in the regions. A drill is planned to take place in June of this year to evacuate civilians to safety via transport planes. These planes will be taking evacuees to places such as Japan. Last year, two drills were also held to prepare citizens in the event of war.

In recent news, American college student Otto Warmbier, who was arrested and detained in North Korea for 17 months, died shortly after his release. Details of his medical condition are still unknown, but according to North Korean officials, he was in a coma majority of the time he was detained. The mystery of his condition has angered many Americans. Trump administration news reports that they are holding the country responsible for Warmbier’sdeath. They have not yet decided on what actions to take after this incident, but there have been American lawmakers pushing for a travel ban to North Korea.

For sure, no one wants war. It is chaotic, risky, costly, and never-ending. All parties involved in a war will definitely have something to lose. However, with all of these things going on in the region, tensions are sure to escalate even more.

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.

Taser rebrands as Axon and offers free body cameras to any police department

Taser is now Axon. The brand has been a household word for years, but the company felt it was time to leave that identity behind and double down on the body camera and digital evidence management side of its business. As part of that move, it’s offering free body cameras and software to any police department that asks. Yes, free as in beer, and yes, any as in any.

I talked with the company’s founder, Rick Smith, about this major change and the shifts in policing and technology that prompted it.

“We started the company in a garage 23 years ago in an effort to make the bullet obsolete,” he said. “But the power of the Taser brand is focused on one thing. Now we do all this stuff with cameras. There’s nostalgia, there was a lot of internal resistance. But ultimately organizations have to change.”

The Taser brand will remain for the stun guns we all know, but the parent company will now be Axon, with the ticker symbol AAXN.

Axon, you may remember, was the division Taser created a few years ago to focus on the wearable camera space; the tech was getting there, and Taser was in the right position to bring it to law enforcement. It’s been a major success, but considering the benefits of deployment (some obvious, some disputed), uptake hasn’t been as fast as pretty much anyone would like. Right now around 20 percent of police have access to body cameras.

“It’s really just inertia,” Smith said. Regulatory holdups, budget limitations, and just plain skepticism have slowed things down. So Axon’s solution is to just straight-up give the product away. At least, for a limited time.

The deal is pretty simple: ask and ye shall receive an Axon Body 2 camera for every officer, the software and infrastructure to handle all the footage, and online training in how to use it. Everything is free with no obligations for a year.

“At the end of the year, they can return the stuff and never pay us a dime,” Smith said. “We thought it was win-win.”

Skeptical they can handle demand? The company has “tens of thousands of cameras on the shelves,” he noted. “We’ve been planning this for a while — we added a lot of support staff last year.”

Now, it hardly need be mentioned that this isn’t being done out of the goodness of Axon’s corporate heart. The company stands to profit immensely by being the de facto default for police camera systems. And it’s worth mentioning that the free offer makes it difficult for departments to resist, and once the benefits are public, it’s going to be even more difficult to give up.

But while in some situations I would characterize this as a sort of Trojan horse, it’s my opinion (and clearly Smith’s) that body cameras are probably the single most beneficial step we can take today to improve the quality of policing.

Not only do body cameras provide invaluable documentation of every interaction, they save a ton of time and money.

“Cops spend two-thirds of their time as a data entry clerk,” Smith said. “And when it comes down to it, no one trusts those reports anyway! We have much better information coming from the camera. It contains everything you would put in the report.”

“We believe we can cut that bureaucratic load, and if we can do that, we’ll effectively triple the world’s police force.”

Big talk, but at least he’s putting his money where his mouth is. The program will be costly to Axon at first, but I can’t picture it playing out any way but positive in the long run. And in the meantime, a whole lot of police departments are going to get the tech they deserve but that tight budgets meant they weren’t going to get for years. If the cost for that is that a single company dominates the field for now, I think that’s a reasonable trade-off.

Of course, in order to replace reports, Axon’s software has to get a lot more sophisticated. Right now body cameras are sort of backup evidence, while laboriously filled out reports are still the standard. But the plan is to automate the extraction of information from the video to expedite things.

For example, the system could automatically transcribe any speech in the video and tag events with GPS and other stats. So when the officer wants to check what a person said during a traffic stop, they don’t have to scrub through 2 hours of video — they can just search for an interaction, or the license plate. AI systems could also intelligently redact videos, blurring out the faces of bystanders so that the video can be released publicly or presented in court.

That kind of data digging can get really creepy real fast, and Smith was quick to downplay the idea that Axon would be poring through millions of hours of footage assembling a kind of meta-surveillance database.

“We’re forming an AI ethics board with experts from outside the company,” he said. “It’s important we’re building the tech with the right considerations.”

It should be a big year for the newly renamed company, and let’s hope it’s equally big for the police departments it’s aiming to equip.

IBM’s cloud adds support for Nvidia’s fastest GPUs yet

IBM today announced that users on its Bluemix cloud will soon be able to add two Nvidia Tesla P100 accelerator cards to their bare metal servers. The company says this feature will launch later this month and, when it’s live, IBM will likely be the first major cloud provider to offer support for these chips, which can provide up to 4.7 teraflops of double-precision performance and 16 gigabytes of memory.

There is still a chance that Google could beat IBM to the market, though. Late last year, Google also announced that it would support Nvidia’s newest GPUs early this year, but we haven’t heard when exactly the company plans to launch this feature. We asked Google for an updated timeline but haven’t heard back yet.

AWS, too, offers GPU support, of course, and its machines can be outfitted with up to 16 GPUs (those are the older K80 cards, though 16 of those obviously offer a lot of raw computing power, too). Microsoft’s Azure offers a similar setup with support for up to 4 of Nvidia’s slightly older GPUs.

The Nvidia Tesla P100 GPUs are Nvidia’s fastest yet, and have been optimized for deep learning applications. In addition to machine learning, though, there are also plenty of other high-performance computing applications that now make use of GPUs to speed up their processing.

 “As the AI era takes hold, demand continues to surge for our GPU-accelerated computing platform in the cloud,” said Ian Buck, Nvidia’s general manager for accelerated computing, in today’s announcement. “These new IBM Cloud offerings will provide users with near-instant access to the most powerful GPU technologies to date — enabling them to create applications to address complex problems that were once unsolvable.”

All of this rush to bring the newest and fastest GPUs to the cloud goes to show how these big cloud platforms are now in a race to offer their customers the fastest machines to run their deep learning and artificial intelligence applications. Offering basic cloud computing capabilities, after all, is quickly becoming a commodity, but at least for the time being, the major players can still differentiate their services by offering better support for GPUs — until that, of course, also becomes table stakes again.

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.

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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.

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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).

Moto G5 Plus Blue Sapphire Colour Variant Also Spotted

Lenovo brand Moto’s newest offerings, the Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus, were launched at MWC 2017 last month. The Moto G5 Plus went on sale in India last week and it is now being reported that pre-orders for the smartphone have opened up in the UK. It also looks like the larger model will be offered in a Sapphire Blue variant, after press renders of the Moto G5 were leaked on Wednesday.

Moto G5 Plus Blue Sapphire Colour Variant Also Spotted

On Wednesday, some press renders of the Moto G5 in a new Blue Sapphire colour were leaked online by tipster Roland Quandt. The same source, later tweeted a press render of the Moto G5 Plus in Sapphire Blue, confirming that the colour option will be available for both the devices. It is yet to be announced when the new colour will be made available. So far, both the Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus were available in Lunar Grey and Fine Gold colour variants with the Sapphire Blue being announced exclusively for three carriers.

Coming back to the Moto G5 Plus, the smartphone has been listed for pre-order on UK-based Carphone Warehouse. The site lists only a 32GB storage option for the handset, and there’s no mention on when the 64GB variant will be available. The Moto G5 Plus will be available in Fine Gold and Lunar Grey colour options with the Sapphire Blue variant not being listed as of now.

The Moto G5 Plus was launched in India starting at Rs. 14,999. The smartphone sports a 5.2-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixels) IPS LCD display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection. It is powered by a 2GHz Snapdragon 625 octa-core SoC and is coupled with either 3GB or 4GB of RAM in India. The handset is offered in 16GB or 32GB of internal storage in the country, which is expandable via microSD card (up to 128GB).

Optics for the Moto G5 Plus include a 12-megapixel rear camera, complete with dual autofocus pixels, 4K video recording, an f/1.7 aperture, and dual-LED flash and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera with an f/2.2 aperture and a wide-angle lens. Connectivity options include 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, GPS/ A-GPS, NFC, Bluetooth v4.2, 3.5mm audio jack, and Micro-USB. The Moto G5 Plus is fitted with a 3000mAh non-removable battery with TurboPower charging. It measures 150.2x74x9.7mm and weighs 155 gram.

Zen Admire Swadesh With 4G VoLTE, 22 Regional Language Support Launched in India

Zen Mobile on Thursday unveiled a new 4G smartphone, called Admire Swadesh. The company highlights that the new smartphone supports 22 regional Indian languages as well as a dual-WhatsApp feature. It is priced at Rs. 4,990 and will be available in Champagne and Blue colour options. The company says it will be bundling a free screen guard and case along with six months screen replacement warranty as a launch offer.

The dual-SIM Zen Admire Swadesh runs Android Marshmallow 6.0. The smartphone sports a 5-inch HD (720×1280 pixels) IPS display and is powered by a 1.3GHz quad-core processor with 1GB of RAM.

Zen Admire Swadesh With 4G VoLTE, 22 Regional Language Support Launched in India

The Zen Admire Swadesh features a 5-megapixel rear camera with autofocus and flash and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera. Internal storage stands at 8GB with the option to expand further via microSD card (up to 32GB).

Connectivity options on the Zen Admire Swadesh include 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, among other things. The smartphone packs a 2000mAh battery that promises up to 30 hours of standby time.

As we mentioned, the most notable highlight is support for 22 regional Indian languages in including Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu and Marathi. A Language lock feature lets you choose the language from the main screen. The dual-SIM smartphone also lets you set up two WhatsApp accounts.

“Admire Swadesh is yet another brilliant 4G VoLTE device which will be a true delight for the consumers who are looking at upgrading to 4G-enabled smartphones. We at Zen Mobile, aim to offer a perfect combination of high end features and experience at a great value to consumers across Tier II and Tier III markets,” Sanjay Kalirona, CEO, Zen Mobile, said.

“Regional languages are becoming increasingly important, specially, in a country like India where multiple languages are spoken. Keeping that in mind, we have introduced 22 regional language support feature in Admire Swadesh to serve the unique needs of Indian consumers, and to overcome communication hindrance. We, at Zen Mobile are poised to drive the next step smartphone evolution by offering a comprehensive Zeneration 4G portfolio of quality devices. Going forward, we will continue focus on strengthening our 4G portfolio in 2017, by launching exciting new devices at the most competitive price points,” he added.

Starling Bank, a digital-only UK challenger bank, launches beta

Starling Bank, one of a number of digital-only or so-called “challenger” banks in the U.K., is launching a beta of the app that powers its current account, the first time it has been available beyond a very small group of private testers close to the company. Those already on the beta waiting list will begin being invited into the app as of today.

Initially available for iOS, with an Android beta to follow at the end of the month, the Starling Bank app lets you sign up to a full current account, thanks to the restricted banking license it was issued in July. Upon approval of your account, which involves things like photographing your passport or driving license via the app, you are issued a Starling Bank MasterCard debit card that can be used in the U.K. and abroad.

You also are able to set up regular payments (i.e. Direct Debits using an account number and sort code), and make one-off payments in and out of the account, including via the Faster Payments network.

And, similar to a plethora of other nascent challenger banks or neo-banking apps (that is, fintech startups that offer a current account experience without actually operating a bank/holding a banking license), the Starling Bank app lets you view your current account activity in real time, something most legacy banks fail or fall over trying to do. This takes the form of push notifications and the “Starling Pulse,” a real-time feed that displays all your account activity.

Another interesting aspect of the Starling Bank UI, which I’ve already had a short time playing with, is the way you secure the app. In addition to being asked to provide a 6-10 digit passcode, you are asked to record a short video message of you reading out a specific phrase. This, the startup tells me, is then used for the purpose of “biometric identification” in case you find yourself locked out of the app.

“We decided to go straight to build the full current account rather than go on a side trip to build a pre-paid card first,” Starling Bank founder Anne Boden told me in a call yesterday when I made the obvious comparison to rival Monzo, which launched its app in public beta last March but won’t launch a current account till later this summer.

“We wanted to put all our energies and creativity into producing something that provides all the services you need, not just a card,” says Boden. “Plus lots more things we can do because we built our technology ourselves.”

The staggered beta launch also comes a day after Starling Bank announced a partnership with currency exchange company TransferWise as part of the challenger bank’s broader strategy to offer a marketplace of additional financial services within the app. That’s an idea that is also being pursued by Monzo and a host of other fintech startups that want to be the hub for your financial life by letting you connect one app to all of the financial services and products you use or require.

“I think I started talking about marketplaces and banking three years ago,” says the Starling Bank founder with a chuckle. “I’ve had a career in banking and I’ve worked in lots of banks that felt they were the best provider of all the products for all of their customers… ‘sell a current account and cross-sell this service or that service.’ But customers are much more sophisticated now-a-days, they like to make their own decisions and have a whole range of products to choose from.”

Instead, Starling decided that it wanted to do one thing “really, really well,” which is to offer a current account, a product heavily reliant on technology. “And we are going to co-exist with other products, other providers,” she says. In addition to currency exchange, for example, this could include mortgages.

“The world is changing, there’s an ecosystem out there of innovative and creative fintech organizations. We are going to be the center of that ecosystem, linking customers to the right products from the right partners.”

The startup is also embracing so-called “open banking,” which the European Union and the U.K. government have legislated to force all banks to eventually do, something Boden supports. To get on the front foot, Starling Bank is holding its first hackathon next month based on its soon-to-launch current account open API.

Lastly, I asked why Starling needed to be a bank, when so much innovation is — and will be — possible by simply building on top of existing banking rails. The answer? It’s the business model, stupid.

“We can respond to all of the great things happening out there in the fintech market, but we also have a revenue model that’s sustainable… we’ll take in deposits and lend out a portion as overdrafts,” Boden says. “We’re not going to punish you for going overdrawn [with hidden charges]. It’s all about being transparent and fair.”