PakWired News Weekend Roundup – Episode 14

Period Covered: January 16 (Saturday) to January 22 (Friday)

1. Discouraging Policies Forcing Pakistani IT Companies To Move Elsewhere

Summary: This week, we published a commentary on news that almost 40% of Pakistani IT companies had shifted their entire setups abroad, with the UAE being the preferred destination of choice. What is it that compelled these local industry players to shift base? Hasn’t the IT Ministry tried supporting IT by easing taxes? Click here to read details.

2. ‘Zameen’ Receives Another Injection Worth $20 Million

Summary: One of Pakistan’s most popular and arguably premier online property portals, Zameen, has received another round of $20 million in funding in a series C financing. The company was established in 2006 by brothers Imran Ali Khan and Zeeshan Ali Khan. Zameen has impressed everyone by soaring to success within a short span of time, beating dozens of similar but less influential online competitors. Osman Husain recently published a report on Zameen’s latest achievement. Click here to read details.

3. Mobilink users can now make HD voice calls

Summary: Mobilink, the largest telecom operator in Pakistan, has introduced ‘HD Voice’ for its large base of subscribers. This new resource will help users make crystal clear phone calls to other users in the same network. Asif Aziz, Head of Marketing at Mobilink, said that HD Voice was one of many 3G-enabled services which Mobilink had planned for its customers. The company’s CTO, Khalid Shahzad, said that HD Voice would be automatically activated if a Mobilink user with an HD voice-compatible smartphone is within reach of its 3G network.

4. Chairman PTA now also heads the National ICT R&D Fund

Summary: Dr Ismail Shah, Chairman Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), was recently bestowed with the additional responsibility of leading the National ICT R&D Fund by the federal government. The recent appointment was reportedly made after a performance evaluation of The Fund’s activities revealed many pending projects which should have been completed long ago. This was partly because no qualified CEO was available to handle its administrative affairs. Although the ICT R&D Fund receives Rs 2 billion per annum (nothing considerable), only 96 projects received adequate funding and were completed since 2005. Dr Shah is a highly capable and proactive leader. We can expect him to work wonders for The Fund as he already has in PTA.

5. Five startups graduate from the 4th i2i Accelerator program

Summary: The 4th batch (2015-16) at the i2i (Invest2Innovate) Accelerator program saw the graduation of 5 high-end startups catering to different sector requirements. These include EzPz and doctHers (health), Emperor’s Bazaar (local handicrafts), The Dot and The Line (education) and Smart Security Solutions (Internet of Things security).

6. Microsoft’s new alarm app will dismiss after you take a selfie

Summary: As bizarre and, mind you, ridiculous as it may sound, Microsoft Mimicker (new Android alarm clock app) will dismiss the alarm if you participate in a range of silly activities. Perhaps more than anything else, the task of taking your selfie appears to be the strangest option we’ve seen. The app was developed by Microsoft Garage where the company’s bored software developers often publish out-of-the-ordinary apps.

7. Leaked video claims to show upcoming iPhone model

Summary: A leaked video by YouTube channel “M.I.C. Gadget” has uploaded what appears to be a video showing the upcoming “6c” or “5e” model of Apple’s iPhone. The model had a 4 inch display. Some observers point out the model resembles the iPhone 6 more than the 5s. The new model is (reportedly) going to be released in Feb or March this year for $500. What do you think about the claims made in the video?

8. ‘NailO’, a wearable trackpad by researchers at MIT

Summary: A group of 4 researchers at MIT’s Media Lab have developed an innovative and interactive sensor called “NailO”, which they call a “nail-mounted gestural input surface” which can be attached to your thumbnail. It uses the same technology inside smartphones which can recognize touch and work as a controller.

9. Former Firefox CEO launches browser which will block all ads

Summary: Sounds like a vision too good to be true! Brendan Eich, former CEO at Firefox and creator of JavaScript, has recently launched a startup called “Brave” which claims it will, and can, block all ads. Here’s the deal: Brave will replace annoying and possibly infectious ads with new programmatic ads by removing middle-men. A user’s web history will form the basis for new ads. We personally don’t know how this will help promote ad-free web browsing.

10. Skype hides user IP addresses to prevent harassment

Summary: Yes, you read that right. This new privacy feature by Skype will prove most helpful for gamers who have long struggled to protect their systems from DDoS attacks. Skype’s update on Friday (January 22) has ensured that user IP addresses are hidden by default. This is a good security mechanism to gain user reliability and prevent against online harassment.

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