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Google delays mandating Play Store’s 30% cut in India to April 2022 – TechCrunch

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Google is postponing the enforcement of its new Play Store billing policy in India to April 2022, days after more than 150 startups in the world’s second largest internet market forged an informal coalition to express concerns over the 30% charge the Android-maker plans to mandate on its store and started to explore an alternative marketplace for their apps.

The company, which is going live globally with the new Play Store rule in September 2021, is deferring the enforcement of the policy only in India, it said. It is also listening to developers and willing to engage to allay their concerns, it said.

“We are setting up listening sessions with leading Indian startups to understand their concerns more deeply. We will be setting up Policy Workshops to help clear any additional questions about our Play Store policies. And we’re also extending the time for developers in India to integrate with the Play billing system, to ensure they have enough time to implement the UPI for subscription payment option that will be made available on Google Play — for all apps that currently use an alternative payment system we set a timeline of 31st March 2022,” said Purnima Kochikar, Director of Business Development of Games & Applications at Google Play, in a statement.

“We have always said developers should have a choice in how they distribute their apps, and that stores should compete for consumers’ and developers’ business,” she added.

Last week, Google said it would no longer allow any apps to circumvent its payment system within the Play Store. The move, pitched by Google as a “clarification” of its existing policy, would allow the company to ensure it gets as high as a 30% cut on in-app purchases made through Android apps operating in a range of a categories.

Google’s announcement today is a direct response to the loudest scrutiny it has received in a decade in India — its biggest market by users but also a place where, compared to Western markets, it generates little revenue. More than 150 startups in India last week formed an informal coalition to fight the company’s strong hold on Indian app ecosystem. Google commands 99% of the smartphone market in India, according to research firm Counterpoint.

Among the startups that have expressed concerns over Google’s new policy are Paytm, India’s most valuable startup, payments processor Razorpay, fantasy sports firm Dream11, social network ShareChat, and business e-commerce IndiaMART.

More than 50 Indian executives relayed these concerns to India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology over a video call on Saturday, according to three people who attended the call.

Several businesses in India have long expressed concerns with the way Google has enforced its policies in India, but the matter escalated last month after the company temporarily pulled Paytm app from the Play Store for promoting gambling.

Google said Paytm had repeatedly violated its policies, and the company’s Play Store has long prohibited apps that promote gambling in India. Google has sent notices about warnings over gambling to several more firms in India in recent weeks.

A senior industry executive told TechCrunch that the company should have expressed these concerns months before the popular cricket tournament IPL was scheduled to commence. Fantasy sports apps allow users to pick their favorite players and teams. These players stand to win real money or points that they can redeem for physical goods purchase based on the real-world performance of their preferred teams and players. IPL season sees a huge surge in popularity of such fantasy sports apps.

“The IPL even got delayed by months. Why did Google wait for so long? And why does the company have a problem with so-called gambling in India, when it permits such activities in other markets? The Indian government has no problem with it,” the executive said, requesting anonymity.

Paytm mini app store

Paytm on Monday announced its own mini-app store featuring several popular services including ride-hailing firm Ola, health care provides 1mg and Practo, fitness startup Cure.fit, music-streaming service Gaana, car-rental provider Zoomcar, Booking.com, and eateries Faasos, Domino’s Pizza, and McDonald’s. The startup claimed that more than 300 firms have signed up for its mini store and that its app reaches more than 150 million users each month. (In a written statement to TechCrunch, Paytm said in June its app reached more than 50 million users in India each month.

Paytm, which says its mini-app store is open to any developer, will provide a range of features including the ability to support subscriptions and one-step login. The startup, which claims  said it will not charge any commission to developers for using its payments system or UPI payments infrastructure, but will levy a 2% charge on “other instruments such as credit cards.”

“There are many challenges with traditional mobile apps such as maintaining multiple codebases across platforms (iOS, Android or Web), costly user acquisition and requirement of app release and then a waiting period for user adoption for any change made in the app. Launching as a Mini Apps gives you freedom from all these hassles: implying lesser development/testing and maintenance costs which help you reach millions of Paytm users in a Jiffy,” the Indian firm said in its pitch.

The launch of a mini-store further cements Alibaba-backed Paytm’s push into turning itself into a super-app. Its chief rivals, Walmart-backed PhonePe and Google Pay, also operate similar mini stores on their apps.

Whether Paytm’s own mini app store and postponement of Google’s new Play Store policy are enough to calm other startups’ complaints remain to be seen. PhonePe is not one of the mini apps on Paytm’s store, a Paytm spokesperson told TechCrunch.

“I am proud that we are today launching something that creates an opportunity for every Indian app developer. Paytm mini app store empowers our young Indian developers to leverage our reach and payments to build new innovative services,” said Vijay Shekhar Sharma, co-founder and chief executive of Paytm, in a statement.

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Samsung Galaxy S21 and Galaxy A8 2018 receive new updates with March 2021 security patches – XDA Developers

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When it comes to pushing monthly security updates, Samsung as an Android OEM has been doing a terrific job over the last few months. The company’s update schedule has improved to the extent that it’s now pushing the latest Android security patches to some of its devices even before Google officially publishes the corresponding Android Security Bulletin. Look no further: The shortest month of the year isn’t over yet, but the Galaxy S10, Galaxy Note 10, Galaxy Fold, and the Galaxy Tab S7 have already received the March 2021 patches. Well, it doesn’t seem like Samsung is stopping anytime soon, as the Korean OEM has now started rolling out similar updates for the Galaxy S21 and the Galaxy A8 2018.

Samsung Galaxy S21 March 2021 security patch

Tagged with the version number G99x0ZHU1AUB7, the update for the Galaxy S21 series is intended for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888-powered China/Hong Kong variants. As reported by SamMobile, the size of the incremental update package is about 387MB. Apart from bumping the security patch level, the new firmware also brings overall performance improvements as well as camera improvements.

Galaxy S21 Forums ||| Galaxy S21 Plus Forums ||| Galaxy S21 Ultra Forums

Similarly, the company has started rolling out the March 2021 Android security patches for the Galaxy A8 2018 (model number SM-A530F) in the form of software version A530FXXSICUC1. The update is currently available in the XSG region, which is the Korean OEM’s internal code for the United Arab emirates.

Interestingly, the new build increments the underlying bootloader version from “H” to “I”. As a consequence, end-users can’t perform a downgrade and revert back to an older build after installing this update on their Galaxy A8 units.

Galaxy A8 2018 Forums

As always, the updates are rolling out in batches. You might have to wait a couple of days before the update notification pops up on your device. However, if you are no stranger to manual flashing, you can just skip the waiting queue and use one of our community-developed tools to download the appropriate firmware for your device variant right now from Samsung’s update server.

At the time of writing this article, Samsung’s Mobile Security portal has not been updated with the details of the March 2021 security bulletin.

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Here Are All The Free PlayStation Plus Games For March 2021 On PS4, PS5 And PSVR – Forbes

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Next month’s PlayStation Plus games are rock solid offerings from Sony. Every single one of the games the PS5 manufacturer is giving away to its PS Plus subscribers is great.

Well, I can’t speak to the new PS5 game yet, as I haven’t played it—as it hasn’t released yet—but the rest are all top-notch freebies that everyone in their right mind will happily download (assuming you haven’t already)

Here’s what to expect when these go live next week.

PS5

  • Maquette

PS4

  • Final Fantasy VII: Remake
  • Remnant: From the Ashes

PSVR

  • Farpoint

First off, I included Maquette in my predictions post so I’m going to count that as a win. I probably should have included Final Fantasy VII Remake in that post as well, but hindsight is 20/20 as they say.

It’s nice to see Sony giving away a VR game—Farpoint, a cool sci-fi VR shooter—especially with the news of a brand new next-gen virtual reality headset coming to PS5.

Remnant: From the Ashes is a very fun online co-op action game that took the gaming world by storm when it released and has been somewhat quiet ever since. Maybe this will give it a resurgence.

Alas, the Final Fantasy VII Remake you get with PS Plus is not eligible for the free PS5 upgrade coming this June. We saw that announcement during yesterday’s somewhat lackluster State of Play with some handy side-by-side footage of the graphical improvements in the PS5 version. C’est la vie.

Finally, the PS5 exclusive car-combat game Destruction Allstars remains free throughout March so you still have plenty of time to download and play that one. You have a few days left to download the other February freebies as well, but the window is closing fast.

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Luxurious residences are setting a new standard of living in Langley – The Record (New Westminster)

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Once in a while, a new building is raised that forever changes the landscape of a city—setting a new bar for quality, luxury and striking architecture.

Welcome to JMC Properties’ Legacy on Park Avenue, a six-storey boutique CLT building in Langley unlike anything the city has ever experienced before. Designed with multiple award-winning Keystone Architecture, the structure is arguably going to become an iconic landmark.

Retirees Pam and Brian Doyle hadn’t expected to downsize for another three years—that is until they saw Legacy on Park Avenue.

“We were driving in downtown Langley and saw the building,” says Brian. “First off, we were incredibly impressed with the unique design of it. Then, when we saw the high-end quality finishes and the construction elements they put into it, such as extra sound proofing, expansive unique shaped decks and drains in the bathroom floors, that sealed the deal for us.”

The long-time Langley residents sold their 4,000 square foot rancher and purchased a three-bedroom and den home on the sixth floor with sweeping views of Mount Baker.

“When you find something of such high caliber like Legacy in a prime location, we knew we couldn’t pass this up,” says Pam. “We both believe Legacy on Park Avenue will forever transform the flavour of the downtown core and we couldn’t be more excited to be part of it.”

Legacy on Park Avenue is a sophisticated collection of 69 contemporary two- and three-bedroom plus den condominiums, ranging from 1,179 to 1,681 square feet of timeless beauty.

“This is totally different than anything in the Lower Mainland,” says Ben Gauer, marketing and sales manager, Legacy on Park Avenue. “This is a passion project for the builder Erich Jaeger, a man with nearly 50 years of construction excellence. He wants this to be a lasting legacy for the city.”

What you don’t see is what counts. So says Jaeger, who is rooted in the European standards of construction he was raised on in Germany.

“Purchasers are not aware that this is a once in a lifetime building,” says Jaeger. “The idea was to build something different. No cost has been spared; everything is way above and beyond what is required by the building code. In 100 or 200 years from now, I want people to say this is a stunning building. Legacy on Park Avenue will still be standing, solid and look like it was built yesterday.”  

And indeed, Legacy on Park Avenue is set to do just that. With its eye-catching curved architecture and soaring balconies, it will be the first residential CLT (Cross Laminated Timber) cutting edge sustainable building in the Fraser Valley and the first of its kind in Canada to utilize CLT in the firewall.

It doesn’t stop there. This eco-friendly building features a private heating and cooling system in each residence, floor-to-ceiling energy efficient insulated UV rated German engineered sound-rated windows, which results in significantly reduced heating/cooling costs, and more.

As soon as you enter through a double height glass lobby showcased by a dramatic fireplace, a designer green wall art installation with preserved green plants and concierge services, you instantly know you are in for timeless elegance and refinement throughout.

Legacy on Park Avenue is showcased by sprawling ceilings, wide-plank engineered white oak hardwood floors and spacious outdoor decks and patios to enjoy sweeping cityscape and mountain views. Chef-inspired kitchens feature Fisher & Paykel appliances, Caesarstone countertops and full-height solid backsplash, spacious islands, and Brizo Matte Black and Luxe Gold Faucet with sprayer.  

Homeowners will also have access to unparalleled private amenities; sitting rooms on each floor, a Grand Lounge with striking seating areas, work stations, and an entertainment area featuring a television, fireplace, kitchen and deluxe washrooms. A folding acoustic wall can accommodate two simultaneous events. Meet neighbours on the beautifully landscaped outdoor terrace, or head to the fully equipped fitness gym with washroom/change room for a great workout.

Getting in and out of Langley has never been easier. Legacy on Park Avenue is within walking distance to a planned SkyTrain station, and close to Highway 1, which is ideal for conventional commuting. It is also in close proximity to Timms Community Centre, steps from Douglas Park and miles of walking trails through the Nicomekl parklands, as well as schools and the historic Fort Langley.

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