Apps

Five Uber app alternatives for your daily commute

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Uber users in the Philippines woke up today to an alternate reality in which their favorite ride-sharing service no longer existed. While the service is recovering as the story develops, those who rely on Uber for their daily commute are forced to look into other alternatives to get from one point to another.

Here are five alternative choices that you can check out:


Angkas

While four-wheeled cars get stuck in Manila’s terrible traffic situation, motorcycles swoosh their way through it. That’s the advantage of Angkas, a ride-sharing booking app for motorcycles, more locally known as habal-habal. Riding a motorcycle on a highway might be scary for some, though.

Download: Android / iOS

Grab

Grab is the closest competitor of Uber in Southeast Asia with its GrabCar services. It gained its popularity in the Philippines by being the first to offer a cash payment option, thus making it friendlier for those who don’t have credit cards. Grab also has a network of regular taxis that you can book as an option — just in case.

Download: Android / iOS 

MiCab

MiCab is relatively new in Metro Manila, but it’s already operating in Cebu and Iloilo City. The service is similar to GrabTaxi wherein you book a regular cab on your phone. With its growing ties with existing taxi fleets, MiCab could address the plight of taxi drivers facing tough competition.

Download: Android / iOS

Wunder

Wunder fulfills the main purpose ride-sharing apps, and that’s carpooling. If you want to share a ride to work and/or back home, you can find a listing of available carpoolers in your area that are on the same route. You’ll also gain new connections and friends in the long run. The downside is that the drivers are not available 24/7.

Download: Android / iOS

Sakay.ph

If it gets really tough to book a ride on your phone, you can always take the usual public transportation modes like jeepneys, buses, and trains. Fret not! There’s also an app to help you take the correct route to your destination.

Not necessarily a booking service, but Sakay.ph is a great companion to help you get around the city without the need to constantly ask around. Metro Manila — despite being the great capital of the country — doesn’t have a well-structured transport system, so it’s always logical to check out your route and stops first. The app shows you how much it’ll cost and how long your commute will take.

Download: Android / iOS

SEE ALSO: Uber suspended in the Philippines for a month

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Apps

Google Maps incognito mode coming soon

It’s in testing phase now

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During Google I/O 2019, the company announced that it is bringing its incognito mode to its Youtube, Google Search and Google Maps apps. Youtube already got its incognito mode, leaving the two without it. However, that would soon change as Google is reportedly the feature on Maps, as spotted by XDA Developer’s Mishaal Rahman.

Incognito mode in Google Maps will be a boon for users who don’t want their location to appear on their timeline. It can also hide searches for places and locations where users can have their “private” time.


Baking it directly into the app is useful. It’s so much easier than having to access it via the Chrome browser’s incognito mode and search for the mobile version of Google Map’s website.

Google putting incognito mode into its native apps is in line with its mission to put more privacy controls in the hands of its users. As more and more tech companies are being scrutinized for supposedly interfering with their users’ private lives, Google’s move is surely a step in the right direction.

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Apps

Google wants to assists users without depending on the Internet

And Google Pay just got more exciting!

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Google is by definition an “internet” company. Every part of its business depends on connectivity, whether its Google Search or AdSense. The company has penetrated every developed market and now intends to grab the untapped markets of India and other Southeast Asian countries.

Google Assistant

Courtesy: Bhardwaj

At its Google for India 2019 event, the company announced the launch of a special helpline that users can call to have their questions answered. We usually use Google Assitant on the go via any Android phone, but it depends on internet connectivity. How do you reach out to a feature-phone user who barely has a 2G connection?


A 24×7 healpline. Teaming up with Vodafone India, users will be able to dial 000-800-9191-000 and they won’t be charged for the call or the service. Early this year, Google also worked with KaiOS to integrate Google Assistant on entry-level 4G phones like the JioPhone.

Google Assistant was launched in India a couple of years back and Hindi is now the second-largest language globally. You can also switch languages by a simple voice command now.

Google Pay

Courtesy: Bhardwaj

Usually, you can use payment solutions like these in the US via NFC. Your cards are saved on the app and a gentle tap to a PoS machine will initiate the transaction. However, in India the app leverages the countries universal UPI protocol to transfer money. Up till now, you had to add your bank account in the app and scan a QR code to send money.

Google has now announced support for NFC cards. This will make the experience much simpler and streamlined. Though your phone needs to have an NFC reader and only HDFC, Axis, Kotak, and Standard Chartered bank are supported for tokenization at the moment.

The company went on to share a few interesting stats about its position in the country. The app handled 918 million transactions a month in the country.

New AI Lab

Courtesy: Bhardwaj

A new artificial intelligence research lab is being set up in Bengaluru to create India-specific products. Google has tied up with state-run BSNL for expanding Wi-Fi hotspots in villages in Gujarat, Bihar, and Maharashtra. They’ve already deployed more than 5,000 WiFi hotspots in partnership with Indian Railways.

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Apps

SIM card vulnerability puts your sensitive information at risk

It’s called the SIMjacker

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SIM cards are very important. However, a new SIM card vulnerability found out by AdaptiveMobile Security might be putting our information at risk. The Simjacker exploit, which was recently found out and still being investigated on, allows malicious hackers to steal sensitive information from your phone through a SIM card.

Mechanism of attack

Infographic explaining the attack using Simjacker vulnerability | Photo by Simjacker.com

How does the Simjacker vulnerability work?


First, a hacker sends a malicious code to your phone through SMS. Then, the malicious code is read directly by your SIM card. The code then causes the [email protected] browser to send sensitive information to an accomplice device through SMS.

According to the report pulished by AdaptiveMobile Security regarding the vulnerability, the [email protected] browser is found on most SIM cards even though its development was abandoned many years ago. [email protected] browser was never updated, so it carries the risk of sending sensitive information to hackers when exploited successfully.

Sensitive information retrieved and transmitted by the [email protected] browser include location and the IMEI of an exploited device. The IMEI is a shorthand for International Mobile Equipment Identity, which is a 15 digit number unique to your smartphone that has some information about your device including its brand and model. As such, hackers can determine your exact location if you have a compromised SIM card, regardless of what device you have.

And the worst part of the attack is that you have no way of knowing that it has already been done since it all happens within the SIM card.

Origin and scope of the attack

The purpose for carrying an attack varies. However, the report traces the origin to an unspecified private company that works with governments to monitor individuals. So, there is a real possibility that it has been used to spy on us. And rightly so, since specific individuals were targeted in a certain country.

The report also warned that over one billion smartphones across all continents could be at risk to the vulnerability — and you could be one of them.

Response to the attack

In response to the discovered vulnerability, industry association SIMalliance has already put up recommendations for network providers to secure their networks. At this point in time, you can’t do anything to secure yourself from the vulnerability, unless you decided to go SIM-free.

But as a general rule of thumb, you shouldn’t just give your smartphone number like a free lunch. It also pays to update your smartphone once in a while, since some updates are designed to secure your phone from these kind of vulnerabilities and attacks.

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