Tech News : Microsoft/Truecaller Now Answers Phone Using Your Voice

A new partnership means that Truecaller’s AI Assistant can use Microsoft Azure AI Speech technology to enable Truecaller to answer your phone (via the Truecaller app) using an authentic AI version of your voice.


Truecaller is a mobile app, available on iOS and Android, that offers caller identification, call blocking, and spam filtering services. It also provides features like call recording, chat, and contact management. Truecaller is based in Stockholm and was founded in 2009 and is now believed to have over 383 million users globally.

Microsoft’s Speech Technology – Answers In Your Voice 

The Microsoft Azure AI Speech technology (that as part of the new partnership enables Truecaller to answer the phone using an AI version of the user’s voice) is Microsoft’s ‘Personal Voice’. Launched in November 2023 and updating the existing ‘Custom neural voice’, the new ‘Personal Voice’ feature means that paid users of Truecaller’s Assistant (AI) “can get AI replicating their voice in a few seconds by providing a 1-minute speech sample as the audio prompt, and then use it to generate speech in any of the 100 languages supported”. 

Integrated With The Truecaller Assistant – How It Works 

Microsoft describes how ‘Personal Voice’ works when integrated with Truecaller’s Assistant, saying: “The Truecaller Assistant answers users’ calls and asks questions for the users, detecting spam and letting the users know if the call is worth answering.” 

Truecaller’s Product Director & General Manager, Raphael Mimoun, explains that “The personal voice feature allows our users to use their own voice, enabling the digital assistant to sound just like them when handling incoming calls.”


Truecaller says being able to use an AI version of the user’s voice “adds a touch of familiarity and comfort for the user”, and Microsoft says it “provides a fully personalised voice experience” and it will “will revolutionise the way our users manage their calls and elevate their overall experience with Truecaller Assistant”. 


It’s been reported that although Truecaller’s Assistant usually gives the option to edit the introductory greeting template for callers, this option will be restricted if users opt for their personal voice instead of a system-generated one. That said, it’s understood that follow-up responses can be customised, based on user preferences.

Introduced in China Too 

Microsoft’s Personal Voice feature was developed with Haier, a leading IoT Smart Living brand in China, and the new Personal Voice feature has now been added to Haier’s service so that its users can create AI versions of their family’s voices to control and use home appliances via intelligent speakers.

Truecaller – More In Future 

Truecaller has indicated that it intends to work with Microsoft in future to enhance its products with AI. For example, Truecaller’s Raphael Mimoun said: “We look forward to further exploring the potential of AI-powered voice technologies in partnership with Microsoft and delivering even more innovative solutions to our global user base.”   

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

The collaboration between Truecaller and Microsoft to integrate Azure AI Speech technology into Truecaller’s app can be seen as a significant advancement in AI-driven customer interaction tools. For Truecaller, this partnership enhances its service offering by leveraging cutting-edge AI to create a more personalised and seamless experience for users. The ability to replicate a user’s voice with AI not only adds a unique touch of familiarity but also sets Truecaller apart from its competitors in the call management and spam detection market. This innovation also aligns with Truecaller’s commitment towards continually improving its user experience and expanding its global reach.

For Microsoft, this partnership underscores the versatility and power of its Azure AI Speech technology. By enabling Truecaller to offer AI-generated voice capabilities, Microsoft showcases its ability to provide scalable, advanced AI solutions that can be integrated into various applications. This collaboration not only strengthens Microsoft’s position in the AI market but also opens up new avenues for the deployment of its technology across different industries and usage cases.

For businesses using Truecaller, the integration of AI-generated personal voices could transform how they manage incoming calls. For example, this technology allows for a more efficient and personalised customer interaction, potentially reducing the burden on customer service teams and improving the overall customer experience. By ensuring that calls are answered in a familiar voice, businesses can also maintain a personal touch, even when calls are handled by an AI. Also, the continued partnership between Truecaller and Microsoft hints at the possibility of even more sophisticated AI-driven features in the future, which could further streamline communication processes and enhance business operations.

Looking ahead, the potential for further AI integrations is vast. Businesses might see developments such as AI-driven analytics providing deeper insights into call patterns and customer behaviour, or enhanced automation features that could seamlessly integrate with other business systems. The ongoing advancements in AI technology promise to bring about more intelligent and adaptive solutions, helping businesses stay ahead in an increasingly competitive landscape. As Truecaller and Microsoft continue to innovate, businesses can look forward to leveraging these technologies to enhance efficiency, improve customer engagement, and drive growth.

An Apple Byte : iPhone Bluetooth Stalking Warning

Apple says it has worked with Google to create an industry specification that can alert users across both iOS and Android if a Bluetooth tracking device is being used to track them (also known as Bluetooth Stalking).

The new capability, which is being implemented in Apple’s new iOS 17.5 (and on Android 6.0+ devices) will deliver an “[Item] Found Moving With You” alert on those devices if an unknown Bluetooth tracking device is seen moving with them over time, regardless of the platform the device is paired with.

Apple says this will “help mitigate the misuse of devices designed to help keep track of belongings.” For example, if a user receives the alert on their iOS device, it means that someone else’s AirTag, Find My accessory, or other industry specification-compatible Bluetooth tracker is moving with them.

Featured Article : WhatsApp Updates

Here we look at some of the latest WhatsApp updates and the value and benefits they deliver to users.

Search Conversations By Date For Android 

The first of three new updates of significance for WhatsApp is the “search by date” function for individual and group chats on Android devices. Previously, this function had been available on other platforms (iOS, Mac desktop and WhatsApp Web).

As featured on Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg’s WhatsApp channel (Meta owns WhatsApp), WhatsApp users on Android can now search for a chat on a particular date (not just within a range). For example, one-on-one or group chat details can be date searched by tapping on the contact or the group name, tapping on the search button, and then tapping the calendar icon (right-hand side of the search box), and selecting the individual date. This feature is likely to deliver a better user experience by giving greater precision and control and potentially saving time in locating specific messages.

Privacy Boost From User Profile Change 

Another potentially beneficial boost to the privacy aspect of what is already an end-to-end encrypted messaging app is (in the beta version) closing the loophole on sharing profile pictures without consent, impersonation, and harassment by preventing users from taking screenshots within the app. If users try to screenshot a profile picture, for example, WhatsApp now displays a warning message. Although the ability to download profile pictures was stopped 5 years ago, it was still possible to take screenshots. Closing this loophole in the latest update should, therefore, contribute to greater user privacy and safety.

Minimum Age Lowered To 13 

One slightly more controversial change to WhatsApp’ T&C’s’s terms and conditions however is the lowering of the minimum age of users in Europe (and the UK) to 13 from 16. This brings the service in line with its minimum age rules in the US and Australia, and the move by WhatsApp was taken in response to new EU regulations, namely the Digital Services Act (DSA) and the Digital Markets Act (DMA), and to ensure a consistent minimum age requirement globally. The two new regulations have been introduced both to tackle illegal and harmful activities online and the spread of disinformation, and to help steer large online platforms toward behaving more fairly.

In addition to the minimum age change, WhatsApp is also updating its Terms of Service and Privacy Policies to add more details about what is or is not allowed on the messaging service and to inform users about the EU-US Data Privacy Framework. The framework is designed to provide reliable mechanisms for personal data transfers between the EU and the US in a way that’s compliant and consistent with both EU and US law, thereby ensuring data protection.


However, although the minimum age change (which may sound quite young to many parents) will be good for WhatsApp by expanding its user base and good for users by expanding digital inclusion and family connectivity, it has also attracted some criticism.

For example, the fact that there’s no checking/verification of how old users say they are (i.e. it relies on self-declaration of age and parental monitoring) has led to concerns that more reliable methods are needed. The concern, of course, also extends to children younger than 13 accessing online platforms (e.g. social media) despite the set age limits.

In Meta’s (WhatsApp’s) defence, however, it already protects privacy with end-to-end encryption and has resisted calls and pressure for government ‘back doors’. It has also taken other measures to protect young users. These include, for example, the ability to block contacts (and report problematic behaviour), control over group additions, the option to customise privacy settings, and more.


Regarding compliance with new EU regulations, the European Commission has been actively engaging with large online platforms and search engines, including Snapchat, under the Digital Services Act (DSA). Also, given the widespread impact of these regulations on digital platforms and their emphasis on data privacy and security, it is likely that Signal (a competitor), and other messaging and social media platforms, are taking steps to align with these new requirements.

Some people may also remember that Snapchat came under scrutiny last summer from the UK’s data regulator to determine if it is effectively preventing underage users from accessing its platform. The investigation was in response to concerns about Snapchat’s measures to remove children under 13, as UK law required parental consent for processing the data of children under this age.

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

The latest WhatsApp updates, alongside the broader implications of new EU and UK regulations, herald potentially significant shifts for businesses, messaging app users, and the industry at large. These changes, encompassing enhanced search functionalities, privacy safeguards, and adjustments to user age limits, will reshape some user experiences and offer both challenges and opportunities.

The “search by date” function for Android users should enhance user convenience and accessibility, save time, facilitate precise and efficient message retrieval, plus improve user engagement and satisfaction. Businesses leveraging WhatsApp for customer service or internal communications, for example, could find this feature particularly beneficial, i.e. by enabling quicker access to pertinent information, and streamlined interactions.

The extra privacy enhancements essentially reflect a growing industry-wide focus on user security and digital safety and will strengthen individual privacy (always welcome). They also emphasise the importance of user-consent and control over personal information and should remind businesses of the need to prioritise and manage user data both in line with (evolving) regulatory standards and today’s consumer expectations.

The adjustment of WhatsApp’s minimum user age in Europe and the UK presents a bit more of a nuanced landscape. While aiming to broaden digital inclusion and connectivity, this change also highlights the complexities of age verification and online safety. Messaging and other platforms, however, must find ways to navigate these complexities, ensuring compliance while fostering a safe and inclusive digital environment for younger users.

The broader context of the DSA and DMA, along with similar regulatory efforts in the UK, signal the transformative period that digital platforms are now in and although we can all see the benefit of curtailing harmful online activities, there’s also an argument for resisting pressure to go as far as giving governments back doors (thereby destroying the privacy and exposing to other risks). Messaging apps and social media platforms, including WhatsApp and its competitors (e.g. Snapchat, Signal, and others) have known regulations were coming, probably expect more in future, and are now having to adapt to enable compliance and retain trust while introducing other features valued for users at the same time.

Businesses using apps like WhatsApp (which also has a specific business version) are likely to already value its privacy features, e.g. its end-to-end encryption, for data protection. As such, they are unlikely to oppose any more helpful privacy-focused, or improved user experience changes, as long as they don’t interfere with the ease of use of the app (or result in extra costs).

Tech News : Brave Android Browser Gets ‘Leo’ Assistant

Brave, the privacy-focused browser, has announced the introduction of Leo, its privacy-preserving AI assistant built into the browser on all Android devices.

Users Can Choose Which Model – The Mixtral LLM & Meta’s Llama 2 

Brave says its new ‘Leo’ AI assistant is powered by the open-source Mixtral 8x7B as the default large language model (LLM) which became popular among the developer community since its December release. However, it says the free and premium versions of Leo also feature the Llama 2 13B model from Meta and that users can choose from the different models according to their needs and budget. Brave also says, however, that having Mixtral as the default LLM brings “higher quality answers”. 

What Can Leo Do? 

Launched 3 months ago, subsequently achieving what Brave describes as “global adoption”, Brave says Leo can create real-time summaries of webpages or videos, answer questions about content and generate new long-form written content. Brave says it can also translate pages, analyse, or rewrite them, create transcriptions of video or audio content, and write code. Leo can also interact in multiple languages including English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish.

In short, it appears to be able to do what other popular generative AI chatbots can do, e.g. ChatGPT.

What’s So Different About Leo? 

With Brave being specifically a privacy-focused browser offering ad tracker blocking and no personal data collection, Brave is keen to point out that what’s different about Leo is that it’s effective generative AI, but with “the same privacy and security guarantees of the Brave browser.”   

Brave says this privacy is achieved by:

– Anonymisation via reverse proxy. Leo uses a reverse proxy that anonymises all requests, ensuring Brave cannot link any request to a specific user or their IP address.

– No data retention. Leo’s conversations are not stored on Brave’s servers, and responses are discarded immediately after generation. No personal data or identifiers (such as IP addresses) are retained. For users opting for models from Anthropic, data is held for 30 days by Anthropic before being deleted.

– No mandatory account. Users can access Leo without creating a Brave account for the free version, promoting anonymity. A premium account is optional for multi-device access.

– Privacy-enhanced subscription. Premium subscribers use unlinkable tokens for authentication, ensuring subscription details cannot be associated with their usage. The email used for account creation is also kept separate from daily use, enhancing privacy.

Free and Subscription Versions 

Although Brave says Leo is free to all users and there is no ‘mandatory’ subscription, as with other chatbots, there is a subscription version at $14.99 per month – cheaper than others like ChatGPT and Gemini Advanced. One subscription covers up to 5 different devices across Android, Linux, macOS, and Windows.

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

With other popular browsers incorporating their own AI chatbots, the pressure was on Brave to offer the same, but with the added challenge of keeping it private. Competing AI chatbots such as Google’s Gemini and ChatGPT warn users not to share private/personal details with the chatbots, acknowledging that these could possibly somehow be revealed elsewhere with the right prompts and/or may be used for training models. Also, in a world where AI chatbots (e.g. Copilot) are getting plugins that link them up with shopping apps, the potential for some kind of related data gathering through AI is there. Brave’s (Leo’s) differentiation, therefore, lies in its apparent ability to keep things private and could serve to help Brave to retain users and keep its share in the private browser world while adding value of the right kind for its users.

Early last year, competitor DuckDuckGo introduced a beta AI Wikipedia-linked instant answer ‘DuckAssist’ feature but withdrew it from private search in March last year. It was intended to help DuckDuckGo’s users to simply find factual information more quickly but also, in keeping with DDG’s privacy focus, it promised that searches were anonymous. Leo, therefore, represents a major opportunity for a private version of AI which some business users or users in sensitive sectors may prefer, but it remains to be seen how/whether the privacy protection affects the comparative quality of outputs.

Tech News : Google Waits On Hold For You Until A Human Answers

Google’s new “Talk to a Live Representative” feature will call a business for you, wait on hold for you, and call you when a human representative is available.

Being Tested 

Similar to Google Pixel’s existing “Hold for Me” feature, “Talk to a Live Representative” is currently in testing in the US by Google’s Search Labs members (those who experiment with early-stage Google Search products) on the Google app (Android and iOS) and desktop Chrome. Following (successful) testing it’s been reported that the feature will be made available for all search users, i.e. on all devices, not just on Google Pixel phones.

Improved Version of Hold For Me 

Although “Talk to a Live Representative” is similar to “Hold for Me,” where the Google Assistant waits on hold for you and notifies you when the support representative is ready to speak with you, it’s slightly improved in that it handles the entire process and shortens it. For example, “Talk to a Live Representative” proactively calls the business on your behalf in the first place and asks you the reason for the call so the customer service representative will already know why you’re calling.

In short, the one major time and hassle-saving point of the “Talk to a Live Representative” feature is that you only need to actually pick up your phone when a human at the company is available to talk to you.

‘Request A Call’ Button 

Users will know if they can use the feature to call a business’s customer service number because Google will display a “Request a call” button next to its search listing if that business is supported. The button can then be used to select the reason for your call and Google texts you with updates about its progress and calls you when a human customer representative becomes available.

Some Companies Already Supported 

Although the customer service numbers for some companies are already supported by the new feature, it’s perhaps not surprising that these few are large, mostly US-based companies such as airlines (Delta and Alaska Airlines), retail giants (Costco and Walmart) and others including Samsung, ADT, UPS, FedEx, DHL, and more.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Although this is an updated/improved existing product being rolled out to a much wider market beyond Pixel phone users, it will be easy for any businessperson to see its potential value. Most of us will have experienced the frustration and inconvenience of having to be made to wait a long time on hold on customer service numbers (often being cut off) whilst also being distracted, having our attention divided, and feeling stressed by having to monitor the phone to make sure we don’t miss the opportunity when it’s answered.

Provided it gets successfully through the testing phase and does what it says on the tin, “Talk to a Live Representative” sounds like a feature that could be of real, practical use to UK businesses large and small. It sounds as though it could save businesses time, hassle, and stress and help them to concentrate more on their work, and help minimise disruption. Unfortunately, there’s no clear date for its general roll-out … if only Google could call us when the feature’s ready to use.

Tech News : New Feature To Declutter Your Gmail Inbox

Included in a recent major update to Google’s Gmail on Android (for now), a new feature can help users to declutter and remove annoying spam from their inbox.

Select All Option

The new feature (currently being rolled out) enables users to use a “Select all” tick box that appears above (top left) in the inbox (on the Gmail for Android app) when the user long holds on an email. Selecting the tick box then means all 50 emails displayed on the page are be selected at once and then deleted with one tap or organised as required.

Easy Unsubscribe 

Also, Gmail for Android now includes a straightforward way to unsubscribe. Users can now click on an email from a company whose mailing list they have subscribed to and a clear ‘Unsubscribe’ link is now shown top right in the email, rather than having to scroll to the bottom. This could help speed up and simplify the process of decluttering the Gmail inbox.

It should be noted, however, that on trying this out on an (Android) Gmail inbox, it didn’t appear to display the unsubscribe link at the top of certain emails. Google has said that Google Pixel phones are first in line for the changes, and more Android devices will follow.

For those users who don’t see the unsubscribe link at the top of emails, it may also be the case that they don’t have the latest version of the Gmail app.

What’s So Bad About Email Inbox Clutter? 

As highlighted by a Zipwhip study (2020), email box clutter is common with 39 per cent of individuals having over 100 unread emails, and 20 per cent having over 1,000 unread emails. Mailbird’s Email Overload Survey, helps explain how the problem can build up, with the majority of workers receiving between 61 to 100 emails daily, but with only a minor fraction of these relevant to their actual work.

This is an important subject, particularly for businesses, because some of main problems and issues that email inbox clutter can cause include:

– Feeling overwhelmed by too many unread emails has been shown to reduce enthusiasm and create a sense of frustration.

– A loss of productivity and wasted time (and money) can result from having to sift through irrelevant emails, distracting from meaningful and value-adding work.

– The increased stress that can result from a relentless flow of emails and the effort to manage them can heighten anxiety.

– Disrupted focus from constant email notifications can lead to frequent context switching and hinder job efficiency.

– The potential to miss crucial messages that can get lost in the clutter.

New Spam-Reducing Guidelines From February

One way that spam and email box clutter is to be tackled from the other direction is through newly expanded Google and Yahoo guidelines for high-volume emailers, which come into force from 1 February. The Guidelines will essentially force all bulk emailers (5,000 or more email a-day senders) using Yahoo and Google to adhere to strict new rules. The hope is that this could hit some spammers hard, perhaps reducing the amount of spam in our inboxes.

What Else Can Be Done? 

In addition to the decluttering features introduced by email providers such as Google or Microsoft, general good practice that can minimise email inbox clutter includes:

– Getting into the habit of regularly cleaning out old or irrelevant emails (and unsubscribing) and checking emails at designated times to avoid constant interruptions.

– Using folders or labels to categorise emails and prioritise important ones.

– Keeping work and personal emails in separate accounts to manage them more effectively.

– Adjusting email notification settings to reduce distractions and maintain focus on current tasks.

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

With email still being a critical communications centre for businesses, finding effective, fast, free / low-cost ways to declutter and escape from spam can bring many benefits (as outlined above). In the case of Gmail, users have long wanted better decluttering tools, so these new features are likely to be welcomed and used.

As expected (being Google), it is Android Gmail app users who benefit first and the hope is that the features are extended to Apple’s iOS soon. It’s likely to be the case that for most users, Gmail is not their main business email, and this is likely to be a contributor to the build-up of clutter. That said, various Gmail accounts may be used by many SMEs at various points in their value chains so anything that helps save time, enable them to cut through clutter, and quickly spot the most valuable communications and opportunities is likely to be welcome. Microsoft, for example, introduced several business-focused features in an update in November such as advanced email handling rules, which included multi-layered rules for filtering and managing emails. It’s no surprise, therefore, that Google is now upping its (email) game and is likely to continue doing so, hopefully making our lives easier in the process.

An Apple Byte : ChatGPT Voice Free To All iOS Users

OpenAI’s president and co-founder, Greg Brockman, has announced that ‘ChatGPT Voice’ in its ChatGPT app, previously only available to Plus and Enterprise subscribers, is now available free to all iOS and Android users.

ChatGPT Voice (originally introduced in September) integrates voice capabilities with the existing ChatGPT text-based model. This allows users to have a conversation with it and ask the ChatGPT chatbot questions and be given answers, all by voice, i.e. talking to the app on your device. Greg Brockman said on X that the feature “totally changes the ChatGPT experience.”

iOS users who want to try ChatGPT Voice can access it in their ChatGPT app now. An example video of what ChatGPT Voice can do has been posted by Greg Brockman on X here.

Tech News : Android Update Glitch Causing Silent 999 Calls

A recent update to Android 13 has led to reports of an increase in the number of false 999 calls / ‘silent’ calls.

Reports By Police 

The police have reported that an increase in the number of silent 999 calls in recent months is likely to be the result of the updated ‘SOS’ feature in android phones. For example, the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) recently tweeted information it had been given by North Yorkshire Police saying “Nationally, all emergency services are currently experiencing record high 999 call volumes. There’s a few reasons for this but one we think is having a significant impact is an update to Android smartphones”. 

Updated SOS Feature Causing It 

The SOS feature on Android phones is a built-in emergency feature that allows users to quickly and easily contact the emergency services in critical situations. It can be activated through various methods, such as pressing a dedicated SOS button, rapidly pressing the power button multiple times, or using specific gestures on the screen. The exact method may depend on the phone model and the software version, however the main method in the UK (until recently) was by pressing the power button five times.

However, a recent update to Google’s Android OS means that the feature can now be activated by simply pressing and holding the power button on a phone for a few seconds. This has not only made it even easier to contact the emergency services but, it is believed, may also have made it easier to accidentally contact the emergency services and is what the police believe is behind the increase in silent 999 calls from Android phones.

Putting Extra Strain On Emergency Services 

UK emergency services call handlers don’t ignore silent calls and must spend time trying to call the person back to check whether help is needed. The rise in silent calls has, therefore put more strain on the emergency services.

Google Working To Resolve The Issue 

It is up to the Android phone manufacturers who choose to offer Emergency SOS on their devices how to manage the implementation of the SOS feature and Google has been reported as saying that it will be providing guidance and resources to these OEMs to help resolve the issue.

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

The SOS feature, introduced with Android 12 and made even simpler to operate with the Android 13 update, may have been well intentioned but clearly has a negative downside which has been putting extra strain on the emergency services which could, potentially, have a human cost. It is tempting to ask why the potential for increasing silent 999 calls was not spotted before the update was signed off, and putting the responsibility of OEMs and having to work with different ones to resolve the issue seems a complicated system that could mean that the fix is not as fast as it could be.

For those who do accidentally dial 999, the advice is that people shouldn’t simply hang up but to stay on the line and inform the operator that it was an accident and assistance is not required. Android users can also choose to switch off the SOS feature in their phones, although this may, of course, carry a risk of its own.

Tech Tip – Force Your Android Screen To Be Bright – Even When You’ve a Low battery

If you’ve less than a minimum threshold of battery life left, Android Phones typically automatically dim the screen (making it almost unreadable) sometimes when you need to be able to read it the most! If you want to force it to be bright (even at the expense of rapidly draining the last of the battery-life) here’s how:

Open Settings: This is usually represented by a gear icon on your home screen or in your app drawer.

Navigate to Display: This is where you’ll find all the settings related to your screen, including brightness.

Adjust Brightness Level: There should be a slider that allows you to manually adjust the brightness of your screen. Slide it all the way to the right to maximize brightness.

Disable Adaptive (or Auto) Brightness: This setting automatically adjusts your screen brightness based on the ambient light. You’ll want to turn this off to maintain a constant brightness level.

Battery Saver Mode: Go back to the main settings menu and find “Battery” or “Power”. If your phone has a battery saver mode that’s turned on, it might be reducing your screen brightness to save power. You can usually adjust the settings of this mode, or turn it off entirely, to prevent it from dimming your screen.

Please note that keeping your screen brightness at maximum will drain your battery more quickly, which could be a problem if your battery is already low. Also, these instructions might vary slightly depending on the make and model of your Android phone, as different manufacturers sometimes use different names for these settings or organize them differently.

In an emergency, it’s also worth considering other ways to conserve battery life, such as closing unnecessary apps, turning off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and disabling background data for apps.