Monday, 1 September 2014

Nexus 6 Release Date, Price & Specs: Nexus 5 Discounted; Nexus X Codename 'Motorola Shamu' Launch Depends on Google's Smartwatch, Nexus 8 Plans

nexus 6

Discounts and lower prices for the Google Nexus 5 suggest that the Nexus 6 might be released soon, according to Christian Today. The current iteration of the Nexus has been on the shelves for a year now, and with the idea of a newer version in the works, a price drop on the generally positively reviewed gadget is very much appreciated.

The Nexus 5 has been known for coming with a cheaper price tag when compared to the other high-end smartphones while providing excellent specifications at par with its direct competitors. Currently, the device is offered on eBay for $324.99 for the 16 GB variant -- a $25 drop from the original price. However, the 32 GB version is still sold at $400 in the Google Play Store.

It's not unreasonable to expect the release of the Nexus 6 to be sometime soon since slashing the price is something that has happened in the past to indicate that a new device is on its way. Also, it is a common trend to many things in the market, not just gadgets, to try to sell as many units as possible to exhaust the stocks of the present device.

According to PC Advisor, the Google Nexus 6 is being worked on by Motorola, giving it the codename Motorola Shamu. Another codename for the device is Nexus X. Rumors say that the specifications of the device would feature a 5.2-inch Quad-HD Display with 2,560 x 1,440 resolution, a 12 or 13 megapixel primary camera and a 2.1 megapixel front camera. It would feature 32 GB storage and would run on Android 5.0 L. Of course, connectivity has been a standard for modern smartphones. The device is slated to cost about $550.

IB Times suggests that the Nexus 6 is set to be released around Halloween, or that it could be pushed back to November, depending on whether Google plans to release its other gadgets including their wearable smartwatch and the Nexus 8.

Google Sends Invites for September 15 India Event; Android One Launch Likely


Google has sent invitations for an event in India on September 15. While the invite itself says "More details closer to the date!", it is expected that the much-awaited Android One smartphones will make their debut at the event.

Android One was announced back in June at Google I/O with India's Karbonn, Micromax, and Spice the confirmed launch partners, though more Indian companies have reportedly joined the list since then.

Android One smartphones with their affordable price tag and near-stock Android software are Google's attempts to regain control of the customer experience in the entry-level segment. While the success of the likes of Moto E (Review | Pictures) has made a little bit of a difference, the experience in the sub-Rs. 10,000 smartphone segment has been sub-par for most Android users.

This can largely be attributed to low-end hardware and an OS that often comes pre-installed with all kinds of bloatware due to the marketing deals that many manufacturers sign in a bid to offset some of the costs.

Sundar Pichai, Senior Vice President, Android, Chrome and Apps at Google told NDTV Gadgets that the Mountain View-based company will not subside Android One hardware. Instead, Pichai hoped that the by sharing resources between Google and the OEMs, the companies would be able to keep the total cost of manufacturing in check.

It is widely believed that Pichai himself will make an appearance at the September 15 event, given the importance of the Android One project to the company.

BlackBerry Unveils Four New Smartphones, Including new BlackBerry Q20

BlackBerry is going on the offensive to reclaim some of its lost market share with four new smartphones being released later this year. A news website devoted to the brand of smart-devices has obtained the company’s product roadmap for 2014. Despite fighting an uphill battle against Apple and Android devices which remain far more popular, BlackBerry is not giving up the fight yet. The released document shows four new smartphones slated for launch this autumn, each one targeting a different market demographic.

BlackBerry Q10 Review

The roadmap classifies the four new devices as “Affordable,” “Classic,” “Innovative,” and “Prestige.” The Classic Q20, innovative “Windermere” Passport, and prestige “Khan” P’9983 all sport the classic BlackBerry QWERTY keyboards, whereas the affordable “Manitoba” Z3 LTE is a more standard smartphone with a larger touchscreen and no keypad. The Passport and P’9983 are scheduled for a release in Q3 2014, whereas the Q20 and Z3 LTE have no stated 2014 launch date as of yet. However, given that new tech is usually launched in the fall, it is highly likely that they will be made available by Q4 of this year.

The Classic Q20 is aptly named, representing the most standard and recognizable of the BlackBerry designs. The Q20 will be the more affordable option for users who desire a physical keyboard, as the more powerful Z3 LTE and P’9983 are targeted at more up-scale markets. The Classic Q20 will sport a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 1.5 GHz processor, 2GB of RAM, and a trackpad for easy one-handed use. It will ship with the latest 10.3 BlackBerry OS. (Picture: BlackBerry Q10)

BlackBerry has lost most of its market share to its Apple iOS and Google Android competitors, but is not ceding the fight just yet.

The company is marketing its products towards professionals as well as average users who still desire a physical QWERTY keyboard on their smartphones, such as with the Classic Q20. BlackBerry may yet have the potential to recapture some lost ground and create a niche for itself, and the new devices being released this year will be a test for the company to rediscover its appeal to consumers.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S – Quick review

The Xiaomi Redmi 1S goes on sale starting tomorrow and if you’re planning to pick up a unit, we’ve put together a brief review of the phone’s pros and cons. This way, you’ll know what you’re getting into and you’ll also be able to decide whether this handset is the right choice for you or not.

At Rs 5999, the Xiaomi Redmi 1S is the most affordable mid-range smartphone on the market. Other OEMs like Karbonn, Spice and Lava amongst others have alluring devices in the same category, but none even come close where price and features are concerned. Now just because the handset is cheap, it doesn’t mean that it’s of low-quality.

The Redmi 1S comes in a simple packaging made from recycled material. Along with the usual documentations and warranty info, the company has bundled the phone with a USB cable and a wall socket. Sadly, there are no earphones onboard and you’ll have to supply your own. Being made from polycarbonate, the phone doesn’t look cheap and it has a very durable feel to it.

In fact, its curved edges deliver a comfortable grip, although a weight of 158 grams is a bit outside our comfort zone. And the handset isn’t the slimmest either as it measures 9.9mm thick. Well, these small drawbacks can be easily overlooked them moment you glance at that attractive price tag.

Let’s take a quick look at the Xiaomi Redmi 1S’ specs:

- Android 4.3 Jelly Bean
- 4.7-inch 720p HD display
- 1GB RAM, 8GB storage, 64GB expandable
- 1.6GHz quad core Snapdragon 400 processor
- 8MP rear camera, 1.6MP front snapper
- Dual SIM (3G + 2G) support, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity
- 2000mAh battery (removable)

In the same price range, the Moto E from Motorola has been a hot seller. Well, Xiaomi’s cheapest smartphone is capable of delivering 2x performance, while selling for a little cheaper. The hardware found here is quite similar to the components you’d get on the Rs 11990 Moto G. The 4.7-inch display on the front looks great and visuals are crisp with great color reproduction and viewing angles.

There’s a lot of eye candy delivered through the MIUI interface which is basically Android like you’ve (probably) never seen before. Compared to the standard UIs we’ve seen on most Google-powered smartphones, the Xiaomi phone is customizable to a great extent via downloadable themes which can modify everything from the lock screen style, to the notification bar, to the icons to the boot animation and more.

It’s a bit hard getting your way around the UI, but it didn’t take us long to feel at home. Where performance is concerned, the Redmi 1S managed to run everything we threw at it. Games like Real Racing 3 and Asphalt 8 as well as the benchmarking title Epic Citadel , work flawlessly and the credit goes to the higher clocked 1.6GHz quad core Snapdragon 400 SOC.

Coming to the cameras, the 1.6MP lens on the front is a fixed-focus one and it can deliver decent selfies under good lighting. The 8MP sensor on the rear is also an average shooter and performs well in bright conditions. For low-light capturing, the LED flash works well, but can overexpose the image at times leaving you with an excessively bright picture.

You’ll also be able to record video in 1080p FHD which makes the device all the more desirable. Coming to battery life, Xiaomi has included a 2000mAh cell and our tests have shown that the phone can deliver over 5 hours of FHD video playback or around 7 hours of activity on moderate usage.

The Xiaomi Redmi 1S is certainly a bang for your every buck and we’d definitely recommend it not only to first-time smartphone buyers, but also customers looking for a great mid-range handset on a budget. To round things up from this review, you get a decent looking phone with a great display, brilliant performance and moderate battery life.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Google Can Kill Samsung with Android KitKat and Android One: Here's How

Google's operating system, Android KitKat and the Android One Initiative, signify yet another bad news for Korean Electronics Giant, Samsung.  Emerging markets like India and the Philippines, which are both very populated countries, are switching from feature phones to smartphones. People find it exciting to get the upgrades at cheaper costs.

Although, Google's latest upgrade with its Android Kitkat 4.4 does not impress anybody with more innovative designs and state of the art feature changes, it is certainly able to reach its main goal of being available for all kinds of smartphones, be it high-end or low-end.  Google's intention is to make the operating system a little bit smaller so that it can be used on more devices.  This certainly narrows the wide gap between high spectrum and low spectrum phones.

Lower end devices typically use only 512mb of memory so that they can keep their device affordable according to the Economic Times.  But this makes the smartphones react slower than expected.  However, Google has made Kitkat a more practical operating system, which can run efficiently with just 340 mb of memory. This is an incremental improvement for users in terms of speed and efficiency. With the help of Kitkat, people can now purchase low-cost smartphones but get the high-end experience. Users in India, are particularly ecstatic about this development.

Moving forward, this poses a grave threat to Samsung.  Xiaomi, translated as "little rice" in English, has already penetrated and beaten them in China with $100 smartphone offerings according to TIME.  The danger becomes more imminent with the availability of Kitkat and Android One.  The Android One aims to provide design references to smartphone makers who will price their phones at $100.  Currently, brand names such as Karbonn, Spice and Micromax are hitting the stores and continuing to loom over the Korean titan, Samsung.

Samsung, LG ready to display future of electronics

Samsung Electronics will showcase its updated "smart home" technology and new televisions at the upcoming IFA technology fair in Berlin, with a view to strengthening the company's grip on the global market.

LG Electronics will also roll out new gadgets, including televisions and wireless vacuum cleaners, raising market expectations around the world for Europe's largest consumer electronics conference.

This year's "Internationale Funkausstellung," an international tech fair also known as International Radio Exhibition Berlin or the Berlin Radio Show, but more widely called the IFA, will be held from Sept. 5 through 10, local time, at a convention center called Messe Berlin in the German capital. The event is considered one of the three most significant IT fairs alongside the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

This year, Samsung Electronics will have a presence in a newly built hall, "CityCube Berlin," next to the main convention hall. At its new venue, the company is expected to emphasize the smart home technology in its electrical home appliances, which makes them "smarter."

The smart home concept involves using Internet of Things (IoT) technology to embed Internet connections in home appliances such as lighting systems, air conditioners and washing machines, allowing users to control them remotely or automatically.

The electronics giant will update four new functions ― safety service, energy monitoring, location recognition and voice control ― to its smart home lineup this year.

Samsung Electronics will also show off its technological prowess with 78-inch bendable ultra-high-definition (UHD) televisions and 105-inch curved UHD televisions.

The bendable UHD TV is designed to help viewers concentrate better on the screen. The 105-inch curved UHD TV is the model with the largest screen and is expected to appeal to European consumers.

Yoon Boo-keun, consumer electronics president of Samsung Electronics, will deliver a keynote speech about the future of the company's smart home segment.

It is also said that Samsung Electronics might release a prototype of a new television using a color-reproduction technology called "quantum dots" at this year's fair.

LG Electronics will bring its UHD-class organic light-emitting diode (OLED) television to the fair for the first time in the world.

Ha Hyun-hwoi, president of LG Electronics' home entertainment division, said the company expects that the OLED televisions will replace liquid crystal display (LCD) televisions within two to three years on the strength of their technological advantages in terms of visual clarity.

The company will also exhibit wireless vacuum cleaners, dubbed "cord-zero" models. The company said it had improved the gadget's sweeping power and battery capacity using self-developed motor technology and new battery technology designed for electric cars by another LG Group affiliate, LG Chem.

The major exhibits at previous IFA fairs were domestic appliances and audiovisual apparatuses such as televisions, refrigerators and washing machines. But recent events have diversified to include more "smart" devices, such as new smartphones and "smartwatches."

Samsung Electronics will hold an "unpacking" event Sept. 3 in Berlin before the fair and unveil the Galaxy Note 4, which is expected to be equipped with OLED displays on each side of the device as well as its front panel. The company will also release its new smartwatch "Samsung Gear S," which has a curved super-AMOLED display.

Sources said the electronics giant would release its new virtual reality head-up display device, called "Gear VR," during the fair and set its price at $199. The new device can be connected to the new Galaxy Note 4 and can be used to display a larger version of the smartphone's screen.

LG Electronics will reveal a new smartwatch called the "LG G Watch R." It is the world's first pure round-type smartwatch that features an OLED display. The firm also plans to roll out a new smartphone, the "G3 Stylus," the latest model in the company's G3 smartphone lineup.

Alongside Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics, about 1,500 companies including global IT conglomerates such as Siemens, Philips, Dison, Bosch, Sony, Toshiba and Haier will join in from 47 countries, drawing over 240,000 spectators.

Google Glass, With SHORE App Can Detect Emotions, Age & Gender

Google Glass can now detect whether the person you are looking at is sad, happy, angry, excited or nervous with the help of a very innovative app called SHORE aka Sophisticated High Speed Object Recognition. Developed by a team of researchers and engineers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, the app is world's first of its kind. It is capable of guessing person's emotions, age and gender using the integrated camera in Google Glass. The app, however, cannot determine the identity of the person.


The research team says that this type of technology can open several avenues for further exploration and possibilities. For example, the technology can help differently abled people, those suffering from autism, understand facial expressions. The results calculated by the app can be superimposed on the display using augmented reality technique. Those who are visually impaired can receive the same information through audio signals. We believe this technology would be immensely useful in interactive games. The marketers and shop sales people wearing Google Glass installed with the SHORE app would immediately know what you're thinking about their pitch.

Fraunhofer IIS press release mentions that the SHORE app is a result of several years of research and development work in the area of intelligent systems. The engineers were able to develop a sophisticated, highly efficient real time C++ software library. Their app is capable of detecting faces, objects and carry out detailed facial analysis. The software can be adopted on any platform and operating system.

Have a look at the following video that shows the SHORE app in action. Do let us know your thoughts about the app and the direction in which the technology is advancing.


Microsoft's OneDrive Android app merges personal, professional

Microsoft has released an updated version of its OneDrive for Android cloud-storage app that adds for the first time on Android support for OneDrive for Business.

The updated Android OneDrive app is available for download for free from the Google Play store as of August 28.

A few months ago, Microsoft moved the different teams working on a consumer version of its OneDrive cloud storage service and the business version of that same service into the same business unit. That may sound like a no-brainer move, but the two different OneDrives have shared little but the OneDrive name. OneDrive for Business is a feature of Office 365 and/or SharePoint.

With today's new unified OneDrive app for Android, nothing has changed from a back-end perspective. There are still separate OneDrive consumer and OneDrive for Business storage services. Microsoft is trying to make it easier for users to distinguish when they are saving and accessing files, documents, and photos in OneDrive consumer vs. OneDrive for Business.

The first revamp of the unified OneDrive consumer/business experience is happening on Android. Microsoft's updated OneDrive for Android app adds support for OneDrive for Business. (Previously, the OneDrive for Android app, which can be used on both Android phones and tablets, supported only the OneDrive consumer cloud storage service.)

A new single Android OneDrive app also features a new interface that allows users to more easily keep their work and personal files separate. Microsoft also has added support for setting up a four-digit pin to the new unified OneDrive Android app.

Microsoft officials said the company will be providing a unified OneDrive consumer/business client app to iOS and Windows Phone devices "in the coming months."

In the interim, Microsoft has made a few tweaks to those OneDrive for iOS and OneDrive for Windows Phone 8.1 apps.

OneDrive for iOS, which works on iPhone and iPad, now lets users swipe down in the app to get a search box to make searching for files and folders quicker and easier. The app also gets an "All Photos" viewing option.

Microsoft is updating OneDrive for Windows Phone 8.1 with an update for the OneDrive recycle bin, making it easier to restore accidentally deleted files and folders. It also is receiving "a number of bug fixes," according to Microsoft officials.

The Future of Messenger "MSN Messnger" has no future

After 15 years of its existence, MSN Messenger will finally shut down for good in October. Microsoft Corp, the creator of the service, has announced the news to the remaining users of the messaging service in China.

This move will bring the end to an era of the once popular online chatting services, which is currently dominated by messaging apps using mobile devices. MSN Messenger, which is now known as Windows Live Messenger, will take its last breath in China.

The service was launched by the giant software firm in 1999 as an instant messaging service. It was eventually rebranded into Windows Live Messenger. It was designed to go against rival AOL Inc’s AOL Instant Messenger or AIM.

Gradual death
MSN Messenger had up to 300 million users in 2010. But it eventually started losing most of its users as time went by. When the service dwindled the volume of its users to just 100 million in 2012, the company decided to merge it with its acquisition, Skype, which during that time had over 600 million users worldwide.

In November 2012, Microsoft announced its decision to kill the service in all countries worldwide, except in China by April 2013. But now, even that service in the mainland has weakened. According to reports, Microsoft’s decision was prompted by the increasing popularity of rival chat service in the country called QQ, which is operated by Tencent Holdings Ltd.

According to sources, the remaining Windows Live Messenger users in China were already notified about the planned shutdown of the service last August 28. However, Microsoft assured them that their contacts list would not perish if they would migrate to Skype by October 31.

Migration to Skype
Skype would continue to keep Windows Live Messenger accounts active. Additionally, those users would also obtain a $2 coupon that could be used to make international calls through Skype.

MSN Messenger, or Windows Live Messenger, would not be completely forgotten. It is leaving behind legacy features, which have been adopted by many other messaging services and apps since then. Among those are customized emoticons, gaming between multiple players, and the nudge functionality that enables users to shake their friends’ chat windows just so they could grab instant attention.

WhatsApp Voice Calling Feature Spotted in Yet Another Leak


If media reports are to be believed, mobile messaging service WhatsApp is set to launch a free voice calling feature for its 600 million monthly active users. A website claiming to have obtained images of the upcoming voice calling-based interface of the app suggests the feature is coming soon.
"The leaked images of the upcoming user interface shows that the app has been enabled with other language translations which will be displayed at the time a person receives a call via WhatsApp," a report on stated.

The translation feature available in the latest version of WhatsApp has made it clear that the voice-calling plugin is on its way. While the voice calling feature is all set to be released on WhatsApp, there is no update if there is going to be a similar feature on Facebook, the report added.

This is not the first time the voice calling feature has been tipped to arrive soon on WhatsApp. CEO Jan Koum himself promised the feature at MWC for a Q2 2014 launch. "We are going to introduce voice in WhatsApp in the second quarter of this year. I think we have the best voice product out there. We use the least amount of bandwidth."

Koum at MWC said the voice service will be deployed for Android and iPhone this spring, with Blackberry and Microsoft and Nokia phones coming later. Soon after this announcement, a leak revealed the company had already begun testing the feature, with the service being spotted in screenshots of Hindi translation requests.

Screenshots of the translation requests, visible to people who volunteer to do translations for WhatsApp, had showed various strings that are required to be translated for Hang up, Incoming call, and Outgoing call. Since the translating of UI elements is normally one of the last stages in app development, it was then expected the voice calling feature would come quite soon - however, the service is to roll-out, nearly 5 months later.

Facebook-owned WhatsApp has witnessed a 15 percent rise in its traffic since the acquisition. WhatsApp has crossed 50 million active users in India alone.