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.

OnePlus One 64GB Variant Might Be Priced Under Rs 25,000 in India

OnePlus One 64GB Variant Might Be Priced Under Rs 25,000 in India

With the ever-increasing demand of smartphones in the Indian market, most of the foreign brands have already entered the premises, hoping to churn out maximum profit from the mobile phone segment. Apparently, yet another China-headquartered smartphone brand OnePlus has been eying the sub-continent, since a couple of months.

In fact, the company will initially begin the operations in India by launching its flagship device - the One smartphone but OnePlus has not revealed the exact time-frame for the launch. But it appears that the company has revealed the price range of the handset to TOI.

According to the report, OnePlus would sell the 64GB variant of the phone under Rs 25,000, when it launches in India in the coming months. What is even interesting is that the company might also launch the 16GB variant of the phone in India.

As far as the specs are concerned, the OnePlus One uses top-notch configuration. Precisely, it sports a 5.5-inch Full HD display offering a resolution of 1920 ×1080 pixels slapped with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 and is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 with 2.5GHz Quad-core CPU coupled with 3GB of RAM and runs on CyanogenMod 11S OS based on Android 4.4 (KitKat) platform.

Other specs include: 16/64GB internal memory, 13-megapixel camera with Sony's IMX214 stacked sensor with 6-element lens, f/2.0 aperture, dual LED flash 4K video recording, 5-megapixel front-facing snapper, 4G LTE / 3G, Wi-Fi 802.11 ac (2.4/5 GHz), WiFi Direct, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS and NFC and it is powered by a 3100 mAh battery.

Carl Pei, Director, OnePlus global reportedly said, "The interest not only reflects in terms of traffic to the OnePlus website but also in billing addresses of people buying the phone. Indian customers use trans-shipment services to get their hands on the phone but the billing address is in India."

If you are not aware, the company is also looking to employ an Indian General Manager before it launches its first device in the market and the job profile has also been posted on the official blog of the company.

However, the launch of the smartphone might not be the only step, which will lead the company to the Indian hall-of-fame status. OnePlus should also keep its constant focus on building a potential after-sales service department.

Until the company announces further details about the launch of the One smartphone in India, stay tuned to GizBot for more updates!

How to Find the Best Deals on Android Apps

In an earlier article, we described how you can track great deals on great iOS apps, but that information is of little use if you're an Android user. If you find yourself scouring dark corners of Google Play store in the hope of landing yourself a good deal, worry not, help is at hand. Android may not necessarily have the best paid apps, but it definitely has the best app for finding deals on paid apps. Read on.
AppSales is our favourite discount tracking app, and it's only for Android. It comes with several advanced filtering options to narrow down your search. With this app, you can filter search results by the amount of discount being applied, or show only apps that have gone free, which had a minimum rating you set. Here's how to use it:
1. Install AppSales and run it. You'll see two tabs - Sales and Watchlist. The first tab shows all apps on sale and you can tap any of these and click the eye icon to add it to your watch list to track deals at a glance.
2. To filter your deal hunt, tap the three vertical dots icon on the top-right > Settings. The first option is Set filters. Select the minimum discount and rating here to narrow down on the best apps. You can also select app categories and configure notifications in the Settings menu.
One problem with the app is that you can only add 10 apps to your watch list for free. The app charges a subscription fee of around Rs. 250 per year to let you add up to 100 apps in this list.
You can also find the deals using the AppSales website. It doesn't have the same search tools, but it's a quick way to find deals.
Amazon Appstore for Android
The other option for Android (and BB10) users is to install the Amazon Appstore. The Amazon Appstore has daily freebies, and it usually keeps offering up really nice apps; there are also huge discounts from time to time. Recently Amazon gave away paid apps worth $100 for free - so installing this on your phone is definitely a good idea.
IFTTT, short for If This Then That, is a great service that lets you automate several tasks. You can make it do several things, such as send you alerts when the currency exchange rate crosses a threshold, for you. It has a channel called AppZapp, which lets you track app deals for top-rated apps. The process of setting it up for Android is similar to what we'd explained for iOS earlier.
1. Go to IFTTT > Create a Recipe.
2. You'll see this in huge font size: "if this then that". Click "this" > select AppZapp > scroll to the bottom > select one of six triggers.
3. Triggers are events that tell IFTTT to send you an alert. In the case of AppZapp, the triggers you can choose from are when a top-rated app goes on sale, goes free or gets an update. These three triggers are available for Apple's App Store and Google Play store. Pick the trigger you want to get relevant alerts, such as top app gone free.
4. Now choose your country (you can choose between US, UK or Germany, but no India) and category of apps you want an alert for. Now click Create Recipe.
5. The next step will show you the same text you saw in step 2. Instead of "this", you'll see the AppZapp icon. Now click on "that". This is where you select the kind of alerts you want. We recommend that you pick one of Email Digest and Android notifications. This will send you one email every day or a quick notification on your smartphone. You need to install the IFTTT app on your phone to get this to work.
We found this to be the best method to keep an eye on apps on sale or apps that go free due to the notifications. You can tap these notifications, tap the alert in the IFTTT app and you will be redirected to Google Play.
Now that we've covered how to find the best deals on Android and iOS apps, we are certain that Windows Phone, BlackBerry, PC and Mac users are feeling left out. There's no need to be sad as we will help you save money on those platforms in an upcoming article.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S first impressions: The best entry-level phone so far?

If the Xiaomi Mi 3 was the first taste of what the Chinese mega-brand can do when it sets its mind on a market, the Redmi 1S is all about consolidation and building a solid user base for Xiaomi. User base sounds weird when talking about hardware, but buying into the Xiaomi way of life is a lot about embracing the ecosystem around its cloud services, messaging app and the multitude of customisation options, more so than just any other Android device.

The Redmi 1S is all about giving this Xiaomi experience to anyone who can afford a basic smartphone. It’s priced at an incredible Rs 5,999 but boasts specs of phones priced around Rs 15,000-Rs 25,000 by the big-name brands. Not a single Indian vendor can match it either. In terms of the specs, it’s not entry-level, but its price puts it in this segment. But what’s the whole experience like?

In terms of build quality, we find the Mi 3 to be much better than the Moto E, which is its nearest price competitor. It’s very much a shortened, heftier Mi 3 with subtle curves around the back to aid grip. Holding the Mi 3 and Redmi 1s side-by-side, the increase in weight is really apparent. Overall, the plastic used is slightly less premium in feel than the Mi 3, but really a class apart from the competition in this segment.

Right out of the gate, the MIUI is speedy. It does have a reputation of being one of the faster custom builds out there, and it’s definitely faster than stock Android on first boot. I don’t remember even the Moto E to be so smooth on first boot. Yes, the first time you boot up the custom UI, you will be a little lost if you have not seen MIUI before. But it’s not all that complicated.

No doubt the 1.6GHz Snapdragon 400 SoC is fast enough to handle quick multi-tasking or switching between apps, but we didn’t pull down too many apps so the performance might suffer when they have been downloaded. We’ll reveal the final performance in our review in the next couple of days, before the Redmi 1S goes on sale.

The 4.7-inch display looked great without any tweaking on our part right out of the box. At 720p resolution, it’s not lacking in pixel density either, while the colours were reproduced well too. Under direct light indoors, there was quite a lot of glare, though.

All the bangs and whistles of MIUI from the Mi 3 are present here, including access to Google Play and core Google apps. Xiaomi has added extras usually not seen in this price range, such as an LED notification light (cleverly placed right under the capacitive home button), and USB on-the-go support for quickly transferring files from a MicroUSB pen drive.

When it comes to the camera, the interface is the same as the Mi 3, while there’s a 1.6MP front camera as well for selfies. While we didn’t take too many pictures, the camera was quite fast when clicking images. The audio output from the mono speaker on the back is adequate, but does get muffled when gripping the phone higher up the body.

Our first meeting with the Redmi 1S has been great. It remains to be seen whether it can withstand the abuse of daily use and when intensive apps come into the picture. Watch out for the review in the next couple of days.

Oppo gets into the budget smartphone space with Neo 3 launch on Flipkart at Rs 10,990

Oppo gets into the budget smartphone space with Neo 3 launch on Flipkart at Rs 10,990

After bringing its high-end models Find 7 and 7a to India, Oppo has launched the Neo 3 budget smartphone in India through its retail partner Flipkart. Priced at Rs. 10,990, the Neo 3, will sit slightly ahead of the Oppo Joy in the company’s portfolio.

The dual-SIM (GSM+GSM) Oppo Neo 3 mirrors the specs of the Oppo Neo in some departments. The camera megapixel count, the processor, display size and resolution are identical to the Neo. It features a 4.5-inch display with a FWVGA (480×854 pixel) resolution, which sounds decent, but there are phones with much higher resolution display in this price range these days. Case in point, the Xiaomi Redmi 1S, which goes on sale on Tuesday.

A dual-core 1.3GHz processor (unspecified chipset) runs the show and there’s 1GB of RAM on board too. That combination will power the Oppo custom UI running on top of Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean. A 5-megapixel camera sits on the back along with an LED flash, and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera.

Oppo’s proprietary ColorOS is slightly better than what Gionee has to offer, but its not all that different in terms of functionality. There’s 4GB of inbuilt storage that can be expanded via a microSD card to up to 32GB. The Oppo Neo 3 comes with 3G, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, GPS/ A-GPS, NFC, OTG, Micro-USB, and Bluetooth 2.1. Finally, it packs in a 1900mAh battery, though Oppo has not mentioned any rated battery life.