Friday, June 27, 2014

Google I/O 2014 Roundup


Google I/O - Google's annual conference kicked off with some exciting announcements. It is the most anticipated event of this year. For Google, this was a big day to unveil the company's future plans.

Senior Vice President of Android, Chrome & Apps Sundar Pichai  started the Google I/O 2014 keynote with 30 day active users statistics. According to Google, Android has 1 billion 30-day active users in the world.

Android L  Developer Preview

Google announced the next major release of Android dubbed 'L'. The final name of this release is not yet decided. Android L Developer Preview is released for the developers to test drive. However, the final release will take place later this year.

User Interface

Android L has a whole new design language - "Material Design". In Material Design, pixels and interface elements react to your touch in an intuitive way, like you'd expect materials to in the real world. Developers can define depth and motion in their apps to respond the way they want them to when users interact with the interface. The whole interface has much depth, shadows and more flatter design. There are animations throughout the interface - Buttons has subtle animations on press, activity transitions are more smoother and delightfully animated. The system font - Roboto has also been updated with smoother edges.


Notifications

In Android L, notifications are getting a big overhaul. When your device is locked, all the notifications will be shown on the lock screen itself. Swiping down will show you full set of notifications and double tapping a notification will open the corresponding app.

There is also a new form of notification called - 'Heads Up Notification". This notification pops up on the top of the screen when you are engaged in some game.

ART - Android Runtime

The ART Runtime will be the official runtime in Android L release. The current runtime in Android devices is Dalvik. According to Google, ART Runtime allows apps to load faster and there is upto 2x performance increase over Dalvik. ART also supports 64-bit architecture which promises less memory usage.

AEP - Android Extension Pack

Android L introduces new graphics capabilities called - 'Android Extension Pack'. Google demonstrated what Epic’s Unreal Engine 4 can do with AEP running on Nvidia Tegra K1 processor. With AEP, Google puts game developers on the fast track to bring modern game engines to mobile devices. AEP adds powerful new extensions to OpenGL ES, the mobile graphics standard, bringing PC and console-class features like tessellation and compute shaders to Android.


Project Volta

Battery life will be improved in the L release, thanks to features like a new battery saving mode, scheduling of maintenance tasks, and coalescing of CPU tasks. Project Volta will give developers tools to monitor battery consumption and correlate it with CPU actions. According to Google, battery saving mode can add up to 90 minutes to a typical day of usage on a Nexus 5.



Android Wear


Announced earlier this year, Android Wear devices are officially launched to the public. There are three Android Wear devices known so far - LG G Watch, Samsung Gear Live & Motorola 360.

LG G Watch & Samsung Gear Live are up for pre-order on Google Play while the much loved Motorola 360 will be available later this year.

With Android Wear, users can have a glance at their notifications, cards from Google Now, voice search, play music, reply to messages directly from the watch itself. Android Wear also mirrors your currently opened app on your phone or tablet. Eg. If you open a recipe on a cooking app on your phone, you can continue to read the next steps on your watch. Android Wear also have a heart rate monitor and also counts your steps. Android Wear SDK has been released for developers to create some wrist magic.



Android Auto


Google announced Android Auto - a step to bring Android to cars. Google announced 40 new partners to the Open Automotive Alliance.

With Android Auto, users get access to the full breadth of Android apps with total hands-free usage. Directions are spoken out loud as you progress towards your destination. Incoming messages are read out loud to you and show as heads-up notifications. The steering wheel voice button can be used to instantly reply. Your Android handset broadcasts the customized interface to the car display on the fly. The overview screen provides contextually relevent information from Google Now and other apps, all with the same fidelity and functionality of their mobile and web counterparts. An SDK is being made available soon so developers can build out their own automotive apps.




Android TV

Google announced Android TV - a step to bring Android to the living room.

Android TV, the successor to Google TV, brings a new, streamlined user interface to TVs, game consoles, and set top boxes, designed to put content front and center. Android TV brings music, games, apps, movies, and TV shows alongside Android to your big screen. Android TV is designed for game consoles, TV sets, and set top boxes.

The interface based on Android L Material Design, is intuitive and simple, but still elegant and classy. There is a controller to navigate the menu and play games and also have an Android app for your phone or tablet which allows your phone / tablet to be the remote control. You can also use your Android Wear watch as a remote control.

The Chromecast is built-in to Android TV, so you can cast anything from your phone / tablet / chrome to the biggest screen in your house (TV).

Android TV will support all 2015 smart TV models from Sharp and Sony (among others), along with a slew of upcoming set-top boxes form Razer, ASUS, and others. Starting today, Google is also launching a developer preview box, which is powered by NVIDIA's Tegra 4 processor.



Android One


Google introduced a program called - 'Android One'. This program focuses on bringing Android devices to as many people as possible. Android One is currently focused to Indian Market to launch under $100 devices running stock Android.

Mobile phone companies in India like Karbonn, Micromax & Spice have joined Android One to bring affordable Android devices to the people.

Update to Chromecast


Google introduced a cool new feature to Chromecast that allows to cast content without having to worry about being on the same WiFi network. It's all done through the cloud but allows you all the same functionality as if you were connected over WiFi.

The new technology can authenticate the users via the cellular connection to the cloud, or there'll be the possibility to use a PIN should this not be possible. This will be available to all Chromecast users and app developers later this year and looks to make using Chromecast a more social experience.

Another new feature was introduced called Chromecast Mirroring. This feature allows Android phones and tablets to push their live view out to the TV wirelessly; that means apps don't need to specifically add Chromecast support anymore, and you can have an easier time seeing just about anything. This can even mirror your camera.

Update to Chrome OS


Google announced that Android apps can be run on your Chromebook in a window. With new APIs available in Android L, your phone and your Chromebook can communicate together seamlessly. When your phone is with you and you open your Chromebook, you'll now automatically be logged in and your favorite apps will be opened on the laptop.

Notifications from your Android phone will be mirrored across to the Chromebook's notification center, including Google Now, incoming calls, phone battery state and text messages.

Google Fit


Google announced a platform preview of Google Fit, a set of APIs that will allow developers to sync data across wearables and devices. It empowers apps by providing them with access to a user's entire stream of fitness activity, letting software tap into data that it didn't capture itself and provide better recommendations.

Google wants its platform integrated with a number of various form factors, increasing its utility. Nike will be publishing Nike Fuel to the Google Fit platform, so other apps can integrate with the device. Several other partners have also signed up, including Adidas, RunKeeper, and multiple smartphone manufacturers.
Google Fit preview SDK will become available in the coming weeks.



While wrapping up the keynote, Google gave away a Cardboard VR box which turns your phone into a virtual reality device.

Google IO attendees also received brand new Android Wear watch (choice between LG G Watch & Samsung Gear Live). Google also announced that all attendees will also receive Motorola 360 when its available.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Apple WWDC 2014 Roundup


Apple kicked off its annual Worldwide Developer Conference with OS X update, iOS 8, developer tools and a new programming language.

OS X Yosemite


OS X Yosemite has a refreshed and clean user interface. Introduction of translucent windows, absence of gradient, flatter and polished icons make OS X Yosemite look awesome.

The Notification Center lets you see your upcoming calendar events, reminders, and the weather forecast. Apple introduced universal Search tool called Spotlight. Spotlight lets you search for apps, files, settings & web search.

Apple also introduced iCloud Drive service, which lets you store files to the cloud. The iCloud Drive folder can be accessed from the Finder file browser.

Safari web browser now integrates better search results and has better multi tab functionalities. Clicking on the main search bar will also open up your favorite sites.

OS X Yosemite has great communication ability with iOS devices. Now, you can send text messages right from the Mac. You can even answer or dial a phone call from Mac even if your iPhone is not within reach.

Apple also introduced Handoff, a new feature of OS X that helps you share work across devices. For eg. You can start an email on your phone and your Mac will prompt you to finish it there. Or you can start a document in iWork and your iPad will suggest you continue your work there once you move away from your laptop.

OS X Yosemite is available to developers from today and public beta will be out this summer. The final public release will be out this fall and will be a free upgrade to existing OS X users.

iOS 8


iOS 8 was introduced with some cool new features such as improved actionable Notifications. Now you can respond directly to messages from the Notifications view and from the lock screen. You can also add third-party widgets to the Notifications Center.

iOS 8 also comes with a QuickType keyboard. As you type, the keyboard gives you words suggestions. It also learns your usage of words and suggest accordingly.

Messages app now lets you send audio and video recordings, and also allow you to mute message threads.
The iCloud Drive is fully integrated in iOS 8 and thanks to the Handoff feature, you’ll be able to access files from your Mac that have been saved and synced through iCloud.

The new photos app gives you the ability to view and edit your photos with variety of filters and effects. The photos are stored in your iCloud account, and Apple gives you 5 GB free of charge to start. But beyond that, you will have to subscribe for access: 20 GB for $0.99 per month, 200 GB for $3.99 per month.

Siri got some updates as well, you call up the Siri without even touching your phone. Just say the words "Hey, Siri" and it’ll appear automatically, similar to "OK, Google" in Android & Chrome.

Apple iOS 8 will be available to everyone this fall, while a developer Beta of the OS has been released today. Compatible iPhone devices include all models from iPhone 4s onwards.

Developer Tools

HomeKit will allow iPhones to start controlling smart devices, such as garage-door openers, lights, and security cameras. It all can be controllable through Siri: say, "Get ready for bed," and your home could automatically dim its lights and lock its doors. Apple will run a certification program for HomeKit; initial partners include August (which is known for its beautiful smart lock), Honeywell, iHome, TI and about a dozen more.

Apple also announced a new programming language - Swift. Swift represents the future of development across iOS and OS X and its code can coexist with C and Objective C's code in the same app.

Keynote

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Motorola launches Moto E


Motorola has recently launched their entry level Android smartphone - Moto E in India, US & UK. Moto E runs on the latest version of Android ie. 4.4.2 KitKat.

Moto E packs a 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon 200 processor, 1GB of RAM and Adreno 302 400MHz single-core GPU. It has a 4.3 inch Corning Gorilla Glass 3 display with a qHD resolution of 540 x 960 pixels (256 ppi).

It has got 1 GB RAM with 4GB internal memory and a microSD card slot (upto 32 GB supported). It has a 1980 mAh lithium ion battery which Motorola claims can last a whole day with heavy usage. The camera is a 5 MP which seems to perform similarly to the Moto G's rear shooter. However there is no front facing camera.

Moto E comes with the latest version of Android - 4.4.2 KitKat and the manufacturer has promised at least one major OS update.

There are two color options - Black & White. However you can buy interchangeable backs—called Motorola Shells which provides many color and design combinations to let you customize the look of your phone.

Moto E is available in US, UK & India for $129, £89 & ₹6999 respectively.
In India, Flipkart is the official exclusive retailer for Moto E.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

NEST Learning Thermostat now available on Google Play


Nest Thermostat is now available for purchase through Google Play in United States, Canada & United Kingdom. The price for this beautiful thermostat is set at $249 / £179.

The Nest Thermostat is a programmable thermostat made by Nest. NEST was recently acquired by Google for $3.2 billion. Nest Thermostat learns what temperatures you like, turns itself down when you're away and can be controlled from anywhere over Wi-Fi.

There is a Nest smartphone app, available for Android and iOS which connects to your Wi-Fi and you can adjust the temperature on your Nest Thermostat from your device and even get notifications for important events, like Heads-Up and Emergency Alarm.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Microsoft Build - Windows Phone 8.1, Cortana & Windows 8.1 update


Microsoft announced some major updates to Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 8.1 at the developer conference - Build 2014 held at Moscone Center, San Francisco.

Cortana - Personal digital assistant

Microsoft announced personal digital assistant for Windows Phone - Cortana. The name is inspired by the artificial intelligence character from the Halo video game series.

Similar to Google Now, Cortana learns from the web searches you perform and the locations you frequent to try and provide contextually sensitive and timely information. You can ask Cortana through a voice search or by typing. Overtime, Cortana learns about you and stores the data in a 'Notebook' which users can edit if they want to.

New features in Windows Phone 8.1

Action Center - New centralized place for all the notifications and quick settings. You'll be able to customize which apps can send notifications to Action Center and whether they're allowed to vibrate the phone.

Camera - Improved camera with Burst mode (To capture multiple photos with one press of the camera button), stable shots and improved collections of photos.

Battery Saver - Battery saving mode to save the battery when its low.

Storage Sense - To see storage and easily transfer apps from your phone to SD card, to maximize space.

Data Sense - To see the overall as well as per-app data consumption.

Wi-Fi Sense - Automatically connects to free Wi-Fi hotspots and let you share your Wi-Fi network with friends without giving the password.

Windows 8.1 update

After many rumors and leaks, Microsoft announced major updates to Windows 8.1.

Title bar on Windows Store apps - There is now title bar on every Windows Store app (Metro app) with minimise & close buttons.

Taskbar back in control - Windows store apps (Metro apps) can now be pinned to the taskbar. The metro apps can also be opened in a window on the Desktop.

Start menu is back - A new customisable Start menu is introduced in the update. You can pin the apps in the start menu and can launch directly from it.

The update will roll out on April 8th via Windows Store.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Google announces Android Wear


On March 18th, 2014, Google announced Android Wear — a specialized version of Android designed to power smart-watches and other wearable products. Android Wear is designed to focus on timely information, delivered when it's most relevant. This means your Android Wear smart-watch will show your device's notifications and will also let you voice search and see your Google Now cards right on your wrist.




Google has also partnered with OEMs including Asus, HTC, LG, Motorola and Samsung, Broadcom, Imagination, Intel, Mediatek and Qualcomm — and fashion brands such as Fossil Group to launch Android Wear smart-watches later this year.

Google has also released a developer preview of Android Wear for developers to preview how the notifications will appear on both square and round Android wearables. The Developer Preview also includes new Android Wear APIs which will let developers customize and extend the notifications to accept voice replies, feature additional pages, and stack with similar notifications.




LG and Motorola have already announced their Android Wear smart-watches. LG announced G-Watch while Motorola announced Moto 360.

Now that Android has made its way to wearables, it will be interesting to see manufacturers launch their Android Wear powered wearables in the market later this year.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Samsung Galaxy Gear Fit - Hands On


Samsung announced the latest smart-watch - Samsung Galaxy Gear Fit at the Mobile World Congress at Barcelona Spain.



Samsung Galaxy Gear Fit has a curved Super-AMOLED display with a chrome bezel around it. It also has a heart rate monitor built-in on the strap to monitor your heart rate in real-time. It has a pedometer built-in to count your steps, a media controller, exercise coach and also supports full smartwatch functionality for notifications from your Samsung Galaxy smartphone.



The built quality is pretty nice and its quite comfortable to wear.  It is a much more slimmer and lighter than the original Galaxy Gear and it also features interchangeable wrist bands (different colored bands). 

The user interface is much more refreshed and clean than the original Galaxy Gear and overall it looks much more wearable.

Samsung has not yet announced the price but it is expected to be released in the market in April 2014.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Moto G - Now in India


Motorola Mobility and e-commerce company Flipkart announced the launch of Moto G in India.

Moto G is now available to consumers in India exclusively though Flipkart. It is priced at ₹ 12,499 (8 GB) & ₹ 13,999 (16 GB).



Moto G has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 (1.2 GHz) quad-core processor, 1 GB RAM, 8 / 16 GB storage memory and comes with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean (upgradable to Android 4.4.2 KitKat).

It has a 4.5 inch IPS LCD display (Corning Gorilla Glass 3) with screen resolution of 720 x 1280 pixels (~326 ppi pixel density).

It has a 5 MP rear camera with 4X digital zoom, slow motion video, burst mode, Auto-HDR, Panorama & 720p video recording. It also has a 1.3 MP front facing camera.

Moto G has a non-removable Li-Ion 2070 mAh battery which gives a solid talk-time of upto 24 hours.

Moto G also has a replaceable back cover (Moto G Shells) which are available in 7 different colors.

With high-end specifications and a low price, Moto G has the best value for money. One cannot buy a better smartphone in this price range. Moto G is truly an Exceptional Phone for an Exceptional Price.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Google Now notifications now in Chrome Beta for Desktop

Google has announced yesterday that Google Now notifications are now integrated into the Chrome beta browser on Mac, Windows, and of course in Chrome OS. This means you will now be able to see your Google Now cards on your Desktop.

Tied to your Google account, the cards offer many of the same features like traffic, stock updates, and sports scores you see on your Android device.


To enable these notifications, simply sign in to Chrome with the same Google Account you’re using for Google Now on Android or iOS. The cards will be delivered through the notification center (little bell icon on the task-bar).

For the time being, this new feature is only available on Chrome beta, the most stable of Chrome’s preview channels, and in English. Google promises it will support other languages soon.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Nokia Lumia 1520 Review

Nokia Lumia 1520 is the latest smartphone in the Nokia's lumia series of smartphones running Windows mobile operating system. It is now the flagship smartphone for Nokia. Find out more about this big smartphone in our in-depth review.


Body

Nokia Lumia 1520 is bigger than the other Lumia smartphones as its boasting a 6" display. It has a matt coating on the back which is a little bit thicker and little bit heavier than some other phones, but you get this unibody enclosure and this entire phone basically has no seems. It looks gorgeous and its great to hold in hand (if you have big hands :p)

Display

Nokia Lumia 1520 is the first 1080p smartphone by Nokia. Its rocking a 1080p Gorilla Glass LTEE display (1920 x 1080 pixels) with a pixel density of about 370 pixels per inch.
The display is very sharp, colors are accurate, has great viewing angles and it looks much better than the display on the Lumia 1020.

Processor & Graphics

Lumia 1520 has a 2.2 Ghz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, Adreno 330 GPU & 2GB RAM which makes the performance of the device ridiculously good. Games runs super smooth, Internet explorer loads up pages really fast and zooming in and out is also very smooth.

Camera

The camera experience on 1520 is every bit as good. It has a 20 MP PureView camera with Carl Zeiss glass and a xenon flash which captures extremely high quality photos. It has a lot of control in taking pictures in all kinds of lighting especially in dim lit areas. The 1080p video recording is also good and is worth mentioning.

Conclusion

Everything about this smartphone is high quality - the speakers are loud and clear, earpiece quality on calls is great, battery life with the massive 3400 mAh battery is really good. It also happens to have this beautiful fit and finish that you expect from the Nokia Lumia build quality.

So, its pretty safe to say that the Lumia 1520 has a nearly flawless hardware and has provided the best Windows Phone experience to date.

 
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