Archive | July 2013

Praise the lord, WhatsApp users on Windows phone 8!!

Just when I was losing all the faith from Windows phone 8, I got two updates promised to restore the faith back on!

After a week of the much needed update of Facebook, windows phone users got another reason to rejoice! There was literally no day, over a past couple of weeks where I went to google to check as to when the WhatsApp would be getting some decent update on Windows Phone 8 platform! And finally, Today was the day!

As a windows phone user, and a avid whatsapp user, I dreaded the past experience of WhatsApp. I received notifications and messages after half an hour, kept getting the notifications even after I read the messages, no background music as well, slow and seriously not steady performance. It was actually a diasaster!

Seems like now after some time, windows phone is taking the user reviews and complaints seriously. We saw an update to Facebook, which was like a breath of fresh air, as it took the user experience to somewhere close to Android’s or iOS’ facebook. And after months of wait, we got an much needed and long overdue update of WhatsApp.

So what are we getting from the new and a fresh WhatsApp? Well if you’re a windows phone user, you probably would know that WhatsApp relied on audio API to keep the notifications coming and the application running. The outcome was the quick drain of battery ( andfor a lumia 520, that’s just harsh and cruel!). Well finally windows have sorted it and took it to the background notification list. You can go settings and then to the background tasks, and will see WhatsApp there.

The update also brings ‘Fast Resume’, which as the name suggests resumes the application quickly on clicking the oncoming toast notifications. This was much needed as it was quite slow and lagged most of the time previously.

We also got to see the new larger and number of new range of smileys and emoticons brought straight to the regular WhatsApp keyboard. Now users could pin WhatsApp on the start screen as a wide tile, which were only limited to small and medium sizes. With the new update, the incoming or outgoing  pictures are bright and way larger (thank god for that ;)).

The larger images, the new emoticons and now WhatsApp is on background tasks list!

The larger images, the new emoticons and now WhatsApp is on background tasks list!

WhatsApp can now be pinned on the start screen as a wide tile

WhatsApp can now be pinned on the start screen as a wide tile

And last but surely not the least, now the users could voice call from within the app. This was a much needed and a good feature (when you are really pissed off at the other person, and typing the curses just doesn’t work!!)

But there is still one feature which WhatsApp lacks on Windows platform. The feature to send media files like music or videos which are stored in the phone, is still lacking.

I updated WhatsApp on my lumia 520 this morning, and boy was I surprised! Notifications did not come smooth, and ‘fast resume’ was not at all fast and smooth. I received messages after 12-20 minutes after the other person originally sent it. This is not what you promised me Windows! If you would check the user review on the windows store, you would surely find some users who have similar problems regarding the notifications. Faith in windows phone losing in 3,2,1..!!

So it’s safe to say, that the updated WhatsApp is not at all close to the WhatsApp of other OS like Android and  iOS, and it needs some more serious updates, so that Windows get at least one point where they would get close enough to Android or iOS. If you’re a windows phone user, I suggest you don’t need the update! It’s still feels like a beta version of the app and won’t give you anything new to rejoice. The only good thing I got after updating is that now I could listen to music and resume it again, which I couldn’t after using the app for sometime. Thanks windows! Thanks for making me waste 6 MB off my precious data pack

Micromax Launches a 18000 Rs. phone… Is it Bang for the buck??

After creating much noise by their previous flagship product Canvas HD, Micromax today announced it’s much rumored flagship product and an evolution to Canvas HD, the Canvas 4.

Canvas HD which was the only phone with a quad core processor at its time was a huge success. Micromax stated 9000 handsets were sold on the 1st day of its release. That’s something for a Indian cell phone manufacturer.

Micromax wants to recreate the magic and brings the Canvas 4, Canvas HD’s successor.

Micromax Canvas HD

Micromax Canvas HD

Canvas 4 sports a 5-inch display with Corning Gorilla Glass screen. It has a nice display resolution of 1280*720. Micromax has taken the lead as there is no phone which offers this kind of display at this price point for now even though it’s not full HD. It features ultra sensitive touch, so that the users can operate it even while wearing gloves, not that it matters in India.

Micromax Canvas 4 Launch

Micromax Canvas 4 Launch

It has got some decent hardware under its hood. It packs a 1.2 Ghz quad-core processor with 1 GB of ram and 16 GB of internal memory which can be expandable up to 32 GB via micro SD card. Most of the flagship devices usually gives a 64 GB of expandability in terms of memory whereas Canvas 4 lacks that.

On the back it sports a 13 megapixel camera with dual LED flash. Well we all know that numbers are usually half the story. But it supports some good features like vertical panorama mode, continuous shot(99 shots at a time), HD recording and playback with 30 frames per second. On the front it has got a 5 megapixel snapper for a crystal clear video chat(which my phone also have, but on the back!).

The real magic is actually in the software front. There are some pretty cool features which were introduced by Samsung early this year.

The users can video pin. Video pinning a innovation which was introduced in rather old Samsung Galaxy S3 is now on the canvas 4. The user can pin a video onto the screen while working on some different applications.

There is a ‘look away’ feature which was actually introduced by the not so old Samsung Galaxy S4. While watching the video if someone calls you and you look away from the screen, it will automatically pause and will resume when you look back. You can also preview another video whilst watching a video.

The user can also pin a pop up browser on the screen, while working on a different application on the background, and can also resize to a dimension you like!

You have some other smart gestures like proximity answer phone and proximity dial phone. The user can answer a call by holding the phone close to the ears, and also could call a selected contact by doing the same. Pretty gimmicky I say!

No, that wasn’t gimmicky. What’s gimmicky is the “Blow to Unlock Feature”. Yes it is as ridiculous as it sounds. What it does, is that when you bring the phone close to your lips and blow, it unlocks….. Any sane reason for why would a person do that?! I think not! If I have got the phone right in my hand, I would just take my finger and slide to unlock!! Well that sounded iOSish..!!

Yes it is good and yes there is right now no competition for the Canvas 4, but me like every person who was teased by micromax several times expected something more.

There are pros and cons to this phone. While the gesture controls are good although not innovative it gives a breath of fresh air for the user experience. A good camera(on paper) and a good in built memory is helpful but the cons are just many.

The screen is a large 5-incher, which has 720p resolution. Any flagship product of any company sports a full HD 1080p resolution rather than that of Canvas’s partial HD of 720p. Be it the Samsung galaxy S4, the Sony Xperia Z or LG Optimus G pro. It has a low 1 GB ram, rather than the 2 GB ram most flagships offer. All though the Canvas 4 is gesture packed, most of them are gimmicky and well not at all needed. The Canvas 4 has a pretty standard and what I think pretty low 2000 mAh battery. Now, to run a quad core 5-incher  tru-HD phone, should at least have 2500-3000 mAh battery. It also lacks memory expandablility which is limited to 32 GB.

After all said and done, Micromax Canvas 4 although disappointing in hardware, could get the commercial acclaim it is created for as for almost 18000 Rs. you actually are not going to find a cell phone close enough to it. But will the always budget challenged and budget conscious Indian janta pay 18000 rs. for it? We shall have to wait and see.

In the end to every cell phone related post, I usually give some alternatives to it. But today I find it quite hard to find a phone which comes close to the canvas 4.

You could always opt for the Samsung Galaxy Grand Quattro which is quite there in comparison to Canvas 4 for around Rs. 16000-16500.

galaxy-grand-quattro-1

There is the always beautiful, Sony Xperia L which is a good phone for around Rs. 16500-17000.

xperia l

You can go for the LG Optimus 9 for around Rs. 16000-16500 but I don’t know why you would!!.

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But as I said, none of these phones are close enough to the micromax’s offering. And it could possibly be the flagship boost micromax needed..!!

 

Diagon Alley of Harry Potter franchise now on Google Street!!

Harry Potter fans, rejoice. The diagon alley also known as the choomantar gali you saw and always wanted to visit is now open for you(at least virtually). Google Street view, which brings the most amazing places and spots on the earth right on our computer screens, have brought something which I wanted to visit after I read the harry potter books.

Diagon Alley which was introduced first in the J.K. Rowling’s famous teen-adult novel Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, is a alley which harry visited to buy his essentials for the Hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizardry. It is a street which is only open for wizards and witches and is hidden for muggles(yes, you and me, unless you’re a wizard yourself!).

Diagon Alley, as shown in Harry Potter franchise

Diagon Alley, as shown in Harry Potter franchise

The Diagon Alley set, has Gringotts Bank, Ollivander’s Wand shop, Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes joke shop and many other shops can be seen and peeked from outside by the street view.

The Ollivendar's Wand Shop

The Ollivendar’s Wand Shop

The Gringott's bank for Wizards!

The Gringott’s bank for Wizards!

If you also want to experience the magic. Visit this link on google street view and feel the magic!

According to dailymail.co.uk, the diagon alley street view images are part of Google’s wider business project where companies let them take 360-degree photographs of their offices.

This is not the only interesting place you can find on google street view. You can view the infamous(actually famous) Bran Castle of Romania, the home of the Dracula

 

 

The Home of the Dracula,  Bran Castle, Romania.

The Home of the Dracula,
Bran Castle, Romania.

You can view insides of Colosseum of Rome, the amphitheatre, where gladiator meetings were held.

Inside the Colosseum

Inside the Colosseum

One of the most visited places in the world, The Stonehenge.

The Stonehenge

The Stonehenge

And probably the best of all, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

Google Street View is a technology featured in Google Maps and Google Earth that provides panoramic views from positions along many streets in the world. It was launched on May 25, 2007, in several cities in the United States, and has since expanded to include cities and rural areas worldwide. On April 5, 2013, Google street view came to India for the first time In Banglore, but was soon banned..

If movie sets are going to be on google street view. Then the set of the Lord of the Rings and Hogwarts School are the two sets i am waiting to view!!

 

 

 

 

3G on a 2.4inch screen! Seriously Nokia!!!?!!!

Amidst all the glitz and the glamour of their flagships and midrange Lumia series, Nokia unveiled 3 new feature phones, a category for which they have been known for (in India at least!). Say hello to Nokia 207, 208 and 208 dual.

Now we all know that the standard candybar design is on the verge of extinction, due to touch screens and qwertys. So it’s hard to say why Nokia created the old and dying standard candybar design.

Who are these phones for, you ask? Well according to Ian Delaney of Nokia conversations, for many, it will be their first phone with 3G internet, social networks and multimedia. For others, it’s an adaptable workhorse that can act as a second phone when it makes sense to leave your smartphone at home.

The 207, 208 and 208 dual all look quite similar, and have a slight difference. While the 208 has a 1.3 megapixel camera, the 207 lacks a camera, and the 208 Dual, as the name suggests has a dual sim option, with camera.

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All 3 of them have a 2.4 inch QVGA support, with connectivity features like Bluetooth 3.0 with slam sharing and a 1020 mAh battery. Nokia boasts that all of these 3 phones support 3.5G connectivity which will let you browse internet and will let you stream YouTube videos. They also come with preloaded and much needed applications like Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp. Another key feature is that it fits the micro sim cards. So it would be easy to take the sim out from your smartphone and use it on 207 or vice versa. But why would someone possibly want to do that? Moving on. Another thing I would like to point out is that how could a person enjoy using and browsing on a 2.4 inch screen?? Even if a person browses internet and streams youtube video on a small screen, after 15-20 minutes or so his eyes would be all strained up!

All the three smartphones will be available in the bright and the colorful(and girly for me!) Red, Cyan, White and Black colour options.

The colorful(and quite girly colour variants)

The colorful(and quite girly colour variants)

Nokia is going to price this device around $68, before local taxes(around Rs. 4100, excluding taxes).

A sane and budget concerned user would easily opt for Samsung Rex 70, which has a larger 3- inch touch screen display with a better 2 Megapixel camera, with inbuilt apps like facebook & twitter( No WhatsApp) at around 3500-3800.

Samsung Rex 70

Samsung Rex 70

Micromax Bolt A26 with Android 2.3 and 2 mega pixel camera, for around 3500.

Micromax Bolt A26

Micromax Bolt A26

or the Nokia Asha 210, a qwerty dual sim phone, with dedicated WhatsApp key.

Nokia Asha 210

Nokia Asha 210

Apple registers for iWatch!

Apple applies for ‘iWatch’ trademark in Japan!!

Let’s rewind a bit. We all love James Bond his cool gadgets. In the movie ” For your eyes only, Bond had a Seiko Wristwatch which recieved digital message read-out and contained a 2-way radio/transmitter for voice communications. Smartwatches like Sony Smartwatch, Pebble E-Paper watch can do that and much, much more. And now a company which is known for it’s innovations has jumped into creating it’s own masterpiece.

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Reports are coming, that tech giant Apple have registered for the trademark of iWatch in Japan. The filing was made public last week by Bloomberg. Apple apparently is seeking a protection for the name which is categorized as “being for products including a handheld computer or watch device”. Just last week, we talked about another smartwatch “sony smartwatch 2”.

Wearable technologies like Google Glasses, Sony Smartwatch haven’t been able to create huge waves so far. Normal watches itself has lost their existence these days. When asked for time, the person next to you will most probably look at his/her cell phone to tell you time.

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Sony Smartwatch

 

Google's Co-Founder Sergey Brin with Google Glasses

Google’s Co-Founder Sergey Brin with Google Glasses

 

Tim cook, CEO of Apple Inc. at All Things Digital’s annual conference himself stated that

There’s nothing that’s going to convince a kid who has never worn glasses or a band or a watch or whatever to wear one. Or at least I haven’t seen it. So I think there’s lots of things to solve in this space, but it’s an area where it’s ripe for exploration, it’s ripe for us all getting excited about. I think there will be tons of companies playing in this.

Apple's CEO at All Things Digital

Apple’s CEO at All Things Digital

A couple of years ago, wearable technologies were a tech-enthusiasts’ dream, and now that they are emerging one after another, it could be the next “THE” thing.

Samsung has already moved miles ahead in the smartphones and tablets creation if compared to apple. Apple also hasn’t been able give birth new innovations, it was previously famous for. According to rumors, apple has assigned a team of 100 of their best designers & developers who were behind the creation of previous iPhones and iPads.

If apple indeed comes up with “iWatch”, it would help to gain it’s lost ground from likes of Samsung, who have been very aggressive and have plans to create their own Smartwatch, and Microsoft is also brain storming on this area. All of these smartwatch will possibly have the capability to change the way we look at time from our watches. According to me, wearable technologies have still a long way to go, and it’s more of a techie’s dream than a must have accessory.