Instant Messaging App n-gage Launched in India

Instant messaging app n-gage launched in India

According to reports, WhatsApp tops the list of instant messaging (IM) apps in India. India accounts for a huge chunk of its about one billion global user base. The reports suggest that mobile chatting apps like Hike, LINE and Viber have grown manifold in the last few years, in line with the burgeoning mobile Internet user vbase and falling data charges.

Similar to rival messaging apps like WhatsApp and Viber, n-gage’s platform allows users to send and receive messages, pictures and videos. In addition, it allows users to send encrypted messages to others (password protected or timed), delete messages after they are sent as well as disable others from taking screenshots of conversations.

The messages can be shared on other platforms as well. However, the receiver can respond only if they have n-gage. The focus right now is on getting users over revenues. The company is also working on bringing in a version for enterprises for employee communication.

Apple Hires VR and 3D Research Expert

Apple hires VR and 3D research expert

Doug Bowman, the Director of the Center for Human-Computer Interaction at Virginia Tech, is now also an Apple employee. His academic research has focused primarily on 3D interface design, though he’s also done work on virtual reality immersion. He was part of the team responsible for designing and studying the Virginia Tech Cube, which served as a VR research vehicle.

At Apple, Bowman joins a growing cadre of virtual and augmented reality experts, following the acqui-hiring of the teams at Faceshift, Metaio, and Emotient

Apple’s investigation and deepening knowledge of VR applications is pretty much mandatory — even if only to understand where competitors like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft are likely to take the technology — though the eventual outcome in terms of Apple products remains hard to decode. Bowman’s experience with creating Minority Report-style 3D interfaces could be deployed in AR car control systems or Apple could be developing its own version of Samsung’s Gear VR headset, only designed with the iPhone in mind.

Microsoft Launches Office Insider for Mac

Microsoft launches Office Insider for Mac

The Office 365 subscribers can now opt into Microsoft Office Insider on their Macs, giving them early access to new features for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook for Mac.

Now, Mac users can also get early access to Office innovations. It’s simple to get started. Just opt-in to the Office Insider build from the Microsoft Auto Update (MAU) tool on your Mac.

To find the Auto Update tool, just open any Office 2016 app on your Mac, then click “Help” in the Menu bar followed by “Check for Updates”. There should be a checkbox for enabling Office Insider. Though the announcement only mentions Office 365 subscribers, my one-off purchase of Office 2016 for Mac also offers the setting.

Samsung Unveils Dual-SIM Galaxy Note5 at ₹51,400

Samsung unveils dual-SIM Galaxy Note5 at ₹51,400

Samsung has finally launched the dual-SIM variant of the Galaxy Note 5 in India. As many of its competitors such as the LG G4 and Sony Xperia Z5 already have their flagship dual-SIM variants on the market. Nevertheless, Samsung has launched the model at Rs. 51,400. Interestingly, this dual-SIM variant was first launched in other Asian countries such as Taiwan, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

Unlike Samsung’s A series, this dual-SIM variant does not come with a Hybrid dual-SIM slot. Both the SIM slots are exclusive to Nano-SIM card usage instead of the secondary SIM slot’s ability to be used as a microSD expansion slot.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 dual-SIM will be available in Black Sapphire, Gold Platinum and Silver Titanium color options. The smartphone is already up for purchase from the official Samsung India eStore, and we assume it to be listed soon on other e-commerce portal and physical stores too.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 comes with a 5.7-inch QHD Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 2560×1440 pixels. It is powered by an Exynos 7420 64-bit octa-core processor clubbed with 4GB of RAM. In the imaging department, the Note 5 features a 16-megapixel f/1.9 rear camera with optical image stabilization (OIS), along with a 5-megapixel front-facing camera.

In terms of connectivity, the device supports 4G LTE, 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC and USB 2.0. It is backed by a 3,000mAh battery with wireless fast charging, and runs Android 5.1 Lollipop out-of-the-box with Touch Wiz UI on top. It is poised to receive Android 6.0 Marshmallow update soon.

App Developed To Hide Location From 3rd Parties

App developed to hide location from 3rd parties

A team of researchers at a US university has developed an app that blocks third parties from identifying an individual’s location based on what they search for online.

An Official from Binghamton University stated that the trend of people using searches and social networks on smartphones which aren’t well-protected is going up. Sometimes people share too much information. This is a way to help provide some security.

“With Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others we provide a huge amount of data to the service providers every day. In particular, we upload personal photos, location information, and daily updates to the internet without any protection. There is a chance for tragedy if that information is used in a bad way, he added”.

Smartphones send gobs of data to servers in the background of local searches, GPS directions or check-ins for foodie apps. If the app developed by the official and his team is developed further, it could help hide that information.

Facebook Is Testing

facebook-testing

Social networking website Facebook is testing an improved in-app browser that would allow users input their own URL, should they want to check another page without leaving the Facebook app.

Besides the aesthetic shift, a new bar on the bottom tells you how popular a post is, includes back and forward buttons, lets you bookmark pages, and has a menu button which likely includes a few more features too.

The only big feature that appears to be missing is tab support, but the new browser is quite close to approximating a full-fledged app. With a good enough browser, the Facebook app could essentially become a self-contained ecosystem of its own.

The browser is only available to a small subset of users (iOS only), but most public test features end up receiving a wider roll-out a few months later.

Google To Allow App Downloads From Its Search

google-app-downloads

Google is testing the ability for Android users to install apps directly from search results. Soon you will be able to bypass the Play Store and install the app you want with a quick Google query.

To trigger this feature, open the Google app on your Android phone and search for an app. Within the Google card, which would normally direct you to the Play Store, you will now see an Install button.

A simple tap of the Install button will have the app installing to your phone, after accepting the mandatory permission pop up you get with all Play Store app downloads.

This may be confusing to some users because, while everyone will now see the Install button, some may still be directed to the Play Store. Not everyone has the option to download apps directly at this time.

Google itself has not responded to requests for comments, but it’s not unusual for the search giant to be seen testing new features in the wild.

As people become increasingly reliant on apps to do things like accomplish tasks, acquire information and shop for new products; Google has to find new ways to keep them coming back to the search engine. Becoming the destination to find and install apps may prove to be a successful way to retain search volume in an app dominated world.

Microsoft To Use Projections In Video Calling

microsoft-projection-video-call

The Microsoft Research team is working on a new concept dubbed Room2Room, a video calling technology that uses Kinect cameras to capture the image of a person in 3D and project it in the other user’s room in its life-size version.

The Redmond-based tech giant uses Kinect depth cameras and digital projectors to capture the image as a part of video call to make the other users feel like they are actually in a conversation with a person in front of them. The captured image is projected in real time on to a piece of furniture to make the conversation look natural. Each person can even see the other party from different viewpoints, according to the researchers.

The Room2Room technology makes use of Microsoft’s RoomAlive, an augmented-reality project that creates a room size version of a gaming arena by using Kinect depth-sensing cameras and digital projectors.

The researchers say that they still need to fix several issues before bringing it to boardrooms or living rooms. In addition, the setup does not produce high-quality images for now.

Apple Recognizes iPhone 6S Battery Percentage Bug, Promises a Fix

iphone-6s-battery

Travelers, have you noticed that your iPhone 6S or iPhone 6S Plus’ battery percentage sometimes doesn’t update when you change time zones, or when you change the time on the device manually?

Well, in a notice on its Support page, Apple has noticed the bug as well, and is offering a temporary fix until it has a permanent solution.

Currently, your best bet is to restart your iPhone, and then go to Settings – General – Date & Time and turn on “Set Automatically.” Apple admits this might not fix the issue permanently, and suggests you should contact Apple Support if your battery percentage gets stuck again.

The interesting thing about this bug is that it’s been around at least since September 2015, when a user complained about it on Apple’s Support forum. In its notice, Apple did not offer a time frame for the fix, merely saying it’s “investigating the cause and a solution.”

Twitter Allows Users To Set Poll Durations

twitter-poll-duration

Twitter has announced that it has updated its polling feature, giving users the ability to customize how long the polls lasted for. By default, they were 24 hours, but now it can be modified to run as short as five minutes or as long as seven days. This comes after the company revealed that more than 1.7 billion votes have been cast since the feature’s inception.

Polling first launched in October on iOS, Android, and the Web as a new way to help people express their opinions. Users created their query from Twitter’s native apps and initially were limited to just two answer choices. Eventually that broadened to include more choices for respondents. As stated earlier, polls would stay open for 24 hours and users were limited to answering only once.

For the first time, Twitter revealed how rapidly its users adopted polling. Since October 2015, there have been 1.7 billion votes cast; based on rough math and using the 320 million monthly active users, this equates to 1.77 votes cast per user per month.

Apple To Start Charging For iTunes Radio

charging-for-itunes-radio

Apple is planning to phase out its free iTunes Radio service on January 28, 2016.

The free, ad-supported radio feature is only available in the U.S. and Australia, according to an Apple spokesperson. iTunes Radio launched in 2013 when Apple debuted iOS 7. It allows users to listen to playlists and stations that are automatically generated — like Pandora (P) and Spotify.

iTunes Radio will now be absorbed into the Apple Music subscription service and will be made available to paying customers in over 100 countries. By charging, Apple (AAPL, Tech30) will be able to offer listeners an ad-free experience. Listeners will also have greater control, such as the ability to skip as many songs as they’d like.

Apple does offer a three-month free trial for those unsure about making the commitment — an individual membership is $9.99 a month. The trial includes iTunes Radio. Beats 1 will now be the only free radio service provided by Apple. Beats 1 is a 24/7 service that features guest hosts, exclusive interviews and music selected by Apple’s DJs.

Microsoft Reveals Details of AR Headset HoloLens

microsoft-hololens

Microsoft revealed a version of Windows that blends holograms with real world video to provide users with an augmented reality version of their environment that blends real objects with virtual, and virtual interface elements, information boxes and guidelines viewable via a wearable headset device.

Windows Holographic provides ways for engineers to see instructions overlaid directly on the objects they’re working on, Microsoft said on stage, or offers a way for architects to survey and present their designs alongside clients even when separated by great distances.

Hologram support in Microsoft’s Windows 10 software is universal, just like their new app infrastructure, which means that you can build once and use everywhere. Microsoft also pointed out that they’re working to help make this compatible with all kinds of emerging hardware on that horizon, including Oculus Rift, and Magic Leap – but they also revealed Microsoft HoloLens, a new in-house headset that will be available “within the Windows 10 timeframe.”

HoloLens is completely wireless, and features see-through lenses, spatial sound and advanced sensors. It’s designed to be a self-contained unit, and it has its own custom CPU and new Holographic Processing Unit (HPU) to work. It doesn’t even require a phone or computer to connect wirelessly to work, and is meant to be completely independent.

New Processors Will Work Only With Windows 10

new-processors-windows10

Microsoft has confirmed that it has made a major change to its support policy which confirms its plans for future updates to its previous operating systems like Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. It’s not going to update previous operating systems for next-generation processors which means that folks with PCs that have next-generation processors from the likes of Intel and AMD will not be able to use any other OS except Windows 10.

There’s an important distinction here that needs to be understood. This policy change doesn’t mean that Microsoft is going to stop support Windows 8.1 and Windows 7. They will continue to receive latest software and security updates from the company, but they won’t be updated to work with newer processors from the aforementioned companies. Even Intel’s current-generation Skylake processors won’t have support for the previous versions.

However, Microsoft will maintain a list of approved Skylake systems for enterprise customers, those systems will have guaranteed support for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 until July 17th, 2017. It’s giving enterprise customers a grace period of 18 months to purchase new hardware before fully moving to Windows 10. After the grace period expires it will only provide them with “the most critical” security updates for the previous versions of Windows.

Twitter’s Stock Price Hits All-Time Low

twitter-stock-price-low

The news comes just days after the new CEO Jack Dorsey announced the firm was exploring the idea of doing away with the 140-character limit to Tweets. Trading on the New York Stock Exchange left Twitter down 1.38 percent for the day yesterday and continued falling after-hours.

Twitter Stock Price 1Traders are obviously not too happy with the move to abandon the 140 characters. Dorsey has also been trying to placate the developers who abandoned the company when it changed its API access several years ago, but the stock price has been falling nevertheless.

One of the main concerns seems to be around how Twitter will attract and maintain new users. Dorsey has stated that “hearts” and “moments” are intended to attract more people to the site/app. Recent figures however show that the firm’s subscriber base hit a plateau in late 2015, although Facebook and Instagram continue to grow strongly. There has also been talk of a potential tech slowdown during 2016, so it may turn out to be a tough year for social media companies in general.

Majority Indians support FB’s Free Basics: TRAI

indian-support-trai

Facebook is calling on Indian users to send an email to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), asking the government agency to support its Free Basics program. The campaign, which shows up when users sign onto the social media platform and includes a pre-filled form so they don’t even have to write an email, has already proven controversial, with opponents saying its message undermines net neutrality in India.

Free Basics, which became available throughout India last month, is a program by Facebook initiative Internet.org to provide basic Internet services, like search, Wikipedia, health information, and weather updates, for free to all users. While it sounds altruistic, Free Basics has the potential to drive reams of traffic to sites from certain providers (including Facebook) at the expense of others, which violates the principles of net neutrality. The TRAI plans to hold a public hearing on net neutrality next month.

India is currently Facebook’s second-biggest market after the U.S., with 130 million users, and many net neutrality advocates believe that its campaign is another example of how the company is misusing its size and influence to form the opinions of Internet users in emerging economies.

New iOS 9.3 Feature Will Make Reading At Night Easier on Your Eyes

ios-read-easier

Apple will soon be making it easier for you to use your devices at night.

The upcoming iOS 9.3 update will include a new feature called “Night Shift” that will change the colors of the light emitted by your iPhone or iPad’s display, based on the time of day.

The feature uses your current location and the clock on your iPhone or iPad to figure out what time the sun sets, and will automatically “shift the colors in your display to the warmer end of the spectrum,” according to Apple.

The idea is very similar to f.lux, a popular Mac and Windows app that changes your display’s lighting based on the time of day. When it starts to get dark outside, the app gradually makes the colors warmer to reduce eye strain. That app has been downloaded more than 15 million times, according to the company.

Despite its popularity, the company hasn’t been able to release an official iOS app because Apple doesn’t allow developers to access those features on the iPhone. The company did briefly find a way around this restriction last year, when it released a version that users of non-jailbroken iPhone could download outside of the App Store.

Soon after it was released, Apple removed the download, saying it violated its Developer Program Agreement.

Studies have shown that using smartphones, tablets and other devices with lit screens before bed can interfere with sleep, but changing the color tone of your display from a harsh, blue-tinged light to a warmer color can, at least, make night time browsing significantly easier on the eyes.

The update has only just been seeded to developers, so it will likely be at least a few weeks before it officially makes its way into iOS. If you really can’t wait to try it out, though, you can get an early when the public beta for iOS 9.3 rolls out — with the usual caveats that beta software can be unstable and shouldn’t be used on a primary device.

Motorola Brand Name To Be Phased Out

Motorola brand name to be phased out

Lenovo, bought Motorola from Google in 2014, has indicated at the CES 2016 that it would phase out Motorola and rebrand it to “Moto by Lenovo”.

Lenovo is unifying its two phone businesses under the Lenovo name. It’s going to use Motorola’s Moto brand for high-end products and its home grown Vibe brand for budget devices. The Motorola name isn’t completely gone. It will live on from a corporate perspective as a division of the Chinese consumer-electronics giant.

The phase-out is notable because Motorola once represented the pinnacle of wireless technology. The company did invent the cell phone, after all. At a point in the mid-2000s, you couldn’t turn your head without seeing the ultrathin Razr flip phone, which came with a “Hello, Moto” ringtone. Older folks will remember the Motorola DynaTAC as one of the first true mobile devices.

But times change. Google bought Motorola’s phone business in 2012 and sold it two years later.

China’s ‘.cn’ becomes world’s largest domain

China's '

With 16.36 million users, China’s internet code domain ‘.cn’ has become the world’s most-widely used national domain overtaking Germany’s ‘.de’ domain, data released by China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC) has revealed. China, with 670 million users, also has the highest number of internet users in the world along with having the world’s second-highest number of websites after the US.

The .cn domain is also world leading in domain resolution service, security and the ratio of benign uses. As China began to require real-name registration in 2009, the .cn domain protects users’ interests and reduce online theft, phishing and fraud, Li said. The domain is not only widely used by Chinese institutions and companies but also by overseas institutions and multi-nationals. It is used by all central and provincial governments in China and most telecom companies and commercial banks. Multi-nationals including Apple Inc., Microsoft, Samsung and Amazon own .cn domain names.

$34 Million in pre-orders for Drones?

$34 Million in pre-orders for Drones

San Francisco-based drone manufacturing start-up Lily Robotics has pulled in orders worth $34 million, equivalent to around 60,000 units, in pre-orders for their upcoming self-driving drones, according to the founder.

After you toss the drone up into the air, you’re free to concentrate on whatever you’d like Lily to record video of you doing, thanks the small circular tracker that you can stow away in your pocket or wear on your wrist. Lily stays in constant communication with that tracker, which, along with some clever machine learning technology, allows the drone to always keep you in the shot even as you move around.

Lily can follow you from behind, zoom ahead of you and capture video while looking backwards at you, film from your side, or even circle your position if you’re looking to capture the entire environment around you.

After you’re done capturing video or snapping a few stills, you can just tap on the tracker to recall Lily to your position, where it will slowly descend into your hand, cutting its propellers upon contact. And because Lily is waterproof, you can even have it take off and land from the water if you’d like.

The drone is capable of following a person or object and recording video using an attached 1080p HD camera as soon as it is tossed up in the air.

1st Project Tango phone

1st Project Tango phone

Google and Lenovo teamed up to announce the first consumer ‘Project Tango’-enabled smartphone on Friday. Two of the tech industry’s biggest players have combined their know-how to answer one of the age old smartphone problems, showing off a 3D mapping technology that could allow for indoor navigation.

A central hindrance for Google Maps is its inability to tell you where you’re going while there is a roof overhead. Google’s Project Tango, a platform first revealed in 2014 that gives a form of computer vision to mobile devices, could solve all that. At the Las Vegas Consumer Electronic Show, Lenovo joined the tech giant to announce they would be producing the first consumer phone with the technology.

Lenovo’s Tango-enabled phone doesn’t just produce an indoor maps app, but can create virtual environments based on your real time physical environment, taking in visual information in much the same way as the human eye (and brain). That data can then be crunched for informational, problem solving or augmented reality functions.