“Apples” in the car: Re-introducing Apple CarPlay

carplaylogo

Earlier this March, Apple finally announced and confirmed CarPlay, which is the long-awaited ‘iOS in the car’ project you possibly heard about. Because the lifespan of a car is so long compared to the life cycle of digital technologies like phones and the software they run, the challenge is to create a smart in-car infotainment system that can stay up to date even as your car ages. And so, the battleground is set for the mobile tech world just maybe this time with an “auto” attached to it.

Carplay1

With the fact that most of the big names in the auto industry already have their own systems, it would be a worthy question to ask about what Apple brings to the deck that makes things different. Obviously the technology is not new; and we’ve already seen several cars natively running Android and offering some level of integration with Android smartphones. “CarPlay has been designed from the ground up to provide drivers with an incredible experience using their iPhone in the car,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of iPhone and iOS Product Marketing. We will take a moment to explore CarPlay thus, giving you what to expect from it.

First, and maybe most importantly, do NOT let the pictures fool you. CarPlay is not an in-car system that runs iOS or iOS apps. It’s a system that integrates your iPhone apps with your car’s digital systems, allowing you to control them and your device an an easier, tech-savvy manner. The idea is that you plug your iPhone into your car via USB, and viola! You can now use the functionality of your iPhone without having to fumble around with it and take your eyes off the road. Take a moment to imagine how safer and more convenient that could be.

Apple_CarPlay_Music

CarPlay aims to empower you to use all your iPhone’s functionality without actually touching it. So that includes playing your music, navigating to the shops, taking phone calls, reading text messages and even watching YouTube videos which you would be able to do from the start. In theory, there are no limits to the interplay. Perhaps you’ll even be able to turn your wipers on and off simply by talking to Siri or unlock your vehicle using your iPhone – but that’s a way off even if it’s possible. And For those who love to play around by “having a conversation with Siri” well, your dreams are as here as technology would possibly have it.

The CarPlay interface takes over the car’s LCD when the phone is plugged in, with all processing running on the device. Much like the iOS interface, CarPlay shows app icons, although in a bigger format. Once upon a time, cars had increasingly featured USB ports that let you plug in an iPod, iPhone, or iPad with its white cable, and control music playback using the car’s own touch screen LCD or dashboard controls. With this integration, you can browse music by artist, album, genre, and track, select something, and play it.

You get to control CarPlay using one of three methods:

  • Siri voice control: just press and hold the voice control button on the steering wheel.
  • Touchscreen: If your CarPlay-equipped vehicle has a touchscreen, you can use it to control CarPlay.
  • CarPlay also works with the knobs, dials, or buttons in the car. If it controls your screen, it controls CarPlay.

Apple’s plans to have third parties building CarPlay compatibility into their apps, making them usable through the system. Apps like Spotify, Podcast, Stitcher and Beats Radio are already confirmed and with access to all their online library features, that long and easy driving entertainment is guaranteed.

Apple-CarPlay-2

No! No!! NO!!! Siri on CarPlay can NOT drive you home. Why? Because it cant! All it can do is give you turn by turn directions with audio cues using the Map app from Apple. You would also like to note that ONLY the iPhones with the lightning connector (iPhone 5, iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s) are compatible with CarPlay so, those with the former 30-pin connector would finally have to consider that upgrade. Also no plans have yet been officially announced for an after-market version of CarPlay; which means that unless you buy a car which has CarPlay compatibility installed (of which there are none in existence at this time), you cannot have it. Cars with CarPlay functionality will be hitting the streets later this year, with models from Ferrari, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Mercedes, Volvo and many other big names in the car industry who are also committed to support the CarPlay platform.

So, with that much said, what do you think about it?

10 + 1 Good reasons why you could consider “jailbreaking” your iPad

ipad-mini-2-1-575x427

Okay, to be honest, the title of this post really should be “why you SHOULD consider jailbreaking” because I am absolutely crazy about Apple and all of the intelligent things their devices can really do when pushed to their limit. Yes, just like you, I have been there once – stating the pessimistic cause that Apple devices are too expensive for what they are worth. But like the soon to be apostle on the road to Damascus, I have truly seen the light; and I am hoping you get to see the light too.

Apple_Logo_GREY

So enough of my fanciful rambling. Apple devices, especially the iPad series, whether you like it or not, are rather expensive. You bought it because you heard so much about it and that it could (according to that advert) “do almost anything.” But later on, you discover that it’s just a luxury toy and that you don’t do too much with it except run a few apps you bought (or got free on the Apple Store), snap photos, surf the web, play Temple Run or Candy Crush and check e-mail. The question that everyone asks is “what can your device do?” and it can be depressing when you boast of an iPad that doesn’t exactly do as much as you say.

Well, many have heard of this somewhat “evil” process called jailbreaking; and in some communities, jailbreaking is actually frowned upon – but this is usually because people do not know what it really means and the fact that jailbreaking voids your warranty with Apple. Let’s save all the technical stuff about jailbreaking for a later post and cut to the chase: jailbreaking actually allows you to do lots of stuff your iPad really could do but wasn’t allowed to (which is why it’s called “jail-break-ing”) and on this post, there are 10 reasons why you could (or should) consider jailbreaking your iPad.

Here we go 🙂

1. Variety is the spice of life

This is as the saying goes; and trust me on this. Doesn’t the grid interface of the iPad, iPhone and Ipod touch just bore you… even just for some time? Well, a jailbroken iPad is spoiled with numerous tweaks and add-ons that could possibly make all of that boredom go away. Winterboard allows you to change key features of the grid interface like its icon layout and color while maintaining its base structure. To mention how many compatible theme packs are available for Winterboard is akin to counting how many fishes there are in The Pacific. Dreamboard takes this concept several steps further by changing the entire layout. Just imagine your iPad looking like a Windows 8 desktop (without the live tiles) or like an Android Galaxy Tab! Do I have your attention now?

Tweaks such as Beekeyboard allow you to bring a whole new keyboard experience featuring customizable shortcuts and add-ons to apps.  Imagine using a keyboard shortcut to open new tabs on Safari… and that is just the beginning! Colorkeyboard is another tweak that even allows you to change the layout of the virtual keyboard. Unlock the fashion sense in you with numerous color combinations of themes and color fixes out there… most for free!

2. App matters

Now, is it possible for me to have Apps for free? Well, even though we at Nijaspecs would always encourage that you support developers and buy your apps (except they are given free), it is VERY possible to have almost any app you want for free. But they MUST be cracked. Don’t worry about iTunes with installing cracked apps; there are other Apple based device managers such as iFunbox, 91 PC Suite for iPhone and iSpirit that can do that for you. It is also possible to just download the app you want and install it live from the iPad without a PC. More details about cracked apps and what to know about them will come on a later post so stay with us.

Furthermore, there is a fun tweak called Password Pilot that helps you save your Apple password so that you would not need to type it once again whenever you want to purchase an app… but be careful about how you use that though.

3. Locked out of a “luxury pad” …you paid for?

Whenever I think about a non-jailbroken iPad, I think about a house that I paid good money for and yet, I do not have the keys to all of its rooms. Having access to a mobile device’s file system is a good way to let the user become able to completely destroy the device; but it also allows you to put and organize your own files EXACTLY where you want to put them. Of course, you should be aware that you should not just go about putting files where they are not meant to be in – but you get the point. Big Boss’ unrivaled wonder jailbreak app called iFile brings to you your complete file explorer service. And when I mean complete, I mean complete: with a built in pdf reader, music player, web viewer, Bluetooth transfer service, file unzipper (including 7-Zip… yes; 7-Zip!), and support for almost every popular filetype. Are we saying that the iPad could now be used like a mobile flash drive? Well… almost a big yes!

IMG_116722

4. Privacy issues and customizable icons

App security on the iPad? Of course! I can choose the apps I don’t want anyone to open and even disable it’s ability to be deleted; DisableLaunch makes this possible. Barrel allows the boring page swipe to become more interesting with new swipe animations. FolderEnhancer also lets you to put folders within folders and yes – add custom folder background and animations.

IMG_1169

5. Media enhancements

Now if you are okay with the fact that you can only place videos on the iPad using iTunes and having to convert them to some weird mp4 format, skip this one. But of course you aren’t! Well, besides apps available such as AV Player and CineXPlayer on the AppStore that allow other formats, there is the infamous ProTube which even allows you to download videos directly from YouTube on demand. Be sure that the missing YouTube app in iOS 6 would not be missed! The best part is that you would also be able to manage the videos with your computer with the help of your file explorer application and iFile. Imagine the possibilities!!

6. E-Mail the way it is meant to be

Take full control of the iPad’s mail app with tweaks like SplitMail which allows the split view enabled on the iPad on portrait mode. There is also Mail Enhancer Pro which takes your native mail app to the next level with customizable signatures, mailbox color coding and believe it or not, have a voiceover that tells you who just sent you mail. But i think what’s coolest is that you are also able to backup and restore your email on Dropbox through this tweak. AnyAttach does just like it says, allows you to attach anything on your iPad as mail; just think about the possibilities with this, especially when you have iFile under your control.

7. Browser extremes: Download manager on an iPad?

Now this is the real killer. What if I told you that you could actually download your local files from anywhere just like you would on a PC and save it to an accessible point on the device? What if I told you that your Safari browser could have a file download manager and upload client? Notwithstanding, there are other browsers like Maven and Mercury which have file download services but the files you get would not be easily obtained or transferred without jailbreaking.

8. Gesture add-ons

SBSettings gives you a quick drop-down menu for a variety of system toggles such as restarting the device without the power button, airplane mode and others. It even acts a a task manager that gives you information about which apps are running so that you could free up memory – just like a task manager for windows. Activator allows you to add more gesture shortcuts on the iPad. Imagine opening your favorite app with a swipe from the extreme left, or triple click the home screen to open Maps or any other app! Emblem puts your Notification Center to mimic that of the OSX (which feels great on the iPad trust me on this), Mountain Center goes further on the OSX lane, by taking your drag from the top Notification Center to the left or the right; whichever you choose – like the OSX. The best thing about it, is you can also choose which gesture should bring it forth. NCSettings is a powerful variant of SBSettings that puts all the settings toggles on the Notification Center so brightness, Wifi, 3G, GPRS/EDGE, Bluetooth, Power options, portrait lock and other options are readily available. A must-have for the iPad.

IMG_1170

9. The issue of what you want; the way you want it.

Tired of the four or five icon Dock at the base of the iPad screen? InfiniDock allows you to put as many as you like; just like OSX! IntelliScreenX supercharges your once boring lockscreen with your Notification Center information. Bridge takes care of the iTunes restriction; never again would you be forced to need iTunes to import your music, ringtones or podcasts. NoNewsIsGoodNews kills the forced and rather unnecessary Newsstand folder. Did you like the BB10 keyboard? well knock yourself out with OctopusKeyboard which brings word predictions as you type on the iPad; and if you think that is crazy, try Swipeselection which even enables you to swipe your text cursor to the exact place you need it whenever you are editing on the iPad. This may sound strange but you should try it; you would probably never go back to the default method.

10. Emulation!

Like you probably already guessed… or know, emulation is possible for the iPad also. So, if there were titles you could not just let go of back in the day, you can get them and play them on your device. From SNES, Gameboy, to even the Sega Genesis; make your favorites always available.

and now, the + 1 reason called Springtomize 2!

If there is a reason why iPads should be respected, Springtomize 2 is it. An absolute essential for jailbroken devices. From lockscreen tweaks to Notification Center customization and icon revamping, Springtomize 2 has got it all covered. The tweak will let you alter the looks of your iPad in any way you want…

…and this is how your iPad would never be the same again.

IMG_1168

With all of these, we cannot help but ask: “what’s your conclusion; jailbreak or not jailbreak?”

And if you are just looking for that awesome, easy-to-follow guide for jailbreaking and all of these cool things, stick with our soon-coming posts on simplified Apple tips and tricks! We are sure to lead you every step of the way… 🙂

The new Nexus 7: A second shot at a good idea?

google-nexus-7-logoAs if the war for what device dominates the 7 inch mini tab form factor was not cruel enough, technology giants Google decided to play another entry with their new Nexus 7, which became available since yesterday, July 30th.

The new Nexus 7 features a raft of improvements over last years Nexus 7; even though they practically look almost the same. First to mention would be that unlike the former Nexus 7, this one comes with the latest update of the Android OS (Jelly Bean 4.3) which of a truth is not that big of a difference really except that you can now have separate customizable spaces, including personal homescreens, wallpapers, apps and storage; which is an appealing idea. So, those whose tablets usually get in the hands of others do not have much to worry about anymore when it comes to people tampering with stuff.  It features a 1.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Processor with an Adreno 300 400Mhz, which in simpler terms means the tablet should run pretty fast. there is also 2GB of RAM, a 5MP rear facing camera, 1.2MP front facing camera, Bluetooth 4.0LE, Wireless charging and a new HDMI slim port. With all of that for just about $30 extra, it is sure that comparing sister Nexus devices would lead to some level of unfairness.

nexus7

Even though the 7 inch screens of both devices are typically same, the new Nexus 7 runs at 323 PPI which is ridiculously sharper than the previous one at 216PPI. This display is one key feature that holds the retina-less iPad mini to question (well, of course until apple decides to release an iPad mini with retina display).  Watching movies on the new Nexus 7 is quite commendable honestly; and your Android OS has never looked crispier on any other tablet. The speaker sound on the new Nexus 7 is also improved, and thanks to its thinner design, it even weighs lighter than the previous. With up to 9 hours of HD video playback and 10 hours of web browsing or e-reading, there’s plenty of juice to get you through the day. And very much unlike the iPad, The new Nexus’ slim and lightweight design makes playing games much less strenuous to the wrists.

A truth remains that the new Google Nexus 7 champions the small tablet market for the meantime. A downside to the device would be that there is no SD card slot but its cheaper price range and crispy sharp HD display would give anyone with an iPad mini a run for his money. Google’s second shot at the Nexus 7 isn’t very groundbreaking in terms of innovation but the price is very inviting to tablet newbies. If you owned the previous Nexus 7, then this is certainly a worthwhile upgrade.

Chromebooks, Chromebox, Chrome OS, “Chromium” and the cloud simplified!

We are sure you must have heard of the word “Chromebook” before.

A Chromebook is not a brand of laptops. So saying you have a laptop called “Chromebook” is not actually correct. It is a special type of personal computer concept (of a somewhat notebook form factor) which runs a Linux ported Operating System called Chrome OS by Google. So, does it run Windows… or maybe Macintosh? Nope! Its a whole new Operating System of its own; and it’s “linux-like.”

google-chrome-OS-logo

Now here comes the most important thing you need to know about Chromebooks running the Chrome OS: The Chrome OS, is specifically designed to support applications that reside on the web and this means that it is designed to be used WHILE CONNECTED TO THE INTERNET! So, if you are the kind of computer user who loves to do things offline, you might want to really consider this. Almost everything operates within the web browser which looks and feels like using Google Chrome on your Windows or Mac. You might as well say it is a cheaper, savvier option for those PC users that are most interested in web activity such as email, social media, online video streaming and cloud based document editing via Google Drive.

As at now, only a handful of IT companies have taken on making Chromebooks: Google was of course the first in 2010 and then others: Samsung, Acer, HP and Lennovo joined in. Hence the specifications of each Chromebook varies in hardware, build and features. Chromebooks, are netbooks (smaller laptops designed for web use) with 11.6″ to 14″ screen size and they are thin, lightweight and easy to carry around. “Chromebox” is the desktop computer equivalent of “Chromebook.”

homepage-promo

The Good…

The first good thing to consider about Chromebooks is that they are rather inexpensive to buy. They are also extremely mobile – beautiful looking ultra-thin computers and a much less cumbersome tool to carry around. Chrome OS is running a Linux kernel; so you would not have to worry about viruses and certain levels of security threats. They come with Solid State Drives (SSD) which make boot times super fast and application management flawless and intuitive. All Chromebooks boast of about 4 hours of battery life; which is a plus (but could be better). Don’t worry about connectivity: most Chromebooks also come with SD memory card slots for your devices, and a DisplayPort ++ which is compatible with HDMI, DVI and VGA cables. For internet, they also have WiFi a/b/g/n connectivity, Ethernet and most come with 3G. All these features make the Chromebooks your cheapest option for relative day-to-day activities such as email and web, as well as for office and business use.

Chrome_OS_R19_Aura

The “Not so” Good…

However, it is worthy to note a couple of things you might also want to consider about Chromebooks. First off is that though they come with fast Solid State hard drive technology, they usually come in with about 16GB worth of space! The Chromebooks are expected to be used over the cloud so it is expected you would be doing much more of your saving online than anywhere else. Only the Acer C7 as at now, has a 320GB hard drive; but guess what? it is NOT Solid state. Next to also note is that they host pretty much only Google apps on it and the Chrome browser, is pretty much everything there is to it. Gmail doesn’t open a dedicated Gmail app, but rather in a new tab in the browser. It’s the same with any Chrome app, including games, with the exception of the downloads and Google Drive file browsers, which have their own windows.

dd931_Screenshot_2013-04-22_at_2.44.31_PM_610x343

ChromeOS is optimized for users who already use Google’s numerous applications. The three quick launch apps on the launchbar are the Chrome Web browser, Gmail and Google+. Within the apps drawer, the Google love continues, with YouTube, Google Calendar, Maps, Drive and more all present. Every installed application ends up in this app drawer, but the default apps are all from Google. Unlike Windows or OS X, these app icons function more like bookmarks rather than independent applications. Instead of opening new windows, each icon opens a new tab in the Chrome browser to the desired Web app. ChromeOS has an app marketplace, where users can download and install a maybe large selection of apps; but nothing really new is there that we have not seen. So, the conclusion on this is rather clear: they are rather useless offline. Did you also know that Chrome OS has NO printer drivers. Yes! None!

There is not much to say about the hardware configurations of Chromebooks. Most of them are Intel Celeron CPUs and at most, the Samsung Exynos 5 Dual. With the exception of a few, most of them run on 2GB DDR3 RAM so, we are hoping you were not even dreaming of running the likes of Call Of Duty or major PC game releases on it.

Acer-C7-Chromebook-logo_original

By now, you probably can picture yourself and a Chromebook by now. It’s pretty much all about the web. One could say that it is a very strong direction suggesting a possible future of computing but whether you are suited for that future depends on your needs. “Though Chrome OS has been dinged in the past for not being a “full-time OS,” Google’s “pace of improvement”…is ambitious,” says CNET reviews and you may not believe it, but currently, the demand for Chromebooks could match up with Windows 8.

Chrome and Chromium?

To set the record straight about a well known confusion, Chromium is an open source development version of Chrome and just like there is a Chrome browser and a Chrome OS, there’s the Chromium browser and Chromium OS! So here is an easy way out of this for you: “Chromium” is the cutting edge, giant testing environment designed for developers with code that is available for anyone to checkout, modify, and build. So Chromium would of course have a few more professional, developer or administrative options to it than Chrome. We would love to go into the specifics about the two but the bottom line is that apart from the consequences of developer options in Chromium, the user experience in both is practically the same! This is why Chrome OS is what you would find installed on your Chromebook – not Chromium (and that includes both the browser and the OS).

Playing on a whole new field: Here is The Nvidia Shield

nvidia-shieldclod
When I encountered the idea of PC gaming coming to a gaming handheld, I thought about all of the possible problems that could come up. Hardware issues would be one and software and memory space could be another. PC games are known to pack more than a punch when it comes to power hardware requirements that affect even power management. How can a handheld possibly deliver exceptional graphical textures and control all of its features in the palm of my hand? Furthermore, not just any PC game – MY PC games – without being just another PlayStation or Nintendo based handheld.

At The CES 2013, Visual computing technology giants Nvidia sought to answer that question with their PC dedicated handheld system called Nvidia Shield which, according to reports, would be available in The United States and Canada by the end of July this year after it was slated for earlier. But is it something indeed to look forward to ?

nvidia-shield

The Nvidia Shield will house a 5 inch, 720p (1280X720 @ 294ppi) multi-touch, retinal display touchscreen attached to a game controller. Honestly, it feels so much like an Xbox 360 controller (just bulkier) with an Nvidia home button and a few other design differences. The screen actually looks good till you place it side by side with a full 1080p screen though. So it should make you wonder why you would want this somewhere around your PC screen which could deliver much crispier images. Then again, having a wireless handheld that runs your PC games could prove convenient on specific occasions. It’s got Android too; so you can play tons of available games for Android from Google Play store which seems cool with the touchscreen and controller. 

nvidia_project_shield-top-open-controls

It will run the Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean mobile operating system with a custom 72-core Nvidia GeForce GPU, a 1.9GHz quad-core cortex A-15 CPU and 2Gb of RAM. So it’s clear that Nvidia did their best to pack a lot into the hardware. All of these translates to  beautiful graphics that should maintain snappy movements and lag-free gameplay for PC favorites such as Borderlands 2, Batman: Arkham City, Resident Evil 6, Metro: Last Light, Dishonored and others.

As at now, not just any game can be streamed to the Nvidia Shield. Only selected games on Steam, the online multiplayer communications platform can be played via PC streaming with 802.11n-2009 2X2 MIMO wireless connectivity. This aims to provide high-bandwidth and ultra-fast wireless for seamless game streaming so, the Nvidia Shields ability to stream games live from your PC is not the possible issue to contend with. The real issue is that there are PC system hardware requirements that must be met before the device can stream from the PC. Nvidia announced these requirements to be:

  • GPU: GeForce GTX 650 or higher desktop GPU (Notebook GPUs are not supported at this time)
  • CPU: Intel Core i3-2100 3.1GHz or AMD Athlon II X4 630 2.8GHz or higher
  • System Memory: 4GB or higher
  • Software: GeForce Experience application and latest GeForce drivers
  • OS: Windows 8 or Windows 7
  • Routers: 802.11a/g router (minimum). 802.11n dual band router (recommended). A list of recommended routers will be provided at launch.

Nvidia will use the H.264 encoder built into GeForce GTX 650 or higher GPU along with special streaming software integrated into an upcoming version of GeForce Experience to stream games from the PC to the gaming handheld over the user’s home Wi-Fi network with ultra-low latency. Gamers will now be able to use the Nvidia Shield as the controller and display for their favorite PC games as well as for Steam Big Picture; enabling gamers to get a GeForce GTX PC gaming experience anywhere in their home Wi-Fi network.

10246-123248-Nvidia-project-Shield

Besides its wireless abilities, the Nvidia Shield will feature mini-HDMI output port, micro-USB 2.0, a MicroSD storage slot and a 3.5mm stereo headphone jack with microphone support. It will also have 16Gb internal flash memory, a 3-Axis gyroscope and accelerometer. It boasts of a rather good battery life lasting for about 20 hours  while streaming.

As a gaming handheld with such abilities, do not expect the game to come for cheap (it’s announced to be at $349) so low end PC users who have not yet met (and don’t exactly plan to meet) the PC system requirements would be buying an Android device with an Xbox lookalike controller for quite a lot of money. Surely, mobility does come with a price but playing the games only in one’s house or around it using a wifi connection is not really the idea of mobility to many. The Nvidia Shield is indeed a daring new entry on a new field and we are more than excited to see how this entry influences technology today.

Selling an “excellent” keyboard: A BlackBerry Q10 Review

nseries_black_front-1

Okay. Here comes a second phone that runs the BlackBerry 10 OS: the BlackBerry Q10.

The BlackBerry Q10 is a sister phone to the BlackBerry z10 released earlier in the year; but there are very obvious differences between the two smartphones. Very much unlike the Z10 which adopted the full touchscreen idea which seemed to be the norm for smartphones these days, there’s no mistaking the fact that the Q10 is a BlackBerry handset.

BlackBerry-Q10-Keyboard

The keyboard says it all, with distinctive rows of keys separated by bands of silver, and the shaping of the keys themselves, giving all the clues you need. BlackBerry has quit on the curved keyboard design of the earlier models to a straight one; possibly to maximize space. The keyboard may seem to the smartphone connoisseur as an overhauled cliche but it is actually commendable… especially compared to the older generations of the BlackBerry handsets. Keys are easy to find under the fingers thanks to their center ridges, and even click a little when pushed. There’s a small nubbin on the D key whose second function is the number 5, helping you find the number keys by feel easily. The design is the first from BlackBerry without a section between screen and keyboard offering shortcut buttons and some sort of screen navigation device. This multi-use is welcome, but it makes the positioning of the Micro-USB port and a Micro-HDMI connector on the left edge of the phone rather irritating.

The BlackBerry Q10 features a dual-core processor running at 1.5GHz and 2GB of RAM which is a suitable entry for this generation of mobile devices. The BlackBerry Q10 supports LTE, HSPA+ and EDGE with its microSIM sitting under the backplate. The backplate provides protection for a MicroSD card, which thankfully you can access without removing the battery. This can be used to augment the 16GB of internal flash storage, some of which is taken up by the OS and preinstalled apps: fresh out of the box, leaving about only 11GB free. The 2,100mAh battery, incidentally, is rated for up to 13.5 hours’ (3G) talk time and up to 14 days on standby. The Q10 supports Near Field Communication (NFC) and GPS and has a full set of sensors — accelerometer, magnetometer, proximity sensor, gyroscope and ambient light sensor.

screen-shot-2013-04-23-at-12-26-55-pm

The BlackBerry Q10’s 720p display pumps out great looking colors and clear images with the help of Super AMOLED technology and a tight pixel density of 328 dpi — but, it’s a 3.1-inch square! While it may look good, even in direct sunlight, what you can do with such a small screen is a different story; and watching a movie would make quite a formidable example. Web surfing is another good example: surfing the web on a BlackBerry Q10 is quite a pain. When using a “business oriented” spreadsheet in Quickoffice or any MS Excel lookalike, you may have to agree that small screens and business software do not fit too well.

rolloverAn interesting feature for corporate users is the new BlackBerry Balance which keeps business apps, services and data separate from the user’s personal information. Anyone interested in speedy text-based communication will appreciate the feature called ‘Type and Go’. This builds on the universal search concept that lets you find apps, map locations, do web searches and more simply by typing on the keyboard then tapping the app or URL icon that appears. As long as you’re on a main screen and not in an app, you can type to make something real happen. Type “SMS Jack” and you can send a text if Jack is in your address book. Even typing “Email My Wife” will do a similar job. The phones main 8-megapixel camera at the back shoots 1080p HD video, while the front facing 2-megapixel camera can handle 720p. Both shoot in 1:1 (square), 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratios, which are easily switchable via on-screen icons.

A big issue BlackBerry users may have is The Blackberry App World’s rather small library of applications and tweaks compared to iOS and Android. So, you don’t get to do too much random stuff with your Blackberry phone. Although being mission specific and business critical does seem like a good approach, it may just end up being boring as a whole when the hype is over. There are a few tasks that the Blackberry Q10 excels at; but these are those that it is designed for such as chatting with your Blackberry contacts, email functions and other “business” needs. It looks good as a Blackberry phone though; so if all you are after is a better BlackBerry then, the BlackBerry Q10 would work for you.  The BlackBerry 10 OS would seem refreshing to almost anyone, and the BlackBerry Q10’s well balanced keyboard should impress; but for just a while… and then later, you might realize that the BlackBerry Q10 remains just another significant entry to the slow evolution of Blackberry phones.

iOS 7: A brand new look

iOS-7-logo

We don’t know if there is anyone like us out there but whenever we update iOS to a new firmware, We have always secretly wished for and ultimately been pissed at the lack an important feature that usually makes things seem new and exciting with software such as operating systems: A COMPLETE VISUAL MAKEOVER!!

ios-7-evolution-1

Microsoft Windows at one time used Windows 95 and then at the release of Windows XP, the new looking interface was a winner. Windows Aero was released with Windows Vista and has been a continued standard even with the newest Metro interface for Windows 8. It is true that functionality and stability are essential, uncompromisable qualities of good operating systems but nobody would complain if a good looking graphical user interface came along with it. Sure! Thanks to jailbreaking, Cydia allows us to make some color (and even complete) theme changes but something new had to come out some time from Apple at least some day-y-y-y! That being said, it’s not like Apple’s iOS actually looks ugly; but maintaining the same general outlook over more than 10 updates and over 5 versions would have to become more or less a tiring rhetoric, a trite expression or well… in plain English… rather boring.

Apple, finally releasing its beta version of iOS7 earlier this month for developers has finally showed us that their new update is none of that. Apple has finally worked at changing just about everything, but like the Windows 8 OS to which iOS 7 is now drawing comparisons, thanks to the bold colors and straight lines, it feels a little too much, too soon. But nevertheless, iOS 7 just for that, is welcome and iOS 7 would be released this fall. From previous experiences, beta versions of Apple software are bound to change a great deal before they get approved for consumer devices. So far so good though; iOS7 has been said to deliver pretty much what we already know about iOS and even more.

There’s a lot of new stuff to love about iOS7. There is now a Control Center which gives you quick access to the controls and apps you have been using. With just a single upward swipe on the screen, the Control Center can also turn toggle Wi-Fi, adjust screen brightness and start a flashlight.

iosctrlcenter

The Multitasking app-switcher has also been completely revamped with new features. There is a new lock screen, a revisited notification Center, a super-charged Siri, a new, easily-accessed quick settings bar, and pretty much every app you can think of has been revamped and stripped down to its essence. There is the new AirDrop which allows near field communication between iOS devices around. Can somebody shout hallelujah to that? You can finally share photos, videos and contacts using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth – but with iOS devices.

ios7airshare

At every level, iOS 7 is a slick revitalization, rejuvenation and resurrection of the core iOS experience. Even Safari gets a brand new look with a refreshed tab view and a unified search field. Safari can also suggest passwords for you but we sincerely wonder how much use that would be. The music and photo apps have also been revisited to make things more exciting and savvy. iOS 7 will not be compatible with iPhone 3gs as expected but will for the newer models inclusive of iPhone 4.

ios cascade newsmall

For those who may have seen a link to download the beta version and cannot wait to have a go at Apple’s latest makeup session would have to be careful. This version of iOS 7 is intended only for installation on development devices registered with Apple’s Developer Program and attempting to install this version of iOS in an unauthorized manner could put your device in an unusable state, which could necessitate an out of warranty repair. And even though there are posts out there that mention a possibility of downgrading to iOS 6, on our opinion, we would recommend you DO NOT do the upgrade till the final version is released; unless you are a part of the Apple Developer Program.

Big gets even bigger: The Samsung Galaxy S4

GALAXY-S-4-Product-Image-12It is no news that the Samsung Galaxy series of smartphones have changed the way we view mobile phone technology today; rivaled only by the Apple iPhone and a few others. Everyone was very content with the revolutionary Galaxy S3 smartphone and with the lasting impressions its predecessors had, everyone would expect the new Samsung Galaxy S4 to be from outta space.

A straight to the point fact is that Samsung did not disappoint with the unveiling of the S4 – a phone boasting specs to further establish Samsung’s dominance of the mobile world. It’s a 5-inch beast, packing a full HD screen, a searingly powerful quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, a host of Samsung software extras, a 13-megapixel camera and 4G LTE connectivity for super fast data speeds.

440x330-samsung-galaxy-s3-controlsScreen & Design

Taking a look at the Samsung Galaxy S4 from the front, you’ll have a tough time telling it apart from the S3. Samsung has a bunch of new sensors scattered around the Galaxy S4’s body, but the general layout of controls is largely unchanged. Below the Screen, we find the typical physical Hardware sandwiched between the capacitive menu and back keys as on the Galaxy S3.

There’s some extra functionality upon a long press too – the Menu key handles Google Now, while the Home key brings up the task switcher. Pressing and holding the back button brings the side bar for the Multi- window feature (if it’s enabled), and if you click the home key twice the Samsung S voice virtual assistant kicks in.

The traditional ambient light and proximity sensors are joined by an IR gesture sensor, which enables the cool Air gestures in applications such as the web browser and music player. There’s also a 2.1 megapixel front-facing camera for video calls and a status LED. The volume rocker is on the left side of the Samsung Galaxy S4, while the power/lock key is on the right. Despite the proper camera upgrade on the Galaxy S4, the new flagship is still missing a dedicated camera key; and though the volume rocker can be used for snapping photos, it can’t quite match a two-stage button.

The top of the Galaxy S4 features the 3.5mm audio jack, the secondary microphone and the IR blaster that allows you to use the smartphone as a remote control for your home appliances. At the bottom, sits the primary mic alongside the microUSB port which is used for both data connections and charging. Not only does it support USB host, The Samsung Galaxy S4 also comes with support for the new MHL 2.0, enabling 3D 1080p output and TV connections without an external power source. The back of the Samsung Galaxy S4 is where the 13 megapixel FullHD- capable camera lens is located. As on the Galaxy S3, the LED flash is right beside it, but the loudspeaker grille has been moved to the bottom left edge of the device

sgs4-white-home

One of the most important updates that the Samsung Galaxy S4 brings is the new 5 inch Super AMOLED screen of 1080p resolution. While it does have a PenTile matrix, the 441 ppi pixel density makes sure you enjoy the screen. Its impressive contrast and almost perfect viewing angles make everything on the screen pop, regardless of your viewpoint. The color saturation is beyond the reach of any LCD out there, which makes even the dullest of images appear remarkably vibrant. For non-fans of the over-saturated look of AMOLEDs, Samsung gives you the option to tune down the saturation to more natural levels and enjoy the best of both worlds. There’s a dedicated Adobe RGB setting that gets this done.

Interface, Software and Apps

The Samsung Galaxy S4 is powered by Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean – the latest release of the Google platform available at the moment – and a laundry list of new TouchWiz features. The Galaxy S4 combines the best of both worlds and while it seems familiar, there’s plenty new below the surface – so much in fact that you’d need a couple of days just to get accustomed to all the phone has to offer:

We start with the lockscreen, which features the new lockscreen widgets introduced with Android 4.2, though Samsung fiddled with them a bit. The default lockscreen shows the time along with a personal message overlaid on beautiful photos pulled from TripAdvisor (with text at the bottom about where the photo was taken). Samsung replaced the water ripples by a lens flare effect, if you prefer, you can switch back to the old one or disable it all together. Another cool feature is the Quick glance option we first saw on the Samsng Galaxy Note 2 which uses the proximity sensor to detect you reaching for the device and lights up the screen that shows the time, missed call and message counters, battery charge and music track info.

At the top is the notification area which offers quick toggles (five or eight in landscape mode) to enable and disable features. There are more than five toggles, you can swipe horizontally to get to the others. Or you can tap the new button that reveals a grid of all the shortcuts, 20 in total. You can rearrange this grid (the top row toggles are always visible). A two finger swipe directly opens the grid of toggles.

The Galaxy S4 comes with the multi-window feature. This allows the use of apps (two apps) side by side on the screen and you can adjust the division line giving one app more space; something similar to the “snap-in” function of Windows 8. Only compatible apps can be used with the multi-window, and that means mostly the ones that come preinstalled on the phone. You can move the small arrow that brings up the drawer with the multi- window apps to make it easier to reach with your thumb. You can also move the whole drawer to the other side of the screen. The settings menu has been redone in the latest TouchWiz version. Instead of a scrollable grid of icons and sections Samsung has went with a tabbed interface. On top you get four tabs – Connection, My device, Accounts and More. you can find relative features in their corresponding place – display, for instance, is in the My Device tab. It makes navigating the settings menu much faster and more intuitive.

With the Galaxy S4 comes a lot of advanced features:
The first is Air View, which debuted on the Galaxy Note 2 and worked with the S Pen. There’s no S Pen on the Galaxy S4, or a need for it because the phone can detect your finger hovering over the screen. This enables information preview, previewing videos just by pointing to a spot in the timeline, moving to the next track in the music player by hovering over the next button (works with previous button too), previewing folders, speed dial contacts, and even magnifying links in web pages. Air view detects fingers 1cm away from the screen. Another set of “air” features are the Air Gestures. Quick Glance is one of them, but there’s more. The rest of the air commands are triggered by waving your hand over the Galaxy S4. Air Gestures turns the S4 into a mini-Kinect. Air Gestures can detect your hand up to 7cm and might prove useful in some situations. The sad part to this feature is that it only supports native apps and third party apps will not work with them (inclusive of Google Chrome that comes preinstalled on the phone). The familiar Smart Stay and Smart Rotate features are enabled too. Smart Scroll is one of the two new features on the Galaxy S4. It allows you to scroll up and down by tilting the phone or by tilting your head. The second new feature is simpler and more useful – Smart Pause. While watching a video, it uses the front- facing camera to track your face and will automatically pause the video when you look away. Look back and the screen and the playback continues.

Camera and Video

If the promise of the Samsung Galaxy S4’s 13-megapixel images doesn’t wow you, Samsung is hoping that its refreshed interface and enhanced features will. Perhaps the face and will automatically pause the video when you look away. Look back and the screen and the playback continues.

If the promise of the Samsung Galaxy S4’s 13-megapixel images doesn’t wow you, Samsung is hoping that its refreshed interface and enhanced features will. Perhaps the most out-there would be the dual-shot mode, which takes photos and video from both the front and rear facing cameras, and combines them into one. The background shows the capture from your main camera, while the foreground — whatever you take from the front-facing camera — lays on top. You
can choose to change the window size and shape on top, say a postcard stamp, an oval, or a simple window. You can also swap camera positions so that rear-facing gives you the inset and the front-facing image forms the background. More new modes include Sound & amp; Shot, which takes a picture and captures up to 9 seconds of audio and Drama Shot, which combines all the actions from a burst shot into a single frame. If someone is jumping, for instance, you see all stages of the leap in one shot. Then there’s Cinema Photo, which lets you animate just one portion of a video and keep the rest static, and Eraser mode, which can erase an unwanted person from a shot. You’ll also find Story Album, which gathers friends into a single photo album. You can add more location-based detail, and you can print any album through self-publishing platform Blurb.

Samsung-Galaxy-S41

Processor, Memory and Battery

The Galaxy S4 features an Exynos 5 Octa 5410 Quad-core 1.6 GHz Cortex-A15 & quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7 processor with a 2GB RAM. It comes in 16GB, 32GB or 64GB storage options (expandable to 64GB via micro SD).

As for battery life, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is packed a large 2,600mAh , but also a larger screen and even more features to compromise performance. Smart Stay and S Voice both drain the battery more quickly.

Conclusion

The Samsung Galaxy S smartphones have always been a dominant force in the smartphone world and with the release of the Galaxy S4, Samsung is here to stay at the top. With such stunning features already discussed, this phone is a beast! Possible downsides of the phone would be its wallet shrinking price, its plastic design and the fact that there’s no FM radio. If you’re interested in a super phone, a strong gaming phone or possibly the ‘best’ android phone there is… the Samsung Galaxy S4 is surely the phone for you!

Read even more at GSMArena

Laughing last, laughing best: Here comes the Xbox One

Xbox-One-logo

Today, Microsoft tears down all of the rumors of the next generation Xbox console called “Xbox One.” It features a brilliant glossy hardware finish that is sleek and catchy. It is geared to take what you love and make it even better.

The ideals of the next generation console is to light up the bare essentials of television and entertainment which are simplicity, instant response and complete immersion. The Xbox One does not fail to produce world class software innovation and interactive applications to make the overall user experience pleasant. Very unlike Sony, Microsoft has gone all the way to blur the lines between a gaming console and a media center and created the all in one box for all of your living room magical needs.

 

xbox one
It is amazing; you talk to the Xbox One to turn it on and control all of its applications with integrated voice commands. Imagine switching between television and game in a second just by saying: “Xbox, play game” or “Xbox, watch television.” The new Kinect is bundled with every Xbox One which gives a new dimension to motion capturing technology and even conference calls on Skype with its 1080p HD Camera. From the start, your Xbox One remembers everything you did last and well, you can snap applications just like on Windows 8 on the Xbox One with full motion based or voice commands! It is stated that it would NOT require an internet connection to function. Seeing is believing right?

It packs quite a handful on the tech specs. 8GB RAM, 8 Core CPU power, 500GB Hard Disk and Blu-ray drive. It also has an 802.11n wireless device with Wi-Fi Direct, USB 3.0 ports and HDMI out.  Microsoft’s Marc Whitten stated clearly that “Variable power states” ensure a “practically silent” operation. The console is engineered to last “well into the future,” which, of course, is an obvious reference to the company’s engineering struggles with the Xbox 360.

Imagine a console with 3 operating systems. One for your gaming on Xbox, a windows kernel and a specific operating system that covers instantaneous switching between multiple running applications. With the newly designed Xbox controller and Xbox Smart Glass technology, users can choose various ways to control their console to provide a truly complete user experience.

Microsoft has partnered with Electronic Arts for new and exclusive innovations to their ongoing sport series, The NFL for custom sporting integration and is planning to host about 15 new exclusive titles for the Xbox One on release later this year. A new, most impressive Call Of Duty is also to be released so we can be sure that it would kick off to a good start.

So there we have it for now on the new Xbox. Rest easy till E3 later on in a couple of weeks.

BKzylEgCIAAzXFf.jpg large

PlayStation 4: When great development leads to greater questions

PS outlook

February 20 2013 was a day like no other in the world of technology; and though its prime significance was centered around building the necessary expectations to usher in another great day in the world of technology, the day did spark off well… some other great things.

Video game consoles are nothing like they used to be. Gone are the days where you bought a console for the sake of gaming. “Buy the game, then the cartridge or CD, insert, power on and play” is old news. Video game consoles have taken on several tasks that give even the non-gamer good reasons to get one. With the fact that they also provide hours of great gaming entertainment for both the kids and the adult minded, owning a video game console has finally become a set standard for modern homes. On February 20 2013, the PlayStation 4 was officially announced with Sony, giving presentations of several good things to come concerning various breakthroughs in video entertainment technology.

The PlayStation 4 was billed to be released by late 2013 so, it would be quite a long wait for many. The wait might be worth it though; Sony’s fourth console entry to the PlayStation brand packs more than a punch in making sure “nothing is between you and the game.” It boasts of an 8 core Accelerated Processing Unit, 8GB GDDR5 RAM and 1.8 teraflops of processing prowess of which, even if you have no idea of what these mean, you just have a hunch that it must be powerful enough to deliver what you are expecting.

Not 16x9 PS4 camera 1-580-100

PlayStation-Controller-Touch-Pad

Coming along is the PlayStation 4 eye which is a newly developed camera system that utilizes two high-sensitivity cameras equipped with wide-angle lenses and 85-degree diagonal angle views. There are also lots of comments about the new PlayStation 4 DualShock controller which comes with an “Option” button that replaces the traditional Start and Select buttons, a three axis gyroscope and touch panel. Will the DualShock 3 be compatible for the PlayStation 4? The answer is most likely a big no.

A number of issues come up whenever you give a closer thought on the anticipated Sony pacesetter. One of these would be backward compatibility. Some people would not find it very palatable spending money on great PlayStation 3 games just to spend even more for PlayStation 4 games which also come on blu-ray discs. A single console that could run pre-owned games would be extremely user cost effective. Having acquired Gaikai, a cloud based service, Sony plans to render older PlayStation games and stream them to the PS4. Cloud based services play a very integral part of the PlayStation 4 concerning games and this could mean that without a good internet connection, you may not even have access to the games you may have bought on the online store. Worse still, you may end up paying again for a game you already own since you can only play older games through the cloud service. Is that really okay?

Whether or not the PlayStation 4 would support blu-ray movies on 4K ultra high HD is still being rumored but having that would certainly do well to promote other offline functions of the console. The relationship between the still young-in-the-market PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 4 is unclear as well – if this remains, and no relationship is established, PS Vita owners might be headed for a level of heartbreak. The PlayStation 4 is estimated to cost about $400 – $600 which seems decent enough for its abilities.

PlayStation-4-user-interface-screenshots-1-1024x606

PS4-GUI_02-27

One other thought that comes to mind is what the future of console gaming would be. The PlayStation 4’s active social media integration involves a SHARE button on the DualShock 4 controller that allows the player to cycle through the last several minutes of gameplay to select a clip appropriate for online sharing. Videos can be uploaded directly from the console, either to websites or other PSN users. Players also have the chance to access their PlayStation online account using a PlayStation app available on the iOS AppStore and Google PlayStore. This App, is also mentioned to even support games as a second screen on compatible tablets and phones.

With all these features, it is sure that Sony has done a rather impressive job in presenting a working entry to this current technology demanding age. But whether it would be the next big thing in gaming compared to its rivals is another question for another post.