Saturday 6 September 2014

Moto 360 detailed, goes on sale in US today for $249.99

In addition to the brand new Moto G and Moto G smartphones, Motorola today officially detailed the Moto 360 smartwatch. Although the smartwatch was made official along with Android Wear back in June, not much information about it was available until now.

Featuring a round steel-frame, the Moto G sports a leather strap (metal version arriving later this fall) and includes a 1.56-inch 320x290p backlit LCD. It is powered by TI OMAP 3 processor and runs on Android Wear. All the usual Android Wear features are available in the watch and it can track your fitness information, heart-rate and more.

“Moto 360 is a classically-designed, modern timepiece powered by Android Wear. Comfortable, familiar, and crafted with the finest materials, Moto 360 keeps you up to date without taking you away from the moment. Glance at your wrist to see updates or just speak to get the info you need. Keep track of your steps and know your heart rate thanks to a built-in pedometer and heart rate monitor,” Motorola noted in a blog post.

Like all Android Wear smartwatches, Moto 360 will work with all Android smartphones running on version 4.3 or above.

Pricing and availability

According to Motorola, Moto 360 will go on sale in black leather and a limited edition gray leather in the US today starting at noon EST for $249.99. The company will also release Moto 360 with two metal strap options later this fall for $299.99.

Availability and pricing information for other markets will be shared by the local Motorola units, although we do know that India will get the smartwatch later this month, while it will arrive in UK in early-October.

Motorola unveils Moto Hint, Power Pack Micro accessories

Motorola’s flurry of product announcements today weren’t just limited to the new smartphones and Moto 360 smartwatch, the company also unveiled the new Moto Hint and Power Pack Micro accessories.

Moto Hint is the same accessory, which was earlier teased by the company in the launch event invite. According to Motorola, Moto Hint is a wireless earbud, which allows you to control your phone without bringing it out of your pocket. Once paired, it acts as an extended microphone and speaker for your phone. So, you put in your ear and start saying voice commands.

“Moto Hint is a discreet wireless earbud designed to look good and feel great. It gives you complete control of your phone and allows you to access everything you need by just using your voice,” noted Motorola in a blog post.

The company states Moto Hint is compatible with all Bluetooth-enabled smartphones, however we believe that it will work best with Moto X (201 & 2014) as the phones offer the best voice control for any smartphone available in the market.

It has been priced at a hefty $149.99 and will go on sale later this fall in the US. It is expected to land in other markets around the year-end.

Coming to Power Pack Micro, which is a fancy power bank for your phone. In addition to extra battery juice that it carries, the Power Bank Micro also comes with Motorola Keylink, a phone and key finder which helps locate your phone or keys when they’ve been misplaced.

Set to be available in multiple colour options, it will go on sale later today on in the US for $39.99.

Google details upcoming Android Wear updates

After the recent report, which revealed that Google is planning to issue a few feature updates for Android Wear, the search giant itself has now officially announced the update details.

In a blog post today, Google stated that it will be releasing couple of updates for Android Wear in the coming months but did not give a specific timeline.

“Our goal with Wear is to build technology that helps you connect with others and get stuff done. So often, technology can become something that gets in the way of everything else. But we want to build devices that you can use when you need and forget about when you don’t—technology that’s built for your sake, rather than its own sake. Coming throughout the rest of this year, we’re making some updates to Wear that will help you get even more out of your watch—and the rest of your life, too,” David Singleton, Engineering Director, Android Wear wrote in the blog post.

The first update, which will hit the Android Wear devices in the coming weeks, will bring offline music playback (via Bluetooth headsets) and GPS support, while the second update will add support for downloadable watch-faces. These watches-faces will be available via Google Play.

According to Google, all of the Android Wears devices, including the ones introduced this summer, will be getting the upcoming updates. The company also noted that it is working with device partners to add more such interesting and useful features to the platform.

In related news, Android Police recently reported that the first Android Wear update might arrive on October 15. Although there has been no official confirmation for the same, the scheduled debut of LG G Watch R on October 14 makes the timing quite plausible. If the update is indeed coming on October 15, LG might already be working to integrate in its smartwatch.

Motorola unveils new Moto X with 5.2-inch FHD display

Over a year after Motorola took the wraps of the original Moto X, the company today introduced its successor with the same name at a press event in New Delhi. The new Moto X improves on its predecessor in almost every aspect.

Sporting a curved metal frame, the new Moto X runs on almost-stock version of Android and comes with enhanced voice control, which lets the consumers select custom voice prompt as well as adds several new voice-commands. The company has also included four noise-cancellation mic on the phone for better voice reception in environments with heavy background noise.

Coming to the specifications, the new Moto X features a 5.2-inch full HD IPS display, 2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor, 2GB of RAM and 2300 mAh battery. The phone also comes with 16GB of internal storage (32GB option in Moto Maker), 13MP rear camera and 2MP front shooter. Full specifications are listed later in the report.

On the customisation front, Motorola will give the Moto X (2014) buyers with an option to choose from 25 back finishes including wood and leather backs via Moto Maker.

Availability: New Moto X will go on sale in North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia later this month. It will be priced at $99.99 with the usual two-year contract ($499.99 without contract) in the US.

India Launch: Like other countries, the new Moto X will arrive to India later this month, no word on pricing.

New Moto X (2014) specifications

OS: Android 4.4.4, Kitkat

Processor: 2.5 GHz Snapdragon Qualcomm 801, quad-core CPU, Adreno 330 GPU

Memory: 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage

Display: 5.2-inch FHD (1920x1080p), AMOLED

Cameras: 13MP rear with dual-LED flash, 2MP front

Speakers: Front (bottom)

Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0 LE, Wi-Fi a/g/b/n/ac , 3G, 4G LTE

Size: 140.8×72.4×9.97 mm, 144 grams

Battery: 2300 mAh

New Moto G goes on sale at Flipkart for INR 12,999

As promised, Indian e-retailer Flipkart has started selling the new Moto G smartphone in the country. The phone can now be ordered from the retailer in white or black colour options and carries a price-tag of INR 12,999.

Originally unveiled on Friday, the second-generation Moto G sports a 5-inch display with 1280x720p resolution and Corning Gorilla Glass 3. The phone is powered by 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 quad-core processor and packs 1GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage and microSD card slot.

The new Moto G also includes a microSD card slot capable of housing up to 32GB of external storage and dual-SIM card support. On the connectivity front, Motorola has housed 3G support, Bluetooth 4.0 LE, Wi-Fi b/g/n, GPS and Glonass on the smartphone.

Moto G successor also comes with an 8MP rear camera with LED flash, 2MP front shooter and 2070 mAH battery. The phone runs on Android 4.4.4 and will come pre-loaded with Motorola enhancements like Moto Assist, Moto Migrate, Moto Alert as well as Intelligent Calling.

The company has also made the phone customisable, so like its predecessor, you can pop-in colourful Motorola Shells (Back covers) as per your taste. Motorola will be selling the Moto G shells in Lime, Turquoise, Cherry, Chaulk, Licorice, Violet and Royal Blue colours. These will be priced at INR 800 each. Motorola is also offering official flip covers for the phone for INR 1,700 each in the same colours as the Motorola Shells.

The new smartphone might not pack a whole lot of improvements over the original Moto G but the phone is still a worthy successor to Motorola’s most selling smartphone till date. During my brief usage of the phone during the launch event, I found it to be nicely made and it felt solid in hand. The overall performance was decent and there was no lag during normal usage. I will be detailing my first impressions of the smartphone in a separate report.

As per the import data present on, Flipkart has imported over 140,000 units of the phone. So, you should have no issue in buying the phone, however compared to Black, White units are less.

Launch day offers: For the next 24 hours, everyone who buys the new Moto G buyers will get the following goodies:

Chance to get 100pc cashback via lucky draw
Extra 35 percent discount on shopping via Myntra app
Flats 50 percent discount on Moto G cases and covers
Discounts worth INR 6,000 on shopping via Flipkart
Free pre-selected e-Books worth INR 1,000

Thursday 4 September 2014

Asus ZenWatch is official, priced at €199

After a number of teasers and rumours, Asus on Wednesday unveiled its first Android Wear smartwatch in Berlin. The new Asus ZenWatch sports similar internals to those present in other Android Wear devices but the company seems to have spent quite some time in designing the device as it looks far better than other square smartwatches.

“ZenWatch brings the luxury tradition of fine watchmaking to Android Wear, with an elegant, detail-focused design and use of high-quality materials. It is designed for supreme comfort, with a soft genuine stitched-leather strap and quick-release clasp,” Asus noted in a press release.

Featuring a curved stainless-steel case, the ZenWatch sports 1.63-inch 320x320p AMOLED display with 2.5D Gorilla Glass 3. It also comes with 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 processor, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of storage, and Bluetooth 4.0. The watch also packs a heart-rate sensor and microphone.

Like all Android Wear smartwatches, ZenWatch can monitor and track a range of fitness related data like steps taken, calories burned, activity duration, heart rate, exercise intensity and relaxation level.

On the software front, Asus has included several watch faces as well as smart features on the device. Some of the software customisations include Watch Unlock, Tap Tap, Remote Camera, Cover to Mute, Find My Phone and Presentation Control. As the names of the features suggest, most of them allow the users to control their smartphone with the smartwatch.

According to Asus, ZenWatch will work with all Android smartphones running version 4.3 or above but ZenFone users get select additional feaatures like support for What’s Next and Do It Later apps.

Pricing: The smartwatch will retail for 199 euros, when it goes on sale in late-Q3 or early-Q4.

Google updates Maps for Android with Hindi voice-navigation

Like all Wednesdays, Google has released a couple of app updates today including a small one for Google Maps. This Maps update includes support for turn-by-turn voice navigation in Hindi as well as improved navigation notifications on Android Wear devices.

Talking about Hindi voice navigation support, Android users will now be able to use Hindi as the language of voice-prompts in turn-by-turn navigation. As there is now way to specify the voice-navigation language in the Maps app, you will need to change the language at OS level to avail the feature. To change the language on your Android device, go to Settings >Language and Input (the options can be little different depending on device manufacturer).

This is the latest step in Google’s attempt to make its services available for the Hindi users. Earlier, the company had launched Maps app in Hindi and released support Hindi in Voice Search.

The updated version of Maps will automatically reach your Android device over the coming days.

Among other Google app updates, the company has rolled out an updated version of News and Weather app with bug-fixes.

Samsung introduces Galaxy Note 4 & Note Edge smartphones

Korean smartphone giant Samsung on Wednesday took the wraps off the new Galaxy Note 4 and Note Edge smartphones at a press event in Berlin.  The Note 4 will start rolling out globally next month and will be released in all major markets across the world, while the Note Edge will be available in select markets later this year.

“The Galaxy Note series signaled extraordinary innovation within the technology industry. Its larger screen size and iconic S Pen technology launched a new standard in smartphone culture. With the introduction of the Galaxy Note series, we brought the age-old culture of the pen and notepad into the digital world. The new Galaxy Note 4 introduces the most refined Note experience to-date by combining all the latest technology that users expect from the Galaxy series,” said JK Shin, CEO and Head of IT & Mobile Communication at Samsung Electronics.

Coming to the smartphone specifics, the Galaxy Note 4 sports a Super AMOLED display, however Samsung has included a curved display in Note Edge, which is wrapped over the right-edge of the phone.The display area on the edge can be used for stuff like notifications, weather information, stock tickers, clock, news feeds, quick shortcuts and more.

“The Galaxy Note Edge’s unique curved Edge screen provides quick access to frequently used apps, alerts and device functionality – even when the cover is closed – all with the swipe of a thumb. Users can also receive notifications directly on the Edge Screen while watching videos without disturbing their viewing,” explained Samsung.

Apart from the edge display, the Note Edge is pretty much same as the normal Note 4, which is powered by 2.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 805 processor. The company will be including 1.9GHz octa-core Exynos 5433 processor in Note 4 in select markets. The phone also features 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, microSD card slot and Android 4.4 with TouchWiz UI.

On the design front, Note 4 sports metallic frame like Galaxy Alpha, a faux-leather soft touch back and 2.5D glass screen, all of which comes together to form a pretty decent smartphone. In addition, like all other Note-series devices, Note 4 (and Note Edge) will come with S-Pen stylus, which, the company claims, is most refined version from it till date and includes enhanced fuctionality.

Availability: According to Samsung, Galaxy Note 4 will be released in four colour options – White, Black, Gold and Pink. Note Edge will however come in only two colours – White and Black.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 specifications

Display: 5.7-inch Super AMOLED QHD (2560x1440p)

Processor: 2.7GHz Snapdragon 805 quad-core / 1.9GHz Exynos 5433 octa-core (depends on the region)

Memory: 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, microSD card slot

Battery: 3220 mAh

OS: Android 4.4.4 with TouchWiz UI

Cameras: 16MP rear with optical image stabilisation & LED flash

Connectivity: LTE, 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, IR LED, NFC

Ports: MicroUSB 2.0, 3.5mm audio jack

Size: 153.5×78.6×8.5mm

Others: Heart-rate sensor, fingerprint scanner, UV sensor, barometer

Samsung Galaxy Note Edge specifications

Display: 5.6-inch Super AMOLED QHD+ (2560x1440p on the front & 160px on the side)

Processor: 2.7GHz Snapdragon 805 quad-core

Memory: 3GB of RAM, 32/ 64GB of internal storage, microSD card slot

Battery: 3000 mAh

Cameras: 16MP rear with optical image stabilisation & LED flash, 3.7MP f/1.9 front camera

Connectivity: LTE, 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, IR LED, NFC

Ports: MicroUSB 2.0, 3.5mm audio jack

Size: 151.3×82.4×8.3mm

Others: Heart-rate sensor, fingerprint scanner, UV sensor, barometer

Saturday 19 July 2014

Samsung launches Galaxy S5 4G in India for INR 53,500

As expected, Samsung has announced the launch of the 4G variant of Galaxy S5 smartphone in the Indian market today. Priced at INR 53,500, the smartphone will go on sale in the cities with 4G services beginning July 20. Like the 3G version, 4G Galaxy S5 will also be released in Copper Gold, Charcoal Black and Shimmery White colour options.

“We are excited to introduce our first 4G variant of the Galaxy S5 in India with a powerful processor, stunning display and faster connectivity for an unmatched user experience. We expect the 4G version to catch the imagination of technology enthusiasts and professionals, who demand superior smartphones for their heavy multimedia content consumption,” said Asim Warsi, Vice President – Marketing, Mobile & IT, Samsung India.

According to Samsung, Galaxy S5 4G is powered by 2.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor and supports eight 4G LTE bands. Galaxy S5 also comes with IP67 protection (Dust and Water Resistant), 5.1-inch Super AMOLED full HD display, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, microSD card slot, 16MP rear camera and Android 4.4. In addition, the phone packs a heart-rate sensor, fingerprint reader, front camera and the usual set of connectivity options.

The company has also revealed that it has partnered with Airtel to provide a special data offer to Samsung S5 4G customers. All existing and new Airtel 4G subscribers will get 5GB 4G data/month free for 2 months with every S5 4G.

To remind you, Galaxy S5 4G joins other 4G LTE Android phones like LG G2 4G, XOLO LT900, and LG F70 in the country.

Tuesday 24 June 2014

Voice Search is now ready for India: Google

Google India on Tuesday announced that its voice search feature is now ready for Indian users. While the support is still limited to English language, the voice search will better understand the Indian accents, Google said at a press event in New Delhi.

The company stated that it worked with over 700 volunteers to perfect the voice search for use in the country. “We collected spoken utterances to create the specific language models which power English voice search in the Indian accent. Our volunteers are asked to read popular search queries in a variety of acoustic conditions such as in restaurants, out on busy streets, and inside cars, to best reflect real life and the role Search has in helping connect users with relevant information they need to go about their day,” explained Google.

Android users in the country can now effectively use the voice-search on devices running Android 2.3 or above.  You will however first need to select English (India) as the language of choice in the settings of Google Search app.

According to Google, the improvements are not limited to just understanding the Indian accents but search experience has also been improved in Knowledge Graph results for the country.

“From asking Google where you can watch the latest movie to finding out cricket scores at the touch of a button, Google is there to help you get the answers you need,” said Sandeep Menon, Head of Marketing, Google India.

Nokia X2 is official, 4.3-inch display & dual-core Snapdragon 200 in tow

As expected, Microsoft on Tuesday took the wraps of the new Nokia X2 smartphone. Set to go on sale immediately in select countries, the phone is the company’s answer to low-cost smartphones like Moto E, which have emerged as hot-sellers in developing markets like India.

According to Microsoft, the Nokia X2 will be priced starting 99 euros.

The smartphone features a 4.3-inch WVGA display, 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor, 1GB of RAM and dual-SIM support. The phone runs on Nokia X software platform 2.0, which is based on AOSP Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean). Among other specifications, Microsoft has included 5MP rear camera with LED flash, 0.3MP front shooter, 1800 mAh battery and 3G support on the X2.

As you can see, Nokia X2 improves on quite a few things like bigger battery, present of front camera, newer software and more RAM over its predecessor Nokia X. The company has also included a home button in addition to the back button in the phone.

In terms of the pre-loaded apps, you can expect to find HERE Maps, MixRadio, Skype, and OneDrive with 15GB storage right out of the box in X2. Bing Search app, Yammer and Xbox games, including SnapAttack, Wordament and Kinectimals will be available to users from the Nokia Store.

Microsoft states that Nokia X2 comes in glossy green, orange and black colour options and glossy yellow, white and matt dark grey colours will be coming on a later date.

We are still waiting for information on the India launch of Nokia X2 and will update the post as soon as we hear something.

Google Glass goes on sale in UK for GBP 1000

Over a year after it was initially released to the developers in US, Google’s Glass wearable is now available in UK. It is technically still in beta phase and is being called Explorer edition, so this is not the real mass market release but is meant for the consumers who want to get their hands on Glass before everyone else and have a thousand pounds to spare. That’s right, Google has priced Glass at GBP 1000 in the country, which is more than the $1500 price of the device in US. It can be grabbed from Google Play in UK.

To remind you, Glass features a 640x360p display, which is equivalent to 25-inch high definition screen from eight feet away and comes with an on-board 5MP camera capable of shooting 720p videos recording. Glass will provide audio output using a bone conduction transducer or users can also use the compatible earbuds which are connected to the microUSB port.

In addition, the device supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It also sports 12GB of usable internal storage, which is synced with Google Drive.

In related news, Google’s new DVF collection for Glass has gone on sale in the United States. It can now be grabbed from online fashion retailer Net-a-Porter and Google Glass store for starting $1620. Read more about Glass in the related links below.

XOLO releases Q1000 Opus 2 smartphone in India

XOLO has silently released the successor to its Q1000 Opus smartphone in the Indian market. Dubbed as XOLO Q1000 Opus 2, the phone is currently on sale at for INR 9,199 (MRP: INR 10,499) but we expect expanded availability in the coming days.

The phone features a number of improvements over its predecessor like the use of Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor instead of Broadcom BCM23550 processor as well as upgraded camera and display resolution. The new Opus 2 comes with a 5-inch qHD display, 1.2GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage and microSD card slot. The phone runs on Android 4.3, which is slightly disappointing given the Q1000 Opus has already got the KitKat update and one would expect the successor to come pre-loaded with the latest Android version.

On the imaging front, XOLO has included an 8MP rear camera with LED flash and 2MP front camera on the phone. In addition, the phone packs 2000 mAh battery, dual-SIM support, 3G and the usual set of connectivity options.

The phone is available in Black and White colour options. We expect to see an official announcement sometime this week.

Karbonn launches Titanium S99 smartphone with Android 4.4

Sub-INR 7,000 price-segment has emerged as the biggest draw for the Indian smartphone vendors since the release of Moto E in the country. The smartphone vendor Karbonn has been present in the segment but it has decided to actively go after the segment-favourite Moto E by announcing the launch of Titanium S99 for just INR 5,990.

According to the company, the smartphone sports a 4-inch display and is powered by 1.3GHz quad-core processor. Karbonn Titanium S99 also comes with 512MB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage, microSD card slot and dual-SIM support.  In addition, the handset packs 5MP rear camera, front camera, 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS.

On the software front, the phone runs on Android 4.4 and comes with a number of pre-loaded applications.

“The advantages of using Android OS, 4.4 KitKat are numerous. It takes system performance to a whole new level by offering better memory management. It provides all-in-one solution to user’s communication needs by providing upgraded Hangouts App supported with improved SMS & MMS integration. Hot ‘Ok Google’ feature predicts information based on user’s location, favourite sites and TV programs. The combination of these extraordinary features make KitKat a solid addition to the Android family,” said Shashin Devsare, Executive Director of Karbonn.

The smartphone will go on sale in the coming days and will be available in White and Black colour options.

First Android phones with 64-bit Snapdragon 410 processor appear online

We could soon be graced by the first Android smartphones carrying 64-bit chips. Two phones powered by Qualcomm’s 64-bit Snapdragon 410 processor have been spotted in two different benchmark listings over the last few days.

One of the two phones is from Samsung, SM-G510F, which was sighted on GFXBench website. The website has revealed the key details about the smartphone including the presence of 1.2GHz Snapdragon 410 processor, Adreno 306 GPU and Android 4.4.2. The phone will also come with 4.8-inch qHD display, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage, 8MP rear camera, 5MP front camera, NFC and the usual connectivity options.

The other smartphone is from Huawei, G621, which was spotted by folks at AnTuTu in their benchmark logs. According to AnTuTu, the smartphone runs on Android 4.4 and is powered by 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor and Adreno 306 GPU, same as Samsung SM-G510F. Among other specifications, the phone packs 5-inch HD display, 5MP rear camera, 2MP front camera, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage.

As you can see, both smartphones are mid-range devices, which isn’t surprising given Snapdragon 410 was meant for this price-segment. We expect to see the first high-end 64-bit Android phones by early-next year.

Friday 20 June 2014

Idea launches ID 4000 smartphone for INR 4,999

Indian telecom operator Idea Cellular has announced the launch of a new smartphone in its ID line-up. Dubbed as ID 4000, the smartphone comes with dual-SIM support and will go on sale in 11 telecom circles, where Idea offers 3G services.

As per a press release issued by the company, Idea ID 4000 features a 4-inch HVGA display, 1GHz dual-core processor, 3.2MP rear camera and 3G support. The phone runs on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and packs 512MB of RAM, 512MB of on-board storage, microSD card slot and 1500 mAh battery. There is no front camera on the phone.

“Our strategy of proliferating data services through the sale of affordable 3G smartphones has worked well for us, and hence we will continue to build on our devices portfolio. A large base of Indian consumers want affordable, yet, feature rich smartphones to experience 3G and mobile internet. !d 4000 will address this demand in the market and enable 2G users to upgrade to 3G in our key 3G markets,” said Sashi Shankar, Chief Marketing Officer, Idea Cellular.

Pricing: The smartphone has been priced at INR 4,999 and can be grabbed from Idea stores and major retailers.

Offer: Like other Idea 3G smartphones, ID 4000 buyers will also be getting 1.6GB of 3G data and Idea TV for 3 months with a special recharge of INR 259 (INR 261 for new subscribers).

Google releases Android 4.4.4, factory images & OTA update live

In just over a fortnight of releasing Android 4.4.3, Google has released a minor update in the form of Android 4.4.4. As per reports, the update fixes OpenSSL related vulnerabilities and includes other security related fixes. There are no user-facing changes, so you won’t notice anything.

As you can expect, Nexus devices are the first to get the Android 4.4.4 (KTU84P). Google has already published the factory images and binaries for the Android 4.4.4 firmware of Nexus 5, Nexus 4, Nexus 7 (both), and Nexus 10 on its developer site.

The over-the-air update has also started rolling out for Nexus 5 and we expect it to go live for other Nexus and Google Play edition devices in the coming days.  The Nexus 5 Android 4.4.4 update is just 2.5MB in size and can be downloaded for the manual installation from here, after downloading the update.

Nokia introduces Z Launcher for Android

Nokia’s devices division might have been bought by Microsoft but remaining Nokia is not just sitting idle. Nokia’s newly-spun-off technologies group on Wednesday quietly introduced an Android launcher. Still in pre-beta phases, the new Z Launcher aims to bring the right stuff to the Android users when they need it.

The Z Launcher learns from the consumer usage and automatically surfaces what you might need at any given point.

“As soon as you install and start using Z Launcher, it starts learning what you use throughout the day and automatically surfaces whatever you’re most likely to need at the right moment,” Nokia wrote in a blog post.

The launcher also includes a feature called “Scribble,” which allows the users to draw the first letter of what they are looking for in their phone’s apps or contacts and the launcher shows the results. The users can also add extra letters to further refine the results.

“Scribble is a fast and fun way to find anything on your phone in as little as one second. We’re used to tapping away at our phones to find things – rooting through folders, swiping and scrolling. Scribble makes this easier: Simply draw the first letter of what you’re looking for, right on your screen. Ta da! Z Launcher brings you the right app, contact, or task practically instantaneously,” Nokia explained.

Being an early release, the launcher is only available via its website right now and that too for a limited time. In case, you are not able to get it from its website.

Introducing Z Launcher from Nokia Z Launcher on Vimeo.

Thursday 19 June 2014

Samsung-backed Terrain Home lands in Google Play

Android home-screen replacement apps are a hot property right now and everyone from Facebook to Yahoo is trying their luck by either launching or acquiring related apps. Now a new player has entered the fray in the form of Samsung Accelerator funded Terrain Home.

Available for free in Google Play, Terrain Home launcher is made of four main elements – sidebar, app launcher, search and home-screens, all of which play a key role in the functioning of Terrain.

Starting with Sidebar, which can be accessed by swiping left to right, it houses information or utility cards. These cards can range from quick settings panel, frequently contacted people, weather information, stocks, gallery previews, and news headline to recent apps. You can simple add a card to the sidebar and it will accessible to you with a simple swipe, much like Google Now in Google Now launcher.

Search is another important part of Terrain Home and lets users look through their contacts, apps, settings and even web content.  Home-screen and app launcher (can be accessed by swiping right to left) are pretty straight-forward and are offer similar functionality like most other home-scree replacement apps.

Terrain Home works on any device with Android 4.2 and above. It offered decent experience in our brief usage. If you like customising your phone’s home-screen, you should give it a try.

Reliance Jio to launch 4G services in 2015

Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) spectrum holder Reliance Jio has finally revealed that it will be launching the 4G LTE services in India next year. Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) chairman Mukesh Ambani stated at the annual general meeting of the company that Jio will begin the expanded field trials of the 4G services in August 2014, which will continue until early-2015, following which the LTE services will be rolled-out in a phased manner across the country.

According to Mukesh, initially Jio 4G will be launched in 5000 towns and 215,000 villages but eventually its network will reach over 600,000 villages across the country. To remind you, Reliance Jio is the only service provider with pan-India BWA spectrum.

Ambani did not share any specifics about the 4G roll-out but as per previous reports the company has tied up with various content providers as well as manufacturers to provide content and 4G-enabled devices. Jio is likely to use both FDD-LTE and TDD-LTE technologies to provider 4G services in the country.

Amazon announces Fire Phone

After years of rumours, Amazon’s first smartphone is official. Dubbed as Fire Phone, the phone was unveiled by the e-retail giant at a press event in Seattle, US on Wednesday. It will be released in partnership with US telecom operator AT&T starting $199 with the usual two-year contract.

Apparently in development since 2009, Amazon smartphone is an impressive device with interesting combination of hardware and software.

Talking about the internals first, made of a rubber frame, the Fire Phone sports Gorilla Glass on both front and the back of the smartphone. It features a 4.7-inch HD IPS display and is powered by 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor.  The phone also comes with 2GB of RAM, 13MP rear camera with OIS and a 2.4MP front camera.

According to Amazon, the company has also included a physical camera button, which gives direct access to the camera app (and Firefly feature, more on this later). Among other specifications, the phone packs NFC, 32/ 64GB of on-board storage, 2400 mAh battery, and 4G LTE support.

On the software front, Amazon Fire Phone runs Fire OS 3.5, which is based on Android 4.2.2 but the company is promising to release an update with Android 4.4-based Fire OS in the future. The company has also introduced two new features with Fire Phone – Dynamic Perspective and Firefly – which are an integral part of the Fire Phone experience.

Starting with Dynamic Perspective, which is a USP of Fire Phone, the feature uses the four specialized cameras and four infrared LEDs built on the front of the phone and the included special software to enhance your smartphone experience and provide you with cool little utilities.  The four cameras and IR LEDs track user head movements and shift perspectives depending on a user’s activity. Users can scroll through screens by tilting or swivelling the phone.

“Dynamic Perspective also enables a new class of apps and games that are more immersive, and make it quicker and easier for the user to access information. For example, peek to instantly see close-up front and back views of a dress in the new Amazon Shopping app for Fire. In games like Lili, take on the character’s viewpoint and move your head to look around corners, obstacles, and other objects,” Amazon noted in a press release.

Coming to Firefly, it is a feature that mainly helps you buy stuff. Easily accessible via a physical button, it can identify movies, TV shows, music, household items, books, DVDs and other items. Once recognised, the app will show the related Amazon listings for the products or shows information from IMDB, Wikipedia etc., depending on what it has looked for. Amazon says it can also identify web and email addresses, phone numbers, QR, bar codes, printed text on signs, posters, magazines and business cards and allow you to save important information or act on that information like make a call to a phone number recognised from a business card.

In addition to Dynamic Perspective and Firefly, Amazon has also included Mayday customer support for technical assistance, ASAP for pre-caching of online media, X-Ray for more information about books, movies, songs etc., and Cloud Drive for free unlimited storage for photos.

The company has also stated that Fire Phone comes with full backup support, so Fire customers can automatically back up device settings, notes, bookmarks, messages, and installed applications on the Amazon cloud.

“Fire Phone puts everything you love about Amazon in the palm of your hand—instant access to Amazon’s vast content ecosystem and exclusive features like the Mayday button, ASAP, Second Screen, X-Ray, free unlimited photo storage, and more,” said Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO.

Availability & Offers

Amazon Fire Phone is already on pre-order via Amazon and AT&T websites and will start shipping on July 25. The company is also bundling free subscription to Amazon Prime service for one year. Existing users will get 1-year top-up. The free Prime subscription is a limited period offer.

Wednesday 18 June 2014

Xiaomi India website goes live, launch expected soon

Ahead of the expected debut, the Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has launched its India website. Now live at, the website does not reveal any details but we expect to hear more in the coming weeks.

The India website launch comes just days after the company announced that it has hired Manu Kumar Jain as the General Manager for India operations. There is no confirmation on when the Xiaomi products will go on sale in the country. Some rumours peg Diwali launch but today’s website debut suggests that we could see the release earlier than that.

To remind you, Xiaomi is known for offering smartphones and accessories at an affordable price-tag. It is currently operational in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia, where it retails products like Mi3, RedMi, RedMi 1S and RedMi Note. It is also expected to start its operations in Philippines and Indonesia soon.

Xiaomi will probably use the same sales strategy in India that it follows in the countries like Taiwan and Singapore, where it retails the devices via its own webstore as well as via carrier tie-ups. We could also see it partnering with one of the e-retailers in the country to quicky reach most consumers like Motorola did with Flipkart.

Airtel 4G for smartphones now available in Kolkata

Airtel has finally launched its 4G for smartphones service in Kolkata. It was the first city to get the telecom operator’s 4G service in 2012 but the service was limited to use on USB or Wi-Fi dongles until now.

“Kolkata witnessed the advent of 4G in 2012, and today, we are proud to announce the launch of the much awaited 4G on mobile, empowering residents in the city to upgrade to 4G,” said P.D. Sarma, hub CEO – WBO & NESA, Bharti Airtel (India).

Apart from Kolkata, Airtel also provides 4G for smartphones in Bangalore, Chandigarh, Mohali, Panchkula, Ludhiana, and Jalandhar cities.

Like other cities, the Kolkata consumers will be able to use Airtel 4G for smartphones on Android devices like XOLO LT900, LG G2 4G, and Oppo Find 7a (as well as Apple iPhone 5S and 5C).

To remind you, Airtel uses circuit-switch fallback technology to provide cellular services along with 4G data as it is yet to introduce VoLTE (voice over LTE).

To use 4G on smartphones, head over an Airtel store and get a USIM (4G compatible SIM) and choose from various data plans starting INR 42. More on Airtel 4G services, visit their website.

Micromax Canvas Gold A300 goes on sale in India for INR 23,999

Micromax has quietly started selling the new Canvas Gold smartphone in the Indian market. Now available at for INR 23,999, it is the most expensive phone from the company till date.

For this hefty pricing, you will get a 5.5-inch full HD display, 2GHz octa-core processor (most likely from MediaTek), Android 4.4.2, and 2300 mAh battery. On the imaging front, Micromax has included a 16MP auto-focus rear camera sensor from Sony with LED flash and a 5MP front shooter.

In addition, the Canvas Gold A300 packs dual-SIM support, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and 3G.

While the specifications (apart from the just 2300 mAh battery) are quite decent, we doubt if the consumers will be willing to spend 24K on a Micromax smartphone. Despite being the second biggest smartphone vendor in the country, the company is yet to shed the tag of being a non-premium smartphone maker.

The phone will be competing with the likes of Gionee Elife E7, Huawei Honor 3X G750, Xperia T2 Ultra, and Alcatel One Touch Idol X+ in the country.

We are still waiting for the official launch, which could happen anytime over the coming week.

Tuesday 17 June 2014

Micromax Canvas Win W121 and Win W092 windows powered smartphones launched for under Rs. 10K

Micromax today has unveiled their first Windows 8.1 powered smartphones in India. The Micromax Win W121 is priced at Rs. 9,500 and the Win W092 for Rs. 6,500. These handsets are powered by snapdragon 200 quad core processor and will be available soon.

The Micromax Win W092 is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon quad core processor clocked at 1.2GHz. It sports a 4 inch IPS screen with WVGA resolution (800 x 480 pixels). Win W092 sails on Windows Phone 8.1 OS, supports Dual SIM and is loaded with 1GB RAM, 8GB storage and also comes with micro SD card slot.

The Win W092 is also packed with VGA fixed focus front camera and 5MP rear camera with LED flash. I am not sure if the rear camera is AF or FF. 3G, 2G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS are supported. Micromax Canvas Win W092 houses a 1500 mAh battery and comes with a pretty good price tag of Rs. 6,500.

Micromax Canvas Win W121 comes with slightly better features and with leather back panel. It is a dual SIM and also powered by 1.2GHz quad core processor (qualcomm snapdragon 200 – MSM8212). W121 packs an 8MP AF camera with LED flash and a secondary 2MP camera on the front. It sports a 5 inch IPS screen with 720p resolution.

Key features are 3G, 2G, Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth. There is 1GB RAM, 8GB storage and micro SD card support. W121 also runs on WP 8.1 out of the box. The Micromax Canvas Win W121 comes with 2000 mAh battery and is priced at Rs. 9,500. XOLO is also planning to launch a windows phone, let’s see what they come up with and their price.

Saturday 14 June 2014

Micromax to launch windows powered phone next week

Micromax could soon launch their first windows powered smartphone probably next week on 16th June. There were already news about Micromax and some other brands waiting to launch their windows phone, in fact XOLO had recently launched their first windows tablet – XOLO Win.

Micromax and some other brands have partnered with Microsoft and probably Microsoft may be funding them to some extent. The model name and the specifications have not been disclosed but Micromax will be launching 2 windows powered smartphone. One will be priced at under Rs. 7,000 and the other under Rs. 11,000.

There were also some leaked reports about the Micromax windows 8.1 powered handset with some of its specifications but that is still a rumor. As per the report the handset may come loaded with snapdragon processor running Windows 8.1 with 5 inch screen, 2GB RAM and 16GB storage. Twitter handle Leakster revealed this info but later tweeted that Micromax may launch a snapdragon 800 device and a separate device with different hardware running Windows 8.1.

Celkon Campus A35K is India’s cheapest Android 4.4 smartphone

Smartphones are getting cheaper every day. Just a few hours ago, we reported about Karbonn A50S, which costs just INR 2,799 and now we have a similarly priced Android smartphone from Celkon. The company has released the Android 4.4-powered Campus A35K smartphone in the Indian market. Priced at INR 2,999, it is the country’s cheapest KitKat phone.

According to Celkon, the smartphone features a 3.5-inch qHD display, 1GHz processor, Android 4.4.2 and 1400 mAh battery. It also packs 256MB of RAM, 512MB of on-board storage, microSD card slot and 3G support. In addition, Campus A35K comes with 3.2MP rear camera and VGA front camera.

The smartphone will be exclusivily released on in Blue and White colour options. At the time of wiriting this report, the phone was sold-out at the e-retailer but we expect newer stocks soon.

Overall the specifications of Celkon Campus A35K are quite decent apart from the 256MB of RAM but we will have to see the real-life performance of the smartphone to give a verdict.

  • Celkon Campus A35K specifications
  • SIM support: Dual SIM
  • Size: 119 * 63 * 10.7 mm, 102 gm
  • Display: 3.5-inch 320x480p HVGA
  • Processor: 1GHz single-core
  • Cameras: 3.2MP rear, VGA front
  • Battery: 1400mAH
  • OS: Android 4.4.2
  • Connectivity: 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
  • Memory: 256MB of RAM, 512MB of on-board storage, microSD card slot

Google Now begins suggesting events based on Gmail conversations

Google has decided to make Google Now even smarter by adding calendar event suggestions. The company is currently testing the feature with limited number of users, who are getting event suggestions in Google Now based on their Gmail conversations.

As you can see in the screenshot above, Google Now suggests whether you want to add a particular event to your calendar. If you say yes, it will make a new calendar entry, in which you can select to be notified before the event.

This is particularly useful for folks like me who often forget to make calendar entries and thus end us missing some events.  There is also an option to turn off the feature if you don’t use your device calendar and won’t like unnecessary notifications from Google Now.

There is no word on when the feature will be rolled out to everyone but we expect to see in the coming weeks, probably in time for Google I/O.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4, 10.5 inch with impressive display launched

Samsung Galaxy Tab S with 8.4 inch and 10.5 inch screen with impressive display has been launched. These tablets sport a Super AMOLED screen with WQXGA resolution. Galaxy Tab S also comes loaded with high end features and is expected to be priced from $400 onwards.

The tablets are slim 6.6mm thick and the 8.4 inch Tab S weighs about 294 grams; the 10.5 inch version weight is 466 grams. Both the Galaxy Tab S come loaded with similar feature but with some minor alterations.

The screen size is different 8.4 inches v/s 10.5 inches, however the screen resolution is the same WQXGA i.e. 2560 x 1600 pixels resolution. Touch screen is super AMOLED and offers the same experience as seen on a smaller screen.

Both the Tab S comes with dual cameras. There is 2.1MP front facing camera and 8MP auto focus camera on the rear with LED flash support. The rear 8MP camera can a shoot 1080p videos and can play 2560 x 1440 pixels videos at 30fps. Android KitKat 4.4 runs the show with 3GB on-board RAM. As for the internal storage you can choose from 16 GB / 32GB options. If you feel the space is less, don’t worry, there is a micro SD card slot that can add micro SD cards of up to 128GB.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S will be available in 4G + Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi only versions. And accordingly it will use the 2.3GHz Krait 400 quad core CPU (Snapdragon 800) with LTE (4G) support or Exynos 5 Octa core processor (1.9GHz Cortex A15 + 1.3GHz Cortex A7).

The 8.4 inch Tab S comes with 4900 mAh battery and the 10.5 inch version houses a 7,900 mAh battery. Other common features are Wi-Fi (a/b/g/n/ac), 4G / 3G (depending on model), can be used to make / receive calls, GPS with GLONASS, IrLED and Bluetooth.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and 10.5 versions will be available in July in selected markets in Titanium Bronze and Dazzling White colour options.

Wednesday 11 June 2014

Telangana government to make Hyderabad a Wi-Fi enabled city

The Telangana government Tuesday said several firms were coming forward to provide 4-G technology for making the entire Hyderabad a Wi-Fi enabled city.

Officials have been asked to draft a master plan by engaging international consultants and involving Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority, Hyderabad Metro Water Supply and Sewerage Board, Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation, revenue, electricity, Hyderabad Metro Rail and sports departments, said a government statement.

Minister for Information Technology K. Taraka Rama Rao mooted an institute of innovation for training engineering students to compete with global standards.

He also suggested a separate authority for the Information Technology Investment Region (ITIR) project for creating a hub for electronic hardware manufacturing units.

Harpreet Singh, secretary of the information technology and communications department, has informed Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao that 90 percent of the turnover of the IT sector was coming from Hyderabad, with a total turnover of Rs.62,293 crore.

Hyderabad is the second largest IT exporter in the country. He said there was a lot scope for further development of software and hardware technology sectors in Hyderabad.

Oppo announces N1 Mini and R3 smartphones

Oppo has unveiled its much-awaited N1 Mini smartphone at a press event in China today. The phone is joined by the mid-range Oppo R3, which succeeds the company’s R1 smartphone.

Talking about Oppo N1 Mini first, the phone sports a 5-inch 1280x720p HD display and is powered by 1.6GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor. The phone also packs a 13MP rotating camera, which acts both as a rear camera and a front shooter. In addition, N1 mini comes with 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, 2140 mAh battery, 4G LTE support and the usual connectivity options.

The phone will retail for 2699 yuan ($433) when it goes on sale in China next week in White, Blue and Yellow colour options. There is no word on the global roll-out right now.

Coming to Oppo R3, the smartphone like N1 Mini features a 5-inch HD display and 1.6GHz quad-core Snapdragons 400 CPU. Other specifications are different, which include 1GB of RAM, 8MP rear camera, 5MP front camera2420 mAh battery, 4G LTE support, 8GB of internal storage and microSD card slot.

Oppo R3 will go on sale in China later this month for 2299 yuan ($369) and will be available in Black and White colour options.

VLC to add Chromecast support

A VideoLAN forum post has revealed that the team behind this popular media player app is working to include Chromecast support in its Android, iOS and desktop apps.  The iOS users will be first to get the functionality, followed by Android and then it will arrive for the desktop users, reports Gigaom, which was first to spot the post and had confirmed the same from Videolan developer Felix Paul K├╝hne directly.

Chromecast support on VLC will be a huge win for the media streaming users as it will allow them to easily stream local media files to their HDTVs. Plex already provides similar functionality but it isn’t noob-friendly.

Android users can expect to see cast-support in VLC in the coming months but there is no firm date available at this point.

To remind you, Chromecast is a media streaming dongle from Google, which is currently sold in over 15 countries around the world. It allows the consumers to stream online media content to their HDTVs.