Next Lock Screen for Android by Microsoft

Late last month, Microsoft revealed a number of new products from the Microsoft Garage project one of which is the Next Lock Screen for Android .

Next Lock Screen combines an agenda view sourced from your phone’s calendar with a quick launcher system, accessible via a slide-up drawer from the bottom of the screen.  You can change these to fit different “locations” (each of which have different wallpapers), so they adapt to your current situation – At Work, At Home & On The Go

 

microsoft_next_lock_screen_app

Next puts important info—like your upcoming meetings, missed calls, and text messages on your lock screen for instant access. You can swipe notifications away to dismiss them, and swipe down to unlock the screen. Check out the video from Microsoft –

Next is still in its early stages, so it has its limitations—SMS notifications don’t work if you use Hangouts, and  email notifications do not appear on the lock screen. It’s currently not available in India, but a quick Google search should give you the apk! Something to keep your eye on perhaps?

Next Lock Screen
Next Lock Screen
Price: Free

 

Z Launcher by Nokia

Nokia has turned its attention to other projects after their smartphone division was acquired by Microsoft earlier this year, one of which is a new and intuitive Android launcher – the Nokia Z Launcher.

Z launcher is a complete home screen and app drawer replacement with a unique way to quickly access apps and contacts. Z Launcher is currently in pre-beta, but it seems to work quite well, despite the limited features. As is the rage these days, Z Launcher is a predictive app that sees what you’re using and then pushes it to the front.  Z Launcher has a single panel with a clock and upcoming appointment at the top of the screen and a list of contacts and apps below, that changes based on your usage throughout the day. You can draw letters anywhere on the screen to filter your apps and contacts. At the bottom of your screen is a dock with a link to the app drawer and some app icons.

All you custom ROM users, alas, Z launcher is not supported on rooted phones and very kindly tells you so!

Z Launcher rooted phones

You’ll have to actually navigate to the download page on your device to get the APK. If you have an unrooted Nexus 5, Galaxy S5, Galaxy S4 or Galaxy S3, Moto X, HTC One or Sony Xperia Z1, you can give Z Launcher a go!

XOLO Win – the first AMD powered Win 8 certified tablet unveiled at CES 2014

Xolo, the smartphone brand of Indian handset maker Lava, on Wednesday unveiled its first AMD-powered 10.1-inch tablet ‘Xolo Win’ at the CES 2014 in Las Vegas. The company stated earlier in its press release that “The XOLO Win tablet is targeted at youth and working professionals, offering a superior high-definition image rendering with great multitasking and impressive power saving technology.”

The XOLO Win is a 10.1″ tablet running Windows 8, powered by a 1GHz AMD A4 Elite Mobility processor with the AMD Radeon HD 8180G Graphics and 2GB of RAM. The Xolo Win tablet is Windows 8 certified and features a 10.1″ touchscreen with a resolution of 1366×768 pixels. The tablet sports a 2MP rear camera and a 1MP front-facing camera. The Xolo Win comes with 32GB (MMC) inbuilt storage(No word on expandable storage yet). The company claims that the tablet can deliver up to 7 hours of battery life.

Commenting on the announcement, Vishal Sehgal, Co-founder and Director, Lava International Ltd., said, “Providing superior product experience is at the core of Xolo’s proposition to its target customers, hence joining hands with a technology leader like AMD makes perfect sense. With AMD’s unique Accelerated Processing Unit (APU), featuring both a CPU & GPU on a single piece of silicon, we look forward to this strategic partnership to provide the best performance and graphics on mobile devices.”

Managing Director, AMD India, Ravi Swaminathan said, “Xolo Win expands the usage of tablets with its great battery life, solid performance and superior graphics at a price point that redefines the tablet space. We are delighted to be associated with Lava International Limited, as we usher in a new era of mobility.” 

The company said the tablet will be available in stores across India towards the end of this month. However, the price of  the Xolo Win was not announced.

Intex Aqua N2 launched for INR 6,990

Intex Technologies has launched the Aqua N2, the company’s latest smartphone in the Aqua series.

Powered by a 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, the Intex Aqua N2 runs on Android 4.2 and comes with dual SIM support and standby similar to other Intex smartphones. The phone also supports OTA updates and users get free access to 5GB of space with Intex Cloud app. Innovative apps such as Matrabhasha supports 22 regional languages to enables use of smartphone in user’s own mother tongue. The N2 comes loaded with apps like Intex Play, an application that facilitates downloading popular applications and games and Intex movies for unlimited streaming and downloading of latest Bollywood movies free of cost for a month.

Intex Aqua N2 specifications

  • 4.0-inch (800 ×480 pixels) WVGA capacitive touch screen display
  • Dual SIM
  • Android 4.2
  • 1.2 GHz quad-core processor
  • 512MB RAM, 4GB of internal memory, Expandable memory up to 32GB with micro SD
  • 5MP Auto Focus Camera with LED flash
  • 1.3MP front-facing camera
  • 3.5mm audio jack, FM Radio with recording
  • 3G, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth and GPS
  • 1400 mAh battery

 

The Intex Aqua N2 is available in Black & White, and is priced at INR 6,990 and comes with a free flip cover. You can purchase one from the 40,000 plus distributors, reseller outlets, more than 42 INTEX SQUARES (exclusive retail stores), several hypermarkets and leading e-commerce portals across the country

Micromax signs Hugh Jackman as its new ambassador

Micromax signs Hugh Jackman as its new brand ambassador.

Hugh Jackman, who you’ll undoubtedly recognize from his portrayal of Wolverine, makes a brief appearance in the following teaser showing off Micromax’s upcoming flagship, the Canvas Turbo.

I am extremely thrilled and honored to be part of the Micromax family. I am a huge lover of India as it is one of the most exciting countries in the world and we also share our love for cricket. Phones are genuinely time saving devices that can help you live a better life while juggling around with different situations. The new Canvas phone from Micromax is a leap in innovation with great sense of fun and amazing features that helps me balance my work with all the different roles that I play in my everyday life.

Said Hugh Jackman on his association with Micromax

Speaking on the association, Shubhodip Pal, CMO, Micromax said,

We are very excited to welcome Hugh Jackman in the Micromax family as he truly embodies the aspirational, reinventing and fearless persona of the brand Micromax. As we look to expand our footprint across the globe in various international markets, the association with the Hugh Jackman is an ideal partnership for us to connect with audiences as he is the leading name in the entertainment industry in the world.  At Micromax, we have always believed in offering products and services that empower our consumers with the latest technologies and innovations. This is a strategic partnership and we look forward to a creating a strong 360 degrees campaign with Canvas Turbo to bring alive this new experience for our audiences across print, TV and online platforms.

While the specs are not officially out, the Micromax Canvas Turbo  is rumored to be the first phone from the domestic handset manufacturer to sport a full-HD display. The Canvas Turbo is also expected to boast a quad-core processor, 1GB RAM, 32GB inbuilt memory, 13.0-megapixel main camera and is said to come with smart-gesture based features.

There is no official word regarding Canvas Turbo’s release date or price details as such but the Indian market recently witnessed a spree of high-end smartphone launches as a prelude to Diwali so we could expect a launch around then.

image courtesy: http://www.canvasturbo.com/

XOLO Play Tab 7.0 with Nvidia Tegra 3 launched at INR 12,999

Barely a month after it’s entry into the tablet market, Xolo today launched its first Tegra 3 based Android tablet , the Xolo Play Tab 7.0.

The Xolo Play Tab 7.0 features a 7-inch IPS (1280×800 pixel) display and is capable of full-HD video playback. The tablet is powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor along with 1GB of RAM. It runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and is preloaded with Nvidia’s TegraZone for tegra optimised android games. The play tab sports a 2-megapixel front-facing camera with no rear camera. The device comes with 8GB of inbuilt storage with support for a microSD card. Surprisingly, this device does not offer 3G connectivity or voice calling.

Xolo Play Tab 7.0 key specifications

  • 7-inch IPS (1280×800) display
  • 1.2GHz quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 8GB inbuilt storage, microSD card support
  • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
  • 4000mAh battery

 

The Xolo play tab 7.0 is now available in India for a best buy price of Rs 12,999.

Xolo Play Tab 7.0

Google Keep: keeping your notes together

A few days ago, Android Police reported that Google might be releasing a Note taking app called Keep. It “kinda” went live and finally, it’s out. What is it? Think Evernote or Springpad or Catch Notes. Now make it simpler, remove the sorting, add in Google Drive Sync and integration, and you get keep. It looks nice and seems to work well (it better, it’s simple). Right now, it’s available for the web and for Android (Play Store Link). Hopefully, it’ll be available on more platforms soon. I really hope Google launches a Google Tasks app, or integrates Google Tasks with Keep.
There has been quite a bit of backlash on the internet though, mainly because of Google Readers impending demise and people have started questioning how long Google will let Keep run before taking it down.

Here’s the introduction video from Google:

Google Keep - Note Taking App
This is the post from the Official Google Blog:

Every day we all see, hear or think of things we need to remember. Usually we grab a pad of sticky-notes, scribble a reminder and put it on the desk, the fridge or the relevant page of a magazine. Unfortunately, if you’re like me you probably often discover that the desk, fridge or magazine wasn’t such a clever place to leave the note after all…it’s rarely where you need it when you need it.

To solve this problem we’ve created Google Keep. With Keep you can quickly jot ideas down when you think of them and even include checklists and photos to keep track of what’s important to you. Your notes are safely stored in Google Drive and synced to all your devices so you can always have them at hand.

If it’s more convenient to speak than to type that’s fine—Keep transcribes voice memos for you automatically. There’s super-fast search to find what you’re looking for and when you’re finished with a note you can archive or delete it.

Changing priorities isn’t a problem: just open Keep on your Android phone or tablet (there’s a widget so you can have Keep front and center all the time) and drag your notes around to reflect what matters. You can choose the color for each note too.

Pro tip: for adding thoughts quickly without unlocking your device there’s a lock screen widget (on devices running Android 4.2+).

Google Keep is available on Google Play for devices running Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich and above. You can access, edit and create new notes on the web at http://drive.google.com/keep and in the coming weeks you’ll be able to do the same directly from Google Drive.

Google Keep - Notes and Lists
Google Keep - Notes and Lists

 

 

The Internet of Things Consortium announced at CES 2013

The Internet of Things Consortium is a non-profit organization with the mission of facilitating cooperation between hardware, software, and service providers. The IoT Consortium is primarily focused on those Internet enabled devices and related software services that directly touch consumers in the form of home automation, entertainment, and productivity…” says the newly formed website of the Internet of Things Consortium.

Active Mind Technologies, BASIS Science, Coin, Kease, Logitech, MOVL, Ouya, Poly-Control, SmartThings and Ube are members of the newly formed consortium and has just been announced at CES. Apart from Logitech and Kickstarter favorite Ouya, most of the members are lesser known startups.

The infographic below provides a visual representation of the increase in “things” connected to the Internet.

The Internet of Things

image source: Cisco

Qyuki – A new social network for creative minds

Qyuki, a new social media platform promoted by two of the most celebrated creative minds of India, Shekhar Kapur and A.R. Rahman, was  launched last Wednesday.

With telecom giant Cisco as their technology partner and an investor in the company (a first as far as early stage start-ups go according to Cisco’s Head of BD Hilton Romanski ) Qyuki aims to differentiate itself as a social media community built around the desire to create and collaborate, “To provoke, connect and bring out the imagination potential of Indians..” according to Shekhar Kapur via a nine city Telepresence organized by Cisco. Qyuki CEO Poonacha Machaiah said that Qyuki is a platform not just for urban cities but also for Tier-II and Tier-III cities which could be an untapped font of creative talent. Qyuki’s technology platform has been deployed on Cisco’s state-of-the-art datacentre technology.

At first glance Qyuki  appears to be a mash up between pinterest and deviant art with a dash of soundcloud, vimeo and youtube. Qyuki CEO, Poonacha, says the platform aims to give consumers a complete creative journey based on  4C’s –

  • Community
  • Content
  • Collaboration
  • Celebration

Qyuki will be a repository of content created by Experts from various fields who will share exclusive content as well as mentor amateurs on the network.  The website already features works by Shekhar Kapur like Warlord & AnimalOcity and music from A.R. Rahman’s music conservatory project Melange.

Once you’re a member of Qyuki,  you get a profile page where you can showcase your work. Content you post on Qyuki can be either music, video, pictures, or text and can be classified into categories such as short films, animation, scripts etc. Any content you post is owned completely by you, the creator. Qyuki has plans in the future to have a marketplace which will allow content creators to monetize their work. Any content you post on Qyuki is visible for the public to rate and comment on. A new and interesting feature here is the Mood Tag. The mood tag gives members a chance to gauge the emotional pulse of the consumer w.r.t particular piece of content posted on Qyuki and is much more informative and engaging than the old like/dislike type reactions.

Gauge user’s reaction to your work

CEO Poonacha explained how they planned to monetize Qyuki once the platform gained significant traction through advertising and Brand engagement and the marketplace. Qyuki has planned for mobile apps across all major platforms and are due to release an Android app soon which was demoed at the launch.

gMaps for Windows Phone 7 and higher

gMaps for Windows Phone 7 and higher‘Hell no, gMaps‘ is the answer to a question i put to almost every WP7 user I meet – ‘Do you use Bing maps as your primary navigation client?”. (Lets not talk about Nokia Maps and Drive, i’ll cover that in a future post) As I understand it, Bing Maps work great in the US and few other parts of the world but for the rest, gMaps is King!

gMaps is one of the best Windows Phone 7 clients for Google Maps. Published by author Alexey Strakh, this nifty Navigation tool comes in a free, ad supported and a pro/paid, ad free version. The free version is good for all WP7 or higher devices while the pro version is for all devices running WP7.5 or higher.

gMaps is a complete replacement for your Bing maps and comes with a whole bunch of other useful features.  This app delivers the full Google Maps experience, with its pinch-to-zoom, local business search and navigation.

Here’s what you’ll find when you open up gMaps:

  • track me on the bottom left – Tracks and zooms into your current location
  • layers on the top right (A lot of these layers aren’t available in India but work completely fine in other countries)
    • Compass
    • Traffic Layer
    • Transport layer
    • Bicycle layer
    • Weather layer
    • Latitude layer
  • + and – at the bottom right to zoom.
  • a menu bar at the bottom with the following options
    • Search
    • Discover
    • Street View
    • My Places

When you search for a location, you get to see the address of what you searched for as well as directly call them if a number is available. You can choose to get directions for driving, walking, cycling or public transport to your destination. You can add the location you searched for to your favourites for next time or pin it as a live tile for quick access.

Tap the Discover icon on the bottom menu bar to quickly discover local places like cafes, film theatres, supermarkets and more. You can even add a custom view to discover locations of your choice.

With gMaps, you can now share a route to a location with your friends. gMaps takes a screen shot of the route and lets you Email it!

One of the best features of gMaps is the driver mode. In this mode, the current position is centered on the map and rotated to the forward direction which points to the top. This mode prevents you from searching or using any gestures so the driver can stay focused on driving!

Hands down the best navigation app for me by far. The only thing missing is turn-by- turn navigation, which has received quite a number of votes as a must have feature and is a strong contender for a future roll out.

Download gMaps now!

 

 

Driver Mode with Directions
Driver Mode with Directions
Call a Location directly
Call a Location directly
Traffic Layer enabled
Traffic Layer enabled