We know how dull and drab most wearables and smartwatches look when we actually wear them. Of course they do provide great features which we would love to use, but at there are times when you’d rather not be caught wearing one of these geeky tech devices.
Here’s an infographic from Samsung showing us how to accessorize and wear their Galaxy Gear range of smartwatches for all occasions. These tips also hold true for most other smartwatches as well, so take a look and get inspired.
In a surprise move, just hours after Google announced the Android Wear devices at the Google IO keynote yesterday, the devices show up on the Indian Editon of Google Play. This is surprising since Google Play devices in the past took a few months after the international launches to hit the Indian market.
Let’s take a closer look at these Android Wearables.
LG G Watch
LG G Watch is currently up for preorder and is priced at Rs. 14,999. Orders start shipping on the 8th of July.
Here are the quick specs of this Android Wear device:
Screen: 1.65” 280 x 280 IPS LCD Display
Dimensions: 37.9 x 46.5 x 9.95mm weighing in at 63 grams
Processor: 1.2 GHz
Memory: 4GB Internal Storage with 512 MB RAM
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy
Sensors: Accelerometer, Compass, Gyroscope
Connectors: USB (pogo pin) on G Watch, Micro USB on Charging Cradle
Battery: 400mAh – which should last a day.
LG G Watch is IP67 water and dust resistant.
The Android Wear smart watches require you to have another Android phone which is 4.3 or up to pair with. If you want to see if your phone is compatible, hit this URL in your mobile browser – g.co/WearCheck
The only downsides I see is that you’ll have to charge the watch everyday, and it uses a proprietary Charging Cradle. Lose it and you’ve got a dead watch till you get a replacement.
Samsung’s Gear Live Watch is not yet up for sale, but the listing shows the price at Rs. 15,999 and that it’s coming soon.
Here’s what the specs of the Samsung Gear Live looks like:
Screen: 1.63” 320 x 320 SuperAMOLED (278 ppi)
Dimensions: 37.9 x 56.4 x 8.9mm weighing in at 59 grams
Processor: 1.2 GHz
Memory: 4GB internal storage with 512 MB RAM
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy
Sensors: Accelerometer, Compass, Gyroscope and Heart rate monitor
Connectors: USB (pogo pin) with Charging Dock
Battery: 300 mAh
Gear Live features a slightly smaller (though higher resolution) screen but has a smaller battery than the LG G Watch. There’s also a Heart Rate Monitor in this which should be useful for fitness tracking enthusiasts.
Google made an initial announcement about their Android Wear platform a couple of months back. Well today, they’ve sent a lot more information about the platform our way.
Google Wear Features
Wear will support square and round screens, and will have low power always-on screens which will transform to a full color display when your hand is raised. These devices will have a selection of watch faces which you can select and use – I’m sure we’ll be able to download more watch faces to customize the watch once developers start churning them out.
Google Wear also pulls notifications from the phone and displays it on the watch screen. The UI for these are in line with the Material Design which was also announced today with Android L. You should be able to swipe up and down through notifications and swipe them off screen to dismiss them. What’s great is that dismissing a notification on the watch also dismisses them on your phone. You can also reject calls from the Google Wear Watch with pre-canned messages.
Wear devices will also be able to respond to voice commands to search, set reminders and more. The Google Wear devices come with sensors for activity tracking for your favorite health and activity tracking apps to tap into.
Yet another feature of Google Wear devices is the ability to navigate through Android TV interfaces straight from the watch using swipe gestures. While there are no Android TV devices on sale yet, they’re expected towards the end of the year.
Google Wear Devices
The LG G watch will come with a 400mAH battery, and like the two other devices announced today, will be dust and waterproof. Not much details have come out regarding the Samsung Gear Live, but it looks like it’ll be a similar spec device like the Samsung Gear 2. The only difference being that the Gear Live should be able to pair with most Android phones (running 4.3 and above), unlike the Gear 2 which works only with a handful of Samsung phones.
The LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live should go on sale on Google Play Store in the next few hours. The much awaited Moto 360, unfortunately, won’t go on sale today. The wait for this drool worthy device will continue for the next two months.
Earlier if an operator didn’t have a licence for operating 3G services for a region, they tied up with an operator which had the required licence in order to provide these services. The government office of TDSAT (Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal) came up about a year back and put up a ban on such tie-ups. This ruling caused operators to abruptly stop providing 3G services where they didn’t have a licence to operate.
Now finally after a prolonged period of rumination, TDSAT has reversed the ban on operator tie-ups for 3G services. Hopefully operators will bring back their old tie-ups and start 3G services soon in most regions. This should bring a boost in 3G penetration in India with this in effect.
Is it a Phone, Is it a Camera – Samsung Galaxy K Zoom?
Samsung unveiled the latest Samsung Galaxy K Zoom, a camera centric smart phone this week. Don’t get us wrong, this is not a slim and sleek mobile phone. The form factor of the Galaxy K Zoom is more like a point and shoot camera with smart phone functionality baked into it.
The camera has a 20.7 megapixel sensor with a retractable lens system. It features Optical Image Stabilizer (OIS) to minimize motion blur due to shaky hands. The Zenon flash on this allows for better nighttime shots. The smart phone side of the device is powered by Android 4.4.2 running on a 1.3Ghz hexa-core processor, 2GB RAM, 8 GB of Internal Storage and a 2430 mAH battery.
Take a look at this video to see what the Galaxy K Zoom has to offer.
It seems like Microsoft has performed a security no-no here with Skype. It looks like they’re storing Archived Messages, Contact Information, and more unencrypted on the device in a local database. It’s also quite easy for a novice programmer to gain a hold of all your Skype conversations and contacts if they access your device or system. So you may want to be careful with your laptops and devices by password or pin protecting access to them to ensure that no one has access to it. Read more about this from Security Affairs
Smash your Phone and get a OnePlus One at $1
The latest entrant into the smart phone race, OnePlus, has launched their latest OnePlus One. A CyanogenMod driven phone runs on a Qualcom Quad-core processor, 3GB RAM and 16 or 64GB onboard storage depending on the variety you get.
The smart phone is powered by a 3100 mAh battery which should go quite a way between recharges. With Global LTE (4G) support, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0 you’re covered by most global networks and accessories. The phone also comes with 3 microphones for active noise cancellation. In the camera section, the One Plus One comes with a 13 Megapixel Sony Exmore camera with Dual LED and a front camera is a 5 megapixel one. The phone can record video in 4K resolution.
As you can see the specs of the One Plus are really good, inline with most flagship phones. What’s amazing is that OnePlus plans on selling the 16GB version for just $299 (approx. Rs.18,000) and the 64GB one for $349 (approx. Rs. 21,000). These are killer prices for a flagship device.
Now, they haven’t started selling these phones yet. You can enter the Oppo Smash the Past Contest where you send them a video of you smashing your current smart phone and win a chance of buying a OnePlus One at $1 and 3 invites to buy the phone, which you can give your friends. Check the contest and contest details over at: oneplus.net/smash. It’s not any old smart phone they want you to smashup, but the latest line of flagship phones from other manufacturers!
If you’re not yet ready to smash your current phone to buy a OnePlus One, the company says that you may have to wait till June to get your hands on one.
It looks like Samsung is launching their latest flagship, the Galaxy S5, in India on Thursday (the 27th of March) at an approximate price point of Rs. 45,000-50,000.
In the looks department, nothing much has changed from the S4 days. In fact, if you look at the front profile, it looks almost the same. Samsung has changed the back of the phone. It now features a dimpled design which presents itself at the back.
The S5 comes with a slightly bigger screen that the Galaxy S4, by slightly, I mean around 0.1mm more. The screen is a 1080p AMOLED display. It’s powered by a quad-core processor and 2GB RAM, so Samsung has given up on Octa-core processors for now. The phone comes in a 16GB and 32GB variants, but we’re not sure if both will be available at launch.
The Galaxy S5’s camera system features a 16 Megapixel rear camera capable of capturing 4K video, and a auto-focus speed of 0.3 seconds, which they claim is the fastest. It also has a 2 Megapixel front shooter.
Samsung has further added a fingerprint scanner on the S5, so now Android users don’t have to envy the iPhone specs anymore. It also features a heart rate monitor which uses a sensor near the rear camera’s flash and health and fitness tracking apps bundled with the phone.
In the battery department, again the S5 comes with a slightly higher capacity than the older S4 at 2800mAh. This aside, Samsung promises 21 hours of talk time and around 16 hours of standby time. It also features with an Ultra Power Saving mode which they claim doubles battery life if you’re running low on charge.
The Galaxy S5 is also dust proof and waterproof and is IP67 certified. This doesn’t mean that you can take this phone for a swim yet. It just means that it is totally protected against dust and against the effect of temporary immersion in liquids in depths between 15cm and 1 meter.
The Samsung Galaxy Note, when it was first announced back in late 2011, was pretty much mocked by the Tech Press in general. Surprisingly, it did reasonably well. Well enough, that when the Note 2 was launched in 2012, the Tech Press actually paid more attention to the device. There’s something about a phone with a massive screen (what most would call a Phablet) that is close to carrying a small screened tablet, in your pocket. You can add in all the “Gimmicks” that Samsung has chucked in there, including the S Pen, and some of it actually turns out to be useful. Samsung’s new Note 3 went on sale a couple of months ago and both Vinu and I have been using it since then. How has it held up? Was it worth the money spent on it (and it was quite a bit)? Let’s find out.
Before we actually get to the device, here’s the background regarding the devices we both came from just before this. I had a Galaxy S4, the Exynos Version, (and a BB 8520 for work), and a Nexus 4 before that. Vinu had a Nexus 4, an iPhone 4S and the Lumia 1020 (and the 920). I currently use the Note 3 and an iPhone 5S everyday (with the iPhone having replaced my work Blackberry) and Vinu uses the Note 3 along with the Lumia 1020 and now has a Oppo N1 CyanogenMod edition also. We’re going to try and talk about what it was like to use everyday, in light of the devices we have, and our different use cases. So, this is more of a report of how the device has been after using it for an extended period of time.
Specs of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3
Having said that, here’s the specs:
Display: 5.7” Super AMOLED 1080p
Connectivity: Quad Band GSM (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz), HSPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz) (For the N900 variant. The N9005, aka the one running the Snapdragon 800 also has LTE support.), WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (Dual Band), Bluetooth 4.0, USB 3.0 (with a weird plug), IR Blaster
Imaging: 13 MP Primary Camera, 2 MP Front Facing camera. 1080p (30 & 60 fps recording) (with 4k aka 2160p on the N9005), Slo Mo Video (just like on the Galaxy S4)
Storage: 3 GB RAM, 32 GB storage, expandable with a Micro-SD card
SOC: Exynos 5420 (aka the Exynos 5 Octa) for the N900. (the N9005 uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800)
OS/Platform: Android 4.3 (with 4.4 rolling out for the N9005/N900 as we wrote this)
The Software Experience
New Touchwiz – The Touchwiz on the Note 3 is a huge improvement over the previous versions, but for the Google purists, Samsung still lacks. There’s no quick access button for Google Now, and you have to perform multiple clicks to access this feature. On the S4, long pressing the menu button anywhere brought up Google Search (if you weren’t in an app) or the search menu within the app you were using. On the Note 3, this brings up Samsungs S – finder, which, to put it mildly, is absolutely useless. Frankly, I preferred the earlier implementation as in the S4 over the soft key pull up action as in the nexus series, because this lets you bring up in app search apart from google search. The search hot key brings up Samsung’s S Voice, which is not the best of breeds compared to Google’s Voice Search. How does it compare to “Google’s Vision”? – Touchwiz is far far far away from “stock” Android and the “Google vision” of what Android must be (take the Nexus 5 and it’s Google Experience launcher as an example). The colours, the menu layout which is tabbed (it even has a search option to find settings!), the toggles. But there are some redeeming features, some of which are now part of stock android. For example: the transparent status bar was a Samsung/HTC introduction, which third party launchers took advantage of, and now Google has added it as a feature on Kitkat. The ability to swipe down from the top in full screen apps to reveal the status bar is another TouchWiz feature that Google has added in Kitkat. The camera application is way better and more feature rich when compared to the stock android camera app. It’s an acquired taste and this is very much a YMMV (your mileage may vary) thing. You either like it or you don’t.
S Pen and Features:
Pen Window – A nice idea, that isn’t really well implemented. You basically have floating apps, of whatever size you want. But there’s a limited number of supported apps and I wish that they didn’t actually take the size and shape that you draw, but rather retained the aspect ratio of the app and sized to within an acceptable tolerance of the drawn window size. Action Memo – This was one of the features that was actually useful. Pull the S Pen out, tap on Action Memo and quickly jot down a note. For me, having just moved to a new country, it was really useful while hunting for apartments, asking people for places to buy things and so on. Small things that I would have never put on Evernote, but might have written down on a notepad, if I ever carried one. Scrapbooker – Like Action Memo, I actually used this to put together stuff while apartment hunting – Maps Data, Written notes, Web Pages with important rules and tenancy laws, etc, and then combined them later into S Notes (which can be set to sync to Evernote). Handwriting Recognition – The Note 3 also comes with Samsung’s Handwriting recognition keyboard, which is a novelty feature, since not many would pull out the stylus and write up stuff on screen instead of typing. That said, I do agree that Samsung’s handwriting recognition works really well, it detects even cursive writing and no you don’t have to change your writing habits to get this to work – works well 90% of the times.
Other Perks that came with the Note 3 included (this may vary by region though):
Free Evernote Premium, integrated with S Notes
Free Dropbox 50 GB
Other Samsung Applications – There’s a boat load of Samsung applications preinstalled, but not all of it is bloatware. The only app that I appreciate is S-Health, which I use as a pedometer and also to track my weight, etc. You can connect it to a few peripherals and can also track your diet (although the diet portion is a pain to enter and manage, and I have more or less stopped using it).
Display – The 5.7 inch AMOLED display is pretty good, with really wide viewing angles and pretty decent outdoor readability. You also have to option to change the way it displays colours, either having them to a more “natural” tone all the way up to super contrasty and bright. The pentile sub-pixel arrangement is not noticeable (to be honest, I haven’t been able to pick out pentile vs non pentile, so your mileage will vary). The New Back, non Glossy – The Black version that I have has a nice, non-glossy, faux leather back panel, which is a huge improvement over the Hyper Glaze rear panel on the S4. It still manages to look and feel new. As for the white cover – it’s not too bad, but tends to get a little dirty from time to time if you don’t use the a case.
The New Pen – there’s not much to say here. It’s thinner than the Note 2 S- Pen and it’s more or less symmetrical, so you could put it back into the slot without fiddling around too much. In my opinion, it’s too thin and the button seems to be a little harder to press and activate.
Access to buttons – The side mounted volume and power buttons (volume on the left, power on the right) are placed in typical Samsung fashion, although I wish they took a more Sony like approach and brought the buttons down a little bit for better access.
The IR Blaster – Now this is something that is actually useful. The Samsung WatchON app is useful, if you’re in a region and your cable provider is supported. The app is actually made by Peel, which also makes the HTC remote application, and is updated quite often adding support to a larger array of providers and set top boxes and TVs. But, if you really want to use the IR Blaster to it’s fullest potential, check out our post on the Smart IR Remote. This app is worth every cent because it allows you to control other peripherals as well (Your AC unit as an example).
Durability – The phone shows a few nicks and scratches on the plastic side from being dropped on the road, without a case to protect it. There are some minor scratches on the screen as well, despite being covered by Gorilla Glass 3 (this is where I go ahead and say “it’s scratch resistant, not scratch proof”)
Auto Night Mode/Low Light Detection – Works reasonably well, but can be really irritating at times, as you have to toggle it off to use the flash.
Smooth Capture AKA 60fps 1080p Video – Honestly, I have not tried this feature, and since Youtube cannot really render/play 60 fps videos right now, I don’t see much use for this.
Slo-Mo Video Capture – The Note 3 does some great Slow Motion Video Capture, here is a sample:
Camera UI and Controls – A lot has been said and written about the camera UIs on various OEM skins, but I have have to say that compared to stock android, the Samsung camera interface is much nicer to use, through not necessarily easier. If you see the screenshots below, similar to the Galaxy S4, you have access to slow motion videos (samples of which are posted below), but most people would never be able to find it. On the other hand, I like the fact that it does make use of the available hardware to let you take full sized photos while recording videos, unlike the AOSP camera app and the Sony camera app, that only take 1080p photos while recording videos (essentially capturing a screenshot of the video record).
The original, full res photo samples are available on Flickr – here.
The large 3200 mAh battery really lets you go free from a charger for extended periods, since it gives a really good backup. On the Nexus 4, Vinu had the battery last for 5-7 hours based on his usage, but on the Note 3, he goes for around 12-16 hours on a single charge. I used to get about 8 hours of use on my S4 and around 12 on the Note 3. Of course, your mileage may vary, as evinced by the stats from 3 users of the exynos model, on different firmware versions, on different networks, with different use cases below.
Performance in day to day tasks
The phone performs quite well with day to day tasks of emails, social media and assorted gaming, the 3GB RAM and the processor allows multi-tasking without the usual slowdowns which show up on lower spec’d phones. Some people on the Exynos model of the Note 3 complain about freezes on their phones, but we didn’t notice that on our phones.
A few months later, and a few months closer to the next round of flagship releases, is the Note 3 still worth being considered as device to be purchased? Well, yes and no. The price should drop a bit soon and there’s still quite a ways to go before the next version of the Note series is announced. If you need a big phone with a big screen and the stylus, then yes, the Note 3 is definitely worth it. The IR Blaster is quite handy, especially when you consider all the other apps that can really take advantage of it, check out our previous post on how to do it. It also depends on which device you’re moving from. If you are used to a big phone, like the original Galaxy Note, then the Note 3 is worth a try (also, the original Note needs a rest). If you’re on a Note 2, you could possibly wait for the next one, unless you’re the frequent upgrader. In which case, go for it.
As mentioned in the beginning, @vinuthomas contributed to this post.
In what seems to have been ages back, Blackberry did announce that their BBM (Blackberry Messaging) services would come to Android devices. It wasn’t clear how they would be managing this yet. Now it looks like Blackberry is tying up with OEMs to bundle their BBM services for their devices.
Samsung is the first to announce that they’ll be offering the BBM app to users of their Galaxy Range of devices soon via the Google Play and Samsung App Store. According to Samsung’s Press Release, it looks like they’ll be rolling this out to their African customers first.
Apart from the fact that the BBM app is going to be free for Samsung customer, there’s no concrete dates on availability or if and when the rest of the world could get their hand on the BBM app. So soon BBM is going to go head to head in competition with other multi-platform messaging services like WhatsApp and the rest.
I’m not yet sure if this is a good strategy for Blackberry. I know for a fact that a lot of people stick to Blackberry devices primarily for the BBM service, so would unbundling BBM affect Blackberry’s sales? Let’s see where this leads.
Your smartphone really is your portable computing device, your camera, media player, and so much more. You’ve probably invested a lot of money in your smartphone, both for the hardware and for the services and apps that you’ve purchased. You’ve probably also spent a lot of time setting it up so that it’s just right for you to use. Now all it takes is a little slip and what you have, is a broken phone (most probably the screen), a trip to the service center, and a hefty charge for replacement parts.
The most practical way to protect your phone is to put a case on it. It’ll probably also set you apart from the hundreds of thousands of people who have the exact same device. There’s a plethora of accessory makers out there, but the one that I’ve used for almost every smartphone that I’ve owned is Case Mate.
Now, what I generally do is buy the case from the Case Mate website or from Clove and pay extra for shipping to India. What I didn’t know though, was that as of late last year, Case Mate has an online presence in India. So that’s two benefits: It’s cheaper than buying it abroad and you’ll get it quicker (I really need to go and run a quick calculation to see how much I would have saved had I known about this).
They have a huge range of series, so regardless of what kind of cover you want, you’ll probably find something you like, from the Barely There series to the Pop Cases (with a kick stand to prop your device) to the Tough Cases (which I personally prefer). You can also customize your case.
So head on over to Case Mate and a have a look and buy from their site. You can also follow them on Twitter and on Facebook. Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
[button style=”2″ caption=”Visit Case Mate India” link=”http://www.case-mate.in/”][/button]
Has mobile hardware and software reached a stage where there’s nothing else revolutionary to make and market? Most new devices and platform updates these days are at best an incremental update from the ones already being sold. So how do you make the new phones and tablets stand out from the others?
One way to do that is to dream up a great feature, add it to the device and market it via TV, magazines and social media. This gives the manufacturer a great lead in terms of standing ouside the crowd of devices flooding the market. People want that feature which gives them an edge over their friend’s devices for boasting rights.
Wireless charging, Fast Shot cameras, pushing the envelope on megapixels, faster processors and bigger screens are some examples where manufacturers have been able get one up over their competition. New and improved operating systems and good design and body colors with more bling are a good crowd puller as well.
Marketing & Buzz Words
Another is to hype up standard features with marketing buzz-words which catch the consumers fancy. This technique has been a tried and tested staple of Apple Inc (Retina Display, Face Time – do you want more examples). These buzz words seem to resonate with the consumers, and thrown in with a great marketing pitch, they drive up the hype about that device. Fans can’t have enough of it. But not all manufacturers have the perfected this technique.
However much company folks and fan followings of each platform or brand cry hoarse, each platform has ‘borrowed’ features from the others. I won’t call it stealing, because sharing is a true part of innovation. Companies can go at each other’s throats with patent suits, but the fact still remains, unless key features make it to the other platforms, users on each platform end up missing something or have to make do with a sub-optimal experience. Let’s not get into the who sued who and won news items which are a rage these days.
No, I’m not against the idea of patents, I’m just in the mindset, that given the pace of the technology industry these days, the current patent laws need drastic changes. Depending on the country you’re in, the patent term can range from 10-20 years. (Additionally, it takes upto 3 years from filing the patent application to getting the patent granted). That’s an eternity for today’s fast paced industry. Ideas and technology go obsolete in a year or two, and are considered ‘pre-historic’ if they’re more than 5 years old. So why can’t technology patents have a shorter term?
That’s one side effect of the frenetic pace of development of technology. Meanwhile, there are certain key areas that are struggling to catch up. People often complain about how battery technology needs to catch up and be ready for current portable device usage. Unfortunately, this isn’t an area where developments and innovations happen overnight; and even if they do, they aren’t usually ready for consumers for a long time! (As it currently stands, it takes around 15 years from the start of research on new battery chemistry to it being available for use in consumer electronics). OEMs are rushing to make other components more power efficient in the mean time, which leads to more power efficient processors and SOCs, displays and wireless radios.
Since most high-end phones and devices have comparable processing muscle, the memory and storage, cameras and platforms, the marketing teams seem to be having a tougher time getting their products to stand out. How’s this affecting their campaigns?
My shout out to the marketing folks out there – if you really have to stoop down to denouncing a competitor’s product in your marketing campaign, does that mean your product isn’t good enough to stand up on it’s own? If you need to belittle the competition in order to get your product up there, I don’t think you’re doing a great job at marketing in the first place, or is it that your product is just not good enough?
Samsung has released a teaser video on their Youtube channel of the upcoming Samsung Note II, their “phablet” – the cross between the phone and a tablet. The title of the video suggests that they’re planning to launch it next week on the 29th of August at their Samsung Mobile Unpacked event.
The video below gives us a peek at the Stylus which is available along with the Note II. Let’s take a quick look at the probable specs of the device (according to GSM Arena):