Android Wearables, Drool-worthy Moto 360 – News Bits

Android for Wearables

Google announced Android Wear, which is described as “a project that extends Android to wearables”. Google states in their blog post that they’re working with various manufacturers. Chip makers and Fashion Brands are working hard to get these devices to the market. LG and Motorola have already announced that they’re working on wearables that will run Android Wear. If you check out the video from Google below, you’ll see that Android Wear is based heavily off The Google Now features and voice recognition input.

Read about this from Google’s Blog

Moto 360 – A Geek’s Droolware Smartwatch

Right on the heels of Google announcing the Android Wear, Motorola announced the Moto 360, the smart watch that has us Geeks drooling over it. It’s not too far out in the future as well, they say they’re launching in Summer 2014, which is just a few months away. All we can do is admire this product and send Motorola our email ids so they can get let us know when it’s available.

Check out the Moto 360

The All New HTC One to be available on launch day, in the UK at least

Android Central is reporting that certain stores of some UK retailers will have the all new HTC One for sale right on launch day, soon after the announcement. Now that’s the way it’s done Samsung and Sony.

Read

[Video] Looking at the world though Google Glasses

Google Glasses Demo VideoGoogle Glasses are still quite a while away from reaching the hands of us consumers. Only Google employees and select Development partners from the US have been able to get a hold of these so far. Also the price fo the pre-order devices were far from being ‘affordable’ for most of us, at  $1500.

For us mortals, Google has released a video showing us how our world would look if we were wearing Google Glasses. The experiences in the video sure look like fun, especially augmented with the functionality of the glasses. Taking photos and videos without having to whip out a phone and fumble around. Send messages or look up information from the web via voice, and instant translations. Enjoy the video.
 
 

Google Releases their own YouTube app for iPhone on the App Store

Google yesterday unveiled their own YouTube app for iOS devices. Since Apple announced that they would be discontinuing the default YouTube app when iOS 6 hits devices, Google’s been busy getting their own version of the app ready and now you can now download it from the App Store.

For users on the iPhone and iPod, the experience the app provides is a huge improvement over the older version. The app is not yet fully optimized for the iPad viewing experience, but I’m sure Google’s going to improve that in the near future.

Features

  • Safe Search Filtering option to restrict search results. A very useful option if you’re handing you iPad to your kids. The older Apple version of the YouTube app completely missed this feature.
  • Easy Left swipe from the home or video screen to quickly access the menu. Easy navigation of video categories from the menu as well.
  • Log in and link your Google account with the app to subscribe to channels,comment on videos and access your subscriptions at any time.
  • Easily search for your favourite videos with voice search and query autocomplete
  • Easy video sharing to Google+, E-mail, Facebook and Twitter

Scope for improvement?

Yeah, certainly! The major features missing in this release:

  1. The lack of iPad support
  2. Airplay support also seems to be missing, and the app requires mirroring of the display to play on TV.
  3. The “Mostly Offline” feature which the Android version has is missing in this version of the iOS app.

Download Link

Download YouTube from iTunes

Screenshots from YouTube

Click on the images below to view the larger version.

Samsung Note II Teaser Video

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):

  • Quadcore Exynos 5250 chipset
  • Android Jellybean (4.1) Operating System
  • 5.5 inch Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen
  • 8 MP, autofocus, Camera with  LED flash
  • Full HD (1080p) video  recording at 30 fps.
  • On board storage of 16/32 GB storage, 1.5 GB RAM
  • S-PEN Stylus for drawing and Handwriting recognition.
  • SWYPE keyboard software for Predictive text input
  • Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic

Camera samples from the Nokia 808 Pureview

Thanks to the folks at Nokia I got to try out the Nokia 808 PureView phone yesterday as I went around the MWC venue and at night. I was busy clicking away photos and a few videos with this device. Are you interested in seeing how it turned out?

You’re in luck, here are some of the pictures I clicked with the Nokia 808 PureView phone. Some of the are in full Resolution mode and some in the Oversampled 5 & 8 Megapixel PureView Mode. I found that the oversampled PureView mode works great during the day, but it excels during the night. Here’s a sample of the photos from various times of the day and different lighting conditions to see how the massive 41 Megapixel sensor of the phone performed.

The Nokia 808 PureView also excels in video capture during the day and night, take a peek at these videos and see how it performed. Do note that these are captured in 1080p HD mode so make sure you take a look at the 1080p version of the videos to see the actual clarity of the videos.

One thing to note here is that the phone I was trying out is a Prototype device so the camera software on the phone is not the final version. The folks at Nokia did mention that they are still tweaking the software to get best results from the phone, so the final version could yield better results when the phone actually hits the markets.

Pocket Casts: Catering to all your podcast needs

Podcasting isn’t really a new phenomenon, but podcasts in general (I’m not just talking about ASOT and other Music Podcasts) are growing in popularity once again. Since we’re all mobile, the best way to get to your podcasts is on your phone or tablet. There have been quite a few services that deliver podcasts to your devices; iTunes has a podcast section, Zune too. Stitcher Radio is one of the more popular podcast delivery services around, and while it has almost every podcast out there, it has a few limitations. It’s streaming only (you can’t download for real offline use) and you can’t really add your own feeds (podcasts that you can’t find on stitcher). Now, with iTunes on your iOS device, you can subscribe to podcasts that are published on iTunes, sync via iTunes on your PC or Mac or just download them onto your device directly, but you can’t stream them. Zune only works with Desktop sync, unless you can figure out a way to download directly on your Windows Phone device (Even I don’t know how some of my podcasts can be updated directly from my phone and some can’t!). Which brings us to Pocket Casts, which apart from following the middle path (between Stitcher and Zune), has an amazing UI.

Now, there are other apps on iOS (Like Downcast  or Instacast) and on Android (Beyondpod , free trial, and Doggcatcher), but there’s something about them that just doesn’t make them perfect. The one app that I’ve found that seems to do that, is Pocket Casts. Available on both iOS (Free Lite version and Paid) and Android (paid only), it’s pretty much the best podcatcher for both Audio and Video podcasts. It also does one thing I like; maintain a simplified, similar UI on both platforms.

Shifty Jelly, the company behind Pocket Casts (and other apps on iOS and Android) somehow manage to make the app seem more “human”, with update notes like this:

What’s in this version:

“Fixed settings page crash under Android 2.2 Added FAQ, we love you guys and all, but be sure to check it before you email us ;) Made our playing notification a little bit prettier, more coming here soon…The Android Download Manager is no longer recommended. If you have it on, and you’re not on 4.0, you should probably turn that thieving, lying, lazy, good for nothing, all talk, two faced punk off.”

And this on iOS:
“What’s New in Version 3.2.1

– Minor bug fixes- Removed all unicorn created code, due to industrial action. Maternity leave?! Pffft good luck with that unicorns! We’re now employing elves instead, since Santa fired them after automating his factories”

You have four main tabs (5 on Android, the updates and download management tab), and all the podcasts that you’ve subscribed to are presented in a Grid, with Thumbnails. You can go through all the available episode in each, select and download episodes that you don’t have on your device, or just stream it. The grid is updated (manually or automatically, depending on how you set it up) and can be arranged either alphabetically, by the date you added the podcast or by episode.
(All the screenshots are of iOS on the left and Android on the right)

You can tab over to the “episodes” section on the same tab to manage downloads, storage. Oh, and it’s actually cool (in a geeky way) about how the data is presented (unplayed, in progress, downloaded, etc).


The player tab has some easy controls to switch between your playlist and the currently playing podcast, access to show notes, sharing functionality (which could be the podcast, the episode or even a particular part of the episode). You also have toggles to rewind and forward, which can be user adjusted; the default takes you 30 seconds forward and 10 seconds back. It’s the standard overlay, with the seek bar on iOS, while there are tabs that auto hide on Android. Oh, and you can speed up your podcast playback too (I don’t really know why people do that, but it’s there).

The search tab is pretty neat too; there’re featured podcasts (with some witty notes on why they’ve been featured), search by podcast name or browser by network or category. You can also import podcasts by the link (usually the RSS feed link for that show) or import using the OMPL file (handy if you want to export ALL your podcasts out of your  old podcatcher and into a new one) or import from Google Reader.

The settings menu is pretty awesome: you have control over a lot of things. You can set up the app to auto update your playlist, notify you when new episodes are available and auto download the episodes (on WiFi only or on any network). There are controls for the number of episodes to keep on your device (which you can control for individual shows too), auto deletion of episodes that you’re done listening to and so much more. The thing is, they’re easily accessible and in a format that you can actually understand, which makes them really useful.

Pocket Casts is a paid app on iOS and Android which you can download from the App Store (here) or from Android Market (here). It’s just $2, and it’s definitely worth it! There’s a free “lite” version for iOS, which you can download here, which has limits to the number of shows and episodes that you can keep track of. I do wish there was a similar trial/lite version for Android devices too, that would help people who need to decide if they’re actually going to buy the app. Do check out the other apps by Shift Jelly  on their site. Oh, and make sure you read this interesting blog post of theirs, especially if you’re one of those people who think twice about buying any app that you’d probably use every single day.

The Nokia Asha Series – Hands On Video


I’m just back from the Nokia World 2011 event which took place last week in London, and have just got around to uploading videos from the event on Youtube. Here’s a video of the Nokia Asha range of phones giving you an overview of the phones, features and functionality.

Nokia released the Nokia Asha range of feature phones which are inexpensive and targetted towards the youth market. They run on the Symbian Series 40 (S40) operating system. Even though these are feature phones, they pack a punch because the devices like the Asha 303 run on a 1 Ghz processor giving the phone enough processing power to … wait for it… run Angry Birds!  It’s now become a fad to say that a phone’s arrived if Angry Birds runs on it. Apart from that, you’ve also got the popular multi-platform messaging Whatsapp service available on this phone. The S40 range of phones also have access to a lot more apps on the Nokia Store, with more on the way.

One main feature of the phone is the Nokia Browser, which streams web pages you access through their Cloud servers, compressing data, for a faster web experience. So even on an Edge connection, you should see a much faster browsing experience.

Enough of writing, and let’s jump to the video:

Gulp – Shot with the N8 on the World’s Largest Animation Set

Here’s an interesting tidbit from the mobile world. Nokia and Aardman Animations have set a Guiness World Record for the ‘World’s Largest Stop-motion Animation Set’ with their short film: Gulp. Remember the short film Dot from last year? The same folks got together and made this short movie entirely using the Nokia N8 phone.

What’s this movie about?

The film explores the life of a little fishing boat when the tide goes out. As the sea ebbs away oilskins and nets come to life manifesting a lone fisherman, out to find the catch of the day.  When he sets off across the sea he encounters an ocean vista of waves, gulls, clouds and fish all created using giant sand animation, carved in the beach itself. As the fisherman hauls in his sandy catch he is swallowed by a huge sea monster. Trapped inside the beast’s cavernous stomach, he accidentally sets off a chain reaction and is catapulted back to the surface, too late to save his catch from escaping back into the ocean.

Enough of writing, here’s the video for you to enjoy:

Gulp. The world’s largest stop-motion animation shot on a Nokia N8. from Nokia HD on Vimeo.

The Making of Gulp

If you’re interested in how this was created here’s the low down:
Three phones elevated 36 meters above the ground on a cherry picker on a beach in South Wales, UK, shot a canvas of 42.71 meters x 24 meters creating the ‘World’s Largest Stop-motion Animation Set’. The phones were mounted in a custom built rig inside a specially designed Peli Box and operated remotely by the camera crew in order to capture the huge images.

Take a peek at another video showing you how it was done:

Gulp. The making of. from Nokia HD on Vimeo.

Video Chat on your Android Phone

Last week, Google Announced Video Chat for Android Phones running 2.3.4 (Gingerbread). You can even use it for Voice Chat, something you needed an app like Fring or Nimbuzz to do until now. The only bad bit was the 2.3.4 part,which meant it was limited to the Nexus S as of now. The way manufacturers issue Android updates, it might take forever to get this nifty little version of Google Talk on your device. Of course, there are the good folks over at XDA Developers working round the clock to get everything set up for all kinds of Android users (and non android users too).

So here’s a little hack to get Google Voice/Video Chat working on your Gingerbread Device (whichever version you’re running). It might even work on Froyo devices.

DISCLAIMER– WE TAKE NO RESPONSIBILITY IF YOU END UP BRICKING YOUR PHONE, VOIDING YOUR WARRANTY etc.

First up, ROOT USERS ONLY. If you haven’t rooted your phone, then you can’t use this. Also, it doesn’t seem to work properly on all devices. I’ve read that it works best (the way it’s supposed to) on HTC devices Running Cyanogenmod 7+. For Galaxy S devices, it supposedly does only one way video right now, and doesn’t seem to able to find the front facing Camera.

Anyways, head over to this thread over at XDA and download the file and get cracking. Let us know what your results are! AND BACK UP YOUR CURRENT GOOGLE TALK APK.

There are three ways to push this app:
  1. Using Root Explorer (Try the Super Manager App, available on the Market).
  2. Using CWM to flash the update.zip. Check here, and if that doesn’t work, try this.
  3. Using ADB, Follow the steps below;

(lines starting with # are comments)

Code:
#mount the /system partition as writeable
adb remount
#backup the old Talk app
adb shell mv /system/app/Talk.apk /system/app/Talk.apk1
#uninstall the old gtalk, I think it clears the related cached bytecode too.
adb uninstall com.google.android.talk
#copy the two new files
adb push libtalk_jni.so /system/lib/
adb push Talk2.apk /system/app

 

Mixed reports coming in so far, so let us know what you think. It should work like the video below:

 

 

 

Follow us on twitter, we’re @myportableworld.

 

Source: Google Mobile Blog, XDA

The Nokia E7: Entertainment Experience

The E7 is touted as a business phone, but with USB-on-the-Go, an 8 Megapixel Camera, an HDMI cable and a 4″ AMOLED screen you’d be foolish not to use it for a little entertainment around the office.

The Camera

Unfortunately one of the biggest let downs is the camera. 8 mega pixels are all fine and dandy, but if i can’t take macro shots i see no point to it.

Yes the E7 has a fixed focus, no auto focus!

Frankly a stupid move by Nokia because if i’m spending close to 30k on a phone i’d really like to able do whatever i want with it. Especially if it’s being sold with a massive 8 Mega pixel camera. I’m sure the justification is that, since its a business phone and not an imaging flagship, there is no need to give the consumers what they want. But without a macro function there is no future for the E7 in the world of industrial espionage. My E72 is a business phone and has the ability to focus wherever I want it to. I may keep my undercover activities to a bare minimum but atleast I can use my E72 to photograph business cards with ease.

No clarity close up
No clarity close up

Though I did mention that, in the photograph, the clarity close up is quite terrible, but the E7 does take respectable pictures at a distance. The picture below is pretty clear up close, but taking the camera too close to the subject ruins it completely. The advantage of having 8 Mega pixel camera is that you can crop out the offending bit and still have a great picture. Still, not at all a substitute for a proper macro function.

Bright Light, Indoors
Bright Light, Indoors

One issue with the flash was that it seemed to diffuse onto the lens, which caused the left hand side of pictures to be overexposed. I faced a similar issue with the N97, so its surprising that this issue hasn’t been resolved. If you just want to point and shoot the E7 does its job well enough. Don’t bother trying anything fancy, leave those tricks to the N8.

Low Light, Flash
Low Light, Flash

 

The Display

The 4″ AMOLED screen is a boon, and should not be wasted. The software for reading PDFs is a bit slow, but that shouldn’t be a problem if the file is on the mass memory.  I would suggest getting a good comic book reader to while away all those hours of overtime at the office.

Pdf on AMOLED
Viewing PDFs on the AMOLED screen

A neat design feature is that all the cables and paraphernalia that need to be attached to the E7 remain on one side. really does reduce the cable clutter especially when the phone is in portrait mode.

The E7 supports HD 720p Video playback on HD TV through HDMI cable and Dolby Digital Plus surround sound when played with HDMI and a home theatre. A good way to make use of an empty conference room. Playing HD videogames from your E7 on a massive HDTV screen is definitely something to be experienced.

All plugged in
All plugged in

 

USB On-the-Go

One of the features I love on Symbian^3 is USB-on-the-go, for all the inadequacies of the Symbian OS this feature really does make up for some of them. The flexibility offered by USB-on-the-go is unparalleled. I mentioned the E7 has no memory slot, but after a few minutes of using it  i realized it didn’t need one. Accessing data from a usb stick makes life a lot easier, and your colleagues will love being able to borrow movies that you have stored on the phones 16 Gb of mass memory.

Movies Galore
Movies Galore

Playing movies off a pen drive is a luxury most phone users don’t have , so I would suggest flaunt it as much as possible before other manufacturers discover that they missed the bus and try and play catch up.

The E7 supports H.264 (base profile, main profile, high profile), MPEG-4, VC-1, Sorenson Spark, Real video 10 as well as Streaming: H.264, Flash Lite 4 (Flash 10 compatibility for video), On2 VP6, Sorenson Spark. so you won’t have to worry too much about what you can and can’t play.

More E7 reviews will be coming up soon! Stay tuned to our Twitter channel for more updates, we’re @MyPortableWorld!