Saturday, 29 August 2015

How to Download and Install MIUI 7 on Your Xiaomi Smartphone

Xiaomi has announced the launch of MIUI 7 global beta ROM 5.8.22 for its smartphones. The MIUI 7 update will not be available for Xiaomi smartphones over-the-air (OTA) just yet, which means you will have to manually download and install the build if you are interesting in getting on board the MIUI 7 train.

Here's the list of what's new in MIUI 7:

New - Added four new system UIs (08-14, for India only)
New - XXL text (08-14)
New - Showtime: Set profile picture/video to show in your contacts' device when you call them (08-14, for India only)
New - Baby album: Group all baby images in one place, supports sending all images as a package and set the album as daily lock screen. (08-14, For India only)
Optimisation - System response speed increased by 30%, battery life improved by 10%. New - Quick OTP(For India only)
New - Smart SMS Filter (For India only)

Optimisation - System response speed increased by 30%, battery life improved by 10%.

New - Contact cards: Exchange contact cards with your friend to view his/her profile picture and detailed information (08-14)
New - Showtime: Set profile video to show in your contact's device when you call them (You need to exchange contact cards with the contact first) (08-14, For India only)

New - Added XXL text for the app (08-14)
Optimisation - Searching results display the newer messages on top (08-17)

Lock screen, Status Bar, Notification Bar
New - Added notification page fold/unfold animated effects (08-07)
New - Block notifications in notification shade by one press (08-18)
Optimisation - Optimised Notification shade brightness bar interactive style (08-07)
Optimisation - Optimised battery icon on status bar (08-07)
Optimisation - Optimised status bar display effects when using large font (08-10)
Optimisation - Optimised notifications' height when using large font (08-10)
Optimisation - Optimised 'Manage notifications' page display effect when using large font (08-10)
Optimisation - MiHome app icon does not show in lock screen in Parental controls mode (08-11)
Fix - Roaming icon did not disappear in some situations (08-10)
Fix - Block button in some featured themes overlapped with clock widget (08-12)
Fix - Notes widget display error when using large font (08-12)
Fix - Pressing on toggles did not fold notification shade in Performance mode (08-19)

Home screen
New - Child mode (08-14)
Optimisation - Optimised display effect of live blur (08-07)
Optimisation - Optimised built-in widgets display effect when using large font (08-10)
Optimisation - Optimised One-handed mode launching speed (08-10)
Optimisation - Removed Settings and Security from Parental controls - Accessible apps list (08-11)
Optimisation - Assistant and Google Now cannot be launched in Parental controls mode (08-11)
Optimisation - Optimised prompt text when setting wallpaper in home screen editing mode (08-12)
Fix - Home screen reloaded after deep cleaning (08-11)
Fix - A specific icon displayed repeatedly when using some themes (08-21)

New - Added four default themes (08-14)
New - Baby album: Group all baby images in one place, supports sending all images as a package and set the album as daily lock screen. Optimisation - Optimised start page images grouping method (08-19)
Optimisation - Optimised baby albums' UI details (08-19)
Fix - 'No images or videos' icon showed for a moment when entering baby album (08-19)
Fix - The baby's age did not show under baby album cover when he/she is under 1 month old (08-19)
Fix - Sometimes, shared album creator's avatar did not show (08-19)

Optimisation - Optimised playing status bar style in playing page (08-18)
Fix - Audio settings background display error in some devices (08-18)

Fix - Sound settings page texts were cut off when using XXL text (08-18)

Optimisation - Improved app cold start speed (08-14)
Optimisation - Background RAM usage decreased by 15% - 30% (08-14)

New - Added XXL text for apps (08-14)

New - XXL text (08-14)

Clock / Calculator
New - When it's your birthday, the ringtone of morning alarm will change to "Happy Birthday "

Mi Credit
Optimisation - Updated Mi Credits centre home screen shortcut icon (08-20)
Optimisation - Optimised display effect when using XXL text (08-20)

As the name clearly suggests, the MIUI 7 ROM is still in beta, which means the performance is likely to be unstable and it can even lead to data loss. Now that you know the risks of installing beta software, but want to proceed anyways, we suggest you backup your Xiaomi smartphone before proceeding.

As of this moment, MIUI 7 is available for the following Xiaomi smartphones: Xiaomi Mi 4i, Xiaomi Mi 4, Xiaomi Mi 3, Xiaomi Redmi 1S, Xiaomi Redmi 2, Xiaomi Redmi Note, and Xiaomi Redmi Note 4G.

Here's how to download and install MIUI 7 on your Xiaomi smartphone:

1) Identify your smartphone and download the MIUI 7 build corresponding to your smartphone.

MIUI 7 for Xiaomi Mi 4i - Recovery ROM
MIUI 7 for Xiaomi Mi 4 - Recovery ROM
MIUI 7 for Xiaomi Mi 3 - Recovery ROM
MIUI 7 for Xiaomi Redmi 1S - Recovery ROM
MIUI 7 for Xiaomi Redmi 2 - Recovery ROM
MIUI 7 for Xiaomi Redmi Note - Recovery ROM
MIUI 7 for Xiaomi Redmi Note 4G - Recovery ROM

Most users should download the Recovery ROM for their smartphone. Flashing Recovery ROM will not wipe your user data or the files in internal storage and it's simple to use, so unless you are planning to start afresh we suggest you follow this method.

2) Once you've downloaded the Recovery ROM corresponding to your device, rename the downloaded ROM file to on the computer.

3) Connect your Xiaomi smartphone to your laptop via a Micro-USB cable, and copy the ROM file downloaded into the root directory of the internal storage of your device (do not put it in any other folder).

4) Enter the Recovery mode of your device. There are 2 methods to do it as follows:

Method 1: Launch Updater app on your device, click the ... icon at the top-right corner, and select Reboot to Recovery mode to enter.

Method 2: You can also turn off your device and then hold both Volume+ button and Power button at the same time to enter Recovery mode.

5) Once in Recovery mode, you can use Volume +/- to select up/down, and Power button to confirm.

After entering Recovery mode, choose the language you use, select Install to System One and confirm, and then your device will begin updating automatically. Wait until the update is completed, choose Reboot to System One, and then your device should boot to the MIUI 7 version.

To flash Recovery ROM, you just need to put the ROM file into your device's root directory, and flash it in Recovery mode by following steps.

Installing a Fastboot ROM is a little bit more complicated, and you can follow the instructions below.

1) Download the MIUI ROM Flashing Tool from the Xiaomi website.

2) Download the Fastboot ROM for your device from the links below.

MIUI 7 for Xiaomi Mi 4i - Fastboot ROM
MIUI 7 for Xiaomi Mi 4 - Fastboot ROM
MIUI 7 for Xiaomi Mi 3 - Fastboot ROM
MIUI 7 for Xiaomi Redmi 1S - Fastboot ROM
MIUI 7 for Xiaomi Redmi 2 - Fastboot ROM
MIUI 7 for Xiaomi Redmi Note 4G - Fastboot ROM

3) Switch off your Xiaomi smartphone. Hit the Volume- key and the power button at the same time to enter Fastboot mode. Now plug in your device to a Windows PC or laptop via the Micro-USB cable.

4) Double-click on the Fastboot ROM file you downloaded to your PC in step 2 to decompress it. Open the folder where this decompressed ROM is saved and copy the folder path.

5) Now decompress the flashing tool you downloaded in step 1. Then double-click on it to install it. After this, open MiFlash.exe and in its address bar, paste the folder path copied in the previous step. Now click the Refresh button and MiFlash will recognise your device.

There are three options you can choose from at the bottom: Flash all will flash all the files, and wipe all userdata and all files in internal storage. Flash all except storage will flash updated files, wipe user data, but will not delete files in internal storage. Flash all except data and storage will only flash the updated files, and will not wipe user data and files in internal storage.

To preserve your user data make sure you select Flash all except data and storage. After this, click Flash button towards top right to flash the ROM to your Xiaomi smartphone.

6) Wait till the progress bar fills up. You will then see a message next to it that reads: "The operation completed successfully". Your device will automatically reboot and have MIUI 7 installed.

How was your experience installing MIUI 7 on your smartphone? Let us know via the comments. For more tutorials, head to our How To section.

Unhackable, Unbreakable, and Waterproof Turing Phone to Ship in December

 The Turing Phone, which was unveiled as the 'unhackable, unbreakable, and waterproof' in July this year, now finally has a shipping date - December 18.

The secure Android smartphone would start shipping on the same day when the Star Wars: The Force Awakens releases, and the company executives confirmed to Engadget the dates matching was not a coincidence.

The Turing Phone will be available in three colour variants - Beowolf, Pharaoh, and Cardinal. All three colour variants will be available in 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB variants, priced at $610 (roughly Rs. 39,000), $740 (roughly Rs. 47,300), and $870 (roughly Rs. 55,700) respectively.

Developed by San Francisco-based Turing Robotic Industries, the 5.5-inch Turing phone has no USB port and no headphone jack. The smartphone is called 'unhackable, unbreakable, and waterproof' as it features end-to-end encryption built into most of the core apps on the phone. It is made of a material called liquidmorphium that is stronger than steel or aluminium and apparently the next big thing in phones. The phone is also extraordinarily waterproof owing to a nano-coating on the internals. No rubber is used and everything is accessible and open.

It runs on Android 5.1 Lollipop with Turing Aemaeth UI. Other specifications of the Turing Phone include a 5.5-inch full-HD (1080x1920 pixel) display; 2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 SoC; 3GB of RAM; a 13-megapixel rear camera with dual-LED flash; an 8-megapixel front-facing camera; 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0 LE; NFC; GPS/ Glonass; and a non-removable 3000mAh battery. Sensors include fingerprint, accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, proximity, ambient light, temperature, and humidity.

Nasa Selects Next Flyby Target for New Horizons Probe

After its historic July 14 flyby of the Pluto system that revealed interesting findings, Nasa has selected the next potential next destination for its New Horizons mission - a small Kuiper Belt object (KBO) known as 2014 MU69 that orbits nearly a billion miles beyond Pluto.

This remote KBO was one of two identified as potential destinations and the one recommended to Nasa by the New Horizons team.

"Even as New Horizon speeds away from Pluto out into the Kuiper Belt, we are looking outward to the next destination for this intrepid explorer," said John Grunsfeld, chief of the Nasa Science Mission Directorate at the agency headquarters in Washington, DC.

New Horizons will perform a series of four maneuvers in late October and early November to set its course toward 2014 MU69 - nicknamed "PT1" (Potential Target 1) - which it expects to reach on January 1, 2019.

Any delays from those dates would cost precious fuel and add mission risk.

Although Nasa has selected 2014 MU69 as the target, as part of its normal review process the agency will conduct a detailed assessment before officially approving the mission extension to conduct additional science.

"2014 MU69 is a great choice because it is just the kind of ancient KBO, formed where it orbits now, that the Decadal Survey desired us to fly by," said New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern.

New Horizons was originally designed to fly beyond the Pluto system and explore additional Kuiper Belt objects.

The spacecraft carries extra hydrazine fuel for a KBO flyby and its communications system is designed to work from far beyond Pluto.

"Its power system is designed to operate for many more years and its scientific instruments were designed to operate in light levels much lower than it will experience during the 2014 MU69 flyby," the US space agency said in a statement.

Unlike asteroids, KBOs have been heated only slightly by the Sun, and are thought to represent a well preserved, deep-freeze sample of what the outer solar system was like following its birth 4.6 billion years ago.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Line for Android Update Rebrands Line Premium Call to Line Out, and More

Line, the instant messaging app, had launched its Line Premium Call feature for users back in February, allowing users in select regions to make low-cost calls to mobiles and landlines across the world, separate from its free voice call feature between Line users.

Now, Line has released an update for its Android app that brings major overhaul to its calling feature making it easier to use than before. The app update for Android also rebrands the Line Premium Call feature to Line Out alongside introducing a new design.

The latest Line app for Android (version 5.4.0) is now available to download via Google Play. The company has promised that the update will be rolling out to iPhone users in the near future.

The app interface has also received some additions as the menu is now located at the top the of Line app. The "Calls" tab can now be seen tagged alongside Friends, Chats, Timeline, and More tabs found on the main navigation bar.

The company notes that Line Out, previously called Line Premium Call, is now available in Argentina, Australia, Cambodia, Chile, Colombia, India, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, Philippines, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, and Venezuela.

Users of the Line app for Android can now call directly from friends' Line profiles by going to Settings > Line Out Settings and select "Call Line Friends From Profiles" to make calls with Line Out directly. For making calls to non-Line users, sync contacts to make calls to friends who are not using Line with Line Out feature.

The Google Play listing of Line app adds that the update brings significantly improvements to the free call and video call quality and UI.

Last month, Line launched a light version of its original app called Line Lite for emerging markets with weak network infrastructure and limited connectivity.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Researchers Use Aluminium to Give Lithium-Ion Batteries a Boost

One big problem faced by electrodes in rechargeable batteries, as they go through repeated cycles of charging and discharging, is that they must expand and shrink during each cycle - sometimes doubling in volume, and then shrinking back. This can lead to repeated shedding and reformation of its "skin" layer that consumes lithium irreversibly, degrading the battery's performance over time.

Team of researchers at MIT and Tsinghua University in China has found a novel way around that problem: creating an electrode made of nanoparticles with a solid shell, and a "yolk" inside that can change size again and again without affecting the shell. The innovation could drastically improve cycle life, the team says, and provide a dramatic boost in the battery's capacity and power.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Tsinghua University in Beijing found that the metal could expand and shrink freely by encasing the aluminium inside a shell. The battery has four times the capacity of current lithium-ion batteries and degrades less over time. It uses nanoparticles with a shell of titanium dioxide wrapped around aluminium, which acts as the battery's negative electrode.

The research overcomes previous problems experienced using aluminium in rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. The result is an electrode that gives more than three times the capacity of graphite (1.2 Ah/g) at a normal charging rate, Li says. At very fast charging rates (six minutes to full charge), the capacity is still 0.66 Ah/g after 500 cycles. The materials are inexpensive, and the manufacturing method could be simple and easily scalable, MIT professor Ju Li says.

The study was published in the journal Nature Communications. The research team included Sa Li, Yu Cheng Zhao, and Chang An Wang of Tsinghua University in Beijing and Junjie Niu, Kangpyo So, and Chao Wang of MIT. The work was supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

BlackBerry 'Venice' Android Phone

BlackBerry's anticipated 'Venice' Android slider smartphone has been in the news for weeks now. While the Canadian company is yet to make the handset official, there's no shortage of leaks about the it.

The latest one again comes from one of the most reliable tipsters on the Internet, Evan Blass, (aka @evleaks) who has shared a gif image showing BlackBerry's Productivity Suite of apps on the alleged 'Venice' Android slider smartphone. The tweet read, "Nothing else keeps you as productive as BlackBerry".

To recall, the BlackBerry Productivity Suite includes BlackBerry Hub, BlackBerry Calendar, BlackBerry Contacts, Documents to Go, Input, and Universal Search. BlackBerry's Communication Suite includes BBM, Worklife for BlackBerry, BBM Meetings, BBM Protected, SecuSuite for BlackBerry, and Global Support. Lastly, the Security Suite includes BlackBerry Enterprise Service 12, VPN Authentication, Secure Work Spaces, Enterprise Identity by BlackBerry, BlackBerry Blend, and Password Keeper.

The presence of such a large number of pre-loaded apps indicates that the BlackBerry 'Venice' smartphone will not be a stock Android device. @evleaks also shared a screenshot of list of BlackBerry-specific apk files that come preloaded on the 'Venice' smartphone. Blass said, "This is no stock Android handset."

Last week, a couple of gif videos were leaked showing the Android-based BlackBerry device in its full glory alongside a high-resolution leaked image. The full image of the BlackBerry Venice's front panel came up on Twitter, and showed some Android apps on the screen such as Google Play, Google+, Hangouts, Google Maps and Android for Work. The handset is said to arrive on all four US carriers namely AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobiles, and Sprint starting November.

Based on earlier leaks and rumours, the BlackBerry Venice slider smartphone is said to feature a 5.4-inch QHD (1440x2560 pixels) display, a 1.8GHz hexa-core 64-bit Snapdragon 808 SoC, 3GB of RAM, an 18-megapixel rear camera, and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera.

In other news, BlackBerry's Passport smartphone has been spotted in multiple images running Android 5.1 Lollipop. The leaked images come courtesy 4G News and show the Passport smartphone's prototype handset with Android 5.1 on top. The images of the BlackBerry Passport smartphone leaked shows the "Not for Sale" tagline tipping that the company may be internally testing how Android Lollipop runs on its handset.

In the meanwhile, a video has surfaced of the BlackBerry Passport (as well as its Silver edition), running Andorid 5.1 Lollipop.

Rock Band 4 Listed for India, Priced at Rs. 13,990 Upwards

Rock Band 4 is coming to India. The latest in the rhythm game series that requires you to use peripherals shaped like instruments was spotted on Amazon India, coming in two variants. One sporting all the instruments needed to enjoy it to its fullest and the other with just the guitar. Both come with the game, obviously.

And if you plan to start a band and rock the world, expect to pay at least Rs. 13,990. That's what it would cost you to get the game and the Fender Stratocaster guitar controller. If you want the complete set of instruments and the game - the Band-in-a-Box bundle as it's called - you'll be spending Rs. 26,990. You can't buy the game only without either bundle, though we won't be surprised if it shows up as a standalone release at a later date.

To put it into perspective, when the first game in the series made it to India back in 2008, it was priced at Rs. 6,990 for the full set of instruments and the guitar-game bundle cost Rs. 4,990.

A representative for Origin Games, the Indian distributor for the game states that the reason for the high price is the weight of the instruments. The Band-in-a-Box bundle is around 12 kilos. Compared to the earlier games, these peripherals are being made by Mad Catz, who are known for high quality controllers. A welcome change considering how notoriously fragile previous iterations of Rock Band peripherals have been.

The first Rock Band game sold around 100 units in the country back in 2008. At such a high price, it will be interesting to see how many gamers pick up Rock Band 4 when it hits the shelves on October 6 this year.

Everyone hates washed-out spots in images but there isn't much that could be done to prevent it as of today. Things might be different in the future, however. MIT researchers believe that they have found a way to weed out overexposed elements from pictures, using HDR-like technology without the limitations.

Several smartphones come equipped with HDR technology which reduces the washed-out spots by offering a wide dynamic range. But MIT has a better solution. The researchers have combined the next-generation camera hardware called "modulo camera" with new image-processing algorithm to get rid off overexposed spots.

The researchers claim that modulo camera is designed to never overexpose an image. Created in a collaboration between Media Lab's Camera Culture group, MIT Lincoln Lab, and Singapore University of Technology and Design, the modulo camera requires only one shot to create an HDR image, compared to today's widely used HDR sensors that require many photos to be taken. The current HDR technology also requires one to keep the camera still while taking a shot, and if done incorrectly can produce blur and other artefacts.

With the modulo camera and the new image-processing algorithm, the researchers have essentially created what they call a 'real-time HDR' camera that removes the hassle of HDR photography completely, from correctly choosing aperture to exposure length, and keeping the camera steady.

The other issue in overexposure is light, or its abundance to be precise. Conventional camera sensors can only accept certain amounts of light because of limited "well capacity," the amount of light an individual pixel can hold. Compared to that, modulo camera resets the sensor capacitors every time the "well" gets full. It further makes use of "an inverse modulo algorithm to calculate how much light the reset sensors took in," the news release said.

"For example, if a certain camera sensor can record eight bits of information, then when those eight bits are filled, the capacitor will be reset to zero. The number of resets is recovered by the algorithm, which then calculates the relative brightness of each area of the photo," the researchers explained, adding the technology can be used for computer vision and astronomy, or any field that deals with bright and low-light sources.

Sadly, this technology isn't available in current digital and smartphone cameras. And there's no word yet on when we can expect this on our devices. But what's exciting is that many companies are working to take the existing camera technologies to the next level. Earlier in August, MIT and Google had partnered to make an algorithm that removes reflections and obstructions from an image.

New App Tells You When Your Brain Is Most Productive

Do you know what time of the day your brain is either nervous or happy? An app can decode this so that you can better perform assigned tasks at work or home.

"Moo-Q" asks people how positive or negative they are feeling at a certain time of the day.

It then records how well they perform in mental tests that measure processing speed and memory during the day, reported.

"The app will alert you to changes in your brain over time, in memory or processing speed, and it can even help you to exercise your brain," Dr Sophie von Stumm from University of London was quoted as saying.

Normally, brain test scores are highest early in the day.

With this app, "you might be well advised to undertake important tasks that require a bit more brainpower first thing in the morning," Dr von Stumm said.

After undergoing the assessment tests, users can prepare personalised Moo-Q charts.

The chart displays a colour-coded graph showing mood and brainpower across hours, days and weeks.

"It is an old question in psychology if our brains work better when we are in high spirits, or if being a little miserable helps push our brains to maximum performance," Dr von Stumm said.

Moto 360 Smartwatch

Motorola's next-generation Moto 360 smartwatch has been spotted in a couple of images. Both the new leaked live images of the new Moto 360 show the smartwatch from a distance. In a separate leak, new Moto 360's casing has been leaked in multiple images.

In a Reddit post, a user posted an image of a possible Moto 360 successor featuring a circular design with leather wristband and a Gold dial. The Redditor wrote, "This photo was taken right behind the Merchandise Mart in Chicago today. She was walking down the street when I noticed the lugs and grabbed a pic. Too difficult to check for the flat tire."

In second leaked image, a Google+ user posted an image of another possible Moto 360 successor featuring circular design. Notably, both the leaked images show that the new Moto 360 sports a power button housed at the 2 o'clock position. To recall, the original Moto 360 smartwatch featured the power button placed at 3 o'clock position. It's also worth noting that both the leaked images have popped up from Chicago city, where Motorola has its headquarters. The leaked images were first reported by DroidLife.

As for the casing leak, images were posted on Reddit and said to come from an employee at a phone case and Pebble watch band manufacturer based in China. The Redditor added, "We have friends in the supply chain for most brands and were lucky enough to stumble upon this watch case."

The Reddit post also included some observations including a microphone on the left of the watch, tipping that the device may allow answering of voice-calls without the connected device, and bezels are said to be thicker than first generation Moto 360.

It also adds, "Inclusion of external lugs, to accommodate all sorts of watch bands perhaps. Lugs to work with all 22mm watch bands. Is 22mm quickly becoming a standard in smartwatches. Diameter: 45.5mm." The new Moto 360 is said to feature stainless steel with bead-blasted finish.

Last week, Motorola posted a short video showcasing the new Moto 360 smartwatch. The video was soon pulled down not before several tech reports covered it, but the 'flat tire' design and the crown button's 2 o'clock position was noted. Recently, a listing on the Brazil's Anatel, a federal telecom regulation website, also tipped that Motorola could have more than one next-generation Moto 360 watch to launch.

Google Maps for Android Update Brings Street View Thumbnails and More

Google has several new neat Maps features to showcase. The Android client of company's mapping and navigation service, now shows off previews in Maps with a quick option to add shortcuts to businesses. Over the weekend, the company also began testing a new feature in Maps which allows users to upload food-related photos. Separately, a teardown of the Android app revealed an imminent surprising treat for Indian users.
Google Maps has been updated to version 9.13.0 on Android, and gets a thumbnail preview of a location in Street View in the bottom left corner of the screen. Tap it, and the Street View of the region opens. It's an amazing feature, but since Street View isn't live everywhere in India, you can't view it at most locations just yet.

Another new feature is the ability to add easily add businesses. If you see a business that isn't already listed in the maps, you now get "add a missing business" button at the bottom of navigation drawer.

Another new Google Maps feature has been spotted, and is supposedly visible only to a limited number of users. Google was experimenting with a feature called Tablescape in February. The feature allowed users to click "foodographs (picture of food)," but at the time, it perhaps didn't garner much traction, resulting in an untimely shut down. It appears to be making a return, this time in the Maps service. The feature will alert users when it realises that one has taken a picture at a public food-related place. It will also give users a chance to attach it to a Maps location in just two clicks. The feature is said to be rolling out to "level 3 and above" guides.

And now for the local treat - it appears Google is planning to get Delhi's public transport routes and schedules integrated into the Maps app. Android Police performed a teardown of Google Maps app v9.12, and noticed code that points to this upcoming feature. Since the code also points to a separate apk, Android Police speculates Google may launch a standalone app, though it may be that development is independent and the app's features will be fully integrated into Google Maps at a later date.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Sony Launches Metal Gear Solid V-Themed Xperia Phones and Tablets

With Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain barely two weeks away, it's all but obvious that publisher Konami's marketing machine is in full swing. Not satisfied with a slew of trailers and extensive hands-on sessions from the press and the public at events like Gamescom 2015, the company has tied up with Sony's mobile division for a special edition smartphone.

According to a listing spotted by GforGames, the Sony Xperia J1 Compact: The Phantom Pain Edition sports the same guts as the Xperia J1 that launched in Japan in March last year.

Sporting a 4.3-inch HD display screen, a Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor at 2.2GHz, 2GB of RAM, a 20.7-megapixel camera, 2300mAh battery, and 16GB memory expandable via microSD, it seems middling compared to what most mid-range and high-end device sport in terms of specs. Even more so when you consider that it's retailing for around JPY 59,800 (around Rs. 31,400).

However, the big draw for Metal Gear Solid fans is that the phone has the "Outer Heaven" logo from the game on its back panel. In terms of software it comes with two original sound tracks, a custom ringtone, and a preloaded wallpaper to match its theme. There's a complete Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain art book in PDF as well as a JPY 1,000 (around Rs. 525) voucher to purchase Metal Gear Solid comics in ebook format via the Sony Reader Store (that's defunct outside Japan).

If this wasn't enough, the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact and Z4 tablet as well as the NW-ZX2 and NW-A16 Walkman MP3 players also come with pre-installed content and custom designs. Needless to say, these are exclusive to Japan, making it necessary for die-hard fans outside the country to import these limited edition pieces of tech.

MIUI 7 Global ROM Revealed; Mi 4i Limited Edition Colour Variants Launched

Xiaomi on Wednesday at its MIUI 7 launch event in New Delhi revealed the global MIUI 7 ROM alongside announcing availability of new coloured versions of Mi 4i as a limited edition.

At the event, the Chinese smartphone maker announced that the MIUI 7 Beta starting Monday will be available for Beta-supported Mi devices, namely - Redmi 1S, Redmi 2, Mi 3, Mi 4, Mi 4i, Redmi Note, and Redmi Note 4G.

Additionally, Xiaomi India announced that the Mi 4i will be available in new colours - Blue, Pink, and Yellow - in limited edition variants, priced at Rs. 12,999. The colour variants will be available starting Tuesday exclusively via Until now, Xiaomi Mi 4i was available only in White and Dark Grey variants in India.

The company claimed that MIUI, which goes by the slogan "Yours by design", has a deeply optimised user interface that allows for extensive customisation.

Some of the highlights of the new MIUI 7 include four default themes (Rose, Pink Blush, Ocean Breeze, and High Life) to choose from; new themes that have a complete game on the lock screen; a daily lock screen feature that changes the lock screen wallpaper every day; the new copyrighted images exclusively for MIUI; up to 30 percent better response time than MIUI 6; a reduction in overall modem power alongside background restrictions apps to save up to 10 percent battery life; a XXL font size; a Baby album feature, which auto recognises baby faces and creates albums; a new Child mode in MIUI 7 allows users to choose apps accessible to child and also allows to add passwords, and mute notifications feature.

The company also announced MUSE, which will allow users to create Themes with animations and content without getting into coding. Xiaomi India clarified that the selection of HD wallpapers in MIUI 7, with 10 pre-sets available on the 'daily lock screen' rotation, are currently only available in India.

Xiaomi revealed that it received top feature requests for MIUI 7 about battery life and better performance and stressed that the new ROM optimises system app start up time and also accelerates CPU.

Some of the "Made for India" features highlighted at the event include Visual IVR, which is an attempt to reduce the time required to navigate automated voice menus when calling a customer service hotline. Xiaomi's Visual IVR will show the voice menu on the phone's screen, so users can tap on the selection quickly. The company revealed that the Visual IVR in MIUI 7 has been further improved with support for more than 50 companies' customer support numbers. A new Smart SMS Filter has been also added to MIUI 7 which is said to intelligently filter service messages into a separate notification tab, and lastly, a Quick OTP feature has been integrated that is built-in and helps in entry of the OTP codes during online and mobile transactions.

The MIUI 7 integration with Mi Band has been improved and will now switch the Mi phone to Do Not Disturb (DND) mode when it detects that the users is asleep.

One of the notable features added in MIUI 7 is the addition of Showtime, which allows users to record a short video loop on phone and exchange contact card with friends. This will mean that every time a friend calls you, the Showtime video will run in loop. The feature will be rolling out in coming months.

Xiaomi revealed that it received top feature requests for MIUI 7 about battery life and better performance and stressed that the new ROM optimises system app start up time and also accelerates CPU.

Some of the "Made for India" features highlighted at the event include Visual IVR, which is an attempt to reduce the time required to navigate automated voice menus when calling a customer service hotline. Xiaomi's Visual IVR will show the voice menu on the phone's screen, so users can tap on the selection quickly. The company revealed that the Visual IVR in MIUI 7 has been further improved with support for more than 50 companies' customer support numbers. A new Smart SMS Filter has been also added to MIUI 7 which is said to intelligently filter service messages into a separate notification tab, and lastly, a Quick OTP feature has been integrated that is built-in and helps in entry of the OTP codes during online and mobile transactions.

The MIUI 7 integration with Mi Band has been improved and will now switch the Mi phone to Do Not Disturb (DND) mode when it detects that the users is asleep.

One of the notable features added in MIUI 7 is the addition of Showtime, which allows users to record a short video loop on phone and exchange contact card with friends. This will mean that every time a friend calls you, the Showtime video will run in loop. The feature will be rolling out in coming months.

Nuance Dragon Anywhere Voice Dictation App Announced for Android and iOS

After neglecting its standalone mobile apps and services for years, Nuance, a known name in speech and imaging technologies has announced the Dragon Anywhere app for Android and iOS. The company claims that its solution is far more capable at voice dictation those made by its long list of competitors including Apple, Google, and Microsoft. It has also released a new application for Mac.

Nuance doesn't need any introduction. In fact, as you might be familiar, the dictation feature on Apple's stock keyboard app uses Nuance's technologies. Most smartphones already have the voice dictation service built right into their keyboard. But Nuance says its Dragon Anywhere app has features that will make users prefer its app. One of its biggest features is its ability to take endless voice input, and transcribe everything accurately.

Many of you may have also used its desktop clients in the past. Any if you have, you will know that Nuance's service comes at a price. Dragon Anywhere will require you to cough up $15 for its monthly subscription, or $150 per year. You can use it on any number of iOS and Android devices you want. The Mac application, on the other hand, will set you back by $200. If you have paid for the old client, you can save $100 on the purchase of the new app. The Dragon Anywhere app for the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Android devices will become available later this year.

You can also use Dragon Anywhere to create documents and fill out forms. Furthermore using voice commands, you can navigate through a document, and edit transcribed texts. The idea is to make the whole experience as hands-free as possible. The app also lets you save the resulting document to Dropbox or Evernote. You can also save it to company's own cloud-based sync platform. The company says that Dragon Anywhere's voice detection algorithm will become better with time, as it gets hold of your accent (presumably). It supports auto-text, and also lets you add in custom words.

Another interesting feature of Dragon Anywhere is its ability to let users start dictating notes on the go. Users can then later go back to the client and check the transcribes. The app saves this information to the cloud, and syncs it with all other connected Dragon Anywhere clients - including the new Mac client alongside new Android and Windows application. Speaking of the Mac client, the company has released a new application and added interesting features including a small interface which can sit in the corner of your Mac for faster accessibility.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Six Things You Didn't Know You Could Do on Facebook

Did you know you can add a pronunciation guide to your name on Facebook? Overlay colorful text on the photos you post? How about mark the end of a relationship without your 500 closest friends getting notified?

Many of these tips and tricks aren't well known, even to veterans of the 1.5 billion-strong people-connector and time-waster. Facebook is constantly updating its service, adding new features or tweaking old ones. A lot can slip through the cracks even if you are scrolling through your friends' updates several times a day.

Here are a few ways to enhance your Facebook experience:

1. How do you say that?
More than 83 percent of Facebook's users are outside of the U.S. and Canada, and they use over 80 languages to communicate with friends and family. That's a lot of people, and a lot of different ways to say your name. To add a pronunciation guide, go to the "about" section of your profile and click on "details about you," (called "more about you" on mobile) then "name pronunciation." Here, Facebook will offer suggestions for your first and last name that you can listen to before selecting. If none work, you can also type in your own phonetic pronouncer.

2. One-time password
Logging in from a public computer? If you don't feel comfortable typing in your password on a shared machine that might have malicious software, Facebook lets you request a temporary one by texting "otp" to 32665. You'll get an eight-character passcode that works for the next 20 minutes and cannot be reused.

3. Unsubscribe
Anyone who's commented on a popular Facebook post, or belongs to a particularly chatty group, knows that those notifications telling you that "Jane Doe and 4 others also commented on a post" can get a bit annoying. You can turn off notifications for individual posts by clicking on the globe icon on the top right corner of your Web browser, then on the "X'' next to the individual notification. You can also change your notification settings here to get fewer or more of them for each group that you belong to.

To do this on mobile, click to view the original post, then click the down arrow in the top right corner of the post. You'll see an option to "turn off notifications."

4. Keep it on the down-low
Announcing engagements and marriages on Facebook is fun. Post and watch the likes and congrats roll in. Bask in the love and glory. Fast-forward a few years for some couples, and the glory fades, not to mention the love and marriage. In this case, you might not want to announce the irreversible breakdown to 450 of your closest friends.

Thankfully, you can still mark the end of a relationship without notifying everyone. Go to your profile and click on the "about" section, then "family and relationships on the left." Under relationship, you'll see a gray icon that probably says "friends," or maybe "public." Change it to "only me." Then change your relationship status. After a while, you can change it back if you wish. Your hundreds of acquaintances will be none the wiser, unless they are stalking your profile to see if you are single.

5. Picture perfect
Thanks to a popular but little-known new feature, Facebook lets you spruce up the photos you post by adding text and quirky stickers, such as drawings of scuba gear, sunglasses or a corn dog. This tool is available on iPhones and is coming soon to Android devices. To use it, choose a photo to upload and click the magic wand icon. Here, you'll find text overlay options as well as the same stickers you can use in other parts of Facebook.

6. Security check
Another recent addition to Facebook's trove of tools is a "security checkup" that guides users through a checklist aimed at making their account more secure. This includes logging out of Facebook on Web browsers and apps they are not using, and receiving alerts when someone tries to log in to their account from an unfamiliar device or browser.

Lenovo A2010 With Dual-SIM 4G Support, Android 5.1 Launched at Rs. 4,990

Lenovo has announced the launch of A2010, a 4G dual-SIM smartphone that runs Android 5.1 Lollipop and costs Rs. 4,990. The Lenovo A2010 will be Flipkart exclusive, with registrations for the first flash sale of the smartphone on September 3 at 3pm having begun on Wednesday.

The Lenovo A2010 becomes the cheapest 4G smartphone in the country, taking the throne from the ZTE Blade Qlux 4G and the Phicomm Energy 653 that were launched recently carrying a price tag of Rs. 4,999. The Lenovo A2010 supports the two available LTE bands in India - FDD 1800MHz (Band 3) and TDD 2300MHz (Band 40). Lenovo claims 30 percent share of the 4G smartphone market in India, and the Lenovo A2010 will help the company further strengthen its position.

As far as specifications are concerned, the Lenovo A2010 comes with a 4.5-inch FWVGA (480x854) display and is powered by a 1GHz MediaTek MT6735m 64-bit quad core chipset alongside 1GB RAM and 8GB inbuilt storage. It comes with support for microSD cards up to 32GB. The Lenovo A2010 features 5-megapixel rear and 2-megapixel front fixed-focus cameras. As mentioned earlier, the A2010 is a dual-SIM GSM+GSM smartphone (Micro-SIM cards) that runs Android 5.1 Lollipop. Connectivity options on the Lenovo A2010 include Bluetooth 4.0 LE, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, FM radio, and 4G. It comes with a 2000mAh user replaceable battery.

Commenting on the launch of the Lenovo A2010, Sudhin Mathur, Director- Smartphones, Lenovo India said, "An Indian consumer is evolved and willing to move with the world. We at Lenovo are looking to bridge the gap between the latest technology and an Indian consumer by offering innovative and future-proof devices easily available to the masses at an affordable price. Lenovo A2010 is a step in this direction."

LinkedIn Lookup App to Help Find Co-Workers With Specific Skills

LinkedIn, after launching a fleet of apps such as Job Search, Connected, Recruiter, and Sales Navigator, has now launched its LinkedIn Lookup app. The app is meant for users to find their co-workers, or colleagues in the same organisation, with specific skills and responsibilities.

Announcing the new app, LinkedIn in a blog post said that the app "makes professionals more productive and successful by helping them easily find, learn about, and contact their coworkers."

The company said it had conducted a survey with 814 professionals in North America found that 38 percent said their company's intranet did a good job at helping them learn about their co-workers, while 58 percent said they could do a better job if could find fellow employees with a specific set of skills. The company said 30 percent of LinkedIn users who searched for other users were actually looking for co-workers' profiles.

The new LinkedIn Lookup app would now let employees search for co-workers in the same workplace. Users can search for co-workers by feeding their names, title, current or previous experience, educational, or skills. From the list of co-workers, users can tap on any of the profile to further scan through their accounts as if they do usually on LinkedIn.

Users in the Lookup app can also set their contact preferences, letting others to get in touch using the contact numbers. If no contact preference is given, users either can send a message from within the Lookup app or can email directly to their LinkedIn work email ID. Users can also message co-workers, and if the recipient does not have Lookup installed, they will receive the message in their LinkedIn inbox. The firm has made it clear that messages sent to the LinkedIn inbox will not be counted as InMails.

The LinkedIn Lookup app is currently only available for iOS users via App Store. The app weighs 16.7MB and is compatible with iOS 8.0 and later OS versions.

Last month the company removed its contact export tool from the website, asking the members to use a new method to export contacts that would help "combat the inappropriate export of member data by third parties." However, it later turned the contact export tool (also known as the CSV and VCF download tool) back on after an outcry by users. Notably, the alternate process to export contacts took up to 72 hours, which was time taking and demanded more effort than usual.

Fly Your Name to Mars Aboard Nasa's Next Mission

Mars enthusiasts around the world can send their name to the Red Planet aboard Nasa's InSight Mars lander which is scheduled to be launched next year.

As part of its "fly-your-name" initiative, Nasa will adds thousands of names to a silicon microchip headed to the Red Planet.

"Our next step in the journey to Mars is another fantastic mission to the surface," said Jim Green, director of planetary science at Nasa headquarters in Washington, DC.

"By participating in this opportunity to send your name aboard InSight to the Red Planet, you're showing that you're part of that journey and the future of space exploration," he said in a statement.

Submissions, available on Nasa website, will be accepted till September 8.

The "fly-your-name" opportunity comes with "frequent flier" points to reflect an individual's personal participation in Nasa's journey to Mars, which will span multiple missions and multiple decades.

The InSight mission offers the second such opportunity for space exploration fans to collect points by flying their names aboard a Nasa mission, with more opportunities to follow.

Last December, the names of 1.38 million people flew on a chip aboard the first flight of Nasa's Orion spacecraft, which will carry astronauts to deep space destinations including Mars and an asteroid.

After InSight, the next opportunity to earn frequent flier points will be Nasa's Exploration Mission-1 - the first planned test flight bringing together the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion capsule in preparation for human missions to Mars and beyond.

InSight will be launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, in March 2016 and land on Mars on September 28, 2016.

The mission is the first dedicated to the investigation of the deep interior of the planet.

It will place the first seismometer directly on the surface of Mars to measure Martian quakes and use seismic waves to learn about the planet's interior.

It also will deploy a self-hammering heat probe that will burrow deeper into the ground than any previous device on the Red Planet.

"These and other InSight investigations will improve our understanding about the formation and evolution of all rocky planets, including Earth," the US space agency said.

Monday, 17 August 2015

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt's

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has had a slew of free downloadable content (DLC) pushed out since its launch. On Monday, the much-awaited New Game Plus mode has been released for the game. What this means is, if you have finished The Witcher 3, you can play it again with all the progress and items (except quest items) you have intact from your last playthrough.

It comes with some strings attached though. If you are level 30 or higher, your level will stay the same when you access New Game Plus. If it is less, you will be bumped up to level 30 on starting. And if you want to reset your skills, you can use a clearing potion that's granted to you when you access New Game Plus mode.

Weighing in at a mere 9.51MB on the Xbox One, it should hit the PC and PlayStation 4 shortly. This is the final piece of free DLC for the game and should be around the same size.

The critically acclaimed role-playing game has seen its fair share of controversy of late. CD Projekt RED, developers of the game, had to bear the brunt of fan backlash after it released modding tools for the game that were not as fully-featured as they were expected to be. Furthermore, the company's response of no plans to release anything more in terms of mod support didn't help matters.

Nonetheless, with two paid expansions promising over 20 hours of gameplay time expected in the coming months, fans of the game have a lot to look forward to.

Are you a fan of The Witcher 3? Planning to take it on in New Game Plus? Or was one playthrough enough? Let us know in the comments.