LG G3 Accessories: First Look

Earlier today LG unveiled its new flagship smartphone along with a bunch of accessories at a glitzy event in Mumbai featuring the Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan. We’ve already shared our hands-on experience with the LG G Watch. However, it’s not the only interesting G3 accessory that LG is launching.

Cases

LG has enhanced its Quick Window case and renamed it as the Quick Circle case for the G3. As the name suggests, the transparent portion of the case is now circular. Tapping the circle a couple of times activates the display, which by default displays clockfaces. Like earlier, there are several clockfaces, but the combination of insanely high display resolution and the circular shape makes them appear stunningly beautiful. LG has also thrown in a soft glow effect for the rim of the circular window, which gets activated when you receive a call or a message. Double tapping activates the circular window, and a quick swipe lets you access the music player, pedometer, email, phone, and camera.

LG Quick Circle Case - Analogue Watch

LG Quick Circle Case - Change Watch Face

LG Quick Circle Case - Digital Watch

LG Quick Circle Case - Options

Besides the Quick Circle case LG is also launching a Slim Guard case with protective rubber edges and a Slim Hard case with premium leather finishing. All three cases support Qi wireless charging.

Charging Dock

Quite naturally LG is also launching a new wireless charging dock to take advantage of the aforementioned Qi wireless charging support. The dock is a simply white slab that can be propped up to double up as a stand for the phone. The phone can be placed on the dock in either orientation – portrait and landscape. However, the stand is not very secure in both modes, and needs to be accurately aligned with the dock for charging to commence

LG Wireless Charging Dock

Headset

LG has partnered with the famous audio equipment manufacturer Harman Kardon for its behind-the-neck Bluetooth audio headset. The in-ear headset has retractable cables, which ensures that the cables never gets tangled. The headset features a 220 mAh battery is rated at a whopping 550 hours of stand-by, 17 hours of talk time, and 14 hours of playback on a charge. The headset features a jog button to fast forward and rewind music, and sounds an alert and vibrates whenever there are incoming messages. When paired with the LG G3, it even announces the name or phone number of the caller. Raising the G3 up to your ear will automatically disengage the headset and allow you to converse using your phone.

LG Tone Infinim

LG Tone Infinim - Close Up

LG G Watch Launched in India – Hands-On and First Impression

The LG G Watch is one of the first smartwatches to be powered by Android Wear — Google’s new operating system for wearables. The G Watch is yet to ship to the first group of buyers from India; however, it was on display at LG’s glittering G3 launch event in Mumbai, and we got some hands-on time with the smartwatch.

LG G Watch - 1

The G Watch is powered by Snapdragon™ 400 processor with 1.2GHz CPU, and connects with any Android smartphone running Android 4.3 or above via Bluetooth LE (Low Energy). It sports a 1.65” IPS LCD touchscreen display with 280×280 pixel resolution. It has a 9 Axis (Accelerometer/Compass/Gyro) sensor, but there’s no heart rate monitor.

LG G Watch - Hands On

LG G Watch - Hands On

The LG G Watch is not small by any means, but is reasonably slender given the kind of hardware it is packing inside. However, it’s hard to get excited about the design, especially with Moto 360 on the way. The watch-face is square and blocky, and the straps are rubberised. Unlike the Samsung Gear Live, the G Watch’s rear is completely flat, which makes the watch protrude awkwardly from the edges of your wrist. The Gear Live has a gentle curve, which makes it fit better on normal wrist sizes. The display is decent, but also of lower resolution than Samsung’s offering. However, at such small screen sizes, this will not be a major issue.

LG G Watch - Side View

The G Watch doesn’t have any buttons, and is meant to be controlled solely through voice and the touchscreen. Tapping on the screen wakes up the device and you can either speak your commands, or you can select from a list of available activities. Alternatively you can also say ‘OK Google’ to directly jump into Google Now. Available activities include setting alarm, checking your calendar, starting stopwatch, checking your fitness data, and taking notes on Keep. You can extend this list by installing Android Wear compatible apps. You can scroll through the list and access any of the apps with a simple tap. You can scroll through various cards, and swipe to the left to bring up more options. You even do stuff like dictate replies to mail or a hangout. A swipe towards the right exits the current app and brings you to the homescreen. The homescreen displays the current time, along with notifications from Google Now. This can include information about upcoming events and meetings, flight information, and weather. There are also multiple watch faces that you can select from.

LG G Watch - Apps

LG G Watch - Apps

LG G Watch - Stopwatch

LG G Watch - Settings

The G Watch is snappy, and I didn’t spot any lag. However, I did notice that the touchscreen sometimes failed to register my swipes, if I can’t careful. The 400 mAh battery is expected to last for about two days, which is more than some of the other products in the market, but hardly good enough for a watch. The G Watch is charged via a special cradle with magnetic plates that securely attaches with the watch. The charging dock itself is powered by a standard microUSB cable. The dock feels quite sturdy, however, if you manage to lose or break the dock, you might end up with an expensive brick on your hand, as replacement docks aren’t available for purchase at the moment.

LG G Watch - Dock

LG G Watch - Rear

The G Watch is meant to showcase Android Wear, and that’s what it does. However, it fails to make you go ‘wow’ with either style or functionality. Android Wear is a powerful platform and is capable of doing lots of cool stuff. However, both the platform and the hardware have quite a few shortcomings. The design is unappealing, the display is average, there are very few apps available at the moment, and the battery is not great. However, all of this is pretty much expected from a first generation device running on the very first version of an OS. The LG G Watch is meant to showcase Android Wear, and that’s exactly what it feels like – an early, unfinished device that offers a glimpse of the potential of the platform. The Android Wear platform is brand new, and there are plenty of usability issues that it needs to figure out. Even simple stuff like opening an app or chatting with someone via hangout can end up being a frustrating experience. The LG G Watch is priced at ₹ 14,999, and in its present avatar is not for everyone. Buy this only if you enjoy being an early adopter and want to be ahead of the curve.

LG G Watch with G3

Digiflip Pro XT 712 Tablet Unboxing and Review

Last week, Flipkart stepped into the electronics market with the launch of its own tablet – the Digiflip Pro XT712. Much like the Amazon Kindle Fire, the Digiflip will serve as a vehicle to increase customer engagement with various Flipkart products. However, unlike the Kindle, Digiflip doesn’t quite put Flipkart left, right, and center. Instead, it offers an almost pure stock Android experience with a couple of bundled Flipkart apps. But, before getting into the details of the software, let’s take a closer look the hardware.

Digiflip by Flipkart

Unboxing the Digiflip

The packaging is neat and functional. Lifting the thermocol seat that comfortably houses the Digiflip, reveals the accessories compartment. Included in the package are a power adaptor (along with an USB cable), an in-ear earphone, an earphone converter, a manual, and a soft wipe. I also ordered the book case, which was available at 50% discount.

DigiFlip by FlipKart Unboxing 1

DigiFlip by FlipKart Unboxing 2

DigiFlip by FlipKart Unboxing 3

DigiFlip by FlipKart Unboxing 4

DigiFlip by FlipKart Unboxing 5

DigiFlip by FlipKart Unboxing 6

DigiFlip by FlipKart Unboxing 7

DigiFlip by FlipKart Unboxing 8 Flipkart Digiflip Unboxing

Appearance and Display

The Digiflip is sturdily built, and feels solid and reassuring. There’s no metal here, but the polycarbonate body manages to avoid the cheap plasticky feeling. The power button and volume controls are on the top left, but there is no physical camera button. The 3.5 mm earphone jack is on the top, while the micro-USB port is at the bottom. The speaker grill is just beneath the front camera.

The Digiflip Pro sports a 7’’ IPS display with a resolution of resolution of 1280 X 800, which amounts to a 216 ppi pixel-density. If you look closely, you can spot the pixels, and outdoor visibility is just about decent. However, considering the price range, the display is actually quite decent, with good contrast and viewing angles.

Flipkart Digiflip Tablet - Front
Flipkart Digiflip Tablet – Front
Flipkart Digiflip Tablet - Side
Flipkart Digiflip Tablet – Side

Hardware

Perhaps the weakest point of the Digiflip Pro is the hardware powering the tablet. It uses the low-end MediaTek MT8382 chipset, which houses a 1.3 GHZ Quad Core CPU. GeekBench3 benchmark suggests that the CPU is on par with flagships from a couple of years back. The GPU is Mali 400 MP2 clocked at 500 MHz This is even weaker than the CPU, and is comparable to GPUs that Android flagships like the Galaxy SII were using as far back as 2011. Quite obviously, with such an outdated hardware, the Digiflip Pro doesn’t fare very well in synthetic benchmarks.

Flipkart Digiflip Benchmark - Geekbench 3 Single Core
Flipkart Digiflip Benchmark – Geekbench 3 Single Core
Flipkart Digiflip Benchmark - Geekbench 3 Multi Core
Flipkart Digiflip Benchmark – Geekbench 3 Multi Core
Flipkart Digiflip Benchmark - Basemark X
Flipkart Digiflip Benchmark – Basemark X
Flipkart Digiflip Benchmark - 3D Mark
Flipkart Digiflip Benchmark – 3D Mark

Synthetic benchmarks aside, the Digiflip performs quite well for regular day to day tasks. Web browsing experience is smooth, as is watching videos on YouTube. It handles casual games like EA Golf and Score! With ease, but if you’re planning on playing more heavy duty games, this is not the tablet for you.

Multimedia

The Digiflip features a 5 megapixel rear camera with flash and autofocus that’s capable of recording videos at 1080p. The front camera is takes snaps at 2 megapixels. On paper all of these specs sound decent enough, but specs can be deceiving. There’s no way to sugar coat this. The Digiflip camera is bad. Both the front and the back camera fail to take a decent picture in any lighting. Using the flash over exposes the picture to the point of hiding any detail in the image. Here are a few sample images captured with the rear camera.

Flipkart Digiflip Camera Sample - Outdoor
Flipkart Digiflip Camera Sample – Outdoor
Flipkart Digiflip Camera Sample - Indoor with Florescent Light
Flipkart Digiflip Camera Sample – Indoor with Florescent Light
Flipkart Digiflip Camera Sample - Indoor with Flash
Flipkart Digiflip Camera Sample – Indoor with Flash

Flipkart uses MxPlayer, which is a great decision, given that it’s one of the most versatile players available in the market. MxPlayer managed to play back any video I threw at it, and had no issues in with playing back 720p HD videos, even with software renderer. 1080p videos, however, proved to be too much to handle for the software renderer (none of the formats I had worked with hardware renderer).

The stereo speaker won’t impress anyone with its loudness or quality, but it gets the job done. And, thankfully, it’s front-facing, which means most of the time (but not always) it’s loud enough to be audible. As I mentioned earlier, the Digiflip accessories bundle also includes an earphone adaptor. The reason behind this is that the Digiflip uses OMTP standard, which pretty much everyone else has abandoned. If you want to use your Apple devices compatible existing earphone on the Digiflip or the Digiflip earphone on other new electronic devices, you’ll need to use the bundled CTIA-OMTP converter. As far as the earphone itself is concerned, it’s not very good. But, even using a different pair will only help improve sound quality marginally, as Digiflip’s audio processor itself seems to produce a lot of noise.

Connectivity options include dual-SIM 3G HSPA+, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 LE, and USB OTG. There’s no NFC. The battery is not removable and is rated at 3000 mAh battery with a talk time of around 8 hours. Digiflip ships with 16 gigs of internal storage (out of which about 12 gigs is available to the user), and supports micro SD cards up to 32 GB.

Software

The Digiflip runs an almost stock Android 4.2.2 (Jellybean). While I’m glad that Flipkart chose to provide a near stock experience, it’s disappointing that the version of Android that Digiflip is shipping with is over sixteen months old. Given that there are no custom modifications to handle, I don’t understand why the Digiflip couldn’t ship with KitKat. What’s worrying is that Flipkart hasn’t even committed to shipping KitKat or newer builds.

Flipkart Digiflip Homescreen
Flipkart Digiflip -Homescreen
Flipkart Digiflip - Version Info
Flipkart Digiflip – Version Info

While Flipkart hasn’t modified the core Android experience, the Digiflip comes bundled with Flipkart shopping and eBook apps, which aren’t removable. The eBook app comes bundled with a dozen eBooks work Rs. 2, 300, while the shopping app includes various coupons with a cumulative discount of Rs. 5000. Each coupon can only be used once, and is valid until the end of the year.

Flipkart Digiflip - Free eBooks
Flipkart Digiflip – Free eBooks

Conclusion

The Digiflip is a rather well rounded tablet, whose main draw is obviously the low price point (Rs. 9,999). The added goodies thrown in by Flipkart (including a Platronics Bluetooth headset) sweeten the deal further. The weakest link of the Digiflip is its low-end chipset, which makes it unsuitable for heavy duty tasks. The camera output is also disappointing. However, the near stock Android helps the tablet to remain snappy and it’s well suited as a media consumption device. The Digiflip is all about making the right compromises. It doesn’t have any killer features to set it apart from the crowd. However, there’ also no Achilles’ heels. For a budget tablet, that can often prove to be enough.

Round-up of Everything Announced At Google I/O 2014

The first day of the 2014 edition of Google I/O was jam packed with new product and feature announcements. Some had leaked in advance, many were expected, while the rest took everyone by surprise. If you didn’t get a chance to watch the conference, here’s a round-up of everything (well, almost everything) announced by Google.

Google-IO-2014

Android L Release

The big news was of course new edition of Android. Google referred to the next-gen Android as simply the ‘L release’. The L release will be available to the general public in the fall of 2014; however, for the first time ever, Google will be providing a developer preview, which is expected to be released later today.

Android-L-Material-Design
Android L Release – Material Design

The L release will sport a massive design overhaul as a part of Google’s new cross-platform design principle called Material design. Material design, which will be used across Google properties, including Android and Chrome OS, builds on top of the flat design trend by adding a sense of depth and lighting, beautiful typography, and intelligent animations that enable seamless transition between content. Material design is vibrant, fresh and cheery without appearing to be immature. Based on the demos shown by Google, Material design feels like a brilliant evolution of a lot of concepts introduced by Microsoft’s Metro design language.

The L release’s enhancements aren’t just skin deep though. In fact, Google is throwing out the Dalvik Virtual Machine and replacing it with the Android Run Time (ART). ART is already present in KitKat devices as an optional alternative; however, in the L release, ART will be completely replacing Dalvik. ART uses various optimizations (including Ahead of Time code compilation, enhanced garbage collection, and 64 bit support) to offer significant performance benefits. Google is also working with hardware manufacturers on Android Extension Pack, which will enable game developers to provide console quality graphics on mobile devices.

Android-L-ART
Android L Release – ART

The L release also shines the spotlight on one of the major weak points of modern day smartphones – battery life. The next edition of Android should be able to last longer thanks to Project Volta. Besides introducing a Battery Saver mode, which will be disabling battery intensive services and throttling the CPU, Google has worked on enhanced data collection and better resource utilization.

There are numerous other enhancements in the next edition of Android, including more useful notifications, easier ways to authenticate and unlock your phone, and better multi-tasking.

Android One

Android One is a set of reference hardware that Google will be creating for smartphone manufacturers. Google is hoping that Android One will enable its partners to quickly create high quality Android phones at a low price point. The Android One initiative will begin in India, with Micromax, Karbonn, and Spice as the OEM partners. Android One phones will ship with stock OS, but Google will allow automatic download of OEM apps (Play auto-install). To put it simply, Android One is Google’s Nexus program re-imagined for the emerging markets. These low-end devices are expected to cost less than a hundred dollars.

Android-One
Android One

Android Wear

Earlier in the summer, Google had offered a sneak peek of Android Wear, its new operating system for wearables. At the Google IO, it released the Android Wear SDK, announced the first devices from its hardware partners, and gave a more detailed look at how Android Wear will work. For apps on your smartphone that support Android Wear, the Wear part of the app will automatically be installed and updated on your watch. This is a major improvement over other wearable operating systems as it avoids the hassle of having to install an app on the tiny watch, and then to go back and install the parent app on the phone. Android Wear will continuously stay in sync with your mobile phone, and will be leveraging voice controls and Google now to make your life simpler.

The first two Android Wear devices to launch are the LG G Watch, and the Samsung Gear Live. Both of them currently available on the play store for $229 and $199 respectively. Motorola’s gorgeous Moto360 will be available later this summer.

Android Auto

As the name suggests, this is Android for cars. The focus with Android auto is on simplified navigation and voice controls. As soon as you plug in your phone in the car, your Android installation is projected on the car’s infotainment system. You can control the OS with your voice as well as by using the controls provided in the car. The focus points of Android Auto are navigation, music, and communication. However, Google will be providing an Android Auto SDK, which will enable developers to extend the experience. Launch partners for Android Auto include Audi and Honda.

Android TV

In a move which surprised absolutely no one, Google also announced Android TV. Television sets are quite often the biggest displays in a household, and Google quite obviously wants to be on them. Android TV features a smart homescreen that acts as your content hub. It features a recommendation screen that’s tuned to your watching habits, apps, and games. Android users will be able to cast multimedia content on their TV, just like you’d be able to do with Chromecast. Gaming is also one of the focus areas of Android TV, with support for multi-player experience between smartphone/tablet users and TV users.

Android-TV
Android TV

Chromecast

Chromecast, which was the unexpected hit of last year, also got its fair share of improvements. It’s no longer necessary for everyone to be on the same network to be able to cast to your TV. You’ll also be able to cast exactly what’s on your Android tablet or smartphone screen (device mirroring) on your TV. There’s also a new Backdrop feature which will allow you to play a slideshow of pictures from your personal gallery as well as Google curated content. Using your TV to play slideshows while no one is paying attention seems to be a massive waste of energy to me, but I guess there must be takers for this. Google also announced the launch of a new website as well as a separate category in the Play Store for Chromecast apps.

Chrome OS

Thanks to updates in the Chrome OS, your Chromebook will now be a lot more in sync with your phone. You’ll be able to unlock your Chromebook automatically if your phone is around. Incoming phone calls and text messages will show on your Chromebook. You’ll get notified when your phone’s battery is low. And finally, you can even run Android apps on your Chromebook. This feature is a work in progress, and might take some time to arrive. However, with all of Android’s powerful apps and games, Chromebooks will suddenly become a lot more useful.

Chrome-OS
Chrome OS running Android App

Google Cardboard

This could have easily been an April fool’s day joke, but it is not. In fact, it’s possibly the weirdest and product on display at Google IO. Google gave away a Cardboard to every attendee. And this, is what I mean by Cardboard.

Google-Cardboard
Google Cardboard

Once you assemble the device, all you need to do is pop in your phone, and launch the Cardboard app. You’ll have a low-tech, but apparently awesome Virtual Reality headset with head tracking (powered by your phone’s accelerometer and gyroscope). The only button on the device is in the form of a metallic ring that you can flick to select items on the screen.

Other Updates

Some of the other stuff that were announced yesterday include:
Google Fit: A fitness platform with a multi-OS API that aims to aggregate a user’s fitness data.
Google Play: Play Games will get Quests and a Saved Game section, while Play Store will be get carrier billing option for user purchases.
Google Cloud: Google announced several enhancements to its Cloud infrastructure which is leveraged by several popular apps and services. A new suite of tools – Cloud Save, Cloud Debugger, Cloud Trace, and Cloud Monitoring – were introduced.
Google Docs: Google’s online suite of productivity apps will now be able to open, edit, and save Office files including Word Documents, Excel Spreadsheets, and PowerPoint Presentations.
Android for Work: Google will be building on the work done by Samsung on Knox to offer a secure environment for enterprise that’ll be separated from your personal data and apps. Drive for work will offer an unlimited storage option for just $10 per user per month.

Aviate Launcher Steps out of Beta, Gets One Step Closer to Becoming the Perfect Android Home Screen

Aviate Launcher, which dubs itself as an ‘intelligent homescreen’ for Android, was acquired by Yahoo in January. Unlike most other Yahoo acquisitions, Aviate wasn’t put on the chopping block. To the contrary, Yahoo promised to make it a core part of its Android-based experiences in 2014 and beyond. Today, Aviate came out of the private beta, and released the most significant update since its launch.

Aviate-Home-Screen-Android

The new version retains the two cornerstones of Aviate.

Workspaces

Your Aviate experience changes throughout the day based on where you are and what you are doing. There are several pre-configured workspaces (‘Spaces’ in Aviate terminology) like Today, Moving, Listening, Work, Home, and Nearby. If Aviate detects that you’re at work, it will automatically show scheduled events from your calendar and display productivity apps. If it detects that you’re travelling, it will automatically pull tips about nearby venues from Foursquare. Throughout the day it keeps switching between the different Spaces to surface information and apps that are most relevant. Each of these workspaces can be manually configured to display the content that you want. Yahoo has also begun leveraging Aviate to cross-sell its other apps by tying them in with the workspaces. For example, the Today page integrates with Yahoo News Digest to showcase breaking news from around the world. I suspect that future versions will integrate other Yahoo properties including Stocks, Weather and Flickr.

Aviate-Spaces
Aviate – Spaces

Collections

Aviate automatically categorises all installed apps into Collections like Social, Productivity, Utilities, Music, Transit, and Games. You can add or remove apps from Collections, or even create entirely new Collections. You can add these Collections to relevant Spaces to get quick access to apps when you really need them. Each Collection also doubles up as a neat app discovery service, by suggesting other popular apps that belong to the same category.

Aviate-Collection
Aviate – Collections
Aviate-App-Drawer
Aviate – App Drawer

Aviate has also introduced three major enhancements with this release.

Favorite People

A simple swipe up from the home screen brings up a list of your favorite contacts as well as recently dialled numbers. This ensures that the people you want to call or message are just a swipe away.

Aviate - Favorite People
Aviate – Favorite People

Calendar

Previously Aviate used to simply display calendar apps when you were at work. It now directly displays your calendar entries in the Spaces and offers neat options such as getting directions to your next meeting, booking an Uber to your destination, or directly calling a conference number. This is once again an example of Yahoo leveraging its existing portfolio to improve Aviate. The calendar capabilities are similar to what was previously present in Donna, an intelligent assistant from Incredible Labs, which was acquired by Yahoo.

Aviate-Space-Calendar-Integration
Aviate – Today Space

Daily Delight

As mentioned earlier, Aviate integrates with News Digest to offer you a quick glimpse of events around the world. A new digest is available twice a day –in the morning and in the evening. The weather functionality has been enhanced so that if a significant deviation in weather forecast is detected from the previous day, Aviate will automatically alert you. Additionally, Aviate also monitors your usage to double up as a light-weight sleep tracker.

Aviate-Home-Screen
Aviate – Customised Home Screen with Google Now

Smart launchers aren’t exactly a new concept in the Android world. However, among all the smart launchers that I’ve tried, Aviate is the one that comes closest to getting it right. The objective of smart launchers is to make you more productive by simplifying things, and simplification often mandates trimming down on features. The biggest challenge for developers is to achieve this without alienating users by eliminating the strong suites of Android. For example, Nokia’s Z Launcher goes too far in its pursuit of simplicity. By removing everything from multiple screens to folders and widgets, Z launcher stifles users. Using Aviate also entails sacrifices. You’ll have to live without live wallpapers. You’re restricted to three screens – Spaces, Home, and Collections. You can configure these screens by adding app collections and widgets, but you won’t get the myriad of options that you’d get with Nova or ADW. Nevertheless, Aviate never ends up being too restrictive. Once you spend some time personalizing your home screen and the Spaces, you’ll have a smart home screen that’s truly personal. And, this is its biggest achievement.

[ Download Aviate ]

RunPee Helps You Plan Your Bathroom Break during Movies

Intermissions were necessary in the olden days because as they enabled the operators to change reels. However, as technology improved, intermissions became unnecessary, and were phased out in most parts of the world to save time and squeeze in more shows. India remains an exception, where for both Bollywood and Hollywood movies, theatres have an intermission, which gives the audience a chance grab more popcorn.

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RunPee – Plan your Bathroom Break During Movies

The unfortunate downside to phasing out intermissions is that, in case you need to take a leak, you are forced to miss out on parts of the movie. RunPee is a mobile app that’s designed to help you with planning your bathroom break during a movie. Theaters don’t have pause buttons, but with RunPee you can at least ensure that you don’t miss out on the best parts of the movie. RunPee’s database is updated the day a movie comes out with the best moments to run to the bathroom. These scenes are normally three to five minute intervals in the movie where not a lot happens. RunPee tells you the exact time that the scene will start at as well as a dialogue by which you can identify the scene.

RunPee-Peetimes
RunPee – List of Best Peetimes during a Movie

For an app with just one purpose, RunPee is rather feature packed. You can either select a movie, and chose to identify the scene manually. Or you can start a timer as soon as the movie starts, and RunPee will vibrate your phone, when a ‘peetime’ comes along. It also provides a quick summary of what happens during the scene.

RunPee-Bathroom-Break-Timer
RunPee- Countdown Timer to the Best Bathroom Breaks during Movies

There are also a couple of bonus features. If you’re running late, you can read a summary of what happens during the first three minutes of the movie on RunPee. Additionally, it also informs you if there are any extra scenes during or after the end credits.

RunPee-End-Credits-Bonus-Feature
RunPee – Bonus Features

RunPee is a free download on iOS and Android, while the Windows Phone version costs $0.99. I reviewed the Android version, and found it to work rather well. The user interface doesn’t strictly adhere to the Android design guidelines and is a mishmash of Android and iOS UI elements. RunPee won’t blow you away with its design, but the apps is undoubtedly handy, and serves its purpose brilliantly.

[ Download RunPee ]

Save Mobile Data on Android with Opera Max

Opera web browsers have long had the ability to speed up web surfing and conserve bandwidth by compressing web traffic. Opera Mini compresses all web traffic and serves a static representation of the web page, while Opera for Desktop and Android have an ‘Off-Road’ (previously Turbo) mode that can be enabled to turn on data compression. However, Android users can enjoy the same benefits without being tied down to Opera browser thanks to Opera Max.

Opera Max acts as a VPN, which reroutes all unencrypted traffic through its servers, where the data is first compressed and then sent to your Android smartphone. Opera Max is also the first product from the Norwegian browser developer to leverage SkyFire’s Rocket Optimizer technology. Opera had acquired SkyFire Labs in early 2013 for $155 million. Rocket Optimizer can compress nearly every streaming video, including YouTube videos, to realize data savings up to 60%. Additionally, Opera Max also compresses standard web traffic including text and images.

Opera-Max-Compress-Mobile-Data
Opera Max – Data Compression Statistics

Getting started with Opera Max is pretty simple. After you download the app, you’ll be prompted to grant it permission to act as a VPN. There’s no configuration required beyond this. Opera Max will stay in the background and compress data used by various apps. It can’t compress everything. For example, streaming music as well as encrupted traffic aren’t compressed. However, you should be able to realize about 10% data savings during normal web surfing, and a lot more during video playback. It automatically disables itself when you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network. Opera Max also acts as a pretty neat bandwidth monitor that gives you daily and monthly breakdowns of network bandwidth usage. You can select a app to view its history of data usage, and even prevent that app from using mobile data.

Opera-Max-Save-Mobile-Data
Opera Max – Prevent an App From Using Mobile Data

Opera Max is free to use, but it also has a Recharge tab. There isn’t much you can do other there, other than tapping a button to recharge Opera Max for free every seven days. Presumably, the recharge tab is there because Opera intends to switch to a freemium model later on.

Most people with smartphones are tied down by meagre data packs that are often not bigger than 1 GB. Even if Opera Max manages to save only a hundred megabytes per month, that will enable users to get several extra days’ worth of usage from their data packs. How useful Opera Max proves to be will depend on your internet usage habits. People who mainly use mobile data for streaming music on the go, won’t be able to realize significant benefits. However, if you watch a lot of videos or surf a lot, you might end up with significant savings. Over the past week, I’ve consumed 450 MB of data, out of which, more than 300 MB was file downloads and Spotify streaming that Opera can’t compress. For the remaining 150 MB of bandwidth usage, Opera managed to save 19 MB of data usage.

[ Download Opera Max ]

Kaspersky Tops Antivirus Shootout, Windows Defender Worst of the Lot

Anti-virus software is no longer a catch-all solution for your security due to the multitude of new vectors. However, it still makes sense to have an effective anti-virus software installed on your system. Renowned security testing lab Av-Test put 25 consumer antivirus-solutions through the wringer to determine how well they perform in real-world scenarios on Windows 8.1.

All the security apps were graded on three criteria – Protection, Performance, and Usability. The first criterion is an indication of the detection rate. Each security software was tested on a system with 20,646 known (malware that have been widespread and prevalent in the last four weeks) and 138 unknown samples. The Performance score is based on the amount of impact the security software had on the system performance, while usability is determined by the amount of false positives.

The good news is that most of the antivirus suites performed pretty well, with only three tools ending up with a detection rate below 94% on unknown malware. The average detection rate for known malware was 98%. The bad news is that Microsoft Windows Defender, which ships with Windows 8.1 performed abysmally. It was the worse of the lot scoring 0 points in protection. The other two poor performers in the heuristics test were the Tencent PC Manager and AhnLab V3 Internet Security. Even popular third-party freeware products like AVG and Avast performed relatively poorly. Panda Cloud Antivirus and Qihoo 360 Internet Security were the top performing free antivirus software.

Windows-Defender-Detection-Rate
Windows Defender Protection Results

The overall top performer was Kaspersky Internet Security 2014, which obtained a perfect score of 18. Qihoo, McAfee, Bitdefender and Avira scored 17.5 points. As many as nine antimalware apps got a perfect score in the detection tests. The high score were undoubtedly influenced by Av-Test’s decision to use only widespread and prevalent malware for the known samples test, but it also makes Windows Defender’s mere 79% detection rate look even worse.

Antivirus-Shootout-Result
Av-Test Antivirus Shootout Results

5 Reasons Why the LG G3 Might Be the Best Smartphone of the Season

LG Mobile has officially unveiled its latest flagship, the LG G3. Due to the flood of leaks in the days leading up to the official unveiling event held in London, there were very few surprises. However, the star of the night still left an impression. LG has come a long way over the past few years. The recent Nexus devices manufactured by LG have received rave reviews, and the G2 and other recent launches did well enough to push LG into the #3 spot (behind Samsung and Apple) in the world of cell phones.

The LG G3 has a lot riding on its back, and based on what we saw tonight, LG might have another hit on its hands. With the G3, LG has rectified its mistakes and enhanced its strengths. Here are five reasons, why the G3 might turn out to be the best Android smartphone of the season.

LG-G3-Poster
LG G3

Superb Display

LG-G3-Front

The G3 features a 5.5’’ screen with a whopping QHD resolution (2560 x 1440 pixels). This amounts to a pixel density of 538 ppi, which is way ahead of anything its competition can offer. In order to ensure that the QHD display doesn’t kill the battery, the G3 dynamically throttles frame rates in addition to throttling the CPU. However, the big question is how much 4K content will become available in the coming months, as right now none of the non-stock apps are designed to take advantage of the super high resolution display.

Slim Body

LG-G3-Back

The G3 uses faux metal (“light-weight metallic skin” is the term being used by LG) for it’s latest flagship, which might not be as premium as the Xperia Z2 or the One M8, but is still better than the G2 and the Galaxy S5. This isn’t the only improvement in the G2’s design. The LG G2 was smaller than the Xperia Z1, in spite of having a bigger display due to the edge-to-edge display. With the G3, LG has managed to trim the bezels even further. The G3 is a big phone, but it’s not much bigger than the other flagships. The G3 (5.5’’ display) measures in at 146.3 x 74.6 x 8.9 mm compared to the Xperia Z2’s 146.8 x 73.3 x 8.2 mm (5.2’’ display) and HTC One M8’s 146.4 x 70.6 x 9.4 mm (5.0’’ display). LG has also retained the smart ergonomic choices it had made with the LG G2, such as having the power on and volume buttons at the bottom of the phone, instead of at the edges, which can be tough to reach.

Smarter Camera

The LG G3 sports a 13 megapixel camera with Optical image stabilization, and dual LED flash. Going by LG’s previous releases, the camera should be a very competent shooter, with good low-light capabilities. The dual-LED flash with BSI sensor promises a sharper image and a more natural color pattern. However, the real innovation in the camera department is the inclusion of LaserAF. LG is promising almost instantaneous autofocus with LaserAF. The camera interface has also been greatly simplified, and taking awesome selfies is now simpler than ever before.

Improved Sound

Somewhat disappointingly LG has shied away from implementing front-speakers. This is possibly a compromise the Korean giant was forced to make to avoid making the phone even. However, LG has added a 1 Watt speaker with an AMP, which it being claimed to be powerful enough to produce deep bass and clear trebles.

Powerful Hardware

The LG G3 is powered by the Snapdragon 801 chipset, which has a Quad-core 2.5 GHz Krait 400 CPU and Adreno 330 GPU. The battery is as powerful as it was in the G2 (3000 mAh), but is now removable. The only weak spot is the 2 GB RAM in the 16 GB edition (the 32 GB model has 3 GB RAM).

Besides the aforementioned hardware enhancements, the G3 also boasts of numerous software enhancements. Instead of adding more gimmicks, LG has trimmed a lot of fat from the software. It promises to have removed all unnecessary visual elements. Security has been enhanced through Content Lock (personal data encryption) and Kill Switch (remotely disable phone). Knock Code from the G2 Pro, which enables you to directly unlock your phone by tapping on the screen in a predefined pattern, has also been retained.

LG-G3-Features

Get Awesome Video Recommendations with these Video Discovery Websites

Every minute more than 100 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube. With hundreds of thousands of videos vying for your attention, it can be challenging to find and watch videos that are actually worth your time. This is where video discovery services come in. Much like the portals of the olden days, these services scour the interwebs to identify and highlight videos you’d want to watch.

YouTube Nation

YouTube Nation is actually just a YouTube channel. Created by DreamWorks Animation, in partnership with YouTube, this is a 5 minute daily show which highlights latest viral and trending videos. Each episode is accompanied by a playlist featuring all of the content showcased in the episode. So, for every five minute episode, you often have an hour or more of associated content.

Youtube-Nation-Video-Recommendation
YouTube Nation

YouTube Nation is simplistic and impersonal, but I still love it because the content featured by YouTube Nation is almost always brilliant.

Reddit.TV

Reddit is often responsible for discovering fresh content and making them go viral. If you want to stay ahead of the curve, /r/videos is where you should head to. Reddit.TV is an alternate interface which makes it easy to speed through all the video shared on your favourite subreddits. However, Reddit can be very unpredictable regarding the topic and quality of the videos. If you’d prefer to only see a selection of some of the best videos, you can try Digg Videos, which is pretty much subset of Reddit’s /r/videos.

Reddit-TV-Trending-Videos
Reddit-TV

Frequency

Frequency is a personalized video discovery service, which uses your social feeds as signals. Facebook, Twitter, Buzzfeed, Reddit, and a host of other services are supported. There are literally dozens and dozens of channels. Subscribe to the ones you like, and remove the ones you don’t like to build your personalized video discovery service. If you don’t care much about personalization, you can always stick to the Top Picks section, which showcases popular videos.

Frequency-Video-Discovery
Frequency

For more on Frequency, check out our in-depth interview with its CEO.

Others

If you’re still looking for more options, you might want to try out the following:

  • WayWire: Often described as Pinterest for videos, it encourages users to scour through different video services and curate videos into channels (called wires).
  • Telly: Telly asks you to follow content-creators you like, and surfaces latest content from those users. It also enables discovery through tags.
  • ShowYou: Like Frequency, ShowYou uses channels as well as social networks to provide video recommendations. However, it is only available as a mobile app (Android and iOS).

Video-Recommendation-Services