Ex-CEO of Opera Launches Vivaldi – A Powerful Browser for Power Users

Opera Software has always had a fairly sizeable and loyal fan base. The decades old browser never quite went mainstream, at least not on the desktop, but it attracted droves of power users thanks to its innovative streak and host of unique features. However, with its switch to the Chromium engine, Opera ditched almost everything that made it unique, and in the process disappointed most of its power users. It has gone from being a cutting-edge internet suite to a light-weight Chrome shell. There are still many users who use Opera 12 – released over two years ago, as their daily driver. The good news for all of them is that Jon Von Tetzchner – Opera’s co-founder and Ex-CEO has announced his next venture, and he is not giving up on browsers.

Vivaldi Browser
Vivaldi Browser

Vivaldi is a brand new browser from the very same people who brought to you Opera. Like the current Opera browser, it will be using Google’s Blink rendering engine. However, unlike the current Opera browser, Vivaldi aims to bring back most of the good stuff from Opera 12. The user interface of Vivaldi has been built using web technologies like Node.js, and Browserify. The first technical preview was released today with five key features:

  • Quick Commands: This is similar to Launchy on Windows or Spotlight on Mac. It offers a quick and easy way to navigate through tabs, search through history, change settings, and a bunch of other stuff with just the keyboard.
  • Panels: Panels used to be one of the many unique features in Opera, and it makes a comeback in Vivaldi. Right now the Panel provides quick access to bookmarks, downloads, and notes. In the future, you will also be able to access your mail and contacts from this section. Opera’s Notes feature has been improved, and now supports webpage screenshots.
  • Tab Stacks: You can organize tabs into groups (called Stacks) by dragging a tab on top of another. This is a really neat feature, but I hope that Vivaldi also brings back and improves the automatic tab stacking feature that Opera experimented with briefly.
  • Speed Dials: Opera introduced speed dials – visual bookmarks that are quickly and easily accessible, which are now present in all major browser in some form or the other. Hence, it’s hardly a surprise that Vivaldi also has speed dials. However, unlike most other implementations, Vivaldi supports folders in Speed Dials and you can also quickly open up your browsing history and bookmarks.
  • Intuitive UI: Vivaldi is bright and colourful, yet simple. The URL bar changes its colour automatically based on the website that you are currently viewing, and hovering over a tab opens a thumbnail preview. Any tab that you close can be restored from the trash can.

Other things that Vivaldi is currently working on include online synchronization, spatial navigation, extensions, and an email client.

Vivaldi Browser Screenshot
Vivaldi Browser Screenshot

The technical preview is pretty stable, but it’s obviously not ready to be a daily driver. Simple shortcuts like Ctrl+Enter are currently missing, and I did experience some stability issues. However, it already does enough to get me excited. It’s a refreshing new alternative, which can hopefully become what Opera once was.

[ Download Vivaldi Browser ]

2 Simple Steps to Clean Up Your Facebook Profile and Hide Your Past Indiscretions

Facebook has come a long way since its humble beginnings almost eleven years ago. From being just a wall of posts, it has morphed into a powerful aggregator with a wide variety of content. The trouble is that somewhere beneath all the content that you’ve created over the years, there are all your past indiscretions waiting to be discovered. Did you go on a liking spree when Pages were introduced and Facebook invited you to become a fan of your favourite personalities and brands? Did you post silly nonsensical content when you were in your early teens? Chances are all of that history is still available online for anyone to discover. If you want to break free from your silly, old Facebook days, here are a couple of steps that should help.

Limit Old Posts

Hide Old Posts in Facebook
Hide Old Posts in Facebook

Head over to Facebook Settings and select the Privacy tab. Under the subheading “Who Can See My Stuff?” you’ll have the option to “Limit the Audience for Old Posts”. This option will change the visibility setting of all posts that are either “Public” or “Friends of Friends” to only “Friends”. Be warned though, this action is non-reversible. The only way to undo this will be to go through your previous posts and change their settings one by one.

Unlike Pages

Bulk Unlike Pages in Facebook
Bulk Unlike Pages in Facebook

Over the years your tastes have probably evolved. However, chances are that the pages that you became Fan of five years back are still a part of your profile. PageUnliker is a nifty website that fetches all Pages that you have liked, and gives you the option of unliking them. Save yourself the embarrassment and get rid of the things a younger you might have liked. You’ll also be tidying up your feed as posts from the pages that you unlike will no longer show up.

LG G Flex 2 is A Beauty – Smaller, Faster, and Prettier

LG has kicked off its CES with a stunner – the LG G Flex 2. While many believe that flexible display is the future of mobile, last year’s LG G Flex was at best a cool tech demo with unrealistic pricing and not so great specs. With the second iteration LG is hoping to have a genuinely compelling and unique smartphone.

LG G Flex 2

The biggest improvement in the G Flex 2 is the display. The display size has been reduced from the gigantic 6-inch to a more manageable 5.5-inch, while resolution has been bumped up from 720p to 1080p. The display is also supposed to be a lot brighter than before. The phone measures in at 5.87 by 2.96 inches and doesn’t feel massive thanks to the narrow bezels. The screen is curved to a 700 mm radius. LG claims that the glass is 20% tougher than Gorilla Glass 3. The G Flex 2 houses a 3000 mAH battery, which can be charged from 0 to 50% in just 40 minutes.

One of the unique features of the G Flex was a self-healing back, which allowed the back cover to it to ‘automagically’ repair bending as well as scratching. However, it often took up to 3 minutes for the phone to heal itself. With the G Flex 2, LG is promising a drastically faster heal time of 10 seconds at room temperature.

Under the hood, the LG G Flex is powered by Snapdragon 810 – the latest and greatest from Qualcomm. There’s 2 gigs of RAM, and the device will launch with Lollipop out of the box. There will be 2 variants with 16 and 32 GB of internal storage. Both will support expandable memory up to 128 GB. It will be available in two colours – Platinum Silver, Flamenco Red.

The camera seems to have carried over the enhancements introduced in LG G3. It’s a 13 megapixel with dual-LED flash, Laser Autofocus, and OIS+ (optical image stabilization). The 2.1 megapixel front camera boasts of Gesture Shot while is helpful while taking selfies.

The G Flex 2 ticks all the right boxes, and is undoubtedly a drool worthy device. However, the pricing will ultimately determine its popularity, and LG is keeping mum about the cost for now.

Nexus 6 is Fantastic, but it’s Not the Smartphone I Want or Need

Google launched the Android 5.0 (Lollypop) powered Nexus 6 yesterday. The new Google flagship is manufactured by Motorola and boasts of top of the line specs. Yet, for more than one reason, it’s not quite the device I was expecting from Google. In fact, it’s the most anti-Nexus device yet from Google.

Nexus 6
Nexus 6

The Nexus line started with the Nexus One released in Jan 2010. Google hoped to revolutionize the US smartphone market with the One. Its ambitious goal of ditching carrier lock-ins and getting people to buy phones online at full price didn’t find many takers. Nexus One was a commercial flop. The price tag of $529 dissuaded most buyers. However, it was well received by Android enthusiasts and critics. Google scaled back its ambition and partnered with carriers for the following devices. The Nexus S and the Galaxy Nexus by Samsung fared better. However, the first major success in the Nexus line-up was Nexus 4. With Nexus 4 Google managed to deliver flagship quality hardware in a mid-range price bucket. Nexus 5 kept up the same tradition and delivered a comfortable and beautifully designed phone with great hardware at just $349 (16 GB). However, the Nexus 6 marks a stark departure from the LG Nexus phones.

To begin with, the Nexus 6 has a six inch display. This firmly puts it in the phablet category, and it’s technically incorrect to even call it a phone. In fact, it’s about half a centimetre taller and wider than the Galaxy Note 4. Have a look at the comparison below. The Nexus 6 is appreciably taller and wider than all the devices in the list, and two of the devices in the comparison are phablets, and the other two are phones that are already too big to be comfortable. It’s worth noting that in response to the user feedback, One Plus is considering reducing the size of its next flagship. Forget about single handed operation, the Nexus 6 might even be too wide to grip comfortably while talking.

Nexus 6 Size Comparison
Nexus 6 Size Comparison

The next major issue that I have with the Nexus 6 is the price. At $649, it’s almost twice as expensive as the previous Nexus devices. I wouldn’t call it overpriced – not when Apple is charging upwards of $749 for the iPhone 6 Plus. The Nexus 6 boasts of top of the line specs including a 2K display and Snapdragon 805. However, the question that needs to be asked is do we really need the 2K display? I haven’t used the Note 4 or the new Nexus, but I did review the LG G3. While the increased resolution was noticeable, its impact was limited. You won’t feel the difference during most of your day to day activities.

For the Nexus 4 and the Nexus 5, Google took flagship devices from LG, found areas of compromise (like the display size and camera), and produced a top performing device with enough restraint to be affordable. For the Nexus 6, Google took Motorola’s sensibly priced Moto X (2nd gen), and amped up the specs to give us a Nexus that beats every other device in the market in terms of specs, but quite possibly not in terms of the overall experience. May be Google has decided that Android is now popular enough that it doesn’t need to sell low-margin devices. May be it wants to make Android smartphones an object of desire like the iPhone. Or maybe, Google feels that current gen smartphones are mature enough to have a two year shelf life. It has not discontinued the Nexus 5. Future Nexus phones might alternate between a smartphone and a phablet. Whatever be the case, Nexus 6 isn’t the smartphone that I want or need.

IRCTC Finally Releases Android App for Booking Train Tickets

Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation, better known by its abbreviation IRCTC, has finally launched its official Android app. The Android app launch comes over an year after the launch of a Windows 8 and Windows Phone app. IRCTC is one of the largest e-commerce vendors in the country with close to 5 million tickets sold every day. However, it has never been very quick or good at adapting to newer technologies. The Android app was long overdue, considering that India is a country where a significant chunk of the internet users access the web solely through mobile phones.

IRCTC Android App Splash Screen
IRCTC Android App Splash Screen

I had limited expectations from the app, considering that government websites are notorious for having ugly and convoluted user interfaces. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the app. It takes a few seconds to get started, and doesn’t support any social login. Once you sign-in, you are presented with the ‘New Booking’ page. Selecting source and destination stations is a breeze thanks to the autocomplete feature. The app presents all available trains in a neat grid and allows you to quickly view seat availability and proceed with the booking. The app offers notification of upcoming journeys, and allows you to view and cancel past bookings. The overall user interface is quite decent. The biggest eyesore is the banner ad that’s displayed at the bottom of the screen. Does a ticketing app of a subsidiary of the Indian government really need to display Google Ads?

IRCTC Android App Trains Between Station
IRCTC Android App Trains Between Station

A major issue with IRCTC Connect is that it doesn’t sync with the IRCTC website. Tickets that you have booked in the past through the web interface are not accessible through the app. This is a major issue, and will hopefully be addressed in future versions. Another drawback of the app is that it can’t be used during the peak hours (8:00 AM to 12:00 PM). In other words, even though the app supports Tatkal booking, IRCTC has imposed an artificial restriction to make it practically useless for Tatkal tickets.

IRCTC Android App New Booking
IRCTC Android App New Booking
IRCTC Android App Train Details
IRCTC Android App Train Details

[ Download IRCTC Connect | User Manual ]

One Plus One Coming to India Soon, One Plus Two Coming in Q2-Q3 2015

One Plus has managed to generate a lot of publicity and interest for a brand new company. Their first device – the One Plus One, was dubbed as the “Flagship Killer”. Extremely limited availability has prevented the device from registering even a blip in the world wide sales figures. However, the One did receive widespread acclaim for its high quality hardware and extremely competitive pricing. Today Carl Pei and David S from One Plus One answered questions from Redditors in an AMA. Here are some of the most interesting tidbits from their AMA.

One Plus One
David and Carl

On India Plans

One Plus had earlier indicated that it’s interested in following Xiaomi’s footprints and selling its devices in India. Although, Carl didn’t provide firm dates, he did promise to “have more concrete plans” in a few weeks. “We are aiming at doing so (launching in India) before the end of this year”, confirmed David.

On Android L

One Plus and Cyanogen intends to begin working on Android L as soon as the source code is available. “Earlier, we promised to have it done within 90 days of receiving the source”, noted Carl.

On One Plus One Successor

One Plus Two is expected to be released in the second or the third quarter of next year. The One Plus One is a really big smartphone that’s almost impossible to use with just one hand. In fact, that’s my single biggest gripe regarding the hardware. The good news is that a smaller device might be in the works. “We’ve seen a lot of people asking for a smaller device, and want to let everyone know that we hear you”, wrote Carl Pei. “We’re thinking about it.”

One Plus One
One Plus One

On Other Feature and Product Requests

Responding to a request from an user to include wireless charging, Carl ruled out including it in the immediate future. “I’m not impressed by today’s wireless charging technology. Its slow speeds lead to a subpar user experience, especially considering the huge capacity of our battery.”

One Plus will also not be making tablets anytime soon. “The Nexus tablets are pretty good. We don’t think we can make anything significantly better in the near future”.

One Plus has been teasing a big reveal this Friday. Many had speculated that they might be finally gearing up to ditch the invite system. However, David confirmed that One Plus will not be taking pre-orders anytime soon.

Andrognito Can Encrypt and Hide Any File on Android

Everyone has something to hide. With smartphones becoming deeply integrated with each and every facet of our life, it’s only but natural that they’d contain sensitive data. And, as the recent iCloud breaches have shown us, some times it’s better to have private stuff on your device and within your control, instead of cloud storages that can be hacked remotely.


Andrognito is an Android app that can hide and secure any file on your Android smartphone. The developer — Aritra Roy from Kolkata, India – named the app as a fusion of the words Android and Incognito. The app applies a 3 step process to hide and lock your files –
i) It randomly assigns a new name to the file and appends a period (‘.’) to the beginning of the file name to prevent it from being indexed by Android media library.
ii) It places the file in a wrapper called ADG container, and encrypts it using AES-256.
iii) It applies a strong password to the container, and renames it once again.

The algorithm used by Andrognito is device specific, so simply copying the Andrognito container (.adg) to a different device won’t work. However, on the same device, Andrognito encrypted files can persist through factory resets and rom changes. The only catch is that you shouldn’t delete the ADG files and the “Andrognito/Backups” folder.

Andrognito -Setup Page
Andrognito -Setup Page

Andrognito is pretty straight forward to use. You are presented with a brief tutorial slide when you launch the app for the first time. After that you are presented with the File Explorer, which allows you to select files that you want to hide. Applying AES encryption makes the file almost impossible be crack. However, it can take a fair amount of time. Hence, Andrognito also has a Flash mode, which skips the encryption, and simple repackages your content to hide it from your file manager. However, files in this mode may be viewable in other apps. Files hidden by Andrognito can be accessed from the ‘Files’ tab in the app. If you end up hiding a lot of stuff, you will find ability to filter based on file-type and add to Favourites certain files handy. Andrognito app itself is protected by a 4-digit pin.

Andrognito - Guide
Andrognito – Guide

The app has a couple of other tricks in its sleeve. The first of them is a fake Vault. You can set a dummy pin, which when entered will open a fake vault (with 0 files). This can obviously be handy if you have a particularly nosy significant other or parents. The other neat feature is to hide Andrognito itself. If you turn on the Invisible mode, the app will be removed from the app drawer. You will be able to launch it only by dialling your pin from the phone dialler. The app also prevents brute force attacks by automatically locking itself for 15 minutes after 3 failed attempts.

Andrognito - Select Files
Andrognito – Select Files

Andrognito is currently in beta, but worked without a hitch for me. Go ahead, and take it for a spin. There are other similar apps, but Andrognito strikes a nice balance between simplicity and security, and is completely free.

[ Download Andrognito ]

[ Image courtesy Scott Schiller ]

Xiaomi Redmi 1S Review

A few months back, the name Xiaomi would have drawn blank stares from most Indian consumers. However, the ‘Apple of China’ has become the darling of India thanks to its superbly priced devices. The Redmi 1S was launched in India less than a month back, and has been selling out in a matter of seconds every week. On paper, the Redmi 1S appears to be a stunning bargain. A Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 powered smartphone with HD display and 8 mega-pixel camera at just ₹ 6000 is a steal. However, specs can often be deceptive. What matters in the end is its real life performance. Read on to find out if the Redmi 1S is as good as it seems.

Appearance, Display, and Battery

I normally don’t pay a lot of attention to the packaging, but Redmi deserves a special mention due to two things – both good and bad. On a positive note, the box is compact and well designed, is eco-friendly, and feels premium. However, unlike most other smartphones, the Redmi 1S doesn’t ship with an earphone. I don’t consider this to be a big deal, as most bundled earphones sound worse than something you can buy separately for less than ₹ 500. But, the omission of such a standard accessory can unpleasantly surprise some buyers.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S -  Box
Xiaomi Redmi 1S – Box

At this price point, functional design is what you should expect, and the Redmi 1S delivers on that front. It doesn’t have the sleek curves of the premium droids, but it is not ugly by any means. The plastic rear cover has a nice lustrous appearance, but is a smudge magnet. Smudge is a problem with the front too, which sports a 4.7’’ HD (720p) display with capacitive buttons accented in red. The LED indicator is placed just beneath the Home button. The Redmi has pretty wide bezels, which adds to its dimensions. At 137 x 69 x 9.9 mm it’s only slightly smaller than the Mi3 or the Mi4. It’s also fairly heavy, weighing in at 158 g. However, the overall build quality is pretty solid, and it avoids looking like a brick. In fact, the Redmi 1S looks quite better than a lot of the other phones in this price range.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S -  Front View
Xiaomi Redmi 1S – Front View

The 4.7-inch IPS display has a pixel density of 312 ppi, which is excellent for a low-end phone. Colour reproduction is on the saturated side, but contrast and brightness are good. However, the glass panel is highly reflective, and hampers outdoor visibility. Even at maximum brightness it can be challenging to read text under the sun.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S -  Back View
Xiaomi Redmi 1S – Back View
Xiaomi Redmi 1S -  Side View
Xiaomi Redmi 1S – Side View
Xiaomi Redmi 1S -  Battery
Xiaomi Redmi 1S – Battery

The Redmi’s back panel covers an eye-popping red coloured 2000 mAh battery, which is user replaceable. MiUi has a reputation of being a battery eater, but the Redmi still manages to last through the day with moderate usage.


The hardware of a budget phone is always a delicate balancing act. The manufacturer has to make the right compromises to make sure that the end product still performs satisfactorily. The Redmi 1S is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 400 MSM8228 chipset, which houses a Quad-core 1.6 GHz Cortex-A7 CPU and Adreno 305 GPU. This almost the same unit as in the more expensive Moto G (actually Redmi is clocked slightly higher). However, synthetic benchmarks suggest that the Redmi is actually slightly slower than the Moto G. This might be due to the older version of Android, as well as the custom MiUi skin. The Redmi 1S has 1 GB of RAM, which sounds decent enough, but MiUi is a memory hog, which eats up a major chunk of the available memory. In fact, the Redmi failed to execute the Vellamo multicore test due to insufficient memory.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S - Benchmark (AnTuTu)
Xiaomi Redmi 1S – Benchmark (AnTuTu)
Xiaomi Redmi 1S - Benchmark (Ice Storm)
Xiaomi Redmi 1S – Benchmark (Ice Storm)

There are also reports on MiUi forums that the Redmi can get uncomfortably hot. While the Redmi did become warm after ten to fifteen minutes of usage, it was not astoundingly hot. The plastic at the back doesn’t seem to be a very good insulator, which does amplify the issue a bit, but the front didn’t get any hotter than I’ve experienced an LG G3 or an Xperia Z2 get. Perhaps Xiaomi could have done a better job with the heat dissipation due to the larger housing available to it.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S - CPUZ
Xiaomi Redmi 1S – CPUZ

A budget smartphone is not expected to be a brilliant gaming device. However, it’s always nice if it can handle some casual gaming. I played Angry Bird Stella for extended periods of time, and the Redmi had no problems. However, things were a bit different with Gameloft’s Spiderman Unlimited. The Redmi started off smoothly, but after about fifteen to twenty minutes of gaming, began to stutter randomly, leading to a really frustrating experience. Once the Redmi gets hot, it throttles the CPU, and performance can suffer noticeably. This is something I didn’t experience with the Moto G. In spite of having slightly better specs than the Moto G, the Redmi 1S doesn’t perform as well in the real world. However, to be honest, if you ignore gaming, the overall experience is pretty smooth. You will experience an occasional lag, but it’s not frequent enough to become annoying. The device has 8 GB of internal memory, out of which only four and a half gigs is available to the user. That space can fill up pretty soon if you install a lot of apps, and that’s definitely going to have an impact on the performance. There is also no easy way to move apps to the SD card on MiUi.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S - Available Storage
Xiaomi Redmi 1S – Available Storage

There is no 4G or NFC, but the Redmi 1S supports Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 4.0 (including low energy mode), and USB on the go. One surprising issue that I faced with the Redmi is with the GPS sensor. On several occasions, it had trouble accurately pin pointing my location.


Software is undoubtedly the most unique aspect of Xiaomi phones. Redmi ships with MiUi 5, which is based on Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean). MiUi 6 (KitKat) has been announced, but Redmi users might not get it before next year (beta testing is slated to begin towards the end of this year). I’m not a big fan of the MiUi launcher, which gets rid of the app drawer, and instead puts all your apps on the home screen. But, I love most of the other stuff about the UI. In fact, even the home screen that I tend to quickly replace also has its redeeming aspects. Moving apps between screens is remarkably easy thanks to the ‘Move Apps’ feature which allows you to select multiple apps and then swipe to the screen you wish to place them in. You can even shake your phone to automatically organize your icons.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S - Home
Xiaomi Redmi 1S – Home

MiUi is vibrant and colourful, with nice subtle transitions and effects. There are tons of themes, which change everything from wallpaper and ringtones to lockscreen and notification bar. However, MiUI’s enhancements are not just skin deep. There are numerous additional features and apps that you’ll begin to appreciate as you spend time with the device. In fact, there are so many small enhancements littered across the user interface that it is impossible to over them all in this review. However, I’ll be quickly going through some of my favourite aspects.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S -  Permissions Manager
Xiaomi Redmi 1S – Permissions Manager
Xiaomi Redmi 1S -  Privacy
Xiaomi Redmi 1S – Privacy

Although Redmi was in the news last month due to allegations of data theft, MiUi actually offers excellent security features out of the box. Permission Manager lets you know when an App tries to request a potentially dangerous permission. Spam filter, antivirus, and firewall is also built in. There’s also a Blacklist to block people you want to avoid, a bandwidth monitor to keep track of your data usage, and a disk cleaner to reclaim free space.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S - Security
Xiaomi Redmi 1S – Security
Xiaomi Redmi 1S - Security Scan Results
Xiaomi Redmi 1S – Security Scan Results
Xiaomi Redmi 1S - Bandwidth Meter
Xiaomi Redmi 1S – Bandwidth Meter

The music app has several tricks up its sleeve, including automatically downloading and applying album arts, fetching synchronized lyrics, and playing songs from the Billboard Top 100. You can also tap on circle in the lockscreen icons to control the music (Play, Previous, Next) without unlocking the phone. While you are on the lockscreen, you can also long press the Home button to turn on the flashlight.

There are tons of customization options, and you can change tons of stuff like LED notifications and what long pressing each of the capacitive buttons does, without needing to root your phone.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S -  Quick Settings
Xiaomi Redmi 1S – Quick Settings

Xiaomi also provides a full-fledged backup option powered by Mi Cloud, which can sync everything including Contacts, SMS, pictures, Call Log, Notes, and Wi-Fi Settings.
The Redmi’s battery life is pretty decent, but you can give it a further boost with the Power Management app. This app features three pre-set modes – Default, Marathon, and Sleep. The Marathon mode disables data, which sleep mode disables pretty much everything other than the alarm clock. If that sounds too extreme, you can create your own configuration, and program it to be automatically applied when the battery falls below a certain threshold.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S - Power Options
Xiaomi Redmi 1S – Power Options

If you prefer to keep things simple, then there’s also a Lite mode, which gets rid of all the customizations and settings. Instead, you will get a page with big icons giving you access to the most important apps and contacts.


The Redmi 1S sports an 8 mega-pixel rear camera, and a 1.6 mega-pixel front camera. Under proper lighting, the Redmi 1S performs commendably when it comes to imaging. The auto-focus works well, and the images have good detail and colour balance. However, things go downhill under low light. Very little detail is preserved, and the amount of noise is simply too high. Even HDR doesn’t seem to be of much help. The LED flash almost always ends up overexposing the picture. Video is captured at 1080p, and once again, under proper conditions, the Redmi performs really well. I didn’t witness any frame rate drops, and the amount of detail rendered is impressive.

Uncompressed Redmi 1S Camera Samples

The camera app itself might seem simple at first. However, if you want to have more manual control, you can simply enable Advanced mode to get access to the various settings.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S - Camera UI
Xiaomi Redmi 1S – Camera UI

On the whole, the Redmi’s camera performs quite well and is better than what you would expect from a budget phone.


The Xiaomi Redmi 1S doesn’t quite live up to its specifications. It tends to get heated quickly, which hurts the performance. MiUi also has its own disadvantages, including high memory usage, and an older Android version. However, the OS itself is updated every week, and brings with it tons of cool features. The camera is great for the budget segment, and the display is also better than what you would get in a lot of other similarly priced phones. Don’t expect too much from your Redmi, and you will be a happy buyer. The phone offers a pretty compelling package at just ₹ 6,000. As always, there are compromises. But, the compromises don’t get in the way of having an enjoyable experience with the device.

ARChon Runtime Enables Chrome Browser to Run Android Apps on Windows, Linux, and Mac

Earlier in the year, Google had announced that it was working on bringing Android app compatibility to ChromeOS. However, developer Vlad Filippov has gone one step further. He has tweaked Google’s Android Runtime extension to enable Android apps to be installed as Chrome browser extensions on Windows, Linux, and Mac.

Android Apps

Here are the quick steps to get started with ARChon runtime, which lets you run unlimited number of Android APKs on Chrome browser.

  1. Download ARChon from here.
  2. Extract the contents.
  3. Open Chrome extensions tool and enable ‘Developer mode’.
  4. Click on ‘Load unpacked extension’ and select the extracted instance of ArChon from Step 2.
  5. Find the modified APK for ARChon from the web or download the APK and follow the instructions here to modify a new APK.
  6. Install ARChon for Chrome
    Install ARChon as an Unpacked Chrome Extension
  7. Extract the APK contents.
  8. Click on ‘Load unpacked extension’ and load the APK.
  9. Now, click on ‘Launch’ to start the app.
Running Android Apps on Chrome
Running Android Apps on Chrome

If you’re confused, check out the video demonstration below.

ARChon currently has several major limitations. The biggest is that it’s not automated, and the entire process has way too many steps for a casual user. It requires obtaining and modifying the Android app package (APK), which is not straight forward. It also doesn’t work for all apps. However, the Reddit community has been actively testing various apps. A small list of compatible apps and their direct download links is available here. Currently, there are better and easier ways to run Android apps on your desktop. However, this development is still exciting as it hints towards a future where all Chrome users might have access to the millions of Android apps available on the Play store.

[ Hat tip: OMGChrome WikiMedia ]

The Best Rotten Tomatoes Alternatives for Bollywood

What is a good movie to watch? I am sure that most of you can rattle off at least a dozen movies off the top of your head. However, the real answer to that question is a bit more complex. It’s often very subjective and greatly influenced by personal preferences. Your judgement might not necessarily align with that of a critic. Now, don’t get me wrong. Reviews are important. They can often save you from a couple of hours of agony. But, just a review or two is often not enough to get a sense of how watchable a movie is. This is where aggregators come in. Services like Rotten Tomatoes, which collect and summarise critic as well as audience ratings, are a great resource for movie buffs.

Rotten Tomatoes features both Hollywood and Bollywood movies. However, it’s obvious that the focus is on western movies, western media, and western audiences. If you are looking for your dope of Indian cinema, Rotten Tomatoes is not the place to be. The good news is that there are quite a few desi versions of the Tomatometer. Here are my top four picks.

Know Your Films

The design of this website is a bit old school, but it does get the job done. The home page shows a selection of entertainment news, upcoming movies, current movies, and some featured movies from the past. For current movies, the box office performance, as well as the latest reviews are displayed. Opening up a movie’s page shows more info including cast, crew, sound track, and various reviews. There is, however, no average rating, or a quick way to see how a movie has been received. There are a few other useful features including the ability to create watchlists (requires registration), and watching popular Bollywood clips and trailers.

Know Your Films: Home Page
Know Your Films: Home Page

[ Visit Know Your Films ]

Filmy Pakode

This website trims all the fat and puts all the focus on the films and their ratings. The home page is just a collection of recently released movies along with their ratings, and a preview of the upcoming movies. The individual movie page contains average rating, along with information about movie cast, plot, and trailers and preview clips. Filmy Pakoda is simple and useful. But, the lack of even basic features like Search limits its utility.

Film Pakode: Home Page
Film Pakode: Home Page
Film Pakode: Movie Page
Film Pakode: Movie Page

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Sahi Nahi

Sahi Nahi is the new kid in the block, and it’s very obvious what the inspiration for this service is. The design is clean and pleasant with good use of typography. The home page gives you a quick overview of the latest movies along with their ratings, as well as the current top box office performers. You also have featured celebrities, movies, and blog articles. Every movie page features the critic rating along with excerpts of their review, trailer, and cast and crew information. It’s worth noting here that Sahi Nahi follows a Rotten Tomatoes like rating system were each review is classified as either positive and negative. The overall rating is not an average of the scores assigned by each reviewer. The layout is responsive, hence, Sahi Nahi works well on a wide range of devices including phones and tablets.

Sahi Nahi: Home Page
Sahi Nahi: Home Page
Sahi Nahi: Movie Page
Sahi Nahi: Movie Page

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The Review Monk

The Review Monk has an unmistakably Indian soul that will endear it to Indian movie fans. The beautiful slider on the home page showcasing some of the most memorable moments in Indian cinema will impress you straight away. The Review Monk, however, doesn’t restrict itself to Indian cinema. Hollywood movies that have been released in India are also featured. The home pages offers a quick look at movies that are currently in the theatres, as well as top rated recent movies. The coming soon section displays the release dates of movies that will hit the theatres soon. There are even monthly reports and occasional blog posts about cinema for the film buffs looking for more. Every movie page has a TRM score, excerpts from reviews, cast and crew information, soundtrack list, trailer, and twitter buzz. There is even a spider chart breaking down the critic’s ratings for you. The Review Monk score is an average, unlike Sahi nahi or Rotten Tomatoes. For mobile users, there’s a free Android app that’s once again simple but elegant and useful. You can register to build your profile by rating and reviewing movies you have watched, and adding movies you want to watch to your watchlist. In addition to Bollywood movies, The Review Monk is currently also tracking Tamil and Telegu movies. The idea behind The Review Monk might not be original, but the execution is really good.

The Review Monk: Home Page
The Review Monk: Home Page
The Review Monk: Movie Page
The Review Monk: Movie Page

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