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

Nokia Lumia 630 Review: The First Windows Phone 8.1 Device is a Budget Champ

Nokia Lumia 630 is the first Windows Phone 8.1 device to be available in the market, and incidentally also the first device launched by Microsoft Mobile, the new Microsoft company formed after the acquisition of the devices business of Nokia.

Nokia Lumia 630 (3)

The Lumia 630 is also the first Dual SIM Windows Phone device, a feature that Windows Phone enthusiasts and potential customers, especially in markets like India, had been clamouring for since long.

Design

The Lumia 630 carries on the same polycarbonate design we’ve seen in the Asha and several Lumia devices. It’s sleek and at 9.2mm thickness, feels pretty good in hand. The 630, weighing just 134 grams, is almost the perfect and most popular size for a smartphone.

Nokia Lumia 630 (4)

The colorful back shells – available in white, green, orange, and yellow – sport a matte finish, and are interchangeable. Under the hood, there are two micro SIM slots and a microSD card slot for additional memory card. The build quality is brilliant and random drops or bumps wouldn’t hurt.

The missing camera shutter hardware button is an odd omission since it’s been a taken-for-granted feature in the Windows Phone devices I’ve used.

Hardware

Nokia Lumia 630 sports a 4.5-inch IPS LCD display. The ClearBlack display has a 480×854 resolution and comes with Gorilla Glass 3 which should take care of minor scratches. Lumia 630’s display is not brilliant, but good enough at this price point. The sunlight readability is also pretty decent.

Powered by a quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, the 630 packs in only 512 MB RAM. The Windows Phone operating system is optimized for low configuration, and almost all apps work fine on a 512MB device. Some games, of course, have a minimum 1 GB requirement for installation, so if you are a heavy, indulgent gamer, this might be a deal breaker for you.

Nokia Lumia 630 (5)

To position the Lumia 630 as a budget phone, Nokia has cut corners at several places. While the phone introduces SensorCore, a hardware-dependent software solution that allows apps to use the sensors with minimum power requirement, it does not pack in the usual ambient light and proximity sensors. SensorCore allows the phone to track user’s activity like steps taken and location data.

The proximity sensor enables a phone’s display to turn off during a call to avoid unwanted taps, but the 630 features a workaround that turns off he display when the face or the ear touches it. It sounds awkward, but the execution is perfect. In over a week of use, I never had inadvertent taps while taking a call. The automatic brightness control of Windows Phone is obviously missing due to the absence of ambient light sensor. Although, again, keeping the brightness setting to medium level worked for me through the day in different light conditions.

Nokia Lumia 630 (1)

The Lumia 630 comes in two variants – Single SIM and Dual SIM. In the Dual SIM variant, you get separate Messaging and Phone Tiles with individual call records and messaging threads. However, you can merge the two for an integrated interface. The phone allows you to switch between the two SIMs while making a call or sending a text, or viewing a contact. This is not just convenient, but very seamless. Also, the Smart Dual SIM feature allows you to automatically forward calls from one SIM to the other when the first one is not reachable.

Camera

The average 5MP rear camera isn’t a highlight of the Lumia 630. Although, not many phones in this price segment impress much with the camera anyway. The photos captured in day light are good enough with decent color reproduction, but since there’s no flash, most photos in low light or dark conditions would disappoint.

The front camera is excluded in the Lumia 630. Although, apart from the latest trend of selfies, that’s a justifiable compromise for a budget phone.

Software

Nokia Lumia 630 is the first device that ships with Windows Phone 8.1. The update not only irons out issues based on user and developer feedback on Windows Phone 8, but also adds several important features to make the operating system at par with the competition.

The much requested Action Center comes to Windows Phone. Similar to the unified notifications center in Android and iOS, the Action Center displays customizable toggles, notifications, alert messages, network indicators, date, and battery level.

Another two major enhancements are the ability to customize the Start screen with background wallpapers instead of the erstwhile blocks of Live Tiles and the new World Flow keyboard. The Start screen now also allows you to add an extra column of tiles in case you want access to more apps and information in a glance. The Word Flow keyboard is similar to the Swype experience in Android, and makes the typing experience on Windows Phone the best in business.

In another first, the Lumia 630 is the first Windows Phone device that comes with virtual soft keys for navigation. You can enable haptic feedback for these keys and choose to keep them always dark, match the background color of the app in focus, or match the accent color.
The phone packs in a three months subscription of Nokia MixRadio with unlimited free music downloads.

Summary

The Windows Phone experience on the Lumia 630 is very smooth overall despite what the specifications sheet says and launching apps, browsing the Web, and playing music and videos is a breeze. The apps take a little longer to resume, but that shouldn’t bother most users. While playing casual games like Temple Run is all good, even graphics-intensive game like Asphalt 8 performed well, and better than most Android devices in this price segment.

Nokia Lumia 630 (2)

The battery life is pretty good, and the 1,830mAh removable battery will last for an entire day with brightness set to maximum and 3G usage all through.

The Lumia 630 is available for ₹10,500 (Single SIM) and ₹11,500 (Dual SIM), and at that price, the 630 offers great build quality and first-rate user experience. There are a few clear compromises like the camera, but a good buy otherwise.

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

The Surface Family Evolves: Where Does It Go from Here?

On May 20, Microsoft officials announced the latest entry in the family of Surface devices, the Surface Pro 3. This device is a larger form with many updates to the existing pro device, the Surface Pro 2, and comes only eight months since the launch of the Surface Pro 2. So now, Microsoft has launched three generations of Surface in the span of less than two years, being incredible for a company which only recently pivoted to devices and services from software.

Surface Pro 3
Surface Pro 3

The launch of Surface Pro 3 however raised several questions: why isn’t there a Surface 3 (the ARM-based version) to complement the Surface Pro 3? Why also, didn’t the much-rumored Surface Mini launch alongside the Surface Pro 3? What is the goal of these Surface devices, according to Microsoft?

 

Where is Windows RT?

The first two questions have a common thread, and that is Windows RT. The ARM-based version of Windows has had very little success both from OEM adoption as well as sales perspectives. OEMs have slowly been pulling out of making such devices, and with Nokia’s devices group now a part of Microsoft, Microsoft is the only company that makes Windows RT devices. The operating systems group at Microsoft is undergoing some level of consolidation and transformation, and there is a possibility of some fundamental changes coming to the Windows RT OS as it merges with Windows Phone OS. It would be somewhat silly to offer a Windows RT device that may need some major updates in a few months when the operating system makes potentially big underlying changes. Also, let’s not forget that Nokia also makes a Windows RT device (Lumia 2520) which may now become a contender to be the only Windows RT device Microsoft produces. Hence, the lack of ARM-based Surface at this point in time.

 

No room for Surface Mini

Surface Mini on the other hand, has a bigger issue. The rumors were that it would be an 8” device and regardless of whether it was going to be an Intel-based device or an ARM-based device, it would really offer no differentiation from the several other 8” Windows devices in the market today. All of the existing devices are Intel-based and as a result, are able to run old Windows desktop programs just fine. Most of these existing devices are also priced at the very low end and as a result, Microsoft would have to start competing on the low end which I am not sure they want to do. There are also rumors that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and the new devices chief Stephen Elop decided to remove that device from the announcement for precisely that reason – it offered no differentiation from whatever else is out there in the market. If that is in fact the case, I commend them for doing so since it is not easy to change directions this way and at the last moment.

 

Who is the Surface for? What does Surface mean for Microsoft?

That brings us to the last question – what is the role of Surface devices? Microsoft executives have constantly said that Surface is not meant to compete with the OEMs but instead be a reference design for OEMs. However, the huge write-off Microsoft took at the end of the past fiscal year related to excess inventory of the original Surface shows that at least someone at Microsoft expected to sell these devices in larger volumes.

The Surface Pro 3 is indeed unlike anything else in the market today, both from a Windows devices perspective as well as the competition’s devices. There are Android tablets of all shapes and sizes that are selling quite well, but they are limited to a maximum of 10” form factor, and while there have been rumors of an “iPad Pro” sporting a larger display than the current iPad, those have been simply rumors. At the launch event, Microsoft made the point that the Surface Pro 3 is aimed squarely at the laptop user (there were a *lot* of MacBook Air comparisons) rather than the tablet user. The viewpoint they provided was that most of the iPad customers also have or buy a laptop, so why not make a device that can do both the tasks well? The Surface Pro 3 specifications are obviously more “computer”-like than “tablet”-like, starting with the processor which is not an Atom variant but in fact, it is a Core processor. At the same time, it is so much lighter than a laptop – even MacBook Air that they compared to at the event – that you could see yourself using it as a tablet every so often.

The Surface Pro 3 pricing is in line with a mid- to high-end laptop, depending on the configuration you choose. You could get the entry-level model with a Core i3 processor and 64GB storage for $799 and the highest-end model with a Core i7 processor and 512GB storage for $1,949. Both the ends of that spectrum are higher than the average for a Windows laptop with similar specifications.

Another example to understand where Microsoft is going with this family of devices is the included (and completely re-done) pen. There is a deep integration built into the pen which enables the customer to launch OneNote even when the screen is locked. The OneNote emphasis shows not just the integration aspects but also the intended, or expected, use of the device.

 

Surface Pro 3 Numbers
Surface Pro 3 Numbers

The screen at an excellent 2160×1440 resolution, the aspect ratio which is a much better 3:2 than 16:9, the higher power processor and the pricing all point to a realization at Microsoft that it is better to compete with the laptop than with the iPad. Think creative professionals like artists, medical professionals, or the “information worker” in corporations. Think students on a budget, who have the funds to buy only one device which needs to be their television, book reader as well as productivity tool. These are the customers Microsoft seems to be aiming at with their Surface Pro devices now.

So Microsoft is clearly going for the laptop user and giving that user the choice of using that device as a tablet. They know that the OEMs are able to compete at the low-end, especially with the recent announcement of making Windows free for 9” and lower screens. Knowing that Apple has consistently outsold Windows in the PC sales for the past several years, it makes sense for Microsoft to address the high margin area so they don’t have to sell extremely large volumes in order to justify the business.

I still expect Microsoft to release the mini tablet, and there are multiple possibilities there too: a productivity mini tablet which would have the upcoming touch version of Office (codename Gemini); a larger phablet-style device like the Lumia 1520 and of course, a gaming-oriented mini tablet with some type of Xbox brand and tie-in. All of those have dependencies that need to be addressed before these products can come to market in order to differentiate themselves from the competition.

There is an empirical truth to Microsoft products: by version 3, they perfect the product. Surface Pro 3 surely looks like a “perfect” product, we will see if the market agrees with Microsoft or not. The Surface business has steadily grown in volume and with Windows 8.1, Microsoft may have enough to get CIOs interested in upgrading to Windows 8.1. If so, there is a large-sized market opportunity that is for Microsoft to dominate, given their past relationships and reputation in the enterprise. If that happens, it may create the virtuous cycle that Microsoft has been able to create in the past with Windows and even now with Office. Many will use these devices in school and workplace and would like to continue that experience at home.

Microsoft certainly seems to demonstrate that it is in the devices market for the long run. Naturally, mastering manufacturing cannot happen overnight. It is now up to the customers to decide if all of that is worth it, by speaking with their wallets.

Are you interested in the Surface Pro 3? Were you disappointed by the absence of the Surface Mini? Sound off in the comments below.

(All images and the video, courtesy Microsoft’s official websites)

How to Easily Delete and Deactivate Gmail, Twitter, Facebook and Other Web Accounts

Creating an account online is easier than ever before thanks to multiple open-id providers like Google, Facebook, and Twitter. In most cases you don’t even have to provide a username and password, and even for the rare cases where you’re forced to type in all the details, there are automated tools like Lastpass and Keepass. However, things often get a lot more confusing and obscure when you want to do the reverse. Whether you just want to delete your data from the company’s servers because you no longer trust them or you want to break free from your past and start afresh, cleaning up your online identity is a lot harder than you might think.

Some services like Facebook have the account deletion link buried deep within their interface, while others like Skype don’t even offer an automated option. An annoyingly large number of services including Skype, Amazon, and Adobe force you to call or email them for deleting your account. Even worse, some web apps like Evernote don’t allow you to delete your account, and only offer a temporary deactivation after making you jump through several hoops. Manually figuring out how to delete dozens of accounts can be a painfully slow and laborious process. Thankfully, there are a couple of websites that can lend you a helping hand.

JustDelete

Just-Delete-Me-Direct-Link-to-Account-Deletion-Page
Just Delete Me – Home Page

JustDeleteMe is a directory of Account Deletion/De-activation page of various web services. It categorizes all entries into four buckets (Easy, Medium, Hard, and Impossible) based on how easy it is to delete your account. Often, it also has a brief snippet or a note about the account you’re trying to delete. JustDeleteMe also provides a Chrome extension, which adds a color-coded dot to the omnibar whenever you visit a website that’s in the database. The dot indicates how easy it is to delete your account on the website, and clicking on it directly takes you to the account deletion page.

AccountKiller

Account-Killer-How-To-Delete-Online-Accounts
Account Killer – Home Page

AccountKiller isn’t as pretty as JustDelete, and doesn’t have a browser extension. However, it does seem to have a bigger database. AccountKiller classifies websites into White, Grey, and Black categories depending upon the ease of account deletion or deactivation. It also provide a bookmarklet called SiteCheck. Clicking on this bookmarklet makes a bar appear at the top of your screen, which indicates which category the website that you’re currently surfing belongs to.

Account-Killer-How-To-Delete-Accounts-Guide
Account Killer – Step by Step Instructions

If you are looking to clean-up your online profile, then another web app that you might find handy is KnowEm. This website has over 500 services in its database, and when provided with a username, it instantly lets you know which services that username has been registered on.

External Storage Support Coming to Xbox One in June Update

Do you have an Xbox One and would like to expand the total storage capacity for whatever reason, by adding external storage? Well, start counting down the days. In a blog post on Xbox Wire on May 21, Larry Hyrb (known more popularly as Major Nelson) announced that external storage feature is coming to Xbox One in the upcoming “June update”.

Xbox One External Storage
Xbox One External Storage

This is one of the few other features coming to Xbox One in this update. Others include:

Real names to identify friends: Until now, friends list and followers list only included gamertags. With the increased friend limits, it becomes hard to correlated gamertags with real names of friends. The real name won’t show up in games, and in terms of sharing, there will be full control on whether something is shared among friends, a subset of friends, friends of friends or nobody at all.

Xbox One Real Names
Xbox One Real Names

SmartGlass with full OneGuide and Universal Remote: The SmartGlass app for Xbox One will now have the entire OneGuide and Universal Remote experience. Per the post:

We’ve made a ton of changes to your SmartGlass app for Xbox One. After getting great feedback from our SmartGlass beta, we’re thrilled to be bringing the entire OneGuide experience and Universal Remote Control to SmartGlass. Now in supported markets you can view all of your TV listings on your SmartGlass device and set and view your favorite channels and app channels on your smart phone, tablet or PC. With the Universal Remote Control, you can also easily switch channels, set new recordings and select and control recorded content from your DVR. Another great companion feature now in SmartGlass is pin reordering. With the touch of your finger you can easily organize your pins in categories or favorites based on your preferences and have those changes refresh to your console.

Other improvements to SmartGlass will help you stay current on what you and your friends are up to, even when you’re away from your console. We’re bringing hero stats and activity feed front and center, and adding more ways for you to compare achievements via SmartGlass whether you’re on a friend’s profile or viewing a game from the activity feed. Just like on the console, you can choose to get notifications on your smart phone, PC or tablet when a favorite friend signs into their console or starts broadcasting a game. For many devices, you can even choose to start watching the broadcast wherever you are.

Expanded TV and OneGuide support: TV and OneGuide will now be available to all in Canada, UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy.

Xbox LIVE Gold updates: As reported earlier, the updated Xbox LIVE Gold features will be finally made available in this update.

Here’s Major Nelson providing these updates in a video:

Our Kickstarter Pick: TYLT introduces an affordable 2-in-1 USB wall charger with battery

One of my favorite accessories brand, TYLT has launched a Kickstarter campaign for its upcoming product, the Energi 2K Travel Charger.

Utilizing TYLT’s patented technology, the brightly colored Energi 2K is an affordable 2-in-1 USB wall charger that doubles as a portable battery for on-the-go charging. The Energi 2K prototype was unveiled at CES 2014 earlier this year, and won a few awards as well.

tylt

The charger features foldable AC wall prongs to make it very portable. It packs in a rechargeable 2200 mAh battery with an LED battery status indicator. With a universal USB port, you can use the charger for any smartphone or similar device. The Energi 2K can handle input of 110-240 Volts, and therefore, it can be used across the world, although, you’d need an adapter.

The Energi 2K was designed to replace your standard wall charger. The Intelligent Charging Technology prioritizes the charge to your device until your device is fully charged. It then charges the 2200mAh battery onboard. It will take 3-4 hours to fully charge the 2K. If nothing is connected, the charger stays in Intelligent Standby Mode.

tylt_wall_charger

Last year, TYLT completed two successful Kickstarter campaigns for the Energi+ Backpack and VU Wireless Charger. Now, TYLT is seeking $50,000 for UL testing fees and an initial production run, with a plan to deliver product to backers in July this year. There are several reward plans starting from $20, although the retail price is expected to be $39.99.

TYLT | Energi 2K on Kickstarter

Panasonic launches P81, its first flagship smartphone with octa-core processor, for INR 18,990

Panasonic has unveiled its latest Android smartphone, P81, with 5.5-inch IPS HD display and 1.7GHz true octa-core smartphone. Powered by Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean), the 7.9mm thin smartphone boasts of a nice leatherette design. The phone features a 13MP Full HD-capable autofocus camera with a decent 2500 mAh battery.

The Panasonic P81 will be available to consumers in India from the third week of May at a best price of INR 18,990.

panasonic_p81

The phone packs in several additional features like the new multi-tasking experience where users can play around designing screens. ‘Device Cleaner’ to free up device RAM, Multi Play capabilities like dual window operation, and Panasonic’s signature feature, the ‘Gesture Play’.

“With the launch of the Panasonic P81, we have reached yet another milestone as this is the first model of the “P” series featured with octa-core processor. The introduction of this model reiterates our commitment to keep innovating as we believe that it is a direct result of the consumers’ needs, and customer centricity has to be at the core of developing products for the Indian consumer.”
– Manish Sharma, Managing Director, Panasonic India

In India, the phone comes bundled with Apps Freebies of INR 9,900 including 6 months of Evernote Premium subscription, free entertainment downloads from Hungama for a month, and content from India Today.

Good News: Xbox LIVE Gold Can Be Refunded after June If You Don’t Need It

As announced recently, the entertainment and communication apps on Xbox will not need the Xbox LIVE Gold subscription after an update rolls out in June 2014. That’s good news because more customers will be able to enjoy those apps without having to fork out an extra $60 a year.

But what happens if you already paid the Xbox LIVE Gold subscription fees, which are usually paid on an annual basis? Well, per a recent FAQ on Xbox support site, good news awaits. After the June update rolls out, you can contact Xbox support and request a refund.

Will I be able to cancel my Gold membership?

Yes. Once the Xbox One and Xbox 360 system updates become available in June, Xbox Live Gold members who purchased a paid membership before that day can cancel and receive a pro-rata refund of any unused remaining days between the date of cancellation and the date their paid Gold membership ends. Cancellation and pro-rata refund requests must be made by August 31, 2014 and require six to eight weeks for processing. Free or trial Gold memberships are not eligible for a refund. To request your pro-rata refund, please click http://support.xbox.com/contact-us after the system updates become available in June.

So, it is good news for consumers not just that Microsoft is lifting the requirement of Xbox LIVE Gold but also that they taking care of those who bought the subscription prior to this change.

As a reminder, here’s what the new structure will look like:

Xbox features with and without Gold membership
Xbox features with and without Gold membership

Are you a casual gamer or a non-gamer like me? Are you planning to cancel your Gold subscription once this feature rolls out? I have a concern that my refund won’t go through because I bought Gold via a prepaid card I bought from Amazon.com. Fingers crossed, though. :-)

Keep your inbox in shape with nifty new features and Advanced Rules in Outlook.com

Microsoft has announced Advanced Rules and few other features for Outlook.com to help keep your inbox in shape and make it easier to see the email that matters to you.

Outlook.com already has a number of features like Sweep for email management, and the new features rolling out today do the heavy lifting and help you save time. These improvements will be rolling out within the coming weeks, so if you don’t see them right away, check back again soon.

Advanced Rules

With Advanced Rules, you have more control over how your emails are sorted, filed, or bumped to the top of your inbox. You can create multi-condition and multi-action rules and set your inbox to organize itself automatically. Advanced rules allow you to combine your existing rules together and customize them to suit you.

1

Here’s an example of an Advanced Rule – If an unread email is older than 3 days and is from one of your contacts, mark it as important and flag it. This rule brings any emails you might have missed, from real people you know, to the top of your inbox.

Undo

2

Occasionally, you’ll drop an email into the wrong folder or hit Delete by accident. Now it’s easier to undo mistakes in range of commands – delete, categorize, flag, mark as junk, or move – for one email or a whole group.

In-line reply

3

Outlook.com customers use the Reply button almost 8 million times a day. With in-line reply, you can directly respond to an email thread without launching a new view. In-line reply can help you save time, and track your conversations more easily.

More personal messaging

5

Outlook.com allows you to find recent conversations and other contacts you can chat with in the bottom left of your inbox. One click will launch you straight into a conversation with them. You can now browse your People by filtering what service they’re using (Skype, Facebook etc.). You can even see who’s currently available–icons will now appear alongside names, so you know who’s able to Video, Call or just chat.

Know your technology head on