Tag Archives: Android

Lenovo P90 Smartphone Announced With 64-bit CPU And Android 5.0

Along with the limited edition Vibe X2 Pro, the Chinese tech giant also launched the Lenovo P90 smartphone at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2015 in Las Vegas. It is the first smartphone to utilize the combination of 64-bit Intel AtomTM Z3560 processor with Intel’s 5-mode XMMTM 7262 modem. It runs on the latest Android 5.0 (Lollipop) Operating System.

lenovo_p90

Lenovo P90 comes with a 5.5 inch Full HD display, 13 megapixel rear camera, 5 megapixel front camera, gesture controls, advanced LTE connectivity and a huge 4000 mAh battery. This handset will be available in Pearl White, Onyx Black and Lava Red colors. The Lenovo P90 will go on sale from next month. The price of this device will be announced soon.

“The Lenovo P90 smartphone is an impressive addition to the growing portfolio of Intel-powered smartphones. As one of the first smartphones powered by Intel’s latest processor coupled with the LTE-Advanced XMM 7260 modem, people will enjoy exceptional speed and 64-bit performance that will provide users with a great mobile experience. We are proud to continue our work with Lenovo on this major milestone.”

– Hermann Eul, Intel’s vice president of Mobile Communications

Lenovo Vibe X2 Pro, Selfie Flash Accessory And E Ink Smartband Announced

Lenovo recently launched the new Vibe X2 Pro limited edition smartphone at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2015 in Las Vegas. Lenovo also unveiled a selfie flash accessory and Vibe V10 wearable smartband which is compatible with this smartphone. The Lenovo Vibe X2 Pro packs a 5.3 inch Full HD display and a 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon Octa-Core processor, 13 megapixel front and rear camera with LED flash and much more.

lenono_vibe_x2_pro

The rechargeable selfie flash accessory allows you to take up to 100 selfies in a single charge. It works by using 8 diffused LEDs to supplement available light for natural color tones, even in low light condition. The Vibe V10 wearable smartband features an E Ink display with up to 7-day battery life. The E Ink display on the smartband helps you to view the phone notifications even in sunlight.

The Lenovo Vibe X2 Pro will go on sale from April 2015. The price of this device will be announced before the launch. Vibe V10 Smartband will reach the global markets in April for $89.

“As lifestyles and everyday habits become more and more mobile, consumers today are looking to devices that deliver both performance and long lasting battery life in sleek, stylish designs. These are some of the driving forces behind our new range of mobile devices that offer blazing fast processing speeds, innovative new features and extended battery life to enhance the mobile experience of the most demanding users.”

– Shao Tao, vice president, Mobile business unit, Lenovo

lenovo_selfie_flash

Looking Forward to Windows Phone in 2015

windows-phones

As 2014 winds down, Windows Phone is at a crucial stage in its lifecycle. Again. Earlier in 2014, Microsoft closed the acquisition of Nokia’s hardware division and Windows 10 was launched in a Technical Preview form. Nokia’s acquisition, combined with the upcoming Windows 10-based version of the phone operating system, has perhaps resulted in a slight pause in release of true flagship devices that can compete with the latest versions of competing platforms, the iPhone and Android/Nexus lineup.

So, as we look forward to the early 2014 look at the combined Windows RT and Windows Phone OS based on Windows 10, what can Microsoft do to preserve and grow its share, both market share as well as mind share? Recently, some prominent writers have written in detail about why they are no longer using Windows Phone as their primary device. Key takeaways there were lack of proper support of the platform by the largest mobile network in the US, Verizon Wireless, as well as lack of key apps on the platform. Apps that include the likes of Slack, Trello, Snapchat, Tinder, etc.

I have my own reasons why I switched to using iPhone 5s as my primary device last year. I know Windows Phone 8.1 added Notification Center but many of the problems are still valid issues for those who care about top-end Windows Phone experience. For example, adding Action Center to store all notifications is a great start, but in order to take action on those notifications, you have to tap it which opens the app, and then you take action within the app. Android, and now even iOS to a certain extent, have actionable notifications and those need to be implemented on Windows Phone.

The broader issue with Windows Phone is that for the third year in a row, enthusiasts are made to wait for “the next version” for feature parity with iOS and Android. Meanwhile those two platforms, due to the incredible ecosystem which creates a great virtuous cycle, have implemented next-generation features that move the goal posts for Windows Phone. Also, this wait for the next version of Windows Phone only takes care of part of the problem plaguing the platform; app developers are still not flocking to the platform because in the US, where most of the innovative apps have been created in the recent past, Windows Phone is still languishing around the 3% market share. Forget Windows Phone, even choosing Android as the second platform to be supported by small developers, is hard (although that Android situation is changing slowly).

Here are some things to look forward to as yet another chapter opens for Windows phone (yes, the “p” is lower case, because rumors suggest that Windows Phone operating system will be merged with Windows RT and just called Windows 10):

Windows 10

There’s a lot of hope for Windows 10’s ARM-based OS version, the merger of Windows RT and Windows Phone. How will apps built for Windows Phone work on Windows 10? What about additional features in the OS which will create an unforeseen appetite both on the consumer side as well as on the developer side? Cortana has rightly won accolades for how well she works, but it has not moved the needle much for device sales. Granted, it is not fully launched yet, but still. Also, what else can Windows 10 do that iOS and Android don’t do, and more importantly, can Microsoft find something that Windows 10 can do which iOS and Android *won’t* be able to do?

Windows 10 Product Family
Windows 10 Product Family

Flagships

One of the issues I had with Windows Phone when I got my iPhone 5s was the increased (and justifiable) focus by Microsoft on the lower end. They see their best market potential in markets which haven’t achieved smartphone saturation yet. In those markets, Microsoft has been able to sell their entry-level devices quite well. So Microsoft making “affordable flagship” a term for mid-range devices with some high-end specifications is completely understandable.

However, many customers in the developed markets would love to get a true high-end phone that competes well with the flagship iPhone and Android devices. The Lumia 1020, for example, has no successor yet. Yes, the Lumia 1520 is a great phone but there needs to be a non-phablet version of that device to make it appealing to the larger customer base.

Lumia 1520
Lumia 1520
Lumia Icon
Lumia Icon

Updates

Yes, Microsoft did create a bypass of sorts by making it possible for any “developer” to get direct updates of the software from Microsoft. Pretty much anyone can sign up to be a “developer” by signing into App Studio online, thereby making sure any enthusiast who cares about latest OS versions, will get it directly from Microsoft. That has helped reduce the angst among the enthusiasts but it is only one part of the updates customers need; firmware that makes devices work better, is delivered by the OEMs and via the carriers. Carriers have no real urgency to complete (or in some cases, even start!) testing and delivering the firmware to Windows Phone devices.

Could Microsoft come up with a way to deliver even more firmware directly? I mean, Windows on PCs get all updates delivered directly, and if Windows 10’s mobile version is going to be like “big Windows”, then I am optimistic that most of the updates could be delivered directly by Microsoft. Having said that, could Microsoft find a way, Windows 10 or otherwise, to deliver it without the need for the device to be a developer device?

Mind share

This is a really tough nut for Microsoft to crack. Much of the mind share these days is delivery via the Microsoft-averse tech blogosphere which has settled down on Apple and Google as being the only two players worth caring about. In order to win them over, Microsoft has to climb a virtually impossible mountain but as we have seen in the enterprise/cloud space, it is not impossible. A few crucial strategic moves on the Azure/Visual Studio side have made Microsoft somewhat of a darling in the same tech press, and Microsoft has to find a similar set of moves to make on the consumer side in order to increase their mind share. I say this because even Windows Phone 8.1 is an excellent operating system and there is a lot to love there, but if the writers who write at prominent tech blogs don’t care to use it, and worse, dismiss it, it does not help. I am not sure what those strategic moves could be, but Microsoft does need to make those moves so that the tech press actually cares about writing about Windows devices.

I am optimistic about Windows 10. I like the fact that there will be one OS for phones and tablets and I look forward to seeing some of the well-established Windows Phone apps get upgraded to be Universal and work on small tablets as well. But most importantly, I want to see how Microsoft expands Windows 10 to work as one OS across phones, tablets and PCs. There are many interesting applications of having one OS work across devices of all form factors and I am curious to see how today’s excellent phone applications work on my Windows tablets. On the phone side, I am looking forward to some nice high-end devices and some marquee apps releasing their Universal versions soon.

Here’s looking forward to another exciting year for Microsoft and Windows!

One Plus One Goes On Sale In India For INR 21,999

One Plus has finally launched its popular One Plus One smartphone in India. This handset is exclusively available on Amazon for those who has received an invite. One Plus One packs a 5.5-inch Full HD display, 2.5 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor, 13 megapixel rear camera, 4G LTE Connectivity and more. It runs on the Android 4.4 (KitKat) based CyanogenMod 11S.

one_plus_one

Similar to its global invite system, Indian user will need an India-specific invite to purchase this device. To get an invite, you will need to participate in the contests and promotional events hosted on the company’s forums or social media channels as well as by Amazon.in. You can also ask someone who has bought a OnePlus phone for an invite. To learn more, head over to this page. One Plus One comes with a price-tag of INR 21,999.

One Plus One Specifications:

  • 5.5-inch Full HD display
  • 1920 × 1080 pixels resolution
  • Corning Gorilla glass 3 protection
  • 2.5 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor
  • Android 4.4 (KitKat) based CyanogenMod 11S
  • 13 megapixel rear camera with Dual LED Flash
  • 4K video recording
  • 5 megapixel front-facing camera
  • 3 GB RAM
  • 64 GB internal memory
  • 4G LTE Connectivity
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 ac
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • 3100 mAh battery

Intex Launches The Aqua Power With 4000 mAh Battery In India For INR 8,444

Intex Technologies recently launched yet another Android powered smartphone in the Indian market. The Intex Aqua Power features a 5 inch IPS display, 1.4 GHz octa-core processor, 8 megapixel rear camera, 1 GB RAM and much more. Apart from that, this handset packs a beefy 4000 mAh battery that gives you 18 hours of talk time while using 3G and 30 hours of talk time on 2G.

intex_aqua_power

Intex Aqua Power comes with a price-tag of INR 8,444. This handset is available in White, Black, Blue and Grey colors. Intex hads pre-loaded the Hungama app on this device, which allows you to access 30 days of unlimited audio and video from its vast catalog library. Check out the complete specs below.

“At Intex, it is our effort to constantly understand and deliver on customer expectations and we feel that the Aqua Power with its extensive battery life and powerful Octa-Core processor will cater to our consumers’ needs in a far more effective manner. We hope to address these concerns with this smartphone that will guarantee long hours of talk time along with a smooth and fast interface. We look forward to our users experiencing a state of the art smartphone.”

– Sanjay Kumar Kalirona, Mobile Business Head, Intex Technologies

Intex Power Aqua Specifications:

  • 5 inch full laminated IPS display
  • 854 x 480 pixels resolution
  • 1.4 GHz Octa-Core processor
  • Android 4.4.2 Kitkat OS (Upgradable to Android 5.0)
  • 8 megapixel auto-focus camera
  • 2 megapixel front facing camera
  • 8 GB ROM
  • 32 GB expandable memory
  • 1 GB RAM
  • Dual SIM
  • 3G Connectivity
  • Supports power bank function
  • Bluetooth/Wi-Fi/Hotspot
  • OTG Support
  • FM Radio
  • Pedometer and E-compass
  • 4000mAh battery

Microsoft Band Is Almost Here

It sure looks like Microsoft is very close to announcing and releasing their fitness band, simply called Microsoft Band. Their smartphone and Mac apps are available in respective stores ahead of a formal announcement.

Based on the details listed in the app description, an updated health privacy policy and screenshots, it does look like the band will work with all platforms and will be, as is normal with Microsoft these days, powered by a cloud service called Microsoft Health.

The band will apparently track heart rate, steps, calories burned and sleep. The band will also work with your smartphone and show notifications, and in the case of Windows Phone, integrate with Cortana. Among the type of notifications that the Band will be able to show are email messages, calendar reminders, phone calls received, text messages social updates like those from Twitter and Facebook, weather and finance. The band will use the smartphone’s location services to determine your location, in order to show the weather, for example.

Notifications and other settings will be configured via the Microsoft Health app which is now available on all platforms.

It is unclear if the following tweet from Microsoft Store has any connection to the Microsoft Band, but it is quite a coincidence, if not:


I don’t know about you, but I am more excited about the cloud-powered service Microsoft Health, than the band itself. As a cross-platform consumer, I would love to have something that works across all my devices, and it looks like Microsoft may have the answer.

Some screenshots from the various apps follow below:

Mac App Store

Microsoft Band - Mac App
Microsoft Band – Mac App
Microsoft Band - Mac App
Microsoft Band – Mac App
Microsoft Band - Mac App
Microsoft Band – Mac App

Android Google Play

Microsoft Band - Android App
Microsoft Band – Android App
Microsoft Band - Android App
Microsoft Band – Android App
Microsoft Band - Android App
Microsoft Band – Android App
Microsoft Band - Android App
Microsoft Band – Android App
Microsoft Band - Android App
Microsoft Band – Android App

Windows Phone Store

Microsoft Band - Winows Phone App
Microsoft Band – Winows Phone App
Microsoft Band - Winows Phone App
Microsoft Band – Winows Phone App
Microsoft Band - Winows Phone App
Microsoft Band – Winows Phone App
Microsoft Band - Winows Phone App
Microsoft Band – Winows Phone App
Microsoft Band - Winows Phone App
Microsoft Band – Winows Phone App

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.

Google Nexus 9 Tablet Launched; Up For Pre-Order From October 17

Along with the Nexus 6 smartphone, Google has also launched the Nexus 9 tablet. This device is manufactured by HTC and it packs an 8.9 inch display, 64-bit NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor, 8 megapixel rear camera and so on. It runs on the latest Android 5.0 (Lollipop) Operating System. This device will be available in 16 GB and 32 GB variant. The dual front-facing speaker on this tablet is powered by the HTC’s Boomsound technology.

The Google Nexus 9 tablet will be up for pre-order from October 17th, however the device will go on sale from November 3rd. It comes with a price-tag of $400 for the 16GB model, $480 for 32GB model and $600 for 32 GB with LTE model. Apart from Play Store, you can also buy this tablet from Amazon, Best Buy, Gamestop, Office Depot, Office Max, Radio Shack, Staples and Walmart.

google_nexus_9

Nexus 9 will be available in black, white and sand colors. Nexus 9 users can additionally buy the Keyboard Folio which attaches to the device with magnets, pairs by NFC and supports two typing angles.

Google Nexus 9 Specifications:

  • 8.9 inch IPS display
  • 2048 x 1536 pixels resolution
  • Android 5.0 (Lollipop) OS
  • 2.3 GHz NVIDIA Tegra K1 – 64 bit processor
  • Kepler 192-core GPU
  • 8 megapixel rear camera with auto-focus and LED flash
  • 1.6 megapixel front-facing camera
  • Front-facing stereo speakers
  • HTC BoomSound technology
  • 16 GB /32 GB internal memory
  • 2 GB RAM
  • GNSS support for GPS
  • Bosch gyroscope and accelerometer
  • 3.5mm audio jack
  • Up to 9.5 hours of Wi-Fi browsing time
  • Up to 8.5 hours of LTE browsing time
  • 6700 mAh battery

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Launched In India For INR 58,300

Last month, Samsung unveiled the much awaited Galaxy Note 4 phablet at the IFA 2014 event in Berlin. This device comes with an upgraded 5.7 inch Quad HD display and a 3.7 megapixel front-facing camera for selfie lovers with 90 degree shooting angle and up to 120 degree wide angle. Today, Samsung finally launched this phablet in India.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 comes with a price-tag of INR 58,300. This device will go on sale in India from October 17. It also includes support for 14 Indian languages including Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Marathi and so on. Vodafone subscribers will get 1 GB of free 3G data for 2 months with this device.

“The launch of Galaxy Note 4 highlights Samsung’s commitment to deliver iconic and differentiated products. The new device exhibits people inspired innovation with its unique combination of an enhanced S Pen, large and vivid display and superior productivity features to provide the most refined Galaxy experience to our customers. Samsung has significantly contributed to the wearable industry by taking the lead in offering unique smart wearable’s and the launch of Gear S will further set a new standard in the mobile communication space.”

– Asim Warsi, VP of Mobile & IT, Samsung India

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Specifications:

  • 5.7 inch Quad HD Super AMOLED display
  • 2560 x 1440 pixels resolution
  • 1.9 GHz Octa-Core (1.9GHz Quad + 1.3GHz Quad-Core) Processor
  • Android 4.4 (KitKat) Operating System
  • 16 megapixel autofocus camera with Smart OIS
  • 3.7 megapixel front-facing camera with Wide Selfie
  • Air Command
  • S Note, Snap Note, Direct Pen Input
  • Ultra Power Saving Mode
  • 4G Connectivity
  • WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  • GPS, NFC (Near Field Communication)
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • 32 GB Internal memory
  • 64 GB expandable memory
  • 3 GB RAM
  • 3220 mAh Li-ion battery with Adaptive Fast Charging

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 ]