The Galaxy S4 comes with a plethora of software features, which the company intends to bring to the Galaxy S3 as well. Samsung’s VP of Product Planning, Nick DiCarlo, has stated in an interview with PCMag that the Korean giant will bring “anything that we can do that’s not dependent on hardware like infrared, we’ll definitely bring to all the flagship devices.”
Along with a the new Nexus 4 and Nexus 10, Google also unveiled the latest version of Jelly Bean – Android 4.2. Yes, Google decided to stick with the same name so as to avoid confusion and because the new release does not bring any major changes to warrant a whole new name. So, what exactly is new in Android 4.2 Jelly Bean? Read below to find out.
With Ice Cream Sandwich, Google introduced panorama mode to the stock camera app. Apple did the same with iOS6 and the iPhone 5, except that in iOS6 users could take panorama photos in portrait mode as well. With Android 4.2, Google has brought its amazing Street view technology to Android devices. Photo Sphere will allow Android 4.2 running devices to click photos of multiple axis and then stitch them into one, to form one single 360 degree image. The best part about the Photo Sphere images is that they are taken in the full 8MP resolution of the camera, and not downscaled to a lower resolution.
Below is a video of Photo Sphere in action on the Nexus 4 -:
Google has been constantly tweaking the stock Android keyboard with each and every Android OS release. While Android 2.3 and Android 4.0 brought about a major re-vamp in the looks and minor layout changes, Android 4.1.1 brought SwiftKey like next-word prediction system. With Android 4.2, Google is bringing Gesture Typing to the stock Android keyboard. Think of Gesture Typing as Swype – Just glide your fingers over letters you want to type and only lift them at the end of each word. With Gesture typing and the keyboard’s ability to predict the next word a user is going to type, Jelly Bean makes typing a breeze rather than a chore.
Multiple User Profiles
With Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, Google is bringing multiple user profiles to Android tablets. This will allow users to easily share their tablets with their family members without worrying about their saved games progress or other private data. This feature is only for tablets, but I am pretty sure it is just a matter of time before custom ROM developers bring this feature to Android phones as well.
While I first got excited hearing about Daydream, the feature is relatively useless. Daydream will allow your Android device to show either updates from Google Current or say a photo stream while your device is docked or idle.
Finally! With Android 4.2, Google has finally made the lockscreen infinitely more useful thanks to widgets. At the moment there is not much known about how lockscreen widgets, except that they can be accessed by swiping right or left across the lockscreen. However, The Verge does have a video which shows the lockscreen in action for a short amount of time.
Miracast Wireless Display Support
Android finally gets an Airplay competitor with Miracast Wireless Display support. Even though Miracast is a relatively new technology, it should become a frequent feature in TVs by next year. If your current TV does not feature Miracast, you can add it by using an after-market dongle.
Notification Quick Controls
With Android 4.2, Google has finally provided users with quick access to toggling certain settings such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and more. This feature is something which every Android OEM has added to stock Android via their skin, and considering its usefulness, the amount of time that Google took to implement it is just mind boggling. Users can access the notification toggles by pressing a button on the notification bar. Alternatively, they can swipe down the notification bar using two fingers to directly access the toggles.
Below is a video showing the quick controls in action -:
New Clock App
The current Clock app in Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is nothing short of ancient. It lacks all basic features like a stop watch and timer which in 2012 is nothing short of shameful. Thankfully, with Android 4.2, Google has completely over-hauled the Clock app and added new features to it including World Clock along with stop watch and timer.
With Android 4.2, Google has made Google Now smarter. It can now directly read and display flight confirmations, hotel reservations, shipping details, movie times, nearby attractions and more. Google Voice Search, which is an integral part of Google Now, is also more powerful now allowing users to directly launch apps or schedule calendar appointments.
Since Google Now is not a part of the core Android OS, the update is already available to all Jelly Bean running devices via the Play Store.
New Linux Kernel
With Android 4.2, Google has updated the stock Android kernel to be based on the Linux 3.4 kernel. The new kernel improves memory utilization, security and more. From what I have read, the Linux kernel 3.4 should also allow Android OEMS to easily port the latest version of the Android OS to their devices. It will also allow Google to keep the Android kernel version in sync with the mainline linux kernel.
It seems like we hear horror stories about Facebook every day. There are writers who spend all their time at Techie Buzz warning you about Facebook scams. Joel just did a great write up on how to not get hacked on the worlds largest social network. Now, it looks like Facebook is ready to help you control your sharing and privacy setting.
Announced today on their official blog, Facebook is introducing a slew of changes to their privacy and sharing settings. These are some seriously good changes for Facebook, which hasn’t always been known for giving users control over their sharing. There are a large number of smaller changes, but they can be broken down into two big categories. Let’s take a look at each one.
The first tagging related change is the ability to control when tagged photos appear on your profile. In the past, when someone tagged you in a photo, it would appear on your profile automatically. That lead to many spam tags appearing on profiles, and that was a huge problem for users. Now, you can choose to approve or reject each tagged photo posting individually, giving you more control over what appears on your Facbook profile.
The next major tagging change is an old feature brought back. In the old days of Facebook, you had the ability to approve or reject tags people added to your photos or posts. Facebook has brought that back for users, which is good news. Now random people tagging your photos without your knowledge won’t be a big deal anymore.
The next tagging change revolves around the tagging of non-friends and locations. Previously, Facebook only allowed you to tag people you are friends with in your posts. That meant that if you were with someone who you weren’t friends with, you couldn’t tag them. Now, you can, with their approval.
In addition to that, you can now tag locations without checking into them, which makes locations much more useful. Interestingly enough, this change means that Facebook is now phasing out the mobile-only version of Places. That means that all settings associated with that will be removed, and will need to be replaced in the new location settings.
The final tagging change revolves around the removal of tags and content on Facebook. In the past, the process of untagging and removing of content was unclear for many users. Now, Facebook will prompt you for a reason, which will allow you to take one of a set of actions against a piece on content. This marks a new phase for controlling your persona via Facebook, giving you the ability to request the takedown of a photo or even block a user based on a tag.
The next big set of changes from Facebook revolves around sharing controls. Many of us (myself included) are enthralled by Google’s sharing system on Google+. Facebook now has something very similar with its Inline Sharing Controls. When you make a post on Facebook going forward, you will have the ability to select who gets to see it. Options include Public, Friends, and Custom, and will grow to include Facebook Lists in the near future.
In the past, once a post was posted you could not change the sharing settings. Now, you are given the option to change those settings after you hit ‘Post.’ This will allow you to stop that secret message for your best friends going out to everyone on the internet.
The last change Facebook announced is a change in the way you handle your profile visibility. In the past, if you wanted to see what your profile looked like to the public, it was hard to do. Now, you will have a button on your Facebook profile to access these previews. This button is labeled ‘View Profile Asâ€¦’, and will do just what I described.
Facebook: Now More Privacy Friendly
There you have it. Facebook is now working very hard to help users get more control over their content. These changes are, together, the most sweeping sharing and privacy changes Facebook has ever released. These new features will be released to all users over the next few days, starting today. When you receive them, you will get a walkthrough to see all the new changes.
What do you think of Facebook’s changes? Are you happy to see this kind of user privacy become a priority at Facebook? Is there a change you were hoping to see sometime soon? Let us know what you think in comment section below.
Today came the exciting and unexpected news of Windows Phone Mango’s Release To Manufacturing (RTM). The Windows Phone team has completed the release and handed it to mobile operators and handset makers to start testing the latest update to Microsoft’s mobile operating system reboot.
Windows Phone Mango has several hundred new features which have been covered at various places across the web, including some of the v1 annoyances it has resolved for me personally. Here I want to make a few comments on what still remains to be added. Granted, these are smaller in some ways than the gap that Mango closed, it is still worth talking about what Windows Phone lacks in terms of features and functionality already available in (or announced for) iOS and/or Android.
- VPN functionality: Windows Phone still does not support connecting to a Virtual Private Network (VPN), typically used to connect devices to corporate networks from outside the company. iOS offers native VPN support as well as support for VPN client apps.
- At-rest encryption: Encryption of the storage on the device is a huge issue for corporate IT departments in being able to support a mobile device. As smartphones get more and more capable of performing computer-like tasks, and as they start storing more and more company data, they also become a huge liability in case the phones get lost or stolen. At-rest encryption protects the data on the device in such cases. Microsoft has said that the isolated storage on the device is only available to the specific app and that is how they quasi-protect the data, but I don’t think IT departments think that is enough. iOS for example, has encryption built into newer devices since iOS4.
- Complete backup/restore: As part of the recent NoDo update, Windows Phone introduced phone backup, but it is crippled in that only Zune desktop can execute it, and it cannot really be triggered manually (on demand). iOS (iTunes) on the other hand, does provide a way to backup and restore on demand.
- Multiple Windows Live ID’s per phone: Windows Phone links the device to a Windows Live ID which you enter during setup. This is the ID used to connect to the Marketplace for purchasing apps and other content, but more importantly, it is also the ID used to access other in-built platform services like Zune Pass music subscription and Windows Live-connected services like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and obviously, Windows Live Messenger and Facebook chat. What if I want to share my purchased apps with my wife but we want to have our own Windows Live-connected services on our phones? It is impossible today without sharing a Live ID, but SkyDrive, IM, Facebook, Twitter, etc. are services which don’t translate well with a shared Live ID. On the other hand, iOS/iTunes allows you to use a different ID to purchase apps/content from the store, than from the one you associate with the device. So I envision that in Windows Phone you still enter a Windows Live ID at setup, which will tie the ID to all your platform services like SkyDrive, IM, Facebook, Twitter, etc., but when it comes time to purchase apps or content, you can choose which ID to use.
- DLNA, Play To: When Windows Phone launched, DLNA capability was used by LG as a differentiator for their phones. Now that the initial launch dust has settled, it is about time Windows Phone included DLNA/Play To feature across the OS. This will be a good response to AirPlay which is one of the few really magical technologies that have come out of Apple. If I could beam my recently captured photos/videos from my Windows Phone to the TV via the XBOX or a TV-connected Windows 7 PC, it would be awesome.
- [Updated 7/29/2011] Voice commands for Music/Zune: How could I miss this one? One feature that seems to be missing from Mango is the ability to use the excellent voice commands for Music playback (including of course podcasts), including controls like pause, play, stop and skip. I hope at least this one is a surprise feature in RTM which we have not seen in the beta builds.
Do you have anything else you would add to this list? Let me know!
Google recently made available a very useful feature called Multi Account Sign-in to its users, though this feature is very useful, currently it is limited to only 3 Google Accounts.
If you try to sign in to more than 3 accounts with the Google Multi Account Sign-in Feature enabled, you will see an error message similar to the one in the image above. The error message says:
You are already signed in to the maximum number of accounts. If you want to use another account you must sign out of all Google Accounts then sign in to the account you want.
So, currently to make use of different accounts, you will first have to sign out of one or all of the Google Accounts you are currently signed in into and then sign-in to the account you want to check. Though this is a minor constraint, it would definitely be good if Google would allow users to access around 5-7 accounts at once.
I know many users who have around 5 accounts minimum for various purposes. In addition to that, it would also be good if Google allowed users to sign-in with Google Apps accounts too.
Mike Beltzner, Mozilla’s Director of Firefox has recently made an announcement outlining a vision for Firefox 4 in a recent blog post.
This can as well be called an early product plan and he introduces it with the lines,
Today, I presented an early product plan for Firefox 4 to the Mozilla community (live, over the web!) to share our vision for the next version of Firefox, and what projects are underway to realize it. Then I invited everyone to get involved by joining our engineering or product development efforts.
The primary goal of Firefox 4 development will be according to Mike, making Firefox “super-duper fast”. Other features which they are aiming at are enabling new open web standards and allowing more user control over the browser and their browsing.
To better understand this, you can see the slide presentation Mike has prepared on his blog.
Now getting to the goals, open web standards and user control are already increasing day by day on Firefox. Firefox is quick to adapt to new web standards. Though, one thing to watch out for is how and by how much they are improving Firefox in terms of speed and making it super-duper fast as claimed. Firefox 3.7 is expected to become Firefox 4.0 by the end of this year.
Ubuntu 10.04 was released two days back and has been getting a lot of attention due to its new branding, theme etc. On the same day, KDE SC based Ubuntu derivative, Kubuntu 10.04 was also released.
Here are the new features that made it to Kubuntu 10.04:
Just like the new branding that Ubuntu got, Kubuntu also has a new branding for Lucid Lynx. It now has a new logo and icon which are now part of the updated Plymouth boot splash screen.
KDE Software Compilation 4.4
Kubuntu 10.04 comes with the new KDE Software Complilation 4.4. KDE SC 4.4 provides many new features like improved Nepomuk Semantic Search, tabbed windows etc.
Better Firefox Integration
In Kubuntu 10.04, Firefox is integrated more closely. Firefox now respects the KDE settings on the default applications to handle certain file-types etc. It also uses the native KDE file dialog.
Kubuntu 10.04 comes with the latest version of Amarok i.e Amarok 2.3. Amarok 2.3 brings new features like equalizer, new toolbar etc.
Kubuntu Netboot Remix
The Kubuntu Netboot Remix is now officially available with Kubuntu 10.04. It uses KDE SC 4.4 plamsa-netbook interface.
Amarok is one of the best music players available for Linux. The latest stable release, Amarok 2.3 brought some cool new features and much needed improvments. Due to the extremely short release cycle that Amarok has, development for the next release, i.e. Amarok 2.3.1, has already been started.
The Amarok team has decided to put in some cool new features for the next release, Amarok 2.3.1. Three of the most exciting new features that are coming in Amarok 2.3.1 are CoverBling, Similar Artists & Upcoming Events and Smart Playlist.
CoverBling is a new applet which will allow you to browse your album collection in an animated 3D view. This is like the Cover Flow feature that iTune has. This is one feature that I am very excited about.
Similar Artists & Upcoming Events
The Similar Artists applet displays a list of artist which are similar to the one you are playing. The Upcoming Event applet displays future events like concerts for the artist that is currently playing. Both of these applets fetch their information from Last.fm.
Automated Playlist Generator
This new feature allows smart creation of playlists that matche user defined constraints. It combines the “Smart Playlist” from Amarok 1.4 with the Bias System from amarok 2.0.
These are the major new features being introduced in Amarok 2.3.1. However, there are other new features and improvements. You can check them out here.
[via Amarok Blog]
Gmail Labs has been an interesting place for Google engineers to experiment with new Gmail features. Once Google knows how people react to the new features and how useful they are going to be, they decide to either Graduate or Retire a feature. When a feature is graduated, it is moved into Gmail as a permanent one while a retiring feature is completely removed due to lack of usage or other factors.
Today, Gmail has made 6 more features permanent so don’t be surprised if you suddenly find forgotten attachment detector enabled in your inbox. Here is the complete list of features that Google has graduated from labs:
1. Forgotten Attachment Detector
2. YouTube Previews
3. Custom Label Colors
4. Go To Label
5. Search Auto Complete
6. Vacation Dates
Google usually graduates a feature based on usage and feedback from users. On the other hand, if a feature is not being used much or has received poor feedback, Google retires them from the labs. There are 5 features that have met this faith including Muzzle, Fixed Width Font, Email Addict, Location in Signature and Random Signature. So if you login to your Gmail and don’t see the Take a Break option on top, you know what happened.
Retiring so many features at the same time might make people annoyed a little bit if they used some of them. I believe Google could do it more gradually to make the transition easier. As of now, there doesn’t seem to be any replacement for these 5 features so if you liked any of them you’ll just have to do without it.
We are all familiar with the Labs feature in Gmail, it allows Google to gradually introduce new features without burdening the user. The strategy has worked very well for Gmail and now Google has brought it in for Maps as well. Starting today users are noticing a small Labs icon on Google maps allowing them to add a number of new features including:
Drag ‘n’ Zoom: Zooming on a map just got easier. Just click the Drag ‘n’ Zoom button, draw a box on the map and zoom.
Aerial Imagery: How about adding a rotatable, high-resolution overhead imagery to your maps. Currently available for only certain areas though.
Back To Beta: Like your maps with the beta tag? Get it back by enabling this feature.
Where In The World Game: Play a game witin Google maps. Guess the name of the country by looking at satellite images.
Rotatable Maps: Turn your map upside down or sideways with this feature.
LatLang ToolTip: See the latitude and longitude of any point on the map.
SmartZoom: Get rid of the stupid zooming errors. This feature would only allow you to zoom if imagery exists at that level.
All these features can be enabled or disabled through the labs. However, keep in mind that these are all experimental features and might change or disappear at anytime. If any of these features break your Google Maps, you can use this alternative link to load a version without any extra features. This also means we would be seeing a lot more features for Google Maps in the coming days. This will get rid of whatever competition existed between Google Maps and other services like MapQuest and Yahoo! Maps.