Motorola finally launched the much-awaited Google Nexus 6 smartphone in India at the Great Online Shopping Festival (GOSF) 2014. It is the first smartphone which runs on the latest Android 5.0 (Lollipop) Operating System. This handset comes with a 6 inch Quad HD display, 2.7 GHz Snapdragon 805 quad-core processor, 13 megapixel rear camera with dual LED ring flash and 4K UHD video recording capabilities, 3 GB RAM and much more.
Google Nexus 6 comes with a price tag of INR 43,999 for the 32 GB variant and INR 48,999 for the 64 GB variant. This handset is exclusively available at Flipkart in Midnight Blue and Cloud White colors. Nexus 6 owners in India will get 3 month subscription of Flipkart First and pre-selected Flipkart eBooks worth Rs 2100 for free. You can even exchange your old smartphone and get up to INR 10,000 discount while purchasing this device.
“We are humbled by the response we received in India for Moto X. And today, we are delighted to announce the launch of Nexus 6 in India with gosf.in. The Nexus 6 brings with it Better multitasking capabilities, Helpful notifications and Beautiful design enhancing the user experience and style quotient. We are confident that the Indian consumer will enjoy our latest offering.”
– Amit Boni, General Manager, Motorola India
Google Nexus 6 Specifications:
5.96 inch AMOLED display
1440 x 2560 pixels resolution
Corning Gorilla Glass 3
2.7 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 with quad-core CPU
Microsoft has announced several developer opportunities to extend Office 365, specifically around Outlook encompassing mail, contacts and calendar. All those initiatives focus around the business side of Microsoft’s email, contacts and calendaring, until now.
On October 30, Microsoft announced a similar initiative to have developers build apps to extend the consumer side of their email, contacts and calendaring called Apps for Outlook.com. This initiative will let developers build extensions that target a potential user base of 400 million.
In a sign of Microsoft “merging” the back-end technologies across business and consumer product lines, they also said that even though this functionality will be available only in Spring 2015, developers can start now by building apps against Outlook Web App. In other words, apps built for Outlook Web App today will work seamlessly with Outlook.com too. This is good news for developers, obviously, because now developers building productivity apps don’t have to worry about enterprise vs consumer our Outlook vs Hotmail/Outlook.com.
The upgrade to unlimited storage rolls out today and there is a priority list for those who would like to see it early. I was one of those, and I got an email later in the day that while the upgrade to unlimited is in progress, the storage in my Office 365 Home account is bumped to 10TB, ten times the current allocation of 1TB.
So now, a customer can potentially get the full desktop Office suite for a PC/Mac, unlock editing features for tablet (iPad), get 60 minutes of Skype world calling to over 60 countries, use Office Online and Office Mobile on smartphones and unlimited storage for only $6.99 per month.
The above deal becomes even sweeter when there is a need for more than one user to be on the subscription. In such a case, a customer can get Office 365 Home which provides the same features for 5 users for $8.33 per month.
This is another move in the trend for cloud storage to become virtually free, tied closely to other services that companies like Microsoft, Google and to some extent, Apple provide. Here’s what Microsoft’s blog post said:
While unlimited storage is another important milestone for OneDrive we believe the true value of cloud storage is only realized when it is tightly integrated with the tools people use to communicate, create, and collaborate, both personally and professionally. That is why unlimited storage is just one small part of our broader promise to deliver a single experience across work and life that helps people store, sync, share, and collaborate on all the files that are important to them, all while meeting the security and compliance needs of even the most stringent organizations.
While Microsoft and Google have been really aggressive with their pricing, Apple has been a little reserved in how aggressive they get with the storage pricing. However, the biggest impact of such pricing moves are the likes of Box and Dropbox. For these companies, storage is a key factor but for platform makers like Microsoft, Google and Apple, adding storage inexpensively is not a big deal. How will Box and Dropbox combat this move? Your guess is as good as mine.
Do you have a ton of space in your OneDrive account and don’t know what you want to do with it? How about taking the bold step of moving your music collection to OneDrive?
Wait a second, you may say. OneDrive does not “support” music files, you may say. Well, maybe not openly and definitely not as a streaming music service could. However, as I coincidentally found out over the weekend, as long as you have the OneDrive app (I tested on Windows Phone, iPhone and Windows 8), you may at least be able to play your music, one song at a time.
Through a variety of promotions and tie-ins, I have almost 240GB of space on my OneDrive, and very soon, it is going to be 1TB because I have an Office 365 Home subscription.
To The Cloud
First though, moving the collection. If you are like me, and have many ways to listen to your collection, and have multiple forms of backup running, you may be wary of moving things around. I took a deep breath and took the plunge, although I knew what I wanted to achieve: move the music to the cloud but not lose the local files, and still continue to back up to my cloud backup service, Crashplan.
So, on my Windows 8 “home server”, I took the music off the data drive and moved it to my OneDrive’s sync location under a convenient location like OneDrive\Music. It took a while to move my 120GB to the cloud, but once I copied it to the location, I let it do its thing uploading the music to OneDrive. This step should be identical if you have Windows 7 (or even a Mac) with the OneDrive sync client installed.
The advantage with this approach as opposed to leaving the music on the home server is that I now have the ability to access my music from virtually any device connected to the internet. At the same time, since the music is still on my home server, I did not lose the ability to play the music from devices on the home network like my Apple TV.
Backup vs Sync
One common confusion is mistaking backup for sync, or vice versa. I think of it this way: I want my important data to be backed up without any manual effort, and I want some of the digital memories synced so that I can access them from anywhere, at anytime. The nuance here being, the backup is a one-way data transfer from my home server to the cloud whereas syncing enables me to add to my music collection from anywhere. So the next time I see a great deal on Amazon Music for a $5 album, I can not only purchase it but also download it and make it available to my other devices.
Use the OneDrive apps
Speaking of being able to access from anywhere, what happens when you try to open one of your (DRM-free, of course) audio files? Well, it depends. If you open from a browser, it simply opens the dialog to download the file. This is because the OneDrive web app is not set up for streaming music. It is only meant to interpret documents (Office formats, text and PDF), pictures and video. In the mobile OneDrive apps on the other hand, you can navigate to the folder with the songs, and tap on the actual song and it will start playing the song.
I hadn’t noticed this earlier, and while this is good, it by no means makes the OneDrive app a music player like Amazon Music app or Google Play Music app. For example, the app does not play an entire folder. It does not understand playlists. When you skip a song, it simply returns you to the folder instead of playing the next song.
But the fact that it can now stream (not download and then play) is a good sign that perhaps the OneDrive app may unbundle the photos/videos, documents and music features into their own apps just like Google and Amazon have done. I can see a OneDrive app like it is today, for general storage features, an Office app to only surface the files that Office mobile can open, OneDrive Photo app for pictures and videos, and OneDrive Music or Xbox Music app to surface audio files.
Owning music vs renting
I say all of the above but I am one of those who has slowly learned to give up trying to deeply control the music collection. I mostly rent music via one or more of the streaming services like Spotify, Rdio, iHeart, etc. I am also a paying subscriber for Xbox Music Pass which lets me play any song from their catalog on-demand. As a result, the real need to listen to music I “own” (because you know, this collection goes way back to the Napster and Kazaa days), has gone down tremendously. There are still some comedians whose performances I have in my collection which are not available on iTunes or Xbox Music catalog. There are also some Bollywood songs which did not match when I tried iTunes Match and also Xbox Music matching, but those are general the exception rather than the rule.
And then there’s services like Apple’s iTunes Match. It allows one to “match” their local collection with iTunes’ catalog and whenever there is a match, iTunes allows you to listen to the songs from any authorized device. The service is not free, but at $25/year it is a small price to pay for hassle-free management of your music collection. It also allows customers to upload the songs which do not match, although the uploaded songs would count against the iCloud storage quota. Once Apple’s newly announced storage plans go in effect, it would be a good idea to let iTunes completely manage the collection, which is taking one more step towards freeing up your collection. Xbox Music advertised long ago that this feature was coming to the service but so far it only does matching but does not allow you to upload unmatched music to the cloud.
Use the cloud, any cloud
To conclude, I recommend that you start thinking about simplifying your data management. Why leave stuff on your hard drive when you can use the cloud? For digital stuff like music and photos, it is better to make the cloud your primary “drive” and sync it to the devices you use. I used OneDrive as an example in this article but feel free to explore the cloud of your choice. It won’t harm going instead with Google, Amazon, or coming soon, Apple because all of the big ecosystem providers understand that providing a reliable storage solution is key to keeping customers “sticky”. Start planning the move to the cloud, as long as your bandwidth permits.
What’s your personal cloud situation? What about owning vs renting music, do you use any of the streaming services? Which ones? Why? Let us know!
On June 16, Microsoft announced that Internet Explorer will now have a Developer Channel release which can run side-by-side with the production/GA version of Internet Explorer on Windows 7 and Windows 8.x. This feature, which has long been available in Google’s Chrome browser and Mozilla’s Firefox, is a pleasant surprise to those who use Internet Explorer.
This release is a continuation of the effort Microsoft, and especially Internet Explorer team has started, to become developer-friendly by being proactive in communication about the roadmap and the features. This release, unlike the previous developer previews Microsoft created, not only runs side-by-side with the existing version of Internet Explorer but also includes changes to the UI as they are made.
Some of the key updates in this release include:
Updates to F12 developer tools
An enhanced debugging experience with event breakpoints that help you get to your event-driven bugs faster.
Richer analysis capabilities throughout the Memory and UI Responsiveness profilers, which support further reduction of noise through multi-dimensional timeline filter, while further increasing the semantic value of the data being reported by lighting up performance.measure() based instrumentation and dominator folding.
An improved navigation experience that provides more keyboard shortcuts (ctrl+[ and ctrl + ]), as well as new header notifications, which allows you to quickly determine whether any of the profiling tools are running or how many errors your page has.
IE Developer Channel also comes with support for the emerging WebDriver standard through which Web developers can write tests to automate Web browsers to test their sites. It’s a programmable remote control for developing complex user scenarios and running them in an automated fashion in your Web site and browser. See how you can setup WebDriver in the IE Developer Channel, and try out this sample WebDriver project.
Support for Gamepad API standard and improved WebGL support
IE Developer Channel also improves WebGL performance and adds support for instancing extension, 16-bit textures, GLSL builtin variables, and triangle fans. This release improves our Khronos WebGL Conformance Test 1.0.2 score from 89% to 94%.
The team is promising frequent updates to the Developer Channel and we shall see how frequent that is. Given the pace and cadence across various other groups at Microsoft, it could be anywhere from two weeks (Xbox Music) to a month (Xbox One, Power BI) or three-four months (Windows, Windows Phone). Whatever it is, for developers this is much better than anything Internet Explorer has done in the past.
You can download the Developer Channel release from here.
Here’s Charles Morris introducing the Developer Channel IE:
On June 2, at its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), Apple unveiled the next version of its iOS mobile operating system among many other announcements. iOS 8 will introduce a bevy of features, many of which have huge platform implications.
Many of the new features, both consumer-facing and developer-oriented, seem to be pointed squarely at the “power users”. Such users are the ones who may have switched to or prefer Android because of a lot of capabilities in that operating system which iOS did not have or allow until now. But let’s just consider it the natural evolution of the iOS platform, now at over 800 million users (a stat Apple CEO Tim Cook stated in his keynote at the event).
Let’s take a look at some of the key features that Android and to a lesser extent, Windows Phone offer, which lure customers to those platforms, and how iOS 8 has responded to those.
Third party keyboards
App-to-app communication and sharing
Google services, including the contextual Google Now
Larger choice of devices of various form factors, mostly larger screens
Windows Phone introduced Word Flow, which is to this day, the best predictive keyboard I have used. It is a way by which the system can provide the next few words that you may be about to type, based on what you start typing. For example, if you type “how are”, there is a good chance you want to type “you” next, and the predictive nature of the keyboard will prompt “you”, and maybe a couple of other options like “things” or “the”. iOS gets such a feature finally. It is very similar in nature to Word Flow but obviously it is something the iOS keyboard has missed all this time. No more.
In what I thought was a surprising move, Apple also announced that they are going to let third parties provide their keyboards so customers can replace the system keyboard with a third-party keyboard. That is huge because the likes of Swiftkey and Swype have made a name for themselves in the Android world, and users of those keyboards claimed it is a big enough reason for them not to move back to iOS. Already, several key names have announced their keyboards are coming to iOS 8, which is not surprising at all.
Apple’s Notification Center, while a decent imitation of Android’s notification center, is a bit clunky. Even the upcoming Action Center in Windows Phone 8.1 does a better job managing notifications. So it is no surprise that Apple decided to make some changes and one of the big changes is the interactive notifications. Android has this feature already, where quick actions can be taken on notifications that land in the notification center, without opening the apps. Interactive notifications aim to do the same, and more importantly, Apple has decided to open it up to third parties from day one. That means, developers can enable quick actions like Facebook’s Like and Comment, Twitter’s Retweet and Replies, etc. directly in the Notification Center. Obviously it is a big deal on Android because of the productivity gains, and it was about time iOS implemented the same. (As a part-time Windows Phone user, I do hope this feature is on its way on that platform as well. It is badly needed.)
The other big improvement in the iOS Notification Center comes in the form of widgets. This has been another ding against iOS until now because Windows Phone first introduced Live Tiles which enable quick information that app developers can provide to customers via the app icon(s) flipping and updating. Android later added widgets which were sub-sections of the apps that could be placed on a home screen and provided snippets to live information to the customers. With Widgets, iOS 8 somewhat addresses this “gap” by enabling developers to provide live updates, although in the Notification Center, not in the app icon or on the home screen like the competition. So the widget will look like a notification but it will have more real estate and will be able to take more forms vs. a text update. For example, score updates during a game could show the two team names and scores by quarter.
This is hugely welcome news, for customers and developers alike. For customers, it means more than just text updates and for developers, it is somewhat of a parity with other platforms as well as another way to keep their customers engaged with the app.
As for app-to-app communication, Apple has made it possible for apps to communicate and share data with each other. Although the details are more important than the announcement in terms of how useful this feature is, it is remarkable that after so many years of keep each app limited to itself, Apple has decided to enable inter-app communication which has been a stable in Android as well as Windows 8 and Windows Phone.
When it comes to Google services, they are already available on iOS in the form of various apps, including Google Now. Although this has prompted many customers to consider Android, where the integration with the phone is even tighter, I suspect it will also make it easier for them to make the return trip going from Android back to iOS.
Finally, although perhaps it may be an even more compelling reason for normal users to try Android, there is this thing about larger screen phones. It is rumored and by now almost a given that Apple will be introducing phones with larger screens this Fall, which is usually when they update their hardware. A larger screen iPhone will almost certainly be a hit, if the popularity of large screen devices running Android are any indication. It will be interesting to see how Apple handles the application UI. When they introduced the iPad, they had an elegant (although ugly) option of a “2x” mode. It will be interesting how they handle the larger real estate and yet, make developers’ work to address the larger screen, minimal.
Some other important updates from Apple with regard to iOS, not so much related to Android, but definitely showing signs of bulking up:
iCloud Photo Library
Until now, the Photostream feature backed up photos from all our iDevices automatically, but it was limited in storage. Apple also announced at WWDC that they are moving to an “iCloud Photo Library” which would store all photos *and* videos in full resolution, from all our iDevices. The first 5GB is free but instead of the currently expensive storage purchase options, Apple is also introducing inexpensive storage that can be purchased for what they refer to as iCloud Drive. Effectively, much like SkyDrive camera Roll in the Windows world, and Google+ Photos in the Google/Android world, the iCloud Photo Library is the entire photo library, always available in the cloud and all the Apple (Mac and iOS) devices and Windows 8 PCs. All edits made on one device are instantly available on all other devices. For a company that has not been at the forefront of well-implemented cloud services, the proof of the pudding will lie in the tasting, but as of now, it seems like Apple gets it and is on the right track. Also, in another move that shows Apple is opening up in a way they have not done traditionally, they have enabled other apps to integrate their editing tools and filters within the new Photos app.
In what seems like a carpet bomb attack on WhatsApp, Facebook messenger and Snapchat all at once, Apple’s iMessage will now support audio messages, video messages, group messaging and automatically disappearing messages. Apple also added the ability to share location which is very handy when coordinating meetups with groups. So instead of relying on several different apps (and therefore, different logins, different address books, etc.), you can do the same with the default messaging app, only as long as everyone you communicate with is on iPhone :-) But that has been the modus operandi for Apple from day one, so there is nothing out of the ordinary in that strategy.
iOS 8 is claimed to be a bigger update than when Apple announced the mobile App Store and it certainly seems like there are many huge changes coming in iOS 8 for iOS developers which may end up increasing the app quality gap between iOS and Android even more than it is today. iOS is still usually the first platform for mobile developers to build their innovative solutions and experiences. With these changes, despite the rocketing market share of Android devices, Apple is poised to make it even more worthwhile for developers to build for their platform(s).
Google Search has long been a favorite tool of many to quickly check for word definitions, time zones, weather and flight details apart from the good old web search. Back in 2010, Google introduced the Dictionary OneBox that showed up with a definition whenever you looked up a word. Google updated the feature in 2011 and added synonyms and audio diction.
Google has today updated the OneBox with word etymologies, a translate feature and word usage trends. You’ll have to click the down arrow on the box on the search page in order to expand the box and see the new information.
If you choose a language, Google will translate the word for you right there. What you see after that will be the word trend chart showing how the usage of your word has been affected with time.
Google Nexus 4 is currently available for purchase only in Black color. We have also seen the leaked pics as well as the press shots of White Nexus 4. Today, the South Korean mobile phone manufacturer finally went ahead and announced the extremely popular Nexus 4 smartphone with a fresh coat of paint. As usual, this handset will be shipped with the latest Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean) Operating System. Compared to the original Nexus 4, there are no changes in the specs of this device.
Dr. Jong-seok Park, president and CEO of LG Mobile Communications Company, said,
“Nexus 4 set the standard for Android 4.2 Jelly Bean smartphones. Nexus 4 White delivers the same Google experience to consumers in a stylish and attractive color option.”
Google Nexus 4 features a 4.7 inch WXGA display, sporting a resolution of 1280 x 768 pixels, Corning Gorilla Glass 2, 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core processor, Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean) OS, 8 megapixel rear-facing camera with auto-focus and LED flash, Full HD (1080p) video recording and playback, 1.3 megapixel front-facing HD camera for video calls, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, 3G Connectivity and much more.
It also comes with a 3.5 mm audio jack, FM radio with RDS, 16 GB internal memory, no MicroSD card support, 2 GB RAM, Google Play Store, GPS with A-GPS, Bluetooth 3.0, DLNA Certified, HDMI support, Micro USB, USB 2.0, NFC (Near Field Communication), Wi-Fi Hotspot functionality, up to 12 hrs of talk-time, up to 565 hrs of stand-by time and a 2100 mAh Li-ion battery.
According to the press release, White Nexus 4 will go on sale in Hong Kong from May 29, followed by select markets in Asia, North America, Europe and the Middle East over the next several weeks. However, the new variant of Nexus 4 is already available for purchase in India through online retailers as well as brick and mortar stores. It comes with a price tag of Rs.25,990 (approx. $465). To get this handset, head over to Saholic.
Apart from the unveiling of the Galaxy S4 Google Edition, the tech-giant has also launched a new unified, cross-platform messaging service for Android, iOS, and Chrome at the I/O 2013 event in San Francisco. This messaging service has been rumored from a long time and it was previously codenamed as ‘Babel’. For the first time, Google’s Hangout messaging app will be available on all smartphones and tablets running on the Android and iOS Operating System as well as on the Google Chrome browser running on your Mac, Linux and Windows computer.
Hangout allows you to send a text, photos and emoji to your friends. You can also video chat with up to 10 friends with this app. If your friends are not available when you try to reach them, they’ll see an alert next time they connect to Hangout. Similar to the Facebook Chat, this app lets you see whether your friends are online, when your friends are together in Hangouts, when they are typing or whether they have seen your message.
Once you see a notification on one device, Hangout will clear the notification from all other devices connected to your account. It also saves your chat history and shared photos by default, so that you can read your previous conversations anywhere anytime. You should also note that unlike Google Talk, Hangouts does not support invisible status. Google has also renamed the Instant Upload to Auto Backup, which helps you to automatically back up unlimited photos from your phone at standard size of 2048 pixels. The Hangout app is currently not available for Nexus 7.
Last week, Google officially started selling the Nexus 7 tablet in India. However, the 32 GB Wi-Fi variant as well as the 3G variant of this tablet were missing from the Play Store. Within a week, Asus went ahead and launched these variants in India. Nexus 7 will be shipped with the Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) Operating System. Nexus 7 32GB Wi-Fi and 3G will not be available via Play Store. These devices will be sold through Asus retail partners.
Mr. Peter Chang, Country Manager, System Business Group, Asus India, said,
“We are elated to announce the most awaited Asus Nexus 7 to the Indian consumers. We have received an assenting reception for this tablet from the users globally and we are happy to cater to the growing demand in India by making it easily available in the country. We believe that Asus Nexus 7 will bring us further closer to the persistent perfection that we set to achieve and offer to our consumers.”
Nexus 7 features a 7 inch HD display, sporting a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels, Corning Gorilla Glass 2, Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) OS, NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core processor, 12-core GPU, 1.2 megapixel camera for video calls, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Accelerometer, GPS, 1GB RAM and much more.
It also comes with a 3.5 mm headset jack, 32 GB internal memory, Bluetooth, MicroUSB, NFC (Near Field Connectivity), 3G Connectivity and a 4325 mAh battery, which offers up to 300 hours of stand-by time and allows you to watch videos for up to 9 hours. This device measures 198.5 mm x 120 mm x 10.45 mm and weighs just 340g.
Nexus 7 32GB Wi-Fi comes with a price tag of just Rs.18,999 (approx. $350), while Nexus 7 32GB 3G will be available for Rs.21,999 (approx. $400).