Two Big Improvements from Android N

Posted by Kirhat | Wednesday, May 25, 2016 | | 0 comments »

Android N
Google I/O has kicked off as of last 18 May and so far Google hasn't given Android N its confectionary name yet. Android L was "Lollipop" Android M was "Marshmallow," so what could Android N possible stand for? Many have suggested Nougat or Nectar, even Naan Bread.

However, one thing is certain. The response to the developer preview has been "overwhelming". Google has detailed the update's "late summer" release date as well as a few of other features it is now prepared to reveal. One of the BIG features Google was keen to reveal on day one is related to the platform's performance, with the big G saying it has improved this on two fronts; runtime and graphics.

Google also let slip that it is now building its own chipsets. Called the Tensor Processing Unit, the chipset is what’s powering The Big G’s Assistant AI platform. This is kind of a big deal because it puts Google in direct competition with the likes of NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Intel. Whether these chipsets will come to mobiles in the future remains to be seen, but starting to build your own SoC isn’t exactly cheap, nor is it an endeavour one takes on for just a single product.

Perhaps this is why Google only mentioned it in passing; maybe it didn't want to upset its long-standing chip-making partners. Qualcomm invests billions in R&D every year and is involved in a fiercely competitive space with the likes of Samsung, Intel and NVIDIA. The addition to Google likely wouldn't be seen as welcome news given the company’s financial size and influence.

The graphics and runtime side of things is down to the new Vulkan API, essentially offering an extensive series of optimisation tweaks so that devs can squeeze better graphics out of current and forthcoming hardware AND it'll run more efficiently too thanks to a new graphics compiler that is claimed to be 75 percent speedier than the previous architecture. Google also says these tweaks will mean applications will be smaller in terms of storage space than before, so users will get more apps into their device!

The Vulkan API is also cross-platform and scalable, while the benefts are obivous to mobile, an Nvidia demo showcased the API running the new Doom game on a desktop machine.

Always a focal point of Android is the multitasking, and Google has tweaked things a little further for the new build - the multitasking hub will now show only the last seven apps a user has used rather than every single one, plus there's now a "clear all" option. Android N features split-screen multitasking with application windows.

Nobody yet knows the details for phones, but tablets will allow users to have two applications dividing the display in half, or run a smaller window in the corner of a larger full-screen application, say a YouTube video in the corner of the web browser, for example. Messages in the notifications menu will now allow a quick-reply option.

An of course VR is a BIG deal this year. Google announced its VR scheme called "Daydream" and Android will be involved with its own VR mode, and Google is providing OEMs with a required spec sheet if they want to be able to run Daydream - the "Daydream Ready" spec.

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Interested in Working Out While Going To Work?

Posted by Kirhat | Tuesday, May 24, 2016 | | 0 comments »

Fitness Bus
One crazy ride may be seen in the roads in the future once a plan to mount stationary bikes inside a commuter bus is implemented. This is the objective of a British fitness company 1Rebel when they revealed that they are interested in transforming a bus into a mobile spinning studio.

"For those who want the components of a class, but perhaps don't have the time to commit during the day, this provides a great solution for them to maximize time they would otherwise be spending just travelling to work," said James Balfour, co-founder of 1Rebel, in a statement.

Riders can expect to pay between US$ 17 and US$ 21 for the 45-minute class if the program, dubbed "Ride2Rebel," launches as intended. The company aims to see its first Ride2Rebel bus roll out just after the summer, but government approval is still pending.

Some of the bus routes would end at 1Rebel fitness clubs, allowing riders to shower and change there before heading off to work.

1Rebel is currently gauging interest in the program based on how many people sign up for tickets online.

"This morning interest peaked so much that the registration website crashed and had to be moved to a separate server," Balfour told CNBC.

Safety concerns could be the biggest obstacle for 1Rebel's novel commuting plan. The bikes mounted in the buses are not currently slated to include seatbelts, and Balfour made no mention of helmets.

"We are working with bus companies and the government to establish all health and safety conditions," Balfour told CNBC. "As this is such an innovative idea there are no established norms but due to the high levels of interest this is something that all our partners are focused on."

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Solar-Powered Apple Office

Posted by Kirhat | Monday, May 23, 2016 | | 0 comments »

Solar-Powered Apple Office
Bloomberg Business reported that Apple reached agreement to power its expanding operations in Singapore with solar energy, part of a broader push by the world’s largest company by market value to tap cleaner sources of energy around the globe.

Beginning in January, the maker of the iPhone and Apple Watch will source 40 gigawatt-hours of power from rooftop solar installations made by the Sunseap Group, according to a statement from the Singapore-based company.

"In addition to Apple’s corporate office in Ang Mo Kio, two other buildings are expected to come up in 2016 in One North and Orchard Road locations in Singapore," Lawrence Wu, director at Sunseap Group, said. "We expect to power these buildings and any more offices that Apple opens in future."

Apple has the right to ask for a minimum increase in power requirement above 40 gigawatt-hours every year as needs expand, Wu said.
Solar energy systems atop more than 800 buildings in Singapore in Sunseap’s portfolio will be used to power the project, according to the statement.

"We're thrilled to be working with Sunseap and the government of Singapore to pioneer new ways to bring solar energy to the country — and bring Apple even closer to our goal of powering our facilities around the world with 100 percent renewable energy," Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president for environment, policy and social initiatives, said in the release.

As of 2014, 100 percent of Apple’s U.S. operations and 87 percent worldwide are powered by renewable energy. Worldwide operations include data centers, all corporate offices, and more than 450 Apple retail stores, Apple says on its website.

Early in November 2015, Apple was named along with Microsoft and Google parent Alphabet as among companies doing the most to fight climate change.

In October, Apple announced plans to build an additional 200 megawatts of solar power in China and to push suppliers to make similar commitments. The solar investment comes atop two previously announced solar farms in southern China that have now been completed, Apple said in a statement at the time.

Besides Apple, Sunseap is working with various government agencies and energy service companies to provide new clean energy product offerings, Frank Phuan, the group’s managing director, said in the release.

Sunseap’s lenders include Goldman Sachs Group Inc., DBS Group Holdings Ltd., United Overseas Bank Ltd., and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. among others.

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After Microsoft, Google's Turn To Make iOS Keyboard

Posted by Kirhat | Sunday, May 22, 2016 | | 0 comments »

Google's iOS Keyboard
Some bizarre, highly improbable coincidence just occurred in a strange little corner of the tech world: on-screen keyboard replacements for the iPhone.

Plenty of little companies make those free software keyboards, of course. But how weird is it that two behemoths — Microsoft and Google — both turn out to have been working on iOS keyboards in parallel?

In any case, Microsoft struck first with its Microsoft Flow keyboard last April. Its chief virtues are a clever one-handed typing layout, a spinning emoji palette, and the freedom to dial up any colors users want.

And a few fdays later, the Gboard has landed: Google’s clever (and cleverly named) keyboard for the iPhone, containing features that even Google's own Android phone keyboard lacks.

As always, the iPhone makes it possible, but not simple, to install alternative keyboards. As always, these keyboards work identically in every app—messaging, email, notes, whatever. And, as always, users can switch among their installed software keyboards by tapping the little globe icon (or using it as a menu).

Google’s new iPhone software keyboard offers four powerful features that users don't get with Apple's built-in keyboard.

The big one is a Google logo right next to the autocomplete suggestions. Users can tap it to open a Google search box, right there on their screen.

From here, they can perform Google searches — for restaurants, addresses, articles, definitions, flight information ... anything, really. That comes in handy really often. With each search, users save themselves some flipping around into their browser or another app to find the info they need.

As expected, the company says emphatically that their search terms are the only bits of data that get sent to Google; the keyboard doesn't send or collect any other information.

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Old iPods Selling for Thousands of Dollars

Posted by Kirhat | Saturday, May 21, 2016 | | 0 comments »

Old iPods
The market for old electronics products is a little bit bizarre and unpredictable. While a brand new iMac might set users back about US $1,200, trying to get your hands on an original Apple I might set them back as much as US$ 365,000. Much like the market for cars, the most expensive consumer electronics products tend to be either brand new or dreadfully old.

Undoubtedly, many people are willing to shell out top dollar in the interest of nostalgia.

While original Apple I computers are nearly impossible to come by, avid users can still make a pretty penny if they happen to have a drawer somewhere filled with old iPods. Since Apple first entered the music player business nearly 15 years ago, the company has churned out about 25 different iPod models. And if a person happen to have a few old iPods lying around, they might want to see if they're worth anything.

According to a new report from The Guardian, old iPods are joining the ranks of baseball cards insofar that they're fast becoming pricey collectibles on eBay.
"A factory-sealed third-generation iPod shuffle? US$ 999.95. Mint condition fifth-generation iPod classic, in white? US$ 1,394.99. A silver first-generation iPod mini? For US$ 2,499.99.

But these are on the low end of the price scale. If you have a special edition, especially if it’s still in its original packaging, you could be looking at much more: Apple's fourth-generation red-and-black special edition released in partnership with the band U2 are trading for around US$ 7,000, used.

And that’s before you get to the real collectors’ items. A first generation iPod classic – "battery is really good for its age" – is on sale priced at US$ 9,999.99. A second-generation, still-boxed iPod classic – that’s the last version that had the moving wheel – is currently listed for an extraordinary US$ 19,999.99."
Now that's not to say that sellers are actually getting full-ask on said iPod models, but if they have any iPod models from 2001-2004 tucked away somewhere, they might want to hop on eBay and see what they can get for it.

Interestingly, Apple's original Bondi Blue iMac, originally released in 1998, can be had for as little as US$ 50 on eBay.

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Apple iOS 9.3.2 Fixes and Creates Bugs

Posted by Kirhat | Friday, May 20, 2016 | | 0 comments »

iOS 9.3.2 Fixes and Adds Bugs
A few days ago, Apple rolled out iOS 9.3.2 and the software update fixed a bug that caused phone calls made using Bluetooth on an iPhone SE to become distorted. It also address failed dictionary lookups, and MDM servers being unable to install custom B2B apps.

However, it turns out that the latest software update has a major bug of its own and started bricking iPad Pro devices.

Frustrated users are turning to forums like Apple Support Communities, MacRumors Forums, and Twitter to complain, saying the update gives them an error message that tells them to plug their device into iTunes, which does not resolve the problem.

Rebooting then leads to that same error message, leaving users stuck in an endless loop unable to use their devices.

On Twitter, one user complained:
View image on TwitterView image on Twitter
@AppleSupport Please fix your IPad Pro software update! Your incompetence just BRICKED MY IPAD PRO!

Software updates to Apple's mobile operating system undergo heavy internal testing before getting rolled out to millions, CNET reported. Apple has already released several updates to fix bugs in iOS 9.3, which first debuted in March.

"These glitches frustrate users and raise doubts about a company's ability to fully vet its own software," writes CNET's Lance Whitney.

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