How to pay for your friends’ WhatsApp subscription

WhatsApp now has a new feature with which you can buy subscription packages for your friends. I’m not quite sure whether this is a new feature or it has been seen ages.

I’m using an unreleased WhatsApp APK that I pulled off from the WhatsApp website to hide my Last Seen, status and profile photo. And, this APK has this feature.

If the users find these features useful, these features should appear in the markets soon.

image
Pay for a friend on WhatsApp

Getting back to the topic, purchasing a WhatsApp subscription package for your friends is easy. You can purchase for any contact that you have on your WhatsApp contacts list. You cannot purchase the subscription package for more than one friend at once.

Is this feature useful?

This feature should be useful for those who do not have a credit card that works with Google Wallet or PayPal. You can also use this to gift subscription packages to your dear ones on their special days.

If you plan on changing your number, you can take your account information along with that.

How to purchase for your friends?

  1. Go to More > Settings > Contacts > Pay for a friend in the app.
  2. Choose a friend and make payment for 1, 3 or 5 years package using Google Wallet, PayPal or the payment URL.
image
Purchase screen on WhatsApp

Once the payment is made, your friend will be notified about this. Note that if your friend is using Android, BlackBerry or BlackBerry 10, he’ll see the updated expiry date immediately. If your friend is using iPhone, Nokia or Windows phone, he’ll have to restart the device to see the new expiry date.

If you are unable to purchase for your friend at some time, you may try again after some time. Or maybe purchasing for that friend isn’t available at that time.

Related : Facebook buys WhatsApp for $16 billion

If you wish to get this feature immediately, instead of waiting for official market rollout, you can download the new APK in the WhatsApp website.

Internet Surfing using SMS updates – txtWeb

txtWeb is a ingenious service that links SMS and the internet. You can use SMS’s to get information on anything, get updates on anything and even access your social media accounts!

Think of txtWeb as a gateway to make searches on Google, get the latest sport, celebrities updates, check your train PNR status and do a lot more.

To use txtWeb, you’ll have to send command with the desired query to 9266592665 and you’ll get a SMS back with the response.

For example, if you send ‘@pnralert 4215364712‘, you’ll receive a SMS showing your PNR status. The app also updates you if your status gets updated.

Here is another example. You can search anything on Google or Wikipedia like so : ‘@okgoogle what is the time in Singapore‘ or ‘@wikipedia iPhone‘ and you will receive responses real quick.

txtWeb (1)

 

txtWeb (2)

To get cricket updates, you can use ‘@cricbuzz‘ or ‘@crinews

Do you use iReff? It’s an app that shows the recharge denominations for Indian mobile phones. iReff-txtWeb SMS app is available too! You can simply send a query with the command ‘@ref‘. For example, sending ‘@ref airtel SMS‘ will respond you with the list of available SMS packs in your circle.

Things to note :

  1. It is a free service but, you’ll be charged national SMS charges based on your mobile network scheme.
  2. It is available only for Airtel, Idea, Tata Docomo and Vodafone users.
  3. You have only 25 requests initially. If you wish to send more requests to txtWeb, you’ll have to answer a few survey-type questions.

txtWeb Android app

There is an Android app for the same. You can use the app both online and offline. Online usage is with 2G/3G data or WiFi connection, while the offline method uses your SMS plan to access the information.

Based on my experience, the user interface is not up to the expectations. But, the app doesn’t fail to deliver the results. It worked fast.

You can favorite services and use them quickly from the app.

Links: txtWeb website | txtWeb Android app

CyanogenMod Installer app removed from Google Play Store

CynogenModCyanogenMod is a very popular ROM in the Android ecosystem. All users needed was a rooted Android device. About three weeks ago, CyanogenMod introduced its CyanogenMod installer app on the play store. This was a sign that CyanogenMod or CM as its known, was now friendly enough to be installed by Android users who were not really technical adept at installing ROMs.

The party came crashing today with CyanogenMod having to voluntarily remove it’s installer app from the Google Play store.

The reason from removing the app in CyanogenMod’s blog post was that the app encouraged users to void their warranty. This was against Google Play guidelines that would have basically meant the app would have been kicked out at some point of time, if it had not been removed voluntarily.

Google will get bad press, but it is right!

Google for this action will soon be called evil and I am sure many thousands of words will be written about how this indicates that the Android ecosystem is closed and not open. Google might get bad press but in my opinion it is doing the right thing.

Getting CyanogenMod installed on a phone is not something a newbie does or even explores. Most people who do this through Cyanogenmod.org are actually technically adept at installing 3rd ROMs on their phones. With a Play Store app a newbie could easily install CyanogenMod on his phone without knowing the risks of voiding warranty. Also reverting back from CM is also not easy and that is a very important guideline for any app on Google Play.

CyanogenMod in all probability will fix this with changes in the future.

Do drop in your comments.

Root Checker : Check whether you have rooted your Android or not

Rooting an Android device gives the user control over the root access. A rooted Android device is completely different compared to the same Android device when it came out of the manufacturer’s box. With a rooted Android device, you can install root apps, custom ROMs like CyanogenMod and other types of recovery like ClockworkMod Recovery. There are rooting guides for various Android devices on the internet.

If you ever wanted to check whether you have rooted your Android device correctly, Root Checker is here to help you. It is available on the Google Play Store. It doesn’t require root access, that is, you can run that app even a non-rooted Android device.

How to Use Root Checker?

  • Download and install Root Checker from Google Play Store.
  • Agree to the Disclaimer message.
  • Root Checker will ask for SuperUser permissions. You can give the app SuperUser permissions.
  • Click the “Verify Root Access” button in that app to check whether your Android has root access. If yes, you’ll get a positive message. If your Android doesn’t have a root access, you’ll get a negative message.

root-checker

There are two versions of this app, Root Checker Basic and Root Checker Pro. The pro version gives you more technical details about your Android’s root access. It gives your common su binary locations, SuperUser.apk location and version, user and group ID, environmental variables and a lot more. It is priced at $0.99 or 70 INR.

Link: Root Checker Basic | Root Checker Pro

Housing India – Best way to look up flats for rent in India

I am sure searching for a new house in India is not exactly a smooth process. There are many website in India to search for properties but I found Housing.co.in very innovative and unique.

The website’s best feature is how simple it is to look up apartments to rent or buy from the major cities in India.Currently the website caters to Mumbai, Gurgaon, Hyderabad, Pune, Bangalore, Noida and Ghaziabad.

Housing India layout
Housing.co.in – Google Maps based interface

How Housing.co.in works

  • The service uses a very innovative interface based on Google Maps. The left column shows a list of available flats for rent or to buy based on your search.
  • Selecting one of the flats it shows details of the flat in a pop-up. This includes details like expected rent, photos, details and even a bit of information about the neighbourhood. The phone number to the agent is also listed.
  • House hunting becomes easy as we can save a lot of favourites and then look through each individually at a later date.

The service also has mobile apps for Android and iPhone. Overall, I did use this to search for information in my area of residence and found a lot of accurate data.

Do try out Housing.co.in and drop in your comments.

Twitter Redesigns Search Results for Android / iPhone Apps

The present Twitter app is actually not my most preferred one and hence I end up using 3rd party apps. So Twitter’s blog announced a change in design, I was slightly hopeful it would be radically different from its present form. Too bad it was not but it has made changes to how it shows search results and also its discover tab.

But some changes are made and most importantly it is how they will be showing search results in a single stream.

Twitter Search Single Stream

New Changes to Twitter Apps

  • The big change is how apps will display search results. For example now all tweets, photos and accounts will be shown instream or rather in a single stream.
  • More importantly Twitter has included a search button for iPhone apps which allows searching from anywhere within the app. Android and iPad users will be familiar with this search feature as they already have it.
  • Single stream display for all tweets, activity and trends. This used to be shown in the Discover tabs with different sections.
  • There are new previews on at the top of the Discover tab.
  • You can adjust connect tab defaults to mentions “Mentions Only” or “Interactions”. The default is “Interactions”.
  • There is slight change is how links open. It used to require two click to get to a website from a tweet. Now it requires only a single click or tap.

I am not the most updated about various aspects of Twitter as I am not really a power user. But I think with showing profiles, photos and tweets in a single stream for search results and Discover tab, it is trying to further control the relevancy of media we consume on it.

This control obviously will finally translate to better contextual tweets or promoted tweets. And that will finally mean more revenues for Twitter.

Though, for me to use Twitter app, it still needs to radically change its design and layout. Maybe they could take a cue from the likes of Carbon for Twitter or other great apps.

If you have updated your phone app for Twitter, do let us know about the new changes in your comments.

Link: Twitter App on Google Play | App Store

List of Top 10 Free Photo apps for iPhone

If you own a iPhone, then you are probably taking a lot of photos. While iPhone does have its built-in features for managing and editing photos, a lot of us like to use apps. Here is a list of free photo editing and management apps for your iPhone.

#1. Pixlr-o-matic

Pixlr-o-matic
Pixlr-o-matic

This app lets you transform your photos by applying cool retro effects to them. Pixlr-o-matic offers a wealth of filters and lighting options in a strip along the bottom as well as a selection of borders. You can either take photos using your device’s camera, or apply the effects to an existing image.

Link: Pixl-o-matic

#2. Photosynth – Capture your world in 3D

Photosynth
Photosynth

Microsoft’s Photosynth app for iPhone (oddly, it’s not available for Windows Phone 7) lets you create seamless, 360-degree panoramas from multiple photos. Just press ‘start’ and rotate slowly on the spot to capture and stitch together a series of shots. You can add your panoramas to Bing Maps and explore other users’ efforts.

Link: Photosynth

#3. Flock

Flock
Flock

Flock groups together your photos with those of your friends and family to create a shared online album of a particular event. It scans your photos as you take them, and displays them with your Facebook friends’ photos taken at the same time or in the same place, with the same people in them. You can set individual photos to private if you don’t want to share them.

Link: Flock

#4. Pixengo

pixengo
pixengo

With Pixengo, you can add 30-second voice messages and ambient sounds to your photos to add atmosphere to them and bring them to life. The app works on new photos, as well as old images saved in your gallery. You can share your ‘audio photos’ with friends on Twitter, Facebook and email.

Link: Pixengo

#5. Blippar

Blippar
Blippar

Augmented-reality app Blippar uses your phone’s camera to recognise real-world items such as posters, newspaper adverts and food products. The app then overlays the object with games, videos and web links. Cadbury is currently offering Blippar content via the packaging of its chocolate bars.

Link: Blippar

#6. TouchRetouch Free

Touch Retouch Free
Touch Retouch Free

Forget messing around with fiddly editing tools; TouchRetouch Free lets you remove unwanted elements from photos using your finger. Just select the item you want to erase and press Go. Usefully, the app includes unlimited Undo actions in case you’ve eradicated something important.

Link: TouchRetouch Free

#7. PicArts Photo Studio

PicArts Photo Studio
PicArts Photo Studio

Pic Arts Photo Studio lets you edit individual or multiple photos. You can add stickers, lighting effects and frames, and rotate, crop and resize your photos. Our favourite tool is Color Splash, which turns your picture black and white, then restores colour only to certain parts.

Link: Photo Studio

#8. Instagram

Instagram
Instagram

This addictive photo-sharing app, bought by facebook for $1billion, lets you add filter effects and tilt-shift blurs and borders to create unique images from your phone’s camera. You can share the images on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare or by email, and they will also appear on your Instagram account’s news feed, where they can be rated and commented upon.

Link: Instagram

#9. Web Albums – A Picasa viewer

Web Albums
Web Albums

This app let’s sync your iPhone or iPad photos with your picasa account. Using Web albums app you can view, upload and manage your picasa photos.

Link: Web albums

#10. Dabble

Dabble
Dabble

Dabble turns holiday snaps into postcards that can be pinned via the app to the place the photo was taken, and shared on Facebook  by email and by text. You can add messages to your postcards and tag people in them, and see other people’s postcards when you check into a location on the app. When you arrive somewhere, the app will alert you if there is a Dabble photo saved for that location.

Link: Dabble

#11. Snapseed (Bonus)

Snapseed is also a very popular photo app on iPhone. It is popularly known as the best photo editing app on the iOS ecosystem. Though in the past it was a paid app, it is now free for iPhone users after Google bought it.

Link: Review of Snapseed

Hopefully you have all the app you need in this list. Do let us know of any other ones we have missed in your comments.

New Facebook for iOS, Version 5.0 [Review]

Facebook finally updated their Facebook for iOS application i.e. official applications for iPhone, iPad and iTouch with a new look, faster engine and timeline support. The main thing about this update was to provide a faster mobile app and they did it perfectly. As compared to older version of Facebook for iOS this version 5.0 takes very less time to load. They have also removed the “Slide to Refresh” option, now you just have to click on the banner to see new updates. Let’s have a deeper look at the application.

Design:

I like the overall design of the new application. Check out some screenshots of the app:

Speed:

This latest version of Facebook for iOS is very good when it comes to speed i.e. the time it takes to load homepage or profile or some picture and that too without getting crashed again and again.

Messages:

You must be familiar with the application “Facebook Messenger”, it’s a nice application where you can send or receive Facebook inbox messages without accessing whole Facebook news feed. But you don’t need a messenger separately now as Facebook integrated same messenger interface in Facebook for iOS 5.0. Now you can easily send and receive messages to your friends and get to know when they read your message.

Photos:

Again a faster loading feature, now it takes very less time to open a picture than it used to be in earlier versions.

What Else?

Finally this version of Facebook supports “Timeline Profiles”, except that there are some other changes as well. Like, now you don’t need to go to the top and refresh page again and again to read latest updates. It updates automatically and you just have to click on top “New Stories” bar.

Another feature they have added is that you have Instant access to your Notifications. No need to open a separate page to open likes or comments.

Not so good thing:

One thing I don’t like about this update is that the news feed is showing cropped pictures instead of full uploaded pictures. Most of the time it automatically crops the face of the person in the picture. Check the news feed and actual picture size screenshots below:

Another feature which is not present here is small thumbnails of all the pictures uploaded to that album which used to be on the bottom of picture in earlier versions.

Personally I like this version of Facebook mainly because of its performance and User Interface. Don’t forget to share your views with us.

[Updated] Cooliris 3D Photo Wall is Available for iPad

Over two years ago, I was very impressed by the Cooliris photo wall browser extension for Chrome. It shows up your photos from various social media accounts in a layout that mimics a 3D wall.

The Cooliris Photo Gallery gives the impression of browsing in a 3D environment

Cooliris also has worked Gallery for Android app, which now has ended up being the current default photo gallery on Android. Cooliris is now targeting iPad and iPhone users with a shiny new photo viewing and sharing app.

Cooliris for iPhones / iPads

  • The app allows users to look through their photos on Facebook, iPad/iPhone photos and Instagram in their trademark 3D wall layout.
  • The photos can also be shared privately from the app.
  • The app allows unlimited and free photo uploads.
  • The web search for images is powered by Google Image search.

Video Demo of Cooliris on iPad

I loved the Cooliris 3D wall layout on my browser. But moving through it with the help of a mouse or keys is not as intuitive as it is with a tablet device like iPad.

If you are doing a lot of photo browsing and sharing from your iPads then Cooliris looks like a great app.

UPDATE: The 2.2 version of the app released recently also integrates with Google Drive. It also uses a new image recognition feature that works on Google Drive photos. It does not require users to manually tag the photos from Google Drive.

Link: Cooliris for iPad/iPhones

Five gorgeous Android apps you can’t miss

Well designed apps on the Playstore, are not so common, compared to iOS apps on the Appstore. That is indeed changing with new design rules imposed by Google, since Android 4.0. Here are a few apps which may or may not follow those rules, but are definitely fun to use.

Android Jellybean

1. Flipboard

This is a no brainer, design is one of the reasons why Flipboard sets itself apart from other RSS/content consumption apps and though late to the Playstore, it still wears almost the same design as its iOS counterpart. For beginners, Flipboard is a visual reading app, integrating and collecting content from blogs, your Twitter feed/Facebook/Instagram/Google+etc., and of course, you navigate through the app by flipping pages.

Link: Flipboard

2. TED

TED’s official Android app is very minimal in design, and that’s exactly what I liked about it. It has a red-white color combo, following ICS’ defaults of swiping screen from edges to navigate through the app.

Link: TED

3. Solid Explorer

Solid explorer, as you’d expect, is a file explorer for Android. It’s still in beta, but has a very polished look, having this holo light/dark theme (as you see on an ICS device). The app is really smooth with neat icons, can pretty much be made the default File explorer.

Link: Solid explorer

4. Path

Path, after its redesign i.e. Path 2.0., has released their Android app. The design is very detailed with beautiful typographyand kind of similar to the Facebook timeline. With a limit of 150 friends, it’s for people who like to add only real friends to their social networks.

Link: Path

5. Chrome

Chrome for Android, which just came out of beta, is ICS-only, but just like the desktop counterpart, it is very well designed. Especially, tab management – where you swipe a tab towards an edge to close the tab, and tabs acting like a deck of cards, is really cool.

Speed dial, too, is nice to have. I found the app to be a bit buggy on my phone, but the sync feature is really solid.

Link: Chrome

Apps which are worth a mention

So those are the five, but apart from these, there are few other apps worth trying. One such app is Twitter for Android – scrolling tweets in Twitter for Android is bliss, it’s really smooth. In task management apps, I like Any.DO very much, they also have released a Chrome app recently. Google+, after recent update, has got a lot of positive response, especially because Facebook for Android is almost unusable.

If you have used any well designed Android app (which isn’t mentioned here), do drop it in the comments.