Google Releases Standalone Camera App for Android 4.4+

Today, Google has introduced a new standalone Camera App. This was significantly needed as many Android phones which are not Nexus did not have useful features like “Photosphere”. Overall the camera features even on Nexus were not exactly brilliant.

So a standalone camera app will be very useful for Android users. Even if you are using a Nexus, this there are some added features so it is a good idea to go ahead and update the app or re-install it.

The Google Camera app is only available for Android 4.4+ (KitKat) version for phones and tablets.

Google Standalone Camera Interface

Google Camera App features

  • The prominent feature are Lens Blur and Panorama. Overall the options are a lot easier flip through.
  • I tested the Lens Blur function and was quite impressed with how well it works. Below is an image I took using Lens Blur.
Lens Blur - Google Camera App
Photo taken using Lens Blur – Google Camera App

Now hopefully we will see better cameras on Android phones than what are available now. If you have an Android phone running 4.4 KitKat, then this app would be really useful one.

Link: Standalone Google Camera App

Google’s Motorola Business to be sold to Lenovo!

Google has confirmed that their mobile handset business, mainly Motorola, which it bought about two and half years ago will be acquired by Lenovo. This basically means Google will be exiting the mobile phone manufacturing industry. Lenovo which bought its laptop and PC business from IBM, also will find it beneficial to now own the Motorola brand.

This comes in the same week Google might be settling it’s issues with Samsung and also only a couple of weeks after it acquired Nest, a home automation company. The Motorola business might be sold for over US $3 billion.

Moto-X_thumb.png

Win-Win for Google and Lenovo

Google had to get rid of Motorola. It was not making money over the last couple of years and worse not having a hit phone to its credit was a problem. Google is into software and the web. It simply might have been too much to focus on, having to run a hardware based Motorola company.

Google also might be retaining the patents from Motorola which will serve it protection from lawsuits to its Android OS, from the likes of Apple and Microsoft.

Lenovo has a successful PC business but in the so called post-PC era, tablets and phones are the future. Here Lenovo has very little dominance. So having Motorola’s business is not a bad idea. Lenovo will have some very well engineered phones in the Moto X and Moto G variants. It will find itself a foothold in the US markets.

Does Motorola get anything?

It is hard to say if Motorola might winning anything in this trade -off between Google and Lenovo. Motorola has undergone restructuring. Motorola’s new owners will probably be more committed to becoming a large phone maker than Google has been. Lenovo also has a good track record of doing a good job with its new acquisitions. An example of that is IBM’s PC and notebook businesses.

So chances are all three parties in this regard might end up winning.

This write-off/sale by Google also signals, that it will be concentrating on betting on getting success with products like Nest and Google Glass.

What do you think about Lenovo adopting Google owned Motorola? Do drop in your comments.

Link: Google Blog

When should you Google a person? [Flowchart]

Do you Google a person? In today’s super connected world, often we are introduced to people via Facebook or Twitter and not exactly in person. If we have to know more about this person professionally a quick search on Google is useful. But Googling someone’s name can also be considered weird behaviour. Here is a nice flowchart for us to decide when exactly is it appropriate to Google someone.

Should I Google This Person
Should I Google This Person?

Some of the instances described are funny, life if you work for NSA, Google has already given you all the information, while some is sound advice that it is unwise to Google someone who is standing right next to you. :-)

You might also like to check out a flowchart to decide which social network to post on.

Source: Dell Tech Page One

 

Google and Facebook Embed Easter Eggs Celebrating Christmas

Google is well known for embedding easter eggs on their search results page. Last year whenever someone typed a reference to Christmas, a small streamer like design showed on the results page. This year the design is much more elegant with snowflakes and even a Santa Claus like figure flying across the header of the results page.

CHristmas_EasterEgg_Google

 

While Google is showing this only for Christmas related queries, Facebook too has introduced its own easter egg in the form of animated snowflakes on its Android app. Just open a chat with someone using “chat heads” and we can see snowflakes falling on the profile pic.

Xmas_FB_ChatheadsHave you seen any more unique and interesting ways tech companies are celebrating Christmas festival with their users? Do let us know in your comments.

 

Google lists Nexus 5, Nexus 7 (2013) on Play Store for India

If you are one of those who wants to buy the new Nexus 5 phone or the Nexus 7 tablet, you should head over to the Google Play Store. Though I expected the Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 to debut on 14th November  but that date seemed off by a week. It might have ended up missing the shopping frenzy in India but Android enthusiasts were probably aware the Nexus phone will show up

Nexus 5 in India

The Nexus 5 phone running the latest Android 4.4 KitKat is available in two variants with 16 GB and 32 GB memory storage. While I checked Google Play store, the phone was not available in black colour but was available with white. The price of the 16 GB phone was as expected Rs. 28,999 and the 32 GB is priced Rs. 32,999.

Nexus 5 India

Link: Nexus 5 phone on Google Play

Nexus 7 (2013) in India

The Nexus 7 tablet’s latest 2013 version was released a few months ago in the US. The device runs Android 4.3 Jellybean but it will have an assured update to Android 4.4 KitKat. The tablet is available in three different varieties. The 16 GB variant is available in WiFi only and the 32GB variant is available in WiFi and also another one with LTE unlocked (GSM).

Nexus 7 2013 India

Pricing

  • Nexus 7 16 GB WiFi – Rs. 20,999
  • Nexus 7 32 GB WiFi – Rs. 23,999
  • Nexus 7 32 GB LTE + WiFi – Rs. 27,999

The Nexus 7 32 GB LTE + WiFi version is a pretty good deal. I personally ordered myself a Nexus 7 32 GB WiFi tablet and when its delivered, you can expect a complete review.

Link: Nexus 7 on Google Play

Old Nexus 7 tablets are a bargain

While the new Nexus 7 is far superior to its last years predecessor, it still is a handy tablet to have. The best part of the old Nexus 7 are being sold at prices as low as Rs. 8,999. I saw that price on Flipkart but on Amazon.in it was available for Rs. 11,299.

Google reveals Motorola’s “Project Ara” to let users customize their phones

When Google bought Motorola most industry experts have never been truly able to explain “why” it did so. Was it for Motorola’s patents which could be valuable against an Apple? Was it as leverage against Samsung who were more or less dominating the Android based phone market? Was it that Google now wanted to become like Apple and make their own phones?

Google’s wisdom has been questioned for a while regarding Motorola, as over the last couple of years – Motorola has eating millions out of Google’s profits. But it seems Google had a plan for Motorola all this while.

A day ago, they announced “Project Ara” for Motorola. Project Ara is basically making a phone last longer but making them modular. So basically the idea is the phone will come apart in several modules and one could just change the screen if it was smashed or opt for a bigger battery instead of a better camera.

So what is the vision of Project Ara?

The vision is to replicate Android’s open source nature into hardware. As in Project Ara is supposed to become a free and open hardware platform. Here are some images of the early designs with Project Ara.

Project Ara HandsetsNote the Moto X lock-screen notifications icon on these devices. The phones looks like a jigsaw puzzle full of modules and that is what it is supposed to be. It will contain a endoskeleton (endo) and modules. The endo-skeleton will basically keep the modules in place as a framework.

Project Ara modularsHow has Google gone about planning to make modular phones?

Some of you might be aware of a concept called Phonebloks. The concept is similar to “Project Ara” and also promises freedom of customization and choice for users. The problem with Phonebloks was that the design it was suggesting looked “scientifically dodgy” but the idea of users modular built block by block is not really news. But Google is working with Phonebloks creator Dave Hakkens to tap into its community.

Google expects to roll-out a alpha versions of Module Developers Kit (MDK) over the next 4-5 months.

In 2007, Modu an Israeli company also came out with the idea of selling modular phones. The company went bust in 2011 and surely enough in May 2011 Google stepped in and bought many of their patents on modular technology. This means Google has been thing on these lines almost since the time they acquired Motorola.

Here is a nice video from Phonebloks that explains the concept of modular phones.

Will Google succeed? That is a entirely different question but if it does, the hegemony of phone manufacturers with deep pockets will be shaken in a big way.

What are your views on modular phones? Do you think they will work? Do drop in your comments.

Link: Motorola blog

Google Nexus 5 specs leaked in pre-registration mistake

The Canadian telecom company Wind, listed the Google Nexus 5 phone for pre-registration on its Facebook page. The post has been removed now but it was up for enough time people to take screenshots of the registration screen.

The phone is expected to be announced anytime soon. Google itself has listed it “mistakenly” on the Play Store. The mistaken listing now more or less confirms the expected specs for the Nexus 5.

Google Nexus 5 preregister - mistake

Expected Nexus 5 specs

  • The screen will be 4.95-inch 1080p display.
  • Phone will run on 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 processor with 2GB of RAM
  • The front facing camera will be 1.3 MP and the back camera 8 MP.
  • Obviously the OS will be Android 4.4 KitKat.
  • The phone will be available in two versions 16GB and 32 GB.

The leaks of phones is getting so ridiculous that hardly anything new is ever announced, which is a secret until the day of the launch. But the level of mistaken leaks sometimes, makes me wonder if these spec and image leaks are not just stage managed mistakes.

Whenever Nexus 5 is announced, much of what it will have will already be known. So the real surprise elements in store could be with what is new with Android 4.4 KitKat.

Source: The Verge

Google accidentally lists Nexus 5 in Play Store

More and more leaks happen as we get closer to the release of Nexus 5. In fact, it’s probably the most leaked Nexus ever. This time, it’s funny – because, Google itself (deliberate may be?) has put Nexus 5 on the Play Store.

The Nexus 5 was listed beside the new Nexus 7 and 10 in the devices section of Google Play. This includes a high resolution photo of Nexus 5 (as shown below), along with product description. It was of course pulled off after a few minutes.

Nexus 5

The product description says “Capture the everyday and the epic in new fresh ways. Starting at 349$”. That apparently gives a hint at Nexus 5’s camera improvements, along with the price tag of 349$ for the 16GB model.

You can also make out from the picture that, Hangouts has replaced Messaging app and there are little UI tweaks (transparent nav/status bar) here and there, in Kitkat. All this is of course leaked a few days back, this is just more of a confirmation.

We’re not sure when is the launch day of Kitkat/Nexus 5, but nevertheless, this is an exciting time for Android fans.

Do you look forward to get the Nexus 5? Do comment below.

Source: Engadget

Google Chromebooks available in India for Rs. 22,999: Should you buy one?

Google’s laptop offering called Chromebooks are now officially available in India. There are two Chromebooks on sale in India, one being Acer C720 for Rs. 22,999 and the other being the HP Chromebook 14 for Rs. 26,990.

The Chromebooks can are available for pre-order on Flipkart and they will be available at select outlets of Reliance Digital and Croma retail shops from 17th October in New Delhi and Mumbai.

Chromebooks_India_Acer
Acer C70 Chromebook – priced at Rs. 22,999 in India

The Acer AC720 will be the bigger draw. Priced at Rs. 22,999/- it features a display screen of 11.6 inches. It will run on the new Intel Chips. These chips are supposed to improve the battery life of the device and this device promises upto 8.5 hours of uptime.

It will feature 100 GB space on the Google Drive for two years but only 16 GB Solid State Drive.

It will have a support Wi-Fi and have the option to have a 3G modem fitted.

HP Chromebook 14 - India
HP Chromebook 14 – priced at Rs. 26,990 in India

The more expensive HP Chromebook 14, will pack a 14 inch display screen and a battery that lasts 9.5 hours of active use. It is priced at Rs. 26,990/-

It will also pack 100 GB Google Drive cloud storage for two years with 16 GB Solid State Drive. The device will support WIFI and an optional 3G modem.

Link: Chromebooks in India

How will Chromebooks connect to the internet?

An obvious option to connect to the internet would using your own WIFI connection. But if users do not have their own connection, they can still connect using 3G broadband services offered with the Chromebooks.

Google has tied up with Tikona and Airtel to offer wireless broadband services to work with their Chromebooks as part of Chrome goodies.

I checked these broadband bundles being offered and felt that they seemed to be good enough for casual users.

Link: Chrome Goodies

Is the Chromebook useful offline?

The Chromebook is mainly a device that is built for going useful online. But Chromebooks do have some offline capabilities. It will allow users to write emails, view appointments, play music from a USB stick or edit photos saved locally. More importantly you can view all Microsoft Office files and also .PDF files.

Unfortunately there is no capability to edit MS Office files from the Chromebooks in offline mode. But the Google Drive app will allow users to create, edit and view documents in offline mode.

Chrome also has a lot of offline apps that can be installed.

Link: Offline Apps on Chrome

Who would be interested in Chromebooks?

The appeal for this small PC is usually for two types of users. One would be people who want a second laptop to basically surf the net, reply to emails and use some web apps and take advantage of the 100 GB space offered on Google Drive.

The other larger section of users Google is hoping to snag, are the kind who really are using a laptop for surfing the web and are not interested in anything much more. Though the it is a tough sell as many of these users might prefer to get themselves a tablet computer instead of a Chromebook. If someone is using an expensive laptop more or less to browse the net and check their emails at most times, a Chromebook would make sense.

Some added benefits are that the space on your Google Drive will be up from 5GB free space now to 100 GB. That would be a great benefit if you were paying for extra storage space on Google Drive.

Will you buy yourself a Chromebook? Do drop in your comments.

Link: Acer AC 720 | HP Chromebook 14

Google opens Android retail stores in India partnering with Spice

It’s obvious that Android is growing like crazy in India. That’s not just the low-priced segment, but even the high end phones are getting sold like never before. But in spite of all this, Google never really focused on properly marketing Android in India.

That’s only until now, Google has partnered with Spice, one of the popular Indian Android OEMs, to open retail stores in India.

land

The stores are named ‘Androidland’ and have opened in Bangalore and Delhi on Wednesday. The main focus will be on showcasing Android phones/tablets from a variety of OEMs (Indian and international).

The Androidland staff, called ‘Spice Android gurus’ will be around to help you with setting up your device and explaining what all Android has to offer to you.

The staff will also recommend apps and let customers download them on the spot. Apparently, Google Play gift cards aren’t yet available in India, but if they were, it could be a win-win situation for Google and customers.

Hopefully, Google will open these stores in more cities and care about India the next time they release a Nexus device.

You can find the exact addresses of the store locations from the link below.

Link: Androidland