Google reveals the first low-cost Android One phones

Android One is a reference platform — it’s a set of rules that device makers can follow to make low-cost phones. It makes it easier for manufacturers to develop and produce devices, because Google is doing all of the hard work figuring out materials costs. For Google, it ensures that even low-end devices can run its software and run it well, providing everyone with a uniformly decent experience. Where KitKat was Google’s effort to address the software issues on low-end devices, Android One is now doing the same for hardware. The company calls it a “a comprehensive solution to address the mobile computing needs of those in emerging markets.”

As predicted, Google has just revealed the first Android One phones at an event in India today. Micromax, Karbonn and Spice Mobiles are the companies working with Google at launch, all three launching new handsets this morning. What can we expect from an Android One device? Karbonn, for example, is launching the “Sparkle V Red,” (pictured below) which comes with dual SIM slots, a 4.5-inch display (480 x 854), a 5-megapixel primary camera, 1GB of RAM and, importantly, the latest version of Android (KitKat).

Google isn’t just controlling the hardware with Android One, either — it’s also making sure the devices run the latest versions of Android and aren’t encumbered by unnecessary software additions, which could endanger whatever performance advantage KitKat had given them. Android One phones will run stock Android, get automatic updates, and access Google’s Play Store for apps and media content.


Mobile Fitness Coach App, PumpUp, Launches Out Of Beta After 1M+ Downloads

Fitness app PumpUp, which offers personalised workouts to act as a virtual personal trainer in your pocket, is launching out of beta today – having racked up more than a million registered users on iOS and Android in less than six months of beta activity.

It is not, however, breaking out active users so set your engagement expectations accordingly.

The startup, which was founded in May 2012, went through Waterloo, Canada-based incubator, Communitech Hyperdrive, last year.  It’s raised an undisclosed seed round of financing, and a $200,000 Angel round in September 2013, thus far. Investors in the latter round were Relay Ventures, Jim Estill and Angels including Mike Stork, Steve Gilpin and Marc Altshuller.

Aside from offering users customised workouts on their phone, tailored to the particular body areas they want to target and fitness kit they have to hand, PumpUp is focusing on photos as its special engagement sauce — with the aim of boosting its users’ exercise motivation via the medium of photos.

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New Tunepics Social Network Is Like Instagram With A Soundtrack

If you mashed up Instagram with music tracks, what would you get? A timeline of pictures from friends with evocative soundtracks that stimulate the ears as well as the eyes? Perhaps even tug at the emotions? That, at least, is the hope of Tunepics, a new social network that does just that.

With this new iOS app, users can feature a song with every image they share. The tracks are pulled from the Apple store (35 million songs) and are in fact song previews rather than the whole tracks. If users decide they like the song enough to buy it form Apple, Tunepics will get affiliate revenues from those sales.

The app is the brainchild of Justin Cooke, founder of innovation agency innovate7 in London, and has been built by AKQA, the London interactive agency.

It’s Cooke’s hope that Tunepics will be a “magical and cinematic celebration of people’s lives that touches all of our senses .… With Tunepics, everyone can create a soundtrack to their life.” Indeed, using the app is akin to scrolling past auto-playing videos in Facebook, except these are pictures with music.

But this is a little more than the launch of an app. Some major celebrities and brands have signed up to use the app, including Airbnb, AllSaints, Asos, Dazed, Jamie Oliver, Kate Bosworth, Michael Polish, Paul Smith, Tracy Anderson, and others.

On Tunepics you don’t like or retweet; instead, you attach an emotion to a tunepic using an ‘emotion wheel’ – selecting a colour to represent the impact of what you’ve seen, felt and heard.

You can add an array of filters to photos, including weather effects like sunshine, rain, snow, raindrops or a rainbow (DOUBLE RAINBOW!). Users can also ‘re-tune’ (share) a tunepic that they love back onto their own feed, alongside standard social functions such as ‘likes’ and comments.

All this data is captured so you can see how people are reacting to your content, showing how many people are, ‘dancing’, ‘inspired’ or ‘happy’ about a tunepic. Thus, Tunepics hopes to show what an entire country is feeling and listening to at any moment.

Of course, there is a sort of Trojan Horse inside this. Since Tunepics drives engagement around music, it may be able to send a song into the charts if enough people attach it to their pictures and then end up buying it.

Source By : TechCrunch

Facebook buys virtual reality gaming firm “Oculus”

Facebook has bought the virtual reality technology firm Oculus VR for $2bn [£1.2bn], it revealed on Tuesday.

In a surprise announcement, the social networking company said it had paid $400m in cash and the rest in more than 23m shares, currently worth $1.6bn [£970m], plus an additional $300m pegged to future performance.


A detailed company statement said that Facebook recognised how Oculus had built a solid following among game developers, but that virtual reality technology would expand to other industries from communications and entertainment to education and media.

“Mobile is the platform of today, and now we’re also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow,” said Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. “Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate.”

Oculus will remain in its base at Irvine in California while the transaction closes in the second quarter of the year. The company has just announced the Dev Kit 2 version of the Rift headset, complete with high definition displays and better head-tracking hardware. The company says it has also eliminated motion blur and judder, which should significantly reduce motion sickness in users – a vital element in ensuring wider consumer use for the device.

“We are excited to work with Mark and the Facebook team to deliver the very best virtual reality platform in the world,” said Brendan Iribe, co-founder and CEO of Oculus VR. “We believe virtual reality will be heavily defined by social experiences that connect people in magical, new ways. It is a transformative and disruptive technology, that enables the world to experience the impossible, and it’s only just the beginning.”

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Twitter co-founder unveils social answers app, Jelly for Android and iOS

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone on Tuesday took the wraps off a smartphone application that invites people to tap into their online social networks for answers about things they see.

Jelly, available free for Apple gadgets or mobile devices powered by Google-backed Android software, let people reach out virtually to friends, or friends of friends, when interested in finding out more about where one is or what is happening around them at a given moment.

“Say you’re walking along and you spot something unusual,” said a blog post at the Jelly website.

“You want to know what it is so you launch Jelly, take a picture, circle it with your finger, and type ‘What’s this?’ ”

Jelly queries are submitted to friends who also have the application, and notifications pop-up when answers are provided.

Jelly meshes with people’s existing social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook last year modified its search features to allow members to tap into the social network’s public data for answers to general questions such as “What kinds of films do Republicans like?” but Jelly promises to provide insights to what is around a person at any time.

Online forums at services such as Quora and Reddit let people delve into broad issues and topics, with Jelly again distinguishing itself by dealing with queries relevant to real-time moments in life.

Jelly also saw it as an advantage to let people ask questions with pictures.

“In a world where 140 characters is considered a maximum length, a picture really is worth a thousand words,” Jelly said in its launch blog post.

“No matter how sophisticated our algorithms become, they are still no match for the experience, inventiveness, and creativity of the human mind.”

San Francisco-based Jelly was co-founded by Stone, one of the creators behind globally popular one-to-many text messaging service Twitter, which made a blockbuster stock market debut last year.

Stone fired off word of the Jelly launch at his @biz Twitter account.

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Vodafone India opens its billing and messaging APIs to third-party developers

Vodafone India opens its billing and messaging APIs

Vodafone India opens its billing and messaging APIs

Vodafone India has launched the Vodafone Developer Platform that will allow third-party developers to tap its billing and message APIs, amongst other resources. Opening up of the billing API means that developers will be able to offer in-app purchases that can be billed to a Vodafone India customer’s monthly bill or account balance for postpaid and prepaid customers respectively.

Speaking about the initiative, Vivek Mathur, Chief Operating Officer, Vodafone India said, “With the growth of smartphones and mobile internet, people are increasingly showing more interest in mobile apps and content services. To strengthen the ecosystem for app developers & content service providers and partner with them, we have launched the Vodafone Developer Platform. We expect the developer community to leverage this initiative of Vodafone to create locally relevant applications / content services and to monetise their ideas across Vodafone’s customer base. The Developer Platform will help in streamlining the partner on-boarding and transparent commercial settlements. This will also enable our customers use their Vodafone accounts to purchase any app or content offered by local as well international developers & content providers.””

Apart from opening up Vodafone network resources such as subscriber profile, billing, location, messaging etc., the mobile operator will also provide developers a facility to test their apps and services in a simulated environment. According to Vodafone, a “minimal, standard set of terms and conditions govern the commercial and others aspects of the developers relationship with Vodafone India, while providing them potential access and exposure to millions of quality customers.”

NDTV Gadgets wrote to Vodafone to get more details about the developer terms, and questions that customers might have, like unauthorised use of the billing API and what information is exposed via the subscriber profile API, but we did not receive any response until the time of filing this report.

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UC Browser 9.5 launched; improves speeds, adds Web Application Centre and more

UC Browser 9.5 launched

UC Browser 9.5 launched

UC Web, a popular mobile internet software and services provider, has released its new UC Browser 9.5 for Android OS.

The new UC Browser 9.5 claims to deliver the fastest download speed of any mobile browser on the market, and adds support for more number of languages and fonts, along with a Web Application Centre, UC Homescreen Widget, and an Image Viewer feature.

The new version supposedly enables the user to download 15 percent faster on 3G and Wi-Fi compared with the previous version of the UC Browser. 2G performance has been also revamped for a smoother browsing experience, according to UC Web.

The Web Application Centre built into the UC Browser 9.5 allows users to easily install and run HTML5 and other web apps directly. Also added were the Image Viewer and the UC Homescreen Widget. According to the company, the Image Viewer serves as a scrolling photo album that showcases all the pictures on the webpage. The UC Homescreen Widget is an add-on that creates a widget on the Android home screen for easy access. Other noticeable enhancements according to UC Web include optimizations made to typing, gesture control and font adjustment.

The UC Browser 9.5 now uses segmented file transfer and multi-threaded downloading technologies that splits a single file into separate parts and download those parts simultaneously through multiple channels.

Some of the new languages included in the browser are Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam. The new UC Browser 9.5 additionally displays a pop-up message requesting permission to download the language which is not supported by the device while opening a page.

UC Browser introduced version 9.4 back in November 2013 with the Auto Pager and Speed Mode II feature. The Auto Pager feature allows the browser to automatically load the next page in case it’s part of a series of pages. The Speed Mode II feature detects the type of Internet connection the users are on, the device they are using, and the webpage, and fetches the most suitable version of the webpage on the browser.

The company also announced last year that it was opening its second headquarters in India as it had seen a good uptake of the browser amongst Indian users. UC Web claims that it is the number one mobile browser in India with a 25 percent market share. It also informed that the combined share of active UC Web users on iOS and Android was 250 million.

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