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Mobile battery life could be getting better

There have been countless posts about the new importance battery life plays as a deciding factor in mobile electronics. Most smartphones today do pretty much the same basics, equivalent of the point A to point B reference commonly used. So one of the biggest differentiator has become battery life, after all what good are all the features if you can’t use them? Well it seems that some new breakthroughs mean mobile battery life could be getting better eventually.

There are some things that are being held back by the constraints of battery life.Take for example Siri, the digital personal assistant on Apple’s iOS devices. Currently the assistant has to be activated with a key press because having the device listen for audio ques would cause horrible battery life. This is just one example of a feature that could be made exponentially better if battery life was removed from the eqaution as a concern. Well then the new advancements that have been made at the University of Illinois could have a very big impact in that area. The article “Small in size, big on power” explains how the microbatteries offer phenominal power in their small size. The article explains that,

The most powerful batteries on the planet are only a few millimeters in size, yet they pack such a punch that a driver could use a cellphone powered by these batteries to jump-start a dead car battery – and then recharge the phone in the blink of an eye.

Now that is some serious juice and could unlock a world of potential in mobile computing. Potential in both features and also the size of devices. I’m all for a time when running low on battery power is not a concern the same day devices are charged.

Now if you pair that with the work of a California teen who has come up with a way to recharge a dead phone in just 20 seconds flat the future of mobile technology looks even brighter. Just this past long weekend here in Canada as we celebrated Victoria Day my iPhone was brought to it’s knees. Before I powered it off at 10% battery life. I was at a trailer enjoying the sunshine and barbeque food with family and friends. I was doing some internet browsing, on a few social networks and all of it through LTE so my battery was understandable getting low. As a result I’ve started looking for external battery packs that I can use to extend the charge of my mobile devices. With a two week holiday coming up later this year I’m anticipating a greater need for the device. Well imagine if all it took to recharge my battery was 20 seconds, 5 minutes would make me jump for joy so at under half a minute that is just unbelievable.

As this Yahoo piece explains Eesha Khare used her impressive knowledge of chemistry to solve the issue of a “dead battery” in mobile devices. She invented an energy storage device that can charge a cell phone in 20-30 seconds! The “supercapacitor” stores lots of energy in a tiny space and can hold it for a long time. It also lasts for 10,000 recharge cycles, compared to the usual 1,000 for current rechargeable batteries. The invention was part of the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair that took place in Phoenix, AZ a week ago. Eesha Khare for her supercapacitor got the Young Scientist Award along with $50,000. The prize however is very small compared to what this could mean for the world of mobile. So with brilliant people making these kind of advancements the future of mobile looks even brighter. It must be powered by a microbattery.

Sources: Illinois News Bureau, NBC.com and Yahoo

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Why Google Glass is a perfect play by Google

Google Glass is the best thing Google has done for many reasons. It is much more important than their Android OS and no one even knows it yet. Why google glass is a perfect play by Google begins with the fact that they have first mover advantage. But it goes far beyond that, it spiders into everything Google and that is why it can become their most important venture, if it is done right!

Google Glass like iTunes has first mover advantage. There are no competitors in the market yet and what that does is allow Google to develop their 1.0 product and perfect it long before anyone gets a clue and joins the party. It is a huge advantage for them because when the device does become more popular and competitors appear Google will already have a huge head start. I compared it to iTunes because iTunes existed long before the iPhone, iPad, App store, etc. ever came about. It was just yet another media player. This afforded Apple the time to work on it, implement and get things working while having it work on Macs and Windows. Then when the mp3 craze hit and iPods became a craze it became the gateway to media and a way to control the device. The iPhone, iPad and app store then just increased the place iTunes plays in the complete package.

Now think about how Google Glass will tie into all of Google’s enterprises. It will allow the person wearing it to use Google’s search engine whenever they have a question or quandary. Google will have images from all over the world with Exif data. Images that can be incorporated into Google Maps for up to the minute data of locations. Apps developed for Goggle Glass will tie into the Android ecosystem enticing developers to push the platform further. The glasses will enable users to use all of Google’s services without effort. It will have the same effect as buying apps or music for 99 cents in iTunes. The low price makes the purchase an afterthought and that is what makes it so easy to shop. In the same way the ease of use of Google Glass will make the use of Google services an afterthought.

There will be some hurdles though, the first of which will be society. The possibilities of being recorded at anytime will call privacy into question and that is a very big hurdle. There might be indicators of when the glasses are taking a picture, recording video and/or audio. However hackers will quickly and easily be able to remove those indicators I’m sure. Then as with anything else there is always as much use of it for less than moral things as there will be for the use intended. Use of the device by voyeurs, spies and not to mention the criminal element will demand systems in place to counteract those possibilities if possible.

Yet another hurdle will be the need for people to talk to their devices. Whether asking questions, searching for things or dictating an email. There are already digital assistants that respond to voice, Siri and Google Now are just a few. Yet like the first bluetooth headsets most people still feel uncomfortable using them in very public places. The stigma of talking to yourself still exists along with the fact that private and personal things would need to be said instead of written. Things that people may not want to be public knowledge but perhaps like privacy, which is in a very different place now than it was years ago due to social networks and other online services. The whole attitude about talking to our devices might change and maybe Google Glass is the thing to push that shift. If that happens we might just end up knowing a lot more about each other more than we care to know in some cases.

If Google is able to market the glasses properly and get over the hurdles it has great possibilities. Schools would be a great place to have Google Glass for each student. It could eventually enable students not to take notes but instead to listen to the teacher/professor during class. The glasses’ OCR would pick up the written material on the blackboard and transfer it to a document while the student listened to the lesson. Then talk about an easy way to catch up on missed classes students could just borrow the video from a friend and share the electronic notes. The possibilities are just endless, malls could have their layout in a code that would be scanned by shoppers. Then when you need to find a store it’s as simple as looking it up or asking the glasses for directions. Shopping in a store and need to know the price of an item just scan the tag. These things for the most part are available now in more rudimentary ways. The best part for Google is the company will become the purveyor of all data!

This is why Google Glass is a perfect play by Google. But it will all depend on how it is handled so Google better hope they don’t drop the ball on it’s development and roll out. How we react to Google Glass depends on the user experience, how it is advertised and how accessible it is to customers aka price. So I guess we will just have to wait and see how it plays out in time.

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Family Feud

Family Feud & Friends Review for Android and iOS

Family Feud & Friends is one of many family feud games, but this one allows you to compete directly with others. In the growing wave of social gaming, Family Feud & Friends is just another game that connects you with your Facebook friends for you to compare how much better you can figure out what the most popular answers are to survey questions.

If you’re somehow unfamiliar with the game show, Family Feud is played by two teams or individuals competing against each other. In order to gain points, each person must figure out how the most popular answer to a random survey question. Each category has up to 100 points possible. The winner is then given an opportunity to compete in the fast money round, where they are given two opportunities to answer five different categories, and they win if they reach 200 points.

In the aspect of emulating the game show, Family Feud & Friends does a near perfect job. The few modifications to the game are made to fit better on a video game. Though it does well here, it definitely isn’t the first Family Feud game to offer a good simulation.

The key feature of the game is the social connectivity. When you play a game, you’re paired up against a random person who has already played and acquired a score, but it’s made to feel like you’re playing them in real time. You can also compare your daily high scores to your Facebook friends. You can challenge them to a high score competition, with the winner gaining experience points used to level up.

Unfortunately, that’s where the social connectivity ends. You cannot challenge a friend to a real time competition, nor can you even face off against them using the same categories. For a game that is based on its social connection, these missing features are glaring.

You also have a limit on how many times you can play. The nice thing is that the limit is quite high, so you’ll get plenty of playing time in.

Family Feud & Friends is a great game for people who love the game show. Don’t be fooled by the social aspect though, as it’s not what you’d think it would be.

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Snapchat

Snapchat Review for Android and iOS

Looking at the app description, Snapchat doesn’t seem like it has much of a purpose. It seems like a limited picture message app. For those who don’t have unlimited messaging (which is a pretty small market for smartphone users), this seems pretty useful, but why would the app be downloaded so much?

What Snapchat does, is it allows you to take a picture on your phone and send it to a friend who also has Snapchat. The catch is that the picture only is visible for at most ten seconds once the picture is opened up.

This seems kind of strange. Why would you allow the picture to only last for such a short time? Even after using the app, I don’t have an answer for it. Obviously it saves storage space whether on the phone or on a server, but it is a huge limiting factor for the app.

Where Snapchat shines shines is it’s speed and reliability at sending photos. Often when sending an MMS message over my phone, it can take anywhere from 30 seconds to even 10 minutes to send a picture if my reception is bad. Snapchat is pretty quick though, with pictures being received nearly instantly.

After sending hundreds of pictures, I have yet to see a picture fail. Snapchat will even update you to let you know if your friend has opened the picture or even taken a screenshot.

The best feature of Snapchat is the ability to draw right on the screen as soon as you took the picture. This does help to enhance picture messaging, offering what many standard camera apps lack. Though other apps allow you to edit pictures, being able to take a picture, draw on it, and send it all in one app helps make Snapchat relevant.

Although Snapchat really isn’t adding anything new other than the time limit feature, the speed and reliability help make it a very useful application. With a robust user base, it’s likely that you already have friends who you’ll be able to snapchat with. If you’re into picture messaging and wish that it would be quicker, Snapchat is the perfect app for you.

 

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cloud print from any android device

How to Setup Google Cloud Print on Android

Generally, printing a document is a piece of cake. Open the appropriate application, load the file that has to be printed and click on “PRINT”.  However, this process gets a little tricky when it is an Android device, as one has to email or copy the particular file from the Android device to the PC in order to give it for print. Cloud Print makes printing easier again.

What is Cloud Print?

It is a service provided by Google which has many features. It can be used to print files from an Android device directly using a compatible printer and eliminating the involvement of the PC. This service can be used on a regular printer too but a few things have to be done to do so.

First step is to make sure that the user uses the Google Chrome. Secondly, it has to be made sure that both the printer and the PC to which it is connected are switched on when it is required to print a document. The third step is to install the Cloud Print App.

cloud print app configuration

How to configure Chrome?

Open the Chrome browser on the PC. Click on the menu button which is at the upper right corner of the program window. Select Settings from the drop down menu. Click on the ‘Show advanced settings ‘link which is available on scrolling down the page. Locate the Google Cloud Print section. Click the ‘Add Printers’ button.

Google cloud print chrome setup tutorial

Make sure that the user is signed in to his/her Google account before clicking on the ‘Add printers’. Any printer that has been connected to the PC- both real and virtual will be added to the Chrome.

cloud print confirmation

Make sure that the expected printer has been added by clicking on the “Manage your printers” link.

cloud print printers list

How to configure the Android device?

Install Cloud Print from Google Play on the Android phone or tablet to print directly from the device. After installation, launch the app and select the Google account that has been set up on the PC. The user has to grant permission for the app to access the Google account. Choose the option that relates to the type of printer that the user wants to add. In most cases this will come under the option Other Printers. The user can select one of the printers that have been added from the list that is displayed.

google cloud print select printer

The user can indicate whether the selected printer is the default printer and then print a test page to check that everything is working perfectly. More printers can be added if required.

How to Print from the Android Device?

This can be done in two ways. The first method is to launch the Cloud Print on the phone or tablet, navigate to the Local section and then select the type of document that has to be printed. Select an individual file, use the “Page Setup” option to configure basic settings and then choose “Click here to Print”.

cloud print from android phone

The second option is to open the file in the appropriate application and then make use of the Share option. A menu will appear from which the user has to select the Cloud Print option. The current file will be transferred to Cloud Print and will be ready for printing.

google cloud print from android device

So, that is how to setup Google Cloud Print on Android devices. Do let us know if you run into any walls!

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MapMyRun

MapMyRun Review for Android and iOS

When smartphones were introduced to the world half a decade ago, fitness apps seemed to be all the craze. Although many developers tried, few managed to get a really solid fitness app that people would use for months on end. MapMyRun benefits from being established as a website first, with the app coming out to enhance the site features. MapMyRun is a fitness app that can be used by anybody, and it brings enough to the table to make it worth a download by anybody who loves to exercise.

If you haven’t gone over to the website, it is definitely worth checking out. When you register, you can put in routes for walking, running, and biking. You’ll be able to see the distances with mile markers and elevation changes throughout the route. Then, once you download the app, all of the best features are opened up. MapMyRun will use your GPS to track not only your location, but also your speed and pace. If you happen to have a heart monitor, it will track your heart rate through the exercise as well.

Once you start a route, the app will leave the GPS on constantly, which does make it drain the battery a little bit. The timer will begin, and the app will track your movement. You’ll get audio feedback at every mile if you leave the options to their defaults. The tracking is extremely reliable, giving an accurate pace. After several different runs, the chart showing my pace took a noticeable drop when I “hit the wall” on my runs.

Another nice thing about the app is that you can get routes that other people have created near to your location. MapMyRun also logs your statistics online and in the app, so that you can have a log of how many miles you have put in as well as your calories that you’ve burned. If you want to look at improvement over time, MapMyRun has you covered.

MapMyRun is a great app for either fitness junkies or those who are just looking for something to help their motivation. Though the interface can be confusing on the app at times, it’s easy to pick up and well worth your time.

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CSR Racing

CSR Racing Review for Android and iOS

Drag racing games have been around forever on all platforms capable of gaming. Few games offer the total amount of depth seen in CSR Racing.

The gameplay is relatively simple, and it seems fairly borrowed from most other drag racing games. You start each race by trying to get the RPM meter in the sweet spot to prevent tire spin. From then on, you are trying to time your shifts in order to get a maximum acceleration. Add in some NOS, and call it a day.

Where CSR Racing initially enhances the game is with a simple story mode. Players can do quick races with earnings based on difficulty. They can do ladder races where the race gets progressively more difficult, or you can race Crew Battles until you ultimately win through to the next tier. The boss of each crew certainly loves his trash talk.

Graphically, CSR Racing offers some impressive graphics, especially for mobile devices. It has a little bit of a frame rate struggle with older devices, but it still runs despite longer loading times. The graphics look close to something out of a current generation console. Audio seems to be pretty spot on, though the menu track will get repetitive.

There is quite a bit of depth to the game. You can use your earnings to unlock roughly 100 different cars from all of the big manufacturers. You can also use these earnings to unlock different upgrades to make your car the best. Unfortunately, about half of the cars can only be bought with special coins that are nearly impossible to earn other than from purchasing them with real money.

Another disappointing feature is that you are limited on how many races you can do. Each race uses up a gas point, which runs out very quickly. New points take several minutes to come back, so you won’t be able to play for more than 30 minutes at a time without spending real money on the game.

Overall, CSR Racing has potential to be the best drag racing game on any platform. If you can get past the in-app purchases, you’ll find an enjoyable experience that will make you say wow the first time you see the graphics.

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HTC

HTC Releasing a Cheaper Version of HTC One

Android users who want a top of the line phone but haven’t been a big fan of Samsung have been a bit out of luck over the past year or so. That changed last month when HTC released the HTC One. With their flagship phone getting a lot of positive buzz, HTC has reportedly decided to make a cheaper version that is more accessible to Android users, the HTC M4.

The HTC One currently goes for about $200 with a new contract on most carriers. The original phone offered a quad core processor and two gigs of RAM, with a 4.7″ 1080p display. The base unit came with 16 GB of storage. It has been regarded as the one of the best phones on the market for Android users by many who have reviewed it.

The HTC M4 will look nearly identical to the HTC One, but will offer a slightly more compact size. The phone will by 4.3″ with a 720p display. It’s likely that it will be made with plastic instead of aluminum for the body. The processor will be downsized for a quad core to a dual core of the same version, but it will hold onto the two gigs of RAM. The camera will likely be the same as well. The M4 is expected to launch with Android 4.2, otherwise known as Jelly Bean. The new phone will likely have a smaller battery. The HTC One had a 2300 mAh battery and the M4 will likely have a 1700 mAh version.

Cheaper smartphones are extremely convenient for the cost-conscious consumer. Having a smartphone already requires an expensive phone contract with a data subscription, and sometimes it’s hard to justify having a $200 cost associated with the cell phone. Having cheaper versions of up to date technology does help consumers not to have to rely on outdated and aged technology for their smartphones that they’ll likely have for at least two years.

The HTC M4 is likely to be released sometime this summer for a low cost. It will also likely have LTE enabled as well, making it a very nice overall phone for the consumer worried about paying a lot for their cell phone.

Source: PhoneArena

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Floor Escape

Floor Escape Review for Android and iOS

Puzzle games continue to be some of the most popular games on mobile platforms. Floor Escape is yet another puzzle game where a player is required to figure out some sort of puzzle in the room that will allow them to advance to the next floor.

The premise is very simple. You are put in front of an elevator door, and your goal is to figure out how to get the door to open. The puzzles start out very simply, such as just pressing the button to call the elevator. Other puzzles require you to move objects. The most complicated puzzles involve some sort of combination of actions that need to be done.

There are many similar games on the market right now, but Floor Escape has managed to become the most popular at this time. It offers some new ideas and new puzzles that other elevator escape games lacked. It also uses quite a few different items with different results, which allows for a more unique combination of puzzles. Despite these unique ideas, it often does feel like a rehashed game if you have played similar games.

Graphically, Floor Escape stands up very well. All the items are pretty clear and distinct, so you won’t have to spend a whole lot of time guessing what is in front of you like some other games do. The colors are vivid, but there’s only so much depth going on visually. The presentation works for what it needs to be, but it won’t win you over.

Floor Escape only offers 100 puzzles, which run relatively quickly. Unless you get stuck on a few different floors, you’ll probably have the game finished in just over an hour.

Unlike other puzzle games though, Floor Escape minimizes the amount of times where the puzzle doesn’t make much sense. Although there are some challenging floors to get through, everything is logical. For those harder floors, you’ll feel accomplished when you get through them instead of cursing the developer for stupid tricks.

Floor Escape is one of the best escape games on the market right now, but it still has a limited appeal. It can be downloaded from the App Store and Google Play Store for free with relatively few ads.

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4 Pics 1 Word

4 Pics 1 Word Review for Android and iOS

When Tetris came out several decades ago, it popularized the puzzle game genre. The genre has seen quite a bit of change over the years, with everything from Dr. Mario to Brain Age to Angry Birds. 4 Pics 1 Word is an extension of the puzzle genre that has gotten quite a bit of popularity over the past several weeks.

The game is simple. Four pictures are displayed on the screen, and you’re given the length of the word. As you get words correct, you earn coins which can be used to help you out. You can get help by either deleting possible letters or by getting where certain letters fit in the answer.

If you have ever played Draw Something, the user interface will immediately look familiar. The interface is basically a carbon copy but with a different color. You even have twelve possible letters to guess the word, making it a little bit more easy than if you had to type in the word on your own.

The pictures are relatively easy to guess, which allows you to build up some confidence as you play. Occasionally though you’ll be hit by a confusing word where the pictures are relatively ambiguous. It seems like the shorter words are the hardest to guess because there are so many options of letter arrangements.

If you want to look closer at the pictures, the game says that you can press the picture to zoom in. Unfortunately though these pictures are such a low resolution that this doesn’t help. The pictures stay the same resolution when you make them large, so all it does is make them blurry.

If you’re really struggling with a word, 4 Pics 1 Word links with your Facebook account so that you can get help from your friends.

There are quite a few ads, especially if you find the right answer quickly. Every time you load up the game, and every few words, you’ll be presented with ads for other apps to download.

4 Pics 1 Word isn’t the type of game that you’ll be remembering for years, but it is the type of game that will waste time for you while making your brain work a bit.

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