‘Shoto’ photo sharing app for friends launched for Android and iOS

Indian-origin entrepreneur Sachin Dev Duggal, based in San Francisco, on Friday globally launched a new photo sharing app “Shoto” here.
“A trillion pictures were taken on a smartphone in the last one year which goes to show the engagement by users. Users are now more interested in photos which were clicked by others but curation always has been a problem. Shoto makes getting photos clicked by friends on various occasions easier,” Duggal told IANS.
“Shoto tells you how many photos were taken with friends or family members from times spent together and easily lets users share photos and create private or public albums.
“It collects metadata from the phone and asks the user if he or she wants to share the photos, so the privacy issue is also taken care of,” he explained.
The app, which is available on the App Store and Google Play Store, can be downloaded in over 120 countries with local language support. Among the languages available are Hindi, Spanish, French and Mandarin.
Shoto, which was in beta mode till Friday, cost the founder $1.2 million in development. It was founded in 2013 with the intent to solve the inefficiencies often attributed with sharing photos.
The app company also got funding of $1.5 million from investors like Real Ventures and Kunal Nayyar, the Indian-origin actor of popular TV series “The Big Bang Theory”.
Shoto is also a partner of the UN Foundation since June 26, 2015.

Xiaomi officially working on its first laptop

Recently, there were reports of Chinese company Xiaomi – popular for its smartphones –working towards a new laptop range.
Since Xiaomi borrows heavily from Apple in terms of design, the range of laptops are expected to take on Apple’s Macbook range. Richard Lee, Chairman of Inventec Corp confirmed that his company is making the first notebook computer product for Xiaomi in China.
Quoting Lee, the report added, that a subsidiary “Inventec Appliance Corp, which assembles Xiaomi’s smartphones, is to jointly design and manufacture the Chinese company’s first notebook products in Inventec’s plants in China.”
Lee also confirmed that shipping of  Xiaomi’s notebook computers would commence in “the first or second quarter of next year”.
It had been reported that Xiaomi will most likely go with a 15-inch notebook size and will bundle the laptops with Linux OS. Approximate price points of the notebook are speculated to be in the CNY 2,999 region which roughly translates to Rs 31,500.
If you have followed Xiaomi since its entry into India, there were speculations of it releasing a laptop in the past as well. It has also been speculated over the past few months that the Xiaomi laptops would ship with Linux. However, since the launch of Windows 10, we wonder if Xiaomi has been working with Microsoft to launch the devices with the latest version of Windows operating system.

Microsoft develops its own version of Linux-based OS for cloud-based services

Microsoft is currently working on a Linux-based operating system which will not be running on desktops or laptops but, is aimed at driving the networking hardware in the enterprise space. The company is working on building Azure Cloud Switch (ACS), a software which will make it simpler to control hardware which powers cloud-based services.
Kamala Subramanian, Redmond’s principal architect for Azure Networking describes the new Azure Cloud Switch as a cross-platform modular operating system for data center networking built on Linux.
ACS allows us to debug, fix and test software bugs much faster. She points out that, “It also allows us the flexibility to scale down the software and develop features that are required for our datacenter and our networking needs.”
ACS strives for easier configuration and management by integrating with Microsoft’s monitoring and diagnostics system. By deviating from the traditional enterprise interactive model of command line interfaces, it allows for switches to be managed just as servers are with weekly software rollouts and roll backs thus ensuring a mature configuration and deployment model.
Subramanian says, “We’re talking about ACS publicly as we believe this approach of disaggregating the switch software from the switch hardware will continue to be a growing trend in the networking industry and we would like to contribute our insights and experiences of this journey starting here.”

Facebook will not withdraw from India

Defending its free Internet platform internet.Org, Facebook on Thursday said net neutrality principle arose when operators started selling different levels of speed to provide faster access to certain services.
“When users purchase Internet access, they should be able to go where they want to, and that concept of net neutrality rules in context of operators who originally wanted to sell different tiers of speeds to consumers so that certain services can be accessed on a faster basis,” Facebook Vice President for Mobile and Global Access Policy Kevin Martin said at the India Economic Convention 2015.
He said that Facebook supports the concept of net neutrality and its programme internet.Org is to enable people to realise the importance of Internet by providing access to basic web service free of data cost.
Through internet.Org, mobile users can access websites available on the platform for free. Even websites are not required to pay any charge for coming on to the platform, but need to follow certain technical criteria for joining it, he said.
Additionally, neither Facebook nor other websites are required to pay for Internet usage by end users.
A government panel in India has criticised this kind of platform, saying this can act as a gatekeeper and should not be allowed. However, the social media giant says it is a gateway to access Internet and not a gatekeeper.
Martin said that Facebook is looking forward to launching a special Wi-Fi service in India which will help subsidise cost of accessing Internet.
“We also have our connectivity lab which is looking at Drones and unmanned aerial vehicle to lower the cost of service to people without infrastructure. We are rolling out a kind of Wi-Fi service at a lower cost which is trying to adjust cost issue in other countries and looking out to do that in India,” Martin said.
“The only limitation for any developer to participate (in internet.Org) is that it has to be structured so that it uses limited amount of bandwidth,” Martin said.
He said that Facebook also has different set up for its own service that it provides through internet.Org.
“It doesn’t have any advertising, videos on it so that users can fully utilise it and at the same time do not use too much bandwidth,” Martin said.

LG will host an event on 1 October in New York; may announce the dual-display V10

LG has sent out invites to the media for an event which will take place on October 1 in New York City. The company has not announced as to what it will unveil but it looks like LG will unveil the dual display smartphone called V10.
Judging by the above invite, it looks like LG might present some sought of a movie theme during the launch.
According to rumoured specifications, the smartphone is said to include an ‘auxiliary ticker display’, which has been previously seen on Samsung’s Continuum smartphone, which was introduced in 2010. The handset which has  indicates that the device is said to have a 5.7-inch display along with a Snapdragon 808 processor paired with 3GB RAM.
It is said to be equipped with a 16MP rear camera along with a 5MP front facing camera. The LG V10 will most likely have an internal storage at 64GB and can be further expanded via microSD card. In addition, the device will also include a finger-print scanner.
In line with the recent report about Google launching two Nexus devices on september 29, a new report now reveals more details about the LG-built Nexus smartphone.
According to a report  LG built Google device will be named Nexus 5X and will carry a price tag that is slightly more than the original Nexus 5. Citing sources related to the matter, the report further adds that the Nexus 5X will go on sale starting September 29.

Twitter partners with Stripe to expand ‘buy buttons’

Payments processing company Stripe Inc launched a new tool on Monday that will connect retailers and brands to sell on platforms like Twitter and tap an increasing number of consumers shopping on mobile apps.
Twitter’s adoption of Stripe’s new product, Relay, is expected to help the microblogging site further dabble in e-commerce and generate revenue through its “buy buttons,” which lets shoppers buy a product and enter payment and shipping information without leaving Twitter’s platform.
Twitter has been struggling to increase its audience and in July said its number of monthly average users grew at its slowest pace since it went public in 2013.
“Almost two-thirds of our users say they bought something specifically because of what they saw on Twitter. … As mobile and social (media) continue to grow, consumers are going to discover and transact right in the apps where they spend their time every day,” Nathan Hubbard, Twitter’s head of commerce, said at a launch event in San Francisco, where both companies are based.
Stripe, which makes software that helps businesses accept various types of payments on websites and in apps, counts grocery-delivery startup Instacart, ride-sharing app Lyft and e-commerce platform Shopify among its clients.
The payments company’s new Relay product functions as a universal sell button for retailers, allowing companies like eyewear brand Warby Parker to list products in a single place and sell them directly on Twitter as well as other e-commerce platforms like ShopStyle.
A smoother shopping experience is crucial to online retailers as they often blame the high rates of unfinished or abandoned online sales on the tiring process of re-entering payment information.
Stripe’s chief executive and co-founder, Patrick Collison, who was also at the event, likened the common difficulty of completing purchases through mobile devices to “an obstacle course,” noting that two-thirds of mobile shopping carts are abandoned before the transaction is completed.

Facebook now allows anyone with a verified account to use Mentions app

Facebook is now expanding its Mentions and live blogging app to more users which as of now, is only available on the iOS App Store. The platform, which was previously available for certain celebrities such as musicians and actors will now be open to any individual with a verified account Mentions account.
According to the Facebook Blog, you can report from the scene with Live, host a Q&A and connect in real-time with your followers. You can also check out what people are saying about you and other topics you follow. In addition, you can also see what topics are currently trending on Facebook.
The new Mentions app will also let you too choose the audience you want to share your text, links, photos or anything else. For example, Facebook states that you can share a post so only your followers see it in News Feed.
With this attempt, Facebook wants more and more journalists to use its platform as their distribution channel of choice. This will allow them to post live to Facebook during breaking news or to host live Q&As with followers as well.
Users with a verified profile can log in with their Facebook credentials to start connecting with their followers but if you’re a public figure and believe your Page or profile should be verified, you can fill out this form.
The whole deal is to make it simpler for people with verified pages to manage their Facebook account by viewing posts that mention them. It will also help these people to respond more quickly and easily via the dedicated app. Facebook Mentions also shows a timeline of posts that reference the particular user.
Facebook calls it an authentic way to connect with fans. Besides access to the video on News Feed, people who have recently interacted with a celebrity’s posts will receive a notification when the broadcast begins.

3D Touch: Apple’s pressure-based screens promise a world beyond cold glass

By adding a more realistic sense of touch to its iPhone, Apple Inc may have conquered a technology that has long promised to take us beyond merely feeling the cold glass of our mobile device screens.
In its latest iPhones, Apple included what it calls 3D Touch, allowing users to interact more intuitively with their devices via a pressure-sensitive screen which mimics the feel and response of real buttons.
In the long run, the force-sensitive technology also promises new or better applications, from more lifelike games and virtual reality to adding temperature, texture and sound to our screens.
“Force Touch is going to push the envelope of how we interact with our screens,” says Joel Evans, vice president of mobile enablement at Mobiquity, a mobile consultancy.
The fresh iPhones, unveiled on Wednesday, incorporate a version of the Force Touch technology already in some Apple laptop touchpads and its watches. Apple also announced a stylus that includes pressure sensing technology.
As with previous forays, from touch screens to fingerprint sensors, Apple isn’t the first with this technology, but by combining some existing innovations with its own, it could leverage its advantage of control over hardware, interface and the developers who could wrap Force Touch into its apps.
“Here we go again. Apple’s done it with gyroscopes, accelerometers, they did it with pressure sensors, they’ve done it with compass, they’ve been great at expediting the adoption of these sensors,” said Ali Foughi, CEO of US-based NextInput, which has its own technology, trademarked ForceTouch. “Apple is at the forefront.”
Haptic technology – a tactile response to touching an interface – isn’t new, even in mobile devices. Phones have long vibrated to alert users of incoming calls in silent mode, or when they touch an onscreen button.
But efforts to go beyond that have been limited.
BlackBerry incorporated pressure sensing into its Storm phone in 2008. And Rob Lacroix, vice president of engineering at Immersion Corp, said his company worked in 2012 with Fujitsu on the Raku-Raku Smartphone, an Android phone that could distinguish between a soft and firm touch to help users unfamiliar with handheld devices.
But most efforts have been hamstrung by either a poor understanding of the user’s needs, or technical limitations. A vibrating buzz, for instance, has negative connotations, causing most people to turn off any vibration feature, says James Lewis, CEO of UK-based Redux, which has been working on similar touch technology for several years.
The technology powering vibrations is also primitive, he said, meaning there’s a slight delay and a drain on the battery. Early versions of pressure-sensing technology also required a slight gap between screen and enclosure, leaving it vulnerable to the elements.
Apple seems to have solved such problems, experts said, judging from their trackpads and the Apple Watch. Indeed, the trackpad carries the same sensation of a physical click of its predecessors, but without the actual pad moving at all.
The result: In the short term, Force Touch may simply make interacting with a screen more like something we’d touch in real life – a light switch, say, or a physical keyboard. With Force Touch, the device should be able to tell not only whether we are pressing the screen, but how firmly. It should in turn respond with a sensation – not just a vibration, but with a click – even if that click is itself a trick of technology.
“What we’re going to see initially is putting life back into dead display,” said Redux’s Lewis. “We just got used to the cold feel of glass.”
To be sure, mobile is not the first industry to flirt with haptics.
For example, for car drivers, Redux demonstrates a tablet-like display which creates the illusions of bumps and friction when you run your fingers over the glass, mimicking physical buttons and sliders so your eyes don’t need to leave the road.
Mobiquity’s technical adviser Robert McCarthy points to several potential uses of Apple’s technology – measuring the force of touch when entering a password, say, to indicate how confident the user is of their selection, or keying in a numeric passcode using different pressure levels as an extra layer of security.
While Apple’s adoption of the technology has awoken the mobile industry to its possibilities, it was pipped to the post by Chinese handset maker Huawei, which this month unveiled one model with what it also tagged Force Touch technology. Pressing harder in a photo app, for example, allows you to zoom in on a picture without the usual two-finger spread.
Other manufacturers are exploring how to make touching a device more friendly, and more advanced, says Freddie Liu, CFO of Taiwan-based TPK Holding Co Ltd, an Apple supplier.
“This is just the beginning for Force Touch,” he said.

Amazon will soon release a tablet which costs $50

Online retailer plans to release a $50 tablet in time for the holiday season.The 6-inch screen tablet comes with a mono speaker and is priced much lower than Amazon’s Fire tablet, the cheapest variant of which is sold at $99.
The company was not immediately available for comment. Amazon also plans to release 8-inch and 10-inch screen tablets, the report said. While other Amazon Fire tablets show advertisements as screen savers, it was not clear if the new 6-inch tablet’s cost included ads, according to the report.
In addition, these tablets are said to be simple and are intended for streaming videos, browsing through social media and one more medium for shopping online via Amazon’s website.
According to the report, Amazon outsourced much of the development to overseas firms including Shanghai Huaqin Telecom Technology and Taiwan’s Compal Communications in an attempt to lower the cost for the new 6-inch tablet.
With an affordable price tag, the devices might carry ‘inferior specifications’ but no confirmed information has been provided. However, this might set these tablets apart from the ones manufactured by Apple, Samsung and others which fall under a premium bracket.

YU introduces YUPIX smart mobile printer; now print photos from smartphone

Indian electronics brand YU Televentures, owned by Micromax has launched a portable photo printer called the YUPIX.
According to YU, the YUPIX prints 2.1 x 3.4 inch sized digital photos at a resolution of 291 dpi in 60 seconds. The printer itself is pocket sized and weighs 273 grams.
 After installing the YUPIX app, you can edit and print photographs without a computer. The YUPIX can print edited photos with a resolution of 1280 x 1920 (2.5MP). Images can be transferred via Wi-Fi or an NFC enabled connection and the device is compatible with Android smartphones as well iPhones.
Since the YUPIX uses dye sublimation for printing images, its unique cartridge doesn’t require a cleaning roll. It includes an Ink Ribbon with Photo Paper Integrated into it apart. In addition, it is also water and finger print proof. The YUPIX will be available on from 7 September for Rs 6,999.
The YUPIX measures 2.99 x 6.01 x 0.94 inch and is powered by a 750 mAh battery. It is interesting to see the introduction of devices such as the YUPIX. Interestingly at IFA, an instant digital camera that prints images without using ink! It accomplishes the task of printing crystal clear images by using a thermally sensitive paper with ink crystals. It seems the industry sees potential in helping consumers recreate their digital moments in print, the personalised way.

IFA 2015: Samsung unveils its first Ultra HD Blu-ray player

At IFA, Korean giant Samsung unveiled its first Ultra HD Blu-ray player, which supports UHD Blu-ray disc playback as well. As of now, the company has not provided any details regarding pricing or availability.
The player, which is capable of providing four times the resolution and 64 times higher colour expression compared to standard Blu-ray, is capable of upscaling content to provide UHD resolution for any disc. Additionally 4K streaming services are available. The Ultra HD Blu-ray Player features a sleek, curved design, which goes well with Samsung Curved SUHD TVs.
In addition, the company stated that it is committed to expanding the ecosystem for Ultra HD or 4K content. To deliver more UHD content worldwide, the company has also partnered with a number of firms including Amazon, Netflix, British Telecom, and Canal Plus.
“For Samsung, IFA 2015 is all about the Internet of Things. We are certain that IoT will revolutionize the world of consumer electronics, and this is our opportunity to update you on how far we have come in just a year,” said Dr W.P. Hong, Chief Marketing Officer for Samsung Electronics.
“Every year, Samsung sells more than 300 million products to European consumers. Today, our products are used by 85 million Europeans – at home, and increasingly at work. No organization is better placed to ensure that the latest industrial revolution is driven not by technology, but by people’s expectations. Our vision is of an IoT that’s ‘In Sync With Life’, that’s an IoT for you.”