Samsung Gear 360; Brief Review

Samsung, the tech giant responsible for delivering some of the most premium handsets in the market has come out with a 360-degree camera for its Galaxy Series of smartphones. The camera is known as Samsung’s Gear 360 and comes with an affordable price tag of $349.99.

The device is small, practical, and easy to use having decent video quality for a first-generation model and is undoubtedly a steal. Unsurprisingly, Gear 360 is not the first 360-degree camera to hit the consumer market with many big companies like Ricoh, LG, and Kodak crafting their own devices. However, it would not be wrong to say that Samsung has done right in making its Gear 360 one of the most user-friendly cameras in the market. This is definitely a huge deal as the 360-degree video also known as VR Video is still a relatively new trend in the market.

Just like Samsung established itself as a company that offers the best VR experience, similarly, it seems that the tech giant is aiming to target the 360-degree camera market with its new venture.

Design

Over the years, Samsung has polished the art of designing by producing sleek gadgets that are easy to use. This is evident from its Galaxy phone, the much-improved Gear S2 smartwatch and Samsung’s critically acclaimed Gear VR Headset. The Gear 360 is a tennis-ball sized camera that fits the criteria of being small and sleek. The camera borrows the design from the old Logitech webcam, the only difference being the limited 180-degree view in the webcam. Additionally, the device is both dust and waterproof making it an ideal partner for beach photography.

Connectivity

The camera pairs with Samsung phones through a Bluetooth connection

Device Modes

The device comes equipped with four modes for 360-degree recording. Using them is hassle-free. The modes include time-lapse, looping video and the standard video and photo option. The looping video option allows you to create a video (up to five minutes long) that will restart playing from the beginning upon completion. For choosing the mode, you can either select it from the camera application in the phone or the actual device itself.

Usage

The footage captured from the camera was nowhere near to the likes of GoPros that cost thousands of dollars; however, the camera did surpass the standards set by LG and Ricoh.

Conclusion

The 360-degree camera easily outsmarts other cameras available within the price range and gives the testament of being a Samsung product by being classy and easy-to-use at the same time.

Google Docs and Sheets Get Plug-ins

Google, the tech giant is aiming to improve the functionality of its applications namely Google Docs and Sheets. In order to add convenience for the users, the company has released a multitude of third party plug-ins. The add-ons allow users to conveniently use these tools on their smartphones. Till now, these are limited to the Android platform with no news about compatibility with other operating systems.

The tech giant, Google is currently facing stiff competition from Microsoft and in order to entice users towards its free productivity suite, the company is offering incentives to the users. It must be noted that both the companies are currently working towards adding third-party plug-ins into their respective applications. Google has, at the moment, added a total of nine add-ons which include, Google Classroom, DocuSign, Teacher Aide, Zoho, CRM, and Scanbot. Google has also opened up their productivity suite to other developers. The developers can now submit their applications to the company for review and upon approval, they will be integrated with Google’s Productivity Suite.

It is interesting to witness that by adding Android plug-ins, the company has churned out various, highly useful features. E-signature on documents has become seamless with the integration of DocuSign. Similarly, content such as graphs and CRM can be directly imported into Google Sheets. This saves users from the hassle of doing any type of additional coding.

With these new tools, Google aims to improve the functionality of its own applications. In the past, Google focused on making the applications mobile-ready while placing critical emphasis on an enhanced user experience. Earlier in 2016, Google unveiled the comment functionality for Google Slides and Sheet which allowed direct commenting through the smartphone. Further, Google also launched an update for the Google Docs application which allowed users to share their views while also providing them with the ability to tag other relevant users in the conversation.

It is clear that Google is aiming to revolutionize the productivity of its application. To enhance the discoverability of these applications, the company added eight different categories to the Play Store. Also, the company announced its Family Library feature during the Google I/O conference which was rolled out in 12 countries.

It is unclear till now whether these add-ons will also roll out to the iOS platform. A source close to the company has stated that Google intends to launch the functionality once the demand becomes high enough. Google’s Productivity Suite offers a plethora of features on its desktop application, however increasing the range of features on its mobile applications will only enhance the productivity while also luring in more users.

Yahoo Releases Upgraded Messenger Application For Desktops

Yahoo, the tech giant which was one of the pioneers of instant messaging back in the starting days of the internet has evolved into a multi-billion enterprise. However, with the transition to mobile devices and with the advent of new applications, the number of active users declined. However, the position of the company hasn’t deteriorated over the period and many people still prefer Yahoo over other means of communication.

In order to cater to its users, Yahoo has devised a new and revamped Yahoo Messenger application. The application which landed on mobile devices back in December of 2015 will now be available for the two major operating systems that are Windows and Mac.

Yahoo has been having a busy week primarily due to the acquisition of the search engine giant by Verizon. Later on, the internet pioneer released its upgraded messenger application for the desktop operating systems on Wednesday. The desktop version of the application made it to mobile devices last year and comes bundled with a plethora of features which are aimed at streamlining the sharing and interaction experiences while using the application. Yahoo’s upgraded application includes new features, the most prominent of which is the ability to unsend your messages when you tap the send button a bit hastily. Other prominent features include drag and drop image sharing capability and the ability to include animated .gifs in your messages (you can search for animations).

In case, you are one of the old users of Yahoo, who are still using the old desktop application, then it is definitely high time for you to upgrade as the legacy service will be discontinued from August 5, 2016.

The messaging market which was once dominated by Yahoo has slowly slipped away over the years. Low-cost texting and instant messaging applications easily available on smartphones are to be attributed for this downfall. Perhaps, Yahoo was too slow to transition to mobile devices and users opted for the easily available applications like WhatsApp, Instagram, and Snapchat. The downfall of Yahoo resulted in the skyrocketing of these internet companies which started off through mobile phones.

iPhone Sales Are Down And The Best Way To Explain It Is Through Pokémon Go

Apple, the tech giant known for innovation and delivering stellar products, finds itself down in the dumps as the company did not just face one but two-quarters of declining iPhone sales. The stock price of the company has, however, went in the opposite direction, outperforming Apple’s own expectation. The traders definitely understand that Apple is currently faced with a phenomenon of smartphone saturation.

This could be easily understood by looking at the Pokémon Go phenomenon that has gripped the world currently. The wide-ranging availability of smartphone whether Android or iOS doesn’t come off as a surprise anymore. Presently, it’s neither weird nor surprising to look at kids walking around in parks and streets on Pokémon hunts bearing their own smartphones. The game could never have reached the heights that it reached if it was released in a year when smartphones were a valuable asset.

Not a long time ago, smartphones were the primary target of muggings. However, things have changed since then. True, phones are still one of the most personal and valuable assets belonging to people. However, it is safe to say that they have lost their value and become mere commodities, like a pair of clothes and evidently, iPhone has not remained immune to this situation anymore.

This is also true that Apple would be questioned about its growth strategies as investors definitely require incentives and every public company offers their vision of profit growths. However, such growth directives will no longer be focused on the iPhone. This entire saturation can be attributed to the finite human population of which only a fraction of the population earns enough money to buy Apple’s premium smartphone. This saturation point in the sales was inevitable and Apple’s sales were bound to hit the ceiling one day or the other. The unfortunate part for Apple, however, is that as time progresses, the ceiling is coming down as new smartphone companies step in to provide devices which are more than capable of performing tasks and running games. If we keep Pokémon Go as a reference, the game might drive the buying of portable batteries, however, it won’t result in smartphone upgrades, as existing smartphones are more than capable of running the game. Speculations have suggested that nothing short of a full-fledged VR application will stimulate growth in the smartphone industry.

Apple’s future is uncertain at the moment, as it was completely understandable to keep iPhone as the centerpiece for revenue generation (60% of Apple’s revenue was generated through iPhone) when it was the most sought-after gadget. However, as times have changed, Apple’s need for devising the next profit driver is more pressing.

Android Will Now Be Updated To Automatically Send Accurate Location To 999 Operators

Google, the search engine giant is aiming to help people have some ease in their lives and therefore the company has decided to push an update which will automatically send your location to aid emergency service providers. As you may all know, upon calling 999, you are requested by the operators to notify them of your current location before they can dispatch the required assistance. It is rather difficult to notify the operators about your location especially if you are unfamiliar with your surroundings. However, with this new Android update, the entire portion of guesswork involved in identifying your location will be sorted out. This new update is known as the Emergency Location Service and will be using information provided through available Wi-Fi connections, phone’s GPS system and mobile masts to exactly pinpoint your location. Further, this information will be automatically shared with the operator during your conversation with them.

The tech giant shared this news through their blog post and in order to remove any shred of doubts from the minds of the consumers, the company elaborated their working mechanism. Google stated that their company is not in the business of collection location data of their consumers and the new feature is pushed in the interest of public safety and to aid emergency service providers. Further, Google also elaborated that the information will only be transmitted if and when you make an emergency call; the call could either be to an operator of the emergency services or to your mobile network operators. The best part about this update is that the major service providers that is, EE, Three, O2, Vodafone and BT have all agreed to the terms laid out by Google at the launch of this application.

Since the feature is enabled through a Google Play Services update, most of the Android devices (nearly 99%) are more than capable of supporting this Emergency Location Service update. The prerequisite for the update is Android 2.3 and up. The update is already live in various territories including the UK and Estonia, however, Google stated in its blog post that the company is in active communication with other countries and their operators in order to increase its availability and encompass a broader user base.

Prisma, The Photo Editing Application That Has Taken The World By Storm, Now Comes To Android

Prisma, a startup that became one of the most hit apps of 2016. The application that started off through the iOS platform will now be available for more people as it opens up to the Android platform today. The Russian team behind the well-deserved hyped-up application Prisma launched the application on the Android platform over the weekend. The application was restricted to the iOS platform for the past six weeks.

The application was launched for beta testing last week, however, the company soon pulled the plug on the application. The company released a statement that defined the purpose behind the beta release. According to the company Prisma Labs’ co-founder, Alexey Moiseenkov, the beta was released to collect feedback from Android users and prepare their servers for launch.

The application became a sensational hit in multiple countries upon its release on the iOS platform on June 11, securing the title of top application in Russia and a handful of other countries. In the weeks following the release, the application gained 10 million plus downloads on the global level while also cementing its position as a top application on the charts.

The reason behind the critical acclamation of the photo-editing application is mainly because the application differs substantially from other applications available on Application Stores. It is a known fact that there is no shortage of mobile-centric apps that add a plethora of filters to the boring smartphone photos. However, Prisma differs from these by bringing in more cool offerings on the table. The application taps into the likes of Maestros like Van Gogh and Picasso to transform selfies and random snaps into completely realistic pieces of art. The process is simple and hassle-free and only requires you to launch the application, select or click a picture, decide a filter and finally give the application between 5 to 10 seconds to work on the picture.

Prisma Labs is based out of Moscow and the team behind the application consists of a total of nine people who have previous exposure of working with Russian Internet Industry giants like Yandex and mail.ru. The company’s cofounder, Moiseenkov has worked on a list of products for these companies. The startup is an acquisition waiting to happen. Let’s see how the company manages itself in the coming months.

SEGA Reveals Two New Sonic Games For 2017

Sonic, a game that won the hearts of many players around the world, recently celebrated its 25th Anniversary in a sold-out event that was celebrated on Friday evening during the San Diego Comic-Con which was held at the House of Blues. During this event, SEGA lifted the lid off of two Sonic games namely Sonic Mania and another original game which hasn’t received an official title yet. The games are scheduled for release in 2017 and will be released across both PC and major gaming consoles.

Sonic Mania will basically be the nostalgic 2D game, bearing pixel-style art and the classic gameplay that the game was known for. The game would be based on reimagining the iconic Zones and Acts from the original Sonic games which include, Sonic The Hedgehog, Sonic The Hedgehog 2 and Sonic The Hedgehog 3 (which marked the debut of Knuckles). Further, the game will also include completely new zones and bosses. The game will be developed by SEGA of America and PagodaWest Games will be collaborating in the project. The game will be available for a digital download on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC during the Spring of 2017.

The original title that was unveiled at the end of the event is being developed by the Sonic Team who was behind the crafting of Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations. This title would be coming out in the holiday season of 2017 and would be available for both digital and retail purchase. The game would be coming out for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo NX. Further information was promised to be released at a later date.

During the event it was also revealed Sonic Dash, the mobile game, has been downloaded over 200 million times and in order to mark the celebration of the 25th Anniversary, the mobile game would have a special in-game event. The event would include the Green Hill Zone as a playable area while also allowing Classic Sonic as a playable character. The event is scheduled to last a week during which players can unlock both the zone and the character; once unlocked, players can play with this even after the event wraps up. The game is free to download, however, there are optional in-game purchases. The game is available from Google’s Play Store, Apple’s App Store, Amazon Underground and Windows Phone Store.

Snowden Is Working On An iPhone Case To Prevent Data Leaks

Edward Snowden, the much-acclaimed champion of privacy and consumer rights has come up with a unique invention; one that will effectively thwart the surveillance efforts of various organizations. Since law enforcement agencies and other organizations can fool mobile devices into transmitting data even if such settings are closed, Snowden has crafted an iPhone case that will prevent such events from occurring.

Edward Snowden has collaborated with cybersecurity expert Andrew “Bunnie” Huang to craft this case. Edward Snowden was a former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor who eventually turned into a whistleblower after witnessing the various privacy infringements that the security agency conducted on a regular basis. The collaboration will result in the formulation of a hardware solution that will prevent cellular activities of your device from being monitored.

The Next Web reported that the duo is currently working on formulating a de-facto case for the iPhones which will effectively inhibit data leakage from the device while also stamping out location monitoring that occurs through the GPS technology present in the mobile devices.

The case has been dubbed as the introspection engine and is being crafted to aid journalists that are currently working in unstable countries. However, the case will also cater to the needs of average citizens who are tired of government snooping in their private lives.

Bunnie said in a blog post that journalists working in conflictive environments risk their lives to report the atrocities of the region; their updates can alter both the tides of war and outcomes of elections and as such, they become high-value targets.

The project is in its conceptual stages at the moment and is aimed at delivering a hardware solution that will formulate a protective barrier around mobile devices. According to the project’s white paper, the case will alert the users when any of the settings are not working as they are supposed to. For instance, alerts would be issued if the smartphone is tracking or disclosing user location when it is supposed to be in airplane mode.

The duo has promised that the introspection engine would be made available to the open-source community as a module which can be attached to existing smartphones. For testing purposes, the duo has chosen the 4.7″ iPhone 6 variant.

Google’s DeepMind AI Helps Conserve Energy

Tech companies have always felt that energy consumption by big data centers is a problem that must be addressed. Server cooling has been a big problem for many of the big data companies, including Facebook. To resolve the issue, Facebook made one of its facilities on the edge of the Arctic Circle. Google, however, decided to employ a bigger and much better solution. The tech giant employed DeepMind Artificial Intelligence Unit as the in charge of the facility. The AI was responsible for managing the power usage across different parts of the data centers. As a result, the company managed to cut down the electricity consumption of server cooling by an astonishing 40 percent. Google has described this move by stating that it is a ‘phenomenal step forward’.

Google stated that after putting in account the electrical losses and cooling inefficiencies, this 40 percent power saving translated into roughly 15 percent reduction in overall consumption. Considering the astonishing amount of electrical energy consumed by the company’s data centers (4,402,836 MWh, back in 2014, which is roughly equivalent to the energy consumption of at least 366,903 US households), this reduction of 15 percent will equate to savings of millions of dollars over the years. Plus, when you consider the company’s acquisition of UK-based DeepMind for $600 million, back in 2014, then it seems that the company’s acquisition will pay off in a few years down the road.

DeepMind Co-Founder, Demis Hassabis stated in an interview with Bloomberg that the neural networks designed by the company control over 120 variables of the data centers which include components like fans and cooling systems. When put in charge, the system analyzed the data given out by sensors placed on server racks (which record basic information like pump speeds and temperature) and after a complete analysis worked out the most effective way to cool the servers. The scientists behind the project stated that the next step is to work out the components that can provide more data for calculating efficiencies and place sensors around them.

The best part is that the company has no intention of stopping at Google’s data centers. Instead, the company stated that since it is a general-purpose algorithm that can crunch complex dynamics, Google intends to employ it across other environments.

Bans Placed On Playing Pokémon Go In The Indonesian Presidential Palace

Pokémon Go, a game that has broken all existing records in terms of downloads and active users associated with a mobile platform game, comes under fire in Indonesia and receives a ban in the Presidential Palace.

In what comes off as not-so-surprising news, Indonesian officials have released an official order which bans the playing of Pokémon Go from the Presidential Palace area. After the official order was released, printed warnings were put up in haste around the Palace complex that is situated in the state’s capital, Jakarta. The warning strictly stated that Hunting Pokémon is prohibited in the area.

Bey Machmuddin who is the current Chief of the Palace’s Press Bureau released an official statement that said that the Presidential Palace is the office of the President and not a playground for people to hunt Pokémon.

The news comes off a week after the Cabinet Secretary, Pramono Agung stated that he had captured a variety of Pokémon from the Presidential Palace. After the statement, many officials expressed their concerns that the game can be a potential security risk.

Similarly, Police has also received a ban from playing the game during their official duty hours. Further, local media reported that the Minister of Defense, Ryamizard Ryacudu had warned against the application stating that the location information that is uploaded using the game can be misused by foreign elements to detect significant sensitive information.

The game, Pokémon Go works by integrating Google Maps’ positioning capabilities and a smartphone’s GPS system to overlay reality with Pokémon creatures. The game has been a major hit in US and other countries where the game has rolled out. The game faced major server crashes due to the massive influx of users. The game hasn’t been officially released in Asia; however, it is still popular in the Indonesian region. The game requires players to be physically present in order to capture Pokémon and this has led to players getting exposed to traumatic incidents. The hazardous element of the game has received many critical reviews.

Recently, on Monday, Indonesian police detained a Frenchman when he trespassed on a military base situated in the West of Java Town while hunting for these fictional Pokémon creatures.