Latest posts by Hussain Fakhruddin (see all)
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Two things are common between the last days of May and June 2014. Both the days are delightfully rainy – and many of our Indian readers must have got soaked in the morning. The second is of more relevance to us though – for both are days on which the monthly issues of ‘Infowatch’ are released. It’s the time when we cast our attention outside our mobile apps company, and take stock of what’s happening in the tech domain across the globe.
So, what news bits and trivia make it to the list of ‘Infowatch June’? Let’s start:
Arrival Of The 16 GB iPod Touch
There was the 32 GB model, there was the 64 GB model – and Apple Inc. has launched the 16 GB variant of iPod Touch too, this month. It will be available in as many as 6 different colors, and will have a powerful 5 MP iSight rear-end camera. The 16 GB iPod Touch will be powered by iOS 7, and would have built-in Siri voice support too. With a battery backup of 40 hours (audio), there’s a lot to like about this new Apple offering.
Infosys Plans First-Ever Corporate Venture Arm
Bengaluru-based tech giant Infosys is all set to launch a corporate venture arm – the first of its kind in India, ever. Vishal Sikka, the recently appointed CEO, has already been in talks with California-based venture capitalists and company stockholders over this issue. The corporate venture arm, when it is launched, would come in handy for tapping new, original ideas – and trace them back to individual companies.
Asus Smartwatch Is In The Offing
There is yet to be any formal announcement about iWatch, but professionals from leading multinational software and mobile app companies have been impressed by the initial glimpses of the Asus Smartwatch. It would become commercially available in September (as per estimates) and would be priced at somewhere between $100 and $150. We’ll have to wait and watch whether it manages to give the more expensive Samsung Gear Live a run for its money.
Saying ‘No’ To Smartphones & Tablets!
That’s precisely what happens at Camp Grounded, a ‘digital detox’ camp founded by Levi Felix. This summer camp stepped into its second year in 2014, and it was attended by several current and former employees of Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and other tech biggies. There was just one rule for attending the camp – everyone had to hand over their smartphones, tablets and other personal electronic gadgets to the volunteers. No browsing or work-related activities for four days – it’s a camp where techies unwind!
Mobile Devices To Give An Idea Of Personal Hygiene?
A survey conducted by the University of Oregon in late-June revealed that, over 80% of the bacteria present on the users’ fingers could be found on the touchscreens of their mobile handsets. More than 7000 varieties of bacteria were discovered during this study. Interestingly, ladies were found to be more connected to their smartphones (as far as this bacteria-reading was concerned) than men.
Fifa World Cup Gets New Google Doodles Everyday
You have to hand it Ryan Germick – the head of the Google Doodle team – for coming up with innovative and interactive doodles for every matchday of the Fifa World Cup 2014. ‘The Greatest Show On Earth’ has been, till date, getting doodles that are closely related to the fixtures and game results. Paul the Octopus (now no longer with us) has featured on several days, as have the tourist destinations across Brazil. The Cup continues till July 13, and we would probably see new doodles till then (maybe on the day after as well, celebrating the champions!).
Tim Cook’s Sexual Orientation Gets Mentioned On American Television
“Oh dear, was that an error?” – that was all Simon Hobbs, an anchor of CNBC could utter, after he had accidentally blurted out in front of a panel that Tim Cook is gay. It was a chat show about entrepreneurs who were bold enough to reveal their sexual preferences – but no one at Apple (not Cook, at least) would have found this incident to be in good taste. The remark had Jim Stewart, a renowned New York Times (NYT) journalist shaking his head in disbelief!
Android 4.4.4 Update Is Here
Another update to Android Kitkat was rolled out in June – and this one was even smaller than the 4.4.3 performance update. It has been released primarily to fix the CVE-2014-0224 issue – something that was brought to light after the uproar over the Heartbleed bug a couple of months back. In a nutshell, Android 4.4.4 can also be referred to as a ‘security update’.
Formal announcement Of The Google Slides App
During this year’s two-day Google I/O event, the company announced that the Slides app (for iOS devices) will be released soon. Google Play Store already contains the Android version of the Slides application. iPhone app development companies are wondering about the types and range of presentation-creation and editing features that would be present in the app.
Mobile App Developers Get A Chance To Win $15000
In its bid to promote the ‘Dynamic Perspective’ feature of Fire phones, Amazon announced a competition for app developers – who had to create Fire-optimized applications. According to reports obtained from Android Police, every developer could create three accounts – and there was a $5000 prize money (paid out in Amazon Coins) on every app. Drives like this can give Amazon Appstore the ammunition to compete with iTunes and Play Store over time.
Facelock To End The Era Of Passwords?
It’s all in the testing stage – but if the Facelock authentication system gets the thumbs-up from people all over, it would be the end of conventional account passwords. In this breakthrough system, a large number of faces, framed in grids, is displayed to users. Only one of them would be familiar to them – while the rest would be just random faces. A personalized locking system like Facelock will make the job of hackers next to impossible.
MonkeyParking App Defies Legal Order For Shutdown
Mobile app developer Paolo Dobrowolny has ruled out any chance of withdrawing his fairly popular MonkeyParking application. He has refuted allegations from the San Francisco city attorney, about’ ‘selling’ parking spots. Dobrowolny has been recorded as saying that his app offers ‘convenience’ to drivers – and does not flout any regulations whatsoever.
Google Glass Ventures Outside The United States
The initial lukewarm response among early adopters notwithstanding, Google has gone ahead with its plans to make Glass an internationally available wearable device. In the third week of this month, Glass made its debut in the United Kingdom. The device can currently be ordered online at google.co.uk/glass, and has been priced at one thousand pounds. It will interesting to see if Google Glass finds more approval in Britain.
Google Nexus To Stay On
There has been a lot of buzz and rumors in software and mobile app development forums, about how Android Silver will be replacing Google’s Nexus line of phones. Such a scenario does not seem likely in the near future though – since the next flagship Nexus handset was formally announced this month. It will run on Android L, and is expected to hit the markets towards the end of the year. Commenting on behalf of Google, senior employee Dave Burke said that the company was still ‘invested in Nexus’.
Facebook ‘Secretly’ Manipulates Users’ News Feeds
Mark Zuckerberg and his team conducted an interesting ‘emotion test’ of Facebook users – by identifying their status updates as ‘positive’ or ‘negative’, and modifying the feed accordingly. The concept was simple enough – it was more likely for a person to post a ‘positive’ update if his/her news feed had a higher percentage of ‘positive’ words. Over 689000 people (unknowingly, of course!) took part in this experiment. Although it was not illegal, the experiment has raised controversy on ethical grounds.
Say Goodbye To Quickoffice
For creating, viewing and editing Excel, PowerPoint and Word files, Google Sheets, Slides and Docs (respectively) have become hugely popular – rendering the Quickoffice app somewhat redundant. That’s precisely why Google has decided to remove it from the Play Store. Existing users will, of course, still find it in the app drawer – but no updates and/or additional features will be provided on it.
‘Search Warrants’ Now Required For Looking Through Handsets
This ruling by the American Supreme Court has not pleased everyone from the law enforcement departments – but is a clear indication of how vital a smartphone can be in the context of its owner’s privacy. The order states, the police will have to get a warrant issued, to get the authority to rummage through the details stored in citizens’ cellphones. Exceptions would, however, be made for cases where the accused is suspected to put the lives and/or property of others in danger.
YouTube Creator Studio App Makes Its Debut
YouTube’s services got a new lift this month, with the launch of the YouTube Creator Studio app at the Google Play Store. It will soon feature among the iPhone apps showcased in iTunes too. The application will facilitate smarter channel content management and would support 48 as well as 60 FPS videos. A revamped desktop version of the app is also expected in the coming months.
A New Twitter Record Is Set
The Twitterverse starts buzzing during any global event, and the buzz reached an altogether new level during last week’s Brazil vs Chile Round of 16 match at the Fifa World Cup. As Gonzalo Zara missed the final penalty kick during the tie-breaker, the total tweet-count during the match reached 16.4 million – easily beating the record set during the tournament’s opening fixture. The per minute tweet figure was an astounding 388985, which was way above the previous record (set during the NFL Final 2014). Big matches indeed get the ‘#’ and the ‘@’ fans rocking!
Line Apps Touch The One Billion Downloads Mark
The target of reaching a user-base of 50 million people in India for Line IM app (based in Japan) is no longer looking unrealistic. The cumulative download figure of Pokopang, Camera, Pop and other members of the Line app family went beyond the magical 1 billion figure (worldwide) in June. Line apps are available on iOS, Android and Blackberry devices, and are particularly popular among the younger generation.
The news of Xiaomi – a reputed Chinese handset designer – launching its first line of smartphones on Flipkart in India also created quite a bit of flutter in June. In the domain of robot technology, the probability of artificial intelligence getting enhanced through crowdsourcing was discussed. A dedicated Flipkart tablet was also launched in later half of the month (Digiflip), to enhance the convenience of e-shoppers.
New smartphones arrive in dozens every month (a few of them succeed, while most others bite the dust!), and this June was no exception. Blackberry Z3 was a much talked-about launch – with the fortunes of the company hinging on this new model. Micromax Canvas Beat and Nokia Lumia 635 were two other high-profile smartphone launches this month. For those who like trying out new mobile devices, the arrival of iBerry Auxus Linea L1 and Intex Aqua i14 was a bit of good news.
Before we round things off, a brief look back at what transpired in and about Teknowledge this month. If you have been following our blog or regularly checking our Facebook page, you are probably already aware that ‘Teks Mobile Australia Pty Ltd.’ – our Australian chapter – has already started operations. On the app-front, we launched four new applications at the stores – among which ‘Real Talk’ fetched the best response from analysts as well as users.
It was a busy, busy month for us in June – what with working on new projects, keeping track of the latest trends in mobile technology, and of course, the launch of our Australian chapter. Here’s looking forward to a busier, even more successful July.
Infowatch will be back on the 31st of July (you know that already, right?). Till next time then, enjoy the month!