Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Sony Xperia X Performance is now getting the Android 7.0 Nougat update

For a change, Android's latest version, 7.0 Nougat is popping up on phones earlier than the previous versions did when they launched. After the Moto phones received its fair share of updates, it's time for Sony's premium lineup to receive the update. Sony is now beginning to roll out the Android Nougat update to the Xperia X Performance.

For now, only model numbers F8131 and F8132, the Dual SIM variant of the phone are reportedly receiving the update. It has also not been confirmed which regions are getting the update.

The Xperia X Performance release back in February at MWC 2016 and Sony had been reportedly testing Android Nougat on the Xperia X lately through the Xperia Beta Program as of November 1st, according to Android Headlines. And only after a thorough round of test, the update is now rolling out officially to devices.

Android 7.0 Nougat is the new incremental update to Android, announced earlier this year in Google's I/O conference. While there are no significant design changes, Nougat brings support for multi-window and Direct Replies. 

Moreover, Android Nougat comes with a whole new notification panel and some nifty tweaks for battery improvements.

In addition, Nougat comes with the Google Assistant, the AI-powered Digital Assistant that is more contextually aware than any of its counterparts.

Nougat is also more secure than the previous versions in the sense that it now uses file-based encryption and direct boot which prevents the entire system to be compromised through one bad sector.

Google has also made it easier to install the monthly security patches that it releases to make it even more secure.

The update for the Sony Xperia X Performance is rolling out in phases. To update your phone, head to Settings, About Phone and hit on System Updates.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Meizu m5 Note to be officially revealed on 6 December

Meizu has sent out invitations for its upcoming smartphone called the Meizu m5 Note that will be launched in China at an event dated December 6. The phone will be an upgrade of Meizu m3 Note that sold 20 million units from the time of launch.

The specs of the Meizu m5 Note had been tipped online at a Chinese telecommunication site TENAA. According to the tipped reports, the phone features a 5.5 inch full HD display with a resolution of 1080x 1920 pixels and will very likely power on a MediaTek Helio P10 MT6755 Octa core chipset that comes paired with MALI t860 MP2 GPU and works on Andrid v6.0.1 Marshmallow operating system. The phone is likely to launch in three different variants, which include 2GB RAM for 16GB storage, 3GB RAM for 32GB storage and 4GB RAM with 64GB storage. More so, there will be an external memory slot for all the phones, but considering three different variants, the battery too of the 64GB model would be different and will host a large 4000mAh battery, on the other hand, the 16GB version as well as the 32GB variant might operate n a 3920mAh battery.

To click images and record videos, the smartphone at the back would use a 13 Megapixel rear camera where as at the front would be a 5 Megapixel camera that assists users in doing video chats and clicking selfies. The Mezu m5 will come in colour options of White and Black and in terms of design, the handset would be available in a metal unibody frame paired with rounded edges along with a presumable fingerprint scanner that most likely will be placed in the Home Button of the phone. The handset is likely to weigh 175 grams and come with 8.5mm thickness.

Well all the specs mentioned are alleged rumours, and shouldn’t be considered official. To get an official prospect about the specs of the phone, we would rather wait till the official launch takes place.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Apple, The Company That Hated Clutter, Now Makes 17 Different Types Of Dongles

Short Bytes: You’ll be surprised to know that now Apple sells 17 different kinds of dongles to connect other devices to its computers. A Twitter user has aptly called “dongles” the fastest growing category of Apple devices. The latest MacBook Pro, which has ditched all the standard ports, continues to worsen this situation.
In the tech industry, no company is better at PC marketing than the genius gurus at Cupertino. Who can forget when they threw the hammer at IBM with the infamous 1984 ad. Another strong attempt was made by Apple in 1992 by mocking Microsoft for its user-unfriendliness.Talking about Windows PC and all the extra stuff that one needs to buy, another Apple ad said that, “I feel like I’m being pecked to death by ducks.” Steve Jobs channeled Mac’s “It just works” slogan and things turned out pretty great. Back then, Apple marketed itself as a superior company that didn’t make you buy extra stuff.
Over the years, things have changed drastically. After the recent MacBook Pro launch, Apple was bashed for removing all the standard connectivity ports, including the likes of HDMI port, SD card reader, regular USB port etc. Moreover, the latest Apple laptops can’t connect to Apple’s own flagship iPhone 7 without any dongle. Longtime Apple fans are saddened by these new profit-making complications brought by Apple and some of them are even looking for other alternatives like Ubuntu.
A Twitter user named Drew Breunig has compiled all kinds of dongles that are offered by Apple. This picture shows 17 types of ugly connectors that are sold by Apple. Breunig labels dongle as Apple’s fastest growing product category.
In another recent development, Apple has reduced the price of its dongles. “Through the end of the year, we are reducing prices on all USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 peripherals we sell, as well as the prices on Apple’s USB-C adapters and cables,” the company said in a statement issued to the media.
Have something to add? Share your views in the comments section below.
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Thursday, 24 November 2016

Mobile Credit Score Checks: 4 Tools That Work

It’s both a benefit of the modern era and everyone’s worst nightmare: you’re out at the store when your phone beeps, alerting you to an abnormal charge on your credit card. You’re glad to know your credit card company is looking out for you, but now you’ve got to deal with this anomaly. Was it you or has your identity been stolen? And is this the first time an unusual charge has shown up on your card? It’s time to do some detective work. You may even need to dispute your credit report.
One way to reduce the likelihood of a credit problem arising is by keeping a close eye on your credit score using one of the many mobile credit apps available today. But how do you know which ones work and which ones will leave you fumbling?
We’ve done the research and these four apps stand out from the pack.

Get Wise

You may have seen the commercials recently – Capital One has been advertising the fact that they now provide free credit scores to anyone through their CreditWise program. Unlike many credit card companies that only provide credit scores to their clients, as recommended by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Capital One concluded that their program was a valuable advocacy tool for all people. You can grab your score online or through apps available for both iOS and Android.

Be Comprehensive

Not interested in an app that can only tell you your credit score? Then Mint might be the right program for you. Mint is best known for its budgeting services, but it also monitors your credit accounts and will calculate your credit score for you. It’s a smart all-around tool for those who want to see all their financial data in one place.

Build Your Karma

Another well-known credit score app available for iOS and Android is Credit Karma. The app is free and it outshines many others because it displays credit scores from 2 out of 3 major score providers and updates them weekly. Most other programs will only show you one of those scores, whereas having access to two different scoring systems will better allow you to determine whether there’s an error in one of your reports.
Credit Karma will also show you potentially beneficial credit card offers and provides basic interpretations of your credit score, ranking it using the standard “poor through excellent” scale.

Open Up To Knowledge

Finally, quite similar to Credit Karma is Credit Sesame, another app that delivers non-FICO credit scores. It currently uses TransUnion data and your credit score is updated monthly – so not quite as often as with Credit Karma. It’s worth noting that lenders rely on FICO scores when determining your eligibility for a loan or credit card, but your score on Credit Sesame will give you a ballpark range fairly close to your FICO score.
Knowing your credit score is an integral part of building your financial reputation, so it’s worth keeping at least one of these apps on hand. By monitoring your credit score, you can stay one step ahead of scammers who might want to crash your numbers through unauthorized purchases.

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Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Top 10 Disruptive Technology Trends For 2017 That You Need To Know | Gartner

Short Bytes: Gartner has revealed its list of the top 10 strategic technology trends for the year 2017. These trends will act as an important factor for most organizations in the upcoming year. Unsurprisingly, technologies related to artificial intelligence, as suggest by machine learning, and IoT are here to stay and leave an impact.
 The top technology companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon are making heavy bets on algorithms and artificial intelligence. The latest example isGoogle’s Pixel phone that’s using AI-powered Google Assistant and algorithm-based camera processing as its selling point. If we break down the advanced machine learning and AI algorithms, they comprise of many technologies like deep learning, neural networks, and natural language processing. These companies are working hard to achieve a coherent mixture of these aspects.At the Gartner Symposium in Orlando, Gartner VP David Cearley identified the top ten strategic technology trends for 2017, placing AI and Advanced Machine Learning at the top. If you’re wondering what does the word ‘strategic’ mean, here, it stands for the technologies that will have significant disruptive potential over the next five years.

Top 10 Disruptive Technologies Trends For 2017

1. AI and Advanced Machine Learning

As said above, Artificial Intelligence and machine learning compose of many technologies. These technologies, which are different from traditional algorithms and programs, make the machines intelligent. Gartner predicts that the applied AI advanced machine learning will inspire applications like robots, autonomous vehicles, consumer electronics, virtual personal assistants, and smart advisors.

2. Intelligent Apps

Intelligent applications like personal assistants are making our lives easier. Gartner expects that future assistants will be more specialized and equipped with potential to transform the workplaces and homes. Over the course of next 10 years, every application, and service will make use of some kind of AI. It’ll be a long-term trend that’ll evolve with time and expand AI application in apps and services.

3. Intelligent Things

Intelligent things are the machines that use applied machine learning to interact with the surroundings and people more naturally. Gartner expects that intelligent things like drones, autonomous vehicles, and smart appliances will work together in an intelligent and collaborative environment.

4. VR and AR

In present times, VR and AR technologies are in their nascent phase. Gartner expects that the landscape of immersive consumer applications will evolve at a rapid pace through 2021. They’ll form a digital mesh by collaborating with apps, mobile, wearables, and IoT devices.

5. Digital Twin

Digital twin refers to a dynamic software model that uses sensor data to understand its state. It responds to the changes accordingly and improves its operations. They include a combination of metadata, state, event data, and analytics. Gartner predicts that within 3-5 years, hundreds of millions of things will be represented by digital twins. They’ll be used for planning and repairing equipment services, for operating factories and increasing the efficiency. They’ll replace the combination of skilled human resources and traditional monitoring devices.

6. Blockchain and Distributed Ledgers

In recent years, blockchain and distributed-ledger concepts are becoming popular as the industry thinks that they hold the power to transform the operating models. Apart from the financial industry, they have future applications in identity verifications, title registry, supply chain, music distribution etc.

7. Conversational System

In future, in the conversation interface arena, the focus will shift from chatbots and microphone-enabled devices to the digital meshes that will encompass a wide range of endpoints.

8. Mesh App and Service Architecture

In MASA, mesh app and service architecture, mobile, desktop, and IoT apps are connected to a mesh of back-end service to create an application for the end user. This architecture exposes APIs at different levels balancing the demand for agility and scalability of services. It allows the users to have an optimized solution for endpoints in the digital mesh.

9. Digital Technology Platforms

They act as a basic building block for a digital business. Gartner has specified 5 major focal points that help to enable new capabilities and model businesses. These points are – information systems, customer experience, analytics and intelligence, the IoT, and business ecosystems. Gartner says that every organization must have a mix of these five factors.

10. Adaptive Security Architecture

Last but not the least, the technology companies will be focussing more on the security applications due to a complex world of interconnected platforms and applications. With the addition of the IoT frontier, slowly, we are observing newer security implications.
Did you find this article interesting? Don’t forget to drop your feedback in the comments section below.

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Friday, 18 November 2016

Google quickly clarifies the security tech in Android Nougat after the Pixel hack

After the Pixel phones were hacked in less than 60 seconds by a team Chinese dudes, Google has rushed to clarify the kind of security the smartphones come with. In its official Keyword blog, Google has outlined the improvements in security in Android Nougat as well as in the Pixel phones, which includes File-based Encryption, Direct Boot and TrustZone security. Google had earlier said that Android is now as secure as iOS. The company now has explained what exactly is going on behind the scenes to secure the devices. 

Android Nougat comes with file-based encryption which basically encrypts different files with different keys which are unlocked independently. This allows the rest of the files to remain uncompromised even when one file has been hacked. Earlier, Android used Full Disk Encryption which didn't do much good to the security. File-based encryption separates the data into device encrypted data and credential encrypted data, keeping the important credentials in a separate container.

Direct boot in Android Nougat uses the file-based encryption to keep the user experience seamless after a device reboots. For instance, applications like alarm clocks, accessibility settings and phone calls are available immediately after boot.

What's more, Anroid Nougat comes with TrustZone security tech that executes system-level codes in a mode that is secure even when the main kernel is compromised. It also stores the disk encryption keys and when it detects the operating system has been modified, it won't decrypt the keys to keep the data inside secure.

To prevent brute force attacks, TrustZone comes with a waiting period that gets longer each time a wrong sequence of the pattern is made. With over 162 valid four-point patterns and the ever growing waiting period, brute force attackers will need four years to hack into an Android Nougat phone.

In addition, the Pixel phones come with an inbuilt hardware encryption engine that provides hardware level encryption all the while maintaining the I/O performance.
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Thursday, 17 November 2016

5 Ways Tech Is Changing the Face of Event Planning

Today many facets of traditional event planning can have a substantial bearing on how successful the event will be. A major occasion is usually assigned to a specific physical venue, with decorations, food, and other details that can only be obtained in the offline market.
You may also have to write checklists to ensure good execution, schedule team meetings to keep everyone on the same page, and send out physical invitations to boost attendance.
Although these are all aspects of event planning that probably won’t change in the future, the practice of event planning is steadily shifting to a more Internet-based approach. This is having an impact on all industries, and event planning is no exception.
Thanks to the many kinds of available technology, every step of your planning process can be streamlined with the help of technology.
1. Apps
Every good event planner has at least a few apps in his or her toolbox. Apps can serve as portable organizers that keep both the head planner and team members on the same page. Here are some of the most highly recommended:
  • Evernote: takes, organizes, and shares notes
  • Boomset: tracks and monitors event registration and attendees
  • Bizzabo: an all-in-one organizational app for event planners
  • Heytell: turns your smartphone into a walkie-talkie
  • ScannerPro: easily files paper documents digitally from anywhere
Each of these apps can be incredibly useful for an event organizer, and they’re just a few of the many apps available to you.
2. Attendee Data Tracking
Attendee data tracking is another function that can now be maintained online. Most smartphones have wireless transmitters, also known as beacons, that send location-specific messages to other WiFi, Bluetooth, or data-enabled devices.
The information can be collected during events to record numbers, behaviors, location origins, and even personal details about attendees. This is particularly useful for large events that have many people in attendance; you can track the flow of traffic and preserve data that could be useful for future events.
3. List Generation and Note Taking
There are many ways that tech can assist in this facet of event planning. If you’re on the move, and you suddenly remember that you haven’t called the caterers, you can make a quick voice note on your phone or in the Evernote app.
This can be used to create lists to be viewed later or provide a notification system that reminds you when things have to be done. The lists and notes can also be filed and stored online using tools such as DropBox or Google Drive.
This makes it easy to organize all your information and fill in the gaps as you go. It also makes collaboration easier, since you can share information immediately with team members.
4. Social Media Marketing
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can be used to add quality to your event. First, they can assist significantly with your marketing for the occasion.
Facebook events can be created to get a more accurate head count and improve attendance. Social media can also be employed for open-ended events so you can get people to participate in word-of-mouth marketing.
During the event, social media sites can be an effective tool for branding and lead generation. Event organizers can encourage attendees to keep their phones on and interact on social media throughout the proceedings.
This is really great for events that happen on a regular, ongoing basis. They help to raise awareness of the gathering and get more people involved, both online and in person.
5. Total Communication
The multiple ways that technology enables us to communicate now are incredible. Not only can you call or text someone for instant feedback, but you can also video conference, instant chat, use your phone as a walkie-talkie, send email, and share files online.
Organizing and facilitating a party through communication has never been simpler for people who need to work with a team.
Tech also makes it easier to reach out to folks. When you’re seeking a speaker or entertainment, you can interact through video conference or coordinate everything via email.
When you send messages to event attendees, you can turn to social media, use email marketing, or send SMS messages to all invited. The options for communication are astonishingly broad.
The face of event planning is changing rapidly, and the shift is largely positive. Through apps, data collection, and constant communication, events can follow a smoother planning process, they’re a better fit from the attendees’ perspective, and they encourage and support higher attendance now and probably in the future.
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Wednesday, 16 November 2016

OnePlus 3T announced: New processor, larger battery, improved front-facing camera

With smartphones like the OnePlus 3 it's tough to justify paying more than $400 for a smartphone today. The company just announced the next model, the OnePlus 3T that brings improvements in the processor, battery, and camera with an option for more internal storage.
The OnePlus 3T will start at $439 for the 64GB model and is advertised as launching on 22 November.
The OnePlus 3 is an excellent Android smartphone available for $399. It was released in June and just five months later we are seeing an incremental bump in the internal specifications. Current OnePlus 3 owners likely won't have any need to upgrade, but others looking for an affordable Android phone with flagship specifications may definitely consider this powerhouse of a phone.


  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 quad core
  • Display: 5.5 inch 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution Optic AMOLED, 401 ppi
  • Operating system: Oxygen OS built upon Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 64GB or 128GB of internal storage
  • Cameras: 16 megapixel rear camera with OIS and 16 megapixel front facing camera
  • Wireless technology: NFC, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2
  • Battery: 3,400 mAh battery with OnePlus Dash Charge technology
  • Dimensions: 152.7 x 74.7 x 7.35 mm and 158 grams
OnePlus has publicly stated that a beta build of Oxygen OS built on Android 7 Nougat is coming soon so we can expect the OnePlus 3T to be upgraded to this version within the next couple of months as well.
Instead of gray, a new gunmetal color will be available with the OnePlus 3T. It looks to be a darker gray than the standard gray found in the OnePlus 3.
The only things lacking here compared to the iPhone 7, Google Pixel, and Samsung Galaxy S7 are a Quad HD display and water resistance. The cameras on these newest Android and iPhone devices are fantastic while the OnePlus 3 and 3T are fine for most well-lit environments. Consumers will have to decide if paying twice the price for these features is worth it as they consider the OnePlus 3T.
One aspect that I like about the OnePlus 3 and 3T is the ability to customize the smartphone to your personal preferences, even more so than you can with most Android smartphones. The OnePlus smartphones have always catered to the smartphone enthusiast, but with more people considering SIM unlocked devices at half the price of a flagship major brand there is an opportunity for OnePlus to succeed with these devices.
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Monday, 14 November 2016

How To Boost Your Android Gaming Performance With A Simple Trick

Short BytesBy activating Force 4x MSAA setting in Android Developer Options, you can enjoy a better gaming performance. It forces your phone to use 4x multisample anti-aliasing in OpenGL 2.0 games and apps. However, enabling this setting can drain your smartphone’s battery faster.
Android’s hidden Developer Options menu contains a variety of advanced options for developers. However, these options can also benefit the normal users. Along the similar lines, in the past, I’ve told you how to make your Android device faster by disabling the animations. In this article, I’ll tell you about another secret setting in the Developer Options that will allow you to boost gaming performance.
Before going ahead and telling you about this trick, I would like to remind you how to access the Developer Options menu in Android smartphones.
To do so, you need to open the Settings screen, find the About phone option at the bottom and tap on it. Now, in the next screen, find the Build number and tap a few times. This will show you a notification something like “You are now 3 steps away from being a developer.” Tap few more times and you’ll see the message “You are now a developer!”.
Now we are ready to explore the newfound setting and make some changes to improve the Android gaming performance.

How To Boost Your Android Gaming Performance?

Hidden in the Developer options is a setting that can help improve your gaming experience. Simply scroll down and look for the Force 4x MSAA option. For those who don’t know, MSAA stands for multi-sample anti-aliasing.
If you enable this option, your Android smartphone will render games at the highest possible quality. It forces Android to use 4x multisample anti-aliasing in OpenGL 2.0 games and apps.
Important note:
This feature drains tons of battery life. So, you might want to use it on a smartphone with a lot of battery juice. Turning on this option might give you a smoother performance but things will vary on different apps and devices. Also, after playing the game, you are advised to revert back the setting.
Did you find this article helpful? Don’t forget to drop your feedback in the comments section below.
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Thursday, 10 November 2016

Finance Management Tech: What To Expect In 2017

With 2017 almost here, are you making any financial resolutions? Though we may not say it, most of us hope that each year will be more prosperous than the last, whether that means a better job, an upturn in our investments, or a surprise windfall. But why not take this goal into your own hands with financial tech? You can have more money in the new year if you play your cards right.

Check your Spending

One of the simplest ways to have more money in the new year is by trimming away the excesses and dead weight in your life. This might mean canceling that gym membership you never use or being more methodical about your grocery spending. No matter where you decide to make changes, though, it’s important to translate those changes into savings.
If you need help with that last step, consider downloading Digit. Digit works with your bank account to assess your spending and then automatically moves money to your savings. Don’t worry that this will send you into overdraft, though. The beauty of Digit is that it only moves money into your savings if it determines based on past trends that you’ve got a few extra dollars on hand, and the amount varies based on your spending patterns, keeping you in the green.

Set Some Goals

No matter what your financial situation is, setting financial goals can help you develop better spending and investment habits. Without some sort of accountability tool, however, many of us never meet those goals. That’s where Mint comes in.
Mint is one of the most popular budgeting tools around, and it’s free to use. It helps you sort through transactions, monitors accounts for unusual behavior, and – best of all – helps you work towards your financial goals. You can create a goal with your Mint account and it will provide a visual account of your progress. Want to take a vacation or pay down your mortgage? Mint will help.

Shop Smarter

One of the challenges that few budgeting apps address is shopping smarter. While there are many couponing apps, for example, these don’t integrate with other spending management tools. Squeeze is here to change that.
Squeeze, which just released the beta of its app, not only provides the standard tools for sorting and managing income and bills, but it also performs price comparisons within the app. Based on this analysis, the app can tell you if you’re overspending and how to get necessary items at a lower price. Expect a full version of the app in 2017.
What else can you expect from the financial management world in 2017? Many predict that the financial sector will drive devices like the Apple Watch that can provide up to the minute information about stocks and spending. And as even basic budgeting apps develop more complex capacities, don’t be surprised if they suddenly know as much about your financial future as your current behavior. If apps like Digit and its savings algorithm are any predictor, technology may turn us into better money managers, with or without our cooperation.
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Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Asus Zenfone 3 Max Review: A rather boring phone with good battery life

Lately there has been an exponential growth in the budget smartphone market which has seen devices launching left, right and centre. Be it the likes of Xiaomi, Lenovo and Motorola, or domestic phone makers like Micromax, Lava and Xolo all have been focusing greatly on the budget smartphone segment. Taiwan based Asus has also been focussing on this market in India for the last few years. The new ZenFone 3 Max is yet another phone which is targeting this very market. It also comes with a big battery which is its main USP. After the using for the last few days, I can tell you that this is a polarizing device.

Designed to Impress

The moment to see the handset, you would undoubtedly be pleased with how the phone looks. With a perky design, and use of copious amounts of metal the phone seems quite premium with its brushed finish on the back. The feel of the phone is also quite good with its curved sides enabling a great in-hand feel. From the back, the phone will also remind of a HTC phone or a newer device like the OnePlus 3 in terms of design and the way the camera has been laid-out on.

The back panel of the handset is also embedded with slight chrome like stripe on the top and bottom that fosters an elegant look, which is shared with same on the fingerprint sensor as well. All in all, Zenfone 3 Max is quite nice to look at and I have no doubts about that.
The camera that sits right at the center of the back panel accompanied with the LED flash and laser auto-focus module also has chrome like bezel finish that complements the over all aspects of the handset.

Aiding the fine build and design, the Zenfone 3 Max comes with a contoured 2.5D glass touch screen which seamlessly sinks into the metallic frame of the device. The button arrangement is also quite logical as on the right side of the panel there is the power button and volume rockers, where as the left side has a dedicated SIM tray that is removable with a pin. At the bottom is the USB port embedded precisely, just besides the speaker grill, at the same time the top has a 3.5mm jack port embedded in the panel.

The device gets a 5.5-inch full HD IPS display that expels good vibrant colours with 450nits brightness under all light conditions along with a noteworthy 73 percent screen to body ratio, for less bulk and more display. Compared to some of the other phones in the market, the screen does appear to be slightly washed out, but it isn’t a horrible screen.

Basic performer, not a dazzler

While there are no complains on how the phone looks or about the build quality, what really matters on any device is how good is the hardware and how well does it sync with the interface of the phone. Well, powering this device is the 64-bit octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 CPU that is clocked at 1.4GHz and powering the graphics in the handset is the Adreno 505 paired with 3GB RAM. Now, this is the same hardware package which powers the Xiaomi Redmi 3S Prime, so it is kind of overpriced for what you’re getting.

That being said, the phone does perform decent in basic day-to-day tasks as it is backed with good speed, but you do get a sense of the software not optimized to its fullest potential, as it took time for the phone to open the phone menu and on dialling a number, it almost took a pause of few seconds, before the calling menu popped up. Furthermore, while playing a game like Need for Speed: No Limits, the phone preformed reasonably, with not many major drops in frame, though it didn’t dazzle.

Multitasking on the phone was adequate and while running heavy duty apps in the background you got a feeling that the phone was behaving in a sluggish manner. Thankfully on the storage front, the phone gets 32GB of on-board storage and there’s a microSD card slot which can be used to expand the memory to all the way up to 128GB.

Decent camera

Cameras on handset’s these days can be the key selling point of the device and almost all companies try insuring a good sensor at the back and Asus too has tried doing the same. The back panel of the phone comes with a 16-megapixel camera that captures decent images in high resolution without a shutter lag – be it daylight or close up shots, however, in night time it stumbles.

The camera is paired with a Tri-Tech auto-focus technology which is a combination of laser auto-focus, phase detect auto focus and a contrast detection system. It instantly tracks and focuses the subject for better images and also has a three-axis electronic image stabilizer (EIS) that helps in capturing handheld videos as steady as possible. The HDR mode too clicks decent images and has up to 4 times the dynamic range that helps enhance the brightness by up to 400 percent. The Super Resolution on the other hand can combine simultaneous shots at a 64-megapixel resolution.

The front 8-megapixel front camera also has a few tricks built under its software that can help you get nice selfies and accompanies other modes like Beautification, Auto, Night, HDR Pro, Effect, Low Light and Time Lapse. The image quality overall was also quite good and usable for handsome selfies.

Clearly, this phone doesn’t have a camera that’s in the same league as the new iPhone or the Google Pixel, but it isn’t the worst thing on the planet at the same time.

Ugly and irritating software

All manufactures have their own UI in their handsets and so does Asus. Powered by the Android 6.0 Marshmallow, the Zenfome 3 Max comes skinned with ZenUI 3.0, which according to Asus is intelligently incorporated that brings up all the apps you need and for that matter when you need it. It also gets some gesture controls that open the app, even when the screen is off. The fingerprint sensor too, integrates seamlessly with third party apps that aids in providing great security.

But the problem is that Asus overloads the phone with a plethora of duplicate apps which just doesn’t make for a very user friendly phone. If you’re a power user, then the good news is that it is possible to get rid of the many duplicate apps which aren’t even as good as the basic Android variants that Google provides.

Powerful battery

The battery of is the most crucial aspect of a phone and on a handset with a 5.5-inch screen, expecting the phone to survive through the day would be a big deal, but here apparently with the high capacity 4100mAh battery, the ZenFone 3 Max just lets you keep going by offering up to 38 days of standby time. Everyone wants a device that lets you play games, watch videos and talk endlessly without having to worry about the phones battery. (For how much time could you use it on a single charge? How many hours? How much time did it take for the phone to get charges?) The best part I liked here is that it offers so much so that you could literally double up the phones potential and use it as a power bank to charge other devices. In fact, the battery prospects are so good that it comes with a Super Saving mode, which is pre-configured to maximize every last milliampere and turning on the mode you can extend the phone to last another 30 hours on standby time even on 10 percent battery.

Should you buy it?

In this flooded smartphone market, if you look at the ZenFone 3 Max, then you look at it with a view that it has a lot of potential, but basic hardware and poor software basically straddle its potential. The phone sure looks up-market and feels premium, which is a good think but its performance is also quiet rudimentary at the same time. Certainly, the hardware could’ve been tuned in a better way to the software, but not many companies have proven that ability and that also includes a luminary like Samsung. Overall, it is a boring phone which has rather decent battery life, nothing more, nothing less; there certainly are better phones in the market.

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Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Snappy Ubuntu Core 16 Launched For IoT Devices, Raspberry Pi, And Cloud With A Focus On Security

Short Bytes: Ubuntu Core 16 is a minimalistic Linux-based operating system developed by Canonical Ltd. Primarily intended for IoT devices. The latest Snappy Ubuntu borrows core features from the Ubuntu 16.10 Yakkety Yak and takes advantage of the Snaps. Canonical has also assured timely updates and a dedicated app store.
Canonical Ltd. has announced its much-awaited Ubuntu Core 16 Linux-based operating system for various IoT devices. The Ubuntu Core 16, which was in development since a year, is a trimmed down version of the Ubuntu 16.10 Yakkety Yak.The Linux distro for IoT devices takes advantage of the Snap packages — a zip file containing all the package data along with the details about running the application on the machine. The Snaps are tamper-proof, developer-friendly, and digitally signed. The Snappy package manager–used to install and manage snaps–has been developed by Canonical itself and it enhances security by enabling sandboxing of the applications.

Ubuntu Core 16 has taken full advantage of the Snaps, even the kernel and the OS itself are delivered as Snaps. The Ubuntu Core OS contains just the base filesystems. Its image size is almost half of the CentOS Atomic Host 7.
The transactional nature of the Snap package updates is a boon for the developers. If the update gets failed, an automatic rollback is performed which encourages the developers to update their applications more often and without any fear of a crash. Using Update Control, the developers can validate an update in the ecosystem before applying it.
The lightweight Ubuntu Core 16 also features a Snap app store allowing developers to publish apps for various internet-connected devices. The Snappy Ubuntu Core 16 is intended for single board computers, SoCs, and cloud platforms. It has already been deployed in top-of-rack switches, drones, radio access networks, gateways etc. The list of supported devices include:
  • Raspberry Pi 2 and 3
  • Qualcomm DragonBoard 410c
  • Intel NUC
  • Intel Joule
  • Samsung Artik
  • KVM
If you have something to add, tell us in the comments below.

Monday, 7 November 2016

General Mobile GM5: The first Android One phone running Nougat launched

If you think in this new age of Google’s Pixel smartphones, it has forgotten its budget Android One programme, then think again because it is still alive and kicking. The search giant has collaborated with General Mobile to launch the first Android One smartphone which is based on the latest build of the mobile operating system called Nougat. It is called the GM5.

This phone has been designed for emerging markets like Azerbaijan, Albania, Afghanistan, Belgium, Bosnia, Croatia, Cyprus, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Iraq, Kenya, Luxembourg, Moldova, Netherlands, Pakistan, Serbia, Tunisia, Turkey, and Uzbekistan. This also means it has a bleak change of coming to India, but then again the market here is quite mature which you realise the moment you see the specifications on the phone.

It has a rather rudimentary 5-inch 720p HD LCD display which is reinforced with Gorilla Glass 4. It is powered by the aged Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor which we have seen in phones for quite a few years. There’s also 2GB RAM, 16GB of internal storage and even a microSD card slot for the sake of memory expansion.
For imaging, the device also packs in a 13-megapixel snapper on the back and a 5-megapixel camera on the front. It has a 2,500mAh battery and it is quite chunky at 160 grams and 9.3mm.

The phone comes with the usual array of features that one expects of a basic Android phone - Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, FM Radio and even Wi-Fi Direct.

Overall, it is a rather basic Android phone which is differentiated by the fact that it is part of Google’s Android One programme and is running stock Android Nougat out of the box which isn’t true of many smartphones.
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Saturday, 5 November 2016

Top 10 Most Dangerous Malware That Can Cripple Your Device

Short Bytes: Check Point has released the list of the most dangerous malware that are most prevalent in the world. This list was topped by Conficker, a worm that spreads from system to system and downloads malware. For the first time, ransomware found a place in the top 3. In the mobile arena, for the sixth consecutive month, HummingBad remained the most wanted malware.
The Check Point Research Team has released its latest list of the top 10 most wanted malware. The team has indicated that ransomware attacks have continued to rise in the recent months. Also, for the first time since they launched the Threat Index, ransomware has found a place in the top three.According to September’s data, Locky ransomware, which originated in February 2016, was the 3rd most dangerous malware, accounting for 6 percent of all recognized malware attacks all around the world. Talking about the total share of ransomware attacks, it grew by 13 percent.
There was also a rise in the number of active malware families, with 3 new names entering the top 10. These families were Chanitor , Blackhole exploit kit, and Nivdort bot.

In the mobile malware category, Check Point found that for the sixth consecutive month HummingBad, followed by Triada and Ztorg, remained the most common malware used to attack mobile devices.

Top 10 Most Dangerous Malware

  1. Conficker: Worm that enabled remote operations and malware download
  2. Sality: Virus that allows remote operations and downloads additional malware
  3. Locky: Spreads mainly via spam emails with disguised downloader
  4. Cutwail: Botnet used to send spams and take part in DDoS attacks
  5. Zeus: Trojan used to steal banking information
  6. Chanitor: Installs malicious payloads on infected machines
  7. Tinba: Banking trojan
  8. Cryptowall: Ransomware that uses AES encryption and conducts C&C communication over TOR
  9. Blackhole: Exploit kit that uses browser and plugin security flaws
  10. Nivdort: Bot that’s used to steal passwords and modify settings
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Friday, 4 November 2016

A Tropical Getaway: 7 Apps for Easier Travel Planning

In several recent commercial spots, JetBlue has been bragging about its efficiency: how it helps travelers arrive at their destination before they come up with their business idea or before learning about the local animals.
It’s an odd premise because, though speed is a wonderful thing, do you really want to arrive on vacation, only to realize you know nothing about where you are? Vacation is more likely to be fun and fulfilling when you have at least a few plans, even if they’re just to lie on the beach.
What you need are some easy tools to help guide you. Before you hop on that plane to enjoy a little rest and relaxation, you’ll want to download the following great travel apps.
From scuba diving to road trips, there’s an app waiting for your next adventure.

An Approved Itinerary

One of the great challenges of going on a road trip is trying to find the best stops and figuring out how to space them as you go. Now there’s a solution: Tripsee. A crowdsourced itinerary tool, Tripsee aggregates all of the information, from location to costs and hours, while also plugging in your hotel and any flights or other transit data. With insights about which spots are usually overcrowded and other knowledge you can only get from being there, Tripsee is the all-seeing app that goes anywhere you want to be.

When You’re Out of Range

Part of what makes vacationing so great is that you get to disconnect from your normal workday world. Without service, you might not be able to access your home security stream, but you also won’t have to check your work email.
The only problem with this situation is that many travel apps depend on an internet connection. For those who plan to spend their vacation on an isolated stretch of beach, however, this can pose a problem.
If you plan to be off the grid for a good portion of your trip, check out apps like Aruba’s official travel guide, which can function without an internet connection. St. Thomas has a similar app, plus advanced functionality for when you are connected, such as augmented reality tools and itinerary planning.
It’s rare to find a location-based app that doesn’t demand at least a phone signal, but they are out there.

Go Deeper

You might not be able to take your phone snorkeling and scuba diving with you, but its usefulness doesn’t have to end at water’s edge. Your phone has a lot to offer in terms of helping you plan dives, identifying the many colorful fish you will see while snorkeling, and keeping records of what you encounter down below.
DiveMate USB for Android is a perfect fit for divers of any level, and it makes it easy to transfer information between devices. Advanced divers will find a lifeline in V Planner, an app that can predict gas consumption, weather conditions, and more.

Weather the Storm

Finally, you can stop worrying about whether you’ll have sunny skies for the duration of your getaway by downloading tools that stretch a little further than your iPhone’s weather app. Leading tools include Dark Sky, a rain predictor for the notoriously rainy UK and Ireland (as well as the US), and On The Snow, a great app for avid skiers and snowboarders who want to make sure the slopes are in prime condition.
There are many other travel apps, no matter what your destination may be, so if you don’t find the solution to your vacation planning woes here, don’t worry. A quick skim of the app store is sure to turn up precisely the guide to Greenland’s tundra or outer Mongolia that you’ve been looking for.
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Thursday, 3 November 2016

Android is as secure as iPhone says Google

Google now contents that Android is as secure as Apple’s iOS which powers iPhones and iPads. Android’s head of security Adrian Ludwig touted Android’s secure nature at the O’Reilly security conference in New York City on where he spoke at great length about the security that the new Google Pixel smartphone provided.

“For almost all threat models…they are nearly identical in terms of their platform-level capabilities,” he said. “In the long term, the open ecosystem of Android is going to put it in a much better place,” claimed Ludwig.

Ludwig also touted Google’s Safety Net which scans through 400 million devices every day and 6 billion apps per day. According to Ludwig this means that less than 1 percent Android devices have malware on them.

“At this point we still don’t have any confirmed instances of exploitation in the wild,” he said talking about the StageFright malware issue, which he believed was blown out of proportion.

Ludwig believed there was room for improvement especially when it comes down to Android updates. He believes Google and its carrier and smartphone OEM partners can better collaborate to provide timely updates especially when they are related to security patches.

As in the US, updates are also vetted by the carriers and deployed by them, often phones don’t get updated for months after.

Ludwig also believed that Android is so secure as a platform that it doesn’t suffer any of the afflictions that have plagued dominant operating systems like Windows.

Mass exploitation is something that I’m not expecting that we’re going to see at any point in the ecosystem.