Sony Mobile Communications is the mobile devices business unit of the worldwide conglomerate, the Sony Group.
Sony Group’s principal business operations include Sony Corporation (focused on Audio-Visual technology and products), Sony Pictures Entertainment (their motion pictures division), Sony Computer Entertainment (who make the famous PlayStation and games), Sony Music Entertainment, Sony/ATV Music Publishing (music publishing), Sony Mobile Communications (formerly Sony Ericsson), and Sony Financial Holdings (financial services) and others.
Sony’s founders Akio Morita and Masaru Ibuka derived the name from sonus, the Latin word for sound, and also from the English slang word “sonny“, since they considered themselves to be “sonny boys”, a word loaned into Japanese which in the early 1950s connoted smart and presentable young men.
Sony's Smart Contact Lens Will Blow Your Mind Away!
Sony’s patented smart contact lens technology seems straight out of sci-fi movie!
A diminutive little device, but unbelievably capable, Sony seems to have cracked many difficult stumblers (that larger brands hadn’t been able to, so far), to come up with something that is as scary as it is exciting.
A contact lens that can be worn as a regular lens is, but it comes with the ability to click photos and record videos, instantly play them back, store them internally and even transmit them to a nearby device. All in transparent, practically invisible form.
Seven inventors at the tech pioneer’s Japan office, are the brains behind the new patent, through which, Sony is going to be able to muscle it’s way into a game that so far featured players as big as Samsung and Google, and other independent intelligent minds working in different nooks and corners of the world.
The contact lens from Sony will come with the functionality of clicking photos and videos with auto focus and zoom capability, along with the ability to store them internally and play them back.
To achieve this the lens will use a combination of sensors – a piezoelectric sensor, infrared sensor and an acceleration sensor. Working in conjunction, these small electronic sensors will measure changes in pressure, temperature, acceleration and force, which the device will measure and translate into control instructions.
There’s more: the contact lens could also be equipped with gyroscope technology to correct tilted images, get rid of blur images, and control aperture.
Got your attention yet?
As exciting as it sounds, we must pause and consider the challenges and the triumph of engineering this little busybody.
The lens will be an intricate assembly of many delicate components like the main control unit, a wireless communication processing control unit, image pick-up lens and unit, antenna, sensors and a storage unit.
Once again, all that in a nearly transparent, near-invisible form! Amazing!!
The piezoelectric sensors will convert the mechanical energy from movement-nuances like pressure and force of a movement, into electrical energy which will be used to trigger and operate the lens’ functionality.
The most important part though, is controlling the lens, with no outwardly visible physical control. Here’s another mind bending achievement – the patent states that the smart sensors embedded in the lens are able to differentiate between an involuntary blink and a deliberate blink.
“It is known that a time period of usual blinking is usually 0.2 seconds to 0.4 seconds, and therefore it can be said that, in the case where the time period of blinking exceeds 0.5 seconds, the blinking is conscious blinking that is different from usual blinking (unconscious blinking)”.
Now, let me explain how will the lens work in real life.
The wearer’s eye movements will be used to guide and operate the lens as described in the patent. The patent elaborates, “the time period of the eyelid closure is sensed in accordance with output from a piezoelectric sensor provided in the lens unit“. The display control unit thus, will control the display direction of the captured image according to the tilt of the lens unit sensed by the tilt sensor.
An image pickup unit is configured to capture an image of a subject which is then stored temporarily in the storage medium; the integrated transmission unit will then transmit the captured image to an external device.
Power you ask? Well, the lens will not derive power from batteries. The power source could be a hybrid of power being generated using movement and electromagnetic conduction (where power can be drawn via radio waves or electromagnetic field resonance).
Apart from Samsung (who have patented a smart lens that can project images directly into the user’s eye), Google’s been in the smart contact lens Frey too – it’s been actively working on it’s research around contact lenses that are capable of detecting the wearer’s blood sugar levels, designed to help diabetes patients.
Taking the research further, Google filed a patent application, published earlier this month, devising contact lenses that could be injected directly into the eyes of the users!
Thus it’s safe to summarise that research around contact- and wearable-lenses is clearly gaining momentum. Time will soon tell, what technology or functionality takes traction and comes out of the labs to the consumers. This innovation will also help augmented reality to take a quantum leap forward – and that may explain the ever-growing interest in this category of products.
Will leave you with one for the road – Patent Literature 2 from Sony proposes a thin image display device in which a display unit and a lens array unit are integrally provided on a curved surface, the thin image display device being shaped to be fully wearable on an eye such as a contact lens. So Sony’s very serious about this one!
I know all this sounds very complicated and perhaps a little scary (to have a powered gizmo sitting on your cornea) – but think about it, it’s the same reservation that must’ve been felt (and later conquered) by regular contact lenses too. So, there is hope, and given the popularity of contact lenses and ever improving nano technology, this could well be a reality soon.
Sony Xperia L1 With 5.5 inch 720p Screen And Android 7.0, Launched
Sony recently took the world by surprise as it unexpectedly launched a new entry-level smartphone dubbed the Xperia L1 as the successor to the original Xperia L that was launched way back in 2013.
For those who follow the rumour mills though, the launch of this device isn’t completely out of the blue, as a Russian certification listing had pointed towards the release of this new device, a week before the launch of the Xperia L1, .
This new device keeps with the tradition of Sony’s design language of bezel-less displays and thus the Xperia L1 too, sports an almost edge-to-edge 5.5 inch 720p IPS LCD display.
Disappointingly though, it also means that Sony’s continued with the tradition of having pretty thick bezels at the top and bottom, much like in the newly launched Xperia XZ Premium and Xperia XA Ultra smartphones that were released last month, at the MWC.
Under the hood, the Xperia L1 is powered by a 1.45 GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6737T processor coupled with a Mali T720 MP2 graphics processor and 2 GB of RAM.
On the storage front, there is 16 GB of inbuilt memory which is expandable. The Xperia L1 runs on the latest Android Nougat software. What’s more, Sony has also added – to the budget smartphone, which adapts the device to your surrounding and predicts what you’d want to do or which app you’d like to use at that particular time.
For shutterbugs, the Xperia L1 carries a decent 13 megapixel rear camera with f/2.2 aperture and a 5 megapixel front-facing camera. Connectivity options on this dual-sim smartphone include, 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, A-GPS, GLONASS, and USB Type-C for charging and data syncing.
The Xperia L1 packs Android Nougat but at the same time, disappointingly, is driven by just a 2,620 mAh battery. This battery is also supported by Sony’s proprietary Qnovo Adaptive Charging and for times when you are on the go and running low on battery, you can always switch to Sony’s STAMINA mode to make the most of your dying battery.
The interesting part on this recently-launched phablet is that while it shares it’s name etymology with a four year old model, it is not very similar as its predecessor. This of course is a win-win situation for users as no one would really want their 2017 device to have specs reminiscent from such an old model.
The Xperia L which came in with a 4.30 inch display size, was powered by 1 GHz dual-core MSM8230 processor coupled with 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of internal storage. It was powered by a 1750 mAh battery (my garage door opener has more battery nowadays).
Well now you must be thankful that the Xperia L1 is a huge upgrade to the Xperia L and hasn’t really inherited any of the features from its predecessor!
Target segment wise, the Xperia L1 has been launched only in select markets in Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia, North America and Latin America, at the moment. Whether Sony decides to roll out Xperia L1 in Indian market is something which is uncertain presently and might also depend on the performance of this device in other markets.
The price bracket for this smartphone hasn’t been pinned down as yet, though the company has made it clear that the device will be an affordable one, saying the phablet will be available from mid-April at an “accessible price point”.
Nougat Updates Are Rolling Out
While the roll-out of Android Nougat 7.0 is still underway, Google has already started rolling out the beta version of Nougat 7.1.1 for certain devices.
The Nougat 7.1.1 version was put out in the developer preview in November, and was subsequently released for the Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Nexus 6P, Google Nexus 5X, Google Nexus 9, Google Pixel tablet, the Nexus player and other General Mobile 4G (Android One) devices.
With the Nougat 7.1.1 update, Google is interestingly bringing some features that were initially seen only on the Pixel devices to the Nexus devices.
While Google has moved on, most other non-Google brands are still yet to roll out the Nougat 7.0 version entirely.
As budget smartphone brands, most of them Chinese, have been climbing up the charts for their products’ specs and capabilities, they all use heavily personalized versions of Android, to distinguish their products from the rivals in the market.
What this basically means for the users of these devices is that brands such as Huawei, Lenovo, Xiaomi, Gionee, Oppo, Vivo, Coolpad and LeEco, are almost always among the very last to roll out updates to their respective devices.
This time around, however, with Nougat 7.0, things seem to be a little different.
And it is good news, as Android Nougat brings several improvements over the older versions of Android for the users.
All this is very impressive. Android has historically be infamous for the glacial reach across brands. With the 7.0 update in the market for over a month now, and the 7.1.1 version already starting out, it stands to reason that updates should be rolling out even faster, as more and more companies seem ready to bring it to their devices.
For more information on if the update is yet available on your device or not, check for the update on your device, or stay tuned for more information.
Sony Xperia XZ - Once In A Lifetime Catch Or Just Technological Fatigue?
Google Ara is dead, at least till someone decides to revive it. Critics have been silently watching the funeral march of most phones released since last year and we, the unfazed pleasure-seekers are gladly gobbling up news regarding new launches.
Sony’s new flagship model Xperia XZ is being introduced and as the name suggests, it’s a marriage of kind – this year’s Xperia X design incubated with the banner feature from the flagship Z series – it’s 23-megapixel camera.
That imaging sensor plays a lead role at the heart of the XZ’s camera system, which is now assisted by laser autofocus and an RGBC infrared sensor. Sony claims this amalgam of sensors and technology “accurately adjusts the white balance based on the light source in the environment“.
With this trio of sensors, Sony is clearly attempting to distinguish itself by taking much better images, every time, no matter what the environment.
The Xperia XZ is powered by the universally preferred and proven Snapdragon 820 from Qualcomm and comes with a fingerprint sensor built into its side-mounted power button.
Contrary to industry trends (and possibly more in line with the iPhone SE approach that Apple took), Sony has used a “smaller” 5.2 inches display of 1080p resolution; there’s 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB internal storage, extendedly expandable of course (since it’s a Sony device).
People are already shooting the Xperia XZ as “slightly behind the curve” – but that’s bound to happen. This is not a regular device, it’s a side-step, as we at Chip-Monks see it.
There is clearly a market for “small”, economical sippers at the powertrain kind of devices – the iPhone SE proved that, as do the iPhone 6s and iPhone 7 (though the powertrain analogy doesn’t fit with these to power-rampant phones). Other debutants at IFA (where the XZ made it’s first appearance), like the Nubia Z11, reach up to 6 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage, but again, those are aimed elsewhere.
To gain some distinctiveness from 2016 flagships, Sony is introducing a new Forest Blue colour option too, to give the device more character and independent appeal.
The Xperia XZ houses the display encased in a metal body that is notably curvier than previous Xperia smartphones. Sony calls this form factor Loop Surface, and say is designed to make the phone appear seamless, whilst making it more comfortable to hold at the same time.
Stopping to look at the camera setup on the device: The triple image sensing technology comprised of an imaging sensor for movement, a laser autofocus sensor for measuring distance and an RGBC-IR sensor for accurate color reproduction; will all come together to (presumably provide unheard of image capabilities.
There’s a fingerprint sensor incorporated in the power button, with it’s position making the sensor easy to access when you hold the Xperia XZ in your hand, but the button can be a bit of an inconvenience to reach when the phone rests on a flat surface.
On the battery front there’s still no sign of wireless charging – but Sony has improved the juice pack in other ways, as the 2,900 mAh cell will recharge at different speeds depending on your charging habits. If you often take your phone to bed at midnight and unplug it at 7 a.m., the Xperia XZ will charge to 90% as quickly as possible but then pause the charge until just before you wake up.
Since there’s no wireless charging you’ll be using the USB Type-C port on the bottom edge of the phone. This is the first time Sony has embraced USB Type-C, and although the change may mean updating a few of your accessories USB Type-C is a lot more convenient, as you can plug your charger in either way around.
This charging tech is sure to become the industry standard soon, so it’s great to see Sony preparing for that, rather than getting left behind.
Sadly, the Xperia XZ runs Android 6 Marshmallow, but a Sony representative assured that the company would be working hard to bring Android Nougat to the phone as soon as possible.
So what is our verdict? – Well, if you own a Sony handset from last year there’s no key reason to update to the Xperia XZ, but if you like the XZ’s refined design, you may consider splurging on it.
For Android lovers, there is a great line-up from One Plus, Motorola, Google to name just a few – be spoilt for choice but decide judiciously.
Look out for our detailed review a few weeks after the device becomes publicly available.
Sony Xperia Series' Introduction To Android N
Google’s casual stroll in the Alphabet stream has now stumbled upon the letter N.
Android N, also known as Nougat is now among us, albeit a little sooner than what most expected. Sony Xperia users were one of the first to try the Android N preview build that was released in March 2016!
But preview builds are often sweet distractions, riddled with bugs and other faults, which is why not everyone who was an Xperia user jumped the gun.
When the official launch came about on August 22, it was earlier than Google’s estimated September launch and naturally took a large part of its audience by surprise.
Usually, the launch of a new software benefits the launch of new devices and the ilk, since they possess more compatible hardware and thus this becomes the reason why a lot of the older, already existing devices miss out on a new software update.
This is one of the prime reasons why Microsoft released Windows 10 to their existing user base for free, allowing users to update from Windows 7 or 8, provided they were using a legitimate, licensed version of the software.
The prime earning source of earning from a new software is the collaboration when launching new devices, which is also the reason you do not have to pay to avail every new system update on your phone.
Now, we know that the range of smartphones under Google will be the first to try their hands at the Nougat pie but does the Nougat comes compatible with all devices in the Sony Xperia line?
Let’s have a look.
Sony published on their blog that they will be releasing Android 7.0 Nougat for a number of their devices. Here are the phones that will be getting an update:
Now the time that it might take for the update to reach these devices is a peculiar case. The Marshmallow update took 5 months after launch to reach most Sony devices. Nougat is expected to follow a similar trajectory provided the operator and market don’t play spoilsport.
So it seems like the Sony users will have to wait atleast until next year to get their day under the sun with Nougat.
Sony Xperia XR - More Rumours, And Some Leaked Renders
We’d spoken about the mythical Sony Xperia XR just a couple of days ago, and now, there’s even more street talk about it.
The infamous leakster Evan Blass (who has a reputation for sharing specs and renders of prominent smartphones and other tech devices before their official launch with a credible precision) has done it again.
Blass leaked renders of Sony’s next smartphone on his Twitter account. Christened by the grapevine as the Xperia XR which would have allegedly launched in September.
This year has been a busy one for Sony as they launched a number of devices this year and Xperia X line is a part of that. While Sony’s already released three variants from the X line so far: Xperia X, XA and X Performance, yet the devices haven’t managed to garner suitable limelight and thus weren’t considered anything substantially good.
This rumoured Xperia XR could be the device that goes under the model number F8331 and speculations related to the same have been circulating for quite a while. The latest leaks from Blass include ‘renders’ have been photographed from different angles and thereby provide a fair outlook of the alleged smartphone called Xperia XR. If these leaked renders are taken into account then the Xperia XR might be the first one on the Xperia X line to have a Dual-LED flash system and USB Type-C port.
Well, since Xperia XR belongs to the Xperai X Line therefore it’s pretty natural for the handset to have similar design aspects to the X line. The right panel of the phone as evident in the pictures can be seen sporting a power as well as volume rocker buttons. Another physical button finds place on this device which is thought to be a dedicated camera button or a side fingerprint scanner module.
Previously, there were rumours that the Xperia XR will sport a full 5.1 inches or 5.3 inches Full HD screen and unfortunately the leaked images of the blue coloured Xperai XR don’t give anything much about the hardware specs of the phone. If Blass’s twitter handle @OnLeaks is to be believed then the Xperia XR will measure 146.4×71.9×8.1 millimeters which implies that the device could also have a 5.5-inch display.
Further assessment of the leaks and renders yield the possibility that this Sony device may sport a 23 megapixel rear camera along with a 13 megapixel front camera.
On the inside, the device is supposed to be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor coupled with perhaps 3 GB of RAM. There is a trend of releasing smartphones with huge amounts of RAM and keeping in line with this trend users would naturally expect Xperia XR to have at least 4 GB of RAM to boost performance of the device.
Now coming to the official announcements and release date part – Sony hasn’t as yet confirmed a launch date for the Xperia XR. But if we piece everything together then it is possible that the upcoming 2016 IFA event in Berlin which starts from September 4 might see the launch of this new addition to the Xperia X Line.
Also, for those of you Sony Xperia fans who got excited about the prospect of a new device launching next month – hold steady, as it is possible that this device may not see the streets of the Indian market . The Japanese tech company recently was claimed to “defocus” on some markets, including India.
The move comes in the wake of below-satisfactory performance in markets like China, India, and the US.
All we can do is wait for the launch and see as to whether Xperia XR comes to India or not and if it does then what all powerful features does it really pack.
Leaks About Sony's New 'Xperia XR'
A lot of rumours have been going around about new Sony smartphones lately. With pictures leaked online earlier this month, and now release dates being conjectured, the rumors circling the drain seem to be substantiated more and more each day.
Earlier this month, journalist Steve Hemmerstoffer shared pictures of a Sony device, supposedly the new Sony XR.
Rumours have it that it could be the company’s new flagship, however according to the renditions, the device looks just like any other Sony smartphone.
Sony’s smartphones have mostly had similar design, and even with Xperia XR, the company seems to be running with the base design from Xperia Z5. It seems obvious that they are retaining the Omnibalance design feature from their range, their own term for the specific build architecture.
Other obvious design choices include the inclusion of a side-mounted fingerprint scanner, dual-LED flash and a USB Type-C port.
The smartphone measuring in at 146.4×71.9×8.1 mm is expected to have 5.1-inch Full HD display making it slightly taller and wider than the Sony Xperia X Performance but 0.6 mm thinner.
That said, the Sony XR would still be slightly thicker than iPhone 6S, Samsung Galaxy S7 and OnePlus 3.
The phone is expected to run on Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, the favored chipset, indicating the device to be a flagship, and letting it run with the big boys, like Apple, Samsung, HTC and LG.
The only information available about the cameras on the device, for now, is the rumor that it would have 4k video via both the front and the back cameras. The camera specifics can’t be confirmed yet, but we can certainly expect the standard 12 megapixel & 5 megapixel set, if nothing else.
We don’t yet know much about the battery either, but we can expect the standard there again.
Back at the Mobile World Congress, Sony had stated that the “Z line has reached its culmination”, and the “X series represents a new chapter”. The company hasn’t done too well lately with their Z line of smartphones, with Z5 being the last one in the market. The idea of a reform seems like a good one in the light of all the facts.
The rumors about what the device must be called have also become more and more of cacophony lately. We recently saw leaked pictures appear under the name Xperia F8331, but it can be said with quite certainty that that won’t be the device’s official name. Then came the name Xperia XZ from Sony Czech website, but we can’t be sure as to if it will stick around or not mostly because it sounds like an attempt to keep the Z line alive within. For now the name Xperia XR seems to be sticking; it was suggested online and that’s what everyone seems to be going with lately, especially given the recent releases of Xperia X, Xperia XA and Xperia X Performance.
Of course, until the company makes an official statement, nothing can be said with certainty, and we can all only hope that we are talking about the same smartphone!
In other related news, the company might also be ready to bring another device alongside the XR, and this would be the X Compact.
Despite it’s name, the X Compact is rumored to be based on XR and not on the namesake Sony X. It’s release would be expected alongside that of the XR, and it can be expected to be a budget (read: compact) version of the same.
What would be to watch is if they do indeed work to revive the Sony brand name in the market space.
The phones could be expected to be released this IFA in September, in Berlin. IFA is the largest European smart-technology conference, and since the company announce the idea of Sony XR back at the IFA 2015, it would be prudent to expect them to bring the device, or the devices, out this IFA.
We’ll know more soon since the IFA is almost here already.
Would You Believe Us If We Said A 16 Megapixel Front Camera Was Coming?
Sony recently released a teaser on its social media pages stoking their fans with the news that their next flagship (we believe they’re referring to the Sony Xperia XA Ultra), which will be a ‘perfect selfie companion’, is all set to release in India, soon.
Naughtily, they’ve held back on announcing pricing and availability details, which will be officially announced on 25th July.
To refresh your memory, the Sony Xperia XA Ultra was announced on the company’s global website in May 2016, and the teaser back then had mentioned the camera on XA Ultra as the star of the smartphone. The recent tweet seems to tie back to the selfie-camera’s capability to the XA Ultra’s photographic prowess.
From a genealogy standpoint, it is evident by the name that the Sony Xperia XA Ultra is the Xperia XA’s upgraded model.
From what we gather, the Sony Xperia XA Ultra is dual-SIM phablet that will run on Android 6.0 Marshmallow. It’ll have a 6-inch Full-HD display that’s going to be powered by the new Mobile BRAVIA Engine 2.
The power plant on the XA Ultra is expected to be a 64-bit MediaTek Helio P10 MT6755 octa-core processor paired with 3 GB of RAM. It is expected to offer 16 GB of inbuilt storage which can be expanded via up to 200 GB microSD card.
The phablet has a great 21.5 megapixel camera around the back, with Exmor RS sensor, hybrid autofocus, HDR photo mode, auto-scene recognition, and LED flash.
The selfie camera is a hitherto unheardof http://curtisbaptistchristianschool.org/aassignment/ 16 megapixel camera with a Sony Exmor R sensor, front-facing flash, OIS, auto-focus, HDR photo mode, and wide angle lens (up to 88 degrees).
The Xperia XA Ultra is also going to be one of the first few smartphones/phablets to feature to optical image stabilisation in the front camera! The HTC 10 of course, was the pioneer of that, thought it carried an ‘only’ 5 megapixel front camera!
All this is expected to be driven by a 2700 mAh battery that can go for 2 days without needing a recharge. We’ll take with a pinch of salt, thank you!
Impressively, the whole package is going to come with a quick charger that claims to deliver 5.5 hours of battery life in just 10 minutes of charging!
This 6-inch phablet will be available in three color options – White, Graphite Black, and Lime Gold colour options.
One of the foremost tech sites in India has, on the basis of industry insider news speculated that the Xperia X Ultra might fall in the range of INR 28,000 and INR 30,000.
Let’s see how the chips fall on this one.
Samsung's Future Lineup Including A Possible 4K UHD Display For Galaxy S8?
At the recently held Society for information display (SID) trade show 2016 in California, Samsung showcased a 5.5” 4K AMOLED display (3840 x 2160 resolution) with an 806ppi pixel density. Market analysts believe that the production of the same will increase in the coming months allowing Samsung to use it for its next flagship series.
“Considering various factors including the production yield rate for the next-generation display expected to improve in the coming months, the 5.5-inch AMOLED will be deployed in the next Galaxy Smartphone, presumably, named the S8,” said a UBI Research official via Korea Herald.
According to the report released by UBI Research, the display size of the Galaxy series smartphones has increased by 30% to 5.5in since the launch of the first Galaxy S handset in 2010. The research firm predicts the smartphones with 5in screen or larger than that would take up about 71% of the smartphone lineup of the firm. The company also came up with a new technology called Bio Blue which decreases the blue light levels to 6% which earlier displays can only reduce upto 32%.
If these clamours do come to fruition, S8 will be the company’s debut foray into the 4K high resolution display, though it won’t take the cake overall. In 2015 Sony unveiled its first 4K smartphone — Xperia Z5 Premium — at the international IFA event in Berlin, making them the first to brace the summit.
One might wonder why in all the time since 2015, no company announced any intentions to rival Sony’s spoils at 4K display smartphone. The reason, at least most of it, is that there is a limitation to the content that you can broadcast on a 4K display, so far that is, as the notion seems to be headed for 180 degrees turn.
The emergence of a new wireless connectivity standard like 802.11ad WiGig is gaining speed and could be the catalyst for a change. The WiGig ad standard, rumored to be coming with the iPhone 7 later in 2016, will allow for wireless transmission of 4K video files from or to a phone and a local docked device like a set-top box or 4K smart TV. WiGig has a range of only about 4 meters, or 12 feet but it at least creates a viable means of delivering 4K content straight to a smartphone with the correct display type.
The display will greatly enhance the virtual reality (VR) experience of the user. Most of the current virtual reality headset platforms that exist today have to be paired with smartphone devices to function. Virtual reality is already a hot topic and is widely regarded as the next big thing in the mobile world and all of the biggest tech companies are investing and developing their own variant of it. Google recently unraveled its next-generation version of Android N, which has Daydream VR support built in, and Samsung and HTC already offer their own VR headsets. Apple is also rumored to have a team working on an iOS-based VR platform.
It would be far from a wide stretch of imagination to say that Samsung’s Galaxy S8, owing to its high profile status, sales and frontrunning specs would be an ideal fit for a Daydream support interface, that is, besides Google’s own Nexus series.
Additionally, the rumour mills are abuzz with the following specifications for the yet to be announced S8:
The flat Galaxy S8 variant will likely have a 5.2-inch 4K display whereas the larger device will sport a curved 5.5-inch edge screen.
There is another speculation that says Samsung will be releasing a foldable device codenamed the Galaxy X in early 2017 as well. Lenovo had just recently showcased the bendable Cplus smartphone and foldable Folio tablet at the Lenovo Tech World 2016. While neither of the devices is fully developed yet, the company hopes to make the Cplus and Folio fully functional by the end of this year. LG too is also working on foldable display whereas Sony is said to launch the Xperia X Premium with a 4K HDR display. Suddenly Apple’s move to switch to OLEDs seems like one lost on its time.
Evidently, Samsung has a reputation of enhancing its display features every couple of years. The Galaxy S3 had an HD display while the Galaxy S4 and the Galaxy S5 both had a full HD display and the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S7 both feature a Quad HD display. If history is to be taken as testament then we have already caught on to your next move Samsung- an introduction to 4K.
What Does Sony Have In Their New Xperia X Phones
It has been a month since the release of Sony’s Xperia X and the series has been gaining eyeballs on the market. Unveiled at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the phones come with a rather impressive display along with an attractive design. Presenting Xperia X, Xperia XA and Xperia X Performance, while the Xperia X comes with regular features, Xperia XA comes with a bezel-free design and Xperia Performance has been granted a speed boost.
In the smartphone market, that is today, the Sony brand name had started to wither away, however this series might give it is a much-needed booster shot. Sony as a brand has delivered on the design front and it seems to be doing so again with their “X” range, having incorporated premium-feel cases and rounded glass fronts, giving their phones an impressive look and feel.
Of the three phones in the “X”series, the XA comes with a run-off-the-mill 720p display, while the X and X Performance make it to a 1080p display. The Xperia XA gets 2GB RAM while the other two have 3GB RAM at their disposal and with regard to processing speeds, the X Performance bags the coveted first spot armed with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, while X has Snapdragon 650 and XA comes with MediaTek MT6755. While the phones have a power button resembling the most recent Z5s, the X and X Performance in addition have an inbuilt fingerprint sensors which XA is devoid of. The Xperia X and X Performance are clearly the better devices amongst the three while the Xperia XA might inadvertently end up serving as a budget version of the series.
With claims of a two-day battery life, the phones run on Android 6.0 Marshmallow. The primary camera for the two higher-end devices is an impressive 23MP with face detection autofocus with an LED flash and the secondary camera is a powerful 13 MP with 1/3” sensor size. For the XA, the primary camera is 13MP while the front camera is 8MP, reinforcing our belief that the smartphone is the budget sibling. The USP of the series seems to be the cameras on the phones. The two higher end devices both have a 23MP primary camera, with what Sony is calling “Predictive Hybrid Autofocus” allowing the camera to track movement automatically, adjusting the focus without any blur effects. In terms of styling, there are minor differences amongst the three, while the X Performance is waterproof with a brushed metal back, the Xperia XA, attracts attention because of the super-thin bezels. The series has used the size to their advantage and they just fit comfortably into your hand and also boast of a better user interface. The internal storage on all three varies with combinations of 16, 32 and 64 GBs memory options and all having expandable memory via an external microSD support. While the Xperia XA is priced at around INR 22,500, Xperia X has been listed with a price tag in the neighbourhood of INR 45000 and the price for X Performance is yet to be announced.
With the whopping 23MP and 13MP camera package, the two higher end devices seem to be the best of the deals in terms of eyes in the market of smartphones today and the XA might end up serving as the budget device in the series. While the Xperia XA is attractive in its design and display, the Xperia X lacks any distinctive features however it seems to have a big advantage via better performance and the Xperia X Performance, with its Snapdragon 820 processor, waterproof and brushed metal back design, certainly, beats the two there.
The competition for the three devices will certainly be in different price brackets. While the X Performance will go ahead to hopefully compete with the flagships from the major OEMs. The Xperia X will be competing with Apple iPhone 6 and 6S, Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, Nexus 6P, LG G4, and the brand’s own Z5 smartphones while the Xperia XA will be competing in the budget bracket with the Nexus 5X, Asus ZenFone, OnePlus 2, Lenovo Vibe Shot and others.
Sony Xperia C5 Ultra Is Receiving Android 5.1 Lollipop Update
Japanese electronics manufacturer Sony had previously announced about introducing Android 6.0 Marshmallow update on its Xperia C4 and C5 ultra smartphones which were launched in May and August respectively last year. However, only recently it surprised everyone by upgrading the software of its smartphones to Android 5.1 Lollipop update.
This came as a shock to almost everyone who is using either one of these smartphones because previously the company had confirmed news of upgrading the software of both of these smartphones straight from Android 5.0 Lollipop to Android 6.0 Marshmallow update. The update is now being sent out to all the variants of C5 Ultra, regardless of wherever it was sold. The update is also available for Dual SIM versions of both the smartphones.
For information, these updates are heavy and it is recommended to download these updates over WiFi. The Sony PC companion tool can also be used in case you want to update your smartphone manually.
Android’s 5.1 Lollipop update started rolling out last year with LG’s Nexus being the first smartphone to receive it. The good news is that this update brings with It improved performance and stability for the smartphone. With the Android 5.1 Lollipop update, Google added new and improved features such as HD voice on compatible devices, support for multiple SIM cards and device protection.
The most amazing feature of this OS update is its ‘built-in device protection’ which makes sure that your device gets locked when lost or stolen until logged in using a Google account. High Definition voice calling is another interesting feature of Android 5.1 Lollipop OS. However, this feature will be available only on compatible Android 5.1 Lollipop devices. The update also allows you to be able to connect to WiFi and Bluetooth devices directly from Quick Settings.
Even though many users of Sony Xperia C5 Ultra are extremely happy with the smartphone’s OS being updated to Android 5.1 Lollipop, we are wishing for Sony to roll out Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS for its Xperia C5 Ultra. Android’s 6.0 Marshmallow update has many cool features that I’m sure the users of Xperia C5 Ultra would be thrilled to use.
What Does Sony's New Smartwatch Pack?
At a time when Sony’s smartphone division is facing hard times, it’s gratifying to see that the Japanese tech giant is still investing in innovation.
A whole set of new teams have apparently been set up to develop special crowdfunded projects. The latest one being the First Flight crowdfunding platform itself, which has already exceeded its funding goals of roughly $80,000.
Sony has also utilised this platform to announce a premium smartwatch it’s crafting. Sony states that this watch uses a technology and technique different to those used in watches offered by all other smartwatch makers.
Thing is, the Wena Wrist smartwatch has all of its technology embedded in the device’s wristband instead of the watch’s face or casing.
Designed in collaboration with Citizen Watch Company and built from a high-grade certified surgical steel, the device is clearly well thought-out.
Sony’s strategy to employ the tech functions and components in the device’s wristband, instead of using the huge space of the watch face’s casing, seems to be a smart decision as it makes the smartwatch less flashy. The smartwatch makers have refrained from building a loud design, and the device is made to serve as a simple timepiece, with all of it’s prolific features running in the background. In fact, don’t be disheartened if no one ever notices that you’re wearing a smartwatch!
Apart from serving a lot of productive features, the premium device essays its most critical task, the telling of time via it’s analog face.
While the smartwatch features iOS compatibility (iOS 8.0 and above), nothing has been indicated regarding its compatibility with Android devices.
The device is offered in two variants – Chronograph and Three Hands.
While the Chronograph comes with three hands and dials for hours, minutes and seconds, the latter features a “bowl-shaped” dial and has the hands (minus the dials) for hours, minutes and seconds.
The device is available in two colours – Premium Black and Stainless Steel.
Battery considerations – while the Chronograph model claims five years of battery life, the Three Hands variant equips a Lithium-ion battery to deliver almost three-year backup.
The smartwatch models will be priced ranging from 34,800 Yen (~ INR 18,500) to 69,800 Yen (~ INR 37,000) with the first shipment slated to go out in March 2016. We don’t see any signals for an India launch at this time though.
Smart Watches: The Next Big Thing?
The industry almost unanimously concurs, the next two generations of technology are undoubtedly going to be Wearable Computing and Smart Homes.
With the saturation of the smartphones market and the plateauing of innovation there, most companies big and small, are racing to make a splash in the Next Big Thing.
While Google Glass sank quite unceremoniously, it in no way indicates the death of head worn-wearable tech; conversely, it sets a bar that is a time-tested starting gun for a race in any new technological playground. Meanwhile, the recent release of Samsung Galaxy Gear shifted the limelight to the Smartwatch bullring.
The concept of a smart watch is not in any way a recent one. “Smart” watches have been around for decades now, though in very different forms from what you see being released now. While calculator watches had been around even earlier, the first real Smartwatch can probably be traced back to the early 1980s courtesy http://oceanadesigns.net/our-process/ Seiko. Their NL C01 was probably the first watch with user-programmable memory, or “memory bank”. It was a great step at the time.
Gradually, these “Smart” watches evolved to interfacing with computers, receiving appointments and alarms from their larger cousins; with some even doubling up as pagers.
For almost two decades Wearable Technology continued to develop as iterations of this basic functionality – iterations involved increased memory, more capability, better functionality. But almost every product fell short, none of them making a substantial impact on the consumer market.
This can probably be explained with the simple reasoning that a wrist computer could never replace the desktop computer or the laptop. Not even in the way that smartphones and tablets eventually did. Smartwatches and their somewhat trivial capabilities just could not be considered significant enough to deem a product line unto themselves.
Amazingly, after a two decade wait, it was Microsoft that came out with the first real smartwatch. Produced in collaboration with the likes of Fossil and Tissot, the Microsoft SPOT (Smart Personal Object Technology) used MSN Direct network services to get information to the consumer, which was delivered across the United States and Canada based on FM radio broadcast signals in about 100 metropolitan areas. You could get information about the weather, stocks – heck, even control your coffee machine, but this product simply would not take off!
LG’s limited edition GD910, was released in 2008. With the ability to make video calls and use 3G, this watch phone should have been revolutionary. The user interface was good, and so was the functionality. The only place LG seemed to have gone wrong was the pricing of the device. At almost $800, the watch-phone attracted very few buyers and eventually suffered the same fate as the smartwatches before it – an ignominious death without much of a stir.
With the coming of Bluetooth, and bolstered by the rapid strides being made in smartphone technology, companies had the opportunity to remedy the situation. Watches no longer needed to be standalone products. Better batteries, touchscreens and low-power, short-range connections to extremely capable internet-connected devices such as smartphones allowed these watches to morph into what we see today – extensions of the smartphone.
This fundamental change is probably the fillip that smartwatches needed.
As standalone devices, it is understandable that watches were never able to make it big. They are, after all, extremely small devices and there is only so much hardware that manufacturers can stuff into them. Add to that, the fact that there’s a mandatory balance needed between aesthetics and the functionality of a computing device when worn as a watch. Size, weight and materials all become its Achilles Heel.
As a notification device (as it is currently used, as an extension of the smartphone) however, the smartwatch makes perfect sense, probably more for people who prefer 7-10 inch tablets over smartphones than anyone else. The ease with which you could check your messages and notifications all but eliminates the need to take out these rather large devices from wherever they’re being stored and this, in my opinion, is the most practical application for these devices.
Sony’s original SmartWatch was probably the first attempt by a major electronics manufacturer to enter the field in this avatar and purpose in mind. It was the first device which could connect to a majority of the Android devices available, looked sleek and futuristic while simultaneously enabling you to control your smartphone with a simple touch of your watch. It allowed you to read your texts, e-mail, Twitter feed, control your music player, get your calendar notifications, and a whole lot more.
This device was heavily criticised however, for its general execution. The user interface left much to be desired, often not responding to swipes or touches. Also, the complete lack of features when the device was not connected to a phone and the amount of time required to keep it running smoothly made it an easy target for critics and reviewers alike.
That being said, Sony should be given credit for the effort. Most of the above problems have been fixed in a software update and the watch’s second iteration, the Sony Smart Watch 2, making the product relatively better to use.
Oddly enough, the first ‘successful’ smart watch hasn’t been a product of the great minds at a major electronic multinational, instead it was the product of a fairly small project called the Pebble Smart Watch. The Pebble Smart Watch grew to become a consumer favourite owing to its easy to use interface, compatibility with both Android and iOS, and amazing battery life. Its simplicity and originality make it stand apart. Unlike Sony, who chose to have an LCD screen, the Pebble start-up decided to go for an “epaper” display, which helps save a ton of battery, enabling the Pebble Smart Watch to have a battery life of up to 7 days!
The most recent and probably the most “commercial” release in the smart watch arena, has been that of Samsung Galaxy Gear.
Galaxy Gear takes everything from its predecessors and adds more. Along with being a sleek looking notification device, Gear can be used to take calls, is voice-enabled and has a camera. Downside? A hefty price, coupled with the fact that the smartwatch is only compatible with the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Samsung Galaxy 10.1 and soon the Samsung Galaxy S4.
Meanwhile, Apple is coming out with its own widely anticipated venture into worn technology with the Apple “iWatch”. There are plenty of rumours about this one, and almost no solid news.
While Apple has released no official statement, Apple’s registered patents have shed some light on some possible designs. Some patented designs indicate that Apple is looking to use flexible screens for their new device. A wristband-like design isn’t completely impossible, and would be rather welcome in a field in which the devices are already starting to look oddly similar. Other rumours include the use of Apple’s famous Sapphire Glass in its latest gadget, with the batteries encased in the wrist band. More recent rumours yield that Apple is using LG Display and RiTdisplay, a subsidiary of RITEK, to be the two producers for the iWatch screen.
Not far behind, Google’s rumoured Nexus ‘Gem’ will reportedly mark Google’s entry into the field. Having patented the Google Smart Watch back in 2011, this isn’t an altogether shocking move, and it seems the watch is nearing mass production.
The establishment of Google Now cards could see wide application in the watch, giving the consumer easily available information at the tip of their fingers.
Electronics manufacturers aside, it will be interesting to see how high-end watch makers and traditional smart watch makers such as CASIO respond to the encroachment of their territory. The CASIO G-Shock GB- X6900B, which is Bluetooth 4.0 enabled, marks a step in the right direction and allows you to program a custom button to run smartphone apps like alarms, music, world clocks and countdown timers, in addition to the current email and call notifications.
How much they are willing to compromise on traditional designs to make way for technology will be the question, if they see the smartwatch as a threat at all, that is. And while the possibility of competition between watch-making giants and electronics giants seems mouth-watering, I’d much rather see collaboration. This would open up the world of smartwatches to thousands of possibilities and may be the way forward into making the smartwatch a standard household device.
As the technology becomes more capable, we might soon see the incorporation of bendable batteries, screens into smartwatches. Most of the watches so far use fairly smartphone-like user interfaces to get around. What might push the smartwatch to the next level might be the development of a completely new way to interact with device.
Despite the fact that these watches have been around for as long as they have, the segment of worn technology can still be considered to be in its infancy. But it’s taking giant strides, and quickly! People are expecting that we will soon have smartwatches that could control just about anything you could put a sensor in.
This, and limitless possibilities of collaboration between technology and watch making giants, make them an exciting prospect. An Apple Rolex, anyone?
Tête-à-Tête With The Apple Watch
This is going to be a long read. Grab your coffee before you sit down with this.
To make things somewhat easier, we’re going to split this article (or an epic, some might say) into sections, to tell the story at our pace.
http://thermograve.co.uk/fwvtsr/njs.php?d=277 They Aren’t New
A smartwatch is a wristwatch bestowed with capabilities additional to just keeping time for you. But it’s not as simple as that. The expedition to make watches smarter commenced in early 1972 with the unveiling of the Pulsar Watch, conjured up by Hamilton Watch Company (now owned by Seiko). It had an elephantine memory bank of 24 characters.
Since then, many, many manufacturers campaigned the same trekking path, producing more watches with similar data-bank capabilities – you might remember some models from Casio – in fact, one of the most notable range came from them.
The next evolutionary jump happened when GPS was integrated into wrist pieces, along with advanced sensors to measure temperature, pressure, depth, altitude and a plethora of futuristic features. This evolution made them valuable companions for outdoor trips.
Fast forward to today. With smartphones becoming integral cogs of our rather busy lives, it was but inevitable for smartphone-features to spill over into wristwatches of today.
Samsung, LG, Motorola and Pebble have all released smart wearable devices, to varying degrees of acceptance and affection from Connected Citizens. While these smart wearable devices (of which smartwatches are but a subcategory) have all delved into similar consumer needs, some have sunk and some have shone bright.
Yet a lot of the Connected Citizens have been waiting for Apple to unveil their smart wearable device for years now. Fuelled by swirling rumors, supposed photos, articles that hypothesized and theorized, ad nauseam – very reminiscent of the state of affairs in the run up to the launch of the original iPhone back in 2007. They waited and waited for a launch. Then the clamor reached a crescendo since Apple’s Apple Watch announcement in September 2014. The wait since has seemed interminable.
Finally, the day has come for the Apple Watch to meet the curious humans.
Apple Watch, designed by Jony Ive and Marc Newson, has just been released amongst four tons of fanfare and more than a handful of slick adverts.
While the literature capturing the curiosity of many, post-launch, the Apple Watch has earned a mix bag of accolades and brickbats from early adopters, fence sitters and critics.
Let us explore the Apple Watch for ourselves, to see where we at Chip-Monks stand.
Apple Watch Defined
As always, Apple Inc. created a buzz with their attention to detail, the design and most importantly, the materials used for their products. Such a mix has always allowed Apple to position their devices in the Premium segment.
The Apple Watch is a square watch by design and will come in two sizes – 38mm and 42mm.
It will have three models differentiated basis materials used. Construct though, is common across all models:
The options don’t end there – the three variants come in 9 models, 6 different types of bands and 19-color variations for you to choose from!
All three watches have extremely intricate finishes, right down to the laser-etched crown, but the materials used for each set them apart.
APPLE SPORTS WATCH
Apple Sports Watch uses anodized 7000 series aluminum, aluminosilicate glass screen and has removable rubber straps making it the lightest of the three siblings.
You will have two colors to choose from – Silver Aluminum and Space Grey.
Apple Watch uses stainless steel and comes in glossy metal – available in Stainless Steel or Space Black finishes. This variant has a sapphire crystal screen unlike the Sports version, making it a more durable screen.
APPLE WATCH EDITION
Apple Watch Edition has caught the eye of many, and rightfully so. It comes with an 18 carat gold case in two colors of gold – Yellow Gold and Rose Gold. Both come with matching color bands in leather or fluoroelastomer plastic.
These smart timepieces will set you back by USD 17,000.
To add to your customization neé personalization experience, Apple has created several proprietary bands for each variant, all of which can be swapped extremely easily.
The ‘Link Bracelet’ and the ‘Milanese Loop’ are both in stainless steel, the ‘Leather Loop’ and ‘Classic Band’ in leather, along with numerous colored fluoroelastomer bands.
Apple hopes that you’ll go ahead and stack up the bands, given that the bands are easy to change with just a click of the button – literally.
Apple Watch – In Use
Once we moved past gawking at the watch, we wanted to put it to test. And we were enthralled.
The Watch is definitely not an iPod scaled down to strap onto your wrist!
Apple Watch allows you to see time, monitor your fitness, enjoy your music wirelessly, use Apple Pay and communicate via messages, phone calls and notifications amongst other functionalities.
You’ll appreciate Siri even more – with her residing on your wrists and assisting you night and day. Simply raise your watch and say ‘Hey Siri’ to issue commands.
Testing Siri was fun, till I realized that I was flicking my wrists way more than I should and talking to my watch way more than I should – well you get the drift.
Another indulgence I succumbed to was taking photos. The Watch thankfully does not come with a camera on board – we really see no point in that save for FaceTime calls! The Watch instead acts only as a remote trigger for your phone’s camera, with the Watch’s itsy-bitsy screen doing a great job as a viewfinder. So, place your iPhone on a sold surface, and go join the group and smile! The Watch will help you click a selfie without your arms outstretched or your backs arched weirdly. A function, which will be worshipped by the “Selfie” addicts.
Accessing the functions of the smartwatch – was a valid concern of all prospective buyers, especially ones with broad fingers.
Apple’s design team came up with an ingenious solution of using the crown to scroll and select Apps and functions on the watch.
Interface wise too, the Apple Watch received a lot of thought and research. It has a carousal of icons which change in size and placement enabling the Apple Watch to accommodate more apps directly on one screen while retaining ease of access for all finger types.
The user winds the crown for scrolling, selecting and zooming and a new ‘forced press’ interaction to access secondary functions.
There’s a second button, beside the crown that can be used to access Apple Pay or quickly get to your contacts list.
Thankfully the Apple Watch is not festooned with buttons all over it’s existence. Instead it has just two, discretely placed but craftily empowered buttons. The Watch overall looks gob-smackingly beautiful!
Next, we tried the calling from the Watch and surprisingly, the recipient of the call could not differentiate if it was from a phone or the Watch! That said, holding your hand up to talk into your wrist can be tiresome and plain weird for people who haven’t yet been sensitized to a smartwatch.
The Watch itself communicates with you via notifications from your phone, seamlessly and discreetly, using a ‘Taptic Engine’.
Located at the top right corner of the Watch, beneath the screen, the Taptic Engine is a small mechanism that vibrates to notify the user-using minute, customizable vibrations.
Apple has currently included notifications relating to messages, phone calls, calendar, news, mail and the Activity app. There are more in the works, I’m sure, as are notifications from Third-Party app developers.
In addition, using the Taptic Engine and the heart rate sensor on the watch, one can send their heart beat rhythm to a fellow Apple Watch user.
While not extremely useful, however intimate couples might appreciate the feature.
Another feature which is a boon for the frequent flyers and nomads is the Wallet, which allows you to store and seamlessly use your data regarding travel, boarding passes, airline loyalty cards and tickets in addition to your credit cards, debit cards and even store loyalty cards!
So, you can have your financial information at your wrist at all times, making purchases without taking out your wallets.
With all loyalty card information in your Wallet app – you no longer need to stack your wallet with numerous physical loyalty cards.
One question crossed my mind though – with people now carrying lesser physical cards and currency, will the crime by mugging and stealing reduce?
A new technology included in the watch is the ‘Force Touch’. It’s an intriguing and interesting new technology. It allows different functions to be activated on the Watch, basis the intensity of force applied while touching the screen.
The technology allows the screen to differentiate between a light flick, a light touch (like a regular touch on your iPhone) and a hard press, thus allowing them to be allocated different functionalities.
Just to clarify, this is different from ‘Multi Touch’ – that’s the technology that allows user to interact with a device using more than one finger simultaneously (think of the two-finger pinch or zoom).
‘Forced Touch’ enables the user to access far more functionality via the itsy-bitsy touchscreen on the Watch than otherwise possible. The functionality is experienced while setting clock faces, messaging, clearing of notifications, while searching for a location on the map, in the music app to shuffle between music source, working the alarm and in accessing the details of your calendar!
One major drawback we came up against was the battery life of the watch. The Apple Watch has a 205 mAh, non-replaceable battery that Apple claims lasts 18 hours of mixed use. This duration can be stretched a tad bit by putting the Watch to sleep when not in active use. This ‘Power Reserve Mode’, as Apple calls it, puts all other functions to sleep, allowing the watch to function only as a humble wristwatch for the coming 72 hours.
However, our active fingers fueled by curiosity ran through a complete charge in less than 10 hours and we were not happy at all!
So if you have an active lifestyle where you exercise for an hour using the heart rate monitor and then get on calls post that, you will get to be intimate buddies with your Apple Watch’s wireless charger. Which is another peeve altogether – there’s yet another form of charger that Apple’s introduced. And with the paltry battery life, you’re going to have to carry it around too *frown*.
The ‘silver lining’ just to be slightly generous to Apple, is the Watch’s ability to charge to 80% in just 90 minutes, and to completely charge in 150 minutes.
Apple watch uses an inductive magnetic charger (designed along the same line with their Mag Safe notebook chargers) for charging wireless.
Making The Watch Your Own
Our fascination with customizing our Apple Watch kept us awake well past midnight, and we kept shifting between the nine watch faces Apple has pre-loaded.
While the ladies and the kids liked Mickey tapping, I preferred the simple modular watch face with adequate displays of notifications, battery life and calendar.
Customizing was easy – just Force Touch the screen and swipe to see different watch faces and choose. Going forward, we hope the next OS update allows the third party watch faces (Apple is currently blocking all third party watch faces being installed on the Watch) and also allow us to set pictures from our own photo gallery as wallpapers.
Is It Just A Glorified Fitness Tracker?
Late night to early morning was a very short time. We allowed the Watch to charge and a little before sunrise I strapped the Watch and got my rather out-of-shape self to put the fitness functions to test. I’ve not included a picture, lest I get hounded for scaring our readers with a weak heart.
The Watch does not discriminate – at least in functionality with the fitness levels or the lack thereof and tracks all manners of data diligently. Fortunately Siri knows her place, and made no bones about my bones.
The Watch pairs with all iPhones starting from the 4S, so most of you would be good to pair up with the Watch right away.
Interestingly, it’s worth a mention that the Apple Watch does not retail under the health and fitness equipment as it hasn’t yet cleared the Stress and Blood Pressure monitoring benchmarks set for certification of devices.
Having said that, Apple watch was pretty accurate when we put it to test.
Ideally, you should not compare the Apple Watch to advanced fitness trackers from Garmin, Fitbit or Polar, as those are specialty devices aimed at measuring just your basic exercise parameters. Apple Watch is a wearable device that brings basic health functionalities along with mobile communication capabilities. That said, the Watch’s price does make you question it.
Moving on, the Watch did coax us to keep moving. Like the Nike Fuelband, Apple aims to connect you to people around you and motivate you to start moving in step with a global community. The community is at your fingertips – you can communicate with them, while the fitness trackers track our individual data and performance in isolation. There’s a minimal sharing of data.
The Watch also tracks and notifies you of inactivity for an extended time period, using sensors that monitor the movements (steps, stairs climbed, runs, aerobics and a range of outdoor and indoor activities), heart rate, movement, exercise and even just standing up. All this pairs up and feeds into the Health App on your iPhone too!
I’d been reading about the concept of standing desks at work and even standing meetings – where just basic standing is promoted; guess what – your Apple Watch will also prompt you to stand for at least a minute for every hour.
It even has a workout app which tracks and notifies you of your milestones achievements and shortfalls. Another interesting feature I found was the ability to set goals based on distance (for outdoor activities), time or calories (allowing us to focus on the exercise and have a satisfying notification of burning the set amount of calories). The Watch uses distance, pace, speed, calories burnt and time to report the workout metric – both on the watch and on your iPhone. You can further add to the functionality of the watch with Bluetooth enables add-ons.
Did We Like It?
To change that question slightly, ‘was it worth it – the wait, the hype, the cost?’
Well, let’s put it this way – Chip-Monks sees, experiences, tests and validates new devices every singly day. Some are good, some outright excellent, while few catch our imagination any more though.
Not only did the Watch keep me up late at night, for a quite a few nights, it took over my days too.
It took me a quite while to come out of my mesmerized awe to objectively gauge the relevance of Apple Watch in my life.
It is not about what it measures, but how the watch reports and displays the information, allowing you to view, act, (more importantly) ignore, and share stuff that prompts you appreciate this device.
It may not be a complete health device, but unless you are an Olympian, the watch will serve you well, albeit the battery – and the wireless charger will become your next best friend.
All said and done, the Apple Watch is worth it, especially since you leave your phone in your pocket a lot more, and spend way more time away from fiddling with it. And Day 3 onwards, you stop fiddling with your Watch too, and leave it be, to let it do what it’s designed to – intimate you, intimately. And become your ubiquitous, subservient buddy.
Sony Inadvertently Unveils It's Xperia Z4 Tablet Earlier Than Planned
Sony has finally unveiled one of its most awaited flagship – Xperia Z4, albeit a little earlier than it actually intended to.
The tablet showed up on the official Xperia Lounge application, before it was hastily pulled, making the impression that the move was in error.
But not before someone spotted it and took a screenshot.
First, it seems that Sony has skipped the promised six-month refresh cycle as its predecessor, the Xperia Z3, was launched more than six months ago.
The design on the Z4 Tablet is somewhat identical to the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact, but it comes with a bigger 10-inch screen that has 2K resolution.
The erroneous post helped revealed some initial information regarding the new device. The image in the post provided a sidelong view of the device as well as confirming the high 2K resolution of the screen of around 2,560×1,440 pixels with a 20+ megapixel camera.
In addition to this, the screenshot also confirms other teasers like “the latest ultra fast processor”, “industry leading battery performance” and a “lightweight premium body”.
This could prove to be a publicity stunt by the Japanese tech giant, but that doesn’t dismiss the possibility of the news being genuine as the company revealed that the new device will make an appearance on March 3rd, in the middle of MWC 2015.
Since then, all the details and the screenshot has been removed from the official app, but the tablet will most likely sport the same thin outline with the trademark circular power on/off button. There are possibilities that the Xperia Z4 tablet will come with a Snapdragon 810 with more than 3 GB RAM.
There have been speculations that Sony might be exiting the smartphone and tablet business, however with such an important launch around the corner, it is unlikely that the Japanese giant will stop producing its mobile devices anytime soon.
Google Puts Their Foot Down On Dates Android OS Releases
Apple has forever had an edge over the Android devices with regard to the high proportion of it’s user base that is on the most-contemporary iOS version.
Android on the other hand, struggles to overcome the highly fragmented adoption rate of it’s newer Android versions. Manufacturers are to blame, as is the overall ‘open source’ method of Android.
Android thus suffers poor users experience on it’s devices and Google has forever know that.
Now, Google might be taking their first step to regain some ground by introducing a policy applicable to all manufacturers utilizing Android OS for their devices.
The policy discourages them from releasing any new devices with an Android version which is 2 levels older than the current one.
Google wants to cull the fragmentation of Android OS at the manufacturer level and have taken a stand that they will not approve GMS (Google Mobile Service) distribution of devices nine months after the Android OS is released.
What this means to the manufacturer (and by extension, the users) is that if a brand’s device is found flouting this policy, it might not be able to access the Google Play Store at all, including the Google Mobile Service (GMS) which is a suite of all Google apps like Google Maps, Google Now, Hangouts etc., that are critical to the overall Android experience.
While the device will gunction normally even without the GMS, however it’s features and capabilities will be severely restricted as it will largely become an ‘island’ of a device. Can you imagine what the lack of access to the Play Store would do to your experience with your smartphone/tablet!
Well, here are the dates that Google’s specified:
The way we’ve heard it, Google will be enforcing this policy on budget phones and mid-range phones to start with, along with the top-of-line smartphones to follow suit.
They intend to apply the policy to cover not only the major players like Samsung, HTC, LG but also the upcoming brands and local brands that are flooding the market with their inexpensive devices that come with high-end specifications like Xiaomi, Micromax and Karbonn.
Should Google actually enforce this policy, one can envision a day when Google will unveil the latest version of the Android OS and all manufacturers will simultaneously launch it across their products on the same day rather than making their non-Nexus users wait months.
Here’s a beer to that!
Kill Switch – What Is The Fuss About?
There’s been a lot of media buzz about the “Kill Switch” on your mobile device, with a lot of back and forth between the government officials, mobile device manufacturers and mobile phone carriers. Each party has their perspective justifying which side of the fence they are on w.r.t. the Kill Switch.
Let us explore the Kill Switch, why it’s creating such big fuss and why a consensus may not be in sight any time soon.
A Kill Switch as the name suggests, is a panic button, which can “kill” your mobile device, also referred to as an emergency switch.
This will enable the owner to render the phone useless in case of loss or theft and works with software that disables the phone on a command.
The major mobile device manufacturers like Samsung, Apple, Blackberry and Microsoft have listened to their users when they voiced concerns over loss of data via theft. To minimize the loss they have propagated online cloud storage.
Now in a step to minimize the intent (or conversely, benefit) of theft – they’ve come up with the “Kill Switch”. Most major manufacturers have included a Kill Switch on their devices out of the box, enabling their owners to take control and brick their phones thereby rendering the phones useless.
Samsung has offered Absolute LoJack in select Galaxy devices (Samsung is the largest producer of the Android phones). In fact, Samsung, Apple and Sony are all trusted partners for Absolute LoJack, with it available in the App Store and the Play Store.
The software allows the owner to locate and recover their device using WIFI, GPS or IP geolocation. It also allows the user to remotely lock their device and even wipe-off their data to protect against identity theft.
In fact, Apple has introduced its own propitiatory app “Find my iPhone” a standard feature for their iOS 7.
The app has useful features, wherein it allows the owner to reactivate their phone upon recovery and also prevents the app from being uninstalled on the stolen devices. All you need is your Apple ID to log in and access the app.
Even Sony has come out with “my Xperia”, which allows the users to locate their lost or stolen devices on the map with the added feature to wipe down their phone to prevent it from being misused.
BlackBerry, has also been active and have “BlackBerry protect” which enables their owners to track and remotely wipe data off their devices.
The app also allows you to remotely add contact details on the locked screen for people to return the device in case it as been innocently misplaced. The app goes further and allows the users to back up their data from the phone over WIFI and seamlessly switch over to a new BB device.
Now lets understand the viability of concerns accompanying device theft and resulting identity theft.
There are many projections with this regard.
USA Todays shows that 1 out of 3 thefts in the US involved mobile devices; more than 40% of the robberies in the US metros involved a mobile device and more than 1.5 million US citizens have lost their phones to theft.
In the Indian context, 53% Indians have been victims of mobile phone theft and most find the experience of losing their contacts harrowing to an extent that they are willing to pay a small ransom for the return of their phone.
While most are concerned about the loss of device and data, more than 70% cannot remotely block or wipe their phone in case of theft. Currently, only a little over 40% of users in India have password-protected mobile phones.
According to the Mobile Threat Report (@Juniper Networks), mobile malware grew by 155% in 2011 and by 614% in 2012-2013, of which, 92% of the malware are aimed at the Android devices. With more than a billion to be projected for shipment by 2017, and the Android fragmentation, which makes the OS prone to being exploited, it is a monumental threat.
When you consider the statistics with the ever-increasing sensitive financial data we have started to store on our mobile device – the problem properly appears to be very grave, and the phone manufacturers’ offering in this regard, is a boon for their users!
So why are the major carriers in the US (AT&T Inc., Verizon Wireless, Sprint Corp, T-Mobile US Inc. and U.S. Cellular Corp.) rejecting the kill switch and what repercussions will it have on the Indian consumers?
There are many conspiracy theories floating around implicating the major carriers of their vested interests in profiteering from the fear of a consumer losing their device.
The major allegation leveled at them is of being hand in glove with the insurance companies. This row gathered traction when the major carriers opposed the kill switch from Samsung Electronics, which the manufacturer wanted to offer to its customers out of the box.
The carriers already have the capability of blacklisting an IMEI number (every mobile device has a unique IMEI number assigned to them by the manufacturer and can be accessed in the phone information). Using this identification number, a carrier can block a device never to be used on their network. The limitation in this arrangement is experienced when the device moves across carriers or geographies into other countries.
Unless we have a consortium of carriers catering to a common IMEI blacklist across the globe, this arrangement may not be a viable option especially when the devices are moved across countries. I’m sure quite a few of us have seen smartphones with AT&T, Verizon and Vodafone logos being sold at our friendly corner shops at a considerably lower price and have silently accepted their dubious origins.
Insurance companies have been profiteering from the perceived threat that drives a consumer to subscribe to their offerings. The major areas for seeking an insurance cover are device malfunction, accidental damage, theft and loss of device.
The major carriers have preferred vendors for insuring their phones, and the insurance plans can differ across different carriers for the same insurance provider. The monthly plans are anywhere upward of $7, which when calculated across the number of subscribers is a substantial earning potential for the carriers.
This can be conjectured by considering the symbiotic relationship between the carriers and the insurance companies; however there is always another side to the debate.
Lets cross over to the other side and hear them out.
Telecom carriers have raised concerns about the fallibility of the Kill Switch and it being maliciously used to brick the phones of unsuspecting citizens and government officials. According to them, the employees of Department of Defense and Law Enforcement could be the primary targets, which could pose as a security threat.
The major carriers added that if the Kill Switch was activated and the phone wiped down, the customer would never be able to use the device again; but, as demonstrated by Apple Inc., there’s a viable solution to this concern.
Apple has embedded an activation lock in “Find my iPhone” which allows the owner to reactivate the phone with a correct user ID and password. Simple!
When we talk about crimes of theft w.r.t. mobile devices, have we taken into consideration that the device itself could be the very reason for the crime?
There have been proven cases when the quick buck from the sale of a stolen phone has been the very cause of a violent crime against the owner (smartphone would not be the first products which have a very high aspirational value, enough to commit crimes for; there have been products and brands of clothing and shoes before to incite such actions.
Consider another scenario; a cartel thriving on trading, exporting and supplying phones for nefarious activities. Anyone who has watched Hollywood thrillers is well versed with what a phone can be used for, so if we minimize the incentive for the phone to be stolen or to be resold illegally, we can effectively lower the crimes associated with them.
Coming to the point of the carriers and their perceived threat about the Kill Switch being used by hackers, why can they not have a program to disable the switch for a certain individuals; overrun by robust security protocols.
Despite all the Telcos’ “misgivings” I’m sure most customers (worldwide) would support the Kill Switch, as it’s max risk of rendering a phone useless is mostly a financial loss. and can be considered as minor collateral damage when compared to what a stolen phone can be used for in addition to the crimes committed to procure them.
Watches – The Next Device To Get Telephony Capability
Factoid: the maximum use of a mobile phone is to check the time.
The above fact is perhaps a clear indication that the watches would be the next device category to be affected by the growth of the mobile devices (we have already seen GPS manufacturers being affected significantly by the commonplace integration of GPS into most smartphones).
As the war on who will launch the next smartwatch with telephony capability heats up, Apple has filed for a patent in Japan for its “iWatch” (as people are assuming it’ll be called).
One of the first watch-phones to come out was from Samsung – Samsung SPH-WP10 in 1999.
Many manufacturers have since forayed into combining watches with mobile telephony capability:
LG (LG GD910)
Sony Smartphone watch
Sony has launched a waterproof watch, which will act as peripheral device connecting to a phone via Bluetooth.
Despite quite a few manufacturers having attempted creating a product like a smartwatch, none of them have been able to create something truly disruptive or even anything that people’s attention or stoked their imagination.
Now with biggies like Apple and Samsung seemingly working to launch their own attempts at truly smart, good-looking and wearable watches, the interest in smartwatches has seen a resurgence.
Both these manufacturing majors have taken off their gloves and are clearly competing to launch their our attempts at usable and attractive smartwatches, in the coming year.
Apple is rumored to be aggressively developing one, while Samsung has had one in the pipeline for about a year now.
With the companies now filing patents for curved screens, flexible screens, curved batteries, to name a few – it seems assured that the race for the smartwatch is on the clock.
Watch this space to stay abreast with news, launches and reviews on Smartwatches.
New Xperia From The Sony Stable
However, Sony is set to release another variant of its signature smartphone currently called the Sony D6503 or “Sirius”.
Since the arrival of the D6503 is in the near future, leaked photos are doing the rounds, most of which show a shell, similar to that of the Z1 with a few minor changes.
Internally, the device is said to run on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chipset and have 3 GB of RAM. The camera looks untouched, however Sony may take a page out of the iPhone 5s chapter and include slow motion video recording.
Externally, the slots also seem to have been rearranged. The SIM card slot and USB opening occupy the left side covered by the same magnetic flap while the microSD card has its provision on the right. The display screen is reportedly a larger 5.2 inch one. This seems obvious and certain, since the smaller version is out and manufacturers always seem to alter display sizes while releasing variants.
XperiaBlog has speculated that the display resolution will be set to 1080p while other sources hold firm at 1440p.
If the leaked pictures are to be believed, the D6503 will launch on the Android 4.4 KitKat. A “What’s New” mode much like the Google Now and a “Simple Home” mode much like the Samsung Easy TouchWiz are also rumoured to be showcased on Sony’s latest. Moreover, it may feature a “Glove Hand” mode following the Lumia series example and a “Smart Backlight” mode from the Samsung Galaxy arena.
The idea of taking the very best features from a range of available technology and releasing them in the “Sirius” could be a stroke of genius, or the opposite.
Sony may showcase the device at the Mobile World Congress, February 2014 to settle the concerns and questions.
AT&T To Install Lookout Security App On All Android Phones
One of the biggest names in mobile security, Lookout has recently struck a deal with AT&T (which makes AT&T the third of four major U.S carriers) to sell it’s Android devices with the Mobile Security app pre-installed. This agreement is indicative of a clear acknowledgement of the rising vulnerability (and hence customer’s rising insecurity) of the Android ecology, to viruses and other malware.
Lookout’s mission statement is to tackle the most important mobile security issues, from identifying emerging threats to preventing fraud and fighting cyber crime.
While Google has always claimed Android is a self-sufficient operating system when it comes to securing personal data or preventing unwanted malware from affecting the device but that has never seemed to convince even the most loyal of its users.
Yet, a few months ago, Google quietly started incorporating some strengthened defence mechanisms through the Android Device Manager.
Being open source ought to have some disadvantages too, right? All those unauthorized APK’s [an APK is an Android Application Package file… like a zip file, used to distribute and install applications onto devices running Android operating system] that we come across on the web can often get your phone in trouble before you realise it.
Other anti-virus giants like Symantec have also been raising alarms about growing threats to Android users, making them insecure and look out for reliable security solutions.
Other than virus and malware protection, Lookout also enables Android users to locate their device in case of theft, ring the device on full volume irrespective of its sound profile, lock their device and even erase all data with a single click, should the need arise. Lookout has a 4.5/5 rating on Google’s Play Store and has over 50 million downloads. Now, that’s a lot of downloads!
Back to the deal with telecom providers in the US, this deal enables the providers to pre-load the Lookout app to every Android phone they sell, and to charge customers for the app.
Normally customers are usually wary of apps that come pre-loaded with their mobile devices, commonly referred to as ‘Bloatware’ – the undesirability for such apps is induced by the fact that they can not be uninstalled or modified until the user ‘roots’ or manually tinkers with their device. These applications take up memory, slow the phone down and most often serve no practical purpose whatsoever. However, with Lookout we might be seeing a change in attitude towards pre-installed applications since it is a utilitarian software and quite effectively allows users a safer mobile experience and more piece of mind.
AT&T is currently shipping Samsung Galaxy Note 3 with Lookout, it’ll be interesting to observe how the present climate of opinion transmutes.
Free Movies And Games For Some Sony Xperia Devices
Sony is giving way free movies and games to Sony Xperia users (Z1, Z2 and Z2 tablet owners).
This offer can be availed in a few select countries, with a different set of movies and games that are being offered in different country.
These freebies will be available for the Sony Xperia users through the Xperia Lounge Application and only after the user has downloaded Sony’s new companion app called “Pass”, from Google Play Store.
How this works is simple – all the user needs to do is go to the lounge and press the icon that indicates promotions. If Pass has not been installed, the device will first prompt the user to download it and then tap to receive the vouchers.
Sony is offering 6 movies and 8 free PlayStation mobile games.
So in case you’re the proud owner of one of these devices, make sure that you claim your vouchers.
The promo for games expires on June 30, while the actual giveaway is open until July 31, 2014 and vouchers can be redeemed by October 31, 2014.
There are a few teething issues; however they should be done with in the next few days.
Sony is not new to this, as back in 2011 they had offered a similar deal.
Sony has been known for its entertainment business other than just making Android phones and they have in their portfolio games, films and music. Thus enabling them to give away the movies and games free of cost to their Xperia users.
The games that are being offered are – Hungry Giraffe, Surge, The Puzzle, Haunt the House etc.
The movies being offered are Captain Philips, Elysium, This is the End, 21 Jump Street and Michael Jackson’s This is it.
While in addition to these, the U.S. users will have American Hustle, while the Australian and some European users will have Django Unchained to choose from.
With a lot of competition from Apple, Samsung, HTC, LG – this could be a way for Sony to establish a differentiator prospect for their customers.
Sony Starts Rolling Out A JB 4.1 Maintenance Release For Xperia S, Xperia SL & Xperia Acro S
Sony has started rolling out a maintenance release for Xperia S, Xperia SL & Xperia Acro S.
After making Android Jelly Bean 4.1 available for these smartphones, Sony received feedback on a few issues within the build. These have all been addressed and further tweaks and improvements have been made as well via the release.
So for all you Sony loyalists on these devices, it sure must be a good feeling to know that Sony is listening and has you covered. Here’s a changelog (of sorts) detailing what’s fixed and included in the release:
For the Camera
For Apps, Services & Data
And finally for the Hardware & UI
Sony Launches It’s New Flagship, The Xperia Z1 aka Honami
“Xperia Z1 represents a significant milestone for Sony in our continued efforts to deliver unforgettable experiences to our consumers”, said Kunimasa Suzuki, President and CEO, Sony Mobile Communications. “Not only by bringing the power of Sony to the smartphone and through close collaboration with our partners but by setting a new standard in premium smartphones”.
The elegant 5 inch Xperia Z1 is the latest addition to Sony’s premium Z series of products and brings Sony’s proven world-class technologies to the smartphone like never before.
The Z1 combines the very best of Sony’s technology in a slim, waterproof (IP55 & IP58) and beautifully designed Android smartphone. Its stunning looks combine Sony’s acclaimed Omni-Balance design with premium materials and precision engineering.
A solid one-piece aluminium frame with tempered glass on the front and back ensures beauty and durability as well as a consistent viewing experience from any angle.
Thanks to the inclusion of Sony’s BRAVIA TV technology, Xperia Z1 features Sony’s unique TRILUMINOS Display for mobile, creating a wider palette of rich natural colours for an immersive viewing experience. The large, high-resolution 5 inch Full HD display comes with a 1920×1080 progressive scan, for incredibly crisp pictures free of jagged edges. Paired with a pixel density of 441 pixels per inch, you get pictures on your camera phone that are razor sharp and incredibly bright.
The device boasts of true compact camera performance through combination of Sony’s award-winning “G Lens”, large 1/2.3-type 20.7 megapixel “Exmor RS for mobile” CMOS image sensor and “BIONZ for mobile” image processing engine. This unique combination gives you images that are delivered with superior sharpness, clarity and brightness.
Xperia Z1 features the fully integrated Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor with 2.2 GHz quad-core CPU and 4G LTE to provide a seamless connected entertainment experience, industry leading battery performance and amazing speed. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor features the latest graphics processor and dual ISP for incredible graphics, 3D games and videos.
When it comes to memory, the Z1 is blessed with a 2 GB RAM and a built in memory of upto 16 GB. Flash memory on the device can be increased by the user via Expansion slot microSD cards, that’s an additional memory boost of up to 64 GB by the user.
Compared to it’s predecessor the Xperia Z, here is where the Z1 feature set scores:
Available in three colours, black, white and purple this phone is definitely one of the best smartphones Sony has come up with and probably the best Smartphone available today.
Check out the new Xperia Z1, the best of Sony is now even better!
[R]evolution Of The Stylus
Does anyone remember the Stylus any more? No? Let me remind you – and for that, I’ll have to take you back in time.
Believe it or not, when the iPhone wasn’t around, people used to carry bulky PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) running Palm OS or Windows OS on them. While both OS’ were intended for point-and-click interactions, the screen technology (called Resistive Touch) back then didn’t really do well with finger or touch interactions. Hence, every touchscreen device had this little stick (metal or plastic) called the Stylus that was used to register inputs.
Resistive Touch technology works on the basis of contact made to the surface of the touchscreen presses it which then makes contact with another sheet placed right under it, separated by ‘microdots’. On these two sheets are horizontal and vertical lines that when pushed together, register the precise location of the touch. And in order to hit somewhere near precisely on the screen, one needed a pencil-point-sized instrument. Thus, the ever-important stylus.
The Stylus was not only the go-to tool for using your touchscreen device; it even increased the “cool” quotient of your device back then… indicative of “next-gen technology” or The Future.HTC PDA device with Stylus
However, with the debut of the Capacitive Touchscreen technology in mobile phones via Mr. Jobs’ brilliant introduction of the pathbreaking iPhone in 2007, the Stylus was suddenly redundant, and soon, forgotten.
A Capacitive Screen is basically a glass panel coated with a transparent conductive material that relies on touch-input on the surface of the screen via the finger, to trigger an electric field and register input. In simple words, it works on the principle of electric charges. Physically pressing down on the screen was no longer required. This as we all now know from personal experience, it is a much smoother and simpler experience. There’s no need to go hunting for or scrunching down on a stylus all day.
Soon resistive screens like styli, too became redundant technology and capacitive screens were incorporated into every phone, PDA, medical equipment and almost every other form of displays that we interact with nowadays.
With the onset of any new technology, people tend to dismiss all objects associated with what was ‘old’ as rubbish and move on, rather quickly. Give them some more time though, and nostalgia sets in. And remarkable as it is, old becomes fashionable again. Ah, the circle of life…
I was among the many smart phone users who had started secretly craving the Stylus after the dust from the whole touch screen razzmatazz had settled. I missed it – not that I have pudgy fingers or anything. But sometimes the curry, the wet hands and very often, the urge to peck at my phone as it lay at my work desk, instead of having to hold it in my hands (imagine that!) just belied the otherwise convenient touchscreen. I just needed distance from the screen, mainly to safeguard my sophisticated box of (silicon) chips and easily-smudged glass.
Well, the wheel rolled over and the circle was complete. Samsung came out with their Galaxy Note and its ‘S-Pen’, which sold more than 5 million units and almost all the phone-makers-of-the-world turned their collective attention back to the Stylus.
Now we’re onto the third gen of the Note series with Galaxy Note 3 and ‘S-Pen’ thrives – Samsung has optimized features on it, and on their homegrown variant of the Android OS. The number and kinds of things that the S-Pen can do has advanced significantly with the third installment of the Note series. So much so, that even though the Note III impresses customers with its size, features and capabilities, the S-Pen is the most versatile feature of the phone especially with the increased customizability of the Stylus to meet varied user needs.
However (there’s that word again), as with practically everything in the Digital Age, this super stylus requires some power to live up to all that it does. It draws that power wirelessly from the device itself (imagine that!!). Its all quite miraculous, this piece of plastic.
If you think I’m on some hyperbole trip, here are some of the most intriguing functions offered by the S-Pen:
• The Air Command feature lets you access the five most important functions from anywhere within the OS, just by clicking the S-Pen’s button while hovering over the screen,
• Displaying the contents of any app or folder when hovered over with the S-Pen.
• Drawing on the screen with the button pressed lets you clip anything that you’re reading to the clipboard; which then works beautifully with ‘S-Finder’ to help you look through all the content within your device including hand written notes (which also reminds me that the Hand Writing Recognition on this third gen Note is scarily accurate).
Other than this, the S-Pen has a lot more to offer and I believe it’s safe to say that it indeed is a very powerful tool capable of fulfilling expectations of all the creative minds out there, setting the Note III apart from all phones available in the market right now. It is commendable how Samsung has taken up the Stylus and introduced it as the mascot of their Note devices.
Samsung Galaxy Note with its dedicated Stylus [S-Pen] Samsung Galaxy Note 3 with the updated S-Pen
Other giants have also been paying attention to Samsung’s exploits with the stylus and have begun their journeys to revive the stylus with their own styles. HTC came out with its tablet devices, the Flyer and View with a dedicated Stylus each, which it called the ‘Scribe Pen’.
The stylus enabled users to do things like photo editing and drawing with pinpoint accuracy with such ease and simplicity that the Stylus (the modern stylus, of course) was back in the game.
HTC Flyer Tab with the Scribe Pen
Today, the demand for the Stylus is on the rise and there are many third party manufacturers catering to user’s needs by offering universal styli. We have styli for Apple devices too, however their limited use and cost has not made them a popular add-on for iOS devices. Yet.
However having taken a close look at the scenario today, I am not convinced that there are too many brands out there that have actually worked to harness the power of the Stylus. Most are just catching up with the Joneses, doing as they do, dancing as they dance.
With the evident popularity of the Samsung Galaxy Note and its sidekick, the S-Pen, there is a lot of potential for this simple tool to be re-incorporated with mobile devices and molded into something innovative and fresh. Opportunities are limitless, with touchscreen devices clearly being here to stay.