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ZODIAC

Found 46 results

  1. Apple's iMessage service, as we all know, is what has been keeping iOS users glued together and making them stick to the Apple ecosystem. Like, seriously. It's insane to think how a messaging service is making people remain loyal to an OS. Well, it looks like Google is finally ready to lock horns with Apple. Yes, Google is bringing its version of iMessage to Android. Users in the UK and France with Android phones will be able to opt into the new texting service called 'Chat'. © Reuters The concept of 'Chat' and 'RCS' protocol on which Chat itself is based on, is more complex than you can imagine. But in simple terms, Android Chat can be seen as an easier way to text. Much like iMessage, users will be able to see read receipts and ellipsis symbols when people type, and more. You'll also be able to send and receive high-resolution images and videos, and it all happens through either cellular data or Wi-Fi. It's going to be great, and we really can't wait for the service to expand to more countries and eventually make its way to India too. © Reuters We're not entirely sure how messaging platforms like WhatsApp and others will react to the arrival of Chat on Android. After all, this new texting service has the potential to steal the show from WhatsApp and others. But we think it's still too early to tell how it'll be received across different parts of the world. Google, in case you didn't know, has been working on an Android version of iMessage for a long time now. In fact, RCS was created all the way back in 2007 to replace SMS, but sadly the carriers didn't really show a lot of interest at that time. Now let's hope things work out in favour of Google and we finally have an iMessage equivalent on Android.
  2. Apple's iMessage service, as we all know, is what has been keeping iOS users glued together and making them stick to the Apple ecosystem. Like, seriously. It's insane to think how a messaging service is making people remain loyal to an OS. Well, it looks like Google is finally ready to lock horns with Apple. Yes, Google is bringing its version of iMessage to Android. Users in the UK and France with Android phones will be able to opt into the new texting service called 'Chat'. © Reuters The concept of 'Chat' and 'RCS' protocol on which Chat itself is based on, is more complex than you can imagine. But in simple terms, Android Chat can be seen as an easier way to text. Much like iMessage, users will be able to see read receipts and ellipsis symbols when people type, and more. You'll also be able to send and receive high-resolution images and videos, and it all happens through either cellular data or Wi-Fi. It's going to be great, and we really can't wait for the service to expand to more countries and eventually make its way to India too. © Reuters We're not entirely sure how messaging platforms like WhatsApp and others will react to the arrival of Chat on Android. After all, this new texting service has the potential to steal the show from WhatsApp and others. But we think it's still too early to tell how it'll be received across different parts of the world. Google, in case you didn't know, has been working on an Android version of iMessage for a long time now. In fact, RCS was created all the way back in 2007 to replace SMS, but sadly the carriers didn't really show a lot of interest at that time. Now let's hope things work out in favour of Google and we finally have an iMessage equivalent on Android.
  3. Huawei is already working on its own operating system since Google revoked its access to the Android license earlier this week. The Chinese company says that its own operating system for both smartphones and laptops will be ready for use by fall this year. The new operating systems will first be released for use in China, and it would only happen if the situation between Huawei and Google does not change in the coming months. © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla The Chinese tech giant already had a contingency plan and has been developing its own OS for a while in preparation for a worst-case scenario, such as President Trump's blacklist. Huawei is looking to release the operating system that will work on both smartphones and laptops. This move comes as American companies need to seek permission from the US government before selling services and goods to Huawei. © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla The company has detailed that the operating system will be available for markets outside of China either by the first or second quarter of 2020. Huawei's new operating system will work with other products such as wearables, auto, laptops and other devices. The operating system will be compatible with Android apps as well and would be 60% faster than Android. However, the new Huawei OS will not have access to the Google Play Store but the Chinese company has already started talks with third-party app store 'Aptoid'. The third-party store may come pre-installed on Huawei smartphones for global markets like India and Europe. © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla Huawei now has a bigger hurdle to overcome as the company has also lost access to ARM, the company that provides license for the basis of most mobile device processors worldwide. This effectively leaves Huawei's HiSilicon division useless, as Huawei will not be able to build their own processors for smartphones and even IoT products. Source: CNBC
  4. The OnePlus 7 Pro was launched in India today and we've been using the smartphone for a while to let you know how the smartphone fares in 2019. OnePlus is one of those unique brands that have been able to dethrone giants like Apple and Samsung in India by offering flagship-level smartphones for a considerably less price. OnePlus makes smartphones using top of the line components and offer a seamless OS experience that can only be matched by Google's Pixel smartphones. The OnePlus 7 Pro has a complete design overhaul when compared to the OnePlus 6/6T with some new features, a brand new display and Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 855 processor. Here's what we think about the OnePlus 7 Pro and everything it has to offer: Design And Display © MensXP The OnePlus 7 Pro is beautifully designed and comes with no notches, almost zero bezels and a very vivid screen. At the back, there's a slight curve for better ergonomics and has a reflective glass that catches light from different angles. The colours are not over the top as other smartphones keeping it interesting and alluring at the same time. The OnePlus 7 Pro comes with a triple camera setup and has the same branding placement as the OnePlus 6T. The OnePlus 7 Pro comes in three colours: Nebula Blue, Almond and Mirror Gray. At the bottom, the smartphone has the USB-C port, a speaker grille and a SIM card slot. OnePlus has removed the headphone jack as well in favour for better water resistance as it was quite expected since it was removed from the OnePlus 6T as well. At the front, the notch has been completely removed and now has QHD+6.67-inch AMOLED display. The display itself is one of the most beautiful panels we've ever seen on a smartphone. This is also the first time OnePlus has included a 90Hz refresh rate panel which results in a smoother experience and better performance on games. Having said that, the battery life of the smartphone does drop considerably when used in the 90Hz mode. Thankfully, OnePlus has given you the option to switch to 60Hz refresh rate in the display settings. © MensXP The display itself is very bright and has a pixel density of 556 ppi. The colour reproduction on the display has been outstanding and gave the Samsung Galaxy S10+ a run for its money. It was a delight to watch TV shows on Netflix that has HDR support as the OnePlus 7 Pro's display is also HDR10+ certified. The blacks look deep and dark, the contrast ratio is on point and has high saturation levels. In order to complement your viewing experience, the OnePlus 7 Pro also comes with dual stereo speakers that were previously missing in the OnePlus 6T. Since there is no fingerprint sensor, the OnePlus 7 Pro also has an in-display fingerprint sensor just like the OnePlus 6T, albeit it works far faster and smoother than before. Since the notch has also been removed, OnePlus 7 Pro now comes with a pop-up selfie camera just like some VIVO and OPPO smartphones. Having said that, it is worthy to point out that the OnePlus 7 Pro is a very heavy phone and cause fatigue if you are used to the company's previous lighter smartphones. There were times when our fingers and palm would simply tire out when using the smartphone due to its weight. If you plan on using a cover, then it is even heavier. However, once you start using the smartphone, your palm and fingers will get used to it over time. Performance OnePlus smartphones are known to have great components under the hood and the OnePlus 7 Pro is no exception. The OnePlus 7 Pro is blazingly fast and it's all thanks to Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 processor. The flagship level processor is coupled with 6/8 or 12 GB of RAM and comes with different storage options. We tested the 12GB RAM variant and it exceeded our expectations way too much. We ran a simple Geekbench 4 test and our review unit scored 3509 in the single-core test while it scored a very impressive 11130 score in the multi-core test. That's the fastest Android smartphone we've tested this year and is probably the only device that comes close to the iPhone XS Max's performance. © MensXP While gaming, you can run games like PUBG Mobile on the highest settings and there is no frame rate drop according to our Gamebench test. The smartphone also comes with new Haptic Vibration that amplifies your experience while playing games. The heat management is also up to the mark as the OnePlus 7 Pro now comes with a 10-layer Liquid Cooling system. The OnePlus 7 Pro also has a RAM boost mode which basically means that it will allocate remaining RAM to memory intensive applications such as First Person Shooter games. This means you will be able to load games faster thanks to the new mode in combination with the new UFS 3.0 type of storage. UFS 3.0 is probably the fastest form of storage that basically means it can read and write files at a much faster pace than any other smartphone out there. Overall, the performance of the smartphone was outstanding and it is by far the smoothest Android smartphone we've used till date. This is also partly because of OnePlus' Oxygen OS skin that is bloat-free and comes with new features. Cameras © MensXP In terms of photography, the OnePlus 7 Pro comes with a triple camera setup at the back where the primary sensor is a Sony IMX586 48-MP sensor that has an aperture of f/1.6 and pixel size of up to 1.6 μm. The sensor has both OIS and EIS. The second sensor is an ultra-wide 16 MP, f/2.2, with a 117° field of view. The third is an 8 MP, f/2.4, a telephoto sensor with 3x zoom. Now that you know the camera specifications, we were left quite disappointed with the camera performance on the OnePlus 7 Pro. Don't get us wrong, it can do a fair job of taking pictures but overall the quality of images felt underwhelming. The portrait images were not accurate at blurring the edges of our subject while there was no noticeable difference taking images with NightScape. The smartphone does a decent job of taking good images in good lighting conditions but did not perform as expected in the darker environments. Images would turn out to be very warm and sometimes lack the detail that one looks for in pictures. Some images were also overly saturated even when we tried our best to turn the levels down. Overall, the imaging on the OnePlus 7 Pro needs a lot of work and tweaking at the moment as most images simply look too soft. We hope a future update could fix these issues in the near future. © MensXP The biggest change on the OnePlus 7 Pro is the placement of the selfie camera. Since it is a pop-up selfie camera, it comes out from the top of the smartphone each time you switch modes or when you need to unlock using facial recognition. While testing, the pop-up selfie camera would take less than a second to arise and around the same time to go back down. The selfie camera has a 16 MP, f/2.0 sensor that is more than enough for taking simple selfies. The pop-up camera works just like it does on the Vivo V15 Pro and other smartphones that have a similar feature. Here are some camera samples for your reference: Battery Life The OnePlus 7 Pro comes with a 4,000 mAh battery that performs well if you know what you are doing. For example, if you are using your display with 90Hz refresh rate and at QHD+ resolution, your battery life will fall considerably. You can turn down the refresh rate or the resolution in order to conserve battery life. Having said that, when you have turned down either one of the options, you can expect an average of 5 hours and 30 minutes of screen-on-time with around 20 percent left. If you tweak either the refresh rate or the resolution, expect the screen on time to fall considerably faster. Having said that, we used the OnePlus 7 Pro extensively for navigation, playing memory and GPU intensive games like PUBG Mobile and Asphalt and a lot of internet browsing. The OnePlus 7 Pro also comes with the company's new Warp Charge 30 adapter with basically is the same charger that came with the McLaren edition of the OnePlus 6T. It increases your charging speed by 38% and we saw our smartphone go from 10% to 69% in less than 20 minutes. Software © MensXP When it comes to the software, I would buy a OnePlus smartphone just for Oxygen OS. It is by far the cleanest and most stable skin you find on a smartphone apart from Pixel smartphones. It offers almost a pure Android experience without any bloat or add-ons. This time around OnePlus has added new features such as Zen Mode. It basically lets users turn off almost all features of the smartphone apart from receiving phone calls. It is the company's effort for better smartphone management and digital wellbeing. The feature cuts access to the smartphone for a period of 20 minutes so that you can tackle smartphone addiction in a better manner. It cannot be cancelled once you start Zen Mode and lock all the apps until 20 minutes elapses. You can also use Google's native Digital Wellbeing feature to track your habits and the amount of time you spend on certain applications. The OnePlus 7 Pro also comes with a gaming mode where it mutes notifications and let you toggle custom settings such as disabling automatic brightness. Within the gaming mode, you also get a new Fnatic mode which basically takes these settings to the next level. It basically blocks all notifications apart from low battery notification, alarm and timer. It also fine tunes the processor to give gaming priority and disable the secondary SIM to give priority to the Primary SIM card for better signal strength. You will need to enable the gaming mode first in order to switch on the Fnatic mode. The Final Say There's no other smartphone that can perform as well as this beast, has a crisp display that offers vivid colours and gives great battery performance if you know what you are doing. Having said that, if you love to take pictures, the OnePlus 7 Pro still needs to improve a lot, especially because of the price tag. When you charge almost flagship level prices, the camera performance has to be up there as well in order to justify a recommendation. Having said that, the performance outweighs the camera performance for us as there's no other Android smartphone that can match up to the OnePlus 7 Pro at the moment. If you want a premium smartphone that can last long, perform well while gaming and take decent pictures, the OnePlus 7 pro is for you.
  5. Google announced the Pixel 3a and 3a XL this week and if you are looking for an Android smartphone that delivers good performance, a phenomenal camera and not super expensive, it really ticks all the boxes right now. We've been using the phone for a while and simply fallen in love with the smartphone. Pixel smartphones tend to have exclusive features that give it a few advantages over its counterparts. The Pixel 3a delivers computational photography at an unmatched level and offers a pure Android experience just like the Pixel 3. Here are some of the reasons why we love the Pixel 3a: Great Cameras © Akshay Bhalla_MensXP The Pixel 3a, in our opinion, takes some of the most incredible shots with its single camera sensor. It still takes pictures today that can outmatch almost every smartphone available today, even flagship level smartphones. For the first time, Google has proved that great cameras are not exclusive to flagship smartphones. It comes with all the exclusive features you get on the Pixel 3 i.e. Night Sight, Super-Res Zoom, Top Shot, Photobooth, Playground and Google Lens built right into the camera app. Google also intruded a new time-lapse mode where you can set your frames to record at various intervals. This essentially will let you record a 20-minute video and condense the final video into 10 seconds. Here are a few camera samples from the Pixel 3a: The Best Android Experience © Akshay Bhalla_MensXP Pixel devices have the cleanest stock experience you can find on an Android smartphone and also gets more regular updates. It comes with exclusive features that are not available on other devices such as computational photography, unlimited picture storage and overall smoother experience. The operating system has been fine-tuned according to its specifications and delivers an experience that not many phones can match. Other useful features such as Digital Wellbeing, Night Light and constant updates make this the best Android experience you can have on an affordable smartphone. It Has A 3.55mm Headphone Jack © Akshay Bhalla_MensXP Flagship smartphones are now removing the headphone jack in favour of better water resistance however it does render your wired headphones useless. Many people; especially audiophiles still prefer to use wired headphones due to better audio quality. Pixel 3a comes with a headphone jack which makes me want to use my 1MORE Quad driver earphones even more. Overall, its a better experience when it comes to audio quality and Pixel 3a does a phenomenal job. Night Sight © Google Night Sight was one of our favourite features on the Pixel 3 and the same feature comes to Pixel 3a as well. If you love to go out at night like me, this will be the most important feature you want to be looking at. Basically, Google uses “computational photography” to enhance images taken in low-light environments. This will basically eliminate the need to use flash, as Google's algorithms spruce up the brightness, contrast and colour automatically. It takes multiple images and combines them together to give the best final picture that is social media ready.
  6. Google announced a bunch of cool new Android Q features last night during the Google I/O 2019 keynote, and the update is now available for a bunch of smartphones. But before we check out the list of phones that will receive the update, here are all the cool new features of Android Q: Live Caption © YouTube Live caption feature, as the name suggests, will put an end to your subtitle woes. Yes, Google has revealed that this particular feature will take the words spoken in a video and display captions in real time. Live caption feature is not limited to just the videos you watch on, say, YouTube or Netflix, it can even show you captions in a video you've taken on your phone or any videos which you've received on WhatsApp, etc. So cool, right? Dark Mode © YouTube Yup, Android Q is getting a system-wide dark mode called 'Dark Theme'. So, the dark mode, besides making your phone look cool, can also help you get a little more juice out of your phone's battery. On Android Q, you'll be able to enable the dark mode by simply switching a toggle. New Gesture Navigation © YouTube Gesture navigation is something which Google had introduced with the last version of Android, but now, it's going all in. Honestly, we think it's very similar to the gesture navigation which we have on the iPhones. Here's how it works - In Android Q, there's now a thin, long white bar at the bottom instead of the 'pill and back button combo. You can simply swipe up from within an app to go home or swipe up and drag across to go into the multitasking view. To get to the app drawer, you can just swipe up from the home screen. To go back to the previous screen, you can swipe in from either side of the display. Yes, the new gestures on Android Q are very similar to Apple offers on the new iPhones, but it's not necessarily a bad thing because the iPhones gestures are fluid and they work like a charm. Permissions and Privacy © YouTube Much of the Google I/O keynote last night was about security and privacy features. Yes, Google seems to be taking the user privacy very seriously, and it shows with this new build of Android. The company has added a new 'Privacy section to settings, which will have a mix of different settings to let you take control of your privacy. There's a lot of ground to be covered in this section, but the gist of it all is that Google is very serious about user privacy and it wants the users to be on the front and centre of it all. Focus Mode © Google Google already introduced an extensive set of features to keep you away from the phone under the 'Digital Wellbeing' tag last year with Android P. Well now, the company is adding a new feature called 'Focus Mode'. This new mode is just like Do Not Disturb feature, except you'll be able to pick the apps that you find distracting or tempting, and shut them down for some time. It's a simple idea, but we think it'll users be more productive. Apart from the aforementioned features, Android Q brings a lot of other new things like Parental control, changes to notifications, the way the security updates are handled, and more. List of phones that can enrol in the Android Q beta - · Google Pixel 3, 3XL · Google Pixel 3a, 3a XL · Google Pixel 2, 2XL · Google Pixel, XL · ASUS Zenfone 5Z · Essential PH-1 · Nokia 8.1 · Huawei Mate 20 Pro · LG G8 ThinQ · OnePlus 6T · Oppo Reno · Realme 3 Pro · Sony Xperia XZ3 · Tecno Spark 3 Pro · Vivo X27 · Vivo NEX S · Vivo NEX A · Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G · Xiaomi Mi 9 If you have any of the devices mentioned above, you can now enrol for the Android Q Beta and check out all the new features.
  7. HMD Global has launched the new Nokia 4.2 in India. The device was first shown off at the Mobile World Congress earlier this year, and they'll go head-to-head with other entry-level budget phones in the country. Nokia 4.2 Specifications © MensXP If you have a bit more money to splurge, then you can check out the new Nokia 4.2. It's a slightly more premium phone that sports an all-glass design with a polycarbonate frame. On the front, the Nokia 4.2 features a 5.71” HD+ LCD panel with a teardrop notch. Again, the front of the phone looks very similar to the Nokia 3.2 or any Nokia phone for that matter. (c) HMD Global Nokia 4.2 is powered by a Snapdragon 439 SoC and it comes with 3GB RAM and 32GB internal storage. It also runs a stock version of Android 9 Pie out of the box and has a dedicated Google Assistant button on the side. As for the optics, the phone has a dual camera setup which includes 13MP + 2MP sensors. There's an 8MP front-facing selfie camera as well. It also packs a 3,000 mAh battery and has a 3.5mm headphone jack too. Pricing & Availability Nokia 4.2, as mentioned earlier, starts at Rs. 10,990 for the 3GB/32GB variant. Nokia 4.2 consumers get free six-month screen replacement worth INR 3,500 covered under Nokia phone screen protection insurance, brought to you by our partner, Servify. T&Cs apply Consumers purchasing Nokia 4.2 using HDFC Bank Credit and Debit cards on EMI and regular transactions done through Pinelabs terminals in offline stores, will receive a 10% cashback. Consumers can also avail 10% cashback when they use HDFC consumer finance. This offer is available at retail outlets till 10th June '19. T&Cs apply Vodafone and Idea subscribers will receive INR 2,500 instant cashback by way of 50 vouchers of INR 50 each. These vouchers can be redeemed on recharge of INR 199 and above. T&Cs apply.
  8. HMD Global has put up some great numbers on board in the last two years. In a market that's as saturated as it is today, selling as many as over 70 million phones is no easy feat. But I'd say HMD has done a phenomenal job of reviving the Nokia brand and offering phones sprinkled with memories of Nokia brand. In India, Nokia is currently selling over 10 Android phones. From Nokia 1 to Nokia 8, the company has a lot on offer, and there's definitely something for everyone. But there hasn't been a Nokia 4 before. Yes, there's Nokia 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, and 8, but no 4. Well, that's changing now with the launch of the new Nokia 4.2. © MensXP/ Karthik Iyer That's right, Nokia has finally decided to fill the gap between the Nokia 3 and 5 with the new Nokia 4.2. It's an entry-level budget phone that starts at Rs. 10,990. But does it makes a decent fist of its pricing? Well, let's find out. Design & Display As soon as you pick up the Nokia 4.2 and hold it in your hands for the first time, you'll quickly realize that it's not that different from other Nokia phones with an all-glass design. That, however, is not a bad thing at all. I am a huge fan of Nokia phones, especially, the design. They all look very premium and give other phones in the same price segment a run for their money. © MensXP/ Karthik Iyer The Nokia 4.2 also manages to impress with its sleek design. I'd say the phone is a bit curvier than other Nokia phones that I've used in the past, but it's a joy to hold it in one hand. It sports 2.5D glass on both the front as well as the back. It literally feels like you're holding a premium phone in your hand. Seriously, it's that good. At the back, you get the dual camera sensors along with an LED flash and a fingerprint scanner. The Nokia branding is accompanied by the subtle 'Android One' mark, which is always a good sight. The Android One branding is quite subtle on the Black variant which I've been using since the past few days. I am sure the 'Pink Sand' variant of the phone looks equally premium. © MensXP/ Karthik Iyer The Nokia 4.2 comes with a micro USB port for charging and data syncing, and you also get a 3.5mm headphone jack for charging and data syncing. Interestingly, the phone also has a dedicated Google Assistant button on the left along with the standard power button and the volume rockers. Oh BTW, the power button lights up whenever you get a new notification. That's cool, I guess? The front of the phone is dominated by the 5.71” HD+ LCD panel. It's got a teardrop notch, but it's not entirely a bezel-less display. There's a thin black bezel running on both sides and the top, and the bottom, as always, has a thick chin with the Nokia branding. Like, I said, the phone is very similar to most other Nokia phones from the front. © MensXP/ Karthik Iyer The display gets adequately bright outdoors, and it shows nice and punchy colors. It's obviously not winning any awards for being the best in the business, but I did enjoy watching videos and playing some casual games on it. So, I think any casual user will be more than satisfied with the display. Overall, I'd say the Nokia 4.2 scores good marks when it comes to the design. It looks very similar to other Nokia phones on the market, which means the Nokia 4.2 makes other budget phones look downright ugly. Seriously, if you hand over this phone to someone and ask them to guess it's price, you'll be surprised. Trust me, I've done it. Cameras As for the optics, the Nokia 4.2 sports a 13MP f/2.2 sensor along with a 2MP f/2.2 secondary sensor at the back. And on the front, there's an 8MP selfie shooter. The UI, again, is very much similar to what we've from Nokia in the past. There are a bunch of shooting modes like Auto, Pro, Bokeh, Panorama, etc. You can also use Google Lens from right within the camera app, which is great. © MensXP/ Karthik Iyer During my usage, I sadly found the cameras on the Nokia 4.2 to be below average. Or maybe just average at best. First of all, there's a huge shutter lag while taking pictures, which is not something I've experienced in budget phones for quite some time now. I am not sure if it'll be fixed via an update, but it's not looking good at this point. Nokia 4.2 takes decent-looking images during the day with enough light, but things start falling apart when you start shooting at night. There's a ton of noise in the images and the shutter lag only gets worse at night. Even the bokeh mode is a hit or miss. I'd say Nokia still needs to work on the cameras on its budget phone, but I'll let you check out the samples and be the judge - Performance Well, this is the part that keeps reminding me that I am not dealing with a premium/ flagship phone. For its processor, Nokia has gone with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 439, which is a 1.9Ghz octa-core chipset. Using the Nokia 4.2 was my first time checking out this processor, and so I was open to surprises. Spoiler alert: I wasn't. © MensXP Nokia 4.2's performance is just about what you'd expect from an entry-level phone that's powered by a Snapdragon 400 series chipset. The Nokia 4.2 variant with 3GB RAM and 32GB internal storage and you can add more storage through an SD card, but that's just asking for more money to be spent. © MensXP/ Karthik Iyer During my testing, the Nokia 4.2 managed to push through the day-to-day tasks with ease. I didn't face any issues while doing things like browsing through social media, web-browsing, etc. However, when you start doing some resource-intensive tasks like editing photos for social media on apps like Snapseed or play some games like PUBG Mobile, the chipset will start showing it's true colors. Yes, I do understand that's it's an entry-level phone, so it can't really handle all those tasks well. However, it's tough to let it slide when there are other phones in the market that cost just about the same and can do pretty much anything you throw at them. © MensXP I am glad that this phone, just like every other Nokia Android phone, comes with a pure stock version of Android. You get Android 9 Pie and you're guaranteed to get major Android updates for two years, and security updates for three. Yes, all thanks to the Android One program. Overall, I'd say the Nokia 4.2 is a decent performer. It's not exactly a snappy experience, but the casual users will find plenty to like here. That being said, it's not really acceptable considering the fact that there are other phones that offer a far more superior performance in or around the same price. Battery Life © MensXP/ Karthik Iyer The Nokia 4.2 packs a 3,000 mAh battery. Does that last long enough? Well, that will completely depend on your usage, but I can say that it'll last you through an entire day without any issues. On days with heavy usage, I used to get around 3 - 3.5 hours of screen-on-time, whereas on days with light or moderate usage, you can expect it to last for over 4 hours. I found the phone's standby time, in particular, to be very impressive. When you run out of juice, you can charge the phone from 0 to 100 percent in just over 2.5 hours. The Final Say Nokia 4.2 is one of those rare budget phones that feels pricier than it actually is. It's a really good phone that comes with a stylish design and a clean Android interface. It's not going to blow you away with its performance or by taking breathtaking pictures, but it'll definitely get the job done. © MensXP/ Karthik Iyer HMD Global will be selling the Nokia 4.2 in India at a starting price of Rs 10,990 for the 3GB RAM and 32GB internal storage varaint. The Nokia 4.2 is competing with the likes of Xiaomi's Redmi Note 7, the ASUS ZenFone Max Pro M2, etc. and it's a tough competition there. Even if you're hell-bent on buying a Nokia phone, then you can pick up something like, say, the Nokia 6.1 or even the Nokia 5.1, both of which are great devices around the same price point. Yes, there are a ton of devices in this price bracket, so we suggest you choose wisely.
  9. Google is all set to host its annual developer conference Google I/O tomorrow and the keynote is special for many reasons to Android and Google users. The keynote will be hosted and headlined by CEO Sundar Pichai and we can expect to see new announcements of features, Android Q, hardware across all of the company's products. There is also a good chance that we get an update on other Alphabet (Google's parent company) compares such as Waymo and Nest. Here's what all we can expect from Google's event that is scheduled to take place tomorrow at 10:30 PM IST: Android Q © YouTube Every year, Google announces new features that will come as a part of the annual Android update and we are certain that the company has something in store this year as well. In the Pixel Beta Program, Google has already introduced improved location privacy controls, chat bubbles, pop-up settings menus and a few other new features. Google is expected to announce new features such as native support for screen recording, a new sharing menu and a desktop mode like Samsung's DeX. Google is also expected to add support for foldable devices natively this year just like Google added support for the notch last year. There's a good chance that a new beta will arrive right after I/O keynote concludes and a final release is expected to launch sometime in October 2019. A New Pixel Phone © Facebook There have been numerous leaks in the past that have hinted towards Google launching a cheaper Pixel smartphone. There's a good chance that Google is gearing up to launch the new Pixel smartphone that has been dubbed as Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL. The smartphone is said to have similar features as Google's flagship Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL which we will know more about once Google officially unveils the device. An Update On Duplex © YouTube Last year, Google shocked the world with an AI voice that could answer spam calls for you and even make calls to restaurants and make reservations. The life-like voice basically removed the need for a user to deal with annoying calls or rudimentary tasks such as making reservations. "Duplex" was only available in select areas and there is a chance that Google may roll out this feature to new locations or even worldwide. Stadia © YouTube Google announced its new gaming service “Stadia” at the Game Developers Conference earlier this year. There will be some sort of update on the gaming service and how it would work with Google's products such as Pixel Devices, Chromebook, and Android devices. According to Google, data centres will enable Google to provide game streams up to 4K at 60 frames per second. Google is also making a custom Stadia controller that has dedicated buttons for capturing gameplay and sharing footage on YouTube directly. A small army of data centres will enable streams in up to 4K at 60 frames per second (with support for 8K and 120 frames per second on the way), and customers will have the option of purchasing a custom-designed Stadia controller with a capture button that shares in-game experiences directly to YouTube. Google Assistant Updates © BCCL Generally, Google brings new features to Google Assistant every year since its launch and we could expect some new services and features that will use machine learning and artificial intelligence. We could also expect new updated on Google Home devices or a Google Hub Max. Will you be watching Google I/O tomorrow with us? What features and new updates are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments below.
  10. We keep reviewing smartphones almost every week but sometimes, a new tablet comes along that gets us excited. The iPad Pro is one of our favourite gadgets of 2018 and in fact, we typed this very review on it. Having said that, not everyone needs such a powerful and big screened tablet; especially in India where more than half the urban population is on the move. Apple recently launched the new iPad Mini 5 and we got our hands on the small tablet to see what all it can do. We've used Android tablets in the past but none of them even come to close Apple's offering when it comes to performance. Our experience has largely been “meh.” Android tablets are often powered by less powerful chipsets or do not offer a great screen for content viewing. Some of them lack proper software updates or outright don't work as intended. Having said that, there are a few Samsung tablets we love but Apple's iPad series is where the buck stops. So, here's our review of the new iPad Mini and what we think about the new tablet. Design & Display © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla The New iPad Mini 5 doesn't look too different from its predecessor as it looks nearly identical from the iPad 4 from 2015. It's got the same massive bezels, a 7.9-inch Retina screen and a new back design similar to the iPad Pro from 2017. We would have loved to see an almost all-screen design like on the iPad Pro from last year and give it the modern aesthetic we all expected. The display, on the other hand, has slight upgrades as it now supports True Tone technology, has a 25 per cent higher colour gamut and is 25 per cent brighter. The iPad Mini has a resolution of 2048x1536 pixels but does not have ProMotion features like the iPad Pro where it can adjust the refresh rate automatically depending on what you are doing. © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla The iPad Mini comes with stereo speakers at the bottom which are loud enough for watching movies or TV shows. Having said that, if you want more privacy or don't want to disturb the people around you, the iPad Mini 5 comes with a 3.55 mm headphone jack. You can even pair the new iPad Mini with AirPods seamlessly which is a first for the iPad Mini. The smaller iPad design is probably the star attraction here as it fits in the palm of your hand perfectly. The iPad Mini's size is probably the one feature that makes it the most versatile gadget from Apple's entire portfolio. The screen is large enough to enjoy video content, gaming and is perfect to even use it as an e-book reader. The small sizes iPad Mini is a favourite amongst users for these various reasons. However, with new services like Apple Arcade and Apple TV Plus on the horizon, you really want to invest in an iPad that can handle everything you throw at it. We shall talk about it more in the performance section in detail and what a powerful chipset can imply for the future of iPads. Performance The iPad Mini 5 is powered by an A12 Bionic chip with Neural Engine that amps up the performance with faster computing power and graphics processing over the A8 chip. This means that the iPad Mini 5 also supports augmented reality features which come in handy when you want to do something educational or measure objects. You can even play AR games such as Angry Birds with other iOS devices that support AR. The iPad Mini comes in two models with 64GB or 256 GB of internal storage. Depending on your needs, you can get the appropriate storage variant. The battery life on the iPad Mini 5 also works as advertised. During our testing, the iPad Mini 5 managed to last over 10 hours with constant use. We used the iPad mini to watch TV shows, play games like Fortnite and a lot of internet browsing. © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla The iPad Mini 5 comes with iOS 12 out of the box and some new features that were missing in the previous generation. For starters, you can now run two apps at once in either the Slide Over or Split View. IOS 12 also works in tandem with the A12 Bionic processor to offer optimum performance which was quite evident when we were gaming. The iPad Mini 5 also now supports the first generation Apple Pencil which is a great new addition for people who like to take notes, sign documents or draw the go. The iPad Mini 5 is now officially a full-fledged tablet that has a place of its own in Apple's portfolio. The A12 Bionic Processor is already a powerful processor that also powers the iPhone XS and XS Max. The A12 is the fastest processor in the market right now and has some major advantages when it comes to the device's future. The A12 Bionic processor is also very powerful when it comes to running games and the iPad Mini 5 will be vital for Apple Arcade when it launches. For example, the A12 Bionic chip can give consoles like the Nintendo Switch a run for its money. Being a highly portable device, the iPad Mini is essential for capturing those markets. The A12 can already run some console level games; at least the ones you see on Nintendo Switch. The sheer size on the iPad Mini will offer a better gaming experience than any smartphone or even the Nintendo Switch. The display quality, a powerful chipset and a massive library of games all work in favour of the iPad Mini. Cameras The iPad Mini does come with cameras on both the front and the back but we wouldn't use them for taking proper images. We would recommend you use the smartphone in your pocket as it would be able to deliver a better image. Having said that, the iPad Mini does have an 8-megapixel, f/2.4 camera at the back that can take good enough pictures. You can use the iPad Mini 5 to scan documents, take pictures of daily objects etc. The iPad Mini 5 has a 7-megapixel selfie camera but does not have support for portrait selfies, unlike the iPad Pro. However, the front camera is awesome for making video FaceTime calls and take general selfies. The Final Say © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla The iPad Mini 5 is probably the only tablet that caters for people who are looking for performance and portability. The small tablet market right now is not up to the mark as Android-based tablets are often outfitted with weak processors and mediocre screens. The iPad Mini 5 easily fills that gap and offers the full iOS experience you've come to expect from Apple devices. The iPad Mini 5 has a great display and offers new augmented reality features never seen on an iPad Mini before. With services like Apple Arcade on the horizon, the iPad Mini 5 is the right investment right now. It's Apple's most versatile device that offers everything from productivity to entertainment. The iPad Mini 5 retails in India for Rs 34,900 (Cellular) and Rs 45,900 (Wi-Fi + Cellular) which could be considered expensive for India but the advantages it offers offsets the cost entirely.
  11. Apple's AirPods have become a cultural phenomenon and has become an icon when it comes to audio gear. It may not be the best earphones on the planet but it's surely the most convenient. AirPods 2, with a wireless charging case, is set to launch in India soon and many of you would want to use them with your Android smartphone. In fact, there is a way to use some of the AirPods features that are available natively if you use the earbuds with an Apple device. AirPods 2 offers some new features and familiar tech which has not been easy to replicate. You can read our full review here if you want to know more. How To Pair AirPods With An Android Phone © MensXP Pairing AirPods with an Android smartphone is fairly simple as it works similar to other Bluetooth earphones. At the back of the case of the AirPods, you need to long press the small button to make it discoverable. Once you can see the AirPods in your phone's Bluetooth settings, select and pair with the AirPods. It's easy and does not have any issues while connecting. How Can I Use Airpods 2 Features © Akshay Bhalla_MensXP The AirPods have neat features such as double tapping the earbud to skip songs and play/pause music with a single tap. You will be happy to know that this feature works with Android smartphones as well and works just like it does on the iPhone. Check Battery Life & Setup Google Assistant The AirPods 2 natively gives you battery levels when connected with the iPhone when you start using them or via the batteries widget. You can even use Siri without any additional setup on the iPhone. Having said that, making these features work on an Android smartphone is a bit more complicated. You will need to download third-party apps to take advantage of these features on an Android smartphone. © Google Play You can download AirBattery via the Google Play Store as it lets you interact with AirPods and see battery levels of each earbud and the charging case. You can alternatively use AssistantTrigger which essentially lets you do the same thing but also lets you set up Google Assistant functionality. You can fire up Google Assistant by double tapping on the earbud thanks to AssistantTrigger.
  12. 'Call of Duty' publisher Activision is teaming up with Tencent Timi Studio to bring its massively popular first-person shooter franchise 'Call of Duty' to Android and iOS. The game will simply be called 'Call of Duty: Mobile'. 'Call of Duty: Mobile' is a free-to-play multiplayer title which draws inspiration from some of the popular 'Call of Duty' titles like Modern Warfare and Black Ops. Here, watch the trailer - Activision has also promised that the game will have competitive multiplayer modes from the original franchise including Search and Destroy and Free-For-All. Additionally, the game will also have series staple maps like Nuketown, Crash, and Hijacked. Also, much like the other 'Call of Duty' games, the 'Call of Duty: Mobile' players will also earn and unlock classic 'Call of Duty' characters, weapons, scorestreaks, and more. The trailer also teases some other multiplayer modes, maps, and character customization, so be sure to check it out. Commenting on the release, Activision VP of mobile Chris Plummer said, “Together with the amazing team at Tencent, we're bringing together a collection of the most beloved maps, competitive modes, familiar characters, and signature weapons from across this storied franchise into one epic experience for the first time on mobile.” © Call of Duty In case you're just as excited as we are about this game, you can head over to the game's official website and sign up to be the first one to get notified about its launch. We still don't have an official release date yet, but a public beta is coming this summer, so stay tuned for more info.
  13. Microsoft showed off its Project xCloud and gave a first look of the service working in action. The company has been developing a cloud-based game streaming platform for a while, which is expected to be the future of gaming. Microsoft is already planning to stream games that are made for the Xbox One and is also planning to launch a disc-less console soon. © YouTube As part of the demo, we can clearly see Forza Horizon 4 running in a data centre and being streamed to an Android smartphone. The game is being controlled by an Xbox One controller via Bluetooth. “Anywhere we have a good network connection, we'll be able to participate in Project xCloud,” Microsoft head of gaming cloud Kareem Choudhry said in the video Choudary also went on to explain that Project xCloud will work similar to music or video streaming services i.e you can log in from any device i.e. a phone or even a laptop and find the library similar to music libraries. Basically, this service will work on any device that has a screen and play demanding games on the fly. © Microsoft The service will also give you access to your cloud saves, friend lists and everything that users are already familiar with on the Xbox One. However, Choudry went on to say that “It's not a replacement for consoles, we're not getting out of the console business,” © Microsoft Game streaming services are being touted as the future of gaming thanks to new technologies like 5G and cloud computing. Google is also launching its own game streaming service next week at GDC 2019. Microsoft already offers a subscription service in the form of Xbox Game Pass where users can play Xbox One and Xbox 360 games for Rs 699 per month.
  14. You can finally play your PlayStation 4 (PS4) games on your iPad or your iPhone via Sony's Remote Play App. The application was already available on Android, considering it was first launched on the Xperia Z3 way back in October 2013. It has taken Sony 4.5 years to get the same feature for iOS devices. © SONY In order to use this feature, you will need to update your PS4, download the RemotePlay app on your iOS device and pair the two. The controller layout is overlaid on the screen and if you want to play on your iOS device, it will work best when paired with a third party controller. You cannot pair the PS4 controller with an iPhone or an iPad unless your device is jailbroken. iOS is a huge platform and bringing the functionally will be a massive expansion for streaming games. There are plenty of MFi gamepads you can use in order to play PlayStation games on your iPad. You can use the SteelSeries Nimbus as a gamepad and map the controls exactly like on the PlayStation 4 controller. © Sony Having said that, you will not be able to play PS4 games remotely such as via a mobile network. You will need to be connected to the same Wi-Fi in order for the function to work. You will also need an iPhone 7 or sixth-generation iPad or later to make the application work with your PS4. The new update has been rolled out for the PS4 and in the 6.5 version of the update, users can also remap the 'X' and 'O' buttons on the controller. Japanese consoles have to use the 'O' button for the “Enter” command, however, you can now remap it to 'X' or the other way around.
  15. Every year, Samsung starts off the year with a bang when it comes to flagship Android smartphones and the Galaxy S10 Plus is no exception. It's the ambitious attempt by Samsung to sway customers towards their products and the Galaxy S10 Plus is one of those devices. Last year, Samsung brought incremental upgrades to the Galaxy S9/S9 Plus from its predecessor which left many of their fans unimpressed. However, the Galaxy S10 Plus is a whole different story as it boasts quite a few upgrades in almost category. The Galaxy S10 Plus has a new 6.-4inch type of screen called the 'Infinity-O display', has a total of five cameras and the world's first ultrasonic fingerprint sensor. Unlike the U.S./Chinese version, the Indian unit is powered by Samsung's own Exynos 9820 chipset and is coupled with various RAM configurations. It comes in three stunning “prism” colours and starts from Rs 73,900 for the 8GB RAM/128GB internal storage variant. We've been using this variant for a few weeks and here's our review to determine whether it's worth the price tag: Design & Display Android smartphones are known to be bold and adventurous when it comes to experimentation and the end result is almost always awesome. Android smartphone companies are trying to experiment with displays to deliver an all-screen phone with various design innovations. Samsung chose to implement its 'Infinity-O' display that offers almost an edge-to-edge screen experience. The S10 Plus almost has zero bezels with the exception of a narrow chin. The dual-selfie camera hole on the display has been carved out using lasers giving it a flush look and achieving a near edge-to-edge display experience at the same time. Having said that, when you first use the Galaxy S10 Plus for watching video content, the holes are a bit distracting until you get used to it. This was true when we reviewed the Honor View 20 and it remains the same as Samsung's offering. However, if you want to hide the holes, you can always implement clever wallpapers like the ones we've mentioned here. The Galaxy S10 Plus is also not a small smartphone that can be used by one hand. It measures 6.2 x 2.91 x 0.3 and needs to be operated with two hands unless you have long fingers. The Galaxy S10 Plus also has a slight curve in the design which can result in accidental touches. © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla We've been using the Prism White variant of the Galaxy S10 Plus and it is one of the most beautiful colours we've seen on a smartphone. It changes colour whenever the smartphone catches the light and gives off a very regal vibe when viewed from afar. The Galaxy S10 Plus also comes in a ceramic finish (it's more expensive) which feels more durable than the all-glass design. © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla In terms of display quality, the Galaxy S10 Plus has a quad HD+ Dynamic AMOLED display which has been termed as the best display on a smartphone yet. It has a wider colour gamut and dynamic tone mapping that enhances colours and brightness. The Galaxy S10 Plus also has a brightness level of 624 nits, highest on any smartphone yet. For reference, the iPhone XS Max has a brightness level of 603 nits. The display itself is one of the best you can find on a smartphone to watch video content on Netflix or Amazon Prime. It supports HDR10+ playback which is probably the highest quality you can get in videos when it comes to dynamic range. The Galaxy S10 Plus also has stereo speakers which are powerful enough to accentuate the experience further as it is powerful, clear and loud. The speakers have rich audio and a robust sound overall. Performance Our Galaxy S10 Plus unit is powered by Samsung's Exynos 9820 chipset and is coupled with 6GB of RAM. Having said that, the Exynos 9820 chipset is not as fast as Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 chipset which you can find on a U.S. version of the smartphone. The Snapdragon 855 chipset is based on TSMC's 7nm process, whereas the Exynos 9820 is based on an 8nm LPP FinFET process. Regardless, the Exynos 9820 processor works like a beast and showed some impressive results in benchmark scores. © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla We also played games like Asphalt 9 and PUBG Mobile to check it's overall gaming performance. The Galaxy S10 Plus was able to run both games in the highest settings without any drops in FPS. Having said that, we did see the Galaxy S10 Plus overheat a bit right under the camera module at the back. On Geekbench 4, which measures overall performance, the S10 Plus turned in a multi-core score of 10,146, which beats the OnePlus 6T (8,972) and Pixel 3 (7,316). © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla Even though the graphics are at par with other Android flagship devices, the Exynos version of the Galaxy S10 Plus underperformed when it comes to GPU benchmark scores. It managed to score 4265 on 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme score (OpenGL ES 3.1 test). In fact, the iPhone XS, Pixel 3 and the OnePlus 6T pulled ahead in this department. Battery Life When it comes to battery life of the Galaxy S10 Plus, the performance was slightly above average as it could not last longer than a full day of charge. Sometimes, the Galaxy S10 Plus would not even survive the full day depending on our usage. Keep in mind, we were testing an Exynos version and the battery life performance may differ for a Qualcomm version. We used the Galaxy S10 Plus for navigation, mild gaming, 4G LTE web browsing, music/video streaming and reading comic books. We had almost 4 hours 30 minutes of screen on time and the smartphone could last only a day and then some. This is with light usage which was not impressive considering the Galaxy S10 Plus has a 4,100 mAh battery. You can always switch the display to Full HD+ in order to conserve more battery life however QHD+ is so much better for watching videos which obviously sacrificed battery life. © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla The Galaxy S10 Plus also has reverse charging if you want to charge any of your accessories or even second wireless charging supported smartphone. It's called 'PowerShare' and it turns the back of the S10 Plus into a charging mat. The PowerShare feature works great to charge accessories like a smartwatch and the great part is that the smartphone automatically disables the feature once your battery level falls to 30 per cent. Biometrics © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla This is the first time Samsung has included an in-display fingerprint sensor on a smartphone and it works a little different from what you may have seen before. It is embedded right into the screen and is fast to set up. You simply have to hold your finger in the specific area of the screen and it unlocks quite fast. Sure, it isn't as fast as a traditional fingering sensor, however, it does work when we need it to. It comes in handy in dark environments as the facial recognition on the Galaxy S10 Plus isn't as accurate. Having said that, during the day when facial recognition works, it is quite fast and you won't end up using the fingerprint scanner anyway. In terms of accuracy, there were a few instances when fingerprints weren't being read however overall the ultra-sonic sensor was consistent and accurate when scanning thumbs. Camera © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla The Galaxy S10 Plus has a triple-camera setup at the back and dual selfie camera at the front. The rear setup has an optically stabilised 12-megapixel main sensor with a dual aperture that can switch between f/1.5 for night shots and f/2.4 for the day. The second sensor is an ultra-wide 16-megapixel f/2.2 sensor that lets you capture more field of view and lastly a stabilised 12-megapixel telephoto sensor. The wide-angle camera lens works similar to what we have seen on the Huawei Mate 20 Pro and other Samsung phones. You can zoom out and capture a wider field of view and somewhat get a fish-eye effect. It's a great lens to use, especially if you like to capture a lot of landscapes and environments. Having said that, the ultra-wide lens did give off some grain in low-light which is manageable by editing the images in third-party software. The portrait mode is known as “Live Focus” is also a dream to work with as it accurately blurs the background on objects and even pets. In fact, our favourite lighting option in 'Live Focus' mode is the “Colour Point” mode which basically turns the background into monochrome. The triple camera also does a great job of utilising HDR which you can see in one of our samples below. It was able to capture the blue sky and the definition of the clouds accurately. Having said that, we would have loved to see a dedicated night mode similar to what we see on the Pixel 3 and even budget Android phones like the Redmi Note 7 Pro. © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla The front cameras also feature dual-lens setup which basically lets you take normal or wide-angle selfies. You can even use the same portrait mode effect like “Colour Point” while using the selfie camera. It does a great job at blurring the background and is at par with other flagship smartphones. Here are a few camera samples that you can review below: View this post on Instagram Pictures shot using the #GalaxyS10Plus. I was quite satisfied with the picture quality, especially the "Colour Point" feature in the portrait mode. Wide-angle also does a decent job. #Technology #GalaxyS10 #tech #Gadgets #Smartphones #techie #samsung A post shared by Akshay Bhalla (@editorinchief) on Mar 4, 2019 at 8:45am PST The Final Say If you are looking for a powerful Android smartphone that can tick almost every box, the Galaxy S10 Plus is a great purchase you can consider. It has one of the best screens on a smartphone and takes some awesome pictures. It even supports HDR10+ content which is a plus if you like to watch movies on-the-go. Having said that, we did find the Galaxy S10 Plus lacking in the battery life department which we are sure can be fixed in a future OTA update. Overall, the Galaxy S10 Plus is very familiar to what we've seen before but at the same time makes huge leaps with various new features.
  16. With the iPhone X, Apple completely ditched the home button in favour of gestures. The gesture navigation system was soon rolled out by multiple Android OEMs, even though Android doesn't natively support it. Currently, Android OS relies on three core navigation buttons: back button, home button and a recents tab. Google combined the home and recents buttons in Android 9 but kept the back button untouched. Though, this could change in the upcoming Android Q update. © YouTube According to a report by XDA Developers, Google is now planning to completely ditch the conventional Back button to opt for a gesture-based navigation system. And this is a good thing for all of us. Gestures are for sure the future of smartphone navigation, and with core support, the user experience will be drastically better. Google last year launched Android Pie with a new one-touch button and lots of gesture features. Though, the update let users switch back to the older method of navigation. © YouTube Even though a lot of Android phones have gesture navigation available as an option, it works due to the external skin or UI that the OEM has made. This isn't always as smooth and intuitive as native support. In comparison, Apple's navigation is extremely fluid due to deeper software integration. Swiping left on the screen will enable users to go back and swiping right will take users from their current app to the previous app in a card-like transition. Swifter animations are another major revamp that Google could bring with the update. © Google Google shall be announcing the next major update to Android at Google I/O developer conference, that is scheduled for 7 May. Google is also expected to launch a redesigned app info screen with “Material Theme”. There are also rumours that Google could finally bring a system-wide dark mode and even more detailed privacy controls. Google intends to make it easier for users to understand and determine the permissions they are giving to an app. Please keep in mind, these reports are based on early builds of Android Q, an official feature announcements is pending.
  17. Whether one has played on the Nintendo Switch, PC or Xbox; there's always been a desire to play those games with one's friends on different platforms. This is now set to become a reality for gamers as Microsoft will be adding Xbox Live cross-platform support for Android, iOS and Switch games. © YouTube The news comes from a Microsoft session at the upcoming Game Developers Conference, as it was noticed by Avers that Xbox Live will now be expanding its services to as many as 2 billion devices. Xbox Live on different platforms will have achievements, clubs, friends lists and “more” If this isn't some form of typo this is HUGE NEWS and will change the industry going forward. Xbox Live coming to 2 billion (BILLION) devices with new cross-platform XDK/SDK. #XboxLive #GamePass #Xcloud pic.twitter.com/mjza0JKZRc — Avers (@Avers_G4GMedia) February 2, 2019 Microsoft scheduled a session that will detail plans for the upcoming SDK or “XDK”. Currently, Xbox Live is already available on these platforms, however, the functionality is quite limited. You can use the app to chat with Xbox Live friends or keep tabs on what games they are playing. In games like Minecraft (Microsoft Owned), the app lets you sync your achievements as well. Microsoft has reserved cross-platform support for its own games, however, it looks like the new feature will be expanded to third-party titles. © Microsoft Microsoft is now looking to shift to a strategy of games as a service, which is also in line with a next-generation Xbox, that will exclusively stream games. Other initiatives such as the Xbox Game Pass subscription service may also be available to play on these different devices. It may not matter in the future whether you are playing on a PC, smartphone or the Nintendo Switch. The cross-platform support may be possible thanks to Microsoft's Project xCloud that will let users stream games on any device if this Xbox Live SDK comes into fruition. Microsoft does not plan for cross-platform support on the PlayStation 4 due to Sony's bullish attitude towards cross-play.
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  19. There was a time when games would first come to iOS, followed by Android. This is now rapidly changing and developers are often prioritizing the open source platform, thanks to the larger available user base. While 2018 has been all about battle royale games like PUBG and Fortnite, there are thousands of simulation and arcade games that are equally fun to play and less time intensive. With the new year already here, now's a good time to reboot the available games on your phone and try something different. We've compiled a list of trending games for Android that are fun to play and are challenging as well! 1. Command and Conquer: Rivals © Android Central Command & Conquer: Rivals is a real-time player versus player (PvP) game, where gamers lead their faction to victory in the war for Tiberium, a key resource. EA's new Command & Conquer: Rivals was designed with mobile platforms like Android in mind. The game offers players two factions: The Global Defense Initiative and Brotherhood of Nod. Each faction has different commanders with different abilities. In the new mode, EA said players go on a run of battles, competing with others in a unique matchmaking pool. Competition is segmented by rank. The better people perform, the more rewards they receive. While the game works fine on mobile, it is even more convenient and fun to play on a tablet. Download from Google Play Store 2. Assassin's Creed Rebellion © EA You can grab Assassin's Creed Rebellion off the Play Store for free, though advertisements are included along with in-game purchases. According to the listing, you'll find access to over 40 characters, some old and some new, building a group of assassin to take on the Templars and oppression taking place in Spain. You'll be able to manage your own base of assassins, build new rooms, craft new equipment, gather resources and create new medicine. You'll be building up your assassin army and expanding your domain, all the while pulling off missions, similar to Fallout Shelter. Download from Google Play Store 3. F1 Mobile Racing © YouTube You can develop and customise your own F1 car from the ground up, or race for one of the 10 official F1 teams. In the multi-player mode, you can challenge opponents from around the world, or add up your friends to race. It also features official circuits, including Hockenheim in Germany. It doesn't end here, you can also assume the role of legends like Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen and Fernando Alonso. The graphics are stunning and the gameplay is top-notch. In fact, we can confidently say this is one of the best simulation/racing game for Android. Download form Google Play Store 4. Asphalt 9: Legends © Gameloft Gameloft has retained the frenetic, cinematic action that made the earlier games so popular and taken things up another notch. The game is free to download but features ads and in-app purchases. This game features a top roster of real hypercars from manufacturers like Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini and W Motors. Gamers can start their street journey in Career mode by completing over 60 seasons and 800 events. Gamers can race against up to 7 rival plays from all over the world in the online multiplayer mode. Other features include a new Club mode where you and your friends can work towards achieving more challenging rewards, as well as 8-player local multiplayer. Download from Google Play Store 5. Skiddy Car © YouTube Compared to other simulation games, the controls on this one are fairly simple. Just tap to turn right, release to turn left and drift your way to the finish line. Sounds easy? The actual experience is extremely challenging and requires focus. If you want a game that gets you hooked and constantly tests you, this one is definitely built keeping you in mind. It has a wide collection of vehicles to choose from, the graphics are colourful, and the tracks have different designs as well. Overall, it's a light game to pass time quickly. Download from Google Play Store 6. Rise Up © YouTube The goal of the game is simple, you are tasked with protecting a balloon as it rises through various obstacles, and it shouldn't hit anything. With a single finger, you have to drag a circle around it to deflect the objects and obstacles that appear. All you need to do is move your shield with one finger to protect your balloon. Clear your way as you reach higher and higher, but reaching the top score is extremely difficult. This is another game that is exceedingly light and best for short duration fun. Download from Google Play Store 7. HeliHopper © Oddrok HeliHopper is a fun helicopter game where you hop from a helipad to another. It has missions, endless mode, tons of unlockables and a simple UI. The game is controlled by a simple slingshot mechanism and you can perform side-hops in the air by swiping the screen during the flight. Wind and various landing pads make things even more tricky. In total, it has 65 missions and 9 endless levels to choose from, along with 10 different helicopters. Download from Google Play Store
  20. iMessage is Apple's proprietary instant messaging service that comes embedded in the "Messages" app. If you are sending an SMS to someone, and the recipient has an iPhone, you can send the same message over Apple's iMessage service instead of carrier-based SMS. This way, you do not incur carrier charges and the overall capabilities increase widely. To use iMessage, you need to have the recipients Apple ID -- it can be your mobile number or email. iMessage is for Apple devices only and a core part of the ecosystem. While the service isn't widely used in countries like India, it has been a massive success in the U.S.A because of the high availability of iPhone users. © Mashable On the other hand, Google is also working on a similar solution called Rich Communication Services, or RCS. It is a new protocol that lets you send a lot more than just 160 characters of text. We've already explained the new protocol in depth here. Basically, RCS is capable of being a full-fledged WhatsApp like IM, that can universally send across messages to other phones and app clients. In other words, if you have an RCS supported handset, you can get WhatsApp and iMessage-like features without having to install any app or going through any sort of setup. The new protocol is being backed by a number of carriers globally, Microsoft, and Google. © Skype This protocol is being governed by GSMA, an industry trade association that represents mobile-network operators around the world. It's also the body that would help to get RCS off the ground and make the new standard a more powerful force in messaging. According to a new leaked slide on Reddit, Apple has shown interest in RCS. The slide alleges the company wants to improve the experience of sending text messages to non-Apple devices. It also wants to stay updated to meet network operator requirements in countries like U.S.A and Canada. © Reddit / Flicter22 Again, it's unclear whether or not Apple's discussions with the GSMA have led to anything of magnitude. While the event took place on October 24th, the contents of the slide haven't been widely reported on thus far. Honestly, I'd love to see iMessage support RCS. We have a number of universally adopted protocols for day-to-day usage on the internet, a similar set of process for instant messaging is a need of the hour. Especially when even giants like Google are so confused about their chat apps. Source: Reddit
  21. We barely need to delete images for making space on our phones any more, thanks to more than sufficient internal storage. 64GB of internal storage has pretty much become a standard feature now, and expandable storage via a microSD card pushes the limit further. But, this also means we no longer have the habit of taking backups. Earlier when storage was a privilege, we would periodically take a backup of all our photos, clear the device, and use it again. This way, even if you lost your phone or device, a backup copy of the data is still available with you. Offline backup is age-old, but the concept remains the same. Offline: © Adafruit Industries You transfer your pictures from the phone to another flash drive like a spare microSD card, SSD hard drive, or even your computer. Plug-in the cable, select "View Files" and copy paste all the content. But, this process too is primitive and lacks advanced functionality. On Android, apps are specially built that aim to make taking backups even simpler and hassle-free. And, these apps don't just cover your pictures, but also contacts, calendar, SMS, and in some cases even app data. A few of these apps are CM Backup, Super Backup, Easier Backup, and many more. © MensXP You can also completely eliminate the use of a computer by using internal storage only for regular use. Then, insert a microSD card to take backups and transfer all the internal data to the external card. Once done, eject the card and keep it safe. This way, you can quickly take backups on the go, and won't confuse yourself with all the data that's combined in both the storages. For iOS users, the offline process is slightly tricky. You can't just connect your iPhone to the PC and copy-paste files. Firstly, you'll have to install iTunes on your Windows PC, login with the same Apple ID that's loaded on your phone, and then establish a connection. Once connected, the software suite will offer a lot more than just backups. © Digital Trends You have the option of importing photos or even taking complete iPhone backups. The complete backup will include everything, right from apps to system settings. Lastly, the same software can be used to load music or soundtracks from your PC to iPhone and even manage Apple Music library. If you're taking backups on a computer, we recommend using the T5 SSD Hard Drive. And if you're using a microSD, the SanDisk Class 10 128GB card is highly recommended. Online: © Pexels This is a much simpler and worry-free process since you don't have to perform any task after the initial setup. While Android and iOS have different offline backup methods, the online procedure remains common, thanks to an open app ecosystem. You can use a variety of services from Google, Microsoft and Apple to store data in the cloud. We'll start with Google's services -- Drive and Photos. Essentially, they are two different apps that pretty much do the same thing. The Drive app lets you manage everything, starting from pictures to zip files. On the other hand, the Photos app is built for pictures only and comes with AI-powered recognition that auto-creates albums, recognises pictures, and makes going through your gallery a lot simpler. © Google Ultimately, both the apps are interconnected with the rest your Google utilities like Gmail. You'll get 15GB storage free for lifetime, and you can choose to purchase additional storage later depending on requirement. Both, the Drive and Photos app, are capable of uploading your camera roll in the background when connected to a WiFi connection and charge simultaneously. Microsoft has its OneDrive service that is similar to Google's offerings. It has its own ecosystem for email, documents, and storage. It has one app that does everything, the OneDrive app. You can manage your files, it's connected to Office apps, and pictures get auto-compiled into albums thanks to AI recognition. Though, you get just 5GB free in the base tier. The OneDrive app is compatible with Android as well as iOS. © Microsoft Lastly, you can use iCloud, though this one is restricted to Apple users. The service is deeply integrated into all Apple products and is capable of storing even app data. You get 5GB in the free tier, and complete device backups are possible. Though, sharing outside of the ecosystem can often be tricky.
  22. Google's next operating system Fuchsia OS is expected to hit devices in the next few years and apparently, it will be able to run Android apps as well. This will make it easier for Android's existing user base to switch to the new platform when it is available on the next generation of smartphones. © Twitter 9to5Google spotted a new file on Android's open source project website that said: "These targets are used to build ART for Fuchsia.” This means that Google is making a special version of Android Runtime or ART which will be able to run Android apps. "They differ from usual Android devices as they do not target specific hardware. They will produce a fuchsia package (.far file)," the memo reads. © 9t05Google This basically means that users will be able to bring over all their purchases from the Google Play Store to the new operating system without any problems. Based on previous leaks and reports, Fuchsia will be able to run on a range of devices such as phones, tablets and even PCS. This will basically bridge the gap between Android and Chrome OS and work similar to Apple's ecosystem. Having said that, offering backward compatibility for Android apps on the new operating system may make it encouraging for users to upgrade to new devices. Whenever the time comes, the conversion rate can be expected to be fast, as people would be comfortable to try out the new operating system without losing any of their data and purchases. Source: 9to5Google
  23. Forbes conducted an experiment where the author 3D printed his own head to test out the face-recognition technology on smartphones. The model was accurate to the minutest of details and had almost every detail captured on the model. The model was printed at Backface in Birmingham, U.K., where the author was put in dome-like studio contenting 50 cameras. The 50 cameras would then take a single shot and combine all images to make a full 3D image. © Forbes The 3D printed head was not a cheap affair as it cost £300 to make and was used to test four flagship Android smartphones and the smartphone that introduced facial recognition — the iPhone X. According to the experiment, all Android phones were unlocked using the 3D printed head. “If you're an Android customer, though, look away from your screen now. We tested four of the hottest handsets running Google's operating systems and Apple's iPhone to see how easy it'd be to break into them. We did it with a 3D-printed head. All of the Androids opened with the fake. Apple's phone, however, was impenetrable.” Forbes said. © MensXP The Android smartphones in question were the Samsung Galaxy S9, Samsung Galaxy Note 9, OnePlus 6 and LG G7 ThinQ. Forbes wanted to put facial recognition on smartphones to test to see which device was the most secure. It was found that Android phones have been less secure than Apple's Face ID in the past and this test proves the notion. In the past, some of these facial recognition systems have been fooled with a picture however Apple's Face ID uses IR depth mapping to root out this problem. © Apple Apple's Face ID even requires the user to pay attention to the screen in order to unlock the smartphone. The attention awareness technology alone may have been enough for the iPhone X to remain unlocked then the 3D printed head was put in front of it. Having said that, Apple's Face ID has been fooled in the past using a 3D printed mask that were more sophisticated than Forbes' head. Source: Forbes
  24. Which instant messaging app or service do you actively use? Your answer will definitely include WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Hike, or Skype. Now, can you send a message from WhatsApp to a contact on Hike? No, you can't. These apps have their own protocols for data transfer and services work inside their own bubble only. RCS (Rich Communications Services) is a new protocol that is meant to replace SMS (Short Message Service). With SMS, you can send a text or compressed image to anyone via a mobile number. SMS is a standard protocol and hence supported by every other phone or OS. You can send SMS from an iPhone to an Android phone. Unlike third-party apps, these protocols are universal and hence easily usable. © Google SMS is an age-old standard and supports just 160 characters in each transfer. While everyone has shifted to third-party IMs, SMS is still very important because of its reliability. It doesn't require a separate internet connection and is dependent completely on the carrier or telecom operator. This reliability gives a very crucial edge to SMS. Now, RCS will soon be the de facto protocol for messages. Google is a primary backer of RCS and major telecom operators around the world are working on supporting it. Google is rolling out the new features afforded by RCS as "chat" and it's part of the existing Android Messages app - alongside SMS and MMS. © Google RCS is very similar to Apple's iMessage service. It's a more interactive protocol that allows you to start group chats, send video and audio messages, and send high-resolution images. You'll also be able to receive read receipts and even see when someone is replying to your message in real time. If a user on the other end does not support RCS, text messages are sent in as SMS. The same practice is also seen on iMessage, if the two users have an Apple device, the chat happens over iMessage, else via SMS. Instead of using a cellular connection, Chat will rely on your data connection. © GSMA Though, RCS service doesn't support end-to-end encryption, meaning messages exchanged through this new protocol are less secure than those sent and received via competitors like iMessage and Signal.
  25. In India, iPhones are a status symbol for the uber rich. While a majority of smartphone sales in the country consist of the budget and midrange segment, Apple has been extremely successful in creating a wide brand recognition among buyers. No other brand has been this good at convincing people what's best for them. This point is not just valid in India though, Apple is globally known as a premium phone maker. Now that mobile phones are easily available and aren't a privilege anymore, younger kids have easier access to them. And, according to this survey, from 8,500 respondents, 82 per cent said they own an iPhone. © Reuters In its biannual "Taking Stock with Teens" survey, the investment bank notes 86 per cent of teens surveyed said their next phone would be an iPhone. That's also the highest percentage recorded by the survey, up from 84 per cent in the spring of this year. On the other end, a meagre 10 per cent said they intend to buy an Android device. "Overall, we view the survey data as a sign that Apple's place as the dominant device brand among teens remains intact," Michael Olson and Yung Kim, the Piper Jaffray analysts, wrote. © Pexels Apple has been dominating this age group for five years now, and it's not just about the iPhones. The second most preferred brand is watchmaker Rolex followed by the Apple Watch. Previous surveys found 12 per cent of young Americans owned an Apple Watch, while 17 per cent planned to buy the device. The survey results were drawn from responses from teens across 48 states with an average age of 16. Respondents consisted of 56 per cent male and 44 per cent being female teens. The average household income of the respondents was slightly more than US$ 68,000. © BCCL The recently launched iPhone XR is actually built for this target audience. It is significantly cheaper than the iPhone X's US$ 999 price tag and boasts of all the major features like Face ID, larger display, A12 Bionic processor, and new design. According to reputed analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the new iPhone XS and XS Max both exceeded Apple's expectations, and the iPhone XR will continue the streak. Source: Business Insider
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