Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Gear 2 Is the Wearable Samsung Should Have Shipped the First Time

by Lance Ulanoff
It’s not news that Samsung likes to throw a lot of products at the wall, and see what sticks. But when it came to the original Samsung Galaxy Gear wearable device, the strategy was even more aggressive: Rush the product to market, even if one or two of its design decisions made absolutely no sense.
Having seen and touched the elegant, new Samsung Gear 2, I am more convinced of this than ever. While not perfect, it is definitely the product Samsung should have released the first time around.
 The Gear 2 is lighter, thinner, more powerful, offers a better screen, much, much better battery life, and a sharper, more elegant watch-like profile. Most importantly, there's a camera on the watch itself, rather than the wristband.
Why didn’t Samsung ship this version of the Gear in 2013? I blame Samsung’s Crazy Artist Syndrome.
Think of Samsung as a great, slightly manic sculptor who likes working out in the open: see the work-in-progress! He can’t help but rapidly deliver unfinished works to his patrons, one after the other. Each is slightly different and better than the last, but those who bought the early stuff grow increasingly frustrated as they see the later, far more polished results.
Instead of apologizing to the customers or advising them to postpone purchase, the artist simply delivers a revision many months later.

So Much Better

As I was playing with the Gear 2 and quizzing a couple of Samsung representatives about the new product at the New York City launch event on Monday, I joked that I was sad to see the camera move off the watch band. One laughed knowingly, but the other, who could not see the grin on my face, asked in all earnestness, “Really? Why?”
I told him I was kidding, and appreciated it the moment Samsung made the official announcement at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Moving the camera and wiring out of the band meant you can change or replace the band.
That exec at MWC said almost exactly what I had told Samsung’s PR people last year in private meetings. The company had to know this was a terrible idea when they were shipping the first Gear, and yet they went ahead with it anyway. When I told the Samsung rep that I always thought that putting the camera on the band was an incredibly bad idea, he replied: “but look how far we’ve come in five months.”
He’s right, of course. Samsung has made remarkable progress in a very short period of time. But if you know anything about product development cycles, you know that this edition — complete with a heart rate monitor (on the back), different operating system (Tizen) and a monumentally better second-gen super AMOLED screen — must have been underway even before Samsung released the first Gear.
Why didn’t Samsung wait? The reviews for the first product, especially from women, were not kind. Wouldn’t it have been better to avoid that kind of pain, retain its reputation, and deliver a product that could make even the forever-working-on-a-wearable Apple sit up and take notice?

Work Remains

I am not saying the Gear 2 is a perfect device. Though it is thinner and lighter than before, the Gear 2 had to share the stage with Samsung’s Gear Fit — which, to be honest, stole the show.
The Fit is, as you would guess, is a fitness band; it features the world’s first curved Super AMOLED screen on a wearable. It’s light, fun, sexy, and could be the breakout star of Mobile World Congress. It also highlights what Gear 2 is not: curved and jewelry-like.
Samsung also revealed yet another Gear: the Gear 2 Neo. It’s a camera-free version that lacks some of the Gear 2’s stylish lines; it is likely there to satisfy budget-conscious consumers. By the way, neither Gear 2 model offers much variety when it comes to band options. You get a couple of color choices, but all are rubber and have the same crosshatch texture.
Even with this Gear overhaul, one very big question remains: How much? With the Neo and Fit likely to get $199 and $149 price tags respectively, the full-featured Gear 2 will probably cost nearly $250. That may be about $50 too expensive for most consumers. But if Samsung offers an attractive Galaxy S5 bundle price, they still might have a wearable success on their hands. And on ours, for that matter.
But if you don’t like this Gear, wait five months — the Gear 3 is surely waiting in the wings.

Samsung Finally Reveals The Galaxy S5 – The New King Of Android Phones

The wait is finally over as Samsung has unveiled the Samsung Galaxy S5 at the
 Mobile WorldCongress 2014. Building up on the highly successful and wildly
sold Galaxy S4, the new Galaxy S5 is quite an improvement over its predecessor.
latest Galaxy S5
The phone hosts a 2.5 Ghz quad-core processor with 2GB of Ram. To support the
 added firepower, the phone also boasts a bigger battery which samsung claims,
 will last 20% longer than Galaxy S4 on a single charge. So when it comes to the
raw processing power,Samsung has once again ensured that its flagship phone
 has the best hardware in the competition.
The S5 has a 5.1-inch Super AMOLED panel sporting the same 1920×1080 pixel
 full HD resolution as before. Just like the S4, this offers superb visual quality,
 though with a slightly lower 430ppi pixel density. The display offers great contrast
and brightness levels while color  reproduction is pretty amazing.
Samsung Galaxy S5 Camera
The phone has a 16 Megapixel camera at the back that also supports 4K video
 recording. The enhanced camera also offers real time HDR processing for
further enhancing the photo quality. Overall, the camera interface has been
 improved and the picture quality is phenomenal.
new Galaxy S5

For those of you wishing for something new in design, you’ll be disappointed
 as the phone retains most of the design features of its predecessor. The
 curves and the build is almost the same as the S4. However, the back has
 been redesigned with a new soft dimple finish. The phone is being offered
 in 4 colours, black, white, blue and gold. With the new finish, Samsung
has finally gotten away with the plastic, glossy finish seen in the Galaxy
line before.
Galaxy S5 Back
So whats cool about the new Samsung Galaxy S5 other than increased processing
power and a larger screen? Well, the phone has a fingerprint scanner embedded
 in the front home button. This fingerprint scanner will offer greater device security
 and privacy. Furthermore, there is even a heart rate monitor at the back of the
phone that can be used to monitor your heart rate.
Galaxy S5 launchThe phone runs on Android 4.3 Kitkat and hosts several Samsung specific apps
like before. There are also some trivial changes to the front interface which
distinguish it from the S4. The Phone will hit the market in April of this year with
the price tag still a secret. However, there is no doubt that the S5 will sell like a hot
cake like its predecessor because it offers great  refinements and is undoubtedly
the best Android phone in the market right now.

Would you buy the new S5? Let us know in the comments section!

Nokia Finally Releases Its First Android Based SmartPhone. Here Is All About It

BY  - 
For those of you who know the finer details of their smartphones, you’ll know that Nokia’s smartphones have been running different variants of Windows OS for mobile devices. But this year, the Finnish company took things in a completely different direction by unveiling their first series of Android smartphones at the 2014 Mobile World Congress.
nokia_android (6)
The company has revealed it’s new Nokia X series of Android smartphones which will run Android OS, with a few modifications. This Nokia X is not only the name of the smartphone series but also the name of the operating system.
nokia_android (1)
This “three way mashup” uses the Android 4.1 as a base and adds element of the Asha and Windows phone lineups creating an OS that can run Android apps, although with no access to the Play Store since Nokia will be curating the user’s app experience.
nokia_android (2)
Currently, the range will have three phones spanned over three different price ranges. The lowest in the range is the Nokia X, a phone with a 4-inch screen and a dual core 1GHz Snapdragon processor. The next in line is the Nokia X+, which has a larger internal memory and a slot for a micro SD card. The phone at the high-end, the Nokia XL, is also the largest (as the name suggests) and a 5-inch screen, a 5 megapixel rear camera and a 2 megapixel front camera.
nokia_android (3)
This new development by the world famous mobile company is certainly amazing, especially since Windows and Google have been competitors in the tech market for years now. But the X series of phones will give users a slightly different experience from what they would be expecting upon first hearing the phrase “Android Nokia”.
nokia_android (4)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Samsung Announces The Galaxy Gear 2 Smart Watch With Better Battery And Tizen OS, Coming In April

by John Biggs
Samsung has announced the availability of the Galaxy Gear 2 smart watch, a Tizen OS-powered wearable that will get up to three days of battery life and is promised to allow for a improved applications. There will be two models – the Galaxy Gear 2 with camera and the Gear 2 Neo without – and they will ship in April.
The Tizen OS, a new mobile operating system Samsung first tried to use in the NX300m camera, will allow for an “enriched application ecosystem.” The device has a 1.63-inch touchscreen, a 1GHz processor, and 4GB internal storage. Most important, however, the device will be compatible with more Samsung smartphones. Sorry iOS users.
Tizen is Samsung’s open source, multi-device OS that that the company hopes to take to ubiquity in multiple devices including in-car entertainment units and smart TVs. It uses web APIs to allow developers to build applications with a small footprint that can run on multiple screens – including watches.
No pricing yet but Samsung excepts to ship in April. You can read a bit more about the device at Engadget.

Twitter outrage as WhatsApp gone down for hours days after Facebook purchase

By: Dion Dassanayake

twitter users first posted their frustration around 7pm this evening after opening the messaging service and seeing it fail to connect to servers.

Two days ago the app available for Apple iPhones, Blackberrys and Android devices was bought by Facebook for $19 billion (£11.4bn).

WhatsApp took to Twitter around 8.15pm to confirm that the service is experiencing problems and they are working to fix the issues.It is not clear if the problem is localised to certain regions or if it is affecting users worldwide.
the WhatsApp Status account tweeted: "Sorry we currently experiencing server issues. we hope to be back up and recovered shortly."

Tech website BGR India reported that a WhatsApp spokesperson they spoke to did not give them a timeframe for how long it would take to fix the hitch.

WhatsApp users came in droves to Twitter to tweet about not being able to access the service with many joking about how soon it came after the Facebook acquisition.
Twitter user The Craft posted: "Facebook buys WhatsApp. WhatsApp stops working. FAB."

Sophie Thompson tweeted: "Its like Facebook bought Whatsapp and purposely stopped it from working so everyone would resort back to group messages on Facebook instead".
Tweeter Liat added: "Facebook is in a relationship with WhatsApp and it's complicated".
On Thursday Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg hailed the acquisition of WhatsApp and said the service was on track for one billion users worldwide.
Speaking about WhatsApp, Mr Zuckerberg said: "No one in the history of the world has ever done something like this."

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Facebook Will Make 'Look Back' Videos for Deceased Users

by kurt wagner
Facebook is changing its policies regarding profiles of users who have passed away.
Facebook on Friday altered its privacy settings on memorialized profiles so that all fuctions operate as they did when the user was active on the platform. For example, if a user kept his profile public to anyone on Facebook, that is the way his profile will be even after his passing.
Previously, when Facebook memorialized a profile, it was only visible to friends of the deceased.
"This will allow people to see memorialized profiles in a manner consistent with the deceased person's expectations of privacy," members of Facebook's community operations team wrote in a blog post. "We are respecting the choices a person made in life while giving their extended community of family and friends ongoing visibility to the same content they could always see."
A second part of the policy change involves "Look Back" videos, which were unveiled as part of Facebook's 10th anniversary in early February. Users will now be able to request a "Look Back" video of a loved one who has passed away.
Facebook automatically generated these videos of the top moments, posts and images from each person's Facebook history, and multiple users asked the company for "Look Back" videos of their deceased loved ones, according to the post.
The "Look Back" videos were particularly popular to users, and nearly 100 million people shared their video with friends in the first week Facebook unveiled them.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Facebook Flip-Flops on Messenger After WhatsApp Acquisition

by kurt wagner

it was just four months ago that Facebook updated its standalone messaging app, Messenger, with the goal of making the user experience more like texting.
That task appears to be easier said than done. Facebook's $19 billion acquisition of messaging app WhatsApp on Wednesday effectively confirmed that Messenger didn't live up to the task, at least not outside the U.S.
With the acquisition, Facebook has started preaching a very different strategy for Messenger than was outlined just four months ago.
With the Messenger update in October, Facebook opened messaging to all its users' mobile contacts, not just those on Messenger. Users needed only to add their phone numbers within the app. Messenger was redesigned to look like a standard text message inbox, and messages were delivered more quickly than before, according to Facebook product managers.
The app even had icons to alert users if they were sending a message to someone on mobile instead of their Facebook inbox. The update, in short, was intended to produce a real rival to SMS — not to mention WhatsApp.
"All of our changes around the new Messenger are about making it a mobile-to-mobile experience, so that I know I can dependably reach you instantly," Peter Martinazzi, Messenger product manager at Facebook, told Mashable last October. "If you're on Messenger, its going to go to your phone and you're going to treat it just like you would SMS, as a high priority mobile to mobile message."
whatsapp messenger comparison
Fast forward to Wednesday, when Mark Zuckerberg discussed WhatsApp with investors and mentioned Messenger frequently. Gone was the comparison to SMS. Messenger was suddenly an app for casual conversations between Facebook friends.
Messenger "evolved from Facebook chat, which was more instant messaging, not SMS," said Zuckerberg. "It's widely used today for chatting with your Facebook friends, and a lot of the messages people send are not real-time. Someone will send someone a message like a more informal email and then expect a reply later in the day."
So what happened? Facebook simply bought a better way to capture the global messaging audience, which WhatsApp reaches. In the 10 days leading up to Wednesday's acquisition, WhatsApp was the top social networking app on iOS every day but one in the United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy, according to App Annie.
"Facebook tends to be floppy," says Gartner analyst Brian Blau. "They try one thing, it doesn't work out, then they immediately try something else. It's how Facebook tries to innovate."
It would be hard to see Messenger disappearing anytime soon, Blau added. It seems likely that Facebook was simply hedging its bets — building an app to compete with WhatsApp while simultaneously pursuing it.
Regardless of the reason, it appears that Messenger has been relegated back to its original use case — casual conversations between Facebook friends. Because if you can't beat 'em, buy 'em.

Facebook to buy WhatsApp for $19 billion in deal shocker


(Reuters) - Facebook Inc will buy fast-growing mobile-messaging startup WhatsApp for $19 billion in cash and stock in a landmark deal that places the world's largest social network closer to the heart of mobile communications and may bring younger users into the fold.
The transaction involves $4 billion in cash, $12 billion in stock and $3 billion in restricted stock that vests over several years. The WhatsApp deal is worth more than Facebook raised in its own IPO and underscores the social network's determination to win the market for messaging.
Founded by a Ukrainian immigrant who dropped out of college, Jan Koum, and a Stanford alumnus, Brian Acton, WhatsApp is a Silicon Valley startup fairy tale, rocketing to 450 million users in five years and adding another million daily.
"No one in the history of the world has ever done something like this," Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said on a conference call on Wednesday.
Zuckerberg, who famously closed a $1 billion deal to buy photo-sharing service Instagram over a weekend in mid-2012, revealed on Wednesday that he proposed the tie-up over dinner with CEO Koum just 10 days earlier, on the night of February 9.
WhatsApp was the leader among a wave of smartphone-based messaging apps that are now sweeping across North America, Asia and Europe. Although WhatsApp has adhered strictly to its core functionality of mimicking texting, other apps, such as Line in Japan or Tencent Holdings Ltd's WeChat, offer games or even e-commerce on top of their popular messaging features.
The deal provides Facebook entree to new users, including teens who eschew the mainstream social networks but prefer WhatsApp and rivals, which have exploded in size as private messaging takes off.
"People are calling them 'Facebook Nevers,'" said Jeremy Liew, a partner at Lightspeed and an early investor in Snapchat.
How the service will pay for itself is not yet clear.
Zuckerberg and Koum on the conference call did not say how the company would make money beyond a $1 annual fee, which is not charged for the first year. "The right strategy is to continue to focus on growth and product," Zuckerberg said.
Zuckerberg and Koum said that WhatsApp will continue to operate independently, and promised to continue its policy of no advertising.
"Communication is the one thing that you have to use daily, and it has a strong network effect," said Jonathan Teo, an early investor in Snapchat, another red-hot messaging company that flirted year ago with a multibillion dollar acquisition offer from Facebook.
"Facebook is more about content and has not yet fully figured out communication."
Even so, many balked at the price tag.
Facebook is paying $42 per user with the deal, dwarfing its own $33 per user cost of acquiring Instagram. By comparison, Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten just bought messaging service Viber for $3 per user, in a $900 million deal.
Rick Summer, an analyst with Morningstar, warned that while investors may welcome the addition of such a high-growth asset, it may point to an inherent weakness in the social networking company that has seen growth slow in recent quarters.
"This is a tacit admission that Facebook can't do things that other networks are doing," he said, pointing to the fact that Facebook had photo-sharing and messaging before it bought Instagram and WhatsApp.
"They can't replicate what other companies are doing so they go out and buy them. That's not all together encouraging necessarily and I think deals like these won't be the last one and that is something for investors to consider."
Venture capitalist Sequoia Capital, which invested in WhatsApp in February 2011 and led three rounds of financing altogether, holds a stake worth roughly $3 billion of the $19 billion valuation, according to people familiar with the matter.
"Goodness gracious, it's a good deal for WhatsApp," said Teo, the early investor in Snapchat.
Facebook pledged a break-up fee of $1 billion in cash and $1 billion in stock if the deal falls through.
Facebook was advised by Allen & Co, while WhatsApp has enlisted Morgan Stanley for the deal.
Shares in Facebook slid 2.5 percent to $66.36 after hours, from a close of $68.06 on the Nasdaq.
"No matter how you look at it this is an expensive deal and a very big bet and very big bets either work out or they perform quite poorly," Summer said. "Given the relative size, the enterprise valuations this is a very significant deal and it may not be the last one."
(Reporting by Garry Shih and Sarah McBride in San Francisco; Additional reporting by Soham Chatterjee in Bangalore, writing by Edwin Chan, Editing by Savio D'Souza, Andrew Hay, Peter Henderson and Lisa Shumaker)