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Nokia, prominent for its Windows phone series today unveiled its first Android phone, Nokia X. This was unveiled in the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and is said to be the first of several Android products from Nokia. Nokia X will cost around $12o and will be mainly targeting the emerging markets.

Nokia Android phones will not run the typical Android that needs Google’s services as an integral part. They are running an open source version of Android which is said have zero ‘Googleness’, and which allows integration of Microsoft services.

Nokia-X-Dual-SIM-front

Mashable quotes:

“Nokia X is a new affordable smartphone family from Nokia,” explains Jussi Nevanlinna, vice president of marketing for Nokia’s phones. “X stands for ‘crossover’ between Microsoft cloud, Android apps and Nokia. When we say family, we really mean it. During 2014 you’ll see a number of products arriving in this family.”

Nokia-X-Dual-SIM-Fastlane

Everything looks exciting and planned from Nokia’s end. We will publish a full review of Nokia X in the near future.

Source: Mashable | Images: Nokia

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If you are a daily user of the internet or you are so interested in smart devices and related news or trends, you may have seen that the majority of the smartphones, tablets can be shopped online going through a virtual cart and bring them down to Sri Lanka using a standard or an expedited shipping method. Apart from following that route, you can basically visit a retail mobile store in Sri Lanka and buy your most needed mobile device, a phone or a tablet PC that suits your wallet. There are numerous known authorized dealers for those devices  as of now established in Sri Lanka for consumers to go and shop. Availability of mobile devices from popular and well known brands like Nokia, Samsung, Apple, Motorola and HTC in here, is truly tremendous and if you wish to have a walk in a shopping center, you may discover a bunch of shops and stalls that showcase a heap of mobile devices bearing those branding.

However the same tale about accessibility of Nexus devices changes assuming that you are living in Sri Lanka or any viable country, where device purchasing is restricted on Google’s Play Store. You scarcely discover a shop or any retail store that offers Nexus devices, particularly as of recently released Nexus for somewhere close to the original price point. That being the main reason behind less popularity and availability of Nexus devices among Sri Lankans and the trouble of getting one in hands other than importing them here through some individual who lands here. In this manner, Nexus units might be classified as uncommon and versatile devices, which makes just a lucky few to have a chance to own them inside Sri Lanka.

A solution for this has recently been sorted out that allows Sri Lankans to buy items online and bring them down here without costing more or waste much time on receiving the paid items especially from country restricted foreign web stores like purchasing devices from Google’s US Play Store. The suggested workaround for this is using an online service that receives and then forwards shipments from US to anywhere in the world called HopShopGo.com, to buy your items and get them conveyed to your doorstep in a few days. Other alternatives which serve in the same way are ReShip.com, us2me.com and myusa.com however they charge an initial payment to sign up to procure their services. Apart from those outside-the-country solutions, visiting global shops established here might seem easy yet the compromised services they offer could be not worth the time and penny we spend. So here goes the easiest method explained in a simpler way chosen from aforementioned first method, using HopShopGo to ship items to Sri Lanka from country restricted online web stores.

Here’s How:

Blocked Nexus buying page

Figure A – Blocked Nexus buying page

Step 1 - Accessing blocked shopping site – In this step you have to actually be some sort of computer literate and familiar with internet usage and services. To do this you need to install some software on your computer that bypasses the access block to the online store your item is listed. For this you can either try ‘Hotspot Shield‘ (figure B) or ‘Tunnel Bear‘ applications on your computer by downloading and installing them. If you are using ‘Tunnel Bear’ then register for a free account worth of 500MB data.

Figure B
Photo courtesy – https://hsselite.zendesk.com/home

After following either way, run one of those applications and try to access your online Nexus shopping page at Google Play Store from your favorite web browser and you will have the ability to gain entrance to those blocked stores (figure C). (Make sure that these applications can only spoof your access location as you are surfing the web from US or UK) Now we have access to see and place an order at Google Play Store. What’s next?

Figure C - Unblocked Nexus shopping page Photo courtesy - http://sourcex.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/ps-2.jpg

Figure C – Unblocked Nexus shopping page
Photo courtesy – http://sourcex.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/ps-2.jpg

Step 2 - Go to HopShopGo.com and signup for free, but you will be asked to specify a PayPal account (b in figure D) with your credit/debit card connected to it. At the end you must login to your account and you will find a U.S. mailing address for your name (a in figure D). Then what? 

Hop Sop Go sections

Figure D

Step 3 - Now go back to Google Play Store and pay for your phone. During this process remember to specify your HopShopGo U.S. address for both shipping and billing addresses and complete your payment process without any hiccups. DONE.

Step 4 - Once the shipment is received at your U.S. address, the company will usually notify you within a day via email along with the estimated cost for shipping to Sri Lanka based on the type of shipping you choose (standard in 5-6 days or expedited in 3 days). There you may pay the amount they say online and you will be given an air waybill / tracking number. You can login to HopShopGo and check your package status and more information or pay shipping charges (c in figure D).

Step 5 - NOW WAIT FOR YOUR PHONE :)

Step 6 - When your phone arrives here you will be given relevant documents either by DHL or FedEx to get the approval from TRCSL, which doesn’t take more than 15 minutes. Upon approval, you need to inform DHL or FedEx and the next day they will deliver you your Nexus at your doorstep. No waits, no wastes.

Unboxed Nexus 5

Figure E
Photo courtesy – Ho tHardware

This method is not only valid for buying Nexus devices but you can also use these steps when you buy and ship items from any U.S. based shopping store and perhaps you may not need to go through the first step if the web site is not blocked for your region.

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    It’s been more than three months since the Nexus 5 has made an official public appearance, to be precise its release on October 31st last year, allowing people to place orders directly from Google’s play store and the pure Google experience that is stuffed inside this gorgeous flagship device has dramatically changed the way people look at mobile devices.

    The Nexus story was quite a little bit old by now but when you look back how it has changed over time was pretty amazing. We have come a long way since the first Nexus device suitably named to the Nexus One announced in 2010. Now we are in the new generation of apparently, ultra powerful, ever evolving smartphones at this point. Nevertheless for whatever reason, when Google was going to release their new version of the Nexus device along with their sweetest version of Android layered around it into this new era, they didn’t make a big deal about it with announcements and subsequent releases. For this search engine giant, publicity was never needed to be sought and still their recent Nexus devices sold out in minutes like hot dogs out of the stove.

    Nexus-5-Press-Image-005-1280x874

    The Nexus 5, with its sleek and smooth look managed to captivate the prospective users even before it hit the market officially.

    After the successful Nexus 4, it’s clear that Google has built up a relationship with LG for the following Nexus, which made both devices sold out in first few minutes as it was first released for placing orders. Unlike other flagship contenders like Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One, everybody was quite anticipated to see how would it look, what features would it sport and who would take the challenge to cater the demand by manufacturing it for Google. Speculations twirled around the tech savvy people letting them wait for the successor to the previous Nexus, the 5th of its kind.

    Nexus 5 was made after LG’s own flagship smartphone named LG G2, designed with a minimal yet more premium and sophisticated look and feel, having almost of all its features trimmed a little bit down to match the Google’s low price point starting at 350 dollars for the 16GB version. It first came with two color choices say black and white and now it’s available in bright red too. The competitive specifications of Nexus 5 were good enough to bring a great smartphone experience as a reference device for the industry and for developers or general consumers, bundled with pure and powerful updated Android experience currently available unlike the predecessors. Most importantly the main advantage in Nexus devices is quick over the air Android updates.

    nexus-evolution-video

    Evolution of Nexus series has been extraordinary. The look and feel as well as the hardware specification have improved over a short period of time.

    Google uses their Nexus line to introduce the latest version of Android operating system and this time they released the tastiest Android experience they have ever made Android 4.4 KitKat with new user interface improvements and other eye-catching features that comes only available for the Nexus 5 at the moment. The new Google Experience launcher provides translucent notification and navigation bars with a second home screen fully dedicated to ‘Google Now’ with the ability to initiate voice searches by simply saying “Okay Google” when you are in any home screen. The updated camera was improved to produce better image quality with clear and saturated colors as a result of optical image stabilization plus incremental updates to Android KitKat in order to make the imaging experience more serviceable. Initially the downside of the Nexus 5 was its battery life and it’s not as pathetic as it seems on average usage, but someone would feel like reaching for the charging cable earlier than any probably it should compared to competitors.

    With the Nexus 5, you are getting exactly what you are needed without having any bloatware or heavy applications that provides sky high features. It is a phone that suits the daily drive, because it is simple and it does what you need to do without giving any fuss. A rumor which started circulating a few weeks back stated that we might have to rely on much expensive Google Play edition devices to get our hands on pure Android experience, as it seems the Nexus line might come to an end this year, which surely is not a good news for many consumers. So let’s have our fingers crossed until 2015 to see these rumors to get some backing. Till then enjoy pure Android on Nexus.
    Image Courtesy: Smart Droid and Techno Buffalo

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    Google Summer of Code is celebrating 10 years of successful operations world wide. What started off as a summer program, it has grown leaps and bounds to become one of the most intensely participated coding programs for students internationally.

    When talking about Google Summer of Code, no one can forget the immense contribution University of Moratuwa has made over the years. According to the statistics Google has put up in their website, University of Moratuwa is the most contributing Institute to GSoC program worldwide with the highest amount of accepted students each year and in the overall count as well. So it is very appropriate that, to mark this event, Computer Science and Engineering Faculty of University of Moratuwa organized a ceremony at the University premises.

    A very special delegation representing Google headed by Chris DiBona (Director of Social Impact and Open Source – Google Inc) came down to Sri Lanka with his team, including Stephanie Taylor (Program Manager – Google Inc), Mary Radomile (Program Manager – Google Inc) and Jana Levene (Emerging Market Development – Google APAC).

    During the ceremony Rohan Jayaweera, Country Consultant at Google shared his thoughts and views about GSoC. Sanjiva Weerawarana, one of the most respected Alumni members of UoM and one of the most reputed entrepreneurs in the country, participated in a panel discussion. Past GSoC-ers including Himeshi De Sila from the 2013 GSoC batch and some others previous participants gave away some tips to the future candidates who are about to get on board with their GSoC dream.

    The GSoC anniversary celebration was an absolute success. With the exposure given to the concept behind GSoC and its advantages, it is much expected that more participants will take part this year and bring glory to Sri Lanka.

    You can also check out our Photo Coverage of the event and our Live Blog. Our previous article about how Computer Science and Engineering Department of University of Moratuwa prepared for this event can be found here.

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    The special guests of the event include Chris DiBona (Director of Social Impact and Open Source – Google Inc), Mary Radomile (Program Manager – Google Inc), Stephanie Taylor (Program Manager – Google Inc), and Jana Levene (Emerging Market Development – Google APAC). Also, there will be participants from across the ICT sector in Sri Lanka as well as other key stakeholders.

    More info on the event can be found here.

    Event in  detailed time to time updates, below.

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    Smart Contact lenses project by Google was started as developing a solution for overcoming the difficulties faced by the diabetes patients when measuring the sugar level in their blood on daily basis. And still it is not intended to work like a Google Glass or a Smart Device. Its basic functionality is to gather sugar level in blood every second to make the patient comfortable.

    Following is the explanation Google published in their official blog:

    You’ve probably heard that diabetes is a huge and growing problem—affecting one in every 19 people on the planet. But you may not be familiar with the daily struggle that many people with diabetes face as they try to keep their blood sugar levels under control. Uncontrolled blood sugar puts people at risk for a range of dangerous complications, some short-term and others longer term, including damage to the eyes, kidneys and heart. A friend of ours told us, she worries about her mom, who once passed out from low blood sugar and drove her car off the road.

    Many people I’ve talked to say managing their diabetes is like having a part-time job.

    Glucose levels change frequently with normal activity like exercising or eating or even sweating. Sudden spikes or precipitous drops are dangerous and not uncommon, requiring round-the-clock monitoring. Although some people wear glucose monitors with a glucose sensor embedded under their skin, all people with diabetes must still prick their finger and test drops of blood throughout the day. It’s disruptive, and it’s painful. And, as a result, many people with diabetes check their blood glucose less often than they should.

    Over the years, many scientists have investigated various body fluids—such as tears—in the hopes of finding an easier way for people to track their glucose levels. But as you can imagine, tears are hard to collect and study. At Google[x], we wondered if miniaturized electronics—think: chips and sensors so small they look like bits of glitter, and an antenna thinner than a human hair—might be a way to crack the mystery of tear glucose and measure it with greater accuracy.

    Untitled-1

    We’re now testing a smart contact lens that’s built to measure glucose levels in tears using a tiny wireless chip and miniaturized glucose sensor that are embedded between two layers of soft contact lens material. We’re testing prototypes that can generate a reading once per second. We’re also investigating the potential for this to serve as an early warning for the wearer, so we’re exploring integrating tiny LED lights that could light up to indicate that glucose levels have crossed above or below certain thresholds.

    It’s still early days for this technology, but we’ve completed multiple clinical research studies which are helping to refine our prototype.

    We hope this could someday lead to a new way for people with diabetes to manage their disease.

    We’re in discussions with the FDA, but there’s still a lot more work to do to turn this technology into a system that people can use. We’re not going to do this alone: we plan to look for partners who are experts in bringing products like this to market. These partners will use our technology for a smart contact lens and develop apps that would make the measurements available to the wearer and their doctor. We’ve always said that we’d seek out projects that seem a bit speculative or strange, and at a time when the International Diabetes Federation (PDF) is declaring that the world is “losing the battle” against diabetes, we thought this project was worth a shot.

    Resource – Posted by Brian Otis and Babak Parviz, project co-founders in Google’s Official Blog

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    The next area of battle for Google seems to be automobiles.

    The Wall Street Journal reports that Google is working with German carmaker Audi to develop in-car entertainment and information systems based on its Android software — and that plans will be announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.

    There will also reportedly be plans to collaborate with other companies including chip manufacturer Nvidia to work towards having Android as a system available within vehicles, which will let drivers and passengers access music, navigation, apps and services like those on Android smartphones.

    Google’s efforts come as Apple introduced its “iOS in the Car” initiative during its WWDC 2013 keynote in June this year, aiming to give drivers and passengers direct access to the functionalities of iOS devices via native in-car control systems.

    Source: thenextweb

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    LG is adopting a different take on Chromebooks, after announcing that it will introduce an all-in-one computer based on Google’s Chrome OS at theConsumer Electronics Show in January.

    The LG Chromebase is a 21.5-inch widescreen unit — featuring full HD and an IPS display — which comes with a keyboard, mouse and other accessories but can operate independently as a screen.

    Beyond just consumers, the target audience includes businesses, with LG touting its potential for schools, hospitality or offices. Indeed, a device like this could be an interesting addition for a hotel — guests simply log-in with Chrome and get all their files, settings and other personalized details on the Chromebase via the cloud.

    Certainly, it’s an ambitious project, and one we’ll take a closer look at during CES.

    Images via LG

    Source – TheNextWeb

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    Cover is bringing its situation-aware lockscreen to more Android users today after its beta test launch six weeks ago. It’s now available in the Google Play store to Android 4.1+ users in the US, Canada, and Europe. Cover’s 100 new improvements include cutting down battery drain and being better at detecting if you’re in your car, at home or at work so it puts the right apps on your lockscreen.

    “The big question I had personally was whether users would understand the concept of the lockscreen” Cover founder Todd Jackson tells me about what he’s learned from its thousands of beta testers since October. “Turns out they do. We were specifically focused on building a lockscreen rather than a launcher. They like the flexibility of being able to use Cover with other launchers.”

    Steamrolling over a user’s existing customization was sticking point that hurt Facebook Home’s early adoption. By acting as an interaction layer that floats on top of a user’s Android homescreen, Cover has found people more willing to adapt to how it radically alters their lockscreen.

    horizontal_graphic

    Covering The Bases

    Check out my launch story on Cover for the full-rundown of how it works.

    To recap, though, Cover can recognize when you’re at home, work, or in you car, and shows you the apps that fit that situation. The suggestions are based on crowdsourced data at first, like that people often use Dropbox at work and Netflix at home, but Cover learns what you use in these situations too and adapts its lockscreen shortcuts. Cover’s Peek feature lets you quickly look inside your apps, and its fast-app switching drop-down menu makes it a breeze to bounce back and forth between maps, messaging, or what have you.

    You can watch our quick Cover demo and my interview with Jackson in the video player below.

    Cover for Android Applies App Logic To Your Lockscreen

    To get people to surrender the most visible part of their phone to Cover, it had to make some improvements. “Cover is a different app than most apps. Most you just forget about” Jackson tells me, noting there’s little risk to one more download. “Cover? You either love it, or you hate it and you uninstall it. When you’re building an app that replaces a core aspect of their phone, the quality bar is really high” says Jackson.

    That’s why Cover used the Android’s beta system. Jackson admits it wasn’t perfect, as it created friction to downloading Cover on its big launch day. Some users griped about having to use Google+, or never visited their G+ profile so they missed their invitation to download Cover once it was their turn. But the app just wouldn’t have been ready for prime time without the detailed feedback and bug reports the Android beta testers offered.

    App Switch Tutorial

     

    Cover discovered that the number #1 thing people cared about was battery life. Jackson explains, “The beta helped us learn what are people’s thresholds. For most people, if Cover is responsible for more than 5% of their battery usage, they’ll uninstall it, so we worked really hard to get it under 5%.”

    Other improvements include more accurate motion sensing algorithms for detecting you’re in your car, KitKat compatability, more stable app peeking and switch, new tutorials for how to use app switching and operate Cover with pincode security turned on, more customization, and the ability to share your Cover set up to Facebook/Twitter/Google+.

    Another frequently requested feature was the recommendations of apps other people use at home, work, in the car, or with their headphones plugged in. That validates a big potential business model for Cover in app discovery. It could potentially charge other developers to have Cover suggest their app. That could create a route for Cover to make good on the $1.7 million it raised from investors including First Round Capital courtesy of Josh Kopelman, Harrison Metal, Capital, Max Levchin, and Keith Rabois.

    Plenty Of Android Pie To Go Around

    Now that it’s publicly available, Cover can test its might versus other lockscreens like Aviate,Facebook HomeWiddit, and more. With time, it might take on a whole additional weightclass of competitors. Jackson says “A lot of users are actually asking us to build a launcher” which would pit Cover against GO LauncherNova LauncherEverything.me, and others.

    But Jackson is convinced there will be enough users for everyone. “It will be an interesting space to watch the next few years as Android gets better and the phones get better, appealing to a higher market. The Android pie itself is growing really huge. People are just starting to realize they can customize their phone. I think a handful of the startups you mention are all going to do really well.”

    Cover and many of these launchers and lockscreens are shockingly different interfaces than people are used to. People fear what they don’t understand, creating a barrier to adoption. But we all need to come to grips with the fact that screen after screen of app folders may not be the best way to organize a phone.

    There’s a swirling sea of apps out there. The next wave of mobile won’t be about adding more, but using context to help us navigate between them.

    Download Cover for free from Google Play

     

    Source : http://techcrunch.com/2013/12/12/download-cover/