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Ingress is a mobile game made for Android handsets that needs more physical strength to play than any other mobile game. It is a game not only for men but also for women. If you are a member of any Sri Lankan Ingress community, you may find how low the number of female appearances are and you will realize how important it is to have a good blend of men and women in a team since Ingress is not for lonely and male players.
Women too are as important as men in this society and so too in cyber world. As a result of the vast penetration of information technology to the masses, it made local women more powerful on par with equally skilled men here today. Sri Lankan Ingress community is a good stage to show off women’s power to the world, because Ingress is a globally recognized mobile game played by millions of people around the world.
It has now grown up with female players from both factions, say the Enlightened (Green) team and the Resistance (Blue) team. Two months after the International Women’s day, when one of the renowned Sri Lankan Ingress team was able to secure the Colombo cell in Interitus global anomaly, they have once again made a big leap by taking the initiative to gather all local female players of Enlightened faction together who have been individually playing Ingress to make the first ever ladies only Ingress portal in Sri Lanka on 23rd of May at Independence Square, Colombo. This attempt could clearly highlight the female power of Sri Lankan Enlightened team and it was a 100% Sri Lankan effort without the aid of any foreign players.
Eight ladies from Enlightened team who made the first female only portal in Sri Lanka.
Agents @anuRoX, @SuperNando, @lightwillow, @doomblastic, @unsalgado, @tizzyrubix, @Kveykva, @Zensus
(not shown in order) participated for this meetup.
First female only portal in Sri Lanka
In Ingress, portals are the main base of the game and they are described as statues, unique architectures, special outdoor buildings, historical places, monuments and places of worship. Therefore players have to physically travel near such portals. Hacking a portal provides beneficial items to players and the ownership of a portal can be claimed by attacking a portal owned by the enemy team. That is called capturing a portal. To capture, a player has to deploy up to eight resonators to give life to a portal. These eight resonators can either be placed by one player or a group of eight players.
Some chit chat during the Enlightened women’s meetup
Unlike in other countries, Sri Lankan Enlightened and Resistance teams are mostly male dominated and due to day-night traveling around the country and lack of understandability on first sight, there is a difficulty of attracting women towards Ingress. Having such a situation, the Enlightened team was able to recruit local female players to their faction and the final outcome was making the first ever female only portal following the aforementioned way by placing eight resonators by eight Sri Lankan ladies. This attempt has brought so much public recognition plus honor to Sri Lankan women and it was a better attempt of inviting more women to play Ingress.
Let’s be honest. We all love software updates on our smart devices. Be it Android, iOS or Windows Phone, we all love to run the latest OS version. It is surprising because, not so long ago when we were all using feature phones made by Nokia or Sony Ericsson (now Sony), we never bothered about any such OS updates. But the smartphone era has changed the way we see our handsets. We do a lot more than making a call or sending a text message on a smartphone.
iOS distribution across devices
OS features define which platform we choose. And new updates to the system software means new and improved features. But getting updated to the latest OS on your device is not fun always. Especially if you are on Android. Take for example Android 4.4 KitKat, the latest version of Android which debuted at the end of October 2013. As of May 2014, only around 8.5% of Android devices run KitKat (4.4.x). On the other hand, iOS 7, the latest version of Apple’s iOS, which saw public release in mid September, 2013, runs on at least 88% of iOS devices(7.x.x).
Yes, Apple does have an advantage since they build their own hardware and software. On the other hand there are a number of manufacturers (or OEMs – Original Equipment Manufacturers) with 100s of Android devices under their brand name with varying hardware specifications. And providing the latest software to all those devices is harder than you might think. But lets focus on high end devices or flagships. You spend a good amount of money. But there are times you have to wait for months to receive your updates from the date Google announces a new version of Android. So why does this happen? Why does it take so long for your OEMs to provide software updates? Few months ago both Sony and HTC tried to shed some light into what actually goes behind the whole process. I’ll try to present a breakdown based on these reports:
Android platform distribution across devices
Before we get into the process, note that android devices can be categorized into 4 main categories.
1- Carrier Devices - Devices that are released for/by a particular carrier (like the Dialog branded devices in Sri Lanka). These devices are locked to the network, most of the time. They may be sold on a contract at subsidized prices. And the updates are pushed by the carriers with support from OEMs. (This category is not seen in our local market. Even Dialog’s self branded devices are not latest flagships)
2- Unlocked Devices – the regular devices you get in the market. Sold by country dealers or distributors for the manufacturers. The OEMs are responsible for updating these devices.
3- Nexus Devices – Sold directly by Google via Google Play (There were times before Google Play, when manufacturers sold it. Still some do in countries where Google Play is not present). Updates are pushed directly by Google. Updates usually arrive as soon as a new Android version is announced.
4- Google Play Edition Devices – Once again, sold by Google via Google Play, These devices are based on manufacturer models (i.e flagships) except they run mostly pure Android. Updates are mainly pushed by Google, with help from the OEMs.
Now to the process. Carrier edition devices go through a complex process to get updates. We are not going to talk much about them since they are not much relevant here. Also the carrier branded ones are locked to that particular network, so you can’t use them in a different country.
The regular unlocked devices have the largest market here. Nexus devices too are catching up locally, as of late. Even though Google Play edition devices are not widely available, that does not mean they cannot be used here. They are basically unlocked flagships with a nexus feel.
The update process can be divided into 5 phases.
Phase 0 – Evaluation
This is when Google releases the Platform Development Kit (PDK) to the OEMs or hardware partners. The PDK is usually released at least 2 months before a major android version is announced, enabling hardware manufacturers to come up with innovative ideas for their devices. This also means the hardware partners will actually know what’s in store for the next big OS release. And some time after (around two months) the PDK is released, Google announces the newest version of Android. Major android versions are usually released along with new Nexus hardware (smartphone/tablets). And Google also announces update to existing Nexus devices. This updates starts rolling out (via OTA) globally within few days of the announcement. This actually completes the update process for Nexus devices, which is pretty fast.
Once the OS is announced, Google provides source codes to the OEMs and the chipset manufacturers (like Qualcomm). The OEM will evaluate the source code to see the requirements. The chipset manufacturer plays an important role here. they will evaluate and decide whether to support the newest version on their chipsets and if so which models will actually support. (In the case of Nexus devices, these are done in-house at Google before announcing the updates). The chipset manufacturer may take their time delaying the process.
Phase 1 – Development.
At the early stages of this phase the chipset manufacturer will announce (to the OEMs) which of their chipsets will support the new OS. If any of their chipsets are excluded from this support, then whichever the device that is powered by that chipset, will be excluded from the update. If the chipset manufacturer decides to support the OS, they will go ahead and release the necessary drivers along with optimizations. And the chipset manufacturer will release what is known as a Modified Board Support Package (MSP) to the OEM.
Much of the work required to update the Google Play Edition devices ends here. Since they essentially run an unadulterated version of Android, the process is shorter, and goes directly to Phase 3.
Phase 2 – Integration
This phase involves the regular devices and the ones specially designed/modified for carriers. It is in this step that the OEMs decide whether to support the new OS and if so on which devices. They also release a maintenance release (MR) and assign teams to work on integrating the OS with their own custom UI skins (i.e Sense by HTC, TouchWiz by Samsung). This is an important step since this defines how the OS will look and function on the device. If the OEM decides to exclude support for certain models, those devices will not get any update. They do it for various reasons, including that – continuous updates to older devices has a chance of affecting sales of newer models. It is also in his phase that OEM works with carriers to add any modifications to the OS to support carrier exclusive features (read: bloatware).
Phase 3 – Testing/ Certification
During this phase all versions of devices (including GPE) go through internal testing. If any issues or critical bugs are found, a newer version is created and tested again. Once done,more testing and certifications are done by Google and other players like regulators. If this process is a success, then Google issues a Technical Acceptance (TA). For carrier versions, a TA is issued by the carrier too.
Phase 4 – Push to end users
And now it is time to roll out the update! Updates are mostly done as OTA (Over The Air) and carrier updates are handled by carriers along with OEM. OEMs handle the updates for the regular devices while Google come into play when GPE devices are updated.
So, now you get an idea as to how the update process works in the background. It is obvious such a lengthy process requires time, since it involves multiple parties. And there is no surprise that the OEMs take a long time to release updates. Sometimes Google might actually release another version of android by the time this process comes to an end. All hail Nexus!
Check out the detailed infographic by HTC, describing the process, here.
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.
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A new runtime in Android may soon replace Dalvik.
Android apps run in Dalvik. We know this as sure as the sun rises in the morning and water is wet. It is the foundation of how Android apps can run on a variety of devices with different amounts of RAM and processors.
In the near future, Google may be getting rid of Dalvik for a new standard that runs Android apps called Android Runtime (ART).
Dalvik is the virtual machine that compiles the code that make your Android apps work. Typically, Android apps are written in the Java programming language and compiled into bytecode—the generic numeric code that is submitted by developers to app stores like Google Play (the same code makes it less processor intensive to run on a variety of devices). That bytecode is then transferred from a Java Virtual Machine file to a Dalvik executable file.
You may think that all your apps and the code that makes them live in a happy place somewhere inside your smartphone. Really, they don’t. That happy place doesn’t exist. In reality, every time you run an app, the bytecode that comprises the program is run through a compiler that makes it work. In Android, this is done through a process known as a “Just In Time” (JIT) compiler that translates the universal bytecode into machine code, which in turn becomes a hardware-specific program known as an app. This is essentially what Dalvik in Android does.
Imagine: every time you open an app, all the different parts of the smartphone responsible for making that app work have to scramble to assemble the code for the app to make it work on your device. You close the app and all those parts relax. You open it and they scramble again. This is not a very efficient way to run apps but it allows those apps to run basically anywhere (it was one of the reasons it was so easy for BlackBerry to port Android apps to the BlackBerry 10).
With Android Runtime, Google will attempt to change this process so that apps run faster and are more tied to the hardware of the device than ever.
What Is ART?
I first ran into Android Runtime—ART—earlier this week when diddling with the developer settings on the Nexus 5. It is presented in the Developer Options settings of the device as “Select Runtime.” “Use Dalvik” or “Use ART” are the options.
There has not been a lot written about ART but Android Police seems to have the scoop. ART has been secretly in the works from Google for about two years. ART uses an “Ahead Of Time” (AOT) compiler instead of JIT. It is like a Web browser pre-caching websites to be able to load them faster. The AOT compiler translates the bytecode into machine code when an app is downloaded on a device. This machine code may take up more storage memory on a device, but it will make apps open faster and run smoother than before.
Hidden within Google’s Android developer website is a very short introduction to ART:
ART is a new Android runtime being introduced experimentally in the 4.4 release. This is a preview of work in progress in KitKat that can be turned on in Settings > developer options. This is available for the purpose of obtaining early developer and partner feedback.
Important: Dalvik must remain the default runtime or you risk breaking your Android implementations and third-party applications.
Two runtimes are now available, the existing Dalvik runtime (libdvm.so) and the ART (libart.so). A device can be built using either or both. (You can dual boot from Developer options if both are installed.)
The important note here is that ART is an experimental setting for developers and device manufacturers. It can lead to instability of the operating system, cause apps to crash constantly and basically turn your Nexus 5 into a worthless hunk of attractively lasered plastic.
Cody Toombs of Android Police outlines the potential benefits of ART:
Thus far, estimates and some benchmarks suggest that the new runtime is already capable of cutting execution time in half for most applications. This means that long-running, processor-intensive tasks will be able to finish faster, allowing the system to idle more often and for longer. Regular applications will also benefit from smoother animations and more instantaneous responses to touch and other sensor data. Additionally, now that the typical device contains a quad-core (or greater) processor, many situations will call for activating fewer cores, and it may be possible to make even better use of the lower-powered cores in ARM’s big.LITTLE architecture. How much this improves battery life and performance will vary quite a bit based on usage scenarios and hardware, but the results could be substantial.
Are we soon to see the end of Dalvik in favor of a more efficient runtime that could make Android apps perform much, much better? Probably not quite yet. Google will test ART with its manufacturing partners and developers for the foreseeable future. If ART works like it is supposed to, all that scrambling within a smartphone to make an app work will stop and the code that runs the app will just be there on your device, waiting for you to open it.
Source : http://readwrite.com/2013/11/07/how-google-may-be-planning-to-make-android-apps-faster-with-art#awesm=~omAbIK97N2Ft3E
By now we all know that Google’s not-so-secret Nexus 5 is for sale. We got our hands on a review unit and here are our initial impressions. Keep in mind that these are only first impressions after having used it for a few hours and so haven’t completely taken it through the wringer, but we wanted to show you what you can expect for this $349 and $399 phone.
There’s nothing that makes the packaging stand out among all of the other Nexus devices, but when you open up the box and take out the Nexus 5, this is where your new Nexus experience begins. At just 8.59 millimeters and weighing 4.8 ounces, the smartphone is extremely thin and light — it almost felt as though it could break while in your hands.
The 5-inch display makes it suitable to fit in the palm of your hands, but while carrying it in my pocket while walking through San Francisco, it sort of felt like it was out of place — perhaps I’ve grown too accustomed to the fact that I’ve had 3- to 4-inch phones for the past few years. Although you can hold the device in one hand, it doesn’t immediately feel comfortable enough size to manage all your affairs as such. Trying to type out emails or using certain apps required the use of both hands.
Users will notice that the display is sharp, perhaps akin to Apple’s Retina display. All the details of the icons and content on the phone are pretty clearly visible.
LG is the company behind the Nexus 5. The construction appears to be pretty sturdy and it’s quite easy to grip. However, the Corning Gorilla Glass 3 screendoes make it prone to smudges and fingerprints and almost as soon as I took the phone out of the box and removed the screen covering, a fingerprint emerged.
The camera has 8.1 megapixels and comes with optical image stabilization. It takes some pretty good photographs which we’ll be showing off later, including HDR and Photo Spheres. There’s a single flash on the Nexus 5, which when enabled, will turn on as you try and focus on something in a darkened room. So if you plan on taking photos at a night club or in the evening, better warn people of two flashes.
So what about KitKat, Google’s latest Android operating system? In my preliminary assessment, it’s stable and useful. The fact that Google Now has been incorporated so well into the platform so that it’s accessible from any of the home screen windows will hopefully help users find what they want quicker.
In a bit of a pet peeve, the phone will respond to anyone that says “OK Google”. It’s interesting that KitKat hasn’t incorporated the same preventative measure that Google has with its Glass product (it won’t activate when random people walk by and scream “OK Google” into the device). Nevertheless, I found Google Now useful, especially when I asked it to open apps. Gmail and Flipboard opened instantly, though Instagram failed to open on cue. Why that happened is unknown, so a bit of tweaking could be done — it’s still far from perfect.
The overall appearance of Android 4.4 is decent, but if you’re expecting a remarkable overhaul from Jellybean, you’re going to be disappointed. Although the aesthetics haven’t changed that dramatically, the experience itself has. We’ll dive deeper into this when we have an opportunity to do a more in-depth review of the Nexus 5.
Nexus 5 owners will also find that it includes the latest Hangouts app, which lets you to send SMS and MMS messages, along with Quickoffice, which enables you to open or create new documents, spreadsheets, and presentations — a potential rival to Microsoft Office.
Google Wallet also comes installed on KitKat, which is needed in order to take advantage of the “Tap & pay” feature.
When I received the phone it had a fully charged battery. After seven hours, it still has 56 percent remaining after setting it up, installing apps, checking email, taking a few photos, and surfing the Web. Besides that, the rest of the power consumption was through the screen being on and also Google Search. However, as I begin to use it more with Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and checking email, it will be interesting to see how well the battery stands up.
Plastic cases are also available for the Nexus 5 and Google included a florescent orange/pink one — it’s noticeably bright so you won’t miss it in a darkened environment. It’s flimsy, but sturdy enough for those who want some added protection for their device without paying a lot for it.
Based on the few hours we’ve had to play with the Nexus 5, it’s a solid-looking and flexible device that has the potential to help you get the information you want, make sure you arrive at your destination safely, and be a productivity workhorse. This device may be Google’s effort to stand up against the likes of the iPhone 5s, the HTC One, or the Samsung Galaxy S4, but it might fall short of that aspiration. It’s certainly offering some premium features, but at an affordable price point.
Source : http://thenextweb.com/google/2013/11/02/hands-first-impressions-googles-nexus-5-android-4-4-kitkat/