Himanshu Potlia

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About Himanshu Potlia

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  • Birthday July 1
  1. With only a couple of days left, the Moto Z physical keyboard mod crowdfunding campaign has reached its funding goal. The Indiegogo project passed the $100,000 mark thanks to more than 900 backers, meaning the sliding keyboard will now go into official production. This should come as great news to anybody who had previously invested in the project, as without getting 100% of its fixed funding goal, the campaign would have been cancelled. The five-row QWERTY keyboard, which takes advantage of the Moto Z’s modular design, clips onto — and is concealed within — the rear of the device, and can be brought out when required. The keyboard features an LED backlight and can be tilted between 0 and 45 degrees to help provide a comfortable typing experience. Though it has now reached its goal, you can still back the project over at its crowdfunding page. $60 plus shipping will nab you the keyboard in black, which will retail at $120 when it goes on sale. Estimated delivery dates for early bird backers are July or August depending on which keyboard layout you opt for.
  2. That headline likely won’t surprise anybody already aware of Facebook‘s advertising potential, but the finer details of the story are still quite shocking. Facebook is said to have been using “sophisticated algorithms” to help advertisers target vulnerable people as young as 14-years-old. The news arrives via an article from news site The Australian earlier today and concerns a leaked 23-page document from Facebook’s Australian office. Reportedly, the document describes how Facebook, the world’s largest social media site, is gathering insights regarding 6.4 million young Australians and New Zealanders in the interests of selling targeted advertising. “By monitoring posts, pictures, interactions and internet activity in real-time, Facebook can work out when young people feel ‘stressed,’ ‘defeated,’ ‘overwhelmed,’ ‘anxious,’ ‘nervous,’ ‘stupid,’ ‘silly,’ ‘useless,’ and a ‘failure,'” The Australian wrote. In addition to the emotional states above, the algorithms can allegedly discern “when young people exhibit ‘nervous ­excitement,’ and emotions related to ‘conquering fears.'” Further, image recognition software can allow advertisers to see “how people visually represent moments such as mealtimes” on Facebook-owned photo-sharing platform Instagram. This is linked to Facebook’s supposed plans to sell ads associated with “looking good and body confidence,” and “working out and losing weight.” Specific products or services these advertisers would offer seemingly weren’t outlined in the document. Facebook has issued an apology since being contacted by The Australian in regard to the report, who said that the company admitted it was “wrong to target young children in this way.” A Facebook spokesperson also stated: “We have opened an investigation to understand the process failure and improve our oversight. We will undertake disciplinary and other processes as appropriate.” However, Facebook did not answer questions as to whether it conducts these practices elsewhere. Though the report raises ethical concerns regarding advertising to young people in general, it’s particularly troubling that Facebook could help advertisers target those feeling negative emotions specifically; intense negative emotions are commonly associated with mental health disorders. In other recent news, Facebook announced plans to build a “brain-computer interface” capable of — to some extent — reading your thoughts (read more about that at the link above), though the company said this wasn’t in aid of finding out information you wouldn’t wish to share. What’s your take on Facebook advertising to vulnerable young people? Let us know in the comments.
  3. According to the latest rumor, Samsung might soon acquire a Taiwanese LED manufacturer for around $150 million in order to develop micro-LED panels. PlayNitride is one of the many Taiwanese companies that boast extensive R&D in micro-LED technology, and according to OLED-info, the South Korean electronics giant may be preparing to acquire the firm for $150 million. If you recall, Samsung isn’t the first to show interest in micro-LED displays: Apple acquired LuxVue Technology way back in 2014, and Oculus acquired InfiniLED in 2016, all of which were specialists in micro-LED technology. Micro-LED panels consist of microscopic LEDs that form individual display pixels. The result is that compared to regular LCD panels or even current OLED displays, these micro-LED displays can show higher picture contrast and much faster response times all the while being extremely energy-efficient, just like OLED displays. Unlike OLED displays, however, micro-LED panels can offer far higher brightness – as much as 30 times higher – and do not suffer from short lifetimes. The report claims that Samsung is looking to employ this technology in VR applications but could eventually replace its current Quantum Dot technology in televisions with micro-LED screens. Although micro-LED displays may be cheaper to produce and could offer the ideal solution to the drawbacks of today’s OLED panels, unfortunately, they have not been mass-produced or commercialized yet due to technical difficulties. Industry experts say that while we may see low-volumes of micro-LED displays being produced as early as the end of 2017, they won’t be commercialized before 2020. Are you a big fan of OLED displays? Do you think micro-LED panels could replace OLED? Let us know what you think in the comments below!
  4. When the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus launched in South Korea last month, they didn’t have the full version of Bixby on board. Samsung’s digital assistant offered the Vision, Home, and Reminder features, while the voice control functionality wasn’t available from the start. The voice control feature for Bixby is now finally available, as Samsung has rolled it out via a software update to its flagship devices in South Korea. This means you can now control certain functionalities of your smartphone with your voice including opening apps, setting reminders, and so on. It works more or less the same as the Google Assistant, which is also found on the Galaxy S8 series. The voice control feature of Bixby currently isn’t available in the US. Samsung says that it should make its way to the flagship devices “later this spring”, although an exact date has not been given yet. The digital assistant will then make its way to other countries around the world as well, with the release in Germanyscheduled for the last quarter of the year. The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus have been selling great both in South Korea as well as in the US. In Samsung’s home country the two devices received over one million pre-orders, while in the US the pre-order numbers were 30 percent higher when compared with those of the Galaxy S7 series. Despite its success, the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus do have a number of problems users have been complaining about. These include the facial recognition feature that can be tricked with a photo and the red screen found on some devices.
  5. Update, May 1: Following its release in Europe, the red tint fix update is now rolling out to India, Sam Mobile reported. The 426MB patch brings “improved color optimization and convenient color adjustment.” Original post, April 29: After putting out a software fix for the red tint issue on the Galaxy S8 in Korea earlier this week, Samsung is now rolling it out in Europe. Germany, Turkey and the UK are the first countries to get the patch, which adds a slider for making the entire display warmer or cooler. Somehow I doubt there’ll be too many folks wanting a warmer display on their Galaxy S8, but it’s there if you want it. The individual RGB sliders can still be accessed, but they are now found under an Advanced section. That section also includes a Screen edge color balance setting, that allows you to to change the white balance at the edges of the screen, where multiple Galaxy S8 owners noticed the red tint at its worst. According to Samsung, changes may take up to ten minutes to appear. If you’re in one of those countries and you don’t see a notification icon in your status bar already, just head to Settings > Software update > Download updates manually to check. The update is a rather hefty 426 MB, indicating there might be a little more included than just a fix for the screen tint but we’ll have to get back to you on that. Samsung has vowed to replace devices for unsatisfied owners and it may need to, as the calibrated display settings are only available in Adaptive display mode. Switch that to AMOLED cinema, AMOLED photo or Basic and you’ll lose your color balance changes. Also, changes won’t take effect if you have the blue light filter on. Hit the comments and let us know when you get the update and if it was sufficient to fix the problem on your device (if you were suffering from it in the first place). With two fixes going out for some of the Galaxy S8’s launch problems in the last week, Samsung seems keen to address user issues quickly, which is just the way it should be. Now, if only we could get fixes issued within a couple weeks all year round…
  6. Those rocking a ZTE Axon 7 now have something to look forward to. The company has just announced they are rolling out a sizable update in the next 48 hours. This brings the device up to build 25, which comes with plenty of great improvements to enjoy. Let’s take a look at them! What’s new? Enables “Night Mode” setting Supports 256GB micro SD cards Allows users to disable some stock apps Optimizes the “Do Not Disturb” function Fixes various Wi-Fi Calling issues Improves device stability and security Miscellaneous performance improvements and other fixes Of course, the most important upgrades are Night Mode and support for 256 GB cards. Being able to disable more useless apps is also helpful, though. As is fixing bugs and improving stability. Have any of you gotten this update yet? Hit the comments to let us know how it is treating you!
  7. It’s time for another ‘Crowdfunding project of the week”, where we highlight the hottest projects from sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. This one goes to my fellow motorcycle riders as they make their way back home safe this Sunday afternoon. Today’s featured campaign will keep you visible and your family at peace. Want to learn more? Let’s look into it. The rumble of a motor, tremoring pavement and piercing wind are addictive. Motorcycles are a symbol of freedom and pleasure, but they also represent a dangerous lifestyle. Riding requires attention, but not only from you; also from people you share the road with. This is why we buy things like reflective material, extra lights and louder pipes. It’s important to help other notice us. Enter Cosmo Connected, a smart break light that easily attaches to the back of any helmet. The location is important. Riders will know it’s always better to keep your head as visible as possible, as it is closer to driver eye level. Simply stick the magnetic base to the back of the helmet, then you are ready to mount the break light. Of course, the Cosmo Connected’s main purpose is to light up when decelerating. This is done with the use of a gyroscope, which means it works with gravity and inertia, making it functional even when motor breaking. The team promises this will work flawlessly for up to 8 hours per charge, but there’s more to this little device. Staying safe and visible is only part of this gadget’s functionality. Every time we mount the saddle there is a chance of an accident. We take the risk and hope we will be ready when the moment comes. And when it does happen, what happens right after an accident is critical and can make all the difference. Cosmo Connected detects accidents and links to a smartphone app to get you help as soon as possible. The application will immediately alert a roadside assistance service. An operator will try to reach out to the rider and send help to his GPS coordinates if there is no answer. All within 3 minutes. The user can also select a number of personal contacts to be alerted in case of an accident. Interested? Cosmo Connected starts shipping this July and can be had for as low as 99 Euros (about $108 USD) from Kickstarter. That’s not a bad price for the added security and peace of mind. Are there any fellow riders out there? Say hi and tell me what you think of this product. I would consider buying it, but do wonder how well the gyroscope system actually works. It’s a great concept, though. CHECK OUT COSMO CONNECTED ON KICKSTARTER
  8. Marshmallow is not a rare topic here at Android Authority, but it is usually the Android version we refer to when we speak of this sweet treat. Now we have a new Samsung service named after the same dessert – Samsung Marshmallow. This is a parental control app, but Sammy wants us to look at it as something more than just that. The application is not made to simply enforce rules, it is also designed to teach children proper smartphone usage habits. It’s easy to set bedtimes, limit internet time, block apps and more. The app also takes things a step further by enticing your kids to be better smart device users. There is a reward system in place, too – kids can earn points with good online behavior, while being naughty will cause a loss in points. After getting enough points, the child can ask parents for a card to use in the gift shot. The bad news? This is a Samsung exclusive, which means only the company’s own devices will support the app. Here is a list of supported handsets: Galaxy S8 / S8 Plus / S7 / S7 Edge / S6 / S6 Edge / S6 Edge Plus / S5 / Note 5 / Note 4 / A5 / A7 / A8 / A9 / J3 / J5 / J7. Those interested and carrying a supported device can go ahead and download the app straight from the Google Play Store. Hit the comments to let us know how you like it! DOWNLOAD SAMSUNG MARSHMALLOW
  9. Amazon’s Alexa is already a daily interlocutor on your conversations but you may have occasionally found yourself wishing that talking to Alexa could be a little more… lifelike. Well, that time is now here. Amazon engineers have recently detailed additions they’ve made to the Speech Synthesis Markup Language that Alexa uses, which will allow skills developers to humanize Alexa in a number of new ways. Once these SSML tags are applied, Alexa will be able to whisper to you – which could be helpful when sharing sensitive information like passwords and login information – or even ‘bleep’ out expletives (or any terms considered potentially offensive), which could be pretty handy if using Alexa as a storyteller. Other changes will allow devs to modify Alexa’s rate of speech and volume to emphasize certain words or generally change the way the voice assistant speaks. These new abilities could be used to great effect. For example, as Amazon notes, “Remember when you were little (and in trouble), a parent would begin talking low and slow and this got your attention? Well, that’s exactly what [the emphasis tag] does for Alexa and the tenor of the conversation. It varies dialog and thus maintains engagement”. Alexa will also be able to substitute words, to say something other than what’s written, which should make for some pretty comedic dev jokes. The new features are now available for Alexa skill builders in the US, UK and Germany and they can be previewed in Amazon’s voice simulator on the developer portal. Amazon has also released ‘speechcons’ for Alexa in the UK and Germany (they were made available in the US in February), which allow snippets of speech to be delivered in a “more characterful way”. With more regional variations and greater control of how and What Alexa says, Amazon is only likely to further its substantial lead in the digital assistant space.
  10. Huawei’s mobile chief, Richard Yu, has admitted the exposure of the company’s memory substitution practices on the P10 were a “wake up call” that provided a “profound lesson”. Yu made the remarks in a letter initially shared internally with employees and later posted to his Weibo account, where he admits he responded “inappropriately” and that Huawei’s original stance was “arrogant”. The letter comes a day after mention of UFS 2.1 memory on the Mate 9 product page reappeared, after mysteriously disappearing the day after the P10 story blew up. Huawei told Reuters it removed the Mate 9 UFS mention “to avoid confusion” while the company double checked to confirm all Mate 9 units supported UFS 2.1. The term appears to have been reinstated on all sites globally. Yu also announced he has set up a ‘customer listening taskforce’ and plans to lead the consumer business group management team on visits to retail stores and service centers to spend time with customers. Yu also vowed the company will “strive to be more considerate of consumers’ feelings” in future. Yu even pondered whether Huawei had been “running too fast these past few years, or lost sight of our original vision”. Huawei said no decisions had been made in response to a Reuters query regarding customer compensation or a device recall. While such an admission of guilt is to be respected, only time will tell how sincerely the sentiment will be applied. A lot of consumers will simply see Yu’s statement as damage control and no longer trust the company’s products. Huawei is clearly aware of how significantly this situation has affected its public perception, both in its native China as well as abroad. But as Samsung showed in the wake of the Galaxy Note 7 recall, these issues can be overcome; it’s just a matter of getting back to work and checking the hubris at the door. Here’s the full letter if you’re interested.
  11. Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s 2016 salary was 325,000 times more than Sergey Brin and Larry Page’s salaries combined. Earning more than the co-founders of Google isn’t a hard thing to do though, with even the lowest paid Googlers far outstripping the salaries of Google’s CEO and President. As in previous years, Brin and Page took home a salary of $1 for their roles heading the parent company of the world’s largest search engine, while their protege Pichai raked in almost $200 million in total compensation for steering the good ship Google. Pichai’s annual salary remained stable at $650,000 (actually $2,500 lower than in 2015) but his stock award almost doubled from $99.8 million in 2015 to $198.7 million in his first full year at the helm of Google. That saw his total compensation rise from $100.6 million to $199.35 million – not bad for your second year on the job. But Pichai has surely earned the raise, charting a course for Google that saw significant increases in several areas. Google’s net income rose almost 20 percent in 2016 and sales saw a 22.5 percent increase under Pichai’s leadership. At the rate Pichai is going, he’ll be earning $1 in salary before he knows it.
  12. Often times, having a quick launching camera can mean the difference between getting that magical shot and missing it completely. Luckily for us, a lot of cell-phones have started adding options to launch your camera on the fly, and the Galaxy S8 falls into this category. So how do you quick-launch the camera on this device? Just double tap the power button. This will quickly launch your camera app from anywhere, and can even use the camera app without actually unlocking your device. If you want to view previous images you’ve taken on your device though, you’ve have to enter your pin or use your fingerprint to actually unlock the device and view these photos. Are there any other tips and tricks you haven’t seen covered here that you’d like to know about? Make sure you leave a comment below if you’ve got a question and we’ll try to answer it for you!
  13. The speakers built into most phones aren’t exactly the best sounding things in the world. Especially with the lack of dual-speaker devices, the single tweeter in a phone usually outputs audio that is both a bit tinny and usually not so customizable. The Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus may still only have one speaker, but Samsung has included some pretty intricate settings for those who want to get the best audio experience from their device. These settings are quite hidden however, so we’ve listed here how you can tweak your audio to your heart’s delight. How to customize the audio profile Unlock your device and swipe down the notification shade Tap the gear icon on the top right to access the settings Tap on “Sounds and vibration” Scroll down and tap “Sound quality and effects” From here you can adjust the Bass, Treble, Instrument, and Vocal settings, or tap the advanced button to access more finite controls Tap “Adapt sound” to use Samsung’s algorithm to find the best sound for you There are quite a few settings in this menu that will allow you to tweak your audio to a pretty extreme extent. You can amplify the bass or treble, make vocals pop more, or even play with the equalizer to match your exact taste. Options like Surround, Tube Amp Pro and Concert Hall let you give the sound a bit more personality, and you can also set the phone to one of three presets created for the three main age groups. What audio settings are you using? Do you think tweaking these make a huge difference? Let us know in the comments below!
  14. T-Mobile will be rolling out the big Android 7.0 Nougat OS update for another one of the company’s major devices very soon. This time, it’s for the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus, the curved smartphone that was first launched in the fall of 2015. Earlier this week, the carrier rolled out the same update to the Galaxy Note 5, which also first launched in the fall of 2015. Today, T-Mobile’s project manager Des Smith posted on his Twitter account that the Nougat update has been approved for the carrier’s version of the Galaxy S6 Edge Plus, and it should start rolling out to its owners sometime early next week. We don’t expect to see any major differences in this Nougat update for T-Mobile’s Galaxy S6 Edge Plus. Like the others, it should have a new version of Samsung’s TouchWiz UI to check out, along with improvements in using multiple windows on screen, better battery management and much more. We also don’t know what the download file size for the Nougat update will be for this phone, but we would expect it to be pretty large, based on previous experience. You will almost certainly need to download it with a Wi-Fi connection. Be aware that while the Nougat update for the T-Mobile Galaxy S6 Edge Plus will start early next week, it may take a few days for it to reach all of those devices on T-Mobile’s network.
  15. Many big companies wait until Friday to announce news that would be considered negative by the world at large. Today is no different as Amazon is letting Android app developers know today it will be phasing out its Underground Actually Free app store program. Amazon first announced the Actually Free program in August 2015. It was meant to replace the company’s previous “Free app of the day” and other free app promotions that it ran though the Amazon App Store. The Underground Actually Free program gave Android device owners a way to get thousands of dollars in apps, games and in-app items for free. In exchange, developers who signed up to have their apps and in-app purchases be part of this program got some money back from Amazon, based on how much time their apps were played on a per-minute basis. Today, Amazon noted that since Underground Actually Free began, its app store has expanded to include over 800,000 apps and games. However, it looks like the company is going in a different direction for its app store. It stated that after May 31, developers will no longer be able to submit apps or games to the Underground Actually Free program. Any such apps that were published in the program prior to that date can still be updated until the end of 2019, and developers will still be paid for every minute users spend on those apps until their contracts run out. For Android owners, access to the Underground Actually Free store will end sometime in the summer of 2017, but those users will still be able to play any apps downloaded on their device from that program. If you own an Amazon Fire tablet, you can still access the Underground Actually Free store and download apps and games until the end of 2019. Amazon noted in its announcement that app developers can still offer in-app purchases of branded t-shirts via its Merch by Amazon program. Also, it will continue to support purchasing apps in its store with the use of Amazon Coins. However, the shut down of the Underground Actually Free app program could keep many people from even trying Amazon’s app store. Hopefully, we will learn more about the company’s future plans for its Android-based app store in the near future.