On Social Networks
Al Kutub is the latest site for the Middle-east all dealing with ebooks, but what makes Al Kutub different from the rest is that the site acts more as a search engine rather than actually hosting the digital books on its servers. It functions by initiating an online search for the requested title and procures it from multiple sources such as forums, sellers, or even social sites such as Facebook. It’s designed to display the ebooks using iframe technology, where Arabic language titles are shown in PDF format.
Users won’t be aware of where the ebook has been sourced from; they won’t even be served the link of the ebook source, which is a clever move as this will ensure users remain tied to the Al Kutub site. Nevertheless, the venture has already attracted a lot of attention, having garnered a subscriber base of more than 10,000 in just a span of 12 days. Mohammed Nemat Allah, who has been associated with Al Kutub for the past three years, has stated they plan to build a database of 120,000 or more titles, which will also include audiobooks as well. Nemat Allah is also confident that their business model is perfectly safe, claiming anyone who has issues with the books showing up on his site can go remove the ebook from the source site first.
Al Kutub has a four tier usage model where users won’t be charged anything for reading and downloading scanned copies. Soon users will be charged on a periodic basis for reading and downloading the books. Users will also have the option of placing an order for the paperback version of the ebook via Al Kutub. Lastly, users will be able to place an order for the paper version from Sour Al Uzbakiya, which happens to be a book hub in Egypt that hosts some of the oldest and rarest books from the region.
Al Kutub also has other ambitious plans which include launching a social networking service having its own messaging and notification center. There will be a reading group where members can engage in discussions pertaining to books. The site will also let users read or borrow content online, while making such activity (including comments) visible to everyone or set to private friends. Nemat Allah also revealed a plan to diversify to other languages such English, German, Spanish, and Chinese in future. The site is currently in its beta stages and the final version will be launched soon. An iOS and Android Al Kutub app will be made available.
Here is another take on the concept of a smartphone offering an e-ink display. The Midia InkPhone made its debut at the CeBIT show with rumors of it being finally ready to hit the streets soon enough. We have been seeing the unique phone design from Chinese manufacturer Onyx for over a year now and it’s really good to see it emerge in its production ready avatar at last. Engadget has mentioned that the e-ink phone will be hitting streets in Germany and Poland where it will be cost 140 Euros, which comes to about $195.
As for the salient features of the device, the biggest of them all is the 4.3 inch e-ink display that it comes with. Also with a resolution is 800 x 480, images and texts are pretty sharp too. Then of course there is the energy saving attribute that e-ink display have come to be known for, which in case of the InkPhone stands at 2 weeks of usage on a single charge. This no doubt will be a boon for business users or for those who’d prefer to give up on some fancy features just to gain battery life.
The rest of the specs speak of a 1 Ghz Rockchip CPU, 512 MB of RAM and 4 GB of storage. There is also a micros SD card slot, 1800mAh battery along with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth. The device runs on Android 2.3 Gingerbread. There is no camera though, something that is increasingly becoming the biggest USP of modern day smartphone devices. The black and white display together with slightly less screen refresh rates compared to conventional LCD panels wouldn’t have made the InkPhone suited for photography in any case. Apart from photography, the other aspects that the InkPhone will be seen lacking will be its inability to playback video or game playing.
The InkPhone will however serve as an excellent mobile ebook reading device and should serve well to die-hard ebook enthusiasts. Being equally readable in direct sunlight will no doubt be another definitive plus for the InkPhone. E-Book reading apps such as the Kindle too works well enough with the InkPhone as should other popular ebook reading apps such as the Kobo, B&N and such. Overall, the InkPhone may not be a mass market device but should serve well in a niche market, which again could be big enough if the device work delivers what it promises.
You can pre-order this phone today at Shop e-Readers.
With an already overwhelming presence in the mobile devices segment, Google now wishes to engage with consumers at a more deeper and personal level. The search giant made that amply clear at the SXSW with Senior Vice President Sundar Pichai announcing the launch of a SDK that will enable developers to make apps for wearables. Right now that seems to be applicable more to smartwatches and fitness tracking devices, though Pichai is envisioning the wearable segment to get more and more intimate in the coming years. Maybe we can have smart jackets in future, or even a smart device implanted under the skin to keep track of vital health parameters at all times.
Coming back to the present, Pichai promised the SDK will be made available in just about 2 weeks’ time. This will be accompanied with the way Google perceives the smart wearable segment to evolve in the next couple of years. The company also stated they will come up with a version of Android for use in smartwatch devices. The new OS variant will draw heavily from Google Now and search feature and is expected to be launched towards the end of this month. Google is also reported to be collaborating with LG Electronics in developing a smartwatch of its own in what surely is going to be the Nexus equivalent of a smartwatch device. The smartwatch is slated for launch in June during the Google I/O conference.
The above development is accompanied by similar efforts on part of Google to have its OS be seen in almost as many segments as possible. Back in January, Google had announced the Open Automotive Alliance the comprises of car makers such a GM, Hyundai, Audi, Honda Motors as well chipmaker Nvidia that looked for ways to implement the Google Android OS for use in the automotive sector.
There aren’t any definitive signs of the Apple iWatch so far, but that hasn’t stopped designers from visualizing their own take on the purported smartwatch from the Cupertino company. Interestingly, a couple of iWatch renderings have appeared online and all of them are based on the traditional rounded watch face. These no doubt will act to hide the smart attributes the watch otherwise boasts of beneath its conventional design. Also, such renderings comes as a break from the usual types we have seen so far, that are either the types of fitness bands with a curved display incorporated or with angular edges as seen with the Galaxy Gear 2 and such.
Argentine student Tomas Moyano’s concept is sans any external keys or sockets, making it perfect for use even in rain or dusty conditions. The device also does away with sound based notification systems, relying instead on vibrations to inform the users of any incoming notifications. The justification for such a design feature is that sound based notifications can be unreliable in a busy and noisy area while generating sounds loud enough can be energy sapping as well. Instead, vibrations can be a lot more reliable, more so for a device that is always worn around the wrist.
Moyano also visualized the iWatch as one that forgoes on a cellular connection of its own to better conserve power. In such a scenario, the iWatch will be entirely dependent on the mother device it is tied to. While still on power issues, the concept iWatch includes micro solar panels to re-charge on its own when outdoors, along with wireless charging options as well.
As for its features, the iWatch concept might include a map application to aid in navigation though it remains to be seen how that can be achieved with the tiny display that the smartwatch typically offers. The iWatch rendering also includes a heart-beat tracking monitor, along with an associated app believed to draw on resources likely to be built-into the next iOS 8 version.
Among the other features that Moyano visualized include a 1.2 megapixel iSight camera capable for recording 720p HD videos, M7 motion co-processor, along with pulsometer and temperature sensors. It has a 1.4 inch sapphire crystal display and a resolution of 200ppi. The device will also boast of GPS and GLONASS along with Bluetooth 4.0 LE connectivity.
In any case, the concept offers a fresh new perspective of an iWatch prototype.
The new year has already proven to be big with Android launches. Android launches according to Flurry in just the first quarter this year has already surpassed that of the entire 2013, still not quite at the end of Q1, 2014. Some estimates are at about 30 million monthly users in the US, still far from assuming a dominant share.
Nevertheless, the tremendous growth recorded in Q1, 2014 shows consumers’ willingness to use Android, especially Google Now, Facebook Home (though this hasn’t proven to be particularly popular), even those catering to a niche segment like Kids Place – Parental Control.
The Pebble update for Android has finally arrived, after being in the testing phase for quite some time. Pebble Version 2.0 can be downloaded from the Google Play Store to the watch, and among the new features are a watchapp directory, watchapp locker, and a new app interface that has been given a thorough once over. Users will also be given prior notifications about the update.
There are a few new watchfaces as well, with some showing essential information such as temperature and battery life. Some inform the user via a vibration that the Bluetooth connection with the mother Android device is lost. Similarly, the GetApp section will allow one to download apps such as Foursquare, Yelp, eBay, Plex, Runtastic Pro, to name a few.
Overall, it’s a nice update that goes a long way towards enhancing the functionality of the Pebble smartwatch.
The Asus Transformer Book Duet TD300 seems to have been delayed indefinitely and Google is tipped to have played a part in it, as per a report carried by Digitimes. The reasons are obvious as Google feels the device that dual boots both Windows and Android would provide an undue advantage to Windows that is struggling to gain a foothold in the mobile OS segment. Such a device is being perceived to allow Windows to piggyback on Google’s Android on the path to success that Google had so painstakingly created over the years. Such a scenario could also lead to Google having to wage a two front war, with the Apple iOS on the one hand and Windows on the other.
This isn’t the first time though that Google is believed to have forced its hardware partners to cancel projects involving dual booting devices. A Samsung ATIV model that could dual boot both Android and Windows was reportedly pulled off given Google’s concerns over letting Windows build on the success Android has made.
The Transformer Book Duet TD300 device was unveiled at the CES event early this year and had attracted a fair bit of consumer response. The one most distinct capability of the device was that it came with a key on the keypad that allows users to toggle between either Android or Windows operating systems. The same could also be invoked via a tab on the tablet as well and was being hailed as a device that would be just right for both business and domestic usage. Chipmaker Intel too had been seen actively promoting the Transformer Book Duet TD300. Currently, it is only Intel chips that can support dual booting of both Android and Windows.
The Transformer Book Duet TD300 was scheduled to be launched by the second half of 2014 though its not known now when is that going to happen.
The SXSW Trade Show this year will see the launch of two new web comics platform, TappyToon and Amootoon. Those behind the new medium stated they wish to innovate the segment by ‘breathing new life into the medium’. The way this is achieved is by integrating aspects of film making, comics, and web development into a single medium which they claim will make things simple for the content creators. What this means for the comic readers is that they will get to experience sound, special effects and animation in what otherwise has only been a static medium so far. Readers will also be able to interact with the characters ‘for a more immersive experience’.
The Korean start-up also stated the new TappyToon and Amootoon format has been optimized for viewing on smartphone and tablet devices and are designed to make the most of the digital rendering capabilities of these new age mobile devices. TappyToon will be available for free on iOS devices from May 2014 while making its Android debut in June. Those eager to know more will be able to experience TappyToon first hand at the SXSW Trade Show at booth no. 1206.
Amootoon, on the other hand will launch in beta form on April 2014 and can be previewed at booth no. 1111 at the SXSW Trade Show that runs from 9 – 12 March.
Android has emerged as one of the most popular operating systems in use today. That devices running Android has outsold all its competitors in 2013 is no doubt a good measure of its popularity, beating even Apple iOS in the process. The online search giant has now upped the ante claiming its mobile OS has proved to be the fastest to reach the top.
“I mean, look, in the history of operating systems, I think Android has been the quickest and most successful adoption of an operating system in the world. So you just sort of stop, take pause and say, oh my God, that’s crazy. Nobody could have ever predicted that we’re going to get an operating system adopted in an industry, which has so many different OEMs, manufacturing with their own operating systems having adopted around the world,” said Nikesh Arora, senior vice president at Google while speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference.
First acquired by Google in 2005, Android (the company also of the same name) has since seen several upgrades. However, as stated by Google, the OS first attained a level of maturity from the Ice Cream Sandwich version. The OS then attained newer heights with the upgrade to Jelly Bean which continues to be the most used version of Android so far. Google has since launched the Android KitKat version, the most recent so far.
However, to completely ignore Apple’s iOS when discussing the most successful of mobile OS’s will be just half the story told. Apple devices such as the iPad and the iPhone continue to be the single largest tablet and smartphone brand respectively, outselling any of its Android competitors by a healthy margin. It’s just that the iOS got swamped by an operating system that is based on a completely different business strategy. Android is doled out free enabling any manufacturers to use it as per their will. In contrast, Apple maintains a vice like grip over iOS and is the only maker of gadgets based on it. In any case, it will be interesting to see how things pan out now that Android has proven to be more popular than iOS.
Google has come up with an updated distribution list of the various Android versions that are being employed. Not surprisingly, it is the preceding Android version – Jelly Bean that continues to hold the sway with about 62 percent adoption. The latest iteration, KitKat, can now be seen running on just 2.5 percent of devices, which marks about a slight improvement over the 1.8 percent Android devices that had the newest Android version last month.
One of the barriers to KitKat adoption is the bulk of mainstream phones from LG, Samsung, Sony, HTC not pushing out the latest updates. Most of these companies all have a custom UI that hinders quick updates.
Coming back to the Android version distribution list, while its Jelly Bean that continues to be the largest version in use right now, its Android 4.1 Jelly Bean that runs in the majority (35.6 percent) of devices followed Android 4.2 and 4.3 versions is use on 17.1 and 9.6 percent of devices respectively.
Among the other preceding Android versions, 14.2 percent of devices continue licking Android Ice Cream Sandwich while HoneyComb has been reduced to just 0.1 percent. In contrast Gingerbread can be still seen running on 19 percent devices along with Froyo on 1.2 percent devices. These figures aren’t expected to show growth any more but will only be fading into oblivion.
Overall, the above figures might not be of much interest to the average users but still makes for an interesting read for Android users as it gives them an insight as to which group they belong to or how big or small the group has come to be over the months.
It is only a matter of time before smart wearable devices are available from every company. There are already more than a handful of smartwatch and fitness tracking devices available right now. However, while there have been two distinct wearable segments so far, smartwatches and fitness trackers, experts have started to predict an integrated device could be coming our way, and in the not too distant future.
More advancements in the field of battery, storage, display, and computing will play an important role in determining just how the devices will function in future. Current ranges of smart wearables rely on a smartphone, so far as functionality is concerned. These are designed to keep the user informed of notifications in a more convenient manner that normally would have required cranking up the smartphone device each time, communicating via Bluetooth. These devices only function when in range of the smartphone; beyond which these function with much reduced functionalities.
Surprisingly, companies such as Samsung promote this very trend of launching smartwatches that only function with a specific smartphone brand, knowing that standalone smartwatch devices would have allowed for a vastly improved user experience. As Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has said of smartwatches, he’d like to have the entire smartphone and internet experience on his wrist. Users won’t have to buy a particular smartphone for a specific smartwatch, and vice-versa. This would break the current trend where smartwatches now only display secondary data. Take the smartphone out, and the associated smartwatch will be reduced to being just another electronic watch with a sprinkling of other functionalities.
The only restriction that has been hampering the growth of smart wearables so far has been adequate technological backup. Manufacturers have come up with devices that offer about 2-3 days of back up time at most, while the use of e-ink display can take that further to about a week. Constant advancement in technology should help ease the limitations soon. but what remains to be seen is whether manufacturers choose to come up with smart wearable devices that will work independently or still be tied to a smartphone. Right now the concern is smartwatches being not stylish enough; let’s hope future smartwatches will also be a lot smarter than they are right now.
Following the launch of the iPad Air and the iPhone 5s, the clamor for the next gen versions has already started to pick up pace. Now, rumors making the rounds are that Apple may have an early release of the iPhone 6 sometime around July 2014, instead of the usual September timeline that the Cupertino-based company usually has. Analysts at Mizuho Securities have stated Apple might advance its iPhone 6 launch schedule, basing its claim on the rise in activity among component suppliers based in Japan and China.
Apple is also reported to have assured a sapphire crystal glass manufacturer of profits by the middle of this year (the next iPhone is believed to come with a sapphire crystal display). However, some sources maintain that there is no reason to believe Apple will launch the iPhone 6 early. A September launch is perfect to approach the holiday season as the device will still be fresh enough to appeal to the holiday buyers; a launch in September will also allow Apple enough time to smooth out supply issues.
As for the device itself, the next iPhone is almost certain to offer an even bigger display to keep up with other smartphones of its genre. The current iPhone 5s sports a 4 inch display, which could be bumped up to 4.7 inches for the next version. An even bigger 5.5 inch version is also being speculated, though some believe Apple might carve out a separate niche for the bigger version instead of including it in its iPhone line-up. The phablet, or big screen segment, has already grown to sizeable proportions and Apple surely won’t want to miss out on having a contender there this time; Samsung’s iPhone, the Galaxy S5, sports a 5.1 inch display.
Display size apart, other areas where the iPhone 6 is sure to upgrade include a 64 bit A8 chip along with iOS 8, offering an enhanced smartphone experience. Apple is also expected to enhance the scope of the finger touch sensor in iPhone 6 to make it play a bigger role in its application for a more secure payment option and integration with more apps.
So far as the iPad Air 2 is concerned, experts believe it is expected to stick to its usual launch schedule of the fall of this year. In fact, analysts believe Apple might not launch a new version of the iPad Mini as well as the purported iPad Pro with 12.9 inch display to focus more on the iPad Air. Further, the iPad Air 2 could also have the touch ID sensor found on the current iPhone 5s, which no doubt will enhance its appeal even more.
Among everything else, Apple is also tipped to release the long awaited iWatch device this year. It’s another segment that has just started to boom and Apple surely will like to get in on it before it’s too late. Apple is already believed to have gotten interest from batteries from LG Chem. This is on top of earlier reports of Apple hiring fitness and other app developers to develop the iWatch.
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