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Innovative iPhone and Android apps– 2011 Winter edition

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After my first post this year, there have been many more interesting apps that caught my attention.It is pretty good to see a lot of innovation in the mobile industry by people outside of this domain. So here is my next list for the year. We could say it’s the ‘Winter edition’ of 2011!

The Invisible Universe:   Joshua Peek  is a fellow at the Columbia University studying about galaxies. As an astronomer he sees a lot of things in the space through his telescopes that we couldn’t see.  So he has come up with AR app called Invisible Space. The app is loaded with a database of full sky images of the galaxy.

When someone holds the phone up in the sky,this app would load the image of the galaxy at that orientation.. I liked this app for bringing in lot of informative stuff using simple techniques.

Here is a good intro video: 

 

 

This app is hosted here on the Android Market: https://market.android.com/details?id=com.lbi.iu .

PitPatt : The next app is pretty cool and pretty scary too. This is what happens when Minority Report meets Android.  Researchers at CMU have come up with an advanced Pattern recognition algorithm that allows anyone to know your real identity in under 60 seconds , by just taking a your picture with your smartphone.

Pitpatt has been acquired by Google and soon we could see this tech on Android.The app is not publically available yet.There is more detail on this app here.

Vocre :  I mentioned about translations apps in my  previous review too. This time there is one more vocre-logotranslator app that has won lot of accolades. Vocre from myLanguage can translate what you speak into nearly six different languages (including Mandarin).  Usage is pretty simple .You speak in your language and tilt the phone to translate. There is a nice demo at Vocre’s home page explaining the idea.

Appmates from Disney : My last innovative app is also the best on this list . This app is soo cool that I would buy and iPad just to try this app.  Disney’s new app allows you to drive real cars on virtual space and the virtual terrain reacts to the cars!! 

All you need is an iPad with the free Disney app and get one of those special  Lightning Mcqueen toys. Here is an elaborate demo.Have a look and you’ll be quite impressed.

 

 

The tech around this is a hot topic on Google + and I was able to glean some info on that. The inventor has couple patents on it.Now that is ONE cool idea to be patented !  Here is more info on this concept .

That’s it for now. Like many I would be eagerly following the ‘Lets Talk iPhone’ event today (Oct 4,2011). I am particularly interested to see what they are going to announce about Virtual Personal Assistant using the technology they acquired from Siri.

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Written by sujai

October 4, 2011 at 7:04 pm

Mobile fast-food ..thoughts on the new mobile phone making.

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I got chance to attend a recent gathering of several OEMs shipping phones to India.
The Qualcomm Partner Summit  is an annual event by home_09Qualcomm India. Apart from the marketing buzz, it also showcases the wares from many OEMs who plan to launch mobile devices in India and a good indication of what is in store for the next year in the mobile phone landscape.

A clear phenomenon you could see is arrival of several Chinese OEMs and ODMs in that market. Their growth has been phenomenal in past few years and they are already making good inroads into the market share of market leader Nokia . Until 2010 the small time OEMs were only  competing at the feature phone space but with Android the dynamics are going to change dramatically.

Chinese OEMs Indian Distributors: The Chinese OEMs do not have a brand presence in India .Their main customers  are ‘Distributors’ .Companies that make bulk orders of these devices and sell with their own brand name.

Unlike the OEMs ,the distributors do not involve in engineering or the manufacturing , they just give the requirements and book orders and there are mobile phone shops in China that can churn out models based on your need much like ordering breakfast at a Subway joint.

Some of the prominent distributors in India are Micromax and Lawa .And this list is growing rapidly.

Welcome Android : The high end(Tier1) OEMs like Nokia and Samsung still had an edge on the software that had been tested for good  usability, and had passed several rounds of QA.
There was lot of investment on  the Software platforms that was keeping  away the small time OEMs entering the premium segment like the smartphone.

With the advent of Android this is all set to change. Google’s Android platform comes for free and OEMs could churn out  a decent smart phone will all of ‘Android goodies’.  This was pretty evident in the summit I had attended.

HTCDesire_Lookalike There was  HTC-Desire  and few feet away there is an  exact replica by another less known  OEM.  Needless to say each OEM had their own version of an iPhone clone and an iPad clone.

So with Android , the Tier2 OEMs are not just going to be in Feature phones, they are going to come into smart phones  and even some iPad clones. Although there hasn’t been initial success with the integration , they have managed to bring down the Android smart phone price drastically in India.

It may be difficult for the Tier1 OEMs in the long run. For now they are able to maintain a lead by keeping their premium segment intact and also with some exclusive partnership deals with Google and Microsoft.

Written by sujai

May 9, 2011 at 8:34 am

Movies 2010 : Up in the Air

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I watched this movie after it got shortlisted as one of the probable entrees  for the best lead actor.

UpInTheAir I am not a great fan of George Clooney but he somehow manages to take up interesting characters on screen   . Sometime back it was Micheal Clayton and now it is ‘Up in the air’.

Ryan Bingham has a very unique job. He is a professional hired to layoff people. His job is to give the  pink slips to fired employees and provide them a some nice counseling so that employees could digest the hard fact and move head.

The job makes Ryan to be ‘Up in the air’ for most part of a year. Over the years he ends up a loner with no contact with family and friends. He goes around preaching about living without relationship.

Life goes fine until one day his own  work gets disrupted by ideas from a young grad from college. Natalie Keener proposes cutting travel costs by using ‘Video Conference’ to fire employees. But Ryan gives an on field demo of his work to explain why that’s not such a good idea. While Ryan succeeds in making his point he also learns that he can no longer preach is philosophy of being alone in life .

If you like drama genre of movies you could give it a try.  Like the past movie, this is also an adaptation of a novel by the same name .

The script is pretty good on this movie too.A random sample from the movie:

Natalie Keener: Hungry much?
Ryan Bingham: Our business expense allots forty dollars each for dinner. I plan on grabbing as many miles as I can.
Natalie Keener: Okay, you got to fill me in on the miles thing. What is that about? You’re talking about, like, frequent flyer miles?
Ryan Bingham: You really want to know?
Natalie Keener: I’m dying to know.
Ryan Bingham: I don’t spend a nickel, if I can help it, unless it somehow profits my mileage account.
Natalie Keener: So, what are you saving up for? Hawaii? South of France?
Ryan Bingham: It’s not like that. The miles are the goal.
Natalie Keener: That’s it? You’re saving just to save?
Ryan Bingham: Let’s just say that I have a number in mind and I haven’t hit it yet.
Natalie Keener: That’s a little abstract. What’s the target?
Ryan Bingham: I’d rather not…
Natalie Keener: Is it a secret target?
Ryan Bingham: It’s ten million miles.
Natalie Keener: Okay. Isn’t ten million just a number?
Ryan Bingham: Pi’s just a number.
Natalie Keener: Well, we all need a hobby. No, I- I- I don’t mean to belittle your collection. I get it. It sounds cool.
Ryan Bingham: I’d be the seventh person to do it. More people have walked on the moon.
Natalie Keener: Do they throw you a parade?
Ryan Bingham: You get lifetime executive status. You get to meet the chief pilot, Maynard Finch.
Natalie Keener: Wow.
Ryan Bingham: And they put your name on the side of a plane.
Natalie Keener: Men get such hardons from putting their names on things. You guys don’t grow up. It’s like you need to pee on everything.

Disclaimer: This was a draft that i created LOOOONG back but submitted today .

Written by sujai

December 6, 2010 at 10:50 pm

Posted in movies, reviews

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Movies 2010: The Social Network

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I watched this movie on recommendation from a popular cine critic. And the movie did not  disappoint.
TheSocialNetwork

Based on the book ‘The Accidental Billionaires’, The Social Network is about Facebook at its very popular founder.

More than the technology or the history, ‘The Social Network’ is about  people and emotions.  And if you thought the movie will be an eulogy showering praise on FB and its founders then you will be surprised.

In the recent BusinessWeek edition the real life WinkleVoss brothers had mentioned that most scenes in the movie are exact replica of what actually happened .
The dialogues are very fast but each line has to be understood to enjoy the movie .The scenes with Sean Parker (played very well by Justin Timberlake) are really cool.

ps: If you are someone who searched for the FB masthead after watching the movie,then here it is !

Written by sujai

November 28, 2010 at 10:40 pm

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Books 2010: Nine Lives

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This week, India is making its best attempt in hosting an international event.The effects have been mixed so far.
But I hope its great we came this far and hope to see good things about the CWG this week.

9lives_dalrymple I thought it would be good to share about a book I read about India this year!

Nine Lives was a surprise find of this year. I usually run away from authors like William Dalrymple thinking its for the literature buffs and not for a casual reader. But the introduction on this book was quite interesting. It is about a certain sales manager who gives up all he had, Christopher McCandless style to lead a very different life.

It took me several months to complete the book .But I was quite  impressed with the characters depicted in the book. NineLives chronicles the life of 9  religious people and how religion is still thriving in India inspire of the several changes happening in India .

A Nun’s tale‘ is a very good account about Jainism in India. It is about Prasannamati, a nun who has taken up sallekhana – ritualistic  fast until death.While the vegan food habits of Jains is well known,  the Jain nuns follow a stricter ,self effacing way of life .The author makes a good account the nun’s initiation or diksa and how the nun practices her fasting ritual every day.

The other characters in the book are fascinating too. The Singer of epics is about the Mohan Bhopha ,who is an illiterate and yet could recite the entire 4000 line verse of epic of Pabuji just from his memory .

Then there are stories about a Tibetan monk who renounces his oath to fight against the Chinese and
the  sthapati’s of TamilNadu who build statues as per ancient Hindu rituals and direct descendants of those who built famous temples of South India..

On the whole, characters depicted are very interesting and the narrative is pretty tight. Its a well researched book and some of the local knowledge which the author brings out about India will not be known to Indians themselves!

At the end, I have become a fan for William Darlymple writings. Next in my queue is his ‘In Xanadu’.

Written by sujai

October 4, 2010 at 9:57 pm

May – Tech updates

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A lot has been happening in the tech space . The mobile computing domain is becoming ever more competitive especially among the 2 big companies Google & Apple. A lot has been discussed about Apple snubbing Flash and adopting HTML5 and Adobe fighting back back with advertisements etc.   Aside all the din about iPad and Froyo here are some links that caught my attention over the past month.

Readability:

If you are some who who gets distracted by all the clutter around a website and want to  read just the stuff, then Readability is  for you. I don’t know how this tool works  the results are truly amazing and pretty fast .

As sample, I am attaching 2 snaps of  DrDobbs journal  here.  The left side is the actual website and the right is the clutter free version with just the article and nothing else !  You could find more on this tool here.

original after_plugin

WebM ..Why do we need this :

It is the season of new formats, and suddenly there is so much talk of open standards for video. I remember Vorbis and Theora getting launched without so much fanfare.  However, this time it is Google, so you could expect all the PR!

webm-devpreview

The WebM project , is about developing a high quality,open video format for the web. It includes VP8 a high quality video codec (replacing the proprietary H264 standard) , Vorbis – another open audio encoding format (the alternate to mp3) and a container format called Matroska (alternate to some popular containers like 3gp,flv ,m4a etc).

Google and several other companies are partners to this. Here is a good overview on these new developments and what it means for video over the Internet.

Robotics is one step closer:

While there are several things that many don’t like about Microsoft,they do  have some products that I admire.  The images most recent one is their Robotics Development Studio. Microsoft RDS is an easy to use tool for anyone interested in robotics .  Recently this tool was made free! RDS comes with several goodies all integrated into a single package, and works with some popular kits like the  LEGO  Mindstorm.

French open in 3D:

images1

Thanks to James Cameron 3D has taken a great leap forward and the latest trend seems to be  3D TVs. Samsung  has already launched 3D TVs in India. Now Panasonic is making the first live 3D telecast .  But this is not a broadcast you could watch at your home, there are select outlets that will stream the content in HD3D. With HD  already a reality in  India, the next IPL could be 3D !

Written by sujai

May 30, 2010 at 3:59 pm

Some news from the tech world

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It has been some time that I blogged about news that was interesting to me. Here is a pick from the many links that I read over the past month.

Machine learning in GCC : IBM recently released an extension for GCC that enabled ‘machine learning’ capabilities into GCC. The compiler could intelligently optimize application to provide better performance. The researchers say that this learning capability helps developers speed up things by as much as 50%.

chip India’s own chip : In an effort to ward of thread in using commercial  processors on its military establishments, the Indian government is going to make its own chipset and use it for critical systems with sensitive information. The government has setup a new company called the Zerone Corp  for this effort. While there is some skepticism if the effort will be successful I have good hopes on this . We recently launched our own mission to Moon and have a Nuclear Sub now!  BTW Zerone Corp seems quite unheard of. Does anyone know ??

twitter The 140 limit: After the success of twitter, I used to wonder how the creators   came up with the 140 character limit for the service. Jack Dorsey ,the co founder of Twitter gave some insights into this.   “The maximum in an SMS message is 160 characters before breaking the message, so we took 15 characters for the username, 5 characters for formatting or whatever, and ended up at 140 characters… we wanted to appeal to the lowest common denominator, the cheap $20 Nokia prepay cell phone… ”

Written by sujai

August 31, 2009 at 8:17 am

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