Selasa, 26 Agustus 2014

TechSource: Android L vs. iOS 8: The Battle for the Best Mobile OS Begins

TechSource: Android L vs. iOS 8: The Battle for the Best Mobile OS Begins


Android L vs. iOS 8: The Battle for the Best Mobile OS Begins

Posted: 26 Aug 2014 04:58 AM PDT

While Android users everywhere are rejoicing at the announcement of what is perhaps the biggest revamp to the open-source mobile operating system, Apple users are impatiently twiddling their fingers for iOS 8 to land on their smartphones. Following its own major revamp last year with iOS 7, Apple seems to have found its voice by letting go of skeuomorphism and following a more holistic design that measures up to the latest trends of "flat design". Also, iOS 8 is a huge stepping stone for "convergence" the big utopia major operating systems are aiming for today. Where does Android L stand on all of this? Well, it matches iOS 8 in pretty much every department. And that is what makes this mobile OS battle so exciting.


Design

Looks do matter especially in the world of mobile devices. After all, Android and iOS are two of the top operating systems in the mobile space. And we do expect the best from them. Both iOS 8 and Android L seem to set new paradigms in terms of design. iOS 8, refining the user experience in iOS 7 aims for a more holistic interface that is designed with different layers that work as a whole. From the parallax effect on the home screen to the angular flatness of the logos, Apple is aiming for a clean, pristine look for its OS. Android, on the other hand, has laid its bets on Material design, a more paper-like look for its L release. This means that elements behave in a more predictable and natural way. It is like pulling a card out of a stack, thus making the user feel "at home" right away. Both designs have their own merits and demerits. But given the sheer amount of beauty and freshness that material design brings, the winner here is Android.
  
Winner: Android 


Performance

In terms of performance, Android L has taken huge strides. The switch from Dalvik to ART and the inclusion of Project Volta has made Android L an OS update to watch out for. It will improve Android in areas where it wasn't so good before. This means that a better, more powerful version of Android. iOS 8, though does include some performance enhancements, those are nowhere close to the strides Android is taking in this area.

Winner: Android



Behind the Scenes

For the developers, while Apple introduced the Swift programming language, it still couldn't match up to what Android offered. While Apple released around 4000 APIs, Android introduced an almost complete revamp with as many as 5000 APIs. That said, the biggest thing developers will cherish about iOS is that the openness it brings along. But again, developers know how big Android L is, and it is only a matter of time until developers come out with something brilliant that will take advantage of those features.

Winner: Android


Vision

Both iOS8 and Android L are built on a similar, if not, the same vision and that is to create a complete and independent ecosystem. The goal is to have complete convergence of Mac OS X and iOS. In the same way, Google is trying hard to bridge the gap between Chrome OS, Chrome, and Android. This marriage of desktop and mobile does seem to be paying off more for Apple and less for Google. Nevertheless, in the long run, who knows which desktop will end up triumphant. But for now, if you are a long time Mac OS X user, iOS 8 will be the OS that will make you switch most of your other devices to iOS.

Winner: iOS 8


Features

In terms of the sheer number of features added to the release, Android L seems like a clear winner. However, despite iOS 8 being just an update to iOS 7, it has some features that turn it into an OS to watch out for in 2014. One of the most important thing that happened with the latest iOS 8 is that the operating system became much more open to developers. What was once a closed garden -- it still is, to a large extent -- has opened some doors to third-party developers, thus further heating up the battle with Android. While Android fans are going "meh" with the announcements, it simply confirms that Apple is taking Android's surge very very seriously. In iOS 8, we have Mac to iPhone connectivity, family sharing, Health trackers, iCloud Drive, and improved iMessage and Photos. These features somehow manage to one-up Android in this department.

Winner: iOS 8


Conclusion

Though iOS 8 is a major release in Apple's efforts toward restraining the growth of Google, the L release is perhaps the best thing that has happened to Android. What's more interesting to watch is that how much time will Android L take to catch up with iOS 8 given the fragmentation Android has.

Selasa, 19 Agustus 2014

TechSource: How To Sync Files Quickly Between Your Own Computers (Using BTSync)

TechSource: How To Sync Files Quickly Between Your Own Computers (Using BTSync)


How To Sync Files Quickly Between Your Own Computers (Using BTSync)

Posted: 18 Aug 2014 10:32 PM PDT

For many, syncing files between two computers on the same network is a nightmare. You have to connect the computers by doing some network tweaking and then copy each file individually. Oh, and then there is a lot of waiting involved. Another big problem that many users face is that let's say you've transferred 90% of the files and by mistake you shutdown the computer or turn off the router, most of your progress will be lost. And if you are someone who has Mac, Linux, and Windows desktops in the same house, good luck.

But wait… Isn't there Dropbox, which already solves the problem of syncing files? Well, it does, but most of your data belongs in the cloud. Transferring 400 GB worth of movies from your laptop to desktop won't be something Dropbox would do easily. The following tutorial will help you sync your files across multiple computers on the same network using a fabulous lesser-known app called BTSync.


Step 1: Install BTSync

Download and install BTSync on your desktop. It doesn't matter whether you are on Windows, Linux, or Mac. The software works across all platforms. 


Step 2: Generate a secret

Select a folder you want to sync. A good way of doing this is creating a folder titled "Sync" and then dropping all the files you want to sync as you go. And then, when the app asks you to generate a secret key, do so by entering a fairly hard to guess phrase. When the secret key is generated, remember it (hard to do) or write it down in a safe place. Don't worry if you can't do that right now, you can always access the secret from the main computer where the app was first installed. 



Step 3: Add more files to sync

Now in the sync folder, add as many files as you want. Instead of dropping multiple folders to the syncing application, you can simply keep adding more files to that folder using Nautilus, Finder, or Explorer. This saves you the trouble of having to remember multiple secrets. 



Step 4: Add another computer

To add the second computer you want to transfer the files to, simply install the app again on that computer. Then, during setup, just let the app know that you already have a secret key. Here, type in the secret key from the first computer and soon your files will start transferring seamlessly. 



Accessing files from Phone (Optional): If you have an Android smartphone, you can even access your BT Sync files from there. Simply download the app from the Google Play Store and then right click on the Sync folder from the main app. Select the option that says Connect Mobile. Then, a barcode will pop up letting you instantly pair your smartphone with your desktop. This means that once you are connected, you can even access your whole music collection on your desktop right from your phone. Cool, isn't it? 


Written by: Abhishek, a regular TechSource contributor and a long-time FOSS advocate.

Sabtu, 16 Agustus 2014

TechSource: 8 Android L Features You Should Be Excited About

TechSource: 8 Android L Features You Should Be Excited About


8 Android L Features You Should Be Excited About

Posted: 15 Aug 2014 09:59 PM PDT

The excitement after Android 4.4 KitKat's release barely died down when Google announced its most ambitious release ever: Android L. Packed with brand-new features and a massive UI overhaul, this is Android at its very best.

If you are dying to know what comes with this latest installment, read on as we discuss some of the best features in it:


ART

Out with the old and in with the new. Google will be replacing its old Dalvik application runtime with the new Android Runtime or ART. ART, which uses an ahead-of-time compiler that compiles the bytecode to native code once whenever an application is installed and thus cutting off the need for further recompilation. This means that applications load and work generally faster compared to Dalvik.


Project Volta

An improved battery performance is one of the most requested features by users and Android L brings exactly that. This release not only brings an improved battery life tracker, but also promises a massive upgrade in battery life. The bundle of improvements collectively titled as Project Volta makes sure that you won't have to keep clamoring for a charging spot every time you head out. Another good thing that comes with Project Volta is the Battery Saver option. Once turned on, it reduces your smartphone's performance to give you an extended battery life.


Material Design

The most noticeable change in Android L is the introduction of Material Design. This change is a radical departure from the old design ideology of Android 4+ series. What you will see is more of a card-like layout with flat design and a very basic color palette. While the Holo design focused on black, Material Design is more brighter, whiter, and colorful. Android Police has done a great in-depth study of the new design and it is worth taking a quick read if you are an Android fan.



Apart from being a massive visual overhaul, Material Design also affects the way elements interact with each other in the OS. Animations are not subtle but "originate" from a particular point helping you understand where elements come from and where they go. Also, the plain, minimalistic, and flat look helps Android catch up with iOS easily.


Improved Lock-screen Notifications


Lock-screen notifications have been given a huge revamp in this release. All of your notifications from your favorite apps can be accessed from the lock screen itself. This makes it easier for you to take a quick glance at what's new without having to unlock your phone. Oh and yes, for those using KitKat, get ready to say goodbye to the good ol' widgets that use to adorn your lockscreen. 


Do Not Disturb Mode

If you are someone who cherishes spending time alone, this is a feature you would love to get your hands on. Do Not Disturb Mode holds off all notifications and gives you back your privacy until you instruct your smartphone to do otherwise. This is a great feature for catching a break from all the notification noise that shows up on our phones every second.


Adaptive Brightness

A great addition to the list of features is Adaptive Brightness. This feature, by replacing Auto Brightness in previous versions of Android, makes it easier for you to read things on your phone no matter what lighting condition you are in. Of course, it is not perfect, but it's a major improvement from the previous Auto Brightness feature which wasn't delivering as good as it promised to deliver.


Bluetooth 4.1

Bluetooth 4.1 comes with a few improvements over its earlier version that is Bluetooth 4.0. The L release will embrace 4.1 thus helping Android keep up with the rest of the industry. Bluetooth 4.1 improves transfer operations and enhances connectivity between devices without the need for a new hardware.


USB Audio Support

If you've owned a digital-to-analog converter or DAC for a while and are dying to connect it to your Android device, L release has got you covered. With support for USB audio being added in this release, music producers and audiophiles will have one more reason to get their hands on a brand-new Android device.

 
Written by: Abhishek, a regular TechSource contributor and a long-time FOSS advocate.

Selasa, 12 Agustus 2014

TechSource: 5 Best Android Apps for Taking Fabulous Selfies

TechSource: 5 Best Android Apps for Taking Fabulous Selfies


5 Best Android Apps for Taking Fabulous Selfies

Posted: 12 Aug 2014 02:28 AM PDT

Selfies are the latest trend around. From Hollywood stars to political leaders, no one is immune to the selfie virus. Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are flooded with people posing in front of their smartphone cameras trying to convey that taking a picture of yourself isn't such a bad thing after all.

This blend of self-love and technology has been labeled as a fad, a narcissistic obsession, and a stupid pursuit. People, in general, have a rather negative attitude about selfies. Many of them hate it. While those who love taking selfies, don't seem to mind the hate at all. Despite all the negative feedback, selfies have become so popular that the word "selfie" has entered the Oxford English Dictionary. Love it or hate it, you can't ignore it.

If you are an avid selfie snapper, we would be the last people to judge you. As die-hard Android users, we have picked out for you some great apps that will help you take your self-obsession to a whole new level


Selfie Camera App

Selfie snappers have a common gripe that they have to deal with. That is, whenever they open the camera app, it opens up the rear-facing camera instead of the front-facing camera. While Google isn't going to update Android -- at least for now -- to make it selfie-friendly, an app promises a simple fix for that problem. Selfie Camera App is an app that opens up the front-facing camera every time you start it. It's a simple app that features Google's familiar camera interface. What's an added bonus is that it also allows you to share your selfie on social media instantly. 

Candy Camera

If simply having a front-facing camera app isn't enough, this next apps lets you take your selfie obsession to a whole new level. Candy Camera not only lets you take selfies but also helps you create beautiful pictures worth sharing thanks to the amazing filters that it comes with. Unlike Instagram, however, where you have to add the effects later, Candy Camera lets you have real time effects that show you how your photo will look with the effect. Moreover, there is plenty of stuff you can do such as add whitening effect for underexposed photos, blemish removal, cropping, and more. Overall, it's a perfect app for selfie lovers who want a little bit extra.



Retrica

If you are an Instagram addict and want that retro effect added to your selfies, Retrica is just the app for you. The app comes with around 80 filters that turn your photos into retro images. More than just offering filters, Retrica makes things even more classy by adding out-of-focus blur, self-timer, and many other features. Overall, it is a great app for all the retro fans out there. 



Snapchat

Snapchat is the ever-popular app that lets you send self-destructing photos to your friends and colleagues. Though riddled with a few bugs here and there, Snapchat has risen to great popularity among teenagers who love to share their selfies with their friends. The best thing about Snapchat is that the images self-destruct thus maintaining the privacy of the sender. Though not strictly a selfie cam, it still works best for taking quick selfies and sharing them with your buddies. 



Frontback

Again, this one too isn't a dedicated selfie app. In fact, it lets you take more than just a selfie. It lets you take pictures using both the cameras from your smartphone: the front camera and the back camera. This is great for telling a story of your life. Instead of taking a regular selfie at a vacation spot, you also snap a picture of your environment thus allowing your audience to actually be in the moment you are trying to share. 



Jumat, 08 Agustus 2014

TechSource: With Android L and iOS 8, is Ubuntu Phone OS Too Late to the Party?

TechSource: With Android L and iOS 8, is Ubuntu Phone OS Too Late to the Party?


With Android L and iOS 8, is Ubuntu Phone OS Too Late to the Party?

Posted: 08 Aug 2014 02:12 AM PDT

The party has begun. Everyone has arrived. The good ones, the bad ones, the pretty ones and the not-so-pretty ones are already here. Except for one. Yes, and it is the most promising one too. Android and iOS both have reached a level of maturity that has given them a huge stronghold over the mobile OS market space. Both of them have been for years, have millions of apps, and have a formidable presence that has managed to ward of competition even from big companies like Microsoft.

This battlefield for mobile operating systems is so heated up that even Samsung, who is one of the biggest mobile device makers in the world is having a hard time catching up with the latest trends. From flat design trend to perks for low-spec devices, both iOS and Android have conquered some of the major challenges that come in the way of making a great mobile operating system.

Ubuntu Phone OS, which has been in the factory for quite a while -- perhaps much longer than expected -- has thrown itself against what is perhaps one of the biggest challenges Canonical has ever faced: Battling Android and iOS. For a mobile OS that is just starting out, it is like a small fish jumping into an ocean full of sharks. The biggest question both Canonical and its fans are facing is that: Is Ubuntu Phone OS too late for the party? We've got some catching up to do.

Microsoft's attempts with the Windows Phone OS have not been as successful as they wanted to. Despite offering more than 240,000 in the Windows Phone store, they have run against a brick wall: The number is not enough. According to the site Appbrain, the Google Play store has as many as 1,313,357 apps. Those numbers for a phone operating system that is still in development definitely seem daunting.


Convergence May Be a Way Out

Microsoft knows about this dearth of apps. They are offering incentives to developers, running all sorts of campaigns, and trying pretty much they can to help developers switch over to the dark side. But one of Microsoft's future products that could potentially fix this problem forever is Windows 9. According to Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, the next version of Windows will run the same apps across mobile, desktops, and tablets. This strategy also provides a glimmer of hope for Canonical as they are basically aiming for the same thing: convergence. With the desktop, mobile, tablets, and TVs running the same app, Ubuntu could attract a lot of developers. Developers who don't have a lot of time on their hands will find it easier to just make one app that runs across all devices. Also, according to Canonical's website they are working at making Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox, Evernote and Amazon available at launch right away. If everything works as expected, Ubuntu might just get the traction it needs to creating a great app ecosystem.


The Networking Game

Ubuntu's Carrier Advisory Group (CAG)  boasts of some really big names from the mobile network industry. There's Verizon, T-Mobile, and Vodafone who seem enthusiastic about Canonical's endeavors. The question remains whether this will ever return any productive results remains to be seen. But the CAG itself is another indication that all's not lost. Ubuntu seems to be offering perks to CAG members that Android or iOS don't. One of such perks is the ability to launch Ubuntu devices before non-members in local markets. All we can say is that the interest in Ubuntu OS seems substantial.


Making a Difference

Android and iOS are polished operating systems. Ubuntu phones must offer more and be a better alternative. They have to be low-priced, high on features, and should appeal to a wide audience. Maybe a multi-device package like a tablet + phone combo might lure new customers into the Ubuntu ecosystem. The best way for Ubuntu to showcase convergence is to offer discounted deals on purchase of multiple devices at ridiculously low prices. Also, in developing markets, Ubuntu can make a huge difference by offering package combos like a laptop and a tablet or a laptop and a phone, both at low prices. With Android and iOS at their zenith, convergence might be the only thing that will bring a well-deserved victory to Canonical.


Conclusion

Though Ubuntu's fight seems like a David vs. Goliath one, there is a big hope for Canonical if they get the convergence part handled before biggies like Apple and Android do. Also, the excitement among Ubuntu's longtime fans might just open up some room for another open-source operating system. If you are an Ubuntu user, just keep your fingers crossed. Exciting times are ahead.


Written by: Abhishek, a regular TechSource contributor and a long-time FOSS advocate.

Rabu, 06 Agustus 2014

TechSource: Best Chrome Apps and Extensions for Foodies

TechSource: Best Chrome Apps and Extensions for Foodies


Best Chrome Apps and Extensions for Foodies

Posted: 05 Aug 2014 06:35 PM PDT

Chrome is not just a browser. It has managed to reinvent itself by first turning into a full-fledged operating system, and then an ecosystem. Thanks to the relative openness of the platform and the plethora of efforts developers have put in, extensions and apps on Chrome offer pretty much the same functionality as a big ol' desktop. If you are a foodie and spend most of your time looking for something delicious to cook, these few extensions and apps are just what you need:



BBC Good Food

BBC Good Food is an app that lets you try out more than 200 recipes. With a beautifully designed interface, the simple layout features pictures of mouth-watering dishes from various cuisines. Moreover, if you are someone who travels a lot, or has a flaky Internet connection, the app also lets you view recipes offline. For the health conscious, the app comes loaded with all the nutritional data and health facts so that you won't have to sacrifice your health regimen for a tasty treat. The app also has full-featured videos that help you cook up any dish you want.



Gojee

Gojee is an app that features some of the best hand-curated recipes out there. Be it a moist chocolate cake or a cool Martini, you'll get to see big hi-resolution pictures of your favorite dishes in the app itself. The recipes are written by some of the best food writers around and you won't have any trouble replicating the dishes that are shown in the picture.



Famous Food Finder

If cooking at home isn't something you want to do, then checking out a cool restaurant might be a great idea. But which restaurant to go to? Well, if it was some place that you saw on TV, this next app lets you find exactly that. Famous food finder is an extension that lets you locate restaurants that were featured on various popular TV shows. Once installed, the extension searches the site famousfoodfinder.com and gives you results laid out on a cool-looking map. By giving your location to the app, you can also find popular restaurants that are near your place. 



Fridgg  - Food Fanatics

If you are looking for something more than just a recipe app, Fridgg is just the perfect app for you. It is a community of food photographers, food bloggers, and food fanatics where you will find photos of delicious dishes from all around the world. Fridgg acts more like a food blog or a journal that lets you post pictures of beautiful dishes. More than just finding food pictures, you can also discover recipes, blogs, and food tips. Anyone from around the world can post their pictures and the photos are upvoted by the community of bloggers. 



Recipe Cookbook

Recipe cookbook is a simple application that lets you search through a database of recipes any time you want. The app works as a great kitchen reference with a page with nothing more than just a search box. Simply enter your query, let's say "strawberry" and the app presents you list of recipes involving strawberries. The results are full of pictures of the dishes you want to cook. It is a great app to keep in your App drawer if you are someone who loves to cook. 



Myeatbox

If you are someone who would like to document your culinary journey, Myeatbox is an app that let's you do just that. Whether it be logging your meals for a diet or creating your own recipe cookbook, the app is quite versatile when it comes to letting you share your love for food with other people. While not quite as good as compared to other apps on the list, it is still a good addition to your list if you are a foodie.


Written by: Abhishek, a regular TechSource contributor and a long-time FOSS advocate.