Saturday, May 31, 2014

Microsoft releases file manager app for Windows Phone

The native file manager is another example of Microsoft making its mobile OS more flexible and accessible for end-users.

Microsoft has released a file manager app called Files on the Windows Phone store, after confirming earlier that the ability to browse through user files would be arriving on the OS.

When Windows Phone 8.1 was unveiled, people were disappointed to find that despite being jam-packed with new features, it was still missing a way to access all files on the device from a central place. Microsoft later confirmed in a Reddit AMA that it was working on a file manager, and now, the app has gone live on the Windows Phone store.

Files is only compatible with Windows Phone 8.1 at the moment, which means it’s quite limited in reach right now. While not as flexible as file managers on Android, where the entire internal and external storage is accessible like hard drives on a computer, Files does feature most utilities one would expect – users can search for all their documents, pictures, music and other files, copy, move, delete or rename them, and share multiple files with other apps.

A native file manager is a good step in Microsoft’s attempts to be a middle-ground between iOS and Android, offering security and ease-of-use like the former, and (somewhat) power user*functionality like the latter. Files will likely be part of the Windows Phone 8.1 update when it rolls out to devices in June, and can be downloaded from the Windows Phone store here.

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Friday, May 30, 2014

This $20 glove can save you from heart attacks

IneedMD’s EKG glove is an inexpensive, easy-to-use electro-cardiogram that interfaces directly with a tablet to monitor heart activity. Will this save lives*at home, hospitals and the battlefield?

Medical startups often focus on disruptive ways to deliver life-saving solutions that may not necessarily cost an arm and a leg. In 2010, a team started developing a glove — a mitten, actually — that was intended to replace traditional electrocardiograms (EKGs or ECGs). Emergency medical technicians usually employ a one-lead EKG during emergency situations, but this provides limited data on heart activity. At a hospital or lab setting, EKGs would use up to 12 leads to provide vectors of electrical conduction from different angles.

EKGs are usually difficult to apply, however, and will require a skilled technician and a cumbersome process. While EKG electrodes*may be*sterile, the plugs and wires that are connected to the leads are reused*– sometimes resulting in infection amongst injured patients.

IneedMD’s EKG Glove does away with all this complexity, and will allow a physician, or even any person without medical skills or knowledge, to use the device to track heart activity.

Once placed on the chest through a peel-and-stick action, the glove can be connected to any standard EKG machine. Even better, the EKG Glove has its own system-on-chip and Bluetooth radio, which enables it to interface with a Microsoft Surface tablet to display readings. The included application even interfaces with a cloud-based electronic healths record (EHR) system, for further analysis or record.

Applications for the EKG Glove extend from the home and hospital use to the field — the device has been lauded by a military contractors network as one of the best ligthweight, life-saving battlefield technologies for use by medics. Others include a foam injection for stopping bleeding, an ultrasonic tourniquet for*dealing with dramatic bleeding, and the HemCon bandage, which encourages coagulation to reduce bleeding.

What makes the device more attractive is its price. At $20 each, the EKG Glove can be inexpensively deployed across emergency services, field medics in the military services, hospitals, clinics and even homes.

Will the $20 EKG mitten save our lives?

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Samsung Galaxy Gear update replaces Android with Tizen

The update brings the original Gear smartwatch to Samsung’s*infant Tizen ecosystem, while adding functionality found in the company’s second-generation smartwatches.

Samsung is taking yet another step to move away from its dependence on Android, by pushing out an update that replaces Android on the original Galaxy Gear with Tizen.

When Samsung announced the Tizen-powered Gear 2 and Gear Fit wearables at Mobile World Congress, it said that the update would also be coming to the original Galaxy Gear. With smartwatches Android Wear on the horizon, it seems the Korean manufacturer decided the time was ripe to do away with Android on its not-so-best-selling Galaxy Gear, with the requisite update now rolling out to the smartwatch around the world.

Apparently, the update doesn’t bring any noticeable visual changes, but does include quite a few features that debuted on the Gear 2. These include better battery life, ability to use the watch as a standalone music player and*customize the wallpaper, fonts and double-tap shortcut, voice commands in the camera, and Sleep and Exercise modes for tracking sleep patterns and workouts. The update basically brings the Galaxy Gear up to par with its successor in terms of functionality, only lacking features that are dependent on additional sensors.

Unfortunately, the change of OS requires the smartwatch to be completely reset after the update and will also prevent third-party apps from running as Tizen won’t support Android code, which might not sit well with the general consumer. The update can currently be grabbed by connecting the Galaxy Gear to a PC and using Samsung’s Kies software suite – it’s not expected to roll out over the air, but that’s not surprising considering the complexity of an update that replaces one OS with another.

Via: SamMobile

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Mario can 'ball so hard' in a Mercedez-Benz with new 'Mario Kart 8' DLC

A collaboration with Mercedez-Benz takes our beloved plumber on a ride with a real-life car in Mario Kart 8.

Mario Kart 8*has just been released by Nintendo, and what better way to celebrate its release with the addition of an optional kart DLC.*This one though, isn’t what you’d normally expect in the colorful and cartoonish world of the Mushroom Kingdom, because Mario and his pals will be riding on a real-life car, a Mercedez-Benz 2015 GLA class vehicle to be exact.

Why don’t we just let Mario show everything for us shall we?

The DLC is free to download, though as you can already see this compact SUV is going to be toned down a bit in the game itself, and of course no hunky Mario. Also, the DLC is currently region-locked to Japan only.

Source: 4Gamer (JP)

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Deezer is now available on Bang and Olufsen smart TVs

The music streaming app can be enjoyed on*BeoVision 11, BeoVision 12 New Generation, BeoSystem 4 and BeoPlay V1, at the click of a button Deezer,*an online music service that delivers a multi-local music experience to more than 26 million music fans worldwide, has just announced that the music streaming app is now available on a Read the full article...

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A blue friendly creature can teach you a new language!

Yes, I did use blue, friendly, creature and teach in the same sentence. And no, the language is not Naʼvi This article has nothing to do with the movie Avatar. All the Na’vi talk was this author’s attempt to grab your attention. And considering you are reading this, means she was successful. But there is Read the full article...

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Pot calling the kettle black

AMD’s hysteria over Gameworks in Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs*is first rank hypocrisy. Both*Gameworks and Mantle both are both bad for the gaming industry as well as consumers.

This past week Nvidia and AMD have been at each other’s throats in the posts on Forbes over allegations that Nvidia’s Gameworks library is hindering the performance of Ubisoft’s new game Watch Dogs on AMD hardware.

AMD fired the first salvo on Monday in a piece by Jason Evangelho. Speaking to Evangelho, AMD’s Robert Hallock, one of the company’s technology evangelists for Radeon, called Gameworks a “clear and present threat to gamers” because it “deliberately [cripples] performance on AMD products to widen the margin in favor of Nvidia.”

Hallock further alleged — but did not provide definite proof — that participation in Gameworks bars developers from sharing their code with other hardware makers to optimize their drivers for the game.

“The code obfuscation makes it difficult to perform our own after-the-fact driver optimizations, as the characteristics of the game are hidden behind many layers of circuitous and non-obvious routines,” he said.

Hallock used TressFX as an example of AMD taking the moral high ground with code. The hair optimization library runs equally well on both Nvidia and AMD hardware, which benefits all he said.

Nvidia was quick to fire back and rebut Hallock’s claims.

Cem Cebenoyan, Nvidia’s Director of Engineering in its Developer Technology unit, downplayed some of AMD’s claims and outright denied others.

Cebenoyan said that while Nvidia will assist developers with certain parts of the game, namely optimizing effects and particle simulation, working with Nvidia does not preclude a developer from working with another company. Cebenoyan outright denied Hallock’s claim that developers will legally restricted from giving Nvidia’s GPU rivals access to the source code of Gameworks-optimized titles.

“I’ve heard that before from AMD and it’s a little mysterious to me. We don’t and we never have restricted anyone from getting access as part of our agreements,” he said. *“Most developers don’t give you the source code. You don’t need source code of the game itself to do optimization for those games. AMD’s been saying for awhile that without access to the source code it’s impossible to optimize. That’s crazy.”

Direct X and OpenGL exist for a reason

Both AMD and Nvidia are known for their hyperbole and spin, so while Hallock and Cebenoyan both have legitimate points and grievances, the real truth lies somewhere down the middle.

But for every sin AMD accuses Nvidia of, AMD is almost as guilty of themselves to a certain extent. Take, for instance, Mantle. AMD’s proprietary API allows developers low-level access to AMD’s GCN silicon for a “console-like” (this has proven to mean a number of things during Mantle’s life thus far) development experience. Giving developers this intimate access means that developers could write more efficient code reducing the CPU*overhead and providing a better gameplay experience for the end user. The few Mantle-optimized titles that have been released to date have shown performance bumps primarily on AMD APUs.

While nobody is accusing AMD of using Nvidia-like tactics and withholding code, effectively with Mantle AMD is taking a different approach to the optimization question. AMD is equally trying to galvanize the gaming industry into different camps, but is playing the offensive and painting this as a David and Goliath narrative with Nvidia.

A fair question to ask, is why exactly are Nvidia and AMD trying to create these vendor-specific silos? As a follow-up, why are developers playing along? After all, as demonstrated at the Game Developer Conference earlier this year, DirectX is set to close the low-level access access gap with Mantle and offer developers the same opportunities. The same can be sade for the new version of OpenGL.

The reason why game developers participate in Nvidia and AMD’s vendor-specific silos is for the monetary incentives. The video game industry lives off monetary incentives and corporate welfare. Declaring an allegiance to either the “Way its meant to be played” or “Gaming Evolved” camp and implementing the respective API unlocks development funds for the developer and commits that specific vendor to bulk buy serial keys for the specific game (e.g AMD’s Never Settle Forever bundles). Money talks, so what’s a dev to do?

Gameworks and Mantle are both understandable attempts for Nvidia and AMD to boost their respective market share by claiming that the top titles of the year will run the best on their hardware. But in the end this is a throwback to the dark, pre-API days. Direct X and OpenGL were created to ensure that programmers didn’t have the herculean task of programming their game to work on each specific piece of hardware (but back then the video card market was more crowded). A performance overhead hit would certainly occur, but this was a fair tradeoff for widespread compatibility. Nvidia and AMD are trying to undo this with their respective silos.

Nvidia and Ubisoft both ignored requests for comment on this story.

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HTC 'One Wear' smartwatch in the works, One M8 Prime reportedly aborted

The latest round of rumors concerning future HTC releases suggests the highly anticipated One M8 Prime smartphone is no more, while smartwatch development is in fairly advanced stages, with a One Wear piece possibly due by September.

Although HTC hinted numerous times in the recent past it’s got its sights set on the booming wearable market, we always thought the Taiwanese would be looking to get their handheld ducks in a row before gambling on intelligent wristwatches.

But the same source that fully detailed Samsung’s Galaxy S5 Active way ahead of the formal intro claims an early prototype of the “One Wear” has been showcased in Taiwan. Naturally, the name is subject to change, albeit it sounds pretty cool, whereas the only features set in stone are allegedly build materials.

Expect both polycarbonate and metal flavors around in late August/early September, the former obviously targeting the low-cost niche and the latter going out to folks on unlimited budgets. The devices resemble Motorola’s Moto 360 rather than LG’s G Watch or Samsung Gears, with round displays, not square panels.

Exactly how plausible is this story? Again, the tipster in question recently supplied us with rock-solid intel. But one leak does not a leakster make. So I’d say the odds are 50-50 he’s right once more.

Meanwhile, a guy that’s almost always right, evleaks, says One M8 Prime development “has been suspended indefinitely”. Period. No reason mentioned, no further details, no nothing. Of course, “suspended indefinitely” doesn’t mean “canceled for eternity”, so sooner or later, the Prime could still see daylight. Probably, later.

Or maybe the M8 Prime project was frozen to make way for the M8 Plus. Whose existence TK Tech News also backed, corroborated with whispers of a 5.2-inch Quad HD display, 13 megapixel OIS camera, aluminum construction and water protection. Yeah, forget the Prime, this Plus thing will do just fine.

Sources: TK Tech News, Evleaks

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Malaysian e-commerce flash sales platform Bazaarita launches today

Bazaarita states it’s objective is to connect local brands and designers with domestic consumers in Malaysia, by partnering with bazaars and events Bazaarita, marketing itself as Malaysia’s first e-commerce website specialising in online and on-ground flash sales, announced the official launch of its website today. Bazaarita states it’s objective is to connect local brands and Read the full article...

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Fireside Fridays #1: e27 staff picks

Read your weekend away with these e27 staff picks! This week, we’re loving Mary Meeker’s annual report and more… Here comes the weekend. This week has been especially significant for the region in terms of investments (read*GrabTaxi, AliBaba and SingPost, and Sequoia Capital). In addition, the world has lived vicariously through coverage of CodeCon in Read the full article...

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Echelon 2014: Meet easyuni, an online portal for higher education

As demand for information about higher education goes up, this Malaysian startup wants to be the next big one-stop solution In a bid to find the best university — not only in terms of ranking, but also the school’s extracurricular strengths — students are spending more time on websites, newspapers, open houses and university fairs. Read the full article...

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South Korea’s mobile shopping market is worth US$2.8 billion

The most popular mobile shopping items in the region are clothes and holiday trips These days, everyone in developed countries is prone to just doing online shopping via their tablets and smartphones because apps such as those from RedMart and Amazon make it so convenient. Apparently, it’s a thriving business in South Korea that’s worth Read the full article...

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Breaking into the Philippines is challenging: Altitude Games

Company Founder Gabby Dizon talks about the issue of getting gamers to pay in the*Philippines and the firm’s Asia-first approach Is it challenging to start up a games business in the Philippines? It is, according to Altitude Games‘ Gabby Dizon, “There’s a lot of gamers in the country; they’re young, active and vocal, so it’s Read the full article...

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“Private and public sector collaborate in Singapore to boost innovation”

Is the fintech industry your calling?*Innotribe is the place to be! e27 speaks to*Fabian Vandenreydt and*Kevin Johnson — the people behind the initiative If you think you can revolutionise the fintech industry with your ingenious ideas, you need not look further. Innotribe is what you need. A SWIFT initiative, it aims to bring together innovators, Read the full article...

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KakaoTalk now available for Mac users worldwide

Will this help KakaoTalk users be more productive? No more glancing at your mobile device to use the app! For the first time, Korea-based mobile chat app KakaoTalk is now available to all Mac users globally. The firm also took the opportunity to launch ‘Search chat’, a feature that will be first made available on Read the full article...

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Seagate sets its eyes on SSDs with $450 million deal for SandForce

A play for LSI’s flash business means that Seagate will be making some serious inroads into the SSD business.

Seagate announced on Thursday that it had entered a “definitive asset purchase agreement” to purchase LSI’s flash biz, the Accelerated Solutions Division (ASD), and its Flash Components Division (FCD) for $450 million from Avago.

LSI is a new property for semiconductor firm Avago Technologies, as it was purchased only last year for $6.6 billion. Avago must not be that interested in SSDs, as it’s letting the two SSD-related divisions go for a fire sale price. In its heyday SandForce was best known for *supplying SSD controllers to third-party manufacturers. This business model has long since been discontinued, but it could very well be revived under Seagate.

Last year at Computex Seagate’s BS Teh, the managing director for the company in Asia, said that he was remaining confident about the future of the hard disk in light of the explosive growth of the SSD market.

“We see an extremely bright future,” he was*quoted as saying. “It’s becoming more and more of a realization that SSDs are not going to take over the world.”

But now it looks like Seagate has sold some confidence stock in the future of an all-HDD world, and bought into a future where SSDs play a much larger role. That’s the sentiment that Seagate CEO Steve Luczo expressed in the announcing press release.

“LSI’s ASD business has the broadest PCIe flash product offering and intellectual property in the market today and the FCD business has best-in-class SSD controllers with proven support for a wide range of applications,” he said in the release. “This acquisition immediately boosts Seagate’s range and depth of flash storage capabilities today, and these teams bring to Seagate the expertise to accelerate our roadmap in this important and growing market.”

While there once was a time when Seagate remained still as its rival Western Digital bought up SSD companies by the half-dozen, now Seagate realizes it has to take SSDs more seriously.

Next week at Computex we should be hearing more from Seagate on the topic.

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Sequoia Capital raises US$530 million to fuel Indian startups

The fund will invest primarily in tech, consumer and healthcare sectors. Its scope has also been extended to include opportunities in SEA Remember Sequoia Capital, the venture capital firm that recently invested in South Korea’s ‘everything’ store Coupang? Well, it is now going to invest in Indian startups. The American firm*has raised its fourth India-focused Read the full article...

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Rumor: Microsoft cooking up sensor-rich smartwatch with iPhone and Android support

Looking up at the bottom line and leaving ego aside, Microsoft is said to be working on a potentially disruptive smartwatch capable of synching to Windows Phones as well as iPhones and Android-running handhelds.

Watch out, Samsung (no pun intended), and hurry up, Apple, because the race for the world’s first truly successful, truly crowd-pleasing wearable device just got a new, power-hungry competitor.

So far, the list of inconveniences has overwhelmed the upsides of most smartwatches around, leaving all the Gears, experimental Sony gizmos and Qualcomm Toqs to clash over a tiny market. The potential is huge though, and in addition to Samsung and Apple, Motorola and LG are themselves looking to capitalize.

Plus, Microsoft, according to Forbes. Hurting, struggling, barely surviving Microsoft (as far as hardware manufacturing goes), which might however have the soundest business plan of all. A cross-platform smartwatch to unite WP, iOS and Android under the same shelter.

Basically, MS seems to understand it’s fighting a losing battle in the smartphone décor, so instead of beating a dead horse, Satya Nadella & co. will make a pact with the devil. Clearly, future Android Wear efforts, Samsung Gear line entries or iWatches won’t be as open to the enemy, so Redmond is in a solid position to seize the biggest piece of the no doubt growing pie.

Especially as multi-OS support isn’t the “Surface Watch’s” only strength. Apparently, the battery will last two full days on a single charge, which is pretty amazing since a heart rate monitor could be on at all times. Day and night, the sensor shall oversee your health, alongside multiple other neat features that remain under wraps.

Design is another area Microsoft is trying to envision as outside the box, with the full-color touch screen reportedly positioned on the inside of the user’s wrist for extra privacy. Sounds… wacky and original, now let’s see how handy it can be.

When? As early as this summer, if Forbes’ sources are correct. And trust me, they are. Again, hurry up, Apple, look out, Samsung, Microsoft is coming after you.

Source: Forbes

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Samsung Galaxy S5 Active goes official with standard S5 internals, hardened exterior

Teased for weeks, manhandled on video and thoroughly previewed, Samsung’s Galaxy S5 Active has gone official at last and can be bought already via AT&T.

For a smartphone that was never believed to be very different from the “basic” Samsung Galaxy S5, the S5 Active sure got a lot of media attention. Until earlier today, when it finally broke cover with little to no fanfare.

As expected, the sole discrepancies between standard and Active S5 variations concern aesthetics and functionality under “pressure”. Namely, the rugged handheld AT&T just unveiled looks ready to go into battle for its master, handling various shocks, extreme temperatures, humidity, rain and altitude, thanks to MIL-STD 810G military certification.

That’s of course in addition to the regular S5’s water and dust resistance, which oddly didn’t get the rumored boost from IP67 to IP68 approval. As such, the S5 Active isn’t the world’s strongest swimmer either, withstanding water immersions up to 1 m deep for 30 minutes max.

Now, don’t let that hardy shell fool you. The Active is tough, but it can’t take a bullet for you. Samsung tried its best to come up with a ruggedized yet fairly elegant slab, and all in all, they succeeded. At just 8.9 mm thick and 170 grams heavy, the S5 Active can be carried around in your typical trou pocket with ease.

Again, as far as everything that doesn’t meet the eye goes, the S5 and S5 Active are identical twins. Quad-core 2.5 GHz Snapdragon 801 chip, 2 GB RAM, 16 GB on-board storage, microSD support, 16 MP rear camera, 2,800 mAh battery, they’ve all been Xeroxed for the new guy.

Even the fingerprint sensor and heart rate monitor are here, and the display is just as large (5.1 inches) and crisp (1,920 x 1,080 pixels resolution). Software-wise, Android 4.4.2 KitKat naturally runs the show, hence it shouldn’t come as a surprise AT&T priced the Galaxy S5 Active at $199.99 with contracts, and $714.99 outright.

“Camo green”, “titanium grey” and “ruby red” are the available paint jobs, and Sprint is tipped to carry the bad boy before long as well. Any outdoorsy suitors around? Anyone?

Source: AT&T

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