Thursday, 24 of April of 2014

New app takes 15 pounds off your selfie

All of us love taking selfies, but not everybody loves the result.  Some of us think that, the camera added extra pounds, and we look plump.  Now a new app thins the face with face detection technology to trim off 10 or 15 pounds.

Many photo apps are out there, that let you alter your face and body, but they are not realistic and would just slim you down.  For Robin Phillips and partner the solution to trim off some extra pounds out of your selfie, was SkinneePix a new app.  The Phoenix based pair, who run a company called Pretty Smart Women, found programmers in nearby Ariz, Tempe, and got to work.  This app is now in Apple App store, and is selling at 99 cents.  Philips is saying that she is expecting an Android version later this month.

You can’t shoot a group selfie with this app, it’s a single shot only.  The customer reaction to this app is pretty positive.


Apple Acquires Novartis

Apple has confirmed that it has acquired speech recognition technology company Novauris, just a day after software giant Microsoft unveiled its Cortana digital assistant as a part of windows phone update.

After an initial splash and savvy commercials, Siri’s performance is not up to the expectations and some reports even suggest that 4 out of 5 iPhone owners haven’t used Siri in iOS 7.

The founders of Novauris have a long history in voice recognition.  They were developing a large-vocabulary, ASR (Automatic Speech Recognition) Technology for the information access which is stored locally on mobile devices or on the servers remotely prior to being acquired.

The familiarity of Novauris with both embedded and server side of voice recognition, could be a boon to Apple.  The Apple has unsuccessfully tried to acquire in the past the Siri technology currently powered by Nuance and the company might be looking to bring Siri’s core technology in house to spur innovation and further to differentiate from the competitors.



Amazon Kindle Fire HDX

The Kindle Fire HDX is a marriage of easy commerce access and impressive technology.  The tablet is powered by 2.2 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor.  Gaming is smooth and has outstanding looks on the 1920 x 1200, 323 ppi display. 

The HDX adds contrast to the auto-adjustment mix.  The HDX works great for videos and photos.  The HDX adjusts contrast so that the dark areas are not lost in the shadow under the harsh light.

Prime account holders of Amazon ($80/year) can stream free instant videos from Amazon.  The prime feature perk also includes free two-day shipping on the selected items and access to an e-book lending library.

The ability of the HDX to download Amazon prime movies and TV shows is the added value to its ability.  The software feature of the tablet shows how Amazon is changing the world of tech support.

The tablet is based on Android, but there is no Google Play store.  Instead of Google Play store, you can buy apps from the Amazon app store.

Amazon Kindle Paperscent: The Kindle gets the smell of real books

Amazon introduces the latest accessory for Kindle Paperwhite owners- the Kindle Paperscent.  This is introduced hot on the heels of Oscar Mayer’s bacon-scented alarm clock.

Amazon has created this to satisfy the hunger of book lover’s obsession with the smell of a real paper pages.  The new creation of the Amazon, comes with a faux leather book cover which emits the real book aroma using an electronic scent diffuser.

Amazon has used the same technology that is used in aromatherapy devices which you must be already using with calming lavender odour, new car smells or smell of a freshly cut grass.  But, Amazon has gone for two slightly more relevant odours of Old Book scent and New Book oil scent cartridges.

The cartridges are made airport security friendly, with each cartridge less than 100ml oil and a single cartridge is expected to last for 125 puffs.

The Kindle Paperscent is expected in the market by the end of April for US$50.


Amazon Kindle Phone will be featuring 6 cameras and Launch Inside Q2

The rumours about smartphone from Amazon is not new.  Amazon was in the hardware business and next logical step for the company seemed smartphone – so the logic went.

There have been plenty of rumours about the Amazon, the world’s largest retailer launching a smartphone.  It’d be offered for free with the Prime subscriptions; It’ll change everything; It’d undercut everything like how the Kindle Fire did; – etc., etc., etc.

It is now predicted that Amazon (US) will launch its own smartphone in 3-6 months, and the hardware strategy will be same as that used for its tablet and e-reader.  The supply chain will start material stocking up in 2014 for production.  It is estimated that components will amount to 700k-1.2mn units, and assembly of 300-600k units.  Related suppliers will be seeing the benefits in 2014.

The Key feature of this smartphone will be the six cameras.  Aside from the main camera, used for taking pictures, sub camera, used for video conferencing, four other cameras will be used for gesture control, allowing the users to operate the smartphone without touching the touch panel.

Qualcomm’s snapdragon 801 processor, a 4.7-inch display (300 or 320 ppi), 13 MP camera and potentially a 2400 mAh battery cell.  The chassis of the handset will be constructed entirely from plastic.

If Amazon’s smartphone is a hit, it is expected that the shipments will grow significantly due to the hardware features and business model.



Why Amazon gave you Free Money This Morning

Tuesday morning, select Kindle users woke up to an unexpected refund from Amazon.  The refund of money is the result of an anti-trust settlement of Apple eBooks between various publishers and the Department of Justice.  Apple and Publishers were accused of conspiring to fix the selected eBook prices when the iBook store launched.  Apple is still fighting the suit, but the publishers took a decision to settle.

Thus, anyone who bought the eBook from Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette, Macmillan or Penguin between the year April 2010 and May 2012 that made onto the bestseller list of the New York Times got a refund of $3.17.  Non-bestsellers got 73 cents. (Minnesotans received $3.93 and 94 cents.) The Amazon adds the refund into customer’s account automatically.

People are getting emails from Amazon about this free money from morning.  The emails say about your entitled credit.  It also states that the customer account will be credited with the money automatically.  This credit will be applied automatically to the next purchase of an Amazon Kindle book or print book which is sold by, regardless of the publisher.

The credit which is applied to the purchase you made, will appear in your order summary.

The complicated future of books: Kindle v Google glass


Amazon, Google and Apple along with other large publishers are embracing the idea of providing the reader with the products the readers are apparently craving.   It’s another way of commercialising our digital footprint.  Nothing is private anymore.  Curling on the couch with an e-book is not a solitary act.  Instead, it is a way for the corporations to learn about the habits of the readers and then sell you items you will think you need. 

Music and newspaper industries, is undergoing a profound transformation.  In 2009, Amazon Kindle was thought as an improvement on the book.  The device, despite its technological limitations and mundane aesthetics, was sold in millions.

Books, like newspapers, are not just the products to be bought, discarded and forgotten.  They always contribute to the exchange of ideas, policies and the dreams in any stable nation.  Books can inspire in people love, pain, hope and fear.  Individuals can shout out their own lives and imagine a world of reality.  Fiction, non-fiction a print or online, always creative work should be nourished and supported.

The future of book may be dominated by new ideas such as a wearable technology, a Google Glass.  It is totally conceivable that people will be looking at innovative ways to read the content as they live, work and sleep.  Publishers need to be ready or the public will be simply bypassing them and they will design their own method of reading.

Kindle Fire HDX 8.9: Replacing the iPad Air

The hardware of the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is just outstanding and the software is quite good.  It is the tablet most of the people reach for now, neglecting the iPad Air in the corner.  The Kindle Fire HDX is demonstrating to its owner that it good in every way compared to iPad Air.  The significant consideration is that it is $250 cheaper than Apple’s latest iPad.  Kindle can be configured the same as iPad, 64GB with 4G LTE.

Prior to the appearance of the Kindle Fire HDX, iPad Air was considered as the best tablet ever made.  But now, the Kindle Fire HDX is considered as the most enjoyable tablet to use.  It is because the interface keeps the most-used apps front and centre along with the books and music.  Contents which have recently been accessed and apps live side-by-side on the home screen carousel feels just right.

The Kindle Fire HDX is much lighter than the iPad Air, and it is slightly smaller and easier to handle for extended sessions.  The Origami case is just superb.  The design using magnets to hold the case in the proper form of a stand for the Kindle is wonderful.

iPhone voice control for drivers launched by Apple

New hands-free smartphone technology for car drivers will be introduced by Apple which will be integrated with iPhone voice-control at the Geneva Motor Show this week.

The U.S. Company’s CarPlay is making its debut in Volvo, Ferrari and Mercedes-Benz vehicles at the show, the software system will be demonstrated that allows the drivers to control their iPhones via voice and touch, Apple said on Monday.

Access to smartphones via Bluetooth technology is already enabled by the carmakers, but Apple’s latest offering is aimed at integrating iPhone functionality more seamlessly with the display mounted on the dashboard and speaker system.

CarPlay enables the drivers to access to contacts that are stored on the iPhone, return missed calls, make calls or listen to voicemails without taking their hands from the steering wheel.

The technology also provides the drivers facility to use maps, listen to music and get access to messages “with just a word or a touch”, Apple said.  Drivers can also read messages and dictate responses via Apple’s voice-activated Siri software.

Apple said that CarPlay will also be made available in cars from manufacturers including Ford, BMW, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota Motor Corp.


Amazon adds Goodreads and FreeTime to First-Gen Kindle Paperwhite

First-generation Kindle Paperwhite owners felt left out when update was released by Amazon last year with a number of new features only for the newer versions of the device.But to make the old customers happy, the web giant has just released a software update for the first generation devices of Kindle Paperwhite. Finally the new features are brought to the older devices, including the integration with the online reading community Kindle Free Time and Goodreads.  Now the owners of the older devices will be able to see what your friends are reading, share the notes and rate the books your read from your device.

The update downloads and install automatically on your kindle when connected to Wi-fi or software can be downloaded to your computer and using a USB cable can be transferred to your device.

The software update also adds Kindle Free Time parental controls, using which parents can create personalized profile for the children, setup daily reading goals and track the progress of the children.  Amazon has introduced another new feature, Cloud collections, newspapers, lets you organize the books, and apps into customized collections for easy reference.

The update also brings some new page-flip capabilities, scan the book by chapter, or skip to the end without losing your place.  Bookmarks, highlights and notes can also be accessed more easily and without changing the page, complete text of each footnote inline can be read.