All posts by Myril Kennedy

About Myril Kennedy

I am a fan of technology and Android in particular. It has helped to turn the mobile industry on its head, and its open source nature has opened many doors that were previously closed. I am also a self confessed Google fanboy, so it may be reflected in my views from time to time.

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Koushik Dutta leaves Cyanogen Inc. to return to ClockworkMod; developing

Koushik Dutta! Let’s be honest, it’s not a common name, and neither is he a common person. I say this because he is one of the premier developers for the Android platform and is the mastermind behind the now famous AllCast app and the timeless ClockworkMod recovery. Koushik has been a member of Cyanogen Inc, and did work on their ROMs, while also working along with Oppo for the N1 and also OnePlus for the yet to be released One.

‘Koush’, as he is affectionately known in the Android community had a great impact on the development scene before Cyanogen Inc though. As mentioned earlier, not only did Koush work on ClockworkMod, but he also developed ROM Manager among many others to help Android’s vocal root-and-ROM community. As a result, he is revered among tech heads and is rightly seen as an authoritative figure when it comes to Android development.

Recently Koush sat down to have a brief interview with Android Police regarding the motives behind his sudden move, and this is where the details were revealed. He made it clear that there were developers at Cyanogen Inc who were capable of carrying on the work without him, and that he would continue working on the “open source side of Cyanogen”. It turns out that Koush did more managerial work at Cyanogen, and less development work, although he did work on certain projects. Apparently, it was the day-to-day development work that he missed the most.

With everything in mind, Koush decided to return to his roots — developing, and to re-launch the ClockworkMod brand so to speak. Koush is set to continue development on AllCast and Mirror among others. Koush is bent on ‘wowing’ users with AllCast, and is banking on cloud storage and integration to accomplish his goals. One cannot blame him for such a direction because more cord cutters are being borne daily, and the success of the Chromecast and other such boxes speaks volumes. So prolific is Koush that even the recently launched Amazon Fire TV received it’s version of AllCast mere days after it was launched.

Although Koush will no longer be working at Cyanogen Inc full time, he has not left Android, and we can all breathe a sigh of relief. We will continue to see his great work in the Android ecosystem, and he will still be a contributor to the work at Cyanogen Inc. For more details on Koush’s plans, hit the link to view his interview with Android Police. We wish you all the best with your ventures Koush.

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HTC has reportedly hired one of Samsung’s former marketing execs

HTC has confirmed the hiring of Paul Golden, former Samsung marketing officer for the US. Golden is credited with initiating and launching the ‘Galaxy’ line or brand that has seen Samsung catapult to not only the lead OEM of Android, but of the world. Golden’s tenure at Samsung lasted for four years between 2008 and 2012. The results of Paul Golden’s brilliance is there for all to see, and the effects are still being felt, with the Galaxy S5 stated as one of the fastest selling ‘Galaxy’ devices to date.

We all know how the story goes. HTC has released stellar devices in the past including the HTC One X, HTC One, and now the HTC One (M8). As great as these devices have been, HTC’s sales have paled in comparison to those of Samsung, although the Taiwanese company did return to profitability in Q4 of 2013. Recent advertising deals with Robert Downey Jr. have not done much to sway the masses, and the catch line — “ask the internet” is dwarfed by Samsung’s, “The Next Big Thing.”

HTC, as well as their fans, will be hoping that Golden will be able to work his magic like he did at Samsung. The truth is that you can have the best product in the world, but if no one knows about it, then no one will buy it. I’m glad that HTC has realised the importance of effective marketing, and have their eyes set on returning to profitability, and not only that, but to re-establishing themselves as a household name in the near future. When all is said and done, a device as beautiful as the MTC One (M8) needs to be known by all tech enthusiasts.

Source: Bloomberg

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Google rumoured to be testing 4.4.3 internally

Android 4.4.2 (KitKat) was released some four months ago on the Nexus 4, 7, 10 and Google Play Edition phones that existed at the time. If you’re an avid follower of all things Android, then you may have figured that it’s just about time for Google to release another incremental upgrade to their dominant OS. A recent report from Android Police points to the rumoured ‘dogfooding’ (slow and controlled roll out of software for testing etc) of 4.4.3 to members of Google outside of the Android team. A move like this can only mean one thing. The Android team is confident and are ready to test it on a wider scale, before making it available to everyone.

Although just a rumour at this point, it’s a rumour that we tend to want to believe. The first sightings of 4.4.3 started showing up some weeks ago on server logs — yes, someone used a 4.4.3 device on the internet. Initial reports suggested that it would simply fix a few bugs, and not implement any wholesale changes to the UI or any other major facet. Again, this is very understandable because bigger changes are to be expected with a 4.5 or even 5.0 release of the OS.

Nexus 5 running Android 4.4.3 for good measure

The guys at Android Police were kind enough to post a screen shot of a Nexus 5 running 4.4.3, which is said to have been supplied by a ‘creditable source’. As close as this update might be, we may have to wait a few more weeks before it hits our devices. The team will ensure that there are no errors, glitches or kinks, and that it works as intended with all test devices. Some may not care about such a small upgrade, but for some of us, this is a huge deal. The Android landscape is so vast that not all devices will get the update, in fact, most may not ever see it, but with bug fixes and security improvements set to be delivered, it cannot and should not be taken lightly. We’ll be sure to update you on any new findings. In the mean time, get ready to start hitting that ‘check now’ button that we oh so love.

Image Source: Android Police

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Koushik Dutta releases AllCast beta for Amazon FireTV

Koushik Dutta (Koush) is one of the more renowned Android developers around, and also a member of CyanogenMod. Shortly after the Fire TV was released, Koush posted a video of him mirroring his Nexus 5 onto his TV via, you guessed it, Amazon’s FireTV. We all wondered how long we’d have to wait before being able to try it for ourselves and it turns out that it has taken less than a week.

Koush has announced that he has submitted the app to Amazon for approval, but being the guy that he is, he has also released the APK so that anyone could go ahead and side load it onto their phone.

It’s interesting to note that, according to Koush, the APK is the “regular Android APK,” and can be used to mirror your Android phone with any other suitable Android device. As we all know, the Fire TV does run on Android and although, on the surface, it may not be immediately familiar to most Android users, its roots are the same and have allowed the app to work seamlessly.

The Fire TV offers gaming as well as the usual offerings of Netflix, Hulu Plus, and of course, Amazon Prime’s usual movie offerings. While it is the newest offering on the block, and separates itself from the crowd with the option to run Android games, rumors abound of Google’s own Android TV, which, as usual, will seek to usurp all forerunners. The battle for the living room started some time ago, and it continues to rage on. 2014 seems like a perfect year for breakthroughs, and consumers from all financial brackets should be in for a grand treat.

To download the APK yourself, head over to Koush’s Google+ Post and feel free to let us know how it runs on your device.

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The DJI ‘Phantom 2 Vision+’ is more intelligent than ever — pushes the limits of drone capabilities

DJI is no stranger to drones and they have now have over 8 different models under their belt. Their latest offering, the Phantom 2 Vision+ builds on the knowledge gained from the previous models, and as you might expect, it’s their best one yet. The Phantom 2 Vision+, like its predecessors, is very much a quadrocopter, but it has a few new tricks up it’s sleeve. It has a 14-megapixel camera that is capable of 1080p videos from a distance of up to 700m away. For comparison, the Phantom 2 Vision’s range was roughly half of that, but the flight times for both devices are 25 minutes, which is more than enough time to entertain your friends, or to record that aerial view for your mini-movie.

A built in flight radar allows the user to note the position of the Phantom 2 Vision+ in relation to his or her location. Once the drone is out of range, the ‘Return-to-Home’ feature will be automatically triggered, allowing the quadrocopter to immediately return home and land safely. Another added feature is the ability to detect and avoid ‘No Fly Zones’. According to DJI, this will ” increase flight safety and prevent accidental flights in restricted areas.” Safety features are always appreciated, and with such a unique device, users will be glad to avoid complications of any sort.

An improved smartphone ap, Adobe Lens profile support and new camera angles all make the Vision+ an evolutionary upgrade, but one that is well worth it. This advanced drone will set you back $1,320, but given its capabilities, we cannot question its price. Drones are increasingly making the headlines these days. Amazon, Facebook and even Google are all poised to explore their capabilities while expanding their digital empires. With Parrot already announcing drones this year, this tech space, like wearables, is heating up and we’re loving the competition. Will you be getting your quadrocopter soon?

Source: DJI

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Google’s rumoured to be working on their own wireless network

Talk has been around for some time about Google wanting to become a wireless carrier. Today, those talks have resurfaced thanks to a report from The Information, which claims that Google is set to launch their own wireless network in the areas that have Google Fiber. If you’re envious of persons who receive Google Fiber, you now potentially have reason to be even more jealous.

Right now, you’re probably wondering how Google is going to use Fiber to pull of this grand scheme, but the explanation might be simpler than you think. A theory suggests that Google could establish several WiFi hotspots, a la AT&T, when customers are in range of Fiber, and then switch to paid coverage from a traditional carrier when out of the range of Fiber. As crazy as it sounds, the technology is not new as AT&T implemented it back in 2010 to ease network congestion in Manhattan.

Regarding the piggybacking of networks from traditional carriers, it has also been reported that Google will become a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) in the long run and those who are out of range of the Fiberhoods will be able to benefit from Google’s paid coverage from other carriers.

As expected, details are sketchy at this point and cannot be taken as gospel, but it has been reported that Google has approached large carriers — think, Big 4 — about purchasing coverage on their networks in order to offer adequate wireless coverage to their own customers. Whether this will come true remains to be seen, but at the right price, anything is possible.

Google’s attempts to offer wireless services are no secret. One need only look at their much publicized Project Loon to get an idea of how grand their plans are. They repeatedly coin the phrase, ‘mobile first’, and their actions show that they know where the future lies. In 2011, Google announced Kansas City as the first to receive their Fiber network. Speeds of 1Gbps up and down blew many minds back then, and still do today. Provo, Utah and Austin, Texas were announced as subsequent recipients of Fiber, and this year, Google announced that an additional 34 cities may be in line for the service.

The likelihood of Google launching their own wireless network seems more feasible with the planned expansion of Fiber. As much intent as there may be from Google, it is difficult to envision the major carriers allowing Google to pay for any use of their networks. Wireless carriers will only be comforted by the fact that Google’s Fiber reach is limited at the moment, but they know as well as we do, that things happen quickly in this world of tech. I’ll admit that I’d be over the moon if Google launched a wireless network, but the realistic me doesn’t expect to see it any time soon.

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Google gives a sneak peak at Project Ara development

Project Ara (Phonebloks) and modular pieces of tech in general are gaining steam. So far, we’ve known that we will be able to swap specified parts of our smartphones, which will result in longer lives for our phones and less waste as a result of our tech lusts. Today, Google revealed some of the work that was going on behind the scenes with their ATAP (Advanced Technology and Projects) group. The Ara team members (read ‘nerds’) took the time out to demonstrate the sliding ‘blocks’ of their prototype or very early build of the devices, and they have not deviated a whole lot from the initial drafts, but there were significant bits of information included.

Firstly, the team has decided upon an electro-permanent magnetic system to hold the blocks in place, as opposed to clips or grooves of some sort. The product of this ingenuity features an easy to slide part that won’t give you any trouble to remove or insert if needed. Best of all, if your battery dies, your processor or memory should not fall out of your phone because of the power loss — thank you Google ATAP. This is very important for widespread adoption and gaining the trust of the public.

The ATAP group confessed that they have fallen in love with the somewhat rugged and practical aesthetics of their modular designs, and have decided that it should not be covered, but rather revealed for consumers and onlookers to gaze upon. The icing on the cake lies in the use of 3D printing from a company called 3D Systems. Yes, they’re working on printing the parts of your modular phone in the colour and texture that you desire. Can you imagine printing the parts for your own phone one day?

The most important thing to note is that Project Ara is very real, and several companies, teams and geniuses are working together to bring this phone to us in a beautiful package. With the Project Ara Developer Conference set for this month, we are going to see and or hear a lot more about this phone(s) and what the package should entail. It’s amazing to think about all the technological advancements that Google is invovled in — pretty soon, they might say that they can provide internet access from the sky using balloons, or that they have cars that drive themselves. Oh Google, you’re so crazy. 

Image Source: Wonderfulengineering

Tim Cook blasts latest Apple-bashing book as ‘nonsense’

It’s not unusual for Apple CEO Tim Cook to blast anything that is not pro Apple. As a result, few were surprised when Tim Cook labeled Yukari Iwatani Kane’s book “Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs” as “nonsense.” Iwatani Kane claims that Apple is no longer the company they were under Jobs, and that we have already seen the best that they have to offer.

Yukari Iwatani Kane is a former Wall Street Journal Apple reporter. She is a veteran journalist with nearly fifteen years of tech writing experience. While at the Wall Street Journal, she covered Apple’s dealings exclusively; including a Steve Jobs liver transplant  and the release of key Apple products like the iPad and the Verizon iPhone. Iwatani Kane is no stranger to Apple and their dealings, and maybe this is why her book has garnered such great attention.

Kane’s position of advantage has enabled her to closely compare the Apple of Steve Jobs’ latter days with that of Tim Cook. It goes without saying that she is not fully impressed, something that the stock market has also reflected. Tim’s displeasure was not to be stifled though — he made the following statement to CNBC in an interview.

This nonsense belongs with some of the other books I’ve read about Apple. It fails to capture Apple, Steve, or anyone else in the company. Apple has over 85,000 employees that come to work each day to do their best work, to create the world’s best products, to put their mark in the universe and leave it better than they found it. This has been the heart of Apple from day one and will remain at the heart for decades to come. I am very confident about our future. We’ve always had many doubters in our history. They only make us stronger.

The book really seemed to disturb Tim Cook; enough to make him offer a response as comprehensive as this. On the bright side, Cook’s response pleased Kane. She said, “For Tim Cook to have such strong feelings about the book, it must have touched a nerve. Even I was surprised by my conclusions, so I understand the sentiment. I’m happy to speak with him or anyone at Apple in public or private.”

Something tells me that we have not heard the end of this, but it’s nice to see the CEO of such a mighty company get his feathers ruffled so easily. It shows that behind the tough acting company lies a bunch of sensitive and vulnerable men. Well done Iwatani Kane, well done.

Sources: CNBC

The Netherlands introduces carrier-free sim cards — carriers may not approve

The Netherlands is known for a few strange things, like their Red Light District, tolerance of marijuana and their high percentage of cyclists, but now they have done something that holds the potential to change the entire mobile industry. The Netherlands has made it possible for any company to provide customers with its own SIM cards, which are not tied to any specific carrier, but can be configured to work with any desired network.

The move is likely to draw some ire from carriers there, but it spells a sense of freedom for those who rely on network providers daily — in other words, all of us. As unprecedented as it is, it just might be the move that changes how this industry actually works. Supposedly, customers would be able to switch between carriers a lot easier than the current set up. This would turn the mobile industry on its head, and take away the power from the carriers, something that they seem to have too much of in the U.S.

Besides the OEMs, the carrier agnostic-SIM (interchangeable) opens the doors for a new level of connectivity. It’s not that we don’t have other gadgets connected to the internet today, but such a precedence makes it easier for smartwatches, tablets or cars to switch carriers at will. As Van der Berg, member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) puts it, device makers may be able to offer services with multiple carriers, thereby enabling customers to seamlessly transition from one carrier to a more suitable one as needs be. These SIMs technically remove the fears of carrier lock-in to some degree while opening up new passage ways for connected devices and the types of ‘contractual agreements’ that are set in place.

Traditional carriers will understandably oppose such a move via any means necessary, but as a consumer, it’s a step in the right direction. All the technicalities have not been sorted out as yet, but the will is there, and it will be done eventually. With each new day is an opportunity for change. Some changes are adopted while others are not, but change always gives us an opportunity to rethink, and reconsider what we have accepted as the norm. Tell us readers, would you like to have a system like the recently implemented one in The Netherlands, or would you rather things stay as is?

Sources: Gigaom, Overheid.nl

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Chief Product Officer of Xbox, Marc Whitten leaves to join Sonos

In what can only be described as a shocking move, Marc Whitten, Chief Product Officer of Xbox has called it a day and will now join Sonos, the maker of wireless audio products. Marc’s role at Sonos should be fairly familiar as he is set to become the Chief Product Officer there as well. It is important to note that not only was Marc the Chief Product Officer of Xbox, but he also held the position of Corporate Vice President at Microsoft; his departure is almost on the scale of Sinofky’s — the Windows chief that left in 2012.

Marc became a member of the Xbox team in 2000 and was instrumental in the delivery of the original Xbox, the Xbox 360, and of course, his crowning jewel; the Xbox One. Whitten was key to the development of the Xbox Live platform, and helped its push towards global adoption. Of course, Whitten and co never had it easy going up against Sony’s Play Station as the Japanese giant was first to launch the then next-gen console in 1994.

The reason for Whitten’s departure has not been made public, but, given his track record, we can confirm that Microsoft is losing a leader and a visionary. His 14 years with the Xbox Team has left a lasting impression as Microsoft forged its way into one of the most challenging tech related industries and became a major player.

The contribution of Marc can be best summed up in the words of Yusuf Mehdi, Corporate Vice President of Strategy and Marketing when he said, “Marc played a pivotal role in building the Xbox business over the last 14 years and has been a great partner for me personally. Marc has built a very strong and passionate team that has delivered innovative technology for game and entertainment fans. Our fans will continue to inspire us to do great work on their behalf.

The Xbox 360 was a huge success for Microsoft, with total sales rivaling that of the PS3 on a global scale. In his departure, Marc leaves behind a solid product in the form of the Xbox One, although its launch was shrouded in confusion and its sales figures still pale in comparison to Sony’s PS4. The legacy of the Xbox One is just beginning, and the launch of ‘Titanfall‘ has been well received, but to Microsoft, a giant has been lost, the titan has left.

Sources: Xbox