Apple Has Siri, And Microsoft Is About To Get Cortana

Microsoft has been in a state of “shut up and ship” with Windows Phone for more than a year now. While the company has released a few minor updates to Windows Phone 8, its feature set hasn’t changed significantly from when Microsoft first introduced the mobile OS in October 2012. The software giant refuses to discuss or acknowledge an upcoming update, Windows Phone 8.1, but a recent software development kit leak has highlighted the huge number of feature changes that will arrive in the coming months and put Windows Phone more on par with iOS and Android. One of the main feature additions is Cortana, a personal digital assistant named after Microsoft’s Halo game series.

Cortana first emerged after a Microsoft employee lost a phone running Windows Phone 8.1 last year. Sources familiar with Microsoft’s Windows Phone work have revealed to The Verge that Cortana will replace the built-in Bing search feature, which is currently launched through a dedicated hardware key, and acts as a digital assistant with a mix of Siri and Google Now functionality. We’re told that Cortana will take the form of a circular animated icon with the hue of your selected Windows Phone accent color, and will have a personality not dissimilar from Apple’s Siri. Cortana will animate when it’s speaking or thinking, and bounce around or frown with “emotion” depending on the queries involved. Cortana will be backed by data from services like Bing, Foursquare, and others to give it some of the contextual power of Google Now.

Central to Microsoft’s vision for Cortana is a Notebook feature that will allow Windows Phone users to control exactly what information is shared with the digital assistant. Notebook will allow the Cortana digital assistant to access information such as location data, behaviors, personal information, reminders, and contact information. We’re told it’s designed as a privacy feature to ensure Cortana doesn’t freely access information without a level of user control. While Cortana will learn things about users, it won’t store them in the Notebook without asking you, and any information that’s stored can be edited or deleted. Cortana will then use this information to provide answers to search queries by voice or text, and provide suggestions, alerts, and reminders. Cortana could greet you by name and ask if you need help or answer questions, much like Siri.

Through search queries and just general phone usage, Cortana will learn more about a user and offer to store personal data like home and work locations and general interests in its Notebook. Cortana will also react to messages or emails that contain phrases like “let’s meet tomorrow at 8PM” and ask if you’d like to set up reminders or calendar entries. Cortana can also provide guidance on weather, stocks, directions, appointments, and music that’s contextual based on location and other data. As Cortana is a digital assistant, it will also be able to manage a do-not-disturb feature, similar to iOS, that’s designed to mute notifications. An “inner circle” of contacts will allow Cortana to manage notifications and phone calls during “quiet hours” when notifications are muted.

Although the initial Cortana digital assistant that will ship in Windows Phone 8.1 will have a lot of capabilities, Microsoft will need to extend it to third-party apps and its Windows and Xbox devices to improve its functionality in the future. The real test of Cortana will be how well it works with voice commands and its ability to understand natural phrases and questions. Microsoft’s recent voice work with Xbox One is impressive, but it also requires that you follow a strict pattern of commands for it to work successfully. Microsoft will have to ensure Cortana is at least as good as Siri for the company to position this as a full personal digital assistant.



Facebook to buy mobile messaging app WhatsApp for $19 billion

Facebook to buy mobile messaging app WhatsApp for $19 billion


UntitledNEW YORK : Facebook Inc will buy fast-growing mobile-messaging startup WhatsApp for $19 billion in cash and stock, as the world’s largest social network looks for ways to boost its popularity, especially among a younger crowd.

The acquisition of the hot messaging service with more than 450 million users around the world stunned many Silicon Valley observers with its lofty price tag.

But it underscores Facebook’s determination to win the market for messaging, an indispensable utility in a mobile era.

Combining text messaging and social networking, messaging apps provide a quick way for smartphone users to trade everything from brief texts to flirtatious pictures to YouTube clips – bypassing the need to pay wireless carriers for messaging services.

And it helps Facebook tap teens who will eschew the mainstream social networks and prefer WhatsApp and rivals such as Line and WeChat, which have exploded in size as mobile messaging takes…

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Nokia X Android launch: pictures leak

What appears to be an advert for Nokia’s upcoming Android smartphone has been published online.

View image on Twitter

The Nokia X launch date is expected to be unveiled on Monday when the firm holds is Mobile World Congress keynote.

The advert was tweeted by @evleaks on Monday. It shows the Nokia X name that has emerged as the likely moniker of Nokia’s Android phone line. It shows a line of green Lumia-style smartphones heading towards the viewer.

The tweet doesn’t reveal anything further about the phone. @evleaks has established a reputation for being right almost all of the time.

Nokia’s Normandy

Details of Nokia’s first Android smartphone have slowly leaked onto the internet over the last couple of month.

However, the last couple of weeks have seen a raft of speculation and leaks.

They include what the smartphone will look like, most of its specifications and even the version of Android it runs on.

According to those reports, the phone will reportedly run on a dual-core 1GHz Snapdragon processor and 512MB RAM and come with a 4-inch screen and 4GB of storage. It is also said to feature a microSD card slot and five megapixel camera.

A Vietnamese website suggested that the phone may sell for as little as £66 when it launches.

The Android smartphone is expected to debut at Mobile World Congress next week.


How technology has helped modern NGOs

In 21st century technology affects people in all the way. While some are using their resources for wars and in other ways to harm others, there are also some people or organizations who are using it for betterment the living environment for needy people. We know those organizations as “NGO”, or non-profit, non-government organizations.

NGOs like Relief India Trust in India are utilizing these technologies to help poor people. They provide medical services for poor and orphan children, most of who are in critical condition, which generally are unaffordable and out of reach for these children and their parents. The NGO helps these children by admitting them in top hospitals of the country. Thalassemia affected newly born children needs to receive transfusion of blood, once in a minimum of 2 to a maximum of 3 weeks. Relief India Trust organizes blood donation camps and sends it to various hospitals for use.

Relief India Trust also plays a role against HIV and AIDS. They provide support programs, manage comprehensive prevention of HIV and provide technical assistance as well as training to some private and government sector of developing countries. The trust also takes part in cloth distribution, free medical and surgical services in rural areas through volunteers.

For all these no doubt Relief India Trust needs financial help from giving people. So the trust uses latest world of interaction for this. The volunteers from Relief India Trust interact with their helping hands through internet and mobile.

Corporates relying on ‘aReputation’ for positive media outreach


Business in the 21st century is undergoing a sea change, with commercial entities and their leaderships increasingly moving away from dicey and non-measurable marketing and public relation strategies to corporate reputation management.

There is a growing awareness in industry and management circles that in the warp-speed world of today, one wrong move can have you nailed, especially through social networking mediums such as Twitter and Facebook.

Proactive brand reputation management as opposed to enlisting public relation firms to deal with criticism and crises is the mantra for retaining a sound reputation and in turn possessing the potential to stimulate stock prices.
Given the existing market climate, a company’s success or failure is largely dependent on how it is recognized. Large enterprises are accountable to shareholders and investors. There is pressure to log in profit and more often than not, there is a wrong move. Slip-ups like reckless expansion and…

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ASUS M70AD is world’s first NFC-enabled Desktop, has wireless charging too

Near Field Communication (NFC) might not have made a big impact in smartphones in India, but now this technology is going to be available in desktops too. Asus has just announced the launch of its M70AD desktop PC with NFC to help it pair with Android devices.

ASUS M70AD desktop is priced at Rs 62,000

This means you can use the desktop to backup media in compatible phones and tablets with just a tap. The ASUS-exclusive NFC Express software automatically backs up photos and videos in Android mobile devices on the desktop, detecting only files added since last sync.

The Asus M70AD can also charge mobile devices wirelessly, while a built-in UPS acts as a power supply for the PC in the event of a power outage. The ASUS Wireless Charger tray supports Qi inductive power standard even when computer is shut down, while the Ai Charger utility provides faster recharge times for your mobile devices through USB 3.0.

The Asus M70AD desktop PC will be powered by a 4th generation Intel Core processor and will feature Sonic Master Technology and MaxxAudio from Waves to offer a better audio experience.

The Asus M70AD is priced at Rs 62,000.


Missing Flappy Bird? Here’s how you can get it back on your Android phone

Flappy Bird has been pulled off the iPhone and Android app stores by its developer and we are still getting over the fact. Here we were dreading years of sequels and false excitement about new versions, only to find ourselves Flappy-Bird-less in a weekend. Of course, those of you who still have the hugely popular and successful game, can continue playing as you have been. However, if you uninstalled the game to keep it from taking over your weekend, this must be pretty bad timing.


Fortunately for those using Android at least, there are many ways to get the game back, thanks to the native ability to sideload apps. Firstly, you have to find the apk for the game. A simple Google search for ‘Flappy Bird apk’ should suffice, although for us at least, one of the first few results turned a website with a Google Drive-hosted apk that had been downloaded so many times, that Google had stopped further downloads. Another option is to look on popular torrent sites. It’s not a big file and clocks in at less than 1 MB so you won’t be burning too much data.

Once downloaded, the apk can only be installed if you have allowed installation of apps from unknown sources. You will find this entry in the security tab of the settings app on your Android phone and it’s a simple checkbox that you should leave checked to be able to sideload apps. Since by default it’s turned off, you may have to turn it on first before installing the app. In any case, the installation UI should warn you about having to turn the setting on.

And that’s it. Once installed, the game should work just fine and you can get back to crashing into pillars and cursing your timing. Of course, using this roundabout trick might break some functionality, such as the Google Play Games sign-in, but that’s working as advertised for us.


Sony to stop making PCs, cut 5,000 jobs

Sony, under pressure to shore up profitability in its electronics business, unveiled a restructuring plan on Thursday that will cut 5,000 jobs and trim 100 billion yen ($988 million) a year from fixed costs, while splitting off its loss-making PC and TV units.

The PC division, as widely expected, will be sold to investment fund Japan Industrial Partners, which will set up a separate company to take over the operations. Sony will initially hold a 5% stake in that company.

Sony also said it will split its TV division off into a separate company by July 2014. The flagship TV division has lost $7.5 billion over the last 10 years.

The job cuts, which will include its TV and PC divisions, are to be implemented by March 2015, while the cost savings are to kick in by the following 2015-16 financial year.

The pullout comes as Japan’s electronics firms look for daylight beyond the shadow of industry giants like Apple and Samsung Electronics. Exiting the Vaio PC business Sony, founded 17 years ago, will mark the first time CEO Kazuo Hirai pulls a major consumer product line.

Still unclear is when Sony can catch up with local peers Panasonic and Sharp on the restructuring track. The pair have swallowed charges, sold off or cured many loss-making businesses, and bounced back to strong profits.


iWatch to include sleep technology

Apple’s rumoured iWatch is increasingly looking like it will be a 24/7 wearable after it was reported that the company had hired a sleep tracking specialist.

Former Philips Research senior scientist Roy J.E.M. Raymann is claimed to have been recruited by Apple, according to 9to5Mac. Raymann has been involved in sleep monitoring for many years.

The iWatch’s launch date is expected to be sometime in 2014.

Raymann is the latest non-core focus expert to join the company. Apple has previously hired experts from the fashion and sports industry.

According to the website, Raymann’s research has focused on researching and developing wearable and miniaturised sensors.

Apple has refused to comment on Raymann’s reported hiring. However, his background in sleep and wearables research suggests that he will almost certainly be working on Apple’s much rumoured iWatch.

Focus on health

Recent reports have suggested that the iWatch will have a strong focus on health.

iOS 8 is said to include a health and fitness app called Healthbook.

Healthbook is said to be a pre-installed app that will be able to track things like the number of steps taken by a user, calories burned, weight gained or lost, blood pressure, hydration, and glucose level.

The report notes that Healthbook will work with the upcoming iWatch.


Other reports have claimed that Apple has been testing alternative methods of charging as a way of combating the short battery life typically seen in many smartwatches on the market.

The charging methods mooted are wireless charging, kinetic and solar.


iPhone 6 to come with interchangeable lenses

The iPhone 6 could come with interchangeable lenses, if the latest rumour turns out to be true.

According to Chinese website IT168, the new iPhone will come a ten megapixel sensor, a wider f1.8 aperture and interchangeable “resin” lenses. It was quoting supply chain sources in Taiwan.

Apple is expected to launch the iPhone 6 later this year.

The lenses are reportedly created using a new resin called ARTON. According to sources, Japanese company JSR will be providing the lenses based on the new resin.

Resin-ating with the market

JSR’s own marketing material claims that the lenses offer superior “optical characteristics” and “dimension stability” that are “best suited for optical applications.”

While the concept of Apple launching a phone with interchangeable lenses might seem far fetched, there is some evidence that suggest it may do just that.

Apple was recently granted two patents for interchangeable lenses for the iPhone. However it is too early to know if the technology described in the patents will make it into the next generation of iPhone.

Previous rumours have suggested that the iPhone 6 could come with a Lytro style camera. How that would fit in with the latest rumours is unclear.