News,digest & deals

Android Nougat is finally out!

In typical Google fashion, Alphabet (Google’s parent company) is sticking to naming their operating systems after the letters of the alphabet. Android Nougat, version 7, is the new operating system that was announced a few weeks ago. It is already available to Nexus devices, but you might have to wat a few more months to have it on your Samsung device.

Nevertheless, it’s here, and it’s an improvement over its predecessor, so let’s look at some of the new features you can expect when it is finally rolled out to your device.

Split-screen functionality

Samsung Galaxy Note users have always enjoyed the freedom to open two apps at the same time and work on them simultaneously. This feature will now be available to all android devices that will have Android Nougat. Split screen will be usable in both portrait and landscape orientations, although only the portrait orientation will allow you to resize the windows.

You will be able to activate split-screen mode by long-pressing an app in the app picker and dragging it to the top or left of the screen if you’re in landscape mode. While this feature has had some problems in the past when using the keyboard, it is now quite effective by reducing the size of the keyboard and placing it closer to the active window. This is the biggest update to android, and yet I suspect most people won’t even get to use it.

Multitasking

Multitasking has always been available, but a new quick-switching feature will allow you to switch between the two most recent apps even faster. Double tapping the app overview button will switch back to the second app and vice versa. What’s nifty about this is that, together with multitasking, you can almost run 3 apps at the same time – two apps side-by-side, and a third whenever you double-tap the app overview button.

Quick replies

From the notifications area, you will now be able to reply to emails, texts and WhatsApp messages without having to open up the app itself. This feature will allow you to stick to the task at hand without having to leave the window you were in.

Improved Doze mode

Doze was introduced back in Android Marshmallow to put your device in a kind of hibernation whenever the device lay still. Now, it will be available whenever the screen is off, even if you’re on the go. When you finally put your device down, it will go into a deeper hibernation mode, but the little instances of Doze throughout the day are supposed to extend battery life.

Security

People are getting more conscious about privacy, and Android Nougat is here to address those concerns. A new file encryption system is going to be put in place which that personal data will be even more secure than before. With Android Marshmallow and previous android versions, you could only encrypt your entire device, but now there is a distinction between system data and personal data. Basically, this means that your personal information will remain more secure.

Wrapping up

When you do get the Android Nougat update, you won’t see any major difference at first. The truth is, most of the improvements are subtle and internal, stuff only a developer or enthusiast such as myself would notice. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean you don’t need the update, because despite not noticing any major differences, it still makes your device a lot better.

September 16, 2016

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Note 7 › Note Series › Samsung ›


The Galaxy Note 7

In January, we get the new Galaxy S, and in August the Galaxy Note; se we were all expecting the Galaxy Note 6 to be released around August. Well, Samsung did release a Galaxy Note, but they skipped the 6 and named it the Note 7. The same thing happened with Windows, who skipped 9 after windows 8.1 and jumped to Windows 10. I’ve never understood why they did that, but perhaps Samsung just wanted to make their smartphones have a uniform title, S7 and Note 7.

Anyway, the Note 7 is here and it is amazing! This device goes above and beyond anything any smartphone enthusiast was expecting. There are plenty of features to get excited about, so let’s get right into them:

The display

It’s a 5.7-inch display, just like the Note 5, and it has the same quad-HD resolution of 1440 x 2560 pixels with an amazing ppi above 500. The display on the Note 5 was excellent, and even though the Note 7 shares the same resolution, Samsung have improved the display to be even clearer and brighter even in direct sunlight. Some people didn’t like the way Samsung displays were oversaturated, and that was fixed in the Note 7. The colours are still vivid, unlike on the iPhone 6s Plus, but they appear a lot more natural than before. In short, it’s the best display on any smartphone we have seen this year.

The design

Although the screen remains the same size, the front panel is a little smaller, by about 2mm. That may seem small, but it makes the Note 7 have a very small bezel, almost looking like an edge-to-edge display. The illusion makes the screen seem larger, especially if you have the silver version of the device. However, it’s a bit thicker, but that’s because of the larger battery, 3,500mAh compared to the Note 5’s 3,000mAh battery. Despite that, it’s still lighter than its predecessor. The difference is hardly noticeable on a device this large, and it actually makes the device a lot easier to hold.

USB Type-C is also finally available, after being skipped on the Galaxy S7, and that allows for easier plugging because it’s reversible, and faster transfer speeds. You also don’t have to worry about scratches because it has Gorilla Glass 5 which is extremely strong to prevent any cracks and scratches. In fact, only the aluminium sides are prone to scratches.

The S-Pen

Those who love the Note series do so because of the S-Pen – it allows you to perform certain actions you wouldn’t be able to with your hand. The new S-Pen is even more advanced, allowing for even more actions that you can enjoy.

The camera

The camera on the Galaxy S7 was a huge success despite being only 12MP, so the same technology was used in the Note 7. The camera is awesome thanks to a wide f/1.7 aperture, optical image stabilization and the ability to take 4K videos. It is amazing in both daylight and low-light situations, maintaining quality and tone of images thanks to the LED flash. The front camera remains 5MP, but a similar f/1.7 aperture allows you to take great selfies.

Battery life

The battery is larger, being 3,500mAh up from 3,000mAh on the Note 5, and this ensures you can get a few days of usage out of the Note 7. Wireless charging and quick charging are also available, so you won’t have any problems with the battery life.

Features

The Note 7 has all the bells and whistles you would expect from any high-end Samsung device, plus more. The usual heartrate monitor and SpO2 monitors are still there, plus the fingerprint scanner and water and dust resistance – it is IP68 certified. They have then added an additional iris scanner for security, which unlocks your device and can work even in the dark and with glasses because it uses infrared technology.

Of course, you would expect the best processor and GPU, which make the device run very smoothly, and a 4GB RAM which makes use of the 64-bit processor. All these features are awesome and make the Note 7 a dream smartphone you would be proud to possess.

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iOS 10

Apple’s iOS has always been very smooth and intuitive, and I say this despite being an avid android fan. I might be a little biased when comparing iOS and Android, but I can’t argue with the fact that iOS is very, very good. iOS 10 is yet to be rolled out to Apple devices, but there are a lot of great features that could make an android fan like myself want to shift to the Apple side.

The user interface

Not much has changed in iOS 10 compared to iOS 9, but I have to say the uniformity makes operations incredibly smooth. Apple have very strict requirements for developers who want their apps to be made available in the App Store, and because that’s the only place to get apps, every app adheres to the iOS interface. This means that all apps have a uniform look to them that makes the whole iOS experience smooth and streamlined. The UI is also very simple to understand, and this simplicity makes it very easy to learn and also quite elegant.

I already said that I’m an android fan, but iOS has found a way to make apps work together very smoothly. Say, you’re playing Candy Crush on your iPhone and you get a call, instead of the whole screen switching to the call interface, it appears as a banner at the top, then you can answer the call without having to leave your game. The same is true for all other notifications, and I especially like how you can swipe down banners and reply to text messages. All these may seem like subtle features, but in the end they make working on your iPhone a total pleasure.

Siri

There’s no question Siri is the best personal assistant in any smartphone (sorry Google now), and it also has a natural tone of voice. Siri is about to get even more advanced in iOS 10 because she will be able to understand commands even when you put them in an unconventional format. Basically, Apple have made Siri more intelligent so that you won’t have to memorize commands, but can instead speak naturally, and she will understand.

They have also made Siri integrated into the apps you have installed on your iPhone. In the past, you could only get Siri to open an app, but now she can perform actions within that app. For example, you can simply say, ‘Get me the closest Uber driver to come pick me up’ and Siri will place that command for you without having to open the Uber app itself. You will be able to do the same with other apps, too, as soon as they begin to make use of this feature.

Prediction

Apps will now be interconnected, especially with your calendar. This feature is only now getting into android, but has been around in iOS for a long time, and iOS pushes it even further. Say, you receive a text asking for a certain contact’s email, normally, you would have to sift through your contacts list, copy and then paste the information into the text box. With iOS 10, though, your iPhone will have already taken that request and will provide you with suggestions for you to just tap and send. The same happens when someone asks you about, say, meeting up at a certain time via text. iOS picks that up and provides suggestions based on whether you will be free at that time based on your calendar.

These are also some of the features that seem very subtle but are extremely handy every time you operate your iPhone.

iMessages

The iMessages app has also been revamped to allow you to add stickers, invisible messages, and other features that make texting a lot more fun. This is obviously in an attempt to make iMessages relevant again after various messaging apps like WhatsApp are becoming more popular. The only problem, these features will only work for Apple-to-Apple communications.

Security

Apple have insisted on security recently, and iOS 10 is said to be very secure. All your information including texts, notes, credit card details, health data is now encrypted to prevent anyone from accessing it in case you lose your iPhone. This is meant to encourage corporates to use Apple in their businesses, but everyone will surely appreciate a lot more security.

September 16, 2016

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iPhone 7 Plus › new product ›


The iPhone 7 Plus

Since 2014, Apple have been releasing a pair of iPhones every September, the ‘regular’ iPhone and a larger counterpart. I put ‘regular’ in quotes because a 4.7-inch iPhone is not what you would call regular. iPhones had stuck to small devices up to the iPhone 5s which had a 4-inch screen despite android devices being way larger than that.

Apple caved, and they began producing a 4.7-inch iPhone since the iPhone 6, but they didn’t stop there. some people still wanted bigger, so they also produced a ‘Plus’ version which had a 5.5-inch display. The iPhone 7 Plus is meant to cater to those who love big displays, but the bigger iPhones had a little bit more than their 4.7-inch counterparts.

Longer battery life

A bigger display requires a bigger body, which would allow for a bigger battery. Although we still don’t have the actual battery capacity for the iPhone 7 Plus, it’s definitely going to have a significantly longer battery life compared to the iPhone 7.

Larger display

The 5.5-inch display is awesome given how vivid colours look on the iPhone screen. The new improvements to the display – wider colour gamut and brighter display will make viewing videos and movies on the iPhone 7 Plus more than a pleasure, so much so you will be tempted to watch with your friends.

Better camera

Although camera resolution for both the regular iPhone and plus-sized iPhones have always been similar, the Plus version has always had more features. Take the iPhone 6 Plus, for example, whose camera had optical image stabilization (OIS) while the regular iPhone 6 didn’t. the same happened with the iPhone 6, too, which didn’t have OIS. The larger size of the Plus version of the iPhone allowed for more physical features which would enable OIS.

This year, though, the iPhone 7 has OIS, but the iPhone 7 Plus is the ultimate smartphone camera. Even though the resolution is a similar 12MP, there are 2 lenses instead of one. That’s right, it has the same camera as that on the iPhone 7, plus a second 12MP telephoto camera. This second camera is supposed to offer better resolution for images that are farther away. It has an f/2.8 aperture which allows for up to 10x zoom, so images remain very sharp even when you zoom in.

a new depth-of-field effect will also be available on the iPhone 7 Plus, which creates a ‘bokeh’ effect which photographers will identify from their DSLRs. This feature keeps the main subject in sharp focus while blurring out the background and creating a focus on the subject.

Any other differences?

There aren’t any other differences on the inside of the iPhone 7 Plus compared to the iPhone 7. It has the same processor, front camera and design. However, the superior camera and the larger display will be a major selling point for anyone serious about their picture-taking, and for those who love to share content with their friends.

September 16, 2016

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Apple › iPhone 7 › new product ›


The iPhone 7

After a long wait, the iPhone 7 and its iPhone 7 Plus counterpart are finally here! Apple have always made a point of delivering superior devices and these new releases won’t disappoint at all. I am sure there will be long queues outside Apple stores this week when these iPhones are finally made available on the 16th of September, and you can expect Apple stock to rise significantly in the coming weeks.

What’s new

The general design of the iPhone 7 remains the same as the iPhone 6s, 4.7 inches of an all-aluminium body, but there are subtle changes to the design.

Design

For one, the bands that ran across the back are now along the side and top, giving a uniform-looking design. Then there are new colours, the matte black and jet black, in addition to the usual colours we have seen in previous iPhones. For the first time, the iPhone is also water resistant.

Inasmuch as the design is important, there is a lot more going for the new iPhone.

The camera

The new iPhone 7 still retains the 12MP camera resolution from the iPhone 6s, but is has a wider f/1.8 aperture. This allows more light to reach the sensor so low-light photos are even brighter. Speaking of the camera sensor, it too has got a makeover; Apple say it’s got 6 elements which allows for a wider colour spectrum so images are extremely vivid and detailed.

They have also added optical image stabilization (OIS), which would allow you to take sharp photos even if you are moving or your hands shaking. Then the flash gets upgraded to a quad-LED true tone flash over the previous dual LED. This is supposed to make pictures taken in the dark to maintain their natural tone and not appear to be overly bright.

Selfies are also going to be a lot better, because the front camera gets upgraded to 7MP, and in addition to the retina flash, your selfies are guaranteed to be superb every time.

The processor

the iPhone 7 comes with a new and improved Apple A10 Fusion processor which is, of course, faster than the previous A9 chip. Furthermore, it is also an improvement over its predecessor in terms of power consumption. According to Tim Cook, CEO of Apple who announced the iPhone 7, this A10 Fusion chip is going to provide the longest battery life of any iPhone ever, which is good news because iPhones haven’t always had the best battery life. We’re yet to test the iPhone 7 for ourselves, so we can’t tell just how well this processor performs, but you can be sure it will be very snappy and efficient.

Multimedia

The display may be the same size as the iPhone 6s, but the new display is 25% brighter and has wider colour gamut. This is supposed to make images a lot more vivid, but not as much as the Samsung’s AMOLED display. There are also 2 speakers now, one at the bottom and the other at the top to deliver stereo sound which is also louder.

A big change comes with the new EarPods that connect to the lightning port rather than the typical 3.5mm jack. Then there are the new AirPods which are basically wireless EarPods, supposed to last as long as 5 hours on a single charge without compromising on size. I have to say, I’d really love those, although they cost $160.

What else?

One thing’s for sure. the new iPhone craze is not over and we shall be looking at the features of this new device in detail later on.

June 04, 2016

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How to jailbreak

There are many reasons people jailbreak their devices, and why developers keep providing jailbreaks for iOS devices. It’s actually like a cat and mouse gamedevelopers play with Apple, with the former creating jailbreaking software and Apple pushing software updates. This is important for Apple because jailbreaks show them where their system is vulnerable to threats and the developers can gain a reputation for exceptional hacking skills.

Before going on with the article, check out our blog on the topic to help you decide whether this is the best solution for your needs. If you’re still interested, here’s how to go about it:

Although iOS is now updateable to iOS 9.3.2, jailbreaking is only available for iOS 9.0.2 and below. Unfortunately, if you’re already updated to the latest version, there’s no way to downgrade because Apple are no longer signing previous iOS versions. It is, therefore, impossible to jailbreak if your device is running anything higher than iOS 9.0.2, for now.

  1. Download the Pangu jailbreak tool here to your PC or Mac. The program is free and doesn’t require installation
  2. Turn on Airplane Mode and connect your device to your PC or Mac using the lightning cable and backup your data using this guide
  3. Go to your device’s settings and disable passcode/touch ID. Also turn off Find my iPhone
  4. Launch the Pangu application you downloaded in Step 1 and run it as an administrator
  5. The program will attempt to detect your device, and when it’s ready it will inform you
  6. Click on ‘Start’ from the application, then click on ‘Already Backup’ in the next window
  7. Your device will restart when progress reaches 55%
  8. At 65%, the application will prompt you to re-enable Airplane mode again
  9. At 75%, the application will prompt you to run the Pangu app on your device, it should be available on your home screen
  10. Allow access to your Photos app when the application requests for it
  11. Keep waiting for the progress to continue on your PC
  12. Pangu on your desktop will inform you when the jailbreaking process is complete and you can now unplug your device and turn off Airplane mode
  13. A new app, Cydia, should now be installed, open it and wait as it is ‘Preparing Filesystem’. The app will then ‘Respring your device’

That’s it.

June 04, 2016

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iPhone camera tips and tricks

The iPhone camera is one of the major selling points for Apple, and it really is an amazing camera even if it’s the only camera you have. However, there are a number of tricks you can use to make your camera experience a lot better and make full use of the feature.

Quick access to the camera

Even though the iPhone camera has got a very fast shutter speed to capture even tiny details quickly, swiping around your homescreen to get to the app can prevent you from capturing those fleeting moments. There are a few ways to quickly open the app:

  • From the lock screen: at the bottom-right corner is a camera icon, touching it and swiping up will launch the camera and you can start snapping
  • Siri: you can also ask Siri to launch the camera, then you can manually take the photos you want
  • 3D touch: pressing firmly on the camera icon will display several options, and you can then jump straight to the kind of camera you want, slo-mo, video, selfies or regular photo, without having to swipe

Quick edit photos

The Photos app contains plenty of features to edit photos, but the Camera app itself can make a few changes if you want to share the image immediately. Just tap the thumbnail of the photo or video you like and you can make some quick tweaks to it right there.

Lock focus and exposure

The iPhone camera is also very fast to change focus as you move the device around the scene. However, if you just want to stick to a specific subject or exposure level, simply touch the subject and hold your finger there until an ‘AE/AF Lock’ banner appears. With that, you can still keep the subject at the edge of the frame but still in focus.

June 04, 2016

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Battery saving tips

iPhones are not known for having a good battery life, in fact, only the huge iPhone 6 Plus and 6s Plus have decent battery performance. If you have one of these huge devices, you’re probably never worried about your battery running out, but even then, wouldn’t you rather extend that battery life a little bit more?

Turn off location services

Various apps will use your location data in order to function fully, but some will do so often and others even keep using that data always. Allowing your apps to decide how and when they can use your location service can take a toll on your battery, and it’s better for you to take control.

From your device settings, go to ‘Privacy’ then ‘Location services’. There, you will be able to see how your apps use location data. The conservative move here would be to turn off location services for those apps that use location data ‘Always’, but for ultimate battery settings, switch off location services completely.

Prevent background app refresh

By double-pressing the home button, you can see all your background apps, and selecting one will bring it to the forefront. You will also notice that the app had been active, and that’s because of the ‘Background app refresh’ feature that updates background apps. It’s a useful feature but also drains your battery, and you can turn it off.

Go to Settings, then General and then Background App refresh. You can then turn it off completely of turn it off for specific apps. Needless to say, with the feature turned off, whenever you open an app from the multitasking window, it’s going to take a moment to refresh and may not be as quick to launch. That’s the price you will have to pay for extra juice.

Turn off automatic updates

By default, your iPhone will automatically update apps from the App store as well as download apps, books and music you purchase from another iOS device. This is really cool and makes transitioning from one device to the other efficient, but it also drains your battery. To turn it off,

  1. Go to your device settings
  2. Scroll to ‘App and iTunes Stores’
  3. In the ‘Automatic Downloads’ section, turn off all handles, or just the one for updates

 

These small steps will go a long way to improving your iPhone’s battery life, and of course, there are other minor changes you can still make that will improve battery life even further. For now, you can get a few hours more from your phone.

June 04, 2016

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Do you need another web browser?

The iPhone comes preloaded with Safari as the default browser, and for the most part, it’s good enough. Other major web browser developers in the game include Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Opera, with the Opera Mini variant as well. There are also numerous other web browsers, and that increases the number of options significantly. However, we’re going to stick with the big 3, Safari, Chrome and Firefox, and try to determine whether you need to download a second browser. After all, you wouldn’t want your iPhone bogged down by multiple web browsers.

Safari

This browser is made by Apple, and that alone should tell you what to expect: the interface is clean and it has most features. however, Apple don’t like to cram a lot of features into their devices or apps, and you might lack some features that may be available in other browsers.

Chrome

Google, too, have been refining their apps to make them neat and organized, they even changed their logo to show this transformation. As a result, Chrome browser also has a very nice interface and menu bars that disappear so you can concentrate on the web page itself. For navigation, they’ve included nifty swipe gestures, a swipe from left to right to go back and vice versa. There are also plenty of tools from the menu button to provide added features.

The greatest advantage, however, is that it synchronizes with Google browsers on all devices, so it’s easy to pick up from one device to the other. Furthermore, all passwords and bookmarks are stored and synchronized so you don’t have to enter passwords on different devices. When it comes to speed, this browser is just as fast as Safari, and there is not much difference.

Firefox

This browser contains similar features to those on Chrome, with a few differences in design of the interface. Unfortunately, I find it to be a bit slower to load pages than Safari and Chrome, although the difference is only slight. Still, why opt for a browser that’s any slower and with no other advantages?

Final verdict

I admit I’m a bit biased, being a Chrome fan for years, and proud of all the new improvements. But the choice boils down to the browser you normally use on your computer. Chrome and Firefox users will appreciate the continuity from one device to the other, and Mac users will like the simplicity of the browser.

So, back to the main question, you would definitely need another web browser if you spend a lot of time browsing the web. Safari simply does not have enough features, and the continuity between devices will help you navigate faster with Chrome or Firefox.

June 04, 2016

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Medical ID for emergencies

The Health app on your iPhone is great for cataloguing your daily activities and helping you keep fit, and it can also save your life, literally. The Medical ID feature is included in the app and stores important information about your health so that it can inform first responders about you. To create a Medical ID:

Creating a Medical ID

  1. Open the Health app from your home screen
  2. From the tabs at the bottom of your screen, select ‘Medical ID’ then ‘Create Medical ID’
  3. You will be presented with several fields that cover important issues like allergies, drug reactions, height, weight, medical conditions, medications you’re taking and even blood type
  4. When you’re done entering this information, tap on ‘Done’

You can then choose to allow if the information will be visible from the lock screen, even if you have a passcode. I would advise you to turn it on because this information may be life-saving when you’re unconscious. However, some people wouldn’t want such details accessible to anyone, so I guess it’s a matter of priorities.

Accessing Medical ID

The whole point of having medical ID is to provide information about your health data to first responders in case of an emergency, and it should be accessible. If the iPhone does not have a passcode, anyone can just head over to the Health app and check out the details. In case a passcode or fingerprint ID is turned on, the information can still be reached:

  1. Swipe from right to left on the lock screen
  2. Tap on ‘Emergency’
  3. Tap on ‘Medical ID’ at the bottom left corner of the screen
  4. The information that had been entered by the owner of the iPhone will then be displayed
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