Winter solstice marked by an animated Google doodle

Winter solstice marked by an animated Google doodleWinter solstice is the subject of Saturday’s animated Google doodle. Winter solstice is the day that the maximum elevation of the sun, which gets lower as the winter arrives, reaches its lowest value. After this day, the maximum elevation of the sun starts to increase.

Winter solstice also marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year. While the winter solstice occurs in the northern hemisphere in December, the southern hemisphere marks summer solstice on the same day. For regions in the southern hemisphere, the day means the maximum elevation of the sun is at its peak as is the length of the day. The day is also called “December solstice” as a common term for winter and summer solstices across both hemispheres.

Though Winter solstice is often called “the first day of the winter”, it is not the case – other terms used for the day like “mid-winter” or “the shortest day” are in fact correct. The day does mark a seasonal shift in the sense that after Winter solstice, days start to get longer. The earliest sunset and latest sunrise dates, however, differ from winter solstice as these depend on latitude of the place in question, in addition of course to the time of the year.

Depending on one’s position on the globe, the December solstice (summer or winter, as the case may be) usually occurs on the 21st and the 22nd. However, it is sometimes possible for a solstice to coincide with three different dates. Thus, the December 2016 solstice coincides with 20th of the month in American Samoa, with the 21st in London and with the 22nd at Kirtimati.

Google Glass software update brings wink to snap, YouTube uploads and more

Google Glass software update brings wink to snap, YouTube uploads and moreGoogle Glass on Tuesday announced updates to the software in its Internet-linked eyewear to allow users to snap pictures by winking.

The new feature, which promises to escalate privacy concerns already being voiced about the high-tech gadget, came as one of an array of improvements.

“We’ve got a new setting that lets you quickly and easily capture the moments you care about with a simple wink of the eye,” Google Glass posted on its Google+ social network page.

“We’re starting with pictures, but just think about what else is possible,” the message continued.

Notions put forth included Glass wearers someday paying for cab rides by winking at meters or buying something in a shop with a blink.

Updates included letting owners lock eyewear so it can’t be used unless a person knows the right “handshake” of swipes and taps.

The “Glassware” code powering the eyewear was also modified to upload video directly to Google-owned video-sharing venue YouTube.

“Glass is about helping you look up and experience the world around you without getting bogged down by technology,” Google said.

The high-tech accouterment lets wearers take pictures, record video, send messages or perform other tasks with touch controls or by speaking commands. It connects to the Internet using Wi-Fi hot spots or being wirelessly tethered to mobile phones.

Facebook, Twitter and major news organizations have already tailored applications for Google Glass, which has only been made available to developers and a limited selection of “explorers” who paid $1,500 each for the eyewear.

(Also see: Google contest winners start getting their $1,500 Glass)

Envisioned uses range from practical tasks such as shopping or delivering local weather reports to sharing real time video streams or playing augmented reality games in which the world is the board.

Google has not announced a public release date for Google Glass but speculation centers around early 2014.

Logitech India unveils accessories for iPad Air, iPad mini with Retina display

Logitech India unveils accessories for iPad Air, iPad mini with Retina displayLogitech has announced its first set of accessories in India for the recently unveiled Apple tablets, the iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display. The new devices include Ultrathin Keyboard Cover, Ultrathin Keyboard Folio and Folio Protective Case for iPad Air. For iPad mini with Retina display, the company has announced Ultrathin Keyboard Folio and Folio Protective Case.

Speaking at the launch, Mr. Subrotah Biswas, Country Director of Logitech India and South West Asia, said, “We feel proud to announce the launch of new range of products to perfectly complement the aesthetics of iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display. With perfect blend of colourful skins, Logitech is living up to our legacy of stylish and productive designs.”

The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad Air provides an aluminium screen cover and doubles as a wireless keyboard. The built-in Bluetooth keyboard comes with dedicated iOS shortcut keys such as Cut, Copy and Paste and a magnetic clip that secures your tablet, as well as a magnetic groove located behind the keyboard that can hold your iPad upright. The keyboard is rechargeable via a Micro-USB port and can last up to three months on a complete charge, as per Logitech’s claim. The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad Air is available at Rs. 6,995.

The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Folio for the iPad Air (Rs. 6,495) and the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Folio for iPad mini (Rs. 5,795) come with an integrated Bluetooth keyboard and a dual-view stand that can hold your iPad upright or flat, while the SecureLock system helps ensure your iPad stays fastened to the frame. The keyboard is also rechargeable through Micro-USB and comes with a backup similar to the Ultrathin Keyboard Cover.

The Folio Protective Case for iPad Air and Folio Protective Case for iPad mini are Logitech’s thinnest and lightest folios that come with a water-repellant skin for two-sided protection against bumps, scratches and spills. They also use the SecureLock system and the folios double up as an adjustable stand that can hold your iPad in several positions, from nearly flat to fully upright and many angles in between. Cases for both iPad models are priced at an identical Rs. 2,495.

Samsung Galaxy S5 to come with 2K display, eye-scanning sensor: Report

Samsung Galaxy S5 to come with 2K displaySamsung at its Analyst Day event in Korea had revealed plans for launching devices with a screen resolution of 1440×2560 pixels (2K) next year.

Now, a new report emerging from Korea suggests such a device is already in development, and that the company will announce the alleged smartphone at MWC in February 2014. However, the report does not confirm whether the alleged smartphone with a screen resolution of 1440×2560 pixels (2K) will be the rumoured, and anticipated Galaxy S5.

Earlier this month, a GFXBench listing had revealed a device codenamed Samsung SM-G900S sporting a screen resolution of 1440×2560 pixels (2K). The device was believed to be the Samsung Galaxy S5, which is expected to come with a 5.0- or 5.2-inch display, making the pixel density an incredible 560ppi at the said resolution.

In addition, the report also reveals that the South Korean giant is working on its next line of smartphones that will equip iris recognition or eye-scanning technology for unlocking the phone, authentication etc. Samsung’s expected next flagship smartphone (the Galaxy S5) will probably be the first device to pack such a feature. Unfortunately, the report does not reveal many details of the alleged eye-scanning unlock feature.

The eye-scanning/iris-recognition feature has not been introduced on any smartphone (from a major manufacturer) as an unlocking method, and if the rumour is true, Samsung would become the first handset maker to debut the feature on a smartphone. However, there is no official word from Samsung on the alleged eye-scanning feature.

Previously, Apple and HTC have introduced the fingerprint scanner features to the iPhone 5s and One Max respectively. The fingerprint scanner feature lets users log-in (and authorise payments, etc., on the iPhone 5s) with a swipe of the fingertip.

Some reports have indicated that Samsung may announce the Galaxy S5 as early as January, in a bid to overcome ‘disappointing’ Galaxy S4 sales.

Windows Phone 8.1’s rumoured notification customisation settings leaked in image

Windows Phone 8.1's rumoured notification customisation settings leaked in imageWindows Phone users, who have been missing a notification centre, might soon be relieved, if an image of the incoming Windows Phone 8.1 is true.

WMPoweruser has posted an image showing the purported lockscreen settings of the upcoming revamped version of the Windows Phone operating system, Windows Phone 8.1.

The purported image of the Windows Phone 8.1 shows notification customisation settings that include up to four quick access settings. The leaked image also reveals a new turn on/off notification feature for apps, which will reportedly not disable the Live Tiles functionality of the app on the device. In addition, the leaked image also shows a banner notification for the Windows Phone, although it does not detail the functionality. The leaked image also includes icons for Wi-Fi Hot spot, brightness, Wi-Fi and airplane mode.

Unfortunately, the purportedly leaked image of the Windows Phone 8.1 notification customisation settings is blurred and not all features are visible.

On Tuesday, a report revealed that Microsoft would ship its upcoming Windows Phone 8.1 with two new features – a notification centre that can be accessed by swiping down from top of the screen, just like Android and iOS, apart from a voice-based assistant believed to be codenamed ‘Cortana’.

The report suggested that Microsoft intends to replace the existing Bing Search on Windows Phone devices to offer voice or text input interactions. The Verge claims that the rumoured voice-based assistant ‘Cortana’ will be similar to Apple Siri technology and Google Now, and can learn location context from the Windows Phone device.

The report noted that the Redmond giant has been testing copies of Windows Phone 8.1 internally and plans to unveil the rumoured Windows Phone upgrade at Build Developer Conference in April next year.

iBall Slide 3G Q1035 tablet with voice calling, dual-SIM support launched

iBall Slide 3G Q1035 tablet with voice calling, dual-SIM support launchediBall has expanded its Slide tablet portfolio with the launch of the Slide 3G Q1035 for the Indian market. The tablet is now listed at Rs. 17,999 on company’s website.

The iBall Slide 3G Q1035 tablet comes with dual-SIM (GSM+GSM) support with voice-calling and dual standby. It runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and comes with a 10.1-inch IPS HD display with a resolution of 1280×800 pixels. It is powered by 1.2GHz quad-core Cortex A7 processor (unspecified chipset) alongside 1GB of RAM.

The new Slide tablet sports an 8-megapixel rear camera with LED flash, while there is a 2-megapixel front-facing camera. It includes 8GB of inbuilt storage which is further expandable up to 32GB with microSD card. The tablet packs a 6000mAh battery. Connectivity options on the tablet include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Micro-USB and 3G.

Notably, iBall launched the Slide 3G Q1035 tablet under its Edu Slide portfolio in September this year.

Earlier in October, iBall launched the Slide 3G 8072 voice-calling tablet with dual-SIM (GSM+GSM) support at Rs. 11,999. It features an 8-inch display with 1024×768 pixels resolution, and is powered by 1GHz dual core Cortex A9 processor (unspecified chipset). The tablet runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean out-of-the-box. It comes with 1GB of RAM and includes 4GB inbuilt storage which is further expandable up to 32GB via microSD card. The tablet packs a 4000mAh battery. Connectivity options on the tablet include Wi-Fi and 3G.

iBall Slide 3G Q1035 key specifications

10.1-inch IPS HD display with a resolution of 1280×800 pixels
1.2GHz quad-core Cortex A7 processor
1GB of RAM
8GB of built-in storage, expandable up to 32GB via microSD
8-megapixel rear camera
2-megapixel front camera
Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
Dual-SIM (GSM+GSM) support

Sony PlayStation 4 launched in India at Rs. 39,990, available January 6

Sony PlayStation 4 launched in India at Rs. 39,990, available January 6Sony has launched its next-generation game console in India, the PlayStation 4, which it has priced at Rs. 39,990. The PS4 will be available on shelves in the country starting 6 January 2014.

Additional controller and the PlayStation Camera have been priced at an identical Rs 4,990. First-party gaming titles have been priced at Rs. 3,999 while third-party titles will range between Rs. 2,499 and Rs. 4,499.

Notably, the PlayStation 4 was launched in the US on November 15. Earlier this month, Sony revealed it had sold more than 2.1 million PlayStation 4 consoles after less than three weeks on the market. This follows Sony’s statistic that it had sold 1 million consoles on launch day.

(Also see: PlayStation 4 sales top 1 million units in first 24 hours: Sony)

The latest PlayStation will be released in its home market Japan in February. Sony also announced that looking at the current PlayStation 4 sales figures, it was on track to hit its worldwide target of 5 million units by March 2014.

(Also see: PlayStation 4 set for February 22 launch in Japan, three months after US)

The Sony PS4 is powered by an integrated CPU-GPU design, featuring a 8-core low power x86-64 AMD “Jaguar” CPU, coupled with a 1.84 TFLOPS AMD Radeon GPU. It also features a secondary processor that does the network processing tasks in standby mode, in order to optimise power consumption.

The PS4 features 8GB of GDDR5 RAM for memory, coupled with a 500GB hard disk drive. Also onboard is a Blu-ray disc and DVD drive. Connectivity options include 2 USB 3.0 ports, one AUX port, an Ethernet port, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1 (EDR), an HDMI out port, and an optical-out port.

(Also see: 6 must have games for Sony’s new PlayStation 4)

Interestingly, both Microsoft and Sony have opted for an x86-based CPU-GPU SoC architecture for their consoles, powered by AMD. This also signals a convergence of game development and releases for the console and PC platforms, making it easier for developers to harness the potential of the hardware across platforms.

Microsoft’s next-generation console, the Xbox One (Review), is the only real competition for the Sony PS4, especially in India, where the Nintendo Wii U has yet to make an appearance. For now, Microsoft only gave a tentative launch date for the Xbox One in India during the E3 2013 event, saying it would arrive by late 2014. Since then of course, reports have indicated a slightly earlier launch, by mid-2014.

TRANSIT by Soen portable Bluetooth speaker comes to India at Rs. 12,990

TRANSIT by Soen portable Bluetooth speaker comes to India at Rs. 12,990American audio equipment maker Soen Audio is set to announce its entry into the Indian market. The company will officially launch its popular TRANSIT Bluetooth speaker in the country later this week priced at Rs. 12,990. The speaker is already available at leading online retailers.

TRANSIT by Soen, a California-based company that specialises in high-end audio equipment, is a compact, premium Bluetooth speaker set that sports 1.3″ x 6.6″ x 3.8″ dimensions and weighs around half a kilogram. The speaker is powered by a rechargeable battery that gives around 8 hours of playback time on a single charge. It also comes with a built-in mic, which means you can pair TRANSIT with your phone for hands-free calling.

NDTV Gadgets had a chance to spend some time with the speaker and our overall impression was extremely positive. TRANSIT exudes quality from first glance at the packaging of the product, to the time you hold the speaker in your hand, and of course when you start listening to music.

The build quality is excellent and the speaker comes with a magnetic cover that snaps on to offer protection from dust and accidental damage when not in use. The speaker can lie flat on its back or you can push a button to bring out the kickstand, which makes it ideal for placing on, say, a bedside table. The retail pack comes with a USB charger, a Micro-USB cable, documentation, as well as a 3.5mm audio cable (for the aux-in port).

TRANSIT by Soen has a flip power button on the side, with the pairing button sandwiched between the volume up and down buttons at the top. The Micro-USB and aux-in ports are at the side as well. Getting started by pairing the speaker with our smartphone was simple enough, like most Bluetooth speakers.

As far as the audio quality is concerned, we were impressed by the clarity of sound, which did not distort even at maximum volume. However, we found ourselves wishing that the speaker could go a notch louder. The bass performance was impressive for a speaker this size; probably the best we’ve come across in a compact Bluetooth speaker.

As stated earlier, the company claims 8 hours of audio playback on a single charge, but we did not get a chance to test this claim in the limited time we had with our unit.

TRANSIT by Soen retails for $200 in the US, which makes the Indian price of Rs. 12,990 extremely competitive. The product will hope to take some marketshare away from Bose Soundlink Mini Bluetooth speaker, which was launched in India earlier this year carrying a price tag of Rs. 16,200.

“Our mission is to create best-in-class products with stunning sound and elegant designs,” says Hari Seedhar, co-founder and Head of Marketing at Soen Audio. “With TRANSIT by Soen we are taking portable entertainment to the next level.”

Commenting on the pricing, Harpreet Kaur Sapra, co-founder & Chief of Operations, Love 4 Apple, who are the exclusive online distributors of Soen Audio products in India, said, “Our commitment to India is to bring the best in the world accessories at price points that match the global market. With TRANSIT by Soen we have matched a dollar to rupee target price, something unheard of, as far as technology goods in India are concerned.”

TRANSIT by Soen is now available via online retailers like Amazon India and Love 4 Apple, with other leading retailers set to follow.

‘Airtel may raise mobile call rates up to 20 percent’

'Airtel may raise mobile call rates up to 20 percent'Telecom major Bharti Airtel may increase mobile call rates by 10 to 20 percent, equity research firm Nomura said in a report.

“On our call with Bharti management today, it stated voice prices are still trending up and there is potential for a 10-20 percent increase from current levels,” it said.

When contacted, an Airtel spokesperson said: “At the moment, we have no plans to raise headline tariffs anywhere in India. The current focus of the company is on reduction of discount schemes and promotional offers to improve realisations.”

In September, the company increased tariff rate for postpaid customers, raising call rates by up to 50 percent.

Local and STD rates of 50 paise per minute to Airtel mobiles were increased to 60 paise, while calls to landlines went up to 90 paise per minute from 60 paise.

Nomura said that Bharti’s management sees its recent agreement with Mukesh Ambani led Reliance Jio Infocomm reduces the risk of any “gorilla attack” fears and there is room for “peaceful co-existence” for all.

“It (Bharti) again stated that creating a “collaborate supply chain” will see genuine cost savings,” the report said.

The research firm said that Bharti may consider exit from Africa it it fails to succeed in its strategy reach one of the top positions in each of the markets by either organic or inorganic growth measure as it could prove to be a suboptimal operation.

Nomura said that it expects Bharti Airtel to exit from Sri Lanka if its current position of number 5th in terms of market share doesn’t improve.

The research firm said that Bharti sees era of SMS to fade away as the revenue its generates from mobile internet service over 6 times more than SMS.

Airtel saw increase revenue from mobile Internet services which now accounts for 10 percent of its total business, Nomura said.

“Currently, sale of data packs brings in Rs. 100 per user, versus SMS ARPUs of about Rs. 15 which is at risk from cannibalisation,” the Nomura report said.

Airtel did not comment on upcoming spectrum auction but the research firm expects company to bid for airwaves in process which starts from January 23 next year.

“It is likely that Bharti could participate in the upcoming auctions in January 2014, we think,” Nomura said.

Moto G starts receiving Android 4.4.2 KitKat update ahead of schedule

Moto G starts receiving Android 4.4.2 KitKat update ahead of scheduleMotorola has announced that its Moto G budget smartphone has started receiving the Android 4.4.2 KitKat update over-the-air (OTA).

Motorola at the launch of Moto G had revealed that the smartphone would be receiving a ‘guaranteed’ Android 4.4 KitKat update in January; however it seems the Google-owned Motorola has rolled out the update ahead of schedule.

Punit Soni, vice president of product management, Motorola Mobility, confirmed the news in a blog post, and stated that Moto G smartphones bought via the company’s online store and Amazon US will receive the Android 4.4.2 KitKat update starting Thursday. The blog post also did not reveal the details of Android 4.4.2 update for other carriers and countries but said, “KitKat will come to other Moto G carriers and regions soon as well.”

Motorola notes that the update brings the latest version of the Android OS (Android 4.4.2 KitKat) and also introduces new features, enhancements and bug fixes for the Moto G. Some of the new features include enhancements such as restyled status and navigation bars; new colour emoji support; new full-screen mode; enhanced phone dialler app; improved ‘touch to focus’ and new photo editing features in the default Gallery app.

(Also see: Moto G review)

Motorola has also added support for printing photos from Google Docs, Gmail, and other content on phone via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and hosted services like Google Cloud Print and HP ePrinters. The Android 4.4.2 update for Moto G also incorporates new Google Hangouts version that supports messages and MMS.

It’s worth pointing out that the Android 4.4.2 update has been rolling out to Nexus devices, making the Moto G becomes the first non-Nexus device to get the update. In November, Motorola rolled out the Android 4.4 update for Moto X.

The Motorola Moto G features a 4.5-inch HD ‘edge-to-edge’ display with a resolution of 720×1280 pixels (translating to a pixel density of 329ppi) and boasts of a Corning Gorilla Glass 3 screen. Powered by a quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor coupled with an Adreno 305 GPU, the Moto G features 1GB of RAM. The Moto G sports a 5-megapixel rear camera along with an LED flash and also includes a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera. The rear camera supports HD (720p) video recording.