Posts Tagged phone

Phone app allows US users to film police activity discreetly

NEW YORK: A US civil rights advocacy group has launched a free mobile phone application that allows users to record police activity discreetly, saying it will help boost police force accountability.

The New Jersey branch of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) explains that “Police Tape,” available to the public since Tuesday, “allows people to securely and discreetly record and store interactions with police.”

The Android phone application, available for download on the website of the ACLU of New Jersey, is “an essential tool for police accountability,” said the office’s executive director Deborah Jacobs.

“Too often, incidents of serious misconduct go unreported because citizens don’t feel that they will be believed.”

Unlike traditional smartphone recording apps, “Police Tape” disappears from the screen once it is launched, minimizing the possibility that police will notice the recorder.

The application allows users to send the file to the ACLU for safe-keeping and analysis.

“Police Tape” also contains legal advice on the rights of citizens confronted by police.

The ACLU of New Jersey website cites several court rulings that recognized citizens’ rights to film police activity.

A similar application for iPhone will be available later this summer, the site says.

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Samsung, Sony to launch smartphones with ability to learn things by touching

NEW YORK: There’s a form of extra-sensory perception called psychometry, whose practitioners claim to learn things about objects by touching them. Smartphones set to be released this month by Samsung and Sony will have some of that ability: they’ll learn things when you touch them to pre-programmed “tags.”

For example, you can program a tag with your phone number, and stick it on your business card. When someone taps their phone to the card, the phone would call you. Or you can put a tag on your night stand. Place the phone there, and it goes into “alarm clock” mode, holding your calls until the morning.

Samsung Electronics Co announced this week that it will be selling these tags in the form of stickers it calls “TecTiles”, $15 for 5 of them. They’ll work with its new flagship Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone, set to launch in a few weeks, and several others already in the market, including the HTC EVO 4G LTE sold by Sprint Nextel.

Sony Corp’s Xperia Ion, to be released June 24, will come with the ability to read different coin-like plastic tags that read “Home,” `’Office” and so forth. The tags cost $20 for four, and the phone can be programmed to react differently to each tag. The “Car” tag can launch a navigation application, for instance. Tapping “Home” can send a text message to the rest of the family that you’re home, and set the ringer volume to maximum.

The big push behind the technology, which is known as Near-Field Communications, comes from companies that see the phone as the wallet of the future. When touched to payment terminals, NFC-equipped phones can act as credit or debit cards.

But turning phones into credit cards is a tall order. Mobile payments already work with a few phones, but broad adoption is being held up while cellphone companies, banks, payment processors and retailers work out who pays for what and who benefits.

This ability to sense things close by is made possible by a new type of communications hardware in phones, complementing long-range cellular radios, medium-range Wi-Fi and short-range Bluetooth.

The latest version of Google Inc.’s Android software, known as Ice Cream Sandwich, comes with the ability to use NFC to communicate from phone to phone. When the backs are tapped together, the owners can trade information like contacts.

Samsung takes this one step further with the Galaxy S III. Tap two phones together, and they set up a connection via Wi-Fi. That means the owners can walk away from each other, and as long as they’re in the same room or so, they can transfer photos and even hefty video files between their phones.

There are issues to work out. The Samsung tags can be read by any phone running “Ice Cream Sandwich,” but that doesn’t include the Sony phone. Samsung and HTC phones won’t recognize the Sony tags.
Apple Inc, whose iPhones are trendsetters in many ways, hasn’t built NFC into them, yet. Its patent filings hint at an interest in NFC, but they’ve given no clue when the technology might show up in iPhones.

Nick Holland, an analyst with Yankee Group, believes NFC will shine first in non-payment applications, because they’re easier to sort out, and the technology has many uses. There have been NFC trials in Sweden, using phones as hotel room keys, he points out. Another compelling use case would be Wi-Fi hotspots. A cafe that wants to limit access to the local hotspot might let patrons tap their phones against a tag instead of having them laboriously enter a password.

“There’s been an over-focus on the wallets,” Holland said. “It’s a technology that’s not designed purely for payments.”

For advertisers, NFC tags could replace the so-called “QR” codes, two-dimensional bar codes that need to be photographed with specially downloaded software to be deciphered, so they can send a consumer to the advertiser’s website or earn them a coupon for a discount. QR codes work at a distance, unlike NFC tags, but have significant drawbacks.

“Someone described them as `digital vomit’ recently. You can’t make them look pretty,” Holland said.

Each NFC tag includes a tiny chip, which explains the relatively high prices Samsung and Sony are charging. Those prices will come down, Holland said, as adoption rises. QR codes, of course, have the advantage of being very cheap, since they can be created on a simple printer.

The big makers of NFC chips are NXP Semiconductors N.V., a Dutch company, and Inside Secure, a French one. But competition is looming, Holland said, from bigger chip companies like Broadcom Corp. and Texas Instruments Inc. “Basically, anyone who’s making chips is looking at NFC as a new area they could move into,” Holland said.

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How to improve phone’s battery life

You could have the most powerful smartphone around, but that amounts to naught if it dies out on you every few hours. ET offers a few simple tips and apps and to maximise your phone’s battery.

Generic Tips

1. Screen Brightness

Although most phones come with a light sensor that is used to automatically adjust brightness of the display, you need to manually set the brightness as low as possible to maximise battery life. The automatic setting constantly alters the brightness and that leads to higher consumption. Also, keep the screen time out as short as possible to save more battery.

2. Wireless Connectivity

Functions such as EDGE, 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS are important to phone usage, but they are the biggest battery hogs as well. You can increase your battery life by switching off functions that you don’t need. Even switching from 3G to 2G (if available) will give your battery life a huge boost.

3. Push Notifications

If push notifications are turned on, your phone constantly pings various services to check for updates. Therefore, data connectivity or Wi-Fi is constantly being used to check for updates. Some devices even play a sound and display a notification on the screen. The number of different notifications you leave on will have a direct impact on the phone’s battery life.

4. Background Tasks

By default, pressing the home button does not exit apps, it just moves them to the background – this helps with quicker multitasking on a smartphone. Problem is, even background apps consume hardware resources (except on iOS where the apps are completely suspended). Use a task manager to exit apps completely and give a boost to battery life.

5. Haptic Feedback

Many touchscreen phones offer haptic feedback – a slight vibration while typing, pressing an on-screen button or in some phones, every time the screen registers a touch. Check if you can turn this feature off or control when the vibration occurs. You can also choose to turn off the vibrate notification for calls/SMS when the ringer is on.

Apps to Enhance Battery Life

BB: Battery Saver Pro

Provides a clean graphical user interface with features to monitor processes, optimise usage for display/wireless connections, set alerts for low battery and can show a battery usage graph.

iOS: Battery Life Pro

This app has a beautiful user interface and shows you system info & graphs for memory usage. It also gives you one-touch access to switch on/off Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 3G & push notifications.

Windows Phone: BatterySaver

BatterySaver lets you pin live tiles on your home screen to quickly toggle between various battery consuming functions such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth & GPS.

Android: JuiceDefender

This app offers balanced, aggressive or extreme battery saving presets. Select one and it automatically manages phone features to improve battery life. You can even customise individual options to create a preset of your own.

Accessories for power users

Battery Cases

Cases like Mophie’s Juice Pack (Rs 3,000 onwards) have a builtin battery – the case connects with the charging port on the phone and keeps the internal battery topped up.

Portable Chargers

These handy gadgets usually come with different charger pins and are priced at Rs 3,000 onwards. Most of them are good enough to provide two full charges to a phone.

Spare Batteries

Manufacturers provide replacement batteries – either the same or larger capacity than the original. Get a spare battery and keep it charged as a reserve.

iPhone Specific Tips

Location Services

Some apps use location services to deliver relevant content and services. This could be via GPS, Wi-Fi or cell tower location – either way, battery life is adversely affected. Go to Settings and disable location for apps that don’t need it.

Siri

The iPhone 4S’s voice assistant Siri comes on when you raise the phone to your ear. Switch off this ‘raise-tospeak’ function from the Settings – it keeps the phone’s proximity sensor in an always on state – thus consuming more battery.

System Services

Go to Settings > Location Services > System Services. Here, switch off location based iAds, diagnostics & usage, traffic and automatic time zone update. All these functions use GPS/Wi-Fi/network location which are battery hogs.

Android Specific Tips

Check Battery Usage

Go to Settings > Applications, tap on Battery Use and find out what is consuming the most battery on your device. You can then close or uninstall the apps that you don’t use too often and figure out how to better utilise battery life.

Home Screen

Android has always offered live wallpaper as well as various third-party animated widgets. There’s no denying that some effects make the phone look pretty, but they also make the processor work overtime which drains the battery.

GPS location

Android location settings use wireless networks or GPS satellites (or both) to detect your position. If you do not want pinpoint accuracy, head to Settings > Location & Security. Switch off ‘Use GPS Satellites’, ‘Assisted GPS’ and ‘Sensor Aiding’.

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Galaxy S3 named bestseller pre-ordered phone

LONDON: Samsung’s new Galaxy S3 phone has become the fastest selling-pre-order phone of the year, according to Europe’s largest independent mobile phone retailer Carphone Warehouse.

The retailer confirmed that thousands of customers have pre-ordered the new flagship Google Android device, The Telegraph reports. Over 800 Carphone shops will stock the phone during its launch, which will go on sale on May 29 to those who have pre-ordered it.

Graham Stapleton, Chief Commercial Officer at Carphone Warehouse, claimed, “Pre-order demand for the new Galaxy S3 has surpassed expectations since the handset was first unveiled two weeks ago. The first 24 hours alone saw thousands placing their pre-order at Carphone Warehouse.”

Earlier this week, it was reported that nine million S3s had been pre-ordered by more than 100 carriers.

Korean Samsung is the biggest mobile phone company in the world, ahead of long-time number one Nokia, and also the biggest maker of smartphones ahead of Apple.

The Galaxy S3 that was unveiled at an international launch held at London have innovative new features such as eye tracking so that the screen stays on while a user is looking at it.

The S3 also has a 4.8″ display, one of the largest in the market, and the ability to automatically initiate a call to a contact onscreen when the phone is held up to its user’s face.

Samsung has also announced that the device will be the official phone of the London Olympics.

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Top 3 Smartphones with High Resolution Screens

Smartphones have rearranged the pixel density charts this year, we take a look at the top 10 smartphones with the sharpest screens.

Anything above 250 ppi may seem like overkill but the boundaries continue to be pushed. For trivia junkies and those with 20/20 vision, we have ten recent smartphones with 300 PPI displays and higher.

When buying a smartphone, pixel density matters as much as screen size. You can use this simple calculator to know your phone’s pixel density.

BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha: 356ppi

The Blackberry 10 Dev Alpha was previewed recently, and provided to every developer who attended the event. Apart from the new beautiful OS, this device touts a marvelous 4.2-inch 1280×768 HD display with 356ppi, leaving the iPhone’s Retina Display a long way behind.

RIM recently unveiled its upcoming BlackBerry 10 (BBX) at BlackBerry World which took place last week in Florida. At the event RIM also handed out developer phones for the new OS and some of the developers who got their hands on the device discovered some codenames of future BBX devices somewhere in the BBX code.

Not much in known about these devices but six of them have been revealed and these include the BlackBerry Colt a device which has been rumored since late 2011 and it is believed to be the original name of the device which is now known as Dev Alpha. Apparently, this one was supposed to be the first BlackBerry 10 consumer standard device but it later got axed.

Next up is the BlackBerry London which is now supposed to be the first BBX smartphone for the masses and will launch sometime later in October. It also revealed another device which is a 10-inch BBX tablet known as BlackBerry Blackforest.

Other three devices include BlackBerry Nevada, BlackBerry Naples and BlackBerry Nashville and not much is known about these devices, but they will launch sometime after the launch of BlackBerry London.

All the names mentioned above are codenames and not what they will be known as once announced for the market. We are eagerly waiting for these devices as BlackBerry has managed to impress us at BlackBerry World.

Sony Xperia S: 342ppi

Sony has announced its first self branded smartphone at CES 2012 which is will be available in the market sometime later this quarter in select countries. This is the same device which was previously leaked as the Sony Ericsson Nozomi.

The Sony Xperia S has a 4.3-inch 720p Reality display and it is powered by a 1.5 dual-core processor. Additionally, the device sports a 12-megapixel camera, secondary 1.3-megapixel front facing camera with 720p video capture, NFC support and runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread.

However it will receive an Android 4.0 ICS update sometime in Q2 2012. It will be a PlayStation certified smartphone and will be available in black and white colors.

HTC Rezound: 342ppi

The HTC Rezound is a powerful smartphone from the Taiwanese manufacturer, that comes with Beats Audio integration. The Rezound features a 4.3-inch 720×1280 HD display at 342ppi. This smartphone is not yet available in the Indian market.

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