PhotoMath Updated to High-School Level, Android App Coming Soon

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Damir Sabol, Croatian computer expert and entrepreneur, was helping his son with his maths homework when he had an idea.”I found it a bit tedious, all those additions and multiplications, so I reckoned, ‘We already have intelligent software, why not make it deal with maths?'” Sabol said.

The result was PhotoMath, a free app that scans and solves equations, providing a step-by-step explanation. It has been downloaded more than 11 million times since its introduction in October, and it was just updated on Thursday to take it to high school level. An Android version is due in days.

The app is based on the same technology as an earlier app called PhotoPay that was introduced in 2012 by Sabol’s company, which is also called Photo Pay. That app facilitates mobile banking, by scanning household bills and paying them instantly.

“Basically, what we do is teach mobile phones to read things from the real world,” Sabol told Reuters in his sparsely decorated office in Zagreb, where a dozen young software engineers jot down ideas and algorithms.

He said the PhotoMath averages about 1.5 million users every month and he had received scores of emails from grateful students, parents and even teachers.

“Will I allow my pupils to use the app? Absolutely,” a British maths teacher wrote on www.amathsteacherwrites.co.uk, after a pupil proudly presented the app in class.

“As a means for them to check their work it’s unrivalled … They are far more likely to ‘listen’ to an electronic device, rather than teacher, telling them that they are right or wrong,” the teacher wrote.

Sabol says he has never regretted making the app available for free.

“Now, of course, we are looking for ways to be commercial,” he said. “Without that, we cannot continue developing the app.

[source : gadgets.ndtv.com]

Qualcomm Preps Technology to Reduce Burden on Mobile Networks

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Mobile chipmaker Qualcomm wants wireless carriers to set up new technology that would offer cellphone users better reception in places like subway tunnels and shopping malls.The San Diego, California company said on Thursday it will start selling components this year featuring LTE technology adapted for a smaller scale than traditional cellphone base stations mounted on metal towers bristling with antennas and other electronics.

LTE, or Long-Term Evolution, is the increasingly common modem technology that cellphones use to communicate with carrier networks. The newer “LTE Unlicensed”, or LTE-U, adapts that technology to be used over short distances by sharing radio spectrum that is used by WiFi.

Qualcomm sees the addition of new technologies like LTE-U to its smartphone chips as key to staying competitive and giving consumers reasons to upgrade their smartphones.

Thousands of LTE-U base stations, which look similar to a wifi router, could be set up in buildings and out-of-the-way places to alleviate poor phone reception and relieve strained carrier networks as people use smartphones to download more and more video and other media.

T-Mobile has said it plans to use LTE-U as the technology matures to improve its mobile network. Intel and other companies are working on their own LTE-U products.

“We have to explore all options to increase network capacity because we’re running out of spectrum, and the amount of data we’re transmitting is going through the roof,” said Tirias Research analyst Jim McGregor.

Some carriers have already augmented their LTE networks by INVESTING in routers installed around cities to make wifi available to their customers outside of their homes.

Qualcomm and other proponents argue that adopting LTE-U will provide much faster performance for phone users and save carriers money they would have had to spend on additional LTE cellphone towers.

“The performance is better. It’s not a large cost adder and it also provides a lot of advantages flexibility to the operators,” said Qualcomm Chief Technology Officer Matt Grob.

He said Qualcomm has overcome trouble with LTE-U signals interfering with wifi signals, a problem that in the past has drawn criticism of the technology.

Using the 5 GHz band used by wifi and LTE-U does not require a regulatory license but it does require that certain standards be met.

[source : gadgets.ndtv.com]

2G Spectrum Auction Will Be Subject to Final Verdict: Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court on Thursday made it clear that the auction for 2G spectrum will go ahead according to the schedule from March 4 subject to the outcome of matter before it.”Let the auction go on and let us see what emerges from it,” a bench comprising justices Dipak Misra and Adarsh Kumar Goel said, adding that it’s outcome will not be finalised without the apex court’s permission.

The bench, which declined to stay the auction process for ‘some days’, said no bidder, if successful, shall claim any equity in the bidding process.

“There is prima facie inconsistency in the stand of the government but that is not a ground for staying it (the auction),” it said while posting the matter for further hearing on March 26.

The Centre on January 9 had issued notice inviting applications for all the 17 circles. The issue of upcoming auction had first come to the apex court after the Centre had filed an appeal against the interim order of the Tripura High Court allowing telecom firms Bharti Hexacom Ltd and Reliance Telecom Ltd to submit two separate bids for a total of 8.8MHz spectrum in the north-east circle.

It had yesterday stayed proceedings before various High Courts and decided to hear on priority basis a batch of petitions raising various issues against the tender conditions for the auction of 2G spectrum.

The Centre on Thursday submitted that the existing telecom service providers, Dishnet and BSNL holding 4.4MHz of spectrum each in north-eastern states and whose licences were ending in 2017, could top it up by bidding for a minimum of 0.6MHz to take it 5MHz.

Senior advocate P Chidambaram, appearing for Reliance Telecom, said his client will be in a position of disadvantage due to the auction norms and claimed that only one service provider Dishnet will be the beneficiary of this policy.

Chidambaram said that if Dishnet makes bid for 4MHz spectrum then both the existing service providers – Reliance Telecom and Bharti Hexacon – would be knocked out.

The bench had yesterday transferred petitions filed by private telecom operators from High Courts of Allahabad, Karnataka and Delhi to the apex court.

The Supreme Court had on February 17 said it would take a decision on the dispute between the government and private telecom operators on the issue of bidding of spectrum for the north-east circle, instead of leaving it to the Tripura High Court by staying all proceedings there.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi had submitted that High Courts should not interfere in an “informed policy decision” on the auction of air waves having bearing on government revenues.

“If the auction of this nature which is going to fetch Rs. 1,00,000 crores to the government is going to be interfered by the High Courts then everything would come to a naught,” he had said.

Rohatgi had assailed the Tripura High Court order saying it would give rise to lot of petitions on the issue. Further, he had said the Trai recommendations were not binding on the government and the Department of Telecom (DoT)

could differ with them after they are examined by the DoT Committee and the Telecom Commission.

The AG had said it was the same Trai which had favoured auctioning a minimum of 5MHz of spectrum in 2012, 2013 and again in February 2014.

[source : gadgets.ndtv.com]

Google Play to Get Sponsored Search Results to Boost App Discovery

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Google is bringing paid or sponsored search results to Google Play the company said in a blog post on Thursday.

Much like how this works on Google Search, Google Play will throw up app search results clearly labelled as ads along with organic results.

The reason for this? To enhance app discovery. It’s been a bone of contention for many app developers, some of whom have put their apps on third-party app stores which have less competition. With Google Play having the largest user base, it seems like a way for Google to keep developers within its system.

“App discovery plays a critical role in driving your continued success, and over the past year Google has provided best practices to enhance app discovery and engagement, as well as app promotion tools to get the most out of search and display advertising for developers,” said Michael Siliski, Product Management Director, Google Play in the blog post.

“We are always looking for new ways to help you get your apps in front of potential new users. That’s why, in the next few weeks, we will begin piloting sponsored search results on Google Play, bringing our unique expertise in search ads to the store.”

What this also means is, Google stands to earn more revenue from Google Play above and beyond its 30 percent cut for every app transaction. The timing is shrewd with its burgeoning presence. The blog post also mentions that Google Play reaches over a billion users on Android in 190 countries and paid out $7 billion to developers last year.

To start with, a small number of users will start seeing ads from select advertisers in coming weeks. The feedback and results from this pilot will determine the mass rollout for sponsored search results which Google hopes will bring greater success to its developers.

[source : gadgets.ndtv.com]

LG Watch Urbane LTE Has A New Mobile OS

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Earlier today LG announced their new LG Watch Urbane LTE, which is an LTE version of their LG Watch Urbane although it looks like the new model will have a different OS.

The Watch Urbane runs Google’s Android Wear but when the Watch Urbane LTE was announced there was not mention of Google’s smartwatch OS.

According to the guys over at the Verge, the Watch Urbane LTE will come with a new mobile OS, and LG has confirmed to the Verge that it will not be a webOS device Tech Updates.

A new Audi prototype smartwatch was shown off at CES, the watch was produced by LG and it featured webOS, this will not be the same OS on the new Watch Urbane 4G LTE.

We will have to wait until Mobile World Congress next week to find out more information about this new smartwatch OS that LG has developed, as soon as we get some more details we will let you guys know.

[source : geeky-gadgets.com]

New Pebble Time Smartwatch Raises Over $10 Million On Kickstarter

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The original Pebble Smartwatch raised over $10 million on Kickstarter and turned the device into a very popular product, and one of the most popular Kickstarter campaigns to date and now it looks like thePebble Time is about to do the same.

The Pebble Time launched on Kickstarter the other day, and this new smartwatch has managed to raise over $10 million in just two days and with 29 days to go it looks like it will raise more than the original device.

The new Pebble Time comes with a range of new features over the original device  including a color screen and a new Timeline interface.

When the new smartwatch from Pebble launches it will retail for $199 although it is available in Kickstarter for $179, you can find out more details at the link below.

[source : geeky-gadgets.com]

Sesame Smart Lock Lets You Unlock Your House With Your Smartphone

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Sesame is a new smart lock for your house and the device replace traditional locks and comes with a smartphone app that replaces your house keys, the device works with existing locks.

The Sesame smart lock is buy a company called Candy House Inc and the device is being funded on Kickstarter and has already passed its $100,000 goal.

The Sesame smart lock  is fitted to the inside of your house, so you do not need to replace your existing locks, and it comes with a built in battery which will last for up to 500 days, the device is designed to work with deadbolt locks.

You can also share access to your house using the smartphone app, so if someone who lives there forgets their keys they can use the Sesame to enter the house.

The Sesame smart Lock will retail for $149 when it launches, although it is available now with early bird offers on Kickstarter for $89.

[source : geeky-gadgets.com]

 

Microsoft ups its push to get developers onboard with its cloud-service APIs

Last fall, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made a bold (and to some, a rather cryptic) statement. He said he considered Microsoft’s most valuable and strategic application programming interface (API) to be Office 365.
His reasoning? Making Office more extensible by third-party — and Microsoft’s own — developers has a ricochet effect. Developers using the Office 365 APIs also were using Azure Active Directory and other related services.
The same argument can be made about other Microsoft cloud services, such as OneDrive. By encouraging developers to use the new OneDrive API in writing their Windows, iOS and/or Android apps, Microsoft is hoping to get more users hooked into its cloud-storage platform and related services. (Microsoft teams inside the company are starting to use this same OneDrive API, too, officials said in a February 24 blog post announcing availability of the interface.)

At its Ignite conference in early May, Microsoft will be making more announcements around the extensibility of Office 365 APIs, according to hints in various session descriptions already posted to the site.

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Microsoft officials are on tap to showcase how developers can use the Office 365 in building mobile device applications that run not just on Windows and Windows Phone, but also on iOS and Android devices. By using these APIs, developers get access to Azure Active Directory Users and Groups, Files (OneDrive and OneDrive for Business), Mail, Calendar, Contacts and Sites.

And that’s not even an exhaustive list of what is part of the Office 365 API toolbox. There are Yammer enterprise social networking APIs available to developers. There are Skype for Business (a k a Lync) unified communications APIs.

A year ago, Microsoft released a set of tools for developers wanting to build apps for the Office Store that were codenamed “Napa.” Just this week, Microsoft added C# support to the API Sandbox for Office 365.

There may be additional tools coming. A few Office 365 users over the past year have noticed something codenamed “Alchemy” popping up in their dashboards.

According to information about Alchemy (which Microsoft officials since removed from the support forums), “Alchemy App is a web service used for the connection between SharePoint Online and Visual Studio code.”

Microsoft is evangelizing other of its cloud-service APIs to app and service developers, too. On February 24, Microsoft announced availability to developers of a “new” OneDrive API.

The OneDrive API “allows developers to integrate OneDrive into their apps to store and manage user data across all major platforms, including Windows, the web, iOS, and Android. With this new RESTful API, you can build on a scalable cloud storage platform that reaches users across the entire family of Microsoft consumer services,” according to the blog post announcing availability.

It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time Microsoft made its cloud storage API accessible to devs. Back in 2012, Microsoft was touting the availability of OneDrive (then called SkyDrive) APIs to developers. The pitch: By integrating SkyDrive into your apps, “your users can read and write documents, photos and other files on their SkyDrive.”

Microsoft also will be making more Outlook and OWA APIs available to third parties. As noted in the Ignite session list, the “Apps for Outlook platform” has been available for two years and “Compose Apps” was released last year. “The extensibility platform is one of the key investments across all our mail clients,” officials noted in the session description on Outlook extensibility.

Microsoft also is expected to try to get more developers to get onboard with the OneNote note-taking API.

This list of cloud-services that Microsoft is opening up to developers maps nicely to the four Office “hubs” that Microsoft is trying to make the center of its Digital Life + Work universe.

As I blogged last year, Microsoft’s Applications and Services unit is working on building a common “substrate” which “understands context and reacts to changes in the world, proactively providing critical information at the right time and place.” The mission of the team that is surfacing substrate information is to “bring people back to four hub services: OneDrive, OneNote, Outlook.com and Skype.”

By making its cloud-service APIs open, Microsoft is hoping to lure developers to build apps and services that ultimately will help contribute to Microsoft’s bottom line.

Budget 2015: What the Tech Companies Want From the Government

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Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will be announcing the Union Budget 2015-16 on Saturday, and after last year’s Budget, the technology companies’ expectations are high from the government.

Many of the companies offered general suggestions such as the development of infrastructure and more use of IT in government. Government involvement to raise IT spending is something that companies like AMD and Microsoft appear to be counting on for the coming year.

“Over the past nine months, the Government has set the right context and articulated its vision for India’s economic development,” said Bhaskar Pramanik, Chairman, Microsoft India. “Programs such as Digital India, smart cities and Skill India require the creation of technological infrastructure that will need Budgetary support. A policy framework for industry and SMEs in particular that encourages innovation and adoption of technology can boost the Make in India initiative. We hope this year’s Budget will create an enabling environment for Indian industry to realize its growth potential.”

“In the interim Budget last year, the government pledged to support the growth of domestic information technology capabilities in both hardware and software,” said Ravi Swaminathan, Managing Director, AMD India and Corporate Vice President, AMD South Asia. “This year we expect the Budget to be aggressive, focusing on making India emerge in the top three hardware countries in terms of demand. Talking about the industry at a whole, we believe affordable broadband, radical government process re-engineering and the use of IT in all government processes will be the biggest enablers.”

“I hope the government will adopt a carrot rather than a stick approach for India’s burgeoning smart devices market through encouraging and supportive rules and regulations to expedite the eco-system creation in India which is quintessential for smart device manufacturing,” said Sanjay Kapoor, Chairman, Micromax.

“In Budget 2015, the government should be introducing friendly policies including tax holidays and interest subsidies to give a push to domestic handset manufacturing and increase the mobile phone user base in India,” said Pradeep Jain, Managing Director, Karbonn.

In order to boost the sector the government should refund 100% of import duties for all exports made by Indian companies.

“We believe reduction of import duties with an option to allow businesses to Make in India will be a welcome move,” said Y Guru, Chairman and Managing Director, Celkon. “This will give a huge boost to the Make in India initiative and also enable Indian businesses to exponentially grow. Reducing Corporate Income Tax to 20 percent linked to investments being made to enhance growth is another aspect the government should be consider.”

Companies are also hoping that the Budget will help them to build a price advantage over the increasing international competition from brands like Xiaomi and OnePlus. Maxx Mobile Chairman and Managing Director Ajay Agarwal hoped that custom duty on imports for mobile handsets will be increased. “We also hope that the government will offer ESOPS, subsidies on investments and incentives for Indian mobile manufacturers,” he said.

Giving startups a faster start
“One area that is important is the definition of a startup,” said Sangeeeta Gupta, VP Nasscom in a prior interview. “This is something that needs clarity.” This is important because in the 2014 Budget, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced large allocations for the startup sector. You have to be a startup to qualify for these funds or other benefits like soft loans, but without clear definitions, access to these benefits can be a challenge for companies.

Nasscom has a number of recommendations that would help the technology industry to grow. For instance, the industry body is suggesting a lowering in royalties and fees on technical services, and the adoption of international practices on foreign tax credit policies to increase competitiveness.

It also wants information technology and software products to be eligible for research and development deductions in taxes, as should the re-education of employees, which is necessary to maintain competitiveness.

Gupta also said that aside from addressing issues, the industry also needs an incentive structure to be created to help growth.

“We need to make patents simpler, and offer schemes and incentives that encourage startups to take risks if we are to grow,” Gupta concludes. “From the IT Industry perspective the long elusive transfer pricing clarity is one serious expectation,” said Ramesh Loganathan, President Hyderabad Software Enterprises Association. For the Startup ecosystem, clarity in operationalising the Rs. 10,000 Crore startup fund will be great. More specific policy support that incentivize and support incubators will be a major boost to early stage ecosystem.”

“From the IT Industry perspective the long elusive transfer pricing clarity is one serious expectation from this Budget,” said Ramesh Loganathan, President Hyderabad Software Enterprises Association. For the Startup ecosystem, clarity in operationalising the Rs. 10,000 Crore startup fund will be great. More specific policy support that incentivize and support incubators will be a major boost to early stage ecosystem.”

Building up the ecosystem
Bodies such as the Consumer Electronics and Appliances Manufacturers Association (CEAMA) and the Manufacturer’s Association for Information and Technology (MAIT) talked about the importance of measures such as implementing a uniform goods and services tax, to reduce paperwork for businesses by applying all taxes at a single point. Reduction of customs duties and special additional duties will also encourage businesses to invest in India, these bodies said.

“It is crucial that reforms like GST be implemented,” said Manish Sharma, President CEAMA. “Once fully implemented, GST will create a single, unified Indian market and will diminish the multiple layers of indirect taxation that prevails in India at present.”

Anwar Shirpurwala, Executive Director MAIT, however clarified that these moves will not immediately impact consumers, and will instead help by creating more investment, and seeing more growth in the sector.

“These suggestions will help domestic manufacturers to get into the market,” he said. “Domestic as well as foreign players are interested in setting up manufacturing in India, and this will benefit the consumers in the long term.”

[source : gadgets.ndtv.com]

Valve Reveals SteamVR Virtual Reality Hardware

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For a company that’s been dragging its heels on Half-Life 3, Valve has been surprisingly busy in the last few months with improvements to Steam, its digital distribution service for games.

From letting you check your frame rate in-game to broadcasting functionality, there have been a host of additions to Steam.

While these have been software enhancements to the service, the company has announced on its blog a virtual reality (VR) hardware system to be showcased at the Game Developers Conference 2015 (GDC 2015) in San Francisco next month.

Dubbed as SteamVR, there are no details on the hardware barring the name. Nonetheless, the company outlined its plans to seek out content creators for SteamVR, asking developers and publishers to check out the company’s demos at GDC 2015.

And though details on what the Seattle-based company’s plans are for virtual reality are scant, it made a mention of a “refined Steam Controller”, and “new living room devices” possibly implying the firm’s long awaited gaming PCs labelled as Steam Machines.

This isn’t Valve’s first foray into virtual reality. Last year, it showed off VR hardware at the Boston Game Jam to developers according to Reddit user jonomf. The fact that this latest announcement has dubbed SteamVR as “previously-unannounced” leads us to believe that it’s something completely different.

Nonetheless, you can expect more details around GDC 2015 from March 4 to 6, at Moscone Center in San Francisco.

[source : gadgets.ndtv.com]