Friday, 30 December 2011

Video calling on mobile phone

Don’t you think that something is missing, when you make a voice call on a mobile phone to your beloved ones? Aren’t you failing to convey your emotions or sense the feelings of the person on the other end, just because only your voice is getting transferred? I’m sure, may be in some of the occasions you might felt so. But with a 3G network connection, 3G-enabled handset with a video calling camera, or a Wi-Fi handset with video chat client installed on both ends, you can make your communication downright with the exchange of facial expressions!

Video calling -The history
Just two years after the invention of telephone in 1876 by Alexander Graham Bell, the concept of videophone came on the forefront. Actually, the concept of combined videophone and wide-screen television called a telephonoscope was conceptualized. The evidence could be witnessed from one such sketch published in Punch Magazine in December 9, 1878.  In 1878, a French writer and publisher Louis Figuier written under the title ‘Electrician’, that "an eminent scientist" had invented a device whereby objects or people anywhere in the world "....could be seen anywhere by anybody". However, Alexander Graham Bell In April 1891 actually record conceptual notes on an 'electrical radiophone', which discussed "....the possibility of seeing by electricity".

During the technological sunrise, video telephony included image phone, which could exchange still images between every few seconds. The world’s first public video telephone service was developed in 1936 Dr. Georg          Schubert. The service trial linked Berlin to Nuremberg, Munich, and Hamburg in Germany with terminal integration within public telephone booths. The term ‘videophone’ entered into general use after 1950.
After the creation of software for data encoding and compression via video coding and decoding algorithms, known as codecs in 1972, the video telephony accelerated its pace. 

Intellect, a prototype wireless videophone developed by Daniel A. Henderson in 1993, which featured still image and non-live video clip transfer, was the first wireless device to support video call feature. The Intellect was a cell phone handset with a large black and white display that could show still images and video clips downloaded remotely from a computer via a wireless transmitter. The concept was later deployed with the common camera phones released in the early 2000s.

Current scenario
Advancement of mobility, which makes mobile phone capable for voice communication and delivering multimedia contents over Internet Protocol, has added wings to mobile voice calling trend. 3G video call requires both parties involved in call to have a 3G-enabled handset with a front camera- preferably, both parties should be in 3G network coverage, and of course both parties should have subscribed 3G mobile service.

Some video chat apps
Till date, video calling on mobile phones has been quite an average experience. But a tiny camera on iOS loaded iPhone will give you a huge video calling experience with FaceTime app. Besides video calling, the app is featured with options to text, call, or e-mail. FaceTime lets you see what everyone is up to no matters which device they are using (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch or Mac). The app was coined by the Apple God, Steve Jobs on June 7, 2010.

FaceTime users witnessed great call quality. The users are happy as they are not experiencing dropped calls, leggy signals, or out-of-sync video and audio. The high quality video call experience with FaceTime undoubtedly attributed to its capacity to work on Wi-Fi only. However  the inability of FaceTime to work on data network can leave it behind in the race as other players such as Google Chat, Fring, ooVoo, and Skype work over 3G and 4G data networks as well as Wi-Fi. The second major drawback is that the FaceTime app is only for fourth generation (iOS 4 and above) Apple devices. However, it is the best app for Apple users looking to make video calls to other Apple users. It does very well with cleanest video quality and superior audio quality. And obviously, there is no exaggeration in quoting that video-calling on the iPhone fly and on other phones crawl!

Useful social impacts of video call:
·         Video calls are truly very helpful for deaf ad speech-impaired populace. They can easily communicate with sign language and video relay service (sign language interpreter).
·         The service is useful during medical urgencies. Tele-medical trend will pace up with improvement in video call service.
·         It can be utilized as a great tool for distance education. With tele-education services, students can be highly benefitted.

De facto:
Video calling was much hyped, when telecom operators rolled-out 3G services in India. Subsequently, we got to see so many advertisements connecting to video call. Side by side, users were also bringing the expediency of video call though VoIP clients like Fring and Skype. Despite all these, my eyes are still longing to see people actually making video call to another mobile user. What I feel the trend of video calling is still limited to journos, who are trying the service to review various video calling apps!

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Android v4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich – Things to know

So, the entire wait was worthwhile at last it seems! Going by the specifications, Android's latest avatar, the Ice Cream Sandwich promises to be tasty. The latest revision also unites the best of Gingerbread and Honeycomb and fulfills the vision or creating a unified operating system for both the tablets as well as smartphones, in addition to 29 other major improvements. Here, we have listed 12 major ones for you to see what to expect from Android v4 ICS.

New virtual buttons instead of capacitive controls

The first thing you are going to notice in handsets designed for Ice Cream Sandwich is the absence of physical capacitive Back, Home, Menu and Search buttons. These buttons have been replaced with a new integrated system bar at the bottom of the screen with three permanent virtual buttons – Back, Home and Recent Apps.

Enhanced speed and performance

Speed is what that matters in the age of HD games and high end applications. Hence, to take full advantage of high end dual core processors and complement it fully, the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich comes optimized for multi-core processors.

Data management tool

A cool new addition, Android 4.0 also comes packed with a built-in app that lets you keep a tab on your data consumption, allowing you to set download limits to save you costly overcharges

Integrated screenshot capture

Now this was something which was sorely missed until now. But better late than never! With Ice Cream Sandwich, you can capture screenshot of your device with ease. Just press the power and volume down button to capture screenshot of your phone’s screen. Easy eh?

Resizable icons

This addition comes with the merger of Android Honeycomb and Gingerbread versions. Left with one single OS to run both tablets and smartphones, it was imperative for Android to come up with such a feature to optimise icon size according to the screen size. Sounds good if you want to save some display real estate!

Better voice integration

With Siri becoming a rage and main driving force behind continued sales of Apple’iPhone 4S, Android was in threat of being left behind in this vital arena. Hence, with ICS, Android has added real-time voice processing feature called Instant Voice. Expect delays no more as all the chores of sending voice data to cloud servers and displaying the processed results done away with. Now you just need to press the button and text starts flowing on your screen like magic! Things may get even better with the launch of Google’s own Mejel personal voice assistant for Android devices sometime early next year.

Face Unlock feature

Another security addition after introduction of pattern lock, the face unlock feature adds another convenient way of unlocking your device. After all, there can’t be an easier way of unlocking you phone than staring at it anyway! The lock can be set up by going to security tab in settings menu.

New web browser, no Flash

Web browser has also been revamped significantly and now supports up to 16 browser tabs at once. You can also set up sync with your Google Chrome browser to import your bookmarks on your Android device. However, Flash is not supported until now but an update for the same should be available soon. ICS is expected to be the last major Android version to support Flash and developer websites are abuzz with rumours that Android 5.0, called Jelly Bean for now would ship without Flash and won’t be supporting it anyway.

Modern Roboto font

With ICS update, Google has also tried to silence critics who slam Android for having unattractive and downright utilitarian interface by introducing a new main font family called ‘Roboto’, designed for better legibility on high resolution screens found in premium Android devices like Samsung Galaxy Nexus etc.

Improved multi-tasking

Multi-tasking also gets a facelift in Android 4.0. The home icon on the control bar takes the place of home key in Android 4.0. Long pressing the home icon reveals a Honeycomb style list of running applications with their small thumbnails. To remove, simply tap and hold on the thumbnail and swipe it horizontally across the screen.

Improved camera app

Though camera UI has largely been left untouched, it still comes loaded with some badly needed updates. For starters, the shutter lag has been eliminated to a huge extent, so no more lags with taking pictures. Then there is the single motion Panorama mode, which lets you take wide panorama shots by simply swivelling your phone from left to right with the software doing the rest. Now that’s some really cool stuff! Other improvements include an image editor, special effects and some optimisation camera UI.

NFC support

We have seen NFC on several devices now but Google has now come up with a stock app to utilise the technology to full extent. The Android Beam feature lets you transmit data to other phones running Android OS more securely than Bluetooth, though the range is short. Android Beam enables you to share anything, ranging from contacts and Web pages to apps and YouTube videos and play video games too. 

Friday, 23 December 2011

Lava Mobiles to Launch 7 inch tablet for Rs.5,500

Lava Mobiles has announced its plans to launch Android tablet, most likely in the month of February next year. The tablet will be launched in partnership a telecom operator but Lava has not revealed the name yet. The device is expected to come with 7 inch display, Android Gingerbread, and 1GHz processor.

“Lava will launch an Android 2.3 based tablet in February for Rs 5,500. It will be made available bundled with a service provider’s connection and will not be available as a standalone device”
S N Rai, Lava International Co-founder and Director

At such a low price, the tablet from Lava is definitely going to create a buzz in Indian market. It is foreseen as a competitor to Magnum Pepper, Wespro Epad, Beetel Magiq, and of course, the newly launched cheapest tablet Aakash.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Spice Mi-350n review

Spice is having a field day launching affordable Android smartphones in the Indian market. Following closely on the heels of Mi-350, it has now come up with Mi-350n variant of the device in India. With Android powered, dual-SIM handsets, Spice seems to be targeting those consumers who are using two connections on two different phones but don’t want to buy smartphones for both the numbers. Spice Mi-350n here appears as a natural choice for those looking for smartphones in entry level segment, but don’t want to compromise on performance either.

Spice Mi-350n features an all new design, visibly different from its predecessor. Major hardware specifications include dual GSM network support, Android Gingerbread (v2.3.4), 3.2MP camera with autofocus and DVD quality video recording @30fps, Mediatek MT6573 chipset with 650MHz ARM11 processor and 200MHz GPU for graphics acceleration.

A quick look at Mi-350n’s tech specs:
·         Dual-band GSM and single band 3G support
·         Dual GSM (2G+3G) network support; Dual standby
·         7.2 Mbps HSDPA, 5.76 Mbps HSUPA support
·         3.5" TFT LCD capacitive touchscreen
·         650MHz ARM 11 processor; Mediatek MT6530 chipset; 200MHz GPU
·         Android OS v2.3.4 (Gingerbread)
·         3.2MP autofocus camera, front camera; face detection
·         DVD quality videos@30fps video
·         MicroSD slot (up to 32GB)
·         Wi-Fi
·         GPS with A-GPS
·         MicroUSB port (charging)
·         Bluetooth v2.1 with EDR
·         Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
·         FM radio
·         File manager preinstalled
·         SpiceGang and tons of other apps
·         Accelerometer and proximity sensor
·         Battery 1400 mAh Li-ion
·         No flash for camera
·         No support for Adobe Flash in web browser
Look n feel

Mi-350n is an entirely new design and virtually shares no similarities with its older sibling other than size of display screen. Build quality appears to have improved from the previous model. At 116 x 61 x 12.75 mm, Mi-350n is a bit smaller than Mi-350, but weights about the same. Major part of the device is made of plastic with side spines having rubbery finish to enhance grip. The regular plastic battery cover has been replaced with a metal one, in an attempt to add some oomph to the phone, but succeeds only partially while adding unnecessary weight to the device.
The front panel is dominated by a 3.5 inch TFT capacitive touchscreen. Below it are three hard keys for accessing options, home and back. Multimedia control keys have also been rejigged. The volume rocker has been moved to right side panel, while USB port can now be found on the left spine, under rubber flap. Thankfully, a dedicated camera button is still there, which makes operating camera a breeze. Front camera and proximity sensor have been moved to top right corner, above the display screen. Lock/power button has been placed on top, along with a 3.5mm audio jack.
Coming to the back, the 3.2MP camera comes without flash this time too, but autofocus has been added to cheer things up. The display screen is a fingerprint magnet but you can reduce that by using scratch guard screen protectors, which are common now.

The TFT LCD display has maximum resolution of 320x480 pixels. The images appear crisp with vibrant colors. Screen legibility in sunlight is good. Removing the battery cover reveals a 1400 mAh Li-Ion battery, promising good battery backup. The SIM card and microSD card slots are not hot-swappable.

OS and UI

Mi-350n comes loaded with Android Gingerbread v2.3.4. The UI has been extensively revamped and is more user friendly. The home screen comes with four control buttons – dialler, contact, messages and menu at the bottom.

Dragging down the notification panel reveals the power tools for controlling Wi-Fi, Data connectivity, Airplane mode, GPS and Bluetooth. However, you can also access detailed SIM management settings by going to the settings menu.

Long pressing the homescreen reveals menu to add shortcuts, widgets, and folders or change wallpapers. Live wallpapers are also supported and a few come preinstalled on the device too. More wallpapers can also be downloaded from Android Market if the default ones bore you.

Tapping on the menu key on the homescreen takes you to the menu. You can browse through the menu by swiping horizontally across the screen. The apps are listed alphabetically by default.

Overall, the new UI impressed us somewhat but we felt that same old 650MHz ARM 11 processor appeared to be overburdened at some junctures. Maybe it’s time for Spice to pump up its devices with more powerful hardware.

Voice and txt

SpiceMi-350n is a dual SIM phone and can support two GSM (one 2G and one 3G) networks. Though, only one SIM remains active during a call and the other one appears online. You can select the default SIM for calling, sending SMS and for data connectivity by going to the settings option in main menu or through notification bar. The phonebook uses main memory to save the contact details so you can store virtually unlimited numbers in your phonebook.

Pressing the dialler button at the bottom of the homescreen opens the call menu, which also bears an all new look. The dialpad opens by default, with contact list in the background. Dialling a number reveals further six options namely - mute, hold, speaker, contacts, conferencing and dialpad, for ease of access. You can go back to homescreen anytime during a call by pressing the back key. The active call menu can be retrieved again from the notifications bar. Proximity sensor automatically switches off the screen during a call, avoiding unwanted inputs and saving you some juice.

The SMS menu is a typical Android. SMS and MMS are listed as threads in the menu. To send a new SMS, you just need to tap the compose message button provided on the top of SMS menu. Clicking on an existing SMS will open the touch keypad for typing new SMS. You can also copy the text from an SMS and paste it on any other menu or application across the OS platform. Adding Multimedia content like pictures, videos or sound clips automatically turns SMS into an MMS.

Data connectivity and Internet browsing

The handset comes equipped with all options to keep you connected. The handset is 3G enabled and can be used as a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot. HSDPA/HSUPA speeds of up to 7.2Mbps/ 5.76Mbits are supported by the device. You can also hook on to Wi-Fi network and exchange files with other devices through Bluetooth, a feature which only become available with Android Gingerbread version. A microUSB port has also been provided for charging and USB tethering purposes.

The stock Android Web browser takes care of all your Internet browsing needs and loads pages with blazing fast speed. The browser UI is pretty simple and you just need to punch in the website’s address to get going. The continued lack of Flash support in the browser doesn't raise morale. This limitation forces users to watch streaming video content only on apps like YouTube and Vuclip.

Tabbed browsing is supported and the pages can be zoomed in/out tapping on the screen itself. Pinch and zoom feature is also supported though.

Coming to video calling, Skype video call is not supported yet so you'll have to make do with voice calling and hat only.

Apps and utility

Coming to applications, this one comes with loads of them preinstalled. Tons of apps, ranging from Google app suite to Yahoo messenger, BSE/NSE stock news, Facebook, Ibibo farms, Rail Yatra, Spice Gang etc come preloaded on the device. You can add further to the collection by going to Android Market. Removing stock apps is not possible, so love them or hate them; you'll have to keep them either way until of course you decide to root your handset someday. (Not advisable though as it voids warranty of your handset)

Being an Android device, you must log in with your Google account credentials to activate Google App Suite and download apps from Android Market. Facebook and Ibibo, Nimbuzz and Gtalk chat clients also come preloaded to take care of your SNS needs.

Utility apps include calendar, calculator, stopwatch, timer and voice recorder. You also have a fully functional file browser and app manager to tidy up the device and remove outdated applications.


Spice Mi-350n comes armed with a 3.2MP auto focus camera with maximum image resolution of 2048x1536 pixels and 3X zoom. The photo quality is good as you can see in sample pictures.

However, lack of flash limits the usability of camera in low light conditions. To make matters lighter though, some goodies like geotagging and face detection have been thrown in. You can access the camera either by going to main menu or directly by pressing the camera key on left spine.

The camera interface is pretty easy to understand. You can zoom in/out of the frame by tapping on the screen itself. We have seen many handsets with volume keys doubling up as zoom keys but Spice has still not taken any cue it seems.

You can jump to video recording mode by tapping on the switch provided on the camera menu. Videos are recorded in high quality DVD resolution (720x480 pixels) at 30fps. The samples shot during the review came out to be very nice, though slight pixilation was found while recording at maximum zoom.


On to the last leg of this review, The Mi-350n comes with all new music player, with new icon set and interface, adding some freshness to the device here. The songs get automatically segregated on the basis of artists, albums, songs and playlists once you plug in your SD card. Making custom playlists is also possible.

Sound quality is good both on the headphones as well as on the loudspeaker. You can further adjust the audio quality of handset by enabling equalizer settings and bass boost from the music player options menu.

The 3.5mm audio jack gives you freedom to use headsets of your choice with the device. The device also comes equipped with FM radio with plain-Jane interface. There is an automatic search option, which configures all available FM stations automatically for you. There is no internal antenna so you need to plug in your headset to start radio.


We were expecting something really radical from the device in the course of our review but Spice Mi-350n came across as essentially a repacked version of the earlier model. Still, it inherits the same solid hardware specifications with some improvements in camera department, with a new UI of course. Continued lack of flash content support in browser and LED flash in camera is not appreciated, but with its price (There are very few decent Android powered handsets available in sub Rs 8,000 price range), Spice Mi-350n surely cuts a deal.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Top 10 “touch and type” phone under Rs.10K

Nokia Touch and Type X3-02
Nokia Touch and Type X3-02 is a simple and practical device with 2.4 inch display. It has 5MP camera with LED flash. It is a 3G phone with Wi-Fi connectivity. With Symbian 40, Flash Lite 3.0 support, and Java MIDP 2.1, and 680 MHz processor, it is quite excellent in performance. It has 50MB internal memory and 16GB expandable memory. 860 mAh battery pulls its leg in the mobility despite very good features at a reasonable price. You can go through detailed specification of the phone

Nokia Touch and Type X3-02.5
Its features are very much similar to Nokia Touch and Type X3-02 with only difference in memory expansion and processor speed. It has 32GB expandable memory against 16GB expansion in X3-02 and it has 1 GHz processor speed and X3-02 has 680 MHz processing speed. You can go through detailed specification of the phone

Compare Nokia Touch and Type X3-02 & Nokia Touch and Type X3-02.5 

Nokia Touch and Type C2-02
It is a slider phone with physical T9 keypad and 2.6 inch touchscreen display for smooth navigation. It has 2MP camera, music player, video recorder & player, and Bluetooth. With multiple IM and SNS clients, it lets users stay connected online. The phone offers support to Flash player for crisper contents. It has 32GB memory expansion. You can go through detailed specification of the phone

Nokia Touch and Type C2-03
Nokia Touch and Type C2-03 is also a slider phone. It comprises similar features as Nokia Touch and Type C2-02. Nokia Touch and Type C2-03 is dual-SIM phone while, C2-02 is single SIM phone. There is minor difference in physical attributes. You can go through detailed specification of the phone

Nokia Touch and Type C2-06
Nokia Touch and Type C2-06 is also similar to C2-03. You can go through detailed specification of the phone

Motorola Brea EX 119
It is a dual-SIM touch screen phone with QWERTY keypad. The unique thing about the phone is – it has dedicated numeric keys on the top. Key features of the phone are 3MP camera, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Social networking apps, IMs, 32GB memory expansion, music player, and FM radio. You can go through detailed specification of the phone
Motorola Fire XT311
It is an Android Gingerbread based touch and type phone with QWERTY keypad. It has 2.8 inch touchscreen display. Other features to highlight are: 3MP camera, IM, SNS, A-GPS, e-compass, 600 MHz processor, 256MB RAM, 32 GB memory capacity (externally), music player, and FM radio. You can go through detailed specification of the phone

LG Optimus Pro C660
LG Optimus Pro C660 runs on Android Gingerbread OS. It has 2.8 inch touch display and QWERTY keypad. It has 3MP camera, Wi-Fi connectivity, Bluetooth, 800 MHz processor, 256MB RAM, A-GPS, IM, and SNS along with completer multi-media features. You can go through detailed specification of the phone

Alcatel OT-806D
It is a dual-SIM touch and type phone. It has QWERTY keypad and 2.8 inch touch display. Other features worth mentioning are 2MP camera, Palringo (for IM), support for email, Opera Mini browser, Java support, directory synchronization, and 8GB expandable memory. You can go through detailed specification of the phone

Spice Transformer M-5500
Spice Transformer M-5500 can be transformed to only touch phone or touch and type phone to suit styles of different consumers. It has 1.3MP camera, Bluetooth connectivity, MP3 player, radio, IM, Spice Gang, Facebook, Snaptu, mobile tracker, and 4GB memory expansion. You can go through detailed specification of the phone

The Mobile Phone OS Trend in 2011

16 years back, on 31st July 1995, the first cellular call was made in India and today we stand as the country with second largest mobile phone users (above 865 million) in the world. I was filled with curiosity when I saw a mobile phone for the first time. It was the Nokia 5110, a bulky handset with monochrome display and antenna that made it look like a cordless phone. There were no smartphones at that time, nobody talked about future of cellphones, and the device was considered handy for making calls in emergencies. I never knew that mobile phone industry would soon be going through a revolution, taking mobile phone to smartphone!

Now your phone is capable of doing anything for you: from making calls to booking tickets, making online payments, accessing Facebook, and finding exact location of a coffee shop. And the credit goes to developers who are doing a great job of making new apps, devices, and new hacks for mobile-addicted junkies.

In the past 5 years, there’s no hotter topic in mobile technology than the mobile operating system. Be it Google’s Android, Apple’s iOS or Nokia’s Symbian, every mobile OS has a set of loyal users who just love to play around with their smartphones. So, which mobile OS has got the highest following in the year 2011?

If we look at the 2011 report of Global Stats, Symbian is still the market leader with 31.55% share but has experienced a decrease of 0.74% since last year. Second in the list is Apple’s iOS capturing 22.26% of the global market but the OS had 25.48% market hold in 2010. 

Android has gained great impetus over the last 2 years. The open source mobile OS had 8.82% market share in 2010, which has now risen to 18.76%. That’s really a huge achievement for Android because it’s the youngest mobile OS in market. Samsung also received a growth of 2.33% and the OS now holds 5.3% market share, which was just 2.97% last year. 

It seems BlackBerry is loosing hold over market. One of the most suited mobile OS for business phones has seen a fall of 4.55% in 2011. The OS is remained with 11.95% share that was 16.5% last year. 

The Indian Market Scenario

When we specifically look at the Indian market, Nokia’s Symbian still has 70% share. The share of iOS has reduced at global level, but the OS has become popular amongst Indian users. It has gained 16.8% market share and reason being the success of iPhone 4. RIM is down from 19.7% to 12.9%. 

What is surprising is the remarkable increase in the share of Android OS. It was just 5 years ago that nobody even knew about Android because OS didn’t exist in India at that time. The OS had 0.11% market share last year & was placed at ninth position in Indian market. Now the scenario has dramatically changed with Android being fifth most popular OS capturing 1.35% of the mobile OS share in the country. 

Is Android Capable Enough of Becoming Future for Mobile OS? 

The current market stats clearly show that momentum is certainly with Android, which has doubled its global market share in just one year. So, what is it that is making consumers fall for the youngest mobile OS, Android?

One of the most prominent and obvious reasons behind huge success of Android OS is the flexibility it provides to developers & users. The OS allows rapid development of apps from Google team as well as third party developers that provide consumers with wider options to optimize their handset. According to a report by Google, more than 3,50,000 Android devices are activated everyday. 

In the tablet era, Android is overshadowing iPads too. Android Honeycomb is the dedicated OS for tablets, but mobile device makers are also considering other versions of Android such as Gingerbread and Froyo for tablets.

Google has huge plans to become future trend for mobile platform with the open source mobile OS, Android. This is not an easy task as Android would require some killer apps and even better check on malwares, if it wants to dominate the mobile platform category. 

2012 is expected to be a competitive year for mobile OS because every player is working hard not only to retain but to expand its market presence. The Windows 7.5 Mango phones by Nokia & Microsoft have already created a buzz in global market. Techies are seeing Windows phones as possible threat to Android devices. 

There’s a cut throat competition and nobody can predict which mobile OS will be a show stealer in the coming year. But, for the present year i.e. 2011, Android is the winner.