Thursday, November 3, 2011

How private is your private Google data? Google transparency report

How private is your Google data ? The data in question includes your personal photos, documents, contacts and emails used by or stored in a multitude of Google applications like Picasa, orkut, Docs, blogger, Gmail etc?

In the general the data is in relatively safe hands.

But in the true sense the data is not 100 percent private.

Governments and other government agencies and officials belonging to law enforcement agencies can request for private Google user account data and content stored in Google accounts and some times request the data be blocked or removed permanently.

Fortunately, Google has a report giving the number of such requests that they get from the government and even classifies these based on the type of requests and the application it belongs to.

This is called the Google Transparency report

Google classifies the requests that it gets from the government into two different categories :
  1. User Data requests
  2. Content Removal requests
User Data requests is basically requests that require google to give out user data and account information. This can be anything ranging from basic account information to personal files.

Direct link to the page above : Link

The Indian government and its various agencies has requested for User Data in Google accounts and services 1739 times which includes 2439 user account

Its scary to think that the government has this type of access to view your most private data that for example may be your personal photos stored in Picasa in a private album.

Content Removal requests are those sites or URLs that need to be blocked or removed from the google search results or from applications/services like Orkut, Blogger etc.

Direct link to the page above : Link

Indian government had requested 68 times for more than 358 items to be removed from either search results or block/remove google services content like orkut, youtube etc.

It is true that this facility can be very useful for blocking malicious material from the internet like stolen personal photos or documents or shutting down blogs or sites that propagate anti-social thoughts and content. We should also understand that inherent potential of this facility to be misused.

We should really applaud Google's transparency report initiative which makes this sensitive data public and thus to an extent prevent misuse.

What do you think of this? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Gmail's new look - Switch now

Google today rolled out a new look and feel for Gmail. This is in line with UI re-hauls being done for most of its applications. Google describes this look as elastic meaning that the interface can adapt to various screen sizes ranging from smart phones to smart Televisions.

It will be made available to everyone by an email from the gmail team. If you don't want to wait till then, you can click on the floating "Switch to the new look" link shown on the bottom left of the page.

Once you click this link you will be shown a page which gives some info about the new look and you can opt to continue to the new look or keep your old look as it is. Click on switch to new look to use the new look and feel.

The new interface looks very simple and in line with other applications like google docs, blogger etc which were transitioned to the new look earlier.

The new look in the default Cozy display density setting.

You can always use the setting button (gear) and choose compact or cozy if you feel the spacing too much that it wastes your screen real estate.

You can go back to the old look anytime by choosing the "Revert to old look temporarily" option from the settings button.

Another great feature is the HD themes available for the new look. Below is Gmail with Turf theme.

How do you like the new interface ? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Must have Android apps for Indian users - NDTV - Category - News

Number four on the series on Must have Android apps for the Indian user is the NDTV appThe app brings all of NDTV's content in a very compact and simple to use touch interface.

The news is grouped into several categories like Top stories, Recent, India, World etc. These categories can be navigated by horizontally swiping the category list.

Touching the menu icon in the top right brings other content like Photos, Videos, Market, Cricket, Live TV, Live Radio, Weather etc.

Tapping one of these takes us to the screen corresponding to it.

Below is an example showing the Photo gallery section. When clicked on it every gallery starts a full scrren slide show with a little write up about the photo.

Must have Android apps for Indian users - iMobile - Category - Net Banking

Number three on the series on Must have Android apps for the Indian user is iMobile.

This is a mobile banking application that lets you do pretty much do all kinds of transactions that can be done from the online net-banking facility from icici bank.

Services supported are:

Balance enquiry
Review last 5 transactions
Fund Transfer
and other service requests.

Market Download Link :Here
QR Code : 

Please leave your comments about this app and any other app you deem fit to be in this list

Nokia Lumia 800 - Amazing Every day TV commercial

The amazing everyday TV commercial for the yet to be launched Nokia Windows smartphone Nokia Lumia 800.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Google Music 4.0.1 app apk from Ice cream Sandwich available for download

Yet another Ice cream sandwich app that has been leaked. This time it is the Google Music app.

Android police has a nice write up highlighting the difference between the current 3.0 Music and the leaked apk which is version 4.0

The page link is Here

QR Code :

Leaked Ice Cream Sandwich Android Market app available for download

Another leak from the Nexus Prime and we have the android market apk from Ice cream sandwich in our phones.

The good folks at XDA have packaged it in a flash-able version. The zip files needs to be downloaded to the phone and can be flashed.

Other options like the manual root explorer method to replace the original vending.apk with this version of apk is also available.

Original xda page: Here   

QR Code:

Direct Download : Here

QR Code:

Ice Cream Sandwich Launcher App available for download

Android market now has an app that faithfully copies the App launcher for the yet to be released Android 4.0 Ice cream Sandwich.Though it is just a copy of the functionality of the ICS app launcher, it does a very good job in simulating it.

It is a home replacement program and can be set as the default action for the Android home button.
It is smooth enough when scrolled and supports scroll-able widgets. It also supports re-sizable widgets and home screen folders among many other features.

It is available for download from Android market: Here

QR code :

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

HTML5 Nokia Maps apps available for iOS and Android

Nokia's Ovi maps has always been one of my favorite map and navigation application ever since the day i was using the Nokia 6210 Navigator . I was really happy to see that Ovi maps is now available as a web based HTML5 app for the iOS and Android platforms.

It includes ability to cache/download your neighborhood area map. Once the maps are downloaded through WIFI, it would save a lot on network data costs and also improves performance of the map application.

Though it does not feature turn by turn or voice navigation, it has all the common bell and whistles like POI search, Traffic, location sharing, favorites, detailed route info and other.

Screen shots below:

Nokia Maps - Nokia Maps for Android
Nokia Maps - Offline map storage
Nokia Maps - POI search
Nokia Maps - Share location
Nokia Maps - Route display
Nokia Maps - Direction List
Nokia Maps - Available sharing options
Nokia Maps - About

Monday, October 24, 2011

iPhone 4S vs Samsung Galaxy S II drop test

The guys at squaretrade, a company selling extended warranties created a drop test for the iPhone 4S and the Samsung Galaxy S II

The blunder or business tactics used by Apple to not use the much stronger gorilla glass shows in the result. A badly damaged phone whose owners end up buying a new device. The Samsung with the gorilla glass fared much better with some minor chips and scratches.

Nokia N9 manufacturing process video

The Nokia N9 manufacturing process. Amazing to see how a single block of poly-carbonate material is machined to the required form specifications.

All the parts are then carefully hand assembled to give that awesome looking final product.

This is one phone, making me think about getting a non android phone after a long time.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Nokia N9 - Meego powered handset - First thoughts

The Meego OS packing Nokia N9 design is a sight for the sore eyes. Its brilliant poly carbonate uni body design is as good as a phone design can get. The impeccable build quality means only one thing. Its from Nokia. As a former user of the Nokia N900 which initially ran on Maemo, i was very excited to see the N9 running on Meego. I have to mention that the N900 itself had an option of installing Meego on it if you are a little enterprising. But time never was enough for me to do it.

Hardware :

The body is made from a single block of Poly carbonate material, machined to produce the required form. It is not cast from plastic as is normally is the case. Due to this manufacturing process the body looks flawless without any imperfections or any openings.

There aren't many physical buttons either. Not that you would miss them. The OS is designed from the ground up to not use too many physical buttons. To the right you have the volume rocker and the power lock button. On the left side there are no physical buttons. Bottom a grill opening for the speakers and on the top hidden well designed doors which hide the HDMI port, power/USB connectors and the SIM card slot. The micro SD card also fits to the slot. The top of the phone also has a standard 3.5mm audio connector. All very brilliantly though of.

The phone also comes with all the standard issue sensors: a proximity sensor, accelerometer, ambient light sensor for automatic brightness adjustments and a magnetometer a.k.a compass for proper map orientations in GPS based turn by turn navigation using Ovi maps.

Nokia N9 Commercial :

Display :

The phone features a slightly curved screen which aids in the swipe motion. The edges of the screen blend seamlessly in into the body of the phone.
The 3.9-inch FWVGA (854x480) AMOLED display  is a gorgeous one rendering perfect black and comparable to other top notch mobile AMOLED screens. The screen contrast is so good that you cannot make out the difference where the screen ends and the black uni body poly carbonate shell begins.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

IRIS for Android is Siri for iPhone 4S reversed

Ever imagine how Siri, the knowledgeable, refined and resourceful personal assistant for the iPhone 4s would have been when she was a child ?

Welcome to iris for Android. Yes you are right, that's Siri reversed. Its developer Dexetra claims that it was all developed as a weekend project just for the kicks of it.

iris is capable of basic word definitions and more basic natural language processing. But one cannot but wonder how a functional version of siri can be put together in a span of just 8 Hrs over a weekend.

I ran it through it paces and the screen shot above gives some of the responses. As can be seen its quiet intelligent enough to grab who is A R Rehman and foolish enough not to understand what is 1+1. It can even pull up images of the topic.

iris is in the early alpha stage in the Android market. It remains to be seen how the developer takes it from here, to a fully matured product or a run of the mill app.

Download iris here

Friday, October 21, 2011

SDK Download - Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich

Google has posted the Software development Kit for Android 4.0. This means the developers can start developing applications using the new features provided by Android 4.0.

This will ensure availability of a fair number of apps available for the OS when Samsung Nexus is released for the general public.

Download Page : Here

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Android 4.0 - Ice Cream Sandwich, Samsung Galaxy Nexus launched

Google and Samsung today took the next big step and launched Samsung Nexus S with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich in a press conference in Honk Kong.

Lets first see the OS itself(Android4.0) and then go to the first phone ever to officially have Android 4.0

Android 4.0 - Ice Cream Sandwich:

Ice Cream Sandwich is the latest and greatest in the Android line of operating systems.From the looks of it, this is by far the most refined and sleek looking Android operating system ever.

The UI has gone through some major refinements. As puts it, it is the logical next step in the refinement and evolution of an already wonderful UI.

It introduces some innovative features like  Android Beam for NFC (near field communications) based sharing where two NFC equipped devices can be touched together and simply tapped to initiate any transfer or other transactions like payments.WiFi-Direct enables users to share content using direct WiFi connections established between two devices.

Another cool feature is device unlock by face recognition.

The OS has much refined animations and system wide feedback providing for a much better user interaction

Support for home screen folders to group related apps has been made available natively. Previously this was achievable only through third party apps.

Widgets can now be re sized and designed to be much more interactive .

New Sense 3.X type of lock screen allowing for actions from lock screen like answering and rejecting calls and checking messages.

A powerful voice recognition engine allows for continuous text dictations

Tight integration between contacts and other social features and profiles.

A totally revamped camera application using live effects with integrated gallery and photo editing.

And now to the Phone :

Samsung Galaxy Nexus :

Galaxy Nexus takes the credit of being the first phone to officially sport Android 4.0

It sports a slim and curved design. Some of it highlights include among others:

  1. A 1.3 Ghz Dual core processor
  2. A gorgeous 1280 x 720 HD display
  3. NFC based transactions for proximity based communications
  4. Face Unlock
  5. A zero lag 5 mega pixel camera capable of 1080p video with continuous auto focus and single motion panoramic shot
  6. 4G capable
  7. Voice dictation