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CellPassion on NDTV Cell Guru!

10 May

Last week, NDTV’s Cell Guru team visited our HQ to see what we were up to these days. Luckily, I had my PowerMat to show off and lo, here we are on NDTV Cell Guru. Watch us in action on the show and we look forward to many more appearances on the show. A big thanks to the show’s producer Shilpa Dhamija and her hard working team!

AdMob VS iAd: Reebok releases interactive ads for iPhone and Android using AdMob

13 Apr

After Steve Jobs showed us what kind of ads we can expect to see within iPhone apps the other day, we were kinda tempted to open apps only to see those ubercool ads. While iAds are still a couple of months away, its rival – AdMob – is already brandishing a new Reebok mobile ad campaign that seems to be similar (if not all that media rich) to the ones that Apple showcased for Nike. 

In a blog post, AdMob revealed Reebok’s ad campaign for its new ZigTech shoe. The ad will run on some Android and iPhone apps and is targeting an audience of 18-30 year old men who are interested in sports, news, and music.

All ads link to a mobile optimized site where users can visit a product gallery, watch videos, and find a store near them to purchase the shoes.

And that’s where the difference lies between AdMob and iAd. While AdMobs rich-media apps might look good, they open into a new web site rather than opening within the app (or that’s what the blog post seems to indicate). Like Jobs mentioned during his presentation where he demonstrated iAds, users don’t click on ads because it takes them away from the application and what they were doing. Somehow, AdMob needs to understand that and tweak their offering accordingly if it wants to survive Apple’s onslaught, at least on the iPhone.

Everything you need to know about the Apple iPad

27 Jan

Yup, the tablet is very much real and we have just gotten off following Apple’s event online. It is indeed being called the iPad, despite many people who think that the name is a joke and it could have done better with something like an iTab or even an iSlate. We leave that to Steve Jobs to decide and concentrate on the real stuff.

What is it?  In short, it is very much a blown-up version of the iPod Touch/iPhone and comes in two versions – one with just Wi-Fi (a la iPod Touch) and another with Wi-Fi and 3G (a la iPhone). It runs a tweaked version of the iPhone OS that allows it to run all apps that are available on the App Store. Plus it adds some cool new apps of its own – like iWorks, (that’s like MS Office for Windows users) and an online book store, iBooks, from where you can purchase and read e-books just like you do on Amazon’s Kindle. And yeah, Steve Jobs actually mentioned something that suggested more like he took a leaf out of Amazon’s book (pun intended). On the specs front, you are basically looking at a device with a 9.7 inch 1024×768 pixel touchscreen display, a 1 GHz processor specifically created by Apple for the iPad and basically the same iPod Touch/iPhone functionality with much more display real-estate to show off your multi-touch powress. You can get a complete low-down of specs here

Who is it for? At the moment, Apple is pitching it between the iPhone and the Macbook, while claiming that it is much better than a netbook. We feel that the iPad could be a good device for entertainment and reading – books, newspapers, magazines… We are not completely convinced at the moment as to how badly the iPad will hit the netbook market (read the good, the bad and the ugly below), we can see it hitting the Kindle pretty bad. Starting at $499 for the 16 GB Wi-Fi only version  and $629 for the 16 GB Wi-Fi and 3G model (US prices) it offers much more fuctionality than the Kindle can ever offer, even with its upcoming application store.

Where is it available? At the moment, no where. It will be available in the US in March and prices start at $499 for the 16 GB Wi-Fi only version  and $629 for the 16 GB Wi-Fi and 3G model. While it is unlocked, it will run on AT&T’s GSM network in the US (3G version) and will use a micro-SIM card. Apple will announce its international availability sometime around June this year.

Now it’s time for the good, the bad and the ugly things of the iPad.

The Good:

The pricing: The 16 GB Wi-Fi and 3G version available for $629 is roughly the same price as that of an unsubsidised iPhone 3G (in India). Basically, you get a more powerful device with a bigger display at the same time. Of course, you don’t expect to hold this thing against your ear to make calls, we hope.

The content: The ability to run all iPhone apps on the iPad is a big plus. What remains to be seen is whether more app developers spend time customising their apps for the iPad. Add to that the iBook – the book store from where users can purchase and download e-books. The iPad might just become the best gaming console/e-book reader/personal media player/Internet tablet device. 

The performance: Initial hands-on impressions from some of the most reputed media/blog networks claim that the iPad is much faster than the iPhone 3GS. Add to it up to 10 hours of battery life and multi-touch and iTunes, the iPad dazzles in front of the impending competition in the Internet tablet arena (Seriously, do we have any competition there at the moment?).

The keyboard dock accessory: The iPad comes with an optional keyboard accessory that we believe would be a must-have accessory. That would make it much convenient to type since typing on a 3.5 inch display and a 9.7 inch display are two different things. However, we noticed that the dock places the iPad in portrait mode rather than landscape mode, which we think would be a more comfortable orientation.

The Bad

Micro-SIM: The iPad with 3G does not use a normal SIM but rather a newer variety of SIM cards. Why would Apple break the standard and go for the uncommon? So that people don’t start using it with carriers other than the ones Apple has tied up with. This would ensure that the carrier and Apple continue to rake in revenues without having to worry about losing the device to rival carriers. However, Apple has made it clear that the iPad is an unlocked device and will be available on prepaid only, The caveat: the data plan is available on only one carrier – AT&T.

The Ugly

No multi-tasking: What? So much processing power, such a big display and no multi-tasking? That’s right mister, eventually, the iPad is just a bigger iPhone.

No camera: Another booboo. Would have loved to have an IM client with video chat and lots of camera-based augumented reality apps.

No GPS: This one is a bit difficult to digest. Even the 3G+Wi-Fi version only has assisted-GPS support that doesn’t pin-point your exact location but rather estimates where you are.

Mono audio: Ahem, it seems like we will have to buy a nice speaker dock for this baby to actually get the party started. But will the current ones for the iPhone/iPod Touch suffice? Looks highly unlikely considering the size of this beast. Mind you, it has the same docking port as the iPod Touch/iPhone.

The verdict

Apple has managed to hit the sweet spot with its pricing albeit with a few hardware sacrifices. We reckon that the iPad will become the defacto best gaming device, e-book reader and probably even an Internet browsing machine. But will it send netbooks into oblivion? Naah, we need something that can multi-task for that, Mr Jobs.

Opera takes over mobile advertising company, AdMarvel

24 Jan

Opera Software is proud to announce that it has acquired AdMarvel, a California based mobile ad network. The acquisition will enable Opera to include highly profitable ad monetisation services for its mobile products and services offered by carriers and various partners. So far Opera has been generating revenue from the partnership deals with handset vendors whereby the Opera web browser is set as the default browser.

 

In the recent past, we have seen similar acquisitions by Apple and Google with an aim to up the ante in mobile advertising business. Google took over mobile display ad technology AdMob last year and Apple acquired AdMob’s rival Quattro Wireless sometime back this month.

 

CEO for Opera Software, Lars Boilesen said, “In our fast-growing industry, mobile advertising represents an interesting long-term revenue opportunity. Every month, nearly 50 million people access the Web using Opera on their mobile phones and together with AdMarvel, we think we can play an important role in the evolution of mobile advertising,”

RCom brings your favourite Cartoon Network comics on mobile!

24 Jan

Rcom has a new value added service to offer – Cartoon Network Comics on mobile. The new service will be offered to all RCom GSM subscribers across India. The comic series will include popular Cartoon Network characters such as Ben 10, Johnny Bravo, Dexter’s Laboratory and the Powerpuff Girls. Along with these toon stars, our favourite comic series, Archie will also be available.

 

Users will receive one comic strip from each of the above mentioned titles at a subscription fee of Re 1 per day. Well just to remind you, few days ago Tata DoCoMo had launched a similar comic viewer application, Docomics, being offered at a subscription fee of Rs 15 per comic chapter.

Nokia to make a 'big announcement' today

20 Jan

Nokia will be making a ‘big announcement’ in less than two hours from now. The announcement, which will take place in London, apparently is of global ‘importance’ as we are hearing about invites for a webcast being sent off to journalists and bloggers all over the globe. We have been invited to Nokia’s India HQ to follow the announcement and talk to Nokia India’s representatives about it.

While we don’t yet know what the announcement will be, in all probability, it has something to do with a revamped Ovi – Nokia’s services arm. Or it could even have something to do with Nokia Money, the company’s money transfer service that Nokia’s CEO Olli Pekka Kallasvuo introduced briefly at CES last month. We’ll come to know in less than two hours from now so stay tuned in. If you’d like to know what’s happening as it happens, follow us on Twitter @cellpassion, where we’d be covering it live. In the meanwhile, watch this interesting video of the Ovi Store that surfaced yesterday.

Amateur engineer develops a cellphone-based solution for detecting fake currency

29 Dec

Approximately Rs 1,69,000 crores is the estimated amount of  counterfeit currency which is unsuspectingly circulating in the Indian financial system. Neha N of Vidya Vikas Institute of Engineering & Technology, Mysore designed a “cellphone based intelligent counterfeit teller” and her proposed scheme won a competition organised by Schneider Electric India.

Schneider Electric India, a global specialist in energy management, organized a unique contest called ‘Innovation Challenge’ (IC) for the undergraduate engineering minds of India to bring up innovative solutions for efficient utilisation of energy. The winning idea is an innovative solution to detect fake currency through mobile phones.

The counterfeit teller works using the UV-visible and infrared sources, low power sensor chip and the cellphone processor for detecting fake currency. Consequently, the cellphone acts as a sensor when put in the detection mode. Similar concepts of image processing, signal processing and pattern recognition are used for checking the authenticity of currency as per the RBI standards. If the device detects fake currency, the display of the cellphone screen will show a warning along with an audible warning alert.


Moreover, since the proposed scheme works on phone battery and uses low power consumption techniques for processing, it consumes approximately 45 percent lower energy when compared with the currently available stand alone counterfeit detection units which mostly work on AC supply.