Geeknizer http://geeknizer.com iPhone, Android, mobile, Technology news Thu, 02 Apr 2015 09:07:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 Run Android apps on PC [Windows, Linux, OSX] http://geeknizer.com/run-android-apps-on-pc-windows-linux-osx/ http://geeknizer.com/run-android-apps-on-pc-windows-linux-osx/#comments Thu, 02 Apr 2015 08:33:17 +0000 http://geeknizer.com/?p=13399 Read more »]]> Google had been testing a tool called ARC (Android Runtime for Chrome) for Chrome OS since a while. While it ran pretty smoothly, it was in its alpha stages and was limited to select closed group members.

android-pc

Google has now rolled out a stabler beta to masses. You can get any Android app running on your PC whether you’re on Windows, Linux, Mac OSX or Chrome OS.

ARC runs Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chrome OS thanks to Native Client (abbreviated “NaCL”). NaCL is a Chrome sandboxing technology that allows Chrome apps and plugins to run at “near native” speeds, taking full advantage of the system’s CPU and GPU. Native Client turns Chrome into a development platform, write to it, and it’ll run on all desktop Chrome browsers. Google ported a full Android stack to Native Client, allowing Android apps to run on most major OSes.

ARC includes Google Play Services, potentially opening up compatibility for many apps that depend on Google’s proprietary ecosystem APIs. It’s not the full list of APIs from Play Services, though, only a handful: OAuth2, Google Cloud Messaging , Google+ sign-in, Maps, Location, and Ads. Developers have to specifically enable Play Services on ARC with ARC-specific metadata, too, so end users can’t go too crazy with other people’s apps. ARC is still missing a big chunk of Play Services, which will stop some apps from working. The biggest missing piece seems to be the Play Store’s in-app purchasing, which isn’t in the API list. The Chrome Web Store supports in app purchasing, but it would require custom code from the app developer. More on this, should be available soon.

So as long as an app doesn’t heavily depend on Play services, it should run fine on your PC. e.g. Twitter, Flipboard run perfectly fine.

How to Run Android Apps on PC

Step 1. Install ARC Welder in your chrome browser (Chrome v40 or better is needed)

Step 2. Run ARC welder and set a directory where you would like to keep all your android applications.

Step 3. Download APK (Google it or use this Chrome extension) for the app you would like to run on your PC.

android-app-pc

In future, Google plans to make these steps easier by making these apps available via Chrome App store. If you’re an app developer and would like to make your Android app available on Chrome, check instructions here.

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Enable WhatsApp Calling Now [Android, iOS] http://geeknizer.com/enable-whatsapp-calling-now/ http://geeknizer.com/enable-whatsapp-calling-now/#comments Sat, 14 Mar 2015 15:38:45 +0000 http://geeknizer.com/?p=13389 Read more »]]> WhatsApp Calling has been floating in beta testing since a while. Earlier preview builds did really bad on slow networks. The good news is this has improved by leaps and bounds in the latest version of app

UPDATE: You no longer need this guide. Update to latest version on Play Store and voice calling will be activated.

You can now enable WhatsApp calling if its not already enabled.

Step 1. Download and install latest WhatsApp from this link (Android). (Make sure Settings > security > unknown sources is enabled). And launch the WhatsApp.

iOS Devices: If you’re on iOS  you will need to be Jailbroken and AppSync installed to install the beta. You can get AppSync by adding this repo to Cydia: http://cydia.angelwindx.net. Once AppSync is installed, download WhatsApp beta from here (while on iOS device).

Step 2. (Only if you’re on rooted Android) You can run the following command on ADB shell:

su -c am start -n com.whatsapp/com.whatsapp.HomeActivity

Step 2. (Android [UnRooted] or iOS) Ask someone to give you a call. Once you receive that call, calling is enabled forever. IF you don’t have anyone, you can drop me a message “Geeknizer WhatsApp” at +1 914 458 2726, and I`ll give you a call.

You must receive this call for a second at least to enable calling. Once it’s received, its enabled for lifetime.

That would launch the Three-tabbed calling screen.

Enjoy!

Update: I’ve sent out 300+ call activations.

Update 2: 15th March Seems like WhatsApp server is down. Lot of users recently reported calling not being activated. You can leave your message, I`ll call you once service is back.

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Android 5.1 Review, Impressions, What’s new [Changelog] http://geeknizer.com/android-5-1-review-whats-new-changelog/ http://geeknizer.com/android-5-1-review-whats-new-changelog/#comments Sat, 14 Mar 2015 11:53:50 +0000 http://geeknizer.com/?p=13380 Read more »]]> When Android L aka Lollipop first came out, it had mixed reactions from the community. While it worked pretty well on devices like Nexus 6, it had slew of shortcomings on low-midrange devices like Moto G. Even devices like Nexus 5 had Wifi-related issues most of which only got slightly better by 5.0.2.

5.1-android

Even the experience on Nexus 6 (specs warehouse) was far from perfect. The device comes encrypted out of the box and used to lag here and there. Battery life was average and there were loads of memory leaks.

Google has been working on fixing all the reported and unreported pain points and Android 5.1 lmy47d seems to fix them all. If you look at the changelog, here’s what is apparent:

Under the Hood Improvements:

  1. 50+ commits (changes) to fix memory leaks, system wide from camera, to media, to network. The result being efficient usage of available RAM. A big boon for devices with low memory like Android One.
  2. Over 76 commits (changes) that fix performance in ART (new runtime virtualmachine) which would boost speed and snappiness of the system. This makes Lollipop ideal for low-end devices.
  3. Kernel CPU thread management Improvements: Android 5.1 makes better use of available CPU-cores by distributing tasks in a better manner across all cores of CPUs, the result being smoother operation at all times. Nexus 6 (and all quad-cores) benefit a lot from it.
  4. Better performance for Qualcomm 8xx CPUs: Qualcomm implements what is called a migration boost routine. In a nutshell, this routine takes effect when one task (technically, a thread) moves from one CPU core to another. The boost makes sure that the destination core is running on the same speed as the originating core. The purpose of this migration boost is to make sure that the user doesn’t perceive any lag while processes are juggled behind the scenes, but it also incurs not only added battery consumption but also, ironically, actual sluggishness. This will be a boon to Nexus 6 and all other Snapdragon based chips.
  5. Better performance for encrypted devices: Encrypted devices would now run nearly as fast as unencrypted devices thanks to usage of NEON instructions.
  6. No Wifi drain: Solved across all devices.
  7. Wakelocks fixed: Certain services that used Wakelocks unnecessarily have been tackled. Best example sensor_ind.
  8. 1000+ other minor fixes.

New Features:

  1. HD Voice calling: VoLTE (Voice over LTE) has been enabled on Nexus 6 and some other unnamed devices. Probably this will also make it to modern devices like Galaxy S6, Note 4, etc.
  2. New Bluetooth, Wifi shortcuts: 5.1 provides specific connection access from the drop-down quick settings menu. This manifests itself as a little down arrow below each of the usual Wi-Fi and Bluetooth toggles. Not a big change, but makes things simple
  3. Stolen Device Protection: This is a security improvement that ensures that your phone will remain locked even if a thief submits it to a factory reset. The only way anyone is getting access you your phone is if they know your Google account details.
  4. Dual-SIM support: Even though lot of manufacturers had been doing this since a while, Android never supported it officially until now. 5.1 supports multi-sim, which is a popular concept in developing countries like India.
  5. Ringer modes (Priority) improved.
  6. (Hidden) Google VPN: Google has included a VPN service that would help users censor the connection. Android 5.1 includes the Google Connectivity Services app, which can be seen under “All Apps” in the app manager. Right now its a hidden feature, no one has any idea how to enable it.

Day-to-day Usage Verdict

I’ve been playing with 5.1 on Nexus 6 for 4 days now. My Nexus 6 feels at least 30% faster on stock encrypted and nearly 20% faster unencrypted. The real benefits are apparent on nearly everything you do. Multitasking is now what it should’ve been. There are nearly no delays anywhere while switching among apps and animations, transitions are butter smooth. I haven’t seen framerates dropping below 50fps in most of the cases and never really below 30fps. This translates to the smoothest experience ever seen on Android.

Nexus 6 has a bag full of specs and I can’t really see palpable improvement in terms of memory. Even on Android 5.0, I used to have nearly 50% RAM free (1.5 GB) at all times. Now its like 1.1 GB used and 1.9GB free (with standard apps running). Obviously, memory improvements don’t impact Nexus 6 much. I’m only waiting to see how this translates on low memory devices where the impact is only amplified.

Android 5.1 on Nexus 6

Improvement are even apparent in synthetic benchmarks. The score on AnTutu benchmark had risen from 47k to 51k on Nexus 6. Nexus 10 also saw  improvements by 9% in scores.

Battery life seems to have improved by 15% on day-to-day usage on Nexus 6 and 10% on Nexus 10. This however, can vary, and it might be too early to conclude. I`ll post back on this soon.

Google had hurried up with 5.0 release and had shipped “Windows Vista” level OS with all the quirks. 5.1 is what Windows 7 did to Vista; Fix what was broken under the hood. With that in mind, did Google do a good job with 5.1? Well, yes, they did. But we never expected them to ship 5.0 in a broken state.

More on this, soon.

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Top 5 USB Hacks that PWN You http://geeknizer.com/top-usb-hacks-pwn/ http://geeknizer.com/top-usb-hacks-pwn/#comments Fri, 13 Mar 2015 17:13:12 +0000 http://geeknizer.com/?p=13373 Read more »]]> A USB based dongle can go long way in terms of screwing you, your data, and even your life. Every other day we come across a new device that exposes a new type of vulnerability, enabling hackers to go wilder.

Let’s take a look at Top 5 Best USB Hacks that can PWN you:

1. BadUSB

BadUSB reprograms embedded firmware to give USB devices new, covert capabilities. A USB devices takes on the ability to act as a keyboard that surreptitiously types malicious commands into attached computers. A different drive can be reprogrammed to act as a network card that causes connected computers to connect to malicious sites impersonating Google, Facebook or other trusted destinations. Similar hacks work against Android phones when attached to targeted computers. Hackers claim that the technique works with Web cams, keyboards, and most other types of USB-enabled devices.

bad_USB

The Black Hat presentation, titled BadUSB—on accessories that turn evil, provided 4 demonstrations, three of which targeted controller chips manufactured by Phison Electronics. These are:

– Transforming a brand-name USB stick into a computer keyboard that opens a command window on an attached computer and enters commands that cause it to download and install malicious software. The technique can easily work around the standard user access control in Windows since the protection requires only that users click OK.

– Transforming a brand-name USB stick into a network card. Once active, the network card causes the computer to use a domain name system server that causes computers to connect to malicious sites impersonating legitimate destinations.

– Programming a brand-name USB stick to surreptitiously inject a payload into a legitimate Ubuntu installation file. The file is loaded onto the drive when attached to one computer. The tampering happens only after it is plugged into a separate computer that has no operating system present on it. The demo underscores how even using a trusted computer to verify the cryptographic hash of a file isn’t adequate protection against the attack.

– Transforming an Android phone into a malicious network card.

2. USB Killer

As the name says, it can kill your computer and in worse case even you. It can physically destroy your computer by blasting a load of voltage to the USB controller with negative voltage.

usb-killer

How?

The basic idea of the USB Killer is quite simple. When we connect it up to the USB port, an inverting DC/DC converter runs and charges capacitors to -110V. When the voltage is reached, the DC/DC is switched off. At the same time, the filed transistor opens. It is used to apply the -110V to signal lines of the USB interface. When the voltage on capacitors increases to -7V, the transistor closes and the DC/DC starts. The loop runs till everything possible is broken down. Those familiar with the electronics have already guessed why we use negative voltage here. I‘ll explain to others that negative voltage is easier to commutate, as we need the N-channel field resistor, which, unlike the P-channel one, can have larger current for the same dimensions.

Put simply, the bits inside the USB drive draws max amount of current from the port to charges the battery (capactor) inside. When a certain level of potential is reached, it returns the power to the source, i.e. your USB controller on your PC’s motherboard. The amount of power returned overloads the circuits, blowing it into smoke. In worst cases, it can blow up the motherboard with loud flames hurting the user.

3. USBdriveby

USB-Driveby is interesting. USB-powered microcontroller-on-a-chain, rigged to exploit the inherently awful security flaws lurking in your computer’s USB ports. In about 60 seconds, it can pull off a nasty list of nasty tricks:

  • It starts by pretending to be a keyboard/mouse.
  • If you have a network monitor app like Little Snitch running, it uses a series of keystrokes to tell LittleSnitch that everything is okay and to silence all warnings.
  • It disables OS X’s built-in firewall.
  • It pops into your DNS settings and tweaks them to something under the hacker’s control, allowing them to replace pretty much any website you try to visit with one of their own creation.
  • It opens up a backdoor, then establishes an outbound connection to a remote server which can send remote commands. Since the connection is outbound, it eliminates the need to tinker with the user’s router port forwarding settings.
  • It closes any windows and settings screens it opened up, sweeping up its footprints as it heads for the door.

usb-driveby

So in 30-60 seconds, this device hijacks your machine, disables many layers of security, cleans up the mess it makes, and opens a connection for remote manipulation even after the device has been removed. And you thought it was just a USB dongle!

4. Pwn Plug

Pwn Plug works on the idea of being able to use a USB stick to carry a command ‘payload’ that would get automatically executed upon being plugged into the Pwn Plug. Now the hacker can run commands such as ifconfig, kick off an nmap scan, whatever he needs to find a backdoor into your system; and all the results are output back onto the USB stick.

How it works
1. This hack uses autofs to perform auto-mounting of the USB drive, and udev to launch an execution script when the USB drive is plugged in.

2.  udev is configured to run hacker’s auto-execution script.

5. KeySweeper

KeySweeper is a stealthy Arduino-based device, camouflaged as a functioning USB wall charger, that wirelessly and passively sniffs, decrypts, logs and reports back (over GSM) all keystrokes from any Microsoft wireless keyboard in the vicinity.

All keystrokes are logged online and locally. SMS alerts are sent upon trigger words, usernames or URLs, exposing passwords. If unplugged, KeySweeper continues to operate using its internal battery and auto-recharges upon repowering. A web based tool allows live keystroke monitoring.

KeySweeper has the capability to send SMS alerts upon certain keystrokes being typed, e.g. “www.bank.com”. If KeySweeper is removed from AC power, it appears to shut off, however it continues to operate covertly using an internal battery that is automatically recharged upon reconnecting to AC power.

keysweeper

KeySweeper extends the work of Travis Goodspeed on the goodfet.nrf project and of Thorsten Schröder and Max Moser of the KeyKeriki v2.0 project.

6. USB password Stealer

Simple idea, clean implementation for windows. Steals all your passwords in Windows.

What you can do to Secure your PC?

USBs can be naughtier than you think. There is no one clear solution to this. In general, disable USB ports on public PCs, and in corporations. That might not work everywhere, so take care of who gets physical access to your running machine.

Know more USB PWNs? Let us know in comments

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Kraftwerk: Portable FuelCell replaces Battery-pack http://geeknizer.com/portable-fuelcell-replaces-battery-pack/ http://geeknizer.com/portable-fuelcell-replaces-battery-pack/#comments Mon, 16 Feb 2015 19:43:37 +0000 http://geeknizer.com/?p=13365 Read more »]]> If there’s one things that just couldn’t develop at the pace of Moore’s law, its the evolution of battery technologies. Where chips are doubling in power every 3 years, battery power just gets 10-20% better.

The solution for the most is to carry a portable Battery-pack for the extra juice. These portable chargers are often rated between 4,000mAh to 11,000 mAh (which translates to 2 to 5 full charge cycles of average modern smartphone). This might be enough for few, but these battery packs take long hours to charge back. Ideally, a 2A charger would take 12 hours to charge 10,000 mAh battery. And unless you really plan well ahead-of-time, you would end-up carrying JuicePack which is partially charged.

kraftwerk-iphone

FuelCells are way better than Batteries

FuelCells can carry way larger energy for the same mass/size. FuelCells operate on gases like Hydrogen or butane, which generates chemical energy, in a controlled system. This chemical energy (heat) is converted into electricity within the Fuelcell, making it work just like a power plant.

FuelCells, though have been round for decades, were never really ultra portable, affordable and safe; all at the same time. However, this is changing with upcoming products like Kraftswerk, a kickstarter based crowd-funded project.

Kraftwerk, which means “power station” in German, doesn’t need to be connected to a power outlet. But it can provide weeks of uninterrupted power to your smartphones and other portable electronic devices on a single refill. Measuring at just 3 x 4 inches, 1.18 inches thick and retailing at $149, might be the best combo of safe, portable, affordable fuel cell ever. It delivers continuous output of 2 watts with a peak power output of 10 watts.

kraftwerk

To give you a fair idea, just one filling of gas provides enough energy to charge an iPhone about 11 times. And this gas can be refilled in just three seconds via any standard Lighter refill pack.

Kraftwerk will be ready for shipping by February 2016, at a retail price of $149.

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Xposed on Android Lollipop http://geeknizer.com/xposed-on-lollipop/ http://geeknizer.com/xposed-on-lollipop/#comments Fri, 13 Feb 2015 21:57:36 +0000 http://geeknizer.com/?p=13354 Read more »]]> We at Geeknizer are a big fan of Xposed modules and we listed the 20 Best XPOSED modules for Android stock ROM.

Today, majority of the savvy droid fanbase has shifted to Lollipop. Handful of enthusiasts who had been hugging Xposed really tight, couldn’t upgrade. Well, that time has come.

xposed-lollipop

Xposed is now compatible and fully operational on Android Lollipop. That means your Xposed now works with the new ART VM that exists in Lollipop replacing the older Dalvik for good. Xposed is still in Alpha phase, so expect bugs and boot loops but in our tests it worked quiet well already.

Note: Our tests are based on CM12 on Nexus 6.

Compatibility: Xposed for Lollipop is compatible with ARMv7 architecture devices. That means no Intel or 64bit and ARMv8 devices including Nexus 9. Rest of the devices should work fine.

How to Install Xposed on Lollipop devices:
Step 1. Install framework: Flash the provided ZIP (link at the bottom) file with a custom recovery.
Step 2. Install Xposed APK to manage your modules.

Most modules designed for KitKat should work on Lollipop, perhaps with a few minor tweaks.

Download the flashable zip, Xposed APK from XDA thread.

Also checkout FAQ for Xposed for Lollipop.

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Why Custom Kernel is good for your Android http://geeknizer.com/why-custom-kernel-is-good-for-your-android/ http://geeknizer.com/why-custom-kernel-is-good-for-your-android/#comments Sun, 04 Jan 2015 13:38:29 +0000 http://geeknizer.com/?p=13341 Read more »]]> Rooting your Android phone opens up gateway to new possibilities. Even though rooting was must have back in days, it still is backed by strong motivators. One among them is ability to use custom Kernels.

What is a Kernel?

Kernel is the heart of any operating system. Its responsible for all low level operations from controlling the clock of your CPU, GPU, process scheduling, IO scheduling (including filesystem improvements), drivers, memory management. In layman’s terms, its nearly everything that would translate to resultant performance and battery life of your smartphone.

android-kernel

Basically, Kernel is the middleman between Operating system and Hardware. But why do we need a middle man? It makes Android a lot more flexible. Google can focus on the functionality in Android, but not have to worry about how that is exactly executed on each device. Since there are so many devices that have all sorts of hardware, it’s the manufacturer’s job to create the kernel that has all the drivers necessary to make everything work on the device.

kernel

Custom Kernels can entirely shape the battery and performance level of your Android device, may it be stock or custom ROM. A custom kernel is more important than switching your ROM if you’re having performance or battery issues.

Why Custom Kernel is so Important:

1. Bleeding edge fixes, improvements:

A custom kernel often forks from the mainline of AOSP bringing in best and the latest of fixes, performance improvements submitted to AOSP project by Google and external contributors. Often, this will bring new improvements in VM (virtual machine), RAM management, process management, and more.

android-kernel-(1)

You can rely on OTAs but how often does your manufacturer/carrier provides them… once or twice a year? With custom kernels, you can always be miles closer to latest and greatest.

2. Hottest features

Your device may not support the best audio engine, or may not even have DoubleTap2Wake, fast charging, etc. Such features often require support in the kernel and cannot be shipped in as an application from Play store unless your kernel supports it.

Thats where you need ‘open’ custom kernels. These will give you access to amazing features that were only available to people with latest devices.

3. Performance & Battery Improvements: Custom, Improved Governors, smart techniques

Your CPU, GPU, and IO is often controlled by an engine called governor. These governors are smart enough to decide when your CPU should clock down (on idle state) and when it throttles to higher clocks based on your usage pattern. Stock (out of the box) governors are often not optimized for battery. The example worth quoting here is of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors which use MP-Decision to control clock frequency of your CPU. The pro developers often call it Make-Poor (MP) Decision for the right reasons. MP-Decision takes the CPU clock to much higher values than required, resulting in bad-to-poor battery life. Wasting CPU cycles has a huge impact on battery life. Most custom kernels employ their own custom governors to get over this, resulting in nearly 30-50% improvements in Screen-on-Time (SoT).

4. Overclocking, Underclocking, Undervolting

Most custom kernels allow you to overclock your CPU, GPU to gain its full potential (in safe-boundaries).  You can also undervolt each clock frequency to gain power savings. Then there are million others like multi-core power saving, underclocking when screen-off. All-in-all improved responsiveness, increased battery life.

5. Device fine tuning

Not all Android devices are built alike. Manufacturers often leave some imperfections in tuning the display, sound, etc. Custom kernels let your calibrate the display to your likings with Color temperature, gamma correction. You can also boost the inbuilt amplifier for louder headphone/speaker volumes. Among other features, you can even Enable/disable notification LED, capacitive lights, vibration strength/duration, gestures, etc. For certain devices, you can even boost microphone. The list goes on.

 

nexus-5-recovery

All of these are of course possible if the custom Kernel is coded right. Once you’re rooted, you can google for your device’s ” *device model* XDA Android development” and explore the forum. For each device, there are plethora of custom Kernels, its hard for me to recommend the best to you for each device. The general rule of thumb is to explore the XDA android development forum for your device and you can go through the posts in the thread to know the generic feel of the kernel. Another way is to flash and try every custom kernel available for couple of days. Its hit and miss, actually.

Few popular Kernel developers: Franco kernel, SlimKernel, LeanKernel ElementalX, Linaro Kernel, Chaos Kernel,  etc.

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Top 6 Best Nexus 6 Mods http://geeknizer.com/top-nexus-6-mods/ http://geeknizer.com/top-nexus-6-mods/#comments Sun, 07 Dec 2014 18:08:54 +0000 http://geeknizer.com/?p=13333 Read more »]]> Nexus 6 is unlocked, rooted and there are several custom ROMs already. But there is little for those who wish to stick to stock ROMs

Xposed won’t work with Android 5.0 coz dalvik runtime is gone in favor of faster ART runtime which is incompatible with ART. Here are some best mods for Nexus 6 you can have right now.

nexus6-mods

Top 6 Best Nexus 6 Mods

Well, before you get started with any of these, you’ll need to Unlock bootloader, Root your Nexus 6. This video from XDA TV will help you get there in no time:

1. Notification LED

Yeah, Google had this off in favor of Moto Ambient display that works with AMOLED display. Ambient display might be good but it can’t replace notification LED.

Get paid version of LightFlow (thats the only app that works today) and you can customize notification LED to per-app color. Make sure you’ve the following settings enabled: Direct mode, Root mode, Run every command as root.

nexus6-led

2. Double Tap to Unlock [DT2W]

Moto X2 and Nexus 6 has proper hardware and kernel support for Double Tap To Wake. For some reason Google has disabled it by default. You can get it back by installing Double tap to wake app.

Once installed, open and activate it and you’re all set.

3. Viper4Android – Improve Audio

Viper4Android is a great mod for devices suffering from low volumes, low fidelity in music. Nexus 6 stereo speakers do a great job at throwing good sound to your face. But if you feel its inadequate, Viper4Android is for you. It comes as a flashable zip in recovery and rest can be configured in app to match your preferences.

4. Disable Data Encryption on Nexus 6, Nexus 9

Android 5.0 Lollipop comes with encryption enabled on modern devices like Nexus 6, Nexus 9. Some users claim it tends to slow down the device. Of course its additional layer of security most user would love having but if performance lag bothers you, you should be able to disable it for good.

This Xda post will help you disable the data encryption to achieve that performance fetish.

5. Unlimited Screencast Video recorder (with Audio)

If you’re a developer and you like to record videos of screen on Nexus 6 for showcasing your apps, this app is for you. Get it from Play Store for free.

6. Battery percent Enabler

Since there are no Xposed modules on ART, you’ll have to rely on other mods for enabling battery percentage in statusbar.

Get the app from Battery percent enabler from Play Store.

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Android Lollipop, Nexus 6, Nexus 9 Officially Announced http://geeknizer.com/android-lollipop-nexus-6-nexus-9-officially-announced/ http://geeknizer.com/android-lollipop-nexus-6-nexus-9-officially-announced/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 16:39:11 +0000 http://geeknizer.com/?p=13317 Read more »]]> Google has raised the curtain from the latest and the greatest in Android: Android Lollipop (Android 5.0) previously known as Android L. Biggest part of the update is even Nexus 4, Nexus 10 will get Android 5.0 update via OTA.

android-lollipop

 

lollipop

Along with the announcement comes the new Devices: Nexus 6, Nexus 9.

Nexus 6

Its a gorgeous larger version of Moto X, only gone better. Its a 5.9″ AMOLED 2K (1440×2560 display (493 ppi)) display with slim bezels. Body is well crafter out of metal frame and high quality soft materials wrapping around the back.

nexus-6 nexus6

Under the hood is a 64-bit Snapdragon 805 quad-core 2.7 Ghz processor, Adreno 420, 3GB of RAM, 13MP camera with OIS and F2.0 aperture lens. Dual front-facing stereo speakers are a great add for movies, gaming.

It also comes with a Turbo Charger, so you can get up to six hours of use with only 15 minutes of charge. 3220 mAh of battery should last full day of heavy usage.

Nexus 6 will be available in both 32gb and 64gb variants. No expandable storage though.

Nexus 9

Nexus 9 is a slim and gorgeous tablet by HTC. Its exactly 8.9″ in display and some good sounding speakers certified as HTC Boomsound. The back is soft to touch and grips in your hands nicely.

nexus9

It has 6700 mAh battery, 8MP rear camera, CPU: 64-bit NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor 2.3 GHz, GPU: Kepler DX1

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Future of Cars is portable Nuclear Reactor [LENR] not EV http://geeknizer.com/future-of-cars-is-portable-nuclear-reactor-lenr-not-ev/ http://geeknizer.com/future-of-cars-is-portable-nuclear-reactor-lenr-not-ev/#comments Sun, 12 Oct 2014 16:06:45 +0000 http://geeknizer.com/?p=13309 Read more »]]> Unless you had been living under the rock, You’ve probably heard that fossil fuels that power our cars would be extinct before next decade sees light of the day. With only handful of decades left, its an alarming time for us to switch to alternative source of energy to power the whole Automobile industry.

nuclear-reactor-cars

In last decade, we’ve seen various Electric Vehicles (EVs) from almost every big car manufacturer. In the last year alone, atleast 10 manufacturers have announced new EVs. Market leaders like Tesla, Lamborghini, BMW, Chevrolet, Mercedes, etc, each one is betting big on Electric automobiles.

EVs are not just greener, they’re fast. Take the example for new born Tesla D that does 0-60 Mph (0-96.6 Kmph) in 3.2 seconds. This is faster than most Ferraris and super sports cars. Electric vehicles inherently have zero-lag throttle response which combustion engines cannot beat, specially during the kick off.

Let’s get the Pros & cons of EVs

Pros

  1. Eco-friendly (Green)
  2. Zero-lag throttle response
  3. Nearly silent, very low NVH levels

Cons

  1. Expensive
  2. Limited run range
  3. Battery replacements
  4. Few charging stations
  5. Slow charging

Even though EVs are being rapidly adopted in america, it’s Cons would outnumber Pros any day. No matter how efficient the batteries get, they would always have these problems. We need an alternative source of energy, which is abundant, cheap, and can make car runs miles after miles.

Nuclear Reaction at room temperatures is the Answer [LENR]

Andrea Rossi’s E-Cat — the device that purports to use cold fusion to generate massive amounts of cheap, green energy – has been discovered to be possible in portable form factor as per a new research in Sweden.

Small E-Cat can product 1.5 Mega watt hour (MWh) of power over span of 32 days.  This is something entirely new for scientists. It is of course very hard to comprehend how these fusion processes can take place in the fuel compound at low energies. The isotopes in the spent fuel could only have been obtained by “nuclear reactions”.

While the new E-Cat looks very different from previous iterations, the researchers say that it uses the same “hydrogen-loaded nickel” and additives (most notably lithium) as a fuel. The device’s inventor, Andrea Rossi, claims that the E-Cat uses cold fusion — low-energy nuclear reactions, LENR — to fuse nickel and hydrogen atoms into copper, releasing oodles of energy. The researchers, analyzing the fuel before and after the 32-day burn, note that there is an isotope shift from a “natural” mix of Nickel-58/Nickel-60 to almost entirely Nickel-62 — a reaction that, the researchers say, cannot occur without nuclear reactions (i.e. fusion). The researchers say there is just 1 gram of fuel inside the E-Cat.

lenr-module

To give you an idea of how much energy E-Cat produces, it is 100 times more power than the best super-capacitors, and maybe a million times more energy than gasoline. In technical terms, E-cat has energy density of 1.6×109 Wh/kg and power density of 2.1×106 W/kg.

Meet Portable Nuclear Reactors [Cold Fusion]

This is what a commercialized E-Cat will apparently look like. One of the first LENR (low energy nuclear reactor). This is a revolution. We are talking about an extremely cheap, green, and dense power source that could quite literally change the world.

ecat

This small unit has a COP (coefficient of performance) of up to 3.74, and net power production of 2,373 watts. Remember that this is a small device that produced these kinds of figures for 32 days straight. Total energy obtained over 32 days was 1.5 MWh.

When?

Before we see the revolution hit the market, there will now be a very extensive period of scrutiny from the scientific community at large. The previous third-party analysis of the E-Cat device, published in March 2013, was attacked and debunked very rapidly. It seems this new report has been intentionally designed so that there are fewer plot holes and logical leaps. The research paper has reportedly been submitted to the Arxiv pre-print server, with the hope of eventually being published in the Journal of Nuclear Physics.

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10 Things Apple is doing right now, Steve Jobs never wanted http://geeknizer.com/10-things-apple-is-doing-steve-jobs-never-wanted/ http://geeknizer.com/10-things-apple-is-doing-steve-jobs-never-wanted/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 17:47:43 +0000 http://geeknizer.com/?p=13270 Read more »]]> Apple has gone through a complete overhaul after Steve Jobs left the throne to what some believe as not so deserving leader Tim Cook.

apple-post-steve

Here’s what has totally changed (for Good or Bad) with Apple in the post Steve J world:

1. Big iPhones

Steve’s Novel idea was to keep iPhone handy always so that fingers could reach corner to corner.

Jobs made quite a few sweeping statements about what Apple would or would not do over time. In 2010, for example, Jobs famously said that Apple would never make a significantly larger iPhone, arguing that no one would want to buy a phone “you can’t get your hand around.”

And look, what they just did with iPhone 6.

iphone6

and they want to Forget what you saw in iPhone 5 ad

2. Trendy colors, Flat UI

Steve Jobs was all about attention to detail, perfection everywhere. iOS 6 has let down many in terms of use of flat graphics which had weird trendy and punchy color scheme, instead of something novel and royal.

ios6-vs-ios7

 

 

3. TV

Steve Jobs believed Apple would only do TV as a hobby, not something they would get serious with.

 

4. 7″ iPad (or iPad mini)

Steve has touted it several times how 10″ iPad was perfect screen size for just about everything and he would never compromise and build a smaller one.

5. Open up iOS

Steve wanted to lock down iOS further, but the reverse is happening. http://www.cnet.com/news/steve-jobs-wanted-to-further-lock-customers-into-apples-ecosystem/

6. Copy Android, shamelessly

Look at the feature list of iOS 7 or 8 – It feels like Android 4.1 brought into new aesthetics.

7. iOS 7 glitches:

Lets anticipate this, iOS 7 when came out had millions of performance issues and bugs. it was until ioS 7.2 or even ios 8 that animations got better, and system apps went bug free.

8. Comparisons:

Apple today compares its products head to head in its keynote sessions, Steve never would.

Apple-WWDC-2013-keynote-Android

9. Too many Announcements at one event

Steve would never announce 5 new products on a single keynote to dilute attention. He always said human visualization and memory retention is restricted to 3.

10. 2 iPads in 6 months

3rd , 4th generation iPads came within 6months of the release, i.e. 3 models in a single year.

11. No Event Livestreams

Apple since 2013 has started stream the event live. Steve believed the keynote is best done in the closed walls of is Moscone center.

iphone-2014-event

12. NFC for Payments

Steve hated idea of using NFC for payments. Why? Google had adopted it first and it was too much of an ego think for Apple to adapt to. And now Apple has announced Apple Pay that uses NFC for payments.

apple-pay

Apple isn’t what it used to be. Some believe it has lost its charm, while others believe it changed for good. What are your thoughts?

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Sony QX1 brings dSLR Sensor, Lenses to Smartphones http://geeknizer.com/sony-qx1-brings-dslr-sensor-lenses-to-smartphones/ http://geeknizer.com/sony-qx1-brings-dslr-sensor-lenses-to-smartphones/#comments Fri, 05 Sep 2014 13:42:31 +0000 http://geeknizer.com/?p=13284 Read more »]]> There are Android powered dSLRs, point n shoots, and few smartphones that can matchup point and shoot. But what’s truly missing is an Android smartphone with dSLR capabilities. Meet the note worthy Sony QX1 camera that takes the first step to unify dSLR and smartphones, sort of.

QX1 carries a APS-C sensor from Mirrorless cameras (dSLR equivalents). This sensor is exactly like what you find in low-end to midrange dSLRs like NEX 5s, Nikon D5100, Canon 50D, etc. Same size sensor with good Megapixel count and decent ISO performance.

sony-qx1-dslr-android

This portable camera can be paired with Sony’s E-mount lenses, found on Sony’s mirrorless range: NEX series. Hence, this E-mount adapter can be paired with almost any NEX lenses (10+ professional lenses to choose from). Furthermore, E to A adapter can be used to adapt to ANY Sony Alpha-mount lenses which takes the lens availability to 50+. Since it’s an interchangeable camera, you can snap on pretty much any Wide angle (10-20mm), tele zoom (100-200 mm), macro, anything. Virtually, every lens ever designed for Sony Alpha dSLRs can be used with QX1.

QX1 operation is simple, intuitive and fun. QX1 pairs with your smartphone (over NFC or manually) and uses Wifi P2P for Live View, taking pictures, videos. Your phone screen becomes the Wireless Viewfinder that you can use to click in the way you want.
How’s the wireless experience? Its mostly seamless with few connectivity quirks. The viewfinder runs easily at 30fps (read smooth) as long as QX1 and smartphone are decently placed (~10ft). All the photos are streamed and stored on your phone. You’ve lots of shooting modes to choose from and camera isn’t shy of shooting RAW photos either.

ILCE-QX1 is pretty impressive on specs. It can operate healthily in ISO 100 – 16,000 range giving you enough low light capturing abilities. Pair this to any fast wide aperture lens like F1.4 or F1.8 and you can shoot like any other dSLR. The APS-C sensor is capable of streaming 20.1 Megapixels. The video mode does 1080p @30FPS with support for AVCHD. QX1 also has a popup flash.

The sensor doesn’t do any image stabilization, and lens will have to take ownership. But that’s nothing new for Sony alpha photographers. All NEX alpha series cameras have Image stabilization built-into the lens. Why? Sony believes its more effective, and downside is of course raise in price of each lens.

smartphone-dslr-lens

Yes it looks weird when one snaps on a humongous 70-200 F2.8 G lens on this small sensor camera body tethered to a smartphone – a total imbalance of weight ratios, but it works without any hiccups. Is it a good idea? We believe yes, its a good idea and the step in the right direction.

QX1 will cost you $399 and is available at Sony’s official store.

We write latest and greatest in Tech GuidesAppleiPhoneTabletsAndroid,  Open Source, Latest in Tech, subscribe to us @geeknizer OR on Facebook FanpageGoogle+.

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5 ways Xperia Z3 is Better than Any Smartphone http://geeknizer.com/5-ways-xperia-z3-better-any-smartphone/ http://geeknizer.com/5-ways-xperia-z3-better-any-smartphone/#comments Wed, 03 Sep 2014 16:16:20 +0000 http://geeknizer.com/?p=13272 Read more »]]> Sony announced Xperia Z3, its latest Android Flagship, becoming 3rd flagship within span of one year.
Look at the specs and you’ll see just another top of the line android smartphone: 5.2-inch 1080p display, 3GB RAM, a 20.7-megapixel camera and waterproofing, rounded aluminum frame, 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801 processor, expandable sdcard.

But Xperia Z3 is really shines at few things, lets go over them:

6. Amazing design & colors

Xperia Z series is all about Glass and aluminium: high quality build which feels premium.
Xperia Z3 and Xperia Z3s will come in amazing colors, good quality materials, and yet only 7.3mm thick.

xperia_z3c

xperia-z3-colors

5. Power saving, yet Brightest Display

Sony has improved its existing TRILUMINOUS technology using a blue LED backlight and larger red and green subpixels to dramatically boost the colour gamut and energy efficiency of the smartphone’s display.

Also, Sony claims to have adapted the display refresh rate to increase battery life further.

Xperia Z line of phones have the brightest displays in the market, giving them the highest visibility outdoors and in sunlight.

4. Two Days of practical Battery life

I own Xperia Z1 with 3000mAh battery and consistently lasts 1.5 days with typical usage, Z2 upped it to 3100mAh, Z3 is 3200mAh with specs and display that consume less power than older generations, it would easily give you 2 days of normal operation.

3. High Resolution Audio

That claim might have come from various smartphone manufacturers like LG (with Optimus 2x onwards, and Galaxy Note 3). But truth be told they’ve been dissapointing. Sony had already been using a good quality DAC and Amp for its outgoing Xperia Z1, Z2 and with Z3 they are taking it to the next level.

Android audiophiles rejoice:

i. DSEE HX audio upscaling technology to improve the quality of compressed music i.e. MP3

ii. Digital noise cancelling that cuts out nearly all ambient sound

iii. High quality 24bit 96khz DAC – True to life DAC that will deliver pure sound.

2. PS4 Remote Play

Your PS4 console will detect your Z3 device over WiFi and unlock it, letting you play games on a Dualshock4 wireless controller just like PS Vita does today. But form Z3 devices you’ll need the new GCM10 Game Control Mount. On top of playing games, you’ll also be able to use a Z3 device as a second screen device to watch game streams or chat over the Playstation Network.

dock-ps4-z3

Sony kept it exclusive to Xperia Z3 devices (phone, tablet) but who knows if someone ports it to other Xperias or even Androids.

ps4-xperiaz3-remote-play

1. A Super smartphone Camera

Xperia Z1 and Z2 already had the best smartphone camera on Android. The 20.8MP camera with F2.0 aperature could take brilliant shorts in low light without flash. They’re making it even better:

i. Wide-angle 25mm lens – You can now click wider shots, bringing more into field of view.
ii. Higher ISO: ISO (camera sensitivity to lowest light) has been increased from ISO 3200 (on Z1, Z2) to  12,800 on Z3. That’s 4x times more light sensitivity. No other smartphone comes even close.

We write latest and greatest in Tech GuidesAppleiPhoneTabletsAndroid,  Open Source, Latest in Tech, subscribe to us @geeknizer OR on Facebook FanpageGoogle+.

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Drones to Deliver Amazon orders in India http://geeknizer.com/drones-to-deliver-amazon-orders-in-india/ http://geeknizer.com/drones-to-deliver-amazon-orders-in-india/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 13:48:08 +0000 http://geeknizer.com/?p=13251 Read more »]]> Last year, couple of companies including Dominos, Amazon declared they were all set to deliver orders to home using drones (UAVs). They fanfared the promotional videos delivering orders to home until FAA woke up and asked “who gave you the right to fly drones for commercial purposes”?

amazon-drones

FAA, since 2007, declared that the commercial operation of drones is illegal. If an individual offers free shipping in association with a purchase or other offer, FAA would construe the shipping to be in furtherance of a business purpose, and thus, the operation would not fall within the statutory requirement of recreation or hobby purpose.

So basically if you’re flying a drone as a hobbyist, its perfectly fine, crash and burn and you shall be responsible. But you just can’t use drones for commercial purposes. So its pretty clear that there’s no way Amazon, dominos or any other retailer is going to be able to use drones in near future. U.S. airspace won’t allow that to happen until those rules are re-written. That’s supposed to be in 2015, but many experts agree that the FAA won’t actually get its act together before 2020 or so. So Amazon thought, why not enter the emerging markets and get hold before the competition does.

Amazon Prime Air and Drones

The drone delivery will be part of Amazon’s Prime Air package. The drone used is essentially an Octacopter (eight rotors, fans). These octacopters would weigh 2.5kg to 5Kg (not 25kg as reported by other news agencies) and can fly at speeds exceeding 80km/h.  These drones would be able to carry a max payload of 2.26 kg, which covers 86% of products sold on Amazon.

Amazon India would be launchpad for the Drone program. India is a hot market for online-retailers and Amazon is trying hard to beat India’s amazon i.e. Flipkart. The drone delivery service will debuts in Mumbai and Bangalore, cities where it has warehouses, said the anonymous sources. Sources also claim “It could be as early as Diwali”, however, Amazon has denied any comments on the statement.

amazon-uav

This priority delivery system will be applicable on all Top-selling products including smartphones,  gadgets and books and will deliver in 90 minutes to 3 hours time span to the Amazon Prime Air members. Amazon claims that these drones have enough redundancy to keep them going in case of any failures in few rotors.


60 minutes on CBS with Amazon’s CEO discussing drones

Flipkart, the indigenous online retail service, is already doing quiet well in the country. It is currently valued at $5 billion and expected to double by 2016. Company has nearly 7000 employees, of which several had become millionaires overnight, thanks to the recent boon in online-retail. The seattle based company plans to launch the service before the festive season which starts with diwali in October end.

 

Indian Aviation rules don’t prohibit drones, yet

India uses various drones for various military applications, security including guarding it’s borders, and keeping eye on poachers. Yet, the largest democracy doesn’t have any set of rules in place for restricting drones from be flown for hobby or commercial purposes. When reuters approached the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, he said he wasn’t aware of any such plan by Amazon. Drone operators in India mentioned that they don’t obtain permits from DGCA for purposes such as aerial photography, surveying sites and wild life protection.

In India, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation allows a limited bandwidth of radio frequency for recreational flying by civilians, but has nothing in response to UAVs so far. “We don’t have any regulations for drones right now, but are in the process of preparing some rules,” said Prabhat Kumar, the director general of the DGCA. “We are looking at regulations being developed in other countries for reference.” As of now, he said, we do not even have any specific restriction on how high UAVs can be flown.

amazon-octacopter

In India, small UAVs are now easily available in the market, both online as well as in shops in places like Delhi’s Khan Market or Chandni Chowk. They cost mostly cheaper than a smartphone. And in a country where smartphones savvy country, you can only imagine.

Certain companies, such as Delhi-based Quidich, are already using quadcopters and octacopters to shoot aerial videos and photographs for clients that include filmmakers and television news channels. You can even rent a drone for marriage or a family event video.

Challenges

Flying drones to deliver products have huge set of challenges, especially in a country like India where streets can be shallow, and crowded. Many companies in India have thought about this. But all are worried about the safety aspect. Flying within cities is a challenge as many fear of losing RF communication with the drone. Its very much possible that it can crash into a building, or might attract unwanted attention. The concept might even fly and probably gets shut down soon after when most drones go missing due to theft and natural calamities. Who knows, it might not turn out to be worth.

Drone experts believe that the regulatory reactions to the technology may be fickle and can change with any untoward event. Amazon should be watch for any upcoming regulatory compliance. There’s a good chance that regulatory authorities passes a bill to immediately put a hold/ban on drones. For now we will just have to wait and watch.

amazon-air

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Top 5 Digital Wallets to liberate from Payment Hassles http://geeknizer.com/top-5-digital-wallets-to-liberate-payment-hassles/ http://geeknizer.com/top-5-digital-wallets-to-liberate-payment-hassles/#comments Tue, 12 Aug 2014 13:41:49 +0000 http://geeknizer.com/?p=13234 Read more »]]> Currency and payments has gone through a large number of changes. If you’re still carrying a load of cards meant for payment transaction, you’re doing it wrong. Probably among those who still not aware that digital wallet has lifted this burden from us. And unlike credit cards, smartcards, these are secure, reliable, more trackable, and yet easier.

wallet

Digital wallets mostly revolve around smartphones apps using various modes for transaction from NFC to Bluetooth.

 

Google Wallet

This digital payment allows you to tap your smartphone at the checkout counter to make payment. Google Wallet uses Near Field Communication technology that is available in most smartphones and tablet. Google wallet is accepted at large number of places in US and European countries.

giftcards

Most attractive part of the Google wallet:

  • Free to send money directly from your bank account or using the balance in your Google Wallet to your friends, using google accounts.
  • Fee of 2.9% per transaction (min. of $0.30) to send money using a credit or debit card.
  • Receiving money and transferring to your bank account is always free
  • Lots of Loyalty benefits, Gift cards and Offers available via the Google wallet app itself.

PayPal

If you want to send money to friends online. PayPal app is available for iPhone, iPad and Android phones. If you are playing in mobile bingo offering PayPal bingo, you don’t need to go to PayPal site to make deposits or withdraw money from your funds. You can do the payment transaction right there on your phone.

paypal

You can bump your phone against friends to transfer money.

 

Lemon Wallet

This app is available for smartphones with iOS, Android and Window operating systems. This digital payment allows you to store your cards’ information and use the information that has turned into a barcode to make payment. The merchants scanned this barcode and payment is charged.

Pros:

  • Strong security!
  • Ability to simply scan cards and receipts for easy upload!
  • Lets you categorize and monitor your spending habits!

Cons:

  • Expensive for subscription.
  • Limited functionality.
  • Can struggle to scan items.

Isis

This digital payment has its own cash card that has been preloaded with $10 as start-up cash for payment. However, Isis is only for Android smartphone. The good thing is this wallet is PIN-protected to ensure your cash protection at all times.

isis

Dwola

This is only available in iOS and Android phones. To use this digital payment you need to register in Dwola website and create an account. Your account is connected directly to your bank account and you can use Dwola on many merchants that accept Dowla. It works exactly the same with PayPal where user has to create account on their website and the account is connected with bank account. If you are familiar with PayPal and using this for your online bingo games, you can easily adapt to how Dwola works.

 

Venmo

If you are a fan of Blackberry phones, you can avail Venmo app and send or transfer money to friend’s account. It works similar to PayPal however; Venmo only allows transaction between two parties with Venmo account. Once you transfer or send money with Venmo, you can share the transaction on social networks like Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter. While Venmo is available for Blackberry, it’s now available for iOS and Android.

Square Wallet

This is one cool digital payment that allows you to a hand-free checkout. With Square Wallet in your iOS or Android phones, you link your credit card to the app and you get a merchant card listed in the merchant’s list. When you buy from any of these merchants, the merchant charges the card linked to your credit card. Your favorite merchant will also list you as “loyal” patron and each time you buy from it, all you have to do is say your name at the checkout and payment is directly linked to your credit card.

Personally, I’ve used Google Wallet and Paypal, both are very reliable and easy to use. If I’ve to pick one, I`ll pick Google Wallet for its simplicity, widespread usage, and Google integration.

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Record, Replay TouchEvents on Android http://geeknizer.com/record-replay-touchevents-on-android/ http://geeknizer.com/record-replay-touchevents-on-android/#comments Thu, 07 Aug 2014 13:47:58 +0000 http://geeknizer.com/?p=13230 Read more »]]> Whether you’re android application developer or a regular user performing regular tasks on your Android device, you’ve definitely felt need of automating certain repetitive tasks.

touchevents

Tasks like going through settings and changing a setting can be time consuming. Similarly, for an android developer, its hard to re-test the same features again and again manually. RepetiTouch app lets you automate TouchEvents by Recording and letting you replay any TouchEvents including touch, swipe, multitouch, any gesture of any length.

repetitouch

You need to be rooted and on Android 2.3 or later in order to use RepetiTouch. Its easy to use.

Key Features:

  • System-wide panel with record/replay buttons
  • Simple one-click record & replay
  • Loop replay (long click on the replay button to start)
  • Save and load multiple TouchEvents (incl. autosave/autoload last recording)
  • Record all touchscreen input

Download RepetiTouch from Play store

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Wirelessly Hack unlock Car without Key Fob http://geeknizer.com/wirelessly-hack-unlock-car-without-key-fob/ http://geeknizer.com/wirelessly-hack-unlock-car-without-key-fob/#comments Tue, 05 Aug 2014 15:28:59 +0000 http://geeknizer.com/?p=13220 Read more »]]> Its time for revelation of various hacks from your home security system to cars which rely on wireless key locks, as the BlackHat 2014 conference kicks-off.

At this year’s BlackHat conference, various hacks in security systems have been unveiled. The most shocking being an eavesdropper unlocking your car, without having any prior knowledge about your car or you.

car-lock-hack

Silvio Cesare, an Australian wireless researcher, has developed a way to spoof a wireless key fob that works well with popular cars. With off-the-shelf wireless radio tools costing $1000, he can hack wireless security system of cars. So what this means is that your keyless car entry is going to have a big toll on you. He has said to have tested the hack against his own 10-year old car, which he claims is among the best selling cars in his country. But he claims that car makers tend to source keyfobs from common manufacturers (like Amtel, TRW), making most make/model vulnerable to this kind of security attack.

Cesare uses a Software-defined radio, a software controlled radio device that can be programmed to work with wide set of frequency bands from Mhz (FM, GSM) to Ghz (Bluetooth, Wifi, etc). This mini radio setup is capable of operating as FM transmitter, GSM cell tower, or even bluetooth sender, and Wifi AP/client.

Step 1. Acquisition

With the hardware attached to his laptop, he can capture the frequency range in which keyfob operates and analyze the frequency modulation it uses for communication. With his tests he found most of these keyfobs operating in mhz bands using FM (frequency modulation).

Car security lock keyfobs generate different frequencies on each press. This is a time variant function, a set of frequency will only be used once and it will generate an entirely random set of frequencies next time to unlock the car. All these random generation of keys is based on a seed value (often known as private key) which is unique and embedded into key fob.

Step 2. Brute force

The very next step after knowing about frequency bands is to start the attack with a good old Brute-force method. To get started, you of course need a laptop with the right algorithms programmed (the secret sauce). This  when connected to the Software-radio hardware along with antenna and cheap antenna amplifier, is ready to hack any wireless system.

hackrf

Brute-force attack involves cycling millions of code guesses at a rate of two to three a second until he found the one which successfully unlocked the car. Usually, it only takes less than 2 hours, but it varies from car to car.

Step 3. Optimize the bruteforce attacks (optional)

One doesn’t always have all the available time, and Brute force attacks can be filtered from millions to thousands, accelerating the whole process. However, this optimization requires pre-access to key fob.

Cesare created a hardware automation device to emulate large number of button presses at several key-presses per second and listened to the radio codes it transmitted. The solenoid based robot helped him assemble enough data to find patterns in the seemingly-random numbers, cutting the number of possible unlock codes from around 43 million to around 12,500.

Step 4. Discovering Backdoors

Like described earlier, the frequency codes are unique each time. But there are exceptions to this. There are service codes, intentionally designed by the manufacturer, to help unlock car in case they lost access to original key, or for other maintenance/emergency cases. This is essentially a backdoor a hacker can exploit. During brute-force, there are chances that you find such frequency codes which can be used repeatedly, without trouble. These codes provide a permanent backdoor to the hacker.

With hacker’s testing, the backdoor code worked as much as dozen times before it seized to work. There’s one more pre-requisite to making backdoor codes to work — The attacker must first identify a portion of the unlocking code that’s different for every vehicle. That means the hacker would need to eavesdrop on one lock or unlock command sent from the victim’s key fob, which is already described in step 3.

What it means for You and Your Car

Do you get to know if you got Hacked?

Of course, you probably lost your car or belongings. In case you’re lucky enough to not lose those, your key fob doesn’t work on the next use, and takes two or three button presses to again synch up with the car’s locking system.

What is the scale of the Car unlock Hack?

Imagine cars parked in a parking area where a hacker plans to run a full brute-force attack on the available wireless spectrum. With the calculated attack, hacker can create a unlock mania, unlocking several hours every few minutes. Imagine the possibilities and the scale. We’re not trying to scare you or anything but criminals could hire researchers to replicate the attack. And if that happens, the scale is too large to imagine.

The Hacker used sophisticate hardware which costed him over a grand but with newer hardware like HackRF, one can build similar hardware for under $200, making it more accessible to everyone.

Is your car vulnerable?

Honestly, no one, other than Cesare knows what makes and models are vulnerable. Even though researcher believes newer key fobs are way less vulnerable coz they use better algorithms. But there’s no guarantee you’re safe. Someone somewhere could develop algorithm to break it, some day.

Hacker has already reported the incident to CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team), which is working to alert the manufacturers of potential victims.

This is not the first time wireless unlocking systems have been hacked. They have become better with time and with HackRF, its only about to get worse.

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MythBuster: Do you need Antivirus on Android? http://geeknizer.com/mythbuster-do-you-need-antivirus-on-android/ http://geeknizer.com/mythbuster-do-you-need-antivirus-on-android/#comments Sat, 02 Aug 2014 13:47:48 +0000 http://geeknizer.com/?p=13202 Read more »]]> If you’ve been reading the web or browsing through news articles about Android, chances are you’ve come across a number of articles that claim Android is vulnerable to X attack, Y Malware, and Z Virus. Such articles would also claim that you should fear coz that vulnerability impacts 90% blah Android users.

android-antivirus

Not all of that is true! Anti-viruses are for those who don’t understand Android’s architecture.
So are these articles misleading? Mostly. Such reports are often exaggerated by various security firms and/or sponsored/promoted by various Antivirus companies who have nothing better to do than slowing down your priceless phones.

How secure is Android?

To understand this you’ll really have to dig deep into Android’s architecture and design principles.
Android, inherently, is fairly secure. With versions Android 4.2+, the security is pretty robust thanks to SELinux (Security Enhanced Linux, SEAndroid), contributed by NSA to Android open source project (AOSP).

android-layers-security

Android (since inception) uses something called Sandboxing. Its like building virtual walls across territories of apps. One app cannot cross that wall, no matter what. Cross sandbox communication can only happen through system-controlled media (IPC, Broadcasts, ContentProviders, etc). All of these are totally secure, and there’s no way an app can affect another one on the Android system.

The Android platform takes advantage of the Linux user-based protection as a means of identifying and isolating application resources. The Android system assigns a unique user ID (UID) to each Android application and runs it as that user in a separate process. This approach is different from other operating systems (including the traditional Linux configuration), where multiple applications run with the same user permissions.

This sets up a kernel-level Application Sandbox. The kernel enforces security between applications and the system at the process level through standard Linux facilities, such as user and group IDs that are assigned to applications. By default, applications cannot interact with each other and applications have limited access to the operating system. If application A tries to do something malicious like read application B’s data or dial the phone without permission (which is a separate application), then the operating system protects against this because application A does not have the appropriate user privileges. The sandbox is simple, auditable, and based on decades-old UNIX-style user separation of processes and file permissions.

So Android OS is always this secure? Yes, the system cannot be compromised but your data can, when you install malware apps from source other than Play Store.

What are these malicious apps? These are apps that do more than they pretend. It could be as simple as a third party App store (e.g. App genie) which demands way too many App Permissions than it should. An app like App store should never need access to your contacts, fine location, calls, read sms, or Google accounts. Coz you installed the app agreeing to those permissions, Android assumes you’re fine by the app using all those permissions, and those apps will use your private data in the way they intend to, without you ever knowing it.

permissions

android-permissions

What should you do?

Don’t install apps that use permissions they shouldn’t. Google scans all apps published to Play store for any malware signatures, but if you find some app using more permissions than it should, don’t install it, use an alternative instead.

99.8% of malware came from outside the Google Play Store. So when you sideload apps or install apps from unknown sources take utmost care whom you trust.

apps-install-graph

What AntiViruses on Android do?

On a Windows PC, Antivirus looks for various signatures, behaviors to find malicious activity. However, its not possible to scan apps on android since Antivirus itself cannot cross app’s boundaries to read other apps. All it can check for is what apps are installed or are being installed. It can then alert users if any of those apps have been previously found to be malicious. Where PC antiviruses can detect potential new threats, antiviruses on Android are very handicapped. Unless and until an app has been identified as malicious by the antivirus company, the antivirus would let go any misbehaving app undetected.

Antivirus software on your smartphone works just about the same way as Google’s verification software. According to Google, “if you attempt to install an app from any source while app verification is turned on, your device may send information identifying the app to Google”.
This verification will walk through the whole process in the background, all without getting in the way (unless there’s a major red flag). Google’s anti-malware detector, Bouncer, also regularly scans for any app misbehavior or any activity that should be brought to your attention.

Having both antivirus software and the Play Services app installed is like having two of the same app on your phone. Both essentially doing redundant tasks. 

So Antiviruses are totally useless? Not always. They do have number of other security features like lost phone location detection, reporting malicious websites, block call/sms, firewall (rooted inly) etc. But all of these are mostly done by Android and various other app. Android device manager locates your lost Android phone, lets you erase it and more. Similarly, Chrome (default browser) can detect malicious sites. And there are other dedicated app which can do other tasks better than these feature-rich antiviruses.

Antivirus companies try hard to make their app look attractive by giving away bulk of feature list to impress you. You really don’t need those as long as you’ve other apps to get those done.

Google’s take on Android Security

Google’s Android Security chief Adrian Ludwig reported data showing that less than an estimated 0.001% of app installations on Android are able to evade the system’s multi-layered defenses and cause harm to users. Android, built on an open innovation model, has quietly resisted the locked down, total control model spawned by decades of Windows malware. Ludwig spoke today at the Virus Bulletin conference in Berlin because he has the data to dispute the claims of pervasive Android malware threats.

android-defense
Ludwig sees security in biological terms:

“A walled garden systems approach blocking predators and disease breaks down when rapid growth and evolution creates too much complexity. Android’s innovation from inside and outside Google are continuous, making it impossible to create such a walled garden by locking down Android at the device level.”

Google makes use of Center for Disease Control (CDC) than the PC security industry’s antiviruses. “The CDC knows that it’s not realistic to try to eradicate all disease. Rather, it monitors disease with scientific rigor, providing preventative guidance and effective responses to harmful outbreaks.”

The problem Google wants to solve is that most independent security researchers don’t have access to a platform such as Google’s to measure how many times a malware app has been installed. They are analogous to human disease researchers without a CDC to measure the size of a disease outbreak and coordinate a response. Security researchers are very good at finding and fixing malware, but in the absence of reliable data that indicate how frequently a malware app has been installed, the threat level can become exaggerated. Reports that reach publication are often extremely exaggerated. To emphasize this point, Ludwig revealed in his analysis that some of the most publicized recent malware discoveries are installed in less than one per million installations.

Google had introduced a new feature in 2012 called “Verify Apps”. Verify Apps intervenes when an app is downloaded, compares it to a large database of malware information curated by Google and warns the user if the app is potentially harmful. Verify Apps is also distributed to older Android versions by including it in updates to the Google Play app that is used to download apps from Google’s app store. Checking and blocking apps is enabled by default requiring a user to choose to disable it in order to circumvent its protection.

Using Verify Apps, Google collected this data outside of the protected perimeter of the Google Play app store from installations “in the wild” where the incidence of malware is higher.

Almost 40% are “fraudware” apps that drain the users smartphone account by making premium telephone calls or sending premium SMS messages.

Another 40% classified as “rooting” apps are labeled as potentially harmful applications by Verify Apps, but they are not considered malicious. Smartphone hobbyists and developers frequently root their devices for many benign reasons such as installing custom Android versions like CyanogenMod or to remove carrier installed apps.

About 15% are commercial spyware, a diverse set of monitoring apps that range from tracking internet behavior to improve advertising to the very malicious keyloggers that collect personal information entered by the user and report it to the malware creator. The 6% balance is a diverse set of mainly malicious apps.

Verdict

If you install all your apps only from Play Store, you’re safe for 99.5% of the cases. You can raise it to 99.9% by spending time on assessing permissions each application uses at the time of install.

If you occasionally install apps from other sources make sure you’ve Verify apps enabled (Settings  > Security > Verify apps) and thoroughly check permissions app requires.

android-red

An antivirus will not give you additional security, what it will take away from your device is speed and battery life. You don’t need it if you’re little careful while installing apps. Live free, android is most secure OS out there, it won’t let you down till you drunkard install.

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Xiaomi Mi3 India LongTerm Review http://geeknizer.com/xiaomi-mi3-india-review/ http://geeknizer.com/xiaomi-mi3-india-review/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 12:55:16 +0000 http://geeknizer.com/?p=13184 Read more »]]> Xiaomi is bringing premium phones to the masses by setting super low prices for their current generation Snapdragon 800 device Mi3.

mi3-outdoors-display-visibility

xiaomi-mi3-india

Spec wise, Mi3 is among the top league of Android smartphones like Nexus 5, Xperia Z1 only slightly shy of phones like Xperia Z2, Galaxy S5, Htc One (M8) and yet costs 1/3rd the price. Mi3 retails at around $240 or Rs. 14,000 in India through Flipkart. Even though bigger and better Mi4 is out with Snapdragon 801, its not a much of an improvement on Mi3.

So what do you get in MI3?

Mi 3 Tech Specs

  • Snapdragon 800 Quad-core 2.3Ghz CPU (same as Xperia Z1, Nexus 5, others)
  • 2GB RAM
  • 2MP front, 13MP rear F2.2 Sony camera ~ quality matches that of Galaxy S4
  • 16GB internal storage (non-expandable), supports OTG cable for pen drives.
  • 5″ 1080p IPS display, with Gorilla glass 3 protection.
  • 3050mAh battery, lasts 2 days of usage.
  • 3.5G HSDPA, Wifi 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.0

We had been playing with Mi3 for over a month now and we can’t believe how it achieves such a low price mark.

Design

Design is great. Its a typical wedge design that you originally saw with LG cookie, then later with Sony Xperias and Nokia Lumias. Sides are curved and champhered to remind you of Lumia, the form factor is square enough to not forget Xperias.

mi3-back

mi3speaker

mi3-vs-xperia-z1-vs-vita

The back is all premium plastic that you would easily confuse with metal. Overall, device is well built yet thin and lighter than most smartphones out there.

Update: Even though the device feels delicate in hands, it could handled 2 falls straight to the cemented floor without any significant scratches on the front glass or hybrid plastic on the back. Still, we recommend getting a good case for the phone.

Screen

No surprises here, it bright and neutrally natural. Its not as contrasty as Nexus 5 or Samsung OLEDs but more natural. 441pi makes this device crisp and joy to read from. Viewing angles are great. Screen doesn’t have too much of visibility in direct sunlight but is not bad, its perfectly readable.

xiaomi-mi3-outdoors

Camera & picture quality

Camera clicks fair photos in good light with its Sony 13 Megapixel sensor, better than Nexus 5 any day. However, you cannot compare it with other flagships like Xperia Z1, Z2, or S5. Even though it has decent F2.2 aperture, low light performance is average, it won’t impress you much in that department. But the Dual LED does a fair job in getting good photos in low light.

xperia-z1-vs-mi3-lowlight-camera

mi3-camera-vs-z1

 

Compare the camera to S5 or Z1 and you’ll be embarrassed, but compare it to Note 2, HTC One, or Xperia Z, this phone is a stunner. Macro performance of the F2.2 aperture camera is decent, at ISO 800, there was tolerable noise, which becomes horrible at ISO 1600.

mi3-camera-shot

Here is another one shot with ISO 200 and details are well-preserved.

mi3-outdoor-shot

It shoots video at 1080p at 30FPS, no 60fps or 4k support, but you can’t really ask for them at this price. The video is stabilized to some extent using software to reduce shakes, but its not as good as competition.

Audio Quality

Audio quality from 3.5mm audio jack

Where other Snapdragon phones like Galaxy S5 sport Wolfson DAC, which produces amazing sound for a portable, Mi3 uses Cirrus Logic CS42L73 DAC, same as one used in iPhone 5. But we found audio to be not even near to that iPhones. May be they didn’t use a good preamp, or the audio driver is screwed, its not on par with competition.

We would rate the audio quality below all 2013, 2014 Android flagships. But its still better than other chinese based smartphones like Gionee. Its a no go for Android Audiophiles.

Loudspeaker

The audio from loudspeaker is decent enough to meet anyone’s needs. It’s as loud as S4, not as good as S5 or HTC One.

Interface & User experience

MIUI is one of the most powerful and customizable ROMs on android ever. Enthusiasts will have fun with themes and gazillion settings to play with. e.g. MIUI has million features from avoiding accidental pocket touches, to active real-time network usage.

Had it been typical samsung loaded with features, you would have seen lags all around. On Xiaomi, all of that doesn’t affect performance of this device, its always slick, we didn’t find any lags whatsoever during our prolonged usage.

xiaomi-mi3

Mi3 runs latest iteration of MIUI based on 4.4.2 Kitkat and MIUI v5. Its more like iOS mingled with the best of Android.

mi3-display-outdoors

Battery Life

Battery is rated at 3050mAh, with power save mode ON, it can easily last 1-2 days depending on your usage. With heavy browsing and calling, the phone lasts 4.5 hours of screen, 3 hours calling and more and still it lasts slightly over a day.

battery-mi3

The built-in charger is rated at 2Amps, which means it should charge the device pretty quickly. Mi3 charges from zero to 80% in under an hour, which is quiet nifty.

 

Mi3 is exclusively available on Flipkart in India and is worth every penny. Checkout the complete Mi3 Photo Gallery.

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Mirror Any Android Device’s Screen to Chromecast [MirrorEnabler] http://geeknizer.com/mirror-any-android-screen-to-chromecast/ http://geeknizer.com/mirror-any-android-screen-to-chromecast/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 14:40:32 +0000 http://geeknizer.com/?p=13176 Read more »]]> Google has pushed update for the Chromecast app (v1.7.4+) using which you can cast entire Android screen on your HDTV using Chromecast USB dongle. But Google made the app compatible with limited set of Phones including Nexus 4, NExus 5, Nexus 7, Nexus 10, HTC One M7, Galaxy S4, S5.

mirror-android-tv-chromecast

However, a new mod for Rooted android phones enables you to cast/mirror your entire Android screen onto chromecast TV with ease.

Supported devices

In general, any Android phone released in year 2012 or later works.

  • Nexus 4
  • Nexus 5
  • Nexus 7 (2013)
  • Nexus 10
  • Samsung Galaxy S4
  • Samsung Galaxy S5
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10 (2014)
  • HTC One M7
  • LG G Pro2
  • LG G2
  • LG G3
  • ASUS PadFone 2
  • Droid RAZR MAXX HD
  • Sony Xperia Z1
  • Sony Xperia Z2
  • Sony Xperia ZL
  • Sony Z Ultra
  • HTC One M8 (Including GPE)
  • Motorola Moto X
  • Motorola Moto G
  • Samsung Note 8 Tab
  • Samsung Note Pro 12.2 Tab
  • Nexus 7 2012
  • Oppo Find 7
  • Oppo Find 7a
  • LG GPad 8.3
  • NVIDIA SHIELD
  • Galaxy S3
  • Galaxy Note 2

and couple of other phones not listed above.

cast_screen

How to Enable Chromecast Mirroring on ANY Android Device

Step 1. Make sure your device is Rooted.

Step 2. Install the mod from Xda thread.

Step 3. Run the #MirrorEnabler app and click “Disabled” to make it “Enabled”.

Step 4. Run the chromecast  app [make sure its updated to v1.7.4+] and Mirror/ Screencast feature would show up in Navigation sidebar. Click and start casting to TV.

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Force Deep Sleep on Android to Extend Battery http://geeknizer.com/force-deep-sleep-on-android/ http://geeknizer.com/force-deep-sleep-on-android/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 13:17:03 +0000 http://geeknizer.com/?p=13156 Read more »]]> Our phones have become pixel sharp, as fast as a 5 year laptop, bundled with plethora of sensors. All of these come at the cost of Battery life. Battery technology and capacity has increased over the years, but it still sometimes can’t cope up with fullday use. Easy way around is to carry Battery packs like Anker 3000mAh (1-2 full charges), PowerAdd Pilot 10,000mAh (upto 6 full charges).

deepsleep-xposed-app

Not everyone likes to carry portable chargers everywhere, and why even buy them if you could extend battery life of your phone?

A new Xposed framework module allows you to do exactly that by saving upto 20 – 30% battery by forcing “Deep sleep” on your phone when screen is off. Ideally, Android applications can run and sync in the background (when in standby) and reduce the standby time by large. Depending on the kind of applications you’ve installed, you can easily extend battery life by 20% with Deep sleep.

battery-deepsleep

With Deepsleep, it turns off everything when screen is off i.e. Wifi, 3G background apps are stopped/paused. All apps like Facebook, Google Service, Hangouts, whatsapp etc, will be paused. However, in order to stay in touch with the world, it periodically wakesup data connection and apps so that you recieve your whatsapp messages, emails. You can configure this to suit your needs including day/night settings, active period, screen timeout, sync strategy, ignored apps, etc.

If you like to keep things simple, you can choose from pre-defined profiles: Gentle, Balance, Strong, Aggressive, Slumberer. Gentle being least disruptive, but save less battery and so on. You can create your own custom profiles but you cannot change default ones.

deepsleep-xposed

How Profile settings work
You can set profiles for each Weekdays vs Weekends based on following:

Frequency: How often device wakesup
Duration: How long device stays awake.
Wireless & Network: Whether to turn off radio or not.
Sync: Control sync strategy
Apps: Whitelist/blacklist apps
CPU: Process twist – root only
Night period

How to Install:
Pre-requisites:
1. Rooted phone
2. Xposed Framework

You can Install the Xposed module for Deep sleep from Play store. Make sure you enable it after installation in Xposed Installer app.

More: 20 Best Must have Xposed Modules for Android

 

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Audio Improvements in Android 5.0 L [Audiophile] http://geeknizer.com/audio-improvements-in-android-5-0-l-audiophile/ http://geeknizer.com/audio-improvements-in-android-5-0-l-audiophile/#comments Sat, 28 Jun 2014 16:20:53 +0000 http://geeknizer.com/?p=13141 Read more »]]> Android 5.0 (L-Release) is set to improve Audio and Video experience by huge margin.

Not only does Android 5.0 enables Pro Photography, it will be welcomed by audio processing applications including composition, production and karaoke for the first time.

android-dac-audiophile

Audio on Android had sucked big time. There was not just output delay (which was fixed by a good margin in KitKat); there is significant input delay as well. The delay is sometimes as large as 600ms, thereby making it a deal breaker for Audio processing enthusiasts. With recent changes to L release, its all changing for good.

Let’s go over all the Audio improvements in Android 5.0 aka L release:

1. Low latency (Input / Output) – Audio patch-panel

Kitkat introduced OpenSL based accelerated audio to reduce output audio delay, but it was still high enough to be usable for Audio processing apps.

With Android 5.0 comes Audio patch-panel that ensure significantly lower input-latency (~20ms) which is not perfect but very usable. Output latency and whole audio processing is also accelerated to reduce significantly, to enable Real-time audio for the first time.

2. 24bits per sample

Sample resolution is up from 16bit PCM to 24bit for better precision. In Kitkat and older releases, Android was 16bit per sample throughout the processing system. Even though several 2013 and newer phones supported24bit 96khz DAC, Android core never really made use of it. Some OEMs like LG did make alter the Android AudioFlinger and kernel to leverage 24bit but it was never contributed back to Android community.

3. 96khz sampling rate

Yes, up from 44khz/48khz, now Android supports 96khz sampling rate.

4. Floating point for Sampling

Floating point is a scary word for every programmer coz not only its costly (double the memory), its painfully slow. Google is trying to change the impression Floating points have. They have made the whole Audio system floating point compatible, arguing that FPs are as fast as Integers on modern SIMD processors, and the advantages are significant. Immediate advantages of using FPs are:

  • No audio clipping
  • Better precision – Better quality
  • Better dynamic range
  • greater headroom

Floating-point arithmetic is especially useful during intermediate calculations. Playback end-points use integer format for audio data, and with lower bit-depth. (In the L Developer Preview, portions of the internal pipeline are not yet floating-point.)

audio-input-output-android5

For developers: Use android.media.AudioFormat.ENCODING_PCM_FLOAT

5. Better Resampling

Android 5.0 improves on the Linear interpolator used to resample audio streams. Most audio files have either 44khz or 48khz or 96khz sampling. In order to play jitter free, it needs to be resampled if it doesn’t match the phone’s DAC supported sampling rate. e.g. Nexus 5 supports 48khz sampling rate. So in order to play a 44khz Mp3, it must be resampled to 48khz. Resampling is a mess in pre-5.0 Androids coz the linear interpolator adds lots of aliasing and artifacts.

audio-resampler-android5

5.0 Resampler is written ground up for minimal resampling aliasing by increasing sampling to twice.

audio-aliasing-android

6. Improved AV sync

Android had Audio and Video sync problems (of the order of 10 – 100ms) since a very long time now. Finally it has been addressed with new synchronized methods that ensure audio track matches with video keyframes, at all times.

7. USB audio

Yes, USB audio is now officially supported. Out of the box, you should be able to use external Soundcards (or DAC) and route all audio through it. This is a big news for Android Audiophiles who use USB DACs like Fiio E7, Meridian Explorer, Audioquest DragonFly DAC checkout this thread for USB DAC compatibility list.

8. API improvements (For developers)

  • Your app can now supply audio data as a ByteBuffer, in the same format as provided by MediaCodec.
  • New NDK Media APIs
  • The WRITE_NON_BLOCKING option can simplify buffering and multithreading for some apps.

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Android 5.0 L enables Pro Photography http://geeknizer.com/android-5-0-l-supports-pro-photography/ http://geeknizer.com/android-5-0-l-supports-pro-photography/#comments Sat, 28 Jun 2014 05:52:19 +0000 http://geeknizer.com/?p=13136 Read more »]]> Android 5.0 (L release) is set to change standards for Android Media(Audio & Video). Photographers & Audiophiles will rejoice the improvements.

Android 5.0 adds a huge list of features to the API that will enable developers build richer applications than before. The improvements in Camera API allow developers to achieve full Manual control over each camera parameter.

android-5-photography

Lets go over what’s new with Camera2 API in Android 5.0:

1. DNG ( Digital Negative Image) aka RAW Image:

This is huge. Android would now support DNG (or RAW) images out of the box. What this means is upcoming Android camera apps would be able to create RAW image along with PNG, JPEG for each shot. Photographers can import this RAW file into Photoshop or Lightroom to bypass smartphone’s poor Noise correction, white-balance algorithms.
What is DNG?
DNG images have very minimal processing applied and exhibit basically the same compression as RAW files, meaning you’re getting all of the data the sensor captures instead of letting the image processor do the work of trimming things down and adjusting the image to what it perceives as a desirable result.

From the Android’s Camera API documentation:

The DngCreator class provides functions to write raw pixel data as a DNG file.

This class is designed to be used with the RAW_SENSOR buffers available fromCameraDevice, or with Bayer-type raw pixel data that is otherwise generated by an application. The DNG metadata tags will be generated from a CaptureResultobject or set directly.
The DNG file format is a cross-platform file format that is used to store pixel data from camera sensors with minimal pre-processing applied. DNG files allow for pixel data to be defined in a user-defined colorspace, and have associated metadata that allow for this pixel data to be converted to the standard CIE XYZ colorspace during post-processing.
For more information on the DNG file format and associated metadata, please refer to the Adobe DNG 1.4.0.0 specification

2. Faster, limited only by hardware

The Camera 2 API  delivers full resolution images in Realtime (i.e. same line speed of the camera), enabled by a fully synchronized pipeline. In layman’s terms, it can take the best out of the camera hardware, despite what OEM might set limits for in software. e.g.  Nexus 5 can capture photos at 30 FPS, at it’s hardware maximum resolution of 8 megapixels.

3. Burst Mode

Like mentioned above, API now enables App developers to burst capture photos with minimal delay. You can set target FPS rate you want to capture at, and Android will do its best.

4. Full Manual control

New Camera 2 API lets you take control over:

  • Exposure (duration in seconds)
  • Exposure compensation (+- 3)
  • ISO sensitivity (supported by hardware)
  • Manual focus / AF Trigger
  • Flash Trigger
  • AE / AF / AWB mode  (Auto-exposure / Auto Focus / Auto white balance mode)
  • AE / AWB lock (Auto-exposure / Auto white balance lock)
  • Precapture AE
  • Hardware enabled Video stabilization
  • Metering regions
  • Tonemap curve
  • Color correction matrix
  • Frame duration

We can only imagine what kind of Photography apps for Android would arrive in future.

And yes, don’t forget Nikon and others are building army of next generation dSLRs based on Android. Sky is the limit.

android-photography

 

( image source: geekPhotography.in)

Related: Audio Improvements in Android 5.0 L [Audiophile]

Developers, leverage it!

If you’re a developer, checkout the video below that discusses improvements in Camera 2 API. These are also included in platform samples in Camera2Basic, Camera2Video java files.

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Android 5.0 L Release Features – Everything you need to Know http://geeknizer.com/android-5-0-l-release-features/ http://geeknizer.com/android-5-0-l-release-features/#comments Thu, 26 Jun 2014 14:59:20 +0000 http://geeknizer.com/?p=13118 Read more »]]> Google announced the next version of Android i.e. L release aka Android 5.0

android-l-5

Lets quickly walk you through what’s new and what you should expect from next version of Android:

1. New Design – Material Design

Google has refreshed the whole design philosophy behind Android OS and apps along with web applications. The new design, which they call as “Material design” takes inspiration from real world objects like pen and paper.

Everything from contacts, dialer, Gmail have more real-life like animations and transitions. No longer do 2-screens in application look disconnected.

Material design is all about 3D UI elements, as well as shadow effects and new 60fps animations that show movement, ripples and quicker touch feedback (the amount of time it takes to tell you that what you just touched is actually producing the expected result). This new design language features hierarchy, it’s responsive colorful and is meant to unify all Android-based platforms.

material-design

All UI elements get depth, which is in-contrast to Apple’s iOS 7 Flat-design.

gmail-material-design

2. Notifications & Lockscreen

Notifications are getting overhauled. They now popout of notification bar for increased visibility, they’re called “heads up notification” — They are actually helpful when you’re in fullscreen playing a game.

Quick settings have also been integrated into the notifications panel. These settings are hidden by default but can be made visible from view when you pull down the notification bar, but they’ll appear if you keep pulling (or if you tap the bar on the top).

android5-notification

Notifications are now also displayed on Lockscreen. You can scroll through them, single tap to expand and double tap to launch right from lockscreen.

android5-notifications

With wearables, your device is automatically unlocked (no security pattern) when your wearable is in vicinity of the android device.

3. Performance

Dalvik runtime has been replaced with ART (Android Runtime). A new runtime VM that has 2x times the performance of Dalvik VM under all circumstances.

The performance is not just for computational logics but also for graphics. Android 5.0 will have huge boost in graphics with Google assuring DirectX11 level graphics on decent hardware smartphones. Android L release includes Android expansion packs with things like shaders and tessellations.

Android is now 64-bit across all hardware platforms: ARM, x86, MIPS.

4. Battery life

On an average, ART runtime alone improves battery by 30% over Dalvik. Among other improvements, a new project called Project Volta, that aims to reduce battery consumption by scheduling network calls only when device is awake (or at regular schedules) so that device can enter deep-sleep for longer durations.

android5-battery

Android now offers a Battery saver mode (finally). Battery saver mode limits CPU cores/clock, and even disable background data for extended usage. In-addition it switches-off animations, reduces refresh-rate to improve battery life further.

On Nexus 5, if your (screen on) usage is 4hours, it will extend by 90minutes with battery saver mode.

5. Security & Enterprise support

Android is way more secure than before. It inherits some features from Samsung knox to support data sandboxing between Office (corporate) and personal apps. This enable users have single device for work and fun.

6. Deeper integration with web

Google is making Android native apps work seamlessly with the cloud. Most Google webapps would like just like native apps (with Material design) with similar experience across Web, tablets, phones.

Chrome Tabs will also appear in the recent applications, blurring the difference between webapps and native apps.

android-chrome-recent-apps

Google search results can now open directly inside app.

7. New APIs

Developers will have 5,000 new APIs to play with. Animations, transitions are way more powerful and easier to do that ever before.

Few new API support: Full 64-bit support across all platforms: ARM, x86, MIPS, Improved AV-sync, hardware assisted Hot-word detection, NDK media APIs, burst-mode Camera APIs, TV input framework, path animations, CardView, RecycledView, color space correction, lock to app apis, Document-centric multitasking, and several others.

android-l-features

Android L HandsOn Video (Early Preview)

 

Availability:

Android L Release (Android 5.0) developer preview is now available to developers for getting ready. The final release will be made available by late October – November 2014.

What would L Release be called?
Most probably it will be called Android Lollipop. But there are several other predictions like Ladoo, LimePie etc.

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