Xiaomi ‘Kenzo’ Benchmarked; Tipped to be Redmi 3

A new Xiaomi smartphone codenamed ‘Kenzo’ has been spotted at a benchmark listing. The handset believed to be the Redmi 3 is seen featuring a hexa-core processor clocked at 1.4GHz.

The GeekBench listing however notes the chipset to be MSM8952 which points out towards the presence of an octa-core Snapdragon 617 coupled with 2GB of RAM. The Xiaomi ‘Kenzo’ is lited to run Android 5.1.1 Lollipop. According to the benchmark listing results, the ‘Kenzo’ scored 1561 in single-core tests while 4541 in multi-core tests. So far there are limited details about the handset. Back in July, a Xiaomi handset codenamed ‘Libra’ was also spotted at a benchmark listing featuring a hexa-core processor.

xiaomi_kenzo_geekbench_listing.jpgThe leaked benchmark details of purported Redmi 3 smartphone comes amidst several Mi 5 leaks. The upcoming flagship smartphone from Xiaomi has been leaked in several images purportedly showing the handset.

An earlier leaked detail by a tipster from China claimed that Xiaomi may launch two versions of the Mi 5 – one priced at CNY 1,999 (approximately Rs. 20,800) and another at CNY 2,499 (approximately Rs. 26,000). It also suggested some of the features of the Mi 5 smartphone, like a pressure-sensitive touchscreen. The tipster had also claimed that Mi 5 would be the company’s first smartphone running Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

Xiaomi last month unveiled its new Redmi Note 3 smartphone in China. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 will be available in two variants: one with 2GB RAM and 16GB inbuilt storage variant priced at CNY 899 (approximately Rs. 9,500) and another with 3GB of RAM and 32GB storage at CNY 1,099 (approximately Rs. 11,500). There’s no word yet on India price or launch date.

Google Photos Update Brings Shared Albums to Android, iOS, and Web

Google demoed the Shared Albums feature for its Photos application during the Google I/O conference in May. The company, as promised in September, has finally started seeding it to users of Google Photos for Android, iOS, and Web.

All you need to do is to create a shared album in Google Photos, add the desired images or videos, and share the album link with users via SMS, WhatsApp, or other mediums. The link will open in the app for existing Photos users while others can open the album either on their mobile devices or on the Web. Shared album users will receive a notification as and when content is added. You (album creator) can also allow if others can upload more content in the album or not. The images and videos from the shared album can also be saved in Google Photo’s main library.

The updated Google Photos app for Android and iOS is available to download from Google Play (version 1.10.0) and App Store (version 1.6.0). The search giant has also posted a YouTube video demonstrating the feature.

Last month, Google introduced the Free Up Space feature, which lets users give the application permission to bulk-delete those media files that have been already backed up to the cloud. The update also allowed Google Photos to delete images from SD-cards as well. It additionally enabled Web users to compress the media uploaded in Original Quality to High Quality.

HTC Vive Headset Pre-Order to Start in February 2016, Says Company

Earlier this week, HTC had finally announced a release date for the HTC Vive virtual reality headset, which was first unveiled at MWC 2015. HTC has now confirmed in a blog post that the Vive pre-orders will start in February, followed by commercial availability in April.

The Vive, made in partnership between Valve and HTC, is one of the few serious comeptitors to theOculus Rift, and our first experience with the headset really blew us away.

A second update on Thursday confirmed that the Vive will be launching next year; HTC also noted that apart from the units that have already been distributed, an additional 7,000 developer kits are being distributed in early 2016, and it promises that by the time the consumer headsets are on sale, a large library of virtual content will be available.

In the new update, HTC also talks about the content that will power virtual reality, beyond games and entertainment.

Regarding the depth and breadth of content that can be expected, we are looking at a wide variety of different VR content, from games to experiences, and beyond. We are working to ensure every piece of content put out will provide the incredible experience made possible through the room-scale technology of the HTC Vive, and we’re striving for perfection.

We are proud to have recently co-hosted a symposium with Professor Neil Martin, Chair of the Neurosurgery Department at UCLA, who is widely recognized as one of the best neurosurgeons in the world. Along with several attending medical professionals, he emphasized how HTC Vive can transform the training of future medical students, especially in the area of dissection, by helping to reduce the dependency on cadavers for dissection, which is currently estimated at 30-40 per med student). Vive simulates real life situations and medical crises, providing better training for students and improving patient outcomes. Attendees who experienced the Vive at this event were very inspired and felt that the virtual reality experience HTC delivered far exceeded their expectations.

The Vive Unbound show that is taking place in Beijing on December 18 will have more details, and should give us all a better idea about Vive’s retail price.

Google Chromecast Audio Update Brings Multi-Room Feature and Hi-Res Audio Support

Google’s Chromecast Audio, the audio streaming device that was launched in September has started receiving a software update. The update adds two new features that will “elevate your listening experience,” according to the company.

The highlight of the Chromecast Audio software update is the inclusion of multi-room support. The feature will enable users to group Chromecast Audio devices together to listen to a song simultaneously on multiple devices. For this, users will need to connect and setup a Chromecast Audio for each speaker and then use the Chromecast app to create a group. Casting audio content to a group is similar to casting content to a single speaker.

The second feature that comes as a part of the software update is the Hi-Res audio support. The Hi-Res audio support will let Chromecast Audio play audio of up to 96KHz/24bit, delivering ‘higher-than-CD-quality audio’ on the audio device, says Tomer Shekel, Product Manager, Google in the company blog post.

Google launched the Chromecast Audio streaming device alongside the refreshed Chromecast video streaming dongle in September. Priced at $35 (roughly Rs. 2,300), the Chromecast Audio allows one to stream music to their regular speakers directly from a smartphone or laptop. The company said that the Chromecast Audio doesn’t compress audio, assuring the audiophile inside you that the device wouldn’t compromise on audio quality. It works with Android and iOS devices, apart from PCs. The device supports high-quality audio, 2 watt RMS, and an optional optical digital out that sits in the hybrid port. It additionally includes a feature called guest access, allowing others to stream even if they are not connected to the user’s Wi-Fi network.

LG Executive Acquitted of Sabotaging Samsung Washing Machines

A South Korean court on Friday acquitted a senior LG Electronics executive on charges of sabotaging rival Samsung washing machines at a trade fair in Germany last year.

The Seoul Central District Court dismissed the case against Jo Seong-Jin, the president of LG’s home appliance division, citing a lack of compelling evidence.

The two South Korean tech giants have been fierce competitors for years, and the washing machine spat broke out after Samsung claimed surveillance video footage from the September 2014 fair in Berlin showed LG executives, including Jo, destroying door hinges on its washers.

The court ruled the prosecution failed to prove Jo actually broke the washers or had intended to do so.

In March this year, the two companies decided to end all their legal disputes, but Jo’s trial went aheadbecause the criminal case had already been launched.

Bitter competitors in home appliance and TV markets both at home and abroad, Samsung and LG have locked horns for years over patent disputes and attack ads denigrating each others’ products.

Things got so bad at one point that Seoul’s trade minister arranged a meeting between the two firms’ top executives in 2013 to broker a truce.

Apple TV Already Has Over 2,600 Apps; Games Dominant Category

Apple believes the future of TV is apps, and that’s the core idea around which it has built the new Apple TV. But how is the new device fairing with developers? Pretty good, actually. In six weeks since the launch of the fourth-generation Apple TV, there are already over 2,500 apps in the tvOS App Store.

Developers are certainly jumping to the platform. According to app intelligence platform appFigures, there are 2,624 apps available in the tvOS App Store. The number is seeing an upward growth, the firm says. It expects the count to hit 5,000 in January 2016, and 10,000 sometime next year. In a recent interview, Eddy Cue, Senior VP of Internet Software and Services at Apple, said that the company was seeing a “tremendous developer interest.”

It seems game developers are most excited about the Apple TV. Data reveals that with 1,002 apps (38 percent), Games is the most popular category on the Apple TV. Following Games is Entertainment genre, which has seen the arrival of Netflix, HBO Go, and Plex in the past few weeks. No wonder then Games and Entertainment apps dominated in the company’s best apps for this year. The company gave HBO Now the mantle for the best app for the Apple TV. Following it were Zova – Personal Trainer, Kitchen Stories, Netflix, Airbnb, Showtime, Storehouse, Hulu, Sago Mini Fairy Tales TV, Playkids.

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The tvOS provides developers with the ability to develop apps for the big screen that can utilise hardware’s capabilities. However, Apple is also strict about several things, such as its no-ads policy with tvOS apps. The Apple TV also restricts many things. App developers, for instance, don’t have access to the Siri Remote’s mic, they can also not implement support for multiple Game Center accounts, which would be nice to have for multiplayer games.

Millions of Internet Explorer Users Must Update Their Browser to Remain Safe

Millions of Internet Explorer users have just five weeks to upgrade to a newer browser, Microsoft has warned. Failure to do so will expose them to security attacks.

The company recently sent out a reminder to let users know that all versions of Internet Explorer below IE 11 will stop receiving security patches and any other update after January 12.

“It means you should take action. After January 12, 2016, Microsoft will no longer provide security updates or technical support for older versions of Internet Explorer,” the company said.

And that’s a bad news. According to marketing research firm Net Applications, 21.42 percent of Internet users are currently on older versions of Microsoft’s Web browser. Data from the US Digital Analytics says this translates to 124 million users.

The issue is that many of these users simply cannot upgrade to a newer Internet Explorer. Net Applications data suggests that as many as 11 percent PCs are still running Windows XP, a decade old, out-of-support operating system. Windows XP doesn’t support Internet Explorer 11 or higher versions. As many as 57 percent PCs run Windows 7, which can be upgraded to IE 11. Small and large businesses that are still on older versions need to upgrade now.

Internet Explorer 10 or below will continue to function after January 12, as is the case with Windows XP. Though its users will be exposed to the growing number of security attacks as Microsoft will no longer issue updates. Just this month, Microsoft patched 30 vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer that could have been exploited to run arbitrary codes. Without the support, the affected machines will become a playground for hackers.

Affected users don’t have many alternatives, either. Google announced last month Chrome will end support for Windows XP and Windows Vista after April 2016. Firefox already doesn’t support some versions of Windows XP.

Android Wear App Update Brings Back Battery Stats

Google updated its Android Wear companion app last month bringing it to version 1.4. The update at that time removed the smartwatch battery stats page from the app’s Settings page. The company has now rolled out another update to the app bringing back the feature. The update bumps-up the app to version to 1.4.0.2470307.gms.

The smartwatch’s battery stats can now be viewed under the companion app’s Settings tab. The feature shows users a graph detailing the connected smartwatch’s battery level over time alongside the apps that are consuming the battery. It is yet to be discovered if Google has simply reintroduced the feature or made any other tweaks as well.

The update is rolling out in phases and it might take a while to reach all users. For those who don’t want to wait, they can manually download and install the app’s apk file shared by apk mirror website.

Google updated the Android Wear app last month bringing several features. The update made some amendments to the screen of the Settings app. The Cloud sync toggle was moved from the main list to under Privacy & personal data. It also brought a new toggle with the sole job to make it possible for users to send diagnostic information to Google. It also made possible to enable or disable tip cards in the main screen of the watch from the companion app’s Settings page.

The update however, was said to include some bugs as well. Several Android Wear users reported issues regarding connectivity, pairing and battery life on their Android Wear watches after installing the update.

Nasa Reveals Plans to Exit International Space Station

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As all good things must come to an end, Nasa’s long space ride with the International Space Station(ISS) in low-Earth orbit will also touch the finish line in a decade from now.

The US space agency will move up to the cislunar space the area of space surrounding the moon for an ambitious human exploration programme.

William Gerstenmaier, Nasa’s chief of human spaceflight, said: “We are going to get out of ISS as quickly as we can. Whether it gets filled in by the private sector or not, Nasa’s vision is we’re trying to move out.”

As reported by Ars Technica, Gerstenmaier, while addressing an advisory council meeting recently, announced that they will be moving out of the ISS in low-Earth orbit and pursue cislunar space.

The orbiting international laboratory – that has been a research ground for many innovating tests and some key science experiments on astronauts in a zero-gravity atmosphere that have repercussions for the Earth – is reported to become inoperative in either 2024 – or if given another extension – till 2028 at the latest.

The programme’s budget, about $3 billion (roughly Rs. 20,041 crores) annually, is projected to rise to nearly $4 billion (roughly Rs. 26,722 crores) by 2020.

“Nasa cannot afford both a robust space station programme and active human exploration programme in cislunar space,” Gerstenmaier was quoted as saying.

According to Nasa, it would like to see the private space industry “take over” the low-Earth orbit.

The ISS orbits Earth at about eight km per second. When decommissioned, Nasa will likely deorbit the spacecraft and Earth’s gravitational pull and atmosphere will break it apart.

Whatever is left over will likely fall into the Pacific Ocean, the report added. The ISS with humans on board turned 15 on November 2.

Celebrating the feat, John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said that the ISS is a unique laboratory that has enabled groundbreaking research in the life and physical sciences and has provided a test bed for the technologies that will allow Nasa to once again send astronauts beyond Earth’s orbit.

“The international partnership that built and maintains the station is a shining example, moreover, of what humanity can accomplish when we work together in peace,” he said in a statement.

The ISS, which US President Barack Obama has extended through 2024, is a testament to the ingenuity and boundless imagination of the human spirit. For 15 years, humanity’s reach has extended beyond the Earth’s atmosphere.

Since 2000, human beings have been living continuously aboard the space station, where they have been working off-the-Earth for the benefit of Earth, advancing scientific knowledge, demonstrating new technologies and making research breakthroughs.

Valve Implements Steam Trading Holds as Anti-Hacking Measure

One of the reasons for Steam’s ongoing popularity is its trading platform. Introduced a couple of years ago, it lets you earn digital cards that you can trade for real world cash. With a bit of luck and savviness, you could end up fuelling your purchases for the year with trading.

However, the very same feature has made active Steam accounts a juicy target for hackers. This is something Valve is aware of, as outlined in its latest blog post:

“What used to be a handful of hackers is now a highly effective, organised network, in the business of stealing and selling items. It would be easier for them to go after the users who don’t understand how to stay secure online, but the prevalence of items make it worthwhile to target everyone. We see around 77,000 accounts hijacked and pillaged each month. These are not new or naïve users; these are professional CS:GO players, reddit contributors, item traders, etc. Users can be targeted randomly as part of a larger group or even individually. Hackers can wait months for a payoff, all the while relentlessly attempting to gain access. It’s a losing battle to protect your items against someone who steals them for a living.”

“We can help users who’ve been hacked by restoring their accounts and items, but that doesn’t deter the business of hacking accounts. It’s only getting worse.”

In order to prevent this from happening, its instituting trade holds which are outlined below:

  • Anyone losing items in a trade will need to have a Steam Guard Mobile Authenticator,enabled on their account for at least 7 days and have trade confirmations turned on. Otherwise, items will be held by Steam for up to 3 days before delivery.
  • If you’ve been friends with anyone on Steam for at least 1 year, items will be held by Steam for up to 1 day before delivery.
  • Accounts with a Mobile Authenticator enabled for at least 7 days are no longer restricted from trading or using the Market when using a new device since trades on the new device will be protected by the Mobile Authenticator.

It goes to show that even with what’s perceived to be the safest of measures, hackers are relentless. Valve isn’t alone though, Blizzard has long fought this problem with games like Diablo III and World of Warcraft and continues to do so. With the ever increasing popularity of Steam, we won’t be surprised if this is just the first of many measures from Valve to prevent hackers from usurping the system.