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News Game Tech Review : Rise Of The Tomb Raider

When we last saw Lara Croft, she was growing out of being a victim. A victim of fate, of other people’s aggression, of her own uninspired previous playable incarnations. She’s still growing, but she’s different now.

For most of Rise of the Tomb Raider, the second installment of a rebooted Tomb Raider series, Lara Croft doesn’t go around being scared. She still faces down overwhelming odds, grapples with doubt, and absorbs a ton of trauma. The newest iteration of the iconic video game heroine displays less fumbly panic than she did in 2013’s Tomb Raider. There are more moments of steely determination and fewer moments where she pauses to psych herself up. She knows what she’s capable of—she hasn’t forgotten that one time she wiped out a supernatural army, climbed a mountain, and took down a sun god. It feels like she’s grown.

That feeling of growth is a key factor in this sequel. For Rise of the Tomb Raider to succeed, it needs to convince players that Lara has matured, but that she still has more growing to do. Yet the changes in a new installment can’t be too radical, lest this Lara become unrecognizable to old and new fans.

Rise of the Tomb Raider tells the story of young Lara Croft, alone in a dangerous place, exploring ruins, solving puzzles, and shooting lots of guys with flaming arrows. It combines hunter/gatherer elements—where you need to scavenge for the stuff you need to survive or make weapons—with a mix of melee and ranged combat with pickaxes, guns or a bow and arrow.
Rise opens yet again with Lara searching for proof of a time-lost civilization. This time, however, her motivations come from a deeply personal place. Before he died, Lara’s father was on a quest to find the Divine Source—an artifact said to grant eternal life—and the apocryphal Prophet who performed miracles with its power. Lara’s continuation of his work is directly linked to her desire to restore respectability to the Croft name—her father’s name. Her travels take her to a snow-swept mountain range in Siberia where she comes into conflict with a mysterious organization named Trinity, whose paramilitary goons are also looking for the Divine Source. Hello, cannon fodder.

Crystal Dynamics’ latest effort at a Tomb Raider game benefits from smartly imagining the psychological underpinnings of both its heroes and villains. Just as Lara is trying to contend with her father’s legacy, the main bad guy’s thirst for power is likewise driven by very personal reasons. There are moments that you feel like you’re fighting against a screwed-up worldview and not just a bunch of artificially-intelligent mannequins.

Rise of the Tomb Raider tweaks the gameplay formula established in its 2013 predecessor. There’s a new crafting system that has Lara constantly foraging for resources that she can use to make ammo, equipment or bandages. Once she has enough resources, she can craft what she needs on the go. The player holds down the left bumper and can craft, mid-action. So, collecting deathcap mushrooms lets her make poison arrows that release a fatal gas. Similarly, other new craftable items increase the ability to silently skulk through encounters if you want. If loud, messy combat engagement is your thing, then you can quickly turn bottles and cans into molotovs and hand grenades.

Lara’s newly improved abilities are a direct reflection of how much effort you put into exploring the gameworld. As her skills increase, her ability to spot resources and read the world gets more powerful. Lara buffs her mastery of ancient languages by finding murals and improves her arsenal and equipment by amassing exotic animal hides. Other combat upgrades let you pull off feats like multiple headshots at once with the bow. The way that ROTTR’s mechanics are structured feeds into the overall sense of growing or maturing.
Aside from its opening chapters, Rise of the Tomb Raider is set around the geothermal valley in Siberia where Lara and Trinity have tracked the Divine Source. It’s a gorgeously layered landscape that feels more like an open world than the terrain of the 2013 game. Whether snowy or lushly green, the terrain feels alive, teeming with plant-based resources or animals to stalk (or flee). Aside from scads of posthumous testimonials about the history of its events and fiction, the game also teases players with optional tombs. The entrances to these tombs are secreted away and you’ll need to apply some extra effort to even find them. Once you find these tombs, you’ll be faced with a single physics-based environmental puzzle—familiar to longtime Tomb Raider fans. But you’ll need to navigate through various section of the tombs to trigger various elements necessary to their solution. As a result, they wind up feeling bigger and more significant.

The game’s also got side missions—given to you by actual in-world quest-givers—that grant you new tools/weapons, like a lock pick and crafting tool. You can also use in-game currency to obtain some of these weapons and equipment from the supply shack that opens up in the first third of the game.
This is an enjoyable sequel and the reason it’s very fun is because it feels upgraded in nearly every way. When I tried for stealthier approaches in the 2013 Tomb Raider, the results felt haphazard. In this game, I was able to plan and execute better, thanks to a plethora of options that let you blind or poison enemies from afar. The feeling of being a cunning predator was a welcome change for me, especially after enduring the emotional rawness of the last Tomb Raider. Another thing I liked about Rise of the Tomb Raider is how it constantly rewards your curiosity. If you head to a seemingly innocuous cliff or stop and take in your surroundings with Lara’s survival instinct, you’ll almost always find a resource or collectible waiting for you. I leaned hard on Lara’s survival instinct because Rise of the Tomb Raider is the kind of game where I didn’t want to miss a thing.

I played Rise of the Tomb Raider much like I did its predecessor: almost exclusively with the bow and arrow and as stealthily as my patience would allow. This time around, however, I didn’t feel like a trembly twentysomething, scared of every shadow. I felt more like a hunter and explorer, systematically taking down enemies and challenges. That said, I didn’t like having to unlock the same suite of weapons as in the last game. Lara knew how to counter enemies and perform quick stealth kills in the last game—why should she have to re-learn it now?

Unlike the Tomb Raider game from two years ago, Rise doesn’t have any competitive multiplayer. Instead, it offers another gambit geared to entice players to keep returning to the game. The Expeditions feature lets you play remixed chunks of the story campaign in one of four modes—Chapter Replay, Chapter Replay Elite, Score Attack or Remnant Resistance.

In Remnant Resistance, you can create custom five-part missions by picking specific objectives, loadouts and time of day. Once you finish one of these missions, your friends will be challenged to do the same.
Completing Expeditions missions earns credits and winnings can be increased by using collectible cards as modifiers to increase difficulty, grant buffs and add challenge objectives.
So, a Lobotomy challenge tasks players to notch five headshots with the bow and arrow and using a Big Head card on enemies swells their craniums makes their torsos and limbs more resistant to damage. The credits you earn in Expeditions can be used to buy more card packs for increased variability in the missions you create. I enjoyed the handful of Expeditions missions I took on and the feature feels like a clever way of re-jiggering the work that’s already in the game.

Rise of the Tomb Raider’s greatest success is in how it encourages exploration, which in turn makes you feel more connected to its fictional world. Every hapless corpse in the frozen Russian wastes is a reminder that Lara’s moving through a place that’s killed many others. As I played, she came across as increasingly gifted, with enough spirit and ingenuity to find ways to see herself through to the other side. This Lara isn’t a wide-eyed newcomer, nor is she a flinty veteran. She’s somewhere in between. Rise of the Tomb Raider makes me want to follow her where she goes next.

Additional Thoughts on PC Version :
Sometimes you just want to play a really pretty PC game, and in walks the PC port of Rise of the Tomb Raider. I already played through the enjoyably acronymed “ROTTR” on Xbox One last fall, and at the time was struck by how gorgeous the game could be.

It stands to reason that it’d look even better at a higher resolution and frame-rate, with some extra PC bells and whistles dropped in. Then again, a few messy recent PC ports have demonstrated some of the many ways PC versions can go awry. How does Rise of the Tomb Raider’s stack up?

I’ve played five or six hours, and my verdict: solid port. The porting job was handled by the Dutch studio Nixxes, who usually handle PC porting for most Square Enix-published games (2013’s Tomb Raider, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Sleeping Dogs all come to mind). They do fine work, and from what I’ve played ROTTR is no exception.

I recently upgraded my PC, which is worth keeping in mind as I recount my experience: I’m running an i7-4770k with an overclocked 6GB GTX 980Ti, along with that 144Hz G-Sync monitor that I love so much. With that setup, I’m able to run the game at 2560x1440 (1440p) resolution at high or very high settings and, for the most part, it stays north of 60fps, occasionally dipping down to the still-playable mid-40s or 50s. I haven’t had much time with the new optimized Nvidia driver that hit today, but I haven’t seen a big difference between the game before and after I installed the driver.

ROTTR pushes my PC, but I’m actually happy to have a game that pushes my system for the right reasons. Unlike the frustrating PC ports of Just Cause 3, Fallout 4 and Batman: Arkham Knight, I have a good sense of the tradeoffs I’m making and so far haven’t felt like the game is running poorly for no discernible reason.

And it really is incredible looking, particularly in 1440p. Look at this screenshot:
Enhance:
Enhance:
In-engine cutscenes are gorgeous, and I’m regularly impressed by how much this latest version of Lara Croft looks like an actual human being.
I mean, like... enhance:
Jeez.

ROTTR’s PC version offers a variety of graphics settings; you can see mine here:
 

I’ve dropped the Level of Detail setting down from Very High to High and dropped Shadows to Medium, which keeps the game running well aside from some frame-rate drops as I enter some of the bigger open areas and some hitches in the midst of transition animations from one area to another.

Then there’s the hair. Rise of the Tomb Raider is actually the first PC game in which I’ve left the hair tech—called “PureHair” this time around—turned on, rather than turning it off to improve my frame-rate. PureHair does impact performance somewhat, but Lara’s hair looks good enough that I’m fine taking the hit.

Aside from its graphics, Rise of the Tomb Raider is another third-person action/adventure game that plays better with a controller than with a mouse and keyboard. Running, sneaking and shooting all work fine with a mouse and keyboard, and as usual I’m much more accurate when using a mouse. But platforming and puzzle-solving feel odd with a keyboard input. The game has some mechanical interactions—winding winches and breaking down brick walls, etc.—and they feel much more natural on a controller. Similarly, jumping puzzles feel awkward when navigated with a keyboard. Some of that is due to my own comfort level playing this type of game on consoles, so your mileage may vary.

News Samsung New Handset Update : Samsung Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 Edge Images Leaked And More Details Emerge

Samsung on Monday confirmed its pre-MWC "Galaxy Unpacked 2016" event for February 21 in Barcelona. Now, more details about Samsung's upcoming "Next Galaxy" flagship have emerged.

One of the most reliable phone tipsters, Evan Blass aka @evleaks has shared images of the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge alongside claiming other details about the handsets. The shared images show the front panels of the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge smartphones in full glory and also corroborate to earlier claims that said there will be only two high-end Galaxy phones unveiled this month in Barcelona.
In a report Venture Beat's Blass cites a person who was briefed about the company's plans and claims that the South Korean company has added some of the features that were missing from the 2015 flagship pair. One of the biggest additions is microSD card expansion support, which was being rumoured for long. Both the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge are said to come with microSD card slots with a capacity of up to 200GB supported. Another notable addition is the IP67 dust and water resistance in both the new Galaxy phones. Notably, both the features were rumoured to be included in the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge phones.

According to the leaked images, both the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge look to retain the same design language as their predecessors. The Galaxy S7 is likely to sport a 5.1-inch screen while the Galaxy S7 Edge is said to come with a 5.5-inch screen. Both the handsets are said to sport QHD (1440x2560 pixels) screen resolution.
The report says that this year Samsung may use the always-on display (AOD) functionality on both the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge phones. The feature however is said to consume around one percent battery every hour.

The report adds that both the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge will get a bump in the battery capacities and will feature 3000mAh and 3600mAh batteries respectively. If this comes out to be true, the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge will pack large batteries than their predecessors Galaxy S6 (2550mAh) and Galaxy S6 Edge (2600mAh). Both the smartphones are also said to sport wireless charging functionality with as little as 2 hours for full charge on the Galaxy S7, and as little as 2.2 hours for the Galaxy S7 Edge.

Samsung is said to use the in-house SoC (system-on-chip) on the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge phones. Both the devices are said to pack Exynos 8 Octa 8890 processor with four cores clocked at 2.3GHz and four cores at 1.6GHz. The company is also expected to unveil a different model featuring the Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820 processor in some regions. All the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge variants are said to pack 4GB of RAM and are expected to come in 32GB and 64GB storage options.

For the camera, Samsung is said to have downgraded from the 16-megapixel rear camera seen on the Galaxy S6 to a 12-megapixel camera sensor on the Galaxy S7. The company is also rumoured to get rid of the camera bump which was present on the Galaxy S6. The rear camera module is said to gain f/1.7 lens aperture, a bump from last generation. The front camera is said to remain unchanged from the Galaxy S6, which sport a 5-megapixel front-facing camera.

MWC 2016 is already gearing up to be the year's biggest mobile launch extravaganza with companies such as Sony, LG, Gionee, Xiaomi, and now Samsung confirming their presence at the event.

New Microsoft Tech Update : Microsoft Tests Underwater Data Center

Companies are finding some of the oddest locations for data centers these days.

Facebook, for example, built a data center in Lulea in Sweden because the icy cold temperatures there would help cut the energy required for cooling. A proposed Facebook data center in Clonee, Ireland, will rely heavily on wind energy locally available. Google's data center in Hamina in Finland uses sea water from the Bay of Finland for cooling.

Now, Microsoft is looking at locating data centers under the sea.

The company is testing underwater data centers with an eye to reducing data latency for the many users who live close to the sea and also to enable rapid deployment of a data center.

Microsoft, which has designed, built, and deployed its own subsea data center in the ocean, in the period of about a year, started working on the project in late 2014, a year after Microsoft employee, Sean James, who served on a US Navy submarine, submitted a paper on the concept.
An prototype vessel, named as the Leona Philpot after an Xbox game character, operated on the seafloor about 1 kilometer from the Pacific coast of the U.S. from August to November 2015, according to a Microsoft page on the project.

The subsea data center experiment, called Project Natick after a town in Massachusetts, is currently at the research stage and Microsoft warns it is "still early days" to evaluate whether the concept could be adopted by the company and other cloud service providers.

"Project Natick reflects Microsoft’s ongoing quest for cloud datacenter solutions that offer rapid provisioning, lower costs, high responsiveness, and are more environmentally sustainable," the company said.

Using undersea data centers helps because they can serve the about 50 percent of people who live within 200 kilometers from the ocean. Microsoft said in an FAQ that deployment in deepwater offers "ready access to cooling, renewable power sources, and a controlled environment." Moreover, a data center can be deployed from start to finish in 90 days.

Microsoft is weighing coupling the data center with a turbine or a tidal energy system to generate electricity, according to the New York Times.

The company is targeting the lifespan of the data center to be at least 20 years. After that it will be salvaged and recycled. The company is also considering a "deployment cycle" of 5 years each, which is the anticipated lifespan of the computers in it. "After each 5-year deployment cycle, the datacenter would be retrieved, reloaded with new computers, and redeployed," according to the Microsoft FAQ.

A new trial is expected to begin next year, possibly near Florida or in Northern Europe, Microsoft engineers told NYT. The engineers even ran commercial data-processing projects from Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing service.

On community forums, some users questioned whether an undersea data center could have an environmental impact, including the heating up of the water around the data center. But Microsoft claimed on its website that the project envisages the use of data centers that would be totally recycled and would also have zero emissions, when located along with offshore renewable energy sources.

"No waste products, whether due to the power generation, computers, or human maintainers are emitted into the environment," it said, pointing out that the data center does not consume water for cooling or any other purpose. "During our deployment of the Leona Philpot vessel, sea life in the local vicinity quickly adapted to the presence of the vessel," it added.

News Google Update: Google Is Testing Solar-Powered 5G Internet Drones

As if balloons were not enough for Google, the Mountain View internet giant is testing solar-powered drones at Spaceport America in New Mexico to explore new ways to deliver high-speed internet from the air (5G).

According to a report in the Guardian , Google had created prototypes of such drones last year and is now testing them under a secret project named SkyBender.

The company has set up its own flight control centre at Spaceflight Operations Center and is temporarily using 15,000 square feet of hangar space in Gateway to Space terminal designed for the much-delayed Virgin Galactic spaceflights.
Under the project, Google is testing millimetre-wave radio transmissions which in high frequency could transmit gigabits of data every second which is more than any 4G LTE system. The drone will fly in high altitudes transmitting the data to all receptors at the ground level.

“The huge advantage of millimetre wave is access to new spectrum because the existing cellphone spectrum is overcrowded. It’s packed and there’s nowhere else to go,” Jacques Rudell, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Washington in Seattle and specialist in this technology, was quoted as saying.

Rudell also explained Google was facing and said that millimetre wave transmissions have shorter range than phone signals and hence will die out at the one-tenth distance of a 4G signal. Google can only extend the range of this signal by using a phased array of this signal which is very difficult, complex and burns a lot of power, the professor said.

Skybender uses optionally piloted aircraft called Centaur as well as solar-powered drones developed by Google Titan, a division the Mountain View company formed after acquiring New Mexio startup Titan Aerospace in 2014.

The Guardian report quoted emails between spaceport America and Google project managers that reveal the aircraft have exclusive use of the Spaceport’s runway during the tests and can even venture above the neighbouring White Sands Missile Range.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has allowed Google to carry its tests in New Mexico till July. The company is paying $300,00 to Spaceport America which is great for the airport as it was literally closed after a prototype crashed. Christine Anderson, chief executive officer of Spaceport America, has admitted that the facility is now running out of money.

“We are transitioning to supporting all aspects of the spaceport from our operational budget, as the [state] bonds have been spent except for the amount reserved for the southern road,” she wrote in a blog post earlier this month.

“We are asking the legislature for $2.8m ... We appreciate that our request is a lot of money, but we also feel that it is a relatively small amount to protect the state’s $218.5m investment already made in the new and exciting commercial space industry.”

Currently, Google is paying Virgin Galactic $1,000 a day for the use of a hangar in the Gateway to Space building.

However, Google is not the only company which has thrown a hand with the millimetre wave transmission. Earlier in 2014, Darpa, the research arm of the US military, had announced a programme called Mobile Hotspots to make a fleet of drones that could provide one gigabit per second communications for troops operating in remote areas.

News Update On Handset : OnePlus X To Be Available Without Invite Via The Ola App On 8 December

Ola and OnePlus announced a first-of-its-kind partnership in India, giving users an opportunity to buy the OnePlus X, on-demand, straight from the Ola app. Consumers can purchase the smartphone without an invite for a day and have it delivered at their doorsteps within 15 minutes of placing the order. The OnePlus X is also exclusively available on Amazon.in.

The partnership of OnePlus fans and Ola users will go live on the Ola mobile app only on December 8, across seven cities in India namely, Delhi/NCR, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Ahmedabad.

For those wishing to purchase the OnePlus X can open their Ola app and request a phone, just like they would book a cab, by clicking on the ‘ONEPLUSX’ category icon that will be available on the app between 10AM and 7PM. Once the request is received, an Ola cab will arrive at the customer’s location; along with a representative from OnePlus, with the smartphone. Customers will get a choice of paying for their OnePlus X handsets through cash or credit/debit cards.
The OnePlus X is the first ‘Make in India’ device for which local production will start in Hyderabad. In terms of specifications, the device will sport a 5-inch AMOLED display offering a resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels. It will be powered by Qualcomm’s quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor clocked at 2.3 GHz. The OnePlux will have 3 GB RAM. It will include an internal storage of 16GB, and can be further expanded up to 128GB via a microSD card.

The devices will sport a 13MP rear camera along with a 8MP front facing camera. The device’s autofocus allows you to capture your subject in 0.2 seconds. The dual SIM smartphone will include a 2525mAh battery. The OnePlus X will run Oxygen OS based on Android 5.1.1 Lollipop.

Sudarshan Gangrade, Vice-President Marketing at Ola said, “We continue to deliver unique experiences to delight our consumers by giving users a chance to buy a smartphone on-demand, straight from the Ola app and get it delivered at their doorstep within minutes. This is a testament to the on-demand nature of the mobility solutions, that the Ola platform offers and takes user engagement to an all-new level! We are thrilled to announce this partnership and take great pride in bringing this exclusive access to all Ola users.”

Announcing this unique initiative, Karan Sarin, Head of Marketing India, OnePlus said, “The enthusiasm from our fans and consumers at large around the country to get our newest smartphone, the OnePlus X, has been unprecedented. People love our products and we are enhancing the experience by making it even more convenient for our fans to get their hands on the OnePlus phone now. In an industry-first partnership with Ola and Amazon.in, we are taking a step towards engaging with consumers wherein they can purchase the OnePlus X phone in three easy steps – Book. Purchase. Delivered.  All from the comfort of their Ola app.”

New Update On Handset : OnePlus 2 Now Available 'Invite-Free' In India

 
The OnePlus 2 (Review) is now available invite-free in India. While OnePlus India had promised the smartphone will be available invite-free from midnight Friday, the company on Saturday issued a blog post saying the smartphone will only go on sale invite-free in India at 2pm IST on Monday.

OnePlus had last week following its Black Friday open sale announced the OnePlus 2 would be available invite-free forever starting midnight Friday across the world. It turns out that date wasn't applicable for India, with the invite-free status only official from Monday. The smartphone is available exclusively via Amazon India.
To recall, the OnePlus 2 bears the tagline "2016 flagship caller", and sports a 5.5-inch full-HD (1920x1080) display. It is powered by a 64-bit octa-core Snapdragon 810 v2.1 SoC clocked at 1.8GHz and coupled with an Adreno 430 GPU alongside 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM and 64GB internal storage. It sports dual 4G Nano-SIM cards (dual-SIM dual standby), as well as USB Type-C connectivity (with the cable reversible at both ends).

On the photography front, the handset rocks a 13-megapixel rear-camera, and a 5-megapixel front facing shooter. The dual-SIM capable smartphone supports 4G LTE, Wi-Fi and other standard connectivity features. It runs Android-powered OxygenOS 2.0, though OxygenOS 2.1.2 is officially available as well.

It is priced at Rs. 24,999, while a 16GB OnePlus 2 variant with 3GB of LPDDR4 RAM will be made available at a later date at Rs. 22,999.

To note, the OnePlus 2 has been made available via open sales (not requiring invites) in India on several occasions in the past, with the most recent being in October. OnePlus in October rolled out two smartphone coverage options in the form of B2X Service and B2X Protect for the OnePlus 2 in India.

New Update On Handset Launch : Android One failed In India; Could Google Possibly Avoid Failure With Version 2.0?

Android One was launched amid much fanfare in India last year. Aimed at the entry-level users of the emerging Indian market, Google had teamed up with three well-known low to mid-range players such as Karbonn, Micromax and Spice. The Android One failed. They didn’t sell well and many major retailers even refused to stock them. The news had it that eight major retailers which have 1800 stores between them refused to stock the devices.
Some reports have been pointing at Google making a comeback with the next version of Android One with Lava. This is one of the reasons why new India-born CEO Sundar Pichai is here. Here’s what Google could avoid to ensure that Android version 2.0 manages to make a mark in India’s fierce mobile world.

Focus on hardware, software can’t be the selling point
Earlier, Google launched three phones namely,  Spice Android One Dream, Karbonn Sparkle V, and Micromax Canvas A1. Interestingly, due to Google’s list of rules, all three had the same low-end specs. The only differentiating factor was the brand name. Yes, they were almost identical in specs, and all you had to do is decide which brand you prefer. The hardware requirements were a small list of approved processors, cameras and other components. While reports have already been pointing out at this, it would be nice if Google went ahead and brought some lax to its rules. This will help the companies bring in better specs at affordable prices and eventually help compete with the likes of Xiaomi.

Now, the importance of Android One goes well beyond what you see. There is a reason why Android One is so important to India. China and India are the fastest growing smartphone markets, but China is a wasteland when it comes to Google service and generating revenue from them. The onslaught of Chinese vendors and their forked OS versions coupled with great hardware are getting popular in India too. To ensure not to see the same fate in India, Google is yet again trying its hand at revamped Android One. Android One is probably how Google wants to take its services to be at the forefront.
Phones models at varying budget prices
With Android One, Google is targeting new entry-level users. However, the entry-level markets have spruced up consumer expectations. A sub-Rs 3000 smartphone is a great idea, but if another device is offering much more for Rs 1000 more, wouldn’t consumer prefer that. Arguably, there are chances that first time users in rural areas may prefer a really low-end phone with alphanumeric keys. This makes it imperative to have different models and at varying price points. Thus, looking at Android One from a broader prospective is crucial.

Now, Google already has phones across price brackets. But for Android One to become a go-to phone under Rs 3000, will have to be a mix of many factors.
Brand matters
In India, brand matters. One may want to opt for a budget device, but are always looking for a value for money product from a decent brand. A Spice or Karbonn are often related to cheap, low end devices. This isn’t something what many users are looking for – especially if a Moto E from a seasoned OEM such as Motorola is selling at Rs 5000.

Online, offline marketing tactics
These days, we are seeing new ways of marketing handsets. From Xiaomi to the latest Qiku, all have formed newer forms to attract audiences. Google will have to bring more to the table in terms of marketing and selling the phones. Moreover, the previous phones were launched exclusive to an online site initially.

After they failed to capture market share, the devices went to offline stores. It should be noted that the phones are targeted at tier 2 and tier 3 cities, and offline channels would have played a bigger role in selling the phones if launched simultaneously on both platforms. Today, Android One already carried a failed tag, and wooing audiences will be even more difficult.

News Update New Handset Launched : Karbonn Alfa 112, Alfa A91 Power, Alfa A93 Pop, And Titanium S205 Plus Launched

Karbonn on Wednesday launched a range of new smartphones and feature phones in the market as a part of its festive offer. The company has introduced four new smartphones namely Karbonn Alfa 112, Alfa A91 Power, Alfa A93 Pop, and Titanium S205 Plus alongside two feature handsets - K18 Jumbo and M105.
The Android-based Karbonn Alfa 112, Alfa A91 Power, Alfa A93 Pop and Titanium S205 Plus are priced at Rs. 2,890, Rs 3,290, Rs. 3,490 and Rs. 6,790, respectively. The K18 Jumbo and M105 cost Rs. 990 and Rs. 940 respectively. The company said it would also be offering special festive season discounts of up to 50 percent on Titanium Mach Five, Titanium Mach Two and Titanium S201 via e-commerce websites.
The dual-SIM (WCDMA+GSM) supporting Karbonn Titanium S205 Plus (seen above) runs Android 5.1 Lollipop out-of-the-box and features a 5-inch HD (720x1280 pixels) resolution IPS display with Dragon Trail Glass protection. It is powered by an unspecified dual-core SoC clocked at 1.2GHz and clubbed with 2GB RAM. It also houses 16GB of inbuilt storage, which can be further expanded via MicroSD card (up to 32GB). In the camera section, the Titanium S205 Plus sports an 8-megapixel autofocus rear camera with dual LED flash and a 3.2-megapixel front-facing camera as well. The smartphone supports 3G, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth, GPS and Micro-USB connectivity features alongside proximity sensor, G-Sensor and comes backed by a 2200mAh Li-Po battery.
The Android 5.1 Lollipop-based dual-SIM (WCDMA+GSM) Karbonn Alfa A93 Pop (seen above) features a 4.5-inch FWVGA (480x854 pixels) resolution display; 512MB RAM; 8GB inbuilt storage, which can be further expanded via MicroSD card (up to 32GB); a 2-megapixel rear camera; a 0.3-megapixel front-facing camera, and a 1400mAh battery. Connectivity features and processor remains the same as Titanium S205 Plus.
The dual-SIM (WCDMA +GSM) Karbonn Alfa A91 Power (seen above) runs the older Android 4.4 KitKat out-of-the-box and features a 4-inch WVGA (800x480 pixels) resolution display; unspecified 1GHz processor; 256MB RAM; 512MB inbuilt storage, expandable via microSD card (up to 32GB), and Li-ion 2000mAh battery. The connectivity options and camera setup stay the same as Karbonn Alfa A93 Pop mentioned above.

The Android 4.2 Jelly Bean-running dual-SIM (GSM+GSM) Karbonn Alfa 112 (seen above) features almost the same specifications as the aforementioned Karbonn Alfa A91 Power but misses out on 3G connectivity and is backed by a Li-ion 1300mAh battery.

The dual-SIM (GSM+GSM) Karbonn K18 Jumbo feature phone sports a 2.4-inch LCD display, VGA (0.3-megapixel) rear camera, FM radio, GPRS, Bluetooth and is backed by a 1800mAh battery. The dual-SIM Karbonn K-Touch M105 sports a smaller 1.8-inch LCD display, digital rear camera and 800mAh battery with rest of the specifications same as the K18 Jumbo.

News Update On Intel Survey : Almost Half Of Indian Children Trust Strangers On The Web

Over 50 percent Indian children admit to meeting or wanting to meet a stranger they first met online, a new study by US-based Intel Security Group showed.

The study, named Teens, Tweens and Technology Survey, examines online behaviours and social networking habits of tweens and teens aged eight to 16 years.

The study also surveyed the concerns of parents, revealing that when it comes to online activity, 48 percent parents believe that the worst thing to happen to their children is interacting with strangers online.

"This concern is warranted given that 44 percent children polled would meet or have met someone in person that they first met online," the study said.

"As with every edition of our Teens, Tweens and Technology survey, this year too, we see some concerning issues being raised. In analysing the responses of both parents and children, what is evident is that there are a lot more open conversations and disclosures between them," Melanie Duca, Asia Pacific consumer marketing director, Intel Security, said.

"While there are open conversations, work is required on ensuring that these go beyond casual chats. It is imperative to focus on ensuring children understand the consequences of their actions as well as agree on good Internet etiquette," she added.

According to the study, the most discussed topics between parents and children are cyber criminals and identity theft (71 percent), privacy settings (62 percent), cyberbullying (57 percent), online reputation (53 percent) or popularity among friends (52 percent).

Additionally, a surprisingly low number (17 percent) of parents are interested in finding out if their children are interacting with strangers online.

"This indicates that while parents believe that interacting with strangers online may be risky, this knowledge has not translated into remedial action," the study said.

News Update On Navigation : Navigation App Waze Gets A Huge Redesign – Now Less Cluttered, But Still Needs Improvement

The Google-owned navigation app Waze has a number of standout features – its ability to alert you to traffic conditions and speed traps, and re-route you around traffic jams, for example – but its user interface was not one of its better qualities. Today, the company is attempting to change that with the rollout of an entirely made-over version of its iOS application that introduces a cleaner, less-cluttered interface designed to simplify accessing Waze’s key features, and speed up the time it takes to report traffic problems.
While traditional mapping applications, like those from Apple and Google, are still the most popular among smartphone users, Waze has a strong following among drivers and commuters thanks to its ability to alert you to traffic conditions. Beyond just telling you that traffic is slow, Waze can tell you why – maybe there’s an accident ahead, or a stalled vehicle. Users also like it for its ability to alert you when cops have been spotted nearby – something that makes Waze something of an alternative to radar detectors.

Plus, its ability to route you around bad traffic in real-time as conditions change is especially helpful, as is its ability to let you add a stop while planning your route.

Today, Waze has over 50 million active users who log into Waze monthly, the company says.

But despite having a collection of useful features, the app’s interface itself has needed work for some time. Instead of a modern, clean aesthetic, Waze previously relied on a couple of menus – one with a cartoon-ish car icon to access the main menu, and the other map pin-shaped icon with an exclamation point in the middle for reporting incidents. And the map itself was messy and cluttered, making it hard to read.
With the new version of the app, Waze offers a de-cluttered map, and it makes the alerting feature more prominent – it’s an orange icon with a rounder pin. Meanwhile, the car icon with access to the menu and other settings has been relocated to the bottom-left. When you’re in a hurry – as drivers are behind the wheel (they’re not supposed to be using the app in-route, but of course they do) – this makes it easier and faster to participate in the Waze community because it’s more obvious which button to press to add a report.

In addition, the updated app now features quick access to a contacts section (as indicated by the mail envelope icon), where you can share directions with your contacts, send your location, and your ETA with a tap.


A bottom menu also slides up when tapped to offer you easy access to things like alternate routes, the “add a stop” feature, as well as a shortcut to sending your ETA to a friend or family member.

Nearly everything you do in Waze now takes fewer taps, which is another one of the bigger improvements over the prior version. And the menus themselves have been redesigned, too, to be quicker to use. For instance, the reporting menu now uses big, brightly-colored, round buttons for things like reporting accidents, road hazards, police, and more.

Waze 4.0 also lets you sync your Calendar to the app so you can receive alerts reminding you when to leave, based on traffic conditions. The company says it has made other improvements, too, like better battery life.
Waze Still Needs Work

Unfortunately, the new app still relies on its bubbly, cartoon-ish icons. This is a personal preference, of course, but I think it’s time to move away from this sort of juvenile look. It’s frankly just sort of silly to see cars with bows on their head, or pacifiers in their mouth, or wearing little crowns in an app aimed at adults old enough to drive a car.

The new design is certainly an improvement, but Waze still hasn’t delivered a truly sleek look-and-feel. Even now, there’s too much to look at on the screen.

Because Waze already shows things other mapping apps don’t have – like the other cars and graphics like ads for business as little road signs  – it needs to be even more careful about what other buttons should appear. Now it features an orange reporting button, a MPH indicator, the time, ETA, and distance, and a big button for finding your current geo-location. This latter item is positioned to the left and sort of up near the middle of the screen, though Apple and Google Maps put this feature closer to the bottom of the screen.

Plus, when you tap on the screen, tons of other buttons appear, including the compass, sound toggle, zooming feature, and when at a particular zoom level, your location finder. Combined with all the car icons and icons of signs, alert icons, and more, Waze still struggles with offering a truly clean-looking map.

Off the top of my head, I can still spot a number of things I’d change. For starters, Waze needs to ditch the MPH button entirely – drivers look at this on their car’s dashboard anyway. The geo-location feature needs to be much smaller and closer to the bottom of the screen.The bottom of the screen doesn’t need a greeting (e.g. “Good Afternoon”) when no route is in progress. And there’s no need to flag how many new messages you have and add a red dot to indicate you have unread mail – this could all be handled with a push notification and red icon badge on your iOS homescreen.

That said, Waze certainly looks better than before, if not great.
The updated app, Waze 4.0, is live on the iTunes Store now with an Android release soon to follow.
 
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