Saturday, February 25, 2012

Aviary's perfect FB cover photo crop tool

The panoramic photo that now graces the top of every Facebook profile is pretty, but it’s a far cry from practical. Most cameras don’t take photos that fit into it.
Photo startup Aviary announced on Thursday that it would address this problem with a crop tool designed specifically for the Facebook Timeline cover photo.
The tool is part of a new Facebook photo editing app the company launched in January. To use it, you’ll need to approve the app. “Cover photo” is now an option under the crop tool menu, and it automatically creates a movable and resizable frame that crops your photo at the correct size for Timeline.
When you’re finished, the photo should fit perfectly into your Timeline, like this:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Google Docs updated for Android

Google Docs

Create and share your work online

Android-Powered Google Glasses Coming This Year

Getty Images 

Android-powered Google glasses may seem like fantasy, but according to the New York Times, they’re real, and on track for a 2012 launch.
Citing “several Google employees familiar with the project,” Nick Bilton reports that the heads-up display will go on sale by the end of the year. It’ll have a 3G or 4G data connection built-in, and will cost somewhere between $250 and $600.
Between Bilton’s report and earlier rumors from 9to5Mac’s Seth Weintraub, we’re starting to get a clearer picture of what these glasses will look like. Weintraub reported that the actual heads-up display is “only for one eye and on the side.” That pretty much lines up with Bilton’s account that the glasses will include “a small screen that will sit a few inches from someone’s eye.” In other words, these aren't the kind of glasses where the lens is the actual display.
A low-resolution camera will be able to provide real time information about a user’s surroundings. The glasses will reportedly resemble Oakley Thumps, pictured here.
As for software, Weintraub wrote that users will navigate the HUD with a system of head tilting. Although the information will be based on existing Google services, such as Google Latitude and Google Goggles, it’ll be presented as augmented reality, on top of whatever’s happening in the real world, according to Bilton.
Still unclear, of course, is whether anyone would actually wear these things in public. Would I love to have a HUD to remind me about the names of people I’ve met, or to give me directions in the car without having to glance down at my phone? Absolutely. But as my editor Doug Aamoth pointed out, waiting for the contact lens version may be more socially acceptable.

Apple iCam

The Apple iCam is a concept camera by Italian designer Antonio DeRosa that imagines a future where cameras are modular and powered by smartphones. Smartphones have already invaded the compact camera market in recent years, but their small lenses and sensors keep them from being seen as suitable alternatives to more advanced cameras. The iCam camera changes that by adding a large sensor and interchangeable lens system to the mix. Simply attach your iPhone 5 to the case and you’ll have yourself a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera with a huge LCD screen, fast processor, internet connectivity, and countless photo apps!

[Click on the images to view full size]

7 reasons to use Google Calendar

Welcome to Google Calendar

7 reasons to use Google Calendar

Organizing your schedule shouldn’t be a burden. With Google Calendar, it’s easy to keep track of life’s important events all in one place.
  1. 1. Share your schedule

    Let your co-workers, family, and friends see your calendar, and view schedules that others have shared with you. When you know when everyone is free or busy, scheduling is a snap.
  2. 2. Get your calendar on the go

    With two-way syncing to your mobile phone’s built-in calendar or a mobile version of Google Calendar that’s made for the small screen, you can access your calendar while you’re away from your desk.
  3. 3. Never forget another event again

    Customizable reminders help you stay on schedule. You can choose to be notified by email or get a text message sent right to your mobile phone.
  4. 4. Send invitations and track RSVPs

    Invite other people to events on your calendar. Guests can RSVP to your events by email or via Google Calendar.
  5. 5. Sync with your desktop applications

    Access your calendar however and whenever you want by syncing events with Microsoft Outlook, Apple iCal and Mozilla Sunbird.
  6. 6. Work offline

    Know where you’re supposed to be even when you don’t have internet access. With offline access, you can view a read-only version of your calendar no matter where you are.
  7. 7. All this is free?


Export FB friends' birthdays to Google Calendar

One of Facebook‘s most useful features is the way it alerts you to the birthdays of all your buddies. Did you know that you can export this valuable data to other calendar applications?
Apple iCal, Microsoft Outlook and Google Calendar will all happily accept your exported Facebook info. We’ve pulled together a quick how-to for transferring the data to Google Calendar. You can receive E-mail and SMS alert for each birthday. 
Here's how to do it. 
1. Facebook Events
Head to your Facebook home page. Click on "Events," which you'll see in the left-hand menu.

2. Birthdays
Hit the drop-down menu at the right of your screen and select "Birthdays."

3. Export
In the "Birthdays" screen, hit the drop-down menu again and select "Export Birthdays."

4. URL
This should generate a pop-up window with a URL. Copy this URL.

5. Google Calendar
Next, go to your Google Calendar and on the left-hand side of the screen, you should see "Other Calendars." Click the drop-down menu next to this the option and select "Add by URL."

6. Add URL
Paste the URL into the pop-up window and click "Add Calendar."

7. Customize
You should now see "Friends' Birthdays" under your "Other Calendars."
You can change the color of the birthdays by clicking the drop-down menu.

8. Create Alerts
Finally, one great option Google Calendar offers is the ability to set up alerts. So for example, you can set reminders a few days before each birthday.
To do this, click on the drop-down menu next to your "Friends' Birthdays" calendar. Click "Notifications." This will let you set up email reminders.

9. Create SMS Alert (For clear view, please click on the image)

You now have no excuse for missing a buddy's special day!!

[Original article here]

Twitter got Appdated

Twitter announced updates to its iPhone and Android apps on Tuesday, re-introducing some well-loved features and adding new improvements as well. But the updates don’t impact all mobile tweeters equally.
Both updated apps bring back the swipe shortcut. That move allows users to reply to, favorite and share tweets — as well as retweet posts and view other user profiles — all without leaving their own timelines. The updated iPhone and Android apps also both introduce a feature designed to expedite the process of finding friends on Twitter via existing email and phone contact lists.
The Android update optimizes Twitter to run on the Ice Cream Sandwich version of the platform, as well as on Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet and Barnes & Noble’s Nook and Nook Color tablets.
People who use Twitter from their iPhones will see the most changes, though. The company has returned the ability to press and hold text to copy the body of tweets and user profiles. And a new read-it-later option now saves links within tweets for delayed gratification. To activate the “Read Later Service” option, go to the Settings menu and click Advanced. That option will join choices to tweet, copy or email links via the Twitter mobile app’s sharing feature.
For iPhone users, Twitter has also updated the design of the direct messages section and brought back the ability to mark all messages as unread by tapping a checkmark in the lower righthand corner. iPhone owners can change their font size, too. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

LG Launched Optimus Vu in Korea

LG has officially announced the Optimus Vu in Korea. The Optimus Vu is a 5″ touchscreen smartphone with a 4:3 aspect display ratio.
LG have been known to show off their devices before MWC by posting sneak peeks, teasers or even announcing certain devices as in the case of Optimus Vu.
It’s main rival is the Samsung Galaxy Note. The Optimus Vu however is much wider than the Galaxy Note. The Vu is 8.5mm thick and 90.4mm wide while the Note is 9.7mm thick and 83mm wide.
We would expect the Optimus Vu to be much harder to handle considering the fact that it is much wider than even the Galaxy Note. Even the smaller thickness would not help much with such a wide phone.
The specifications of the Optimus Vu are:
  • 5″ IPS Display with 1024×768 Pixels Resolution and 4:3 Aspect Ratio
  • Android 2.3 Gingerbread (Will Receive an Upgrade to 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich within 3 Months)
  • 1.5 GHz Dual Core Snapdragon Processor
  • 32GB Internal Memory
  • 8 Megapixel Camera with Autofocus and LED Flash, 1.3 Megapixel Front Facing Camera
  • 2080 mAH Battery
The phone will be available for purchase in Korea starting sometime in March. The pricing has not yet been disclosed.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Handy guide to NFC (Near Field Communication)

NFC Transmit ImageBefore it became a hot topic sometime early last year, few civilians had come across the term “near field communication” (NFC). Corporations, however, had been excited about the technology’s potential since at least 2004 — when Nokia, Sony and Royal Philips Electronics founded the NFC Forum. Samsung, Motorola, Microsoft and more than 140 other organizations all joined the party shortly after.
NFC allows a device, usually a mobile phone, to collect data from another device or NFC tag at close range. In many ways, it’s like a contactless payment card that is integrated into a phone. In other ways, it’s similar to Bluetooth, except that instead of programming two devices to work together, they can simply touch to establish a connection.
So why are some of the world’s most influential companies so excited about it? We’ve compiled notes on what NFC is, why its useful and how it’s starting to permeate the product world.

How Does NFC Work?

NFC devices share a core technology with RFID tags, contactless payment cards and inductive-coupling. In the words of the NFC Forum, “loosely coupled inductive circuits share power and data over a distance of a few centimeters.”
According to the Forum, NFC can operate in three modes:
  • Reader/writer mode: A reader/writer can collect and write information on a smart tag. “The tag is essentially an integrated circuit containing data, connected to an antenna,” explains a white paper from NFC-developer Innovision.
  • Peer-to-peer mode: Two NFC devices can exchange data between each other.
  • Card emulation mode: An NFC device appears to a reader like a contactless payment card or contactless transportation card.

What Can NFC Be Used For?

Personal Rosetta Stone Image
  • Transportation: NFC works with most contactless smart cards and readers, meaning it can easily be integrated into the public transit payment systems in cities that already use a smart card swipe.
  • Ease of Use: Unlike Bluetooth, NFC-enabled devices don’t have to be set up to work with each other. They can be connected with a tap. If NFC-enabled phones become prevalent, you’ll likely be able to initiate a two-player game by touching two phones together. You’ll be able to link a headset to your phone or print a photo just by touching your device to a printer.
  • Smart Objects: NFC can have similar applications as bar codes do now. You can put one on a poster and let pedestrians scan it on their phones for more information. But being able to add more information to any object by integrating a tag has led to some interesting applications that go far beyond billboards. A company called Objecs, for instance, sells an NFC tablet for gravestones. Touching an NFC-enabled phone to the Personal Rosetta Stone provides additional information about the deceased.
  • Social Media: Before Foursquare took off, a German company called Servtag was working toward a similar concept for NFC-enabled phones called Friendticker. The company applied more than 250 NFC-tag stickers at various locations in Berlin that users would swipe their phones past in order to alert their friends that they were “checked in” at that location.
While Foursquare may have stolen the thunder for location-based networking, there are still plenty of social media applications for NFC in the works. In 2009, a German university (Technische Universit√§t M√ľnchen) submitted a prototype to the NFC Forum competition that integrated with Facebook. The application,NFriendConnector, allowed people who met in a physical space to exchange profile data through their phones. Their respective statuses would automatically be updated (for example, “I just met so and so”), and they could choose to include their location (“I just met so and so at this bar”). Instead of stalking a new acquaintance’s profile after a night out, this application provides an option to run a matching method based on variables the user provides (such as interest, dislikes and hobbies) while still chatting with them in the bar.

What’s The Fuss About Mobile Payments?

In the news, NFC is most often discussed in relation to mobile payments or “the digital wallet.” Unlike many other wireless technologies, NFC has a short range of about 1.5 inches. This makes it a good choice for secure transactions, such as contactless credit card payments.
Credit card companies, mobile network providers and startups are all gunning for the opportunity to facilitate digital transactions when NFC-enabled phones become widely available.

What Major Players Are Interested in NFC?

  • Google: In May, Google revealed a contactless payment system called Google Wallet. Citi, MasterCard, Sprint and First Data partnered on the effort to make an app that enables mobile payments and loyalty cards using NFC. At first, it will support Citi MasterCard and a Google prepaid card and be compatible with the Nexus S 4G.
  • Amazon: Amazon is also exploring an NFC-enabled mobile payment system.
  • Apple: One of the most popular Apple rumors of late is that the iPhone 5 will be NFC-enabled. The same rumor turned out to be false regarding the iPad 2.
  • Microsoft: Not one to be left out of a party, Microsoft is also rumored to be planning NFC capabilities for its next phone releases.
  • PayPal: The company has partnered with Bling Nation, a Palo Alto startup that has been installing contactless payment terminals at local merchants since 2008. When users attached an NFC-enabled sticker to their phone, they could swipe to make payments and receive rewards. Previously, Bling Nation users were paying from accounts at partner banks. Since last summer, they’ve also had the option to pay using their PayPal accounts.
  • Credit card companies: Contactless payment stations that use cards can easily accept payments that use NFC as well. Thus, pretty much every major credit card company that has started the process of distributing payment stations to provide tap-and-go payments using cards is also interested in NFC-enabled payments.
  • Mobile phone providers: Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile partnered to launch an NFC contactless payment network called Isis last year. Initially, it was partnered with just Discover. Since then, Visa, MasterCard and American Express have signed on.
[Courtesy: Mashable]