Posts Tagged ‘ios’

Encouraged by public response to its Passport Sewa mobile app for Android phones, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has now launched the application for Windows and Apple iOS platforms.

The app provides passport-related information on the smartphones. The MEA had released the android version of the app in March this year.

This is an extended service of the Passport Seva Project, executed in Public-Private-Partnership mode with IT services major Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).

mPassport Seva provides a wide variety of services such as status tracking, locating a passport office and other general information, TCS said in a release.

The application provides information on various steps involved to obtain a passport related service and related phone numbers in case of queries or concerns, it added.

The users will also be able to search for a Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) or District Passport Cell (DPC) in a district where a passport application can be submitted. This can also be searched based on PIN code. For certain states and districts, the users can search for police stations as well.

Citizens residing overseas who apply for a passport service in Indian Missions/Posts abroad can also utilise this facility for searching address and other relevant information.

The fee calculator feature of the app enables users to find out the applicable fee based on the service and mode of submission. Users can track the status of their passport applications by providing the file number and date of birth. In case the passport has been dispatched, delivery status can also be tracked.

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myVegas Slots smartphone game

myVegas Slots smartphone game

PlayStudios on Tuesday blurred the line between online and real-world gambling with the release of myVegas Slots smartphone games that let players cash in on perks at Sin City casinos.

Free-to-play versions of myVegas Slots released for Apple or Android smartphones let people test their luck on virtual one-armed bandits such as those found in the Mirage, Luxor, New York New York or other MGM Resorts International properties and then use payouts to get VIP treatment in Las Vegas.

“In Las Vegas there are literally 50 tiers of service levels that few people know exist; that is the way Vegas works,” said PlayStudios founder and chief executive Andrew Pascal.

“We let people engage in content that is fun, and their level of loyalty can win them the kind of access that few people get.”

Troves of virtual chips can be cashed in for prizes ranging from buffet meals to show tickets, lodging, swimming with dolphins at the Mirage, or selecting music for the dancing fountain display outside the Bellagio.

PlayStudios has tested its social casino gaming model online and boasted that 1,00,000 players have cashed in on more than $10 million worth of real world rewards to date.

The game’s success has led to new partners including celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck and Cirque du Soleil, which stages an array of elaborate and alluring performances in Las Vegas.

MGM has been so impressed by the ability of the game to bring back old players to casinos and attract new visitors that it has ramped up resources devoted to promoting its brands in myVegas, according to executive director of corporate marketing Chris Gumiela.

“It is a big driver for us; we absolutely see more people showing up at our properties,” Gumiela said. “It is not just the gambling that makes up the Las Vegas experience, it is really the other opportunities.”

The myVegas game sidesteps the heavily-regulated world of gambling in the United States by paying players off with being treated like high-rollers in Las Vegas, while leaving the cash-betting games of chance to the casinos.

“We are not in the real-money gambling space, and frankly it is not in our mandate,” Pascal said.

“If you want to gamble, go to Vegas. A lot of people might characterize online gaming as the Holy Grail; we don’t. We think it should be left to people who understand that industry.”

The online version of the game tested for less than a year already has hundreds of thousands of players at Facebook, according to PlayStudios.

California-based PlayStudios plans to make its money from players willing to pay for extra chips to level-up faster in the overarching “meta-game” that involves virtually progressing along the famed Las Vegas strip.

“Candy Crush doesn’t have real places that you work through; we have MGM,” Pascal said, referring to a sensationally popular colour-matching game played on smartphones or tablets. “The great thing about Las Vegas is that everybody has a romantic notion of what it stands for.”

BlackBerry’s BBM messenger service keeps chugging along.

The company said that BBM has racked up more than 10 million downloads in its first 24 hours.

“I’ve seen reports of apps that launched with 1 million downloads in a day, but over 10 million? Amazing,” BlackBerry executive Andrew Bocking said on the company’s blog.

BBM actually garnered 5 million downloads in its first 8 hours. The app has since zoomed to the top on Apple’s App Store, garnering mostly positive ratings.

BBM hasn’t yet shown up on Google Play, but that could be because Google doesn’t update the list as frequently. Bocking noted there have been 60,000 five-star reviews out of 87,000 total reviews.There was significant demand for the iOS and Android version of BBM, with 6 million registering ahead of time to get information on the app. There was so much interest that BlackBerry had to institute a wait list for people who hadn’t registered ahead of time.

Alongside new iPads and Macs, Apple on Tuesday quietly released an iOS update that brings new features and fixes others.

iOS 7.0.3, which went out as a free update today, brings back iCloud Keychain — a feature that was originally slated to launch with iOS 7, but did not make it into the final release.

iCloud Keychain stores information like logins and credit card information synced up and available between devices. That comes with a new feature in Safari for iOS that can generate complex passwords.

Alongside the new feature, Apple also beefed up an older one that disabled some of the snazzy new visual effects in iOS 7. That includes the parallax shifting that occurs while users move their device around, as well as the animations that have app icons fall down onto the screen every time the device is unlocked.

Those animations were causing issues for some users, who found them to be dizzying. The new option ditches the zooming between apps and other system menus, in favor of a simpler cross fade effect.

Other fixes include a tweak to the lock screen that delays when it pops up the “slide to unlock” language for iPhone 5S users with the Touch ID system enabled, as well as bringing back an option to search from the Web and Wikipedia from within the built-in Spotlight search tool.iOS was was released to users last month. Prior updates focused on ironing out some early kinks, including a security issue that allowed users to unlock devices without a passcode.

Apple’s new iOS 7 mobile operating system has been wildly popular

As big as the lines outside Apple stores were for the launch of the company’s two new iPhones were last week, the virtual lines to download iOS 7 may have been even more impressive.

After iOS 7 became available to download last Wednesday, Internet traffic from Apple.com tripled to more than 13% for the average customers of Sunnyvale-based Blue Coat Systems. The company makes hardware and software that helps companies monitor and optimize their Web traffic.

Though streaming media services such as Netflix and YouTube can consume large amounts of bandwidth, the rush to download a single, fairly large file was virtually unprecedented, according to Blue Coat director Jeff Brainard.

In a blog post Thursday on the Blue Coat website, Brainard wrote that customers who usually get about 4% of their traffic going to Apple.com experienced a spike of more than three times that, to 13%.

For one customer, traffic to Apple.com spiked to 32% of Web traffic.

“During that period, iOS 7 downloads accounted for the second largest volume of traffic behind only YouTube videos,” Brainard wrote.

That means that in offices and schools across the country, IT managers were struggling to keep their systems working as employees as attempted to download the iOS 7 to their Apple devices.

And that also resulted in a busy day for the folks at Blue Coat, who scrambled to help their customers manage the surge of traffic and figure out ways to reduce its effect.

Of course, anyone who tried to download the new version of Apple’s mobile operating system when it became available on Wednesday knew there was a stampede to get it. Users experienced error messages or long download times.

On Monday, Apple confirmed that iOS 7 had been downloaded onto 200 million iOS devices. And other third parties reported that the adoption had pushed past 50% of all iOS devices, a far faster clip than previous updates.

Brainard said IT managers have grown accustomed to seeing big spikes in Web traffic around major events such as the World Cup or the death of a major celebrity. But it’s one thing for people to be posting lots of short tweets or Facebook posts and another thing for millions of people to suddenly try to download a large file from a single source, he said. “There was a ridiculous amount of popularity for this update,” Brainard said in an interview. “I think in the case of a big file update that’s had this kind of impact, no, I have not seen this in the four years I’ve been here.”

The Z1 handset with the QX100 lens attached weighs 349g (12.3oz)

Sony has confirmed plans to sell two stand-alone lenses that connect to smartphones by wi-fi, allowing them to take higher-quality photos.

The devices are compatible with Android and iOS handsets and mark the creation of a new product category.

The Japanese company announced the products alongside a new smartphone which features a 20.7 megapixel camera and a larger-than-normal image sensor.

The launches should help the firm challenge Nokia’s top-end handset.

The Finnish company – which is in the process of being taken over by Microsoft – unveiled the Lumia 1020 in July. Reviews have suggested that it has the best smartphone camera on the market, but were critical of its price,

Sony told the BBC it would target its Z1 handset at a wider audience than what it called the Lumia 1020’s “super-premium category”.

It confirmed details of the devices at the Ifa consumer tech show in Berlin – much of the information had already leaked via tech news sites.

One analyst suggested the lenses in particular would struggle to find buyers.

“The concept is interesting, but when you think about using it, will users want to carry them around?” asked Francisco Jeronimo, mobile devices research manager at tech consultancy IDC.

“The problem is that for those wanting top-quality photographs, the experience of having a DSLR [digital single lens reflex] offers a better experience than a phone with an add-on camera.

“Meanwhile having the lens attached to a phone makes it feel quite bulky compared to a compact camera or stand-alone handset.

“If the lenses were priced under £100, then I could see photography geeks buying it, or operators bundling it with the phone, but these lenses will be quite expensive.”

Sony itself acknowledged that it did not know how strong demand would be.

“Always we’re discussing: ‘How many pieces should we prepare,'” Yosuke Aoki, a digital imaging spokesman for the firm, told the BBC.

“We’re waiting for after the Ifa announcement to see what the feedback will be to the models.”

Making a statement

Sony is bundling movies and games with the Z1 to help it compete

The QX10 lens offers a 10x optical zoom and 18.2MP resolution which Sony says makes it ideal for taking shots of distant landmarks or close-ups of people. It will cost about £170,

The QX100 features a smaller 3.6x zoom but a bigger sensor with a resolution of 20.2MP. Its aperture goes as wide as f1.8 – allowing more light in – meaning it should be more adept at taking photos in low light or with a very shallow focus. It also offers manual focus as an option which is not possible on the other lens. It will cost about £380.

Once fitted with a battery and memory stick, the QX10 weighs 105g (3.7oz) and the QX100 179g (6.3oz).

Both devices:

  • include technology that compensates for shaky hands
  • activate a link-up to a phone or tablet if it has an NFC (near field communication) chip
  • can attach to different-sized handsets via an extendable clip, or – in the case of the Z1 – using a special case
  • can be operated while a short distance away from the smart device

Neither:

  • has a built-in screen.

Sony Mobile’s head of sales and marketing said they were intended to send a message to consumers, including those who would never buy them.

“It’s a statement as one piece of many things that are starting to come together under the umbrella of Sony,” said Dennis van Schie.

“The PlayStation 4 is coming out. In 4K [ultra-high resolution] TVs, we’re the leader – from the formats to the cameras to recording capabilities [that will appear] quite soon in mobile.

“Now we’re the first ones to dare to create a lens-type camera with a new kind of user interface. It contributes to what Sony is standing for.”

Sony posted a 3.5bn yen ($35m, £23m) profit in the April-to-June quarter, reversing a 24.6bn yen loss the previous year.

Stronger sales of smartphones helped achieve the turnaround.

However, IDC says the firm still only had a 4.1% share of global smartphone shipments over the three months, putting it behind Samsung, Apple, LG, Lenovo, Huawei and ZTE.

Additional value

Nokia has boasted that its Lumia 1020 with a 41MP sensor is the best smartphone camera on the market

Sony is hoping the new water-resistant Z1 handset will help it boost that figure.

It says the device features an exclusive sensor which is the same size as that found in its Cybershot cameras.

It also features new software including the ability to provide live video streams to Facebook, and Info-eye – an app that provides information about books, wine and landmarks among other objects the phone is pointed at.

The company is also taking advantage of its other assets to help the device stand out from the Android crowd. UK shoppers are promised five Sony movie downloads and a selection of free PlayStation mobile games.

“They’ve done quite a good job of differentiating the phone,” said Mr Jeronimo.

“That’s what operators want – to be able to provide additional value from what Sony offers.”That’s why they are looking at Sony as a better prospect for the future than other vendors like Blackberry and HTC.”

 

iPhone owners, be jealous: Android users are getting a Vine feature you can’t have.

The Vine app for Android received an update Thursday afternoon that brought it up to date with many new features that were also recently added to the iPhone version of the app.

Those features include a new look for the camera interface that lets users place grid lines; channels that users can categorize their videos into; and the ability to “revine,” where users share others’ videos with their followers — much like a retweet on Twitter.

But perhaps the most interesting new feature for Vine on Android is the addition of a quick-capture widget. That feature lets users place a second icon for Vine that looks like a video camera on the home screen of their devices. When Android users click on that icon, they will instantly go into Vine’s video recording page, rather than the default feed that users see when they open the Vine app normally.

The new quick-capture widget should make it easier for users to record video for Vine of things happening at that moment. But sadly for iPhone users, this is one feature they won’t be able to have.

Unlike Android, Apple doesn’t allow app developers to create widgets that run on its smartphone. The only widgets Apple users do have, such as the ability to quickly tweet or post a Facebook status from the Notification Center, come when Apple works directly with app makers.

For Vine to create something similar to the new quick-capture widget on Android, the Twitter-owned app would have to get creative. Vine could release a second app that opens from the recording screen, or perhaps it could let users set the recording screen as their default page when they launch the Vine app.

Regardless of whatever Vine chooses to do, Android users should feel special:  the quick-capture widget is one feature iPhone users won’t get to try.

 

Considering that Steve Ballmer has been chief executive of Microsoft for more than a decade, it might sound strange to say this. But the sweeping reorganization announced Wednesday made it clear that Microsoft is now his company.

But in the various memos and news releases, the company emphasized that while Windows remains crucial to its future, it’s no longer the way Microsoft wants to define itself. The company is now about “devices and services,” Ballmer said in a memo.

“Ballmer has definitely placed his stamp on Microsoft, meaning the ‘Gates era’ has come to an end,” said Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy. “He is fundamentally shifting the company from an operating system company to services and devices company. In a world where operating systems are free, as in the case of Android, iOS and Linux, Windows is a lot less important.”

To accelerate that shift, Microsoft is collapsing the number of divisions from eight to four. Ballmer wants to promote more collaboration at a company often seen as internally fractious.

It’s a radical push to remake the company. But there’s no arguing that the reorganization is the capstone to one of the most remarkable years of transformation we’ve seen at a technology giant.

Under Ballmer, Microsoft has engaged in a historic upheaval of nearly every part of its massive product line.

Much of that has been documented in bits and pieces. The biggest news was the redesign that came with Windows 8. But there’s also the launch of Outlook.com, the new Windows Phones, the new Xbox One coming later this year, a new cloud-based version of Office.com. And the list goes on.

And, of course, there’s been the push to build its own tablet, the Surface. In the announcement, Ballmer promised to continue working with third parties as it has traditionally done, but also to keep looking for ways to build more of its own devices.

Many of these moves have come in for heavy criticism. Sales of the Surface have not been stellar. Windows 8 has failed to stem a steep decline in PC sales.

But from the point of view of the new Microsoft, all this matters less than you think. With the new guiding philosophy, Windows is not the sole benchmark by which to measure its success or failures. Rather, the company wants to be given credit for the enormous breadth of things it does for both consumers and enterprise, and how well all of those things work together.

Indeed, while some of the consumer offerings have failed to catch fire so far, the enterprise side of Microsoft has been growing quite nicely in recent months.

So much so, that investors seem, at least for the moment, to be optimistic that this new, post-Windows Microsoft, has a fighting chance. The stock in mid-day trading Wednesday was up $0.67 or 1.93% to $35.37. The stock has been on a decent run this year, up more than 24% and coming close to the $36 per share mark it last reached in 2007.

Of course, for all the major surgery at Microsoft, it remains to be seen whether this will translate into a company that can grow at the pace investors want over the long term. Or whether it can regain any sense of leadership in the fast-moving worlds of mobile and cloud technologies, where so far the company has been outflanked by rivals such as Apple and Google.

Ballmer’s legacy is now firmly tied to these remarkable changes. Whether he’s remembered as a transformative corporate visionary or a bumbling, misguided chief executive will depend more on what happens in his second decade running the company than his first.

Today marks the fifth anniversary of the Apple App Store. And perhaps one of the most amazing things about this milestone is that it never would have happened if things had played out the way Steve Jobs wanted.

Just imagine if there were no iPhone apps and no App Store. Aside from creating billions of dollars in value for developers, Apps have been a cornerstone to the success of the iPhone and iPad.

The fact that the App Store does exist is a testament to a characteristic of Jobs and Apple for which neither tends to get much credit. They listen to users.

To understand why, you have to jump back to a piece of history that is often forgotten.

Today, people look at the App Store as part of some master vision cooked up by Jobs. Critics of Apple look at it as symbolic of Apple’s and Jobs’ desire to control every aspect of their technology.

But when the iPhone first landed in 2007, the company was primarily concerned that it actually work and be seen as a stable device when it got into the hands of users. So Apple did not make it possible for third parties to write apps that ran on the phone, worried that glitchy apps might ding the iPhone’s reputation.

Instead, if people wanted applications to run on the iPhone, the company said they could write so-called “Web apps,” little programs that ran inside the mobile browser.

Now, if that had become the dominant way people developed apps as Apple and Jobs expected, then most of these would be able to run on any mobile platform. You wouldn’t have to write one version for iOS, one for Android, and so on. In such a world, Apple wouldn’t have the towering advantage it currently has with the top mobile app developers.

But, of course, that’s not what happened.

What happened, almost immediately, is that people started “jailbreaking” the iPhone to install apps they had written directly onto the phone, so-called “native apps.” Apple tried its best to put a stop to this initially by updating the phones’ operating system, which would in turn wipe out apps that had been installed.

The reason developers preferred native apps was simple. Installed directly on the phone, they could run faster and include more features than a Web app that might have to be pulled across the wireless network each time you ran it. Within a few months of the iPhone’s launch, developers had created about 10,000 Web apps.

But even as it tried to limit the jailbreaking, Apple was listening to developers.

Especially persuasive were arguments from game developers, who wanted more horsepower to write richer games, and financial firms who felt native apps would offer more security.

In October 2007, Apple announced it would relent and create a way for people to write apps for the phone. The company said a Software Development Kit or SDK would be available the following year for developers.

Finally, in March 2008, Jobs gathered reporters at Apple headquarters for an iPhone Software Roadmap Event. At the announcement, Jobs said the Software Development Kit was ready and that the company would launch a store in a few months where developers could submit their apps for sale and users could find apps and download them to their iPhones.

(As a footnote, Jobs was also excited that after just eight months, the iPhone already had 28% of the U.S. smartphone marketshare compared with 41% for Research in Motion. How quaint those numbers seem now.)

Anyway, at the end of the announcement, John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins took the stage to announce that his venture firm had created a $100 million iFund to invest in companies looking to develop software for the iPhone.

On July 10, 2008, the App store opened for business. By September 2008, users had downloaded 100 million native apps.

As the fifth anniversary hits, there are now more than 900,000 apps in the store that have been downloaded 50 billion times.

All made possible by a company willing to admit it was wrong, and in the process make one of the most important pivots in recent tech history.