Friday, 31 July 2015

How you can block a phone number on your Android phone

Lets assume that after about the twentieth time that telemarketer bugs you with an “incredible deal” you’re probably ready to throw your phone out the window. Is that true of you? Okay.But that shouldn't be the case, there’s a better way. With just a few steps you can banish that caller from contacting you forever. Here’s how to do it. As a caveat, your specific dialer may look different or have some of the options placed elsewhere depending on which device you have. By and large, however, the process is very similar. If it’s someone who called you recently, go to the dialer and then touch the three-dot menu button. Then touch Select.
You can block callers through the dialer or contacts app. Choose the offending caller and and then again touch the menu, this time choosing Add to Auto reject list. Now at this point your phone should automatically block the number when they call again. You can also block a caller by just heading to the contacts app and making the same selection from the drop-down menu. But However, if you change your mind, find that same number again and choose Remove from Auto reject list. Though if you do that, get ready for more fantastic offers you’ll want to reject .

Ubik's Uno is quite literally the phone you will desire

A Miami-based company known to be called Ubik, wants to turn the idea that massive corporations like Samsung, Apple, and Google know best on its head, at least when it comes to the smartphone in your pocket. Ubik’s first attempt to do so is the Uno, a high-end phone that has most of the powerful specs you’d expect to see on a flagship phone from Apple or Samsung, but for the price of a mid-range phone. Already Ubik has a number of working prototypes and is ready to move into production with the help of its Korean manufacturing partner, but it’s starting out on Kickstarter to build a community of phone lovers who want more say in the phones they use every day. Meet the Ubik Uno Most companies play around with user expectations, and manipulate press renders to show screens with smaller bezels, when in reality they’re just cleverly hidden. However, when Ubik says its phone has no bezels, it means that it has no bezels. A one-piece aluminum frame blends right into the 5.5-inch Full HD screen. There are bezels at the top and bottom of the phone, just like any other, but the screen is unimpeded on either side. It meets a lovely slim figure, and the sturdy plastic back makes for a very appealing phone overall. The plastic is a solid, navy blue with a “spun” texture that reflects the light well and makes a that’ll-never-get-old record-scratching sound when you run a fingernail across it.
A MediaTek MT6795 64-bit octa-core processor powers the phone, along with 3GB of RAM. Ubik told us that it passed on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 why? because of the overheating issue, putting in addition that the MediaTek processor is more energy efficient, which suits its purposes better anyway. The Uno packs 64GB storage, so there’s no issue there, either. It’s running stock Android 5.1 Lollipop, so there’s no annoying bloatware or horrible skin on top of Google lovely OS. The whopping 6-lens, 20-megapixel, auto-focus rear camera from Sony should take some phenomenal pictures, and it can record video in slow motion at 120fps. The camera sensor is quite big, so it bulges out a bit on the back of the thin phone, but that’s become standard practice these days. Even Apple’s iPhone 6 has a camera bulge. Meanwhile, the 8-megapixel camera on front of the phone should take some stellar selfies.
To conclude the whole package, the Ubik Uno comes with a quick charger that has an LED light, so you know when it’s charged. At this point, you’re probably thinking, ‘wow, that sounds like a really high-end phone. It must be super expensive,’ but it’s not. Ubik says the Uno will retail for $345, but it would have only cost you $280 on Kickstarter – if you got one of the first 250 phones. After that, the next 1,000 cost $300, and the rest of the preorders come in at $320. “Now you’re getting a high-end phone for a great price,” Ubik’s USA Business Director Edgardo Jovet told Digital Trends. You will design the next Ubik phone Once Ubik ships out all its Uno phones, it’ll start chatting with the new community to learn about their experience with the device, and find out exactly what they want in the next Ubik phone. Unlike most companies that secretly survey a few thousand people about one small aspect of a phone, Ubik will send out a kind of build-your-own-phone rubric to its users. When all’s said and done, Ubik will go on to make the most popular design. “The majority rules. We’ll make the phone the community chooses.” “It’s more of a community,” Jovet said. “Our ,main goal is to see that when the product comes out, that’s when we start talking with our community to build the next phone.” He’s not kidding about the level of community involvement. Looking through a sample rubric that Ubik’s users will fill out, the company lists all the possible screen, processor, storage, color, camera, and other spec options that it has available, and you go from there. Ubik will let you know if your dream phone is unrealistic — so if you want a super thin phone with a massive battery and a jumbo camera, Ubik will let you know that it isn’t physically possible to do that – and the price that it would cost for Ubik to make your design. “The majority rules,” Jovet said. “We’ll make the phone the community chooses, and we’re open to making more than one design down the line.” Why let the users choose? The main criticism of democracy is always likely to be that the plebeians don’t know what they want. Those in power know best, so they decide. Not so, says Ubik. In fact, the biggest companies often make the biggest mistakes. There are some good industry examples to back up these claims. BlackBerry and Nokia chose to stick with alternative operating systems and turned their noses up at Google’s Android. Now neither company is a leader in the smartphone industry any more. HTC thought it could rest on its laurels, but Samsung and LG caught up with superior phones. Even Apple, which hasn’t truly fallen down at all in the smartphone market, misjudged customer demand for bigger phones. International sales have increased now it makes the larger 4.7 and 5.5-inch iPhones. “They thought they knew what the people wanted, but they were wrong,” Ubik Business Director Christian Areco said. “What would happen if BlackBerry made an Android phone when Messenger was huge? They’d still be a big player.” “We want to be a different player in this industry,” he continued. “We don’t want to impose what we think.” Ubik’s unique approach seems to be resonating with customers, at least on Kickstarter. The company’s campaign is already more than halfway to its $200,000 goal, and it’s still got a month left to rack up the rest. If you want to fund the Uno and get one for yourself, there are still a few $300 models left. Once those are gone, it’ll rise up to $320, but even at that price, it still looks like a bargain.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Wish to make your Android device safe for kids? Discover how

Tablets and smartphones are invaluable parenting resources,if whether it’s providing new ways of educating and informing kids or simply entertaining them. Learning apps, creative thinking games, and streaming video apps make your Android device an incredibly handy thing to have around (even if you try to limit screen time). But these powerful gadgets can just as easily point kids towards objectionable content, allow them to poke through your personal files and correspondence, or enable them to rack up significant charges on your credit or debit card. Handing your smartphone to a child can be a very dangerous proposition if you’re not careful. But thankfully, there are ways to keep both your kids and digital life safe when passing off an Android device, whether it’s limiting app access, setting Play Store restrictions, or pinning an app to the screen for short-term use. And third-party apps are available with even deeper customization and restriction options, particularly if you’re setting up a dedicated device for a child. Never worry, mom and dad: you have got this. Here’s how. Restricted profiles (on tablets) Android as a smartphone doesn’t have a specified parental controls built into the OS, but it does offer a way to accomplish the very same task—at least on tablets. If you’re running Android 4.3 or newer, it’s as easy as creating a secondary restricted profile and then deciding which apps can be accessed by that user. You’ll need to make sure that you have a screen lock set for your main profile, in order to keep kids from simply swapping away from their restricted profile. Android will prompt you during the process if you don’t have a lock set. To perform this, you just head to the Settings screen, go to Users and then select Add user or profile. From there, you can create a restricted profile separate from your own. Feel free to give it a proper name, and then check out the list of apps shown. Some apps are automatically blocked by restricted profiles—like Calendar, Docs, Email, and Twitter—while others let you toggle them on or off. You may also see a small gear icon, which allows you to fine-tune access options (like whether to allow Google searches or not). Accessing this new profile is easy: from the lock screen, simply tap your own user icon and you’ll find the added one listed below. Tap that and the device will switch over to the restricted profile, keeping away your disallowed apps and options. You can also switch at any time by pulling down from the status bar at the top of the screen and tapping your icon. parental controls restricted profile lockscreen. Phone options Unfortunately, restricted profiles are not available on Android phones running any version of the OS. It’s a logistical problem, claims a Google engineer, since phones are used for calls and texting, and restricting access could make the device owner miss such things. But as the case may be, you can still create a separate user profile for your child on phones running Android 5.0+, and quickly switch over to it at any time—from the lock screen or status bar, as on tablets—and keep prying eyes away from your emails and texts. You can even disable calls and texts, so you don’t have to worry about them using up your monthly plan or getting in touch with people you don't approve of. Just as you would on tablets, you can add a new user from the Users screen in Settings, or otherwise do so by tapping your icon in the status bar. From the Settings menu, you’ll see a small gear by the added profile, and tapping that lets you toggle calling and SMS support as desired. Ultimately, however, a full user profile still provides a lot of access that a restricted one wouldn’t—so if you’re going to hand off your Android phone to a kid, consider simply pinning an app. Pinning apps One of the most useful parent-friendly features found in Android 5.0+ is the app pinning, which lets you lock a single app to the screen (on phones and tablets alike) and block access to everything else. It’s a handy way to let a kid have fun without needing to switch profiles or closely monitor his/her actions. We have a full how-to on this feature, but here’s the gist of it. First, activate the feature in Settings, under Security. You can choose whether or not to require a PIN to exit a pinned app—if your kid is old enough to read, use a PIN, since the unlocking directions are briefly display on the screen. When you’re ready to pin an open app, hit the overview button (the square on the bottom right) and tap the pushpin icon shown on the app card. Your app is now pinned. Attempting to escape will only bring up the note about exiting, which requires you to hold the back and overview buttons simultaneously. If you have a PIN, performing that action will kick you back to the lock screen. If not, the app will close and your kid will be left with free reign with your apps. Play Store restrictions Good luck, the Play Store app has parental controls that aren’t limited only to recent Android OS versions. Pull the navigation drawer from the left to access the Settings screen within the Play Store, and then scroll down to user controls. From there, you’ll have access to media restrictions based on rating. You can limit app and game downloads by age, as well as restrict movies and TV shows by rating, music with explicit lyrics, and books with sexual content. All you’ll need is a PIN number to lock access to the setting and you’re all ready to go. Also you find under user controls a setting for when and how often you’ll need to enter your Google password for paid app purchases. You can force the app to require a password with every new purchase, only once every 30 minutes, or never. If your kid is playing games with in-app purchases—which is nearly every free game released today—make the password mandatory to avoid inadvertent spending. There’s one more option worth exploring in this category, although it’s found in the primary OS Settings menu. From there, tap Security and make sure the “Unknown sources” option is turned off. That way, your kids won’t be able to download and install apps from outside the Play Store. These apps could introduce malware to your device or contain objectionable content, so it’s best to keep them away if your kids are old enough to know where to look. Need more help? If you want more restrictive controls on your smartphone, or wish to automatically limit screen time, or need other deeper functionality, you may want to consider some of the third-party apps available for Android devices. They help fill in the gaps left by Google, or otherwise expand upon the basic tools provided with stock Android bye...

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

How you can protect yourself from the Stagefright security flaw

Stagefright is most likely the worst vulnerability to hit the Android ecosystem. All you need as person is your phone number in order to send a malicious MMS message that compromises your device. Even the worse part of it, is that the attacker can erase the message so you never know you’ve been hit. The first thing you should do to protect yourself is turn off MMS auto-retrieval. The example below is from Google’s Messenger app, which is one of the best apps for text messaging.
Just head to Advanced > Auto-retrieve and flip it off. The only downside is you’ll get prompted to accept or reject MMS messages, which are those that include images, video, or group texts. It’s a worthy inconvenience to prevent your device from becoming a spy phone that monitors your every move. Not every texting app will have the ability to enable or disable auto-retrieval of MMS messages, but many do, and you'll find the toggle in the app's settings in a fashion similar to that above. If your texting app of choice doesn't offer this feature, it might be time to switch to one that does. Additionally, it’s worth connecting with your phone maker or carrier via Twitter. All the major carriers have a customer support Twitter account that you can use to pester about when a patch is coming for Stagefright. Reach out directly to T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, or Sprint. The squeaky wheel gets the grease! Why this matters: This flaw strikes at the heart of Android’s fragmentation. Google has before now fixed the bug, but it’s up to phone manufacturers to apply it to their devices. Then the carriers must grant the update over their networks (except for unlocked devices, like some from Motorola). So far only Cyanogen devices and Circle’s Blackphone have applied the patch. Google says a fix will go out to Nexus devices very soon.

Seven Creative Businesses That Can Inspire You

Art does not look like the most lucrative field, especially if you believe in the stereotype of the starving artist. But when you get creative and think outside the box of simply selling paintings or photos and renting out gallery spaces, you may end up discovering that there are many ways to be successful in the business of art. Artkick Do want to bring art into your home or office without hanging it on the walls? Artkick allows you to display high-quality art and photography on your TV or computer monitor with access to photos from museums, NASA, the Library of Congress, Photos.com and Hubble for free. You can even import your own photos from Facebook, Instagram, Dropbox, Flickr and more, and control what photos are displayed via the Artkick mobile app on your smartphone or tablet. The service is also compatible with Roku and Google Chromecast devices. BucketFeet BucketFeet's founders Raaja Nemani and Aaron Firestein are on a mission to help people connect through art. The two met and became friends while traveling through Argentina, when Aaron drew a design on a pair of plain canvas sneakers for Raaja. Raaja soon discovered his shoes were a big conversation starter throughout his travels, and the two started BucketFeet as a result. The company sells canvas sneakers in a variety of styles that feature original art from more than 20,000 artists from 100 countries around the world. These artists cover every medium from graphic design and graffiti to photographers and painters, and anyone can submit their artwork for consideration by the BucketFeet committee. Dot Dash 3 Dot Dash 3 is a platform where artists can create and curate virtual art exhibitions with their work. The company has a team of internationally recognized curators who select and invite artists to participate, and the site features everyone from promising new talent to established artists. Since Dot Dash 3 has also creat a platform where art enthusiasts can discover and buy art, it also helps artists connect with more people and to create and grow their collector base. And just a fun fact: The company was named after the word "art" written in Morse code. ImageThink Based in New York, ImageThink is a company that takes art and makes it functional in the office and the classroom. ImageThink is a graphic-recording team that creates illustrations based on keynote speeches, presentations, strategy sessions and more to help people visualize and better remember the information they're presented with. ImageThink team members create these illustrations live during the meeting or event to go along with the presentation. The company also gives its services for creating animated videos and infographics. Instapainting Have you @ anytime ever wished you could turn your favorite photo into a painting? With Instapainting, you can do exactly that. You can order either a mixed-media painting (the artist will print your image onto a cotton canvas and then hand-paint over at least 90 percent of it with oil paints) or a 100 percent hand-painted painting (the artist will start from a blank canvas and paint the entire picture by hand with oil paints) based on your photo depending on your price range and the look you want to achieve. When you order a painting and it's in the process of being created, you can view all of the progress and changes made and talk directly with the artist, and you'll have a finished product delivered to you from Instapainting within about three weeks. Juicy Canvas With the use of Juicy Canvas, anyone can take art, customize it and turn it into items like canvas prints, shirts, phone cases, tote bags, throw pillows and greeting cards. Juicy Canvas allows customers to select an original design and what medium they want to purchase it on, and then "remix it" by altering colors, rotating and cropping the image and adding text to create their own custom product. Artists can submit their work for consideration to be used on the site, and customers can easily search through the available designs by style and country of origin. Turning Art Are you fickle about your home or office d├ęcor? Turning Art is an art-rental subscription service that gives you chance to select new art to feature in your home or office as often as you like for a monthly fee. As a subscriber, you can search through thousands of pieces to find what you want, and it's delivered to you at no extra cost. Your first order will come in a frame, and when you're ready for a new masterpiece, all you have to do is slide the old artwork out of the frame (to be sent back to Turning Art) and put the new order in. And don't worry — if you absolutely fall in love with a piece, you can purchase it through Turning Art as well.Thanks for reading

The wireless charging technology that works with metal phones

Wireless charging is very great, and it’s about to get even better. Qualcomm says it has solved the problem of enabling wireless charging on devices with metal bodies, which until now were unable to support the technology. Qualcomm says it’s an industry first, and it comes at a time when more manufacturers are choosing to build devices with bodies made of something other than plastic, in an effort to grab some of the premium market. The HTC One M9, the ZTE Axon, Huawei’s P8, and the Apple iPhone can’t feature wireless charging, even if the makers wanted to. The system uses Qualcomm’s WiPower charging technology, and the metal-bodied phone recharging system is never the only benefit. WiPower wireless power pads can charge hardware that’s not actually in contact with the surface, and by using Bluetooth Smart, can send the correct amount of power to multiple devices with different charging requirements. In other words, we can say that if one device can accept a higher amount of energy than another, the charger will step up the power and recharge it faster. That sounds great, right? It is, but this is the world of wireless charging, where despite the tech trying to make life simpler, there’s an ongoing standards battle to make life difficult again. Qualcomm’s WiPower system is compatible with the Rezence wireless charging standard, which is backed by the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) organization. It’s not the same as the competing Qi standard backed by the Wireless Power Consortium. Annoyingly, this cuts down the number of companies willing to use the new technology. However, we can hope the allure of incorporating wireless charging into a premium metal phone proves irresistible. Apple, for example, hasn’t embraced wireless charging yet. Now there’s at least an option available, should it want to make the effort. Qualcomm has made the new technology available to WiPower licensees today, but there have been no information regarding to when we’ll see it in use.

With Google Now you can now dictate messages to friends

Google Now is about to get even handier. The voice-powered personal assistant was recently updated by Google to include a new dictation feature that can work within a variety of popular messaging apps. You see, when ever you’re typing out texts by the dozen, Google Now will save your thumbs some stress. Android owners can now use the “Ok Google” command to start up a message in third party apps including WhatsApp, Viber, WeChat, Telegram and NextPlus. The basic command begins with “Ok Google, send a WhatsApp message to Joe,” modified however you see fit depending on your app and friend of choice (unless you want to send a WhatsApp message to Joe, then don’t change a thing). Google Now will then prompt you to speak your message so the service can transcribe it for you. If you’d wish, you can just blurt out the message with the original command instead of waiting for Google Now to ask for additional input. The new service is available only in English for the time being, but can be used anywhere. Additional support for languages and other apps are said to be on their way in the coming months. Dictation is just the latest in an ongoing spree of updates the search giant has been pushing to its virtual assistant service. In past months, Google has added predictive information and smarter content tailored to a user’s habits. More Now cards for a wide variety of apps have also been added. Improving the voice commands has continually be high on Google’s agenda as well, even before the dictation. Google Now users have also been given the ability to interact with a variety of third party apps through voice commands, including services like Shazam and Zillow. The result is a product that is quickly surpassing its competition in Siri and Cortana to be the top of the class of virtual assistants feel cool.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Here arrives the Galaxy Note 5: Samsung sends out invites for August event

Samsung Electronics has announced one key event coming up in August in the New York, suggesting that the company may be attempting to launch new products ahead of Apple’s closely-watched annual iPhone event a month later. The South Korean company announced it on Tuesday that the “Samsung Galaxy Unpacked 2015” event on Aug. 13 at the Lincoln Center in New York, but did not provide further details. The company launched its flagship Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge smartphones at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in March. Samsung plans to launch a larger version of the Galaxy S6 edge curved smartphone at the August event, according to The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter. The Galaxy S6 edge plus will have all the features of Samsung’s flagship device, in the larger-size format offered by the Galaxy Note series, according to the newspaper. The report appears to confirm earlier accounts that the company would introduce in August a new version of its flagship Galaxy S6 edge, besides the Galaxy Note 5 combination phone and tablet, popularly referred to as a phablet. Samsung did not comment immediately. The Galaxy S6 and S6 edge met with mixed results in the second quarter of this year as supply of the edge models could not meet demand, IDC said last week. The research firm said all eyes would be on the early release of the Note 5 and the rumored S6 edge plus, expected in August. The shortage of the Galaxy S6 edge is expected to hit the company’s earnings, scheduled to be announced Thursday. Samsung said earlier this month that it anticipates reporting lower than expected earnings for the second quarter. Operating profit for the quarter is expected to be around 6.9 trillion won ($6.1 billion), short of the 7.2 trillion won analysts were expecting. Sales were estimated at 48 trillion won, below the 53 trillion won analysts had forecast. Samsung’s August event might also include the release of its first smartwatch in about a year, and a strong push in the payments market, according to WSJ. The Note 5 will be powered by Samsung’s in-house Exynos processor chips, it put in addition.

Continue with the OnePlus 2: Still the best bang for your buck

No more need for speculation. No more teasing. The OnePlus 2 is official and I put my hands on it. I gripped its metal-and-wood body. I tapped its 5.5-inch screen. I used its 13-megapixel rear-facing camera to snap photos and its 5-megapixel front-facing camera to take selfies. I put it in my purse pocket and in my colleague’s pants pocket to get a sense of what it’s like to cart it around as a daily driver. But @ this point what I realized after my first hour with the device is that OnePlus’s second stab at a smartphone may actually have a chance at being the “flagship killer” it’s being advertised as. It’s powerful, it runs a near-perfect version of Android, and it offers some extraordinary features you’d have to pay extra for with other flagship devices, like 64GB of storage right out of the box. Of course, whether OnePlus is successful will depend entirely on how much better it is at marketing this time around, but at least they’ve got a product worth the fanfare. The familiar-looking phone OnePlus 2 looks like a more high-end LG G4. It offers a similarly angular, masculine aesthetic. The optional wood backing on the OnePlus 2 makes the phone more dense and, as a result, gives it that premium polish that many Android phones lack. Even though it feels slightly bulkier, however, many people likes the overall look and feel of the OnePlus 2. It’s essentially a refined version of last year’s OnePlus One. Wherefor as the case is some Android manufacturers have tried their best to get rid of buttons, OnePlus made them all available to you. There’s the standard power button and volume rocker on the right-hand side, a helpful three-position alert switch on the left, and three overlay navigation buttons on the bottom. The Home button has the fingerprint sensor embedded into it, and it’s super easy to use—even easier than the Galaxy S6’s. If you don’t want hardware buttons, you can choose to eliminate that lower quarter-inch of screen space in favor for on-screen navigation. The choice is yours and yours alone, which is not something most OEMs offer. In case buttons aren’t your thing, you can use gestures. With the screen off, you can draw a circle to launch the camera, or a V to launch the flashlight. Admittedly, it’s a weird functionality to include in a smartphone—I would have preferred the ability to double tap the capacitive Home button to launch the camera instead—but the phone is surprisingly responsive. A familiar-looking interface
The OnePlus 2 runs Oxygen OS 2.0, which is based on Android 5.1. The version we played with was a near-ready pre-production version, but besides a few bugs We really liked what We saw. You can’t tell that Oxygen OS isn’t Google’s flavor of Android. It looks near stock Lollipop, but with a bunch of added extras thrown in. Most of the extras are in the Settings panel, but you’ll find some in the Application Drawer, too. There’s also a neat Home screen page called the Shelf, which resides where Google Now normally does to the left of the first home screen. It displays your most used applications and frequent contacts. You can also add widgets if you don’t want them to take up your Home screen.
Most apps that OnePlus bundled in follow Google’s Material Design guidelines to a T. I had to actually ask OnePlus if they were Google’s apps or theirs. I offer kudos to OnePlus for not attempting to reinvent the wheel—which is what Cyanogen originally set out to do with the first OnePlus.
I didn’t really like the reimagined camera application, however. It looked like Google’s version, but offered a slightly different menu hierarchy. It was confusing to use. I never liked Google’s interpretation of the camera app, either, so by default I really don’t like One Plus’s. A familiar set of specs The OnePlus 2 runs on with a Snapdragon 810 processor with 4GB of RAM. It’s fast and furious, like every other flagship phone out there. I’m curious to benchmark it, and to compare its scores to the other high-end phones, but I don’t expect to see any surprises. We’ll revisit it after six-to-eight months of usage to see how it fairs. While the OnePlus 2 is a demon on the inside, it’s lacking some crucial features that could hurt its “flagship killer” status. It’s missing quick charging, wireless charging, and NFC. I can deal without wireless charging ability, but I've been spoiled from the Galaxy S6. The lack of NFC is also worrying in regard to OnePlus 2’s compatibility with mobile payments. You can’t use Android Pay (coming soon!) out in the wild without NFC. It also means there’s no Tap & Go functionality to move your stuff from phone to phone, which is a huge bummer for a phone swapper like me. I will conclude that, even with all the hype surrounding it, I didn’t think I’d enjoy the OnePlus 2. I’m still a little wary of the company because of last year’s transgressions, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that the OnePlus 2 actually offers “more bang for your buck.” For under $400, off-contract and unlocked, you get a powerful premium flagship device with gorgeous swappable back covers, 64GB of storage, a 3300mAh battery pack, an energy-efficient 5.5-inch 1080p display, and a near-stock Android experience. OnePlus promises that its community and its users are its main priority. This is its year to prove that. It’s got the product to back that claim, but hopefully its actions will do also.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

How our selfie obsession helped in making eye-recognition possible

We all have to give thanks to selfies. Not just because they’ve given the vain something to occupy their time, but because without them, we wouldn’t be on the cusp of unlocking our phones merely by looking at them. In a strange twist of fate, the world’s obsession with the selfie has helped propel eye-recognition technology forward faster than expected. If the said that selfie craze hadn’t happened, we might not be where we are, according to Toby Rush, CEO and founder of EyeVerify, which makes eye-recognition technology called Eyeprint ID. According to Rush, selfies were just starting to take off when his team began working on their technology, and not every phone had a high-res front camera. “We were naive. We thought people would turn their phones around,” he laughed. Thankfully, our interest for photos of ourselves sparked a wave of new hardware that Rush’s team was able to ride right alongside preteens snapping selfies. “All of a sudden, every smartphone manufacturer wanted to put a 5 or an 8-megapixel camera on the front of a phone,” Toby remembers. Apple’s introduction of TouchID on the iPhone 5S, he adds, played a big part in bringing attention to the world of biometric authentication. Not more secure, but more convenient If you are smart you may stand the chance to say why should our phones scan our eyes instead of our fingerprints? They shouldn’t. “We don’t see EyePrint as an alternative to fingerprint scanning, we see it as an addition to it,” Rush explains. “When you think about biometrics, there is no right or wrong, but you do need to think about what the user is doing the vast majority of the time when they want to authenticate an action.” “Heartrate creates a perfect biometric for smartwatches, but don’t make me talk, touch, or look at it. But with a smartphone, you’re either touching or looking at it, and some of the companies we’re working with — on flagship phones — want to provide both. It’s not more security, it’s more convenience.” EyeVerify’s technology impressed us when we saw it on the ZTE Grand S3 back at CES this year. It works by matching the blood vessels in the whites of our eyes, each one of which is like mapping 100 unique points-of-interest on a map, and then another 100 points-of-interest on each one when you zoom in. It’s not the same as iris or retina scanning, and both of these require special camera hardware to measure. EyeVerify’s method, as we’ve already found, only needs a selfie cam. You never need additional hardware Without additional hardware cost, even low-end phones can incorporate eye recognition without spending out on an extra component. Whatever may be the case, is a low-res front camera up to the job of looking deeply into our eyes? “The one difference for us is range,” said Toby, when asked if there was a difference between a 2-megapixel and a 13-megapixel front camera for use with EyePrint’s technology. “The better the resolution, the farther away you can hold the phone.” However, even the lowest megapixel front cams can produce for you some surprising results. A single megapixel camera is still usable from 20cm away, for example. For comparison, a 5-megapixel camera is capable of operating from 30cm away, and an 8-megapixel camera is happy at between 35 and 40cm — easily covering most outstretched arms. Just the same with all good security measures, the authentication process is designed to be quick and seamless. “We don’t want to move a finger to the fingerprint sensor when we’re already looking at the device.” said Toby. EyeVerify is now authenticating at a speed of 500 milliseconds, and even on older processors — such as the Snapdragon 400 — the time is still only just over a second. Interestingly, the graphics processor inside a phone is actually more important than the CPU for EyeVerify, due to the heavy use of image processing. So besides selfies, Rush has the rise of 3D mobile games to thank for the hardware that enables his technology, too. Nothing stored in the cloud means there is nothing to hack There is a particular thing pleasingly sci-fi about having our eyes scanned for recognition, but what about the real-world security aspects of biometric authorization? For Eyeprint, there is only one option, and it’s not storing data in the cloud. “It’s never a matter of ‘if’, it’s only ‘when’,” said Toby, referring to data stores like this being hacked. “So we do all of our matching on the device.” To make sure there’s no chance of anything being transferred to the cloud accidentally, EyeVerify doesn’t sell any cloud server software at all. While this might sound like the simple option to you, it’s not. “What we had to do is calculate a special security key from your eye, which is a two-step process. Step one is to match the biometric, and if they match at a high enough level, then you pass. We have to go beyond that for step two, and calculate a key that’s the equivalent of a 50-character complex password, which is used for authentication. It’s not just a true or false.” Imagine trying to remember a password of this length and complexity, on an everyday basis. Should the password be compromised, all that’s needed is a quick reset and re-authentication, and a new key is created. No keys are ever sent from an EyeVerify-equipped device, even if a server-based app is asking for authentication, when a publicly-generated, one-time key is used. It was also a considerable challenge to come up with a way to generate the keys on the device, and not on a server. For data privacy’s sake, it was worth it. New phones having eye-scanning tech out before the end of the year Keeping our phones locked, and payment methods secure is just a the start. Looking to the future, Toby sees our phones and any relevant wearable devices becoming tied to medical records and health data, for which a higher degree of security will be needed to authenticate when we visit healthcare practitioners. This, combined with increased reliance on our phones for financial and company information, makes reliable, super-secure biometrics even more important. The more confidential data that is stored on, or is accessed by using a smartphone, the more comprehensive that security will need to become. EyeVerify is working on even more complex keys, and says a 100-character password created by using an Eyeprint ID eye scan — twice what it’s capable of producing now — is possible in the next six months or so. The good news is this, "we are not going to wait all that long for more phones to come out with EyeVerify’s eye print recognition installed either". Toby has confirmed that the company is “working with 20 different smartphone manufacturers right now.” Four have already launched with EyeVerify’s technology Viz are: ZTE, Alcatel, Vivo, and Umi — and he expects another four before the end of 2015. Soon, look-to-unlock will be as normal and natural as using our finger for a scan, or to tap out a PIN code.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

The best 4 iPhone 6 extended battery cases to keep the power flowing

Most time it's very frustrating when your iPhone runs out of juice and there’s no charger or outlet nearby. If you find your iPhone 6 simply isn’t keeping up with you, why not consider snagging yourself one of the best battery cases on the market? We’ve got a range of different options for you to consider right here. Incipio Ghost Qi Wireless Charging Battery Case = $100
Our top pick is the Incipio Ghost. One good thing about this case is that it supports Qi wireless charging. That is meaning to say you can place it on any Qi wireless charging pad and the case will charge up – no plugging in required. It also supports Incipio’s offGrid dock, which is another wireless charging solution, and you can use a standard micro USB cable, which is included, along with a headphone extender. You can almost double your iPhone 6 battery life, thanks to the high capacity 2,100mAh battery. It looks good, and has a slim, one-piece design with a brushed aluminum finish on the back. There’s a circular, silver power button that will light up the four white LEDs to give you an idea of remaining power. If you’ve been looking for a battery case and like the idea of wireless charging – this is the one for you. Anker Ultra Slim Extended Battery Case = $40
Anker is a very popular brand for portable batteries, so we’re of no surprise to find that the iPhone 6 battery case it offers is a good one. It’s not the most stylish or full-featured offering, but where this case really stands out is the low price, and its capacity. The large 2,850mAh capacity more than doubles your iPhone’s battery life, and there are four LEDs on the back to indicate the internal battery’s remaining power. It’s not a problem to fit or remove the case, due to its two-piece design, plus it’s slim — a rarity in the world of extended battery cases. The matte finish is plain, but it does have a pleasing soft touch feel. Inside the box is a headphone extender and a short micro USB cable. Available at: Amazon Mophie Juice Pack Ultra Case = $150 There are a few reasons to look carefully when talking about the Mophie Juice Pack Ultra. This battery case has a large capacity of 3,950mAh, so you’re looking at 150% extra life for your iPhone 6. It’s relatively slim considering the size of that battery, and it’s also protective, so you won’t have to worry about bumps and falls. You’ll find four LEDs on the back to show remaining power, but there’s also a switch so you can decide when to charge and when to save juice for later. Like most of the cases here, you can charge and sync your iPhone with the case on. It comes with a headphone extender and a micro USB cable. Available at: Amazon Unu DX Charging Case = $70
The Uno DX has a big, 3,000mAh battery, so with that you can add around 125% extra life to your iPhone 6 once its own battery has expired. It’s another two-piece sliding design which makes it easy to fit, plus there’s a power button and a three color LED array on the back, so you know how much juice is left. In addition to a handy headphone extender and micro USB cable in the box, Uno also supplies a screen protector. It’s a bit bulky and plain-looking, but it delivers plenty of extra juice and it will do a solid job of protecting your phone from damage. Available at: Amazon

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

15 tips and tricks you can use to get the most from your LG G4

With what we have on ground we can boldly say that LG is really playing to its strengths this year with the G4. Samsung ditched the removable battery and SD card slot in the Galaxy S6, so LG is bragging as loudly as it can about retaining these features. It has also cleaned up its software and improved the camera in this year's flagship. As a result, the G4 is a great phone, but you can make it even greater with a few simple steps.
Most of the Android device makers have their own special secure lock screen tricks. For example, Samsung has fingerprint readers on all its phones. LG has Knock Code, which not only incredibly useful, but complements the design nicely. With Knock Code, you can pick a series of screen taps in a two-by-two grid that will wake up the screen and instantly unlock the phone. The G4 has the power button on the back, which is convenient when you're holding it, but less so when it's laying on a table. Knock Code really saves the day in that scenario. It's also very smart about how it interprets the taps—you don't have to be in the exact same spot each time, just make sure you tap in the right orientation relative to the first tap. You'll be offered a chance to set this up during the first run process, and you should at least give it a shot. Disable apps LG and your carrier have probably colluded to cram a healthy portion of junkware on your shiny new phone, so you are to go through and clear all that out. Most pre-installed apps can't be uninstalled, but you can at least disable them with a quick trip into the settings. This includes things like all those carrier apps and some of LG's built-in stuff like QuickMemo (be honest, you won't use it). To get rid of the pre-installed apps, head to the General tab of the main settings and tap on Apps. Go over to All and find the offending packages. When you tap on an entry, there will be an Uninstall or Disable button at the top of the screen. Disabling an app removes it from the app drawer and prevents it from running in the background. It's the next best thing to uninstalling, and it's all you can do with most pre-loaded apps. Fix the app drawer
The default app drawer arrangement that exist on the G4 is "custom," which basically means "mix everything up so you can't find anything." You should definitely change this to alphabetical using the overflow menu button. Tap View apps by and select Name. LG allows you to have folders in the app drawer, even if it's sorted by name. That's handy if you want to keep several frequently used apps at the top. Smart Notice settings Among the first things to meet you on the G4's home screen is the Smart Notice widget. It occupies the top half of the main home screen panel and has a clock, weather, and (importantly) a text bar at the bottom. The text will be updated with contextual information throughout the day, and you can customize it by opening the settings (in the upper right corner of the widget). Smart Notice contains notification features related to contacts, weather, phone info, and more. They are all enabled by default, but you can turn off anything you don't want popping up. Most of the cards you might see include contact birthday reminders, severe weather alerts, and extreme battery drain warnings. It can be a little overwhelming, so give these a quick pass to reduce the noise. g4 tips notification panel
LG's notification panel has a handful of settings and toggles built-in, but you can easily change what is shown to better suit your usage. By default you've got a row of settings toggles, a brightness slider, and a volume slider. To change the layout, slide the row of toggles all the way to the left and you'll see an Edit button on the far right. The editing interface gives you the chance to disable the brightness or volume sliders, as well as rearrange/disable items in the toggle area. Items in the list closer to the top will be toward the left of the scrollable toggles, so keep the most important stuff up there. You'll have to scroll to access anything past the number five slot. Kill Smart Bulletin Just the same with every other phone maker these days, LG's Android interface comes with a custom home screen, and part of that home screen is Smart Bulletin. It sits to the left of the main screen like Google Now, except it's much, much less useful. It's basically just a collapsible list of widgets for LG's built-in apps. You should disable this. You can get rid of Smart Bulletin by pulling up the home screen layout editor with a pinch gesture. Then just grab the Smart Bulletin page and drag it to the remove icon up top. Alternatively, hit the settings icon at the top of Smart Bulletin and toggle the on/off switch. There, that's much better. Choose your Smart Settings
There is a new feature of the G4 is LG's Smart Settings system on ground now. You can find this by going to General > Smart functions in the main system settings. Smart Settings allows you to automate some basic system settings like volume and WiFi based on where you are and the state of the phone. It's like a vastly simplified version of Tasker. There are three sections of Smart Settings: at home, away from home, and accessory. The home and away categories allow you to set a sound profile, bluetooth on/off, and WiFi on/off. The accessory options can be used to automatically launch a media app of your choice when headphones are plugged in or a Bluetooth audio device is connected. Each setting has a toggle in the main list, but you'll need to tap on the line to get into the individual settings. From there you can choose your home address (for location settings) and tweak the other options. Interruptions For the system to determine when you should be interrupted by a notification works a little differently on each phone, and the G4 is never an exception. You can't access interruption modes from the volume popup, but there is a toggle in the notification drawer (as mentioned above). Knowing how to turn it on manually is important, but you can also set a schedule and tweak what your interruption modes will do. Head into the main settings and find Interruptions under Sound & notification. This menu has all the settings for setting up a recurring schedule for priority mode (called Downtime). This is great for keeping the phone quiet at night or at work. You can also exempt certain callers or notifications in this menu so they will always get through. There's a "no interruptions" mode for when you really don't want anyone to bug you. g4 tips smart settings
One of Android's killer features is the Smart Lock, and it works particularly well on the G4. Smart Lock gives you the chance to set a secure lock screen, then have the simpler swipe-only lock method used when certain conditions are met. Lets take for instance, when you're in trusted locations, connected to trusted Bluetooth devices, or when the phone sees your face. To enable Smart Lock, you just head into the system settings and find the Lock screen menu. Smart Lock should be near the top there as long as you've set a secure lock method, like the fantastic Knock Code option mentioned above. Google is constantly adding new Smart Lock features via Play Services updates, but right now there are five--trusted devices, trusted places, trusted face, trusted voice, and on-body detection. Pick the ones you want to use to bypass the lock screen and set them up by following the on-screen instructions. The LG G4's Knock Code secure lock method flows well with Smart Lock. You can always double-tap the screen to wake it up, then swipe to unlock when Smart Lock is triggered, but you can also enter the full Knock Code while the screen is off and the lock screen will be completely bypassed just as if it were securely locked. No swiping needed. Plug in your cloud accounts There are, of course, apps for services like Dropbox and OneDrive, but the G4 also has system-level integration with a number of cloud storage providers. Now head into the settings menu and find Cloud under the General > Personal section. It supports Dropbox, Drive, Box, OneDrive, and LG Cloud (which no one uses). So what's the advantage of signing in with your accounts here? The media content in your online storage will be accessible in the gallery, music, and file manager apps. You can even change which of the three has access to each cloud account individually. Maybe you keep a lot of music in your Dropbox account, but you've got pictures in Drive. This gets them all into the built-in apps. Screen pinning
Screen pinning is one of the most intresting privacy features in Android Lollipop, but it's disabled and buried on almost every device. This feature lets you lock the device to a single app (pinning it) so you can let someone else use your phone without worrying they're going to snoop around. To enable screen pinning, all you are to do is to go to the General tab in settings and scroll down to Security. In this menu you'll again go all the way to the bottom (really, LG?) to find screen pinning. Turn it on, and you're all set. Any app can be pinned by tapping the multitasking button. In the lower right corner of the app's card will be a pin icon. Tap that and it's pinned. You can choose to require your secure unlock code to leave pinned mode, which is obviously more secure. The regular pinned mode is fine should you ever need to distract your kids with the phone but don't want them placing accidental international calls. Set up content lock Asuming you have any photos on your phone and you'd like to keep them private (I'm not here to judge), the LG G4 has a nifty built-in way to hide them. It's called Content Lock and you can enable it with a quick trip to the Security settings in the General tab. You'll be asked to choose a password or a pattern to access locked content. There's also a backup PIN and email for PIN recovery. LG's pretty serious about this—if you lose access to locked content, it's gone forever. To lock a photo, simply long-press and select Lock. You are able to access all your locked content via the overflow menu in the gallery app. Glance view
So now, you already know about Knock Code, but there's another cool thing you can do when the screen is off. And is that you simply drag down on the screen and you'll open what LG calls "Glance View." It shows you the clock, status bar with any notification icons, and the date. It's a handy little feature, and there are no settings to mess with to make it work. Battery saver The G4 has great battery life, and you can swap the battery out when it gets low. In the event you don't have a spare cell around, you can use the battery saver feature to eke a little more usage out of the phone. To tweak these settings, head into the General tab and find Battery & power saving. Battery saver and game optimizer should be on by default. You should leave game optimizer alone (no settings for this one). That just down-scales games to 1080p instead of rendering them at 1440p, which will save power and shouldn't produce any visible degradation. The battery saver does have a few settings including an automatic activation threshold. You can set it to 5% or 15%, but if you're really worried it can be turned on immediately. There's also a checkbox to restrict background processes to save even more juice. Remember, turning on battery saver will lower the brightness, slow the processor, and generally make the phone much less fun to use. Check out manual camera mode
With the G4 in auto mode, you are able to take awesome snapshots, but LG really stepped up its game this year when it comes to the manual camera mode. You are able to access the manual camera by tapping the menu button in the upper left corner of the viewfinder. Manual mode gives you the chance to control the ISO, shutter speed, focus, and more. All the buttons for this are along the bottom of the viewfinder. You might also want to check out the RAW photo capture option, which is activated via the button on the left of the viewfinder. The default is JPEG only, but you can switch that to JPEG and RAW. A RAW file contains all the information gathered by the sensor before it was compressed and turned into to a JPEG. The RAW file can be processed in Lightroom or a similar app to make dramatic changes to the final product. RAW processing isn't for the faint of heart and the files are huge, but the G4 has that microSD card slot to help make space Bye for now.

Samsung Galaxy Edge phones may become more intriguing with backside touch controls

Samsung’s Edge smartphones have proven to be more about looks than anything else, but the case is that it could change according to a recent patent application. According to the patent, Samsung is going to implement a touch panel on the backside of the phone. This touch panel could be customized via the settings, possibly by means as simple as touching a certain spot to adjust the volume or to scroll a web page. The controls could also get more complex depending on the user’s grip of the device. The display would detect the placement of the palm, thumb, and fingers to determine what the user wants to do. Holding the device a certain way might automatically open the Phone or Email app. Placing both hands on the device might open the onscreen keyboard.
This patent application was filed in November 2014, but as at then it wasn’t the first such application from Samsung. Back in 2013, Samsung filed a patent for backside touch controls for devices with transparent displays. In that application, Samsung demonstrated the ability to open folders and move objects around the main display from the backside. Users could control video and unlock the phone as well. The backside controls aren’t new, but this particular method would be. LG has been offering simple power and volume buttons on the back of its devices for a couple of years now, but a touch panel would give users more flexibility. Unfortunately as the case is, there is no word on when Samsung might implement such an innovation, but next year is a definite possibility of that. The Galaxy S6 Edge might turn heads, but most users will agree that the edged display offers no real advantage over other smartphones. That will hopefully improve as developers jump onboard, but backside touch controls could be yet another feature that attracts more buyers to the Edge concept.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Want To Go Global: This Is How to Expand Your Business Internationally

To some entrepreneurs, building and maintaining a local customer base is one of the first steps on the road to success. Once they have achieved this goal, some business owners feel they're ready to take on the next step: expanding internationally. Becoming a global company is a very impressive feat, and not every business that sets out to do it finishes the goal. To successfully convert your business from domestic to international, you'll need to consider a new set of factors that might not necessarily affect a local-only company. International business experts shared their insights on what it takes to break down your company's national borders and run a multi-country operation. Are you ready to go global now? Creating a strong international presence is just as simple as telling your customers you ship overseas and then waiting for the sales to roll in. There are numerous things to think about when selling and marketing in another country, and these factors must be considered carefully. Ask yourself the following questions to determine whether your business is really ready to expand. Have I ensured that a customer base exists in the country or countries which i want to enter? A product that sells well in your home country may not necessarily have the same appeal elsewhere, so it's crucial to invest time and energy into researching potential foreign markets. "First, be sure your customers exist," said Joseph Paris, Jr., chairman of business consulting firm XONITEK and founder of the Operational Excellence Society. "Is there a need for your offering? Are they inclined to purchase? Never think that they might — know that they will." Mike Zani, CEO of business consulting firm PI Worldwide, advised that you should travelto the country or countries you want to expand into to really do your homework and get a first-hand idea of how your business will fare. This will give you the opportunity to not only conduct research and test your product in the foreign marketplace, but also to experience the culture and social norms of the people you'll be marketing to, he said. Is the foreign market I'm looking at compatibile with my own market? Michael Lee, the head of international marketing and business development for e-commerce platform Alibaba.com, advised looking for markets that are similar to yours. While the business environment won't be identical to that in your home country, you should make yourself familiar enough with it that you can ensure smooth, seamless business discussions. "Take into consideration trade barriers, proximity, currency and culture," Lee said. "Seek out homogeneity — the fewer differences between your country and the one you export to, the easier it will be to do business with [that country]." Do I have the available resources and staff to focus on both expansion and my established business? Trying to juggle an overseas operation while maintaining your current domestic customer base with a small staff is very difficult, and you likely won't be able to sustain your growth. Before you decide to expand, be sure you have the financial and structural stability to add staff members who can handle the new influx of work that comes with such growth. "An organization should have a strong team solely focused on international growth that is ready to face challenges and fully support the expansion," said Taki Skouras, co-founder and CEO of international wireless accessories retailer Cellairis. The challenges of international business While the international market may be a perfect target for your business, expanding beyond your home country is never without its challenges. Here are some minor things that you'll need to prepare for. 1.Language and cultural barriers. Selling to customers or working with vendors who don't speak your native language can be a significant obstacle for any business owner. That's why Skouras has recommended hiring bilingual staff members who can easily translate back and forth. "In case you don't have the budget for full-time translators, outsource tasks like overseas customer service and translation of promotional materials to freelancers," Skouras said. Beyond language, differing cultural norms may also stand in the way of a successful business expansion, if your company doesn't respect them. Lee advised entrepreneurs to research cultural practices in the countries they plan to expand into, especially as these may relate to the company's product or service. Foreign customers' and business partners' needs may not be the same as those of your domestic stakeholders, and this could affect your sales, marketing and overall business strategies, he said. 2. "You will have to understand the different ways people communicate," Paris added. "For example, in the northern Europe, there is far less 'chit-chat,' and you might feel that the party is being blunt to the point of rudeness — this is not the case. In southern Europe, there is a lot of personal conversation and activity before business issues are addressed, and cutting to the chase is seen as being impatient." Tax codes and compliance issues. If you are thinking it's difficult to navigate the various tax codes and business regulations from state to state, try selling in another country. Paris reminded entrepreneurs that the United States taxes worldwide income, and the IRS also imposes special reporting requirements on this income. Additionally, foreign banks may be hesitant to deal with a U.S.-based account due to the administrative burden, so you might need to set up a separate, foreign business entity and bank account to make handling transactions worth while for the banks. Paris also noted that other countries have different labeling and packaging standards that you may need to comply with, depending on what you sell. "In the states, the instructions you include with your product will be in English — sometimes Spanish or French," Paris told Business News Daily. "But in Europe, your instructions, even for the simplest product, will be in multiple languages, sometimes up to 24 languages. If your product is sold more regionally, you will have to consider the increase in packaging cost associated with labeling. In addition, your product will have to be certified as safe [by those countries' standards]." Slower pace. In America, the business world moves pretty quickly. Executives and even lower-level employees work day and night, making appointments and closing deals long after they've left the office for the day. David Hellier, partner at Bertram Capital and board member of ACG New York, told entrepreneurs that business doesn't move at the same pace in other countries; so building relationships is a long-term commitment. "Overseas, doing business is as much a personal event as it is professional," added Bill Bardosh, CEO of green materials and chemicals company TerraVerdae BioWorks. "You may be able to broker a deal just through formal business meetings [at home, but] in China and the Far East, it is necessary to spend extensive time getting to know your counterparts outside the boardroom during tea sessions or dinner banquets, for instance. Things will always take longer to be resolved overseas, but that isn't necessarily a sign of a lack of momentum — you have to be patient and prepared for multiple interactions to build trust." Local competition. It's not often easy to convince a foreign customer to purchase your company's product when there's a comparable product available that's made in the customer's home country. While some big-name U.S. chains like McDonald's and Starbucks have clout overseas, small and midsize companies will have to work a little harder to convince the international market that their brands are trustworthy and better than the competition. "Why would [customers] buy from you over the local champion?" Paris said. "Can you penetrate the market? If you do, can you be profitable under the circumstances? Is the juice worth the squeeze?" Advice & best practices If you feel you're ready to tackle the challenges of international business, follow this advice from business leaders who have been there before. Find the right partner(s).Whenever you're expanding your business, it's critical that you don't try to do it alone. Even if your "partner" is in the form of a mentor, you'll need the help of someone you trust, who can vouch for you in the country or countries you're looking to break into. "You need someone who really has a passion for your brand, understands ... the local market, has experience in the [industry], has capital needed to grow, and ideally has additional businesses where he or she can leverage shared resources," said Jim Rogers, chief marketing officer of Tony Roma's restaurant franchise. Hellier emphasized the importance of setting expectations when seeking foreign business partnerships, and really sticking to them. "Know what you want in a business partner or acquisition, and have a clear understanding of expectations," Hellier said. "Sticking with those expectations ... will help avoid aligning with the wrong partner or investing in the wrong business. Oftentimes, businesses will give up too much to a partner just to get into a new market or country. You don't want to be stuck with a bad partner." Hire a great team. The need for help "on the ground" also extends into your hiring practices. The people you hire to deal with your overseas business partners and customers must be fully immersed in the local environment, but you also need to be sure they'll be looking out for your interests. "The foreign companies that you may deal with probably have more experience doing business in the U.S. than you have in their country," Bardosh said. "Without a core team on your side with the necessary cultural, language and local business contacts, you'll be competitively disadvantaged." Think about the impact of any new ideas. Introducing a new product or marketing campaign will become a whole new ballgame when you operate internationally. Instead of only thinking about how your own country's customers might receive your new ideas, you'll also need to think about and accommodate for the impact these ideas will have on your foreign customers. "As you 'spitball' new ideas, someone definitely needs to think about scalability to your international territories — usually you," Zani said. "Time zones, language and cultural appropriateness all need to be considered when you branch out internationally. If you don't do this ahead of time, you run the risk of offending your international partners by appearing to be more concerned about yourself [than] them." Remain consistent in branding, but adapt to the environment. As mentioned above, varying cultural norms and customer needs in foreign countries may require you to adjust your sales approach, or even your whole product. Rogers noted that while you must stay true to your overall brand, it's very important to tweak your product (or menu, in the restaurant industry) slightly to account for local tastes. "[Allow for] appropriate localization and flexibility to adhere to local customs and customer needs," Rogers said. "One of the key areas to adjust is with [material] sourcing. If you can maintain quality, local sourcing has the opportunity to improve cost margins and supply-chain reliability." Always do your due diligence. Any major business decision requires taking the time to think through all possible scenarios based on your business' strengths and weaknesses, but this is especially important for international expansion. "Research each aspect of your business strategy," Lee said. "Explore alternatives and safeguards. Do as much as you can do to understand the markets you are entering, and take your very good time to get it right."

Monday, 20 July 2015

How you can add, change, or delete users in Android Lollipop

This feature makes it easy to share an Android device with others, as everyone gets their own home screen configuration and access to the Play Store. One of the best features of Android Lollipop is the ability it offers to have multiple user accounts on the same device. This is especially handy on tablets, which are ideal for sharing between family members. Parents and children can have their own home screen and set of apps, which they can customize to their liking. For you to access account profiles, swipe down with two fingers, then touch your account picture (the exact process may vary depending on your Android device's interface).
At this point, you’ll see your name and profile picture next to any other accounts you’ve added and an option to add a guest or another user. A guest profile is useful for handing your device to someone who just wants to check out it out, or just needs to run a particular app briefly. Just touch Add guest and they can play around on your tablet without accessing any of your personal information. If you need to add someone else to the device for regular use, then select Add user. This will require a couple of additional steps such as signing in to or creating a new Google account. Keep in mind the owner account has god-like powers over the device, with the ability to uninstall apps or remove accounts entirely. To edit or delete any of the extra accounts, go to Settings > Users. Touch the trash can icon to eliminate any of these user profiles.
In case you have a Nexus device, Google gives you a help page specifically targeted at managing user accounts. Otherwise, you’ll need to learn the nuances to your specific Android device maker’s interface.

How you can ​pass on your phone and data when you power off for good

No one ever likes to talk about death, much less plan for it. But as the case is... if you don’t think about what happens to all that data stored on your phone, you could create some serious problems for a loved one in case anything happens unexpectedly. The reason for this is because your mobile device, and by extension of your Google account, hold key financial data, passwords, connections to other accounts, and of course a lot of pictures, especially if you’re using the new Google Photos for backup. If you don’t plan ahead for someone to access your smartphone and account data, it could be a serious headache for those close to you. Fortunately there are a few simple steps you can take to ensure the right person gets access to your phone and the right data without compromising your day-to-day security. Here’s how to set up a nearly foolproof system that protects your accounts but lets the right person in should something unfortunate happen. Use Google’s Inactive Account Manager Google has really done a good job with a comprehensive, easy-to-follow method for ensuring only someone you identify gets access to your Google account. It’s called Inactive Account Manager—you can dictate who can assume control of your account should it stop seeing activity for three months or longer. You can then designate up to 10 different contacts who to get access. You can even create a custom message for those people to receive, if you’re into that.
Since you’re an Android user, your Google account is the key piece of your online identity. If you pay your bills, have mortgage statements, or other important financial information saved in your Gmail or Google Drive, access to this can be invaluable for a loved one. In case anything happens to you, your significant other or a family member may have a much easier time taking care of key details if they’re able to access your smartphone and get into your Gmail archive. Gmail’s been around for ten years now, so if you’ve been using it for even half that long there are probably a lot of details saved there you would want someone to have. However, if for some reason you want all your data to disappear when you do, opt for your account to delete itself after a specified period of inactivity. This section is very pretty straightforward: just select this choice and then you’ll know that nothing that belongs to you will float out there in the Internet when you’re gone. You are to set the right level of device security Most Android phones offers some type of password or PIN to unlock the device. So make sure the right person knows how to get in to your device should something go awry.
A fingerprint scanners, just like the one on the Galaxy S6 and Edge, provide much deeper security than a PIN. But you are to be sure someone knows how to get in to your device with a backup PIN if you’ve gone the fingerprint route. This can avoid an extreme solution in order to access your device, which may be necessary for notifying relatives or friends of your demise. Again, just like having an escape plan should your house catch fire, you should think ahead about this so someone you care about doesn’t have to deal with this as a problem as well. You are to use a password manager In case you have a spouse or significant other, the best solution is to use a shared password manager account. All your logins and passwords are securely through Dashlane, LastPass, or another alternative. I’ve become a particular fan lately of Dashlane, which has a great interface and integrates with SwiftKey for easy password entry.
By sharing an account, you should have it in mind that all your passwords are safely shared. If you don't want to share a single account, you can at least make sure someone you trust has your master password and knows how to access your account. Dashlane also stores your credit cards and Secure Notes, which serves as a great place to keep sensitive information like a Social Security number. The most out of it all is to use common sense and not ignore the issue of your inevitable demise. Thinking about what happens to your smartphone and account data when you pass on is just as important as having a will and managing other end-of-life issues. Take the time to do it. This will give you and your loved ones peace of mind so you can focus on living.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Creating Family and Friendly Jobs: It's more Easier Than You Think

In a country where some families have at least one working parent, small business owners should be mindful of the challenges facing employees with children. While employers may be fearing that family-friendly policies cut into profits, experts and advocates for working families insist this is never the case. "Without question, it is a smart business decision, and it is the right thing to do," said Amy Beacom, founder and CEO of the Center for Parental Leave Leadership. "Every single employee is part of a family. Whether that is their family of origin, their chosen family or their newborn infant." Upto 89 percent of families with children in the United States included one parent working in 2014, and about 60 percent of those families included two working parents, according to recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor. Small business owners may be unsure how of how to best meet these parents' needs. Experts suggest businesses should start with the following. Paid/unpaid leave time Parents wants a clear and transparent parental-leave policy and procedure, Beacom said. This should include a certain number of paid and unpaid days off, a clear policies about what to do when the parent leaves and comes back to work, and a clear communication plan for how to meet the parents' needs in this time of transition. Paid leave time can some times be very difficult for small businesses to provide, said Rachael Ellison, a Brooklyn, New York-based business consultant and coach. However, as the case is, states like New Jersey offer temporary disability insurance, and employers can help their employees apply for similar assistance programs. Flexibility New parents will still have so many new responsibilities at home when they return to work, and may need more flexible hours, job-sharing or telecommuting options if possible. Ellison said to implement these policies, employers should work with their employees to develop a clear, transparent plan setting out what will be the workers' new responsibilities when a co-worker is out on leave. "Flexibility is very important, but what's even more important is to have communication around work flow," Ellison said. New parents have new distractions, Ellison said, and may some how not able to work at the level they did before, but employers should realize that this situation will only be temporary. Space for breastfeeding The private and comfortable space for breastfeeding is, along with a clear leave policy, something that all employers should have, Beacom said. In its toolkit "Maternity Leave and Return," the Healthy Mothers Workplace Coalition recommends employers communicate a clear policy regarding breastfeeding to their employees, provide a private area — which cannot be a bathroom — with accommodations like a sink and refrigerator if possible. Employers should also outline a policy by which mothers who are being harassed for breastfeeding or taking time to expel milk can lodge a complaint, the coalition says. "Creating and implementing a breastfeeding policy is never complicated or is it expensive, and can bring peace of mind and clarity to employees," the organization states in the report. The recommendations go on to say that breastfeeding policies can lead to increased loyalty, productivity and retention from new mothers. Apply equal consideration for all parents Businesses also need to be in notice that not all families look the same and that parental needs don't apply just to mothers. In fact, 89 percent of the 1,000 fathers surveyed in Boston College Center for Work and Family's "The New Dad" study rated parental leave as important. Employers must be aware that fathers will also need time and resources to care for their children and may not be able to perform at the same level they did before becoming fathers. Beacom said as more and more millennials enter the workplace, they will have no tolerance for policies that are unequal or fail to consider nontraditional families. Leave time should be equal for all genders, and working parents must have equal representation at all levels and advisory positions. "So often our default is based on antiquated ways of working and thinking," Beacom said, "but as soon as you realize that the people entering the workforce have no tolerance for a life that does not involve enjoying the fruits of their labors with family and friends, or that the traditional father as breadwinner/mother as homemaker duo no longer exists, the sooner you can ensure your small business stays relevant and viable into the future." Culture of caring As employees take part in on increased nonwork responsibilities, employers must give out an interest and consideration in their employees' needs and lives, Ellison said. This can be as simple as checking in once in a while to see how the employees are feeling and doing. "What's most important … from a business owner's perspective is that they're able to kind of model the behaviors they want to see in their employees," Ellison said. Developing family-friendly policies can take some time and consideration. Ellison consulted for one company in Pennsylvania that needed 50 hours to create a comprehensive plan for flextime and sharing responsibilities, but the results were well worth it, she said. While it may be tempting to lose employees who become new parents, employers must keep in mind that the job search and retraining of a new employee will ultimately be more expensive and time-consuming than working through family-related issues with parents thanks and bye.