Instagram hits 100 million users

The milestone comes just a few months after the photo-sharing company’s second birthday, and less than one year since Facebook (FB) bought Instagram for $1 billion.
Instagram hits 100 million users
Co-founder Kevin Systrom penned a long blog post to commemorate the news, chronicling Instagram’s modest beginnings in a chilly co-working space atop the San Francisco Bay and the journey to becoming a global phenomenon.”Now, more than ever, people are capturing the world in real-time using Instagram—sharing images from the farthest corners of the globe,” Systrom wrote. “What we see as a result is a world more connected and understood through photographs.“Systrom’s post also discussed a couple who met through Instagram and began dating, the Instagram habits of small artisan businesses, and a United Nations aid worker who uses the platform to share images from refugee camps in Sudan.”Instagram, as a tool to inspire and connect, is only as powerful as the community it is made of. For this reason, we feel extremely lucky to have the chance to build this with all of you,” he wrote.The feel-good post focused on Instagram’s successes, and it didn’t mention a rough patch the company skidded through just two months ago.

In December, Instagram announced a rule change that would give the company commercial rights to user accounts and images. Users revolted, because in a worst-case scenario, the new rules would have allowed the company to sell images to outside parties.

Backlash was swift, with users vowing to dump their Instagram accounts altogether. Instagram quickly backtracked, saying that wasn’t their intent, and promised to “modify specific parts” of the new terms to make its intentions clear. That softened policy went into effect in January.

Some thought the damage had already been done, with reports warning of an Instagram user exodus. At 100 million monthly actives, however, it seems many Instagram users stuck around.

See on: CNN

Samsung Galaxy S4 To Feature Visa NFC Payments

Samsung will announce their new Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone on the 14th of March at a Samsung Unpacked event in New York, and now Samsung and Visa have announced a new deal that will see future Samsung devices, like the Samsung Galaxy S4 come with NFC Visa mobile payments.

Companies that plan to offer mobile payment services will be able to use the Visa Mobile Provisioning service with NFC enabled Samsung devices, and we presume the new Samsung Galaxy S4 will be one of the first devices to use Visa payments from Samsung.

Samsung Galaxy S3
We are expecting the new Samsung Galaxy S4 to be available worldwide in April and we previously heard that the handset is expected to launch in the UK some time between the 15th and 22nd of April.

See on: Geeky-Gadgets

By Silhoutte James

BlackBerry launches first BB10 device in India at $800

BlackBerry launched its first smartphone from its BlackBerry 10 line in India on Monday, pricing the phone at 43,490 rupees ($800).


The touch-screen BlackBerry Z10 phone, which goes on sale in India from Tuesday, will compete with Apple Inc’s iPhones and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s high-end Galaxy series phones.

The Z10 has already gone on sale in the United Kingdom and Canada, and is expected to hit the United States in mid-March.

See on: Reuters

By Silhoutte James

D-Link DIR-605L Cloud Router Review

D-Link announced its cloud service and a range of cloud-based products at this year’s Consumer Electronic Show (CES). The DIR-605L Cloud Router is one of the products unveiled by the company in Las Vegas. We received the unit last month and here’s our somewhat belated review.

d-link dir-605l router

In the box
Power Adapter
1 LAN Cable
User Manual

Build & features
The router looks rather plain with a black plastic body that is dominated by two large, non-detachable antennas at the back. The top features seven indicator lights at the front – Power, Internet, Wireless and numbered lights for each LAN port. The backside sports the power port, WAN/ Internet port and 4 LAN ports. A WPS button is present on the side.

The DIR-605L is pretty much a no-frills router, with 300 Mbps 802.11n wireless networking perhaps the only feature hitherto seen in higher-priced routers. There’s no dual-band wireless (only 2.4 Ghz), no Gigabit Ethernet or USB ports.

Setup & options
The router does not come with a CD. You simply join the default wireless network or connect via LAN cable and follow the web-based setup to configure your network. The setup is simple enough without being anything special.

The router supports port forwarding & triggering, dynamic-DNS, UPnP and other features you expect from a modern router. An interesting addition is Parental Control Rules that let you define a black/white list of sites that users can access and have a schedule associated with each list. This lets you, for example, have a pre-defined list of sites your kids can access while you are at work during the day, and an unrestricted Internet when you are around. The feature works as advertised.

This is where the router really begins to shine. The wireless range is excellent, thanks, no doubt, to the dual antennas. We installed the DIR-605L in a large six-bedroom house that was originally being served by two dated routers working in conjunction. The DIR-605L served strong signal in every corner of the house.

The wireless performance was excellent and we didn’t experience any signal drops or any need to reset the router during our 3-4 days test period. The data transfer speeds were satisfactory and in line with the specifications.

Cloud integration


The DIR-605L is mydlink enabled, which is D-Link talk for a device that supports its cloud service mentioned earlier. Once you’ve signed up for the service, you can link and control all your mydlink enabled devices from the web or mobile. D-Link has also released iOS and Android apps that let you do the same.

Linking the DIR-605L to the cloud was pretty straightforward but of limited utility. While it’s nice to be able to monitor your router from anywhere in the world without fiddling with half-a-dozen settings, the mydlink service doesn’t let you do much with the device. You can monitor the throughput and, sure, you can reboot your device when needed, but, chances are, when your router really needs a reboot, it won’t have a live Internet connection for you to remotely login either!

What the DIR-605L lacks in features, it makes up in performance. If you are looking for a wireless router for a duplex apartment or large office, this one deserves a second look.

Rs. 2,900

Steady performance
Good range

Lacks features that other similar-priced routers offer

Performance 4
Features 2.5
Design 3
Value for Money 3.5
Overall 3.5

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By Silhoutte James

Malware Attack on Apple Said to Come From Eastern Europe

At least 40 companies including Apple Inc., Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. were targeted in malware attacks linked to an Eastern European gang of hackers that is trying steal company secrets, two people familiar with the matter said.

Apple, one of three victims to publicly disclose attacks this month, said some of its internal Mac systems were affected by a malware attack. The hackers used an iPhone-developer website, according to the people familiar with law enforcement efforts, including investigations by the FBI and Secret Service, and didn’t want to be identified because of the probe.

“We identified a small number of systems within Apple that were infected and isolated them from our network,” Cupertino, California-based Apple said yesterday in a statement. “There is no evidence that any data left Apple. We are working closely with law enforcement to find the source of the malware.”

The attack is part of the same series of invasions that also led to recently disclosed breaches at Facebook and Twitter, according to investigators working with the companies. Apple was the first to discover the attack, one of the people said.

The hackers appear to be seeking company secrets, research and intellectual property they can sell underground, the people familiar with the matter said. While such attacks have previously been associated with China, sophisticated criminals in other countries have now successfully hacked corporate networks.

‘Sophisticated Attack’

Facebook said last week that it was subjected to a “sophisticated attack” by hackers who took advantage of weaknesses in a mobile-developer website. Apple said its computers were infected in a similar manner, though it didn’t name Facebook or any other affected companies.

Twitter, the microblogging site with more than 200 million active users, said this month that it detected unauthorized attempts to hack into its systems and that attackers may have obtained access to information for about 250,000 people. It said the perpetrators were “extremely sophisticated.”

Information from the social media sites could be used to target employees of other companies, the investigators said.

Employees at the companies were first infected when they visited the iPhone developers site, which the hackers had infiltrated and used to implant malware via a security flaw in the victims’ browsers. Bedford, Massachusetts- based RSA Security Inc. has dubbed the tactic a “waterhole” attack, because victims are attracted to the source of the infection like animals attracted to a waterhole on the savanna.

Attractive Targets

In this case, the website was probably visited by software developers and other employees of technology companies, which would present attractive targets to hackers, according to Anup Ghosh, founder of the security firm Invincea Inc. The hackers, who don’t know ahead of time exactly who will be infected, then use those initial infections to burrow deeper into networks of companies that might have valuable data, Ghosh said.

Investigators suspect that the hackers are a criminal group based in Russia or Eastern Europe, and have tracked at least one server being used by the group to a hosting company in the Ukraine. Other evidence, including the malware used in the attack, also suggest it is the work of cyber criminals rather than state-sponsored espionage from China, two people familiar with the investigation said.

The New York Times Co. reported Jan. 30 that its computer network was hacked repeatedly by attackers in China. For four months, the newspaper’s computer systems were infiltrated and Chinese hackers accessed some passwords for its reporters and other employees, the publisher said.

More on:


Google set to release Touch-Screen Laptop Soon

Edging into Microsoft’s touch screen territory, the Web giant is said to have developed its first touch-capable laptop to run on Chrome’s operating system.

As the divide between laptops and tablets continues to shrink, word is that Google has already developed its first Chrome-powered touchscreen laptop.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the tech giant’s new device would come with cloud computing and could go on sale as soon as this year.

This endeavor would put Google in closer competition with Microsoft, which has already developed its own Windows touch-screen laptops. According to the Wall Street Journal, 25 percent of all Windows 8 laptops sold in the U.S. last month had touch screens.

samsung touch screen laptop

Microsoft also has a major claim on the low-cost laptop market. But, Google edged into this territory over the past year too. According to the Wall Street Journal, Google sold nearly 100,000 $199 and $249 Chromebooks in the U.S. during the fourth quarter of last year.

Chrome OS already includes a touch-screen keyboard, which means that it shouldn’t be too difficult to add a touch-centric interface to the operating system, especially with Google’s experience with Android.

The company launched two Chromebooks from Acer and Samsung last year. It’s unclear which hardware manufacturer Google might have partnered with for the possible upcoming touchscreen laptop.

Having touch on a traditional laptop is a growing trend and could be commonplace in the near future — as it is for any mobile device now.

More on:  Cnet

By Silhoutte James

HTC Fires Back At Smartphone Rivals With The HTC One

There’s little question that “HTC wishes 2012 had gone just a little better” — the beleaguered smartphone company posted awfully disappointing results quarter after quarter, while rivals like Samsung and Apple continued to hit milestone after milestone.

CEO Peter Chou firmly believes that the worst is over though, and that the company he helms can truly turn its fortunes around. Now, here in New York (as well as at a parallel event in London), HTC has just introduced the device it hopes will help do all that — the HTC One.

Frankly, there’s not a lot here that hasn’t already been spoiled by an insane number of leaks over the past few weeks, but the Jelly Bean-powered One is still a terribly pretty handset. The One sports a 4.7-inch 1080p display (pixel density: 468ppi) flanked on either side by white or black trim not entirely unlike the BlackBerry Z10. Naturally, the internals are nothing to scoff at either — inside its sleek, gently curved aluminum unibody chassis, are one of Qualcomm’s new quad-core Snapdragon 600 chipsets clocked at 1.6GHz, 2GB of RAM, and 32 or 64 GB of internal flash storage.

Here’s the thing about the One hardware though — it almost seems like an exercise in restraint. Its 4.7-inch 1080p display isn’t the largest they’ve put out (that distinction goes to the Droid DNA and its ilk), nor is the chipset powering the show the fastest that Qualcomm has to offer. These days companies like HTC and Samsung are downplaying the perceived strength of their devices’ spec sheets in favor of pushing differentiating features, and the One has no shortage of those.

The company’s focus on improving mobile sound quality has led it to add a pair of front-facing speakers complete with their own amplifiers and obnoxious name (really? “BoomSound”?). As you’d expect, HTC has also gone to town with the One’s camera — with its so-called “Ultrapixel” sensor HTC is trying to transcend the megapixel race entirely. An f/2.0 lens helps the cause here, but the company insists that its newfangled sensor collects “300 percent more light” than those of its rivals. Through in a living room play in the form of an IR blaster and a HTC-branded remote control/guide app powered by Peel and you’ve got yourself a neat little package.

Of course, the hardware is but part of HTC’s vision for the One — just as those leaked screenshots indicated, the new and improved Sense 5 UI is Sense 5 is easily the cleanest, least obtrusive version of HTC’s custom UI to date. It’s a drastic step away from the sorts of overly gaudy, overwrought interfaces the company used to be so fond of.

Google’s Roboto typeface is featured prominently throughout and Sense’s icons and widgets are flatter and more in line with Jelly Bean’s cold digital aesthetic. The biggest addition though is a new feature called BlinkFeed, which pulls in content from thousands of sources (think ESPN, AOL’s media properties, The Verge, Reuters, and more), and dumps them into an activity stream that acts as the device’s homescreen.

Meanwhile, a series of four (that’s a hard limit) more standard homescreens can be accessed by swiping to the left from BlinkFeed. For better or worse, there’s no way to turn the feature off — rather, users can pop into the settings and trim down the list of sources that BlinkFeed pulls its content from.

HTC has said that the One will ultimately be available from 185+ wireless carriers the world over starting in March, but here in the States, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile will be the ones to carry HTC’s latest flagship. Sorry, Verizon fans — there’s no official word on why Verizon turned down the One, but it’s not a huge shock considering that the Droid DNA is still relatively new to their lineup.

The big launch event is still underway here, so stay tuned — we’ll be hustling to get our hands on a One in short order for more detailed impressions of HTC’s would-be savior.

Read More:

By Silhoutte James

Pick the right on-screen keyboard for your iOS App

When it comes to discussions surrounding hardware versus software keyboards, there is no shortage of soapboxes within the opinion-riddled mobile device user community. It has been nearly six years since the introduction of the iPhone (July 29, 2007) and its controversial software keyboard. As with most trail-blazing innovations, the value is theoretical – at first. As time goes by, however, trendy innovations become part of everyday life. On-screen keyboards have become the norm, and certainly the only choice for iOS devices.

There are many benefits of an on-screen keyboard. One benefit is based on the concept of a “situation-specific” keyboard changing to be relevant to the current needs of the iOS app. When the user is attempting to enter a URL into the address bar of a browser, why not have a single button for typing “.com?” Moreover, a space is not allowed in web addresses, so why include a spacebar on the keyboard layout? Customizing the keyboard to match certain situations eliminates input errors. It is important for iOS developers to use the appropriate keyboard layout for any given situation.

iOS keyboards types

The four most common keyboard types are (1) the default keyboard, (2) the URL keyboard, (3) the e-mail keyboard, and (4) phone keyboard. Each of the keyboard types is designed for specific situations and should be used in accordance with Apple’s Design Guidelines. The full list of keyboards available for use within an iOS app includes:

  • Default
  • ASCII Capable
  • URL
  • Number Pad
  • Phone Pad
  • Name Phone Pad
  • E-mail Address
  • Decimal Pad
  • Twitter

Every input object within an iOS app where a keyboard or number pad would typically be used has a specific keyboard type assigned. If the developer does not select a keyboard type, the default keyboard is used (Figure A).

Figure A

There are two keyboard layouts, and the keyboard type is a parameter controlling the keys within each layout. The default keyboard, for example, contains all of the basic input keys that would be used for general text input. This keyboard layout includes several views allowing the user to toggle between the initial alphabetical keyboard to the numeric and punctuation views. The language preferences for the iOS device controls the characters mapped to each layout as well as the input method or flow.

Here is a breakdown of iOS 6 keyboard types: UIKeyboardType

1. Keyboard Type: Default

  • Constant: UIKeyboardTypeDefault
  • Description: A basic QUERTY keyboard with additional views for punctuation and numbers (Figure B).

Figure B

2. Keyboard Type: ASCII Capable

  • Constant: UIKeyboardTypeASCIICapable
  • Description: A standard keyboard layout displaying standard ASCII characters.

3. Keyboard Type: Numbers and Punctuation

  • Constant: UIKeyboardNumbersAndPunctuation
  • Description: Use the alternate numbers and punctuation view of the default keyboard.

4. Keyboard Type: URL

  • Constant: UIKeyboardTypeURL
  • Description: Includes URL-friendly keys – such as a “.com” and “.” key – and does not include the spacebar (Figure C).

Figure C

5. Keyboard Type: Number Pad

  • Constant: UIKeyboardTypeNumberPad
  • Description: Standard numeric keypad.

6. Keyboard Type: Phone Pad

  • Constant: UIKeyboardTypePhonePad
  • Description: Layout similar to the number pad, but keys arranged for dialing a phone number (Figure D).

Figure D

7. Keyboard Type: Name Phone Pad

  • Constant: UIKeyboardNamePhonePad
  • Description: Keyboard layout for entering an individual’s name or phone number.

8. Keyboard Type: E-mail Address

  • Constant: UIKeyboardEmailAddress
  • Description: Layout for entering an email address. Includes the “@” symbol as well as a “.” character (Figure E).

Figure E

9. Keyboard Type: Decimal Pad

  • Constant: UIKeyboardDecimalPad
  • Description: Similar to a standard number pad. Includes numbers and a decimal point.

10. Keyboard Type: Twitter

  • Constant: UIKeyboardTwitter
  • Description: Keyboard with easy access to the “#” and “@” characters for composing tweets.

With so many options available, it is important to select the keyboard layout appropriate to the situation. The idea is to select a keyboard layout that:

  1. Will produce the best user experience, and
  2. Result in the least amount of user input mistakes.

Using the E-mail keyboard type, for example, eliminates the possibility of a user entering a non-conforming space character as part of an address. Make sure to consider all of the possible variations a user might need to enter into a given field and choose the best keyboard layout.

User interface considerations

When user input is required in an iOS app, the developer should consider all types of input controls. In other words, a keyboard may not be the best choice in a recipe app where the user is tasked with entering measurement values and units. A keyboard would allow for freeform input, whereas a UIPickerView would be a better choice. It would be easier – with consistent results – to calculate values entered from a picker control than from freeform text fields.

In the event a keyboard is the best option, make sure to review and set all of the properties for managing the keyboard behavior. Depending on the keyboard type, additional properties can be set. The non-numeric keyboard types support auto-capitalization, auto-correction, and spell checking. If the input field is to contain sensitive information – such as a PIN number or password – consider setting secureTextEntry property.

Final thoughts

On-screen keyboards have much more versatility than fixed hardware keyboards. Some users prefer hardware keyboards because they can type without looking at the keypad – a nearly impossible task on the iOS devices. However, the benefits of an on-screen keyboard outweigh the limitations. Hardware manufacturers also recognize the advantages of this technology.

An on-screen keyboard supports many languages without the need to produce language-specific hardware. Research in Motion (RIM) developed their Blackberry Z10 with a touchscreen keyboard. While you cannot “feel” the keys on this new device, the on-screen keyboard is capable of learning how you type as well as predicting the words you are entering.

Technology companies are constantly innovating and developing solutions to make their products better. The on-screen keyboard is an innovation that has gained momentum in the past few months. The Twitter keyboard layout, for example, would not have been a consideration a few years ago. Remember to take advantage of the iOS device’s capabilities, and leverage the versatility of the on-screen keyboard.

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By Silhoutte James