Down the memory lane with Digit

My tryst with the modern PCs started in the mid 90s when the internet was almost non existent in India. At the time, software and games were not easy to come by and magazines like Chip which have away trial versions and freeware in CDs along with their copies were quite sought after. Chip later became Digit in India but the freebies continued.

Digit magazine July 2019

It was with this thought that I attended the Digit Squad Tech Day in Mumbai today and it was fun to see all the colourful assembled desktops, consoles and mobile phones placed around the venue and fellow Digit Squad members participating enthusiastically in the different contests. Felt quite nostalgic to soak in the geeky environment.

Didn’t sit around idle of course and instead captured a few videos of the front camera fall detection in action for the smartphones on display. You can catch the video here.

OnePlus and Oppo seem to be catching on quite soon and they flash a dialog on screen while Samsung seems to be partially retracting their module. The Redmi K20 pro is similar in terms of responsiveness to Oppo and OnePlus but it closes the camera app instead of showing any alert. The Asus Zenfone 6z provides an interesting experience where you can see the arc on screen as the module rotates to its resting position.

And here are a few more shots from the event

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Messaging app wars – a redux of the browser wars

Messaging apps are definitely posing a challenge to mobile OSes, particularly in countries where open web access is limited and consequentially browsers have lower utility. However, this time around the competing platforms are working on incompatible standards unlike the browsers in the 90s which largely adhered to some form of specs. Plus the user bases have a lot more zeroes to them and are heavily entrenched.

It also makes it pretty clear why Facebook has been doubling down on Messenger and their acquisition of Whatsapp. Possibly a matter of time before the two start talking to each other. The really interesting things will happen if they ever start talking to other messaging platforms.

Link: Dan Grover | Bots won’t replace apps. Better apps will replace apps.

How to change your airtel corporate mobile plan

I have a corporate airtel postpaid mobile connection and the plan was not very cost effective for my usage pattern. However, trying to change the plan by giving a call to their 121 call centre was of no use as the support staff seemed to lack the access to change corporate plans (in fact they didn’t even seem to have proper visibility to my eligible corporate plans). In fact, the phone support told me to visit an airtel relationship centre for a plan change. The website wasn’t of much help either as corporate plans can’t be switched online, and the airtel website is seriously lacking in any kind of details on postpaid corporate plans.

Email was a different story, and their response time is pretty phenomenal with replies coming in within 4-5 hours even on weekends and nights. And this was the route that ultimately got me success. So here go the steps:

  1. Log on to the airtel account management site (if you know your registered email ID, jump to step 3).
  2. Check your email address under the personal information section and update if not active (you can also sign up for an ebill under the bills section).
  3. Send a mail to 121@in.airtel.com from your registered email address with the name of the plan you want to switch to, and your mobile number as the subject. In case you are not sure of the plans you can switch to, drop them an email first asking for the available plans. Word of advice: keep your message short, simple and to the point.
  4. You should receive a confirmation mail and voila, you’re done!

If you are curious on the plan I got, it was the Alive Net CUG 375 Combo Plan with 600 minutes of local & STD talktime and 1 GB of 3G data as part of the package. There are similar combo plans available that are tuned for local usage if you are interested, and they are quite economical when compared to your usual subscription of a call plan with a separate data plan.

The Empire gets ready to strike back

Intel is finally revealing details for its impending Atom successor launch, named Silvermont. Wonder whether Motorola+Google have some interesting things lined up using these parts. And then of course there’s Microsoft that needs high performing, but low cost Win 8\Blue devices.

Either way, things look really promising both on the power and performance front, which can only mean good things for the mobile industry as a whole:

The mobile market is far more competitive than the PC industry was back when Conroe hit. There isn’t just one AMD but many competitors in the SoC space that are already very lean and fast moving. There’s also the fact that Intel doesn’t have tremendous marketshare in ultra mobile. Silvermont may feel a lot like Conroe, but the market it’s competing in is very different. That’s not to say that Intel can’t be successful here; it’s just not going to be easy.

Architecturally Silvermont is very conservative, and that’s not a bad thing. A side effect of not wanting to make Haswell irrelevant by a far lower cost part is the benefit of maintaining power efficiency. Intel joins the ranks of Apple and Qualcomm in intelligently scaling performance while respecting power consumption. Intel’s 22nm process should give Silvermont a lot of runway to use. If it can quickly follow up with 14nm, Silvermont’s power advantage could end up being akin to Conroe’s performance advantage in the mid-2000s.

via AnandTech | Intel’s Silvermont Architecture Revealed: Getting Serious About Mobile.

Numbers: Who’s Winning, iOS or Android?

The reports may contradict each other in numbers for iOS and Android, but one thing for sure is that Microsoft and Blackberry have been comprehensively relegated to the “Other” category. It’s also clear that Google and Apple are both winning (Google wants the ad\service revenue which comes from a market share majority, while Apple wants the profits from hardware):

Android if you’re talking about market share; iOS if you mean financial success. So far, this is a strikingly different market than the PC business back in the 1990s, when market share translated directly into financial success.

via Who’s Winning, iOS or Android? All the Numbers, All in One Place | TIME.com.

Apple Outsider » Home Turf

Yup, that’s pretty much it:

However, the Google – Facebook war is sure to be more vicious than the Google – Apple war because Google and Facebook have the same customers: advertisers. Users are their currency, and Facebook is about to rob the bank.

Of course, the icing on the cake will be if facebook forks Android and buys HTC eventually.

Apple Outsider » Home Turf.

Who’s Going To Buy The Facebook Phone?

Wonder whether this will prompt Google to give a similar treatment to Android with Google+ and its plethora of services? Or “better” yet, to the next Nexus device. After the Google+ification of search, anything’s possible.

But that’s hardly the entire phone market. It’s actually only a fraction of it.

  • What about those millions of people who have bought Android phones — and some iPhones, probably — who don’t really care that they’re Android phones, or even smartphones?
  • The types of people who, every couple of years, go into the Verizon or AT&T shop and walk out with whatever newish thing the store rep says they should buy? (All those people who buy Android phones but don’t really show up in usage logs.)
  • Or even first-time smartphone buyers?

My guess is that many — most? — of these people are Facebook users, and could easily see some utility in having Facebook features highlighted on their phones. And — bonus — Facebook’s software looks good. Much better than the junk that ships with typical low-end Android devices.

Who’s Going To Buy The Facebook Phone?

How Fast is Your Smartphone/Tablet in PC GPU Terms

GPUs are definitely a step ahead of the CPUs, and they need to be given the kind of display resolutions in play on mobile devices. So, here we have a comprehensive benchmark of the mobile GPUs against desktop GPUs from 2004-2007:

Given that most of the ARM based CPU competitors tend to be a bit slower than Atom, you could estimate that any of the current crop of smartphones delivers CPU performance somewhere in the range of a notebook from 2003 – 2005. Not bad. But what about graphics performance?

At the end of the day I’d say it’s safe to assume the current crop of high-end ultra mobile devices can deliver GPU performance similar to that of mid to high-end GPUs from 2006.

AnandTech | The Great Equalizer 3: How Fast is Your Smartphone/Tablet in PC GPU Terms.