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6
Feb

NEV Privacy: Share your phone without worry (Review)


Overview:

NEV Privacy is a security and privacy app for your phone that allows you to hide pictures, videos, and apps from prying eyes or would-be hackers.

Developer: Nevways
Cost: Free (With ads)

Impressions:

Sharing your phone used to be a gamble, especially among nosey friends. They could rifle through your pictures or open your social media and post in your name, which can be disastrous for anyone. Instead of clutching your phone like it’s the One Ring of Power, maybe consider some privacy protection through an app like NEV Privacy. It’s a simple, secure solution that doesn’t store your personal data outside the device, and keeps everything locked behind a password so you’re confident that those compromising photos from the Christmas party stay off Facebook forever. NEV Privacy offers a suite of options for securing your photos and videos, as well as hiding and locking your apps so only you can access them. It’s easy to use and can grant you peace of mind when leaving your phone around or if it gets lost or stolen. Your photos and videos are hidden from access across your device, and can only be unlocked through the app and even if the app itself is uninstalled it takes the photos with it so you can be assured they won’t get around your locks that way.

NEV Privacy also has some customization options and convenience features to go along with its main function. A selection of custom themes is available to personalize your app interface and add some color. A nice, if seemingly unnecessary feature. Also, there is a charging screen saver function that shows phone status while charging, a handy feature that is also a bit unnecessary seeing as many phones have a feature like that built in. It does show a few more stats than normal, like temperature and RAM usage but for most people, those are afterthoughts anyway.

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As easy as NEV Privacy is to use, there are a few limitations that may be too much for some to consider it. As far as I can tell, you can only store 85 photos and only one video in the app, and there isn’t a premium version that I can find that increases this limit. This forces you to choose and manage your photos and videos carefully if there’s a large number of items you wish to secure. A minor issue for some, but for others, it could be a deal breaker. Another issue I find with the app is the large amount of ads present. In the main app, setting side menu, on the login screen, the charging screen saver and also in a “Gift” tab on the main app screen there are ads present. It is a free app, but the ad presence is rather large considering this app isn’t something you’d need to open often.

Conclusion:

Overall, I like NEV Privacy for the ease of use and the potential security it can provide. The options included and the extra features are a nice icing on the cake, but the ads and limited capacity for storage are definitely something to consider when looking into NEV Privacy. If you’re looking for a simple way to lock down your apps and photos then NEV Privacy is a solid choice.

Download NEV Privacy on the Google Play Store

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6
Feb

Google’s all-knowing app will design you a dress based on your daily habits


Why it matters to you

Google’s supplying its tracking expertise to produce a dress that’s individually tailored.

Have you ever used your smartphone to search for the a bespoke dress or suit for a special event or night on the town? If Google has its way, your phone may soon do the searching for you.

On Monday at Fashion Week in New York City, Google announced a partnership with online-only Swedish fashion house Ivyrevel to “bring couture into the digital age.” The first fruit of the collaboration is the Data Dress, a custom gown with a design reflecting the would-be wearer’s habits and history.

The Data Dress’s embroidery will reflect your daily activity. Over the course of the week, you’ll be able to watch the design unfold as the app gets to know you better.

More: Google’s high-tech Googles used to shoot New York Fashion week documentary

It is core to Ivyrevel’s ambition to “merge fashion creativity with technological innovation,” co-founder Aleksandar Subosic said. The digital retailer’s skunkworks Fashion Tech Lab, which counts PayPal and H&M Group among its backers, uses trend analysis to develop algorithms that “enhance the direction” of the clothing’s design.

“It’s such an exciting moment,” Subosic said. “The only option today is to buy custom clothing or design it yourself, but many can’t afford to or lack design skills.”

You’ll have to get Google’s Coded Couture app to get started. Once you’ve completed that step, you must grant it permission to monitor you daily activity.  Finally, choose the occasion for your Data Dress — Party, Gala, or Business — and the app will take care of the rest, recording context signals like your location, physical activity, weather, and nearby locations over the course of a week. It’ll note where you eat out for dinner or hang out with friends, for example, and whether the meetups are casual or formal.

More: Why smart clothes, not watches, are the future of wearables

A dashboard presents those data points in an easy-to-read timeline. You’ll see the locations you’ve visited over the past seven days and a top-down map of your movements.

At the heart of the Coded Couture app is Google’s Awareness API, a platform that lets developers program reactions on contexts. Trulia, an online real estate app, uses it to suggest open house listings when the weather is pleasant. SuperPlayer Music suggests playlists to match your mood.

But Coded Couture is the first to tap that data for a tangible product. And it’s on trend: A survey of 1,000 shoppers by Bain & Company found that 25-30 percent were interested in designing their own clothing, and that one-of-a-kind products lower return rates, fetch higher prices, and create a “deeper connection” between shoppers and retailers. “While it’s hard to gauge customization, if 25 percent of online sales of footwear were customized, that would equate to a market of $2 billion per year,” Bain partners Elizabeth Spaulding and Christoper Perry wrote in their report.

More: This sports bra is not only comfortable, it can track your fitness data

Ivyrevel hasn’t announced the price of the Data Dress, and the Coded Couture app won’t be made broadly available until fall. It’s launching in “closed alpha stage,” Google said, and is currently being tested by “a selected group of global style influencers” who will post stories over the next few months as their Data Dresses are created. You can sign up for a future trial, if you’re interested.

The Data Dress isn’t Google’s first foray into fashion. In September 2016, it launched Shop the Look, a search tool that surfaces photos of fashion bloggers, brands, and retailers and their corresponding clothing and accessories. Additionally, the company’s Project Jaquard, a pioneering method of interweaving touch panels with conventional fabrics, produces textiles that can respond to taps and swipes like a smartphone touchscreen.

Levi’s Commuter jacket will be the first to feature the technology technology. A touch-sensitive tag will and pair with a phone to perform functions like pinning a location to Google Maps, answering calls, and more. It’s expected to hit retail in the Spring of 2017.

More: Dress smart: An entire connected outfit, from smart shoes to a breath-tracking top

“We’re about to change the fashion industry by bringing the wearer’s personality into the design process through data technology,” Subosic said. “The Data Dress enables women around the world to order a dress made completely for them, that reflects the way they live their lives.”

6
Feb

Google’s all-knowing app will design you a dress based on your daily habits


Why it matters to you

Google’s supplying its tracking expertise to produce a dress that’s individually tailored.

Have you ever used your smartphone to search for the a bespoke dress or suit for a special event or night on the town? If Google has its way, your phone may soon do the searching for you.

On Monday at Fashion Week in New York City, Google announced a partnership with online-only Swedish fashion house Ivyrevel to “bring couture into the digital age.” The first fruit of the collaboration is the Data Dress, a custom gown with a design reflecting the would-be wearer’s habits and history.

The Data Dress’s embroidery will reflect your daily activity. Over the course of the week, you’ll be able to watch the design unfold as the app gets to know you better.

More: Google’s high-tech Googles used to shoot New York Fashion week documentary

It is core to Ivyrevel’s ambition to “merge fashion creativity with technological innovation,” co-founder Aleksandar Subosic said. The digital retailer’s skunkworks Fashion Tech Lab, which counts PayPal and H&M Group among its backers, uses trend analysis to develop algorithms that “enhance the direction” of the clothing’s design.

“It’s such an exciting moment,” Subosic said. “The only option today is to buy custom clothing or design it yourself, but many can’t afford to or lack design skills.”

You’ll have to get Google’s Coded Couture app to get started. Once you’ve completed that step, you must grant it permission to monitor you daily activity.  Finally, choose the occasion for your Data Dress — Party, Gala, or Business — and the app will take care of the rest, recording context signals like your location, physical activity, weather, and nearby locations over the course of a week. It’ll note where you eat out for dinner or hang out with friends, for example, and whether the meetups are casual or formal.

More: Why smart clothes, not watches, are the future of wearables

A dashboard presents those data points in an easy-to-read timeline. You’ll see the locations you’ve visited over the past seven days and a top-down map of your movements.

At the heart of the Coded Couture app is Google’s Awareness API, a platform that lets developers program reactions on contexts. Trulia, an online real estate app, uses it to suggest open house listings when the weather is pleasant. SuperPlayer Music suggests playlists to match your mood.

But Coded Couture is the first to tap that data for a tangible product. And it’s on trend: A survey of 1,000 shoppers by Bain & Company found that 25-30 percent were interested in designing their own clothing, and that one-of-a-kind products lower return rates, fetch higher prices, and create a “deeper connection” between shoppers and retailers. “While it’s hard to gauge customization, if 25 percent of online sales of footwear were customized, that would equate to a market of $2 billion per year,” Bain partners Elizabeth Spaulding and Christoper Perry wrote in their report.

More: This sports bra is not only comfortable, it can track your fitness data

Ivyrevel hasn’t announced the price of the Data Dress, and the Coded Couture app won’t be made broadly available until fall. It’s launching in “closed alpha stage,” Google said, and is currently being tested by “a selected group of global style influencers” who will post stories over the next few months as their Data Dresses are created. You can sign up for a future trial, if you’re interested.

The Data Dress isn’t Google’s first foray into fashion. In September 2016, it launched Shop the Look, a search tool that surfaces photos of fashion bloggers, brands, and retailers and their corresponding clothing and accessories. Additionally, the company’s Project Jaquard, a pioneering method of interweaving touch panels with conventional fabrics, produces textiles that can respond to taps and swipes like a smartphone touchscreen.

Levi’s Commuter jacket will be the first to feature the technology technology. A touch-sensitive tag will and pair with a phone to perform functions like pinning a location to Google Maps, answering calls, and more. It’s expected to hit retail in the Spring of 2017.

More: Dress smart: An entire connected outfit, from smart shoes to a breath-tracking top

“We’re about to change the fashion industry by bringing the wearer’s personality into the design process through data technology,” Subosic said. “The Data Dress enables women around the world to order a dress made completely for them, that reflects the way they live their lives.”

6
Feb

Following Galaxy Note 7 disaster, S. Korea seeks to ensure history doesn’t repeat


Why it matters to you

Lithium-ion batteries have proven to be potentially dangerous, but the South Korean government is taking steps to ensure their safety going forward.

South Korea has no interest in allowing history to repeat itself. On Monday, the nation announced that it would bolster lithium-ion battery safety requirements and carry out regular inspections in order to avoid a repeat of the Galaxy Note 7 debacle, in which mobile handsets would spontaneously combust as a result of faulty batteries.

According to a statement from the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy, lithium-ion battery manufacturers would be “subjected to greater oversight and regular inspections.” And given that these batteries are often found in portable, mobile devices (like smartphones and tablets), these pieces of technology would also have to undergo more consistent safety tests, the Ministry noted.

More: Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 news and rumors

“We ask that the industry shares the view that making efforts to ensure safety is equally as critical as developing new products through technological innovation,” Vice Minister Jeong Marn-ki said in the statement.

Samsung recently determined that battery issues from two distinct suppliers — Samsung SDI Co. Ltd. and Amperex Technology Ltd. — were the cause of the Galaxy Note 7 fires. Ultimately, the South Korean phone maker was forced to recall all shipments of the phone, resulting in a loss of around $5.4 billion in operating profit over the course of three quarters.

To ensure that Samsung learns from its mistakes, the South Korean government has also noted that it will keep a close watch on the company’s attempts to improve battery safety. Included in this strategy are tactics like x-ray testing and more robust standards in the design process.

Moreover, the government says it plans on expanding the sorts of “serious product defects” that companies ought to report to regulators, and will also implement legal changes to allow officials to warn customers not to use potentially dangerous devices, even if they haven’t been recalled.

So here’s hoping that the great Galaxy Note 7 disaster of 2016 is solidly in the past.

6
Feb

Sales of Apple’s iPhone declined in China despite overall worldwide growth


Why it matters to you

Apple’s next iPhone will have to ‘wow’ Chinese consumers if it wants to turn things around in the country.

Apple may have just come off a record quarter — the Cupertino, California-based company managed to sell a record 78 million iPhones in the first fiscal quarter of 2017 — but it’s struggling to maintain its market position in China. According to market researchers at IDC, annual Apple iPhone shipments fell for the first time in the country, dropping 23 percent in 2016 compared to the same period a year ago.

Strong local competition is to blame. Chinese smartphone makers Oppo, Huawei, and Vivo nabbed the top three slots in the country, and Vivo accounted for 48 percent of shipments in the country during 2016.

Conversely, Apple iPhone sales dipped 23.2 percent, shrinking Apple’s overall market share in the country to 9.6 percent — the lowest in two years. And analysts at Gartner report that the iPhone saw a year-on-year dip in market share from 13 percent to 11.5 percent in the third quarter, its lowest since 2009.

More: Chinese smartphone makers, not Apple, benefited from Samsung’s Note 7 disaster

“Even though the new black-colored iPhones caught the attention of consumers, overall, the new launches did not create as much of a frenzy compared to the past,” IDC said in its report.

It’s not for lack of a market. Oppo alone boosted annual number shipments from more than 35 million units in 2015 to 78.4 million last year, IDC said, and Vivo doubled sales. In the third quarter, sales from China made up 81 percent of Oppo’s profits. And Chinese smartphone makers dominated China’s list of vendors — Huawei ended the quarter with 9.3 percent market share, Oppo with 7 percent, and Vivo with 5.8 percent.

More: The iPhone 7 is about to hit a serious decline in demand, according to analyst

IDC credits “vast store networks,” “improve customer service,” and a “push to open their own retail stores” as key contributors to local brands’ growth. “We expect [Chinese] vendors to increase their shipments in the international market, with India as a key target for these top Chinese vendors,” IDC said.

It’s not all doom and gloom for Apple, though. According to IDC, the upcoming iPhone 7S/8 should mark an uptick in sales as Chinese consumers flock to what’s expected to be one of the biggest product launches in the company’s history.

“Apple’s 10-year anniversary iPhone will also likely attract some of the high-end Android users in China to convert to an iPhone, IDC said.

More: The iPhone 7 is about to hit a serious decline in demand, according to analyst

Apple’s not the only smartphone vendor that struggled to make inroads this year. Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 debacle saw the Seoul, South Korea-based company’s market share fall from 23.6 percent to 19.2 percent, the biggest slide in the company’s history.

6
Feb

Motorola highlights Moto Mods as part of a crowdsourced competition


Why it matters to you

Motorola’s efforts to expand Moto Mods should result in a broadened range of useful apps appearing in its online store.

Modular smartphones aren’t going away anytime soon, if Motorola has its say. The Lenovo subsidiary unveiled new Moto Mods, the add-on peripherals compatible with its series of Moto Z line of smartphones, that may join the growing collection.

The new Moto Mods are the winners of an ongoing competition that Motorola launched last year. In India, it hosted more than 100 developers, engineers, students, and partners at a campus to discuss “new Moto Mod concepts” and “how to bring them to life,” and it  held Moto Mod hackathons in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and San Francisco.

The first Moto Mod highlighted in today’s announcement, Baby Care, provides automatic alerts when “conditions aren’t idea for a child.” Moto Color, a color sensor for the visually impaired, analyzes color and emits a sound indicating whether it’s red, blue, or green. A solar-powered battery charger charges a connected Moto Z in sunlight in as little as ten hours. Simple Syrup, designed for diabetics, tracks blood-sugar readings without the need for a syringe. And ModCoholic detects blood alcohol level when breathed into, and asks if the user needs a taxi if he or she is over the legal limit.

More: The Timewave is a Moto Mod that will give your Moto Z touch superpowers

“When we launched the Moto Z family of smartphones and Moto Mods, we opened up a new world of possibilities. We shared our commitment to innovation and engaging the development community by giving them tools, resources and inspiration to fuel the Moto Mods ecosystem while reducing the barriers to bringing great ideas to life,” Motorola said in a statement. “Since then, we’ve been hosting developer events around the world to support developers as they use our Mod Development Kit to come up with new Moto Mod concepts.

Motorola’s hosting its next hackathan in Shenzhen, China, in mid-March, before it invites representatives from the most promising startups to its headquarters in Chicago. If said reps manage to win over representatives from Lenovo’s investment arm, Lenovo Capital, they may receive funding, see their creations entered into the Moto Mods Partner program, and receive guidance from a business development mentor.

More: Motorola wants you to make mods for the Moto Z, and it’s willing to help

This is not the first time Motorola has turned to crowdsourcing in order to boost Moto Mod development. Last year, the smartphone maker launched the Transform the Smartphone Challenge, a competition that saw enterprising young hardware developers pitch ideas for Moto Mods at events in New York and San Francisco. They subsequently launched crowdfunding campaigns on Indiegogo, and have a shot at meeting with Verizon and Motorola representatives to get their Moto Mods featured in Motorola’s online store.

6
Feb

Apple reportedly requesting to sell refurbished iPhones in India — again


Why it matters to you

Apple selling refurbished iPhones in India could pave the way for other manufacturers to sell used devices in the country — which could have positive or detrimental effects.

Now that Apple has secured a deal to manufacture iPhones in India for the local market only, the Cupertino company is reportedly revisiting its goal of selling refurbished iPhones in the country.

Last year, the Indian government rejected Apple’s request to sell refurbished iPhones — the commerce and industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said Apple doesn’t get any special treatment and the government is “not in favor of any company selling used phones … however certified they may be.”

More: Apple will start manufacturing iPhones in India at the end of April

But with the success of negotiating a deal to sell iPhones in India thanks to a local manufacturing plant, Apple may also be asking for permission to sell refurbished iPhones according to Bloomberg. This is reportedly one of the concessions in the deal to begin manufacturing phones in India. Refurbished iPhones are secondhand devices that are repaired, factory reset, and sold at a lower price.

The Indian government is against the sale of used devices as officials think it would undermine the “Make in India” program — an initiative meant to grow local manufacturing. Bloomberg says government officials believe allowing Apple to sell used iPhones would “open the floodgates” for everyone else.

More: Growing list of devices compatible with Apple’s HomeKit

But the anonymous source who spoke to Bloomberg says Apple’s second request promises that used devices will be compliant with quality standards due to the local manufacturing plant that’s expected to open at the end of April.

If Apple’s request is accepted, it would become the first company allowed to import used devices in the country. It would certainly be beneficial for the company as 70 percent of new smartphone sales in India were handsets priced under $150.

6
Feb

Trailer for fan-made ‘TimeSplitters Rewind’ project confirms 2017 release


Why it matters to you

TimeSplitters was a beloved gaming franchise that died off too soon, but a group of its most ardent admirers seems poised to bring it back.

Cinder Interactive Arts has unveiled the first teaser trailer for TimeSplitters Rewind, its upcoming multiplayer-only resurrection of the beloved FPS franchise. The clip doesn’t reveal too much — there’s no gameplay footage at all — but it’s welcome confirmation that the project is still in development.

TimeSplitters Rewind was borne out of an unsuccessful attempt to convince Crytek to continue the development of TimeSplitters 4. In an attempt to placate the series’ loyal fanbase, the decision was made to let the fan project go ahead, since there apparently wasn’t enough demand for an official sequel.

Crytek U.K. — known as Free Radical Design during its time working on the TimeSplitters games — gave its blessing to the project, and offered up assets from the first three games as reference material. Rewind will utilize CryEngine, as a result of the now-defunct studio’s relationship with its creators, CryTek.

More: Crytek offers unprecedented support to TimeSplitters mod

Initial plans for TimeSplitters Rewind stated that the game would be a recreation of the series’ classic multiplayer mode, set to feature dozens of playable characters from across the trilogy of games. The team also had plans to recreate each installment’s single-player campaign, but multiplayer has always been the first priority.

Cinder Interactive Arts was given permission to pursue TimeSplitters Rewind in 2012. Many fans were worried that, as with TimeSplitters 4, the game would drop off the radar. However, this new teaser trailer confirms a 2017 release date, so it seems that the project is coming along quite nicely.

The audience for multiplayer FPS games has changed dramatically in recent years, and it remains to be seen whether there’s a place at the table for the TimeSplitters series. Rewind will be warmly received by fans if it can recreate the unique feel of the original games — and if it can appeal to the masses, we might see the franchise make a more official comeback.

6
Feb

Samsung files a patent for a flexible device screen


Why it matters to you

Samsung’s bendable display technology may mean a flexible tablet or smartphone is on the way.

Rumors of a flexible Samsung device have been swirling for some time, but concrete evidence emerged on Monday. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted the Seoul, a South Korea-based patent that describes a device with a foldable display, a mechanical hinge in the middle, and a screen that folds inwards.

The patent, titled “Electronic Device with Flexible Display,” was filed by Samsung on June 9, 2015.

As far back as March 2015, Samsung was rumored to have been working on a curved smartphone with a bendable display. An official from the company’s Samsung Display division told Business Korea that commercialization of foldable smartphones “would be possible” in 2016.

More: Samsung wants to give you a smartphone you can fold in 2016

That prediction didn’t come to pass, of course, but rumblings of a flexible Samsung smartphone persisted. In November, the Korea Herald, quoting anonymous sources, described Samsung as “cautious” about the release of a flexible smartphone, but on track. And in early January, reports emerged that the company was prepping a foldable smartphone for the third quarter of this year, albeit contingent on “marketability” and “profitability.”

The most recent rumors suggest a smartphone that folds out into a 7-inch tablet, likely with an OLED screen. Last year at the SDI conference in San Francisco, Samsung showed a flexible 5.7-inch, 1080p display that could roll up like a scroll.

Samsung is wary of releasing a device that’s both expensive to produce and expensive to sell, according to the Korea Herald. It might decide to produce a foldable tablet to judge market reaction, as such a device would be easier and cheaper to produce.

More: Microsoft’s mighty morphing mobile device would be a great surface phone

Samsung’s not the only one exploring the idea of flexible devices. Reports suggest that LG is preparing to commercially release devices with flexible screens later this year, and that it has already started retrofitting one of its factories with the infrastructure needed to mass produce a flexible-display device. And the company’s signed related contracts with Ignis Innovation, a Canadian company that builds flexible circuits.

But it will take time to ramp up production. “The development of display technology that creates a virtual space on glass is already completed, and even a promotional prototype is available,” an LG official told the Korea Herald in 2015. “However, it will take time until the product becomes commercialized due to mass production according to demand and supply.”

Even Microsoft is exploring the idea of a transforming smartphone. In January, the company filed a patent for flexible devices with dual and triple hinges and a variety of screen sizes.

6
Feb

Verizon offers Daydream View to ‘subset’ of customers waiting for their Pixels


Why it matters to you

If you have been waiting for more than a month on your Google Pixel order from Verizon, you may get a free Daydream View VR headset as a apology.

Google is having a very good problem — orders of its new phone, the Pixel and Pixel XL, are “exceeding expectations,” a Google spokesperson recently told Digital Trends. But that also means angry customers that have been waiting weeks if not months to receive their Google smartphone.

Verizon is stepping up to the plate to keep customers happy. Big Red is offering a free Daydream View headset to Pixel customers that have not received a device yet due to shipment delays. The Daydream View headset is a virtual reality headset used to jump into Google’s Daydream VR platform. It only works with the Moto Z and the Pixel smartphones.

More: Google’s all-knowing app will design you a dress based on your daily habits

The headset retails at $80, though there’s a temporary price cut that brings the price down to $50 — this deal lasts until February 25.

A Verizon spokesperson told Digital Trends the free headset offer only applies to a “certain subset” of people who have experienced an abnormal shipment delay period. Verizon is offering the headset as a “thank you” for customers staying loyal and not canceling their orders.

The carrier says while the product is back-ordered on its website, there’s a “rolling inventory” and the product gets shipped out as soon as it comes in. Verizon couldn’t comment on sales numbers, but the representative said it’s safe to say that the Pixel is “very popular.”

More: Google Daydream View review

An erroneous email from Telus, a Canadian carrier, suggested Google had ceased production of the Pixel, but it turned out to be false.

“We’re really excited by the demand for the Pixel XL in Canada,” a Google spokesperson told Digital Trends. “Telus is currently out of stock of the Pixel XL. We’re working with our partners to restock inventory across our retail channels and we can confirm that production of the Pixel has not stopped.”

While high demand is a good, shipment delays three months after the product was released may put people off from purchasing the phone.

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