Month: September 2013
Retailer innovating ways to woo online customers.
Are you looking forward to join the wedding shopping jamboree of a cousin or relative? Hold your excitement. For all you know, she may have finished her shopping on Skype and all you get to do is be part of the conference call.
From organising Skype conference calls to emailing high resolution photos of wedding Kancheepuram silks to the entire extended family, silk saree retailers are going the extra mile to please their tech savvy customers.
While other cotton sarees and casual sarees have been popular on e-commerce sites, heavy Kancheepuram wedding silks were always preferred to be physically examined, scrutinized and draped before buying. But over the last year, silk saree retailers say they have seen a sharp increase in online sale of wedding silks. Retailers like Nalli, RmKV and Sri Palam Silks have ramped up their websites, offering an extensive range of sarees.
“I recently had an NRI customer who did all of her family’s wedding shopping online and on Skype for about Rs 2 lakh,” said K Sivakumar , MD, RmKV Silks. The company has over 3,000 sarees on its website and a lot of NRI customers buy them from the site. “But not all stores have the same sarees, and not all can be posted online. In cases where the buyer wants to see similar sarees in other outlets, we connect with them on Skype and show them the designs they can choose from,” he said.
Garment retailer Pothys too, which has been selling its products online for years now, allows customers to use video call services inside the store, says S Ramesh, managing director , Pothys.
Sri Palam Silks, the brainchild of Jeyasree Ravi, who belongs to the Nalli family, too has noticed this trend, with one of her customers buying her entire wedding collection online. The store has been selling its products on its website for a year now, but has noticed an increase in online silk saree sales, and is putting in a lot of effort to assist customers who shop online. “When it comes to silks, the photograph of a saree can be very different from the original color. There could be a 20% difference. So we share this with our customers and also send in high resolution pictures of sarees they can choose from,” said Ravi. Also, considering that wedding shopping is usually a family affair, the retailer also makes the effort to mail the pictures to the entire family so they can collaboratively decide, she said.
With so many customers willing to shop online , the market is huge, retailers say. “But it takes a lot of effort. The time we spend with customers who shop online is more than that we do with them in the store. Having large scale operations online is as good as managing a different branch of the store,” Ravi says. She is, however, counting on her young daughter Sunitha to grow this business.
BlackBerry World now contains over 130,000 BB10 apps
BlackBerry kicked off its developer conference BlackBerry Jam in Hong Kong on Thursday with a flurry of updates and announcements.
Vice President for Developer Relations, Alec Saunders, shared that the number of BlackBerry 10 apps available in the BlackBerry World store now stood at 131,708, approximately seven months after the OS was released. Saunders said that at a similar stage in their life cycles, the number of apps in Apple’s iTunes App Store and Google’s Play store stood at 17,500 and 2,908 respectively.
It’s worth pointing that the app economy has grown considerably since Apple and Google debuted their app stores, and almost all platforms are now growing faster than in the past, so a time-based comparison is not a great indicator. Calculations based on recent updates by Apple and Google indicate that their stores have been adding new apps at a rate of roughly 20,000 apps per month, which is the same, or slightly better, than the growth rate that BlackBerry 10 apps have seen. Further, the total number of apps on both iTunes App Store and Play store is now nearing one million, so BlackBerry World has a long way to go in terms of matching that number.
Interestingly, BlackBerry has also been adding BlackBerry 7 apps at a rapid clip, with Saunders revealing that the total number of apps (BlackBerry 10 + BlackBerry 7 OS combined) now stood at 256,668.
Saunders also revealed that customers of 70 carriers across 46 countries can now use direct carrier billing for buying apps and other content on BlackBerry World as well as in-app purchases.
Addressing developers gathered from across the Asia-Pacific, Saunders said that 37 percent of all apps in BlackBerry World come from the region.
BlackBerry also shared additional details of the recently announced OS 10.2 SDK, and confirmed that the update will be ready for release to customer via carriers in October.
Planning to buy a top-end smartphone? Looking for deals? Then head online. Many online retailers are selling some of the best-selling phones at huge discount. Read our list of 10 top-end phones available at discount to know if it has the phone you had wanting to buy.
Samsung Galaxy S4 – Rs 36,493
Samsung Galaxy S4, listed on the company’s website for Rs 41,500, is available for Rs 36,493 online with full manufacturer warranty. This handset has a 5-inch full HD screen, 1.6GHz eight-core processor and 13MP camera.
Sony Xperia Z Ultra – Rs 39,644
On of the biggest phones in the world, Sony Xperia Z Ultra has been launched at Rs 46,990, but can be purchased for Rs 39,644 with one-year manufacturer warranty. This handset boasts of 6.4-inch full HD screen, 6.5mm thickness, waterproof body and stylus support.
BlackBerry Z10 – Rs 25,500
The BlackBerry flagship touchscreen phone, Z10 was launched at Rs 43,490 and features a 4.2-inch screen, BB10 operating system and 1.5GHz dual-core processor. This handset is available online for Rs 25,500 with seller warranty and Rs 29,636 with manufacturer warranty.
LG Optimus G Pro – Rs 33,299
LG Optimus G Pro, a rival of Samsung Galaxy Note II, was launched at Rs 42,500 but can now be bought for Rs 33,299 with manufacturer warranty. This device comes with a 5.5-inch display, Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) operating system and 13MP camera.
Sony Xperia Z – Rs 30,844
Sony Xperia Z is listed on the company’s India website for Rs 35,990, but can be purchased for Rs 30,844. This phone has a 5-inch screen, waterproof body and 1.5GHz quad-core CPU with 2GB RAM.
Apple iPhone 5 – Rs 34,500
iPhone 5 was launched in India last year at Rs 45,500, but can be purchased for Rs 37,500 on the internet. This handset offered in this offer is RSim unlocked and comes with 3 month seller warranty. Key features of the phone include 4-inch screen, dual-core A6 processor, 1GB RAM and iOS 6.
Samsung Galaxy Note II – Rs 28,299
Samsung Galaxy Note II, which is listed at Rs 32,150 on the company’s website, can be purchased for Rs 28,299 with official warranty on the internet. Key features of this device include 5.5-inch screen, stylus support and Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) OS.
HTC Butterfly – Rs 34,479
Launched at Rs 45,990, the HTC Butterfly is currently available with fully manufacturer warranty at Rs 34,749 on the internet. This device has a 5-inch full HD screen, 1.5GHz quad-core processor, 8MP camera and Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean).
LG Optimus G – Rs 24,999
Listed at Rs 35,500, the LG Optimus G can now be purchased for Rs 24,999 and year-long manufacturer warranty. This smartphone comes with a 4.7-inch screen, 1.7GHz quad-core processor and 13MP camera.
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Google’s new program to lock and locate your phone.
Google will now permit you to remotely lock your Android, lest that cabbie whose vehicle you left your phone in sees all those duckface pictures you took last night.
But this sort of move from Google could start to spell trouble for a number of mobile security apps, such as Lookout Mobile, aimed at helping you manage your phone data and deal with “loss” situations.
“We’ve long expected that Google would add ‘Lock’ and ‘Find my Phone’ functionality, and we’re surprised it didn’t come sooner!” said a Lookout Mobile spokesperson.
Google’s new feature is a very useful one for those who don’t have a lock on their phone and want to make sure their data is safe. It can be found in your Android Device Manager, according to Android Police, which will remotely tell your phone to go into lock mode when triggered. If you already have a password, it will ask you to create a new one and will instantly update your phone.
It will also turn your screen off and lock the phone if it’s currently in use. Should you be in airplane mode, the phone will execute these commands once connected to a signal.
If Google continues to release these “baked in” security features for Android, it could leave these apps obsolete as third-party protectors. You can also wipe the phone and make it ring from the Android Device Manager. But companies like Lookout Mobile often offer much more than just GPS capabilities and remote lock. Lookout, for example, scans apps for sketchy activity and can warn you about malicious links.
“Solving the missing device problem has been a core piece of the Lookout mission since 2009, and we’ve lead the pack for more than five years, but we haven’t stopped there,” the spokesperson said. “Device loss is a difficult problem to solve, and not every phone lock or missing device situation is the same, so we have consistently developed new functionality to help people have the best possible chance of protecting and recovering a lost or stolen device.”
Virtual key board for smartphones improves your typing.
Advantage of virtual keyboards is they can be swapped or altered for one you like better. Sometimes all it takes is a change in your settings. At most, it requires buying an app. Here’s a sampling of tips and apps.
Turn on predictive text. Device will predict what word you are typing after filling in only a letter or two. Choosing the full word takes just a single tap. The predictions usually improve over time, as the device learns which words you prefer. So the more you use it, the more time it will save you.
Fleksy, a free iPhone app meant to help the visually impaired, can help you type without looking at all. Just tap where you think letters belong on a keyboard. When you have completed a word, flick the screen to the right.
Fleksy will read its guess aloud. Flick down for it to guess similar words. The sloppier you are the better it seems to work. But as with other auxiliary iPhone keyboards, it can’t completely replace the standard keyboard.
Typing expansion is built into Apple products and the free Android app Google Keyboard. For Apple products, go to Settings, then select General and then Keyboard. Click Add a New Shortcut, then enter the abbreviation and phrase you want it to become. In Google Keyboard, open the app and go to Personal Dictionary. Touch the plus sign and then add your abbreviation and phrase. Press done and the back button.
Unbreakable rubber-like smartphones, rollable tablets and functional clothing have come closer to reality, thanks to new breakthrough research by scientists including one of Indian-origin.
Researchers from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) RMIT University have developed a new method to transfer electronics with versatile functionality, which are usually made on rigid silicon, onto a flexible surface.
The ability of micro and nano-electronic devices to sense, insulate or generate energy is controlled by thin, transparent nanolayers of oxide materials, often much thinner than 1/100th of a human hair.
These oxide materials are brittle and their high processing temperatures – often in excess of 300 degrees Celsius – have until now prevented their incorporation in flexible electronic devices.
Lead author, Philipp Gutruf, said the new process could unleash the potential of fully functional flexible electronics, while providing a new way for the materials to mesh together.
“We have discovered a micro-tectonic effect, where microscale plates of oxide materials slide over each other, like geological plates, to relieve stress and retain electrical conductivity,” he said.
“The novel method we have developed overcomes the challenges of incorporating oxide materials in bendable electronis devices, paving the way for bendable consumer electronics and other exciting applications,” said Gutruf.
Supervisor and co-leader of the research group, Dr Madhu Bhaskaran, said the new approach used two popular materials – transparent conductive indium tin oxide and rubber-like silicone which is also biocompatible.
“The ability to combine any functional oxide with this biocompatible material creates the potential for biomedical devices to monitor or stimulate nerve cells and organs. This is in addition to the immediate potential for consumer electronics applications in flexible displays, solar cells, and energy harvesters,” said Bhaskaran.
A new improved version for a better mobile experience.
The jury may still be out on iOS 7’s radical redesign – for what it’s worth we love it, with a few reservations – but there’s no denying that it’s the friendliest version and most powerful of iOS yet. But there’s more to iOS 7 than headline features such as Control Center, Airdrop and iTunes Radio: some of our favourite improvements are little things that make our everyday lives that little bit more pleasant. These are our favourites:
Camera: shoot in burst mode
The redesigned Camera app has a nifty trick up its sleeve: if you want to shoot in burst mode, taking multiple shots in quick succession, just click and hold the volume-up button.
Multitasking: quit multiple apps
You probably know that you can quit running apps by double-tapping the Home button and flicking the offending app upwards, but you might not have tried it with multiple fingers to force-quit more than one app at a time. We’ve made it work with three apps on our iPhone, although doing the same on an iPad means getting your nose involved too.
When you receive a new notification, you can still swipe right to open the appropriate app – but if you just want rid of it you can now swipe up to hide it.
Lock Screen and Home Screen: use panoramic images
You can use static or dynamic images for your Lock Screen and Home Screen wallpapers, but if you prefer you can use a panoramic image instead, so the image moves as your phone does. The image must be saved in your Panoramas album: normal Camera Roll images won’t work. Sadly for iPhone 4 owners, this feature is only available in the iPhone 4S onwards (and if you’re using or have upgraded from a recent beta, this feature might not work).
Phone, FaceTime and Messages: block contacts
Does someone have your number and you wish they didn’t? Successfully avoid exes, creditors and the angry husbands and wives of your lovers with iOS 7’s excellent blocking features. Add the number to your Contacts, scroll down to the bottom of the screen and tap Block This Caller to refuse incoming calls, messages (including SMS and MMS) and FaceTime calls.
Messages: see the timestamps
iOS 7 likes to keep things nice and minimalist, but if key information isn’t visible there’s a good chance it’s just a swipe away – so for example in Messages, you won’t see timestamps against each SMS, MMS or iMessage. Want to know when they were sent? Swipe left.
Apps: swipe backwards
This little tip is a handy time-saver: when you’re finished reading an email or message, or fiddling with Settings, or exploring a Music playlist, swipe backwards to return to the previous page. If you’re at the first level (such as your list of mailboxes in Mail, or the first Settings screen) nothing will happen.
Location Services: see where you’ve been
iOS 7 keeps an eye on where you go to help it personalise features such as the Notification Center, and to help improve the accuracy of Maps. If you fancy a look you’ll find it in Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services > Frequent Locations. You’ll see a list and a map, with blue circles showing where you’ve been and when. You can clear the history from this page, and if you think it’s a little creepy you can turn it off from the System Services page.
Newsstand: put it away!
We like Newsstand, but we don’t like the way it can’t be stuck in a folder like Apple’s other stock apps. Hallelujah for iOS 7, then, because at last that absurd restriction has been removed.
Settings: make iOS 7 easier on the eye
We like the new interface, but it isn’t for everyone. If you have problems with your sight or just want to make iOS more legible, you’ll find some useful settings in Settings > General > Accessibility. You can make all system text bold, increase the size of text in apps that support Apple’s Dynamic Type, scale down motion effects such as the parallax effect or invert the colours to make iOS 7 look like a 1980s electro-pop album cover.
Sounds: get some new tones
iOS 7’s library of sounds (Settings > Sounds > Sounds and vibration patterns) has been given a regular update, and Apple says they’re so good you might miss calls because you’re dancing. That, frankly, isn’t very likely.
Google launches digital wallet app for iPhones
Google is bringing its digital wallet to the iPhone in its latest attempt to upstage Apple on its own popular device.
Thursday’s release of the Google Wallet app represents a challenge to the Passbook program that Apple has built into the iPhone’s operating system.
Both Google Wallet and Passbook allow iPhone users to store loyalty cards from some merchants and scan coupons offering discounts.
Google Wallet also allows its users to send money and make purchases on some mobile websites by storing a debit or credit card account on the app. Payment information can also be stored in Passbook.
The arrival of Google Wallet on the iPhone comes a few days after a similar version was released to smartphones running on Google’s Android software.
Google gives away Android for free, a factor that has helped siphon sales away from the iPhone by enabling other smartphone makers to sell their devices at cheaper prices. About three out of every four smartphones sold during the first half of this year ran on Android software, according to the research firm Gartner. In comparison, the iPhone had a 16% share of the worldwide market.
The higher-priced iPhones tend to attract more affluent consumers who are more likely to spend money through their devices, one of the reasons that Google is eager to connect with Apple customers.
Google has previously sought to outshine Apple’s built-in iPhone apps with its digital maps and a mobile version of its Chrome browser.
By getting people to use its services on as many devices as possible, Google hopes to make more money by selling more digital advertising.