Gmail app for Android and iOS updated with an all-white material theme redesign

No dark mode in sight. Light prevails over the dark.
Gmail for Android and ios get revamped
Gmail then and now

Back in 2014 Google introduced its Material Design, and was changed to Material Theme in 2018. Google previewed the Material Theme for Gmail in 2018 and now Gmail is finally getting that Material Theme revamp. With the update the app is going all white and getting features that were introduced to Gmail web.

Gone is the familiar red top bar. The whole top bar now acting as a search bar with the account switcher on the top right. Not a lot whole is different though as the ‘compose mail’ icon is right where it used to be, the bottom right corner but a tad different with multicolored plus sign to the previous red button with white pencil glyph.

The top right corner houses the account switcher which displays switch account screen right on top of the app, front and center rather than having to head to the navigation drawer. The top left corner houses the hamburger button for the navigation drawer.

Gmail updated to material theme

One of the standout feature which was introduced to Gmail web was the attachment preview. Attachments are now seen right below the messages like the Gmail web and you can now view the attachments without having to open your mail. Google has also provided the “comfortable” and “compact” density options that remove attachment previews and avatars, respectively.

Google fonts are used throughout the app and it now also displays the red danger sign for phishing warning that was available for the Gmail web.

All in all this is not a new design if you have been using Gmail web for a while now with the all white design, Google fonts and rounded corners.

Gmail updated to material theme-2

In the light of Google encouraging developers to use dark modes in their apps with Google’s other apps like YouTube and Contacts getting dark mode and Android Q rumored to come with system wide dark mode this all white redesign seems ironic to say the least.

Apple hints at lower iPhone prices amid low revenue from iPhone and declining sales

No specifics on when, how or which devices
Iphone XS

Apple shared its first quarter revenue and as expected the iPhone revenue nose dived by 15 percent than the year prior to last year. Apple says the decline in revenue were down to currency fluctuations and declining sales in China. It was also reported that while the revenue from iPhone was down by 15 percent, overall revenue from other services and products was positive with a growth of 19 percent.

Apple missed its annual target by $4 billion with reported revenue of $84.3 billion. iPhone brought in $51.9 billion dollars for the last quarter.

Amid this decline in iPhone revenue, Apple is considering lowering its handsets cost. The rise is dollar’s value means converting the price to the local currencies made the iPhone more expensive, Apple CEO Tim Cook told Reuters.

In markets with currencies that weakened considerably against the dollar over the last year, iPhone price “increases were obviously more,” Cook told Reuters. “And so as we’ve gotten into January and assessed the macroeconomic condition in some of those markets, we’ve decided to go back to more commensurate with what our local prices were a year ago in hopes of helping the sales in those areas.”. Though he denied specifying which phones will receive the price cut.

Cook also remained coy on when or how often the company will reset its prices because of foreign currencies. According to Cook the emerging markets suffered the most with the dollar’s strength. Apple has also previously cited currency pressure in countries like India, Russia and Brazil.

Apple CEO Tim Cook
Credit: Mashable India

Cook gave the example of Turkey on how currency fluctuations impacted its revenue with Turkish Lira depreciating by 33 percent against the dollar which brought down Apple’s sales by $700 million from the previous year.

He said Apple will be adjusting its handsets’ foreign prices in some markets by ‘resetting them at’ or ‘close to what they were one year before’ in local currencies. Meaning Apple itself will be absorbing wholly or partially the effect of strengthening dollar.

Nasty FaceTime bug lets your contacts spy on you

The bug lets users to hear audio of the recipient even before the call is answered.

Apple iPhone

A serious bug has been discovered in Apple’s FaceTime which lets user hear the person they are calling even before they answer and users are freaking out over social media.

Apple has been notified about the bug has since released a statement saying “We are aware of this issue, and we have identified a fix that will be released in a software update later this week.” Assuming the scope of the bug, later this week might be actually a little late as this poses a serious privacy threat since one can hear everything that goes on the other side even if the phone is ringing. What’s more, the recipient will have no idea that their conversations are being broadcast to the caller.

The bug can broadcast video too. If the user proceeds to dismiss the call without answering by pressing the volume key, the video will be shared. In simple terms, its equivalent to you being spied or being stalked, which sounds really creepy. For the bug to be active certain steps have to be followed though, rest assured it works. The procedure includes the following steps:

  • Start a FaceTime call with one of your contacts
  • While on the call swipe up from the bottom and tap on Add Person
  • Add your own phone number in Add Person screen
  • FaceTime call including yourself will be started and you will be able to hear the voice of the one you called even the call hasn’t been accepted.

For a company advocating about users privacy, this is a huge problem as Apple’s products are trusted more than any other tech company’s product when it comes to privacy. Apple has been working hard to position itself at the top when it comes to user’s privacy. Apple visibly trolled other tech companies with its huge billboard saying “What happens on your iPhone stays on your iPhone” during CES. But in the light of this recent bug, that statement very much looks like it will come back to haunt Apple.

Even if Apple has assured that they will fix the issue later this week, it might be too late. So if you are concerned, you can disable Facetime altogether. To disable Facetime follow these steps:

  • Open the Settings app
  • Find FaceTime icon by scrolling down
  • Toggle the Facetime icon to the left.
9to5Mac

To disable Facetime on your Mac follow these steps:

  • Open the FaceTime app on your Mac
  • Click “FaceTime” in the Menu bar
  • Click “Turn off FaceTime”

Samsung goes head-to-head with Xiaomi and Realme in India with its M10 and M20

  • Samsung announced its Galaxy M10 and Galaxy M20 in India.
  • The devices are low-tier and mid-tier with price tag from 7,990 INR to 12,990 INR
  • M10 and M20 are the first notched phone from Samsung
Samsung Galaxy M10
Image Credit

Xiaomi and Realme had a great year last year and but looks like this year is gonna be a little different. Samsung clearly felt the aftershock of the leap both companies took in India and now Samsung has decided to go head-to-head against the market leaders with its low-tier and mid-tier Galaxy M10 and Galaxy M20 devices.

Galaxy M10 and Galaxy M20 specifications:

Galaxy M10 is the lower end device and comes with Samsung’s in-house Exynos 7870 chipset coupled with 2 GB or 3 GB of RAM. The device comes with internal storage of 16 GB or 32 GB. The device also sports a 6.22-inches HD+ LCD panel with a waterdrop notch up top claiming the right to first notched phone from Samsung.

On the camera department the Galaxy M10 comes with 13MP and 5MP ultra-wide angle on the back which is a rare sight on the devices of this price point. Overall the device is powered by 3,400 mAh battery with is lower than devices from both Xiaomi and Realme.

Meanwhile, the Galaxy M20 comes with Exynos 7904 chipset. The device comes equipped with 3GB or 4GB of RAM and 32GB or 64GB of expandable storage. With waterdrop notch up top the device’s display measures 6.3-inches and is full HD+ LCD panel. Galaxy M20 is powered by whopping 5,000 mAh battery and sports the same 13MP+5MP rear camera.

Samsung Galaxy M20
Image Credit

For the selfie camera we are looking at 5MP for the Galaxy M10 and 8MP for the Galaxy M20. The Galaxy M10 has no fingerprint sensor for security and the M20 sports a rear mounted fingerprint sensor.

Both devices come with a headphone jack which is becoming the norm at this price point when expensive ones are leaving it out. As for the charging port the cheaper Galaxy M10 comes with a micro-USB port to USB-C of Galaxy M20, which is disappointing. While the Galaxy M10 supports fast charging, the M10 does not. And we are already seeing Android Q while both device come with older Android 8.1 Oreo with Samsung Experience 9.5.

Galaxy M10 and M20 price and availability

For the Galaxy M10 the price starts at INR 7,990 rupees (~$112) for the 2GB/16GB model, while the 3GB/32GB variant will retail for 8,990 rupees (~$126).

As for Galaxy M20 the device will start at 10,990 rupees (~$154) for the 3GB/32GB version, and the 4GB/64GB model has an asking price of 12,990 rupees (~$183). Both phones will be available in Ocean Blue and Charcoal Black color options via the Samsung website and Amazon India.

Do you think Samsung will be able to take back the market it lost with its latest offerings? Will you go for either of Galaxy M10 or M20? Let me know in the comments below.

Privacy alarms flaring as Facebook plans on integrating Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp

Integrating the three platforms will allow users to send and receive message cross platform.
Facebook to integrate WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram

According to a news report by The New York Times Facebook is considering an integration of its three messaging platforms- Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp allowing users to send and receive message cross platform which is not possible as of now.

Facebook is in the middle of various privacy scandals right now and the founders of both Instagram and WhatsApp have quit the company with objections to centralized control. And now the company is planning to merge its three most popular messaging platforms which rings privacy alarm.

According to the report the plans are coming directly from Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of the company himself, and the merger will ascertain his authority even more over the company’s divisions.

For the merger it would require rewriting the basic software of the three apps to ensure they were interoperable. The merger without a doubt will bring convenience to users but will also bring privacy concerns with it. With the merger users will be able to communicate cross platform, such as a WhatsApp user will be able to directly send message to the Messenger or Instagram without having any of the two accounts and will have no need to switch between accounts.

Zuckerberg has ordered employees to look for ways to incorporate the messaging platforms
Image Credit

The merger will bring about more than 2.5 billion users of WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger together and will make it easier to communicate in between but raises some serious privacy concerns. Zuckerberg has ordered his employees to incorporate end-to-end encryption in all three platforms which does not allow anyone, other than the participants themselves even Facebook itself to view the conversation.

WhatsApp already uses the encryption, Messenger provides selective encryption with its ‘secret conversation’ and Instagram does not use any form of encryption.

Facebook’s decision comes at a turbulent time for the company when its trust level is at the lowest level and various privacy scandals like Cambridge Analytica and allowing access to data of users to companies like Amazon, Netflix and Spotify. When founders of both Instagram and WhatsApp quit the company it was assumed it was because of the control held by Zuckerberg and the extinction of autonomy for both divisions.

Image Credit

Way back in 2012 when Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion Zuckerberg wrote in his statement “We need to be mindful about keeping and building on Instagram’s strengths and features rather than just trying to integrate everything into Facebook.”

“WhatsApp will remain autonomous and operate independently. There would have been no partnership between our two companies if we had to compromise on the core principles that will always define our company, our vision and our product,” read Jan Koum’s blog post when WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook for $19 billion.

The plans for the merger seems puzzling though as E2E encryption will make it harder for Facebook to show targeted ads to users. On another note though it will provide Facebook the benefit of security. According to some antitrust experts the consolidation will make it harder for law enforcement to force Facebook to spin off either of the two apps in the future which they think should be done.

Encrypted messaging has long been supported by privacy advocates who believe it provides security against the government and hackers. But it will raise other issues for Facebook, regarding its ability to fish out illicit activity and fake information and news. WhatsApp recently rolled out an update will limit the number of times a user can forward a message to counter spread of fake news and rumors. Either way E2E or not the merger sounds dubious and you should be very concerned.

Top android apps of January 2019

Top android apps of January 2019

January was a great month for me personally and now we are almost at the end. I have been scouring thorough the app store find apps that I like and you might like so as promised here are the top android apps of January. Also, note that even though I say apps it will include games too.

Memoria Photo Gallery: Free(with ads)/$0.99
Memoria Photo Gallery

Memoria Photo Gallery is the cleanest gallery app I have ever used. It has a beautiful material design, is fast and smooth. With the general use of gallery for viewing your photos and albums it provides extra features like a gallery vault to hide your photos or you can just hide the album as a whole, customizable themes and more. The free version comes with ads but you can buy the premium version to remove the ads and couple more features.

Mint Browser: Free
Mint Browser Screenshot

Xiaomi released its new light browser in play store and it is a great app. The browser is only 11 MB and still manages to provide tons of features. Incognito browsing, reading mode, voice search and a mobile data saver option. Although the browser is not full fledged browser like Chrome or Opera it provides great deal for the small size and you can get most of your browsing done with this one. The app is totally free without any ads or in-app purchases.

Cover: Free
Cover app screenshot

Now if you are afraid that there will be something embarrassing or NSFW content once you open your gallery or your message box in the public then this app is for you. What this app does is it scans your phone for NSFW contents and covers the content that are NSFW. This app can be used in your gallery, social media apps like reddit or Instagram or your messaging app like WhatsApp and Telegram. Whenever you receive an adult content in your message box (I believe we all have friends that do such things) this app goes to work and blurs out the content and covers it which will save you from an embarrassing moment.

Magic Screenshot: Longshot, Screen Record, No Root: Free (ads)
Magic Screenshot: Longshot, Screen Record, No Root Screenshot

Title says it all. I have tried many apps to take full page screenshot and hadn’t found one that I could count on and then this app gets recommended to me. It’s amazing. You can take long screenshots flawlessly and it is reliable. You can also use the app to record your screen or take selective screenshot. And best of all the app is free. You do have to get used to the occasional ads though.

Sync for reddit: Free/$5.23(Pro)
Sync for reddit

Sync for reddit is just that an app to browse reddit. But the features in offer by this app is long. Aside from using this app to browse reddit you can view your gallery, swipe for navigation, material theme, dark mode, long press to preview just to name a few. I have been using this app for as long as I have been using reddit (yep, it’s that good). You will have to pay $5.23 for the pro version but the free version will do just fine.

Limbo: $4.96
LImbo for android screenshot

One of the best game I’ve ever played and I know that it is not a new game and has been in the store since 2015 but for those who haven’t played the game even for the ones who have, let me tell you: this game is just hauntingly beautiful. It is creepy, it is sad and it is mind bending. Limbo is a puzzle game where a boy embarks on a journey to search for his lost sister. On the way the player will have to solve puzzles and continue with the journey. Its simple and minimalist but you will be left scratching your head at times. Definitely gets my thumbs up.

So these are the best apps of January for me. I hope you had a great month too. Tell me what you think of these apps and let me know apps that you have tried and love and recommend other user in the comment below.

Boeing’s autonomous flying-taxi completes its first test flight

The test flight marks a major step toward the aerial mobility.
Boeing

A future with flying cars taking passengers from one roof a building to another has been dreamed of much but that might just turn out to be a reality. Boeing just took a major step toward making the future a reality with its autonomous flying taxi. The company successfully conducted a test flight of its autonomous electric VTOL aircraft, which took off vertically, hovered in the air for a few seconds and landed company’s test site in Manassas, Virginia.

The vehicle has yet to move forward, so the test flight doesn’t seem like much of an advancement. But considering that it was just a concept a year ago, this test flight marks a major achievement and opens doors to the aerial mobility we all have been seeing in just cartoons and movies. The test flight was conducted by Boeing and Aurora Flight Sciences, a subsidiary of Boeing, which it acquired in 2017.

Boeing is just one of dozens of companies trying to realize the flying taxi a reality and being the giant it is Boeing clearly has the resources and prowess to get something up in the air before anyone else. Also, the key takeaway from this first flight is that there are no electric air vehicles and certainly no fully autonomous one at that.

When completed, the vehicle will serve as urban air mobility that will shuttle passengers from one skyscraper to another where ground mobility is deemed impractical or slow. The major hurdles though according to the company include critical safety and traffic management of the flying cars. It’s going to take a significant regulation to manage the traffic with the ground vehicles and even the physical infrastructures posing as hurdles.

Uber and Boeing have partnered to develop the next generation flying taxi that will operate on Uber’s ride-hailing ‘Uber Air’ project which has been planned to launch in 2023.

With Boeing and Airbus, two aircraft giants leading the race for developing the next generation of ‘flying-taxis’ we can’t help but feel that the future might not be that far after all

Centr: fitness app by Chris Hemsworth

Not feeling like working out? Well how about joining Chris Hemsworth for a workout?
Just look at that body!
Via: Centr

We know that Chris Hemsworth knows a lot about fitness and diet, and he has the body to back it up. And thanks to the mighty Thor, you will be able to workout like the man himself.

You will now be able to train, eat and live like Chris himself with the help of Centr, a health and fitness app launched by Chris Hemsworth.

Eat, train and live like Chris Hemsworth himself

Centr will launch globally on February and will be available as iOS app, on Apple watch and online. The app will offer daily workouts, recipe guides, meal plans, meditation, community support and ‘behind-the-scenes’ extras.

Chris’s website statement reads “I believe we all have untapped potential. And we all need support to achieve our goals. Centr puts the world’s best in the palm of your hand, to help you develop a healthier body, stronger mind, and a happier life.”

The app was created by Chris with the help of various professional fitness trainers and fitness author and actor Elsa Pataky, who is also Chris’s wife. The stellar lineup of trainers includes hollywood trainers Luke Zocchi and Gunnar Peterson, Special Ops trainer Joseph ‘Da Rulk’ Sakoda,  vegan bodybuilder Torre Washington, yoga instructor Tahl Rinsky and MasterChef’s Dan Churchill.

Centr is customizable and can be tailored to any level of fitness, lifestyle as well as dietary plans. The app’s workout section features 20 or 40 minute sessions for home or the gym, with new videos released weekly, including boxing, HIIT, yoga, strength training and others. And it has a mindfulness section too. The app has also promised sleep visualizations, guided meditations, confidence building exercises and tips for dealing with stress. Like any other fitness app you can set goals and log your progress and can be used with Apple watch for heart rate.

The app will be accessible via iOS app, Apple watch or you can get it through Centr’s official site. Starting price is set at Aus $15.99 for a month including 20% off for foundation members.

If you are going to have a go well good luck to you.

Vivo’s Apex 2019 is a phone without ports, buttons and has 12 GB of RAM

A full screen in-display fingerprint, 12 GB of RAM and no port or buttons.
Vivo Apex 2019 concept phone
Image Credit: Vivo

Welcome to 2019 where phones are getting weirder and weirder. Though 2019 has been touted as the year of foldable phones and flexible displays it also looks like it will be the year when phones will be completely bald.

First Meizu announced its Meizu Zero with no ports whatsoever and now Vivo has followed on that footstep by announcing Apex 2019 within 24 hours. Mind you, this is just a concept phone just as last years Vivo Apex and might not ship to consumer’s hands instead will be showcased in next month’s MWC. But we can assume that some features of the device will be adopted in Vivo’s future phones as was the case with Vivo Apex.

Other than a small mic on the bottom the phone is completely seamless with no volume or power buttons and no USB charging port or headphone jack. Surprisingly the device doesn’t have any speaker grill either and no SIM card tray which will be replaced by eSIM. Interestingly enough the device doesn’t support wireless charging either. So how will the phone charge you ask? Via a magnetic port (called ‘MagPort’) on the back of the device which can also be used for data transfer.

Vivo Apex 2019 concept phone 2
Image Credit: Vivo

The device features a seamless and minimalist “Super Unibody” curved glass design. The device will sport Qualcomm’s latest offering, the Snapdragon 855 and will support 5G by utilizing Qualcomm’s X50 5G modem. Apex 2019 will come with 256 GB of storage and ridiculous 12 GB of RAM.

Another highlight of the device is the all display fingerprint. Vivo calls this ‘full-display fingerprint scanning’ and claims that it covers the entire display. If this indeed turn out true then it not only will make fingerprint scanning convenient but will also let you to toggle apps with just a single tap.(Quoted via Engadget)

Like Meizu Zero the phone’s display will act as the speaker and will likely be an OLED panel. The back panel sports dual camera setup but no information has been given about the specs and there is no sight of selfie camera on the front. Either it is gonna be that way or Vivo has something up its sleeve. Even if it did we wouldn’t be surprised as Vivo has been wowing us with its innovation and forward thinking.

Vivo Apex 2019 concept phone 3
Image Credit: Vivo

Either way Vivo has done a wonderful job with its new devices and its innovative features and this one looks like another one. But are we ready to give up our precious ports? Are you?

Spotify introduces feature to block artists in its mobile apps

Spotify logo
No more Justin Beiber in your playlist.

Don’t want Justin Beiber frequently popping up in your Spotify playlist? You’re in luck then. Spotify has introduced a new feature in its mobile app that lets you block an artist you no longer want to hear. A “Don’t play this artist” feature appeared in the latest version of the Spotify app for iOS and Android. Though there has not been any official comment from the company itself the feature is present nonetheless.

The feature can be found in the artist’s page in the app. For using the feature you will have to head over to an artist’s page, then click on the three dots button in the top right corner. An option overlay will appear with ‘Don’t Play This’ will appear and when you click on the button a small popup will appear at the bottom of the page with ‘Ok we won’t play this again’. To unblock you can simply follow the above mentioned steps only this time in place of ‘Don’t Play This’ it will say ‘Allow to Play This’.

Spotify 'block artist' in its mobile apps

Spotify previously tried to do this but revoked its decisions after backlash from musicians and record labels. But with the feature Spotify will keep its hands clean and still provide user with option to choose on their own. Well played Spotify.