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Posts Tagged ‘smartphone’

Transform Your Smartphone into a Universal IR Remote Control with ZaZaRemote

July 21st, 2014 8 comments

You can plenty of electrical appliances controlled with their own infrared remote control around your house or/and office, and wish you could just control then with one and only remote. There are already universal remote controls for sale, and they may be great for devices in the same room, but not so convenient to control device in multiple rooms. The good news is that you can now transform you phone into a universal infrared remote control thanks to ZaZaRemote app available for Android or iOS, even if your phone does not come with a built-in IR transmitter.

ZaZaRemote with 3.5mm IR Transmitter (Top left), USB OTG IR learning (Top Right) , 3.5mm IR learning (Bottom Right)

ZaZaRemote with 3.5mm IR Transmitter (Top left), USB OTG IR learning dongle (Top right) , 3.5mm IR learning dongle (Bottom right)

There are three accessories available to add IR functionality to your smartphone:

  • An IR transmitter than you can connected into the 3.5m,m audio jack of your smartphone.
  • A USB OTG dongle that’s both an IR transmitter and receiver used to learn the remote control. (40 mm long)
  • An IR transmitter and receiver dongles that connects to the 3.5mm audio jack of your smartphone

The audio jack IR transmitter sells for just $1.09 on tinydeal, and since it cannot learn the IR code of your remote control, you have to relies on the remote control database in ZaZaRemote app that contains between 58,000 to 160,000 remotes depending where you read. The database is user generated, so it evolves everyday.

If you want to play it safe, and make sure it will support your remote, you’ll need to USB OTG or audio jack dongle with IR Learning function, the former is sold for $10 on Aliexpress + 2 or 3 dollars for shipping. I could not find the audio jack dongle on Chinese e-retailers site in English, but it’s available on Taobao for 68 RMB (~$11). Bear in mind that you can to make sure your phone supports USB OTG for the OTG dongle to work. The company also posted a disclaimer saying the audio jack may not work on all smartphones.

ZaZaRemote App ScreenShot (Click to Enlarge)

ZaZaRemote App ScreenShot (Click to Enlarge)

The application allows to control all sort of devices including TVs, set-top boxes, media players, amplifiers, air conditioners, cameras and more… You can also re-arrange the remote button on the screen as your please. If you have one of the dongle with IR learning functionality, you can also submit your device’s remote control to the service using the “Synchronise Configuration” menu of the app.

ZazaRemote is designed and manufactured by a company called Tiqiaa (Shanghai) Information Technology.

Thanks to Onebir for the tip.

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Categories: Android, Hardware Tags: Android, ios, remote, smartphone

Jolla Releases Sailfish OS Hardware Adaptation Development Kit for Android (CyanogenMod)

July 19th, 2014 1 comment

If you don’t quite have the spare cash to buy a Jolla Phone, or don’t own a Nexus 4, but still want to try Jolla’s Sailfish OS on your smartphone, here’s your chance, as Jolla has just released their “Sailfish OS Hardware Adaptation Development Kit”, which allows you to install Sailfish OS on any Android phone that supports CyanogenMod 10.1.

Sailfish_OS_CyanogenMod

The development kit is comprised of:

  • Mer core – The Linux userspace core
  • Android Hardware Adaptation (HA/HAL), consisting of:
    • Device-specific Android Kernel
    • Binary device drivers taken from an Android ROM (e.g. CyanogenMod)
    • The libhybris interface built against the binary drivers
    • Middleware packages depending on hardware-specific plugins
    • A Qt/Wayland QPA plugin utilizing the Android hwcomposer
    • Sailfish OS component

You’ll a smartphone and a build machine matching the following hardware and software pre-requisites:

Smartphone

  • ARMv7 Android device officially supported by CyanogenMod 10.1.x
  • Means to do backup and restore of the device contents (e.g. SD card or USB cable to host computer), as well as flash recovery images to the device
Build Machine

  • A 64-bit X86 machine with a 64-bit Linux kernel
  • Mer Platform SDK
  • Sailfish OS Target
  • At least 16 GiB of free disk space (10 GiB source download + more for building) for a complete Android build; a minimal download and HADK build (only hardware adaptation-related components) requires slightly less space
  • At least 4 GiB of RAM (the more the better

If you’ve got all that, you’ll need to follow the build instructions found in a 57-page PDF explaining how to prepare the device, setup the SDK, setting up a scratchbox2 target, packaging the droid HAL, creating the sailfish OS rootfs, flashing the rootfs image, and more… So it’s not really an easy “three steps solution” at this stage, and you may want to do this on a “spare” phone…

This is all new, and things may not work as expected, hence the following warning can be found in the document:

Modifying or replacing your device’s software may void your device’s warranty, lead to data loss, hair loss, financial loss, privacy loss, security breaches, or other damage, and therefore must be done entirely at your own risk. No one affiliated with this project is responsible for your actions but yourself. Good luck.

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NEJE ZB01 Clone of Google Cardboard Virtual Reality Kit Sells for about $12

July 18th, 2014 1 comment

Can you remember Opendive, a low Cost DIY open source 3D virtual reality kit for smartphones? The kit can be built by anybody as long as you happen to own a 3D printer. But Google liked the concept, and at the latest Google I/O, the company designed the cardboard equivalent using the same lenses, and adding accessories namely a magnet, Velcro strips, and a rubber band to complete the kit. But some people saw a business opportunity here, and created NEJE ZB01, a nearly identical reproduction of the Google kit that can be bought for $12.66 on DealExtreme, instead of the $19.95 you’d have to pay for the original kit.

Google_Virtual_Relaity_Cardboard_NEJE_ZB01The complete kit includes the cardboard, a rubber band, two magnets with 2cm diameter, two lenses with 2.3 cm diameter, and a pair of Velcro strips. It’s suppose to work with device using displays between 4″ and 7″ large. You’ll then need to install the Cardboard app on your Android phone, or try out the virtual reality Chrome experiments.

If you are interested in the concept, you can check the Cardboard page, and watch the full 45-minutes presentation about the Cardboard project, and virtual reality on Android below.

 

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Mediatek MT6795 Octa Core ARM Cortex A53 Processor to Launch in Q4 2014

July 11th, 2014 4 comments

Mediatek had already announced two 64-bit ARM SoCs with MT6732 and MT6752 boasting respectively four and eight Cortex A53 cores for mainstream and premium smartphones. There are now reports that the company will launch an eight core 64-bit LTE SoC with HMP architecture. Since HMP (Heterogeneous Multi-Processing) is only used for big.LITTLE processing, and Mediatek does not have an history of making their own custom ARM cores, we can safely assume the processor will feature four Cortex A53 little core, and four Cortex A57 big cores. [Update: finally it's eight ARM Cortex A53 cores, no HMP here].

MTK6795What we know about MT6795 so far:

  • Processor – 64-bit Octa core ARM Cortex A53 cores @ 2.2 GHz
  • GPU- Imagination Technology G6200 @ 700 MHz
  • Memory I/F – 2x LPDDR3 @ 933 MHz (PoP)
  • Camera I/F – 20MP@30fps using a dual ISP
  • Display – Up to WQXGA (2560×1600)
  • Video
    • Decoding – 4K2K @ 30 fps (H.265 and H.264)
    • Encoding – 4K2K @ 30 fps (H.265)
  • Modem – LTE FDD/TDD R9 Cat4, DC-HSPA+ 42/11Mpbs, TD-SCDMA/EDGE
  • Connectivity – Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth, FM, GPS, Glonass and Beidou via MT6630 chip (external)
  • Process – 28 nm

That’s only the second mobile SoC I’ve heard with ARMv8 big.LITTLE, the other being Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, and it looks like MT6795 will be a direct competitor with LTE support. The Adreno 430 GPU is however likely to outperform Imagination Technology G6200 GPU chosen in the new Mediatek SoC. The company also claims MT6795 will provide an easy upgrade for OEM from their MT6595 LTE SoC, a big.LITTLE ARMv7 processor (Cortex A17 + Cortex A7).

MT6795 mass production is scheduled for December 2014, so actual products will probably be available in Q1 2015. Devices based on Snapdragon 810 are also planned for Q1/H1 2015.

Via AndroidPC.es

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Peek into the Smart Home of the Future with ARM Seamless Computing IoT Demo

July 3rd, 2014 No comments

We’ve seen lots of home automation being launched on crowdfunding platforms in the last year or so, and companies like Samsung, Archos, Google and Apple have launched, announced, or bought smart hone solutions. Recently ARM has hosted a demo for the smart home based on Cortex-M MCU mbed development boards, a single board computer gateway, and sensinode connected home software framework.

Smartphone as Desktop PC on Wireless Charging Desk

Smartphone as Desktop PC on Wireless Charging Desk

Although some parts of the demo are unlikely to really have uses, e.g. you can look at the window to check the weather, I found the demo to be very interesting, especially with regards to the central role of the smartphone, and computing convergence. The list of different demos that can be seen in the video below is as follows:

  • As you walk close to the main door, the system checks the weather, and if it rains, blinks a LED and emits a sound close to your umbrella, and if it’s sunny, does the same for your hat.
  • Place your smartphone on a wireless charging desk, and it switches to desktop / tablet mode, connects to a display via Miracast, and Bluetooth mouse and keyboard automatically. Take it back in your hand and it become a smartphone again. No desktop computer needed.
  • Now sits on your living room’s sofa (a seat is used), it starts your TV and launch a TV remote app automatically on your phone.
  • Turn on your kindle, and PhotonStar Halcyon connected reading light will turn on, turn it off, the connected light will turn off.

You could also envision your smartphone fulfilling all your computing needs seamlessly;smartphone on the the go, desktop PC on your wireless charging desk, media player in your wireless charging coffee table in your living room or bed table in your bedroom, and so on.

Via ARMdevices.net.

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iNew V8 Smartphone Features Mediatek MT6591T Hexa Core Processor, and a Rotating Camera

July 2nd, 2014 2 comments

In case you find four cores are not quite enough, but eight cores are just too many, Mediatek added MT6591 hexa core processor to its roadmap, and the first phones are starting to be up for pre-order. iNew V8 is an hexa core smartphone with a 5.5″ display, 1GB RAM, 16 GB flash, and an interesting camera that can rotate by up to 210 degrees, and can be used both as a rear and front facing camera. So no more low quality selfies at 2MP, and welcome to 13MP selfies with flash! :)
Mediatek_MTK6591_Smartphone_iNew_V8iNew V8 Specifications:

  • SoC – Mediatek MT6591T hexa Cortex A7 processor @ 1.5GHz with Mali-450 MP GPU
  • System Memory – 1GB RAM
  • Storage – 16 GB flash + micro SD slot (up to 16? or 32GB)
  • Display – 5.5″ IPS capacitive touchscreen (5 points) with 1280×720 resolution.
  • Cellular Network – 2G: GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz; 3G: WCDMA 850/2100MHz. Dual SIM Card (including one micro-sim card)
  • Connectivity – Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth, GPS, and FM radio
  • Audio – 3.5mm jack for earphone, microphone and speaker.
  • Camera – 13 or 18 MP (depending where you read) rotating camera (207 to 210 degrees) with flash and auto-focus
  • USB -1x micro USB OTG
  • Battery – 2,400 mAh
  • Dimensions – 155 x 77 x 8.30mm (or x 6.8 mm, or x 9.1mm, again depending where you read :))
  • Weight – 176g (Including battery)

The phone runs Android 4.4.2, and ships with a 2,400mAh battery, a USB cable, a screen protector, a charger, and multilingual user’s manual. Pandawill has a video where they show different capabilities of the phone including the rotating camera.

The phone is now available for pre-order, and is expected to ship around mid July. I first got tipped about it by GearBest where they sell it for $250, but it can also be found on Aliexpress and Pandawill for the same price.

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Google Releases Android L (Lollipop?) Developer Preview

June 26th, 2014 2 comments

Google I/O is taking place right now in San Francisco, and the company made several announcements. Although they have not announced the full codename of Android 5.0, referring to the next version as “Android L” (Lollipop would be nice though), but they’ve already documented the key changes made to Android L, and a developer preview will be released later today (26 June), together with binary images for Google Nexus 5 and Nexus 7.

Android_Lollipop

Beside the smartphone and tablet developer preview, there will be 3 other SDKs for Android L:

  • Android Wear SDK – Android for wearables with sync notifications, wearable apps, data transfer APIs, and voice actions, e.g. “Ok Google, call mum”.
  • Android TV Preview SDK – Android for TVs with pre-built fragments for browsing and interacting with media catalogs, in-app search, and recommendations.
  • Android Auto SDK – Android for the car with apps featuring consistent user experience between vehicles, and minimizing distractions.

I’ll go through various software and hardware announcements for Android Wear and TV in separate blog posts, and probably skip Android Auto for now.

So what’s new in Android L Developer Preview?

Material Design

Material Design is is a new design language that will let developer create app which look similar to Google Now. Google chose the name “Material” as it is apparently inspired from real materials such as paper and ink. Android L user interface will be entirely designed with Material Design. The best is to look at an example.

Gmail Now vs Gmail "L"

Gmail Now vs Gmail “L”

On the left, we’ve got the current Gmail app, and on the right the newly designed app for Android L. Lots of it looks like cosmetic changes, but you’ll have noticed the three dot and new mail icons are gone, and all menu will be accessible via the top left icon. There are also some light and shadow effects that will make users feel like they’re touching real elements.

More details can be found in this Material Design presentation (PDF).

Improved Notifications

Notifications have also changed with a new design based on Material, and the ability to display notifications on the lock screen.

Android_L_Notifications

I understand lockscreen notifications are optional, and if you don’t like to show them in the lock screen using visibility controls. As you can see from the screenshot above it works very similar to Google Now which cards that you can discard once you’re done. Notifications will also be able to pop-up in games or other full screen apps, and you’ll be able o take action within the notification, for example by declining or accepting a video call request.

Recents

The list of recent apps will become the list of recent everything, simply called “Recents”, as it will include both apps, web pages, and documents.

Better Tools for Improving Battery Life

As devices become more powerful, they also become more power hungry despite efforts by SoC designers to reduce energy usage. Badly programmed apps are however the main culprit of short battery life, so Google has introduced Project Volta to help user and developers optimize power consumption. Developers can use “Battery Historian” tool to monitor power consumption of different processes, and which hardware block (e.g. Cellular radio) is currently being used.

Battery_HistorianUsers will also have their own app / feature dubbed “Battery Saver” to improve battery life, and Google claims their Nexus 5 should be able to last an extra 90 minutes on a charge with Battery Saver enabled. This is achieved by reducing the performance of the device once the battery has dropped below 20% charge. At that time, a notification would pop-up to let the user select he wants to enable Battery Saver mode.

Under the hood improvements

As as been widely reported, Google recently killed Dalvik in a recent commit in AOSP, and ART will become the default JAVA runtime using ahead-of-time compilation for speedier application loading time, and memory usage improvements. Google also claims it provides true cross platform support for ARM, MIPS and x86.

Android L will support 64-bit instructions including ARMv8, x86-64 and MIPS64. This will provide a larger number of registers, and increased addressable memory space. Java developers won’t needto change their apps for 64-bit support. One the first Android64 devices is likely to be the Nexus 9 tablet powered by Nvidia Tegra K1 Denver as previously reported.

On the graphics side, Android L adds support for OpenGL ES 3.1, and includes Android Extension Pack for developers with tesselation and geometry shaders and other features that should bring PC and console class graphics to Android games according to Google.

Via Anandtech and Liliputing

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