Gary Saggu's Tech Blog

Latest trends in mobile technology, tech startups and coding

ZenActivity timer app for Yoga, meditation and interval workouts v2.0 for iPhone is released

ZenActivity timer app enables you to setup individually timed intervals for each of your yoga kriyas, meditations or workouts for training. Use it for any of your interval based workouts with complete customization for workout and rest intervals.

Key features:
  • Add unlimited custom steps to a workout, the steps can be categorized as Exercise, Stretch, Rest and Meditation
  • Support for upto three different workouts with each workout having any number of workout and rest steps
  • Each step duration can be in hours, minutes and seconds. eg. easily add a kriya or meditation for 3 mimutes and 45 seconds
  • Customize each interval with ending sound, vibration(if available), variable volume as well as description
  • Flexible as your workout can easily be changed by moving items simply by dragging and dropping
  • Listen to your music during your workout as ZenActivity timer works with all players
  • ZenActivity timer runs efficiently in the background for any workout
  • Perfect for Yoga teachers and students, MMA workouts, boxing or any kind of interval training even progressive muscle relaxation
  • Cool, intuitive new design optimized to leverage iOS7
  • Supports Airplay (on iOS7) to play on your Apple TV/TV
  • Detailed help screens for each app feature

Download it today!

- Gary Saggu

2013 key technology retrospective

Here are some of the developments in technology that caught my attention in 2013.

iOS 7

Featured fantastic advances that brought iOS to the forefront of mobile OS market. (Can you tell that I am an iOS developer:)?). The design aesthetic, the ability to easily and reliably (finally!) integrate with iCloud especially for developers, Airdrop to share with data with people around you, iTunes radio, a more advanced Siri, Core Motion advances including M7 and camera advances including face and smile detection.

iPhone 5S and iPad Mini Retina

This phone rocked with its 64bit capable A7 processor and the M7 motion co-processor with fast networking and LTE along with a better camera. The Touch ID was a bold attempt in finally bringing fingerprint based technology to the mass market and it works quite well. With the iPad Mini Retina, Apple did the impossible - pack the same processor and power as an iPad Air with the Retina display into the mini iPad footprint. Need I say more?

M7 Motion Coprocessor

The M7 deserves separate mention because of its step counting features and activity monitoring in the iPhone 5S without burdening the A7 and draining too much battery. No additional devices to purchase for these features. New iPad Air and iPad Mini Retina have the M7 but only Activity monitoring is enabled in them.

If you own an iPhone 5S, you may support the author(me) by checking out these 2 cool new apps designed exclusively for the iPhone 5S utilizing the M7 motion coprocessor. They track your steps indoors and outdoors without GPS, record your walking history and enable you to reach your daily step goals with no other devices to buy other than your iPhone 5S. Read about them by clicking the links below

BeWalking

10k Steps

Glass from Google and wearable technology

It is undeniable that the Google Glass is a fantastic technology and will be more available to the masses in 2014 and beyond. Sure, there will be privacy concerns etc. but wearable technology is IN! Lets also get more bags with solar panels and jackets with lightning connectors and start using them, really!. I worry a lot about the EM fields that these devices(phones, computers) generate and look forward to innovative devices that provide protection from these fields like the Pong cases for iPhone.

Pebble

Pebble did it ! They started as a Kickstarter project and they were able to mass produce a full-featured smart watch for a reasonable price. Sure, there are more apps and upgrades desired but nevertheless it is a fresh and innovative product. The last release of the Pebble OS supports iOS7 notifications and more features.

4k Displays

With the new (and powerful) Mac Pro supporting upto 4 4k displays, this is quickly becoming the new standard for advanced graphics displays. 4k tvs from Sony, Samsung and LG were out there and personally, I am waiting for their prices to come down a bit in 2014 and beyond. 8k displays soon? Believe me there is a spec out there.

Full frame DSLR within the reach of the prosumer

With the Canon 6D and Nikon D610 priced as low as in the 1500s (body only), there is hope that this was the year these cameras are putting this technology within the grasp of the consumer. 2014 may usher a sub $1000 full frame DSLR? Maybe:)

Mac Pro

Amazing features like compact design, graphics, 4k display support out of the box. Pricey but worth it if you need the graphics and processing features that this machine uniquely offers in a durable, compact design backed by Apple.

Voice Recognition becomes standard and more useful

Google voice and Siri as well as Xbox One all deserve a mention.

Other notable tech events/happenings in 2013

First lab grown meat burger was "produced" and eaten. 3D printers became more mainstream and cheaper.(esp. when a Makerbot store openend near my apartment). Crypto currencies like BitCoin accompanied with all the advanced mining hardware and volatility were certainly more in the public eye. Smart gadgets including the Nest learning thermostat, Jawbone speakers and Philips app enabled bulbs etc. More devices with built in smarts coming our way in 2014. Sony Playstation PS4 and Microsft Xbox One put gaming on a new level but with limited available games. I played Call of Duty: Ghosts on PS4 and it was quite an experience. On a 4k display (note PS4 does not support 4k yet) it would be out of this world. Maybe in 2016:). Ouya Android based gaming console(another Kickstarter project) broke into a market dominated by Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo. Lastly, crowd funding stood out (again) as a force in 2013 and will continue too in 2014 and beyond.

Happy holidays and a happy new year!

And thank you for your support! See you in 2014!

--Gary Saggu

iOS 7 thoughts and musings from the Apple WWDC 2013 keynote presentation and demo

My thoughts and opinions about this presentation/demonstration as well as exciting features of iOS 7:-

- Simpler, sleek UI with a redesign of icons.  Very flat, 2D and noticibly absent was the gloss effect in the current version of iOS.  Does that mean app developers have to redo their icons?  I doubt it, IMHO.

- New light fonts are used extensively for that clean, graceful look that Apple is known for.  The light typeface may pose some difficulty in the readability with certain backgrounds but that remains to be seen. The fonts reminded me of a Windows Phone look but still a little different and cooler (of course!)

- COOLEST FEATURE (IMHO) is the feature that achieves depth in parallax which makes the icons almost move (as the background shifts ever so slightly) as the device is moved so as to giving the effect of looking under them. Very, very cool.  Lets hope this feature in the future matures to the UX in general and not remain just a novelty in the top level screens.

- Unlock the phone by swiping in more than one way; a new beautiful, translucent Control Center can be swiped in from the bottom at all times;  some features here a bit Android inspired but welcome nevertheless.  Control center controls WiFi, Bluetooth, Airplane mode as well as music playing and more. Flashlight is included in iOS 7. Ahhhh just when I was thinking of writing my own cool flashlight app:).

- New Home screen "Today" with notification can be swiped from the top. Also, includes weather, reminders, birthdays and appointments.

- Revamped weather app shows dynamic weather animations - I have seen this on Android but still good to have it on iOS.

- iTunes improvements including new iTunes Radio (ad free for customers of iTunes Match I believe).  Look out Pandora and other music streamers:)

- iCloud photo-sharing and iCloud keychain remembers sensitive data like passwords etc.  improvements in photo organization and sharing with others' photo streams.

- Phone, FaceTime, and iMessage blocking from unwanted callers is quite a welcome feature that I am looking forward to using.

- Activation lock to protect against theft was really cool as even after a reset an iCloud authentication needed to use the phone.

- Showed improved Maps. Nice 3D view of Paris at the demo.  More navigation support for use in cars etc.

- Push notifications from iOS apps could be received by the new OS X Mavericks.  Cool option to have in some cases.

- Airdrop for peer to peer proximity sharing is quite useful. Only on Wifi I believe.

- Multitasking features as all apps run in background. Battery implications remain to be seen :).

- App updates in the background automatically.  What a fantastic option this is as I will not be clicking on update all apps each time to get all latest copies of installed apps.

- More advancements and improvements in Siri, including a new male voice and search results from Bing! (No Google here).

- And many many more features...

The SKINNY: During the demo it was mentioned that there were more than 1400 new API calls for developers.  While the UI is redesigned and some features appear to be improvements inspired by what is on Android and Windows Phone, IMHO iOS 7 is quite an amazing leap forward.  Furthermore, I want to check under the hood as there are many new features for developers - especially Xcode 5 Preview and iOS SDK 7(Beta).  Cannot wait to play with these asap. 

Happy dreaming of iOS 7 until the Fall when it is released!

 - Gary Saggu

My Other blog

Ouya - A cheap, interesting and feature packed gaming console for developers and users

Ouya - the game console

I am excited about this new console so I decided to blog about it.  It started as a kickstarter funded project that was oversubscribed very quickly.  I was not able to catch it in time but I would definitely be interested in getting a new console that is Android based and has a fairly open policy for developers to write software for it.

Key features(Hardware):

- Form factor: Small with cool wireless controllers;  Dimensions: (2.9in x 2.9in x 3.2in)

- CPU : Tegra 3(Quad-core processor)

- RAM: 1 GB RAM , 8 GB on-board flash

- Full HD (1080p) with HDMI connection

- Network: WiFi 802.11bgn

- Other technologies: Bluetooth LE 4.0

- Did I mention a $99.00 price? Wow!  As per Amazon, Ouya is being released to all on June 4, 2013. 

Software and SDK features:

- Java based development environment; Eclipse with ADK is what I would use for it.

- Supports Android Development Kit 4.0 (API 14).

- Ouya Development Kit released under Apache License.

- I read somewhere about using Unity to write 3D games for it as well.

- No fee to develop on Ouya.

- Easy submission and fast approvals so I have heard  and it sounds good. Pros : makes happy developers  Cons: Loss of quality control.

Looking at all the hardware and software features Ouya offers (mentioned above - I am sure there are more) makes me very excited about this platform.  What about non gaming apps?  I will investigate further and blog about it.  Time to download the Ouya Development Kit.

Very excited about this, A bientot!

- Gary Saggu

My Other blog

Samsung Galaxy S4 features are finally out

Here are the key features of the latest and greatest Android smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S4

  • 5 inch Super AMOLED display 
    • 1920 x 1080 resolution 
    • Full HD 1080p capability
    • 441 ppi pixel density not edge to edge though
  • Processor 1.9GHz Quad-core or 1.6 GHz Octa-core(wow)
  • Memory: 64GB with microSD 64GB max
  • Camera
    • Rear facing camera an amazing 13 Mega pixels
    • Front facing camera is 2 Mega pixels
  • Lighter and thinner than the S3 but slightly larger and same look as S3
  • Battery capacity higher than S3 at 2600mAh
  • OS: Android Jellybean 4.2.2
  • Extras
    • Tiny IR blaster on phone turns the phone to a TV remote control
    • Voice assistant and something called Voice drive (navigation etc. while on the road)
    • Smart Pause and Smart Scroll are 2 features controlled by the eye.  One pauses the video etc. when you look away and the other allows scrolling by tilting the phone while looking at it.
    • Hovering features (Air view) for gestures. 
  • And many more features that I will cover later (once I get my hands on this phone even though I love my iPhone 5)

More later as I am tired (but this post was important!)

Good Night!

- Gary Saggu

(My other blog)

iPhone next release most wanted hardware features and wish list

As an developer, and a big fan of Apple toys, IMHO, the next release of the iPhone is probably coming up later this year.  As I already gave my opinion on the Samsung Galaxy S4.  Read article here.

Here are the top hardware features one can expect with iPhone 5S or iPhone 6.  I think there shall be iPhone 5S before the 6!

- Display:I think the next version will not improve the widescreen which is still being adopted by the many apps on the AppStore.  And the Apple Retina display rocks - even though Samsung is raising the bar on expectations.

- Processing: Major boost expected - more cores, faster. 

- Sensors: Currently the iPhone 5 has a 3 axis gyro, accelerometer, proximity sensor and an ambient light sensor.  There's room to grow here. Especially with the Samsung S4 rumored to have eye tracking features.  I think some biometric security additions could also come, or facial recognition, facial gestures - wow.  Sounds like an exciting graduate school Computer Science project.

- Camera enhancements: Samsung S4 is rumored to have a 13M pixels rear camera so maybe in the same range or even better.  One thing I personally want is an improvement in front facing camera definitely more resolution and lens.  I think I use the front facing camera a lot more than I thought I would.

- Networking: Faster more reliable; LTE++

I will update this post as more things come to mind. Happy wishing to all Apple mobile hardware fans!

 

- Gary Saggu

 

(My other blog)