Nativ Vita Music Player Is a $1,599 Tablet for Audiophiles

Nativ, a tech startup which was came into prominence via a crowd-funded campaign early last year, has launched its Vita music player with a large touchscreen display and starting price of whopping $1,599 (roughly Rs. 1.03 lakhs). The Nativ Vita music player, which can also be termed a tablet thanks to its 11.6-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixels) display, comes with built-in support for several music streaming services including Apple Music, Spotify, Google Play Music, Pandora, and Tidal.

Nativ Vita comes with built-in multi-directional microphone, which allows users to use voice-commands to direct it to play music, adjust volume, or skip to next track. The music player can also be controlled via Android or iOS devices, as well as smartwatches through its dedicated app for the respective platforms. Interestingly, Vita music player comes along with an IR remote controller as well.

The Vita packs a Cortex A9 processor and features 4GB of RAM. The connectivity options on the music player include USB, Bluetooth, SPDIF, HDMI, and AES/EBU ports. The Nativ Vita also offers connectivity via Gigabit Ethernet, and Dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi as well. Users can connect Nativ Vita to their TVs with Google Cast or HDMI.

Nativ Vita Music Player Is a $1,599 Tablet for AudiophilesThe audio formats supported by the device include Apple’s ALAC, FLAC, WAV, MP3, OGG, and AIFF.

Users can choose to play music through their PC or their smartphone but the Nativ Vita is also being offered with built-in storage options. The storage options go up to an impressive, but rather ridiculous, 4TB of SSD storage. HDD storage options are also available with the music player as well. Notably, the base model ships without any built-in storage.

If you choose to buy the model will 4TB of built-in storage and Walnut desk-stand, the Nativ Vita will set you back by $3,099 (roughly Rs. 2 lakhs). As you might have understood by now, this music player is not for everyone.

Google Catches Fidget Spinner Fever, Has One as an Easter Egg

We’ve officially reached peak fidget spinner, as Google has added one to the ever growing list of Easter eggs in search. The search giant has a long history of adding funny results in search, and with the latest one, you can actually bring up a virtual fidget spinner and play with it right in your search results. To bring up the Google fidget spinner, just search for the word ‘spinner’ and you’ll see the result. There are actually two different spinners – a number wheel that you can spin to randomly generate a number between one and six, simulating the results of a dice roll, or a fidget spinner. The number wheel moves slowly and delivers results quickly enough, but if the toggle is set to Google fidget spinner, it moves fast and keeps you watching for a long time.

What is a fidget spinner?

If, in all this, you’re scratching your head and wondering what we’re talking about, then here’s a quick explanation. Fidget spinners are a hugely popular type of fidget toy that has pretty much taken over huge swathes of the world by now. As we noted in an earlier article, fidget spinners are just one type of fidget toy, which also include fidget cubes, and other toys based around springs and magnets. The spinners, however, have eclipsed all the others by now, and you can find them all over the world and in India too.

In the US, fidget spinners are being sold on the streets and in souvenir shops. In India, they were the preserve of online stores just a month or two ago, but now they’re being found in supermarkets and toy stores. The question here has moved from “what is a fidget spinner”, to “where can I buy one”.

The idea is that a fidget spinner gives you something to do with your hands and helps you to otherwise focus and concentrate, and can be genuinely helpful to people with conditions such as ADHD. However, these have largely just caught on as toys, and are popular with children and adults both, looking for something new to play with.

fidget spinner copper

In Germany recently customs officials in Frankfurt prevented the entry of 35 tons of fidget spinners, saying that the toys were choking hazards, and the government plans to crush these toys to destroy them.

Google fidget spinner

With the rising popularity of the fidget spinner, it was only natural that others would try and cash in on the trend. That’s why you have, for example, a number of different fidget spinner apps that promise the experience. Of course, a large part of actually playing with a fidget spinner is to give you something other than your phone to fiddle with, and there is a strong tactile element to it as well, as you feel something solid moving around in your hands, and that’s not something you can replicate on the phone.

The apps largely miss the point of why people like fidget spinners, but now, Google has gotten on board the bandwagon as well. We searched for ‘spinner’ in Google and took the fidget spinner for, well, a spin. It loads quickly and there’s a certain hypnotic quality to it, true, as the spinner turns and slows steadily, much like the real thing. There’s no sound though, and of course, it’s just an animation on your screen, so it’s the kind of thing that you might want to spin once or twice, but after that the gag loses a fair amount of charm.

Still, if you are obsessed with fidget spinners but your boss won’t let you carry one to office, or your teacher won’t allow them in class… this could tide you over.

Google to Push for Law Enforcement to Have More Access to Overseas Data

Alphabet’s Google will press US lawmakers on Thursday to update laws on how governments access customer data stored on servers located in other countries, hoping to address a mounting concern for both law enforcement officials and Silicon Valley.

The push comes amid growing legal uncertainty, both in the United States and across the globe, about how technology firms must comply with government requests for foreign-held data. That has raised alarm that criminal and terrorism investigations are being hindered by outdated laws that make the current process for sharing information slow and burdensome.

Kent Walker, Google’s senior vice president and general counsel, will announce the company’s framework during a speech in Washington, DC, at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank that wields influence in the Trump White House and Republican-controlled Congress.

The speech urges Congress to update a decades-old electronic communications law and follows similar efforts by Microsoft.

Both companies had previously objected in court to US law enforcement efforts to use domestic search warrants for data held overseas because the practice could erode user privacy. But the tech industry and privacy advocates have also admitted the current rules for appropriate cross-border data requests are untenable.

Google to Push for Law Enforcement to Have More Access to Overseas DataThe Mountain View, California-based company calls for allowing countries that commit to baseline privacy, human rights and due process principles to directly request data from US providers without the need to consult the US government as an intermediary. It is intended to be reciprocal.

Countries that do not adhere to the standards, such as an oppressive regime, would not be eligible.

Google did not detail specific baseline principles in its framework.

“This couldn’t be a more urgent set of issues,” Walker said in an interview, noting that recent acts of terrorism in Europe underscored the need to move quickly.

Current agreements that allow law enforcement access to data stored overseas, known as mutual legal assistance treaties, involve a formal diplomatic request for data and require the host country obtain a warrant on behalf of the requesting country. That can often take several months.

In January, a divided federal appeals court refused to reconsider its decision from last year that said the US government could not force Microsoft or other companies to hand over customer data stored abroad under a domestic warrant.

The US Justice Department has until midnight on Friday to appeal that decision to the Supreme Court. It did not respond to a request for comment.

US judges have ruled against Google in similar recent cases, however, elevating the potential for Supreme Court review.

Companies, privacy advocates and judges themselves have urged Congress to address the problem rather than leave it to courts.

Google will also ask Congress to codify warrant requirements for data requests that involve content, such as the actual message found within an email.

Chris Calabrese, vice president of policy at the Center for Democracy & Technology, said Google’s framework was “broadly correct” but urged caution about the process for letting countries make direct requests to providers.

“We need to make sure the people in the club are the right people,” he said.

Google Play Hit by More Ztorg-Based Android Malware, Says Kaspersky Labs

In a bid to increase security on its Android platform, Google has reportedly removed more Android apps from its Google Play store for the second time this month. Google has taken strict action against two malicious apps – Magic Browser and Noise Detector – acting as conduits for attackers to remotely ‘root’ control the infected devices after a researcher from Kaspersky Lab pointed out the threat in his report. The Android malware carried by these apps belongs to the Ztorg Trojan family, which is notoriously known for bypassing Google’s safety controls to root infected Android devices.

In a report published on Kaspersky Lab’s Securelist website, senior researcher Roman Unuchek presents extensive analysis on the new Ztorg-based malware. Kaspersky Lab says Ztorg malware bypassed Google’s malware checks almost 100 times since September last year, and the malware family is best known for gaining ‘root’ privileges of infected devices to completely control them. Ztorg apps like Privacy Lock and a false Pokemon Go guide raked in huge download numbers before they were recognised as malicious and deleted from Google Play.

Google Play Hit by More Ztorg-Based Android Malware, Says Kaspersky LabsComing to the current batch of apps, the first one is Magic Browser that pretended to be a Chrome browser alternative in Google Play. It was published on May 15 and had been downloaded over 50,000 times before it was finally removed. The other app is Noise Detector that was meant to allow users to measure the decibel level of sounds and had more than 10,000 downloads before its removal.

Both the apps, as we mentioned, belonged to the Ztorg Trojan family, but didn’t root affected devices before their removal. Unuchek says the app had the Ztorg digital fingerprint, and speculates that the developers may soon have added the root ability if the apps hadn’t been removed.

Unuchek says the Magic Browser app was being used by developers to either test or use malicious text messaging functions. The Magic Browser could send premium text messages to infected phone numbers and leave no traces behind by even deleting the incoming messages and muting the notification sound. “In total, the Magic browser app tries to send SMS from 11 different places in its code. Cybercriminals are doing this in order to be able to send SMS from different Android versions and devices. Furthermore, I was able to find another modification of the Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.Ztorg that is trying to send an SMS via the “am” command, although this approach should not work,” reads Unuchek’s report.

Google Glass, Apple Newton, Nokia N-Gage Make It to ‘Museum of Failure’

Google and Apple are not synonymous with failure but in the risky business of innovation, anything is possible. At Sweden’s newly opened Museum of Failure, Google Glass and Apple Newton are two such devices that were either ahead of their time or the results of some bad ideas.

Founded by clinical psychologist Samuel West, the museum that opened on June 7 to the public has over 70 failed products and services from around the world.

“We know that 80 to 90 percent of innovation projects, they fail and you never read about them, you don’t see them, people don’t talk about them. And if there’s anything we can do from these failures, it’s learn from them,” West told CBS News.

The list has Nokia “N-gage” device, Orbitoclast Lobotomy (medical instrument), Harley-Davidson Perfume, Kodak Digital Camera, Sony Betamax and Lego Fiber Optics, among others, the information available on the Museum of Failure website stated.

Developed and marketed by Apple Inc starting 1987, Newton was one of the first personal digital assistants to feature handwriting recognition. Apple shipped the first devices in 1993.

Initially considered as innovative, Apple founder Steve Jobs directed the company to stop the production of Apple Newton devices in 1998.

According to reports, Newton devices ran on a proprietary operating system called Newton OS. The high price and early problems with its handwriting recognition feature limited its sales.

Google Glass, Apple Newton, Nokia N-Gage Make It to 'Museum of Failure'Google Glass, an eye-wearable device, created a storm when the company handed over a prototype to a few “Glass Explorers” in 2013 for $1,500 (roughly Rs. 1,00,000).

The optical head-mounted display became available to public in May 2014 but was discontinued in 2015 owing to privacy and safety concerns. The device, however, is now gaining momentum in the medical industry.

Nokia made “N-Gage” mobile device and handheld game system that ran on Series 60 platform on Symbian OS. The device, released in October 2003, was discontinued two years later. “N-Gage” suffered from a poor gaming library.

The Museum of Failure is open to the public in downtown Helsingborg.

WhatsApp Support for Android 2.3 Gingerbread Extended till 2020

WhatsApp clearly does not want to reduce its user base too early. With over 1.2 billion monthly active users in February, WhatsApp is available on a multitude of platforms, including ageing mobile platforms like BlackBerry OS, Nokia S40, Nokia S60, and older versions of Android. Recently, the company announced extension of its services on BlackBerry OS and Nokia S40 platforms. It has now officially announced that smartphones running Android 2.3.7 Gingerbread and older versions will continue to be supported by the app till February 1, 2020.

WhatsApp support for Android 2.3.7 Gingerbread

In an update to its original blog post announcing the discontinuation of its services on various older platforms, WhatsApp has laid out the timeline for some mobile operating systems that will continue to support the messaging app’s services. Starting with Android, the versions 2.3.7 Gingerbread and older version will support services until a significant time span of February 1, 2020. However, according to recent Android version distribution data released by Google, there are a limited number of devices powered by Android 2.3 Gingerbread, with the version having just a 0.8 percent share of active devices.

WhatsApp Support for Android 2.3 Gingerbread Extended till 2020The company further mentions in the blog post that the Nokia S40 and BlackBerry OS (including BlackBerry 10) platforms will support WhatsApp till December 31, 2017 and December 31, 2018 respectively, which we recently mentioned in a report and wherein the end-of-life timeline for Nokia S40 devices was thought to be a typographical error. In addition, the eligible devices running Windows Phone 8.0 and later will too keep WhatsApp support till December 31, 2017. Meanwhile, Nokia S60 devices will stop being supported by the app by the end of this month.

“Because we will no longer actively develop for these platforms, some features may stop functioning at any time”, also reads the blog post issuing an alert for the users who own devices running on unsupported mobile platforms. It could mean that even before the last dates, WhatsApp services may be disrupted on these platforms.

To recall, the company had last year announced it would stop providing support on older mobile operating systems and devices like Windows Phone 7, iOS 6, BlackBerry OS, BlackBerry 10, Android 2.1, and Android 2.2 by the end of 2016. However later, the deadline got pushed back for few mobile platforms to June 2017. Yet again, the deadlines were changed to the aforementioned timeframes but only for select platforms. For now, it’s unclear whether Android 2.1 and Android 2.2 will continue to be supported.

Google Allo Can Now Make Duo Calls Within a Chat

Google this week rolled out an update to its messaging app Allo that enables users make a Duo video call directly within the chat window.

To be able to use the feature, both Allo and Google’s video calling app Duo need to be installed on both ends, the company said in a statement.

“So when you’re at the mall and are finding it difficult to pick the perfect pair of shoes, quickly starting a Duo video call with your friend makes it so much easier than typing a description of those great-looking runners,” the statement added.

A Duo icon in the upper-right corner of the chat screen immediately launches a Duo call by tapping it.

With the Allo update, users can also add stickers to their photos before sending them in a chat. The latest Allo update is available for both Android and iOS platforms.

Earlier this month, Google rolled out the v12 update of Allo, bringing the big Selfie Clips feature, along with other changes like a redesigned compose bar.

Google Allo Can Now Make Duo Calls Within a ChatSelfie Clips essentially lets you use the front camera to make GIF loops of yourself or anything in the front camera view, and send them in chat conversations. Earlier, to send GIFs, you’d have to use third-party material, and a tool to create one was not available in-app. With this update, Allo adds the ability for iPhone and Android users in-app. This feature was announced by Allo team head Amit Fulay. Furthermore, the selfie sticker feature that was only launched for Android first, has now been made available to iPhone users as well.

The new compose bar was also mentioned by Fulay and it basically gets rid of the ‘+’ icon that hid all the compose buttons, and shows them all above the message bar itself. This makes them more accessible than before, as earlier they were hidden behind the ‘+’ button, and could only be seen when the button was pressed.

Google Search, Maps Updated With Focus on Arts and Culture

Google on Tuesday announced updates for its Search and Maps apps that will be aimed at enriching the cultural and art knowledge for users. As a part of the update, Google will start featuring new insights and more relevant results for the art-related search queries, powered by the Google Arts & Culture platform. In addition, the Internet giant has also added a Panoramic View feature that will let you know key insights about the artworks when you visit virtual tours of museums. The update is available to download right away for Google (Search) App and Google Maps.

The update to Google Search is a result of the collaboration of Google Arts & Culture team and Google Search engineers to ‘improve systems understanding in recognition of artworks’ for over 500 million art-related searches made. Besides, it also involves machine learning to recognise the places that you can see in person, the artists who made the artworks, the materials they used, and the art period they belong to.

Google Search, Maps Updated With Focus on Arts and Cultureif you make a search query for an artist like M.F. Hussain, Google Search will show an interactive knowledge card that will further let you to explore various options like the artist’s works. Additionally, you can also scroll further to virtually visit the museums to glance at the artist’s paintings on the wall, a few of which are also available in high resolution straight from Google Arts & Culture.

Coming to Google Maps, it will start showing virtual tours of some of the renowned museums like Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum in Mumbai or National Museum in New Delhi. You will be able to browse different lobbies and rooms inside the virtual tour of the museums where you can also clearly see the paintings and hangings along with proper annotations right next to them. As you click on the annotations, a new page will appear that will consist of more relevant information and high resolution images with zoom support.

Google says it has made use of visual recognition software to index the museums from all over the world along with over 15,000 works by various artists.

WhatsApp Support for Android 2.3 Gingerbread Extended till 2020

WhatsApp clearly does not want to reduce its user base too early. With over 1.2 billion monthly active users in February, WhatsApp is available on a multitude of platforms, including ageing mobile platforms like BlackBerry OS, Nokia S40, Nokia S60, and older versions of Android. Recently, the company announced extension of its services on BlackBerry OS and Nokia S40 platforms. It has now officially announced that smartphones running Android 2.3.7 Gingerbread and older versions will continue to be supported by the app till February 1, 2020.

WhatsApp support for Android 2.3.7 Gingerbread

In an update to its original blog post announcing the discontinuation of its services on various older platforms, WhatsApp has laid out the timeline for some mobile operating systems that will continue to support the messaging app’s services. Starting with Android, the versions 2.3.7 Gingerbread and older version will support services until a significant time span of February 1, 2020. However, according to recent Android version distribution data released by Google, there are a limited number of devices powered by Android 2.3 Gingerbread, with the version having just a 0.8 percent share of active devices.

WhatsApp Support for Android 2.3 Gingerbread Extended till 2020The company further mentions in the blog post that the Nokia S40 and BlackBerry OS (including BlackBerry 10) platforms will support WhatsApp till December 31, 2017 and December 31, 2018 respectively, which we recently mentioned in a report and wherein the end-of-life timeline for Nokia S40 devices was thought to be a typographical error. In addition, the eligible devices running Windows Phone 8.0 and later will too keep WhatsApp support till December 31, 2017. Meanwhile, Nokia S60 devices will stop being supported by the app by the end of this month.

“Because we will no longer actively develop for these platforms, some features may stop functioning at any time”, also reads the blog post issuing an alert for the users who own devices running on unsupported mobile platforms. It could mean that even before the last dates, WhatsApp services may be disrupted on these platforms.

To recall, the company had last year announced it would stop providing support on older mobile operating systems and devices like Windows Phone 7, iOS 6, BlackBerry OS, BlackBerry 10, Android 2.1, and Android 2.2 by the end of 2016. However later, the deadline got pushed back for few mobile platforms to June 2017. Yet again, the deadlines were changed to the aforementioned timeframes but only for select platforms. For now, it’s unclear whether Android 2.1 and Android 2.2 will continue to be supported.

Android Market for Android 2.1 Eclair and Older Versions to Be Discontinued on June 30

Earlier this month, Google released its monthly Android distribution chart showing Android OS version fragmentation. While the most recent Android versions like Lollipop, Marshmallow, and Nougat enjoy a major share, older versions like Android 2.2 Froyo have now shrunk to a negligible share of below 0.1 percent. The Google Play app is currently only supported by Android 2.2 and newer versions of Android, and to serve older versions, the Android Market app existed. Now, Google has announced the Android Market app for Android 2.1 Eclair and older versions will stop working after June 30.

Google in its Android Developers blog post noted, “It has been 7 years since Android 2.1 Eclair launched. Most app developers are no longer supporting these Android versions in their apps given these devices now account for only a small number of installs.” So, starting July 1, Android Market will be put to rest once and for all on the devices running Android 2.1 Eclair and older versions. Its discontinuation will take place without any notification on the device due to some ‘technical restrictions’ in the Android Market app, says the company.

Android Market for Android 2.1 Eclair and Older Versions to Be Discontinued on June 30After June 30, users owning the devices powered by Android 2.1 and older will only have the option to manually install APK files of the apps they want – however it’s not advisable and risky to download app install packages from unauthentic and unknown sources. The devices that run on Android 2.2 and above will continue to run Play Store but Google notes that it will still provide support for later versions of Android Market “for as long as feasible.”

It is noteworthy that most of the popular apps have stopped making iterations of their versions for older Android platforms like 2.1 Eclair, 2.2 Froyo, and 2.3 Gingerbread. However, WhatsApp recently announced that it will continue to provide support for Android 2.3 Gingerbread and older till February 2020.