Alternative App Stores for Linux

"It's clean, sleek, and does what it says on the tin; however, as a FOSS enthusiast you might be looking for something different. If that's the case, then we have for you a list of alternative app stores for Linux that will help you get the software you need instantly."

Android 4.4 vs. iOS 7

"The reason both iOS and Android are the top is solely because of their amazing operating systems. That's why no Apple vs. Android fight is complete without a comparison between their operating systems. So, here we are with a sweet comparison between Android 4.4 KitKat and iOS 7."

How to Install Netflix on Linux

"As omnipresent as Netflix is, it is not officially available on Linux yet. Thankfully, though, developers have come up with unofficial versions of the app. In this article, we'll show you ways to get Netflix working -- using these unofficial versions -- on your Ubuntu or Fedora desktop."

Ubuntu Phone OS vs. Mozilla Firefox OS

"Other minor players are also emerging; however, the ones most people are watching out for are Ubuntu Phone OS and Mozilla Firefox OS. These two operating systems, which offer completely different approaches to mobile computing, are almost ready to cause a disruption in the mobile market. But which one is the better of the two? Well, let's find out."

Get the Flat UI Look on Your Ubuntu Desktop

"If you're a Linux user, you might have noticed that your Ubuntu setup doesn't really live up to the flat trends. While some elements of Nautilus have moved in that direction, it isn't really the "look" you're looking for. Thankfully, in the Linux world, there's an answer to your every prayer."

The keyboard is probably one of the most overlooked aspects of a smartphone or tablet. For years, iPhone users had to put up with the default keyboard simply because Apple thought that having third-party keyboards wasn't necessary. However, as soon as they saw the success third-party keyboards were having in the Play Store, it made them reconsider their decision. Now, the market is flooded with keyboards for both iPhone and Android, making this a lucrative field for many developers and innovators.

Furthermore, a keyboard doesn't just involve typing. These days, you'll find all sorts of useful additions to your typing experience. From themes to integrated emojis, keyboard apps keep adding features that differentiate them from their competitors. While there are many such applications out there, only three stand out as far as popularity and performance is concerned: SwiftKey, Fleksy, and Google Keyboard. All three apps are fast, provide great features, and are used by millions of users. So, let's do a quick comparison between the three and find out which one is the best for you.


Predictions:

As far as predictions go, SwiftKey remains the undisputed king. The app is shockingly intuitive and can predict your next word even when you least expect it. In a way, prediction is SwiftKey's USP. Many users have stuck with this app over the years because of its amazing prediction. It reads your writing style and adapts to it thus giving you accurate predictions. SwiftKey can also hook into "Trending Topics" to give you predictions; however, we recommend disabling that option if you are noticing any lags in performance. Overall, SwiftKey's predictions are near to perfect and you can always rely on them even if English isn't your first language.

So, how does it compare to Google keyboard and Fleksy? Well, if we had to rate these two apps with respect to SwiftKey, Google Keyboard would come in at a second place while Fleksy will take the third spot. Google Keyboard is quite accurate and is the second-best choice for many users as far as predictions go. Couple that with Google's mind-reading technology that looks into your usage in other Google apps, this keyboard sounds excellent on paper. However, in the real world, the predictions are not as good as the ones we find on SwiftKey. We find that as we type, occasionally it misses a beat here and there. While that's not something that would make you stop using the keyboard entirely, it's definitely one of the shortcomings of the app that Google needs to improve on.

Thirdly, the newest of the apps is Fleksy, which is not yet up to the mark when it comes to predicting next words. Sometimes it's too slow (especially on older devices) and sometimes it predicts a wrong word here and there. That said, it's not terrible, especially when compared to some of the lesser-known keyboard applications in the Play Store.

Overall, if you are someone who relies heavily on predictions, SwiftKey is your best bet with Google Keyboard being a second choice.

Winner: SwiftKey



Speed:

When it comes to actual typing speed, there's not a lot of difference between SwiftKey and Google Keyboard. Both have a sleek design and soft well-spaced buttons that make typing a breeze. However, they both pale in comparison to Fleksy, which is especially known for its typing speed. Holding the Guinness World Record for the fastest typing speed, this app relies more on gesture control rather than pressing keys mindlessly. While on first install you won't find yourself typing an essay on Proust in an hour, you will definitely feel a difference. The difference gets more and more visible as you take the time to learn how to use the app like an expert. Don't worry though, Fleksy has added enough gamification that give you rewarding incentives to learn the keyboard. Overall, if you get the hang of it, Fleksy can be a dream typing machine.

Winner: Fleksy



Design:

As far as design goes, Fleksy looks quite stunning with its big keys and HOLO-friendly theme. So does SwiftKey with a fantastic set of themes that you can buy from the market place. However, when it comes to default design, Google Keyboard wins the race with its simplistic material look that appeals to pretty much everyone. While Fleksy and SwiftKey both offer a lot of customization options, the default theme on SwiftKey is no way as good as that on the Google Keyboard. That said, we'll have to contend that both Google's material look and Fleksy's sleek big look are hard to beat.

Winners: Fleksy and Google Keyboard (tie)


Pricing:

SwiftKey comes free for all users; however, if you had to buy new theme packs, you'd have to shell out some extra cash. Fleksy, on the other hand, comes as a trial. This means that in order to use the app fully, you'll have to spend some money. Compare that with Google Keyboard, which is 100 % free, those two keyboards get a little left behind in this arena.
Winner: Google Keyboard

 
Performance and Reliability:

As far as actual usage goes, Google Keyboard comes out as the most reliable keyboard of the lot. Why? Well, it runs perfectly across almost all devices, newer and older without any glitches. The same, however, can't be said about SwiftKey and Fleksy. SwiftKey occasionally slows down and lags on older phones and Fleksy too suffers from the same fate. If you are using an older phone, Google Keyboard is your only choice.

Winner: Google Keyboard



Conclusion:

It's not hard to see why people still prefer the default Google keyboard. It's fast, reliable, and looks really good. SwiftKey, on the other hand, is the second best choice in this arena. Its quick predictions and predictive typing make it quite popular among many users. Last, but not the least, Fleksy is a new entrant, and while it's yet to grow as big as SwiftKey, it shows a lot of promise.

Overall, if you are a new Android user, there's a simple way to choose which keyboard is best for you.

Overall Winner: Google Keyboard because it's still the most reliable and fast keyboard around. 


How to choose:

If you are using an older device: Google Keyboard.
If you are looking for speed: Fleksy
If you are looking for accurate and intuitive predictions: SwiftKey.

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5 of the Best Raspberry Pi Projects Out There

Posted by jun auza On 5/05/2015
Raspberry Pi, when first launched about two years ago, became an instant phenomenon. After all, who could have thought of a $35 computer that lets you browse the web and does most of your office work? What is even more surprising is the reception it got from average users. Usually, one would expect a bare-minimum $35 board computer that runs Linux to be popular only among developers or geeks. However, as many as 100,000 Raspberry Pi units were sold on the day of its launch eventually selling more than 2.5 million units till date.

Completely open-source, Raspberry Pi lets you do most of the basic tasks you'd normally do on a full-fledged desktop. You can browse the web, you can create documents, and you can even play music and watch videos. When it comes to desktop computers, Raspberry Pi is a veritable "Starter's Edition."  Since its inception, the project has made common computing available to parts of the world where owning a desktop was once considered a luxury. Moreover, it has also spurred a flurry of interesting projects that take this tiny superboard to a whole new level. If you are ready to show your creative, geeky side, then read on as we cover some of the best Raspberry Pi projects out there.


1. Turn Raspberry Pi into a Low-cost Coding Tutor for Kids

We've already covered a list of the best programming courses out there. However, as good as these courses are, learning programming can be a tough ordeal for kids who need a more hands-on approach to code. Instead of letting them mess up your production computer, you can buy them a little Raspberry Pi box, hook it up to a monitor, and let them code their heart away. A good programming language that's up to this task is Scratch that turns programming into an activity that's geared towards kids, making the whole process fun and enjoyable to them. In fact, this combination of Pi and Scratch can make programming accessible to places where kids who don't have the privilege of owning a computer, thus making it easy to spread knowledge everywhere.


2. Turn Raspberry Pi into a Media Center

Did you just say media center? Yep, there's a lot this little board can do that you won't usually expect it to do. What's great about Pi is that it supports 1080p out of the box with a tiny-but-powerful GPU running behind the scenes. Combine that with the Xbian project, you got a full-fledged media center on your hands. XBian is a small, fast and lightweight media center distribution that is designed for Raspberry Pi that brings the latest of XBMC to your mini-computer. It's a great, cheap investment if you're someone who likes watching a lot of movies.


3. Turn Raspberry Pi into a Car Computer


A very interesting blog post by developer Andrei Istodorescu shows you exactly how you can turn Pi into a PC that sits in your car. This means that you'll be able to watch your favorite movies or TV shows in your car. While that's a perfect idea for a romantic date, just make sure that you're not doing Game of Thrones marathons while driving. The blog post explains pretty much everything you need to do in order to install, configure, and get it up and running. The approximate cost of the parts requires comes down to about $200. However, as costly as that sounds, compared to the $25 board, it's a worthy investment for every geek who also loves her car.


4. Make a Wearable Raspberry Pi Computer

Envious of your Google Glass-sporting friends? Or maybe you're too privacy conscious to try the search giant's latest wearable. Whatever the case maybe, geeks and privacy enthusiasts can make use of Pi to create a DIY wearable that they can brag about to their friends who are busy drooling over Android Wear, Google Glass, and other wearables. While no way near perfect, this project can provide a full-powered desktop computer that you can use wherever you are. Even while walking. Although the cost of this project is about $400, it's a justified investment for every geek out there who wants to have a great learning experience.


5. Turn Raspberry Pi into a Universal Remote

Instructables has another cool guide on turning your Pi computer into a universal remote. Though you'll need some parts to get that working for you, those little investments are worth it if you're a lazy geek who loves to control everything from the couch. Also, it's a great learning experience for anyone who's interested in knowing more about the LIRC or tinkering with electronics. A bit tough to get working overnight, this project can be treated as a huge learning experience more than just a way to create a universal remote. You can also pair this off with XBMC and then create an ultimate media center with remote and everything at a very low cost.

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When it comes to smartphones, the recent trends seem to veer towards the notion that “bigger is better.” It all started with Samsung’s Galaxy Note series. At that time, phones looked like boxes of tic-tacs compared to this giant beast they dubbed as phablet (phone/tablet).

While there were other big phones around, the Galaxy Note was the first smartphone that showed the world that using a big phone can actually make you more productive. Then, in just a few years, big phones became the norm. Slowly, but steadily, the size of the average smartphone kept getting bigger. Phones, nowadays, resemble a tablet more than anything else. A screen size of 5 inches of more is actually quite common, the kind of phone that covers the whole side of your face while you talk. The iPhone 6 Plus and the Nexus 6 are two new entrants in this phone-tablet, that is phablet race, aiming to take down the giant Galaxy Note 4.

 
For any casual user, choosing between these 3 expensive smartphones could be quite an ordeal. That's why, we decided to do a quick comparison between the devices and help you pick the one that's best for you.


Design

The Note 4 comes with a metallic frame with an S-pen tucked neatly at the bottom right corner of the phone. There are curves at the corner, but they're not as angular as the ones found on Nexus 6. This gives the Note a more rectangular shape, making it look professional. Compare that to Nexus 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, the Note is the first phone that a business user would most likely pick up.

Coming to the Nexus 6, it does look similar to the Note 4 in some aspects, however, the curved edges give it a much more modern feel. At the back, the phone is curved thus making it easier to hold in your hand and also easier to use given its big size. Overall, it looks like a bulked up Moto X. Not that there's anything wrong with that, we'd have loved it if Google had tried something different with this one.

The design of the iPhone 6 Plus is a similar story. It does look like a bulked-up iPhone, and it too doesn't look that bad. In fact, when compared to the Nexus 6 and Note 4, it's the most nice-looking phone of the lot. Its aluminum body with a smooth finish and a ring-styled Home button make it an attractive phone. So, as far as design goes, the iPhone 6 Plus leaves behind Samsung and Google.

Winner: iPhone 6 Plus
 


Software and Usage

The iPhone 6 Plus comes with the latest version of iOS. The operating system doesn't look out of place on the phone and it does work quite well with the 6-inch screen. The same goes for Nexus 6, which is the first phone to come with Lollipop out of the box. It looks quite good on the phone and makes use of the 6-inch screen very nicely. However, when you compared them to the Galaxy Note 4, they both pale out in comparison. Despite having a clunky version of Android known as TouchWiz, the Note 4 surprisingly delivers in the software department. It comes with software that makes perfect use of the S-pen hardware and the large screen. From note-taking apps to "Smart Select" that lets you select important text from an article, Note 4 is loaded with tools that help you get the most out of the big phone. If you're a businessperson, the Note 4 is the best of the lot because of the amazing features geared towards office goers. Even for casual users, Note series of phones have a lot to offer, thus making it an all-round treat to use.

Winner: Note 4

  

Hardware and Performance

Both the Galaxy Note 4 and the Nexus 6 come with a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor that clocks at 2.7 GHz. They are also loaded with an Adreno GPU and 3 GB of RAM making both smartphones absolute powerhouses when it comes to hardware. On the other hand, the iPhone 6 Plus comes with a Dual-core 1.4 GHz Cyclone ARM-based processor and 1 GB of RAM. While iPhone's specs don't quite match up to what the Nexus and the Note have to offer, Apple's software optimizations make the smartphone a treat to use. However, if we did compare these phones purely on specs basis, the Note 4 and Nexus 6 would come out on top. Between those two, well, that's a tough choice but we'll have to pick Nexus 6 here since it uses pure Android thus giving it an ability to get the maximum from the chips.

Winner: Nexus 6



Display and Screen

The iPhone 6 Plus screen comes with a resolution of 1080 x 1920 and 401 ppi pixel density. It's about 5.5 inches in size, which is still smaller than the Nexus 6. The Galaxy Note 4 comes with 2560 x 1440 pixels display that has a 515 ppi pixel density. It's a Super AMOLED display that makes the colors stand out and look vibrant. The Nexus 6 is slightly larger in size with a 5.96in AMOLED display that has a resolution of 1440 x 2560. Among the three devices, the phone with the "best-looking" display would be the Note 4. It's saturated display looks vibrant and bright even at odd viewing angles. As for the iPhone 6 Plus, it looks slightly brighter than the Nexus 6 but its display quality is pretty much at-par with these devices. However, if we did have to pick one, we'd go with the Note 4.

Winner: Note 4


Camera

The Nexus 6 comes with a 13 MP rear camera with HDR+, panorama, photo sphere, and many other useful features. The Note 4, however, comes with a 16 MP camera with a boatload of features in the camera application (which is typical of Samsung). Samsung's camera captures details quite well when compared to the Nexus. Quality wise, they are pretty much at par, however, the Note 4 camera is a little better than the one on Nexus. The iPhone camera, though has an 8MP shooter, takes surprisingly good photos. Compared to ones taken by the Note 4, the iPhone pictures are a bit warmer in tone. Not that it is a bad thing, but the warm tone gives the photos a much "realistic" feeling. If you disregard the differences in color tones, all three cameras pretty much take pictures of similar quality that won't disappoint you.

Winner: Tie


Pricing

Depending on where you live, all of the three phablets are few of the most expensive gadgets in the market. You'll find these phones around the $700 range. Also, these phones though expensive, offer some of the best specs around, so they do serve as a good investment in the long run.

Winner: Tie


Conclusion: Which one to buy?

If you are planning to use your phone in the office and for business, the Galaxy Note 4 is the best phablet you can buy hands-down. It has the best specs and the best apps suite that is geared towards office owners and business users. The Note line of products is the best thing Samsung created and it is not a phone that you can overlook. It is loaded with the best specs and features out there.

If you are not a business owner, still the Note 4 is worth considering. But as far as casual work+play devices go, both the Nexus 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are great choices. The big discriminating factor  between them as far as value for money goes is the presence of different operating systems. If you are someone who's already in the Android ecosystem, go with the Nexus 6 as that will guarantee you updates for quite a long time. The iPhone 6 Plus is a great addition to the family for anyone who already owns a lot of Apple products. That said, the Note 4 still remains a solid product that both Apple and Google will have to work hard to take down.

Overall Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 4



Written by: Abhishek, a regular TechSource contributor and a long-time FOSS advocate.
 
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Best Combat Strategy Games for Android

Posted by jun auza On 3/25/2015
Combat strategy games are an excellent amalgamation of two popular genres. This combination provides a well-paced yet addictive gaming experience that can keep you awake all night swiping and poking at your smartphone or tablet’s screen.

If you don't mind being a little addicted, then following is a list of some of the best combat strategy games out there for Android.



Clash of Clans

Clash of Clans is one of the most popular combat strategy games out there for your Android device. Completely free to play, this title involves building your village and then turning it into an undefeatable fortress. As you progress towards your goal, you can join hands with other players (or clans) and fight an epic clan war. There are 15 unique units that make up the game, all of them with multiple levels of upgrades. Your goal is to defend your clan at all cost using mortars, towers, bombers, traps, and walls. If you are lucky, you also get to fight the huge Goblin King from time to time. Overall, this is a fun and entertaining combat strategy game which you can either play alone or even with millions of other players from around the world. 



Castle Clash

In this game you hire legions of powerful heroes and lead an army of mythical creatures in your goal to becoming the world's greatest Warlord. With a perfect blend of combat and strategy, Castle Clash has over 30 million users worldwide. The journey toward becoming the world's greatest warlord involves building your own impenetrable fortress, creating an army of wild troops, and then casting powerful spells in epic battles. Overall, it is a fun combat strategy game that takes this genre to the next level by adding the fantasy element to it.



Boom Beach

In this game you fight against the evil BlackGuard by taking your strong forces to a paradise island. This island is invaded by the BlackGuard and it is your job to free the enslaved islanders and then leave the uncharted island. What's more, this hidden island has lot of ancient undiscovered powers that come in handy later on in the game. What stand out in this game are probably the boss battles that help you uncover important clues about the story. Overall it is a fun, entertaining, and addictive combat strategy game.



Stars Conquer

If you are tired of the usual combat strategy games set on ground, then Stars Conquer will give you a somewhat unique experience. Set in space, Stars Conquer lets you build your own base and then turn it into an undefeatable fortress. Of course it is not that easy because you'll have to battle other players from time to time. Thankfully, there are weapons like cannons, MLRS, and missile that make it quite fun to shoot down intruders. Overall, if you are into games based in space, then expect this game to keep you hooked for hours to come.



Defense Command


This game has probably one of the most interesting premises in this list. At the start of the game, the planet is invaded by aliens. Then, the world's military gets enslaved by an Alien Mind Control Device. Yes, the whole world's military! Luckily, however, only one battle squad remains. You are responsible of controlling this battle squad and leading it to an insurmountable task of defeating the alien force and restoring peace and harmony on earth. With unique battle tactics and lots of weapons for combat, Defense Command can be a game that will keep you hooked for hours.



Battle Command

Set in a futuristic world, this title helps you get a taste of military warfare with lots of advanced weapons. With 20 different units to unlock, the game provides a lot of meat if you are into building bases and constructing a solid army that withstands the constant attacks of the enemy. Apart from building a strong base, this game also involves the ability to attack other players' bases thus making the game quite challenging especially in the cases when you get attack by someone new. To avoid that, you can make alliances with fellow players and thus build a stronger base. With both single player and multi-player, this game mixes elements of tower defense, combat, and strategy perfectly to give a great addictive gameplay.


 
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Tablet Wars Redux: Nexus 9 vs. iPad Air 2

Posted by jun auza On 3/12/2015
The tablet computer market, despite being dominated by the iPad, is in a constant state of agitation. With Amazon, Samsung, and Google coming out with their own line of tablets, the war for the bigger devices gets more and more intense every year. 2014, though was another one of those Apple vs. Google fights where both parties came out with the best line of products.

Apple released the iPad Air 2 while Google came out with Nexus 9. Both of these tablets are flagship products from two of the most popular tech companies in the world. With Nexus 9, the search giant brings along promises of a polished, Android Lollipop-laden tablet experience that will get the latest and greatest updates. With iPad Air 2, on the other hand, Apple makes sure that the users get the best features from their top-of-the line products into this tablet. A faster processor, lighter weight, and a fingerprint scanner may seem like small additions, but they do make a product that is already ruling the market into a superb all-round device.

When a casual consumer decides to head into the market to buy a new tablet, he's faced with many tough questions. The price aside, the main thing many people worry about is that: does this tablet meet my needs? And for years, Apple's iPad line has answered positively to that question, and noticing that, Google has decided to step up their game and launch their own tablet called the Nexus 9.

Aimed at the general public rather than Android fans, the Nexus 9 is a direct competitor to the iPad 2. It offers pretty much everything the iPad offers with the added bonus of a much freer OS that is Android. This leaves the customers with two top-of-the-line tablet devices to choose from. While we won't accompany you to the store to help you make the choice, we'll surely help you better discriminate between the two products and buy the one that appeals to you the most. 

 

Build Quality:

Both the Nexus 9 and the iPad Air 2 are almost the same weight and you won’t feel much difference between them if you were to hold them with both of your hands. The build material, however, differs a lot. Apple’s tablet comes with the trademark aluminum unibody finish that not only looks gorgeous but also feels premium and strong. On the Nexus 9’s back, there’s the matte plastic back; which, though looks good, doesn’t quite measure up to what Apple offers to its customers. Even by just holding the iPad for a few seconds one can tell that Apple’s tablet offering is way superior in terms of build quality when compared to the Nexus 9.

Winner: iPad Air 2.



Display:

The display on these devices is the top-of-the-line screens you will find in the market. Whether you are choosing a tablet for reading, watching movies, or playing the latest mobile games, both Apple and Google have done a great job at finding some of the best displays. Both have IPS panels with 2048x1536 resolutions on each of them. While Apple’s is a 264 ppi display, the Nexus 9 is 288 ppi making the difference between the two tablets marginal. However, despite the high quality of these displays, iPad somehow manages to edge out Nexus 9 by adding some small-but-useful features to the mix. One of the glaring omissions (no pun intended) in Nexus 9 is the anti-reflective coating; something that helps you read books in the sunlight. This feature alone, as Apple claims, reduces reflections by half, thus making it a superb outdoor device. While Nexus 9 is not that bad for reading, but the small feature does indicate why Apple is still dominating the market.

Winner: iPad Air 2


Extra Features:

When it comes to goodies and extra features, the iPad Air 2 manages to edge out the Nexus 9. Its nifty fingerprint scanner does a lot of things other than to provide a one-touch security solution. While the Nexus does pretty much all things okay, it does miss that little X-factor that Apple’s fingerprint sensor brings along.

Winner: iPad Air 2


Price:

The Nexus 9 is about $100 cheaper than the iPad Air 2 in most markets thus making it a great budget tablet for the general public.

Winner: Nexus9



Software:

While Android Lollipop looks just as gorgeous as it could ever look, it does fall short when it comes to scaling. The Nexus 9, running the latest version of Android, does look like an awesome tablet, but there’s a lot of blank space that’s wasted making it look as if the phone’s software was just stuck on the tablet. While this is not a big issue, but compared to the iPad Air, the Nexus does lose out a couple of points. iPad with iOS8.1 not only looks good on a tablet but also looks as if the software was made for a big screen. Furthermore, you’ll find many apps in the Apple App Store that are designed specifically for tablets thus making the iPad an even worthy purchase.

Winner: iPad Air 2


Usage:

Both the iPad and the Nexus could be used for reading, watching movies, checking mail, and playing games. While Google has the Play Store, Apple offers the famous iTunes Store to its users. iTunes, as many of you know, is one of the most popular content stores out there. While many may choose iTunes over Google Play, it may not necessarily affect the decision of a buyer who's just looking for a good tablet. However, if you come from the Apple ecosystem of apps, music, and games, iTunes will definitely lure you into buying the shiny tablet.

Winner: Tie


Camera:

While both have an 8MP camera at the back, the front-facing camera is where the similarity between the two devices ends. Apple’s Air 2 comes with a 1.2 MP front camera while Nexus comes with a 1.6 MP one. The aperture for both is the same, which is f/2.4. However, there’s one big difference here. The Nexus 9 camera comes with a flash. Yes, while we don’t expect to see professional tablet-wielding photographers anytime soon, having a flash at the back is a welcome addition and it does score Google some brownie points.

Winner: Nexus 9


Conclusion:

While the Nexus 9 is a great device on paper, it does lack the maturity and the premium quality of the iPad Air. Since this is Google’s first big tablet, we might overlook some flaws, but they do have to pull up their socks if they want to catch up with Apple in the tablet market. If you have an extra $100 to spend, you should consider getting an iPad Air rather than going for Nexus 9. It offers much more value for money for its high price.

Overall Winner: Apple iPad Air 2


Written by: Abhishek, a regular TechSource contributor and a long-time FOSS advocate.

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Despite having a complete dominance over the webmail market, Google has repeatedly tried to reinvent the way email technology works. Whether it’s the defunct Google Wave or the more social Google Plus, the search giant has made numerous attempts to revolutionize this technology. However, despite its valiant efforts, email still works pretty much the same way it used to work ten years ago. Many people, despite the surge of alternative messaging platforms, haven’t been able to get rid of their beloved inbox. Furthermore, in enterprise settings, email still is the backbone of communications across various departments. In short, email is here to stay and yes, Google knows that.

That’s why, instead of reinventing email, Google is trying on a new strategy. They are trying to make your email usage more productive. Google’s latest endeavor, titled Google Inbox, is a new app by the Gmail team. Its goal is to help you use your inbox to get things done. Let’s take a look at this new app and see whether it is here to stay or turn into another axed project.


Google Inbox: What is it?

If you are a productivity fanatic, you must definitely have heard the buzzword “inbox zero.”  It’s the bragging right of individuals who aren’t that burdened by the barrage of emails that land in their inbox every day. While there are many strategies to manually achieve that coveted inbox zero, Chrome extensions being one of them, many users still find it difficult to handle their inbox effectively. This, in turn, leads to the perpetuating problem: people are being controlled by their email instead of them being in control.

Google Inbox aims to fix this issue by organizing your incoming emails into “bundles” so that you can see only the stuff that’s important and sweep away the rest. Today, your email inbox isn’t just about mails from co-workers, bosses, and friends; it also includes newsletters, promotions, purchase receipts, unsolicited spam, and much more. Thus, instead of focusing on the emails you need to reply to urgently, you end up checking a hundred different things that are irrelevant to your workflow.

By bundling your email into categories like Purchases, Updates, and more, you can quickly get to emails that matter to you the most. Another great thing about these bundles is that you can sweep away all the emails in that category by a simple click. So, let’s say you have about 100 promotional emails that you don’t even want to see, you can simply click on the double tick marks and voila, all the messages in that bundle get archived. 



Email as a To-do List

While there are some amazing To-do list software out there, Wunderlist and Todoist -- for example, Google Inbox promises to be strictly an email tool. And yes, it does live up to that promise. What Google does is that it integrates the to-do functionality into your inbox as a simple add-on feature rather than it being the showrunner. This means, by clicking the check mark you archive away all the emails you’ve worked on and then move on to the most important ones. In a way, this adheres very strongly to the GTD approach that was quite popular a few years ago. So, in a way, the To-do functionality makes it easier for you to focus on the most important things in your inbox and take away the rest.


So, Can it Replace Gmail?

Well, it is a strange question because Inbox isn’t meant to replace Gmail. Inbox is designed to take Gmail and make it into a productivity powerhouse. Whether you are buried in a barrage of promotional emails or you spend your Sundays chasing the coveted “inbox zero,” this email app will help you sort through the mess a lot quicker. It won’t write your mails, nor would it do your dishes, but it will definitely make you spend fewer hours in the “just checking my mail phase” and move you closer to a pristine neat inbox.


Conclusion

Google Inbox is definitely here to stay. It is meant to be a booster pack for your email and yes business customers are already seeing the appeal to it. While it may not replace your webmail just yet, but we won’t be surprised if it does so a couple of years down the line. 

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When it comes to Android, there is never a dearth of messaging apps. From WhatsApp to Line, you can switch to pretty much any messaging service, whenever you want. However, if you are running a company, there are many factors involved before you add a messaging app in the mix. The same solutions that teenagers use to keep up with their buddies won't work amongst your employees. Can be quite frustrating, don't you think?

Don't worry, the following article will help you pick from some of the best instant messaging solutions that you can incorporate in your company. That too, without having to ditch the Android platform.


Hall for Android

If you are a company that works with a lot of cloud-based files, then Hall is a perfect solution for you. Not only does Hall let you message your co-workers, it can also help you connect to your clients, vendors, and distributors. What makes Hall different from other apps is that it integrates with variety of other services, most notably Dropbox and Box. This means that you can take any file from your Dropbox account and share it with someone who needs to see it. Among other integrations, Hall also works with Asana, Trello, Github, Heroku, Jenkins, New Relic, Pivotal Tracker, UserVoice and Zendesk, thus making it a perfect choice for small startups. Hall also works on desktop so that keeping up with your messages from multiple computers becomes quite easy. 


Cotap is another great business messaging solution that gets rid of the main problem many of these apps face and that is of "friending" the other person first. Instead of going through the process of adding people you already know as a "friend," Cotap lets you connect with people in your company by simply typing in their name. This is accomplished by sharing a common address book among the employees of the company. This means that you can contact "Bob" or "Jane" without needing their permission to do so.  



Yammer

Yammer is a social enterprise network that is aimed at making company communications more productive. Yammer gives you your own inbox wherein you can see the latest happenings in your groups and keep up with your coworkers. Moreover, Yammer also lets you share photos with your colleagues and groups making it easier for you to work on detailed projects. Push notifications, on the other hand, make sure you are always abreast of what's happening in your group.



HipChat

HipChat is a hosted messaging solution for teams, groups, and companies. While not solely aimed at enterprises, HipChat can be a wonderful solution if you are working with multiple teams in the same company. What this app does is that it allows you to create persistent chat rooms along with 1-on-1 chats. You can stay in touch with your schoolteacher or your boss, all within the same window. What's great about HipChat is that it lets you preview PDFs and photos in the messaging window itself. HipChat works across Windows, Mac, iOS, and even Linux. The most attractive part is its pricing. That is, the app is free for unlimited amount of users. Of course, if you want to add more features like 1-on-1 video calling you will have to pay for it. 



Intelli IM - Lync, OCS, GTalk

This app aims to be a one-stop solution to all your messaging needs be it personal or enterprise. The apps syncs across multiple devices and provides push notifications so that you are always aware of what's happening no matter where you are and no matter what device you are using. What's fascinating about Intelli Im is that it does a lot compared to other apps. It does GTalk, Lync, and even Google Talk business without you having to switch to another application. If you are looking for an app that does a little more than you expected it to do, this is a perfect solution for you.

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The battle for the best modern desktop still rages on. Two of Linux world’s favorite distributions are often difficult to choose from, especially if you are new to the penguinland. Whether you are a dabbler, a budding programmer, or an ever-curious tinkerer; choosing your first Linux desktop is a tough choice. Asking on the Internet for random people to make that choice for you, adds even more to the confusion. They will give you various answers, from Slackware and Fedora to Ubuntu and Plan 9. However, if you filter their responses to only pick the most popular ones, the distribution deathmatch can boast of only two contenders in the ring: Ubuntu and Linux Mint.

While Ubuntu and Mint both synergistically grown over the years, their progress hasn’t been able to resolve the desktop newbie’s longstanding dilemma. That is, which of these two is the best for me? Both Canonical and the Mint team have worked quite hard to set high usability standards when it comes to designing their desktops. While Ubuntu boasts of a more modern, platform-agnostic approach toward the PC, Mint leans heavily on familiarity and simplicity. Both approaches have their pros and cons; however, for the confused neophyte, these case points rarely matter. All the user wants to know is, among the latest iterations, which one is the best for her? That’s why, we at TechSource have decided to hold a little deathmatch between the newest versions of two of the most popular Linux ditros out there: Mint 17.1 and Ubuntu 14.10.


Features

It is important to understand that Linux Mint, unlike Ubuntu, comes in two distinct flavors. One is Cinnamon, which is a modern and elegant desktop based on GNOME 3. It has all the latest features and the graphical improvements built-in and is relatively heavy on the system resources. In other words, if you wanted features, performance, and eye-candy all packed into one, Cinnamon does that for you. The other flavor is MATE (pronounced as mahtay), which is designed for older, low-performing desktops. It is based on GNOME 2 and while it looks almost as elegant as Cinnamon, it does make some compromises on the graphics front. Furthermore, MATE is based on code that is no longer maintained as regularly as GNOME 3 and this might cause stability issues later on as you upgrade. So, unless you have a really old machine or an unsupported graphics card, Cinnamon would be the way to go. 


Ubuntu, on the other hand, sticks to a modern desktop with a “Dash” launcher. This approach is similar to mobile where a dashboard pops up every time you hit the Home button (which is, in the desktop’s case the Win/Super key). Unlike Mint, you won’t get choices if your graphics card is unsupported or your system is slow. That said it’s not that big a deal even if you are using a 5-year old computer. One can safely assume your desktop will be able to run Ubuntu perfectly well. 


Mint also offers a lot of extra features like domain blocker, privacy settings, full theming and much more.  The most powerful feature of Mint, however, is that it allows its users to customize their desktops in whichever way they want. And Mint 17.1 takes that to the next level. This latest version lets you change your folder colors, file manager color scheme, screensaver, and even your login screen. You can even change the basic theme to whatever color you want. Most of the customization features are missing in 14.10 and it makes the user accept and use the desktop as-is without any built-in tools for customization. The winner is quite obvious here. Note: For an in-depth look on the new features of Mint 17.1, check out the official blog post HERE

Winner: Linux Mint 17.1


Wallpapers, Goodies, and Extras

While the Canonical team was busy focusing on the mobile version of their operating system, the Linux Mint team was busy taking their desktop to the next level. They focused on keeping the changes simple yet relevant. The latest version brings along a completely redesigned backgrounds application that lets you pick beautiful images from not just this release but from earlier releases as well. Moreover, you can even set the wallpapers to change every few minutes thus keeping your desktop looking fresh all the time.
Nemo, the file manager, now lets you set emblems to your folders. Ubuntu 14.10 on the other hand just brings a new set of wallpapers. The default one though remains the same. Well, it at least appears to do so. Overall, there is no noticeable change in Ubuntu 14.10, apart from the list of updated applications. We hope Canonical at least decides to update their icons for the next iteration of the desktop.

Winner: Linux Mint 17.1


Looks

While Ubuntu 14.10 sticks with the same old Unity desktop, Mint 17.1 races ahead with some important changes to their UI part. The desktop now begins with a zoom animation, giving it a more modern feel. Also, the wallpaper-picker is now completely redesigned, thus allowing you to add wallpapers from previous versions of Linux Mint. Most importantly, though, you can now change the color of your desktop anyway you want. Mint 17.1 gives you complete freedom to fine-tune your computer to make sure it suits your preference. From the mouse pointer to the title bars, everything is customizable; and yet, the default theme looks so gorgeous, you wouldn't want to change it. If it continues on the same path, Mint is destined to become the best-looking desktop around. The winner, hands down is, Linux Mint 17.1.

Winner: Linux Mint 17.1


Performance

In my usage, I found Linux Mint quite stable, and in fact, it was more stable than Ubuntu or any other desktop I've used before. It starts up quick, the elements are snappy, and it rarely hangs or crashes. Whereas on the same computer, Ubuntu performed with a slight amount of glitches here and there. Though those were not severe, it won't take time for anyone to realize that Mint is Ubuntu's snappy, stable cousin.

Winner: Linux Mint 17.1


Conclusion

It is not hard to see why Linux Mint is an object of adoration amongst Linux desktop users. While Canonical is focusing on convergence, the Mint desktop is growing to a point where it doesn’t look like an Ubuntu-based distribution anymore; it now has its own identity. If the Mint team keeps up this pace while not doing anything drastic, they will surely surpass Ubuntu both in quality as well as popularity. They are already the 4th most popular desktop operating system in the world right now and if Ubuntu doesn't step up on the desktop front, that might change very soon.


Written by: Abhishek, a regular TechSource contributor and a long-time FOSS advocate.

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7 Interesting Crime-Solving Games for Android

Posted by jun auza On 1/17/2015
To summon your inner Sherlock Holmes or Nancy Drew, you don't need to join a detective squad anymore. There are many new games that allow you to solve crimes, catch the bad guys, and prove to the world that there is a master detective in you waiting to be recognized. These games let you play as a detective or a cop for hours and make you rack your brain to come up with clues that will help solve the mystery.

If you are someone who travels a lot, thankfully, most of these fabulous crime-solving games are already available for Android devices. This means you can keep working on cases, fighting crime, and saving the city, no matter where you go.

So, if you are ready to untangle the latest murder mystery in your town, here are some of the best crime-solving games for Android.


CSI (Hidden Crimes)


When it comes to solving crimes, CSI is a well-known franchise. The TV show has millions of loyal fans and its intelligent writing has kept viewers engaged for years. Bringing the same crime-busting thrill to your Android smartphone or tablet computer comes CSI Hidden Crimes. Set in Las Vegas, the game is written by Jack Gutowitz, the writer of the original TV show. Your job in this title is to find clues, analyze the evidence, and finally if everything goes well, solve the case. 



Special Enquiry Detail

In this game, you are responsible for investigating a murder of the daughter of two charity fundraisers. As the game progresses, the list of suspects grows. Leading the case are two smart detectives Turino and Lamonte. The game, much like CSI, involves you investigating the clues and helping the cops bring the criminal to justice. 



Mysteryville 2

When award-winning journalist Laura Winner finds that her friend Bill Witowsky has gone missing, she begins an investigation that takes her to places she'd never thought of. Soon, she finds that the disappearance of Bill is intricately linked to a charity auction the town's priest is throwing. How is Bill's disappearance linked to the auction? Well, that's what you are here for. The game involves you helping Laura solve the mystery by searching all the clues that help her solve the mystery. 



Another Case Solved

In this game, you get to play a famous detective who is responsible for solving a candy conspiracy. Ever since the city has outlawed all sweet snacks, you have to find clues and investigate the real reason behind the ban on candy sweets. What's special about this game is that you get to create your own special detective look with outfits, props, et al. Also, if you are into bragging, this game also supports Google Play achievements. 



Crime Story

Crime Story is a very interesting game that allows you to narrate your own gangsta story. The journey to becoming a mafia boss begins by searching for your kidnapped brother. The storyline of the game alone makes it fun and exciting. You will start from the bottom of the mafia world and you can move up from a common nasty job doer to a respected mobster by eliminating rivals and conquering the town. Your tattoos and scars will help you earn respect from your fellow gangsters. Overall, this is a really good game.



Crime Squad India Driving Game

For Indian Android gamers, this title lets you drive classic Indian vehicles down the streets of Mumbai to help keep crimes at bay. Unlike other crime-busting games on the list, this one doesn't have much of the mystery element to it. The game has more of a "shoot-and-chase" kind of experience. 



Mountain Crime: Requital

In this title, you play a doctor who's visiting a mountain resort. Upon arriving you find the first victim of the mystery. Your job is to investigate the other members of the resort and gather enough clues to find out who's behind this crime. As the game progresses, your character gets further entangled into the whole mystery so much so that you'll now have to worry about saving your life too. Though the game is not free, it's a fun and engaging title that will keep you hooked for hours. 



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5 of the Best Smartwatches of 2014

Posted by jun auza On 1/07/2015
2014 is rightly dubbed as the year of smartwatches. Everyone from Apple to Samsung has tried their hands on coming up with a smartwatch that gives their company a strong foothold in this emerging new market. Be it the enticing watch-based apps or the fitness-tracking features that promise you to keep healthy, this new emerging piece of hardware has taken the tech world by storm.

Given the massive success of both Android and iOS, it has become easy for consumers to trust big brands like Apple and Google. These mobile operating systems have already become a huge part of our daily lives and having an add-on device that works seamlessly with what we have is a big bonus for not just a tech geek but also for an average user. In 2014, many smartwatches were released, some of them were completely new and some were massive updates to devices that already existed in the market. If you are on the hunt for your next new smartwatch, then read on as we list 5 of the best smartwatches of 2014.


5. Samsung Gear 2

Samsung was one of the first entrants to the smartwatch race. Before Apple or even Android, the Korean giant had ambitious plans to scoop up a market which was still in its infancy. Although with the recent announcements of Apple Watch and Moto 360, their plans have dampened a notch, we still consider Samsung Gear 2 a solid smartwatch. What makes it so special is the fact that it works seamlessly with Samsung smartphones. With a large, crisp display, Gear 2 lets you pick up calls from your phone and read important notifications. The design, though acceptable, presents a brushed metal finish with a leather strap. The specs are good too, with 4GB internal storage, 1 GHZ processor, and a battery life that lasts about 2-3 days. The only flaw with this device is that it runs Tizen, which is good, but not future proof considering where Android Wear is right now. Furthermore, the limitation that the watch only works with Samsung phones is a hard one to overlook. However, if you are a part of the evolving Samsung ecosystem, this might be the perfect device for you.



4. LG G Watch

Though it doesn't look as good as many of the smartwatches on the market, G Watch is definitely a good buy for those who want to get their hands on first-gen Wear. With a slightly lower resolution display of 280x280 and a 1.65-inch screen, this one is a square little unassuming device. It comes with a nice little charging cradle that's incredibly simple to use. It is water resistant and performs considerably well under sunlight compared to other devices. On the negative side, it has a poor battery life, underwhelming design, and lacks support for a wider range of Android devices. Despite its negative aspects, G Watch is definitely a good entry point for anyone wanting to use an Android Wear device.



3. Samsung Gear Live

Another smartwatch from Samsung is the Gear Live, which was released a couple of months after Gear 2. What's the difference? Well, there are better specs, a new wine-red color, lower weight and Android 4.3+ support. It comes with a 320x320 Super AMOLED display that offers a crisp and bright interface.  Most of the specs are similar to Gear 2; however, one thing is dramatically different and that is Android Wear. Even if the Gear 2 had better specs, Gear Live would definitely topple it for the sheer reason that it has Android Wear. Furthermore, its fitness features make up for its terrible battery life and its lack of compatibility with a wide range of Android phones. If you are not a big fan of Samsung's ecosystem and are looking for a nice, feature-packed smartwatch, this one's for you. 



2. Pebble Steel

Pebble Steel still remains a reliable choice for anyone who is looking for a smartwatch that lives up to its name. It's fashionable and thin with a design that is both durable and sturdy. What's different about Pebble though is that it isn't running Android Wear or Tizen for that matter. It has its own operating system and its own ecosystem of apps that make it a worthy investment of your hard-earned cash. Though expensive than the rest, Pebble Steel wins you over with its sheer simplicity, powerful battery life, and ease of use. After all, Pebble has been in this game for way longer than Android Wear or Tizen, and it shows. Pebble Steel offers a refined, mature, and a stable smartwatch experience that is hard to beat. If you own an Android smartphone and an iPhone, Pebble is your only bet right now as it works well with both ecosystems.



1. Moto 360

Moto 360 is an Android smartphone done right. Bridging the gap between technology and style, this affordable smartwatch works just as great as it looks. With wireless charging, the circular watch comes packed with a lot of great features. Made from pure Android Wear, it comes with a 1.56-inch LCD circular display that has a resolution of 320 x 290. The watch frame is stainless steel and along with it you have a matching leather strap that makes it look like a genuinely stylish watch. Moto 360 works perfectly with many devices running Android 4.4+ and is water resistant. Also, Google Now being a major component of the experience works just as smoothly as you'd expect. If we overlook the poor battery performance, Moto 360 is THE smartwatch you should be buying. It's affordable, it looks good, and it does exactly what a smartwatch does.


Written by: Abhishek, a regular TechSource contributor and a long-time FOSS advocate.

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