Friday 28 June 2013

Can Android powered Cameras take the crown?

There are a lot of dedicated and superb cameras that leave most smartphone cameras dead in the water, so why are companies that produce excellent mobiles, like Sammy's Galaxy S4 starting to use the Google OS to power cameras? 
Samsung's Galaxy NX has the horsepower of Android behind it, but can it really compete with a camera os designed from the ground up with photography in mind. In a world of 12 Mega Pixel plus Smartphone cameras and HTC One touting "ultra-pixel" cameras, we think that dedicated snappers might still just have the edge.

Thursday 27 June 2013

Comparing Android Synth Apps with Real Instruments

Changing Android Music Player Settings
Now we're no experts on the acoustic properties of Mobile Phones, beyond knowing that the best Android phone speaker is probably the HTC One. But we thought we'd do a little light hearted experiment on various  Android synth apps to see how good they compare to real music instruments and/or synthesizers.

The big lesson we learned when looking at various synth apps like Bass Guitar (Real Bass), Mov Synth and ChordBot Pro is that the set up of the way your phone plays music is crucial. While realistically you're never going to approach the sound quality of new Roland Guitar Synth  from a $5 app, you can do your best to mimic it by setting your phone up for optimum sound.

Being Android of course each phone has their own peculiarities due to the various ux skins and Android versions knocking about, the first place to start is on the music player's settings.

More music videos from space

Using Paypal Galactic
Chris Hadfield using BitCoin to buy a new music instrument?
Thank you Chris Hadfield for the first (and best- so far- music video from space). The repercussions of this "bold, step for a music playing astronaut) are being felt much farther away than the domain of tech loving ,cosmos watching audiophiles.
We'd like to think that PayPal President David Marcus had Astronaut Hadfield in mind when he announced Paypal Galactic. Not content with having a firm grip on ecommerce on Earth, PayPal now plans to launch the "Galaxy's First Money Transfer Platform". While it might be difficult to get Amazon to deliver the newest hard copy of the latest XBox One game to the ISS, astronauts, and eventual other space farers like Space Tourists, should theoretically be able to download e-books and such like in their respective extra-planetary habitats. So for example if Hadfield wanted a bass saxophone to complement his music video's he could use PayPal Galactic to order it!
Is this the world of finances first step to embracing crypto currency on a universal (literally) scale and will the Quasi Universal Intergalactic Denomination soon be accepted on Virgin Galactic and the world's first Moon Base? What do you think Commander Hadfield?

Sunday 23 June 2013

EdgeJumper: App Review

       Our next review will cover the app called EdgeJumper.. It's a new Android app by a new developer at I have been asked to do some testing so here goes. It's a simple jump from platform to platform game that scores you based on how close to the edge you jumped off. The closer you are to the edge the more points you are awarded. I believe if you don't jump excellent or perfect, then your jump counter reduces by one per jump. When you run out of jumps or you fall off the edge then it's game over. You can lose a couple of points if starting the jump way too early.

      Once the game is over you have the option of saving a name and sending it to the leaderboards. One feat that the smartphone app did accomplish is having and worldwide leaderboard where the highest recorded scores can be seen. Your name can be over about 24 characters(letters and number and possibly others). You can actually have a longer name or title than that but it will overlap with the first 24 characters starting from left to right. At the end of the game you don't have to submit your scores to look at the high scores.

     It's "Start" "Clear" and "Game Over" sign have a retro gaming look that reminds me of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. I am unsure of what we cleared though as there doesn't seem to be any objectives or levels.

It looks similar to old classic Mario games.
         EdgeJumper is a working beginners project but it still needs a lot of finishing touches. First off, sound effects. As of now the current version has no sounds and no music. Then there is the background that is a flat blue color. Perhaps some hills can be in the lower part of the screen that moves across a lot slower than the floating platforms. Clouds can also help create the feeling of being in the air (besides the already sky blue background). It might affect the current high scores right now, but maybe the point system can be lowered by a lot. It doesn't take that many jumps to reach a million points. Different sound effects and color notices should pop up when different types of jumps are accomplished. There isn't a sense of reason for jumping across. However cool or ridiculous the reason for the bear to be jumping could quickly be made before the game starts or in the main menu. Although the scores and jumps left are easily readable, maybe they could have a little more design around them. If the height of the jumps can be controlled then obstacles could be added as well(along with an option to play in landscape orientation). The return button could be made to prompt to quit instead of automatically exiting the app.

       If some of these are already in consideration for updates, then please excuse my ideas. The current jumping application is a starting point that works without errors. However I feel that it still has a ways to go before it feels like a complete app. Good Luck.

    The FREE smartphone app can be downloaded HERE from Google Play. Give them feedback. Who knows, you may see your ideas implemented into future versions of the app. Thanks for reading and have a nice day.

Wednesday 19 June 2013

Bitcoin Mining on Android?

Can you mine for BitCoin (or mine LiteCoin) on Android? 
BitCoin mining on Android
BitCoin/LiteCoin Mining on Android

The simple answer is "Yes" your little Android device can generate enough hashes to mine. But will you ever see any BitCoin blocks being generated by even the best quad core toting 1.9 Ghz phones today?

Best BitCoin Mining Rig
ButterFly ASIC vS Galaxy S4 mining
Realistically probably not , as BitCoin Mining has got ever more hardware specific with Mining Rigs like ButterFly's dedicated ASIC's rigs becoming the best possible optimised BitCoin miners available (and we're talking roughly 5000 dollars a go here) you're almost certainly not going to win the Crypto Currency lottery with your Galaxy S4 or equivalent.

That doesn't mean that it's impossible to mine, just like its not theoretically possible to win the Lottery!
DroidBTC Bitcoin Miner is one of the few Droid miners available, it's already handicapped by not being able to support GPU Android mining as "most manufacturers do not release OpenCL drivers for mobile devices" as its a paid app you might want to think carefully about it. You'll also want to know which are the best mining pools to point your Android mining app at as it only supports the Getwork protocol and not Stratum.
App for BitCoin Mining
Satoshi Nakamoto?

I've used the Android Litecoin mining apps Litecoin Miner and AndLTC Miner,  AndLTC is ad supported but there's not much difference between the two, once you've put your pool URL and passwords in your little mobile LiteCoin Miner will set off and probably achieve no more than frying your phone through excess heat and draining your battery faster than you can say Satoshi Nakamoto.
If you've enjoyed this post you'll be pleased to know that Gametrender now accepts Bitcoin Donations from mobile gaming fans, at our wallet address:

Bitcoin address: 1Edh7gV6mGswhemhMARLTFy8Cmf67ix7ku

If you love LiteCoin and want to support the Android Lite Coin revolution please donate to :

Or consider joining our new Mining Pool , Team Gametrender at

Wednesday 12 June 2013

Some Things I didn't like about the Avengers movie

     I really love the Avengers movie. It is incredible how the team was brought together in one movie while giving each of them reasonable and very fair highlights.  However there were two things that bothered me about the movie.

First off, there is a scene where Thor mentions something like "My first time to Earth" while referring to his experience in the movie Thor. However, in the Thor movie when he decides to go to Jotunheim(and haven't been on Earth yet in the Thor movie), one of this friends tells him "This isn't like a journey to Earth where you summon a little lighting and thunder, and the mortals worship you as a god."

     Quote I'm referring to is @ 1:48

To me this suggests that:
A)They are not gods or don't view themselves as so.
B)They have very specific knowledge of how humans view Thor or people that summon lighting. So he has already been there or word got out on their world how earthlings would view such beings who have lighting powers. Maybe Zeus was seen before on Earth and it was a reference to him.

        But these are just two small lines and I am just being a picky nerd. It may be that Thor hasn't been to Earth for a long time so he doesn't mention that he's been there before to keep it short. He is talking about his last time to Earth which was the first in a long time and the start of his Avengers affiliated journeys to earth. If Thor's line in the Avengers was just to make it simpler for viewers to understand then please disregard what you have read above. 

      One other thing that sort of bothered me was that when Thor was falling from thousands of feet from the container, he flew out of the container at almost a flat horizontal direction. In this action it looked as if nothing is slowing or changing his downward motion. There is a possibility that his hammer did cancel out a lot of the his downward momentum (possibly instantly) and it happened so fast I just didn't notice.  BTW this scenario reminds me of a problem Sheldon brought up to Penny about the first Superman movie in episode 2 of The Big Bang Theory. He mentions that Louis is falling at over 100MPH when Superman catches her instantly so she should had splattered through his arms. Leonard brings up that maybe Superman changed her speed in a short amount of distance (which would be really difficult for us too see). I don't know the shortest distance a person's body can take to survive having their bodies change 120mph. An episode of the Big Bang Theory also had an episode where the ladies discussed the confusing magical features of Thors Hammer.

       Now onto a more important guess. At the end of the Avengers movie Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) tells the Avengers that Agent Coulson is be dead. This becomes one of the main drives of all the Avengers defending Earth against the aliens in the final battle. I'm guessing that Agent Coulson didn't die in the Avengers. Here are my reasons why:
1)Iron Man (Tony Stark) and Dr. Banner both distrust Nick Fury and have stated that Nick isn't the most trusting of guys.
2)Although we see Coulson severely injured, we don't actually see Coulson die and he isn't declared dead by a doctor.
3)The commander of S.H.I.E.L.D. lied to the Avengers (or it's members present at the time) that Coulson had his Captain America cards in his jacket when he died. Robin, I mean Maria Hill confronts Fury that the cards were in in Couson's locker (and probably in mint condition). Nick responds that it was what they needed to hear. Nick is capable of lying to the team and I'm assuming that there is a possibility that he lied about the death of Coulson.

This was my guess when I saw the movie for the first time and before it ended, but I was too lazy to publish this before I saw a commercial of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. with agent Coulson in it yesterday. At the end of the day the Avengers movie had a very small amount of flaws or unexplained things compared to each of the Iron Man movies.

Sunday 9 June 2013

Dekko's TableTop Speed AR Proof of Concept

With AR dev Dekko closing funding for AR game TableTop Speed we're starting to speculate whether AR will finally start to have some killer apps coming to the platform.
Being device agnostic and only really needing an OS and camera to support we're hoping that Dekko and other venture funded companies like Daqri can bring us a new generation of AR games and apps, a promise that Layar never seemed to fulfill.

In the Tabletop Speed AR racing game you're able to race remote controlled virtual cars over all of your home surfaces thanks to AR layering, multiplayer is also supported with you able to crash your virtual cars together and get in some serious rival races on the IPad AR game.

Still there's the inconvenience of having to point a bulky tablet's camera at real surfaces an done question of how leggy this experience will be. Still it's good to see that AR innovations are still happening and imaginative developers are still coming up with Alternate Reality ideas. Now when Google Glass finally becomes available we're hoping that Google Glass AR apps will take things to a new level and gamification will be superseded by really useful AR apps. Could you imagine saying OK Glass in a bar and seeing cocktail recipes overlaid on the spirit bottles, what about Health and Safety messages and useful warnings via AR, imagine "smoking causes cancer" overlaid by a Google Glass AR app on cigar ashtrays. Probably more annoying than anything but the point is that AR apps combined with new wearable tech and a bit of imagination could really be a gamechanger, surgeons, police and others could immensely benefit from ideas like these.

Friday 7 June 2013

Is Robin better than Siri?

I've spent an afternoon laying around with Robin, the Siri challenger on my Xperia Z with the intent to see if it is actually a good Android Siri alternative. Or even if Magnifis' hype is to be believed and Robin is a viable Siri replacement.

It's just a pity that Google Now and Robin don't work more closely together, for example I have a choice to shortcut Now or Robin as the instant swipe access mobile personal assistant, but not both. It's a pity as each does things slightly differently and has their own strengths. Robin still uses a lot of Google functionality which certainly puts it above Siri on Android as superior search is available through Google's engine and Google Maps.

It's also a good feature how you can progress your search. For instance searching genuine toyota parts came up with multiple local options and Siri was then able to list them for me is either time or location without any button presses and just by voice.

The voice functions are very intuitive too and the Android PA rarely misses a phrase. (Although I did sometimes have trouble setting alarms). What's most to like about the Siri Challenger is that it has a lot of personality, it can tell you jokes, our daily horoscope and has just added functions to get updates on your favourite football team on your Android phone.

I think it's probably just a matter of time before Robin or Magnifis is snapped up by a larger company, they've built an intuitive and fun to use personal voice assistant for Android phones and are constantly expanding it. Robin is Siri better than you? "It is just impossible!"

Monday 3 June 2013

The modern app enabled traveller

On a recent Ethiopian Airlines flights to the Middle East I realised just how much the world of Smartphones,IPads and apps have changed the way we travel.

On my first flight ever about 15 years ago there was very little need for in flight entertainment as I stared out fascinated at the shimmering African rivers and coastlines set ablaze by the early morning African sun, now with over a hundred short and long haul flights under my belt and Google Earth providing more than enough overview of our amazing planet (and some places I'll never see; hello Antarctica!) flying has simply become a means to traverse from one business meeting and conference to the next.

On board televisions,games and magazines of course are still indispensable for many (I'm sure the family next to me of the flight appreciated the free colouring books and board games that kept their children mildly entertained), but those of us on the forefront of technology have moved beyond any little sops that the airlines can throw at us. While I appreciated the offer of free Time magazines and newspapers for example, I was more than happy with the multitude of magazines that I have access to with my 10 dollar monthly ReadR subscription.

As for movies, long haul flights would be intolerable without a movie for many, but I still would rather appreciate my own selection travelling with me on my IPad. And that's of course not even mentioning games and apps, most of which aren't even considered by an airline. And why would they be if most modern travellers come pre-armed with their own little tech arsenal: For myself the IPad is of course de rigeur, the Xperia Z smartphone makes a handy backup and doubles as an MP3 player and finally just for its small size, e-ink friendly on the eye screen and self lit back panel is the Amazon Paperwhite.

To be honest whilst I was on this flight and reminiscing about the genesis of my air travels I started to think not so much about what the airline was providing but little changes that could be made to make flying cheaper for the companies and more modern for us.
A tiny but niggling point is the need to turn off all electronic equipment prior to take off and landing. I'm certainly a rule breaker on this point but I can quite happily say that my Illicit prelanding Kindle reading has never caused an air traffic accident and Id be surprised if anyone can relate a real story about their IPad causing a plane to crash!

Definitive legislation which needs looking at ,but other things to consider that we could dispense with is the airlines choice of entertainment, we'd prefer rather ways that allow us to maximise our use of our own gadgets, in flight charging should be an expected feature of every long haul flight( at least until Mountain View and friends can sort out lengthier battery times for our electronic playthings) also what about Wi-Fi via satellite or some other system, if you're a connected part of the tech world it's agony being out of ten loop for half a day, and never mind the business impact!
So Ethiopian Airlines, next time we meet are you going to be progressive enough to make those changes?