Midnight Scoop: designed by an engineer to fix your ice cream woes


Have you ever found yourself in fancy of a bowl of ice cream, only to give up after the brick of creamy goodness bends your smooth and strains your hand? You’re not alone. The problem is one familiar to many and bothersome enough to spawn a Kickstarter campaign for an ice cream scoop specifically engineered for its sole task in life.

The Midnight Scoop is made by engineer Michael Chou, who likes his ice cream hard and cold, something neutralized by the foiled snacker’s go-to scooping solution: a heated spoon or scoop, which simply melts the frozen cream. He set out to create a scoop that uses science to achieve its task.

The design is made to work in conjunction with the user’s muscles, and is built to withstand the hardest ice cream — it is forged from solid aluminum, its coatings are industrial strength, and its design is ergonomic. The design is promised to work with both large and small ice cream containers.

Chou took to Kickstarter to fund his design, ultimately hitting $72k+ beyond his $17,500 goal. Has science finally solved one of life’s more annoying snack-blocking realities? We can’t say for sure yet, but $50 and some patience will get you the scoop later this year.

Uber driver accused of hitting customer with hammer


The latest bizarre Uber story comes from San Francisco, where a driver for the service is said to have cracked a customer in the head with a hammer following an argument in the back seat. Uber says it is looking into the matter and that it has suspended the driver’s account.

The driver is Patrick Karajah, who was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon, as well as battery. This resulted from an altercation with three UberX customers who ordered his car early in the morning hours after finishing up at the bar.

The driver is said to have gotten into an argument with one of the customers over the route he chose to drive. This lead to the driver stopping in an intersection and booting the trio out of the car, after which point the driver is said to have taken a hammer to the victim’s head.

Said an Uber spokesperson to SF Gate: “We take reports like this seriously and are treating the matter with the utmost urgency and care … We stand ready to assist authorities in any investigation.” Of course, this isn’t the first time we’re heard unfortunate stories about Uber.

Android accounts for 85% of smartphone share in Q2 of 2014, Xiaomi hits fifth spot: Report


Android continued its dominance in the smartphone market and accounted for a record 84.6% share of global smartphone shipments in Q2 of 2014, according to research by Strategy Analytics. Global smartphone shipments reached 295.2 million units in Q2 said the report.

“Global smartphone shipments grew 27 percent annually from 233.0 million units in Q2 2013 to 295.2 million in Q2 2014. We estimate worldwide smartphone growth has halved during the past year, from 49 percent a year ago to 27 percent today. ”

said Linda Sui, Director at Strategy Analytics in an official release.

Android accounted for 249.6 million smartphones shipped in the quarter, up from 186.8 million a year earlier, and about seven times more than the 35.2 million Apple iOS phones shipped. The market share of Apple’s iOS slipped to 11.9% in the quarter from 13.4% in the same quarter last year. Microsoft saw Windows Phone sales decline to eight million units in the quarter from 8.9 million a year ago resulting into a dropped market share to 2.7% from 3.8%.

Giving insight about smartphone vendor market share Strategy Analytics said that Samsung remained the world’s largest smartphone vendor, with an estimated 74.5 million phones sold as compared to 76.0 million a year earlier. However, its market share dipped to 25.2 percent from 32.6 percent a year ago. Apple also lost share, despite growing shipments, accounting for 11.9 percent of the global smartphone market versus 13.4 percent a year ago.

Huawei and Lenovo claimed third and fourth spot with 6.8% and 5.4% market share respectively. However, the most surprising entry was Xiaomi which captured a record 5.1% percent market share in the second quarter to become the fifth largest smartphone vendor in the world for the first time ever. The 4 year-old Chinese company shipped 15.1 million units in the second quarter of the year, more than triple its shipments of 4.1 million units just a year ago. Xiaomi garnered a positive response in India for its Mi3 smartphone, $13 fitness MiBand and MiPad.

Earlier this week IDC revealed its numbers for Q2 smartphone sale and they fall in line to that of the Strategy Analytics. However, IDC did not mention Xiaomi and put LG in the fifth spot instead.

Google Search testing interactive timeline powered by Wikipedia content


Google is developing a Knowledge graph tool that pulls data from Wikipedia to create interactive timelines based on the item being searched.  The feature generates content from Wikipedia in a periodic manner about search queries.

Chrome and Search enthusiast Florian Kiersch has posted screenshots of a new Knowledge Graph tool that automatically generates timelines of broad historical topics that are taken from Wikipedia. Kiersch gave a gist of the feature with few examples where a simple search for ‘Google’ showed all the details about the company, its founders and other important events in an yearly order. Another screenshot related to a search about World War I showed a timeline  above your main search results. These interactive search results can be navigated by a user.

Kiersch stated that the new search feature is in its nascent stage and will be ready in about three months. It is not clear if the feature is limited to only desktop or mobile. He has also posted a small video on its Google+ page that showcases the feature.

Google adds offline games section to Play Store


Google has added a brand new section to Play Store that is dedicated to offline games. Offline games are those which require no internet connection at the time of playing of them.

Titled as Offline Games, Asphalt 8, Assassin’s Creed Pirates, Jetpack Joyride, Into the dead, Minecraft, Dots are some of the games present under this category. These games can be played without a data or WiFi connection.  At present,there are 54 games under this category. This latest move from Google is aimed to encourage those developers who just want to see their game played. Also, the categorization of the games as offline will surely help casual gamers who just want to play a simple game without any sign-ups.

Google recently updated Play Store with Material Design UI.

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Google search on mobile now alerts you about website compatibility


In a bid to improve your search result on mobile, Google has added a new feature. The latest update will now alert users if a certain website is not compatible with their Android smartphone or tablet.

Google said that, although most sites can be visited on Chrome, it is possible that there are some of them that are not suitable for mobile viewing and hence might occur some issue.

“Starting today, we will indicate to searchers when our algorithms detect pages that may not work on their devices. For example, Adobe Flash is not supported on iOS devices or on Android versions 4.1 and higher, and a page whose contents are mostly Flash may be noted”

said Google in a company blog post.

Google will now add a reference in a search result if a page uses Flash along with a note stating that it may not work on their device. The company said they want to encourage website creators to make pages that work on all types of devices and that HTML5 is an example of a platform that does just that.

Razer announces Android TV console for fall


Razer are creating a micro-console that will be powered by Android TV, allowing users to stream movies, music, and other apps for entertainment on the large-screen, the company announced today.

Android TV was announced at Google I/O and Razer have jumped straight on the ship with their Razer console. You’ll be able to navigate around the UI with a special companion app on the phone and tablet, together with the native voice control built into Android TV.

“This is a console of the future,” says Min-Liang Tan, Razer co-founder and CEO. “Built on Google’s incredible Android TV platform, the Razer micro-console incorporates not only hardcore and casual gaming, but music, movies and other entertainment and social applications, all on an affordable system.”

The Razer console is scheduled to be released in fall 2014.

Google and MediaTek to work together on Android One project


During the Google I/O 2014, Google introduced the Android One series. The devices under it will be released in developing nations, and this is actually Google’s move to take a huge chunk out of the low-end smartphone market. There was a time when Nokia conquered it, now as Google Android powered smartphones are on top when we talk about high-end smartphones, they are also joining hands with different companies to manufacture low-cost phones under the Android One banner.

According to DigiTimes, MediaTek is now Google’s strategic solution partner for the development of the Android One initiative, which will enable smartphone makers to build low-cost smartphones that will target at least 1 billion customers.

At the I/O, Google showcased the first ever Android One smartphone, it was made by an Indian company Micromax and it was running on MediaTek MT6575 SoC as well. 

Android One should be under the price tag of $150-100 if Google wants it to be a success in the developing smartphone markets. Do you think Android one will be a success for Google?

No OEM Skins Allowed For Android Wear, Android Auto, or Android TV


I’m a big proponent of the stock feel, in terms of the UI of any device I use. On my iPhone i jailbreak to get tweaks, and change little things here or there, but never anything major, because I just don’t like it. With the exception of a couple of manufacturers, most Android devices today have some type of OEM Skin over top of the Android OS. Samsung has TouchWiz (don’t get me started), HTC has Sense, and then you have companies like Kyocera or LG who have unnamed skin overlays. I won’t go on a random tangent about TouchWiz, but just know that I despise it, and I’m kind of loving Sense on my HTC One M8, but have been contemplating throwing a GPE ROM on there just for the stock experience on that device.

Fresh off the heels of Google I/O, where Google presented Android Wear, Android Auto, and reintroduced Android TV to the world, questions began springing up left and right. I saw the same question asked by different people all over social media. The question is, will OEM skins be used on these new platforms that Google has announced. This got me thinking a bit. Will Samsung really try and do something horrific with Android TV? What would happen to an OEM skin in any of the Android Auto participants?

Thankfully, Google has come out and stated that OEM skins will not be allowed for Android Wear, Auto, or TV. This has me, and many others rejoicing. The biggest issue that I have is the same issue that I have with TouchWiz. If I purchase an Android TV, or in the future, Android TV is built into whatever TV I’m purchasing, what is going to happen to the Android UI? How bad will it become? Yes, I know I’m being pessimistic, and someone could come out and build something great to go over the Android UI, but I don’t think it’s necessary, and I wouldn’t want to take the chance.

Google’s engineering director, David Burke, in an interview with Ars Technica, stated the following about Android TV specifically:

“The UI is more part of the product in this case. We want to just have a very consistent user experience, so if you have one TV in one room and another TV in another room and they both say Android TV, we want them to work the same and look the same… The device manufacturers can brand it, and they might have services that they want to include with it, but otherwise it should be the same.”

This right here is EXACTLY how I feel about Android as a whole. Why have two different manufacturers, with two different skins on top of the same base? Nine times out of 10, the devices will not work cohesively, and it will end having a negative impact on the consumer, which is bad for everyone. Another worry that I had was that Samsung was going to try to do too much with their Samsung Gear Live, and make it an unusable experience for someone who wants to get that watch, specifically.