Friday, April 25, 2014

Make most of your NFC equipped device.

With NFC (Near Field Communication) slowly going mainstream, there still isn't any way to use it for the purpose it was meant to be, i.e wireless payment. Most countries like USA and UK have NFC-payments, but in India, it is still in, what you may call, the beta state. But that does not stop major companies from releasing NFC enabled devices here. So what do you do with it, other than just showing-off? You show-off in style.

The key to this show-off-in-style lies in using NFC Tags. In brief, these are small coin-sized devices equipped with magnetic chips that can store a predefined amount of data, for example, 96 bytes or even upto 32 kilobytes. These are formatted to be used with NFC enabled devices, and can be programmed and re-programmed as such. These barely cost 300-400 INR for a pack of 5. You can get them on eBay here.
Most of these tags are re-programmable.

With an NFC tag, you will require an app to program it. Most of you would suggest Tasker, but Tasker is a highly customizable app with every feature editable, and is a bit over-the-top in my opinion. A normal user would be unable to do anything with it. Frankly, even I could not program a simple task such as increasing brightness. There is a simpler app, called Trigger. This one has better UI and simpler configurations, guiding the user through every step. And besides NFC, like Tasker it can use other triggers as well, like wifi, bluetooth, the 3.5mm jack, GPS, et cetera. With Trigger, you will need a plugin, called the Trigger: Tag Reuse Plugin. This enables programming the tags on a per-task basis.

Now as an NFC tag, I've used a Kolkata Metro Smart Card which I always carry. Yes, Kolkata has equipped NFC enabled payments in the Metro Railways, through prepaid smart cards or tokens. Here is what it looks like.

So install Trigger and the Tag Reuse Plugin. Start the application. Go through the tutorials and help statements. Here is what you will reach. The page will be blank, of course. 

Click on New Task in the upper right corner. Then click on the  "+" icon in upper right corner. A window like this will open. 

Click on NFC. If your device has NFC it will show there. Click on Next. Then click on "+" icon again. This page will open. 

Click on Display, then tick Brightness. Click on Next. Choose the value you want  and click Ok. This screen will open displaying your chosen value. You can rename your task. 

Then click on Next. Click on Done. Then bring your NFC tag close to the part on the back cover where there is the NFC icon. If there is no icon, look it up on Google to see where is the module located. If you successfully locate it and touch the tag on that place, you will hear a notification sound and this screen will pop-up. Since my tag is non re-programmable, your's may be different.

Finally, click on Done in the upper left corner. You will come back to the homescreen. We can see the Task we just created, i.e Task 12. 

Now bring your NFC tag again to the place where the module is located, and this dialog box will popup. 

Thus you have successfully used a tag to perform a task on your device. Go ahead, discover more features on this app, and customize it so that you may get the best out of your show-off. 

What's more, even if you don't have NFC on your device, you can still program tasks to use other features, such as wifi, GPS. You can program it to open your desired music app when you connect a headset, or to switch to a "Home" mode, with your desired functions when you reach your home (GPS). You can even program it to turn silent mode on throughout a desired time interval, or to decrease the brightness to a minimum when your battery falls below a certain percentage. There's nothing better than discovering such features yourself, so go ahead. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Nexus 7 2013 Camera Samples

The Nexus 7 2013 packs a decent 5MP autofocus shooter. And by decent, I mean that the device is able to snap above average pics. Don't expect the quality of Galaxy SIII or Nexus 5. Here are some samples. Review them yourself.

This one was taken using a 6x convex lens.

This one is at full 4x digital zoom.

Friday, April 4, 2014

5 HD games to spice up your device.

So you bought a new device, with state-of-the-art hardware. But you wanna show it off. Show it off hard. So what do you do? You install games, of course. Here are five of them to help you.

Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour:

One of the few First Person Shooter (FPS) games available on Android, Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour, or simply MC4 is pretty badass. Gameloft has fused excellent gameplay with excellent graphics, adding a ton of thrill to garnish it. The game automatically adjusts the graphics settings, based on your device's hardware. This means, you won't have to go through the exasperating yet essential task of optimizing it before you blow some heads off. The game has multiplayer too, where you can compete with your friends, or on online servers.
The game supports gamepads too, so all major Xbox, Logitech and some other well knows gamepads will work.
The game costs 390INR, which is more than the standard prices, but it is worth it. 

Asphalt 8: Airborne:

Gameloft redefined racing on mobile with the Asphalt series, now it has redefined the Asphalt series with Asphalt 8: Airborne. Asphalt 8, or A8 as we might say, features a lot of improvements over it's predecessor, Asphalt 7: Heat. For instance, Asphalt 8 has more awesome cars, better graphics, better tracks and more stunts. THe game has four graphics presets, viz. very low, low, medium, high. The high option is the highest, and has tyre smoke and sun reflection and a lot of other things. The game offers multiplayer, where you can race against your friends or on online servers.
Asphalt 8 also supports Xbox and Logitech gamepads.
The game was launched with a price tag of 55 INR, but was eventually made a Free to Play game.

GT Racing 2:

Another great racing game from Gameloft, GT Racing 2 is more a casual racing game, instead of the graphically intensive Asphalt 8. GT Racing 2 is based on, as Gameloft calls it, "real car experience". This means no hi-fi stunts, no super cars et cetera. The game allows you to optimize the graphics for balanced performance and looks. With multiplayer, you can challenge your friends, or play on an online server.
This game also supports all major gamepads.
The game is free on Google Play, which makes it one of the must-haves on your device.

Sky Gamblers: Air Supremacy:

Probably you've never heard of Sky Gamblers: Air Supremacy, or the company that made it. It's NAMCO BANDAI Games. Yes, and it's one of the best air combat games out there. Probably the best. The game has excellent visual effects, and the gameplay is simple awesome. There are a ton of fighter planes to choose from, and an extensive single player campaign to complete. The game optimizes the graphics automatically, which is good. It also offers multiplayer, where you can shoot down your friends, or complete strangers on an online server.
The game supports all major gamepads.
The game is free on Google Play, but the full version costs around 190 INR. It is a great game, and you should have it.

Riptide GP2:

A casual game as usual from Vector Unit, Riptide GP2 hasn't got the aura of Asphalt 8 or GT Racing 2, but it's an excellent game for passing a few minutes here and there. The game features some cool hydro jets and tracks, where you can perform cool stunts. There are graphics options to optimize the game, and it also offers multiplayer, to drench your friends or strangers on an online server. 
The game supports all major gamepads.
The game costs around 120 INR on Google Play. It is a must have, as not always you can play Asphalt 8 or Modern Combat 4 in your spare time.