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Google Drive users: This is your new Android, iOS makeover for faster file access

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Material Design update: Google gives app developers new customizing tools
You’ll be seeing new-looking Android, iOS apps

Google has refreshed its Google Drive file-storage app for iOS and Android that aims to make collaboration easier on smartphones. 

The Google Material Design makeover is part of the company’s effort to unify the look and feel of all G Suite apps, and follows the recent redesign of Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Sites and the earlier revamp of Gmail.

Chief among the changes is a new Home tab and bottom navigation bar that brings the mobile apps in line with the Google Drive website. 

The addition of the bottom navigation bar is meant to give users access to frequently accessed parts of Google Drive with fewer taps. 

Users will be able to switch between Home, Starred, Shared, and Files more easily thanks to the new bottom navigation bar. The change is meant to give users faster access to the most important files using Google’s machine-learning algorithms. Using these algorithms, Drive will suggest the documents users are mostly likely to want to open. 

The Home tab has also been revamped to promote files that are important to users, which Google’s algorithms pick using information about the last time a file was accessed or edited, who specific files are shared with, and what files are accessed at certain times of day. 

Team Drives has been reformed as a tab next to My Drives in the Files view alongside a Computers tab that provides access to local files backed up to an account. 

SEE: Special report: The future of Everything as a Service (free PDF)

Google has also tweaked how users can switch accounts, moving the option from the left navigation menu to an avatar icon on the top right within the search bar, which is now also available in the Team Drives page. The account-switching button could make it easier for enterprise users to switch between personal and work profiles.  

The actions menu on files and folders now prioritizes the actions each user most frequently uses, pushing those actions to the top. The former toggles for starred and offline are now buttons. 

Google says the changes are meant to reflect the way people work using mobile devices and that the service is not just storage, but a collaboration tool. 

“We know that mobile devices are critical to getting work done, whether it’s at our desk, in a meeting, sending an email, or collaborating,” Google notes.  

“Drive is not just a way to back up files to the cloud, but a critical way to easily share work, make last-minute changes to content, or review important content on the go. The Drive Mobile redesign aims to make these workflows easier.”

iPhone owners will see the new-look Drive app first on March 12, and Android users will get it on March 18. 

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With the new navigation, users get faster access to the most important files using Google’s machine-learning algorithms.


Image: Google

Previous and related coverage

Google Docs, Slides new look revealed: Check out G Suite Material Design overhaul

Google updates its G Suite apps to give its business productivity apps a cleaner, crisper look.

Google bringing material design to Gmail and G Suite apps for iOS and Android

The new Gmail look that was forced upon you in 2018 is coming to the phone in 2019.

Google reveals Chrome’s new look: Here’s what you’ll see in Material Design refresh

Google is overhauling the look and feel of Chrome on Windows.

Google’s Material Design update: You’ll be seeing new-looking Android, iOS apps

Google updates Material Design and releases new tools to give developers more flexibility in how apps look.

Google Calendar: New desktop designs show cleaner look that’s coming soon

Google is finally giving Calendar on the web a Material Design makeover.

Google gives Android a facelift, enter ‘material design’

Google’s bet is that a clean unified design—coupled with contextually aware notifications and other goodies—can connect multiple screens.

Google Material Design: A cheat sheet for professionals TechRepublic

This comprehensive guide covers must-know Google Material Design details, including features, core principles, components, and and an introduction to best practices.

Google tests curvy Chrome tabs with Material Design overhaul CNET

Hope you like that flat interface style.

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MarketWolf is a trading-first platform for new investors – TechCrunch

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Live in India, Singapore-based MarketWolf has plans to introduce stock trading to first-time investors in more markets. The platform announced today it has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Singaporean venture capital firm Jungle Ventures and Mumbai-based Dream Capital. Returning investors 9Unicorns, iSeed, Crescent and Riverwalk also participated.

This brings MarketWolf’s total raised to $17.4 million since it was founded in 2017 (it launched in India in 2020). The new funding will be used to build product suite and on hiring for its product, marketing and engineering teams.

MarketWolf wants to making trading accessible to first-timers with low minimum investment amounts and a risk management system, as well as modules for practicing and learning about investing. They can invest in options, futures, ETFs and stocks, starting at $5. Most of its users are in the 18 to 35 year old age bracket.

MarketWolf’s risk-management features include setting mandatory risk and reward levels, listing only liquid instruments, preventing selling of options to avoid unlimited risk and its practice and learn module.

Founded by Vishesh Dingra and Thomas Joseph, MarketWolf says it has seen over 1.5 million app downloads in India over the last 18 months and that its number of trading accounts and retail active clients have grown 10x year-over-year. It was listed among the top 15 brokers in terms of trades by India’s National Stock Exchange (NSE) in 2021.

Before co-founding MarketWolf, Dingra worked at Merrill Lynch and Barclays Capital, building quantitative models and strategies for algorithmic trading in capital markets.

He told TechCrunch that he and Joseph wanted to launch an investment app because “we saw that existing products were focused on investing for long-term only, and short-term trading was overlooked. Thomas and I have worked at trading desks in Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, etc. and understood that there could be an easier, more engaging and risk-managed way of trading made available to people globally.”

The startup is among a number of investment apps based in Southeast Asia that have raised funding–and are continuing to raise). Just over the past month, wealth management platform PINA, Indonesian crypo trading app Pintu and Vietnam’s Anfin, also for first-time investors, have all raised venture capital.

Dingra said MarketWolf differentiates from other investment apps with its gamified interface (many of its users come from mobile gaming communities) and a trading-first approach.

“Most brokerages in the market are investment-first products, whereas MarketWolf is a trading-first product creating its own new market segment—people who can trade well in all market conditions, bullish, bearish, flat or volatile,” he said.

In a prepared statement, Jungle Ventures principal Arpit Beri said, “Retail participation in the stock market in India continues to remain abysmally low at ~3-5% and we believe that MarketWolf has the right product, as well as the right team and expertise to break-through this market.”

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India’s Tata Motors wants to sell 50,000 EVs by end of fiscal year – TechCrunch

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Mumbai-based automaker Tata Motors wants to sell 50,000 electric vehicles by the end of the fiscal year ending March 31, the company’s chairperson Natarajan Chandrasekaran said during a shareholders’ meeting on Monday.

In the 2023/24 period, Tata — which produces passenger cars, trucks, vans, coaches, buses, luxury cars, and construction equipment — aims to hit 100,000 EV sales, according to Chandrasekaran, as reported by Reuters.

The push towards EVs follows a national plan to ensure that up to 30% of total passenger car sales in India are electric by 2030, up from about 1% today. E-scooters and e-bikes will account for 80% of two-wheeler sales, up from 2% today. Given the Indian government’s high import duties on EVs, getting citizens to make the switch to electric will largely depend on the success of local production.

After attempting to bring its EVs to the Indian market, Tesla appears to have abandoned efforts to set up a factory in the country. Tesla usually has a “try before buy” approach to moving into new markets — it imports vehicles to see how sales go before investing the time and money in building a regional factory. Transport minister Nitin Gadkari said Tesla was welcome to build a factory in the country, but that it won’t allow the automaker to bring in vehicles from China to sell and service, so Tesla hasn’t moved forward with those plans.

Tata currently sells three EV models, including Nexon EV, Tigor EV and the newest Nexon EV Max. Unlike the path many U.S. automakers have followed of building new EV production lines from the ground up, Tata says it’s able to keep costs down for the Indian consumer by repurposing a successful internal combustion engine model, the Nexon, and outfitting it with a battery pack. The Nexon starts at around $19,000, which isn’t exactly cheap for the average Indian driver, but is certainly within the range of the country’s upper-middle class.

Tata commands 90% of India’s electric car sales, and appears to be on track to reach its goal of selling 50,000 EVs by March 2022. The automaker’s June sales results show 45,197 total units sold, out of which 3,507 were electric — the most Tata has ever sold, and up 433% from 658 last year.

Chandrasekaran was optimistic about the trajectory of Tata’s performance this fiscal year with the overall supply situation, including that of semiconductors, improving and stabilizing.

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Xiaomi launches smartphone with enormous imaging sensors and Leica optics – TechCrunch

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With a limited launch in mainland China today, one glance at the new smartphones from Xiaomi leaves little doubt what the smartphone is all about. A third of the back of the smartphone is dominated by a dome covering a number of cameras with one of the biggest sensors we’ve seen in a smartphone so far – a 1-inch sensor covered with Leica glass.

A lot of people – men especially – will tell you that size doesn’t matter. In the case of imaging sensors, that just isn’t the case; the glass in front of lenses can only do so much and perfect glass doesn’t exist. Bigger sensors means higher resolution, yes, but it also means that the sensors have space for  bigger individual pixels. This helps both with the cooling of the sensor and could indicate much better low-light performance.

The entire 12S series of smartphones features different imaging systems jointly developed by Xiaomi and Leica. I know that in the process of making fun of Leica recently, I was making fun of Hasselblad for its smartphone integration, but in this case it actually somewhat makes sense. By using lenses designed by Leica (carrying the prestigious Leica Summicron brand, no less), the phone might actually be able to make the most of its sensors.

The range of cameras available on the various cameras include some pretty sophisticated lens designs rarely seen on smartphones; I can’t wait to get my hands on one and see if it works as well out in the real world as it looks on paper.

That’s a full-size smartphone. That’s also a hell of a lens. Image Credit: Xiaomi. 

The company claims that its lens designs drastically improve the photo quality the camera can deliver in general. The alphabet soup in the press release makes it sound as if the smartphone has re-invented the wheel, and makes some pretty juicy promises:

Xiaomi 12S Ultra primary camera adopts an 8P aspheric lens, in order to address common photography issues such as flare, ghosting, and chromatic aberration, the camera module of Xiaomi 12S Ultra also adds anti-glare lens coating, lens edge ink coating, cyclic olefin copolymer material, and infrared light filter with spin coating technology. Together, these features offer a clearer overall picture that is consistent across the lens.

In addition to the advanced optical design, Xiaomi 12S Series “co-engineered with Leica” also utilizes Leica imaging profiles, inheriting Leica’s century-old image aesthetic and reproducing Leica’s tone and aesthetics with the aid of cutting-edge algorithms. For the end user, this means access to two photographic styles: The “Leica Authentic Look” and “Leica Vibrant Look”, both offering enhanced creative freedom to the photographer.

To those of us who’ve read a photography press release or two, the first paragraph above can be summarized as “We stuck tech in this camera that was pretty common on compact cameras in 2005 or so” and the second can be summarized as “… and we created some filters that have been around in Hipstamatic since 2009, but these look kinda like Leica cameras look. Ignoring, of course, that the ‘Leica look’ is heavily dependent on the films you put in the camera giant’s legendary cameras.

Press release sleight of hand aside, the cameras themselves do look impressive, and sticking Sony’s IMX989 1-inch sensors in smartphones is a hell of a feat to pull off, both from an engineering point of view and as a commitment to photography from the smartphone maker.

I mean just look at that thing! Image credit: Xiaomi. 

To use a corollary: Have you ever heard of the A-10 fighter plane? Usually referred to as the Warthog, was essentially a ridiculously large machine gun firing depleted uranium rounds, and they built a plane around it to be able to blow up tanks. That’s the image this smartphone conjures for me; this isn’t the kind of optics you just slap into a phone at the last minute because the product folks thought it was a good idea.

The sensors, mated with high-quality glass, promise exceptional low-light photography capabilities. Pair that with some smart computational photography skills, and a 10-bit RAW format, and you’re starting to talk about some truly advanced camera tech indeed. These phones could very well be the final nail in the low-end compact camera category that’s been at death’s door for so long.

Wild, for the photography buffs, is that we’re here talking about an SLR-challenging 50.3 megapixels of resolution and a 23mm-equivalent wide-angle lens. This is, as far as I’m aware, the most advanced set of lens/sensor combos of any smartphone on the market. Of course, megapixels aren’t everything.

Sample image shot with the new flagship smartphone. It was taken with the 24mm f/1.9 built-tin lens at 1/1250 shutter speed and ISO 225. Image credit: Xiaomi. 

The rest of the smartphone looks decent on paper as well – 67W high-speed charging, a large 4,860 mAh battery and smart battery management should keep you running for a while. The phone is powered by the all-new Snapdragon® 8+ Gen 1 Mobile Platform. The Xiaomi 12S Ultra is even equipped with a cooling pump that uses a capillary network to pump cooling liquid around and keep things from overheating and a 6.73” AMOLED color display.

The phones are currently only available in mainland China, with the Xiaomi 12S Ultra starting at around $900, the Xiaomi 12S Pro starting at around $700, and the Xiaomi 12S starting at $600. No word on if or when these will make it outside of the country’s borders.

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