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Month: February 2014

Good news! Google Now launcher now in the Play Store UPDATED

Good news! Google Now launcher now in the Play Store UPDATED

Google Now launcer

But not for everybody…officially

Yesterday Google finally put the Nexus 5’s Google Now launcher on the Play Store for all to use and enjoy.  All, that is, except for people who don’t have a Nexus or Google Play Edition device running 4.4 KitKat.  If you do have any device that fulfils the criteria then go ahead and get it from the link below!

If you don’t however, I’ve got you covered.  Download it from the link below!

UPDATE: Some people not running 4.4 are having issues installing this APK.  Now I don’t know if the problem is the APK or if it’s because anything other than 4.4 is unsupported.  There is, however, an alternative!  I had written a Pro Tip a while back with a link to an Android Police download, check it out here!

Google Now launcher: Google Play APK

New Renault Twingo Unveiled to the World!

New Renault Twingo Unveiled to the World!

Renault has showed off its latest generation Twingo city car ahead of its official debut at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show.

Renault-Twingo-2014-1-FrontSeatDriver.co_.uk_This time around, the Twingo will be facing some stiff competition from the likes of the VW Up! and the Fiat 500. While the VW stands for simple elegance and refinement, and the 500 being the last word in Italian style and fun, Renault needed to create a car that stands out.

So what have they done? A complete U-turn really, and I mean that quite literally. The new Twingo is now rear- engined and rear-wheel drive. Yes, like a Porsche 911, though it isn’t a flat six, its an 898cc three-cylinder unit that delivers either 69bhp or 89bhp. According to the designer, Laurens van den Acker, putting the engine in the rear of the car allows for more interior space whilst at the same time reducing the overhangs on the outside. Whilst the engine does take up a lot of luggage space, Acker says that folding rear seats will make up for the lack of boot space.

2014-Renault-Twingo-1

Another advantage Acker is keen to show of regarding this rear-engine layout is that, the Twingo is more agile than any other city car, likening it’s turning circle to that of a London Taxi. That would come in handy in the big city, or Malta really.

The design follows Renault’s current design language, as seen on the new Clio and Captur. Acker was clearly inspired by the original Twingo and Renault 5, with is simple, clean elegant lines. It appears also that like the 500 and the new 108, personalisation will be a key aspect to attracting younger buyers, with an array of vibrant colours to choose from, various decals and details to add to the car.

The Twingo is based on a whole new platform that will be shared with the next generation Smart ForFour and ForTwo, as part of a new joint venture with Mercedes-Benz, which in future may see them sharing more platforms and engines.

The new Twingo is set to reveal in March at the Geneva Motor Show.

New Peugeot 108 Revealed

New Peugeot 108 Revealed

peugeot 108

 

This is the new Peugeot 108, a car aimed to take on the might of small cars like the Fiat 500, the VW Up! and Kia Picanto.

The 108 follows the same basic principles as the 107 which came before it. The 108 will be based on the same platform on the next generation Toyota Aygo and Citroen C1. It will also be built alongside these two models in the same factory in the Czech Republic.

The new 108 aims to be the lightest car in its class, weighing as little as 840kg, and comes in three and five-door models. The surprise here is that the three-door will also be available with a retractable fabric roof, in the same style as a Fiat 500C or Citroen DS3 Cabriolet. This new car is less cutesy than the outgoing 107, and has a more upmarket look to it. The new design features elements from its current design language, such as a smaller front grille and “lion’s claw” taillights.

In a bid to make the new car feel more upmarket, the car will be available with options like a 7 inch touchscreen, keyless entry, push button start and automatic air-conditioning. This touchscreen uses “Mirrorlink” system to connect to your smartphone and use the smartphone through the car’s touchscreen. There will also be an internet radio service made available, known as “Peugeot Music.”

peugeot 108 rear

 

The car will be available with a choice of two petrol engines. A 1.0 litre engine, producing 68bhp and emitting just 97 g/km of CO2 in standard set-up, then an e-VTi emitting 88 g/km of CO2.  There will also be a 1.2 litre unit, producing 82bhp and emitting 99 g/km of CO2. No diesel engines are planned for this car as EU regulations would make diesel engines of this size too expensive to develop. These engines can be mated to either a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission.

On the whole, its a great step forward for Peugeot’s city car. The 107 has been rather long in the tooth for quite some time now, and was in desperate need of updating. The new look could very well tempt buyers from the Up! and the 500, and offering it upmarket features like a 7 inch touchscreen and keyless entry will make this car stick out from the rest of the crowd.

The McLaren 650S; A Car With Me In Mind

The McLaren 650S; A Car With Me In Mind

The 650S takes cues from both the P1 and the MP4-12C.
The 650S takes cues from both the P1 and the MP4-12C.

This is McLaren’s latest creation, the 650S, a car I am not entirely sure what it is supposed to take on.

Let’s begin with the stats. It uses a 3.8 litre twin-turbo V8 engine, like the rest of the McLaren range. However this time, it produces 641 bhp (or 650PS as the name suggests), and will reach a top speed of 207mph.  It is £20,000 more expensive than the 12C, but you get more kit as standard, such as carbon-ceramic brakes, a revised satnav with DAB radio and LED headlights. It also has its own brand new tires to tame all those ponies, which has been designed specifically for this car by Pirelli.

Inside it is very similar to the 12C, with Alcantara trim and a touchscreen infotainment system. The outside is an interesting blend of P1 front, with 12C rear. Clearly McLaren overheard me saying how I don’t like the rear of the P1 and how I find the front of the 12C to be a little dull, and decided to design this car just for me. How very considerate of them.

This is all lovely, however we must address the elephant in the room. Where exactly does this car fit within Mclaren’s own line-up? Many of you might say this is a replacement to the 12C, but I am afraid not. The 12C will remain in production along with the 650S. Maybe its a more hardcore version of the 12C? Possibly, it does have a slightly stiffer set up than the 12C, however nowhere does it state that this car is any lighter than the outgoing 12C.

Prices start at £190,000 for the 650S. Cheap, if you are billionaire playboy. Not so cheap for the rest of us.
Prices start at £190,000 for the 650S. Cheap, if you are billionaire playboy. Not so cheap for the rest of us.

Truth be told this car has no rivals as such. It seems to be lost in a wilderness of mid-engined supercars. Rumours suggest that this is the 12C McLaren engineers wanted first time round but for some reason didn’t get, maybe due to budget constraints. Whatever the reasoning behind this car, I welcome it among the choices of mid-engined V8 supercardom.

However, a concern that does come to mind is that this might be Mclaren’s Virage. Remember the Aston Martin Virage that came out a couple of years ago that was meant to bridge the gap between the DB9 and the DBS but ended up being a car nobody could ever justify buying? I wonder if this 650S might have the same future as the Virage, or, possibly, make the 12C  McLaren’s Virage. Either way, these two cars seem too close to one another for safety, and either one of them risk stealing sales from the other. The logical solution would be either to drop one of them, or to make one cheaper/more expensive than the other such that the gap between the 12C and the 650S widens. As it stands £20,000 is not enough of a gap (lets face it, if you can afford £170,000, you can afford £190,000), so what would tempt one person to buy one car and not the other?

This seems like am easy school boy error to make for a relatively new company like McLaren. Ferrari, McLaren’s main rival, is extremely careful to make sure none of its models overlap each other, and makes doubly certain that its sister companies, Maserati and Alfa Romeo, do impinge onto Ferrari’s territory.

Maybe McLaren should take a leaf out of Ferrari’s book. Just a thought.

 

 

A New Segment for Techno-Speak!

A New Segment for Techno-Speak!

2014-02-16 18.11.35 (2)

My name is Zach Galea, the car correspondent for Techno-Speak. I previously wrote for Emmanuel Buttigieg’s previous website, enexi.net.  I have been interested in anything that goes vroom for many years, and have a particular fondness for European cars, particularly those built in Italy. I’ve been a licensed driver since May 2013, and am currently driving a red Peugeot 206.

Now I have been asked to write for Emmanuel’s latest and greatest creation, Techno-Speak, a blog dedicated to all things technological. With cars becoming more and more technical, with advanced traction control systems and in-car entertainment becoming more and more sophisticated, it is only fitting for Techno-Speak to introduce a new segment dedicated to car news and anything related to the automotive industry.

I aim to do my best to keep you the readers up to date with the latest news coming from the automotive world as well as adding my own opinions on the latest news. I do hope you enjoy reading all my future articles, and stay tuned to our website!

Facebook’s bought Whatsapp for $19 billion. Why?

Facebook’s bought Whatsapp for $19 billion. Why?

Facebook WhatsApp

If you can’t beat them, buy them.

So, as you’ve probably heard, Facebook’s bought Whatsapp for Approximately 19 Instagrams ($19 billion) in what I think is going to be the largest tech acquisition of the year.  Whatsapp has been fighting off offers for acquisition by firms like Google and others since its inception.

Over the last two years Facebook’s been trying to expand into more and more services, even position itself as a replacement for other necessary services like SMS and photo management/sharing.  Their first attempt was the HTC First and a custom flavour of Android that was simply their Facebook Home app on top of Android 4.2, then the release of Facebook Home on the appstore.  The First was pulled from the market within a couple of months and development of Home seems to have stagnated.  For all intents and purposes these failed.

Enter Phase 2 of Facebook’s plan: divide and conquer.  Instead of channelling all of Facebook through its app the company’s new plan is to break up separate services into individual apps and serve their users that way.  The new Messaging app, for instance, is fantastic and is separate enough from the main app to make it useful as any chat app, not just a Facebook chat app.  You no longer need a Facebook account to use it, but can tie it instead to your phone number – a la Whatsapp.  Then, they bought Instagram.  Their second app, Paper, is a news reader that launched to rave reviews and has been hailed by many as the app to replace Facebook itself.

But why WhatsApp?  Because Facebook Messenger isn’t cutting it.   WhatsApp has 450 million monthly active users and its traffic is approaching the total global SMS telecom volume.  For many it has simply replaced SMS, something you can see very clearly here in Malta.  And despite all of Facebook’s efforts it hasn’t managed to damped WhatsApp’s slow but steady rate of growth, now exceeding 1 million new registered users per day.  As a result Facebook’s become a bit of a Disney, posits Kara Swisher at Re/code (linked below).  It’s got a lot of services catering to a lot of different segments, but with WhatsApp it’s got that one thing everybody needs, and everybody uses.

So, if you can’t beat them: buy them.

Further Reading (also References):

Pro Tip: Activate Google Now on KitKat without root

Pro Tip: Activate Google Now on KitKat without root

IMG_0130

Due to EU legislation devices sold in some European countries simply can’t enable Google Now on KitKat.  It works fine on devices like the Nexus 4 or OG Nexus 7 when coming to 4.4 from 4.3.  However if, like me, you bought a Nexus 5 hoping for all the Google goodness you were probably pretty bummed to find that you can’t enable Google Now.  The solution is mind bogglingly simple.

The Tip

Follow these 4 steps:

  1. Sign out of Google Search
  2. Disable Google Play Services
  3. Sign into Google Search
  4. Enable Google Now
  5. Enable Google Play Services

I took these nearly word for word from Jonathon Mallet’s post on the Google Product Forums thread for this particular problem.  I’ve personally tried this on my Nexus 7 and it worked like a charm!

Source