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Month: April 2015

Instagram’s three new filters

Instagram’s three new filters

Instagram has just realised another 3 new filters. Now while this is exciting and all, it does show something much bigger. The filter culture is booming, Instagram was the first to successfully make it main stream, however till the last release that came out back in December with five filters, it had been nearly 2 years since any filters were added from the original launch filters. We apparently won’t be seeing extended gaps like that any longer.

Instagram has seen the likes of VSCO Cam steal the thunder, and it once again is trying to become the one stop shop for anything photo from editing to sharing.

The new filters are following the trend of being subtle, a far cry from the ‘bombastic’ original filters. The filters include Lark, which “desaturates reds while punching up blues and greens” for landscapes; Reyes, which is meant to add a washed out, vintage look to photos; and Juno, which “tints cool tones green while making warm tones pop and whites glow” and is targeted at portraits.

Its new releases are apparently working for Instagram with the two filters released in December, Ludwig and Crema, now being Instagram’s most popular.

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No Macan Rival from Maserati

No Macan Rival from Maserati

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Maserati CEO, Harold Wester,  has categorically stated that there will not be a smaller SUV to slot underneath the soon to be launched Levante SUV.

The Levante is scheduled to be revealed next year at the Detroit Motor Show and go on sale later in the year. While there were rumours that Maserati would consider expanding their SUV line-up to include a smaller, Macan-sized vehicle to fit within their range. However, these rumours have been quashed by Harold Wester, CEO of Maserati. He states that such a car is not on Maserati’s agenda because it would clash with other brands, such as the upcoming Alfa Romeo SUVs and Jeep’s products.

The Levante will provide  huge sales leap for Maserati, as the SUV is a growing segment which no manufacturer can afford to ignore. While purists may not like these sort of vehicles, they do bring in massive profits for manufacturers to use in other, more interesting areas. With this reasoning in mind, I tend to think that Harold Wester could eventually go back on his word and in fact offer a Macan-sized car.

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The Macan is the only sports-orientated mid-size SUV currently on sale. A similarly sized Maserati rival would make this segment a lot more interesting.

 

Time will tell if such a car will hit roads or not. However, the fact that Porsche has opted to enter such a segment of the market is quite telling. While what Wester says is technically true, VW seems to be managing quite well to market the Tiguan, Q5 and Macan in such a way that none is tip-toeing over the other’s customers. I see no reason why the Fiat Chryser Group cannot do the same. The Jeep would be the more utilitarian end of the market, targetting the Tiguan and Land Rover Discovery. The Alfa SUVs would focus more on the BMW X1/X3, Audi Q3/Q5 market and Maserati could tackle the high end, sportier segment of the market, currently only occupied by the Macan.

I am willing to bet that Maserati will change its tune once the Levante hits the market and the sales start climbing. For now, we will just have to make do with waiting for the Levante and the Alfieri.

Last Week Today: Bazooka-Wielding Kittens & Turbocharged Aston Martins

Last Week Today: Bazooka-Wielding Kittens & Turbocharged Aston Martins

LastWeekToday

Welcome to the third edition of This Week Today, your weekly summary of all the news you may have missed. Lets start the week with an update from those crazy Frenchies over at Peugeot.

Monday 20th April

Peugeot revealed to Autocar that their popular RCZ Coupe shall not be replaced once the current generation has ended its production lifespan. This is due to a dramatic cut back of models of the PSA group. Peugeot chiefs have stated they intend to focus their energies on their core models, rather than creating niche models. Unfortunately the RCZ is classified as a niche product and will be axed, probably between 2016 and 2017.   For more information on this terrible news click here.

In other news, GSMArena reports that Nokia may make a comeback in a big way. A report from Re/code states that in 2016, Nokia aims to return to the mobile phone market. The prevailing thought seems to be that they will follow the N1’s footsteps and stick to Android. Here is the full story.

Tuesday 21st April

Marques Brownlee published his review of the Samsung Galaxy S6, and is nothing short of amazing. Check out the full review here.

Chinese manufacturer Qoros has revealed a plug-in hybrid SUV at the Shanghai Motor Show, in a bid to further establish themselves as a legitimate carmaker which can take on larger manufacturers. It aims to show off a new design direction as well as attract youngsters to their brand. Click here to read more.

Wednesday 22nd April

Google launches a new mobile network currently aimed at Nexus 6 users for the moment. Called Project Fi, the key selling point is that users of the network will only pay for the data actually used. This is TheVerge’s full story on Project Fi.

Thursday 23rd April

AutoExpress has revealed that the next Aston Martin, what many are referring to as the DB11, will get a turbo power option when it is available to the public in the near future. The article also shows some interesting spy shots of a camouflaged Aston taking on the Nurburgring. Check out turbo heaven right here.

GSMArena report that Samsung’s next smartwatch will have a circular screen. GSM claim the new smartwatch, which will be sold as the Gear A, will be equipped with an Exynos 7420 chip, 3G connectivity and wireless charging.  Here is the full story.

Friday 24th April

Reviews of the new Jaguar XE, one of Jaguar’s most important new models to be launched in recent years, have hit the internet in a big way. Unsurprisingly both AutoExpress and Autocar have given this big cat five stars in this initial test review. Autocar claims the XE is “Every bit the contender that it needs to be.”, whilst Autoexpress claim “This could well be the new class leader.” High praise indeed. This is AutoExpress’ review of the XE and here is Autocar’s verdict on the XE.

Finally, as promised, a bazooka-wielding kitten.

The little guy also has a beard and is riding a shark. Hardcore indeed.

 

 

Lightroom 6 has arrived!

Lightroom 6 has arrived!

Lightroom 6, or as part of an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription where it’s called “Lightroom CC”, is finally out! Now this is nothing revolutionary in any sense of the word, but it is still great and that’s what counts.

Lightroom 6 at first glance is like any other run of the mill update from Lightroom 5, with no new killer features. It seems however most of the work was done under the hood. Performance improvements can be witnessed across the board on both OSX and Windows machines. Adobe says this will allow you to edit photos up to 10 times faster than before. What’s more, the company says it covers a wide range of computers, and even older machines will see an improvement thanks to the better utilisation of your graphics processor.

Of interest is that Adobe has added a few new features, the most notable ones being “HDR merge” and “panorama merge.” No more having to ‘Merge in -> Photoshop’, Lightroom takes care of it for you. The best part? These particular ones generate rich DNG files that can be edited without worrying much about quality loss, with support on select smartphones like the One Plus One and Nexus 5/6. Other features announced are the addition of facial recognition and finer control over the graduated filter tool.

The cloud has got some love too, with library syncing working across all your devices. With this version if it was not obvious enough, Adobe  is further stressing the value of its Creative Cloud subscription plan.  You can purchase a stand-alone version of Lightroom 6 for $149, you won’t have access to any of the file-syncing features, and you’d have to buy separate licenses for Adobe’s other software.

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Peugeot Sport and Their Hybrid Sorcery

Peugeot Sport and Their Hybrid Sorcery

This week the Shanghai Motor Show has opened its doors to the world. If I am honest, I was not expecting anything particularly exciting, because all the cars there are either vehicles designed exclusively for the Chinese market or else Chinese copies of European cars. This year, however, Peugeot Sport has gone and created something truly incredible.

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Here it is, and it is call the Peugeot 308 R Hybrid Concept, and I will not mince my words here, it is awesome. Peugeot Sport, makers of the 908 Le Mans racer, the RCZ R and 208 GTi 30th Anniversary, have taken the 1.6 litre engine from the RCZ R, wedged two electric motors on the front and rear axle, to result in a car producing 493 bhp.  0-62 mph happens in 4.0 seconds and power is sent to all four wheels. Quite simply, WOW.

The R Hybrid has four driving modes, Hot Lap, Track, Road and ZEV.  The “Hot Lap” mode uses all of the car’s available resources, pushing out all 493 bhp from the petrol engine and both electric motors, while “Track” mode uses only 395 bhp, making use of just rear electric motor and the petrol engine. Whilst in “Track” mode, the front electric motor acts as a booster under hard acceleration. “Road” mode uses the petrol engine, supplemented by the rear electric motor for acceleration, amounting to 296 bhp. “ZEV” is when the car runs just off the electric motors. Peugeot has not given a range for pure electric travel, and I don’t blame them. Nobody cares about the “ZEV” mode.  If you are interested, the batteries will charge fully on a fast charger in 45 minutes.

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The exterior shouts performance, with massive air vents painted white. Peugeot’s new signature sports paint scheme has made a reappearance, this time in a rather fetching blue and matte black combo.  The paint apparently has tiny glass particles, which gives the car that extra shine. Interestingly, the paint used is normally only used on French race cars, which is also a nice touch.

The interior is a clear adaptation of the ordinary 308’s interior. There are new tan sports seats, and a new fabric lining the dashboard. It looks less like a concept flight of fancy and more production ready. Could we see a 500 bhp Peugeot in the near future?

peugeot-308-r-hybrid-rear

Sadly no, this car will remain a concept. However, the big heads at Peugeot have said that a more powerful 308 is coming, presumably using the 276 bhp 1.6 litre engine out of the RCZ R, and will probably be called the 308 GTi. The hybrid technology could also see the light of day too. Carlos Tavares has stated that future performance Peugeots will use electric motors to supplement the performance of the petrol engine. All of which is cracking great news.

Expect to see the 308 GTi within the next few months, and in the mean time, spend your every waking hour praying and hoping this R Hybrid makes production. I want one more than I want my next breath.

 

Last Week Today: Miatas Saving Marriages & Exploding Rockets

Last Week Today: Miatas Saving Marriages & Exploding Rockets

LastWeekToday

Welcome back to Last Week Today, a weekly Techno Speak summary of the goings on in the blogosphere…last week. Now with further reading, just like at school! Only fun. 13/04/15 – 19/04-15.

Monday 13th April

LinkedIn launched Elevate, an app to help business turn their employees in unpaid marketers. Real smooth, LinkedIn, real smooth. Story at Android Police.

Tuesday 14th April

Space X tried, yet again, to land a rocket on a barge. It failed, again. But it came so, so close! And, let’s remember, this is a company trying to land a ROCKET on a BARGE. I’m lucky if I can throw a paper ball into the trash can from 10 meters, let alone land a ROCKET onto a tiny barge in the middle of the ocean. Read about it at The Verge and at Wired.

Wednesday 15th April

Jaguar’s upcoming SUV, the F-Pace, was spotted (in camo) ahead of its official debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Autocar has the scoop here.

In other news, a European Commission anti-trust investigation has led to said Commission officially starting anti-trust proceedings against Google. The investigation shall look into Google’s practices with distribution of the Android OS, amongst other things, to determine whether this follows fair market practices. Recode has more on the subject here.

Peter Lau, OnePlus CEO, has stated that he expects the OnePlus Two to arrive in Q3 this year. Rumour has it we’ll be seeing a more affordable model to be released alongside it, which probably means the OnePlus Two will ditch the One’s affordable pricing and adopt flagship prices. Pity, I guess. More on that at GSMArena.

Finally Microsoft is officially taking aim at Android…by becoming a key part of it. The firm has announced a partnership with Cyanogenmod as the latter cuts more ties with Google. More on that at The Verge.

Thursday 16th April

Any.do has announced version 3.0 of its popular Any.do to do list manager, bringing new features, a revised UI, and more. More about that at Android Police.

Jawbone announces a partnership with American Express to incorporate mobile payments into its UP4 fitness tracker, a move that further blurs the line between smartwatch and fitness tracker. It doesn’t tell the time, but you can still pay for your fancy coffee and track how long it took to burn off those calories. More about that at Android Police again.

Friday 17th April

Ben & Jerry’s announces the Brrrito, an ice cream burrito, with a fantastic parody of Apple’s  classic 1984 commercial. It is seriously insane, watch it in the embedded video above.

Further Reading

Zach Bowman at Road & Track writes about how driving a 2006 Miata (MX-5 to us Europeans) saved his rocky marriage as it brought him and his wife together, alone. In his words:

Forget counseling. Sometimes, all you need is an excuse to spend more time with your spouse. For us, that excuse is a 2006 Mazda Miata.

Read Zach Bowman’s fantastic piece here.

Also check out the fantastic images in this Petrolicious piece, detailing a roadtrip around Cape Town in a classic Porsche 912. These photos are among the best you’ll see this year. Read it here.

And that’s it for this week!

Top Photography Apps

Top Photography Apps

Now this is not going to be about the best camera on a phone. If you want that, then get an IPhone (a discussion for another day), and this is coming from a Android users. What this means is that some of the best apps for photography are on IOS only, for the time being. So if you are an Andriod user don’t you worry. You will be getting them shortly.

The Classic Choices

VSCO CAM

First up is my favourite and most renowned around. With a wide choice of filters it has by far the best selection on mobile. The unique film look of these filters get an image to a usable state. However it is the editing tools that shine through. The editing tools are simple and easy to use. It’s still a really impressive piece of software that can handle almost anything you’d ever want to do to a photo on your phone. And outshines even single-function apps in most areas.

Read More Read More

Why You Should & Shouldn’t Get The $165 Moto 360

Why You Should & Shouldn’t Get The $165 Moto 360

Moto 360 burritor

Soon after the Apple Watch started hitting stores and reviews landed we saw the Motorola Moto 360 get some price cuts. First its price on Amazon.com dropped from $249.99 to $179.99 – a $70 price cut that wasn’t just a one time thing. Best Buy’s got the same price too, and if you buy an Android handset they’ll slash another $100 off the Moto 360 – bringing the price down to just $79.99. And finally the Play Store’s cut the Moto 360’s price too, it’s now $165! Those prices are fantastic, and you should totally get one. But you also totally shouldn’t, and here’s why.

Reason to get it #1: Those Looks

The Moto 360, simply put (and in my honest opinion), is the best looking smartwatch out there. It’s got this timeless look to it, it’s bezel is minimal and the watchface is so gorgeously round. It looks like a thicker Xetum watch and it works with just about anything. It looks good on your wrist if you’re wearing a tshirt and flip flops at the beach, and it looks good if you’re dressed in your finest suit giving a presentation to shareholders on why the company’s profits are so high (or low).

The Moto 360’s design isn’t perfect, but it’s really close. Motorola only got those slim bezels because it had to fit display drivers in that black bar at the bottom, giving the watch a ‘flat tyre’ look. Regardless, it’s still gorgeous.

Reason to get it #2: That price

$165 is an insanely good deal, but if you can get it for $79.99 at Best Buy it’s nearly a no brainer. You’re getting a gorgeous (refer to Reason #1), well made smartwatch running the latest and greatest version of Android Wear straight from Google. The only comparable smartwatch at that price range is the original Pebble, and while I think Pebble’s watches are the best on the market they aren’t for everyone.

Reason not to get it #1: Ancient Specs

The Moto 360, as much as it pains me to say this, is gorgeous on the outside but rotten on the inside, and that’s what you shouldn’t get one. The chipset that keeps ticking things along? It’s a Texas Instruments chip – which is notable for 2 reasons:

  1. The TI OMAP 3 chipset dates back 3 generations. The last time I saw this in a phone was in the Galaxy Nexus, and that wasn’t exactly a speed freak. Why go for that here?
  2. Texas Instruments doesn’t make mobile chips any more, in fact they pulled out of the market soon after the Galaxy Nexus was released. I’m surprised Motorola’s been able to support it (or even develop for it in the first place), and I won’t bet on Motorola supporting it a couple of generations down the line.

The result is that the Moto 360 is both slow and has bad battery life. LG’s G Watch R doesn’t look as good, but is both faster and lasts twice as long.

Reason not to get it #2: The next one is just round the corner

They say never look a gift horse in the mouth, but why? The Moto 360 is a gorgeous watch and at any of this prices it’s nearly a no-brainer – nearly.

On the one hand such discounts puts Motorola back on the front page of every tech blog out there, so that’s a good marketing boost. On the other hand though, what better way to burn through stock quickly? It’s not really an HP TouchPad firesale, but it’s close.

Nothings been confirmed so far, but the leaks are coming out slowly but surely. With Google IO just around the corner, and it’s been more than a year since the first Moto 360 was announced.

UPDATE: Best Buy apparently no longer offers the $100 off with a new phone promotion. Bugger.

Citroen Aircross Concept for Shanghai

Citroen Aircross Concept for Shanghai

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Citroen has taken its polarising C4 Cactus and created a bold new concept car, called the Aircross Concept. The Aircross Concept points to a new range of crossovers following this new design, in a bid to separate itself from the rest of the competition.

This new design shown on the Aircross will be used on a family of new crossovers, ranging from a Mini Countryman-sized car, up to a seven-seater SUV. Citroen knows that this new design will not please everyone, and will be an either love it or hate it kind of car. However, this is exactly what Citroen wants. Through this new design language, Citroen is trying to establish itself as a separate brand, distinct from both Peugeot and DS. Citroen knows that sportiness is not a character trait of Citroen, but that design flair is. Cars like the CX, the GS, the 2CV, the SM and C6 are all cars known for their outstanding design, and Citroen would like to continue along that line of great design.

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Based on PSA’s latest EMP2 platform, which underpins the entire range of Peugeot and Citroen’s mid to large cars, the Aircross is almost exactly the same size as the Land Rover Discovery Sport in terms of length and height but is narrower than the Discovery.

At the moment this car is purely a concept, so the powertrain is based on current technologies found on current PSA roadcars, but tarted up a bit for the glitz and glam of the Shanghai Motor Show. Under the bonnet of the Aircross is a 1.6 litre petrol engine producing 218 bhp, mated to a 95 bhp electric motor mounted on the rear axle. The electric motor is powered by a lithium ion battery pack which is said to recharge in three and a half hours from a domestic socket. This powertrain also features a ‘boost’ function which calls on the full 313 bhp during heavy acceleration. 0-62 mph is claimed to be 4.5 seconds, and is said to emit just 39 g/km of CO2 and return 166 mpg. Whether this powertrain will ever reach production is uncertain, but the numbers certainly are appealing.

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Inside there is the usual flair of very little buttons, brightly coloured interior fittings and upholstery and several million screens dotted throughout the interior of the car. If the Aircross does go into production, expect an interior more akin to the interior of the C4 Cactus than to this concept.

No mention of when this car is slated for production, but expect to see a more roadworthy vehicle to hit showrooms in about 12-to-18 months.

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