The best free apps for your android smartphone:

From fantastic widgets to task automators, there are many mobile apps that showcase the power and flexibility of Google’s platform. Here are some of the most popular and useful free apps for android devices.

Blue Mail: This is one of the most popular and simple to use app for accessing emails. It supports a ton of email providers and comes with color coding for organization, app themes, Android Wear support, and widgets. Another interesting feature of this app is the option to block notifications during certain times to help users customize their experience.

AppLock: This simple but powerful app allows users to lock apps with passwords. It is free to use and contains ads. AppLock offers a number of features for users; however, the ad-free version of the app has a few features missing.

Credit Karma: This financial app allows users to check their credit score and notifies them when there are major changes to the score. This underrated app also suggests potential credit cards that the user is qualified for based on their credit score.

Feedly: It is one of the most popular news apps in the market. This RSS reader enables users to subscribe to tons of different websites and get news from all of them. Feedly app is easy to use and completely free, and supports podcasts, YouTube channels, and more.

Gboard: It is Google’s official keyboard app and offers a number of features like gesture typing (swiping), light theming, voice typing, emoji search, GIF support, and more. It also has a built-in Google search option that lets users search the web without leaving the keyboard or the app that they’re in. This free app also syncs between multiple devices.

Groupon: This app is simple to use and is one of the most popular apps among users. It allows them to browse for discount coupons that can be used for goods or services that they want. Users can also track coupons that they have used and take advantage of deals instantly. It is definitely an app worth trying.

KeePassDroid: This password manager is like a locker where users can save all kinds of sensitive information. This includes login details for websites, serial numbers and much more. Additionally, users can export their stuff to proprietary file types so they can transfer the data to other devices. This app is completely free and does not contain any in-app purchases.

Quik: It is a free video editor app that strings multiple videos taken by the user in a sort of video collage. Users can choose the duration of the clips, make cuts, add effects and more to add a little flair to the videos.

TickTick: It is among the most popular to do list apps in the market that enables users to make lists, share tasks with others, organize tasks in multiple ways, get reminders and set recurring tasks. There is a paid version of the app that offers other features like calendar support and more.

1Weather: It is one of the best weather apps in the play store and provides information such as current weather, forecast for up to 12 weeks, radar to see storms approaching, and other interesting stats for users. The app also provides severe weather notifications and offers customizable widgets. The free version of the app provides all the features but is not ad-free. There is an option for in-app purchase to remove these ads.

Digital Payments:

In early 2000s, internet-powered payment systems (RTGS, NEFT, etc.) were introduced. With smartphones witnessing a massive surge in popularity, the next step in the evolution of payments happened – mobile payment platforms and digital wallets. This new kind of financial infrastructure is one in which customers are far more involved and integral than they were in the bank-centric times. Software giants like google and consumer electronics manufacturers like samsung have started competing with the likes of traditional banking and financial organizations. As part of the ‘Digital India’ campaign, the government aims to create a ‘digitally empowered’ economy. There are various types and modes of digital payments. Some of these include the use of debit/credit cards, internet banking, mobile wallets, digital payment apps, Unified Payments Interface (UPI) service and more. Digital payment methods are convenient and a good alternative to traditional payment methods and provide customers the flexibility to make payments from anywhere and at any time. There is no need for cash and cheques in this type of payment method and speeds up transaction cycles. There are ten types of digital payment methods in India:

  • Banking cards
  • USSD
  • Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AEPS)
  • UPI
  • Mobile Wallets
  • Bank pre-paid cards
  • Point of Sale (PoS)
  • Internet Banking
  • Mobile Banking
  • Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) app

Paytm, which is the largest Indian mobile payment wallet with more than 100 million users, saw app downloads going up by three times and payments for offline transactions by five times in the first two days following the government’s move on demonetization. Mobikwik with its 35 million customers saw a 100% increase in customer numbers as well. HDFC’s Chillr mobile payment app has seen a growth of 30% in app usage and a 50% increase in downloads. PayU digital wallet also experienced a rise in wallet loads. There has also been a surge in retail merchant enrolments to E-Wallet services. Digital wallet Freecharge has seen a 10 fold increase in the number of retail merchant signups during recent times.

Benefits of digital payments include:

  • Access to digital records of transactions.
  • It is faster easier and more convenient.
  • Attractive offers such as waivers, discounts and cashbacks.
  • It is more economical with lesser transactions fee.
  • It provides a one stop solution for paying bills.
  • It is a hassle-free and secure way to make payments.

Adoption of technologies like NFC is also making it easier for merchants and businesses to accept digital payments. Technology has played a vital role in creating a positive framework, and new bank regulations have paved the way for inclusive banking. With whatsapp integrating payments option, digital payments will witness further growth in the country.

Top Virtual Reality (VR) games:

Technology has grown leaps and bounds during the last couple of decades. Developers are pushing the boundaries to create tech solutions that are innovative and unique. One such technology that has gained popularity in recent times is Virtual Reality. It is an artificial environment created with software and presented to the user in a way that the user suspends belief and accepts it as a real environment. It includes three-dimensional images that appear to be life-sized from the user’s perspective. It also has the ability to track a user’s motions and eye movements, and correspondingly adjust images on the user’s display to reflect the change in perspective.

The virtual reality world must be large and detailed enough for users to explore and get immersed into. With PlayStation VR, HTC Vive, and Oculus Rift out alongside less expensive headsets like the Samsung Gear VR, Google’s Daydream View and Cardboard, users have a huge selection of Virtual Reality games to choose from.

Here are some of the most popular VR games among users.

Fallout 4 VR: With detailed environments and engaging gunplay, Fallout 4 VR was one of the biggest VR titles in 2017. There are several weapons that players can choose to blow away the inhabitants of the virtual world. This first person shooter game is currently exclusive to the HTC Vive headset but can be played on Oculus Rift with a bit of adjustment.

Arizona Sunshine: This first-person shooter immerses the player in a post-apocalyptic desert town. There is an arsenal of guns and other weapons that players can use to kill blood thirsty zombies. This game is available on PSVR, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets.

Resident Evil 7: Based on the popular survival horror series Resident Evil 7 offers a completely different way for players to see everything in the realm of VR. With creatures lurking around every corner to attack players in the virtual world, this game manages to provide an incredibly intense experience for users. Resident Evil 7 is currently available on PSVR, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets.

Lucky’s Tale: This VR game is available on Oculus Rift and translates the classic 3D platform into virtual reality. It makes use of the player’s ability to manipulate perspectives hiding secrets behind trees and under obstacles. The levels in this game are short to maintain the comfort level of the player in virtual reality.

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes: It is a multiplayer game where the user wearing the VR headset acts as a bomb disposal agent. Each level has an explosive device with a series of batteries, widgets and nodes to work with. The person wearing the headset has to describe the bomb and work as a team to disarm it. This game offers the player an adrenaline rush that is not seen in many others. It is available on Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PSVR headsets.

Stay tuned for information on other upcoming and popular VR games.

Best AR apps for your smartphone:

Augmented Reality (AR) is one of the categories of apps and games in Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store that has grown in popularity in recent times. Augmented reality refers to the enhancement of our real-world environment through computer-aided sensing. AR Apps use the phone’s camera or other sensors to give users more enhanced information about their environment. Companies using AR for a number of applications has become to driving force for augmented reality application development. AR is rapidly growing in popularity by merging elements of the virtual world, into our real world. Here is a list of the most popular AR apps and games.

Pokémon Go: This game combines Nintendo’s Pokémon with augmented reality technology. It sends players exploring their neighborhood on foot to discover, photograph and collect Pokémon. The user’s phone functions as a map and viewfinder, guiding them towards Poké Stops to collect various items.  Pokémon Go is a free game that is available for both android and iOS devices.

Ingress: It is a massive multiplayer augmented reality game available for both android and iOS users. This GPS based game has players joining rival secret societies to fight for control over “Exotic Matter” (XM). Players can use their devices to travel to real world locations to gather “XM” and gain control of portals around buildings and landmarks.

World Brush: This app allows users to draw and paint over real-world views using a variety of virtual brushes. The virtual painting is saved to its approximate GPS location, which allows other World Brush users nearby to view your creations. There is also an option to like, dislike and report offensive content. This app is currently available for iOS users only.

AR MeaseureKit: This app offers several handy utility functions for users. It is available for iOS users only and turns the user’s iPhone into a measuring tool. The ruler function in the free version of the app enables users to measure the length of surfaces. There is also a chaining tool for measuring more complex lengths. An in-app purchase unlocks full functionality of the app that offers tools for placing AR marker pins, measuring angles, trajectories, a person’s height, and checking whether a surface is level as well.

Fitness AR: This app allows users to visualize their running and biking routes in 3D, overlayed over the real world. They can sign in with their Strava account and select one of their recorded routes or explore the featured ones. The app also allows users to circle around and explore the map from multiple angles. This app is currently available for iOS users only.

Star Walk 2: This AR app uses the device’s sensors and location data to present an interactive view of the night sky. The app will display a matching view of constellations, planets and other celestial bodies in real time when the device is pointed skyward. While the Time Machine mode allows users to view starscapes at past or future dates, the night mode makes the app more comfortable to use in low light conditions.

Augmented Reality technology has changed the face of smartphone apps and gaming. AR adds digital images and data to amplify views of the real world, giving users more information about their environments.

Want to develop an Augmented Reality app? With 7 years of experience in developing mobile apps, we at BMS Innolabs are ready to take any challenge to make the best use of our expertise for your business.

Top free Graphic design software:

Whether you are creating and editing vector graphics, illustrations, infographics, 2D or 3D content, here are some of the most useful free software for designers.

Inkscape: It is an open source vector graphics editor widely known as the free counterpart to Adobe Illustrator. Inkscape is available for Windows, Mac and Linux, and is a great for budding graphic designers. It offers many complex features including complex path operations, node editing, bitmap tracing and path-based text. It is a powerful vector graphics tool with excellent format support and a comprehensive toolkit.

Krita: It has a set of carefully designed tools designed primarily for comic book artists. This includes halftones, pre-made templates and a set of drawing aids such as vanishing points, customizable brushes and other tools, smooth shapes, layer masks and advanced selection functions.

GIMP: It is a free photo editing and graphic design software packed with customizable tools for designers working with photos. GIMP is great for adjusting photos, creating a digital painting or compositing several different elements. It can easily be expanded using a huge archive of extensions or installing Photoshop plugins.

Blender: It is a great tool for graphic designers working on 3D content. Whether it’s modeling, rigging, rendering or animating, Blender has you covered. It is highly customizable and has excellent format support, and can be used to create short films, TV shows, and even feature films. Designers can even create their own tools and extensions that suit their needs. With a clear and easy-to-use interface, is a tool dedicated to creating infographics. It offers a good selection of templates and a wide selection of shapes and other tools for designers to work with. The completed infographics in PDF or JPG format, with quality settings optimized for web and print use.  Unlike many other free data visualization tools, will not watermark your work.

Gravit Designer: It is a full-featured vector design app suitable for a number of jobs that includes screen and icon designs, creating presentations, illustrations and animations as well. This software is packed with a host of tools for creating detailed and beautiful vector imagery. Other features include a knife tool and path graphs, multiple fills and blending modes, and a powerful text engine. Gravit also offers cloud service that enables designers to access their project on the go.

Vectr: It is available both as a stand-alone desktop app and as a browser-based web app. This free editor can be used for creating 2D vector graphics. It offers live collaboration and synchronization options to connect with other designers and work in tandem. Vectr is available for Mac, Windows, Linux and Chromebook, and has a number of options for using filters, shadows and fonts.

The top iOS exclusive apps:

While Google’s android is the most used mobile operating system around the world, Apple’s iOS has a well-deserved reputation for interface design and aesthetics. With a limited number of devices and screen sizes, iOS is an easier environment for developers to work in compared to the endless list of android devices with multiple dimensions. From image editors to clever games and utility apps, her is a list of some of the most popular iOS exclusive apps.

iMovie: This free app is one of the most popular apps among iOS users. It allows users to record, edit and share creative home movies. The app offers a number of templates making it easy to add titles, captions and special effects. Although there are many video editing apps for android, none of them are as powerful as the iMovie app.

Euclidean Lands: This paid app is a geometry puzzle game where users guide a red-cloaked warrior through increasingly difficult puzzle stages. Users can move their piece either through board spaces, or manipulating the level itself by rotating entire segments.

GarageBand: It is a free app that enables users to compose anything from a symphony to a ring tone on their iPhone, iPad or Mac. Users can also plug in an electric guitar or a similar music instrument directly into their device and record into the app engine. GarageBand is a valuable free resource, especially for musicians.

Bear free: It is a flexible writing and note-taking app that is useful for jotting down quick notes, doodles, poetry and prose, and even snippets of code. A built-in markup editor supports 20 different programming languages. The Bear app also includes cross note links and tag support for easy searching. There is also a paid version of the app that includes note syncing, export options for multiple file types and additional editing tools.

Enlight: This app provides users with powerful photo-editing tools with simple controls. It also provides other editing tools like color and tone controls, and masking features for seamless effects blending. A photo mixing feature in the app allows users to overlay different images for a double exposure effect. This easy to use app is paid and well worth the premium price.

Opinion Podcasts: With a simple user interface, this free app is useful for users who want to create their own podcasts. Users can record, edit and publish to apps like Twitter, SoundCloud, G-drive, Facebook and to the iTunes podcast directory as well.

Top anti-virus apps for android:

Android is the most widely used operating system in the world, and Antivirus apps are one of the most popular types of applications among android users. With increasing number of security threats, it would be wise to install an antivirus or a security app on your device. There are several such apps available on the Google Playstore. While some just have the option to run automatic scans, there are other apps that actively try to prevent malicious web pages and files from being opened or downloaded. Here is a list of some of the most popular security apps for android devices.

AVAST mobile security:  Antivirus giant, Avast, has created an app which goes above and beyond just a regular scanner. Features offered in this app include a call blocker, firewall and even an anti-theft option that allows users to remotely lock or wipe their android device if it goes missing. Initially, the app used to be paid but is now free to use and has ads that can be removed with a monthly or yearly premium. The ‘in-app locking feature prevents malware from launching apps such as internet banking automatically.

Bitdefender antivirus Free: It is a lightweight app that frees up system resources and saves battery life. This app does not run in the background, which means users will have to schedule scans or run them manually to be safe. There is a paid version of the app that offers the basic antivirus as well as real-time protection for the Chrome browser and anti-theft features as well. There is also a Privacy advisor tool that adds an additional layer of security to the user’s smartwatch, which alerts them if they leave their phone behind.

AVL: Antiy AVL security solution’s features include not only an antivirus database, but also a scanner capable of detecting any kind of executable file making its way onto the device. Other useful features include a call blocker to prevent calls from malicious numbers, an anti-phishing feature to stop harmful websites from loading. The app is lightweight and does not drain the device’s battery life.

McAfee security: McAfee is a well-known antivirus software that is available for both PC and android devices. The free version of the app includes features like antivirus scanner, block access to potentially malicious websites, tracking a lost device, and the app can also take a picture of the thief in case the device is stolen. Another useful feature is the ability to scan apps to check if they leak sensitive information of the user.

Kaspersky Mobile Antivirus: The free version of the security app has many features and is very good at detecting malware. It also blocks any malicious sites or links before the user clicks on them thereby preventing an infection. The premium version of the app offers additional security features such as automatic scanning, anti-phishing, call filtering and text filtering. The supports android wear which simplifies security management.

Applications of Augmented Reality:

Augmented reality has been around for many years, but it wasn’t until the emergence of smartphones equipped with GPS, camera and AR capability that AR came into its own among the public. Augmented reality technology combines the digital world with the real world in the form of live video imagery that is enhanced with computer-generated graphics. AR can be experienced through headsets and displays on mobile devices. The number of AR apps available for the android and iOS devices has expanded dramatically, and are not limited to just games. Retailers are showing tremendous interest in the possibilities of using AR for their business.

Handheld AR Equipment: There is a list of AR software development kits available for Android smartphones and Apple’s mobile devices. These kits give developers the tools needed to add AR elements to their apps.

AR Headsets: Although devices like Microsoft’s HoloLens or Facebook’s Oculus headset are quite expensive. Other companies have started offering headsets at a third of the price the high end headsets like the HoloLens. Most AR headsets operate while tethered to a PC, but it won’t be too long before untethered headsets will be available in the market.

AR Applications:

Early PC, smartphone and tablet applications for augmented reality focused on games, but AR has much broader uses in the real world. The possible commercial and educational applications are unlimited.

Augmented Reality in 3D viewers:

This allows users to put life-size 3D models in their environment with or without the use of trackers. Trackers are the simple images that 3D models can be linked to in Augmented Reality. Popular 3D viewers include AUGMENT and Sun Seeker.

Augmented Reality in Browsers:

The AR browsers can enhance users’ camera display with contextual information. For example, when you point your smartphone at a building, you can see its history or estimated value. Examples of these type of browsers include Argon4, AR Browser SDK and more.

Augmented Reality Games:

AR Gaming software is probably the most common type of App. These apps create mesmeric gaming experiences that use your actual surroundings. Some of the popular AR games include Pokémon Go, Parallel Kingdom, Temple Treasure Hunt, Real Strike, Zombie Go, etc.

Augmented Reality GPS:

AR applications in smartphones generally include Global Positioning System (GPS) to spot the user’s location and its compass to detect device orientation. Examples: AR GPS Compass Map 3D, AR GPS Drive/Walk Navigation.

Augmented Reality is a technology that has changed the face of smartphone apps and gaming. AR adds digital images and data to amplify views of the real world, giving users more information about their environments.

Want to develop your Augmented Reality app? With 7 years of experience in developing mobile apps, we at BMS Innolabs are ready to take any challenge to make the best use of our expertise for your business.

Blockchain technology:

Originally devised in 2008 for the digital currency, Bitcoin, the revolutionary blockchain technology allows digital information to be distributed but not copied. A network of computing “nodes” makes up the blockchain. Each node gets a copy of the blockchain, which is downloaded automatically. It is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record online financial transactions. Distributed ledgers can be public or private and vary in structure and size.

Public blockchains need computer processing power to confirm transactions. Information held on a blockchain exists as a shared and continually reconciled database. This database isn’t stored in any single location, which means the records it keeps are made public and easily verifiable. Instead of a single centralized authority, the record’s authenticity can be verified by the entire community using the blockchain.

Blockchain technology provides a new layer of functionality for the internet. It gives internet users the ability to create value and authenticates digital information. There is no centralized version of this information, making it impossible for hackers to corrupt and hence secure. Blockchains are built from 3 technologies:

  • Private Key Cryptography.
  • P2P Network.
  • Program (the blockchain’s protocol).

Authentication and authorization supplied in this way allows for interactions in the digital world without relying on the trust factor. The mechanism of blockchain technology brings everyone to the highest degree of accountability. It prevents missed transactions, human errors, and even exchange done without the consent of the parties involved.

Blockchain security methods use encryption technology that avoids centralized points of vulnerability that can be exploited by computer hackers. It validates a transaction by recording it not only on a main register, but also on a connected distributed system of registers. These registers are connected through a secure validation mechanism. This self-auditing ecosystem with a digital value reconciles every transaction that happens in ten-minute intervals. Each group of these transactions is referred to as a “block”. Once completed, a block goes into the blockchain as a permanent database. Trying to alter or corrupt any information on the blockchain requires a huge amount of computing power, which is practically impossible.

With all its potential benefits and applications, for some, the ever-growing size of the blockchain is considered to be a problem, creating issues of storage and synchronization.

What is 5G technology?

5G is the fifth generation wireless broadband technology that is based on the IEEE 802.11ac standard. Although there is still time for mainstream implementation of this technology, an increasing number of companies have already started gearing up for this new mobile wireless standard. The features and usability of 5G are much beyond the expectation of people. The features of 5G includes,

  • Zero latency.
  • Speed of up to 10 Gbps.
  • Wide range of applications.
  • More software options to upgrade.
  • Faster response time.
  • Ubiquitous connectivity.

While 4G claims to be around five times faster than 3G services, 5G Wi-Fi connections are set to be around three times faster than 4G, starting with 450Mbps in single-stream, 900 Mbps in dual- stream and 1.3Gbps in three-stream. With huge growth seen in the IoT and smart devices, 5G will enable a rapid arrival of a connected future. This new technology offers a wide range of features, which are beneficial for everyone, including students and professionals in various fields. It has the ability to provide uniform, uninterrupted, and consistent connectivity across the world. Medical treatment will become easier for doctors as they will be able to treat patients remotely. Besides increase in bitrate, 5G has also advanced in terms of,

  • Increased peak bit rate.
  • Larger data volume per unit area.
  • Allowing more devices connectivity, concurrently and instantaneously.
  • Lower battery consumption.
  • Better connectivity irrespective of the location.
  • Larger number of supporting devices.
  • Lower cost of infrastructural development.
  • Higher reliability.

Although implementing this technology has many benefits, it has several shortcomings as well. Because of the incompetent technological support in most parts of the world, the claimed speed of 5G is difficult to achieve in all locations. Most old devices would not be compatible with 5G and will need to be replaced, which is an expensive deal. With security and privacy issues yet to be addressed, developing the infrastructure needs high cost as well. The challenges faced by this technology can be categorized into Technological challenges and common challenges. The technological challenges include inter-cell interference, efficient medium access control and network traffic management. Common challenges include standardization to provide dynamic, universal, user-centric, and data-rich wireless services, need for larger infrastructure support, security and privacy concerns of users, and legislation of the Cyberlaw is also an imperative issue.

Starting from the First Generation (1G) in 1980s, we are advancing towards more sophisticated and smarter technology. With greater bandwidth comes faster download speeds and the ability to run complex mobile internet apps on devices. With 5G scheduled for launch in 2020, the impact it will have remains to be seen.