[NEW PROJECT] Raspberry Pi Automates Your Tomato Farm

rpi-tomato-farming

Check out the tomato plants [Devon] grew using a monitoring system he built himself. It’s based around a Raspberry Pi. As far as grow controllers go it falls a bit short of full automation. That’s because the only thing it can actuate is the black water line seen hovering above the plants. But [Devon's] work on monitoring and collecting sensor data should make it easy to add features in the future.

The moisture sensors pictured above monitor the soil in which the plants are growing. But he also has temperature and light sensors. These are very important when growing from seed and could be used in conjunction with a heating mat for plants that require higher soil temperatures (like pepper plants). The tomatoes are also pretty leggy. Now that he’s monitoring light levels it would be good to augment the setup with a grow light. A long term goal could even be a motorized bed which could raise the plants right up to the bulbs so they don’t reach for the light.

Don’t let the stars in our eyes distract you though. He’s done a ton of work on the project both with the physical build, and in plotting the data collected by the system. Great job!

I am going to be speaking with my uncle about implementing a Rasberry pie operating system similar to Devon’s to monitor moisture, light, soil temperature, and room humidity on a special type of plant (; I plan to take this to a new level by implementing ir controlled outlets to control air conditioning, light cycles, and watering automatically and also manually through remote Android OS integration.  For this we will be using Z-Wave modules and a little help from an Android application called Tasker.  Commands will be routed through a wireless gateway connected to my existing internet router.

 

-Gio

[OS FEATURE] CyanogenMod Team Introduces New Quick Camera Feature

Did you ever find it annoying the process you had to go through just to snap a photo? Apparently you were not the only one. Nebojsa Cvetkovic (member of the CM team) is the developer that created the feature in hopes to make taking photos just that much easier. Nebojsa has integrated a tile into QuickSettings that functions as a small camera. By sliding down on your notification bar to get to QuickSettings you will see a tile and with the simple tap it will start the preview. Think of it as a very tiny camera application in your QuickSettings. The subsequent taps will take pictures of what is being displayed in the tile. Nebojsa indicates that “It attempts continuous auto-focus if the device supports it or otherwise focuses after the first tap.”

 
Once you have completed taking the photos, simply close the notification drawer and the camera will automatically close. All pictures taken via this feature are at full resolution and same quality you would expect if you were using the standard camera application.

The QuickSettings Mini-Camera Tile feature is still under review. However, the CM team have shown interest and are looking to implement this new feature in a future update. There are no indications yet as to when it will arrive so it is time to be patient. If you happen to rely on another custom rom don’t worry as CM is open source so it is likely this feature will be used on other ROMs as well. Source for the code review of the CM QuickSettings Mini-Camera Tile can be found over at CyanogenMod Review (1)(2).

[APP] Google+ gets a new menu and sync across devices

Continuing the long run of Google app updates that began just before the I/O conference is the latest entry, Google+. Yes, the app already received a huge update that included Snapspeed photo editing and a new look and feel, but Google clearly isn’t finished with this app yet. This time, Google+ gets sync across devices and a new menu that mimics those of Google’s other app updates (such as Gmail, Play Music and Drive).

Sync across devices basically means that if you dismiss a Google+ notification on one device, be it your PC via the browser, your tablet or your phone, it will be dismissed on all of your other devices as well. You will no longer be nagged multiple times for the same notification. Also, your notification panel will have a separator between your read and unread notifications.

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Other features included in this update (by the way, the new version number is 4.0.1 so we’re getting a lot for an 0.0.1 update) are a slide-out menu reminiscent of Gmail, Play Music, Drive and other newly-updated apps, and the ability to delete photos directly from Photos view. You will also see +1′s and reshares along with the comments when you tap on a post.

If you’re not keen on waiting for the update to appear in the Play Store on your device, you can trot on over to Android Police to download the app manually.

Source [Vic Gundotra (Google+)] via [Android Police]

 

[New Feature] Paranoid Android makes Halo Open Source

Paranoid Android’s latest feature, a FaceBook Chatheads-style notification system called HALO, has already had an eventful history. The developers for Paranoid Android started with ademonstrationreleased test builds, and then entered HALO into beta testing. In the latest step in HALO’s progression, the Paranoid Android team announced Monday on Google+ that they have released the source code for the popular new feature, meaning that developers of other ROMs can now enjoy some Halo in their own work.

 
The Paranoid Android has released the source code on Github and it is available now, split intoPart 1 and Part 2. The Paranoid Android team states that “HALO is still in beta, code has not been cleaned, support for TabletUI and PIE is unfinished, among other minor things.” However, they are claiming that HALO is good enough to be released.

If you want to try the feature out for yourself on Paranoid Android, you can find download links for supported devices in this post. The new features are described as follows:

  • Apps open up in floating state, apps underneath do not pause
  • Complete SystemUI & Core integration, making HALO feel like a native feature, source/SDK and UI/UX
  • HALO has white and blacklists, which for now allow fine control for apps pinging through HALO
  • Multiple gestures to navigate HALO:
    • double-tap-move: move
    • Tap-drag-left/right: task through notifications, finger up launches
    • tap-drag-up: dismiss notification
    • tap-drag-down: put HALO into semi-hidden state
    • Swipe while HALO is hidden wakes it up
    • drag-to-X to remove HALO altogether
  • Comes with as few settings as possible, everything should be self-explanatory and intuitive, users must be informed about the double-tap gestures which is the only catch.

​Known Issues:

  • Integration has been finished for PhoneUI. TabletUI and PIE must be integrated still.
  • Package installer must allow HALO through its overlay check or it will disable the install-app button.
  • The low level has a few remaining issues:
  • Some apps still go up full scale (they trick us with services, circumventing the intent flagging)
    • Some 3D games still pause
    • There is one known app that refuses to end on back or touch-outside, that is WeChat
    • The activity stack pause implementation works but is makeshift


HALO features described by the Paranoid Android team

Source [Paranoid Android (Google+)]

 

[HATING ON APPLE :)] iOS 7 vs. Android – A Quick Feature Comparison After the WWDC Keynote

iOS7 vs Android

Tim Cook and crew are now off stage at WWDC, so as is typical around these parts when Apple announces something “revolutionary” (yes, they used the term again), we like to react. And even though Google has moved away from the series of cheap jabs during their own keynotes, Apple still does them in the bitterest and childish of fashions. If we didn’t toss out some thoughts in support, we wouldn’t be proper Android fans. Because after all, we are still Android fans.

So here we go, these are some initial thoughts to Apple’s big announcement of iOS 7 as compared to the current version of Android (4.2, Jelly Bean). In general, iOS 7 is a newly skinned version of iOS that finally matches up to current mobile design trends. Gone are the leather notebooks and green felt gaming tables – in is a minimal flat aesthetic. And to be perfectly honest, it does look beautiful. Jony Ive and his team did a fantastic job at skinning iOS and turning it into a modern looking mobile UI.

Screen Shot 2013-06-10 at 11.25.09 AM

But every time Apple does this song and dance, we seem to sit throughout the keynote going, “Whoa, that’s been on Android forever.” Or even, “Umm, that looks just like how Android works.” Today was no different. While iOS 7 looks nice from the outside, many of the new goodies remind us a lot of our favorite mobile OS.

And not that we should need to remind you, but don’t take this too seriously. We’re just having some fun and pointing out things that gave us a chuckle. We are happy to see iOS evolve, just like we will be happy to see every other mobile OS evolve. Companies pushing boundaries and taking features to new levels is what we love about this industry.

(iOS 7 on the left, Android screenshot attached on the right.)

Quick Toggles (Command Center)

a vs i1

Apple is adding in a gesture for accessing Command Center from anywhere on an iOS device. A quick swipe up from the bottom of the screen and you are graced with a panel filled with toggles for Airplane mode, WiFi, Bluetooth, brightness settings, music controls, camera shortcut, and even a flashlight. As you all know, Android devices have had access to similar information for a while thanks to 3rd party skins from manufacturers. But in Android 4.2, Google introduced a panel as well that can be accessed with a two-finger swipe down from the notification bar. Music controls have been in the notification bar for some time, so that’s not necessarily new.

Lock Screen Notifications

a vs i7

I found this out today, but apparently iOS did not let you access their notification center from the lock screen. Android has been on this trend for at least two versions, but Apple is just now introducing it with iOS 7. Once released, iOS users will be able to swipe down their notification bar without unlocking their device.

The new notification center has done away with that terrible looking felt background and is more transparent. There are tabs for “Today,” “All,” and “Missed.” I like the idea of panels, though Android seems to have been able to handle all of this information without needing extra panels. Thanks to actionable and collapsable notifications on Android, you only need one area for all of this.

Safari vs. Chrome

a vs i2

Safari is Safari – most people can’t stand it and prefer browsers like Chrome for their browsing needs. But one thing we thought was interesting in the new UI of Safari, was the tab view that shows all open tabs. They bragged about the 3D appearance, scrolling, and quick access to other tabs yet we have had this in Chrome for Android since it was first released over a year ago.

Multi-tasking

a vs i8

Multi-tasking! iOS 7 has a new style of multi-tasking that only runs in the background when it thinks you want access to frequently used apps. It essentially learns from your patterns to help extend your battery life. That’s kind of cool, assuming it can learn properly, which we won’t know anything about until people can spend some time with it. But in general, we like the idea of phones learning our patterns to better optimize our lives with them.

But in terms of a UI, Apple created something semi-unique. It’s not an exact copy of Android, since it scrolls horizontally and features full-screen previews of currently running apps. It does look a lot like what HTC did back with Sense 4, though HTC abandoned the look after hearing pretty terrible reviews of the change.

iTunes Radio vs. Google Music

a vs i6

Apple did in fact announce a Pandora competitor this morning called iTunes Radio. It’s really not all that game-changing or innovative. You can create your own radio playlists based off of songs, or you can use recommended stations that Apple has ready to go. There are massive “BUY” buttons all over the place, along with ads, unless you are an iTunes Match customer. But you can’t save full albums or tracks to your library like you can with Google’s new All Access service, nor can you pick and choose specific songs to create playlists. It’s just like Pandora in that it brings up songs that it thinks match what you are looking for and then allows you to downvote them or favorite them, so that they’ll play more often. It’s a nice add-on to iTunes, but nothing new.

In terms of looks, the new Google Music and new Music apps look a lot a like. We’re seeing white menus and similar UI with big, bold album art.

Also, we should point out that Google Music All Access gives you unlimited access to albums and songs because it comes with a monthly fee.

Mail

a vs i5

While I don’t know how many people actually use the stock Mail app in iOS, it’s easy to see that they have stolen features from the popular iOS app called Mailbox. Apple added in swiping gestures, for deleting, archiving, and “More” options. It’s a complete copy of what Mailbox already made popular, and I can’t believe people aren’t throwing massive fits over this. But then again, this is what Apple does time and time again to its developer community.

Oh, and Gmail has had swipe-to-delete/archive for longer than I can recall.

Calendars

a vs i3

The new iOS Calendar app doesn’t look all that much like that of Android, but the similarities are still there. We’re looking at an ultra-minimal design, with flat rectangles, pastel-ish colors, and a white background rather than the round appearance of the current iOS Calendar app. And in fact, the newest Calendar app from Google has similar design in the circular color picker and date chooser to what we are seeing in iOS, only it came out a couple of weeks ago.

Navigation Drawers

a vs i9

Apple added a bunch of slideout navigation drawers to apps like Mail and iMessage. We have seen these in Google apps for over a year now (even the ones on iOS), but they made a point of the addition today as if it were something “new” to app development. No, Apple, it’s not new.

Lock Screens

iso vs android

We already covered this here.

Al Gore

Screen Shot 2013-06-10 at 11.31.19 AM

Actually, Al Gore has nothing to do with Android that I know of, but he was there. So, here is a picture of him looking flat.

Other Notes

  • Semi-live Wallpapers:   Apple showed off a new wallpaper that moved the background as you tilted your device from side to side. It’s almost like a live wallpaper on Android, but even more so like 3D Image Live Wallpaper that has been on Google Play for a while. Yes, you can get down with Apple’s fancy new wallpaper feature today, on Android.
  • Auto-app Updates:  I didn’t realize that Apple hadn’t introduced auto-app updates yet on iOS, but in iOS 7, users will finally have the option to update automatically. They joked about seeing the “Update” count climbing throughout the day and that iOS users would no longer have to worry about that. Add that to the list of things we take for granted on Android, already.
  • Bing (hah!):  The new iOS in the Car feature introduced today uses Bing for search. Yes, Bing. Edit: Apparently it’s Siri that has Bing, making Siri even less of an important piece of the Apple pie, which I didn’t think was possible.
  • Notification Sync:  They touched on this ever-so-briefly, but I believe Apple mentioned that with iOS 7, devices will be able to sync notifications across devices. Google just started doing this with Hangouts on Android, but made a point of it coming to other apps in the future during their I/O keynote.
  • Send-to-Phone:  Apple showed off a send-to-phone feature from Calendar and Maps Mac apps today. Say you have a calendar item set up with a location or are looking at something in Apple’s newly announced Mac Maps app, you can send it quickly to your phone and have it readily available. Nice idea, but Google knows your searches thanks to Google Now and makes them automatically available to you on your other devices – you don’t need to send a thing.
  • Maps for Mac:  Speaking of Maps for Mac, hah. Google.com/maps is all I have to say.
  • AirDrop:  One of the more interesting features that Apple showed off today was called AirDrop. It allows you to quickly send information (photos as an example) to your friends’ iOS devices without the need to bump them together. Yes, they poked fun at NFC and the ridiculous tapping we have to do as Android users, in order to share things. Thing is, Samsung devices do this already with a little thing called WiFi Direct. Nice idea that is baked into iOS devices, though. Keep in mind that this feature won’t be available on all iOS devices – it’s limited to the new guys.

I’m sure there were other things we could list, since the keynote was lengthy, but these were the new features or ideas that stood out the most. As you can see, iOS 7 is actually a pretty major change from iOS6, bringing it steps closer to the power of Android. It’s not going to kill Android or give Apple some immediate leg up on the world’s most popular mobile operating system, but it does make at least the design of their UI a hell of a lot more appealing. In the end, Android users saw a lot of what they are already accustomed to, which they have already grown accustomed to.

Other thoughts?

[ROM] ParanoidAndroid’s HALO Feature Enters Beta

Because Paranoid Android is always adding new features that push the limits of Android, the developers always seem to be releasing alpha builds, which might scare off a lot of the more casual users. If you are hesitant to live on the bleeding edge by running alpha builds, you might be a bit more comfortable testing your feet in the beta waters, where Paranoid Android’s HALO notification system now resides.

Paranoid Android made a big splash in the Android ROM community when they allowed any supported device to run a tablet UI and set custom DPI settings for each app. The developers made more waves when they gave users the option to change the colors of the UI for each individual app. Then they introduced PIE controls to their ROM, allowing for a full-screen experience without the need for an on-screen navigation bar.

Recently, they have been building a new feature called HALO, which is a Facebook Chathead-like experience that puts all of your notifications in a “halo” that pops up on the side of your screen. Upon clicking on this HALO, a floating window pops up containing the notifying app’s UI. This allows you to stay in the app you were using before while you choose how to deal with the notification.

Attached Image: papic.png

The functionality of HALO was completed during the alpha stage, but now that they are in beta they have completely rewritten HALO to “fight against the occasional jank,” while working on other bugfixes and styling of the feature, getting it to look more like what they referred to as “Android 5,” which is the card-oriented “Google Now/Keep” style. HALO as a whole should be much smoother and pretty slick looking.

The Paranoid Android team has added gestures “to dismiss notifications or hide HALO on the spot.” Also, every app in your system should now work in HALO, meaning you can have a floating window of any app on top of whatever you were doing before.

This should be one of the last few releases before the team drops the source for HALO and allows other people to look into what exactly goes on in HALO. They are shooting to get it out this weekend, but there are no guarantees that there will be no delays.

Builds will be uploaded as they are completed and mirrors will be posted in the Paranoid Android Google+ community.

[NEWS][APP] Stock Google Keyboard Swipes its Way into the Play Store

In the past few months, we have seen many Google apps normally integrated into Android (or gapps packages for us AOSP-based ROM flashers) released as standalone apps in the Play Store for everyone to enjoy. Joining this group of apps Wednesday was the stock keyboard that we saw ship with Jelly Bean, available for download now.

The keyboard that came with Jelly Bean (now called “Google Keyboard”) introduced Google’s version of Swype, which they call Gesture Typing. The keyboard also works for 26 different languages and has next-word predictions and current-word completions, along with a very accurate auto-correct function and voice dictation.

Attached Image: keyboard3.png Attached Image: keyboard2.png Attached Image: keyboard4.png
What’s interesting about Google putting this in the Play Store is that they seem to be moving towards a separation of Google apps and Android. Now, they can update all of these core apps without updating Android. This also seemed to be a theme at I/O this year. This should allow for more often updated core apps while OS updates actually focus simply on the OS.

It should be noted that this keyboard is only available on Ice Cream Sandwich and up and it seems to be country-restricted, unfortunately.

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Google Keyboard is available for free in the Play Store

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