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TECHNOLOGY

The Connection Between Your Android Phone, Qualcomm Snapdragon Chips And Mars

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If you thought your new Android smartphone isn’t already cutting edge, you’d be very wrong. In fact, chances are, your new Android phone, particularly if you’ve splurged on a flagship phone, is more powerful than some of the tech that has landed on Mars recently. The Mars 2020 Perseverance rover which landed on the red planet earlier this month carries with it the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, an autonomous drone. This drone is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, essentially the Qualcomm Snapdragon Flight iteration that drives the Qualcomm Robotics Flight 801 platform. It has its own little important mission on the planet.

The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter isn’t actually part of the Perseverance’s mission but is on an experimental 30 Martian day test flight, that is 31 days here on earth, in temperatures that drop as low as minus 130 degrees Fahrenheit, which is minus 90 degrees Celsius. If this test is successful, NASA will plan another test flight in the coming months. The Snapdragon Flight platform was announced back in 2015, and the core specs include a 2.26GHz processor as well as two cameras—one is a downward-facing 0.5-megapixel navigation camera that maps the Martian surface while there is a 13-megapixel front facing camera that gives it greater awareness. And those awesome photos of Mars, that we’ll eventually see.

There’s a lot that this platform has to do as part of the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter tests, in what are most definitely very testing conditions. The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter will have to understand the temperature and keep the internals warm, ensure the batteries are topped up, monitor the blades and motors to ensure they don’t freeze and fly as well as land autonomously. In case you need a refresher, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chip powered some of the popular Android flagship phones in the past, including the OnePlus One, the HTC One M8 and the Samsung Galaxy S5—around the years 2014 and 2015. Since then, we have seen the various upgrades, namely the Snapdragon 805, Snapdragon 808, Snapdragon 810, Snapdragon 820, Snapdragon 821, Snapdragon 835, Snapdragon 845, Snapdragon 855 and Snapdragon 855+, Snapdragon 865 and Snapdragon 865+ as well as the latest Snapdragon 888. And at each step, your computing devices including Android smartphones, have becomes significantly more powerful.

Interestingly enough, the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover runs what can only be described as much older specifications and architecture. It runs the BAE RAD 750 radiation-hardened processor with 256MB RAM and 2GB of storage. This PowerPC 750 architecture delivers up to 200Mhz clock speeds. These specs would be similar to an Apple iMac from 1998 or a PowerBook G3 from that era.



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TECHNOLOGY

Truecaller’s Guardians Could Just Be The App Your Family Needs, Particularly When They Travel

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You may already be using Truecaller, the incredibly popular app for detecting and blocking spam calls and managing messages on smartphones on your Android phone or Apple iPhone. The makers of the Truecaller app are now rolling out a new app call Guardians, which is designed as a personal safety app that lets you share your live location with guardian contacts and request for help in case you need it. The idea behind this app is to share your live location when you may be out and about and traveling alone, with select contacts called guardians, something that makes a lot of sense in these times when women’s safety in particular remains a big concern. The Guardians app is free to download and use and will be available for Android phones as well as the Apple iPhone.

The way the Guardians app works is that you can add friends and family as Guardians on the app—they will get a notification to accept your request. You can then choose to share your live location with them for a particular trip (this is called Watch Over Me) or permanently share your location with them (this feature is called Forever Share). The Guardians app will have an “I Need Help” button which will send emergency notifications and location data to the contacts you have selected as guardians. The guardian contacts will get your phone status data as well, such as battery strength and phone profile status, to give you a better understanding of the emergency situation.

The Guardians app by Truecaller is a standalone app that can be used by anyone, and isn’t an integrated part of another app, such as the Uber cab booking app, for example. This means you can share your location data with your parents if you are taking a late-night cab back from work, have your friends track you as you head home using public transport after a movie or even allow family members to track elders who may be traveling at the time.

Truecaller insists that privacy very much remains the foundation that Guardians is built on. The company confirms that neither they can, nor can anyone else, see the data. The live location data is shared with encryption between the person sharing the location data and the person receiving the location data. The company also insists that no data will also be shared with any third parties. Since your location data isn’t shared on any servers anywhere, there is no option to revisit a previous journey at a later date.

There is also a volunteer guardian option in case you call for help and your guardian contacts aren’t nearby or are some distance away. The developers say that the app will then search for those who have signed up as volunteers on the Guardian app and ping them requesting for help. However, questions remain about the volunteer backgrounds and how these checks may be done for all volunteers who sign up on the app, though the developers insist there are multiple checks already in place and more can be put in place if there is a need for it. At this time, the Guardians app is still not available on the Apple App Store for the iPhone, and we have not been able to check the process of signing up as a volunteer and the verifications that it may entail.

The Guardians app by Truecaller rolls out today on the Google Play Store for Android phones and will be available from tomorrow on the Apple App Store for iPhone users.



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