Tech Roundup: HIV A3/02, Moto G & More

[A recurring feature on the latest in Science & Technology.]

A new aggressive strain of HIV virus discovered:
A new strain of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) discovered in West Africa progresses to AIDS more quickly than the two most common HIV strains found in the region, according to a new study published by a team of Swedish scientists in the Journal of Infectious Diseases. With the new strain, named A3/02 and formed as the result of a cross between the other two strains A3 and 02AG, it takes an infected person just a period of five years to develop AIDS symptoms, up to two-and-a-half years faster than either of its parent strains, the researchers add.

Moto G from Motorola
Motorola does a Nokia with Moto G:
Android experience on cheaper handsets have been largely hit-or-miss thanks to the compromises made in terms of processor and other hardware aspects. While Google is aiming to rectify this with KitKat, which has support for phones with RAM as low as 512 MB (appositely titled Project Svelte), its subsidiary Motorola is trying a different tack: deliver top-notch performance at an affordable price a la Nokia. It's no secret that Nokia's Windows Phones have been a hit in the low and mid budget smartphone segments. And Google's own Nexus 5, although significantly cheaper than the likes of the Galaxy S4, HTC One, LG G2 and Sony Xperia Z1, isn't exactly what one would call a budget smartphone.

Moto X, on the other hand, has been an Americas-only handset, which leaves us with Moto G, the company's phone for the masses. Packing in a 4.5-inch display, 1.2GHz quad-core processor, 1GB RAM, 5MP rear camera and a very lightly customized variant of Android 4.3 jelly Bean, Moto G has undoubtedly all the makings for the best budget smartphone in the market. This is one exceptional phone done right without cutting much corners. Kudos to Motorola!

Android and duplicate apps:
Android KitKat 4.4 is definitely an exciting update for it brings a massive cleanup of what Google intended to achieve - both visually and performance wise, thus making it less of a learning curve than it was previously. The foremost, yet not the most apparent, is its ability to support low-end hardware, a clear signal that Google perhaps has plans to expand the OS beyond smartphones and tablets(?). While all this is good news for Android aficionados, I still feel the there are some chinks left to be ironed out. Why for instance the search giant revels in redundancy is beyond my comprehension. Two apps to view your photos (Photos and Gallery), two apps to view and edit documents (Drive and Quickoffice); and this coming from Google itself is a little hard to digest. Then what of the OEMs?

In fact when I wrote the Galaxy S4-HTC One comparison months back, I made my frustrations clear with the S4, which had a duplicate app for every Google offering that was bundled with the phone. But it doesn't end there. Following Hangouts, Samsung has recently updated its own instant messaging app ChatON with SMS/MMS support, leaving you with two apps for SMS and instant messaging. I agree that choice is good and necessary, but there should be at least an option to uninstall the one that's not to your liking without needing to root and tamper with your phone. What say?

In other news:
  • Rwanda launches mass circumcision drive to combat HIV.
  • Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) successfully sends Mars Orbiter into sun-centric orbit; on its course to Mars in 10 months.
  • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awards 11 innovators with $100,000 apiece to "develop the next generation of condom."
  • Death toll from H1NI swine flu pandemic in 2009 may have been as high as 203,000 - 10 times more than thought, say researchers.
  • Virtual currency Bitcoin vaults to a new high fueled by views that the cryptocurrency can be used as an alternative to traditional forms of payment.
  • Facebook testing Pocket like read it later service.
  • PC maker HP shares jump after it posts better than expected quarterly results.
  • HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play Editions get Android Kitkat.
  • Google Chairman Eric Schmidt posts how-to guide to switch from iOS to Android.