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Hardik Patel

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Showing posts with label MOBILES. Show all posts
Showing posts with label MOBILES. Show all posts

Friday, July 18, 2014

iPhone 6 to Enter Mass Production in July: Report


Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd, the world's largest contract manufacturer of electronic goods, will begin mass production of Apple Inc's next-generation iPhone (expected to be called the iPhone 6) this month, Taipei media reported Friday.

Mass production of a 4.7-inch successor to the wildly popular iPhone 5 series of smartphones will begin during the third week of July, Taiwan's Economic Daily News said, without citing sources. Production of a 5.5-inch iPhone 6 version will begin during the second week of August, it said.

A separate report issued Thursday by a China state-run news service said Hon Hai is planning to hire 100,000 workers at its mainland facilities to meet future demand for Apple's latest smartphone, citing comments made by the chief of the Henan Provincial Commerce Department.

Fellow Taiwanese contract manufacturer Pegatron Corp this month also began recruitment of over 10,000 workers for its mainland facilities to manufacture the phone, according to the Economic Daily News report.

Hon Hai had no comment on the report. Representatives for Pegatron and the Henan Provincial Commerce Department could not immediately be reached for comment.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Budget Battle: Moto G Vs Asus ZenFone 5



Considering the high-end segment is mostly dominated by Samsung and Apple, the Finnish brand Nokia (now owned by Microsoft) turned its attention to the budget smartphone market. Similar strategy worked wonders for Motorola, and now the latest company to follow the suite is Asus. By pricing its feature-packed ZenFone 5 aggressively, the Taiwanese company is planning to take on the Moto G. Let's find out how they stack up against each other.
Construction And Aesthetic
As far as the sturdiness is concerned, both the Moto G and ZenFone 5 offer excellent quality for the price. These phones can easily withstand a few (accidental) drops. The materials used in construction are also top-notch. In terms of looks, the stylish ZenFone 5 fares better than Motorola's clunky phone. As mentioned in its review, Asus has "borrowed" the design elements from HTC's premium handset, One, but we are not complaining since it looks nice.

Display
The ZenFone 5 as its name suggests sports a 5-inch screen, while the Moto G settles for a 4.5-incher. Both these panels are IPS type so the colour reproduction and viewing angles are good. These screens are covered by Corning's Gorilla Glass 3. Since the Moto G packs in HD resolution in a relatively smaller size, you get higher pixel density. It's 325 ppi Vs. ZenFone 5's 294 ppi to be precise. However, it doesn't make much of a difference. So I think it's a tie in the screen department.
Software
Moto G supports the latest Android 4.4 Kitkat, which is a great thing at this price tag. The stock Android interface looks much better than what Samsung, Sony, LG, Lenovo, and Gionee offer. On the other hand, Asus offers highly-modified ZenUI. Thankfully, it looks and performs very well. Plus, it's more consistent and cohesive compared to Google's design language. However, as far as the version number is concerned, Asus lags behind Moto with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. Coming to the subject of future updates, Moto G has a clear advantage. It's eligible for Android L, while the ZenFone 5 hasn't even got Kitkat yet.

Firepower
The Moto G is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 400 chipset. Based on ARM's tried-and-tested Cortex A7 architecture, the SoC (System on Chip) is clocked at 1.2 GHz. Then, there's 1 GB RAM and Adreno 305 GPU to handle gaming. On the other hand, the ZenFone 5 is based on Intel's Atom platform. This particular handset runs a Dual-Core Atom Z2560 chipset clocked at 1.6 GHz. It features 1 GB \ 2 GB (16 GB version) RAM and PowerVR SGX544MP2 GPU. That's more than enough to handle all the popular Android games including Real Racing 3. In terms of performance, Asus' device is as good as the Moto G.
Camera
The ZenFone 5 sports an 8 megapixel camera. It comes with PixelMaster enhancement, which let's you snap decent photographs in low-light conditions. In well-lit environments, the ZenFone 5 produces quality images. Compared to it, Moto G's 5 megapixel camera module disappoints with its performance. Forget night-mode, even in normal conditions, Motorola's handset produces grainy pictures. So if you're into photography, ZenFone 5 is a much better option than the Moto G.
Miscellaneous Features
Contrary to Motorola, the Taiwanese brand Asus duly covers all the essential accessories such as a wall charger, USB cable, and decent earphones. Another area where Asus takes the lead is the expandable storage. It supports up to 64 GB microSD card slot. On the other hand, you're stuck with limited space to store your music and movies on the Moto G.
Price
The Moto G (16 GB) costs Rs 14,000. There's no point in buying an 8 GB version, as the Moto G lacks a microSD card slot. In comparison, priced at Rs 10,000 (8 GB + microSD slot), the ZenFone makes the Moto G look overpriced. For us price conscious Indians, that makes a lot of difference. So the aggressive pricing clearly puts the Asus' product ahead of the Moto G.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Android L Camera 2 API Features Include Burst Mode, HDR+ and More



After the release of Android L Preview source code for Nexus devices, we now have details on what features the new Camera 2 API includes and what Google has been working on from the past few months.
Android Police reveals some of the features that the new Camera 2 API brings along and how it is bumped up over its previous interface.
One of the most touted features of the Android L Camera 2 API is its ability to deliver full resolution images at the same speed the hardware is designed to capture. This means that the Nexus 5 , using the Camera 2 API, can capture videos at 30 frames per second in its maximum 8-megapixels resolution.
The Android L's Camera 2 API also includes the burst mode, Digital Negative Format, HDR+ alongside a complete manual control on the post-processing features.
Some of the other reported features included in Android L's Camera 2 API that can be controlled are exposure time, ISO sensitivity, frame duration, lens focus distance, flash trigger, colour correction matrix, jpeg metadata, tonemap curve, crop region, AE/ AF/ AWB mode, AE/ AWB lock, AF trigger, precapture AE trigger, metering regions, exposure compensation, target FPS range, capture intent, and video stabilization.
Last Google updated its Camera app in May with version 2.2 for devices running Android 4.4+ KitKat OS. The update featured two new Panorama capturing modes, besides the existing horizontal and vertical Panorama modes. The two new Panorama modes are said to be fisheye mode and wide-angle mode. The update also let users the option to click images in 16:9 ratio along with a timer mode with 10 seconds and 3 seconds option.

Friday, July 4, 2014

iPhone 6 to Launch on September 25, 5.5-Inch Model Named iPhone Air: Report


Another day and another iPhone 6 rumour. This time a report out of China details an astonishing new launch date for the next iPhone from Apple, ahead of most dates in previous leaks. The report is accompanied with purported pricing details, as well as the name of the anticipated larger 5.5-inch iPhone 6 variant - iPhone Air.
The report citing industry sources claims Apple will unveil the iPhone 6 on September 15, which falls on a Monday, while retail availability will begin on September 25, which falls on a Thursday.
Apple traditionally starts sales of new iPhone models on a Friday to capture the weekend crowd, so the dates seem a little fishy. Previous leaks (including a purported internal communication from a German telecom carrier) had indicated a more credible launch date of September 19, which happens to be Friday.
According to the China.com report (via GforGames), China will also be amongst the first countries to receive the iPhone. The report also details the pricing, which matches previous leaks, claiming the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 (32GB) will cost CNY 5,288 (roughly Rs. 50,800), while the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 (16GB) will be priced at CNY 5,998 (roughly Rs. 57,600). This would also imply the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 (32GB) is cheaper than the current 4-inch iPhone 5s (16GB), which costs CNY 5,300.
The same report claims the much-rumoured 5.5-inch iPhone 6 variant will be called the iPhone Air, following the naming scheme of the latest, largest iPad. The report adds that China Mobile and China Unicom, Apple's carriers in the country, have begun field testing the iPhone 6 on their networks.

Recently, Japanese daily Nikkei had posted two alleged images of the rumoured 4.7-inch iPhone 6 dummy model, side by side with an iPhone 5s. The leaked images corroborate what's has been widely expected based on earlier leaks, that the next iPhone will house the power button on the right panel of the device, instead on the top panel seen on current iPhone models. It also seen to feature the Touch ID sensor.

Previously, another Chinese report indicated the alleged 5.5-inch iPhone 6 variant will feature a 128GB storage variant. The report further claims that the 128GB storage variant will be limited to the bigger variant of the rumoured iPhone 6, and the alleged 4.7-inch iPhone 6 will offer the conventional 64GB as its maximum storage variant, while the 16GB variant will be dumped for both models.

An earlier report citing a research note from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also suggested that the alleged 5.5-inch iPhone 6 would sport OIS (optical image stabilisation) for the rear camera. The report further claimed that the alleged 4.7-inch iPhone 6 will not come with OIS.

The Cupertino-based company has also been rumoured to be testing a higher screen resolution of 960x1704 pixels on at least one of the two iPhone models likely to debut this year.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Samsung launches Galaxy Core II, Galaxy Star 2, Galaxy Ace 4, and Galaxy Young 2 smartphones


NEW DELHI: Samsung has added four new smartphones to its Galaxy line-up, namely, Galaxy Core II, Galaxy Star 2, Galaxy Ace 4, and Galaxy Young 2. All of the four phones feature Samsung's TouchWiz Essence user interface, and come with the latest version of Android, Kitkat. 


Samsung Galaxy Core II is a dual SIM phone with 4.5-inch (480x800p) display. It is available in two colours - black and white. Powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core processor and 768MB of RAM, it has a 2,000mAh battery. 

The phone offers a front camera apart from a 5MP main camera and an LED flash. It has 4GB internal storage and supports microSD cards of up to 64GB. 

Samsung Galaxy Ace 4 has 4-inch (480x800p) display. The phone is powered by 1GHz dual-core processor and 1GB RAM. It has a 1500mAh battery and is available only in black colour. The phone also has a 5MP rear camera, an enhanced camera UI and LED flash, and a front camera. It has 4GB of internal storage and can support a microSD card of up to 64GB. 

Galaxy Young 2 is available in the colours black and white. The dual SIM phone has a 3.5-inch (320x480p) display. It is powered by 1GHz single-core processor and 512MB of RAM and has a 1300mAh battery. It features a 3.15MP camera. 

On the storage front, the phone comes with a microSD card slot that supports card of up to 32GB in addition to offering internal storage capacity of 4GB. 

Galaxy Star 2 is a dual SIM phone that has a 3.5-inch (320x480p) display. It comes with a 1,300mAh battery. 

The phone supports only 2G networks to its users for accessing data and features a 2MP rear camera. The phone is powered by 1GHz single-core processor and 512MB of RAM. 

It has 4GB of internal storage and can support microSD cards of up to 32GB.

Samsung unveils Galaxy S5 mini smartphone



NEW DELHI: Samsung has taken the covers off the Galaxy S5 mini smartphone, bringing the exclusive features of the company's top smartphone in a compact size. 

The main differences between Galaxy S5 and S5 mini are in display, camera and processor. Galaxy S5 mini has a 4.5-inch HD (720p) screen, which is quite smaller than the 5.1-inch Full HD (1080p) display of Galaxy S5. The camera resolution has gone down from 16MP in the older model to 8MP in the new smartphone. 

While the India version of Galaxy S5 comes with an eight-core Exynos processor, the new Galaxy S5 mini runs on a quad-core 1.4GHz processor, but Samsung has not revealed the chipmaker's name. 

Despite these downgrades, Samsung has retained the fingerprint sensor and heart rate monitor, which debuted with Galaxy S5, in Galaxy S5 mini. The smartphone is IP67 certified, meaning that it is water and dust resistant to an extent, and has Galaxy S5's Ultra Power Saving mode. 

Other key hardware specifications of the new Samsung Galaxy S5 mini are 1.5GB RAM, 16GB internal storage, 64GB microSD support, LED flash on the back, 2.1MP front camera and 2,100mAh battery. Connectivity suite of the smartphone consists of 2G, 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, microUSB 2.0 and NFC. 

This smartphone runs on Android 4.4 (KitKat) and comes with Samsung's proprietary UI on top.

Friday, June 27, 2014

10 Best Free Android Games

Asphalt 8: Airborne
Usually Gameloft has tried to ape PC games, bringing their distinct console flavour to smartphones, though with mixed results. However, with Asphalt 8: Airborne, Gameloft has a clear winner. It is extremely hard to believe that this game is just given out for free. You will probably never notice the microtransactions, and as casual gamers you can easily launch the app, race and get out quick. With its visceral sense of speed, easy-to-use controls, beautiful tracks and licenced cars, Airborne hits all the right buttons.

Real Racing 3

If Asphalt 8: Airborne is too arcadey for you, and you want something more serious and simulation-like to bring out the motoring aficionado in you, then Real Racing 3 is the best game for you. With jaw dropping visuals that demand a well-equipped Android device and realistic driving along very real circuits and campaigns, Real Racing 3 lives up to its name, literally.

Blood Brothers

Until the popular battle card game on iOS, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, makes it to Android, you can indulge in Blood Brothers. Part board game, part RPG and part card-based game, Blood Brothers is a unique game set in a dark world filled with mythical creatures. If you like your RPGs a bit different, give Blood Brothers a whirl. It won't cost you a thing.

Clash of Clans

Fancy a bit of strategy? Then jump headfirst into Clash of Clans, a realtime multiplayer online strategy game. You can build your village and defend it from attacks and train troops to attack other players. The biggest selling point of the game is the massive online community of players all hooked to it.

Dead Trigger 2

There's no better way to pass a boring train journey than killing scores of zombies. Dead Trigger 2 throws you bang in the middle of a zombie apocaplyse, where you just have to keep on killin’. With simple controls that let you focus on just running-and-gunning and a surprisingly deep crafting system, Dead Trigger 2 is a game you have to have on your smartphone. However, be warned: It’s gory and will need a beefy device to look it’s best.

Dots

Sick of those Candy Crush Saga-type puzzle games that flood your inbox with invites? Dots is a brand new smart puzzle game that not only plays smart but looks the part too. The premise is simple: You just have to join dots of same colours in 60 seconds. You can also connect online and play multiplayer. It is easily a fun and simple game you have to have.

Dungeon Hunter 4

Gameloft’s Dungeon Hunter series has always been the Diablo of mobile gaming. While it may not be as deep, it’s still a fun and frenzied dungeon romp. With four types of characters to choose from, tonnes of weapons and spells, there's a whole lot of loot to be found in Dungeon Hunter 4.

Galaxy on Fire 2

Take to the stars in an unbelievable space sim game, much like the Wing Commander series. In Galaxy on Fire 2, you fly a spaceship in a huge game world, fight, trade and even mine for money. With superb graphics, easy-to-use flight mechanics, challenging dogfights in space and a pretty cool story, this game will put most PC games to shame.

Plants vs Zombies 2

This unique take on the zombie genre has won countless awards. Plants vs Zombies 2 is pure fun from the beginning to the end, and it’s free. Build an army of plants all supercharged with plant food to take on the zombie hordes. Don't let the humorous graphics and cutesy characters fool you, this game needs some serious tactical thinking.

Ready Steady Bang

A supremely simple game that is surprisingly fun. Ready Steady Bang is as simple as a good old gunfight in the good ‘ol western style showdown, where a quick and controlled trigger finger makes all the difference. It can get quite boring playing with bots, but when you get in another player who can play on the same phone your cafeteria fun time will become way more fun. Also, the old school LCD-look works like a charm in this game.

How Google Now puts Siri to shame


If you have Siri set to speak in English, she will not understand the word "gracias." But Google on Thursday updated its Google Now voice search and assistant app so it can quickly switch between multiple languages on the fly, CNET reports.

Rather than select a single language setting from Google's list of about 50, Google Now can now recognize and understand the speaker's language and allow users to switch up to seven different ones on the fly. According to Google, you'll have to pre-select your secondary languages, but after that the feature will work automatically.

In an interview with CNET, Google said "seemingly simple language-recognition tasks are much harder than they appear," and that it's still working on making Google Now a true linguist by understanding complex accents and minimizing ambient noise.

Simultaneous multi-language support will roll out to Google Now users within "the coming days," Google said.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Android L: 8 New Features in the Next Major Android Release

Android has grown from a tiny upstart to the world's dominant mobile computing platform with over a billion active users. Google isn't sitting still, though, and has just unveiled what it calls the most ambitious Android release yet. Currently known only as Android L, there's no dessert-themed codename or even formal version number yet. Android L will release later this year, though an exact date isn't known.
We hope to see new smartphones launch around the same time which take advantage of all the new features, and also updates to existing smartphones. HTC is amongst the companies committed to bringing it to its existing HTC One family, while others should announce support soon.
Here are some of the most exciting new features of Android L



   Material design
Android will receive a complete visual overhaul aimed at promoting a consistent experience across Android device sizes and types. The new "Material Design" identity is bolder, more colourful, and more animated. Every transition between screens and every user interaction has been refined, down to the system-wide Roboto typeface and the Android navigation buttons.
Screen elements will be able to simulate depth, with automatic shadows and scaling, but will also inherit elements of classic magazine typography and layout. There's more emphasis on simple shapes and consistent actions that lead you from one app into another. Google's new design page offers hints of what is to come.
The change could also be aimed at discouraging third-party vendors from developing custom Android overlays which greatly deviate from Google's vision. A strong enough core UI experience could lead users to reject anything seen as inferior to it.
The Material Design identity integrates elements of responsive Web design and will extend to other Google properties including Gmail, which will be redesigned for the Web as well as mobile apps. Material Design takes into account the fact that touch, voice, mouse and keyboard are all equally important input methods, clearly illustrating goals above and beyond smartphone usage scenarios.



Improved notifications
You will be able to interact with notifications more easily in Android L. For starters, you can choose which ones show up on the lock screen and what amount of detail they'll show. You can decide whether snippets of actual messages are displayed when your phone is potentially visible to others, or whether more details will only be revealed when you unlock it. They also aren't necessarily displayed in chronological order anymore - the OS can learn which ones you're more likely to respond to urgently and prioritise those.
There's also a new type of notification altogether - Google calls these heads ups. These appear on top of whatever you're doing and allow you to take action or dismiss them immediately. These are meant to be less intrusive, and can be used for things that can't wait, such as incoming calls.
Trusted environments
Speaking of the lock screen, you'll soon be able to have your phone detect when it's in a trusted environment, which will dispense with the lock code. This could be triggered by the presence of a Bluetooth device such a smartwatch that you wear all the time, a specific Wi-Fi access point, or other factors. When the environment is deemed safe, you won't have to bother with unlocking your phone.



Project Volta, battery improvements
Android L will be able to manage battery life much better, but Google's moves go beyond that to the app development stage, for which new tools have been developed that let developers track battery drain and optimise apps before they ever reach end users. The battery saver mode is similar to those implemented by third parties so far - non-essential services can be turned off or made to run only at intervals in order to save power. Android L will also be able to lower the screen refresh rate, reduce the frequency of data exchanges, or force apps to change their behaviour to match the prevailing battery state.
Google Fit
Everyone's getting into health and activity tracking, and Google is no exception. The new Google Fit framework will take Apple's Healthkit head on, tying into sensors on phones themselves as well as connected accessories to collect data which will be ready for apps to use. Major partners including Nike, Adidas, Runkeeper, HTC, Asus, LG and Motorola are already on board. Google Fit could monitor physical activity and food intake as well as health indicators such as heart rate and breathing.
Greater Web integration
There's also a change to the way individual tabs and documents in apps are handled by Android L. They'll now show up as individual entries in the Recents menu, allowing users to jump directly between them. This pulls the focus away from apps and puts it onto all the things you do with them. For example, Web apps open in Chrome tabs would appear much like native apps running on your device, and you'd be able to jump in and out of them more quickly.



Links on the Web can now also be used to launch apps instead of websites (presumably falling back to the website in case the app is not installed). For example, Google demonstrated looking up a restaurant in Chrome and then tapping a link to not only launch the OpenTable app, but also have it know that it should bring up that restaurant's booking page. Google search results can also now be links that trigger an app, rather than links to websites.
ART Runtime and Android Extension Pack
Google is ditching the Dalvik runtime which has served well for years, in favour of a new one called ART. It can make apps load and run quite a bit faster while using less RAM. ART is 64-bit compatible, and is also engineered to allow apps to work across hardware architectures such as ARM and X86. This also means that Android devices will be able to address more RAM than the 32-bit limit allowed.
With greater diversity in Android hardware obviously envisioned for the near future, the move is a welcome change. Google has worked with major hardware vendors to enable more fluid graphics, potentially paving the way for new Android-based game consoles and set-top boxes. Desktop-class graphics including tessellation, geometry shaders and texture compression will potentially be possible on Android devices.




Knox
Google also made a few announcements that indicate interesting things on the horizon for enterprise users. The company announced that Samsung's Knox feature for work and personal separation will become a part of Android itself. Knox allows corporate IT administrators to control work-related data and policies on employees' smartphones while letting the employees themselves continue to store personal data and use unrelated apps. This alleviates many of the problems with accessing secure information from mobile devices and could make Android far more attractive to businesses.

iPhone 6 Leaks Tip Lower Price, Optical Image Stabilisation and More


New details surrounding Apple's next-generation iPhone devices, which leaks have thus far tipped to come in two display size variants, have surfaced online, and if they are to be believed the alleged 4.7-inch iPhone 6 might be priced lower than the current iPhone 5s.
A report emerging from China claims that the alleged iPhone 6 will be launched on September 19, very much in-line with an earlier report that cited a German carrier. Further, the report has also purportedly revealed prices for the alleged 4.7-inch model of the iPhone 6.
According to the GforGames citing the Chinese report, the rumoured 4.7-inch iPhone 6 will be priced at CNY 5,300 (roughly Rs. 51,150) for the 32GB version, while the 64GB model is said to be priced at CNY 6,300 (roughly Rs. 60,800). As the report notes, this seems to be a drop in price, as the current iPhone 5s 16GB model costs CNY 5,300 in China.
Unfortunately, there is no word on the price of the alleged iPhone 6 16GB model, possibly kicking off a new debate on whether Apple might dump a 16GB version with this generation. There is also no price mentioned of the alleged iPhone 6 5.5-inch version.



Apple's next generation iPhone has been making a number of online appearances and the latest in the series shows an alleged dummy of the handset sized-up against the LG G3 and OnePlus One.
Earlier leaks have shown the unannounced iPhone 6 compared with other handsets like the iPhone 5,Samsung Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Note 3.
A video posted by macmixing shows the alleged iPhone 6 5.5-inch variant dummy compared alongside OnePlus One and LG G3.
The alleged iPhone 6 with a 5.5-inch display seems to be slightly bigger than both the LG G3 and OnePlus One in the side-by-side comparison, which means its bezels aren't very thin, as both those smartphones feature 5.5-inch displays as well. The alleged iPhone 6 in the comparison video also appears to be thinner than both the handsets (LG G3 and OnePlus One).
In addition, a report citing a research note from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggests that the alleged 5.5-inch iPhone 6 will sport OIS (optical image stabilisation) for the rear camera. The report further claims that the alleged 4.7-inch iPhone 6 will not come with OIS.
The report notes that one of the prominent reasons of the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 model not including the OIS is supply constraints. The rumoured 4.7-inch iPhone, expected to launch this year, might feature "middle-mount open-loop voice coil motor" instead.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

New iPhone Might Have a Built-In Barometer



Apple has already stepped into the health and fitness tracking market with its Health app for iOS. Now, the company could be upping the ante with its upcoming iPhone
New code spotted by developers who spoke with 9 to 5 Mac indicates the iPhone 6 could have a barometer built in.
See also: 10 Better Alternatives to Your iPhone's Native Apps
An integrated barometer would track altitude and air pressure and could infer temperature readings, too.
Existing apps already perform many of these tasks, but they use the iPhone's GPS and motion chips to do so. A piece of dedicated measurement hardware is likely to provide better performance. 

Intel's Pocket Avatars chat app packs 3D avatars that mimic your face and mood


Intel wants to inject passion and excitement into mobile chat through a new app that relies on face-tracking technology to assess facial expressions and mood.
With Pocket Avatars, users can chat with friends using animated three-dimensional avatars, but there’s a twist. A camera on a mobile device tracks a user’s face and expressions, and those emotions are reflected on the avatar during a chat.
The avatar serves as an alter-ego for those who don’t to put their real face on screen, said Mike Bell, vice president and general manager of the New Devices Group at Intel.
“It’s just a fun thing on top of standard messaging,” Bell said.
Emoticons have been a standard tool for expressions in text messaging. An animated chat that reflects a real person’s mood is more engaging, Bell said, adding that if a user is angry or happy, the avatar will show it, Bell said.
The camera captures moving faces, lighting conditions and a range of emotions such as smiles, blinking eyes or kisses. The recordings are processed through an algorithm and then mapped on the avatar in real time. The Pocket Avatars app then deletes the information.
“We are not storing databases with people’s faces,” Bell said. “We’re not selling ads or information. This is about social messaging, using an animated avatar. It’s not mining [data].”
intel 3d chat app avatar
One wouldn’t expect chat software from Intel, which specializes in making chips. But Intel’s research division has a diverse group of scientists and social scientists researching technology and other areas such as health and human behavior. Pocket Avatars was being kicked around the labs for a little while, and it represents the fun side of Intel’s research team, Bell said.
Chat and messaging software companies are also being valued highly so there is momentum in that area, Bell said. About 20 trillion over-the-top messages—messages sent through chat software—will be sent this year, and Intel wants a piece of that market, Bell said.
“Some of the evaluations of those companies... it’s not a joke,” Bell said. Facebook said earlier this year it would acquire WhatsApp in a stunning deal worth $19 billion.
Bell’s New Devices Group is also charged with exploring opportunities in the wearables market. Pocket Avatars represents Intel’s willingness to experiment and dabble in new areas, Bell said.
But some experiments for Intel haven’t panned out. Intel dropped plans to launch a TV service after failing to reach license agreements with content providers, and also shut down its own app store for PCs called AppUp.
Pocket Avatars is free for download and comes with forty avatars. Some avatars are free while others cost $0.99 for unlimited use. The avatars available include famous people, Lego characters and also YouTube star Annoying Orange.
Intel plans to add more avatars and capabilities as the app evolves, Bell said.

BlackBerry confirms Passport phone for September launch



BlackBerry has confirmed the recently-leaked handset code named 'Winder mere' will officially be announced under the name Passport. It will debut at an event in London this September.
Following its quarterly earnings report, during which it announced a return to profit of sorts, BlackBerry CEO John Chen confirmed that the short and wide-set device currently doing the rounds is the real deal.
Naturally, as Crack Berry reports, the device will be named after its passport-like dimensions. According to the presentation, the Blackberry Passport will feature a 4.5-inch 1440 x 1440 display that's as square as an Instagram photo.
The Passport will be a wide 3.18-inches, which is even wider than the pocket-busting 3.12-inch Samsung Galaxy Note 3. An accompanying photo shows the handset will have BlackBerry's stoutest keyboard yet featuring only three rows of physical buttons. The Passport also appeared along two other handsets named the Z3 and Classic.
Internally, the Passport is said to be packing a quad-core Snapdragon MSM8974 processor backed by an Adreno 330 GPU and 3GB of RAM. The phone will also supposedly be powered by a 3,450mAh battery.

Some juice left in the 'Berry?

Asidea new, albeit slightly odd smartphone, there was more good news for BlackBerry fans after seemingly years of gloom-laden financial reports.
BlackBerry surprised the bean counters on Wall Street by posting a small quarterly profit.
Waterloo managed to earn a net income $23 million (about £13.5m, AU24.5m) in the three months ending May 31, although after adjustments the loss was $60 million (about £35.2m, AU$63.9m).
The turnaround in fortunes, which resulted in a 10% share rise on Thursday, comes as BlackBerry continues to cut costs and moves awaythe business of selling hardware to consumers and towards a services-centric operation.
Fifty-four percent of its $966 million ( about £566m, AU$1.02bn) revenue in the quarter camesuch services, while only 39% camethe sales of 2.6 million BlackBerry phones, down steeply 3.4 million this time last year....

Apple's smartwatch to go in mass production in July



Taiwan's Quanta Computer Inc will start mass production of Apple Inc's first smart watch in July, a source familiar with the matter said, as the US tech giant tries to prove it can still innovate against rival Samsung Electronics Co Ltd.

The watch, which remains unnamed but which company followers have dubbed the iWatch, will be Apple's first foray into a niche product category that many remain skeptical about, especially as to whether it can drive profits amid cooling growth in tech gadgets.

The production will be a boost to Quanta, given that its work for Apple till now has focused on laptops and iPods, product lines that are in decline. Quanta's role though is likely to raise questions about what involvement Hon Hai Precision Industry Co, one of Apple's biggest suppliers, will play in production.

While the watch is widely expected, the start date of its mass production and the extent of Quanta's involvement were not known until now. Mass production will start in July and the commercial launch will come as early as October, according to the source and another person familiar with the matter.
 
Apple will introduce a smart watch with a display that likely measures 2.5 inches diagonally and is slightly rectangular, one of the sources said. The source added that the watch face will protrude slightlythe band, creating an arched shape, and will feature a touch interface and wingless capabilities.

The source said Apple expects to ship 50 million units within the first year of the product's release, although these types of initial estimates can be subject to change. The watch is currently in trial production at Quanta, which will be the main manufacturer, accounting for at least 70% of final assembly, the source said.

Like many other smart watches, Apple's watch will be able to perform some functions independently, but tasks messaging and voice chat will require a paired smartphone, according to the source. The device will only be compatible with gadgets running Apple's iOS,its flagship iPhone, one of the sources said.

Most mainstream smart watches collect data about the user's heart rate and other health-related metrics, in addition to facilitating tasks checking e-mail and making phone calls.

A third source said LG Display Co Ltd is the exclusive supplier of the screen for the gadget's initial batch of production. It also contains a sensor that monitors the user's pulse. Singapore-based imaging and sensor maker Heptagon is on the supplier list for the feature, two other sources said.

Apple declined to comment. Quanta, LG Display and Heptagon also declined to comment.

Game-changer?
Apple's move will follow on the heels of releases of similar devices by Samsung, Sony Corp, Motorola and LG Electronics Inc — gadgets that tech watchers say haven't been appealing or user-friendly enough to ignite a wave of mass adoption.

But the market is growing fast, with data firm IDC saying that worldwide shipments of wearable computing devices — a category that includes smart watches —will triple in size this year over 2013.

Apple has already dropped hints of its plans in this arena, hiring the former chief executive of French fashion house Yves Saint Laurent, a unit of Kering SA, and proclaiming that it will introduce "new product categories" this year.

Many are hoping that Apple's entry into the field of so-called smart wearable will be a game-changer that transforms the industry the company's iPhone did in 2007.

Some are foreseeing that smartphone sales, the current cash cow of the consumer tech world, will lose momentum in the years ahead as the market reaches saturation.
 
IDC predicts that worldwide smartphone sales will increase 23% this year, a slowdown the 39% growth of last year, and that growth will average only 12% annually 2013 to 2018.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Amazon Fire phone review roundup





The Amazon Fire phone has finally been announced after years of speculation, and it's certainly bringing some different ideas to the table.
First up it sports five cameras on the front - one is the traditional front-facing snapper, and the other four are part of the Fire's Dynamic Perspective feature.
Dynamic Perspective tracks your head, and works out the distance it isthe screen, to produce 3D-like graphics on-screen.
Firefly is a supercharged barcode scanner which you can use to scan, well, anything. A pub sign, a car, a magazine, a bottle of beer. You name it, Firefly will scan it, and then probably try and make you buy something.
Mayday - Amazon's 24-7-365 interactive customer service - also makes the leapthe Kindle Fire HDX tablet to the Fire phone.
Thatsounds lovely, but is it any good? We've taken a look at the early hands on Amazon Fire phone reviewsaround the web to gauge the interest.

Gizmodo

Gizmodo doesn't hold back, declaring the Fire phone to be "Great for Amazon, less for you."
From the various hands-on reviews it's clear that the Amazon Fire isn't convincing people it's worth ordering just yet.
"The biggest impression one's left with is that Amazon poured the bulk of its resources into the part of the Fire phone - that's Firefly - that makes it easiest for you to buy thingsAmazon."
"Our advice for now, though: Hold off on pre-ordering. Amazon's Fire HDX tablet is fantastic. The Fire Phone? We're less sure."

Wired UK

The face and head tracking cameras are certainly impressive tech, but as Wired notes it's still not perfect.
"We had a representative at our side throughout the demo, and any time he had control of a head-tilting moment and aimed the phone my way, the control or sense would become wonky.
"This noticeably occurred at least six times in our half-hour of testing. "It's seeing both of our faces," he'd say apologetically each time. That's a huge hurdle to overcome, especially if Amazon expects to virally advertise this phone by having enthusiasts show it off."

Cnet

Cnet reckons Amazon is taking a bit of a gamble with the Fire phone. "Amazon is taking huge risks in going against the big guysSamsung and Apple. It's done it before, but in a tablet space that isn't as entrenched - or as vital - as smartphones."
Plus it's not the likes of Firefly and Mayday which will attract customers to the phone either.
"More likely, customers will come for the free year of Amazon Prime, especially if they rely heavily on Amazon's online services,shopping and music and video streaming, or own a Kindle or Amazon Fire TV."

Engadget

The folks over at Engadget appear relatively non-plussed about the Amazon Fire phone.
"Spec-wise, it isn't the most impressive phone, despite commanding a $199 price tag on-contract ($650 off-contract). But it's not horrible either - it's simply what you'd expectan average phone."
"Users with motion sickness will notthe Dynamic Perspective option. It reminds me of the parallax motion on iOS 7, a feature that frustrated a fair number of iPhone and iPad users. Fortunately, Amazon will let you turn this feature off.

The Verge

The Verge highlights that one of the core reasons Amazon has produced the Fire phone is to drive sales.
"There simply has never been a better device to help you indulge in impulse purchases - a prospect that has us both intrigued and terrified in equal parts."
As with the others, the Verge doesn't see it as a bad device, but the Fire appears to be struggling to win people over. "The Fire phone makes a neat first impression, but it has a mid-range ethos to it that makes the total asking price feel a little steep."

Android Central

Over at Android Central the feeling is that the retail giant has done the right thing. "Amazon created a mobile device that speaks to its customer base perfectly, and the end result is the Fire Phone."
"How much appeal it actually draws will ultimately be limited by its price and carrier restrictions, but as a first start for Amazon in the phone marketplace, we're excited about the Fire Phone."


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Hands-On With The Amazon Phone — Here Are All The Major Features


Amazon's new smartphone, the Fire Phone, hits stores July 25. Preorders started June 18.
At the phone's launch event, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said that the company tried to build a phone that was extremely innovative and different.
There are some major features that set it apart right off the bat, including its "dynamic perspective" effects, which make images feel 3-D, its motion-sensing capabilities, and Firefly, its visual search engine. 
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.
  • Amazon shows off its dynamic perspective feature right from the lock screen. When you tilt the phone, you see the balloons from slightly different angles so they feel 3-D.



  • Although you can use any picture you want as a lock screen, the Fire ships with more than a dozen custom images that will take advantage of dynamic perspective.

  • The Fire also shows off dynamic perspective working together with its motion sensors in games. To play a game, you can use a combination of phone and head tilts to control the action.

  • Generally, tilting the phone to the right or left displays more information. For example, if you're listening to a song, tilting left will bring up its lyrics.

  • The idea is to make one-handed use easier. You can bring up different menus by tilting the phone in the other direction.


  • You can also see this functionality in the map app. For example, let's say you search for nearby Thai restaurants. At first, you'll just see where they are in relation to you.

  • But tilting the phone slightly will bring up their names and Yelp info. Tilt back and that information disappears and you're back to an uncluttered view.


  • Firefly is one of the most innovative features on the Fire Phone. Press and hold the camera button on the side of the phone to launch Firefly, which can recognize over 100 million items.


  • Once an item is recognized, Amazon will pull up information about it. If it's a product, you can be directed to Amazon to buy it. Third-party apps can also build Firefly functionality, like MyFitnessPal, which pulls in calorie information if you scan a food.


  • Firefly also recognizes emails, phone numbers, and URLs from posters or pictures. If Firefly picks up on a website, you can easily navigate to it. Ditto with phone numbers: Firefly will prompt you to make a phone call.


  • The phone will save a list of all the things you've captured in your Firefly history, so you can refer back later.

  • Firefly can also recognize audio and ID songs. You'll be directed to buy a song on Amazon, but other apps like iHeartRadio and StubHub can give you other options, too, like making a playlist or buying concert tickets.


  • Firefly can also recognize TV shows and movies, and hook you up with info about specific clips that you're watching.




  • The Firefly button (which is also the camera if you press it without holding down) is on the side of the device.


  • Another big feature is the Fire's free, 24-7 video support. Simply press the "Mayday" button to summon a customer service rep, who can draw on your screen to help you through any questions that you have.

  • You can find Mayday, your notifications, and other basic functions with another gesture control that Amazon calls "the swivel".

  • All new phone owners get one year of Amazon Prime membership for free.

  • The Fire Phone also has a crisp, 13-megapixel rear-facing camera.

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