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6
Apr
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Apple Acknowledges Consumers Want Larger and Cheaper Phones


The latest internal documents coming out of the Samsung/Apple trial show some candid insight into Apple’s analysis of the future of the smartphone market.

The documents posted by Re/code include an Apple slide deck from April, 2013 for 2014 planning. The document includes graphs showing that Apple’s growth rates are slowing quarter after quarter. The main reason for the decline amongst consumers? Consumers want less expensive and larger screen smartphones:

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In a further breakdown, Apple acknowledges that “consumers want what we don’t have” — which shows that the majority of smartphone growth is in both >4″ screen sizes and <$300 markets.

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Apple has been heavily rumored to be introducing a larger iPhone 6 this fall. The size of the new iPhone has been thought to be 4.7″ or 5.5″ with the 4.7″ model coming first. While rumors have been consistent, Apple’s own insights from 2013 explain why such a move is likely to happen.

    



6
Apr
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UK’s Ministry of Defence has its own creepy hazmat testing robot (video)


Boston Dymanics’ Petman now has serious competition in the “eerie human-like robots” category, courtesy of the UK’s Ministry of Defence. This new contender is a £1.1 million ($1.8 million) masterpiece called Porton Man, named after the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory in Porton Down, Wiltshire. If you’re expecting a killing machine designed for the battlefield, though, you’ll be sorely disappointed. The Porton Man will actually be used for tests in the development of new and lighter protective equipment for the military. Remember how Petman donned and tested a hazmat suit at one point that made it even creepier than usual? It’ll be doing something like that.

While the ministry just announced the robot, it’s actually the project’s second model. The first one was a hefty 176-pound machine that was hard to lug around, so its developers at Buckingham company i-bodi took cues from Formula 1 race cars and made a tougher, lighter 30-pound version using carbon composite parts. That shaved off most of Porton Man’s weight, making it easy to bring it from one testing room to another to be subjected to various hazardous conditions such as exposure to chemical warfare agents. Of course, until it can strut to Stayin’ Alive with as much as style as Petman does, it’s still a step behind.

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Source: BBC, UK Government

6
Apr
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Windows Phone may come to your car with Cortana as copilot


Windows in the Car

Microsoft has a home in the automotive world, but it doesn’t have a way to bring a phone’s interface to your car’s infotainment system — there’s no Windows Phone equivalent to Apple’s CarPlay. That might change before long, though. The software giant used a presentation at this week’s Build conference to show off Windows in the Car, a conceptual platform that would adapt Windows Phone’s apps and basic functions to in-vehicle interfaces. Not surprisingly, the MirrorLink-based tech looks like a cross between Microsoft’s mobile and desktop interfaces; while you’re running mobile apps, they get more on-screen buttons than usual to help you complete tasks faster and keep your eyes on the road. The software also focuses more on voice commands (Cortana is mentioned as a good fit), and it could eventually restrict complex app functions while you’re driving. You might not get to add music to a playlist until you’re parked, for instance.

Unfortunately, it’s not clear how soon Windows in the Car might reach shipping vehicles, if at all. The crew in Redmond is testing code inside real cars and is comfortable with showing it to the public (see the source link’s video at the 27-minute mark), so it’s not just a pie-in-the-sky vision. However, the company also hasn’t estimated availability or named car manufacturers that might be interested. While companies are working on MirrorLink-ready cars (Citroen, Honda, Toyota and VW) and head units (Alpine and Pioneer), that doesn’t mean that you’ll be controlling your Lumia with them as soon as they hit the streets. Given that CarPlay vehicles won’t be available until later this year, it won’t be surprising if any Windows in the Car implementations arrive significantly later.

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Via: The Verge

Source: Channel 9

6
Apr
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EasyAcc leather flip case for Nexus 5 review


Easyacc nexus 5

Flip cases serve a decent purpose in the smartphone world, offering more functionality than protection. They certainly aren’t for users that have a habit of dropping their devices often. But if you’re looking for a durable, well-built flip case for your Nexus 5, look no further.

We’ve used this case for two weeks, and we have a pretty good grip as to whether to buy this case or not.

Build Quality

Easyacc nexus 5

The case is made from a synthetic premium PU leather which feels good in the hand. It doesn’t necessarily feel cheap, especially in the world of fake leather. The interior of the case is made from a microfiber material that looks surprisingly similar to leather. Inside and out, the case is soft to the touch, and makes it feel like you’ve spent a good amount of money on it.

It locks the phone in by securing the four corners of the device. The phone seems pretty sturdy when inside the case, though the corners holding the device in feel a bit cheap. The front cover has a magnet that wakes and puts the device to sleep. This is definitely a feature we want to see in all flip cases.

The front cover locks in by a tab that wraps around the device. The tab has the same feeling as the corners securing the device – cheap feeling, but works really well. It also doubles as a kickstand and offers two different viewing angles. If you watch movies or YouTube videos, this case is great for you.

Look & Feel

This case feels really great when in use. It’s not slippery or easy to drop, making it an easy case for everyday use. If we could change one thing about the case, it would be the look and feel of the corners holding the phone in place. They look a bit cheap, and the leather doesn’t blend well with the look of the phone.

Easyacc nexus 5

Other than our one major gripe, for a leather folio case, it looks really good.

Durability

With any flip case out there, you’re really not going to get the best protection out of it. We have dropped the phone a few times while using the case, and we didn’t see any signs of damage. Since the screen is so fragile, it’s nice to know that the front cover is thick enough that it will absorb a large amount of shock.

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Other than dropping it, the top, bottom, and right side of the phone are bare, so it may not completely save the device from everything you throw at it. As far as folio cases go, this one offers enough durability to help you sleep at night.

Should I buy?

Good

This folio case has just the right amount of functionality and good looks for us to recommend it to you. We love that there are two different viewing angles when using it as a kickstand. But we wish they could have figured out another way to secure the device without sacrificing looks.

If you’d like to pick one up, you can do so on Amazon for $9.99.

EasyAcc isn’t usually a brand that comes to mind when you think of phone cases, but perhaps it should. They’ve put together a decent phone case with an inexpensive price tag. 

The post EasyAcc leather flip case for Nexus 5 review appeared first on AndroidGuys.

6
Apr
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IRL: Going skiing with Smith I/O Recon goggles


Welcome to IRL, an ongoing feature where we talk about the gadgets, apps and toys we’re using in real life and take a second look at products that already got the formal review treatment.

IRL: Going skiing with Smith I/O Recon goggles

Does a fortnight of snowboarding in the French Alps with an army of family and friends sound like fun? Imagine my nerd squeal when a fellow editor offered to lend me a pair of Smith I/O Recon goggles (featuring heads-up display tech from the company Recon), along with a two action cams, to gadgetize my trip. As I later discovered, GoPro footage isn’t nearly as spectacular when you’re not permanently backflipping, or hurtling down vertical off-piste. But hey, I managed to salvage a three-minute, personalized fail compilation from the drudgery.

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Having fully charged my electronic arsenal before flying, I was eager to liberate the goggles from their scented case as soon as we were unpacked and settled, and do what anyone else would in such circumstances. Yep, that’s right: search the chalet forcing people to try them on with the accompanying pitch of “there’s a screen in my goggles.” Most were genuinely impressed, some were probably just humoring me, but all had the same question: “So, what do these do, then?” I knew they measured and displayed speed, altitude and other data at the very least. At that point, though, I thought it best to slope off and dig through some of the more advanced features.

As it turned out, there were quite a lot of them hiding in Snow2′s Android-based brain. Pair a smartphone via Bluetooth and you can receive notifications on the goggle’s heads-up display, as well as control music using the wrist-worn remote without exposing your handset to the elements. You can see a bunch of historical and real-time stats, as mentioned previously, and share your activities to Facebook. You can also launch apps that feed in data from a connected heart-rate monitor, let you control action cams from the remote or simply time a run. Most awesome is the feature that pulls resort info from the ether and gives you an interactive piste map on the display.

I did have one issue, however: I wasn’t interested in using any of it. Having put a GS3 through the wringer the previous season, I opted to take an old Nokia 8850, which did a perfectly fine job receiving the few notifications I needed. I don’t ride with music on, either (I like to hear when someone’s out of control behind me). Even the mapping feature was of no use. Sure, it was incredible to play with sat on a chalet sofa, but if an old-school paper piste guide isn’t the quickest way to get your bearings two kilometers up, then something’s gone very wrong.

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Having dismissed everything else, I knew I’d at least be interested in looking at the data at the end of each day. On my very first run, some family members were concerned. I say concerned, but it was expressed more along the lines of: “Isn’t that screen going to be distracting? We don’t really want to burn time scraping you off a rock if we can help it.” Well, true to Recon’s word, it’s basically invisible, requiring you to consciously seek it out. It was able to tell me all kinds of interesting numbers in real time, but I was more focused on where I was going, who was around me and, occasionally, the amazing scenery. I was glad on day two, then, to come across the option to put the screen to sleep while Snow2 continued to gather metrics in the background.

With the screen off, battery life increased significantly — from non-existent to poor. For every full day of boarding, I managed to record a maximum of about four hours of data. That’s not much when you’re sitting on lifts and waiting for people to catch up in between spurts of riding. Also, a $500-plus pair of goggles should not be less useful than an iPhone ski-tracking app the rest of my clan were enamored with. I picked a laptop to relive the events of my days on (half of them, anyway), as I was too busy eating, drinking and sleeping in between slope sessions to wake up my LG G2, install the Recon Engage app and all the rest. I was fully committed to the Nokia 8850 at this point, remember, and thought I’d get a richer experience using a computer anyhow. Boy, was I wrong.

I grabbed a micro-USB cable to plug the goggles into my laptop, then went about finding the necessary software. I quickly discovered the program I was looking for was now, in fact, entirely browser-based. So much for those without an internet connection, I guess. What’s more, it wasn’t immediately obvious that I needed to install a browser extension to interface Snow2 with the web app. Even then, my upload success rate was negligible. It rarely recognized when the goggles were connected, and triggered Android File Transfer for Mac intermittently, which I had to temporarily remove. There wasn’t really a way to troubleshoot the issue, but a trial-and-error approach made for a few successful uploads.

The captured data all looks very pretty in multicolored charts and figures, especially the GPS info which is laid over Google satellite imagery. Unfortunately, you get what you’re given, and there are few ways to manipulate the data or view it differently. I lost interest quickly, and after spending the better part of a week rocking these goggles, I was done. The design had begun to irritate me, as there just wasn’t enough head/face space for the helmet and goggles to coexist happily, not that my discomfort had anything to do with Recon’s HUD tech specifically. Losing the “fighter pilot when I’m not a snowboarding astronaut” look wasn’t something I was happy with, but I also didn’t have the right replacement lenses for bad conditions. They weren’t adding any value and were retired to their scented case once more, to be replaced by a pair of decade-old Scotts. I still maintain they’re as cool as the snow I was shredding, though. Technology doesn’t always have to be about necessity, or even functionality. Sometimes it’s just about the extravagance.

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6
Apr
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Gadget Rewind 2006: Sony Reader PRS-500


It’s our 10th birthday, and to celebrate we’ll be revisiting some of the key devices of the last decade. So please be kind, rewind.

Sony may not have been at the forefront of the digital music revolution, but when it came to e-books and e-readers, the company was certainly a pioneer. It all started in the ’90s with Sony’s chunky, flip-topped Data Discman. This two-pound, paperback-sized player came bundled with a selection of reference books on disc, each capable of storing up to 100,000 pages of digital text. When that cumbersome early e-book solution failed to gain traction, Sony went right back to the drawing board and returned in 2004 with the Japan-only LIBRIé e-reader. This particular device used an innovative E Ink display and relied on an e-book loan program — a distribution model that proved unpopular with consumers at the time.

By 2006, the company was ready to try again with its Sony Reader PRS-500, a 6-inch device that used the same E ink display as the LIBRIé and boasted 7,500 page-turns worth of battery life. This time, however, consumers could actually purchase e-books to own from Sony’s online store, which held around 10,000 titles at launch. The PRS-500 also shipped with a dock and USB connector in the box since downloads could only be managed by a PC and then transferred to the device.

Sony wasn’t the only company trying to launch the e-reader revolution in 2006. E Ink-style devices like the iRex iLiad and the STAReBOOK were hitting stores around the same time. There were also rumors that Apple would try its hand at the format as well. Of course, the elephant in the room was Amazon’s 2007 Kindle. Where Sony’s initial release date for its Reader was pushed back by several months — disappointing some eager customers — the Kindle arrived on schedule and sold out online in just five and a half hours. Amazon’s customers also had access to 88,000 e-books in the Kindle online store using Sprint’s wireless network.

Although Amazon snagged a top spot in the hearts of e-reading consumers, Sony continued to develop its own hardware line over the years, logging more than 10 iterations and developing a loyal fan base. Despite this consistent effort, however, recent events, like the shuttering of its Reader store, indicate that Sony may be somewhat willing to cede the e-book category to Amazon. It now directs current Reader customers to the Rakuten-owned Kobo platform for e-book purchases.

This isn’t the first time that Sony has pioneered the way into a new market only to lose its edge to a competitor; the same thing happened to its transistor business back in the 1950s.


Did you own a Sony Reader PRS-500? Add it to your Engadget profile as a device you had (or still have) and join the discussion to reminisce or share photos of your device with other like-minded gadget fans.

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6
Apr
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Windows Phone 8.1 does Miracast media sharing, but most devices won’t cut it


Nokia Lumia 630

Windows Phone 8.1 includes many, many upgrades, not the least of which is Miracast media sharing; it should be easier than ever to send content to your TV and other gadgets. However, it’s now very likely that you’ll have to upgrade to a newer phone to get that convenience — Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore says that most existing Windows Phone 8 devices can’t handle Miracast. A recent flagship like the Lumia 1520 might cut the mustard, but the executive isn’t certain that it will work. The limitations are no doubt unfortunate if you were hoping to unlock Miracast through a software update, but they’ll at least give you a good excuse to upgrade an older handset.

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Via: Nokia Views

Source: Joe Belfiore (Twitter)

6
Apr
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Boomshine, a great way to pass time


Boomshine

Boomshine is an addictive casual game. The point of this game is to start a chain reaction and try to explode as many dots as you can. The concept is simple, but yet catchy and addictive.

The game starts out by having a bunch of multicolored dots flying around on your screen. The most logical thing to do at this point would be to try and blow them up, right? In order to do that you must touch somewhere on your screen, hopefully in an area where you have a good quantity of those multicolored dots. As you make an explosion, your explosion grows in size causing all dots that are within the explosion radius to do the same. This chain reaction that you create is what you are being scored off of. Your goal is to destroy as many of the colored dots as you can with one blast to pass the level.

The game contains 12 levels that range in difficulty, progressing the deeper you get into the game. So far this game has had over 30 million games played by over 100,000 different players. The game offers achievements and highest score leaderboard via Google Play Game Services.

Boomshine is a free, ad-supported game, but for a $1.00 in-app purchase you can remove the ads. You can download this perfect way to pass time on the Google Play Store.

The post Boomshine, a great way to pass time appeared first on AndroidGuys.

6
Apr
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Inhabitat’s Week in Green: WarkaWater Tower, kangaroo-like robot and an energy-generating carousel


Each week our friends at Inhabitat recap the week’s most interesting green developments and clean tech news for us — it’s the Week in Green.

The world is flooded with electronic devices, which add up to a huge e-waste problem — but if a team of MIT researchers has its way, the gadgets of the future could be made from living cells. The team is working on hybrid materials made from bacteria that could grow anything from solar cells to smartphones. The German engineering company Festo is known for its biomimetic creations, producing everything from flying seagulls to wind turbines that flap their wings like birds. Now the company has developed an energy-efficient robot that hops around like a kangaroo. In green lighting news, Torafu Architects has created a series of recycled glass pendant lamps that are inspired by droplets of water. And Philips has developed a new LED bulb that looks and feels like an incandescent. And for those travelers who just can’t seem to fit everything in their carry-on luggage, we present you with the JakToGo, a new jacket that stores up to 10 kg of goods, freeing up space in your suitcase.

Italian designer Arturo Vittori recently unveiled the WarkaWater Tower, a clever structure that could be used to collect water from thin air in Ethiopia and other parts of Africa. In other green design news, a Chinese company found a way to build 10 homes in a single day for less than $5,000 a pop, and a former helicopter pilot with a passion for photography and coffee created a coffee shop in South Korea that’s shaped like a Rolleiflex TLR Camera. In Taiwan, the Danish architecture firm BIG has proposed to build a massive senior community featuring a set of undulating green roofs. This week, Inhabitat also featured Atelier SAD’s modular Port X Home, which can pop up on land or on water, and we were amazed by Vienna’s 19th century coal gasometers, which have been transformed into thriving apartment buildings.

It takes a village to transition from fracking to solar power. In England, residents of a tiny town banded together to protest a fracking company planning to drill just five miles away. Now, those same residents have formed a coalition that seeks to finance and build community-owned solar power plants. Meanwhile, Oregon State University researchers found a way to use sunlight to create solar power devices, essentially turning the sun into a “one-stop shop” for green technology. Renewable energy can be fun, too: In the Netherlands, Ecosistema Urbano recently unveiled an amazing energy-generating carousel that produces power while lighting up riders’ lives.

BMW is best known for its high-end passenger cars, but the German company is also dabbling in public transportation. The BMW subsidiary DesignworksUSA recently produced 58 ritzy trains for Kuala Lumpur’s new subway system. After the devastating 2011 tsunami, Japanese company Fomm designed a remarkable electric car that is the world’s smallest four-seat electric vehicle, and it can also float like a boat. Also on the green transportation front, Tesla announced that it will be adding a new underbody shield and aluminum deflector plate to help prevent fires in the Model S. Madrid is preparing to host its first-ever electric bike-sharing program. The program will include 1,500 bikes, which will be spread throughout the city.

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6
Apr
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EU to require that EVs and hybrids make noise to alert pedestrians


Toyota Prius plug-in parked in the Netherlands

The EU has been talking for years about requiring pedestrian alert noises on electric cars and hybrids, and some vehicles already do. In the future, however, those warning systems will be mandatory. The European Parliament has backed a proposal that would require sound-making hardware in new electric vehicles by July 2019. The European Commission would lock down the final rules by July 2017. Whether or not you’re a fan of the potential regulation, gas-powered vehicles aren’t being let off the hook. Parliament also wants to start lowering conventional engine noise levels as soon as July 2016, so every Europe-friendly automaker will have to be mindful of audio before too long.

[Image credit: Harry_NL, Flickr]

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Via: Autoblog

Source: European Parliament

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