If you like the idea of streaming media to your TV with a Chromecast but aren’t terribly fond of Google’s content or platform restrictions, you’ll soon have an open alternative. GigaOM has managed to get hands-on time with an unannounced Firefox OS-based media stick that lets you “fling” any content to your TV using any software. It has a hack-friendly open bootloader, and it’ll even mimic a Chromecast in a pinch; while support is inconsistent right now, the adapter can already handle video requests from the YouTube app. Mozilla isn’t naming the manufacturer or commenting on its involvement in the project, but hopefully the gadget ships sooner than later. It may be the key to simple casting from Firefox OS, Windows Phone and other platforms that don’t have many (if any) TV sharing options.
- Christian Heilmann (@codepo8) June 19, 2014
We’re pretty big fans of Insomniac Games’ upcoming Xbox One release Sunset Overdrive ’round these parts, but now that love has grown a bit more. In the latest episode of the development team’s web series, noticed by Eurogamer, it was revealed that you can create a female avatar in the game. What’s more, if you want to be a dude in a skirt, you can totally be a dude in a skirt — Insomniac isn’t really worried about it either way. The funny part of this is that the female character that’s shown is dressed in garb that looks pretty similar to what we’ve seen a certain male killer from Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed 2 wear. If you’re asking yourself what all of this means, well, last week Ubisoft said putting playable female characters in the franchise’s next entry, Assassin’s Creed: Unity, would require resources the team simply doesn’t have.
This move from the Overdrive developer seems a pretty overt (while still lighthearted) shot across the bow. If you ask us, games could stand to be more inclusive, especially considering that 48% of gamers are women; this is a step in the right direction. Cheers, Insomniac.
Source: Sunset Overdrive (YouTube)
Blu Products is one of our favourite trendy brands featuring a variety of devices to meet the needs of smartphone consumers alike. AndroidGuys had a chance to have some of our top questions answered by BLU’s Chief Executive Officer, Samuel Ohev-Zion.
Our Questions Answered
In a growing world of “bigger is better” and “spec wars”, what products that you offer provides the best of all Blu devices?
We think the spec wars will become quickly irrelevant and disconnected from the consumer mindset, as people will start to ask “what device is good enough” and look for value, since we’re starting to see the performance of product priced at $200 or even lower, match up just fine with $600-$700 flagships. With this in mind, we will have several devices in this price range able to provide incredible value.
As a company that produces many devices, stylistically, what does Blu best showcase?
We best showcase giving consumers the freedom to choose what style fits them best. No one else does that. So the fact we have such a variety of appealing handsets and in amazing colors already puts us ahead of the competition.
When a company releases quite a few devices a year, a valid question that many consumers have is regarding software updates. What is the current BLU Products stance regarding software updates and upgrades for security patches (if applicable) and to newer versions of Android?
Several of our older Life Series and Studio Series will get kit-kat updates very soon. It’s impossible to update every single device, but that’s something we are committed towards improving. The good news is that BLU resale value is high. You can sell your used BLU device on Amazon. eBay, or even to a friend for almost the same price you paid for it. So if you desperately need the latest Android Version, sell your old BLU device, and go get a brand new BLU device with the latest OS version.
While many know Blu as a company that sells affordable lower to mid-range devices, what misconceptions, if any, can we clear up about the market of “spec wars” and what Blu has to offer?
We don’t get into spec wars. Our focus is creating a product that consumers can be proud to own, and show off, and passionate about.
In higher end unlocked devices that Blu offers, can consumers soon expect LTE network capability moving forward?
We will have at least 6 different LTE models launched before October 2014.
We at AndroidGuys have seen pretty amazing devices this year, and have had the pleasure of reviewing select phones. How does Blu answer to the current smartphone market and market demographics?
We have a vast portfolio that has a perfect device suited for everyone no matter their preferences. So plenty of answers for market available.
A question that has plagued our readers is about select Blu devices that seemingly are doubles of other devices, such as the Blu Life Pure XL and the Gionee Elife E7. We wanted to set the record straight with the following question. We asked the following:
What relationships does Blu Products have with distributors such as Gionee of India, and how do this benefit the end consumer?
Gionee India is a subsidiary of the Gionee parent company in China. This is a great partnership, where Gionee and BLU are able to co-develop exciting products together and obtain large volumes for production by leveraging our strength in different sales territories. By uniting BLU’s sales strength in the Western Hemisphere with Gionee’s sales strength in the East such as China and India, our combined efforts allow us to source and secure the best components and technologies available in the world today, which otherwise would have not been possible.
What type of developmental supports are used to help or allow development by 3rd Party developers for BLU Software? Is development either encouraged or discouraged?
At this time, we are focused on the user experience for our consumers by optimizing our BLU software internally. In the future 3rd party developers will be something we will be looking at, but not in our short term focus.
A growing trend in many smartphone markets is creating waterproof, drop proof, water resistant, and or MIL 810G spec devices, perhaps is there anything in the pipelines that we can show AndroidGuys readers about who are more prone to damaging their devices?
Of course we are always working on these types of devices, such as last year’s water and dust proof Tank 4.5 device with IP67 certification. We will continue to focus on that, so your readers will have to tune in and see what the future holds in store.
Blu’s Life Pure Series has really hit the ground running, and we’ll be working with Blu Products and parent company CT-Miami to showcase and review select devices offered by Blu in the future. We’re excited to see what devices are next from this extraordinary company. Learn how ‘There’s a BLU for YOU!’ at their website.
The post [Interview] CEO of Blu Products on spec wars, upcoming products, LTE support, and more! appeared first on AndroidGuys.
The LG G3 is amongst the best of the Android devices on the market at the moment, and the trend of releasing mini versions of flagship devices seems to be continuing if a rumour is anything to go by.
According to a database entry on an Indian import manifesto, a handset referenced as D722 is mentioned which is believed to be the LG G3 Mini. The device is expected to have a 4.5-inch 720p display, a 5-Megapixel rear camera, 8GB of internal storage, a 1.2GHz Qualcomm processor, and a 2,100mAh battery.
Whilst there is no word of a release date of the LG G3 Mini, with it appearing on import/export lists you would expect it wouldn’t be too long before we see it on the market.
ROM of the Week is dedicated to highlighting our favorite custom ROMs and builds for Android users. If you’re the type who likes to tinker and push their device to new limits then this column is for you.
Note that this isn’t the sort of thing that every AndroidGuys reader will enjoy; however, it can be an eye opener. Our hope here is that we help you discover something new and exciting that you can do with your favorite smartphone. Enjoy!
This week’s ROM of the Week goes to OmniRom, which has built a literal playground for developers from beginners to veterans to try out new features or to create your own. Omni goes to great lengths in order to help guide you, if you’re interested, in developing for Omni or porting to other devices. All of this useful information can be found here at their wiki site.
Like a majority of ROMs out there for Android, they all start with Google’s vanilla version of Android and begin to modify it with features they think are necessary or cool! Omni is geared towards all users and incorporates all kinds of functionality that makes customizing your device great! The rom is lightweight and offers many options for power users to tweak usage settings for your device.
Here is a list of features that can be found on OmniRom:
- Flippable Quick Settings
- Roadrunner mode
- Daydream enhancements
- Integrated Performance Control
Two of my favorite features are Multi-workspace and Flippable Quick Settings. Multi-workspace is very similar to Samsung’s TouchWiz, where it supports multiple windows at the same time. Flippable Quick Settings are unique and the first time I had seen a feature like this. It isn’t something fancy, but you can flip over your wifi quick setting to give a more thorough breakdown of the network.
Omni has a plethora of devices that either the developers created or other people have ported over. You can check out the official list here!
Netflix has revived The Killing for one final six-episode season, but what if you’re not sure about binge watching the first three (already on Netflix, of course) to get ready? A video posted by the service gives you a good peek at some of the characters and vibe of the story so far, all in less than two minutes. The Killing season four comes to Netflix August 1st (at 3AM ET, as usual), so you’ve still got plenty of time to blast through the existing seasons first. Showrunner Veena Sud called Netflix an “ideal platform” for the show because you can watch it all at once and we agree — the slow burn of the first couple of seasons isn’t nearly as frustrating when it’s over in days instead of months or years. She also said moving to the streaming service allowed for longer episodes (55 – 59 minutes without commercials, as opposed to 43 minutes for the other seasons), and notes that this story will pick up where the events of season three left off.
The story’s not over. Relive The Killing Seasons 1-3 before The Final Season, August 1, only on Netflix. http://t.co/YCrEkuY2EL
- The Killing (@TheKilling) June 20, 2014
Source: Netflix (YouTube)
The first alleged parts from the larger 5.5″ iPhone 6 have been shared by 9to5Mac. The image shows the front and back of an LCD backlight panel that measures ~14 centimeters or ~5.5 inches diagonally.
The site claims this represents a part for the 5.5″ iPhone 6 which has been rumored to be launching later this year. Apple is also expected to produce a 4.7″ model as well.
We’ve already seen some possible part leaks for the 4.7″ model, but this is the first part leak for the 5.5″ model. Reports had originally suggested the 5.5″ model would be released after the initial 4.7″ iPhone launch. More recently, however, we’ve heard that Apple may have solved whatever production challenges they ran into with the 5.5″ model.
Possible parts for the 4.7″ iPhone 6 model that have leaked include the front panel, batteries, rear shell and chassis molds. Meanwhile, the same LCD backlight for the 4.7″ model was photographed in May. For comparison:
Alleged 4.7″ iPhone LCD backlight
The 4.7″ and 5.5″ backlights share a similar design with each other and with the iPhone 5S LCD backlight. The data connector between the 4.7″ and 5.5″ models do seem different, however.
Facebook recently rolled out an update for Android devices that’s supposed to speed things up for users. If that update delivered on its promise, then you’ve got the company’s trip to Africa to thank — that’s how Facebook’s engineers got a taste of how slow the app can be on low-end phones with developing nations’ internet speeds. One of the social network’s engineers, Alex Sourov, detailed in a blog post how they bought several low-end Android phones in Africa to test out their app, which didn’t only crash repeatedly, but also loaded really slowly. Even worse, they ended up consuming a month’s worth of data plan within 40 just minutes trying to use the app. It became apparent that they needed to give their Android app an overhaul if the social network wants to reach even more people around the globe — so they did.
In order for Facebook to load faster on single-core devices, the engineers tweaked the app so its features don’t load all at once when you launch it, and cached News Feed entries load up much earlier. Then, they decided to move away from JPEG and PNGs and transmit Facebook images using Google’s WebP format, which consumes a lot less data. The app now also only loads images in resolutions and sizes that match the device’s screen size — it doesn’t automatically download a full-size high-res pic, for instance, unless you specifically click on it. Finally, Facebook has reduced its app size by 65 percent in hopes that it’ll play better with phones and tablets with small RAM sizes and limited storage capacities.
[Image credit: Marco Paköeningrat/Flickr]
MEElectronics Air-Fi Matrix2 AF62 Stereo Bluetooth Wireless Headphones Review: Bluetooth audio goes premium without the premium price Tag
The Bluetooth audio products market is a tough one to crack, but MEElectronics has a unique take on it that continues to make them a very intriguing option in this space. Often celebrated for their great value, MEElectronics has recently revamped their Air-Fi Matrix Bluetooth headphones, relaunching it as the Air-Fi Matrix2 AF62 Stereo Bluetooth Wireless Headphones. Crucially, MEElectronics has taken into account all the criticisms and suggestions from their consumers to improve the Matrix2, so let’s see if it has made a difference.
What’s in the box
MEElectronics is among my favourite manufacturers in audio thanks to their generally generous inclusions, and the gear included with the Matrix2 is no different. Along with the headphones themselves, you will also get a 3.5mm audio cable and a micro-USB cable for when you run out of juice as well as a hard case to store your Matrix2 headphones when not in use. Unlike the Runaway headphones that are also part of the Air-Fi range (see the full review here), the Matrix2 headphones are not collapsible, though the full-sized hard case is a nice touch to make sure no damage comes to the headphones during storage.
The Matrix2′s are very professional looking, with mostly dark plastic and dashes of metal adorning the headphone’s frame. The visual highlight of the device is its stitched earcup and headband covers, which are meant to resemble a carbon fibre finish; the outside of the case also has this finish, but is embossed into the case rather than being stitched on. In the area’s that matter, the Matrix2 headphones have soft leather over memory foam to make for a very comfortable fit; I had no issues wearing the Matrix2′s for hours and hours at a time and I didn’t notice any pressure points anywhere.
The Matrix2 headphones are technically over-the-ear headphones, but I found them most comfortable half on, half over my ears. Whether this is because my ears are giant and actually don’t fit inside the ear cups is up for debate, but needing to house 40mm drivers in each ear cup gives the Matrix2 ear cups some decent size.
Being a Bluetooth headset, there are also an assortment of buttons to be found adorning the ear cups. You will have access to the power (which doubles as the call button), volume up and volume down, play/pause, next track and previous track buttons. You will also be able to find recessed in the ear cups the microphone for taking phone calls, an indicator LED, and a 3.5mm audio jack which can be used to use the headphones when the battery has run out.
How does it sound
At $149 USD, the Matrix2 headphones come out at the top of MEElectronics’ Air-Fi series of audio products, with the Runaway at the bottom of the scale and Venture sitting pretty in the middle. For that money, you would expect some pretty impressive sound, and again, the Matrix2 doesn’t disappoint.
The best way to describe the audio quality of the Matrix2 headphones is balanced; it doesn’t go too crazy in any particular range, making the bass strong, but not overpowering, the mids are clear, as are the highs, making for a really great overall headphone that can be used for any genre of music, be it classical, rock, or dance. Audio quality is identical when the Matrix2 headphones are used wired or wireless with the only notable difference the telltale white noise when Bluetooth is connected.
Coming from the original Matrix, the Matrix2 has upgraded the old Bluetooth 3.0 to Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, and while I haven’t tried the predecessor, I had no issues with connectivity with the Matrix2′s. This extended to consistent connections while listening for hours at a time and there was no evidence of anomalies or anything of that nature.
What I like about the Matrix2 headphones
If you have ever read one of my reviews of Bluetooth headphones before, you will know that one of my all-time peeves with Bluetooth audio products is the fact that because most controls and buttons are located on the right ear cup, the 3.5mm audio jack is also located on the right. While the option to listen while not powered is obviously a plus, it’s such a jarring experience to need to become accustomed to having the audio cable hanging off the other ear cup than it is normally on. Perhaps this is a inane concern of mine, however I’m glad to say that MEElectronics has solved this bungle with the Matrix2 headphones and put the audio cable jack on the left ear cup; major points for that feature.
Another thing you will know if you have read my reviews before is that I love products that include a carry case, a box which the Matrix2 definitively ticks. While this is usually more of a thing for collapsible headphones, I’m really impressed that MEElectronics has gone to the trouble of making a hard moulded case for the Matrix2, something which isn’t normally afforded to full sized headphones. And as a side note, I was very impressed with how solid the Matrix2 headphones felt; despite being mostly plastic, they are quite heavy and the general feel is of quality.
The battery life of the Matrix2 headphones is quoted for a very impressive 22 hours, however in my testing I’m sure I exceeded that figure several times. And of course, if you run out of juice at any point (or get annoyed at the audio tone that occurs when you’re running low on battery), you can always switch to the physical cable to continue listening (and it’s on the right side!).
What I don’t like about the Matrix2 headphones
If you read my review of the Runaway headphones, you will know that I didn’t quite like the arrangement of the buttons used to control the headphone functions. And while the configuration on the Matrix2 is significantly different, I can’t say that I like it either. While splitting the controls between the ear cups makes it easier to remember which controls are on which side, I found myself fiddling with the controls too much trying to figure out which ones were which. I wouldn’t consider this a dealbreaker as the headphones are perfectly functional as they stands, however I think the experience could be much more enjoyable perhaps with wheels or switches instead of buttons.
This next concern might seem really unusual, but it was definitely one of the things that I noticed. It is said that the ‘new car’ smell is among one of the most sought after smells in the world, even being bottled up for those who want the specific scent; unfortunately, I can’t say the same for new Matrix2 headphones. I have a feeling that it has something to do with the fabric on the ear cups and headband, but the Matrix2 had an incredibly distinctive smell when it was first opened up. The weirdly synthetic smell lingered for a short while after, and while this again isn’t a dealbreaker, it’s just one of those things to be aware of.
MEElectronics has done it again; a great value set of over-ear headphones that look great and sound great. I’m a big fan of the balanced audio, the reserved, but elegant design and the fact that it does this as a Bluetooth wireless headset for less than $150 USD. There may be cheaper products in the same arena, but the Matrix2 shows itself to be a firmly premium offering at a not-very-premium price, and for that, it’s definitely worth a look.
As a hot tip, you can now get the Matrix2 on Amazon for just $79.99 USD, which is a phenomenal deal for such a great value set of headphones; you can find an Amazon link below.
If you want to take a closer look at the MEElectronics Air-Fi Matrix2 AF62 Stereo Bluetooth Wireless Headphones, you can visit the product page here, or to take a look at some of MEElectronics’ other audio products you can take a look at their website here.
Gallery of Photos
Specifically, Skype for Mac 6.14 and below will be retired in the near future, as Microsoft noted that users will no longer be able to sign into the service until they upgrade to the latest version of Skype. Skype for Mac 6.14 was originally released in February, with Skype for Mac 6.18 being the most recent release.
Skype for Mac can be downloaded for free from the service’s official website. The application requires Mac OS X Snow Leopard and above in addition to a compatible webcam.