LG’s never been scared of trying new things when it comes to smartphones, even pioneering the strange-yet-convenient back button placement other manufacturers have copied since. By comparison, the company has played it safe with its G Pad tablet range, none of which have had any particularly stand-out features. And after briefly playing the LG’s new G Pad II 10.1 here at IFA, it seems like the company is quite happy sticking to its rather unexciting formula. Last year, LG opted to release three sizes of tablet, but for now at least, the G Pad II only comes in the one form factor, with a 10.1-inch 1,920 x 1,200 display. Slideshow-316996
To refresh your memory, the G Pad II marries a 2.26GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 with 2 gigs of RAM, 16GB of storage, 5- and 2-megapixel cameras, a 7,400mAh battery and Android 5.1.1 Lollipop. By all accounts, a capable tablet, but there really isn’t much to say beyond that. At 489g (just over 17 ounces), it’s agreeably light for a 10-inch slate, and the one “brilliant bronze” color scheme is neither exciting nor off-putting. Build quality is tight, as you’d expect from an established company like LG, but otherwise, the G Pad II is pretty generic. In fact, one of the more interesting factoids about the slate is that it comes with Microsoft’s Office suite preinstalled.
Of course, not every tablet has to push the boundaries of design, specifications or feature set, but it’s hard to consider LG’s latest effort as anything but “just another option.” And without conclusive pricing for either the WiFi-only or LTE variants, which launch in the US later this month before rolling out to other markets in due course, we can’t really speculate on who it’ll appeal to most. We’ve poked LG for more info on this important missing piece, and we’ll be sure to update you if we hear anything more. On first impressions, at least, the Bluetooth keyboard launching alongside the G Pad II is more interesting than the new tablet itself. Whoops…
Check out all the news from Berlin at our IFA 2015 hub.
Tags: gpadII, gpadII10.1, hands-on, ifa, ifa2015, lg, lggpadII, lggpadII10.1, microsoft, microsoftoffice
Skype users have ridden a rollercoaster of different designs over the years, and the latest version promises yet more change. Version 6.0 has been completely redesigned for both iOS and Android apps, which are now in lockstep with each other. For Google’s ecosystem, the new layout took a page from the Android 5 “Material” playbook with circular icons and other touches. Other features include a floating action button to start new calls or chats (à la Facebook’s Messenger), enhanced search and improved messaging. There are also custom ringtones, photo sharing and web link reviews to bring the app in line with rival messaging products like Google’s Hangouts.
On the Apple side, Microsoft made similar visual tweaks and added swipe gestures for calls and messages. It’s also easier to post photos, links and emoticons when you’re on a video or voice call. Other tweaks include enhanced search, location info and other features you’d expect on a messaging system. The Skype iPad app has been completely revamped to take advantage of the larger screen, and now includes group calling to boot. Both the Android and iOS apps are now available, and as for Skype on Windows 10 Mobile, MIcrosoft said it’s working hard on the next version and “we’ll let you know when we have more to share.”
Tags: Android, iOS, iPhone, microsoft, mobilepostcross, Skype, Skype 6.0
Today Samsung is the first company to announce an Ultra HD Blu-ray player, taking the lead in 4K and HDR video. Following up on its big Ultra HD push at CES and the movie streaming/download tech that has arrived in the months since, Samsung is ready to push super high resolution movies (four times the resolution of Blu-ray, and 64 times as many colors) on discs too. There’s not much detail available on its new player, although we expect it will cost less than the $1,000 price its first Blu-ray player commanded nearly a decade ago and it should launch early next year. Joining the tech company on its IFA 2015 stage are Fox execs, with president Mike Dunn proclaiming the studio is committed to releasing its slate of upcoming movies in Ultra HD with HDR day-and-date with the Blu-ray and Digital HD releases. That includes Fantastic Four, Maze Runner, Kingsman: The Secret Service and more.
Samsung’s Ultra HD Blu-ray player is curved to match its TVs, and also includes a number of UHD streaming services. The other news today at IFA is that Samsung’s TVs will be the first ones getting a software update to support HDMI 2.0a, necessary to receive HDR info from the new Blu-ray players. As far as that UHD Alliance the tech industry and Hollywood are creating to push their new video standards, Fox CTO Hanno Basse said it has tripled in size, and hopes to share more details in “the coming months.”
Check out all the news from Berlin at our IFA 2015 hub.
Tags: 4K, Blu-ray, Fox, hdpostcross, HDR, IFA, IFA2015, microsoft, MikeDunn, samsung, SUHD, UltraHD, UltraHDBlu-ray
Google has teamed up with 6 other tech giants to create a next-generation video format. The partnership includes key players like Amazon, Cisco, Intel, Microsoft, Netflix and Mozilla (aside from the Search Giant), a collective which is to be named the Alliance for Open Media.
You may be asking yourself what exactly the issue is with current video formats. Why are all these companies teaming up for a new solution, if our videos are already great? The main issue is that most popular video formats were not made with browsers and mobile devices in mind, they were simply adapted to them. The idea is that this next-generation standard would offer more flexibility, better support and improved browser compatibility.
The Alliance’s initial focus is to deliver a next-generation video format that is:
- Interoperable and open;
- Optimized for the web;
- Scalable to any modern device at any bandwidth;
- Designed with a low computational footprint and optimized for hardware;
- Capable of consistent, highest-quality, real-time video delivery; and
- Flexible for both commercial and non-commercial content, including user-generated content.
These guys will join forces and harness their specific areas of expertise to create a royalty-free video codec, placing a high emphasis on the above-mentioned characteristics, as well as encryption, adaptive streaming and more.
“Customer expectations for media delivery continue to grow, and fulfilling their expectations requires the concerted energy of the entire ecosystem. The Alliance for Open Media brings together the leading experts in the entire video stack to work together in pursuit of open, royalty-free and interoperable solutions for the next generation of video delivery.” -Gabe Frost, executive director at Alliance for Open Media
I am usually uncertain about new formats and their success, but with so many huge players on board, I find it difficult for this project to fail. Google and company are off to a good start, and more details will be revealed as the program develops. For now, all we can do is wait and see how this project unfolds. What do you guys think? Do we need a new format? Maybe this will be the one we have all been waiting for!
Ever watch a YouTube review of a game or console and worry that the reviewer was a little too enthusiastic? You’re not alone. Machinima has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it mislead gamers by failing to disclose that Xbox One reviews from YouTube “influencers” (read: popular channels) were really paid promos. Under the terms of the deal, Machinima has to make sure that any promos are clearly disclosed, refuse to pay for those that aren’t, and check in on campaigns to make sure that the disclosures haven’t vanished. And in case you’re wondering: while the FTC has determined that Microsoft and its ad agency were partly responsible, it believes these promos were “isolated incidents” that didn’t reflect those two companies’ policies.
The settlement represents one of the first big steps to acknowledge the widespread problems with paid gaming endorsements in online videos. It’s no secret that console makers and game studios have spent years courting YouTube and Twitch stars, taking advantage of the absence of editorial safeguards (many streamers have to handle marketing requests themselves) and financial vulnerability. Some of those who agree to promos are up front about the payments, but others either downplay the disclosures or don’t include them at all. An FTC crackdown will hopefully push both companies and video hosts to say exactly what’s going on, letting you know right away whether or not that “let’s play” clip is a thinly-veiled sales pitch.
Tags: ads, advertising, endorsements, ftc, gaming, internet, machinima, microsoft, payola, regulation, videogames, xboxone, youtube
Almost all the biggest tech companies are joining together to create a new royalty free video format. Amazon, Cisco, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Mozilla and Netflix plan on making this new format to revolutionize the internet.
The new company formed is called Alliance for Open Media. The new video format will probably mean the final end to Adobe Flash. Flash video has been around forever and has only caused trouble in recent years. Apple was the first company to stop using Flash altogether when it’s iPhone came out, interestingly enough, Apple is not a part of the alliance. However, Apple, Facebook, Sony, Twitter and other major tech companies, which are not a part of it, are welcome to join according to Mozilla CTO David Bryant.
“The initial members are just a start. We invite anyone with an interest in video, online or off, to join us.”
The new video format does not have a name currently, but will be specifically designed for streaming video. It will also need to able to work well with low powered mobile devices. A notable feature is the video format will support copyright protection.
The new group will operate under W3C patent rules and release code under an Apache 2.0 license. This means the new video format will be royalty free, any company can build software to support it.
A Mozilla blog post by Mozilla CTO David Bryant details the participants’ reasoning and concerns.
“One of the biggest challenges in developing open standards in a field like video codecs is figuring out how to review the patents. The Alliance provides a venue for us to share the legal legwork without having to worry about it being used against us down the road.
That distributes the load, allows us to innovate faster and cheaper, and gives everyone more confidence that we are really producing a royalty-free codec.”
Personally, I think there are already many other excellent video codecs out there to use and this seems to be more about creating a copyright protected one. However, share with us your thoughts in the comments.
Come comment on this article: Some of the largest tech companies are working together to make a new video format
Microsoft’s making good on its promise to release Cortana for PC in more locations after a limited launch. Now, the voice assistant is available as an optional download in Nihongo for Japan, as well as in English for Australia, Canada and India, but only if you’re running the latest Windows 10 Insider Preview build. According to the Insider program’s spokesperson, Gabe Aul, the Indian version isn’t quite finished yet, and it’s expected to get “an improved voice” — whatever that means — sometime this September. Cortana for PC was originally made available only in a handful of countries, including the US, when Windows 10 came out, as Redmond opted to tailor it for each location. After this tour, Microsoft is expected to prep the voice assistant and send it on its way to Brazil and Mexico, as well as release a French version in Canada.
Tags: cortana, microsoft, windows10, windows10insider
It’s no secret that many tech companies hate video formats that are closed, cost money or both — enough so that they’ll drop popular standards and develop their own codecs. There hasn’t been a concerted attempt to tackle this problem, however, which is why several industry giants have just launched the Alliance for Open Media. Founding members Amazon, Cisco, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Mozilla and Netflix are working on a future video format that should be royalty-free, open to anyone and playable on just about any modern device. It’s still extremely early (the group hasn’t even said how others can join), but you should hear more about their efforts later this year.
While it’s not stated, the Alliance is effectively trying to make an end run around MPEG LA, the group that licenses big video formats like H.264 and H.265. If the Alliance can create a standard that catches on, it’d eliminate one of the common costs for offering video playback on devices and through the internet. However, that’s a big “if.” The tech industry is notorious for developing formats that either take ages to arrive or quickly fizzle out. Also, Apple isn’t one of the founders. Unless the Alliance can convince Apple to hop aboard, it may have trouble reaching the widest possible audience — just look at what happened when Cupertino refused to support Flash on its mobile hardware.
[Image credit: Shutterstock]
Alliance for Open Media
Tags: allianceforopenmedia, amazon, cisco, google, hdpostcross, intel, internet, microsoft, mozilla, mpeg-la, mpegla, netflix, streaming, video, web
If you were hoping to see more of Spartan 117 ahead of Halo 5: Guardians release this October, today isn’t your day. Sure, there’s a new trailer embedded below, but it isn’t gameplay. Nor does it tell us much about what’s going on with the game’s story (Dr. Halsey working alongside Covenant Elites is intriguing, though). It’s bombastic, pretty, and stars Nightfall protagonist Jameson Locke, but the clip ultimately rings a bit hollow. If you want to see what Nathan FIllion looks like after spending some time in the uncanny valley, however, you’re in for a treat. Everyone else that’s expecting some hot new footage of Master Chief on the battlefield will almost assuredly be disappointed, though.
Tags: gaming, halo, halo5, halo5guardians, hdpostcross, jamesonlocke, microsoft, video, xbox, xboxone
Our own Aaron Souppouris put Cortana to work betting on English Premier League matches last season, and now Bing wants to offer more help with NFL action. Microsoft’s search software has been making sports-related predictions for some time now, and this season it wants to help you dominate that fantasy football league. To lend a hand in selecting your lineup each week, Bing will offer updated player projections and suggestions for free agent pickups. Sure, ESPN, Yahoo and others already serve up a similar collection of weekly rankings, but Microsoft’s search engine has a decent track record when it comes to sports (and Oscar) predictions. Bing will continue to predict games every week, much like Cortana has done since the start of last season. It’ll also give you updated team power rankings every Tuesday alongside updated projections on your team’s postseason chances. And as you might expect, it wants to be your home for states and other game-related info while you watch at home. You can put Bing to the test when the NFL season kicks off Thursday, September 10th.
[Image credit: Joe Robbins/Getty Images]
Tags: bing, fantasyfootball, football, microsoft, nfl, predicitions, search, sports