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Future iPhones May Offer More Realistic Lighting and Shadows with New Ray-Tracing GPU

Apple’s graphics partner for iOS devices, Imagination Technologies, has announced a new version of its PowerVR graphics architecture that includes ray-tracing capabilities. Apple currently uses the PowerVR G6430 graphics package from Imagination in its latest A7 chip that powers the iPhone 5s, iPad Air, and Retina iPad mini, so Imagination’s new technology is likely of interest to Apple.

Offering more realistic lighting and shadows, the new GPU design known as “Wizard” marks a significant leap forward by bringing ray tracing to mobile devices.

For the better part of the last eight years, we have been busy developing unique hardware and software technologies to radically lower the cost and dramatically increase the efficiency and performance of ray tracing.

This work culminates at GDC 2014 with the official launch of the PowerVR Wizard GPU family, a range of IP processors that offer high-performance ray tracing, graphics and compute in a power envelope suitable for mobile and embedded use cases. This opens up the potential of highly photorealistic, computer generated imagery to a host of new real-time applications and markets not previously possible.

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Sony Xperia Z, ZL, ZR and Tablet Z to see Android 4.4 in Q2

Sony Xperia ZThe main focus of the a post on the Sony Mobile blog today was Android 4.4 KitKat updates for three devices that started today. While the software is available for the Xperia Z Ultra, Xperia Z1 and Xperia Z1 Compact, the actual update might not be hitting your device for a little while. At the tail end of the announcement Sony tossed in a few little side details for six other Xperia branded devices.

Once the roll out for the three mentioned above is completed, or at least near completion to their standards, then Sony will start another round of Android 4.4 updates for four more Xperia devices. Those holding onto a Xperia Z, Xperia ZL, Xperia Tablet Z and Xperia ZR will be happy to hear that in mid-Q2, that is May, Sony will start pushing Android 4.4 out for you.

An additional little bit of info also puts the Xperia T2 Ultra, Xperia E1 and Xperia M2 in the mix for an update to KitKat. They failed to offer a time line of any sort for those three devices.

Source: Sony Mobile


Flappy Bird’s coming back, but you probably don’t care


This is the digital age of ADD, people, so let’s be real about one thing: most of you probably don’t care about the disappearance of Flappy Bird anymore, nor the fact that it’s coming back. But for those of you that do still wish to tap that bird’s flapping wings once more past Nintendo-ish green pipes, there’s a ray of light ahead. Turns out, creator Dong Nguyen wants to see his mobile game return to the iOS and Android platforms that sent buckets of cash and internet vitriol his quiet way. Nguyen tweeted the news out, but didn’t indicate when Flappy Bird would return as a downloadable free-to-play game on the App Store, saying only that it wouldn’t be soon. Which is even more reason to believe that when it does comeback for a second act, most of you will have moved on to some other fad or meme, or dogecoin-branded dating sim. The Horror!

[Image credit: Getty]

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Via: Yahoo


Prototype headset mirrors your phone screen in an awkward attempt at virtual reality

The verdict on virtual reality seems to be in: the future of the technology is in fully immersive, face bound ski-goggles that block out your physical perceptions in favor of digitally created wonderlands. Well, unless you’re looking at Seebright’s AR/VR head-mounted display prototype. The company brought an early version of its developing headgear to GDC and it’s.. well, very different. Unlike the hardware we’ve seen from Sony, Oculus and GameFace, Seebright’s headgear leaves the user’s peripheral wide-open by suspending a smartphone above their field of view and reflecting it in front of them with a low-hanging mirror. To be honest, it’s a little bizarre.

As a standard virtual reality headset, Seebright’s HMD prototype is uncomfortable — it’s hard to feel immersed in a virtual world if your perception of reality remains intact. The mirror reflecting the headgear’s host-smartphone’s display only fills out center of the user’s view, giving the their peripheral vision every opportunity to break their suspension of disbelief. We found this to be extremely distracting in gaming experiences: the dark asteroid fields of Starfighter 12 (an on-rails shooter demo) felt out of place floating in Seebright’s well-lit hotel suite.

Company CEO John Murray told us that the prototype also had a partially transparent half-mirror, designed to convert the headgear into an augmented reality display. This idea has more promise, but unfortunately, the transparent screen wasn’t available for testing just yet. It’s just as well: the HMD prototype was particularly top heavy and fairly uncomfortable. A external battery pack lives on the back strap, acting as a counterbalance, but it isn’t enough. Compared to lighter and more comfortable feeling (and fully-integrated) VR headsets, Seebright’s prototype is just awkward.

That said, the company is aiming for a different demographic. The company told us it hopes to give the final device a price that will make it an “impulse purchase,” something you can give as a gift without breaking the bank. It also says there are plenty of revisions on the way, which will hopefully iron out some of the comfort and balance issues. Got a strong neck? Stay tuned: the company says it will be launching a Kickstarter campaign next month.

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Motorola further details the Moto 360 smartwatch

Motorola just wrapped up its initial hangout based around the Moto 360, an Android Wear-powered smartwatch. If you didn’t have a chance to check it out, you can look for the video on YouTube.

The event itself was light on hard details and really only served to provide a quick glimpse into the device and its future. With that said, we did glean a few bits of information out of the team.

Asked whether the device would pair with other branded smartphones, Motorola replied that anything with Android 4.3 or later will work. What’s more, the watch is said to be water-resistant and features much of the know-how that goes into the Moto X and MotoActv.

“Maximum surface area while maintaining a comfortable fit”

As to whether Google Wear is designed to only work with round displays, Motorola says that the OS is built for circular and square screens. It just happens that they chose the rounded face for this model. Speaking of which, we heard multiple times that this was a conscious decision to provide the most screen and flexibility without digging into your wrist.

Motorola wants you to want to wear this first and then map the technology to it. This is not to say that Motorola did not face challenges in working with that layout. Everything done with the Moto 360 revolves around putting battery first and giving customers a pleasurable device.

For those who wonder why this doesn’t feature a microUSB port or anything that resembles a computer/phone, it’s a deliberate move. Motorola says this needs to look like a watch and feel like a redesign of the time piece, not a smaller smartphone. Oh, and if you’re wondering how this watch will charge, Motorola will detail that at a later date. Our gut tells us it’s not unlike what Qualcomm has done with the Toq.

In terms of build quality, Motorola says the Moto 360 will offer interchangeable wrist bands and feature stainless steel, leather, and other premium materials.

Unfortunately, Motorola stopped short of disclosing pricing or market availability, adding that both will be shared at a later date.

The post Motorola further details the Moto 360 smartwatch appeared first on AndroidGuys.


Samsung Galaxy S4 Replacement Battery (2600mAh) [Accessory of the Day]

Need to replace the battery on your Samsung Galaxy S4? Maybe you like to have a spare one around so you can toss it into a bag for an extended night on the town. Whatever the case, you can scoop one up from Amazon for as little as $10.48 today. Discounted 79% off the normal price, it’s one heck of a bargain. Note that this is the real deal from Samsung and not an off-brand replacement.

The post Samsung Galaxy S4 Replacement Battery (2600mAh) [Accessory of the Day] appeared first on AndroidGuys.


It’s Time: Meet Moto 360 Hangout Video Talks Design and a Little Bit More

Moto 360 It's Time Android Wear MotorolaMotorola had a live Hangout this morning at 11 a.m. PST to offer up a sneak peak and talk about design of the Moto 360 watch. I missed it unfortunately, but the video is live and available for you to watch on your own time.

If you can’t spare the 22 minutes to watch the whole thing, let’s give you a brief. It is round, it is a watch, it was built from the ground up and it is fashionable. Not surprising, they didn’t talk about any specs or pricing. They did say that battery life is a priority and power management is a big part of the Moto 360.

As for its connection ability. It will work with all Motorola smartphones, not surprised, but it will also work with any android device with Android 4.3 or newer. That is good to hear when you think about Samsung and the proprietary Gear devices.

It is water resistant, but no specifics were outlines.

On the Motorola blog a few little details were mentioned such as the Moto 360 will be available in a variety of styles globally this summer, starting with the U.S. Not that I am surprised that the U.S. will have the first chance at it, but it does let all the global on lookers know a small bit of the plans.



Android 4.4 Update Rolling Out for Sony Xperia Z Ultra, Z1 & Z1 Compact

Android 4.4 for Xperia Z1 Xperia Z Ultra Xperia Z1 Compact
I knew an update for some Sony Xperia devices couldn’t be to far off. This morning Sony announced that the Sony Xperia Z Ultra, Xperia Z1 and Xperia Z1 Compact will all be getting Android 4.4. Check out some of the details that you can expect in the release beyond the obvious 4.4 KitKat OS :

  • Google’s Android 4.4; KitKat as standard – bringing performance & UI optimisation…
  • We’ve added our tweaked Status Bar and Quick Settings… now more intuitive and customisable (and pretty easy on the eye)… cleaned up to ensure you only get the notifications you really need
  • If you’ve got a Sony PlayStation 4, you might recognize our new user interface – we’ve added the same sleek launch animation and livewallpaper across the lock and home screens
  • We’re also uplifting Sony’s entire native app portfolio to the latest versions – bringing tweaked / improved / current experiences for (to name but a few): Messaging, MyXperia, Smart Connect, Small apps, TrackID, TrackID TV, Sony Select, Smart Social Camera and…
  • Sony’s Media apps: WALKMAN, Album and Movies, with Sony Entertainment Network cloud service integration* – a more converged and full Sony entertainment experience – Sony Entertainment Network & PlayMemories integration with a more intuitive UI, better download speeds, and more!
  • Our unique custom interface experience: “Xperia Themes”, with downloadable UI packs from Sony Select – skin up to 280 assets across your Xperia smartphone with a variety of styles, and more to follow soon…

The update is available, but time and availability per market and carriers will be the deciding factor on when you actually see it become available.

Source: Sony Mobile


Valve’s new Steam controller feels familiar, but strange

Valve’s original vision for a PC gamepad was an arresting deviation from the norm: touch sensitive control pads in place of dual-analog thumbsticks and a full-on touchscreen in lieu of actual buttons. The company’s latest revision – codenamed “D0g” after the character from Half Life 2 – skews a little more traditional, replacing the curious touchscreen with eight regular buttons. Is it a loss worth lamenting? We caught up with Valve at GDC 2014 to find out.

On a whole, not a lot has changed between Steam’s last controller prototype and its new kit: subtle vibrations still tick from under its two large touchpads, and its ergonomic body is as comfortable as ever, if a bit less polished than the last model we saw. Internal batteries give it a bit more heft, of course, and the body may have minor tweak, but the major revisions are apparent: buttons. Eight new toggles pock the face of Valve’s latest gamepad, taking up the traditional role of the d-pad and A, B, X and Y functions. They feel a little smaller than the average controller button, but are no less responsive for their form factor. As for the touchpads? They’re still a little flighty. Although they still work wonders at emulating traditional mouse movement, twitch-based FPS gameplay still feels hyper-sensitive and frankly, a little odd.

On their own the buttons feel good, but we couldn’t help but wonder what we lost in their implementation. Valve told us it envisioned the touchscreen as displaying non critical information — like Steam community notifications — but notes that its gameplay functionality may yet live on. The software developed to utilize the abandoned screen’s “Ghost mode” can be applied to the controller’s touchpads, allowing a player to assign multiple actions to the surface of either pad, but only activating them when a secondary button is depressed. Valve couldn’t say if this kind of implementation would appear in the final hardware, but told us it’s still experimenting with the software designed for the touchpad.

Valve told us it hopes to launch the consumer controller sometime this fall, but warned us that the tentative window was far from solid — the controller is designed to be iterative, and the company plans to continue to tweak and revise it even after launch. We were even told that the orphaned touchscreen could return in a future revision, but we’re not holding our breath. People seem to like buttons.

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Camera deals of the week: 03.19.14

Now is as good a time as any to hone that photography hobby. What’s that? You don’t have a camera? Well then, a handful of discounted models await on the other side of the jump that could have you eager to dive in. There’s a point-and-shoot, a retro design and a pair of pro-grade DSLRs to cover a range of snapshooting abilities.

If there are other photo wares you’re after that we haven’t included here — join us and add them to your “Want” list. Every time there’s a price cut in the future, you’ll get an email alert!

Nikon D800 (body-only)

Price: $2,180
Regular Price: $2,800
Engadget Global Score: 88
Buy: Fumfie

The D800 made its debut back in 2012 and has been shooting crisp 36-megapixel images ever since. Our 90-day Price History tool indicates that the current going rate is equal to the three-month low for the DSLR that also packs HD video chops and snappy autofocus.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II (body-only)

Price: $2,000
Regular Price: $2,699
Engadget Global Score: 89
Buy: 42nd Street Photo

We don’t usually like to include discontinued tech in these roundups. However, if you’re willing to take a chance on a DSLR with some age on it, the EOS 5D Mark II is also seeing its lowest price in the last 90 days. The camera packs a full-frame, 21-megapixel sensor that’s well-equipped to tackle low-light snapshots when the need arises.

Fujifilm X100S

Price: $940
Regular Price: $1,299
Engadget Global Score: 83
Buy: Fumfie

Prefer your photo hobby to sport a bit of retro flair? If so, Fuji knows a thing or two about classic styling, and its Fujifilm X100S is being sold at a three-month low price. It isn’t just a pretty face either, as reviewers have noted image quality and robust features as key selling points.

Nikon Coolpix S9500

Price: $220
Regular Price: $230
Engadget Global Score: 81
Buy: Amazon

If you don’t mind your point-and-shoot cloaked in red, the Coolpix S9500 is now marked at $130 below its original $350 asking price. Both WiFi and GPS features make the S9500 a solid travel companion when you don’t have room to pack in a full DSLR and all of its requisite accessories.

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