The Galaxy S5: powerhouse smartphone, fitness guru… baby monitor? Yes, you read that right. SoyaCincau has learned that Samsung’s jack-of-all-trades Android flagship includes a “baby crying detector” mode that uses the phone as a listening station. If your child is upset, the GS5 sends a vibrating alert to your Gear watch (needed for the feature) that urges you to come to Junior’s aid. You probably wouldn’t want to lean on the detector too often — Samsung certainly doesn’t think it’s a wise idea, as you can see from the massive legal disclaimer pictured here. Still, it could come in handy if you don’t have a dedicated monitor and occasionally want to keep tabs on your tyke while you run around the home.
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.
It’s been a big week for architecture — especially the futuristic kind. First, winners were announced for the 2014 eVolo Skyscraper Competition, a contest that challenges designers to create buildings that are beautiful as well as problem-solvers. Top honors were earned by Sand Babel: a twisting, solar-powered, 3D-printed skyscraper built from desert sand. Then there’s the extraordinary Hyper Filter Skyscraper, which is designed to inhale carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases and exhale oxygen. China’s ongoing air-pollution crisis seems to have inspired more than one designer, as an honorable mention also went to Project Blue, a skyscraper that could actually transform air pollution into green energy.
Of course, pollution isn’t only found floating in the air. That’s why the judges were particularly fond of this floating skyscraper, which could rid the world’s oceans of plastic while generating clean energy. But you can’t spend too much time with your head in the clouds. That’s why we love real-world architectural geniuses like Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, who was awarded the prestigious 2014 Pritzker Prize for his experimental and environmentally conscientious designs built from low-cost and recyclable materials.
In renewable energy news, the city council of Bridgeport, Conn., voted to approve plans for a 9,000-solar panel array to be built across 16 acres of what used to be a landfill. Talk about trash to treasure. Meanwhile, Israel launched the world’s first self-cleaning solar farm and a new study shows that wind power costs are almost on par with the price of natural gas. Energy experts are also thinking outside the box when it comes to new ways to harvest renewable resources. Case in point: An enormous helium-filled wind turbine will soon float over the city of Fairbanks, Alaska, to produce enough electricity (and WiFi!) for more than a dozen families living off the grid.
Tired of digging your car out of the snow? Things might be easier if you had Rungu’s Three-Wheeled Juggernaut Bike. Equipped with large, soft tires, this “fatbike” floats over snow and sand — and it can even climb up stairs. Not interested in doing quite that much leg work? You’ll be glad to know that the stylish Leaos Carbon pedal-assist electric bike has finally made its way from Europe to the US. The futuristic bike features state-of-the art technology such as sensors and Supernova LED lights, and it can travel up to 2.5 hours on a single charge. And what about those who can’t pedal because of a physical disability? Designer Jesse Lee sees no reason why they should have to miss out on the electric-bike fun. So he created an all-terrain electric tricycle that can be controlled with hand or foot pedals, giving riders the freedom to travel across gravel, hills, grass and dirt.
Have you ever wished you could smell a dish before ordering it? Michelin-starred Chef Andoni Luis Aduriz is working on a smartphone app that greets customers with bursts of delicious fragrance as they peruse his menu. That’s almost as crazy as an innovative edible water bottle called Ooho that recently received a 2014 Lexus Design Award. Made from a gelatinous membrane, the biodegradable bottle can be cooked up in your kitchen, then eaten or safely thrown away. Speaking of biodegradable design, researchers are working on a new breed of dissolvable batteries that can be inserted under the skin to power medical devices. In wearable tech news, NASA is looking to the public for help in designing its next-generation “Z-2″ space suit. The “Z-2″ will incorporate a number of advanced features designed to protect astronauts from deep-space conditions. If you’re more interested in designs you can actually wear, be sure to check out this incredible Iron Man suit crafted by a father-and-son team in China.
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.
A company called Sling Media burst onto the scene in 2005 with a relatively new idea: give customers the ability to access their home cable and video services while they’re traveling. Its “place-shifting” concept was embodied in its first device: the Slingbox. While you’re on the road, this set-top-like box served to connect you to your very own TiVo recorded shows, media PC or cable and satellite TV services, provided you had a computer with Sling Media’s software and an internet connection (preferably high-speed). The original design was somewhat unique, resembling an oversized candy bar (Sling calls it an “ingot”), and it was a clear favorite of both Engadget editors and readers, earning the title of best home entertainment device for 2005. At launch, the $250 price certainly wasn’t cheap — especially for standard definition only — and it was markedly Windows-centric, excluding Apple users until its Mac compatible software arrived around 2007.
It was still a nascent market, but the Slingbox wasn’t the only device that served the media-hungry, place-shifting early adopters. Sony had been marketing its LocationFree TV since 2004, which centered around a tablet used for wireless TV viewing, whether you were around the house or on the road. Also available at the time was Orb, a free media-streaming software that provided access to personal files and live TV, as long as you had Microsoft Media Center and a TV tuner installed on a connected home computer. Sling announced several new versions of the Slingbox in 2006, including the Tuner, AV and Pro models that aimed at improving the experience and offering more connections for multiple video sources on a single Slingbox. Today, Sling Media continues to deliver products that let you access your various media content while away from home, but in much greater definition and in a variety of funky, non-confectionary-based Slingbox designs.
I love low-cost smartphones that punch above their weight, like the Lumia 620. They’re proof you don’t need high-end hardware to get a full smartphone experience. As you might imagine, then, I was eager to try the Moto G. A modern quad-core processor, a 720p screen and an up-to-date version of Android for under $200 off-contract? In theory, that’s an astounding bargain. With that in mind, I’ve been testing a Moto G on Telus’ network here in Canada to see whether I could live with it instead of the flagship phones I’m used to.
For the most part, I’m impressed. After several weeks of use, it still feels like a mid-range device in budget phone’s clothing. The Moto G is well built, lasts for more than a full day on a charge and is very quick handling most day-to-day tasks. There are a few clues this isn’t a speed demon, most notably the modest 3D gaming performance, but it’s otherwise responsive. I don’t even mind the absence of LTE. Here in Ottawa, Telus’ 3G service gave me download speeds around 6 Mbps. That’s plenty of bandwidth for Instagram and Twitter.
I also appreciate Motorola’s commitment to software updates. The Moto G was one of the first devices to get Android 4.4 KitKat, and there have since been significant upgrades to Assist, Gallery and other key apps. Few of the entry-level handsets I’ve tried have received more than a handful of noteworthy updates during their lifetimes. Hopefully Motorola will keep up the pace — it’s great to have a cheap phone that’s constantly evolving.
It’s just a shame about the camera. Even after the KitKat refresh and a separate camera update, the Moto G’s photo quality is merely okay for the price. The sensor occasionally focuses on the wrong subject right as I’m taking the shot, and low light pictures often turn out blurry. The quality isn’t bad enough to keep me from recommending the device to friends, but I would suggest ponying up for the Nexus 5 if you care about imaging in a frugal, off-contract smartphone.
We’re big fans of gaming and with the thousands of Apps in the Google Play Store, it can often be hard to find those great titles that can give you hours of fun. That’s why we’ve trawled the Google Play Store to bring the top games for your Android device.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Anyone who had a PS2 remembers GTA: San Andreas, and it was the biggest attempt to give freedom to the player in the open world. Rockstar have managed to bring the award winning title in all its glory to your Android device, and the experience is fantastic. Compatible with most Bluetooth controllers, you’re able to play the title just as you could back in the day. The graphics are somewhat to be desired compared to modern titles, but keeping in mind the age of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, the experience more than makes up for it.
One of the first cross-platform multiplayer games to come to the store was SHADOWGUN: DeadZone which brought intense shooting on some great looking maps with console-like graphics. Built on the freemium model, progress can be achieved by playing rounds and ranking up, but can be accelerated using in-app purchases. With easy to use controls and great graphics, SHADOWGUN: DeadZone is a great multiplayer game.
DEAD TRIGGER 2
Think of DEAD TRIGGER 2 as Dead Island on your Android device; made by the same developer as SHADOWGUN, you can expect the same great gameplay, shooting fun, and addictiveness. If you like Zombie killing, then why not give this game a go to take that Zombie Killing addiction on the move with you on your Android device.
Asphalt 8: Airborne
If you enjoy arcade racing games then you’ll love Asphalt 8: Airborne, with fantastic graphics, multiplayer, and 47 high performance cars to chose from, you’ll find yourself putting hours of fun into this game. Race in 9 different settings, such as Venice, French Guiana, Iceland, and the Nevada Desert, across 8 seasons and 180 race events. Bundle in some great barrel rolls and you’ve got Asphalt 8 that will be sure to find a permanent place on your homescreen.
Plants vs Zombies 2
A game that simply needs no introduction. What happens when you combine deadly plants with the half-dead? An addictive game that will have you trying to defeat hordes of zombies with your plant army. Taking what worked so well in the first Plants vs Zombies, the sequel adds more plants, more powerups, and more zombies to add to what we knew and loved with the original game.
Do you have a game that you can’t live without? Drop us a comment in the section below to recommend it, and why you like it, to have it added to our list.
You might recall that late last year, it was found that Samsung had been boosting the benchmark scores of several of its flagship devices, not least of all the Galaxy Note 3 (read about those accusations here). This definitely isn’t the first time that it has been revealed that Samsung had been tweaking its device’s performance in benchmarking apps, however it appears that HTC may have been caught doing exactly the same thing with its brand-new smartphone, as shown in a HTC One M8 benchmark.
As the story goes, the HTC One M8 was benchmarked in the slightly older AnTuTu 4 benchmarking app and scored 38815, far above the 34898 the Samsung Galaxy S5 got and the 32768 the Sony Xperia Z2 was able to achieve. Interestingly, when tested on the newer AnTuTu X benchmarking app, which is designed to eliminate performance boosted scores, the One M8 only scored 27171 whereas the Galaxy S5 and Xperia Z2 scored very nearly the same scores as they did on AnTuTu 4. It was later discovered that HTC has implemented a “High Performance Mode” on its Asian variant of the One M8, soon to be updated on the American version.
What do you think about HTC’s efforts to try and get better looking benchmarking scores? Let us know what your opinion is in the comments.
In the endless war between iOS and Android, there are many contentious areas for heated discussion, some with little, or no, basis in logic. There is, however, possibly one less area for conflict now after Crittercism posted its report into mobile platform stability and found that Android 4.4 KitKat is the most stable mobile OS. According to Crittercism’s findings, which involved a sample of over 2,500 devices and 106 different mobile operating systems, Android KitKat had the lowest overall crash rate at just 0.7%.
According to the study, Gingerbread has the worst rate of crashing of all the Android operating systems at 1.7%. Across the way at Apple, iOS 7.1 came in at a crash rate of 1.6%, only marginally above that of Gingerbread, though that is nothing compared to the crash rate of iOS 5 which logged in at 2.5%. While it’s hard to say if these results are significant or definitive enough to represent the global device population, it’s nice to see an attempt to try and put this information together.
What do you think about the results of Crittercism’s study into mobile platform crashes? Think the study holds any water? Let us know what your thoughts are in the comments.
While Pluto might have been stripped of its full planetary status, thanks to a shift in official definitions, a newly discovered planetoid could actually hint at the existence of a “super-Earth” in the far reaches of our solar system. The ball of rock and ice, known as 2012 VP113, is estimated to be 250 miles wide, and has the most distant known orbit of our sun — currently around 7.7 billion miles, extending to around 42 billion at its farthest. 2012 VP113 was spotted using the Dark Energy Camera in Chile, after a series of time-lapse photos captured it moving across the night sky.
It’s not the first (and probably not the last) object of notable size observed beyond the Kuiper belt — Sedna was discovered in 2003, but until now had been pretty much a lone case. Exciting as this is, it’s also thought that, given certain similarities in the angle of Sedna and 2012 VP113′s orbit, that there might be a much larger planet lurking in the shadows pulling on them, yet to reveal itself. This, once more, could change what we know about our very own observable solar system. Time to revise those museum models again?
Via: The New York Times
Google has issued revised rules for Google Play apps in its continuing effort to stay one step ahead of nefarious developers. This time, the primary target is apps with pop-up ads that spoof a system, service or app notification and trick you into clicking where you shouldn’t. It’s also cracking down on “promotion or install tactics” that cause downloads or Play store redirects without your say-so, along with apps that send unsolicited SMS ads. Finally, it’s forbidding any the use of “erotic content” to promote pornography and forcing advertisers to clarify when and how they use in-app purchases. Google will allow developers a 15-day grace period before it drops the ban hammer — by which point the bad guys will have likely found workarounds.
Source: Google Play
Hello precious Android friends. Time to talk a little Android with you. The show is up a little late, but it happens. Android 4.4.3 has been spotted, so hopefully an update will be rolling very soon. The New HTC One is looking pretty sexy, and hopefully I can get my hands on one soon. Enjoy the show!