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Samsung debuts projector-equipped Galaxy Beam 2 smartphone

Chances are your phone doesn’t have a built-in projector — and it never will. But there’s at least a small subset of the Chinese market that apparently has a need for an entry-level smartphone capable of projecting dim videos and presentation slides onto a flat surface. The Galaxy Beam 2 sports a 1.2GHz quad-core processor, 1 gig of RAM and an underwhelming 800×480-pixel 4.66-inch display. The battery tops out at 2,600 mAh of juice, so if you’re thinking of planning a smartphone movie marathon you might want to bring the charger along. It launched today on China Mobile’s 3G network (with pricing TBA), and while Samsung has yet to detail an international release, it’s unlikely that we’ll ever see the second-generation Beam on this end of the Pacific.

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Via: Engadget China

Source: Samsung


Lyft’s ridesharing service reaches 24 new cities in a single day

Lyft blazing down the highway

Lyft isn’t about to be outdone by its rapidly growing ridesharing competition. The on-demand transportation outfit has just launched service in 24 new US cities, all in one day — enough to give it more American coverage than its rivals, at 60 cities in total. The expansion mostly covers notable mid-sized urban areas like Jacksonville, Kansas City and Memphis; you can check out the full list below to see if you’re covered. The rollout will still leave many Americans hailing taxis, but it’s good news for those who want multiple ridesharing choices when they venture beyond the largest population hubs.

  • Albuquerque
  • Ann Arbor
  • Buffalo
  • Colorado Springs
  • Corpus Christi
  • Fairfield County & New Haven
  • Fresno
  • Jacksonville
  • Kansas City
  • Lexington
  • Lincoln
  • Louisville
  • Memphis
  • Modesto
  • North Jersey
  • Oklahoma City
  • Omaha
  • Raleigh-Durham
  • Rochester
  • San Bernardino
  • Spokane
  • Toledo
  • Tulsa
  • Virginia Beach

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Source: Lyft


Two weeks with Sol’s solar-powered laptop

When I showed Sol to my family, they all got a bit confused. My dad asked why I was testing a toolbox for Engadget, while my sister took one look at it and said “Bumblebee.” If you peek at the images below, you’ll understand why: This solar-powered laptop does resemble a hardware tool case. And yes, it looks like a Transformer too.

Nobody would call Sol “sleek.” It’s big, bulky and measures more than two inches in depth at its thickest part — a look that calls to mind Panasonic’s Toughbook series. Indeed, Sol was designed to be more durable than your average gadget, which makes sense since it’s mainly aimed at travelers and field scientists. In fact, everything about it (even the chemical composition of the plastic) was meant to last through heat. It’s also durable enough to survive a fall — good news for Sol’s target audience. Compared to other rugged laptops, though, Sol’s quite affordable (with a price tag of $375 to $400, depending on the market), as it was designed for use in developing countries. So how is it in use? After two weeks of testing Sol in the Philippines, I’m finally ready to weigh in.

Low price tags usually come with some drawbacks, and for Sol, its toy-like design is perhaps the most apparent. Other than the black bottom and rubber accents on top, the unit comes swathed in bright yellow, plastic casing (other colors are available too). If you’re wondering why Sol is so top-heavy, it’s because unlike Samsung’s solar netbook, which has panels embedded on the lid, the top compartment houses a foldable solar array instead. That case is completely detachable (hence, the Transformers comparison) and makes up more than two pounds of Sol’s rather hefty 6.6-pound body.

When you remove the massive compartment, what’s left is a thin laptop without any branding on top. As you might have guessed, the array’s removable so that the laptop can still harness the power of the sun while it’s sitting comfortably in the shade. A cable connects the two components and transmits solar energy from the array to the device itself. Unfortunately, the cable’s only roughly 83.5 inches long and likely not enough for you to use the laptop inside while the array’s under the sun.

While the detachable array works as promised, charging via solar power might take more time than the company says. David Snir, Sol’s creator, says you should only have to expose the device to “good” light (think: clear sky, overhead sun) for 2.5 hours to get a full charge. But, I’ve had to leave the laptop under a really bright sun for five hours (from 10 AM to 3 PM) to get the battery gauge to 75 percent. I live in the city, though, and the surrounding walls and houses might have blocked the sun from reaching the solar panels at one point or another. According to Snir, the best way to position the array is to have it directly face the sun in the horizon in the middle of the day.

Besides the chintzy feel, another testament to Sol’s low-end price is its middling performance. The laptop worked fine with my WiFi connection, but lagged considerably while I was browsing the internet, especially when I was loading YouTube videos. It also crawled while I was using the pre-installed LibreOffice apps and generally stuttered too much to pass muster as my main workhorse. To be fair, the device’s manufacturer (Canadian company WeWi Telecommunications) sent me a unit meant for beta testing, which is different from the production version that will be shipped to buyers. For instance, this model is rated for five hours of runtime (my test unit only got two and a half hours, though), while the production version promises seven hours. The two models also have different processors. To better compare them against each other, check out the table below. (By the way, if you’ve heard of Sol, but haven’t seen these specs, it’s because WeWi hasn’t published them anywhere before.)

Sol (beta unit) Sol (production version)
Weight 6.6 lbs. 6.35 lbs. (Laptop: 4.23 lbs., Solar Pack: 2.12 lbs.)
Screen size 13.3 inches 13.3 inches
Screen resolution/type 1,366 x 768 LCD 1,366 x 768 LCD
CPU Intel Atom D2500 1.86 GHz Duo Core, Intel 945GSE + ICH7M Intel Celeron N2806 1.6GHz dual core, Turbo Speed: 2.0 GHz
Battery life 5 hours 7 hours
Storage Seagate 2.5-inch SATA HDD 320GB Seagate 2.5-inch SATA HDD 320GB
RAM 2-4GB Kingston DDR3 SDRAM (Options Available) 2GB Kingston DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics 1080p HD Video, Intel HD Graphics (Bay Trail, 313 – 756 MHz) 1080p HD Video, Built-In Intel GMA3600 Graphics
Camera 3 megapixel 3 megapixel
Video capture 1080p 1080p, 30 fps
Audio Realtek ALC661 HD Audio, built-in 2 speakers, internal mic, 1/8-inch input Realtek ALC661 HD Audio, built-in 2 speakers, internal mic, 1/8-inch input

3 USB 2.0, headphone jack, HDMI, LAN, multi-card reader (SD/MS/MMC)

3 USB 2.0, headphone jack, HDMI, LAN, multi-card reader (SD/MS/MMC)
Bluetooth Integrated Digital Core BT4.0 Integrated Digital Core BT4.0
Connectivity 3G World/multimode LTE 3G/4G World/multimode LTE
WiFi MIMO 802.11b/g/n (2.4/5GHz) MIMO 802.11b/g/n (2.4/5GHz)
Operating system Ubuntu Ubuntu

Another thing to keep in mind is that while the 13.3-inch 1,366 x 768 screen looks crisp, it’s not bright enough to be used under strong sunlight. The device’s touchpad is also not as responsive as I’d like. Still, it’s not a bad choice for the price, though its main selling point is definitely that solar array. So, if you always have access to electricity, this won’t appeal to you.

That said, I believe that Sol will serve its target audience well. Adventurers and researchers can simply pop the array open wherever they are when they’re ready to use the laptop. Meanwhile, students and teachers in emerging markets can read educational materials even if they live in remote places with no electricity — they can even replace Ubuntu with any OS they want.

In the future, Sol might add divers and undersea researchers to that audience list, as WeWi plans to release a Marine version that can be submerged underwater for up to 50 minutes. But for now, the company’s focusing on bringing the current model from Ghana and Kenya to other places, including the Philippines, Thailand and South Africa. There’s no need feel left out, however: Sol will also arrive in North America by the end of the month, and those fond of the great outdoors will be able to get one straight from the laptop’s website.

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Google Glass now available to anyone, may be prepping for public launch

Google offered Glass to the public as part of a one day sale not long ago. Now it seems that anyone can order one again without an invite. There’s been no announcement so far, no fan fair — a few Redditors just happened to discover that you can head straight to the order page and add one to your cart. We’ve tried it from multiple accounts that we can confirm did not sign up for the Explorer program, so it appears that Glass is legitimately available to anyone with a Google account. We’ve reached out to Mountain View for comment and we’ll let you know as soon as we hear back. In the meantime you can go order your own Explorer Edition unit now. So long as you’re comfortable coughing up the $1,500 asking price, of course.

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Via: Google Glass Geeks

Source: Reddit, Google Glass shop


Opera’s Coast iPhone browser is a speed dial for your favorite sites

Last year Opera introduced Coast, a simple mobile browser designed specifically for the iPad, and today it brought the same unique experience to the iPhone. Coast is a little different than Chrome or Safari, and streamlines browsing by organizing shortcuts to sites on menu pages like they’re apps. Think of it like your phone’s home screen, except exclusively for the internet. It’s intentionally pretty barebones, and doesn’t have much besides those site icons — so no address bar or back button. While the stripped down browser may sound a bit restricting at first, we’ve been testing the iPhone app for a few days and have found it makes getting to your favorite sites a lot easier.

The app comes preloaded with shortcuts to a few popular sites like Gmail and YouTube, but gets much more useful once you start adding your own must-view pages (we hear Engadget is pretty awesome). Instead of using a traditional address bar, swiping down from the top of your home screen launches a blank page where you can type a topic. As you input letters, Coast starts to suggest sites you might want to check out using colorful tiles. Our search for “phones” for instance, quickly brought up several popular mobile pubs. The app tries to steer you towards sites, but you can perform an old-fashioned search result page as well. If you see a page you like, you can tap on the icon to launch it, or press and hold to pin it to one of three menu pages. It’s a simple process that makes it easy to create the ultimate collection of news sites or cat grooming blogs. Everything can be synced using iCloud, so you’ll have the same bookmarks on your iPad as well.

While the experience is pretty limited, Coast does have a few tricks up its sleeve. Inside launched pages you can press and hold to share a story with a friend or take a screenshot. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can save a photo from the web to use as a background image throughout the app. Open tabs are also handled a little differently than you might be used to. Pages you’ve previously visited are displayed in a format reminiscent of Apple’s multitasking feature rather than a list, with full screens you can swipe to. We found seeing the whole site made navigating back in time a lot easier. When you’re done with something for good, it can be closed just like an iOS app, by swiping it off the top of the page. Everything is super fast and responsive, probably thanks to the browser’s stripped down nature.

If you’re used to something like Safari and typing in URLs everyday, Coast’s simple interface and shortcuts can be a bit jarring at first. After using the app for a while, however, we noticed how few mobile sites we actually go to on regular basis. Once you’ve come to terms with that fact, a speed dial for your faves makes a ton of sense. Overall, we found the app makes it easier to get to the places you love faster — earning Coast a permanent place on our home screen. Curious to give it a try for yourself? You can snag the app for iPhone and iPad now from the App Store.

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Source: iTunes


Facebook Expands Mobile App Portfolio with ‘Moves’ Fitness App Acquisition [iOS Blog]

Facebook today announced that it is acquiring mobile fitness app developer ProtoGeo Oy, reports the Wall Street Journal. The Helsinki-based company was founded in January 2012 and launched its first and only app, Moves [iTunes] one year later. The fitness tracking app debuted first for the iPhone and was made available for Android in August of 2013. It is popular, accruing 4 million downloads across both mobile platforms.

In a post on its website, ProtoGeo confirms Moves will continue to operate as a standalone app and adds that the company has no plans to share its fitness data with Facebook’s social network.

Today, we’re delighted to announce that Facebook has acquired our company and the Moves app. Since we launched Moves, we’ve been focused on running a simple and clean activity diary that millions of people have enjoyed using.

Now, we’re joining Facebook’s talented team to work on building and improving their products and services with a shared mission of supporting simple, efficient tools for more than a billion people.

For those of you that use the Moves app – the Moves experience will continue to operate as a standalone app, and there are no plans to change that or commingle data with Facebook.

Moves stand out from competing fitness apps by automating the tedious process of data entry, which can be a hindrance to the effective use of a fitness tracking app. Move imports data from a variety of third-party apps and automatically detects activities such as entering the gym, going out to lunch or riding on public transit. On the iPhone, Moves supports Apple’s M7 motion co-processor, which is available in the iPhone 5s.

This acquisition by Facebook is one of several high-profile app purchases by the social network as the company continues its expansion into the mobile app market. Moves will join Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Paper, all of which operate as stand-alone apps under the Facebook umbrella.

The amount Facebook paid to acquire ProtoGeo was not revealed, but a Facebook spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal that the amount is “nowhere near the size of other acquisitions the company has made in recent months.” Facebook announced earlier this year it was acquiring mobile messenger WhatsApp for $19 billion and Oculus Rift for $2 billion.


Tim Cook Auctions Charity Lunch Meeting at Apple HQ

Charity auction site CharityBuzz is hosting a second listing to meet with Apple CEO Tim Cook at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California, this time offering a lunch meeting.

The auction is the second Cook has volunteered his time for, with last year’s coffee auction raising $610,000 for the RFK Center for Justice & Human Rights. The 2014 auction benefits the same cause, which aims to achieve a “just and peaceful world by partnering with human rights leaders, teaching social justice and advancing corporate responsibility.”

Two people can meet with Cook for lunch, for approximately one hour. The cost of the meal is included, and the auction winner must agree to travel to Cupertino for the meeting, which will be scheduled on a “mutually agreed upon date.”

The current high bid on the auction, which has an estimated value of $100,000, is at $10,000 with 19 days left to go. The auction will end on Tuesday, May 13. Due to shill bids last year, all bidders are required to submit credit card authorization to bid.


Apple’s Future OS X Names May Include Yosemite, Mammoth, Big Sur, Redwood, Pacific

mavericks_round_iconFollowing recent trademark investigations related to the iWatch, French site Consomac has discovered [Google Translate] that Apple may also be using a pair of shell companies to protect various California-related names in anticipation of future OS X releases. Apple’s Craig Federighi announced at last year’s Worldwide Developers Conference that the company would be shifting gears on OS X naming, moving from big cats to “places that inspire us in California”. The current OS X Mavericks was the first to adopt the new naming pattern, taking its name from a popular surfing spot known for its massive waves.

Consomac notes that a pair of companies going by the names of Yosemite Research LLC and Coast Research LLC applied for trademarks on several California-related terms in the category of computer software on the same day back in early December. The terms for which the companies are seeking trademark protection include Yosemite, Redwood, and Mammoth (via Yosemite Research), and California, Big Sur, and Pacific (via Coast Research).

As with several other Apple shell companies created for quietly protecting trademarks, such as CarPlay Enterprises and perhaps Brightflash USA, both Yosemite Research and Coast Research are registered in the state of Delaware and use the Corporation Trust Center as their addresses. Both companies were registered with the state on November 22, 2013. Those details by themselves do not clinch the companies’ association with Apple, as the Corporation Trust Center is used by many companies large and small to facilitate corporate registrations, but it is consistent with Apple’s past behavior.

Another intriguing connection noticed by Consomac is that the attorney listed on the Coast Research applications is Stephen Brown, and an attorney by the same name is listed on an “iGuide” application dating back to late 2007 from iGuide Media LLC, a company MacRumors linked to Apple a number of years ago. Another attorney on that iGuide application is James Johnston, who was involved with Apple’s efforts to protect the “iPhone” name using another shell company by the name of Ocean Telecom Services LLC.

The U.S. trademark applications by Yosemite Research and Coast Research from early December also all cite filings in Trinidad and Tobago for priority purposes, similar to Apple’s CarPlay strategy. Those California-themed filings in Trinidad and Tobago were made on June 7, 2013, the Friday before Apple’s WWDC 2013 keynote where it announced the change in naming scheme for OS X.

Taken together, all of these pieces of information make a strong case for Apple being the company behind the recent California-themed trademark applications. If this is indeed in the case, past history shows that Apple may or may not elect to use all of these names for future versions of OS X. For example, the company long ago filed for protection on various big cat names to reserve them for OS X releases, but never used some of them such as Lynx and Cougar.

The next version of OS X, 10.10, has been showing up in server logs for some time and according to 9to5Mac is expected to feature a “flatter” look compared to OS X Mavericks. Apple made similar changes with iOS 7, but the OS X changes are said to not be as drastic as those seen on iOS. OS X 10.10 is likely to be previewed at this year’s WWDC, which will kick off with a keynote on June 2.


Now you can play XCOM: Enemy Unknown on Android, too

XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Android gamers who’ve been yearning for XCOM‘s deep, turn-based tactics just got their wish: 2K has released a version of XCOM: Enemy Unknown for Google’s mobile platform. Much like last year’s iOS edition, you’ll get to fight off invading aliens and build your bases in an interface optimized for touch. This is one of the pricier Android games on the market at $10, but our pals at Joystiq are already fans of the mobile version. It’s likely worth the cash if you’re looking for something engrossing to play on your spring vacation — especially if you can’t get enough of it on your PC or console.

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Via: XCOM (Twitter), Joystiq

Source: Google Play


Xbox One and PlayStation 4 support added to Unreal Engine 4 in latest update

Moving a game from one platform to another — from iOS to PC, from Xbox One to PlayStation 4 — isn’t as easy as it seems. Just change a few button prompts and you’re all set, right? Not so much. There’s a lot to consider: how do you control the game (mouse/keyboard/gamepad/touch/etc.)? does it sync up with online leaderboards? does it have the proper logos/attribution? Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 4 aims to circumvent as much of that as possible, and today it’s enabling two more platforms: Xbox One and PlayStation 4. In terms of Xbox One peripheral support, that includes Kinect, and in terms of PlayStation 4 peripheral support, that includes the Project Morpheus virtual reality headset.

The update brings UE4 to version 4.1, and is part of the same $19/mo. monthly subscription fee that customers are already paying. The engine itself is actually being certified directly by both Sony and Microsoft right now, which should help with game certification down the line; Sony’s PS4 is already ready-to-go and Microsoft’s Xbox One is in the works (though game makers can submit UE4-made games for publishing on either console before the process is complete for the engine itself).

With today’s update, the folks at Epic are actually running out of platforms to support: it already supports PC, last-gen consoles, current-gen consoles, SteamOS, Linux, and the Oculus Rift. They’re still working on Windows Phone 8 and, though there’s no “concrete roadmap,” a full version of the UE4 editor is in the works for Linux. The game industry’s most prolific engine is quickly becoming the game industry’s most widely available as well.

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