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15
Jul

Apple Said to Be Planning Three iWatch Models from 1.6 to 1.8 Inches, Sapphire on High End


iwatch_concept_setAccording to a new report [Google Translate] from Taiwan’s Economic Daily News (via G for Games), Apple is planning to launch three versions of the iWatch in the third quarter of this year. The lineup is said to include a model with a 1.6-inch display and two models with 1.8-inch displays, with the high-end version of the larger size coming with a sapphire display cover for durability.

The display range of 1.6-1.8 inches has been the focus of most rumors dating back many months, but last month Reuters claimed the device’s display will be as large as 2.5 inches.

The launch timeframe for the iWatch has also been the subject of much discussion, with the reliable Re/code claiming last month that Apple has been aiming for an October introduction of its “first wearable device”, presumed to be the iWatch. That report did, however, note that Apple’s plans could change over time.

A fresh report from relatively reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has claimed that the complexity of the iWatch makes it likely that mass production on the device will not begin until November of this year. The two claims are not necessarily in conflict, as with the iWatch being a new product category Apple could make an announcement in October and not launch the device until several months later without impacting sales of its current products. Apple used a similar tactic with the iPhone and iPad, waiting several months between announcement and launch.

Today’s report is set in the context of Apple adopting new touch technologies from TPK, with sources also claiming Apple’s rumored “iPad Pro” with a display of 12.9 inches will finally be made official later this year. The subject of a number of rumors over the past year, Apple’s 12.9-inch iPad was most recently reported to be looking at a 2015 launch or perhaps on hold entirely.

(Image: 2.5-inch iWatch concept by SET Solutions)



15
Jul

iStick Flash Drive with USB and Lightning Allows File Transfers Between Mac and iOS Devices [iOS Blog]


Slated to arrive sometime next month, Kickstarter-funded iStick will allow iPhone and iPad owners to easily transfer files between their computers and iOS devices that are equipped with a Lightning connector.

istick-stock-photo
The thumb drive, which raised $1.1 million on Kickstarter, features a slider that allows users to switch between a standard USB connector and a Lightning connector that plugs into an iPhone 5/5s or a recent iPad model. Inside the plastic housing is a flash memory module offering 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, 64GB or 128GB of storage space.

While the iStick is automatically recognized by computers as a USB storage device, the iOS file system requires users to install an app to manage files. On the iOS side, you can use the USB stick to transfer files or play them directly from the connected thumb drive.

Recode‘s Walt Mossberg recently tested a pre-production model and found that device transfer files as advertised, but it is not as easy to use as a basic USB thumb drive.

In my tests, iStick file transfers worked between a variety of devices, including an iPhone 5s, an iPad mini, an iPad Air, a Mac and a Windows laptop. I was able to move and use files ranging from pictures, songs and videos to Microsoft Office files and PDFs — in both directions. […]

The cumbersome part comes in when you want to use a file transferred to the iStick local storage area with another app on your iOS device, and it’s due to the way iOS manages files, not an issue with the iStick itself. Unlike on a computer, iOS devices don’t have a visible, system-wide file system. Instead, files that can be used by an app can only be fully used, beyond just viewing them, via that app.

The iStick is made by Sanho, which also produces the popular Hyper charging accessories. When it is available for retail sale, pricing for the iStick will start at $129 for the 8GB model and climb to $399 for 128GB, although Kickstarter backers who got in early were able to receive significant discounts on that pricing. The relatively high pricing is said to be related to Apple’s Lightning licensing fees and its strict quality requirements.



15
Jul

UK’s major carriers want to end mobile deadspots in England’s National Parks


Whether you live in, work in or are just visiting one of England’s National Parks, you may soon be able to take advantage of better mobile signal. The UK’s four major carriers have extended their partnership with National Parks England to deliver better connectivity while protecting the environment and picturesque views in 10 parks across the country. Under the terms of the new accord, the Mobile Operators Association (which represents EE, O2, Vodafone and Three) will allow the sharing of mobile masts, sites and “any other technical advances,” keeping development in rural areas to a minimum. It also covers the provision of 4G networks, which could be a boon for the 330,000 people living in England’s National Parks, as they have the potential to reach places that broadband connections can’t.

[Image credit: Brecon Beacons NPA]

Filed under: Wireless, Mobile

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Via: BBC News

Source: Mobile Operators Association

15
Jul

GameStop explains how it made $724 million selling digital games and add-ons


GameStop

It turns out that when a GameStop exec opens their mouth, it doesn’t have to be controversial after all. Case in point: company president Tony Bartel recently broke down exactly how the brick-and-mortar retailer makes money selling digital goods in its physical stores; a figure to the tune of $724.4 million. Bartel tells GamesBeat that over 70 percent of the season passes for game developer-and-publisher Ubisoft came not from purchases made through each console’s respective marketplace like you’d imagine, but through retail stores. What’s more, he says that many customers actually like being up-sold (he describes it as “discoverability”) on future downloadable content (DLC) packs at the time of pre-order or purchase, and he has the numbers to back it up too — some 30 percent of all of Watch Dogscatch-all DLC tickets were bought from his stores. If you notice the store’s clerks are a little more pushy than normal when you put a deposit down for Assassin’s Creed: Unity, well, now you’ll know why.

[Image credit: Moe_/Flickr]

Filed under: Gaming, Home Entertainment, HD

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Source: GamesBeat

15
Jul

Huawei Ascend P7 review: the best mid-range phone you’ve never heard of


Huawei Ascend P7 review: the best mid-range phone you've never heard of

What is a flagship? For some companies, it’s about cramming as many features into a device as physics allows. For Huawei, it means something else entirely: Though it creates smartphones for the power-hungry crowd, its most eye-catching devices typically favor mass appeal over brawn. Exhibit A: the Ascend P7, a smartphone that emphasizes design and user-friendliness over a blowsy spec sheet. When we reviewed its predecessor, the P6, last year, we found a gorgeous phone that struggled due to an underpowered engine and lack of LTE. The company promises it’s learned from its mistakes, though. So is the P7 the mid-range smartphone you’ll actually be proud to show off?

Hardware

Before we begin, we have to address the 800-pound gorilla in the room, and we’re not just talking about the type of glass that coats both sides of the device. The P7 looks like the result of gene splicing between the iPhone 4 and one of Sony’s Z-series handsets. That’s not meant to be a criticism, but the lens placement and machining scream Xperia, while the plastic dividers that separate parts of the aluminum band are there entirely for effect.

Similarities aside, it’s a beautiful piece of equipment and you’ll have total confidence in the solidity of this device when it’s in your hand. Huawei’s got a knack for putting smartphones together and there’s no worry that this kit will creak or bend. It’s also tremendously easy on the pocket, since it’s only 6.5mm thick and weighs a light 124 grams (4.37 ounces). Rest assured that despite being more than £200 cheaper than the Galaxy S5 here in the UK, it’s also a good-looking phone, so you needn’t be worried that the posher kids at school/the office/the pub will sneer at your cheaper device. In fact, this would happily sit beside flagships from Samsung and HTC without appearing like the dowdy friend who you only sit with under duress.

I’m conflicted on the subject of comfort. This is because the P7 is a great, big, boxy piece of hardware with squared-off edges. Despite this, at no point did it jab into the flesh of my hand or otherwise make my life uncomfortable. I can’t imagine delicate hands disliking the feel of this device, but I’m also aware that my mileage will differ from yours. What is consistent is that the glass backing makes this more of a slip risk than more tactile devices, so if you’ve got greasy palms and a tendency to be clumsy, buy a case.

If minimalism is your bag, then you’ll find the understated lines of the P7 right up your street. Up front are the speaker, light sensor and the 8-megapixel forward-facing camera, all of which linger above the display. On the bottom, there’s a micro-USB port for charging, with the 3.5mm headphone jack located up top. The left-hand side is bare, so the right has to hold the micro-SIM and microSD trays, as well as the center-mounted power button — another Xperia-esque trait. All three are metal, and there’s some beautiful machining on the center button — a high-quality detail from a company you wouldn’t always associate with small, design-centric flourishes.

Display and sound

The 5-inch, in-cell LCD from Japan Display really doesn’t look as big as it is, thanks to bezels that have been shrunk down to just 3mm. With a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 (that’s FHD, acronym fans) and a pixel density of 445 ppi, it sits in the same league as the Nexus 5, which means we have little to complain about. Pictures and video are crisp; the viewing angles are almost universally good; and it’ll hold its own in the noonday sun, even when not on full brightness. Color accuracy is acceptable, although in side-by-side tests with another device, everything looked a little over-saturated. Not enough to annoy most users, though. The company has also retained its so-called gloves mode, which ups the sensitivity on the screen making it possible to use when you’re out in the cold.

One particular bugbear of mine is when smartphone manufacturers place the speaker close to where you hold the device. It’s been more than a year since HTC demonstrated front-facing speakers are the way forward, so why do companies insist upon this retrograde step? Unfortunately for me, Huawei has stuck the speaker right in the path of my palm, though it’s at least made the placement work to its advantage. Thanks to the vertical orientation of the speaker, the curve of your hand may actually make a funnel to amplify the sound, no matter which one you hold it with. The volume is strong up close, but won’t fill a room if you’re hosting an impromptu dance party. That’s not a criticism either, since it means that berks who forget their headphones on public transport will only annoy the people in their immediate vicinity. Small mercies, eh?

Software

The P7 runs Android 4.4, but you wouldn’t know it just by glancing at the screen. As ever, Huawei included its proprietary Emotion UI skin, with this particular device running version 2.3 of the software. The first thing die-hard Droid fans are going to notice is that there’s no app tray. Huawei and I share the same annoyance with Android’s two-stage launcher, so all apps now reside on the multiple pages of the home screen — yep, just like on iOS. In order to prevent the phone from becoming unnecessarily cluttered, the company crams several of the smaller utilities into folders. That’s fine, but don’t be surprised if you have to do a little shunting around to get things the way you like it.

The landing screen comes preloaded with weather, music, gallery and Google search widgets, all of which are easily dispatched. The “Me” module, which offers up instant access to a favorite contact or two, is largely useless and, thankfully, easy to get rid of. The other upside is that there’s a wide variety of customization options, and you can tweak the icons and environment to suit any number of tastes. There’s also the option to add a suspend button — a ring of shortcuts that hovers over the screen, offering instant access to utilities such as note-taking, messaging and music playback.

Buried within the settings menu is Simple, a home screen style that transforms the ordinary Android environment into something more akin to Windows Phone. The company’s been offering the setting since the start of the year, but this is the first time I’ve actually been able to sit down and see what it’s like up close. It’s certainly a clever way to present this phone to those who may not have as good eyesight or not much familiarity with smartphones in general, but the small icons and text — there’s a lot of blank space on each button — make me wonder if bigger text and icons wouldn’t have done a better job. Unfortunately, these shortcuts only work for launching apps themselves, after which you’re just using standard apps with the text blown up.

Camera

Imaging is one area where Huawei has, at least on paper, splashed the cash. Rather than attempting to craft a solution on its own, the company sought out Sony to provide the 13-megapixel sensor used in the P7. Even better, the forward-facing camera now boasts an 8-megapixel sensor, besting both the HTC One M8 (five megapixels) and the Galaxy S5 (2MP). The primary unit is much improved, and the over-saturation we found in last year’s model has been dialed down somewhat. There’s a pleasing depth to the images now, and I was happily snapping stills and landscapes in the summer sun. In the late-evening gloom, however, photos got a little too murky to be useful, and at night, the images were decent, but tremendously noisy. As the company works on the inevitable Ascend P8, we hope that instead of just throwing in more megapixels, Huawei improves the hardware as well.

Whenever you use a forward-facing camera that doesn’t take grainy, blocky selfies, it’s a moment of triumph, and even an unattractive curmudgeon like me enjoyed snapping some vanity shots with the P7. The forward-facing unit here is a great piece of kit, and should set the standard for all of those duckface-obsessed teenagers who want to show off how much of a good time they’re having on holiday. Speaking of which…

T-shirt: AOL; Coat: Red Herring; Face: Model’s Own.

In this world of artifice and constructed reality, everyone wants to be their best when they post braggies (bragging selfies) online. That’s why Huawei includes “Face Beauty Mode” as one of the options for the forward-facing camera. With the ability to detect one face in the frame, the P7 will get out the digital Vaseline and smooth out the wrinkles, blocked pores and creases in your face. The only downside is that at a certain point, the effect rapidly begins to backfire, and if you posted a picture of your mug at Beauty Level 10, we’re sure people would start calling you to check you weren’t ill. Surely those Dove ads have taught us all that natural beauty is the way forward, right?

What of the Huawei Ascend P7′s video performance? There’s nothing wrong with the images, per se, and we can even forgive the accelerometer issue that caused footage recorded in landscape to occasionally save in portrait. Audio, however, is an entirely different, and painful, story. The P7′s microphone manages to be both far too weak and far too sensitive. When the subject is mere inches away from the phone, the audio appears to be piped in from some faraway land. Despite this, the microphone just adores wind shear, and even on an almost entirely still summer day, the footage sounded as if I’d been filming it in a gale. Suspecting that those flaws would make it an ideal device to record indoor gigs with, I took the P7 to see The Brian Jonestown Massacre, and even standing at the back of the auditorium, the audio simply couldn’t handle the noise. Instead, it made everything sound as if the handset had been left in a box of dry cereal during an earthquake.

Performance and battery life

Huawei Ascend P7 HTC One M8 LG G3
Quadrant 2.0 7,175 25,548 25,548
Vellamo 2.0 1,141 1,804 1.405
3DMark IS Unlimited 7462 20,612 16,662
SunSpider 1.0.2 1,239.7 782 918
GFXBench 3.0 Manhattan Offscreen (fps) N/A 11.2 N/A
CF-Bench 30,108 40,223 24,667
SunSpider: Lower scores are better.

The subtitle for our Huawei P6 review read “a beautiful handset, but performance is lacking.” That’s because that handset came with a Huawei-made 1.5GHz quad-core CPU, which, while affordable, wasn’t up to the task of running a flagship smartphone. The company says it’s learned its lesson, and promises that the tablet-class, 1.8GHz quad-core CPU, Mali-450 GPU and 2GB RAM on show here would be up to the task. This new silicon even boasts HPM technology — in short, a system designed to offer lower power consumption for demanding applications. As you can see above, however, this new hardware still isn’t enough to get the P7′s head above its rivals in the benchmark stakes. In fact, in an industry where standing still is equivalent to going backward, the fact that this phone is so far behind its rivals is going to turn off many people who would otherwise consider giving the P7 a shot.

But.

Benchmarks do not tell the whole story, and day-to-day, this apparent weakness was in no way noticeable. Tweeting, making calls, surfing the internet, dicking around on Instagram and watching video were all undertaken with only the odd flicker and stutter to mention. I did find that if I wanted to launch the camera app from a standing start (e.g., from the lock screen), the action didn’t keep up with the graphic reorientation as I switched the phone from portrait to landscape mode. The result was that everything would freeze for a second while the software caught up, which meant that I missed a few action shots I would have otherwise been able to take. The biggest test, of course, is in games performance, and graphically intensive 3D titles like Asphalt 8 worked like a dream. The only issue I found was that it took a few loads (and a hard restart) before Dead Trigger 2 would play, but once it did, it was buttery smooth.

So what of the battery life? In Engadget’s standard video-rundown test, I managed to crank out a respectable seven hours and 12 minutes from the handset’s 2,500mAh power pack. At least, it’s respectable if you’re contented to compare this with handsets in the same price bracket, such as the HTC One mini and the Galaxy S4 Mini, but more on that later. Over the course of a day with light to normal use, we were finding that it still had around 20 percent of charge remaining to it.

The other thing we need to talk about is the data rate, and unfortunately, while Norwich has a thriving arts scene, beautiful landscape and a fast train to London, Three have yet to offer LTE in the city. That’s why I was instead only able to test the P7′s 3G performance, which hit 6.62 Mbps down and 1.10 Mbps up. The next time I’m in an LTE area, I shall update this section with my findings. Call quality is perfectly fine, in case you were wondering, not that anyone uses their phones as phones anymore.

The competition

As I benchmarked the P7 and tried to assess its performance, I thought about which phones I should be comparing this device with. On one hand, Huawei, would position this as a significantly cheaper alternative to the HTC One M8 and Samsung Galaxy S5. Unfortunately, at least in the UK, no carriers have announced that they’ll be offering the handset, and so we can only look at it in the context of its SIM-free price, which is £330. For around that same amount of cash, you can also buy the Galaxy S4 Mini (£330), the Huawei Ascend Mate (£330) or the first-generation HTC One mini for £320. (Yes, I know the replacement is called the HTC One mini 2, but let’s avoid confusion.)

Wrap-up

In a money-is-no-object world, every smartphone would come with a Snapdragon 805, a 41-megapixel camera, a beautiful body and a 4K display. Huawei’s aim here was to build a device that could be spoken of in the same breath as the Galaxy S5 and HTC One M8 at a significantly reduced cost. And it succeeded with a handset that is more than the sum of its parts. Huawei wins points for the rock-solid build quality, the materials used and the overall aesthetic. The imaging prowess of both the forward- and rear-facing cameras is better than you may expect from a handset that’s priced well within the second tier. That’s another merit, since at £330, the Ascend P7 is about £220 cheaper than the Galaxy S5 — enough money to buy a first-generation Android Wear device and still have enough money left over for a meal. If you’re prepared to accept a few rough edges here and there, the Ascend P7 is a worthy recipient of your hard-earned cash.

Filed under: Cellphones, Mobile

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15
Jul

Samsung Galaxy S5 Alpha (Galaxy F) said to be 6mm thick with 4.7-inch Display



Samsung Galaxy S5 AlphaThis one has us confused. Up until now, rumours regarding the Samsung Galaxy F have said that the device will likely have a 5.1-inch Quad HD display, or larger, and a Snapdragon 805 processor. However, a new report by the Korea Herald has said that what it calls the Galaxy S5 F, or Samsung Galaxy S5 Alpha, actually has a 4.7-inch Super AMOLED display and will have a 6mm thick metal body. To compound the confusion, the Herald is saying the Galaxy S5 Alpha will actually have a Samsung-made Exynos 5 Octa processor.

It would not be out of the ordinary to have two different versions of the same device; Samsung is known to do this, offering different processors in different regions depending on availability of 4G LTE services. The fact that this is all new information is particularly suspicious, but this information is reportedly from ‘industry sources’. Whatever the Galaxy S5 Alpha actually turns out to be, there’s no doubt that it is likely Samsung’s answer to Apple’s iPhone 6.


I’m not sure what to believe anymore: what do you think is in the Samsung Galaxy S5 Alpha? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Source: Korea Herald via Phone Arena


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The post Samsung Galaxy S5 Alpha (Galaxy F) said to be 6mm thick with 4.7-inch Display appeared first on AndroidSPIN.

15
Jul

HTC senior execs resign ahead of smart wearable launch


HTC may be back on its road to recovery thanks to its One (M8) flagship phone, but it’s now facing yet another managerial change. According to Bloomberg’s Tim Culpan, the phone maker’s CMO Ben Ho has just resigned, making it a rather short stint since he joined a little over a year and a half ago. Our own sources implied that this had been expected for a while, and that the $1 billion “Here’s To Change” marketing campaign was the main culprit, as it failed to get its money’s worth in return (despite chairwoman Cher Wang being a big fan of the hipster trolls featured in the ads). While Ho is no longer the CMO, he will remain at HTC until end of this year.

Culpan also reported that Fred Liu, the President of Engineering and Operations, has dropped day-to-day operations to pick up a strategic advisory role, as he prepares for retirement after almost 16 years of service. According to Taiwanese magazine Global Views, back then it took HTC founder HT Cho over a year to convince Liu to leave Digital Equipment Corporation — the former employer of Cho and CEO Peter Chou — and join his then new smartphone OEM.

Neither resignation should affect HTC’s roadmap in the very near future. We understand that the Taiwanese company’s preparing to launch its first smart wearables in the coming months — maybe to coincide with IFA in September. Regardless, it shouldn’t take long before HTC fills these voids.

Filed under: Cellphones, Wearables, Mobile, HTC

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Source: Bloomberg

15
Jul

Fitbit’s Tory Burch jewelry makes your activity tracker slightly more fashionable


Fitbit jewelry from Tory Burch

Even though activity trackers are all the rage, few would call them fashion items. Do you really want explain why you’re wearing something so gauche at a wedding or high-brow luncheon? Fitbit isn’t happy to have its devices treated as eyesores, though — it’s teaming up with designer Tory Burch to launch jewelry that makes the Flex tracker a little more suitable for upscale gatherings. The newly available collection starts off with a $38 printed silicone bracelet that, to be frank, is just a small step above (?) what you get out of the box; it’s more for casual situations than formal galas. If you’re up for something more luxurious, you can spring for a brass bracelet or pendant for $195 and $175, respectively. With that said, it’s hard to see a truly style-conscious person picking these up in the first place, no matter how nice they look. Many attempts at shoehorning fashion into technology haven’t fared well, and there’s a good chance that you’ll still look a bit silly with a tracker hanging from your neck. May I suggest using your phone instead?

Filed under: Peripherals, Wearables

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Source: Fitbit, Tory Burch

15
Jul

Add a battery-saving, e-ink display to your phone for $79


One of the drawbacks inherent with our variety of smart devices is short battery life, but the folks behind the InkCase Plus think they have the solution for perhaps the most-used gadget in your arsenal: your phone. The InkCase Plus hits Kickstarter today, and like its name suggests, it’s a folio case for your phone that packs an always-on e-ink display. If this sounds kinda familiar, that’s because the company launched something similar last year for the iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S II. Now, however, it’s available for the Galaxy S5 (or whatever other phone models get at least 500 votes from the pledging community), packs Bluetooth low-energy connectivity and it can act as a modular second screen, with access to apps and notifications. The campaign page promises 18 hours of reading time thanks to the energy-miserly nature of e-paper, and that you can transfer the likes of boarding passes and shopping lists to it too. Sounds pretty handy, yeah?

This type of kit hasn’t set the world on fire before, though — nor have phones with the tech baked in from the factory — and because of its proprietary SDK, developers don’t really have an incentive to make compatible apps unless the InkCase takes off like, say, the Pebble smartwatches did. But if you’re still interested and have a spare $79, the Kickstarter page is but a click away.

Filed under: Cellphones, Displays, Mobile, Samsung

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Source: Kickstarter

15
Jul

Oculus cracks down on Rift scalpers reselling hardware on eBay


Yes, we’re all excited to get our hands on the consumer version of Oculus’ VR gear, but that doesn’t mean that the company doesn’t take too kindly to scalpers offering dev kits ahead of time. After banning any orders from China after resellers tried to buy them at extreme rates, the Facebook-owned business has now turned its attentions to individuals who were trying to make a fast buck on eBay. When the community spotted one of the forthcoming DK2 development kits being listed for $5,000 and reported it, Oculus found the pre-order and swiftly cancelled it. The VR firm has also reminded would-be buyers that second hand sales don’t come with a warranty, so even if you did spend that sort of cash but the hardware was faulty, it’d be hard cheese.

Filed under: Gaming, Wearables, Facebook

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Via: TechCrunch

Source: Oculus VR

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