BlackBerry has revealed a pretty major software update for all of its BlackBerry 10 running devices. The build number carries version number 10.3.1 and brings in the BlackBerry Assistant, think Siri and Google Now. It also adds in a new feature called Blend that allows users to communicate via email, text, and other services while also […]
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Back in October of 2014 Google launched its alternate take on Email with Inbox by Gmail. At the time you needed to register for an invite to gain access. Those that got accepted could then invite others with personal invites. The service is certainly cool and different. Those same factors gave it a hit and […]
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Yes, I’m about to explain why I don’t mind in-app purchases in mobile games, or IAPs as they’re more commonly known. But before you grab your torches and pitchforks, let me preface this opinion piece by telling you that I am a gamer – I might be on the slightly casual side, but I’ve logged more […]
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When the original Raspberry Pi was released in 2012 it kick-started a whole movement of hobbyists, developers, and educationalists who used the platform to create, hack and teach. The Raspberry Pi succeeded for three important reasons. First, it was a full computer on a little board, it had a desktop and you could write computer programs on it; Second, it had a set of GPIO pins, similar to those find on microcontroller platforms like the Arduino; Third, it only cost $35.
Three years after the original launch, the Raspberry Pi Foundation has addressed the performance issue by releasing the Raspberry Pi 2.
If there was one complaint about the Pi, it was about its overall performance when running desktop applications. Now, three years after the original launch, the Raspberry Pi Foundation has addressed the performance issue by releasing the Raspberry Pi 2. It has a quad-core processor and double the RAM of the Raspberry Pi 1.
I ordered a Raspberry Pi 2 just days after the launch and since its arrival I have been taking it through its paces, and this is what I found out.
Raspberry Pi 2 vs the others
The Raspberry Pi isn’t the only SBC on the market today and in terms of performance and features many of the alternative SBCs beat the Raspberry Pi 1 quite easily. However, with the possible exception of the ODROID C1, the Raspberry Pi has always won on price. With the launch of the Pi 2, the Raspberry Pi Foundation has kept the same sweet price point, but has managed to boost the performance of the board.
Here is a detailed look at how the Raspberry Pi 2 compares to some other SBCs:
|Device||Raspberry Pi 2||Raspberry Pi 1||HummingBoard i2eX||Creator CI20|
|CPU||900MHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 CPU from Broadcom||700MHz ARM11 Broadcom CPU||1GHz i.MX6 dual-core Cortex-A9 CPU||1.2GHz dual-core Imagination MIPS32 CPU|
|GPU||Videocore IV||Videocore IV||GC2000||PowerVR SGX540|
|Storage||SD card slot||SD card slot||SD card slot||8GB onboard flash, SD card slot|
|Connectivity||4 x USB, HDMI, Ethernet, 3.5mm audio jack||4 x USB, HDMI, Ethernet, 3.5mm audio jack||2 x USB, HDMI, Ethernet, 3.5mm audio jack, infra red remote control receiver||Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, 2 x USB, HDMI, 3.5mm audio jack|
|OS||Linux, Windows 10||Linux||Linux, Android||Linux, Android|
|Connectors||Camera interface (CSI), GPIO, SPI, I2C, JTAG||Camera interface (CSI), GPIO, SPI, I2C, JTAG||Camera interface (CSI-2), GPIO, UART, SPI, I2C, PCI-Express Gen 2, mSATA II, RTC with backup battery||Camera interface (ITU645 controller), 14-pin ETAG connector,
2 x UART, GPIO, SPI, I2C, ADC
Like the Raspberry Pi 1, the Pi 2 can run a variety of Linux distributions. The easiest way to install an OS for the Pi is to use the New Out Of the Box Software (NOOBS) package. This package boots the Pi and then allows you to pick which operating system you want to install. You can even install multiple operating systems and dual-boot via a boot menu.
NOOBS for the Pi 2 is still maturing. At the moment it only provides Raspbian (a Linux distro based on Debian Wheezy), and OpenELEC. All the other OSes like RASPBMC, Pidora, and RISC OS currently only work on the RPi 1. However, things are moving quickly and I expect that more support for the Pi 2 will come soon.
Other operating systems
One of the big announcements that was made at the time of the RPi 2 launch was that Microsoft will be releasing a version of Windows 10 that supports the Raspberry Pi 2. This release of Windows 10 will be free through the Windows Developer Program for IoT.
What yet isn’t known, is what will be included in that version. It will obviously be a cut down version, but how cut down it will be remains to be seen. Microsoft is looking at the emerging IoT market and the release announcement clearly says that Microsoft sees this developer community as “as an amazing source of innovation for smart, connected devices that represent the very foundation for the next wave of computing.” In other words, don’t expect Microsoft to give away free desktop equivalent version of Windows, so that you can sell your old PC and replace it with a Raspberry Pi. I could be wrong, time will tell.
The one major operating system that the RPi 2 doesn’t support is Android. The RPi 1 didn’t support it and at the moment there is no news that the situation will change with the Pi 2. The Raspberry Pi Foundation doesn’t see Android as a priority, and there appears to be some porting difficulties due to some missing drivers from Broadcom. However, this could all change.
Like the CuBox and the HummingBoard, the Raspberry Pi 1 and 2 are official platforms for OpenELEC. The Open Embedded Linux Entertainment Center (OpenELEC) is a small Linux distribution that turns the RPi 2 into a Kodi (previously XBMC) media center. Installing it is simple enough via NOOBS or via an image file available on the OpenELEC site.
The distro boots quickly and the interface is smooth and responsive. I was able to use it with the Yatse, the XBMC / Kodi Remote app without any problems. The app found the RPi2 straight away and I was able to control Kodi easily.
In terms of performance, I tested the power of the RPi 2’s CPU and GPU by playing two HD video files. Both files were encoded in H.264, the first at 4429 kbps, and the second at 15038 kbps. Both were full HD resolution. The good news is that both videos played fine. There was no stuttering or artifacts, and the sound played via the HDMI. The only downside was that the UI was slow when the videos were playing. Bringing up the on-screen-controls to pause, stop, etc., resulted in the mouse jerking and jumping, however the UI still actually worked. In comparison the same files on the CuBox played equally as well, and the UI remained responsive.
One of the attractions of the Raspberry Pi (and in fact other SBCs) is the ability to connect hardware (LEDs, motors, servos, sensors etc) directly to the board and control/monitor that hardware within a computer program. The advantage of the Pi over a microcontroller board, like the Arduino Due or the MBED board, is that the GPIO (General Purpose Input/Output ) pins can be controlled from a variety of programming languages, and not just C or C++.
In the video review I demonstrate how the Raspberry Pi 2 can be used to flash a LED. Of course, this is a very simple circuit, however it demonstrates the ability of the Raspberry Pi 2 to interact with the outside world.
For those interested in getting this working with a RPi 2 then here is the Python program I used:
import RPi.GPIO as GPIO import time GPIO.setmode(GPIO.BOARD) GPIO.setup(7, GPIO.OUT) while (1): GPIO.output(7, GPIO.HIGH) time.sleep(1) GPIO.output(7, GPIO.LOW) time.sleep(1)
The first part imports the modules needed for working with the GPIO pins and the module needed for the sleep() function. The next bit sets pin 7 as an output, and then the loop just sets pin 7 HIGH (i.e. on) and then LOW (i.e. off) with a one second delay between each action.
Since the RPi 2 is quite new then I needed to manually update RPi.GPIO before it would work. However I think the latest version of Raspbian has the updated GPIO module. But for those interested, you can find more help with updating RPi.GPIO on Adafruit’s How to Fix Error Loading RPi.GPIO Python Library On Your Brand New Raspberry Pi 2. There is also a useful primer on building the LED circuit.
If you liked the Raspberry Pi 1, then you will love the Raspberry Pi 2. The performance jump from the Pi 1 to the Pi 2 is excellent, and the extra memory really helps the desktop performance. Because the Raspberry Pi Foundation has managed to keep the price the same then there is little to complain about. Android support would be nice, but the Pi has thrived so far without it, so it isn’t a deal breaker by any means. The promise of Windows 10 is intriguing and the current support for Linux is excellent. So, go buy a Raspberry Pi 2, you won’t be disappointed.
We may not have robots roaming the streets quite yet, but if the Origibot has anything to do with it, that will soon become a reality. The Origibot is an affordable telepresence robot, and has just launched an Indiegogo campaign two days ago. So, how does it work? The Origibot pairs with an Android phone or tablet that will act as the eyes and ears of the robot. Your phone or tablet will then connect to any other internet-capable gadget (including Android, iOS, Windows or Mac devices) via the company’s secure cloud service. Your Android device will act as the robot’s communication hub, giving you a two-way audio/video experience, and your other connected device will be the remote control for the robot’s movements, including the arm and gripper.
The Origibot is made out of aluminum with a few 3D-printed plastic parts. It’s also very thin, which will be nice for navigating through tight spaces or crowded rooms. The Origibot creators assure us that the end product will ship with an adjustable device mount to better fit Android devices of all sizes up to a 10-inch display.
What can you do with the Origibot? In the video above, the robot is used to open, close, lock or unlock doors, grab some water, and even bring grandma her meds.
The remote technology uses WebRTC, so the web interface will be simple, light and responsive, which is why you’ll be able to use it on a mobile device. You can use the web interface to control the robot’s neck, arm, wrist, gripper and drive the robot. The Origibot team explains that this robot is “fully hackable,” which will allow for modifications where you see fit. All custom components are 3D printed, and .stl files will be available for download.
If you’re interested, here’s a full list of perks available on the Indiegogo site:
- Early Bird Origibot Basic (no arm or gripper) – $329
- Origibot Basic (no arm or gripper) – $399
- Early Bird Origibot Plus (with arm and gripper) – $599
- Origibot Plus (with arm and gripper) – $699
- Early Pre-Order Origibot Plus – $199 up front, $450 on shipment date
- Add a 7-inch Android Tablet – $99 (no mention on which tablet will be included)
The Origibot Plus will ship to backers in August 2015, and will retail for $899. The robot has already racked up almost $5,500 within the first three days of its campaign, which is 30% of its $18,000 goal. The campaign doesn’t end for another 38 days, so we’re sure the Origibot will reach its goal by then. This may not seem like the most futuristic robot out there, but the idea is simple and might be worth checking out. If you’re interested, head to the Indiegogo page below for more information.
We’ve already started to see a variety of Galaxy S6 concepts that speculate what the next flagship from Samsung may look like, and now it looks like case makers are making a bet on the design too.
Courtesy of OBLIQ, there are a number of Galaxy S6 renderings sporting their new Slim Meta case series, and they’re looking good.
With case makers already betting on the Galaxy S6 design, how certain can they be that this is what the final design will be?
With that said, if the Galaxy S6 does look like that, then it looks pretty good.
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Consumers living in India that are in the market for a new smartphone should keep an eye on what Flipkart has coming soon. The online retailer posted the teaser image above, showing that an unspecified Motorola device is nearing a release. Based on the use of the word “turbocharged” and the description below it, we believe that the DROID Turbo is what Flipkart is promoting. It will not be sold as the DROID Turbo in India as that name is utilized only in the United states. Motorola will instead market the handset as the Moto Maxx.
— Flipkart (@Flipkart) February 19, 2015
Come comment on this article: Flipkart to sell the Motorola Moto Maxx (aka DROID Turbo) in India
Today, benchmarks belonging to two unannounced HTC devices appeared online. The benchmarks, uploaded to CompuBench, expose what is presumably the One (M9) and One (M9) Plus. Both are shaping up to be rather impressive devices, but, to no surprise, the Plus model has the edge. The primary difference between the two seems to be with the display. While the One (M9) has a 5-inch display with 1920×1080 resolution, the One (M9) Plus raises that to 2560×1440 on a 5.1-inch screen.
Hit the break for more.
HTC One (M9) specifications:
- 5-inch, 1920×1080 display
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor with 3GB of RAM, Adreno 430 GPU
- 19MP rear camera / 12MP front camera
- Android 5.0.1 Lollipop
- 32GB of internal storage (with about 23GB available to the user)
HTC One (M9) Plus specifications:
- 5.1-inch, 2560×1440 display
- MediaTek MT6795 processor with 3GB of RAM, Imagination Technologies PowerVR Rogue G6200 GPU
- 19MP rear camera / 12MP front camera
- Android 5.0 Lollipop
- 32GB of internal storage (with about 23GB available to the user)
Come comment on this article: Benchmarks for HTC One (M9) and One (M9) Plus appear online
This morning, Plain Vanilla, Inc. and Gateway Apps, LLC have announced plans to bring QuizUp (QuizUp.com) to Windows and Windows Phone as a universal app. The release is timed with an expected major update to QuizUp for Android and iOS due sometime this year.
More importantly, we are told that the Windows versions include all the features found on competitor platforms with the addition of Live Tiles to make the experience more personal. Cross platform play with Android and iOS is also a planned feature.
QuizUp was previously close to a release on Windows Phone last year, but the project was postponed. It now looks like the company behind the game (Plain Vanilla, Inc) was waiting for a more appropriate time to re-launch the game with a feature refresh and taking advantage of universal programming libraries for Windows. Exact details of the QuizUp update for iOS, Android and Windows have not yet been revealed.
Apple’s alleged automotive team consisting of hundreds of employees working on an electric vehicle includes several former Tesla, Ford and GM employees, according to 9to5Mac. The report reveals that Apple has also recruited talent from smaller firms in the automotive industry and other fields, including A123 Systems, MIT Motorsports, Ogin, Autoliv, Concept Systems and General Dynamics.
The list of recent hires from Tesla includes David Nelson, a mechanical engineering manager at the car maker until this month, and John Ireland, previously a senior powertrain test engineer at the company. Tesla’s former head recruiter Lauren Ciminera also joined Apple in September and is likely responsible for recruiting additional engineers for the automotive team. The trio of hires surface just weeks after it was reported that Apple and Tesla continue to fight over top employees.
Another notable hire is Mujeeb Ijaz, who most recently served as chief technology officer at A123 Systems. Ijaz led a team responsible for research and development for the company’s leading lithium-ion energy storage technology. Prior to that, he worked at Ford as an electric and fuel cell vehicle engineering manager for nearly sixteen years. The hiring adds fuel to yesterday’s report that Apple faces a lawsuit for poaching key employees from A123 Systems.
The report adds that Apple has also recruited former Ford engineers David Perner and Jim Cuseo, although the latter has been with the company since 2010 as a product design lead and manager for the iMac. General Motors’ Fernando Cunha recently joined Apple as well after working various engineering and product design roles at the auto maker since 2001. Dillon Thomasson of General Dynamics, Robert Gough of Autoliv, Hugh Jay of EMCO Gears and Rui Guan of Ogin are other new hires.
Last week, multiple reports from credible sources claimed that Apple is developing an electric vehicle that is possibly autonomous in a top-secret research lab near its headquarters in Cupertino, California. Some reports say otherwise, claiming that Apple is working on expanding its dashboard presence through CarPlay. These hirings suggest that Apple may be working on a larger project after all, but it remains to be seen if a full-fledged electric vehicle is in the works.