KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has issued a new report that suggests next year’s “iPhone 7” could be Apple’s thinnest smartphone yet, with a thickness of somewhere between 6.0mm and 6.5mm, which Kuo mentions is a near similar measurement of the current iPod touch’s 6.1mm. As a comparison, the current model of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are 6.9mm and 7.1mm thick, respectively.
The report also states that the company will stick to a similar Force Touch technology in next year’s version of the iPhone, due to the heavy amount of time and investment Apple and its suppliers have put into adapting it for this year’s “iPhone 6s” and “iPhone 6s Plus.”
Due to this, Kuo believes that Apple is unlikely to switch from in-cell over to glass-on-glass touch panels next year, which a rumor out of Apple’s supply chain in Asia suggested last week. The KGI report says that in-cell panels won’t encounter any harsh production bottleneck issues, and that Apple won’t be looking to create an iPhone display with a resolution of 4k or higher, so it’s more likely for the company to stick with in-cell panels for the time being.
The continued use of in-cell panels would also grant Apple the ability to produce an iPhone as thin as Kuo’s suggested 6.0mm-6.5mm size. Although glass-on-glass panels allow for the possibility of a bezel-free iPhone, it also limits the ability for the company to create smaller and thinner smartphones, so if KGI’s claim of an iPod Touch-size iPhone is true, it would make most sense for the company to keep using in-cell panels.
Samsung’s biggest announcement at IFA 2015 was the Gear S2, its long-rumored round smartwatch. But, as expected, that’s not the only thing the company is showing off in Berlin, Germany. The R1, R3 and R5 are new wireless, multi-room speakers designed to take on Sonos. What makes them different than most of the competition, though, is their 360-degree enclosure — Samsung says the ring-radiator technology powering them helps fill any room with sound. Compared to the last-generation models, the speakers revealed here at IFA are not egg-shaped, but rather feature a more tubular look. (You could always go for the R7, if that’s what you’re looking for.)Slideshow-317447
While you can use the revamped Multiroom App for iOS and Android to control the set, there’s also a physical user interface on the speakers’ top panel, letting you play, pause, tweak the volume and switch music sources. Unfortunately, it’s hard to judge them based on our brief time with them on the show floor, though you’d have to be blind to not appreciate how sleek they are. It helps that they come in different colors, too, so you can pick the option that’s best suited for your home or office. Samsung says they’ll be available by the end of the year, with prices ranging from $199 to $399 — which is on par with products from Sonos.
Photos: Mat Smith
Check out all the news from Berlin at our IFA 2015 hub.
Tags: fullbleed, hands-on, ifa, ifa2015, samsung, Sonos, WirelessSpeaker, WirelessSpeakers
A short walk from the sounds and screens of Sony’s heaving IFA booth, a handful of the company’s employees have a small stand of their very own. On it, they’re showcasing the Wena Wrist, a smartwatch side-project the small team has successfully crowdfunded through Sony’s First Flight platform for employee pitches. Smartwatch may not be the best definition of the lo-fi wearable, though, since the face itself is as dumb as they come.Slideshow-317347
Designed by the Wena team and manufactured by Citizen, the simple and chronograph watch faces play second fiddle to the band. That’s where all the tech lies, with the strap housing an NFC chip (supporting the Japanese FeliCa standard) for mobile payments and such, a pedometer for basic activity tracking, and a clasp that vibrates and lights up when notifications hit your smartphone.
It’s an unashamedly pared-down approach to the smartwatch: one that crams a few key functions into the form factor of a regular, metal dress watch. It’s surprising that luxury horologists haven’t gone down the same road, marrying their traditional designs with bands that add a few smart features.
For now, the project is still in its early stages. The watches are good-looking prototypes, but the iOS “app” is a basically a collection of mock-up screenshots at this point. The Wena team hope to launch the not-so-smart smartwatch in Japan sometime next year, before thinking about international availability (and Android compatibility) when that milestone’s been crossed.
Check out all the news from Berlin at our IFA 2015 hub.
Tags: hands-on, ifa, ifa2015, smartwatch, sony, wearable, wena, wenawrist
Wireless charging is quickly becoming a big deal these days, with many flagship devices now offering built-in wireless charging capabilities. The Samsung’s entire line of flagship Galaxy devices all offer this, with the newer models even supporting speedier wireless charging.
I was first introduced to wireless charging with my old Nexus 5, and I’ve been happily using this method for charging my devices ever since. With my Galaxy S6 Edge, it gets its nightly charge this way as well from the Samsung wireless charging pad that was made available this year to go along with the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge.
So now I’m trying out a new, third-party wireless charger on the market: the Choetech Circle.
Choetech’s Circle Qi wireless charger has some interesting features to go along with the wireless charging. Most notably, it has an ambient light sensor that detects the room’s brightness and adjusts the charging LED accordingly. So if your room is dimly lit, the Circle will dim the charging light. Like pitch black while you sleep? No problem, the Circle will turn off the charging light altogether.
Dimensions wise, it’s the size of a coffee mug coaster, except a little bit taller obviously. It’s also pretty light weight, but you don’t have to worry about it moving around because it has a circular rubber grip on the bottom of it.
In terms of how much charge you get out of this thing, Choetech states the charger has an output of 5 volts at 1 ampere. The Samsung wireless charger is 5 volts at 2 amperes. And, because I know hardly anyone runs around with these super fragile Galaxy S6s, both will charge through your case, unlike my old Nexus 5 and its Nexus wireless charging block.
Here are some tests I did of both the Choetech Circle and the Samsung wireless charging pad. All tests were done during a timed 30 minutes of charging with a few days in between and after various restarts of the Galaxy S6 Edge.
- 30% -> 41% (with case) (11% increase)
- 30% -> 43% (with case) (13% increase)
- 75% -> 91% (without case) (16% increase)
- 05% -> 23% (without case) (18% increase)
- 24% -> 43% (with case) (19% increase)
- 74% -> 90% (with case) (16% increase)
- 08% -> 21% (without case) (13% increase)
- 11% -> 31% (without case) (20% increase)
As you can see from the results, the Choetech performs just as well as the Samsung in tests without a case. With the case on, Samsung does slightly better. (The case I was using was a Spigen Neo Hybrid Series case.)
Some other good things going for the Choetech Circle is that it’s about $10 cheaper than the Samsung one. What’s more, and this is most important to me, is that I did not have to worry about waking up to a dead phone. For some reason, my Samsung charger likes to stop charging at 100% but never bothers to restart the charging (sometimes I wake up and my phone is in the 70% zone and says it hasn’t been charging for six hours). I used the Choetech Circle for a week and this never happened; however, that could just mean that it never stops charging once at 100% and this could be a bad thing for your battery after long term usage.
As far as the ambient light sensor is concerned? It works and, no, I didn’t feel like it was gimmicky. I am a big advocate of cutting down on blue wavelength light close to sleep time in order to promote better sleeping, so I liked that this thing dimmed or shut off entirely its blue LED charging light.
The only complaint I have against this third-party charger is that it did not come with a wall outlet adapter. Ironically, I had to use the one from my Samsung charging pad.
Overall, if you have a bunch of wall outlet adapters lying around, you do want to cut down on some obnoxious LED lights while trying to keep your eyes closed, and you want a good, reliable wireless charger that’ll also not put a dent in your wallet, I couldn’t recommend the Choetech Circle more.
Choetech claims you can buy this in silver or black, but I was provided with a silver one and I’ve only seen the silver one on Amazon. The Amazon link to this product is included below.
Come comment on this article: Choetech Circle wireless charger review
Welcome to Talk Android’s very first Apps of the Week column! Every Sunday, I’ll supply a report on some of the best applications I’ve been using over the course of the last seven days. To get things started, this week I’m focusing my attention on a great Reddit client, a functional note-taking app, an extremely addictive game and last but not least a second-to-none photo editing tool.
Relay for Reddit
Up first, we have Relay for Reddit, which first launched for Android back in January 2015. Unlike most third-party Reddit clients, Relay follows Google’s latest Material Design guidelines and thus features an extremely elegant and intuitive interface, which gives users the ability to alter their color scheme, swipe between pages and view in-line previewing of pictures, YouTube videos, GIF’s and HTML 5 videos.
Reddit is renowned for being somewhat confusing and hard to follow when browsing a popular thread, but Relay makes tracking comments exceptionally easy thanks to its color-coded system. Main comments are highlighted in a white banner, while responses to these comments are housed in a colored bezel, thereby providing users with the means to read through responses in a very easy and efficient manner.
Relay also bundles support for multiple accounts and is the home to a plethora of comprehensive Moderator features, such as the facility to sticky posts, ban users and issue warnings. Adopters of the app can also access a unified inbox and respond to any messages they may have. They also don’t have to worry about missing anything as the application packs support for push notifications, enabling users to receive alerts for mail and even modqueue.
To really get a feel for all of Relay’s features, you have to see it in action, so be sure to check out the gallery below.
If you like the sound of Relay for Reddit and want to give it a try – click here to download and install the application.
Next up we have a note-taking app from Microsoft, which goes by the name of OneNote. We actually covered this applications launch back in 2014, but for those unaware or in need of a refresher, OneNote allows its users to create a digital notebook comprising of their to-do lists, meetings/social notes and sketches, which can be saved to the cloud and accessed from PC, Mac, Windows Phone, iPhone, iPad and Android Wear.
In terms of functionality, OneNote permits users to format documents in the same way they would on a computer. There’s full compatibility for bold, italics, underlining, highlighting, indentation, bullets, numbering and even multilevel listings. Videos and images can also be integrated into notes, too – so users can store everything neatly in one place, without having to look in different locations to find media that matches up to a note.
There’s also support to collaborate with team members, which is great for those working on college projects or even business ventures. This is done via a shared notebook in which all pages created are visible to every member of the team, who each have the ability to create new, edit existing and delete notes. Team members can track all of the changes made and revert to the original text if required.
Sift through the gallery below to see some scenarios in which OneNote can be used to improve productivity on the go.
If you like the sound of Microsoft OneNote and want to give it a try – click here to download and install the application.
Up third, we have SimCity BuildIt. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that I’ve been playing this game for a while now, and it’s safe to say that I’m addicted. It’s just impossible for me to pick up my phone without checking the status of DroidVille (Yes, that’s the name of my city). In this title, users take on the role of a mayor and build their own bustling city in which residents can thrive and, hopefully, become rich!
Players start at the bottom and work their way up. They heavily rely on the produce of factories in their city to obtain money and grow, but as time passes they will gradually build skylines and start a trading system so they can sell the resources their production lines automatically produce. Once they’ve got enough money, they can purchase goods to enable their city to become even more prosperous.
Gamers will be tasked with solving many real-life challenges, such as traffic, fires and pollution. To overcome these issues, they will have to install power plants, fire stations, parks, highways and even education facilities to train residents to take on certain roles such as scientists and governors.
To see SimCity in action, take a look at the teaser video below, but, be warned, it’s pretty addictive and a lot of fun.
If you like the sound of SimCity BuildIt and want to give it a try – click here to download and install the application.
This weeks concluding app is Snapseed – a first-class photo editing application that is now operating under Google’s umbrella. Since its initial release back in December 2012, Snapseed has been recognized as one of if not the most fluid, futuristic and user-friendly image manipulation tools on the market.
As you’d expect from a top-rated app, Snapseed is jam-packed full of the latest and greatest features, including some incredibly complex algorithms dedicated to automatically fixing and optimizing photographs, in addition to all the usual editorial apparatus, such as straighten, flip, rotate, color control, filters, tuning and borders.
There’s even a dedicated “Creative Enhancements’ menu, which gives users the ability to apply a completely unique and exclusive set of effects to their photographs, which is sure to make them stand out from the crowd. We’ve included the full list of enhancements below, so you can take a look through them and get an understanding of exactly what you’ll be able to do with this app.
- Black & White – Get that classic Black and White look with this darkroom-inspired filter.
- Vintage Films – Make any photo look like a vintage color film photo from the 50’s, 60’s or 70’s.
- Drama – Add style with a custom effect specifically tailored to your photos, ranging from subtle textures to wildly artistic effects.
- Grunge – Give your photos a totally unique, hip, and dingy look.
- Tilt-Shift – Create a narrow in-focus area designed to simulate depth of field, common in a Miniature Scene look.
- Details – Enhance details with traditional sharpening or the unique Structure control found in the Nik Software professional products.
- Center Focus – Draw attention to the subject of your photo by blurring and adjusting the brightness of the surrounding background.
- Frames – Add stylized borders to photos for the perfect finishing touch.
- Retrolux – Make your photos look truly retro with light leaks, scratches, film styles, and more.
If you like the sound of Snapseed and want to give it a try – click here to download and install the application.
Come comment on this article: Talk Android Apps of the Week: September 6, 2015
First Impressions of ‘Steve Jobs’ Film: ‘Thrilling… an Action Movie Driven Almost Exclusively by Words’
The Danny Boyle-directed and Aaron Sorkin-penned Steve Jobs film premiered last night at the 42nd Annual Telluride Film Festival in Colorado, and the first impressions of the biopic are surfacing on the internet this morning. Although not a full review of the movie, Deadline has posted a short opinion piece about the film, noting impressive directing, well-paced editing, and a script by Sorkin that is “even more effective” than his Oscar-winning work on The Social Network.
It’s a companion piece to Sorkin’s Oscar-winning The Social Network screenplay — but even more effective. Boyle said the script is 200 pages and it is densely filled with the kind of dialogue only Sorkin seems to specialize in these days. It’s actually thrilling to listen to, an action movie driven almost exclusively by words, a rare thing for sure in today’s visually driven cinema.
[Boyle’s] direction is flawless and really keeps this thing moving, avoiding the static pace it might have been in lesser hands. The result is well worth it, and those magical words provided lots of opportunity for great acting performances led by Michael Fassbender’s spot-on and relentless portrayal of the not-very-likable computer genius.
Notably, Deadline also caught up with Steve Wozniak at Telluride to get his opinion on the film, which partially portrays Wozniak’s own life as well with Seth Rogen in the role of the Apple co-founder. Wozniak was enthusiastic about the movie, calling it “authentic” and particularly praising Kate Winslet’s performance as Macintosh marketing chief Joanna Hoffman.
When I caught up with him Wozniak told me that, unlike the Jobs biopic with Ashton Kutcher, this one is totally authentic. “I saw a rough cut and I felt like I was actually watching Steve Jobs and the others (including Rogen’s dead-on portrayal of Wozniak), not actors playing them, I give full credit to Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin for getting it so right,” he enthusiastically told me, He adding that of all the actors in the film he thinks Winslet might be the most likely to garner awards attention.
The movie was portrayed as a “work in progress” to the attendees at Telluride, due to the fact that Boyle and his workers are still tweaking and editing parts of the movie. With just about a month to go until the film’s wide release, it’s likely small details like sound cues and other small edits that will make the Telluride screening largely similar to the final movie.
Other sites have begun posting full-length reviews, including Variety, who compares Sorkin’s three-act, multiple time period structure to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Also of note is a neat detail that Boyle shot each time period on era-relevant formats, a fact along with Boyle’s uncharacteristically restrained direction that Variety particularly liked.
Working with d.p. Alwin Kutchler, Boyle sometimes sends the camera hurtling after the characters in lengthy, down-the-corridor tracking shots; elsewhere, the brief transitional snippets between acts feature some fairly aggressive stylization, in line with his usual m.o. But for the most part, this is the filmmaker’s most reined-in picture in some time, as if a too-kinetic approach would interfere with the verbal energy of Sorkin’s script.
Besides Guy Hendrix Dyas’ unobtrusively excellent production design, the picture’s major visual coup is the decision to shoot the three acts on three different formats: grainy 16mm film for 1984, lustrous 35mm for 1988, and sleek, high-definition digital for 1998. The distinctions may well be lost on the vast majority of viewers, but it’s just the sort of nicely understated aesthetic flourish that Steve Jobs himself would have surely appreciated.
Indiewire gave the film a B+, pointing out good performances from the cast and the movie’s decision to focus on three highly stressful points in Jobs’ life to showcase his true personality, ultimately calling it “a kind of “Birdman” for the tech sector,” thanks to its real-time accounts of some highly dramatic backstage moments prior to a big show. The website also noted, however, that Sorkin’s dialogue can suffer from “constant overstatement” and some foreshadowing to Apple’s future feels “unnecessary.”
The movie currently sits at a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, but still has just five reviews collected at the time of writing. Although it’s still just a handful positive opinions, it’s a bit more encouraging as we enter the final stretch before the October 9 theatrical debut, especially for a film that’s been a large source of speculation and rumors for so many years now.
Personal companion robots have been around for ages, but they’ve never really been able to live up to our expectations. Everybody wants Rosie from The Jetsons, but we seem to always wind up with Paulie’s Robot from Rocky. While previous companion bots like the AIBO or NAO have found moderate acceptance among consumers, they’ve mainly been novelties: toys rather than tools. That disappointing streak could finally be at an end, though, thanks to Blue Frog Robotics’ new mechanical companion, Buddy. This little guy has R2-D2’s versatility but with Wall-E’s emotive abilities. The BFR team recently stopped by Engadget’s San Francisco office to show off an early version of the device. Despite a few quirks with the prototype they demoed, Buddy could soon find a place in your home and your heart.
Buddy stands a little over two feet tall and weighs about 11 pounds. It rolls around on a wheeled tripod with about an inch of ground clearance — enough to get it over loose cords and transition between floor types, but don’t expect it to follow you up the stairs. A 32GB Android tablet serves as both its face (which can be re-skinned with five alternatives) and primary input device through which users can program it to perform various behaviors. Programming Buddy’s actions is very intuitive: Simply tap and drag action icons onto a digital timeline that dictates what it’ll do and when. The tablet can also charge a number of external devices so long as they have a USB plug. As for Buddy itself, the robot automatically recharges using an included docking station, kind of like a Roomba.
Buddy can emote a variety of feelings.
An Arduino microcontroller located in Buddy’s body cavity translates the tablet’s commands into mechanical movement while a host of sensors (video, thermal, audio, facial recognition, air quality and more) line Buddy’s waist and forehead. Buddy can also interact with your home’s connected devices over Bluetooth and WiFi, thanks to its integration with its open-source Unity software and IFTTT compatibility. The open-source Unity platform is especially important as it will allow developers to freely improve the robot’s functionality, boosting existing capabilities and adding new ones — all of which will be available on Google Play. What’s more, now that Buddy’s Indiegogo $500,000 stretch goal has been reached, the robot will have access to IBM’s Watson cloud-based services, which should allow for much richer and more natural interaction.
Since Buddy is, in essence, a self-guided Android tablet, it performs a surprisingly wide variety of tasks. It can act as your personal assistant, syncing with your calendar and contacts to remind you of upcoming meetings and other items. It can also recommend recipes, launch playlists — even route phone calls through its face so you don’t have to frantically search for a ringing phone. Buddy can also perform as a telepresence robot by either standing still while you conference call through its face or rolling through your house as a sentry while you’re at work. When on security patrol, Buddy can be programmed to follow a set route or you can take command remotely, using your phone as a control pad. Of course, Buddy isn’t armed or anything (yet!) so if someone does break into your house while you’re away, it’ll be about as much help as a Nest camera. At least you’ll be able to yell and swear at the crooks as they make off with your valuables — and probably Buddy too.
Buddy as a telepresence robot
But whatever, there are plenty of products that already perform those tasks. What sets Buddy apart is that it does all of those things and has well-developed social skills. Just as the AIBO became so integrated in Japanese households that owners held funerals for their robo-panions when they broke, Buddy’s makers hope it becomes part of the family. It can entertain children with face-displayed movies and e-books, or project them onto a wall with an included pico projector that mounts on as an arm attachment. Buddy can also reportedly tutor kids to a degree with interactive math lessons. Even more impressive, preliminary tests conducted by the Institute for Children with Autism found Buddy to be an easily accepted companion to special needs kids. And since the crowdfunding campaign has easily surpassed the $150,000 stretch goal, Buddies will ship with BFR’s “Special Needs” pack, which “aims to be an attractive tool to help kids with autism to learn, communicate, interact and be more autonomous.”
Buddy can also help elderly family members remain independent for longer. Its “Elder Care” pack, which comes with the production model, includes the self-charging station so grandma doesn’t have to repeatedly figure out how to plug it in. It also includes an integrated serving tray that can transport food, beverages, meds or what-have-you between rooms. Plus, “pop-pop” and “gangy” can leverage any of the entertainment, telepresence, security and companion features already discussed for themselves.
Buddy’s lower sensor bank
That said, the prototype Buddy I saw was fairly bare-bones. It was rather deaf, too; I had to say commands repeatedly to get it to respond. It also had some difficulty spotting people’s faces with its recognition camera on account of its height. It had to crane its neck back and look up at my backlit face given our differences in stature. And despite the impressive abilities that the production model is expected to ship with, the Buddy prototype that I met had an unusual habit of trying to charge headlong off the edge of the table I set it on like some sort of mechanical lemming.
However, Blue Robotics says that it’s already aware of that shortcoming and is working to upgrade the robot’s mics ahead of its 2016 release. Similarly, the final version will be offered alongside two optional mechanical arms equipped with a variety of tools like the pico projector and the serving tray described earlier. The company also envisions both users and its developer community creating their own function-specific, 3D-printed appendages. The Buddy Classic goes on sale next July and will cost $749, although contributors to Blue Frog’s Indiegogo campaign will get theirs for $200 less. The campaign concluded Friday, beating its initial goal by more than 500 percent.
Tags: BlueFrogRobotics, Buddy, Robot, video
Big tech shows. Sometimes they amaze. Other times they can leave you a little cold — it just depends on what you’re looking for. This year’s IFA, held in Germany and blessed with a mix of torrential rain and sun, is a good example of exactly that. The show has a reputation for filling halls with refrigerators and washing machines (which can sometimes be interesting), but here’s the finely-honed highlights. If you somehow missed our IFA reportage all this week, start here. Slideshow-317033
Tags: asus, ifa, ifa2015, sony, video
A new leak comes from the Google Wallet application. If you have registered with Google Wallet, you will notice a card has appeared when first opening the application. The card states, “Android Pay and a new Google Wallet, coming soon!” Google will apparently be splitting the two contact-less payment methods into two separate apps. Those using Google Wallet can continue using the service following the launch of Google’s Android Pay.
With Android Pay, users will be able to use their Android enabled device for contact-less payments online and in stores. Google plans to roll out the service in some countries before others, so not everyone will be able to use it right away. The payment service will use NFC technology to make transactions. In other words, it won’t work at any location like Samsung’s newly released Samsung Pay. Users must rely on merchants to have an NFC enabled terminal to make transactions, which could be a bit of a hassle. Google says it’s working with lots of partners around the world in order to make the service compatible with as many brands as possible time come launch day. We should find out more at Google’s event taking place in San Fran on September 29.
The new payment service will work with a majority of Android devices across all different manufactures. Google promises to make the service secure and is going about this by not letting cashiers see your card number(s). In addition users can always enable the Android Device Manager, which will allow people to find their device if it goes missing. The Android Device Manager will also allow users to lock or even wipe their device remotely to ensure nobody gets in. The technology will use Google’s new and secure universal fingerprint API for easy transactions. Below you’ll find a list of some of the major brands that will be accepting Android Pay.
Come comment on this article: Android Pay is listed as ‘Coming Soon’ in Google Wallet application
The HTC Desire 728 has been officially announced in China. It features a 5.5-inch display and mid-range specifications.
HTC just launched a new Desire handset called the Desire 728. This is one of many Desire handset’s the company has released in Chinese markets. It will include a 5.5-inch (720 x 1280) pixel display, powered by a MediaTek MT6753 processor with an octa-core 1.3GHz CPU along with a Mali-T720 GPU. It’s backed with 2GB of RAM and has 16GB of internal storage which is expandable via a microSD card slot. A 13MP camera is included at the rear and a 5MP camera is on the front of the handset. Android 5.1.1 comes pre-installed and a 2800mAh battery will try and last the day. The handset has dual SIM capabilities along with support for 4G LTE connectivity. Fast charging is also on board so long as you purchase a specific cable sold separately.
The HTC Desire 728 has a price tag of $269 USD. Hopefully the handset will make it to more locations at a later date.
Come comment on this article: HTC Desire 728 made official in China