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14
Dec

Buy a $30 Chromecast and Google will give you $20


Google announced a new promotion for its Chromecast line on Monday: Buy one of the $30 devices, get $20 in Google Play store credits. What’s more, you don’t have to buy it directly from Google to qualify for the deal. Pick up one from either Best Buy or Walmart if that’s more convenient, you’ll still get the twenty dollar rebate after you activate the device.

Source: Google

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14
Dec

Samsung Appeals to U.S. Supreme Court in Last Effort to Avoid $548 Million Apple Payment


Samsung today asked the United States Supreme Court to hear its latest appeal in its ongoing patent battle with Apple, reports Re/code. In August, following a rejection from the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, Samsung said it would take its case to the Supreme Court by November, and it has now followed through with those plans.

In its appeal, which also includes a wider criticism on patent law, Samsung says the jury was not provided with enough information to understand the patents, a problem it says afflicts many design patent cases.

applevsamsung

“Samsung is escalating this case because it believes that the way the laws were interpreted is not in line with modern times,” it said in a statement. “If the current legal precedent stands, it could diminish innovation, stifle competition, pave the way for design patent troll litigation and negatively impact the economy and consumers.”

Samsung has already agreed to pay a $548 million settlement to Apple, with the full sum expected to be paid by today, but should the Supreme Court rule in Samsung’s favor, there is a clause that would require Apple to pay back the money.

Apple and Samsung have been battling over patent infringement issues since 2012, when a jury ruled Samsung willfully violated multiple Apple patents, resulting in $1 billion in damages. Since then, Samsung has been fighting the ruling. Over the course of several appeals and a partial retrial, Samsung has gotten the damages reduced to the $548 million total.

Samsung’s appeal to the Supreme Court is a last ditch effort. Should the Supreme Court refuse to hear its appeal or rule in Apple’s favor, Samsung will not be able to recoup the $548 million it is paying to Apple. Samsung could have some difficulty convincing the Supreme Court to look at its case, as the court is notoriously selective about the cases it agrees to hear.

Tag: Samsung

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14
Dec

Which Android phones charge the fastest?


There is no getting away from it (not yet), every mobile device needs to be charged up. That is because they all have batteries, rechargeable batteries that give us a certain number of hours of use and then these useful battery cells needs to be replenished. It is something you probably do every day, almost unconsciously. You plug in your phone and let it charge, while you get on with other things. So since it is something that we all do daily, it would be good to know which phones charge the quickest!

The Tests

Before we dive into the results of our testing, let’s have a quick look a the charging cycle for Li-ion batteries and see how we tested the charging of each phone. The charging cycle for a smartphone battery is performed in two stages. This is true for standard wired charging, for quick charging and for wireless charging. During the first stage a constant current is applied to the battery. Then when the battery is around 70% to 80% full (depending on the exact battery design) the current will be lowered but the voltage will remain the same. This means that the phone will always charge faster from 0% to 80% and then slower for the last 20%.


Wireless-chargers-testingSee also: Best wireless chargers – how they work and perform14

As well as measuring the total charge time, I also measure the current and voltage levels drawn by the phone from the charger. To do this I used an inline USB  volt and amp meter (pictured below). At regular intervals I noted down the time, the battery level, the voltage reading and the current level.

wireless-chargers-usb-amp-volt-measurement


qualcomm-quick-chargeSee also: Quick Charge 3.0 explained: what you need to know (Update: video added)21

The Phones

For a our testing we picked a variety of phones with the aim of covering some of the top flagship devices of 2015, plus some which offer various quick charging technologies. The list in alphabetical order is:

And here is a graph of the battery sizes in mAh:

which-phone-charges-fastest-sizes-light-aa

The Oppo R5 has the smallest battery, while the Moto X Force has the largest. It is also worth noting that the median battery size is 3000 mAh as found in the Note 5, the LG G4 and the Moto X Style, to name a few.

Power Curves

So batteries provide electrical power to our smartphones and to replenish those batteries they need to be re-charged, power needs to be put back into storage. To do that you connect your phone to a charger, normally the one that came with the phone. The charger has two characteristics which define how much power it can provide to the battery, the output voltage and the output current. The level of electrical power being pushed into the battery is measured in watts, and watts is calculated by multiplying the volts and the current.

To charge the phone quicker you need more watts, more watts means either more voltage, more current, or more of both. A standard USB 2.0 port provides 5V at 0.5A, so that is 2.5 watts. A modern fast charger is rated at 5V and 2A, which is 10 watts. A quick charge system, like Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 2.0 (QC 2.0), is rated at 9V or 12V and at 2A or 3A. Typically a QC 2.0 phone will charge at 9V and 1.5A, which is 13.5 watts, but there are those which go as high as 9V at 2.2A, almost 20 watts. Qualcomm has also announced Quick Charge 3.0.

For those interested in the technical bits, it is interesting to see how the phone charge. Here is a graph of the watts and battery level over time for the Huawei Mate S:

which-phone-charges-fastest-huawei-mate-s-aa

 

As you can see the battery is charged at 7.5 watts (5.1V, 1.46A) for over 90 minutes, then when the battery gets to around 80% full the watts decrease slowly until the battery reaches 100%. What is also interesting is that the battery is charged to 80% in about 65% of the total charge time, but to bring the battery up from 80% to 100%, takes another 45 minutes. This is of course because the wattage is lessening over time as the battery reaches 100%.

For phones which support Quick Charge 2.0 (or a variation of it) the initial wattage being pumped into the battery is much higher as the voltage used is around 9V and not 5V. Here is the charging graph for the HTC One (M9):

which-phone-charges-fastest-htc-one-m9-aa

 

As you can see the initial power level is 12 watts, 4.5 watts more than the Mate S. This level is maintained for 40 minutes when it then drops slightly to 10 watts until the phone reaches 70%, then the power drops steadily as the battery level approaches 100%.

The phone with the most interesting charging cycle is the Moto X Force. It starts charging with 8.97V at 2.23A, which is 20 watts:

which-phone-charges-fastest-moto-x-force-aa

 

Once the battery reaches around 65% the current level starts to drop, however even at its lowest level, it is still consuming over 5 watts. The result, as we will see in a moment, is a very fast charge time.

Here are some graphs for a few of the other phones in our test group:

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Fastest

So which phone charges the fastest? Is it a phone with a small battery like the Oppo R5 or the Huawei Mate S? Or is it a phone that pumps the most watts into the battery? Let’s see:

which-phone-charges-the-fastest-light-aa

So, the top three fastest charging phones are the Moto X Force, the Moto X Style and the LG V10. The slowest three are the Huawei Mate S, the Sony Xperia Z5 and the BlackBerry Priv.

The Moto X Force is really a surprise winner in that it has the biggest battery, so you might have thought that it would take the longest to charge, but because it uses at to 20 watts of power during the initial stages of the charge cycle, it is able to beat all the other devices including those using QC 2.0 at 9V and 1.5A, and those with smaller batteries.

Since we know the battery sizes and we know how long it takes to charge it phone, we can also see which phone increases the battery level the most in one minute:

which-phone-charges-fastest-capacity-per-min-light-aa

The Moto X Force is again the winner, followed by the Moto X Style and the LG V10 as before, however further down the list we can see some changes. For example, the BlackBerry Priv takes the longest to charge its battery, in actual minutes, however it is charging faster than the Sony Xperia Z5, the Huawei Mate S and the Oppo R5.

Talking of the Oppo R5, Oppo has a quick charging system called VooC which is meant to operate at 5V and 4A (i.e. 20 watts). However we couldn’t get the R5 to use those levels in our testing, even when using a VooC charger. And that is a shame, as it would have been interesting to see the charge time of the 2000 mAh battery of the R5, if it was charged at 20 watts!

Wrap-up

So the clear winner of is the Moto X Force. It has a big battery and a powerful charging cycle. It really is ahead of the field. In fact it looks like Motorola is ahead of the field as the second place phone is the Moto X Style. LG makes a good showing with all three of its phones in our group appearing in the top 6, including the LG G3. The Galaxy Note 5 also does well taking 4th place both in terms of total charge time and charge added per minute. Unfortunately the two Sony phones don’t do that well and neither does the BlackBerry.

Now we know how long these phones take to charge, but how long can the battery last? We have tested six of the best flagship devices for our Best of Android 2015 series, so why not head over to this post to see the results!

So, what do you think, does the charging time of a phone altering your buying decision? Is it an important factor for you? Please let me know in the comments below.

14
Dec

Inbox by Gmail update makes sharing travel plans and memories a breeze


Inbox by Gmail Trips 1

Just in time for the holidays, Google is rolling out an update to Inbox that lets you summarize and share trip information in a few taps. This update comes on the heels of Gmail’s Trip Bundles update this summer, which made organizing trip-related emails far easier. Now Google wants to take that personal convenience and extrovert it, bringing simple sharing to Inbox’s long list of convenient features.

Trip Bundles itself is an idea that was kind of lying on the ground. It’s amazing nobody scooped it up earlier, because it’s such clean solution to an obvious problem. Whenever you’re going on a trip, the flood of notifications regarding travel (airline tickets, car rentals, hotel accommodations, etc.) inundates your inbox, making it difficult to sort through to the exact bit of information that you currently need. What gate was my flight departing from? Hold on while I scroll past 19 irrelevant travel notifications mixed in with my work emails and thirty forwarded cat pictures from Grandma.


Inbox by Gmail 3See also: Google details Trip Bundles in Inbox by Gmail1

Trip Bundles takes everything related to a specific trip and, as the name suggests, bundles it into one easily collapsible and expandable module. Inbox also tries to predict what information is most immediately relevant to you, and display that near the top of the dropdown dialogue. Praise for Trip Bundles has been pretty ubiquitous among frequent fliers, so Google has decided to build on this popular system by making it social.

The idea is to give users the ability to share travel information in a single tap. You can quickly keep friends and family in the loop by sharing your Trip Bundle summaries as easily as you would a photo. Users can now also manually add emails to a travel bundle, since Inbox might miss one or two messages that don’t, on the surface, seem to have to do with your upcoming trip.

Gmail Inbox Trip Bundle sharing

Inbox is also beefing up their picture sharing. No more hopping out of composition to go to the gallery. Once this update hits, you will be able to access recent pictures through a carousel gallery at the bottom of the screen.

Gmail Inbox image insert

All of these additions serve to decrease the amount of time you spend poking away at your emails, freeing up more time for you to, you know, actually enjoy your trip. Google says these new features should be rolling out over the course of this week, so you should expect them to hit your device soon.

What are your thoughts about Inbox’s newest set of improvements? Let us know in the comments!

Next:  10 best new Android apps

14
Dec

OnePlus X can be purchased every Tuesday invite-free from now on


oneplus x first look aa (27 of 47)

OnePlus produces some great smartphones, but if you wanted to get your hands on one in the past, that used to be quite difficult. You’d need to wait in line behind a seemingly endless amount of people to get the opportunity to purchase your device of choice. That’s finally beginning to change. Even though the OnePlus 2 has only been on sale since the summer, OnePlus decided to permanently ditch the invite system for the OnePlus 2 at the beginning of December.

Although the company’s entire lineup isn’t ready to permanently ditch the invite system quite yet, we have some good news for you. If you’re interested in the OnePlus X, the budget-friendly little brother of the OnePlus 2, it will soon be much less of a headache to purchase one. Starting Tuesday, December 15th, you’ll be able to buy the OnePlus X invite-free every Tuesday from here on out. While this isn’t the most elegant solution to the painful invite system, at least users will now be able to know when they can buy the device.

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The OnePlus X is a good phone. And it’s even better now that it’s available invite-free one day per week. It has an impressive 5.0-inch AMOLED display, a perfectly capable Snapdragon 801 processor, 3 gigabytes of RAM, microSD card expansion up to 128GB and two SIM card slots. It’s pretty fast, easy to use and sleek, though there are a few things you should watch out for. If you want to activate the device on AT&T or T-Mobile’s networks, you may not have great 4G LTE coverage, as the device is missing the appropriate bands. It also comes with no NFC on board, so you won’t be able to use mobile payment methods like Android Pay.

Interested in learning more? Don’t miss our full review of the OnePlus X.


LG Nexus 5X Unboxing-22Next: Best cheap Android phones (December 2015)296

14
Dec

T-Mobile rolls out much-needed security update for the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+ and Note 5


T-Mobile_Logo_01_TA

T-Mobile is currently in the process of rolling out a vital security update to its carrier-branded variants of the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+ and Note 5 located in the United States. This upgrade transports a much-needed patch for the incredibly irritating MMS bug found present on a number of smartphones running Lollipop, along with several bug fixes, stability improvements and speed optimizations.

The full changelog can be seen below:

  • The security of your device has been improved.
  • Device stability improvements, bug fixes.
  • New and / or enhanced features.
  • Further improvements to performance.

As is the norm, this update is being distributed in stages. To see if it’s ready for your device head into Settings, scroll to the bottom and tap on “About Device”, hit “System Updates”, then select “Check for updates”. Alternatively, you can wait until you receive a push notification prompting you to install the update.

 

Come comment on this article: T-Mobile rolls out much-needed security update for the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+ and Note 5

14
Dec

Holiday Buying Guide 2015: Gifts for the home


holiday_buying_guide_2015_home_gifts

This year, some of the best holiday tech gifts are for the connected home. Over recent years, home automation and the internet of things has become a major area of focus among manufacturers. Some of the most popular ones being light automation, smart thermostats, virtual locks for your home, unified remotes, and of course, video games and TV. Streaming media saw an incremental increase this year and manufacturers are making sure you have the right tools to stay right at home. There’s no better time to get invested in gadgets for the home than the holiday season because of all the hot deals.

Buying gifts can be a difficult process because of the wide range of devices available. At Talk Android, we made the process easy for you. Here’s what we believe are the top gifts of 2015 for the connected home.

Chromecast

chromecast_2015_10_ta_logo

Google launched a new version of its popular dongle in June. This year’s Chromecast has a totally new design and a totally refreshed application with tons of new features.

The new Chromecast works in the exact same way as the previous generation and can be purchased at the same $35 price tag. You plug the Chromecast into your television to stream movies, TV shows, music, games and more. Once you’re done setting it up, a Cast icon will appear across apps and throughout your device’s interface indicating you can send the media on-screen to your television. And you can give your television a name while allowing guests to join the casting fun as well.

For only $35, it’s hard to go wrong. The Chromecast makes a great stocking stuffer for anyone looking to stream their favorite content to the big screen. Some of the supported apps include Hulu, Netflix, Pandora, ESPN, Spotify, YouTube, and HBO. Best of all, the list of partners is growing by the day. New to the Chromecast is the ability to cast your device’s screen in full and set up a slideshow of your favorite photo album. It’s quick, simple and enjoyable for the whole family. The dongle is available in stores today in black, lemonade and coral color options.

[Google Store] [Best Buy]

Chromecast Audio

Chromecast-Audio

If you’re looking for something slightly different, you may want to consider the Chromecast Audio. This device allows you to turn virtually any speakers into wireless ones. Simply connect the Chromecast Audio to your speakers via a 3.5mm headphone jack, optical or RCA connection, login to your WiFi network, and cast away. The audio will be transmitted through WiFi to the connected speakers. Friends and family can even join in on the experience on their own phones with no additional setup or pairing required. For only $35, playing music to your favorite speakers wirelessly is just a step away. It’s compatible on Android, iOS and select laptops.

[Google Store] [Best Buy]
[Best Buy – Bundle]

Nest Learning Thermostat

Nest_Thermostat_Heating_01_TA

The Nest Learning Thermostat is a great holiday gift for the home. Although the product isn’t brand new, it has improved greatly with recent software updates. The Nest Learning Thermostat is basically a remote thermostat for your home that has a few tricks up its sleeve. Nest requires a WiFi connection and a paired smartphone or tablet to work at its full ability.

The Nest Learning Thermostat can be controlled from just about anywhere using your smartphone, tablet or laptop. You can control the temperature in your house using the Nest application available on Android and iOS. Nest has the capability to learn what temperatures you like and what time of day you like them. For example, if it notices a repeated pattern, it will automatically make the adjustments for you. Nest can also turn off the air-conditioning or heat when you’re away at work or on vacation to save power. Additionally, when Nest knows you’re coming home, it’ll turn on automatically and have your house just how you like in time for your return.

One of the best capabilities of the Nest Learning Thermostat is the ability to check the amount of energy you’re using through the app. Nest provides 10-day history so that you can see exactly how much energy you’ve been using, which ultimately lets you save more bucks. With a bit of work, you can also use voice commands to adjust the temperature in your home with your smartphone, tablet or Amazon Echo.

The Nest Learning Thermostat works with 95% of low-voltage heating and cooling systems including gas, forced air, heat pump, solar, radiant, electric, oil, geothermal, and hot water. Nest makes the process easy to install, and if you’re still unsure, Nest makes it easy to hire an expert to do it for you. The Nest Learning Thermostat retails between $200-$250, but with the holiday season up ahead, you might just catch a deal.

[Nest] [Google Store] [Amazon] [Best Buy]

August Smart Lock

August_smart_lock_app_sensor_120515

The August Smart Lock is among the best in its category. This smart lock, unsurprisingly, is all about keeping your home as safe as possible. Depending on the source, the August Smart Lock can retail anywhere from $150-$250. It’s compatible with Android and iOS and comes in a variety of color options including silver, red, champagne and dark grey.

The August Smart Lock is a keyless way of entering your home. With the replacement of your door’s existing deadbolt, the August Smart Lock brings a whole new level of security to your home. Using a smartphone or tablet, you’re able to manage who has access to enter your home. Your phone acts as the key to the door and can be sent to friends and family via an invitation. Once the door recognizes your phone is near, it’ll unlock almost instantly. Most interestingly, you’ll be alerted when someone arrives or tries breaking into your house. You’ll also be notified when someone leaves your house. The sensor also has a built-in LED indicator which shows whether your door is locked or unlocked. You can do this using the app or by standard means from both the inside and outside of your home.

August will also send you a notification of when your battery is nearing the end of its life, which shouldn’t be very often. This device puts an end to carrying around keys, getting up to let someone inside and having to remember to lock the door all the time.

[August] [Amazon] [Best Buy]

Philips Hue

Philips_Hue_light_bulb_120515

Philips’ set of Hue lights have been around for some time, but have come a long way since they first launched.

Philips’ Hue lights work with Android and iOS devices. Although a bit pricey, they can make life a lot easier and have the power to last a long time without the need to be replaced. Philips offers a wide range of bulbs and light strips at its online store in a variety of different colors. Many in which support changing from color to color. Using the Hue application, users can connect their light system to their smartphone and/or tablet and have access to a multitude of controls. These include on/off switches, adjustments to sleeping patterns, color changes, brightness and a whole lot more. You can also have the lights alter to match the setting and/or time of day. These actions can be controlled via the app even when you’re miles away from your home.

If you’re interested in light automation, the Philips Hue lights are one of the best options available. For starters, you’ll need to purchase a starter kit. This will include everything you need to get started with setting up your lights along with three bulbs. You can find this at the company’s website, your local Best Buy or on Amazon. Pricing is a near $200 but can vary by source. Additional bulbs, light strips and portable lights are available at extra cost.

[Phillips] [Amazon] [Best Buy]

NVIDIA SHIELD

nvidia_shield_system_controller_remote

The NVIDIA SHIELD is a set-top box that holds the power of a gaming console and the library of a media player.

With the creation of the SHIELD, the company set out to create the best all-in-one console for TV’s. The set-top box offers an advanced gaming experience like no other with its beastly Tegra X1 processor and 256-core Maxwell GPU. It supports Dolby 7.1 and 5.1 surround sound and 4K video with 10-bit color and playback at 60fps.

Not only is the SHIELD a gaming console, it’s also a media player. The set-top box comes with Google’s Android TV platform built-in, giving users access to a plethora of popular apps and services like Netflix, Hulu, HBO and a lot more. You can also cast your favorite shows, movies and music directly from your smartphone or tablet with Google Cast support.

The SHIELD is the perfect companion for your home theater. It’ll quickly become the centerpiece for all the entertainment that goes on in your home. For the 16GB model, it’ll cost you around $200. If you need additional space, the 500GB model is available for approximately $100 more. The SHIELD is quite the value if you want to forgo investing in the ecosystems built by Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft with their gaming consoles.

[NVIDIA] [Google Store] [Amazon] [Best Buy]

Logitech Harmony

logitech-harmony-ultimate-110

Have you ever had trouble finding the right remote? We’ve all been there. That’s why Logitech’s collection of universal remotes take the last spot on our list for this list.

Logitech offers a whole series of Harmony remotes each with different functions and capabilities. However, the main purpose is generally the same: a universal remote simplifies your home theater experience by centralizing all your remotes into one. This means you’ll no longer need to switch between different remotes to control your gaming console, home theater gear, A/V equipment and television. The majority of Logitech’s Harmony remotes include vibration feedback, touch controls, volume, rewinding, fast-forwarding, and backlighting.

The Harmony series of remotes work with Android devices running version 4.2 or higher and Apple devices running iOS 8+ using the Harmony mobile app. In the app, you will have access to bonus features such as device groups, programmed activation, and multi-device one-touch activities.

Having one of Logitech’s universal remotes is essential to bringing the connected home together. Pricing varies on the model and can cost you anywhere from $49-$349.

[Logitech] [Best Buy]

Well there you have it! Our picks for the best gifts for your home. The connected home is becoming a major focus among manufacturers, and as we head into the new year, we can only expect more to jump on the trend. Looking ahead, we can’t wait to see what manufacturer’s put together in the years to come. Feel free to let us know what you’re asking for in the comments down below.

Come comment on this article: Holiday Buying Guide 2015: Gifts for the home

14
Dec

‘Fable Legends’ will launch after spring 2016


Fable LegendsLionhead’s free, multiplayer-focused fantasy romp for Xbox One and Windows 10 — is scheduled to launch after spring 2016. It was originally on tap to release this holiday season. The game’s open beta will go live in the spring, ostensibly with the full release close behind. For now, Fable Legends will remain in closed beta, with the studio inviting 100,000 additional players over the coming weeks (sign up for that here).

“To be honest with you, we rather underestimated just how big of a game Fable Legends is becoming,” Creative Director David Eckelberry says in a video posted today. “We’ve really created two games at once: We’ve got a multiplayer RPG on one side and a kind of RTS on the other. On top of that, we’ve built a new world and a whole new story to tell. This is the most ambitious game we’ve ever done at Lionhead and it’s taking more time than we thought.”

Microsoft and Lionhead announced Fable Legends in 2013 — and it’s a shift for the series. The Fable games traditionally include an in-depth single-player campaign, though this one sends players only on multiplayer or AI-assisted missions. As a free game, Legends features microtransactions, though Lionhead says players will be able to complete all quests and storylines without forking over any cash.

Source: Fable Legends

14
Dec

YouTube axes direct video uploads from webcams


If you’re one of the few recording to YouTube straight from your webcam, the video-hosting site will soon get rid of that feature. On January 16th, you’ll no longer be able to capture video straight from the camera connected to your computer and upload it to the web. Google says the feature is “rarely used” and runs on “tech” (read: Flash) that’s no longer supported.

The tool has been around for years, debuting the same year Mountain View nabbed YouTube. Despite the direct upload abilities, it seems the feature wasn’t very popular with folks posting videos on the site. When the time comes, users will need to first save footage on their computer or mobile device before uploading via the web or YouTube apps for Android and iOS.

[Image credit: LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images]

Via: The Next Web

Source: YouTube

14
Dec

Meet the firm designing futuristic UI for Iron Man and Samsung


Remember Tony Stark’s glass smartphone and transparent coffee table in the Iron Man movies? Or how about that gorgeous statue rendering of the Avengers in action at the end of Age of Ultron? You’ve got one company to thank for those sequences: Perception, a New York City-based visual design firm. It’s carved out a unique spot building forward-thinking design concepts for films and major tech companies, including the likes of Samsung, Microsoft and Ford. Perception’s work makes it clear we’ve moved on from the days when interface design was merely an afterthought for movies, and when few tech companies brought cinematic depth and emotion to their products. Now, there’s a sort of virtuous cycle of design, where movies lift from tech, and tech companies find inspiration in films.

Meet the Company Designing Futuristic UI for Samsung and Tony Stark

Perception started in 2001 as a high-end motion graphics firm founded by Danny Gonzalez and Jeremy Lasky. It initially served broadcast studios, ad firms and just about anyone looking for spiffy visual effects. “When you see holograms, or fantastical interfaces in blockbuster movies, we deliver our version of the future to those films,” said John LePore, Perception’s creative director. “And we spend the other half of the time creating concepts for next-generation technologies or particular user interfaces.”

After working with Marvel on a few of its direct-to-video animated films, the studio was brought in for its first major film project: Iron Man 2. At first, it was tasked with generating an interface for a massive screen at the Stark Expo early on in the movie. But as they were meeting with Marvel, they also heard some rumblings about a “glass phone” that Tony Stark would be carrying throughout the film.

Starting with that kernel of an idea, the Perception team mocked up their vision for a glass phone interface back at the office. As LePore tells us, they had a slab of glass cut out in the shape of a phone and used that to produce a demo video for Marvel. In the end, it was so well received that Perception wound up producing the interfaces for Stark’s bevy of gadgets, including his transparent coffee table and omnipresent household screens.

You’ll notice a common style throughout all of those interfaces: They’re dynamic and somewhat ostentatious, but at the same time they’re also surprisingly pragmatic. Basically, exactly what you’d expect from an egotistical playboy super genius who managed to build a suit of robot armor in a cave (with a box of scraps!). Perception isn’t only crafting pretty graphics; it’s also trying to give us some insight into the people who use those interfaces.

Iron Man 2 was an auspicious start for the company, as Marvel ended up tapping it for a variety of other projects. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Perception developed the windshield interface for Nick Fury’s car, as well as the montage sequence that (spoiler) revealed the depths of Hydra’s infiltration into world governments. It was also responsible for designing the elaborate supercomputer housing Arnim Zola’s personality, which was powered by old-school tape drives and displayed on green monitors.

“It’s almost like his soul was inside the machine,” LePore said. “To be able to do that in a way that was both low-fi, and make it feel he was taxing these systems as much as they could possibly handle. … It was a really interesting instance where we’re not just making UI that follows the personality traits of the person that’s using it, but the UI itself is the personality.”

Perception’s high-profile film work attracted a bevy of technology clients, most of which you’ve probably heard of. Samsung tapped it to work on some next-generation interface concepts, and the Korean company ended up using some of its ideas in its TouchWiz interface. They were even brought on to work on augmented reality concepts for HoloLens by Microsoft before Perception even knew what that product was. (Unfortunately, it can’t say what, exactly, it built for HoloLens.) And who can forget the Grid 10 tablet from Fusion Garage, whose only redeeming quality was an intriguing grid interface that Perception built from scratch?

The all-new Ford GT supercar sports a purposeful two-seat cockpit that provides state-of-the-art technology to ensure control, comfort and safety.

While much of the company’s tech contributions remain under wraps, Perception’s work has been featured in some recent high-profile announcements. Its dashboard interface sits at the heart of Ford’s 2017 GT supercar, as well as recent SpaceX streams. It’s also working with IBM, Intel, Mercedes-Benz and BMW, among others.

If you’ve ever heard anyone compare an interface to Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report, you’re probably well aware that there’s a pretty close relationship between techies and sci-fi films. LePore says that’s particularly true for the Perception crew. “There’s certainly a lot of people from the tech world who say, ‘I’d like to take what we saw in this film and make it a reality,’” he said. Similarly, Perception’s experience working with real-world tech helps to bring a dose of reality to films. Working with SpaceX, for example, comes in handy when designing aeronautical interfaces for movies.

It makes sense for movie studios to enlist extra design help, but it’s surprising that so many tech companies are doing the same. You can chalk that up to the rising emphasis on distinctive design. While Apple has always emphasized aesthetics, that hasn’t been a driving force for competitors like Microsoft and Samsung. So they look to companies like Perception for the equivalent of a creative booster shot. Just compare what Samsung’s TouchWiz UI looked like a few years ago to today, where it’s now influenced by Perception’s designs.

While there’s no shortage of motion graphics firms out there, for the most part they focus on film and television. Only a few dabble in technology projects. Perception’s ability to straddle those two worlds is a sign of our maturing design tastes. Most of us are carrying touchscreen computers in our pockets, and our mobile apps look years beyond the blocky desktop programs we used to rely on. Bad design simply can’t cut it anymore when we’re used to something better.

Check back soon for our in-depth story on how Perception designed the Avengers monument from Age of Ultron.

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