Taking a look at mobile computing, the fine line between phones and the tablets has become faint. Google has a full line-up of Nexus brand devices from a 10″ tablet to the new fourth generation Nexus phone, and we’ll compare them to their competitors. Then, we look at why the upcoming “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” is like no movie before.
Microsoft has offered Zune players and music services for a long time, but with the passing of the Zune player, the Zune pass is also being retired. Xbox Music launches for Xbox 360 October 16th as Microsoft’s answer to music streaming like Rdio or Spotify. Offering unlimited (DRM‘d) music downloads from the 18 million song database (for the US), the service is impressive. Down be confused, though. Xbox Music is both the streaming/download service and the store, which will be available on Windows 8 (being released on October 26th) and Windows Phone 8 devices.
The Xbox Music service provides a variety of features, but also has a downside. Actually – there’s two or three. First, the (US) price of the subscription is $9.99 a month, but you can alternatively choose to purchase a full year of service for $99.99. Second, you are required to have an Xbox Gold account, which is of course a separate, paid subscription. If you can bear to shovel the dough, the service is probably superior, offering intelligent “Smart DJ” channels based on your specifications, which will use both your current music, including your unlimited downloads, and your unlimited stream of music. ‘Unlimited’ is the key word, and that factor probably provides the best chance in helping Xbox Music become a real competitor for music. Read more.
Surprise! The majority share of Sprint Nextel was just bought at over $20 million. What does this mean for the future of the yellow carrier? For those of you, like myself, on the carrier which provides the only “truly unlimited data” network, this change in majority stock means that the Japanese company SoftBank has the biggest say – 70% – in the goings-on of the carrier, and more importantly, Sprint now has $8 million to blow on getting its name back. Whether this means better 4G LTE, more phones, or just better commercials, this investment can hardly be a bad thing for Sprint. Read more.
Neurologists from the Belgian National Research fund may have discovered a more definitive method of determining whether a patient is actively conscious. Many patients may be put into a state of minimal consciousness, called a vegetative state. Melanie Boly and her team presented a new method to measure the amount of consciousness that someone in a vegetative state may have; doctors may soon be able to measure just how actively someone is thinking while in a state resulting from something like brain trauma or cardiac arrest. At a point at which there is no option for resuscitation, families of patients may which to decide whether their family member should remain on life support, or be let off. This method involves emitting brief electromagnetic pulses through cranial electrodes and measuring the resultant brain activity. Doctors can then see into the minds of patients just a little, and can better inform the conscious of the unconscious mind. Read more.
We knew NASA has been going through some changes, allowing private companies like SpaceX to do the rocketry because of lack of funds, but it looks like NASA is shut out of the latest project. And don’t miss finding out just how toxic your phone is!
Facebook heeding privacy needs? With all the information Facebook has, as well as power over our social strata, people fearing Facebook’s wield of power may not be in error. We’ve seen Facebook take similar steps before, and now the social networking giant is removing the facial recognition we associate with tagging our friends in photos–at least in Europe. Privacy regulators in Ireland say that the feature isn’t coming back until they agree with Facebook on the “most appropriate means” of collecting user data. Facebook is deleting all data collected on European users which was used for the service. The question in many people’s minds may be: ‘Are worries about Facebook privacy protecting freedoms or removing features?’
This week has been full of more Apple headlines. This week alone, Apple has enticed lines of customers to stores everywhere, and this week has upgraded the software on their devices everywhere. Just this week, iOS 6 came to fourth-generation iPods, iPhone 4 and 4S, as well as third-generation iPad. The news OS brings with it better integration with Facebook and Twitter, as well as new apps like Passbook and the revamped Maps app, the second of which has caused much controversy. In short, Apple has brought great turn-by-turn directions to their built-in app, but the accuracy and usefulness of the landmarks and POIs are in question. For instance, can Apple really have made the mistake of putting the Golden Gate Bridge four miles from its true location? In fairness, this is one of few falters in the new iPhone’s design, and the device reviews have also come out this week, pointing to a fantastic consumer device and hardware, if not slightly too similar software. Controversy aside, Apple has had another great week for stocks and publicity. See iPhone 5 review, iOS 6 review, new Maps app.
HTC is shifting design and strategy. With the announcement of two new Windows Phones, HTC has also declared their confidence in their new devices. Despite many similar devices in the past, HTC has proven their ability to step out of the box with design with their new higher-end 8X and mid-range 8S. The devices feature curved glass, simplistic design, and a broad variety of colors. Along with refreshed design, CEO Peter Chou personally declared in an interview that while continuing to support Android, he is “super confident” in the new devices, as well as declaring that we can expect to see Microsoft and HTC put a new marketing focus on this design. See more of the phones.
All the greatest things in the world of technology for Thursday, September 13th.
The moment we all we all wondered, watched, and waited for: Apple’s iPhone 5 event. Only yesterday, Apple showed the world its sixth generation iPhone. This new iPhone catches up on some hardware specifications, but brings in a new design which is certainly fresh. While announcing the iPhone 5, Apple also unveiled a new line of iPod Touch and iPod Nano devices. The iPod Touch has a better camera, and not comes with Siri as well. The iPod Nano has a larger, touch-enabled screen. But now to the iPhone. The new 4″ screen has the width of a widescreen TV, and has an improved 720p Retina Display screen. The device is also lighter, despite its new dimensions. While it currently runs iOS 5, the iPhone 5 is formidable, given improved battery life (8 hours talk time on 3G) and the faster A6 processor. The device is expected to get iOS 6 very soon. Lastly, the new Apple devices will feature a new “Lightning” docking port which is slimmer and faster. Overall, the device is a certain step up from the iPhone 4S, but in my opinion is most improved in design. Original design has seemed scarce in the mobile world, and Apple has always been able to break that trend. Recently though, new devices like the Lumia 920 or Galaxy S III have challenged Apple’s title for originality. For $199 on contract, you will be able to pick up an 16 GB model on September 21st, for $299 a 32 GB and for $399 a 64 GB. Read and see more.
After all the wait, we finally get a date and price on the Wii U. It seems to have been a long time coming, but Nintendo has recently announced that their new console would be released on November 18th (November 30th in Europe), just in time for the holiday season. Each console will come with the Wii GamePad, a tablet controller which gives players even more ways to interact with a video game, including touch, voice, and a second screen for inventory, power-ups, or other game-enhancers. The GamePad can even play some games while the TV is in use. The 8 GB model will run you $299, while the 32 GB model is $349, including a charger, a stand, and a copy of one of the launch titles, Nintendo Land. The Wii U will bring with it a variety of other games including New Super Mario Brother Wii 2, the sequel to a previous multiplayer Mario game on the Wii. The console is most importantly now supporting HD resolution gaming, so you can now enjoy all of your favorite Nintendo characters in high-definition. In the U.S. and Canada, all major cable and TV providers are said to support the Wii U’s TVii software on the GamePad, giving consumers access to DVR and TiVO options for your television. Read more.
It’s been a huge week for technology already, and enough headlines that it’s hard keeping up. Thankfully, you don’t have to.
We’ll start today with Amazon’s announcements on the Kindle Fire HD tablets. Amazon has been leading the pack of Android tablet vendors with its first generation of Kindle Fire tablets, and now they’re looking to make that gap even wider. The two new tablets are 7.0 and 8.9-inch tablets, both with an impressive 1920 x 1200 resolution display. These displays are high quality screens, beating out most of competing tablets though not quite rivaling the new iPad. Starting at $199 for the 7-inch and $299 for the 8.9-inch, Amazon is offering quite a deal. Also announced was a slightly updated version of the original Kindle, selling soon for only $159. All of these tablets will see the benefits of some of Amazon’s newest software offerings, such as the new Kindle Serials, a way for consumers to subscribe to a text and get all future issues. Aside from those three devices, Amazon announced its next e-reader, the Paperwhite, with a superior screen with sharper-than-ever-text. With all of the above and more, Amazon is offering more than just another reader or tablet. Read more.
The next big story is really two: Nokia. Just having unveiled two new devices with surprising new technology, the world was shocked to find Nokia’s stocks drop once again. The company’s stock prices have steadily been spiraling downward, and Wednesday’s new 16% dip in stock value doesn’t look good. Stormy company forecasts aside, one would never expect a company as low as Nokia financially to unveil the kind of devices shown only Wednesday. The Lumias 920 and 820 aspire to be the best camera phones in history, and may very well be. the Lumia 920 features PureView camera technologies previously well-proven by Nokia and many camera specs which beat any other smartphone out there, such as the F/2.0 aperture and large sensor. Finishing off is the “floating lens” technology, acting as mechanical frame stabilization in real-time. While the camera is only 8.7 MP, the BSI sensor allows for high-density oversampling of pixels, which means pictures will be very sharp. The 820 may lack PureView technology, but still has an impressive camera with many improvements. To top it off, both phones feature a new screen technology, more sensitive than conventional capacitive touch screens. Read more.
Tune in next week for more weekly news!
The date is out that the iPhone 5 will be announced on September 12th. We’re looking at an entirely new phone this time, as we move away from the 4S, we are secretly relieved to not realize the horror of something along the lines of an iPhone 4SX. As usual, Apple isn’t set to disappoint. Surprisingly, it appears as if some reliable leaks have come out showing that the new iPhone (don’t worry, as far as we know, it’s not called that) will have some unforeseen and compelling new features.
This is the reader-friendly version of what we allegedly know about Apple’s next-gen phone:
- taller, thinner, crisper screen even more gorgeous than Retina Display
- new screen will be more efficient to improve battery life
- new screen is as wide as the 4S screen, but taller so that movies and media can be viewed without black bars
- front facing camera is now oddly centered
- less black/white space for the button and camera areas on the front because of the long screen
- No built-in YouTube app
We also expect to see various hardware improvements, as well as LTE, but that’s currently not backed up by any strict evidence.
I’m not one for rumors, but I’ll give you the quick-take. It appears as if the parts supplier ETradeSupply has leaked photos, and a video, of a portion of the iPhone 5’s body, as well as the front glass panel. Japanese Mac website Macotakara has released detailed videos as well. While it’s not the whole phone, the details seem fully plausible. What we can gather is that the screen will move from the 4S’s 3:2 aspect ratio to a 16:9 ratio, the standard for widescreen movies, televisions, and more. This makes viewing any media in HD easier, especially when the screen’s pixel density is supposed to be far more impressive, as well.
The iPhone 4S has a retina display pixel density of 960 x 640, while the new iPhone will likely have a pixel density of WXGA 1280 x 720. I would be shocked to see it, but it is possible Apple will blow us all away and show us a 1600 x 900 resolution phone . Forbes writer Susan Kalla noted ETrade Supply’s claim that the new screen will allegedly use new LCD technology which allows for better battery life and, of course, a better screen. Anyway, it’s not set in stone yet, but of all the rumors so far, these appear the most believable.
While it’s not backed up by evidence, let alone being confirmed, it’s only logical for Apple’s iPhone 5 to include LTE functionality as well as 1 GB of RAM. Various other hardware improvements are plausible, but these two seem like logical steps for the iDevice to keep up with the pack.
While the some of the above details may be uncertain (as Apple likes it), we are nearly certain that Apple’s iPhone 5 event will be on September 12th, and will most likely be for sale on September 21st.