Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Samsung camera sensor captures image and depth information with a single piece of silicon

3d scanners in phones soon. You should also be able to capture body motion and gestures... Shh now, little phone. 

The Verge - All Posts
Samsung CMOS RGB and Range Camera Sensor

By using an RGB camera in tandem with a depth sensor, Microsoft's Kinect has opened up a world of interactive possibilities, and now Samsung has announced a new camera sensor that melds the two elements into one. The CMOS sensor utilizes rows of depth-sensing z-pixels alternating with a traditional RGB array, allowing the sensor to capture both sets of information simultaneously. The sensor outputs a resolution of 1,920 x 720 on the image side — 1.38-megapixels — while the z-pixels are four times the size of their image-sensing counterparts, providing a depth image with a resolution of 480 x 360. Given that the z-pixels take up physical space on the sensor itself, image-processing software interpolates the values for the missing values. 

Find: Microsoft Windows 8 Consumer Preview event videos now available online

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Windows 8 Consumer Preview Event Steven Sinofsky

Microsoft covered a lot of ground this morning, giving us a look at the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, the new OS running on ARM tablets, and the Windows Store. If you've read our live coverage and hands-on articles and still want more, you're in luck: Redmond has posted videos of the event on its website for streaming or download. Head on over here to see it all for yourself.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Find: The Verge Interview: Stephen Elop 'more confident than ever' about Windows Phone

I also think things are still looking promising for wp7. 

The Verge - All Posts
verge interview stephen elop_640

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop is on hand at MWC this week to help spread the company's message to business partners, carriers, and the press. Ever gregarious and approachable, Elop gave us a few minutes of his time today to discuss the first year of Nokia's transition, which got started with the announcement of a strategic alliance with Microsoft in February 2011. He was candid about the downsides of this fundamental change in strategy, noting the number of jobs Nokia has had to cut in an effort to streamline operations.

Today, Nokia remains very much in the middle of its transition, says Elop, but a lot has been accomplished in those short twelve months. His present assessment of the decision to move to Windows Phone is no less sanguine than...

Find: Official: Apple iPad 3 event slated for March 7th in San Francisco

Here it comes. This is a furious pace. 


The Verge - All Posts
ipad 3 crop

Yes, it's finally, really happened. We just received our invite for Apple's next big event — almost certainly where the announcement of the iPad 3 (or iPad HD, or some other name no one has guessed yet) will take place. The event is being held at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco at 10AM PST, on Wednesday, March 7th, and the Verge team will be there covering the news live as it happens. Until then, let your imagination run wild about the next iteration of the world's most popular tablet!

As you can see in the image above, that's no regular iPad display. It appears to be a higher resolution than the iPad or iPad 2. Also, the casing of the product pictured looks darker than current iPad models. It's hard to say if...

Find: Samsung Galaxy Beam hands-on

Projector in a phone, 15 lumens. A dim projector is around 1000 lumens....

The Verge - All Posts
Gallery Photo: Samsung Galaxy Beam closer hands-on

We've just had a chance to check out Samsung's Galaxy Beam here in Barcelona, a phone that's not very interesting at first blush — Android 2.3, 4-inch WVGA display, and a 1GHz dual-core processor — but the hook here is the presence of a built-in TI DLP nHD (640 x 360) projector at 15 lumens of brightness. Samsung says that at 12.5mm, the Beam "isn't any thicker than any other phone in the world" — clearly that's not true, thanks in no small part to Samsung's own devices like the Galaxy S II, but this is easily the thinnest retail-ready projector phone we've played with. That thickness also permits a 2,000mAh battery, which is big for an ordinary 4-inch device without LTE support... but add in a projector, and it's another story....

Monday, February 27, 2012

Find: Nokia launches 808 PureView with 41MP camera

New top of line cam supersamples for great quality from 41 to 5 megapixels. But Symbian? 

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Gallery Photo:

It's rare that we have to put news about a smartphone in our photography hub, but that's just what Nokia has merited today with the introduction of the PureView 808. The headline spec is that the brand new camera sensor inside it is composed of 41 million pixels, however as you might have surmised, this handset doesn't take full 41-megapixel stills. Instead, it oversamples — taking the image data from seven neighboring pixels and consolidating it into one pixel's worth — and generates pictures roughly 5 megapixels in size. That's still plenty of dots for most uses, and the image quality you can obtain from such a system is frankly ridiculous. Nokia showed me poster-sized samples captured with the 808 PureView (printed entirely...

Find: Asus Transformer Pad Infinity 700 series and Transformer Pad 300 series announced

Mobile world congress flood begins: new top of line tab with hd res and cortex a15  chip. 

The Verge - All Posts

In addition to renaming their Transformer lineup — it's "Transformer Pad" now, not "eee Pad Transformer" — Asus has announced the new Transformer Pad Infinity 700 series. It's claiming to be the first full HD LTE tablet, and is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon S4 SoC, its first ARM Cortex A15 class CPU. The device retains the tablet/keyboard combo of previous generations, but has upped the display to an impressive 1920 x 1200 Super IPS panel. Alongside this, the Infinity 700 series pairs an 8-megapixel rear camera that can shoot at up to f/2.2 with a 2-megapixel webcam on the face of the device, packing all of this hardware into a case just 8.5mm thick.

Additionally, Asus has also announced the Asus Transformer Pad 300 series....

Find: Andy Rubin: 850k Android activations a day, 300m total devices, 12m tablets

The Verge - All Posts

Google is now activating 850 thousand Android devices a day, bringing the platform to some 300 million total devices — including 12 million tablets. That's according to Andy Rubin, who clarified the numbers in a meeting with reporters earlier today: he said that Google only counts activations once per device ID and doesn't "chop things up" when users reset or sell their phones. Devices like the Kindle Fire that don't include Google services aren't included in the numbers — Rubin said that Samsung's larger Galaxy Tabs are the most popular tablets counted. As far as apps, Rubin noted that there are now some 450 thousand apps in Android Market, up from 160 thousand a year ago.

Rubin also said that Nexus devices aren't huge sellers, but...

Find: Google to 'double down' on Android tablets in 2012, says Andy Rubin

Andy rubin: android tabs will get there. But doesn't plan on anything special. Last year android tabs about 20% of total market. 

The Verge - All Posts
Gallery Photo: Eee Pad Transformer Prime ICS update photos

It's no secret that Android tablet sales have lagged far behind Apple's iPad, and Google's planning to do something about it. In a meeting with reporters today at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Android chief Andy Rubin called the 12 million Android tablets sold thus far "not insignificant, but less than I'd expect it to be if you really want to win," and said that "2012 is going to be the year that we double down and make sure we're winning in that space."

Rubin said that the biggest problem for Android on tablets is "there's no organized way for consumers to recognize it as a viable platform," and that Google wants consumers to see its tablets as part of the broader Android ecosystem. "The educated consumer realizes it now that..

Find: Nokia's Stefan Pannenbecker on design: 'thinness isn't everything'

Industrial design head at Nokia. 

The Verge - All Posts
Stefan Pannenbecker, Nokia_1020

Stefan Pannenbecker is the Vice President for Industrial Design at Nokia, where his job consists mostly of trying out a variety of crazy new ideas in search of the one or two that would help Nokia maintain its edge in design. The company's fiercely loyal fanbase has grown at least in part due to some iconic designs (remember the 8110?) and a consistently excellent build quality in its phones. Those are the hardware design department's chief competencies and the things Pannenbecker has been entrusted to maintain. Keep reading for our full interview below, including a guest visit from Kevin Shields, who just wanted to tell us that everything at Nokia is presently, has always been, and will forever continue to be awesome.

Fnd: Windows Phone Tango: improved MMS, voice notes, app restrictions

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Gallery Photo: Windows Phone Tango hands-on pictures

Microsoft announced today that it will bring a Windows Phone 7.5 update to existing handsets in April. Codenamed Tango, the update lowers Microsoft's minimum specification for Windows Phone and introduces some new features to existing devices. We got an early hands-on look at several builds of Windows Phone today, all of which include new MMS features and several restrictions for devices with 256MB of RAM.

Microsoft is removing background agents with Windows Phone Tango if a device has 256MB of RAM, meaning certain background tasks will not work. Microsoft believes around 95 percent of existing applications will work fine on 256MB of RAM, but the company is encouraging developers to test their applications and is undergoing a testing...

Find: AT&T making plans to let mobile app developers pay users' data fees

You can make data with your app free. 

The Verge - All Posts
Gallery Photo: Samsung Galaxy Note for AT&T hands-on photos

AT&T is apparently planning a new system that would shift the charges for data use from subscribers to app developers. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, AT&T network and technology head John Donovan said that the company is looking to create a form of "toll-free calling" for mobile apps in which companies would pay for users' data charges on a specific application.

"A feature that we're hoping to have out sometime next year is the equivalent of 800 numbers that would say, if you take this app, this app will come without any network usage," said Donovan, suggesting that companies would want to pay for usage in order to entice users to make in-app media purchases without worrying about the mobile equivalent of shipping fees....

Find: ASUS Reveals Padfone Specifications

Phone docks to tab docks to keyboard. 


ASUS has been talking about its Padfone product for quite a while now but we're finally getting some more detailed specs on it. As a recap, Padfone is a smartphone that can dock into a tablet, which can then dock onto a keyboard to build a ultraportable netbook/notebook.

The Padfone itself is based on Qualcomm's Snapdragon S4, although it's not clear what S4 model number is being used. The MSM8960 would obviously make sense, but since ASUS isn't listing LTE connectivity as a feature it could easily be the MSM8260A. The 4.3-inch display features a qHD resolution, although when docked into the Padfone station you get a 10.1-inch 1280 x 800 IPS panel driven by the phone.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Find: Adobe lays out the future for Flash: a platform for the next 5-10 years

No flash on mobiles. On desktops, just games and copyrighted movies. Games on desktops are stagnant, that leaves only movies, and alternatives are coming for those. Flash's future looks grim. 

Ars Technica

Adobe has published its roadmap for its Flash browser plugin and its AIR desktop application counterpart. More releases, more features, and more performance, are all planned, but on fewer platforms: Adobe is giving up entirely on supporting smartphone browsers, sticking to the core desktop platforms for its plugin—and with a big question mark when it comes to Windows 8.

The company sees Flash as having two main markets that will resist the onslaught of HTML5: game development, and premium (read: encrypted) video. To that end, the features it has planned for future updates focus on making Flash faster, with greater hardware acceleration and improved script performance, and more application-like, with keyboard input in full-screen applications, and support for middle- and right-mouse buttons.

Find: T-Mobile takes $3 billion AT&T breakup fee, builds 4G-LTE network

Beginning to look like the us government was right to block the AT&T/tmobile merger. Certainly lte is a minimum for tmobile survival, now they can afford it. 

Ars Technica

When AT&T finally admitted defeat in its bid to purchase T-Mobile USA, the company said the failure of the acquisition would harm customers and stifle "needed investment."

But things haven't quite worked out that way. While AT&T panned T-Mobile's prospects as an independent carrier in a world moving from 3G to 4G speeds, T-Mobile is now using the breakup fee it received from AT&T to build a new LTE network. T-Mobile announced on Thursday a "$4 billion network modernization and 4G evolution effort, which will improve existing voice and data coverage and pave the way for long term evolution (LTE) service in 2013." T-Mobile expects to cover "the vast majority of the top 50 markets."

When the T-Mobile/AT&T merger fell through as a result of opposition from the Justice Department and Federal Communications Commission, it was announced that T-Mobile would receive a $3 billion breakup fee from AT&T, which is surely helping to fuel the company's network modernization effort. The $4 billion investment figure touted by T-Mobile includes $1.4 billion in "incremental network investment" over the next two years. While it seems AT&T's prediction about stifling of needed investments hasn't come to pass, T-Mobile still faces a difficult road.

T-Mobile (which is also trying to block Verizon Wireless's planned purchase of additional spectrum) lost 800,000 customers in the most recent quarter, and is "the last of the four major US operators" to hop on the LTE bandwagon, Ovum Chief Telecom Analyst Jan Dawson said in a statement. "T-Mobile will be late to the LTE party, and its coverage will lag its major competitors for some time. Marketing the service will be tough when it has spent the last several years convincing its customers it is already offering 4G."

Find: If Android is a "stolen product," then so was the iPhone

Great history of touch technologies: as usual, it shows apple isn't the great innovator so much as the great synthesizer. And you know what? That's still pretty great. 

Ars Technica

According to his official biographer, Steve Jobs went ballistic in January 2010 when he saw HTC's newest Android phones. "I want you to stop using our ideas in Android," Jobs reportedly told Eric Schmidt, then Google's CEO. Schmidt had already been forced to resign from Apple's board, partly due to increased smartphone competition between the two companies. Jobs then vowed to "spend every penny of Apple's $40 billion in the bank to right this wrong."

Jobs called Android a "stolen product," but theft can be a tricky concept when talking about innovation. The iPhone didn't emerge fully formed from Jobs's head. Rather, it represented the culmination of incremental innovation over decades—much of which occurred outside of Cupertino.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Find: Nokia becomes the biggest Windows Phone manufacturer in just one quarter

Wp7 is growing, but probably not as fast as android or iOS. 

Ars Technica

Nokia has surpassed HTC and Samsung to become the largest single manufacturer of Windows Phone handsets, according to market research firm Strategy Analytics. In spite of the fact that Nokia's Lumia lineup was not available throughout the fourth quarter, Strategy Analytics claims that it has taken 33 percent of all Windows Phone sales.

The company also claims that the Windows Phone OS grew by 36 percent over its third quarter performance, with total sales of 2.7 million handsets.

If these numbers are accurate—official figures from Microsoft and Nokia are still lacking—they should be modestly encouraging for the Finnish firm: the Windows Phone market is growing, and Nokia's handsets seem to be desirable.

With new models and new markets likely to be announced at next weeks's Mobile World Congress, Nokia looks well-placed to both expand its slice of the Windows Phone pie, and make the pie itself bigger.

Find: LG reportedly building first Boot2Gecko phone as Mozilla preps app store

A new entry into the mobile os sweepstakes sounds a lot like chrome os. Makes me think the reported convergence of chrome os and android may be real. 

Ars Technica

Mozilla's Web-centric Boot2Gecko (B2G) mobile platform is maturing at a rapid pace. As we reported earlier this month, the operating system has already attracted hardware partners and will be demoed at the upcoming Mobile World Congress event. Mozilla is also planning to unveil its new application storefront, called the Mozilla Marketplace, which will allow third-party developers to sell applications that are built with standards-based Web technologies.

A new report from ExtremeTech cites anonymous sources who say that LG is one of Mozilla's hardware partners. The company is said to be working towards the launch of a developer-focused smartphone that will ship with an early version of the B2G operating system.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Find: To Do: Check Out Clear

Nyt likes it. But it does what it does, and no more. How could we make it do more? 

NYT > Personal Tech
A new to-do list app, Clear, does away with traditional interface features to create something both new and compelling. Is it the solution to your organization woes? Probably not.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Find: Orange launches Facebook for all phones in Africa

A glimpse into how apps are done in Africa. 

The Verge - All Posts
Facebook Windows Phone

Facebook has 40 million African users, but only a fraction of them are able to connect to the social network on their mobile phones, either because the phones don't support mobile internet or because the service is too expensive. Customers on mobile carrier Orange, however, will soon be able to purchase access to a simplified version of Facebook through a partnership between Orange and Myriad. The service works by using Unstructured Supplementary Service Data, or USSD, a technology that's similar to SMS but uses a continued connection rather than discrete messages. USSD is already used for social networking or mobile email in places like India, but Orange says it will be the first carrier to launch USSD Facebook in Africa.

Find: Voluntary TV spectrum auction on tap with approval locked in Congress

Yay! Faster wireless for everyone. 

The Verge - All Posts

The House passed an extension of the payroll tax cut this morning after representatives from both sides of the chamber hammered out a deal earlier this week; a Senate vote is planned for this afternoon, and early indications are that it'll pass. That may not seem like an interesting development for members of the wireless community, but approval of the voluntary auction of spectrum currently reserved for television broadcasts — a contentious issue over the past couple years — is attached to the bill, and virtually every stakeholder in the wireless community (including the FCC) is in favor of the auction. The National Association of Broadcasters, which represents television stations that currently own the licenses, had been a key...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Find: Japanese increasingly opt for foreign phones, reports Nikkei

While Japanese market grows overall, share owned by domestic device makers shrinks to 40%. Perhaps this will convince them to sell outside of Japan. 

The Verge - All Posts
japan 1020

Japanese cellphone makers can’t catch a break – they’ve been focusing on the domestic market with functions like water resistance and digital wallets, but despite their best efforts they're actually losing domestic market share, reports Nikkei. According to data released Tuesday, mobile phones and PHS handsets (an Asian standard operating in the 1880-1930MHz frequency band) from Japanese manufacturers fell 11.1 percent year-over-year, sinking to 29.58 million units, while the entire market — including handsets from foreign makers — actually grew four percent. Offerings from companies like Apple, Samsung, and LG are hot sellers in Japan, and foreign makers are estimated to have nearly 60 percent of the handset market there.

Find: Some iOS developers used 'well-known' download bots to manipulate App Store top 25

Cheating bots in app stores. 

The Verge - All Posts
Mac App Store Icon

Download bots were a "well-known secret" of the iOS ecosystem that developers used to fake their way into the top 25 list of Apple's App Store. That's the claim by Inside Mobile Apps, which says automated programs and bots have been used for over a year to download apps and fraudulently promote some iOS applications. The process is organized by marketing firms and can cost a developer up to $15,000 for a top 25 slot in the US App Store within two days.

Apple is cracking down on chart ranking manipulation though. The company sent a letter to developers earlier this month, warning that using fake App Store chart services could lead to the loss of an Apple Developer Program membership. There will always be a market for such services despite...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Find: BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 'likely' to launch during MWC

Mobile world congress (mwc) is coming, so news will be thick. 

Rim is announcing bbos 2, which will finally have native email. 

The Verge - All Posts
Gallery Photo: BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 pictures

Initially announced at CES, version 2.0 of the BlackBerry PlayBook OS is finally set to launch during Mobile World Congress at the end of this month. According to Senior Brand Manager Jeff Gadway in an interview with PC Magazine, the update will be available "very soon" and is likely to go live during MWC, which kicks off on February 27 and will have a fairly large RIM presence. RIM had initially planned ro release the update in February so a launch during MWC would be cutting it pretty close. The 400MB update, which will be pushed automatically to all PlayBooks once live, will introduce a number of new features to the OS, including several glaring omissions from the initial release. Most notably there's finally a native email client...

Find: Nvidia: Tegra 3 smartphones will ship this quarter, integrated LTE chipset this year

Lte integrated into the SoC: longer battery life. 

The Verge - All Posts
Tegra 3 chip

Nvidia announced its yearly earnings today, and while $4 billion of sales and $581 million in profit might sound like a bit of a snooze, CEO Jen-Hsun Huang spiced things up by telling investors that quad-core Tegra 3 smartphones are right around the corner.

This quarter we are expecting to ship Tegra 3 based superphones. At Mobile World Congress is when we expect to announce these devices, and we expect to announce and ship them this quarter.

Nvidia previously told us we could expect to see Tegra 3 phones at MWC, but it looks like you won't have long to wait to experience the fruits of the company's labor for yourself. Will those shipping products include the HTC Endeavor, the LG X3 and Fujitsu's new phone? We'll find out later this...

Find: iOS apps and the address book: who has your data, and how they're getting it

Although it is against app store policy, any ios app can upload your contact data to its servers without asking you. 

The Verge - All Posts
iOS contacts mitm 1024

Over the course of the past week, a firestorm has erupted in the world of iOS apps, thanks to the discovery that Path was uploading data from your iPhone's address book without asking for explicit permission. Upon opening the app and registering, Path automatically uploaded your contact data in order to "find friends" that you might want to connect to. Path has since apologized and updated its app, but the problem exposed by the episode remains.

Stated simply: any iOS app has complete access to a large amount of data stored on your iPhone, including your address book and calendar. Any iOS app can, without asking for your permission, upload all of the information stored in your address book to its servers. From there, the app developer...

Find: HTML5 bullets: Sencha issues developer scorecard for Chrome on Android

Chrome is a big leap forward for android and html5 webapps. 

Ars Technica

Google issued a beta release of Chrome for Android last week. The port, which brings Chrome's feature set and excellent support for Web standards to Android, is a major improvement over the mobile platform's current default browser.

As we reported in our coverage of the beta, Android's default browser has historically had difficulty handling sophisticated application-like Web experiences. The new port of Chrome has the potential to remedy that weakness and bring highly competitive HTML5 support to Android.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Find: A new standard in design: in-depth with the PlayStation Vita

They like it. Nice tour through the new ui. Not much on gameplay here. 

Ars Technica

It's a confusing time in the world of mobile and portable gaming. Consumers seem to be moving away from the idea that they need an entirely separate device to play games on the go, settling for cheap, generally simple touchscreen games on their cell phones and tablets. Nintendo, following up the insanely successful DS system that rested on a seemingly gimmicky double screen design, added a newer glasses-free 3D gimmick to its Nintendo 3DS—only to see extremely slow sales force it into a premature price drop. Sony's PlayStation Portable, meanwhile, has carved out a niche for itself as a serious gamer's system, especially in Japan, but is beginning to show its age as a system designed in the pre-smartphone era.

For the new PlayStation Vita, Sony responded to this confusion by throwing everything and the kitchen sink into the system. For hardcore gamers, there are two analog sticks—a first for a portable system—and a gigantic screen loaded with pixels. For casual players, there's the now-ubiquitous touchscreen as well as a unique rear touch panel to enable new tactile, touchy-feely gameplay. The Vita has two cameras, a GPS receiver, and a 3G data option. There's music and video players, a Web browser, Google Maps, and even a proximity-based social network. Oh, and it also plays games, I guess (more on those in a separate post).

Find: Mobile Internet devices will outnumber humans this year, Cisco predicts

Ars Technica

Cisco came up with an interesting prediction in its latest forecast of global mobile data traffic: by the end of this year, there will be more Internet-connected mobile devices than people on Earth.

"By the end of 2012, the number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the number of people on Earth, and by 2016 there will be 1.4 mobile devices per capita," Cisco said in its Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update released today. "There will be over 10 billion mobile-connected devices in 2016... exceeding the world's population at that time (7.3 billion)."

The numbers include not just phones but tablets, laptops, handheld gaming consoles, e-readers, in-car entertainment systems, digital photo frames, cameras, and "machine-to-machine modules." That latter category includes applications such as using wireless networks to update digital billboards.

Global mobile data traffic doubled for the fourth year in a row in 2011, and will grow 18-fold by 2016, hitting 130 exabytes a year (the equivalent of 33 billion DVDs, 4.3 quadrillion MP3 files, or 813 quadrillion text messages), Cisco said. Not surprisingly, streaming content, video in particular, is expected to play a huge role in increasing data traffic. Good news for users: mobile network speeds will increase nine-fold by 2016. Bad news: the days of unlimited data plans seem to be expiring quickly, with few exceptions.

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Find: Super Bowl 2012: Nothing Curbs App Usage Except Madonna


The Super Bowl is an American phenomenon, now largely considered a de facto American holiday.  As the premier media event, it regularly attracts record-breaking audiences.  This year, Super Bowl XLVI, played on February 5, 2012 between the New York Giants and New England Patriots, became the most watched television program in history, drawing an audience of 111 million viewers according to The Nielsen Company.  Prior to this, the record was held by last year’s Super Bowl, which itself had overtaken the number one spot held for twenty-eight years by the final episode of M*A*S*H.

The Second Screen

Also breaking new ground this year was the concept of the "second screen," which illustrates that while watching TV (the first screen), people often interact with second screens such as smartphones and tablets.  To avoid losing attention paid to the first screen, marketers increasingly are exploring ways to complement the first screen experience with the addition of hash tags, QR codes, voting and more.  Among the most ambitious was Shazam, a music and media discovery service, which worked with ad partners such as Toyota, Best Buy, Pepsi, Bud Light and Fed Ex to drive additional second screen interactions related to advertising via the Shazam mobile app.  During the halftime show, for example, viewers could get the setlist, buy music and download mobile apps from the artists.  Shazam reported millions of audio tags as a result.

Aside from a handful of innovators like Shazam, Flurry believes that the second screen is still largely more disruptive than complementary.  If a consumer is not paying attention to the television program in front of her, she is likely using an application to post social updates or play games.  For example, if a Super Bowl ad isn’t holding a viewer’s interest, playing another round of Words with Friends is a likely activity.  Monitoring app usage provides Flurry the ability to understand this tightly-coupled, inverse relationship between the first and second screen.

Massive Second Screen App Audience

For this report, Flurry tracked U.S. app usage, per second, over the course of Super Bowl XLVI, mapping application session starts to each television spot aired, game time segment, the halftime show, and more.  We further studied behavior differences between males versus females.  With Flurry Analytics in over 160,000 applications, the company detects app usage on more than 90% of all iOS and Android devices per day.  Let’s start by comparing the size of the U.S. application using audience to Nielsen’s report of the number of people who watched the Super Bowl last Sunday.

Flurry SuperBowl App vs TV AudienceSize resized 600

The left-hand column shows the number of users Flurry estimates launched applications in the United States between the hours of 3:15 PM PST to 7:15 PM PST on Sunday, February 5.  During this four-hour window, in which the Super Bowl was played, Flurry estimates that nearly one-third of the U.S. population used an application.  Compared to Nielsen’s estimate that 111 million people watched the Super Bowl this year, the two audiences are similar in size.

Flurry SuperBowl AppStarts perSecond V4 resized 600 

Find: Halliburton Drops BlackBerry for iPhone

Uh oh. If rim is losing companies like this, who will they keep?  

In more troubling news for Research In Motion, Halliburton, the energy services company, has announced plans to ditch corporate support for the BlackBerry in favor of Apple's iPhone. It's yet another example of how the iPhone is eating the BlackBerry's lunch in the area it once dominated: business customers.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Find: More smartphones than computers shipped in 2011, says study

Another milestone passed. 

The Verge - All Posts
Gallery Photo: Kyocera prototype Speaker-less Smartphone

For the first time, smartphones have become more popular than traditional computers. Research group Canalys estimates that 487.7 million smartphones were shipped in 2011, an increase of over 60 percent from 2010. Computer shipments grew too, but more slowly — around 15 percent more shipped last year. Even counting tablets as personal computers, that's only 414.6 million units. The report's data corroborates much of what we've been hearing from other places, namely that while smartphones aren't replacing computers, they are quickly overtaking feature phones as the mobile device of choice.

Canalys, however, doesn't necessarily expect the increase in smartphones to continue as rapidly next year. It suggests that manufacturers will...

Find: Nokia's ClearBlack Display technology explained

It reduces reflection of ambient light, improving contrast. 

The Verge - All Posts
Nokia ClearBlack diagram

Nokia announced ClearBlack Display a couple of years ago and the technology has been a headline feature of its recent Lumia models. The manufacturer says ClearBlack gives deeper blacks and better viewing angles, and recently published a graphic detailing how it works.

The technology involves a pair of filters which help to reduce the amount of ambient light that the screen reflects. The filters polarize the light, changing its direction before it reflects off the screen behind. When the light travels back it is unable to pass through the filter and is blocked. We noted in our Lumia 800 review that "you'll struggle to distinguish where the display panel ends" and it's by preventing the ambient light from escaping the screen that Nokia...

Find: Waze uses the iPhone proximity sensor to launch hands-free traffic reporting for iOS

Clever use of proximity sensor. I can think of others....

The Verge - All Posts
Waze iOS

Silicon Valley start-up Waze is launching a new addition to its iOS application today. The free GPS and turn-by-turn navigation app is designed to crowd source information on traffic jams thanks to reports from fellow drivers. Users can report traffic jams, speed traps, accidents, and even update existing information. The company is now introducing a hands-free way to activate and file reports with the iOS version of the software.

Waze, impatiently waiting for Apple to open up its Siri APIs to developers, has taken the unusual approach of using the iPhone's proximity sensor to activate a voice-controlled interface in its application. A simple wave of the hand will initiate voice-control, allowing drivers to quickly navigate, report...

Windows 8 on ARM: the desktop is there, so's Office, but not much more

Ars Technica

Ending months of speculation on the matter, Microsoft has revealed that Windows 8 on ARM will indeed contain a desktop—and that desktop versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote will all be pre-installed.

Microsoft insists that the desktop holds real value, and that it makes Windows less valuable to users if it was missing (a view we're sympathetic to). To that end, Windows 8 on ARM ("WOA") will have a desktop, with a taskbar, that includes Explorer, most of the current desktop utilities that ship with Windows (though not all, and Microsoft hasn't said what won't be included), and supports applications. All WOA machines will support USB and Bluetooth mice and keyboards, so users who want to will be able to use the desktop in a traditional way.

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Find: Another reason why Apple may be limiting Siri to iPhone 4S

Siri only on 4s because of an integrated noise reduction chip. 

Ars Technica

Siri, Apple's widely advertised voice-activated "intelligent assistant," has so far been limited to the latest iPhone 4S hardware after Apple's acquisition. Though observers have come up with various reasons for the restriction, a newly revealed piece of the puzzle suggests the issue is related to hardware after all. According to recent SEC filings from technology start-up Audience, Apple incorporated an improved version of its background noise filtering technology directly into the A5 processor used in the iPhone 4S—technology that improves Siri's speech recognition capabilities.

Siri was originally a third-party app for the iPhone that ran on devices as old as the iPhone 3GS. Apple later bought the company behind Siri, and integrated the tech directly into iOS 5, which was released to the public in October of 2011. Siri is now only available on the iPhone 4S, however, and Apple subsequently pulled the old app from the App Store when the 4S was released.

Find: Apple rules top three smartphone spots but loses new users to Android

Apple has the top models, but android sells more across all models. 

Ars Technica

Apple continues to hold the title for some of the top-selling smartphone models, with the iPhone 4S being the best selling handset in the US last quarter, according to a new report by market research firm NPD. But while the iPhone has repeatedly made Apple the top smartphone vendor in the US, Android still appears to be attracting more new users.

Apple had three iPhone models available for sale in the fourth quarter of 2011: the just-released iPhone 4S, the iPhone 4, which Apple continues to sell as a lower-cost entry-level model, and the nearly three-year-old iPhone 3GS, which AT&T still offers as essentially a $0 bargain smartphone. Collectively, all iPhones sold accounted for 43 percent of smartphone sales in the US for the quarter.

According to NPD analyst Ross Rubin, Apple sold nearly two iPhone 4S models for every iPhone 4 sold, and five iPhone 4S models for every iPhone 3GS sold. And despite the large disparity in numbers, the iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, and iPhone 3GS ended up being the top three smartphones sold in the US.

But even with the top Android smartphone (Samsung Galaxy SII) being outsold more than five to one in the US, Android handsets in aggregate still accounted for 48 percent of US smartphone sales last quarter, accord to NPD's data. Perhaps more alarming for Apple, users buying their first smartphones chose an Android device 57 percent of the time, and an iOS device just 34 percent of the time.

While Android has been criticized for its platform fragmentation and the complexity it presents to users, the platform's wide carrier support, growing app selection, and variety of models available from several vendors attracts a generally wider audience. Particularly in the US, Rubin noted, Android is the only choice for users who want to take advantage of LTE networks from Verizon and AT&T or Sprint's WiMAX network.

Find: Google reportedly developing Android-powered smart glasses

Whether or not this report is accurate, wearables will eventually happen, and they will take off when they don't look stupid. 

Ars Technica

Much like flying cars and jet packs, wearable computing is one of those aspirational fields of technology where the current state of the art doesn't deliver the sort of experience that people have imagined for decades. An experimental project that is reportedly under development in Google's labs could raise the bar, however.

According to a report that was published today in the blog 9to5Google, the search giant is developing a product called Google Glasses that will have a built-in heads-up display. The device, which supposedly resembles a pair of Oakley shades, is said to have an integrated transparent display for one eye and a built-in front-facing camera. The latter could be used for augmented reality applications. The device would use speech and head tilting for text input and control.

9to5Google suggests that the Google Glasses product could soft-launch with a pilot program later this year, making the product available to a select number of testers. This would follow the model of the Chromebook launch, which was preceded by the Cr-48 test unit.

Although the reports are still highly speculative, the concept of smart glasses is intriguing. There are some existing products in this space, but they aren't easy to purchase and are definitely not priced for a mainstream audience.

Find: Windows 8 Consumer Preview coming February 29th

And this isn't just tabs, but wp8's kernel too. 

Ars Technica

The Windows 8 Consumer Preview—notably it's not being called a "beta"—will be launched on February 29th. Microsoft will launch it at an event it's hosting in Barcelona to coincide with Mobile World Congress.

Taking full advantage of the opportunity afforded by the leap year, the release will just hit Microsoft's previously announced "late February" date. Redmond has no comment (yet) on whether the event will be Webcast.

Releasing the Consumer Preview of a desktop operating system at a conference for cellular communications might seem strange. But with Windows 8's tablet ambitions and the leaked information that Windows Phone 8 will probably use the Windows 8 kernel, this is a desktop operating system that won't be confined to the desktop.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Find: Memory Profiling for Application Performance

New memory profiler for win phone development. 

Windows Phone Developer Blog

Performance is a concern for all but the most trivial of applications, and in a constrained environment like the phone it is all the more so; performance issues directly manifest themselves in the user experience. Memory usage is one such source of performance issues that can degrade user experience, and the Windows Phone Marketplace enforces a technical certification requirement that an application must not exceed 90 MB of RAM usage, except on devices that have more than 256 MB of memory.

What could cause 90 MB of usage in a garbage-collected runtime? There could be several causes:

  • Allocating too much.
  • Long living objects that bloat working set.
  • Holding on to references unintentionally leading to memory leaks.

Applications allocating too much could end up with working sets breaching this threshold; applications with a large working set might eventually exit with an “Out of Memory” exception; and holding on to references unintentionally can lead to memory leaks causing working set to increase steadily and stealthily, eventually leading to the application exiting with an “Out of Memory” exception.

Up until the Windows Phone SDK 7.1 release, application developers had to guard against this by programmatically instrumenting their code with specific framework method calls and track memory usage. These methods included the following:

But beyond that there was little help from the tools.

The Windows Phone SDK 7.1 addresses this through the introduction to profiling tools to analyze the execution, visual, and memory characteristics of an application.

Install the SDK now, and let us walk through the Memory Profiler as we investigate a case of a memory leak caused by unintentionally holding on to references.

A Sample Application

Consider this application that has two pages, and where the second page renders several images within a grid, and where one may navigate between pages.

Page2 has 4 images controls within a grid control that is bitmapcached. During the initialization of Page2, it binds the 4 image controls to jpeg images and registers for an event handler.

The two pages look as follows:

image    image

As we try out the application going back and forth between the pages a few times, observe that memory usage keeps going up; there is a memory leak.