Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Find: 5 Minutes on The Verge: Loren Brichter

Hmm, seems he invented pull to refresh. 

The Verge - All Posts
loren brichter

Loren Brichter is the man behind Tweetie, arguably the best Twitter app ever built. The app was so good that Twitter bought Brichter's company, Atebits, in April 2010 and turned the app into Twitter for iPhone. In this way, he has directly or indirectly inspired many of our favorite apps, and even advises the Sparrow team. Brichter took a few minutes to talk to The Verge about what he's been up to since he left Twitter, how he solves complicated problems, and why the world has gone app crazy. You can find him online at @lorenb.

We haven't heard much from you since you left Twitter in late 2011 and tweeted "taking some time to figure out what's next." Where are you now, and what are you working on? Have you been bored?

Never bored! The...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Find: A first look at the Sony Xperia Sola 'floating touch' display

Senses fingers a bit less than 1/4 inch above screen. Works for hover events on phone in browser (a first), but it may be most useful for adding precision to user finger positioning with early feedback. 

Click through to sony's primer on the tech, it's worthwhile. 

The Verge - All Posts
Sony Xperia Sola floating touch

The Sony Xperia Sola isn't a particularly unusual phone save for one feature: a 'floating touch' display that lets you operate the screen by hovering your finger over it. Yesterday, The Unwired got their hands on (as well as over) a Sola, giving us our first look at how well this technology actually works. Although it's apparently difficult to refrain from instinctively touching the phone, the sensor seems to work fairly well, letting users hover over a link before tapping to click it.

So far, The Unwired says that only Sony's browser supports floating touch — even the home screen is tap-only, and no other apps have been rebuilt to support it. However, it seems to work well for precision pointing and adds an extra dimension of control...

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Find: Microsoft readying Windows 8 for "resolutionary" tablets

As displays begin to vary widely in resolution, the physical size of icons and other content varies, and scaling becomes a real problem. 

The beginning of the move to a resolution independent image representation? Certainly developers would be happy not to have to quadruple their app size again when apple's next tablet appears....

Ars Technica

The Windows 8 user interface is designed to scale to systems of all sizes. Like Windows versions of old, it will have to scale all the way from 1366×768 10-inch tablets up to 2560×1440 30-inch desktop monitors and beyond. But it's not just different numbers of pixels that Windows 8 will have to cope with: different sizes of pixels matter too. Windows 8 will have to scale from screens with around 96 dots per inch all the way to screens with almost 300 dpi, as system vendors are finally starting to increase pixel densities (no doubt inspired by the launch of a rather successful new tablet). An explanation of how this has been done is the subject of a new post on Microsoft's Building Windows 8 blog.

Windows has long had support for both different resolutions and pixel densities. The former are easy to handle; run Windows on a system with a high screen resolution and you'll fit a lot more stuff on screen. Traditionally, monitors have all offered about 96 dots per inch, so no matter what resolution you used, the objects on screen (buttons, text, images, and so on) have more or less maintained their physical size.

Find: how safe is my data stored in iCloud?

Good review of cloud security issues. 

Ars Technica

Apple's iCloud service lets users sync a staggering amount of data between Macs, Windows PCs, iPhones, and iPads. Though Apple says it stores this data securely in an encrypted format, just how safe is it? An Ars reader wrote in to ask us this question, so we decided to investigate.

The simple answer is that your data is at least as safe as it is when stored on any remote server, if not more so. All data is transferred to computers and mobile devices using secure sockets layer via WebDAV, IMAP, or HTTP. All data except e-mail and notes—more on that later—are stored and encrypted on disk on Apple's servers. And secure authentication tokens are created on mobile devices to retrieve information without constantly transmitting a password.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Find: Steve Wozniak comes out in support of Mike Daisey, says 'his method succeeded'

Woz says performer daisey's technique worked, and that it's end effect was positive.

The Verge - All Posts
Steve Wozniak image from Flickr

The furor over performance artist Mike Daisey's misrepresentation of facts in an episode of This American Life has led to a retraction from TAL and a back-and-forth between all parties involved — but one individual that's standing by Daisey is Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. In an interview with CNET today, Woz stated that he thought Daisey's work was a positive force that had steered the public conversation in the right direction, comparing it to informative political satire like The Colbert Report and The Daily Show. "I think his monologue has influenced Apple to take steps in that direction the best they can," Wozniak said of Daisey. "Because people must know there are workers who can't get medical coverage and are underage and are...

Find: Without ads, Android apps could be more than twice as power-efficient

70% of app power use is ads? If true, I see ad blocking or real change in our ad future. If nothing else, such change would allow more ads!!

The Verge - All Posts
Galaxy Note battery_555

A team of researchers from Purdue University and Microsoft has discovered that up to 75 percent of app-related battery drain in Android can be caused by ad-serving processes. Led by Abhinav Pathak, the team developed an energy profiler named EProf, which is able to perform fine-grained analysis of the battery use of any Android app, separating each thread inside and recording its energy use. The team tested five popular Android applications including Angry Birds, FreeChess, and the New York Times app using a HTC Passion (Nexus One) running Android 2.3.

In testing Angry Birds, Pathak recorded energy usage for one level of gameplay, and found that less than 30 percent of the app's battery drain was caused by the game itself. The other 70...

Monday, March 19, 2012

Find: 5 Minutes on The Verge: Shaun Inman

His comments on virtual vs physical interface are insightful. 

The Verge - All Posts
shuan inman

The web aficionados among you may know Shaun Inman from his web design site experiments, the Mint analytics package, Fever feed reading app, or more recently, iOS games like The Last Rocket. He took some time to talk to The Verge about the difficulty of implementing touch-based controls, why Super Mario Bros. still works so well, and his favorite pixel art designers. You can find him online at shauninman.com and on Twitter at @shauninman.

Find: My smartphone, the spy: protecting privacy in a mobile age

They aren't very private, at least not from the government. We need protection for cloud data, local data, and location data. Current options: don't use your phone (unrealistic), encrypt your phone (possible), use better passwords (open research problem).

Feature: My smartphone, the spy: protecting privacy in a mobile age

Around the turn of the century, the FBI was pursuing a case against a suspect—rumored to be Las Vegas strip-club tycoon Michael Galardi, though documents in the case are still sealed—when it hit upon a novel surveillance strategy.

The suspect owned a luxury car equipped with an OnStar-like system that allowed customers to "phone home" to the manufacturer for roadside assistance. The system included an eavesdropping mode designed to help the police recover the vehicle if it was stolen, but the FBI realized this same anti-theft capability could also be used to spy on the vehicle's owner.

Find: The new iPad: Retina Display Analysis

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Find: FAA to revisit the use of certain personal electronics on flights

About time!

Ars Technica

Laura J. Brown, deputy assistant administrator for public affairs for the Federal Aviation Administration, told the New York Times the agency will take a “fresh look” at electronics use on planes.

Bits Blog writer Nick Bilton called the F.A.A. last week ready to pester them about travelers' inability to use personal electronic devices during take-off, taxi, and landing. Instead Brown revealed the FAA will revisit their policy—which last had the necessary testing in 2006 (well before 2010's unveiling of the iPad). "With the advent of new and evolving electronic technology, and because the airlines have not conducted the testing necessary to approve the use of new devices, the FAA is taking a fresh look at the use of personal electronic devices, other than cellphones, on aircraft,” she said.


Even without the inclusion of smart phones, this revisit could benefit the masses. According to Forrester Research, more than 40 million e-readers and 60 million iPads and other tablets will have been purchased by the end of 2012.

Current FAA regulations allow airlines to request the use of electronic devices “once the airline demonstrated the devices would not interfere with aircraft avionics.” But, naturally, it costs a good deal of money to create that research. Bilton reached out to Abby Lunardini, vice president of corporate communications at Virgin America, who explained the current guidelines required for an airline when testing devices.

Each version of a single device must be tested before it can be approved by the FAA. Each airline would need to test the original iPad, the iPad 2 and the new third generation iPad before receiving approval, and each airline needs to test every plane model in its fleet. The tests would need to each be done on a separate flight with no passengers on the plane. (Imagine the scale of each airline testing with each iteration of each device, ugh).

It may take some time and resources, but if e-readers, tablets, laptops, etc. gain approval it would be a welcomed addition for all. Should the FAA pursue testing (or make it easier for airlines to do so), we could finally see some additions to the FAA's list of electric devices approved during take-off and landing—currently including electric razors and audio recorders.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Find: Google I/O 2012 Student Discount

Google Student Blog

Do you build apps using Google tools like Android, App Engine, and Google APIs?

As a student you qualify for Google I/O’s discounted ticket price of $300 (regular price is $900!)

Google I/O is Google’s annual developer conference that brings together thousands of developers for three days of deep technical content, focused on building the next generation of web, mobile, and enterprise applications with Google and open web technologies such as Android, Google Chrome, Google APIs, Google+, App Engine, and more.

Registration opens at 7am PDT on March 27, 2012.

Last year Google I/O sold out in just 59 minutes, so be prepared at 7am PDT on March 27th this year!

Learn more about the event from the official blog post.

Play the Input/Output HTML5 game!

Posted by Robert Do, Associate Product Marketing Manager

Find: Pressure on Apple Builds Over App Store Fraud

Where there is money, there is fraud. The real question is, how does app fraud compare to other fraud? 

Complaints about mysterious transactions on iTunes are undermining the store’s reputation as the safest of online shopping environments.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Find: Physical Impressions of the New iPad, Retina Display Shots

Nice comparisons of new vs old ipad display. 


We just got some time with the new iPad, have a look at the gallery below for some shots of the device including macro shots of the new Retina Display.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Find: Nokia details history of 41-megapixel 808 PureView, image sensor inspired by satellites

Detail about a nice Nokia innovation. 

The Verge - All Posts
Nokia 808 PureView

Nokia's 41-megapixel 808 PureView was one of the highlights of Mobile World Congress 2012, and we managed to get a few details about the device's development from Nokia's head of imaging Damian Dinning at the event. But in a post on Nokia's Conversations blog, Dinning has written a more in-depth account of how the PureView technology went from concept to reality. It actually started back in 2006, when Nokia began experimenting with including optical zoom on its devices. With the constantly evolving expectations for screen size and image quality, the company went through a number of concepts that never actually made it to market.

The breakthrough moment came when one of the engineers stumbled across an article about how satellites use...

Find: Nvidia will put Apple's A5X claims to the test, says it's 'pleased' by Tegra 3 comparison

Nvidia not planning on taking apple's slam without a response. 

The Verge - All Posts
Apple A5X 4x Tegra 3 comparison

Remember a few hours ago, when Apple claimed its new A5X chip had four times the graphical prowess of Nvidia's Tegra 3? As you might imagine, Nvidia doesn't intend to simply let that be. The graphics firm told ZDNet that without specific benchmarks to back up that claim, "Apple has a very generic statement" right now, but that Nvidia would certainly be purchasing a third-generation iPad on March 16th to test those claims for itself. Citations or no, if the new iPad does indeed have twice the graphical potential of the iPad 2, the "4x" quote might not be too far off in certain applications: AnandTech ran the Tegra 3-powered Transformer Prime against the iPad 2 in a run of GLBenchmark, and found a few performance differences.

Find: Here are your winners of the 2012 Game Developers Choice Awards

Including best mobile games. 

The Verge - All Posts

The Game Developers Choice Awards are voted on by developers for developers. It's a chance for the members of the games industry to reward their peers, to say this is the best work happening in video games today. One would expect this to be the folks at flush AAA publishers but many of tonight's winners were indies as if to say: Finally, indies and mainstream games are on equal ground. Gamers deserve excellent games from both sectors, and the awards are one way of showing they're getting it.

The night's host was Cliff Blezinski, the director of the Gears of War trilogy, and the face of Epic Games. Cliff has a dry sense of humor that connected with pockets of the audience. Jokes involving fellow industry stars, like Geoff Keighley, host...

Find: iOS game devs react to new iPad specs

Memory clearly needed to support new hi res display. 4gb games within a year. (and 2 hour downloads). 

The Verge - All Posts
Infinity Blade Dungeons

Earlier today, Apple revealed the next generation iPad to the world. As many expected, the updated tablet, which will hit stores next week, will come with a higher resolution screen (2048x1536) and a more powerful, quad-core graphics processor. Gaming is likely to be affected the most by these increased specs, so we reached out to several well-known iOS developers to get their first impressions on the hardware.

Mike Capps of Epic (Infinity Blade, Infinity Blade Dungeons)

"The quad core [processor] makes a big difference in terms of what we can draw. When you think about it, they increased the resolution of the screen by a factor of four and they doubled the graphics performance, that wouldn't make you think, Great, we've got tons ...

Find: US smartphone subscribers top 100 million, Android accounts for nearly half

Android one half, iOS one third, bbos distant third. 

The Verge - All Posts
iPhone, Android, WindowsPhone7

According to figures released by ComScore, the smartphone market in the US has exceeded 100 million subscribers for the first time. The milestone was reached in January when the total smartphone userbase hit 101.3 million — this represents growth of 13 percent since October, so the figure is likely millions more now that we're in March. Google and Apple both saw small increases in marketshare to take 48.6 percent and 29.5 percent respectively, whereas RIM continued its decline and now accounts for just over 15 percent of the market. Microsoft also saw a fall in its numbers, though it looks like Windows Mobile and Windows Phone are combined in ComScore's figures. We'd obviously expect a decline in the former, but it's a little...

Find: An ode to the pocket calculator, one of the first mobile computing devices

The Verge - All Posts
iPhone calculator

In this day and age of tablets that have screens with over three million pixels, it's easy to forget the humble pocket calculator, one of the world's first examples of mobile computing. The New York Times remembers, though, and has published a nice look back at one of the major victims of digitalization. Most amusing among the stories told in this piece is probably the one about the Soviet diplomat whose Sinclair Executive calculator exploded in his shirt pocket after the batteries overheated — back then, you could only leave your calculator on for a few hours at a time. Due to the "tense political climate," the Soviets supposedly established an official investigation into this incident to make sure there was no foul play afoot. While...

Find: iA Writer for iPhone hands-on

first alternative iPhone keyboard I've heard of. 

The Verge - All Posts
EMBARGO ia writer iphone

iA Writer for iPad, Mac, and now iPhone is a minimalist text editor that has turned design agency Information Architects into a full-blown app developer. Like WriteRoom, PlainText, and other similar text editors, its main feature is an absence of features, designed to remove distractions and aid focus on the task in hand. Writer offers a few twists, though — a modified iOS keyboard, seamless iCloud and Dropbox syncing, and a single, beautiful monospaced font (a modified version of Nitti Light) in a non-adjustable point. It makes for a great writing experience, and I can tell you personally that almost all my posts on this site start out as a blank fullscreen on Writer for Mac or iPad. An update adding iPhone support to the latter...

Find: Google-branded 7-inch Asus tablet coming as early as May, says DigiTimes

A tablet Prime in May?

The Verge - All Posts
Gallery Photo: Asus Eee Pad MeMO ME370T hands-on

Asus wants the world to know how close it is to Google, but that could be closer than we'd ever imagined if reports from DigiTimes are to be believed. The site's sources claim that the two companies are to collaborate on a 7-inch tablet aimed at the Kindle Fire with a price tag of $199-$249. It's said to be the first tablet to run the Google Play store, and is set to debut in May. Google apparently selected Asus for its quality and ODM capabilities, and the company has indeed been working on similar-sounding products. Asus showed off the MeMO ME370T at CES this year, a 7-inch tablet with a Tegra 3 SoC, 1280 x 800 resolution display and $249 price point, though we haven't heard much about it since — could Google be thinking along...

Find: Sencha updates framework for building native-looking mobile Web apps

Toolkit for developing mobile web apps, bad on old yahoo tech. Includes conversion to native apps. 

Ars Technica

Sencha, a company that develops JavaScript libraries, announced this morning the availability Sencha Touch 2, a major new version of the company's framework for building mobile Web applications. The new version brings improved performance, broader platform support, and additional functionality.

We discussed the update with Aditya Bansod, the senior director of product management at Sencha. He described how Sencha Touch fits into the company's product roadmap, which includes an evolving suite of tools, frameworks, and services for building applications with standards-based Web technologies. We also conducted some hands-on tests with the new version of the Sencha Touch framework and used it to build a simple mobile application.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Find: Android fragmentation also a challenge for Web developers

Slow carriers updates of android are pushing google to update browser independent of carriers, and developers to move to the browser as a universal platform. 

Ars Technica

Fragmentation remains an issue for third-party Android application developers. The wide spread and slow rate of adoption for new versions of the operating system prevent developers from being able to use the latest APIs. But native application developers aren't the only ones who are feeling the pain. A prominent Web developer has recently drawn attention to the challenges that Android version fragmentation poses for mobile Web development.

As we explained in some of our recent Android browser coverage, the platform's default Web browser has historically not been very good at handling the most intensive application-like Web experiences. It lacks support for many modern Web standards and has difficulty handling things like animated transitions. Google is finally correcting the problem by bringing a full port of its excellent Chrome Web browser to the Android platform.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Find: Apple's iPad with retina display, quad core graphics ships March 16

Cool display, graphics claimed to be 4x tegra3!

Ars Technica

Apple announced a new version of the iPad at an event today in San Francisco. The new hardware will have a retina display, a 5-megapixel rear camera, access to 4G LTE networks, and an A5 X chip with quad-core graphics.

"To this day, no one has yet matched that display technology on any mobile device," Phil Schiller said of the 2048x1536 display (that works out to 264 pixels per inch). The new A5X chip is meant to excel at graphics, and has four times the performance of NVIDIA's quad-core Tegra 3 chip, said Schiller.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

State of the Handset Art, Part One

A designer's perspective on mwc. 

frog design mind

The major announcements at this year's Mobile World Congress have mostly revolved around Android handsets. The heavy competition is pushing companies to be more adventurous with their designs both aesthetically and functionally. A common theme this year has also been the emphasis on photography and music quality out of the handsets. Let's look at the style, imaging, and sound trends in more depth. In this post I'll talk about the handset design highlights, and in Part Two I'll look at imaging and sound.

Style, Baby

After years of me-too look-alike phones (mimicking you-know-what in many cases), or just plain ugly phones, Android is finally getting some handsets that try to be a bit different and a more stylish. We are seeing more interesting uses of materials, shapes that try to break out of the basic rounded rectangle (at least within the tight constraints of such a small device dominated by a flat display on one side), and nice detailing that again breaks out of the minimalist mold. Overall build quality is better too.

Asus - The maker of netbooks is rapidly transitioning into an innovative maker of tablets. Maybe too innovative - it's new Padphone is made up of modular smartphone, tablet (really just a display which the phone plugs into to provide the smarts), keyboard dock, and stylus...but wait, there's more, because the stylus is also a Bluetooth headset! This maybe a bit too much, but if you look at the less complex Transformer Prime, you will see a beautifully executed, very thin and light tablet that also plugs sturdily into a keyboard dock, so it can be used like a mini laptop. The aluminum case comes in subtly-chosen colors, and has a lovely spun metal pattern that is not only attractive but functional, as it makes the case fairly grippy.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Find: Innovation or hype? Ars examines Nokia's 41 megapixel smartphone camera

Excellent explainer of nokia's innovative new smartphone camera, and digital photography in general. 

Ars Technica

Nokia ignited a bit of a controversy on Monday when it unveiled a smartphone with a 41 megapixel camera sensor dubbed the 808 PureView. Yes, you read that right—41 megapixels, not 14, or 4.1. It will soon be possible to buy a smartphone with as many megapixels as some low-end, medium-format digital SLRs.

Has Nokia completely succumbed to the megapixel myth? Well, no. Instead of positioning the PureView as the smartphone equivalent of a professional digital camera, Nokia is turning the conventional thinking that originally drove the increasing pixel counts of digital cameras on its head, and developing novel ways to exploit an overabundance of pixel data.

While we think there is room to criticize Nokia's specific implementation, there are plenty of good ideas wrapped in the "PureView technology" rubric that we think other smartphone makers—or for that matter, digital camera manufacturers—should consider.

Find: Pew study shows the democratization of the smartphone

Nearly one half. Higher penetration among minorities. 

Ars Technica

The percentage of smartphone owners is growing closer to the 50 percent mark, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center. Forty-six percent of American adults now have smartphones, with growth in several areas that show increasing democratization in ownership.

Smartphones saw more growth among women than men, with 44 percent of women owning smartphones, up from 31 percent in May 2011, compared to men's growth from 39 to 49 percent. The survey also showed more growth in the lowest income category of less than $30,000 than in any other, with 34 percent of respondents in that bracket saying they owned a smartphone, up from 22 percent last May. The second-largest ownership jump was in the $50,000-$74,999 income bracket, going from 38 to 49 percent. Smartphones are still the most common among those who make at least $75,000 a year, with ownership increasing from 59 to 68 percent.

The study showed that black and Hispanic respondents were more likely to have smartphones than average at 49 percent ownership. White, non-Hispanic respondents showed the most growth, from 30 percent to 45 percent. In terms of geography, rural smartphone ownership grew the most from 21 to 34 percent, followed by urban smartphone owners, who went from 38 to 50 percent ownership.

When asked about their smartphone OS, 20 percent of respondents said they had Android phones, up from 15 percent in May 2011. Nineteen percent were iPhone owners, up from 10 percent, while BlackBerry ownership dropped from 10 to 6 percent.

All that said, there was some uncertainty among respondents about what a smartphone actually is. In total, 45 percent of cell phone owners reported that their phone is a smartphone, while 49 percent say their phones "have a smartphone operating system"; when those numbers are taken together, Pew says, 53 percent of of cell owners have smartphones. Unfortunately, some confusion remains among the general American public about what is and is not a smartphone, as 8 percent of respondents said they didn't know if their phone was a smartphone or not, down from the confusion rate of 14 percent in May 2011.

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