Saturday, April 28, 2012

Find: more on the first Intel smartphone: will intel's cpus get smaller faster?

Ars thanks they will, several years faster. If they do, they will have huge market advantages, particularly power (longer battery life). The next few years should be interesting. 

Ars Technica

Intel has wanted to be a part of the smartphone market since 2005. Its Atom line of processors and systems-on-chip was developed for this market, and each iteration has got smaller and more tightly integrated. With Medfield, announced earlier this year, the company finally has the chip it needs to take on ARM head-to-head. Intel has partnered with Indian manufacturer Lava International to bring its chipset to market, and the result is a new Android phone: the Xolo X900.

The phone is not available in the US. It sells in India for about $420. The phone's specification is at the upper end of mid-range: 1024×600 4" screen, 8 MP rear camera with 1080p30 recording, 1.3 MP front camera, and 16 GB of storage. It runs Android 2.3.7, with an upgrade to version 4 due later this year. So far, so ordinary. The thing that sets it apart from its competition is its processor. It's called an Atom Z2460: a 1.6 GHz single core, hyperthreaded 64-bit x86 CPU, paired with a 400 MHz PowerVR SGX 540 GPU, and 1 GB RAM.

Find: The First Intel Medfield Phone -- competitive, but not market changing

AnandTech

For Intel, the road to their first real competitive smartphone SoC has been a long one. Shortly after joining AnandTech and beginning this journey writing about both smartphones and the SoC space, I remember hopping on a call with Anand and some Intel folks to talk about Moorestown. While we never did see Moorestown in a smartphone, we did see it in a few tablets, and even looked at performance in an OpenPeak Tablet at IDF 2011. Back then performance was more than competitive against the single core Cortex A8s in a number of other devices, but power profile, lack of ISP, video encode, decode, or PoP LPDDR2 support, and the number of discrete packages required to implement Moorestown, made it impossible to build a smartphone around. While Moorestown was never the success that Intel was hoping for, it paved the way for something that finally brings x86 both down to a place on the power-performance curve that until now has been dominated by ARM-powered SoCs, and includes all the things hanging off the edges that you need (ISP, encode, decode, integrated memory controller, etc), and it’s called Medfield. With Medfield, Intel finally has a real, bona fide SoC that is already in a number of devices shipping before the end of 2012.

In both an attempt to prove that its Medfield platform is competitive enough to ship in actual smartphones, and speed up the process of getting the platform to market, Intel created its own smartphone Form Factor Reference Design (FFRD). While the act of making a reference device is wholly unsurprising since it’s analogous to Qualcomm’s MSM MDPs or even TI’s OMAP Blaze MDP, what is surprising is its polish and aim. We’ve seen and talked about the FFRD a number of times before, including our first glimpse at IDF 2011 and numerous times since then. Led by Mike Bell (of Apple and Palm, formerly), a team at Intel with the mandate of making smartphone around Medfield created a highly polished device as both a demonstration platform for OEM customers and for sale directly to the customer through participating carriers. This FFRD has served as the basis for the first Medfield smartphones that will (and already are) shipping this year, including the Orange Santa Clara, Lenovo K800, and the device we’re looking at today, the Lava Xolo X900. Future Medfield-based devices will deviate from the FFRD design (like the upcoming Motorola device), but will still be based loosely on the whole Medfield platform. For now, in the form of the X900 we’re basically looking at the FFRD with almost no adulteration from carriers or other OEMs.

Read on for our review of the very first Intel x86 based Android smartphone. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Find: Google in Africa: where all computing is mobile

Google Code Blog
Author Photo By Chukwuemeka Afigbo, Program Manager, Sub-Saharan Africa

Cross-posted from the Google Africa Blog

Creating applications and services that use Google platforms to make the internet more relevant to Africans is a big part of Google’s vision in Africa. This is why we are always excited whenever we come across individuals or companies whose efforts are in line with this vision. Here are a few of the interesting applications we have seen in recent months.

Battabox, co founded by Christian Purefoy and Yemisi Ilo, is an online social television platform developed in Nigeria that aims to provide everything Nigerian from music, film, street-life to news, comedy and cooking using the YouTube platform. Crowdsourcing videos is an important part of the Battabox strategy and they were able to achieve this using YouTube Direct running on Google App Engine integrated into their website. They also provided an Android App that enables users to upload videos directly from their Android phones.



Battabox website screenshot

There are many other examples from further afield. In South Africa we met Nomanini who have a Google App Engine backend for Lula, their airtime vending device, which promises to change the way airtime is distributed in the region. Envaya SMS is an amazing application that turns your Android phone into an SMS gateway and has been used by many NGOs in East Africa. SAF SMS is a school management solution built with Google Web Toolkit that has been adopted in more than 100 schools in Nigeria. We also met Serengeti Advisers, a consultancy firm in Tanzania that uses Google Chart Tools to create interactive reports on their website.


Nomanini’s Lula terminal communicates with a backend powered by Google App Engine

Monday, April 23, 2012

Find: Nokia's quarter: bad, but then, transitions are never easy

Crossing fingers... A real third os would really spur innovation. 

The Verge - All Posts
Nokia Lumia Windows Phone_1020

Nokia's Q1 2012 financial report has just been posted, noting an operating loss of €1.3 billion that led to a net loss of €590 million for the period. The company did warn us that it wouldn't be able to maintain its earlier forecast of breaking even, and now we know the full extent of the damage. In total, Nokia sold 11.9 million smart devices during Q1, which is less than half of the 24.9 million it achieved in the first three months of 2011. This has been put down to the rapid decline in Symbian handset sales, which Nokia says have been "partially offset by growing sales of Nokia Lumia devices."

Operating losses from the Smart Devices and Services division alone amounted to €219 million, equivalent to a -5.2 percent operating...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Find: Intel inside your smartphone: intel continues to fight against marginalization

Not optimistic. 

The Verge - All Posts
via cdn0.sbnation.com

Intel's serious push into cellphones began late last year at its Developers Forum, where Google's Andy Rubin took to the stage to announce that all future versions of the Android operating system would include support for Intel's architecture. Since then, the company has shown off handsets from Lenovo, Orange, and Lava at CES and Mobile World Congress that all incorporate the Atom-based Medfield processor, and have shown impressive performance in benchmarks. With the Lava Xolo X900 leading the rest of the pack to market, track the progress of Intel's mobile platform right here.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Find: Here comes windows 8 rt, win8 for tablets

AnandTech

Microsoft Communications Manager Brandon LeBlanc has finally given us our first official information about product editions for Windows 8, which is now confirmed to be the product's actual shipping name. For 32-bit and 64-bit PCs, there will be two editions of the operating system: Windows 8, which is roughly equivalent to Windows 7 Home Premium, and Windows 8 Pro, which is analogous to Windows 7 Ultimate. Windows on ARM, now called Windows RT, is a standalone product with roughly the same feature set as the standard Windows 8 product.

Windows 8 Pro is a superset of Windows 8, including all of its features plus business and power user-oriented features like Bitlocker, EFS, the ability to boot from VHDs and host Remote Desktop sessions, the ability to join Active Directory domains. Some of these features had previously been restricted to the Ultimate/Enterprise product tier in Windows 7, and it's nice to see everything trickling down to what should hopefully be a cheaper product (though Microsoft has not yet released details about Windows 8 pricing).

Windows 8 Enterprise will still exist as a separate product available to customers with Software Assurance volume licensing agreements with Microsoft. LeBlanc noted that Windows 8 Enterprise would include features that "enable PC management and deployment, advanced security, virtualization, new mobility scenarios, and much more," but it's not certain whether these will manifest themselves as new features within Windows 8 or as additional add-ons and programs available to enterprise customers separately. Windows 7 Enterprise was functionally identical to Windows 7 Ultimate except for its support of volume license keys.

This is as simple as the WIndows product stack has been since Windows XP was introduced in Home and Pro editions in 2001, replacing Windows Me and Windows 2000 and bringing both the home and professional Windows products onto the same Windows NT codebase. Windows Vista split the lineup into four different commercially available editions - Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, and Ultimate - whose feature sets were often confusing and poorly defined. It's nice to see some semblance of simplicity restored six years later.

For a full list of features included in each edition, the original blog post is linked below. 

Find: mobile gpus better than Xbox 360 by 2014

AnandTech

Qualcomm was the first to tell us that it expects to offer console level GPU performance in the not too distant future, generally hinting that its Adreno 3xx GPUs would get us there. NVIDIA shared this slide (pictured above) with us today that gives its take on where PC, console and mobile GPU performance will land over the coming years. There's nothing too revolutionary here but it does provide an interesting visual for much of what the GPU vendors have been talking about for the past couple of years. 

The solid lines are estimated performance, while the dotted lines are trends. According to NVIDIA, somewhere in the 2013 - 2014 timeframe is when we'll get Xbox 360-class GPU performance out of mobile SoCs. The console line only has two points (Xbox 1 and Xbox 360), while the mobile line starts with the original iPhone, moves up to Tegra 2 and then follows Tegra 3.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Find: Pew - us teen voice use down, median texting up to 1800 per month!

3/4 of teens have mobiles, 1/4 have smartphones. 

Teens, Smartphones & Texting

Texting volume is up while the frequency of voice calling is down. About one in four teens say they own smartphones.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Find: Apple's Start Developing iOS Apps Today Guide Is a Roadmap for Creating Your First App

Seems like it's worth checking out....

Lifehacker

Apple's Start Developing iOS Apps Today Guide Is a Roadmap for Creating Your First AppIf you've ever wanted to create an app for the iPhone or iPad but didn't know where to start, this new, basic guide from Apple might help. It's a step-by-step overview and introduction of the tools you need and how to submit an app to the App Store.

The guide promises to teach you to create a simple iOS app and learn the basics of Objective-C, the programming language for iOS apps. Note that to actually get an app published in the App store, you'll need to have an official developer account for $99 a year.

While the simple guide isn't as thorough as taking a full-fledge class in iOS programming, and you'll still need to put in some work and read the detailed resources Apple has linked to in each of the sections, it's a nice, easy-to-read starting point that's free.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Find: Wikipedia updates mobile apps, drops Google Maps for OpenStreetMap

On the move away from gmaps. 

The Verge - All Posts
Wikipedia for iOS update with OpenStreetMap

Wikipedia has announced updates to both its iOS and Android apps — and in yet another data point in an increasingly common trend, they are both dropping Google Maps in favor of the open-source alternative OpenStreetMap. Last year Google put rate limits into place for users of the Google Maps API, and a steady string of defections has emerged in the subsequent months: Foursquare, Apple, and Microsoft have all moved to OpenStreetMap in various products. According to the Wikimedia Foundation, the move away from proprietary Google APIs will allow its app to run on "millions of cheap Android handsets" that don't utilize Google's own applications themselves. While Wikipedia is currently relying on Mapquest for map tiles, it will be moving to...

Friday, April 6, 2012

Find: Code Academy: the student developers building the Windows Phone ecosystem

About competitions encouraging students to develop for wp7. 

The Verge - All Posts
Windows Phone student developers hero

Microsoft might seem focused on its "smoked by Windows Phone" campaign or its big upcoming Nokia Lumia 900 launch, but scrape beneath this glossy surface and you'll discover some interesting work carried on without the typical pizzazz of the marketing world. Ben Lower, a senior product manager for Windows Phone, is behind a number of efforts that focus on student developers and involve a significant amount of investment from the company. Competitions like XAPFest, Imagine Cup, and Big App on Campus have all raised awareness of Windows Phone amongst students, but do these efforts lead to reward for Microsoft? With games developers displaying a lack of interest in Windows Phone, will Microsoft's students bring new hope to its mobile...

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Find: Apple has a 7.85-inch iPad prototype in its labs, according to John Gruber

Why do a smaller iPad? Because iPad now is too big and heavy for reading. A small iPad could compete directly with kindle. 

The Verge - All Posts
ipad 7-inch

Apple has been working on a smaller version of the iPad in its Cupertino labs, according to Daring Fireball's John Gruber. On an episode of The Talk Show podcast, Gruber said that he's heard details of a 7.85-inch prototype that runs at the same 1024 x 768 resolution as the iPad 1 and 2. Such a device wouldn't quite match the clarity of the new iPad's Retina display, but at around 163 pixels per inch would still offer a sharpness increase over the original iPad without apps needing to be rewritten or updated. Gruber says that the device is about as tall as the 9.7-inch iPads are narrow when held in portrait orientation.

The revelation isn't necessarily surprising, as we've heard rumblings of smaller iPads before, and Apple undoubtedly...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Find: Phonedeck lets you manage your Android phone from the cloud and see data about your relationships

May be a good research tool. 

The Verge - All Posts
Phonedeck

Phonedeck is a new "cloud dashboard" for Android phones that allows users to sync phone data, gain insights on phone usage, and also to send and receive SMS and phone calls through the browser. The app offers some common syncing options, including contact backup, SMS logs, and social network integration. But Phonedeck's highlight is really the insights feature: the app gives statistics for each of your contacts, letting you know how often you communicate with someone and who contacts who more often. It also analyzes your phone's battery usage and can tell you the live battery level on your device. Phonedeck is free, and you can grab it right now from the Google Play store.

Find: comScore Reports February 2012 U.S. Mobile Subscriber Market Share

Android has half the market bd growing, apple 1/3 and growing, rim in giving its share to android, microsoft to apple. Still most Nokia affect. 

Comscore Releases
comScore, Inc. (NASDAQ: SCOR), a leader in measuring the digital world, today released data from the comScore MobiLens service, reporting key trends in the U.S. mobile phone industry during the three month average period ending February 2012. The study surveyed more than 30,000 U.S. mobile subscribers and found Samsung to be the top handset manufacturer overall with 25.6 percent market share. Google Android continued to grow its share in the U.S. smartphone market, crossing the 50-percent threshold in February to capture a majority share for the first time in its history.

Find: The Nokia Lumia 900 review

Gist: Not competitive with marquee phones like iPhone 4s or nexus prime, but a great buy. 

Maybe Nokia isn't going high end until the wp7 app market is competitive... Or maybe they just need a full development cycle to produce marquee hardware. 

Nice discussion of the wp7 design trade offs. Wp7: great aesthetics but low information density, and non obvious ui. Android: poor aesthetics, but good density and better affordances. I think this different experience may be a good one for wp7. 

Ars Technica

The Nokia Lumia 900 has the weight of two big names on its shoulders. It's Nokia's big re-entry into the US market; it's also the flagship Windows Phone Mango in this country. In anticipatory articles, you can hardly find the term "Lumia 900" separated from the word "premium." The phone is as important as the Samsung Galaxy Nexus was to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and as, well, every new iPhone is to iOS. 

The phone was recently announced at the two-year contract price of $99, a tag usually applied to new mid-range or old high-end phones (even more recently, AT&T announced the Lumia 900 will be free online for new customers). But the implication is that the low price is meant to attract attention to an OS that has yet to win a significant chunk of the market. It's not a reflection of the handset's quality. Because of this, we largely compare the Lumia 900 to the two flagship phones of the other two major OSes, the iPhone 4S with iOS and the Galaxy Nexus with Android 4.0. The iPhone 4 also makes a brief appearance, since it has the same list price as the Lumia 900. 

Find: Google unveils "Project Glass," augmented reality glasses

Ok, so the project really cats, if not the product. Let's watch the video in class, and courier while we're at it. 

Ars Technica

Rumors have been floating around that Google is developing a pair of glasses with a built-in heads-up display, and Google confirmed the project's existence today.

"Project Glass," as shown in a Google+ page, outfits the wearer with a sleek pair of glasses with just one small lens worn over the right eye, and a camera. That doesn't mean a working pair actually exists yet—Google said photos of the glasses were posted to "show what this technology could look like" and a video was created "to demonstrate what it might enable you to do."

In the video, a guy wakes up and sees some Android-like icons in his heads-up display. He makes coffee, sees a reminder for an appointment, looks out the window, gets the weather, then receives a text message from a friend asking him if he wants to meet. He replies to the text message by voice while he's eating. The guy walks out the door and heads toward the subway when his glasses tell him subway service has been suspended. Instead, he gets the walking route from his glasses.

Later, he goes into a bookstore, asks "where's the music section?" and is given walking directions to that part of the shop—using the indoor maps technology built by Google. He sees something interesting, says "take a photo of this," and then "share it to my circles" in order to post it on Google+. Then he walks up on top of a balcony, receives a video call, and shares the view from the top of the building with a friend.

In short, the glasses will be designed to do just about everything that can be done using a smartphone, but without the massive inconvenience of actually carrying a device and using your hands. Google hasn't said how close all this is to reality, but here's the video for your viewing pleasure:

Read the rest of this article...

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Find: The Apple iPad Review (2012)

Extremely thorough review. 

AnandTech

It has a display resolution that dwarfs most high-end desktop displays. The panel also puts a real emphasis on quality, not just resolution. For a computing device targeted squarely at the consumer market, both of these things are rarities.

Its SoC is the absolute largest ever squeezed into an ARM based tablet. The chip itself is even bigger than what you find in most mainstream notebooks. It’s expensive, it puts out a ton of heat and it offers a tremendous GPU performance advantage over anything else in its class.

And it has a battery that’s larger than what ships in the current crop of similarly sized ultraportables and Ultrabooks.

The new iPad doesn’t significantly change the tablet usage paradigm, but it does put all previous attempts at building hardware in this space to shame. It’s the sort of no holds barred, performance at any expense design that we’re used to seeing from enthusiast PC component vendors - but in a tablet...from Apple. 

Welcome to our review of the new iPad.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Find: The billion-dollar fight for control of mobile money

Nice survey of paying with phones. 

Ars Technica

"Mobile payments" is about as unsexy as technology buzzwords get. We're basically talking about phones and money. And it's hard enough to get people excited about money in the first place—unless you're receiving large sums of it, that is—let alone using a phone to make or spend it.

But it is exciting! Trust us. And there's a reason why you're going to be hearing a lot more about mobile commerce before this year is done.

Find: iOS wins over more new smartphone buyers as Android holds steady

Just about half of all phone owners have smartphones. 

Ars Technica

iOS is continuing to creep up on Android's smartphone market share, according to a recent survey by Nielsen. While iOS penetration remains a distant second to Android overall, survey respondents in the United States showed that 43 percent of recent smartphone acquirers purchased an iOS device, while new Android owners constituted 48 percent.

The percentage figures above are for "3 month recent acquirers," or survey respondents who got a smartphone in the last three months. Comparing the overall market share figures to the recent acquirer breakdown shows that Android is holding steady: 48 percent of both recent acquirers and smartphone owners in general have Android in this survey. In a survey from January 2012, 46.3 percent of all smartphone owners had Android phones. Only 32 percent of all smartphone-owning respondents now have iOS, compared to 30 percent in January.

The recent-acquirer balance has also shifted since Nielsen's January survey. At that time, 51.7 percent of 3-month recent acquirers had purchased Android phones and 37 percent had chosen iOS. In total, 49.7 percent of the mobile phone-owning public has smartphones, according to the survey.

Find: RIM CEO announces purges, wants to recapture love of enterprise IT

Rim finally begins to act. Probably too late. 

Ars Technica

Ten weeks into his tenure as Research in Motion CEO, Thorsten Heins is now readying the axe. “It’s now very clear to me that substantial change is what RIM needs,” Heins said in a conference call and webcast with investors late on March 29. As a result, he says has begun a massive restructuring of the smartphone and mobile device maker.

Part of that change includes cleaning house—a group of executives, including former co-CEO Jim Balsillie, have resigned or retired as the company prepared its financial results. (RIM took a loss of $125 million for its fourth quarter, which just ended—compared to a $934 million profit a year ago.) More may soon be swept out as Heins makes changes, and seeks to sell off or shut down parts of the business that don't mesh with his vision of a newer, leaner RIM. “We see that Blackberry can not succeed if we try to be everybody's darling and all things to all people,” Heins said.