Monday, September 30, 2013

Samsung on the defensive over gold phone rat race with Apple

Samsung on the defensive over gold phone rat race with Apple

Samsung on the defensive over gold phone rat race with Apple

Welcome to another game of Apple vs. Samsung, where two of the richest tech companies in the world - and their fans - fight pointless, petty battles and everyone, loses every time.

This time Samsung finds itself on the defensive as Apple fans accuse it of copying the gold iPhone 5S with its gold Galaxy S4.

Samsung revealed the gold Galaxy S4 to the world last week, but the phone was ac tually announced in the Middle East in late August and launched there before the iPhone 5S was even unveiled - and there lies only part of Samsung's argument.

In fact official the Samsung blog Samsung Tomorrow on Saturday published a non-comprehensive chronicle of its history with gold handsets, the first of which actually dates back to 2004.

All that glitters is at least colored gold

The SamsungMobileArabia Twitter handle sounded off last week about the gold Galaxy S4, pointing out that it went on sale in the UAE 2 days before the iPhone 5S was unveiled.

And according to the company's blog post, Samsung's first gold phones were the Anycall SCH-E470, SPH-E3200 and SPH-E3250 from 2004.

Since then it launched gold-colored phones (some even with real gold) in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2013, including the S amsung Galaxy Golden flip phone this year. Not all were widely available (or available at all), but they existed nonetheless.

And the gold Galaxy S4 was launched in the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Qatar in September.

There's no indication that this battle will reach a court, since luckily even Apple and Samsung can't trademark a color (yet).

Normally that wouldn't stop fans from fighting the companies' petty battles for them in message boards and comments - but maybe we can put this one to bed, people?

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Latest Gmail for Android app suggests mobile ads on the way

Latest Gmail for Android app suggests mobile ads on the way

Latest Gmail for Android app suggests mobile ads on the way

Android users: Enjoying the latest Gmail 4.6 update released last week? Now imagine it chock full of ads, and you might have some idea of what Google plans for the near future.

Android Police reported Saturday that last week's release of Gmail 4.6 for Android wasn't just about adding new cards and a cleaner design - the APK file is also hiding something a bit less welcome inside.

According to code extracted from the latest build 836823 released last Friday, the Gmail app may soon b e infested with mobile advertising - including the ability to potentially save ads to your inbox.

Although the code to empower ads in Gmail isn't currently active, it appears that all Google needs to do is flip a switch at their end and version 4.6 could start serving 'em to upwards of a billion Android users.

The little things

Judging from the contents of the Gmail APK, Google's approach to such mobile advertising could be done with some degree of restraint, although for some users, any intrusion is likely to be unwelcome.

Thankfully, the Gmail 4.6 build isn't all bad news - in addition to the aforementioned new cards, the app also includes a few less noticeable tweaks, such as darker UI icons and the removal of the Cancel button while sending a message.

Last but not least, the app also serves up a warning about any unsent messages that may be lounging about in a user's Sent folder, and also removes the generic avatar picture used for contact s that don't have one assigned while viewing messages in Notifications.

TechRadar reached out to Google for comment regarding mobile ads coming to the Gmail for Android app, and will update this article as necessary.


Sunday, September 29, 2013

In Depth: Why Intel's Bay Trail is the next big thing in mobile computing

In Depth: Why Intel's Bay Trail is the next big thing in mobile computing

In Depth: Why Intel's Bay Trail is the next big thing in mobile computing

Intel's Atom processor was always a good idea. Shrink the power profile associated with the full-power x86 instruction to ultra-mobile proportions.

Or rather, it was a good idea ahead of its time. In fairness, Intel probably had to get the Atom project rolling when it did, back in 2009.

That's because mobile is such an epically important market. Intel not only had to be seen to be doing something, even if manufacturing technology wasn't quite ready to do x86 justice in ultra-mobile form factors like phones and tablets.

Long march to mobile

It also had to commit to mobile in the long run and give itself the best chance of succeeding. Ironically, that meant wheeling out a series of Atom chips which I'm fairly sure the company knew weren't terribly compelling. But it was all part of the process of preparing both the market and its own design, engineering and manufacturing processes for the coming ultra-mobile uplift.

Anyway, Intel has been showing off its latest and greatest Atom platform, codenamed Bay Trail, at the IDF conference in San Francisco and as the news is all good.

Early benchmarks indicate that a quad-core Bay Trail system has CPU performance very close to AMD's quad-core Jaguar-based chips.

Plausible Windows portable

I happen to have been running a qua d-core Jaguar-based thin and light system for several months now, so I'm very familiar with the experience you can expect in Windows 8. And it's just dandy. OK, you wouldn't really want to encode 1080p video on the fly.

But for day-to-day computing, it fits the good-enough definition just fine. But here's the thing. Under heavy load, it's thought Bay Trail consumes just one to two watts of power.

Now making direct comparisons is very difficult. But it looks like an equivalent AMD Jaguar-based chip guzzles at least four times and maybe as much as ten times as much power.

Good-enough is best

That matters because it means Intel will be able to drive true good-enough x86 computing into smaller form factors than ever before. Does that include smartphones?

The verdict is out on that question, unfortunately. Bay Trail is targeted at tablets, not smartphones. There will be an Atom platform known as Merrifield and based on the same new CPU cores found in Bay Trail. But it's not yet clear just how much performance will be lost in that transition.

Whatever, I'm not too worried. For me, it's step-by-step. Given me a proper x86 Windows experience in a 10-inch tablet convertible at the same low prices as the ARM-powered Android masses and I'll be a very happy bunny indeed.


In Depth: There's an app for that? 9 oddest apps in the world today

In Depth: There's an app for that? 9 oddest apps in the world today

In Depth: There's an app for that? 9 oddest apps in the world today

The world of smartphone and tablet apps is a world of delights. There are applications that turn your device into a beautiful musical instrument, a living book or a productivity powerhouse, and there are apps that enable you to tell everyone on Facebook about the last time you pooped.

We're interested in the latter kind: not the must-haves, but the who-needs: the log-loggers and the cats in rice and the everyday apps that come with an added pirate dimension.

Never mind "there's an app for that". These apps will have you saying "there's an app for that?"

1 Snapcat

Sn   apCat

Available on Android

Social media consists largely of selfies and cats, so it was inevitable that some bright spark would combine the two. Snapcat says that it is "the very first social photo sharing app just for cats.

Made by cats" and at least half of that claim is true: it enables cats to take selfies by presenting them with an irresistible dot. Once the cat taps the dot the front-facing camera fires, and you can share the result on Facebook and Twitter.

2 Shadow

Shadow app

Soon to be available on iOS, Android, Windows Phone

It isn't out yet - it's currently in Kickstarter fundraising mode - but when Shadow launches it's going to end up with an awful lot of odd information.

The goal is to gather details of people's dreams, enabling the user to see what patterns emerge from their psyches, and although it's off by default users will be able to share their dream records with others - because there's nothing more interesting than someone saying "hey! I had the most amazing dream last night!"

3 Ghost Detector


Available on Android

Ghost Detector is a BEEP BEEP OH MY GOD OH MY GOD NO NO NO NOOOOO only kidding. It shows a radar, and if there's a ghost nearby that radar will show a picture of the ghost and enable the ghost to talk to you.

Reviews suggest it's not entirely reliable - one user tried it in a graveyard and found no ghosts whatsoe ver - and we're not convinced that "ghosts try to control your devices [sic] magnetic and microphone sensor" either.

4 Melon Meter

melon meter

Available on iOS

We've all been there. The supermarket shelves are sagging under the weight of lovely, lovely melons - but how can you tell which one will deliver the most delicious food joy?

Thanks to Melon Meter, you no longer have to guess: simply launc the app, put your phone on the melon and give the fruit a good thump. The app analyses the sound and looks for what the developers call a "decay signature"; apparently ripe melons sound different to unripe ones.

5 Death App

death app

Available through the web

You're in a beautiful place - but is it a deadly place too? The answer is probably no, but if you've ever wanted to know just how many people have died in the nearby area then Death App will tell you in statistical form - broken down into murders and car deaths - and show you on a map.

If you're in London you might be better off pointing your browser at the depressing London Murder Map.

6 Bowel Mover and PoopLog


Available on iOS and Android

There are sensible applications for an app that can track your bowel movements - it's helpful for people suffering from bowel disorders who are trying to ide ntify the causes - but Bowel Mover and PoopLog also enable you to share your data with the wider world, on Twitter in the former and on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, SMS and email in the latter.

One unidentified user is "upset I can't share my PoopLog on Facebook". We're sure his or her friends aren't.

7 Sushi Cats

sushi cats

Available on Android and iOS

There's no need to call PETA: the cats used in the Neko Zushi (Sushi Cat) meme were photographed and filmed under the guidance of professional animal handlers. As the name suggests, Sushi Cats (available on Android and iOS) are cats made into sushi: placed on rice, wrapped in seafood and given a range of tasty additions including spring onions and green beans.

The app includes an incomprehensible video and a gallery of Sushi Cats that delivers literally seconds of high quality feline-food-related fun.

8 Carrr Matey

Carr Matey

Available on Android and iOS

We can't beat the developers' own description: "Carrr Matey is a quick, easy to use parking application with a mild pirate theme." Simply record where you park - sorry, "drop anchor" - and when it's time to return to your car - sorry, "vessel" - you can s ee where you are and where you need to go on the handy pirate-themed map.

There's also a compass view for areas that Google hasn't treasure mapped and a Harbour Mode for multi-storey, er, harbours.

9 TapThat


Available on Android

TapThat enables two consenting Android phones to have sex. Your phone could choose to be a topless lady and the other Homer Simpson; bring them together via the magic of NFC, achieve orgasm and nine months later your Samsung Galaxy S4 will be the proud parent of a Samsung Galaxy Mini. Or something.

TapThat does have a genuine use, however: anyone who finds it hilarious - or worse, sexy - probably isn't going to be the greatest sexual partner you'll ever have.


//PART 2