Category: News


image

When you come to talking about a major revision to the most popular smartphone operating system, it’s hard to find a place to start because there is simply so much to cover. Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich” is perhaps the second largest step Android has taken in terms of major revisions, the largest of course being Android 2.0 back in 2009 which brought a wealth of new features.

Ice Cream Sandwich (or ICS) has included a huge amount of things to Android, from a new design and unified stylings to new functionality and features. Google has followed in the footsteps of Android 3.0 “Honeycomb” for tablets by shifting to blue as the primary color, as opposed to green in Android 2.3 “Gingerbread”. The blue design glows in a somewhat futuristic way, and interface elements are squarer and more angled than before.

Throughout all stock applications on ICS is seems like they have gone for several major styles, most of which differ to previous versions:

Sharp angles and lines are commonplace. In the app drawer, around the search bar, under the text entry bay and even in the onscreen buttons, smooth curves or gradients have been replaced with single-color lines and sharp corners. The Roboto font is modern and clean. Thanks to the 720p display on the Nexus, it appears very sharp and it’s very easy to read. The sans-serif and simple design makes it feel at home in a 2011/2012 world. Black, grey and blue are the colors used, along with transparency. The notification pane uses blue/grey icons on a black background, sliding it down reveals a semi-transparent background with blue highlights. In apps, buttons are grey on semi-transparent black with blue highlights.

For the first time in my history of using Android (and I’ve used it since the Google G1), a unification has been achieved. It is absolutely essential these days in a mobile operating system that moving between included applications feels like you are still “in” the OS, and never before has Google achieved this.

With Gingerbread Google may have updated the Calendar to a new style, but left Gmail with the same style from original Android. It was an awful mess of old and new, but going through ICS feels like everything is in place. I always see the same button styles, the same layouts, the same designs and the same colors used in every single included application, and it actually makes me smile at an Android design for once.

Now this may be somewhat controversial, but I really believe that the push to the ICS style was due to the threat of Windows Phone. Using Windows Phone’s style is simply outstanding because every single application uses the Metro design language, so browsing from Messaging to the Browser feels like you haven’t left Microsoft’s world. Fonts are crisp and clean, designs are angled and minimalistic and there is a focus on text over imagery.

Of course not everything in Metro has influenced Android, in fact many, many things are quite different, but it seems more obvious than ever before how influential Microsoft have been in the mobile space. In all honesty, I don’t care that Google borrowed some aspects of Windows Phone, such as the angular design, minimalist icons and swiping panes, because in the tech industry this happens all the time.

The point is Ice Cream Sandwich feels like the first Android revision that actually has a style. A proper, unified and beautiful style that feels modern, clean and even futuristic. I love it, almost to the point where it pushes out Windows Phone from my mobile OS design preference.

Thanks: Neowin & Tim Schiesser

.

image

Motorola’s original Droid was one of the first Android-based smartphones when it launched at the end of 2008. Since then Android has exploded onto the smartphone market with lots of new smartphones using the OS. Motorola has released two more versions of the Droid since the original along with various spin-offs; indeed the Droid 3 was just launched last July.

Now comes word via Droid-Life.com that Motorola is about to launch the Droid 4, possibly as soon as December 8, via its long time wireless carrier partner Verizon. The pictures that have been leaked of the Droid 4 make it look very similar to the recently released and very thin Droid RAZR smartphone. Like previous versions of the Droid, the Droid 4 will come with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard for people who prefer to text and email via a physical keyboard.

The hardware specs for the Droid 4 include a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, compared to the Droid 3’s 1 GHz dual-core processor, and 1 GB of RAM (double what the Droid 3 has). Both phones have a 4-inch touchscreens and an eight megapixel rear camera. The biggest change is that the Droid 4 is the first in the Droid series that will link to Verizon’s faster 4G wireless network.

There’s no word yet as to the pricing for the Droid 4.

Thanks: Neowin

As you know, we’re big fans of keeping your shopping experience easy — especially now that the holiday shopping season is here. Today, we’re starting to take all the great functionality and ease-of-use you’ve come to know with Google Checkout and merge it with Google Wallet to create a single wallet, whether you’re buying online or in-store. We’re also starting to integrate Google Wallet as the payment method on Android Market, YouTube, Google+ Games and many other Google sites.

For consumers: save time with Google Wallet online 
For all you busy holiday shoppers, Google Wallet provides a simple and safe way to make online purchases. When you shop with merchants that accept Google Wallet or Google Checkout, just use your Google Wallet username and password to complete your purchase — there’s no need to pull out your credit card or enter your shipping address with every transaction. Starting tomorrow, if you add a Citi MasterCard to the Google Wallet mobile app, it will also be available for use when you shop with Google Wallet online.

If you’re a current user of Google Checkout you can automatically transition your account to Google Wallet the next time you sign in or make a purchase online. All users can now access online purchase history and payment information at wallet.google.com/manage.

For merchants: no changes necessary
We’re committed to upgrading our payment solutions for merchants while ensuring they’re able to process payments without interruption during the holidays — so shoppers using Google Wallet will be able to make purchases seamlessly on merchant sites that accept Google Checkout. Early next year, we will work closely with our merchant partners to switch to the Google Wallet logo and share details on new and upcoming features.

If you have questions about this transition, please visit our Help Center to learn more. If you are looking for more information, you can visit google.com/wallet.

Thanks: Google Commerce

4G high-speed mobile trials begin in London

image

While American network operators proudly roll out their high-speed 4G mobile networks across the United States, there are many other nations where 4G has yet to arrive. The UK is one such example; while elsewhere in Europe, such as Germany and Scandinavia, operators already sell 4G services to customers, Britain has yet to even award spectrum licenses to carriers.

Despite this, operators are forging ahead with testing the new technologies on their networks, and today sees the launch of a new 4G LTE trial in London by O2, the UK’s second largest operator with over 22 million subscribers, and part of Spanish telecoms giant Telefónica.

This isn’t the first 4G trial in the UK – O2 has been carrying out testing in Slough, west of London, since 2009; a joint trial between BT and Everything Everywhere, owner of Orange UK and T-Mobile UK, began this year around the village of St Newlyn East in Cornwall, but with just 200 people on that trial, its scale is quite limited.

O2’s London trial is on a much larger scale, and will run through to June 2012. At its peak, there’ll be 25 4G sites active across the capital, covering 40 square kilometres in total. Two distinct trial zones will encompass many of London’s most prominent locations, including Hyde Park, Westminster, Soho and areas north to Kings Cross; and around The O2 arena (shown at the top of this article), parts of London’s Docklands, and the Canary Wharf business district in the east.

The trial won’t include mobile phones though; rather, Samsung B3730 dongles will be supplied to testers, supporting 4G speeds of up to 100Mbps, although users are expected to receive average speeds of 25-50Mbps in practice. When the network is deployed nationally, average speeds are likely to drop further, but will still dramatically exceed the kind of speeds users routinely see on 3G networks which, in the UK, averages around 1.5Mbps.

The trial will be carried out on the 2.6GHz spectrum band under a temporary license. The UK auction of spectrum allocation to the network operators should have taken place this year, but has been delayed until mid-2012; spectrum can also not be allocated until analog television signals are switched off next year.

Even once the auction is complete, operators will still have a considerable amount of work to do to build and test their 4G networks before they’re ready to sell products to customers – as a result, the first commercial 4G services aren’t expected to launch in the UK until the first half of 2013 at the earliest.

Don’t get too excited about the prospect of joining the O2 London trial either – access is by invitation only for around a thousand users in total, including premier O2 customers and selected small businesses. Staff at John Lewis department stores will also be involved in the trial to see how faster mobile broadband can be used to help businesses.

UK consumers can get a sneak-peek of the technology in action at the O2 Arena in London’s Docklands, where the company will be offering demos of the trial in action at its store and O2 Lounge.

Thanks: Neowin

Perception is killing Internet Explorer

 

Even though a new version was just released back in March, Internet Explorer is still bleeding market share. The growth that IE9 has gotten is mostly just cannibalization of older versions of IE, and overall it recently fell below 50% of market share. IE6, released in 2001, controls as much of the market as the latest version.

Microsoft has been trying very hard, especially with IE9, to breathe new life into it’s browser. Arguably, they got it right this time. But it’s not helping. Some people think that it’s Microsoft’s lack of a major presence in mobile that’s hurting them. Other people will tell you that it’s the lack of extensions and updates. But what’s really behind the long, painful demise of Internet Explorer? It really began picking up steam with IE3 in 1996, very quickly becoming the #1 browser. They must have been doing something right. Somewhere along the line, though, something went horribly wrong.

It began in 2002. At that point, IE had 95% of the browser market. Netscape couldn’t touch it, and there wasn’t another real competitor on the horizon. Microsoft was king, so they could rest and enjoy the fruits of their labor, right? Wrong.

Phoenix came, quite appropriately, out of the ashes of Netscape, and by the time it became known as Mozilla Firefox in 2004, IE’s cracks were starting to show. Compared to Firefox, it was clunky, slow, and boring. IE was a dog. It sucked. Microsoft’s answer was to do nothing. It wasn’t until October 2006, more than five years after the launch of IE6, that Microsoft released IE7. For the first time, IE had tabbed browsing, something that Firefox already had in 2002. IE7 was an improvement, but it was too late. The damage had been done; IE was the browser you used to download a better browser.

By the time IE8 was released in 2009 there was a new kid on the block: Google Chrome. It was fast, sleek, extendable, with all of Google’s marketing power behind it. IE8 wasn’t a dog, but it was hardly impressive enough to win any new fans, either.

Microsoft realized that they had to do something truly radical if they wanted to regain some of their lost market share. Rewriting large portions of the code from the ground up, they overhauled the entire interface of the browser. From the first time it was shown off, IE9 was well received.

It was released in March of 2011. Firefox 4.0 came out a few days later, and Google Chrome was already in it’s 10th incarnation. Testing found that IE9 easily matched the speeds of its competitors, and it boasted a cleaner interface that allowed more room for the web. By all accounts, it was a worthy competitor to the best of them, though it still lacked strong support for extensions.

Even with all the praise it has received, IE9 is still getting the short end of the stick. Firefox’s growth is more or less stagnant at this point, but Chrome continues to gobble up market share at an ever faster rate, much of it taken out of IE.

The real problem is the reputation that Internet Explorer ‘earned’ through the botched releases of yore. It doesn’t matter how good of a product Microsoft releases, Internet Explorer has too much baggage behind it.

If Microsoft ran something similar to the Mojave Experiment like they did with Vista, demonstrating IE as a different product, I believe that it would be much more well received. Face it: the vast majority of consumers couldn’t care less what browser they are using. They just want to get online and do what they want. They just want the browser to stay the hell out of their way (something IE is good at). Most of the criticism directed at IE comes from people like you and I. We like to think of ourselves as being ‘in the know.’

We are the people who fix our elderly neighbor’s computers. We are enthusiasts. Some of us do this for a living. Many of you hate IE because of what it used to be, not because of what it is. If it was left up to a large portion of users, they would never move beyond it. Not because they hate it and they’re being forced to use it, but because it works perfectly well enough for them. Like me, I bet that a lot of you are guilty of installing Firefox or Chrome on other people’s computers. You couldn’t leave IE on their computer in good conscience, not when it was the mess that it used to be.

It’s not something I want to see happen, but from a business standpoint, I think that it’s the best solution. Microsoft needs to drop the IE name. It might be lamented by the likes of us, an old friend going away, but I think that it would be best for Microsoft. They could hold on to the technology that they have built, but get rid of all the excess baggage that comes with the name Internet Explorer. It would be starting from a clean slate, and it would cost brand recognition. But is the recognition that comes from Internet Explorer really the kind of recognition that Microsoft wants?

Thanks: Neowin

 

They didn’t have Twitter back in the 1960s when Mad Men’s Don Draper was defining cool style, but if they did, Don would probably use a Twitter client like this one.

Created by a pair of Ukrainian tech companies, the Tweephone makes you enter your tweets one character at a time using the rotary phone dial. Of course with lots more letters in the alphabet than numbers on the dial, some letters require two or three turns to complete. That means completing a 140 character tweet could take some time, but hey, the world operated at a slower pace back then.

Now let’s see if they can build an iPhone that works like a pocket calendar.

Thanks: Dvice

 

image

The BlackBerry is going the way of the dinosaurs. Or at least, it will be extinct soon at the rate the company is losing market share in the US. In the last three months, the company has seen a incredible drop of 15% in US market share on the same period last year.

Vendor Q3 2011 Q3 2010

HTC.         24%         14%

Samsung 21%         14%

Apple.      20%         26%

Motorola 18%           9%

RIM.           9%         24%

According to Business Insider today, who obtained the statistics from Canalys, the company dropped from 24% market share down to 9% in the three months that made up Q3 2011. It’s clear that Android is literally ripping the shares from RIM’s (almost) cold, dead hands. The numbers in the report show HTC market share being up to 24% from 14%, and Samsung market share being up to 21% from 14% in the same quarter last year.

Android’s growth is undeniable in this look at market share, and it’s only going to get even more powerful as Android 4.0 based devices hit the market in November. It’s worth noting that the drop in Apple marketshare from 26% to 20% is due to people holding off on buying iPhones before the announcement of the iPhone 4S (which was announced just after Q3 completed).

In total, HTC and Samsung now hold over 45% of the market, and its sad to see RIM losing so much ground. With the release of several ill-fated devices and a major outage this year, and the company now scrambling to get the Android app store on their platform, it may be too late for a company that’s becoming slow and out of date.

Thanks: Neowin

image

Science fiction movies and TV shows that show people using holographic touch interfaces on their PCs may be closer to reality than previously thought. The official Microsoft Research web site has announced that it has been working on two different types of touch interfaces. One of them is called OmniTouch and enables nearly any kind of surface to be used as an user interface.

Microsoft’s Hrvoje Benko said, “The surface area of one hand alone exceeds that of typical smart phones. Tables are an order of magnitude larger than a tablet computer. If we could appropriate these ad hoc surfaces in an on-demand way, we could deliver all of the benefits of mobility while expanding the user’s interactive capability.”

The prototype is supposed to be wearable by a person, using a combination of a camera created by PrimeSense with a laser-based pico projector. As you can see from the pictures above, the projector creates the image of the user interface which can be interacted with via the camera. While the prototype camera is pretty bulky to use, the web site claims the projector and camera combo could be made as small as a matchbox at some time in the future.

Another way of creating a different kind touch interface is called PocketTouch. It’s a design that allows a smartphone or other device to be accessed without the user taking it out of his or her pocket. The site says, “It uses the capacitive sensors to enable eyes-free multitouch input on the device through fabric, giving users the convenience of a rich set of gesture interactions, ranging from simple touch strokes to full alphanumeric text entry, without having to remove the device from a pocket or bag.” You can see examples in the pictures above.

So how does this process work, especially since smartphone users generally have no idea how their device is oriented in their pocket or bag? The site says, “The team resolved this by using an orientation-defining unlock gesture to determine the coordinate plane, thus initializing the device for interaction. Once initialized, user orientation can be from any direction as long as it’s consistent. PocketTouch then separates purposeful finger strokes from background noise and uses them as input.”

Thanks: Neowin

image

Internet users usually open up their web browsers to surf their favorite web sites without a lot of thought put into it. But Microsoft is launching a new web site that is designed to alert Internet users to the dangers of web surfing, particularly on older web browser versions. The web site is Yourbrowsermatters.org which tells a visitor how secure their browser is to threats like malware and phishing attacks on a scale of 0 to 4.

According to a post on Microsoft’s official Internet Explorer web site, 24.4 percent of all the PCs in the world that are connected to the Internet run an outdated version of a web browser. Microsoft says that amount comes to 340 million PCs that don’t run the latest version of their web browser software. The number of PCs in the world that run Internet Explorer 6 or 7 total 15.2 percent while PCs who run Mozilla’s Firefox 3.6 or older amount to 7.5 percent. PCs who run the 12th version or older of Google’s Chrome browser are in 1.7 percent of all PCs. Chrome is the only one of the three web browsers that now automatically updates to the newest version, without any need for a user’s approval.

Yourbrowsermatters.org goes over some of the things that people can do to be more secure while browsing the Internet. That includes downloading the latest version of your web browser, making sure your operating system is also up to date, being able to recognize phishing attacks and more.

Image via Microsoft

Thanks:Neowin

His accomplishments and character helped define a generation and change the world. He is co-founder of the fairytale company we now know as Apple Computers. And he is the visionary of the personal computers world that led the entire computer hardware and software industry to restructure itself.

This man with boundless energy and charisma is also a master of hype, hyperbole and the catchy phrase. And even when he’s trying to talk normally, brilliant verbiage comes tumbling out.

Here’s a selection of some of the most insanely great things he said, golden lessons to help you succeed in life, Jobs-style:

1. Steve Jobs said: “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”

Innovation has no limits. The only limit is your imagination. It’s time for you to begin thinking out of the box. If you are involved in a growing industry, think of ways to become more efficient; more customer friendly; and easier to do business with. If you are involved in a shrinking industry – get out of it quick and change before you become obsolete; out of work; or out of business. And remember that procrastination is not an option here. Start innovating now!

2. Steve Jobs said: “Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”

There is no shortcut to excellence. You will have to make the commitment to make excellence your priority. Use your talents, abilities, and skills in the best way possible and get ahead of others by giving that little extra. Live by a higher standard and pay attention to the details that really do make the difference. Excellence is not difficult – simply decide right now to give it your best shot – and you will be amazed with what life gives you back.

3. Steve Jobs said: “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”

I’ve got it down to four words: “Do what you love.” Seek out an occupation that gives you a sense of meaning, direction and satisfaction in life. Having a sense of purpose and striving towards goals gives life meaning, direction and satisfaction. It not only contributes to health and longevity, but also makes you feel better in difficult times. Do you jump out of bed on Monday mornings and look forward to the work week? If the answer is ‘no’ keep looking, you’ll know when you find it.

4. Steve Jobs said: “You know, we don’t grow most of the food we eat. We wear clothes other people make. We speak a language that other people developed. We use a mathematics that other people evolved… I mean, we’re constantly taking things. It’s a wonderful, ecstatic feeling to create something that puts it back in the pool of human experience and knowledge.”

Live in a way that is ethically responsible. Try to make a difference in this world and contribute to the higher good. You’ll find it gives more meaning to your life and it’s a great antidote to boredom. There is always so much to be done. And talk to others about what you are doing. Don’t preach or be self-righteous, or fanatical about it, that just puts people off, but at the same time, don’t be shy about setting an example, and use opportunities that arise to let others know what you are doing.

5. Steve Jobs said: “There’s a phrase in Buddhism, ‘Beginner’s mind.’ It’s wonderful to have a beginner’s mind.”

It is the kind of mind that can see things as they are, which step by step and in a flash can realize the original nature of everything. Beginner’s mind is Zen practice in action. It is the mind that is innocent of preconceptions and expectations, judgements and prejudices. Think of beginner’s mind as the mind that faces life like a small child, full of curiosity and wonder and amazement.

6. Steve Jobs said: “We think basically you watch television to turn your brain off, and you work on your computer when you want to turn your brain on.”

Reams of academic studies over the decades have amply confirmed television’s pernicious mental and moral influences. And most TV watchers know that their habit is mind-numbing and wasteful, but still spend most of their time in front of that box. So turn your TV off and save some brain cells. But be cautious, you can turn your brain off by using a computer also. Try and have an intelligent conversation with someone who plays first person shooters for 8 hours a day. Or auto race games, or role-playing games.

7. Steve Jobs said: “I’m the only person I know that’s lost a quarter of a billion dollars in one year…. It’s very character-building.”

Don’t equate making mistakes with being a mistake. There is no such thing as a successful person who has not failed or made mistakes, there are successful people who made mistakes and changed their lives or performance in response to them, and so got it right the next time. They viewed mistakes as warnings rather than signs of hopeless inadequacy. Never making a mistake means never living life to the full.

8. Steve Jobs said: “I would trade all of my technology for an afternoon with Socrates.”

Over the last decade, numerous books featuring lessons from historical figures have appeared on the shelves of bookstores around the world. And Socrates stands with Leonardo da Vinci, Nicholas Copernicus, Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein as a beacon of inspiration for independent thinkers. But he came first. Cicero said of Socrates that, “He called philosophy down from the skies and into the lives of men.” So use Socrates’ principles in your life, your work, your learning, and your relationships. It’s not about Socrates, it’s really about you, and how you can bring more truth, beauty and goodness into your life everyday.

9. Steve Jobs said: “We’re here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why else even be here?”

Did you know that you have big things to accomplish in life? And did you know that those big things are getting rather dusty while you pour yourself another cup of coffee, and decide to mull things over rather than do them? We were all born with a gift to give in life, one which informs all of our desires, interests, passions and curiosities. This gift is, in fact, our purpose. And you don’t need permission to decide your own purpose. No boss, teacher, parent, priest or other authority can decide this for you. Just find that unique purpose.

10. Steve Jobs said: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Are you tired of living someone else’s dream? No doubt, its your life and you have every right to spend it in your own individual way without any hurdles or barriers from others. Give yourself a chance to nurture your creative qualities in a fear-free and pressure-free climate. Live a life that YOU choose and be your own boss.

Each lesson might be difficult to integrate into your life at first, but if you ease your way into each lesson, one at a time, you’ll notice an immediate improvement in your overall performance. So go ahead, give them a try.

 

Thanks: Ririan Project Blog