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Google’s new Gmail app for Apple’s iOS devices was unceremoniously pulled from the App Store recently but now Google has once again offered the mobile app version of its web-based email service to all those iPhone and iPad users. The official Gmail blog has announced that the original version was pulled on November 2 due to “a bug which broke notifications and displayed an error message.” The notifications are now working for the new (and free) Gmail iOS app.

First announced a couple of weeks ago, the iOS port for Gmail has a number of interesting features, including being able to use auto-complete for all of your Gmail contact email addresses, using search to find a specific email in your inbox and, as noted before, being alerted when a new email hits your inbox with sounds and other notifications. The iPad version of Gmail also has the ability to read your email as well as scan your inbox at the same time.

Even though Google has its own mobile operating system, the truth is there are likely a lot of Gmail users who will want to use the service via an iPhone and iPad. The new Gmail mobile app should allow iOS users to access all of the advanced features of Google’s email service without having to surf to the Gmail web site via Safari.

Thanks: Neowin

4G high-speed mobile trials begin in London

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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

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As smartphones get thinner, lighter and increasingly powerful, manufacturers somehow find new ways to make the technology in our mobile devices ever more compact. The bits of tech that we slot in to our devices keep getting smaller too; users across the globe routinely insert microUSB chargers, microSD storage cards and microSIM cards into their handsets, to unleash the capabilities of the technology within.

While microSIM has been around for a couple of years now, it hasn’t been implemented much beyond Apple’s newer iPhones and its iPad tablets. Just as other manufacturers seem poised to widen the scale of microSIM adoption – Nokia’s Lumia 800 Windows Phone, due for release this week, has a microSIM slot, for example – a new format has been announced that’s set to reduce the size of the humble SIM once again.

The nanoSIM has been designed by German firm Giesecke & Devrient, specialists in developing smart cards and banknote production systems. The new card is 30% smaller than the microSIM, and a whopping 60% smaller than the cards currently used in the majority of mobile devices. Pocket-lint notes that compatibility of the nanoSIM with current and older devices is provided through an adapter caddy into which it can be placed.

G&D is actively working with manufacturers and network operators on finalising standards for nanoSIM implementation, and believes that the first mobile devices with nanoSIM slots will be on the market in early 2012. SlashGear suspects that the first such device could be Apple’s next-generation iPhone, but that seems to be little more than speculation and supposition at this stage.

SIM card technology has certainly advanced since the early days of mobile telephony. Neowin’s youngest readers may not recall some of the early mobile phones that came with a SIM-chip embedded in something the size of a credit card, the entirety of which had to be inserted into the handset.

Things have come a long way since then, although perhaps the technological leaps for SIM are getting a little smaller these days. Still, just imagine: by this time next year, your phone could be a fraction of a gram lighter thanks to the switch from microSIM to cutting edge nanoSIM technology.

Thanks: Neowin

Review: Droid Razr

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The Droid Razr is a phone that is using a name that helped to define Motorola in the mobile phone segment. By taking on this branding, Motorola is betting big that this device will not tarnish the name that the original Razr established. The Droid Razr retails for $649.99 or is $299.99 on a two year contract.

Hardware:

The Droid Razr comes in at 7.1mm and it definitely feels like a slice of mechanical joy that the original Razr first introduce. Coming in at just over a quarter inch thick, you begin to realize that this phone is pushing the boundaries of how thin a device can be and still retain the quality that doesn’t make it feel cheap in your hands. One thing did become clear during our review, design was placed over functionality for this device. Does the device turn heads? Yes, but is that always a good thing?

Just because a device is thin, does not mean it isn’t wide. The 4.3 inch device has a bezel that makes the device feel as if the screen is larger than 4.3 inches. With the extended bezel, the device does feel rather wide at times and those with tiny hands may not be able to firmly grasp the device.

The one thing that does separate this phone from other Android devices but does link it closer to that of the iPhone, is that the battery is not user replaceable. For some this may be a deal breaker for others, it’s a non-issue. For us, it goes both ways as if you compare it to an iPhone, it’s not a big deal but then again, in the Android community, user replaceable batteries are rather common.

Display:

Motorola is packing in the goods with the display as it comes in with a resolution of 960 x 540 Super AMOLED display which allows you to make the most of the 4.3 inch real estate provided by the Droid Razr. The screen is beautiful, but one thing to note is that it’s not the best display that we have seen as there is something awkward about how text is handled when scrolling as it becomes a bit jaded when compared to other devices.

For the average user, most will not notice the small imperfections of the screen and it does work well on this device. Those who are overly sensitive and notice the finer things in life may get annoyed with some of the blurring of text when scrolling but it is far from a show stopper.

Software:

Victory! Motoblur is not on this device, well, at least the naming of the skin is not. For the most part, a lot of Motoblur has been removed from the skin but elements of the theme are still hidden in the cracks and can still be found when using the device. There are also many free apps that come on the device and Verizon is pushing its free NFL mobile app for those on 4G for the 2011 season. There are the usual other apps such as Vcast, Blockbuster and a few others. Motorola also includes Motocast which is similar to the iCloud service.

Another interesting and useful app is the “Smart Actions”. These location based tasks are clever and quite useful. You can set them up to turn specific features on and off depending on many different metrics. You can have it adjust device settings when at work, turn off certain features when the battery hits a denoted percentage, or even automatically silence the ringer in certain locations such as the office (it can change settings based on location). They take some time to setup, but once done, they reduce the amount of times you have to change particualr settings in your daily routine.

Battery:

Motorola made big claims when introducing the phone that the battery would not be short sided in use, but we have yet to use a 4G device that doesn’t kill the battery when pulling down data. We can’t give a full breakdown of battery usage yet as we have limited time with the device but it does have a 1780 mAh battery. We noticed, as one would expect, that heavy use of 4G does impact the battery, but in a single day we made several calls, checked email, and of course, browsed the web.

The battery appeared to be standing up to this punishment but we were not exactly heavy on the 4G use either.

Camera:

Not surprisingly, Motorola is using an 8 megapixel shooter in this device. If that sounds familiar, it’s because Motorola has been using this same camera in the Bionic. There is also a 1.3 megapixel camera upfront that and as you have guessed, is used for video calling.

Overall we were generally pleased with both of the cameras. The rear camera was modest in its color reproduction and focus time was acceptable to the point that it should not impede use. It was not the fastest focusing camera we have ever used on a mobile device but it is far above the worst we have seen too. It’s well above average, especially in well lighted areas but low light pictures did begin to show noise at even modest darkness.

Video capture is above average as well. The device comes pre-set to 720P but you can bump it up to 1080P. We might suggest that if you require high quality 1080P video to purchase a dedicated device, but for a cell-phone, it does reasonably well. Personally, we will keep it at 720P as 1080P video will fill up your internal storage rather quickly.

Performance:

The device feels great in use, but is far from perfect. Actually, the only time we really saw a slowdown with the device was occasionally while browsing the web. Quadrant came back at 2700 on average over a series of tests during the day which puts it in company with many other high end smartphones.

If you were thinking that it’s really thin and that Motorola must have sacrificed on the performance to get it this thin, you were wrong. However, if you are watching a movie or any other intensive action, the device does get a bit warm.

Call Quality:

The Droid Razr is an average performer in this category. Sure, calls were easily heard and understood on both ends but definitely had a tint of tin to them. The same can be said for the speakerphone; it’s clear the thinness of the device plays into quality but it doesn’t render the device unusable, far from it.

Conclusion:

The Droid Razr is a device that will turn heads but also makes a few sacrifices to get the job done. It is by far one of the best looking devices on the market with its sleek profile and Kevlar back plate. But to get that thin profile, the device is rather light and almost (almost!), feels cheap and the display does leave some room for improvement.

What Motorola has done proves that it can compete in the design game and produce a fantastic looking device. If you need a gorgeous device that runs Android but cuts only a few corners, this is your device. But at the same time, with the Samsung Galaxy Nexus right around the corner that will also be on Verizon, it makes the decision a little bit harder.

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

 

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Internet safety is a topic that we are all commonly reminded of as we move to an increasingly digital age. Now, another reminder of how much we willingly share with those we don’t know has been shown, as reported by the BBC.

Using what is known as a ‘socialbot’, researchers were able to acquire information that a Facebook spokesperson rebuked as being “overstated and unethhical”. A socialbot is a botnet adapted for usage on social networks. The worst part of the socialbot’s power is how affordable it is. Dubious websites offer the bots for sale over the internet for as little as 29USD, or 18GBP.

A socialbot differs from a normal botnet in the sense that it can pass itself off as a normal Facebook user. A regular botnet is a type of virus that can infect a user’s computer, and can make use of this to send out spam or partake in digital attacks against other websites. The socialbot takes control of an existing Facebook account, and is able to perform normal activities, such as posting statuses and sending friend requests.

The research was performed by four members of the University of British Colombia, with 102 socialbots being commanded by one ‘master’. The master sends commands to the other bots, which they then act upon. These commands would likely consist of seeking profiles and adding them. In the space of eight weeks, the bots sent out 8,570 friend requests and had 3,055 acceptances. The research showed a relation in the number of Facebook friends a user had, and the likelihood of the socialbot being accepted as a friend.

Remaining within Facebook’s limitations for sending friend requests, the bots sent only 25 requests per day. Any more and the bots risked triggering the fraud detection and prevention system existing on Facebook. According to Facebook, the research is not reflective of how they prevent socialbots operating, as the accounts operated from ‘trusted’ university IP addresses. An IP address used by a real-life criminal operating socialbots would apparently raise alarm bells within the company.

Many people are now growing more aware of friend requests coming ‘out of the blue’, so to speak, and it reflects how people could be growing more aware of the people seeking to acquire more information, whether you intended to give them the information or not.

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

 

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Google has quietly readied itself for the launch of the Galaxy Nexus by introducing a heavily remade version of Google+ for Android (Android Market). The app is “completely new” and is designed to borrow the interface layout of Android 4.0: it takes the multi-column interface of the new mobile OS, such as the edge-to-edge photo browsing and the spare, open look. Its posting interface has been given one of the more conspicuous changes to be in line with the new OS.

Some recent changes to the social network itself are now reflected in the app, such as support for Google Apps users. Battery life and speed should be better, and notifications have been tuned to an unspecified degree. It’s now possible to add people to circles from a circle’s profile, not just an individual user.

Although intended for Android 4.0, the new Google+ works on any Android device running 2.1 and up. The interface still isn’t fully optimized for tablets. Some changes, like Google Apps support and circle profile adds, are likely to reach the iOS app.

The Galaxy Nexus is informally expected to ship worldwide within the next one to two weeks.

Thanks: Electronista

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Google may answer one of longer-lasting complaints about Gmail on the iPhone by releasing a native Gmail app, multiple insiders claimed Monday. The app is described by CrunchFund partner MG Siegler’s contacts as “fantastic” and taking advantage of push notifications. It will presumably include starring and may have recent but now established features like Priority Inbox sorting as well as possible improvements for contact IDs, a new threading layout, and much more in-depth searching.

The app may have already been submitted for approval. If cleared, it could be available soon.

Approval is a possible point of competition. Apple has often denied apps that “duplicate functionality” and is well-known for being more resistant to allowing certain Google apps than usual, such as its year-long Google Voice block that has been unofficially attributed to retaliation against Android. Apple has been more willing to allow similar but more specialized apps in recent months.

Adding a Gmail app might help close a gap with Android. As expected, its Gmail app is often considered a selling point for many who have accounts and want advantages such as push e-mail, labels, and filters. On iOS, Gmail users either have to setup a special Exchange sync account to get live mail and lose some features, limit a Gmail account to periodic checks, or use the HTML5 web app.

Thanks: Electronista

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t used to be the case that people could claim that Apple software wasn’t susceptible to viruses, but it’s not so anymore. Actually, it hasn’t been for a while. Today, another Mac-borne virus was identified that uses processing power of computers to generate “Bitcoins,” a virtual currency.

According to TechWorld, the Trojan uses infected Macs’ video cards to generate Bitcoins. Antivirus companies said that the trojan is being distributed with legitimate software over BitTorrent. They said today that:

“This malware is complex, and performs many operations,” security researchers from Mac antivirus vendor Intego warned. “It is a combination of several types of malware: It is a Trojan horse, since it is hidden inside other applications; it is a backdoor, as it opens ports and can accept commands from command and control servers; it is a stealer, as it steals data and Bitcoin virtual money; and it is a spyware, as it sends personal data to remote servers,”

The trojan actually installs a legitimate application that is used in the Bitcoin production process –called DiabloMiner — but configures it to distribute the coins to the creators of the virus. As the application uses the GPU to create the currency, the machine runs extremely slow as a result.

Additionally, the trojan spies on users by taking automated screen captures and logging usernames and passwords, copying encrypted data, your Safari browsing history and more, then sending them back to the creators of the infection.

It’s clearly time for users on OS X to seriously consider installing antivirus protection, as this is pretty serious compared to other threats we’ve seen out there. If you’re not running anything yet, there are plenty of free solutions out there.

Thanks: Neowin