News

By June 26, 2014 Read More →

What is new at Google I/O?

Screenshot 2014-06-26 07.48.27It is that time of year when Google steps out and shows developers what goodies they have been working on. Having spent the last few years making Android into the a beautifully well rounded and reliable operating system there was talk that Google might not have much to offer this year. Those folks were wrong and it would appear Google have been busier than ever.

 

Android One

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The Android One initiative is to allow everyone access to affordable, high-quality devices. All devices will run a stock version of Android, but OEMs can customise it within the guidelines in order to include “locally relevant” features.Android One will launch in India this autumn, with the first devices from the likes of Micromax and Karbonn priced at under $100. A worldwide rollout will follow.

 

Android L

android-l-presentation

Some might say Lolli-pop, I’m sticking with Android L, it sounds super swish. The latest version of Android focuses on a new user interface. Taking steps to push a consistent look and feel across Android devices comprising of new animations, 3D views and ripple touch feedback on buttons. Whilst the finished version is a little ways off Google were happy to demonstrate how Gmail and the phone dialer will evolve with the changes.

Are are a new enhanced features. Notifications are being introduced, which deliver notifications directly to the lock screen and can be accessed or dismissed much quicker. Personal locking is something we have seen on a couple of other devices from Samsung, however Google are looking to perfect this as wearing a connected Android Wear smartwatch, the smartphone will not require a password to access. Google also introduced a new battery saver mode, 64-bit support and improved graphics to match PCs

 

Android Wear

AH-Google-IO-2014-308-of-18-Android-Wear-Samsung

You might have noticed the LG G Watch and a Samsung-made Gear Live device will be available to order from Google Play. Android is arriving on your wrist with voice commands at will allow users to do things such as request flight boarding passes, while users can also connect with their Android phone to control music. There was a short demonstration to order and pay for Pizza right on the wrist. There were a few unhappy murmurs from the audience as the rounded Motorola 360 is not to ship until later this year.
 

 

Android Auto

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Cars are getting the Google treatment this year with a new software solution to feature voice-controlled access to Google Maps, text messaging and apps. The voice recognition feature means that users should never have to remove their hands from the wheel of their vehicle to use the system as safety is one of the main focuses of Google.

 

Android Apps on Chromebooks

Screenshot 2014-06-26 07.21.27

Android apps to purposed to run on Chromebooks fairly soon. The implications of this are massive, We saw a demonstration of Evernote, Flipboard and Vine running in suspended windows on Google’s Chrome OS, allowing the app to flexibly switch between mobile and tablet formats depending on the user’s need. One of the main criticisms is that the apps on Android are optimised touchscreen and only a few Chromebooks adopt this, even then the experience is little more than a novelty. 

 

Google Fit

google-fit

 

Google Fit will use data from various health trackers across Android devices to build detailed analysis of their fitness level, using partners such as Nike, Adidas and RunKeeper on the platform. This announemnty was made all the more interesting by a brief interruption by a protestor during a keynote address.

Android TV

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We saw Android TV and a variety of applications and games on a simplified user interface. Gaming is a major focuses of the platform, a tablet can be used as a controller while an Android game is being screened on the television display. There was also a dedicated gamepad to allow overall control the interface alongside gaming. We should see Android TV launched in the autumn.

 

 

Don’t believe me? Watch it all here:

 

 

Posted in: News
By June 24, 2014 Read More →

Google Glass hits the UK

Brian HoGoogle Glass si to go on sale in the UK from Monday, June 23. The wearable will be  available to anyone over the age of 18 and cost £1,000. The Glass Explorer Programme is specifically designed to make Glass available to a wider range of people. Google is hoping it will help better prepare the product for its full consumer launch.

“Technology is at its best when it fits seamlessly into our lives and lets us get on with whatever we’re doing. Our goal for Glass is exactly that – to make it easier to bring people the technology they rely on without drawing them out of the moment,” said Ivy Ross, head of Glass.

Those wishing to test the technology out – but not necessarily keen on the idea of parting with £1,000 – will also be able to request a demo of it at Google’s Basecamp event in London on June 27 and 28. There is no word yet as to when Google Glass will go on general sale, and the company has insisted that the technology is still in the prototyping phase.

 

Posted in: News
By June 23, 2014 Read More →

ZTE announce a couple of new phones on Virgin

image002ZTE and Virgin Media announced the release of the stylish ZTE Blade L2 and ultra-affordable ZTE Kis 3 in the UK. The ZTE Blade L2 is now available to purchase in store and online from both Virgin Media and Argos for £89.99* PAYG, with the ZTE Kis 3 available for just £49.99* PAYG.

The ZTE Blade L2 is the latest smartphone to come from the popular Blade series, featuring an elegant design, 5’’ touch screen and slim 8.9mm white exterior frame. Also on offer, is the ultra-affordable Kis 3, designed to be the perfect entry-level smartphone at a great price. 

 

ZTE Blade L2 specifications:

  • Operating system: Android 4.2
  • Size and weight: 142.5×72.2×8.95mm
  • Display: 5.0”FWVGA (480x854Pixel)
  • Camera: 5 megapixel camera with AF/ LED Flash, 0.3 megapixel front camera
  • Network: GSM/UMTS, GSM 900/1800/1900 MHz, WCDMA 900/2100 MHz
  • Battery: 2000 mAh
  • Processor: 1.3 GHz Quad-Core processor
  • Memory: 1GB RAM, 4GB ROM
  • Other: GPS, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, Dual SIM

image004

ZTE Kis 3 specifications:

  • Operating system: Android 4.4
  • Size and weight: 126×64.7×10.7mm
  • Display: 4.0”WVGA (480x800Pixel)
  • Camera: 3 megapixel camera
  • Network: GSM 900/1800/1900 MHz | WCDMA 900/2100 MHz
  • Battery: 1400 mAh
  • Processor: 1.2 GHz Dual Core
  • Memory: 512MB LPDDR2/3 + 4GB eMMC | MicroSD (Up to 32GB)
  • Other: GPS with AGPS, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, Dual SIM

 

ZTE and Virgin Media launch the Blade L2 and Kis 3 in the UK

20 June 2014, Brentford, UK – ZTE and Virgin Media today announced the release of the stylish ZTE Blade L2 and ultra-affordable ZTE Kis 3 in the UK. The ZTE Blade L2 is now available to purchase in store and online from both Virgin Media and Argos for £89.99* PAYG, with the ZTE Kis 3 available for just £49.99* PAYG.
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The ZTE Blade L2 is the latest smartphone to come from the popular Blade series, featuring an elegant design, 5’’ touch screen and slim 8.9mm white exterior frame. With a 1.3GHz quad-core processor and 5MP camera which includes multiple settings from continuous shot, panorama and anti-flickering to a multi-angle view that can easily be turned into 3D animation, the ZTE Blade L2 has plenty to offer in both style and performance at an affordable price point.
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The ultra-affordable Kis 3, is designed to be the perfect entry-level smartphone. The ZTE Kis 3 features the latest Android 4.4 KitKat OS a powerful dual core 1.2GHz processor as well as 512MB RAM to provide smooth multi-tasking and app usage. The 10.7mm thin body and large bright 4” screen makes it easy and enjoyable to browse the latest news, watch videos and view photos.

Chris Edwards, Marketing and Business Development Director at ZTE said, “It is our mission to make smartphone technology accessible to everyone and the introduction of the Blade L2 and Kis 3 is no exception. The Blade & Kis series have been extremely popular with Virgin customers and it’s great that Virgin and Argos will be adding to its portfolio with two new ZTE smartphones.”

Jamie Heywood, director of mobile at Virgin Media added, “Both of these handsets pack a real punch for their price point. The Blade L2 offers elegance with a solid design while the Kis 3 will allow customers to get their hands on the latest Android handsets at a fraction of the price.”

The ZTE Blade L2 can be purchased in store and online from Virgin Media and Argos today for £89.99* PAYG including £10 top up. The ZTE Kis 3 can also be purchased from Virgin Media and Argos for just £49.99* PAYG, including £10 top up.

*includes a compulsory £10 top-up

Posted in: News, Phones
Tags: ,
By June 22, 2014 Read More →

The HTC Volantis nine-inch Nexus tablet

HTC-VolantisA new leak is revealing specs and early mock-ups of a new nine-inch tablet from HTC, codenamed “Volantis”. Android Police has revealed that pricing won’t be as harsh as it could, with a rumored cost of $399 for the 16GB model and $499 for the 32GB model. HTC and Google are said to be aiming for a Q4 2014 release to correspond with the launch of Android L, the next Android overhaul.

HTC Volantis Specification:

  • 8.9″ Display at 2048×1440 (281ppi)
  • NVIDIA Logan 64-bit processor (Tegra K1)
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16/32GB internal storage
  • 8MP OIS main camera, 3MP front facing camera
  • Aluminum zero-gap construction
  • Stereo front-facing speakers
  • 8.91″x5.98″x0.31″ body (that’s 22.63×15.19×0.79cm)
  • 418g (or 427g with LTE) (that’s 14.74/15.1 ounces)
Posted in: News, Rumours, Tablets
Tags:
By June 19, 2014 Read More →

The Amazon Fire Phone

Amazon-Fire-Phone-Music-LibraryAmazon on Wednesday finally took the wraps off of one of the worst kept secrets in the industry: the Fire Phone. The new handset is powered by a quad-core 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and it features a 4.7-inch 720p HD display that Amazon claims is bright enough to be visible in outdoor lighting. Also contains 2GB of RAM, dual stereo speakers, a 13-megapixel rear camera and front-facing camera for video chats.

The phone includes unlimited cloud-based photo storage, a handy addition given that the handset features six individual camera modules in total. Four of the camera modules are low-power units that track the user’s head in order to help facilitate 3D effects and motion gestures that make up the main features of Amazon’s software. For example, deep integration with Amazon’s various Prime services, including its video service and the newly unveiled Amazon Music offering. 

Another key feature is Firefly, this uses the camera to scan barcodes on products and pull them up in Amazon’s store. Firefly can also listen to music or TV shows using technology similar to Shazam to recognize them and pull them up in Amazon’s digital shop, right down to a specific episode of a TV show as demonstrated. There is a dedicated Firefly button that pulls the feature up in one second, according to Amazon.

Phone numbers and email addresses are recognized by Firefly as well. Once they are, they can be added to a new contact or used to initiate a call or email. A Mayday service, which provides a direct line of communication to Amazon’s customer support team via video chat. Reps can help users diagnose and resolve any issues, and they can also take control of the phone to help, if need be.

The Amazon Fire Phone will start at $199.99 on contract with 32GB of storage, and a 64GB version will be available for $299.99. Off contract, the phone will be priced in line with the iPhone, starting at $650. With any purchase option, the phone includes 12 months of Amazon Prime service for free.

As you have guessed there is little in the way of UK launch details, I’m sure Christmas will be a perfect time…

 

amazon-fire-phone-announced

Posted in: News, Phones
By June 19, 2014 Read More →

Apple and Samsung call it quits

urlAn anti-climactic end to a bitter battle, but is also a relief. Samsung and Apple have finally tired of the “Thermonuclear” patent war. Apparently, the two companies want to drop the fight because they still want access to each other’s business. Here’s a quote with more of the details,

Tired of spending money on legal disputes, both tech giants are looking for ways to end their years of legal wrangling. In addition, Apple apparently wants to continue to have access to Samsung as a component supplier.

Both Apple and Samsung are said to have dropped all cross-appeals filed with the ITC last year. The agency ruled in 2013 that Samsung had infringed on a pair of Apple’s patents relating to a touchscreen interface and headset plug detection. Since Sammy’s devices banned by the ITC are older models that are no longer manufactured, and newer devices are shipped with a workaround, the ITC suits are not as important to Apple as they once seemed to be.

Posted in: News
By June 19, 2014 Read More →

New news on Youtube is good and bad

unnamedThere are two YouTube related stories happening at the moment. First up, the YouTube arm of Google will be launching a paid music streaming service by the end of this summer. Supposedly, YouTube partnered with “hundreds of major and independent” music labels for the new service. YouTube reps supposedly said, 

“We’re adding subscription-based features for music on YouTube with this in mind – to bring our music partners new revenue streams in addition to the hundreds of millions of dollars YouTube already generates for them each year,”

As you can expect, not all the music labels are too happy about this though as there is a darker side to this idea. Supposedly, Google plans to block the YouTube content of record labels who don’t get on board with Google’s new program. Here’s a quote with a few more details,

The news comes as some music trade groups have criticized YouTube’s plans to potentially block the content of certain labels from appearing on YouTube’s free, ad-supported Website unless they sign deals to participate in the new, subscription streaming music service. The deals that YouTube is offering are on “highly unfavorable, and non-negotiable terms,” according to a news release issued by the Worldwide Independent Music Industry Network last month. Reuters

It will be interesting to see how this pans out. It doesn’t seem very Googley of Google to be strong-arming the music industry just to get their way, but they have done it before. Of course, it’s also possible this report’s sources are inaccurate, so we will keep an eye out.

Speaking of keeping an eye out, the second big YouTube story of the day regards the use of YouTube live streaming on the Chromecast. Previously, being able to live stream content to your Chromecast only worked from your computer. Google has added some new functionality to the device though. Google updated the Chromecast so now you can push live events from YouTube straight to the TV screen via Chromecast on your mobile device. Handy!

Posted in: News
By June 18, 2014 Read More →

Atari Has A Comeback Strategy

160px-Atari_Official_2012_Logo.svg_-e1397609649369One of the world’s most recognized publishers and producers of video game entertainment, Atari, today unveiled its new corporate strategy as an interactive entertainment production company. Atari’s approach to succeed in the digital age of entertainment includes online video games, online casinos, exclusive video content, and a robust licensing business including hardware and apparel.
 
Decades ago, Atari set the bar for console gaming entertainment, known by many as the gaming pioneer who brought popular titles like Pong® and Asteroids® to households across the globe. For success in a digital era, the world-renowned company is expanding its business and brands to mobile and online gaming platforms as well as completely new entertainment markets.
 
“Atari is more than a game publishing company; it’s an iconic brand that has established a passionate and timeless culture,” said Fred Chesnais, Chief Executive Officer, Atari, Inc. “Known across multiple generations around the world, Atari will continue to embrace all audiences. What the company has accomplished over the years is no small feat, but there is more to come. We’re looking forward to delivering on our new strategy and engaging with our audience in new ways across multiple channels as the next era of Atari unfolds. We are leading a rebuilding exercise in a highly volatile industry, so at the same time we are also aware of the challenges that lay ahead.”
 
As an interactive entertainment production company, Atari is extending its classic gaming brands to various platforms including mobile (iOS and Android), PC, online and other digital mediums. Beyond re-launching its nostalgic gaming titles, the company will aim at capitalizing on other rapidly growing markets and reaching out to new audiences – including LGBT, social casinos, real-money gambling, and YouTube with exclusive video content. Atari will also continue its hardware licensing line of business, particularly for gamified hardware and wearable devices, with the goal of operating the most promising ventures at a later stage.
 
Within its new approach, Atari has made significant strides in 2014 alone. In the gaming arena, Atari has re-introduced the beloved franchise RollerCoaster Tycoon® with RollerCoaster Tycoon® 4 Mobile™ (currently in the Top 25 of the App Store in the United States and in the Top 10 in many countries) which will be followed by an Android version and a multiplayer game for PC in winter 2014. The company also launched Haunted House® on mobile devices, and released a new multiplayer online battle arena and crafting game, Minimum. The company has plans to deliver other popular classics, such as Asteroids®, on mobile and digital platforms in coming months. In the online casino industry, Atari recently announced a real-money gambling partnership with Pariplay and social casino (virtual currency) partnership with FlowPlay. Atari will make additional announcements across the LGBT, YouTube/TV and hardware licensing industries in the coming quarters.

By June 16, 2014 Read More →

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 and 8.4 unveiled

Logitech_Type-S_CarbonBlack_FrontSamsung recently announced their newest high end Android tablets: the Galaxy Tab S 10.5 and 8.4. Both of these devices offer the exact same specs, with the only difference being the size of their displays (and price of course). The major claim to fame of these devices is the high-tech displays which are a QHD Super AMOLED design. 

Here’s the full spec-sheet:

  • 2560x1600p Super AMOLED display
  • Samsung Exynos 5420 SoC (WiFi model), or Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 SoC (LTE model)
  • 3GB RAM
  • 16/32GB internal storage with micro SD card expansion slot (up to 128GB)
  • 8MP rear and 2.1MP front facing cameras
  • 7,900mAh battery
  • Samsung’s Magazine UX software
  • Fingerprint scanner (supports up to 8 different users)
  • 6.6mm thin, 465g (10.5) or 294g (8.4)

Other notable features include “Kid mode,” “SideSync 3.0,” and a partnership with Marvel. Here’s a quote with the details,

Quote:
One the software side of things, Samsung mentioned the tabs will feature a child-friendly “Kid mode” and connectivity with your Galaxy S5 that allows you to receive calls directly from the Tab S via a feature they’re calling “SideSync 3.0.” Samsung also announced partnerships with Netflix to bring full HD 1080p video streaming to the Tab S, along with Condé Nast for Vogue, GQ, Glamour, content, as well as National Geographic.

Marvel — who will include the Tab S in the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron movie — also announced that they’d be giving away a free 3 month subscription to Marvel Unlimited, along with Google Play with their free 90-day trial to Google Play Music All Access and free copy of Gravity for Play Movies & TV.

Despite the high-end nature of these tablets, they are not quite as expensive as one might assume. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 WiFi model will be coming in July for $500, while the the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 will be only $400. Pre-orders begin June 13th. On top of this, Samsung announced accessories like the “Book Cover,” and the Logitech Type-S Bluetooth keyboard for $99 (shown in the picture above with the tablet).

Posted in: News, Tablets
By June 12, 2014 Read More →

Angry Birds EPIC arrive on Android & iOS Today

Angry-Birds-Epic-Main-Teaser-Image-640x349If you are a fan of the flavor/style elements of the Angry Birds series, then you might perk up at the above teaser video and this news. Previously we shared teasers regarding Rovio’s next game in the Angry Birds universe. This time around the game takes the same characters and world, but the gameplay changes completely. Instead of a physics based action-puzzler, Angry Birds EPIC is a turn based RPG. 

Of course, the game still revolves around the feud between the birds and the pigs, but this time it happens in a medieval fantasy world complete with swords and sorcery. For fans of this gaming genre and the Angry Birds theme, this is a welcome and refreshing change up for the series. It looks like game will be hitting Android and iOS devices on June 12th.

Posted in: Apps & Games, News
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