February 11 was the deadline for implementation of the CTIA’s policies, which means that starting today, all major US carriers should be on the same page. Note, however, that this doesn’t necessarily mean all carriers will adopt the same policies regarding when they unlock products or which devices they’ll unlock while still on-contract. Customers of AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, and Verizon can view each company’s respective policies at the links provided.]]>
According to a new report by Flurry, 51.3% of new devices activated in the week of Christmas came with an Apple logo. This compares to 17.7% for Samsung, the leading Android manufacturer, and 5.8% for Nokia, whose smartphones generally run Windows Phone.
Flurry monitor device activations and app installs by utilizing the data it collects from over 600,000 apps. People generally become ‘install addicts’ when they first turn on a new device, lending the data some authority.
Apple’s entance into the ‘phablet’ space of large smartphones with their iPhone 6 Plus seems to have made a splash, with phablet activations growing from 4% last year to 13% this year. This increase appears to have come at the cost of full size tablets, which fell from 17% to 11%, rather than regular-sized smartphones.
Apple is more popular in the western world, while Android upstarts such as Xiaomi make more of a dent in more price-conscious Asian markets, where carrier subsidies are rarer. Consumers in these Android-friendly markets are much less likely to be buying new devices in this period, as they generally don’t celebrate Christmas.]]>
While similar devices like Live-scribe’s “smart pen” require special paper or a bulk form factor to house infrared lights, battery and storage, Apple’s design uses low profile accelerometers to sense movement and so could be built to be smaller and last longer.
The patent, first reported by Apple Insider, describes a device that is activated when it is picked up, begins recording when a switch is pressed and can then store the pen’s movements, send them to your device in timed bursts or broadcast the movements instantly to one or multiple devices.
The advantage of the design is that in addition to storing your notes to send to your device later, you could use the pen while giving a presentation and have your colleagues receive a copy of your notes in real time. Alternatively, you could draw on a notepad and have the pen output to a large digital display.
The patent also mentions the device would allow for “alternative embodiments”, letting the user attach magnetometers for gathering orientation data, or allowing for different tips (for example a pencil-like graphite tip for sketching or one for writing on whiteboards).
Presumably the pen would work with a capacitive tip as well, for drawing and note-taking directly onto an iPad or iPhone, although long-time Apple followers will remember how strongly former Apple chief executive Steve Jobs felt about that.
“Who wants a stylus?!””You have to get ’em, and put ’em away. You lose ’em. Yuck! Nobody wants a stylus.”
It’s important to note that Apple files for patents of its inventions constantly and it doesn’t necessarily take all it’s designs to production (in fact this is not even the first recent Apple patent for a stylus). The patent, which was approved on Tuesday, was first filed in 2010.
Rumors earlier this year of a 12.9-inch “iPad Plus” never seemed to eventuate but, given such a device would be aimed squarely at business users, artists and designers, a stylus would make an interesting accessory.]]>
The tablets have (roughly) the same form factor as last year’s mid-ranged Yoga Android tablets, which means you’ll find a cylindrical bulge sitting on one side of each slate. That cylinder houses a battery (with unknown capacities) that Lenovo says will last up to 18 hours for the 8-in and 10-in Android versions, and up to 15 hours for the other models. Like the old versions, the cylinder doubles as a grip to better hold the device with one paw.
The 2013 versions of these tablets had mid-ranged display resolution, but the new models are doing much better in that department. The 8-in and 10-in models have 1,920 x 1,200 resolution, which comes out to 283 or 224 pixels per inch (PPI), respectively. The 13-in Pro model jumps to Quad HD (2,560 x 1,440), at 221 PPI.
Those numbers are well off the pace set by Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S and Apple’s iPads, but it’s movement in the right direction.
Now that Lenovo’s cylindrical bulge design has been around for a year, the most eye-catching feature is that built-in Pico projector in the 13-in Yoga Tablet 2 Pro. It can project up to a 50-in display (no word on resolution) onto any wall or ceiling in a dark room. If done well, the projector could turn the device into a makeshift home theater, or perhaps, in a pinch, help out with presentations. If not done well, then it’s a lot harder to see any standout features here.
Back to the build, the Yoga brand takes on a different meaning in these tablets than it does in tablet/laptop 2-in-1s. Here there’s a small stand that folds out of that cylinder, letting you stand the tablet up (almost) upright or lay it down on a more horizontal angle. But this time around, Lenovo added a new mode: hanging. That’s right: with a big square-ish hole in the middle of the kickstand, you can hang the new Yogas on something like a wall or bedpost.
The three Android tablets run 4.4 KitKat, while the two Windows variants run Windows 8.1 (that’s full Windows, not the limited RT). The 10-in Windows model even includes a Bluetooth keyboard, to squeeze a bit more work out of it. And owners of the 10-in Android tablet can buy the same keyboard to use with their slate.
All five tablets have Intel Atom Z3745 processors inside (clocked at up to 1.86 GHz). That should give them a solid enough balance of performance and battery life, but also put them several notches away from the high-end.
The prices start at US$250 for the 8-in Android-running Yoga Tablet 2, and shoot up to $500 for the 13-in Yoga Tablet 2 Pro. Four of the five are available for pre-order now (we’re still waiting on the 8-in Windows variant), and are set to start shipping in about three weeks.
You can catch a quick tease of the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro’s projector in the video clip below.
In the case of smartphones and tablets, the use of the built-in camera means the user would generally need to make gestures behind the device, which is slightly counter-intuitive and could take some getting used to. The system works by comparing the shape of a hand against a database of stored gestures. When the shape is recognized, the program executes the command associated with the gesture.
Because smartphone cameras are unable to register depth information like the Kinect can, the size of the hand is used to determine its distance, with the program warning the user when the hand is too close or far away.
Currently, the system is only able to recognize six different gestures, but the researchers say this is far from its potential, with the number of gestures only limited by the number with unambiguous outlines. This is because gestures that resemble others are likely to confuse the program.
The system is made possible by an algorithm developed by Jie Song, a Master’s student in the working group headed by Professor of Computer Science, Otmar Hilliges. Hilliges says the algorithm is ideal for smartphones, not only because it doesn’t require any additional hardware, but because it also uses far less computer memory than most other movement-recognition programs. He says this would make it suitable for a range of mobile devices, including smartphones, tablets, smart watches and augmented reality glasses.
Hilliges believes the system is the first of its kind that can be run on a smartphone, but it does sound similar to technology unveiled by Japanese company Omron in 2012. Regardless, he is certain that the technology, or parts of it, will find its way onto the market. However, he believes gesture control will supplement touchscreen control, rather than replace it.
The team’s system can be seen in action in the video below.]]>
The timing: At this point, it is widely accepted that Apple will stick to its recent trend of releasing in September, particularly the third Friday of the month. Apple’s major releases since 2011, the iPhone 5s/5c, 5 and 4s models, came on the third Friday. This launch is at the end of Apple’s fiscal year and aligns perfectly with the holiday season, which is highly desirable for the Cupertino, California-based company. Expect to see the iPhone 6 announced on Sept. 9 and released on Sept. 19.
Two phones: CEO Tim Cook distinguished himself from Steve Jobs last year by breaking from tradition with the dual iPhone 5s/5c launch, and it looks like he may repeat himself with the dual iPhone 6 launch. If Bloomberg’s report is correct, the iPhone 6 will launch with two different sizes. But that’s not the only difference in screen technology.
Improved displays: Apple might be changing the touch-screen glass from Corning’s Gorilla Glass to Apple’s own sapphire substrate. Recent reports say that GT Advanced Technology, Apple’s sapphire supplier, has ramped up production and retrofitted its Salem, Massachusetts, plant with sapphire kilns similar to the ones in Apple’s Mesa, Arizona, sapphire plant.
Apple currently uses sapphire on the iPhone 5s’ home button. Sapphire is an extremely hard substrate and protects against scratches very well, but due to the nature of the crystal, sapphire also allows for better light transfer, which is imperative for the Touch-ID sensor.
Earlier this year a report came out stating that Apple will make the switch from LTPS (Low Temperature Polycrystalline Silicon) displays to IGZO (Indium gallium zinc oxide), which they currently use on the iPad line. Apple has notably stuck with the LTPS screens on the iPhone line due to the faster speed of the screen and subsequently better resolution. The screen size might be the clincher, though, as larger LTPS displays are harder to produce.
The display will be a higher resolution as well. The 4.7-inch iPhone 6 has what some are calling an “ultra-Retina” display, with a resolution of 960 x 1704, 416 ppi (pixels per inch), or three times the size of the first iPhone. The current iPhone 5s has a Retina display of 640 x 1136, 326 ppi.
Better camera: As competitors keep increasing the size of the megapixels for their lines, Apple is more interested in producing higher-quality pictures. Therefore, Apple may stick with an 8-MP camera for its iPhone 6, but will have an electronic image stabilizer that will help reduce shake and blur. One way to improve photos without boosting megapixels is to increase the aperture of the iPhone 6’s camera to f/1.8, making low light situations even better. The front camera, called the FaceTime camera, will most likely be a 3.2-MP camera.
Faster brain: The iPhone 6 will get the next in-line processor, a 2.6GHz A8 SOC (system on a chip). While the A8 is expected to be faster than the previous A7 (some even believe that the A8 chip will be a blazingly fast quad-core 64-bit processor), the biggest improvement will be in battery life. At this point speed is seemingly negligible. When the iPhone 5s debuted with the A7, it was barely faster than the A6, meaning that both were already super-fast and the A8 chip will just be a little faster.
iOS 8: Announced earlier this month at WWDC, iOS 8 will debut on the iPhone 6. The next version of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 8 features better connectivity between Apple devices, a crisper look and a glut of new features, like Apple’s health-and-fitness app called Health or customizable keyboards.
While leaks of the iPhone are becoming commonplace, they are not always accurate. In the last six months, several different designs have been leaked, including concepts that remove the bezel and raise the camera module for attachable lenses. However, while the images of prospective iPhone are frequent, recently, images of a thinner iPhone with rounded corners, reminiscent of the original iPhone, have appeared online. The pictured model seems to be a completed 4.7-inch iPhone 6. The 5.5-inch version has yet to be leaked, but there have been images of prospective 5.5-inch touch-screen displays, giving weight to the claims that both models will launch this September.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 takes on the Apple iPhone 5 in a bid to DE-throne the current smartphone king. Who comes out on top in this epic clash of the titans?
Whether you weighing up buying an iPhone 5 or still massively underwhelmed by the current Apple smartphone installment, the Samsung Galaxy S4 has arrived and it’s an Android smartphone Goliath that should prove worthy competition for the iPhone 5. The question is, does the S4 actually boast better features than the latest Apple blower? It’s time for a smartphone spec showdown…
Made from glass and aluminum and the thinnest iPhone smartphone yet at just 7.6mm thick, the iPhone 5 weighs in at 112g which is significantly lighter than the S4 (130g).
Sporting an almost similar look to the S3, the the Galaxy S4 which will be available in white and black, is slightly lighter than the S3 (133g) at 130g and has the same height and width dimensions. At 7.9mm thick it’s significantly slimmer than the Galaxy S3 but not quite as thin as the iPhone 5.
At 4-inches it’s a drastic jump from the iPhone 4S which now means you can have five rows of apps on the homescreen. The Retina display promises the same 326ppi as the 4S with a screen resolution jump to 1136 x 640, but essentially you can expect in terms of look and feel it will be the same width but a bit taller.
Jumping from a 4.8-inch display to an almost Note-like 5-inch Full HD Super AMOLED display, the S4 promises iPhone- beating 441 ppi which should mean a massive jump in terms of clarity for what is already one of the brightest and most vibrant smartphone displays on the market. .]]>