Whether by accident or not, Apple seems to time its events to overshadow those of its competitors.
Here's the thing with Apple. Rumors surface, and create a little buzz, until one of its competitors announces news of their own, and the Apple rumor dies. And then wham! Apple comes out and makes the revelation everyone thought they would, trumping all the interest in whatever it was their competitor has just announced.
Pure Mobile reported yesterday that Samsung has sent out invitations for a special Galaxy Note II event in New York City scheduled for October 24. It's the kickoff to the the new device's world tour, and was likely to get the lion's share of tech reporting and headline space. Until...
Well, it turns out that the Galaxy Note II will have to share the spotlight, since Apple's just announced it will be holding an event for the iPad Mini – get this – October 23.
Likely to be unveiled October 23, Apple's iPad Mini is expected to be slightly smaller and slightly cheaper than its predecesor
When we initially reported on rumors of an iPad Mini event, we cited Forbes (among others) who said to expect invitations to start rolling out on the October 10. That makes us only a couple of days behind schedule.
In addition to the rumors of an upcoming Galaxy S III Mini event in Germany (which we reported on last week), Samsung has confirmed an October 24 event in New York City as the first US stop on the Galaxy Note II's World Tour.
This Samsung "Save the Date" teased with a pic of a stylus but no mention of the Galaxy Note II
Late last month, Samsung was already teasing the affair, with a "Save the Date" card showing a stylus pen and the tagline "The Next Big Thing Is Here." However, the next generation Galaxy Note "phablet" was never shown. But the official invitations, which started rolling out yesterday, do show and name the device, removing all previous doubts.
The official press invite confirms the Galaxy Note II as the focus of the October 24 event in New York
Still, this is likely to be the beginning rather than the end of all speculation about the new combination phone and tablet. It doesn't mark the release of the new Galaxy Note II, and it won't be the first time the device has been seen.
So what can we expect to learn about the latest smartphone in Samsung's Galaxy lineup?
Well, for one, we may finally get some sort of confirmation on the Galaxy Note II's American release date. And hopefully, Samsung will be giving us some notion of its price, too.
Whenever an operating system upgrade lands on the market, cell phone manufacturers have to decide whether or not to deliver a version that is compatible for every device still in use. In some instances the equipment isn’t capable of handling the software. In others, it’s a decision solely driven by economics.
Most of us understand that if we’re still using a phone with an antenna, we shouldn’t expect to get an Ice Cream Sandwich update. However, if we have a smartphone that is capable of handling an update, has a significant problem that will be fixed with an impending OS revision or was bought before an update was released and we were told the phone would get the update, can't we expect equipment makers to provide an update for that device?
Recent decisions by equipment manufacturers like Motorola and Apple to not provide an OS upgrade for some of their older devices has left many consumers going “What the...?!”.
In the case of Motorola, they were a member of the Android Upgrade Alliance, promising customers they would upgrade specific phones for 18 months after they came out – commitments that probably drove sales of a few devices.
Recently, Motorola quietly abandoned its update pledge, killing off plans to ever update some of their recent releases like the Photon 4G, The Electrify and the Atrix 4G, a flagship phone that debuted on AT&T. The result is that thousands of people in the middle of two-year carrier contracts will never get Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and will have to keep using Android 2.3, or Gingerbread. Since ICS was a major OS update, Motorola customers with lose out on lots of new features like visual voice mail, app folders and resizeable widgets, not to mention security updates.
If you’ll recall, Apple did the same thing to its older device-holders back in June. Apple released system requirements for machines eligible OS X Mountain Lion upgrades and later revealed that pre-2007 iMacs, pre-2008 Mac Pros, MacBook Airs released in the first half of 2008 and MacBook Pros released before mid-2007 wouldn’t be getting iOS 6.
We spend way too much money on our smartphones and tablets in the first place. If equipment manufacturers aren’t willing to keep investing in products for as long as we, their customers, are under contract they aren’t keeping their part of the bargain.
Leaked pictures of what appears to be an LG-made future Nexus device surfaced this week
They usually stand for "life's good," but this week, LG's trademark letters stood for something else entirely – "leaks guaranteed."
If you're building a new smartphone, as LG appears to be, you can pretty much assume someone's going to get a picture of it, and that before too long, the whole of the internet is going to see it.
All that glitters is not yet to be sold: the sparkly backing of the new LG E960
The leak in question this time is what appears to be an LG-made Nexus device. Judging by the leaked photos, which appeared in the XDA-Developers forum, Engaget says the LG E960 "appears to be a variant of the Optimus G – until you realize that it's using software navigation keys, doesn't quite resemble the international or AT&T Optimus G models and is oddly badged as the 'Full JellyBean on Mako.'"
The "next Nexus," LG's E960, is shown running on Android 4.1.2
Both Engaget and Mobile Syrup are hailing the new Android-powered LG smartphone as the future Nexus device, with the latter noting the similarities between the E960 and the LG Optimus G.
It's apparently got the same "rather boxy design, a 1280×768 4.7-inch IPS screen, a 1.5Ghz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, 2GB RAM, 16GB internal storage and that awesome-sounding 13MP camera," says Mobile Syrup.
The device also bears some resemblance to Samsung's Galaxy Nexus, though the E960's corners seem more rounded than those of of the LG Optimus G, and it's backing is flatter, with a sleeker design than that of the Galaxy Nexus.
A shot of the new LG device, minus the spyproof backing
Meanwhile, says Mobile Syrup, the fact that the E960 has recently passed through FCC certification "showing off PCS and AWS bands for HSPA+ and AWS bands for LTE," hints that the new smartphone is likely to be available on a number of networks, potentially making it "one of the most multi-faceted unlocked phones on the market."
Based on the assumption that LG is in fact producing the next Nexus device – which it probably is – there's talk that the LG E960 may be ready by early November.
This week, Verizon customers fell victim to an iPhone 5 bug that sucked data like a vampire
Just in time for Halloween, Verizon has unleashed a horrible and terrifying monster: it's the fabled iPhone 5 data vampire, and for Verizon subscribers lucky (or unlucky?) enough to have Apple's latest smartphone, it's causing huge overages.
"I have had an iPhone on AT&T since launch. I never went over a gig in any month," wrote one such user in the Mac Rumors forum. "I have used half a gig [on the iPhone 5] in 2 days with Verizon! Worse, it uses LTE while I am at home with a rock solid Wi-Fi connection. If I turn cellular off altogether I can still see, for example, a YouTube video. But if I leave it on, while still connected with wifi, it sucks data like a vampire. WTF??? And, all day, it leaks data even with no apps running!"
The bug has been a common one for Verizon subscribers using the iPhone 5, causing most of them to go through insane amounts of data in a really short period of time.
Fortunately, there is a way to slay this monter, but it's not with a wooden stake. Instead, Apple has offered a patch available directly on the iPhone 5 that should fix the issue quickly and without too much hassle.
To install it, go to Settings > General > About, and wait for the following message and follow the instructions.
Apple swiftly offered an update for Verizon subscribers on the iPhone 5
"Basically, turn your phone off and on again," says Gizmodo. "After doing that, you should check to make sure the carrier software has been changed to Verizon 13.1."
Aside from the fact that your iPhone should stop sucking data like Dracula at the blood bank, there's also another piece of good news. Verizon issued a statement clarifying that they're aware of the bug and won't be charging subscribers for the overages it has caused:
"Under certain circumstances, iPhone 5 may use Verizon cellular data while the phone is connected to a Wi-Fi network. Apple has a fix that is being delivered to Verizon customers right on their iPhone 5. Verizon Wireless customers will not be charged for any unwarranted cellular data usage."
If you're a smartphone owner, you're already familiar with the ritual if charging up your device one or more times a day. And the question of how much power you're actually sucking when you do so has probably crossed your mind. It's got to be quite a bit, right?
The report found that the power used to charge a smartphone throughout an entire year is negligible. According to Opower, it takes just 3.5 kilowatt hours per year (an annual energy cost of about $0.41) to charge up an iPhone 5 from 0% to full, year-round. That's pretty cheap.
The rates were pretty close for the Samsung Galaxy S III, which costs roughly $0.53 a year to charge. Opower says the slight discrepancy is probably due to the fact that the Galaxy's battery is larger.
But, though the impact of charging an individual smartphone is pretty small, Opower reminds us that, collectively, they do eat up a lot of power:
"This year alone, Apple expects to sell 170 million iPhone 5s. Those 170 million smartphones will draw enough electricity to power all of the homes in Cedar Rapids, Iowa for a year."
Still, Opower predicts that smartphones may help reduce energy consumption over all, since they're now being used in many cases as substitutes for bulkier, more power-hungry devices, like desktop computers and TVs.
For instance, says Opower, "An iPhone 5 requires 20 times less energy to operate than a typical laptop – and 100 times less energy than a typical 42-inch plasma TV."
“Put simply, says Opower analyst Barry Fischer, "a day spent web-surfing and Facebooking on a smartphone or tablet is a much more energy-efficient day than doing the same on a computer [...] the rise of smartphones, like the iPhone 5, is likely to save energy in American homes as it diverts our time from using far less efficient consumer electronic devices.”
This graphic from Mashable compares the energy used for other consumer electronics relative to the iPhone 5
Next month, all you'll need is your smartphone equipped with the Square Wallet app to buy your latte at Starbucks. In November, Starbucks’ customers will be able to use the Square mobile payment system in about 7,000 U.S. stores.
Starbucks and Square formed a big partnership last August. Starbucks invested $25 million in Square. The deal allows Square to process credit and debit card transactions and implement the Pay with Square system at Starbucks stores.
To use Pay with Square you link a credit card to the app. When you’re paying at the counter, leave your wallet in your pocket. Through the app the store can sense your phone's location and charges your account for the amount of your purchase. The cashier verifies your identity through a picture ID and name that pops up on their screen.
Apple users aren't being left out. The latest update to the Starbucks iOS app lets Starbucks card owners add their accounts to Apple’s Passbook directly through the app. Then you can pay for food and beverages, check your card balances, reload the card with more cash, and add rewards to score free drinks, all through your iPhone.
Unveiled in iOS 6, Passbook lets users store electronic copies of tickets, coupons, boarding passes, and loyalty cards.
Starbucks first launched a Square-powered mobile payment app in 2011. Since then, Starbucks has processed more than 70 million mobile transactions.
Links to user-generated content on Facebook, Twitter and review sites make up a quarter of the search results for the top 20 brands in the world. Sixty percent of Facebook users say they would discuss a product or service if they were offered a deal of some kind.
Social media shoppers are some of the most active shoppers out there – spending an average of $1,800 per person. And 167 million of them are expected to shop online in 2012. In 2014, it’s estimated that the internet will trigger 53% of all retail sales – both online and off.
Here is how shoppers are using their smartphones according to the online analytics company that compiled all this data - Symphony Teleca:
33% looked for sales and specials
33% checked store information
32% looked at product reviews and ratings
31% compared prices on Amazon
31% checked out an online store for a certain product
29% looked around at online retailers other than Amazon
27% used a site that focuses on providing competitive prices
26% made sure the store had a product in their inventory
24% scouted the prices for certain products on a retailer’s mobile site
Just to demonstrate the power that we consumers wield – 85% of people anticipate a change in their shopping behavior based on the user-generated information they find online. Remember that the next time you have a great (or a miserable) shopping experience. Help each other out, and take the time to share.
The bright and colorful Nokia Lumia 920 line is coming in November, but only to AT&T
It's big, it's bright, it's beautiful, and it's coming in November – but only to AT&T?
Nokia recently unveiled the Lumia 920 at a press event in New York last month. But as TechCrunch and many others reported today, the company just announced that its flagship Windows Phone 8 device would be coming exclusively to AT&T in November, along with the Lumia 820.
TechCrunch seems to have anticipated this news, brushing it aside to focus instead on how great they think Nokia's new smartphone is:
"The Lumia 920 has just about everything you could ask for in a smartphone, with a 4.5-inch 720p display, a 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 processor, a relatively large 2,000mAh battery, and of course, the heady combination of Windows Phone 8 and Pureview imaging."
But others, like Gizmodo, are taking issue with the Nokia's recent deal with AT&T, calling the exclusive "dumb" and citing 5 reasons why.
According to Gizmodo, the deal is going to hurt Windows Phone 8, and that "the premier Windows Phone device of the year [...] should be made available to as many U.S. shoppers as possible."
Captain Picard facepalms at Nokia's decision to give AT&T an exclusive
Meanwhile, says Gizmodo, carrier exclusives in general almost never work, and that, in particular, the exclusive Nokia gave to AT&T for the Lumia 900 didn't work either. The argument here is that users don't change carriers just for a new smartphone.
Another reason why Gizmodo is facepalming over the whole deal? They say that the Lumia 920's Qi wireless charging capabilities should be a major selling point, but that it's being downplayed by the fact that their device with Qi won't be widely available.
What do you think? Is an AT&T exclusive on the Lumia 920 a good idea? Leave your opinion in the comments section.
Top of the list was security. According to most of the top tech sites, Galaxy S III owners might have had a bit of a scare this week. That is, if Samsung hadn't already dealt with the problem before anyone even knew it existed.
Apparently, says Mashable, a vulnerability was discovered in Samsung's Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) that "potentially allowed attackers to remotely wipe the contents of Galaxy S II and III devices," essentially restoring them to factory settings.
This video, of Technical University Berlin researcher Ravi Borgaonkar at a security conference in Argentina, shows how it's done.
“We would like to assure our customers that the recent security issue concerning the GALAXY S III has already been resolved through a software update. We recommend all GALAXY S III customers to download the latest software update, which can be done quickly and easily via the Over-The-Air (OTA) service.”
So, now that your smartphone is safe and sound, how about encrusting it with crystals? If you're nodding your head in agreement, and if you have upwards of £2099 (about $3370 U.S.) to spare, maybe consider upgrading to the Samsung Galaxy S III Swarovski Edition?
This crystal-encrusted "Swarovski Edition" Galaxy S III may cost you upward of $3370, but at least the case is free
The device, available from Amosu Couture, is set with 500 Swarovski crystals around the bezel, plus an extra 16 around the home button. Sort of pricey and all, but you do get a free calf leather case.
Now for the really juicy stuff. Hot on the heels of all the rumors surrounding an iPad Mini launch, Samsung's brewing its own big news about something small.
This leaked German invite to a rumored Samsung Galaxy S III Mini launch reads: "So big can be small. And so small can be big."
According to TechCrunch, which cited "a recently released press invitation," Samsung may be unveiling a smaller scale version of the Galaxy S III (the Mini) at a store in Frankfurt, Germany. The invite, written in German and loosely translated as "So big can be small. And so small can be big," is so far the only proof of such an event.
But it's already got Samsung fans more than a little excited, if you'll excuse the pun.