Users of Apple’s Mac line of desktop computers are pretty disappointed by the lack of attention being given to the Mac Pro and the iMac at this week’s Worldwide Developer Conference. The Mac Pro only received a minor spec update, and it even lost its designation as “new” in the Mac Pro online store. The iMac didn’t even see as minor an update as the Mac Pro’s.
Pre-conference rumors had suggested that both the Mac Pro and the iMac were in for some big changes, including a Retina-fueled refresh.
Apple the manufacturer of iPhone 4S and iPad3 seems to be making a big effort to quiet the mob that fears for the life of their desktop computers. One concerned user emailed Apple CEO Tim Cook who responded: “Our pro customers are really important to us...don't worry as we're working on something really great for later next year.”
Reports by Forbes and New York Times columnist David Pogue corroborated the news that Mac Pro and iMac updates are coming next year. The information was provided directly by an Apple spokesperson who said that new models and new designs of the Mac Pro, as well as the iMac desktop, are in the works and will likely be released in 2013.
Intel exec Mike Bell said in a recent interview that rival chip manufacturers aren’t doing enough to optimize Android for multi-core processors. Intel recently entered the Android market with its single-core Medfield Atom processor, defying the trend set by other chip makers towards dual-and quad-core development.
Intel is doing what it can to stand up to multi-core market dominators like Samsung, NVIDIA and Qualcomm. Intel’s general manager of mobile and communications Mike Bell acknowledged that Intel has supported multi-core chips since Android 2.3.4 but noted that internal testing had shown that multi-core chips sometimes run slower than single-core models. He said they’ve concluded that, in order to address this problem, Android needs to be more compatible with multi-core processors.
“If you take a look a lot of cell phone on the market, when you turn on the second core or having the second core there [on die], the [current] leakage is high enough and their power threshold is low enough because of the size of the case that it isn’t entirely clear you get much of a benefit to turning the second core on,” Bell claimed. “We ran our own numbers and [in] some of the use cases we’ve seen, having a second core is actually a detriment, because of the way some of the people have not implemented their thread scheduling.”
Bell also said that he has “taken a look at the multiple core implementations in the market, and frankly, in a thermal and/or power constrained environment – what has been implemented – it isn’t obvious to me you really get the advantage for the size and the cost of what’s going into that part.”
Intel isn’t talking about a deadline for the delivery of a multi-core Atom processor. Bell would only say that the company is investing in “software to fix the scheduler and fix the threading so if we do multi-core products it actually takes advantage of it.”
Like Skype, Line provides free calls and messages all over the world, regardless of mobile network provider. Line is already being used in over 230 countries by 40 million people (18 million of these are in Japan).
This new version makes use of the unique Windows (R) Phone user-interface system, Metro UI, which increases user friendliness and promotes stress-free communication by arranging text for increased clarit. It further introduces sideways menu scrolling for ease of access, a distinctive characteristic of Windows (R) Phone. Although the release of this version will feature the all-important messaging function, it will not include the free-calling function. NHN Japan plans to add this function in the near future.
The Windows (R) Phone version is seen as a welcome addition to the current versions of LINE which are available on iPhone, Android, feature-phones and PCs as well as a browser version for smart-tablets. NHN Japan hopes to increase the strength of its mobile messenger service by making it available across all platforms and devices.
Line is downloadable, but currently the app has the free calling capability disabled. The company is working on fixing the call problem, but the service can be used for texting.
There’s an updated Spotify app now available for download in the Google Play marketplace. The new version of the Android application has been completely overhauled, and the app now fully supports Android 4.
Available new features on Google Play include:
Totally new app with full support for Android 4.0
All-new slide-out navigation
Crossfade/gapless playback settings
Widget – control Spotify from the home screen
Playlist folder support
Even more social – check out friends’ profile pages and playlists on the go
Artist imagery in high resolution
Related artist view – available for the first time on mobile
‘Extreme’ sound quality setting for 320kbps listening
So much faster!
In Spotify VP of products Gustav Södertröm’s words, “For all our Android users, this Spotify update is a huge leap forward. We’ve rebuilt it from top to bottom, making it faster, slicker and much better looking. The feedback we got from the preview we released a few weeks back was really positive. We wanted to give our users something special…”
The launch of the Samsung Galaxy S3 has been an interesting one to watch. All the pre-market speculation and hype have rivaled what always ushers in a new Apple. Samsung is the leader in global smartphone sales, and, with the arrival of their Galaxy S3, they’ve proven they can create a device that is a serious Apple contender.
Let’s take an initial look at the Galaxy S3, and see if it lives up to the buzz.
The Galaxy S3 comes in two colors: marble white and “Pebble Blue” (although the blue has a distinctly blue-gray look). Its rounded-edges and HyperGlaze polycarbonate backing enhances the smooth (but not slick) feeling of having it in your hand. The Galaxy S3 is not a cheap-feeling phone. It's got a really solid Gorilla Glass 2 front, a well-packaged interior and a robust battery cover.
Samsung increased the screen size from the Galaxy S 2 ’s 4.3 to 4.8in for the S3. Its dimensions - 70 x 8.9 x 136mm - make it very slim. It weighs in at 132g, less than the Apple iPhone 4S. Compared to the weight of the One X, it’s almost identical. Overall, the S3 is nice to hold. Samsung has created a large device that doesn’t feel like one.
The display is a superb Super AMOLED with a 720x1280 resolution - identical to the HTC One X. The contrast is excellent and the screen looks very bright. Whites are more luminous. Animations look clean and crisp. You hardly notice the use of PenTile array technology.
On the downside, the auto-brightness setting makes for awkward transitions. The screen will notably dim and then brighten again despite there being no change in external lighting. The screen is readable in bright light, although not great in direct sunlight.
It’s nice to see a raised rather than recessed physical home button, though its short-and-wide, making it a bit more difficult to consistently activate. It might take some getting used to.
Sitting on either side of the home button are capacitive touch buttons for the menu and back functions. These are very sensitive. You might find yourself frequently backing out of apps by accident.
You can tell that Samsung really focused on optimizing the Galaxy S3 for performance.
The North American version of the device features a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 SoC and 2GB of RAM. These specs ensure that the S3 will be LTE-compatible. By contrast, the international S3 has a quad-core Exynos processor and 1GB of RAM. Storage wise, there are 16GB and 32GB models available. Word has it that there’s a 64GB on its way.
It remains to be seen how performance is affected by the extra gigabyte of RAM. Samsung says that the extra memory won’t affect battery life. In a perfect world, more storage will improve app performance, load times and overall multitasking, but not draw a lot of juice.
While the Adreno 225 GPU inside the Snapdragon S4 SoC trails that of the Mali-400 that powers the international Galaxy S3’s Mali-400, CPU-based performance is still incredible. Single-threaded performance is a vast improvement over the Cortex-A9 of the quad-core Exynos 4212. The sacrifice is gaming performance.
Turn on the screen and swipe through the seven home screens. You’ll find that the swiping action is smooth in a way that no other Android handset has been able to achieve. Just looking at overall performance, Galaxy S3 is comparable to HTC One X, with the exception of a perceptible improvement to the smoothness of Android operation on the Galaxy S3.
The camera system has an 8MP rear lens as well as a front-facing camera. From a subjective viewpoint, the rear lens took some nice pictures, but that’s just an initial impression. There’s a burst mode and a “best picture” function that will nominate what the software regards as the “best shot” from a group. Video can be taken at 1080p and the macro functions were very impressive.
The Android 4.0.4 with TouchWIZ Nature UX software makes the camera easy to operate with Android. For instance, it’s very cool when you can swipe your palm over the screen to take a screenshot.
It’s too bad there isn’t a dedicated camera shutter button. Still, the interface is nicely updated and shutter performance is significantly improved.
The Snapdragon S4 SoC is a very efficient chip and based on early tests of the international version, Samsung has done a great job designing in features that maximize battery life. The Galaxy S3’s hefty 2100mAh battery is impressive. The North American Galaxy S3 should stay charged longer than the European quad-core Exynos processor, but it hasn’t lived up to the claims that it has double the life of the One X battery. In fact, we found the two to be almost identical. Take note that the Galaxy S3 has a removable battery. The HTC One X does not.
This version of S Voice is supposed to allow for greater voice control than previous iterations, but in testing, its performance was patchy. For instance, waking up the phone using spoken commands didn’t always work.
The Smart Stay function allows you to continuously read a screen without worrying about the backlight dimming. This is possible because of the impressive front camera.
A motion control feature allows you to automatically dial your contacts by raising the phone to your ear. Neither the Smart Stay nor the motion control functions were enabled by default, so you’ll have to dig through the settings on your phone.
Polaris Office is a nice feature for business users. It allows you to open Word, Excel and PowerPoint files on your phone.
Well done, Samsung. Despite the company’s pre-market theme describing a design “inspired by nature”, they’ve created a functional and fun smartphone that may have attracted a long-term following.
Serious competition among smartphone makers is always good for us users. It gives us more choices. Samsung’s Galaxy S3, the HTC One X and even the HTC One S might mean you’ll have a tough time going with only one new smartphone.
It’s nice to know that regardless of carrier or network speed, all S3 models are identical on the outside. The difference is on the inside. If you’re in the market for a new smartphone, you might just want to wait until the Galaxy S 3’s June 20th release to make your decision.
During the keynote at the WWDC Apple showed off the next-gen MacBook Pro with Retina display and the updates for others in the Pro family. Because we know you won’t want to wait till the end for this, prices for the MacBook Pro start at $2199. It’s available immediately. Prices for the other models follow at the end.
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The most impressive thing about the new MacBook Pro is the brand new high-density display. The display has four times the number of pixels as the previous model at 220 pixels-per-inch or 5,184,000 pixels. It’s 15.4 inches across, but its pixel density is 2880 by 1800.
If that’s not enough for you, here is a summary of the features sported by the new MacBook Pro:
A 178-degree wide viewing angle that has 75 percent less reflection and 29 percent higher contrast than the previous generation
A 2.3GHz quad-core i7 processor with 8GB of RAM, a GeForce Gt 650M with 1GB of VRAM, 256GB of flash storage, and up to 16GB of 1600MHz RAM
Up to seven hours of battery life and 30 days of standby. (The battery takes up most of the interior.)
Built around flash storage, users can configure their models at up to 768GB of internal flash storage
The fastest graphics on a Mac laptop—Nvidia GeForce GT 650M
A FaceTime HD camera
Dual mics using beam-forming technology
An SD card, HDMI out, USB3/USB2 ports on either side, two Thunderbolt ports, and a headphone port
Fan blades asymmetrically spaced so that the fan noise is not a uniform sound, but more dispersed
A new, thinner MagSafe 2 power port
Glass Multi-Touch trackpad
A backlit keyboard
At 4.46 pounds, the new Pro is heavier than an Air, but comparable to the 13-inch MacBook Pros. Like the new Air, it has no optical drive. Closed, it’s about as thick as the base of the old MacBook Pro but about as thin as an Air, at 0.71 inches.
Apple has made their MacBook Pro as environmentally friendly as an electronic device can get with an Energy Star 5.2 rating. It’s arsenic-free, BFR-free and PVC-free. It’s also highly recyclable, and has mercury-free glass.
New specs for the rest of the MacBook Pro family :
Along with the MacBook Pro with Retina display, Apple revealed other news on updates to the current MacBook Pro line.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro has a 2.5GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of memory and 500GB hard drive and starts at $1,199. With a 2.9 GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of memory, and a 750GB hard drive its prices start at $1,499.
The 15-inch MacBook Pro has a 2.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, 4GB of memory, Intel HD Graphics 4000, Nvidia GeForce GT 650M graphics, and a 500GB hard drive starting at $1,799. With a 2.6GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of memory, Intel HD Graphics 4000, Nvidia GeForce GT 650M graphics, and a 750GB hard drive it starts at $2,199. Faster quad-core processors up to 2.7GHz, additional hard drive capacity up to 1TB, up to 8GB of memory, and solid state storage up to 512GB are available options.
Apple didn’t share any news on the 17-inch MacBook Pro.
Leaked images of what is supposedly the housing for Apple’s sixth-generation iPhone hit the Web last week. They show a taller, thinner aluminum case than the one currently used by the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 4. The case could accommodate a larger display – perhaps even one that measures a little over 4-inches diagonally.
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In a note to clients, Ming-Chi Kuo, a KGI Securities analyst with a good reputation for getting his facts correct, outlined what he knows about Apple’s iPhone 5 plans. Here’s a summary of his knowledge of the iPhone 5 specs:
A 4.08-inch in-cell IPS panel screen with a display resolution of 1,136 x 640 and 500-nit brightness
A display that measures 50.9 millimeters wide by 90.3 millimeters tall
In-cell touch elements in its display.
An impressively- thin 7.9 mm case (the iPhone 4S's 9.3 mm)
A battery that is roughly the same capacity as the one found in the iPhone 4S
An HD-capable front-facing camera that has been moved from the left side of the earpiece to the center
An 8 MP sensor and a 5 element lens for the back camera that is similar to the 4S but with a larger aperture of f/2.2 (currently f/2.4) to improve the low-light performance
Some of this information was confirmed in previous reports by that The Wall Street Journal and Reuters.
Dispelling previous rumors about the display size, Kuo notes that Apple chose not to use a larger 4.3-inch display because it would require a larger battery and wouldn’t support comfortable single-handed operation. Apple has contracted Toshiba Matsushita Display, LG Display and Sharp to supply the new panels.
We’re only a week away from the WWDC conference in San Francisco, so we don’t have much longer to wait for a glimpse from Apple’s view of the world. Recent reports suggest Apple’s next iPhone will launch in September or October along with a new iPad mini.
Google unveiled its Google Maps upgrade a week before Apple is expected to announce its own default mapping technology for its iOS. It looks like Google is telling Apple “Bring it on.”
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View this insightful video on Google Maps
Google has a new life planned for its Google Maps service:
Realistic 3D mapping that utilizes “fly-over technology”, allowing users to navigate through a 3D cityscape while detailed buildings remain accurately to scale. This feature will be completed in metro areas first.
The new Tour Guide service available offline for Android devices. If you're in an area without an internet connection, you'll be able to save a map on your Android device and zoom in and out as you navigate.
Google Maps is the default map service in iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S as well as the iPad 2 and iPad 3. The company said that 3D maps will be coming to both Android and iOS devices in the coming weeks. Apple plans to debut its own 3D maps service at its World Wide Developer Conference that begins June 11th.
The Apple Worldwide Developer’s Conference starts in six days. Who isn’t on the edge of their seat in anticipation of what Apple has planned for iOS 6 and beyond?
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We’ve been hearing all kinds of rumors about Apple’s 2012 plans for its mobile OS. Here are a few predictions on the street:
Big changes in its user interface theme to look more like the iPad - blue and blue stripes, to a sharp silver look.
A new Maps app that replaces Google’s. Apple’s app will map images and data in 3D.
Automatic app updates (that possibly require connecting the phone to Wi-Fi and/or plugging it into a power source.)
An iCloud keychain that syncs all Apple devices and platforms.
iCloud tabs to for opening any tabs on your desktop browser in the iOS browser.
A Facebook integration for posting photos and videos to Facebook (similar to what Twitter’s looks like).
Location-based profiles/actions through Apple’s use of geofencing that customizes different settings like ringtones and Bluetooth based on location.
A location and/or time-based notification silencing feature.
Siri for iPad.
Expanded Siri functions, maybe even including API access for third-party developers.
AirPlay: 1080p mirroring.
Live app icons. (In lieu of widgets, customizable icons or live app icons would use fewer resources to show updates on the home screen.)
Inter-app communication, solving the issue of apps not being able to share data with one another.
Unified omnibox in the browser for URL and search.
New multitouch gestures. Possibly two finger swiping.
Improved multitasking interface and UI.
Widgets in notification center.
Improved email, maybe even multiple signatures, and possibly a default for each account.
ASUS unveiled its ASUS Transformer AiO at this year’s Computex trade show in Taiwan. The Transformer AiO is a tablet with a touchscreen display that’s also an all-in-one computer. It’s a dual- boot device that runs both the Windows 8 OS and Google’s Android 4.0.
The “transforming” tablet sits in a dock and acts like a computer with a giant 18.4-inch display, a mouse and a keyboard. Pop the touchscreen out of the base, and you’ve got a tablet in your hand. But, it’s a tablet with a difference - it isn’t a standalone device like the others in its category. In tablet mode, it has to stay in range of the pc base.
As innovative as Transformer AiO is, ASUS still has work to do on it. For instance, the display kicks over to Android as soon as it’s undocked. Even detached from the base, the display is supposed to function as a wireless screen for the pc. Switching away from the Windows OS shouldn’t happen automatically.
ASUS has yet to announce all specifications for the Transformer AiO, but we do know that the docking base features multiple USB 3.0 ports, ethernet and an optical drive. The screen is LED backlit and supports up to 10-point multitouch.