Android texting application Swype has been in the design phase for awhile, but its beta shows it has evolved into a sophisticated next-generation app with four-in-one keyboard and voice capabilities.
Chief among the app's redesign is the option of using one of four kinds of keyboards: traditional letter-to-letter swiping, while adding the ability to type with predictive text input, use an integrated Dragon button to speak the text, or rely on the old peck-and-hunt one-finger motion. Users can swap between any of the modes limitlessly.
Swype’s new features also include next-word prediction that allows the app to build on historical usage, compiling every word a user enters in emails, texts, or other posts. Swype's 55 language downloads allow users to communicate in any language they can speak. Swype can be installed on all Android based cell phones including the Samsung Galaxy S3, Samsung Galaxy S2 as well as HTC One X and Motorola Droid Razr
According to Michael Thompson, EVP and general manager for Nuance Mobile (the speech-recognition software building company that acquired Swype last October), "People use their keyboards every day in every way — so input needs to be fast and simple. The new Swype living, learning keyboard users in a new era of input, where the keyboard adapts to the user's unique way of communicating every time they swype, speak, tap, or write."
The Swype Beta for Android is available for download via beta.swype.com. There's also an SDK for other operating systems.
If you’re into space battles and vaporizing hostile aliens... then Atmo is just the video game for you. Door 6 is the mastermind behind the project and just released it from beta testing. You can download Atmo for free from Google Play.
For those who didn’t get a crack at the Atmo beta, it’s a real-time, multiplayer space combat game. Your team is charged with searching through capsules for a hidden enemy flag, capturing it and bringing it home, all the while fighting to keep your flag out of the clutches of your vile opponents.
Atmo’s 3D graphics are great and ran smoothly in a few tests using the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. The heads-up display keeps you aware of everything around you, yet you don’t ever get disoriented in its fairly open world. This video game can also be played on all major tablets brands including the HTC Flyer and HTC Jetstream, Samsung Galaxy Tab and the Motorola Xoom just to name a few.
Start with Atmo’s tutorial. It will give you an overview of the game’s controls and objectives. You’d better be ready to play. At the end of those 45-seconds of training, you’ll be dropped in the middle of a live game. (Here’s a handy tip to get you started: hold down the fire button to maintain a steady stream of lasers heading toward ships, capsules and whatever else gets in your way.)
The game gives you the option of just jumping in for a quick play, but if you want to track your score’s history, you have to login under your Facebook account. This is a pesky requirement right now, but pretty soon it will be used to team you up with Facebook friends who also want to play the game.
The Door 6 team has quite a few plans for Atmo beyond today’s version. They’ve got a ranking system with a leveling mechanic and achievement rewards, ship customization options, and more sophisticated weapons like unmanned drones. Eventually, the game will morph into a lot more than just a thrill-of-the-destroying-your-enemies game.
Your Apple-toting buddies won’t get left out of the game for long. There’s an iOS version in the works that’s due in the App Store soon.
The game is available for free in Google Play right now. The designers are experimenting with versions where players can earn ship upgrades, or pay for them if they’re desperate. A highly-complex version of the game that would be available for purchase is also in the works.
Due in part to the fact that Apple commands the lion's share of the worldwide tablet market coupled with their lack of success with their Optimus Pad, LG has decided to put their tablet development efforts to the side, and focus on producing Android smartphones that can stand a chance against some very serious rivals.
LG’s Optimus Pad LTE hit the market earlier this year but it didn’t get anyone too excited. There’s a lot of competition in the tablet market, but Apple owns it. Even older versions of iPads outsell some competitor tablets. It’s good to see LG say “why bother?”
According to a spokesperson from LG, the company is going to concentrate on developing Android smartphones that are more technologically competitive with the products like the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the HTC One X.
LG knows its stuff when it comes to home appliances and other types of electronics, but you don’t see people lining up to buy the latest in refrigerator technology. It’s time for LG t decide whether they’re in or they’re out.
Expectations for tablet sales keep increasing. The market research firm IDC just released a new study that shows a higher demand for tablets than they expected by the end of 2012 and beyond. IDC expects tablet shipments to reach 107.4 million this year, up from 106.1 million units.
By year end, the Apple iPad is expected to account for 62.5% of total global shipments, up from 58.2% in 2011. Android tablet market share looks like it will decline from 38.7% in 2011 to 36.5% in 2012.
In the longer term, IDC upped its 2013 tablet forecast from 137.4 million to 142.8 million units. The research firm expects 2016 worldwide shipments to reach 222.1 million units.
Tom Mainelli, research director for Mobile Connected Devices at IDC explained the increases this way: “Demand for media tablets remains robust, and we see an increasing interest in the category from the commercial side. We expect pending new products from major players, increasingly affordable mainstream devices, and a huge marketing blitz from Microsoft around Windows 8 to drive increased consumer interest in the category through the end of the year.”
The founder of one of Europe’s leading illegal movie-streaming sites confessed and apologized for his crimes and got his sentence cut in half by a German judge. Deutsche Welle reported that 39-year-old Kino.to founder “Dirk B.” has been sentenced to 4.5 years in jail. He could have been ordered to spend 11 years in prison, but received a reduced sentence after confessing to his copyright infringement crimes.
Dirk B. will have to pay a $4.7 million fine to cover 1.1 million instances of copyright infringement. While in operation, Kino.to is estimated to have brought in as much as $8 million in advertising revenue.
Most recently, law enforcement officials in Sweden first raided The Pirate Bay in 2006, and the company’s founders were eventually sentenced to jail and forced to pay millions in fines. The service remained online, however, and it is still operational today. “The Swedish district attorney Fredrik Ingblad initiated a new investigation into The Pirate Bay back in 2010. Information has been leaked to us every now and then by multiple sources, almost on a regular basis. It’s an interesting read,” The Pirate Bay said on its blog. “We can certainly understand why WikiLeaks wished to be hosted in Sweden, since so much data leaks there. The reason that we get the leaks is usually that the whistleblowers do not agree with what is going on. Something that the governments should have in mind – even your own people do not agree.”
Intel’s first Android cell phone, the Orange San Diego (once known as the Santa Clara), performed quite well for a debut device from a first-time smartphone manufacturer. Packed with a (1024 x 600) 4-inch LCD, 8-megapixel camera with flash, micro-HDMI port and 1GB of RAM, the San Diego appears to be a solid, mid-range Android device. During its pre-launch, Intel didn’t over-promise on the San Diego, but focused on a few priorities: good web browsing performance, a high-quality camera and maximum battery life.
Watch the following insightful video on the Intel smartphone
The Orange San Diego’s look like a smartphone should. The cell phone case is durable but is a pretty ordinary design. Its black body is ringed by a silver border. There’s nothing special about the finish or any of the other body parts. The soft-touch backing is a nice feature for such an inexpensive phone, but it will still need the protection of a skin or a case to keep it blemish-free.
Along the right side of the 10mm edge are the volume rocker, micro-SIM slot and two-stage camera button. The micro-USB port is at the bottom. The mini-HMDI output is along the left side. All of the buttons are responsive. The camera button even quick launches the camera.
The Orange San Diego resembles a Samsung Galaxy S2 or an iPhone 3GS, but the prominent bezel below the screen gets in the way of it being as user-friendly as those two devices.
That the San Diego has a 4-inch screen is a nice surprise. While there’s no Super AMOLED Plus or Super LCD 2, the contrast is sharp and the colors are rich, although there is a little discoloration on the edges. The 1024 x 600 is screen is ample. When turned up to full brightness the screen was almost readable in full daylight.
There’s almost 11GB of storage space, but no expansion slot. The whole phone is sealed, so the battery is not removable, so a quick reset by removing the battery is not a possibility.
The camera can be controlled by the physical button or the touchscreen. The rear-facing camera can record 1080p video. The four capacitive buttons can be read in daylight. They also illuminate if lighting is too low.
This is probably the biggest disappointment. While the camera is an 8-megapixel / 1.3-megapixel camera duo, you can’t judge this phone’s performance by its specs. Those 8-megapixels don’t live up to their reputation with this phone. While it is capable of burst capture, images are blurry and colors are washed out. Overall, photos appear dull and images aren’t very detailed. Color reproduction indoors was no better. Problems seem to improve a bit when operating in macro mode.
You’ve got a lot of camera control options including capturing multiple photos at differing exposures. The camera doesn’t have an HDR mode, but you can download your images, and turn them into HDR on separate hardware. The camera does have several auto exposure modes (including aperture and shutter priority), shutter-speed adjustment, anti-banding options, RAW mode, ISO settings (800 maximum) and a burst-mode capable of 15 frames per second for up to 10 shots, but you might not have much use for them given the overall mediocre performance of the camera.
Video produced the same ho-hum results. White balancing helped with fuzziness, but also washed-out whites. Autofocus performed well but slowly.
The San Diego’s OS is Android Gingerbread. The phone should be Android 4.0-capable, and that will be available later this year. It's hard to tell what was customized in the Orange San Diego’s OS. There are gesture features that could be useful. Drawing a symbol with your finger across the home screen or with any app acts as a shortcut that will take you to your pre-identified location. You can assign up to 27 shortcuts to apps, contacts, playlists and even Foursquare places.
Popular apps like Orange Wednesday come pre-installed but so do less-useful apps like the Orange Assistant, a redundant user guide and an NFC tags app. The presence of the NFC app doesn’t make much sense. The phone is NFC-capable, but it doesn’t come with taggable cards, and it’s not connected to Orange's existing payment service.
The display keyboard is one of the most responsive of any Android device, regardless of price. Swype is offered as an option as well. The web browser performs comparably to other dual-core Android devices. Even dense websites download easily and with little stutter.
Most apps were compatible with the new chipset, and only two didn’t work out of many tested.
Call quality was sharp and clear. Orange provides HD voice calling between the San Diego and other HD devices. The San Diego’s earSmart voice-cancellation processing is found in higher-end phones like the Galaxy S3.
Performance and Battery Life:
These are the two most important indicators of a viable future for Intel in the smartphone market.
The San Diego’s processor can’t come near a quad-core or Snapdragon S4s, but its single-core 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z2460 performs like a dual-core processor.
Battery life didn't hold up to Intel’s promise of 14 days' in standby mode. It’s primarily due to the juice drained by powering the screen. The San Diego was tested with a video loop with the screen at 50 percent brightness. The phone ran out of power around seven hours and 20 minutes. That’s a result pretty much on par with other Android devices, but not bad for a 4-inch smartphone.
Day-to-day use was a lot better than many other of the latest smartphones. The battery lasted two to three days between charges. Not using the smartphone features at all gave the battery a two-week lifespan between charges.
To sum it all up:
Overall, Intel's first Android smartphone performed admirably.
The real stand-out was its Medfield processor that met and, in some cases, exceeded expectations.
The battery didn’t live up to Intel’s claims but still held its power very well.
The camera was a big disappointment. Back to the drawing board Intel.
When compared to Samsung and HTC devices the San Diego looks cheap and somewhat fragile.
It needs Ice Cream Sandwich sooner rather than later.
Priced at $308 USD, the San Diego joins a nice variety of inexpensive entry-level smartphones in the Orange family.
Apple’s request for a court order to block the sale of Samsung’s Galaxy S3 smartphones in the US has been denied by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California.
Apple wanted a court order which would have prevented the June 21st market launch of Samsung’s latest flagship device. Reuters reported that the judge claimed the case would overload her calendar - she is overseeing Apple’s high-stakes trial against Samsung that is schedule to begin in July.
Apple isn’t getting anywhere with its aggressive legal strategy. Koh’s decision comes shortly after a federal judge tossed out Apple’s upcoming case against Google’s Motorola Mobility.
In its attempt to limit growth of Android, Apple has waged an international patent war since 2010. Last year, Google’s Android became the world's best-selling mobile operating platform. Apple's opponents say the iPhone 4S maker is trying to use patents to dominate the market.
HTC refuses to offer cheaper handsets just to boost sales. Despite struggling to match the sales numbers of its competitors, the company is sticking to its strategy of producing only medium- to high-end handsets.
HTC CEO Peter Chou defended the company’s strategy in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. “We don’t want to destroy our brand image. We insist on using better materials to make better products that offer premium experience. Many consumers like that.”
Chou’s comments come at a time when many industry watchers are beginning to question HTC’s strategy. Motorola and Samsung are capturing the low-end handset market in the Chinese market, but Chao insists that HTC will not manufacture “cheap, cheap phones” to boost its market share.
HTC will increase its marketing efforts and expand its distribution network into emerging markets. Chou expects that 2012 Chinese shipments will reach three times last year’s total. Shipments to India and other emerging markets are steadily growing. Chou is adamant, “We think our strategy is successful.”
Now that the Samsung Galaxy S3 is in consumer hands, Samsung is telling how they were so good at keeping the details of the new device top secret. They were so tight-lipped that engineer Buyong-Joon Lee wouldn’t even admit what he was doing when asked by his 11-year-old son.
The lengths took to keep us guessing were extensive. Handsets were moved between facilities in locked boxes. One executive was charged with hand-delivering prototype devices to network partners. Samsung further befuddled watchers by producing three Samsung Galaxy S3 devices with completely different specs. Each model was designed and constructed as if it was the final product. Engineering teams had to build and rebuild components to accommodate each design, just as if all of them were the final model.
Of course had to get help from lots of internal departments to get the device to market, but even they were kept in the dark as much as possible. For example, just to set prices and buy components, the procurement department had to rely on written descriptions of parts, not the parts themselves.
Well, Samsung did the seemingly impossible task these days of launching a flagship device before the market knew all its secrets.
The folks at iFixit got their hands on a final version of Apple’s new MacBook Pro with Retina Display this week, and what did they do? They tore it apart. Here are a couple of things they found:
Samsung SSD and Hynix RAM cannot be upgraded. You’ll have to decide upfront how much capacity you’ll need over the life of your MacBook Pro.
The battery is glued to the housing and the display is fused into the assembly. Replacing the battery or the display will be expensive.
Maybe the amount of power packed into the MacBook Pro will somewhat make up for this criticism. The laptop is packing 95% of juice. That’s enough for seven hours of power. Even for some of the smartphones and tablets out there that kind of battery life is a stretch.