Thursday, August 29, 2013

BBM for iPhone and Android semi-functional launch page goes live

We’ve known for some time that a BBM app for Android and iOS will be coming, but nothing had been set in stone as far as launch dates go. Last week, user guides for both varieties of mobile operating systems leaked, hinting that BlackBerry messenger would likely be arriving soon, and that conclusion seems to have been spot-on, with a landing page going live over on BB’s website briefly.
BBM app for Android and iPhones
BBM App for Android and iPhones

To familiarize users of Android and iPhones with the BlackBerry-centric messaging service, BlackBerry has created a basic sign-up-for-notifications page that allows the curious to sign up for notification about the app’s launch. In addition to that is a link to a BBM support page that contains, among other things, a full user guide for the service.

Not too long ago, however, someone apparently pulled the trigger too soon and a semi-functional launch page was posted, complete with links to download the Android and iOS versions of the app (that didn’t link to anything yet). That URL now redirects to the notification sign up page, but the folks over at Crackberry managed to grab a screenshot of the launch page before BlackBerry pulled it.

And with that — considering the semi-functional page, leaked user guides, and whatnot — it seems we can expect an official launch any day now. There’s still no word on when the apps will be available, however, so those who have been waiting patiently will need to keep doing so. What do you think? Let us know in the comments!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Android 4.3 spotted on HTC One Google Play edition

The next version of Android appears among the specs for Google's stock version of the HTC One.

Where's Android 4.3?
Android 4.3
Where's Android 4.3?
(Credit: Louis Gray) 
Android 4.3 appears to be playing a game of "Where's Waldo?," seemingly popping up in one upcoming smartphone after another.

The latest sighting comes courtesy of the Bluetooth SIG, which uncovered an application for Google's version of the HTC One that listed Android 4.3 as the operating system. Revealing Bluetooth certification for the phone, the application was submitted on June 18 and approved on July 5.

The design name PN071xx_Android 4.3_G specifically refers to the HTC One and the operating system version, while the G likely stands for Google.

The request for Bluetooth certification on an existing phone may have been necessary since Android 4.3 will include Bluetooth 4.0 LE, according to PhoneArena. The new LE, or low-energy, flavor of Bluetooth 4.0 will support a greater array of devices, including fitness and health monitors. It also promises to be easier to set up and manage than the current version of Bluetooth.

Android 4.3 has also reportedly been spied on other phones in the wild, including the Google Play Galaxy S4 and the Nexus 4.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Review: Acer Iconia W3 - Windows 8 on a tiny tablet

 Acer Iconia W3 -  a tiny tablet
Brandished on stage at Microsoft's Build conference last week by Steve Ballmer himself as the next great thing in Windows 8 tablet hardware, Acer's Iconia W3 is the first 8-in tablet with the ability to run the full version of the company's latest OS, rather than falling back on the ARM-based Windows RT.
Further reading
This theoretically crams all the advantages of a desktop PC into a compact tablet, and in fairness to the W3, a fair amount of those benefits do shine through.

On the other hand, while £279 seems a bargain for a small, yet fully functional Windows 8 tablet, users will more or less get what they pay for in terms of the realistic usability of such a scaled-down Windows 8 experience.

To get the specs out of the way, the W3 sports an 8-in WXGA multi-touch LCD screen, powered by Intel's Atom Z2769 processor, and runs the 32-bit edition of Windows 8.

It has 2GB of RAM onboard, with 64GB of storage space, and fore and aft cameras for video conferencing and photography.            

As specs go, these are fairly respectable for the money, even if the overall build quality of the tablet's shell suffers from Acer's customary cheap and cheerful approach.

But compared to, say, Google's heavily-subsidised Nexus 7, this is a significantly more powerful offering, especially when you factor in the Windows 8 licence cost.

However, with the stock Windows 8 installation (bear in mind we also installed the Windows 8.1 preview build as well) taking up 49GB of the drive, this leaves only 32.1GB left for your own data. The W3's Micro SD slot supports a further 32GB external storage too, though.

Drive space will probably be of little concern in the long run, anyway, because this tablet feels unlikely to become anybody's workhorse ‘road warrior' device.

 Acer Iconia W3 -  a tiny tablet

Bluntly, the W3 is just too small for any serious Windows 8 use. With a choice of only two screen resolutions - native 1280 x 800 and the OS's minimum supported 1024 x 768 - trying to use the Windows 8 desktop mode quickly becomes a bind on a visual and interactive level.

Such a high resolution on such a small device makes touchscreen use a hit and miss affair, not to mention successfully reading any icon or taskbar labels in desktop mode. While increasing font sizes helps, picking out options on the taskbar or even successfully tapping icons can be taxing, and you'll often find yourself giving up and quitting back to the Modern UI, queuing up your most-used apps as Charms on there. That's probably the way Microsoft wants it anyway, of course.

There's no native stylus support either, so while Surface Pro's big, clear screen also enjoys pinpoint Wacom accuracy, the W3 is all-too reliant on fingertips that are just too big and clumsy.

While using most Modern apps and general web browsing is straightforward, enterprise users will find the pokiness of the desktop mode a real disadvantage.

DeskNotifier – cool app lets you receive and reply to SMS messages and Android phone notifications on your PC instantly [Freeware]

desknotifier2 DeskNotifier   cool app lets you receive and reply to SMS messages and Android phone notifications on your PC instantly [Freeware]
DeskNotifier App for SMS messages

We don’t know about you, but we often miss important messages or SMS texts coming in to our mobile phone because we’re working on the computer in another room, or the phone is buried in a pocket or bag and we don’t hear the alert chime. Now if only there was a way to link the PC and the phone together we could avoid the problem and stay updated constantly.
DeskNotifier is a cool little app and computer freeware program which connects your phone and PC together, either over USB or via WiFi, so you will always receive notifications and messages even if you’re working on the computer away from the handset.

desknotifier DeskNotifier   cool app lets you receive and reply to SMS messages and Android phone notifications on your PC instantly [Freeware]
DeskNotifier App for SMS messages

To set it all up, you simply download the PC Windows software and install it, and then install a small free app on your phone. You can set the system to connect only via USB cable, or do as we did and select WiFi as your connection method, which makes things much easier. Once the computer and the phone are connected via the phone’s IP number on your network (easy to do via the menus) you’re good to go.
desknotifier4 DeskNotifier   cool app lets you receive and reply to SMS messages and Android phone notifications on your PC instantly [Freeware]
DeskNotifier App for SMS messages

From then on, every time your phone receives a message or notification, it will automatically be sent to your desktop via a task bar popup. The really cool thing is you can respond instantly to the SMS by clicking on the pop up and entering in the return message, which means you don’t have to touch your phone to carry on a text conversation. You can also initiate new SMS conversations using the PC as well. Very neat.
DeskNotifier App for SMS messages
DeskNotifier App for SMS messages

The software can cope with call notifications, SMS messages, WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook and other incoming notifications, in fact most 3rd party apps. There are two versions, the free one and a $0.99c Pro version, which offers more functionality such as notification filters, password protection and file transfer between phone and PC. The software is well written and works as promised, although it is a little disconcerting to stumble across German menu text from time to time, where the developers have not finished translating properly.

We would also like the ability to store and recall past alerts and conversations, because at the moment the notifications disappear after a while and you can’t retrieve them on the computer or store them for later action. Nevertheless, despite these niggles, we’re really enjoying the new functionality, and will definitely keep this puppy installed for the duration. Definitely worth checking out!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Rogers, Vidéotron to share new LTE network

20-year agreement will see firms split cost of expanding high-speed wireless network

LTE technology, sometimes called 4G, allows more data to be carried more quickly across wireless networks. Rogers and Vidéotron announced Thursday that they would be teaming up to build up their LTE network in Ottawa and parts of Quebec.
High Speed 4G Wireless Network
LTE technology, sometimes called 4G, allows more data to be carried more quickly across wireless networks. Rogers and Vidéotron announced Thursday that they would be teaming up to build up their LTE network in Ottawa and parts of Quebec. (Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters)

Rogers Communications and Vidéotron are teaming up to expand their LTE networks in Ottawa and parts of Quebec to save on operating and capital costs.

"The agreement we have reached will enable us and Rogers alike to make more efficient use of our spectrum, and to derive maximum benefit from our investments," said Robert Dépatie, CEO of Vidéotron and of Vidéotron's parent company Quebecor, in a press release Thursday.

"The required capital expenditures will be less than if the two companies would have built out parallel LTE access networks."

LTE, or long-term evolution, is the latest technology for carrying signals across a wireless network. It allows more data to be transferred faster and more efficiently across the same amount of radio spectrum. LTE networks, sometimes called 4G networks, can transmit data 10 times faster than 3G networks. They're about three times faster than advanced High-Speed Packet Access+ (HSPA+) networks.

To share cost of operation, deployment

Under the 20-year agreement, Rogers and Vidéotron will pool resources to build up their existing LTE networks faster than they had planned.
The co-operation with Rogers to offer greater LTE coverage will allow Vidéotron to expand its handset offerings, said CEO Robert Dépatie.
Add caption
They will share the cost of deploying and operating the shared network, each providing services to the other, the companies said in a press release. On balance, Rogers will receive $200 million for the services while Vidéotron will get $93 million —payable over 10 years.

The co-operation with Rogers to offer greater LTE coverage will allow Vidéotron to expand its handset offerings, said CEO Robert Dépatie. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)
 The new network will enable Vidéotron to offer a broader range of handsets since LTE networks cannot be accessed with handsets that are not LTE-enabled. Rogers already has several LTE devices and LTE networks in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa and other cities.

The two companies have also reached a deal that will give Vidéotron the option of selling its unused AWS spectrum in the Greater Toronto Area to Rogers for $180 million. If the sale is approved by regulators, Rogers would take over the spectrum licence Jan. 1, 2014.

"This network- and spectrum-sharing agreement, combined with the expansion of our LTE footprint, will allow even more consumers to experience the superior connectivity and incredibly fast speeds that LTE delivers," said Rogers president and CEO Nadir Mohamed.
"This is excellent news for our customers and our shareholders. This agreement will enable us to go farther and to do it faster."

Sunday, April 7, 2013

AMD: PC Gaming Is Coming Back in a Big Way.

PC Gaming
PC Gaming
While some people believe that games on personal Computers and – top-notch microprocessors and high-end graphics cards – have lost their charms, it seems like they not only haven’t, but they are gaining. Moreover, they are gaining in a way that was unbelievable a year from now.

“Most people would say that it has lost some of its charm I say that our commitment and work with game developers to bring back some of PC gaming stimulus. I’ll give you an example: My father is a PC gamer.But for a few years, he has pursued other interests. When Tomb Raider came out, my father saw the images TressFX hair simulation and wanted the game. TressFX for us is just the beginning of a whole series of things that we will do together with game developers have to make PC gaming more exciting,” said corporate vice president of global channel sales, said in an interview with web-site.
Being an excellent PC game, the all-new Tomb Raider is a good example of a revenue driver for a developer. EA’s Need for Speed: Most Wanted has clearly earned loads of money thanks to three DLC packs released for PCs in March, which brought the actual price of the game to rather whopping €85/$85.

3D PC Game Tomb Raider
3D PC Game Tomb Raider
Keeping in mind that publishers want maximize the revenue from games by setting higher price per title, whereas companies like AMD want to sell hardware, it is rather logical for the latter to finance development of titles designed. However, AMD has never done so, albeit its financial support was crucial for such major titles as FarCry 3.

Best iPhone and iPad apps this week

Best iPhone and iPad apps this week
Best iPhone and iPad apps this week

Turn your iDevice into a spycam, and indulge in a sizeable dose of retro in this week’s pick of the best iOS apps.

The Other Brothers
The Other Brothers

The Other Brothers

1.99c App Store
Two brothers, moustaches, sewers, and a damsel in distress might sound rather familiar, but this modern twist on a platformer follows the story of the ‘other brothers’ Joe and Jim, racing through levels against the clock and taking on boss fights to save a girl named Tavy who’s been captured by the Mob. Calling itself the “new retro”, it features excellent 16-bit graphics but with modern mechanics and a mixture of linear and non-linear environments – though you still employ the satisfyingly retro technique of jumping on the heads of the bad guys to see them off.



$4.49 App Store
We’ve seen a number of excellent atmospheric side-scrollers recently, and the award-winning Badland is the latest. Set in a forest that has been filled with traps and obstacles, you take control of one of the forest’s rather strange-but-cutesy inhabitants. Simple one-touch controls see you dodging all manner of spinning saws, turning cogs and shooting spikes in this gorgeous-looking game – there’s even a local multiplayer mode that lets up to four people play on the same device.



99c App Store
Slayin is one of those games that seems quite simple in theory – but in practice it's plenty challenging. Confined to the size of your device’s screen, it’s an endless RPG that sees you simply pacing backwards and forwards, hitting enemies with your sword and avoiding their strikes when your back is turned. There are weapon upgrades and spells that you can buy as you level up, and character upgrades to unlock as well – but once you die in this game, it’s game over. Retro graphics, an old-school on-screen control pad and an excellent chiptune soundtrack only add to its simplistic charm.

Prescence by People Power
Prescence by People Power

Presence by People Power

Free App Store
If you’ve got an iDevice sat at home when you’re not, this app can turn it into an instant Wi-Fi video camera, offering real-time audio and video streaming, motion detection and a two-way conversation mode. All you need to do is ensure it is connected to the internet, plug it into the power and leave it in the spot you’d like to monitor. Once you've downloaded the app onto the iDevice you carry around in your pocket, you can check in to it whenever you like, wherever you are – you can even get an alert with a short video clip every time motion is detected – handy if you’re using it as a security measure. Or if you want to see what the dog gets up to when you're out.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Download The Croods for iPhone and iPad – Free

The Croods on Apple's App Store
The Croods by Rovio Entertainment Ltd
The Croods on Apple's App Store

Angry Birds maker Rovio Entertainment Ltd. in cooperation with DreamWorks Animation has released The Croods, a free game for iPhone and iPad based on the upcoming motion picture.

Players must trap and tame 10 pre-historic creatures, including the Girelephant and the Molarbear, create inventions with Grug to open and explore new areas, and decorate their world with caveman accessories.

The list of features also says, “Meet your favorite characters from the feature animation film from DreamWorks Animation!”

How can you already have a favorite character from The Croods? The film isn’t even out yet.

The game is free to play but it does come with some paid goods inside, so be careful with that in-app purchases toggle when you give your iPad to the kids.

Also, Rovio asks customers to note that the game requires a network connection to work. It’s also chock-full of third-party ads. Yep, not exactly an ideal gaming experience. But we’ve come to learn that about Rovio in the past year.

The good thing is that The Croods runs on pretty much all iDevice models. It only requires iOS 4.3.

Download The Croods for iPhone and iPad (Free)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Your Galaxy S IV Will Probably Be Plastic, And That’s For The Best, Says Samsung VP

Samsung Galaxy S IV
We’re just over a week away from the Galaxy S IV’s official unveiling in New York City, and the pieces are starting to fall into place. Sure, we still don’t know what the thing is going to look like, but persistent rumors have pegged the device as sporting the same sort of plastic body that Samsung has been (in?)famous for.
While she wouldn’t weigh in on the Galaxy S IV specifically, Y.H. Lee, executive VP of Samsung’s mobile unit that the love-it-or-hate-it plastic chassis endemic to the company’s gadgets aren’t going anywhere just yet.

According to Lee, it’s just as much about practicality as it is about style: In order to churn out (and sell) as many devices as Samsung does, the company has to pay plenty of attention to how efficiently they can be made. Naturally, Samsung can’t just pump out loads of shoddy devices and call it a day, so durability weighs heavily on the company’s mind when it comes time to picking out materials for a final design.

Meanwhile, would-be rivals like HTC have embraced metal with open arms in its latest flagship device designs. The benefits are as plentiful as they are subjective — the adjective that seems to be bandied about most often is “premium,” since these metal-clad devices tend to feel more weighty and substantial when compared to the sorts of flimsy plastic bodies that many Android-friendly OEMs still cling to. I’ll be the first to admit that I prefer handsets that feel like they could withstand some abuse, though in fairness I’ve found that devices like the Galaxy S III and the Galaxy Note II can handle their fair share of turmoil despite having light, plastic bodies.

Granted, I can see how the choice of materials could prove to be occasionally problematic for the companies involved here. Crafting a device like the HTC One or an iPhone 5 out of aluminum can be more exacting (and therefore more time-consuming), not to mention more expensive than sticking with a less ornate body.
But here’s the thing — Samsung doesn’t need to play by those same rules. It’s an undeniable juggernaut in the smartphone space, and has proven ably over the past months and years that yes, people will often buy their smartphones even when faced with alternatives that arguably feel more premium. That’s not to say that Samsung will never rethink its position on the materials it uses. Lee concedes that the company “listen[s] to the market” and tries to accommodate it, so that sentiment could soon change if the masses demand it.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Press Event Reawakening Facebook Smartphone Rumors

FaceBook SmartPhone
FaceBook SmartPhone
Facebook has scheduled to hold a media event on Tuesday, reawakening rumors that the social netowork will launch its own phone.

The event, set to be held at Facebook's headquarters on January 15, is prompting - for one more time - speculations that a Facebook smartphone is on the works.

Last November reports surfaced that HTC had been working with Facebook to develop a phone, code-named the Opera UL. However, the phone never materialized Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg had denied the rumors.

TechCrunch is now claiming that the launch of a phone is imminent, indicating that "multiple sources have told us that they expect some sort of Facebook Phone to be on display on Tuesday."