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May 15, 2012

Evernote with new Fresh UI and many improvements for Android

Evernote has just released a new flavor of their mobile application for smartphones running under Google’s Android operating system, packing it with a fresh look and a range of other enhancements as well. 

The new Evernote 4.0 for Android was meant to offer much better performance levels when compared to previous releases, the development team claims. The most important change that users will benefit from, however, affects the interface of most of the application’s menus. “Whether it’s a completely makeover or a simple touch-up, every single screen of the app have been redesigned to be easier to use, faster and more intuitive,” Evernote explains.

The Home Screen combines note creation with direct links to notebooks, tags and places. Moreover, returning to the home is much easier now – all that users need to do is to swipe right or tap the elephant. The note and notebooks lists have been upgraded as well, so that browsing content is easier. Personal notebooks are now in the same place as those shared by friends. The new update also comes with new contextual Action Bars placed at the bottom of screens, offering options related to the specific screen, such as the possibility to edit, share, tag notes, to launch a new note, search through them and more.

The new interface makes it easier to read notes, through hiding the menus when they are not needed, so as to free space on the screen. “We believe that the best interfaces are the ones that appear when you need them and become invisible when you don’t,” Evernote explains. “That thinking led to our new note view. When reading a note, as you start scrolling, all navigation slides away, giving you a full-screen reading view. Then, when you need to edit, share or return to the note list, just tap the screen.”

The app also provides horizontal swiping for fast navigation, and is also capable of taking advantage of the location services than are enabled on the device, assigning a place to the notes you take. Another visible interface feature in this release is the presence of the username on the top left corner of the home screen. Tapping on it will offer info on remaining monthly allowance and will provide access to additional settings.  “Next to the username is a profile icon. This icon shows your account type: it’s a simple profile icon for Free users, and shiny crest if you’re Premium. In addition, at a glance, the icon shows you if you’re nearing your monthly allowance limit,” the company continues.

A series of other enhancements have been included in the new version of the application, Evernote states. Fixes for various issues were also packed in this release. Evernote for Android can be downloaded via this link.

NTT DOCOMO Announces 16 Android 4.0 Smartphones, including Galaxy S III

Japanese wireless carrier NTT DOCOMO has just unveiled plans to launch no less than 19 new devices this summer, 16 of which are smartphones, all running under Google’s Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich platform. 

The lineup will also include a new mobile phone “designed for kids,” along with a mobile Wi-Fi router and a new tablet PC, the wireless operator announced. At the same time, the company unveiled that many of these new devices will offer support for its LTE mobile service called DOCOMO Xi (read "Crossy"). Among the planned smartphones, we can count handsets that pack multi-core application processors, which will sport touchscreen displays ranging from 3.7 to 5-inches.

The wireless carrier notes that there will be one device featuring a quad-core CPU inside, while 12 of the new models will offer dual-core power to their users. The newly unveiled Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone will be included in the series, along with devices such as the LG Optimus Vu, the Sony Xperia GX and the Tegra 3-powered Arrows X. The mobile phone carrier notes that this new series of devices is meant to meet all demands from its customers, and that their various hardware specifications and capabilities prove that.

Additionally, NTT DOCOMO notes that the new smartphones will be compatible with its Smartphone Anshin Remote Support, and that most of them will offer access to the Sumaho Onayami Support Menu, which offers resources for easy troubleshooting. Four of these handsets, along with the aforementioned tablet PC, will offer support for NOTTV, a V-high multimedia broadcasting service.

The new lineup will also include smartphones that offer water resistance and infrared communications, along with NFC (Near Field Communication) capabilities and support for One-Seg terrestrial digital broadcasting.  The Japanese operator also intends to load one of these handsets with the manga comic series JOJO, while packing the “Twonky Beam” app in six models, so that users could enjoy recorded digital terrestrial content on them. More info on the upcoming lineup can be found on the NTT DOCOMO's website.

KDDI Unveils Spring 2012 Android Roadmap

Japanese carrier KDDI has just announced its upcoming set of Android smartphones, which are expected to arrive this Spring.

The most interesting seems to be Fujitsu’s Arrows Z ISW13F. The smartphone is equipped with an Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM and 16GB of internal memory. In addition, the device is said to boast an impressive 4.6-inch capacitive touchscreen display with HD (720 x 1280 pixels) resolution. A 13-megapixel rear camera is included as well.

Another Android smartphone to be launched at KDDI in the following weeks is the HTC J, which was announced several weeks ago. The Kyocera Urbano Progresso is another device that will soon make it to KDDI’s shelves. The smartphone is said to be capable of transmitting sound through vibrations. Check out the full list of devices here. via JapaneseEngadget

Motorola MOTOSMART MIX XT550 Android Phone Gets Launched in China

Motorola Mobility and Sina have teamed up to offer the MOTOSMART MIX XT550 Android phone in China. 

The smartphone will be launched during a ‘Share Music, Share Perspectives’ concert, co-sponsored by Motorola Mobility and Sina Micro Music, which is set to take place on May 30 in Beijing. Some of the most popular music stars will perform live in Beijing, such as Liu Xin, Su Miaoling, Tan Jiexi, Wang Yuexin, and Yang Yang. 

Motorola fans are recommended to purchase the MOTOSMART MIX XT550 by visiting the company’s online store, because all those who buy it will be automatically entered into a lucky draw for a chance to win one of the concert tickets. Motorola MOTOSMART MIX XT550 is a music-oriented smartphone, which is powered by Android 2.3 Gingerbread operating system and sports a large 4.0-inch capacitive touchscreen display. Furthermore, the handset is packed with Dolby Mobile audio technology, SRS WOW HD sound-enhancement technology and an exclusive Sina Micro Music application. 

With the exclusive Sina Micro Music application, users can share their current music mood in real-time with their Weibo followers. On the back, the MOTOSMART MIX XT550 sports a 3-megapixel camera, while in the front there’s a secondary VGA camera for video calls. According to Motorola, the phone’s 1735mAh Li-Ion battery should provide up to 30 hours of non-stop music. 

Last but not least, the MOTOSMART MIX XT550 comes with high-quality headphones and a dedicated music key. “We created MOTOSMART MIX XT550 for people who take their music seriously, and take it everywhere. Both the music and the devices we carry with say a lot about who we are. With MOTOSMART MIX XT550 you can have a smartphone that does justice to your music without sacrificing any of the things you expect from a smartphone,” said Frank Meng, corporate vice president, president of Motorola Mobility, Greater China.

Estonia and Latvia Now in Street View with Almost 100% Coverage

Google has been on a roll lately with Street View, likely making up for all the lost time during the entire WiFi payload data affair. But that's (almost) behind it now and it's started to roll out the service in more and more countries. 

Estonia and Latvia join the Ukraine and Israel as the latest countries to have Street View imagery live online.  

Google has been to several places in the two country with its Street View cars, has now finished processing the imagery, blurring faces and car number plates, and has now published the images online. 

And it's not just one or two places, Google has pretty much covered the entire countries, every nook and cranny. They're not that big, but still, the coverage is greater than many of the newer countries to be added.

Baidu Unleashes Changhong H5018 Smartphone in China

As expected, giant search engine Baidu unveiled the Changhong H5018 smartphone powered by its own Cloud Smart Terminal platform. 

According to the company, the device has been manufactured by Foxconn and will be available for purchase via China Unicom. Obviously, it won’t be available outside China and it will sell for less than 1,000 RMB (160 USD or 125 EUR) through dedicated channels across the country. Although Baidu wasn’t very specific on the availability of the phone, the company did mention the Changhong H5-18 was expected to hit shelves “in the very near future.”

The phone’s main selling point will be Baidu’s Cloud Smart Terminal platform, which packs the core technologies of Baidu Cloud Computing, such as Cloud-based applications, Personal Cloud Storage service, and multi-terminal, multi-application software platform capabilities. In addition, the mobile platform offers users various features and services, including intelligent search, secure and reliable Cloud services, as well as specialized Baidu apps and personalized location-based services. 

Integrated traditional search with voice recognition search and handwriting input will be available as well. Baidu promised every customer who purchases the Changhong H5018 will receive 100 GB of free personal storage through Baidu Netdrive. The phone will also come preloaded with Baidu apps, such as Baidu Music, Baidu Map, and Baidu Mobile IME (input method editor). 

In terms of hardware, the Changhong H5018 sports a 3.5-inch capacitive touchscreen display, a 3-megapixel rear camera, a 1400 mAh Li-Ion battery, as well as 3G connectivity.  “The Baidu Cloud Smart terminal platform is a crucial step in Baidu’s overall Cloud strategy in the mobile Internet sphere. It is not only meant to create a high quality, smart mobile experience for users, but also, more importantly, it will significantly lower manufacturing costs for many mobile manufacturers and cooperating partners,” said Baidu VP of engineering, Jing WANG.

HTML5 Desktop Apps Become a Reality with Firefox 15 and the Mozilla Marketplace

Mozilla is rather serious about web apps and it's been working on making its own platform a reality. The Mozilla Marketplace will soon go live for users and Mozilla is highlighting one of the potential uses of the app store and the web platform itself, describing how web apps can be "installed" locally, on Windows and Mac for now.

What this means is that web apps can run separately from the Firefox browser, or any other browser that may support them, but they'll still be relying on the browser underneath. "App shortcuts" on the dekstop or in the start menu have been around for ages, both Chrome and Firefox can do it, so it's not much of a big deal. But the ability coupled with the single-focus of most web apps, which do tend to be more like apps than websites, at least if they're designed properly, could be a big advantage, especially for less tech-savvy people who want to have all of their apps, no matter where they came from, look, feel and work the same.

The "Mozilla Apps Native Install Experience" has just landed in the Firefox Nightly channel, currently housing Firefox 15. "This functionality lets us install an HTML5 application with a native launching experience on Windows or Mac (Linux and Android coming)," Mozilla explained.

"One great way to do this is to simply list your app in the Mozilla Marketplace. The Marketplace will be open to the general public soon and developers can submit their app now at the Marketplace Ecosystem Portal. All you need besides an app to submit is a set of BrowserID credentials," it added. Developers can already submit apps to the Mozilla Marketplace, but the app store is not open to the public yet. The Marketplace already supports the native install feature, but if you want to offer the same on your own website there are some preparations to be made, which Mozilla details in its blog post.

Huawei Ascend D1 Spotted at FCC with Dual-Core CPU and HSPA+

Unveiled a few days ahead of Mobile World Congress 2012 trade fair, Huawei Ascend D1 has yet to make its entrance on the market.

While most handset manufacturers already launched their device announced back in February, Huawei is still struggling to debut its Diamond family of smartphones. According to the latest hearsay, the Chinese company plans to release all three Diamond smartphones this summer, though we don’t have any official launch dates yet. However, at least one of them will soon hit shelves in the United States, the Huawei Ascend D1. The guys over at Engadget have just spotted the handset at FCC (Federal Communication Commission) with pentaband HSPA+.

Unfortunately, we’re not sure which carrier will offer the Ascend D1, but the filed documents indicate that the unlocked models will work on T-Mobile and AT&T’s airwaves. Even though we don’t have a release date for the Ascend D1, Huawei mentioned a few weeks ago that it would launch the smartphone in Q2, so we can safely assume the device will hit shelves by the end of June. Huawei Ascend D1 will be shipped with the latest version of Ice Cream Sandwich operating system on board and will be packed with a dual-core 1.5 GHz TI OMAP 4460 processor.

In addition, the device sports an impressive 4.5-inch IPS+ LCD capacitive touchscreen display that supports HD (720 x 1280 pixels) resolution and 16 million colors. On the back, Ascend D1 boasts an 8-megapixel photo snapper with autofocus, dual-LED flash and full HD (1080p) video recording, while in the front there’s a 1.3-megapixel secondary camera for video calls. Aside from HSPA+ support, the smartphone offers users Wi-Fi and DLNA, as well as Bluetooth 3.0 and microUSB 2.0 (MHL). It also come packed with Dolby Mobile 3.0 Plus sound enhancement and active noise cancellation with dedicated mic.

SONY Intros Powerful VAIO S and Z Series Laptops with External Graphics

Japanese company SONY has just announced the new VAIO S Series and VAIO Z series notebook on its official website

Unlike the value models we’ve just presented here, the S and Z series come with Ivy Bridge processors and even a Power Media Dock with AMD’s Radeon HD 7670M GPU. Intel’s Core i7-3612QM processor was just launched two weeks ago and comes with a large 6 MB of Level 3 cache and four cores able to handle eight threads at the same time thanks to HyperThreading.

The low power frequency of the CPU is just 1200 MHz while the normal speed is 2100 MHz with Turbo option up to 3100 MHz when only one thread requires the most performance, 3 GHz for two cores and 2800 MHz when three or all cores need to show their muscles. The CPU can handle up to 32 GB of DDR3-1600 memory and has a dual channel memory controller that also serves the iGPU. The HD 4000 iGPU inside the Core i7-3612QM processor usually runs at 650 MHz with a turbo option of 1100 MHz.

The maximum head dissipation of the CPU is 35 watts. As expected, the SONY VAIO S series laptop will come with Nvidia’s GeForce GT 640M LE graphics chip having Intel’s own HD4000 as the low power solution. The display is a nice 15.5” IPS Plus panel with a FullHD resolution in the usual 16:9 ratio. SONY VAIO Z series comes with a smaller VAIO Display Premium with just a 13.3” diagonal and the same FullHD resolution.

The Z series also packs 256 GB of SSD storage in RAID 0 along with a Blu-ray drive. The thing is that the Blu-ray drive along with AMD’s Radeon HD 7670M GPU come inside the Power Media Dock. 
The S series weighs in at a rather heavy 2 Kg while the Z VAIO is only 1.18 Kg light. That is around 4.4 pounds for the VAIO S and just 2.6 pounds for the VAIO Z.

Script: Fast Secure Contact Form

Fast Secure Contact Form is a nice little script that can be installed on your server, and via a nice GUI can help regular and advanced users alike, generate a fully-featured contact form to be integrated within their website.

Fast Secure Contact Form comes in two versions, one for stand-alone websites running on PHP and as a plugin for the WordPress platform. In the PHP-based version, for every created form, the script provides a PHP snippet for embedding it in the desired location on the website.

For the WordPress version, for every created form, the plugin provides a custom shortcode to be used within posts and pages for showing the created form. Of course, the WP plugin is available in the WordPress plugin repository as well.

Download Fast Secure Contact Form for PHP here.
Download Fast Secure Contact Form for WordPress here.

Lenovo Unveils the Lightest 14” UltraBook

Today, Chinese computer manufacturer Lenovo is previewing at the company’s Accelerate Channel Partner Conference in Las Vegas the lightest 14” UltraBook in the industry. It’s called the ThinkPad X1 Carbon and it’s made out of a premium carbon fiber chassis.

The new Lenovo ThinkPad X1 UltraBook is packed with premium features such as 3G connectivity and Lenovo’s own RapidCharge technology that guarantees a  near-full battery charge in 30 minutes, along with Intel’s vPro technology packet that allows every security agency to monitor your computer. The processing power is delivered by Intel’s latest generation of Ivy Bridge processors and it will have up to 8 GB of DDR3 RAM to play with.

Graphics are displayed on a 16:9 small matte screen with a 1600:900 resolution. We would have liked it to have a normal 4:3 display, but how can we expect the big brands to think about the users and not the profit? For those who need a reminder, the 16:9 screen format actually offers less screen space than a 16:10 display with the same official diagonal size.

Compared with standard 4:3 screens, the 16:9 displays offer much less screen area. The weight is a little bit under three pounds, that would mean that the lightest ultrabook weighs less than 1.36 Kg. Despite the small weight and size, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon touts a 10-hour battery life that will be 80% recharged in just 30 minutes with Lenovo’s RapidCharge technology. The front facing webcam can offer 720p video quality and the speakers are Dolby Home Theater v4 certified.

The camera also comes with face tracking software that will make you more visible to anybody watching you through it. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon price is not yet public, but the small wonder with its backlit keyboard and all will be on sale before the end of this summer.

Tizen OS Runs Android Apps, Gets Loaded on Galaxy S II HD LTE

Samsung is working on the development of a new mobile operating system, Tizen, which is slowly shaping up as a real-world platform, although many have had a hard time trusting that. 

To ensure that the OS will benefit from a good start, Samsung made sure to include it with support for applications developed for other mobile platforms out there as well, including its own bada OS, or Google’s Android operating system. The idea behind this is very simple. Tizen arrives with support for a program called Application Compatibility Layer (ACL), which enables it to run software developed using the bada SDK, as well as Android applications, as can be seen in the first video below (via TheHandheldBlog). 

According to Open Mobile, the entity promoting ACL, devices powered by the new Tizen OS will benefit from full compatibility with Android apps and will deliver the same level of responsiveness as native devices would. The idea is not new, that’s for sure, since Research In Motion made a similar move with offering support for Android apps on its PlayBook tablet PC, but it appears to have been refined and made much easier to use. Recently, we had the chance to have a look at what was said to be the first Samsung device to run under the new Tizen OS, and now we can get a taste of the company’s Galaxy S II HD LTE powered by the new platform. 

The new HTML5-based mobile platform seems highly appealing, already packing great animation effects, considering the fact that it is still work in progress. For example, the image gallery enables users to scroll through images either in a spiral or in a list view, while enjoying smooth animations. Have a look at the second video below (coming from TizenExperts) to learn more on the matter. One other thing that this clip shows is that more than one Samsung device is supported in the new platform, suggesting that expanded compatibility might be planned for the not too distant future.

Samsung Galaxy S III Receives FCC Approval, Lacks LTE Support

Even though earlier this month Samsung confirmed plans to launch its third-generation Galaxy S smartphone in the United States, the company only vaguely hinted to a “summer” release.

Obviously, summer could mean that the Galaxy S III is ready to hit shelves as early as June, but we don’t have any official confirmation yet. However, there are speculations that claim Samsung needed to delay the North American launch of the Galaxy S III in order to successfully launch the European version, which doesn’t come with LTE support.

Although many previously thought the North American variant will be equipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 chipset that features LTE support, it appears that the Galaxy S III will come with HSPA+ only.

The smartphone has just received FCC’s (Federal Communication Commission) approval and the documents filed indicate the Galaxy S III only supports HSPA+, which would make it fully compatible with AT&T’s network.

Another interesting information that we get from the regulatory label is the fact that Samsung Galaxy S III will be launched in the United States with a high-capacity 2100 mAh Li-Ion battery, which is said to provide users with at least 10 hours of continuous time.

Even if the Galaxy S III that has just been approved by FCC only features HSPA+ support, we believe Samsung will surely come up with an LTE-enabled model as well. The European version of Galaxy S III comes with an Exynos 4212 Quad chipset that features four cores clocked at 1.4 GHz, but lacks LTE. Still, Samsung is currently testing an Exynos 5250 SoC that is said to come with LTE on board. 

Samsung confirmed that this new SoC would enter mass production only in Q3 2012, which makes us wonder whether the company will choose Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 chipset in order to launch the Galaxy S III in North America much faster.

AMD Desktop APUs Set for August Launch, Brazos 2.0 in June

With the first Trinity APUs out of the way, we can look to the future and gather up whatever reports exist on the chips still unreleased. 

As it happens, we didn't have to look in too many places for data on the Brazos 2.0. CPU World got a lead on them. One of the chips, AMD E1-1200, is a 1.4 GHz entry-level dual-core CPU, while the E2-1800 has 1.7 GHz clock speed. Both use the Bobcat micro-architecture and have ultra-low power consumption. June is when their release is set to occur. 

After that, the A-Series desktop APU line will show up: dual-core A4 and A6 units, plus quad-core A8 and A10 processors. For overclockers, there will be both dual-core and quad-core models with unlocked multipliers. 

Now we just have to see if reviewers will be more enthusiastic after putting them through their paces.

Nokia 110 and 112: Dual-SIM Feature Phones with Free EA Games, Facebook, Twitter

As expected, Nokia has just announced the upcoming availability of two new cheap feature-phones, the Nokia 110 and 112.

Unveiled at the “Next Billion” event that takes place in Karachi, Pakistan, both handsets are expected to arrive on different markets in the following months. Although both Nokia 110 and Nokia 112 are dual SIM phones, the former will also be available as single SIM versions, Nokia 111 and Nokia 113, with this last one available in Europe and Eurasia only. According to the Finish handset maker, Nokia 110 and its single SIM versions will be available for purchase beginning Q2 for about 35 EUR (45 USD), while the Nokia 112 is expected to hit shelves in Q3 for 38 EUR (50 USD).

Both feature-phones come pre-loaded with Facebook, Twitter and the new Nokia Browser, which allows users to consume less data by up to 90%, by compressing websites in the cloud. Even though both handsets offer access to Facebook and Twitter directly from their home screens, the Nokia 112 also comes preloaded with eBuddy instant messaging service. Nokia 110 and 112 sport a 1.8-inch display, VGA rear camera and microSD card slot for memory expansion (up to 32GB).

Customers who purchase either of the two handsets will also receive 40 EA games for free, valued at 75 EUR (95 USD) if bought separately. Among these titles, Nokia mentions well-known titles such as Tetris, Bejeweled, Need for Speed The Run, Monopoly Here & Now, and SimCity Deluxe. Nokia 110 and 112 owners will be able to download these games for free by clicking on the Games Gift EA icon on their home screen. 

Nokia notes that “once they have accessed the offering, they will have 60 days to download the games of their choice, keeping the games forever.”  As we previously mentioned, Nokia 110 and Nokia 112 are both dual-SIM phones. However, they also feature Nokia's Easy Swap technology, which enables users to switch between SIMs without having to remove their battery or turn off the phone.

AMD Trinity Powers Arctic MC101 Media Centers

You'd expect us to immediately start listing all the laptops based on the new accelerated processing units (APUs) from Advanced Micro Devices, but that's not what we're going to do.

Sure, we've already seen some notebooks here and there, but the landslide is only now about to start, assuming PC makers don't wait until the AMD Fusion Developer Summit (June 11-14). Still, we figured we'd start with something more unusual. Trinity chips really are good for a wide variety of products.

Arctic has made the official introduction of the MC101 Series all-in-one entertainment centers. One might say they qualify as computers as much as they fit the definition of media players. Design-wise, they are class-brushed silver-colored aluminum-housed devices with a thickness of just 32mm (1.25 inches).

Two heatsinks lie on the inside, dissipating the heat generated by whichever processor happens to be present. Speaking of which, prospective buyers can select between the AMD Trinity APU A10-4600M and the A8-4500M, which we’ve detailed here.

4 GB of DDR3 RAM are present, along with up to 2 TB of hard disk drive storage space, which can hold, in addition to the operating system, 2,600 films, 625,000 songs and over 2,000,000 photos, give or take.  That's right, even though the MC101 Series are supposed to link to TVs or networks, via TV tuner or another of the many ports on the side (USB, HDMI, LAN etc.), they use a PC OS. Fortunately, this makes them plug-and-play ready, so it's actually a good thing. All in all, we suppose that the M101 Series qualify as PCs in media player garb. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Besides, you can take it to a LAN party easily too.

Customers can order full and barebone (no storage or memory) configurations beginning today, but shipments won't commence before June. The starting price is $399, or 310 Euro if exchange rates are to be believed.

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