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Jun 20, 2012

FaceTime in iOS 6 Goes Cellular, But Not if Operators Don’t Play Ball

Apple says that in iOS 6 FaceTime not only works over WiFi, but also over cellular networks, “so you can make and receive FaceTime calls wherever you happen to be.”

That’s all fine and dandy, except not all carriers might be ready to allow such traffic on their airwaves, according to an analysis by MarketWatch. The market research firm notes that none of the iPhone carriers in the US were willing to comment on the matter, except one spokesman from AT&T who said the operator was "working closely with Apple on features disclosed for iOS 6, and we'll share more information with our customers as we get closer to launch." That pretty much sounds like there will at least be extra charging for this feature, if it even gets supported at all.

MarketWatch specifically outlines that FaceTime's appetite for data consumption is part of the reason why the service wasn't initially supported over cellular. Adding insult to injury, these cellular networks “were once dominated by subscribers with unlimited data,” MarketWatch says, citing industry sources.

Windows Phone 8 with New Microsoft and Nokia Apps

Microsoft is set to bring the next-generation Windows Phone 8 platform to the market this fall, on devices coming from Nokia, Huawei, Samsung and HTC, and with a new range of applications packed inside.

Among them, we can count Audible, Microsoft's direct response to Apple's Siri, as well as Wallet, the company's own app designed specifically to enable mobile payments on the platform. Moreover, there will be a series of new Nokia applications available for all Windows Phone 8 users, including a new flavor of Nokia Music, Nokia Counters, Camera Extras and Smart Groups.

Nokia's Transport and Drive will also be enhanced for Windows Phone. All these apps will start arriving on Lumia devices as soon as next week. ith over 100,000 applications in the Windows Phone Marketplace, Windows Phone 8 users will enjoy a strong ecosystem, Microsoft stated.

No Windows Phone 8 for Existing Devices

In addition to unveiling all the new features and capabilities that Windows Phone 8 will arrive on shelves with, Microsoft also confirmed that the platform will not be released to existing smartphones.

However, the Redmond-based software giant did commit to providing Windows Phone 7.5 users with an update that will offer them the possibility to enjoy some of the features that Windows Phone 8 will arrive on shelves with. Dubbed Windows Phone 7.8, the update will deliver to existing users the new, updated Start screen on Windows Phone 8, with resizable live tiles, as well as with access to some other features.

Windows Phone 7.5 users will also benefit from new applications in the Marketplace, Microsoft said. Unfortunately, Microsoft was not specific on what these features would involve, nor on when the update should start arriving on mobile phones. Stay tuned for more on the matter.

Windows Phone 8 Now Official

Today, Microsoft came to the Windows Phone Summit with the next-generation Windows Phone 8 operating system in its pocket.

Just as expected, the company packed the upcoming mobile platform with a nice range of enhancements, in an attempt to attract more users to its side and to gain a larger portion of the smartphone OS market. Windows Phone 8 will arrive on shelves with a shared core with Microsoft's Windows 8 platform, something that has been long rumored to be so. It will be released this holiday, with elements common with Windows 8, including kernel, networking, multimedia, driver support. Through making this move, Microsoft ensures that devices would arrive on shelves in a wider range of form factors and price points.

Moreover, Microsoft announced that Windows Phone 8 would arrive on better hardware than before, including devices with multiple processors (the OS can support up to 64 processors on the same device). Support for more powerful GPUs will also be included in the OS, so that users would benefit from a better multimedia and gaming experience. Moreover, Windows Phone 8 will add support for microSD cards, so that users can add increased storage space into the mix as they please, and it will also add support for more screen resolutions, including WVGA, WXVGA and true 720p. Windows Phone 8 will be launched with Internet Explorer 10, which should deliver the same experience that IE10 on Windows 8 has to offer, including the same level of security.

For developers, Microsoft announced the availability of native code for developers, so that better applications and gaming would be possible. Windows Phone 8 will also arrive with a changed Start screen, with increased customization capabilities, including the possibility to change the size of live tiles. The platform will also feature built-in Nokia mapping services, including turn-by-turn navigation, and will arrive with encryption and secure boot for Enterprise users. Microsoft demoed a Nokia development device, which features a dual-core application processor, a higher resolution screen, and other hardware designed for Windows Phone 8.

However, the handset might never arrive on shelves, Microsoft said. The company also mentioned that the platform is not compatible with current Windows Phone devices.

Texas Instruments Shows Impressive OMAP 4470 Netbook Running Windows RT

We already saw what Texas Instruments’ OMAP 5 processor can do, as we reported it here and here. The OMAP 5 platform is using ARM’s Cortex A15 architecture that is considerably more powerful than the Cortex-A9 designs like Nvidia’s Tegra 3.

Still, Texas Instruments is keen on demonstrating that even the company’s OMAP 4 platform is competitive in the Windows RT world. Toshiba is the maker of the netbook on display, and hardware expert Anand Lal Shimpi is the one lucky enough to get his hands on the video.

From the short demonstration, we can easily see that the OMAP 4 processor is able to handle anything Windows RT is throwing at it and, it is our opinion that TI’s implementation is more responsive than NVidia’s Tegra 3 platform. On the battery side, we also believe that TI’s chip will have the upper hands also.

Flame Developed by Israel and US to Sabotage Iran’s Nuclear Program, Officials Say

The now-infamous Flame is not controversial just because of the way it spreads and the way it infects computers, but also because of its origin. The latest reports quote officials as saying that the malware is the creation of US and Israel, its purpose being to ensure that Iran couldn’t develop a nuclear weapon, or at least slow down the country’s efforts.

According to The Washington Post, Flame monitored Iran’s computer systems in an attempt to capture any information that could be valuable for Israel and the United States. Similar to Stuxnet and Duqu, many experts rushed to point the finger at the US when the malware became widely known, but so far there have been only speculations. Now, anonymous US intelligence officials have stated that Flame is the creation of the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and the Israeli military. They revealed that Stuxnet and Duqu are only a small part of a large operation that’s currently in a far more advanced phase. As expected, the involved organizations have declined to comment on the accusations brought against them.

Kaspersky experts have discovered the missing link that connects Flame to Stuxnet, which further strengthens the theory that they may have both been developed by the US and Israel. Flame has been roaming the Internet for a few years now, but only now security experts have begun to understand it. Even ENISA rushed to issue a report in which the organization detailed the risks posed by the malware and ways to protect against it.

Today, we’ve learned that while many companies state that their commercial solutions are unable to deal with threats such as Flame, security expert Bruce Schneier believes that it’s all in the way these pieces of malware spread: slowly and stealthily.

HiS Achieves Highest 3D Mark Vantage World Record

HiS video card company has always been famous for building reliable cards using very efficient custom cooling systems. The cooling solutions developed by HiS are considerably more efficient than reference designs and generate less noise. This time, the card’s design is responsible for achieving the world’s highest 3D Mark Vantage score.

HiS’ Radeon HD 7970 video cards were stripped off of the company’s cooling system and were overclocked to a very high 1480 MHz GPU frequency. This is very impressive, considering the system was able to run four of these cards in a Quad CrossFire setup. AMD’s Tahiti GPUs are built in TSMC’s 28nm technology and have already proved their ability to achieve very high frequencies, as they hold several 3D Mark 11 world records.

The special part is the fact that the memory was running at an amazing 7640 MHz effective speed, and that the system was able to work stable in a four-card setup. Check out the hwbot website for more details on the record.

Google I/O 2012 App Screenshot Points at Jelly Bean, October 25th Release

Today, the official Android application for the Google I/O 2012 conference made its way to the Google Play Store, with some unexpected goodies, it seems.

One of the screenshots that Google made available in the app store (the first one below) points at what appears to be the UI of Jelly Bean, the next flavor of Android. The shot shows no stock browser, which might have been replaced with Google Chrome, as some of the previous rumors suggested.

The Google search bar also seems to have been changed, now featuring a more transparent look and not the Holo theme of Ice Cream Sandwich, as Phandroid points out. On top of that, the clock on the screenshot is 25:10, which, if not a simple slip, could suggest that Google is on track to release the new OS flavor as soon as October 25th.

IBM Makes Hot-Water Cooled Computer That Needs 40% Less Energy

As a result of a collaboration between IMB and the Leibniz Supercomputing Center in Germany, a state-of-the-art and at the same time environmentally-friendly supercomputer is ready to step under the spotlights.

Presently, the said supercomputer, known as SuperMUC, is presumed to be the most powerful in Europe. Thus, its total computing capability is somewhere around three petaflops. However, what interests us is the fact that, by using the Aquasar cooling system, this computer can cut down energy consumption by approximately 40%. This is because, as opposed to traditional cooling systems, the Aquasar uses hot-water in order to help the computer's active components “chill.” According to Environmental Leader, coolant temperatures for the SuperMUC can be as high as 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit).

Extreme Tech further explains that the Aquasar cooling system is by no means that much different from the standard water coolers we are all too familiar with. More precisely: the working principles are roughly the same. In order to cool the SuperMAC, water is pumped into the system, made to circulate through it and then evacuated. As it makes its way through the computer's tiny channels, the water absorbs the excess heat it happens to come across and therefore keeps the overall temperature within reasonable limits. What is even more interesting is that, during winter, the waste-heat produced by the SuperMUC can be used to make the center warm and cosy.

In case some of you are wandering why it is that the Leibniz Supercomputing Center decided to start using this innovative computer design, let us make it clear that, as of this year, Germany's state-owned institutions are compelled to have 100% of their power come from renewable sources. Seeing how green energy requires quite a lot of investments be made during the initial phase of letting go of traditional fossil fuels, it is no wonder that the aforementioned center wanted to make sure that all energy was being used as efficiently and as responsibly as possible.

Microsoft Surface Made By Pegatron, Could Cost Above $599

On Monday, Microsoft unveiled to the world a new product that breaks from tradition, the Microsoft Surface, its own Windows 8-powered tablet PC.

While offering a variety of details on the tablet’s features and capabilities, as well as on its new, revolutionary design, the company did not provide specific info on who is making it, nor on the price tag it could feature when released. There will be two Microsoft Surface models launched in the coming months, one powered by Windows RT and the other running under Windows 8 Pro, both of them featuring 10.6-inch screens. According to a recent article on DigiTimes, the Surface tablets would be manufactured by Pegatron Technology, yet no info on order volumes was made available. Citing sources “from notebook players,” the news site also notes that Microsoft would have the Windows RT tablet, which sports a Tegra 3 CPU, priced at $599 (€473) or above, while putting a price tag of $799 (€630) or above on the Windows 8 Pro-based slate, which is powered by an Ivy Bridge processor.

When making the two devices official, Microsoft avoided offering info on their market cost, but it said that they would be priced in line with rival tablets (for the Windows RT flavor) and ultrabooks (for the Windows 8 Pro version) available on shelves today. The industrial design that Microsoft built the Surface tablets with should appeal a lot to customers in the enterprise market, yet their high prices might prove to be deal breakers. Both Surface slates managed to impress from the start, and they are expected to prove successful among end-users as well.

However, they will also put Microsoft in the position of directly competing against its hardware manufacturing partners who also plan the release of Windows 8 and Windows RT-based tablet PCs. The Microsoft Surface for Windows RT slate is expected to become available for purchase when Windows 8 is released on the market, while Surface for Windows 8 Pro should hit shelves about three months later.

LG Launches Optimus 3D MAX in India

Today, South Korean mobile phone maker LG Electronics officially announced the launch of its Optimus 3D MAX smartphone on the market in India.

The new device comes to the market with appealing design, as well as with a great viewing experience for all users to enjoy, in addition to enhanced performance capabilities. With the Optimus 3D MAX smartphone, users can enjoy 3D content while on the go, all without the need of special glasses. At only 9.6mm thin, the smartphone was packed with a large 4.3-inch touchscreen display that can deliver a WVGA resolution, and which is powered by NOVA technology from the company. Moreover, it features a tri-dual hardware configuration, which includes a dual-core 1.2Ghz OMAP4430 application processor, complemented by dual-channel, dual-memory.

The specifications list of this device includes 1GB of RAM, along with 8GB of internal memory, and a microSD memory card slot with support for up to 32GB of additional storage space. On the back, the new smartphone features two 5-megapixel photo snappers, which can shoot in 3D mode. The phone is powered by a 1,520mAh battery, and runs under Google’s Android 2.3 Gingerbread operating system. “LG Optimus 3D MAX is a natural and powerful evolution of LG Optimus 3D. Building on the phenomenal success of the original Optimus 3D, we are proud to unveil this ultimate Smartphone,” Mr. Soon Kwon, president South West Asia Region & MD LG India, commented.

“In 2012, we will take LG’s leadership in Speed, Screen and Content to a whole new level. With the Optimus 3D MAX, we want to set new standards of quality viewing and powerful performance on mobiles packed in a slim and modern design”. The phone’s software was also customized to deliver a complete 3D user experience. There is a 3D Converter that takes 2D content of any available media (Videos, Pictures, Games) and transforms it to 3D, for increased viewing pleasure. The phone also sports a 3D video editor, so that users can edit video footage in 3D in real-time. A 3D Hot Key enables them to easily switch between 2D and 3D views. The LG Optimus 3D Max has been made available through various stores around India with a price tag of Rs. 30,500 ($545 / €430) attached to it.

LG Optimus 3D Max
Image credits to LG

MSI's AMD Radeon HD 7970 Lightning Breaks 3D Mark 11 World Record Multiple Times

MSI is a well-known Taiwanese company that manufactures mainboards, but it has lately made a name for itself as the maker of the world’s fastest Ivy Bridge notebook and world’s fastest AMD Trinity notebook, like we reported here, here and here.

The company’s motherboards have always been innovative and high quality, but more often than desired, the final implementation lacked the secret combination to achieve the best performance or overclocking results. The story of MSI’s video cards was more of the same, but this was up until recently. The company is now proud to announce that its unique custom AMD Radeon HD 7970 video card design has successfully broken the world 3D Mark 11 record for a single-GPU for eight consecutive times. We have some trouble understanding the manufacturer’s count claim, as the previous single-GPU record known to us was a P15745 3D Mark 11 rating achieved also with a MSI Lightning Radeon HD 7970 video card.

Therefore, seeing a Nvidia Kepler GTX 680 on the fifth place, we're wondering how getting the first to fourth places counts as “eight consecutive times.” Considering that the specific Kepler result is lower than the previous 3D Mark 11 world single-GPU record that we reported here, we could count that AMD’s Radeon 7970 broke the record five consecutive times. It is also true that MSI’s Lightning was responsible for all of these five successful hits. Nevertheless, MSI’s implementation of AMD’s powerful Tahiti GPU seems to be a clear recipe for record breaking overclocking success.

AMD’s Radeon HD 7970 video cards are powered by the company’s Tahiti 28nm GPU that contains around 4.31 billion transistors, and it uses a 384-bit memory BUS.

MSI AMD Radeon HD 7970 custom video card
Images credits to MSI

First Fanless GeForceGTX 680 Displayed

Chinese videocard manufacturing company Colorful surprised us lately with interesting product designs and original cooling systems. Now, the company is proudly presenting its new fanless solution for Nvidia’s top single-GPU solution, the GeForce GTX 680.

They have a considerably hot GPU, like Nvidia’s Kepler work in a fanless solution is quite a significant design and engineering achievement. The main problem is the fact that cooling performance is heavily dependent on the temperature of the surrounding air. Place Colorful’s fanless GTX 680 in a warm room with ambient temperatures of over 30 degrees Celsius, in a crowded case or simply in a weakly-ventilated case and you will run into overheating issues.

For such a situation, Colorful reportedly offers an additional cooling system that will sit on top of the card and that will provide a combined cooling surface of 200 square meters across 280 cooling fins connected to a total of 20 heatpipes. The company is still thinking about releasing the product on the market so there’s no word yet on pricing or availability.

Colorful Fanless GeForce GTX 680 solution
Images credits to Expreview

Galaxy Note II in October with Flexible Display

South Korean mobile phone maker Samsung Electronics is reportedly gearing up for the release of a successor for its Galaxy Note smartphone, one that might arrive on shelves in October.

This is not the first time such rumors emerge online, but some more info on what the device could sport when launched became available. However, nothing has been officially confirmed on these specs, not on its actual existence, and we’ll have to take these details with a grain of salt for the time being. First and foremost, we should mention that the new rumor pins Galaxy Note II’s landing to October, the same as previously rumored. A recent article on mk.co.kr claims so, although no mention of a source for the info has been provided. They also state that the handset would be launched with a flexible display, which should better position it against rivals such as Apple’s iPhone 5.

The smartphone would pack an unbreakable plane (UBP) display, the news site claims, adding that the panel would be slimmer, and that there would be more room for the baseband core chip and application processor. The overall design of Galaxy Note II would be thinner than that of its predecessor, while the performance capabilities it could deliver would be higher. This is so due to the inclusion of a quad-core application processor, instead of a dual-core. The aforementioned display would also be larger, of either 5.4 or 5.5 inches. In addition to a sturdier build to increase its resistance to shocks, Galaxy Note II would also deliver a longer battery life, as well as better imaging capabilities, courtesy of a 12-megapixel photo snapper on its back (previous rumors claimed it would be an 8MP camera).

When released in October, the smartphone would run under Google’s Android Jelly Bean operating system, and not under Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, as the current generation of Galaxy devices. Galaxy Note has been long said to be a niche device, though Samsung registered strong sales since unveiling the phone in September last year. With higher-end specs, its successor will prove even more popular, that’s for sure.

Galaxy Note
Image credits to Samsung

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