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Nov 28, 2013

Samsung Galaxy S Duos 2 (GT-S7582) Emerges

South Korean mobile phone maker Samsung Electronics will bring to the market a successor for its Galaxy S Duos in the not too distant future, namely the Galaxy S Duos 2.

The smartphone has yet to be officially confirmed, yet a photo that allegedly depicts it has already leaked online, courtesy of Hungarian website Tech2. The new smartphone was spotted with model number GT-S7582 attached to it, and with hardware specifications similar to those of its predecessor, SamMobile notes.

The entry-level device will be launched with 768MB of RAM, up from 512MB on Galaxy S Duos, and with a 1.2GHz dual-core processor. It will also feature a 4-inch WVGA display and 4GB of internal memory, paired with a microSD memory card slot. Furthermore, the Samsung Galaxy S Duos 2 is expected to arrive on shelves with a 5-megapixel camera, a 1500mAh battery, and Android 4.2 Jelly Bean loaded on top.

Samsung Galaxy S Duos 2
Image credits to Tech2 via SamMobile

Samsung Galaxy S Duos 2
Images credits to Tech2

Android 4.4 KitKat (Unofficial) Now Available for Google Nexus One

Google Nexus One owners rejoice, as Android 4.4 KitKat is not an impossible dream for them. Although unofficial, the latest version of the operating system is now available for the first Nexus smartphone launched by Google.

The custom build was released courtesy of XDA Recognized Developer texasice, along with his team, and is based on AOSP. However, this unofficial Android 4.4 KitKat ROM for Nexus One also contains extra features that enhance functionality even further, which can be disabled. The bad news is that some things are not working yet and there’s no telling whether they will be fixed anytime soon. Developers of the ROM have confirmed that the ART compiler in KitKat does not work, so it should not be used as it causes bootloops. Then, there’s the graphics drivers that are not yet fully compatible and not working as they should. Last but not least, users won’t be able to take screenshots on the phone, and the camera may not work perfectly.

Nexus One users who aren’t concerned by the bugs and broken features of this port can flash the ROM on their smartphones and take advantage of the rest of Android 4.4 KitKat functionality. Here is a rundown of the basic and extra features included in this ROM:

Basic features:
  • Extended PowerMenu;
  • Battery %;
  • Volume button music control;
  • Trackball Wake;
  • Theme manager.

Extra features:
  • Sixbar signal strength;
  • Lockscreen dialpad, and a few lockscreen mods;
  • However our biggest feature is the ability to turn all that off with one switch in the toolbox, giving you 100% AOSP look and feel;
  • We also do eng builds (instead of userdebug like everyone else) providing more open experience (ie adb root by default) and full complement of commandline tools (busybox, vim, ssh, curl/wet with ssl support!);
  • Our newest addition is a custom updater written from scratch by Preludedrew and myself, featuring automatic update checks, support for downloading gapps, and advanced automatic install (TWRP and CWM supported but TWRP preferred).

For more details on how to download and install the unofficial Android 4.4 KitKat ROM for Google Nexus One, you may want to head over to the original thread on XDA Developers forum.

Google Nexus One
Image credits to Google

Jolla's First Sailfish OS Smartphone Starts Shipping

Last night marked an important event in the evolution of Jolla, a Finnish startup that dreams of changing the mobile market, as the first device designed by it has arrived in users’ hands.

The company held the phone’s launch event in Helsinki, where it also handed out the first 450 units of its smartphone, which runs under Jolla’s own Sailfish OS. The phone was launched in Finland in partnership with wireless carrier DNA. Built based on MeeGo, the mobile OS that Nokia has started to develop a few years back in collaboration with Intel, Sailfish promises a different experience than what other mobile OSes out there can deliver. The platform’s UI is gesture-based, and the device comes with no buttons on the front, featuring an “original Finnish design,” as Jolla notes on its website. The software comes with no pre-loaded applications, but users will be able to choose to install apps they need straight from the startup wizard. In addition to the aforementioned interface that takes heavy advantage of swipes and other gestures, Sailfish OS comes with support for natively developed applications and for Android software. Right from the start, users will receive access to over 85,000 Android apps, courtesy of a partnership with Yandex. Furthermore, the platform offers navigation services via Nokia’s HERE Maps.

The platform is still not complete as of now, and it lacks support for features such as DLNA, MMS, and Calendar sync, as the company notes in a series of posts on Twitter. The handset packs some appealing hardware specs inside (such as a 4.5-inch IPS screen, 1.4 GHz dual-core CPU, 4G LTE, and 8-megapixel camera) and also arrives with a series of customization options, courtesy of “The Other Half” smart covers. Put up for pre-order several months ago, Jolla’s smartphone has been reserved by people from 136 markets, but no info on how many devices were booked has been provided. For the time being, however, the company won’t ship outside Europe.

According to Jolla, its smartphone will be available through its webshop for direct sales as soon as all reserved devices have shipped. Unfortunately, no timeframe for when that might happen has been provided. Jolla appears to be confident on its ability to grow and capture market share around the world. It will certainly receive support from people in Finland, especially now that Nokia’s handset division is becoming part of Microsoft. You can learn more on the new Jolla smartphone and on what the Sailfish OS has to offer via the promo video embedded below. You can also sign up for info on the availability of the device on the vendor’s website.

Jolla's phone starts shipping
Image credits to Jolla

Nov 27, 2013

Titanium Backup Adds Support for ART Runtime on Android 4.4 KitKat

An updated flavor of the Titanium Backup is now available for download for the owners of Android-based devices, namely version

The new application release brings along initial support for ART runtime on Android 4.4 KitKat, while also packing a series of updated translations. Titanium Backup was made available for Android devices as a simple to use tool for backing up and restoring applications, user data, and Google Play links.

“This includes all protected apps & system apps, plus external data on your SD card. You can do 0-click batch & scheduled backups,” the application’s description reads. However, users will need to be rooted to enjoy the features of this application. The software works with all devices running under Android 1.5 or higher.

Titanium Backup for Android
Image credits to Google Play Store

Jolla's Sailfish OS Smartphone Launches Today

Today, the first Jolla smartphones become available for purchase in Finland, at a launch event set to kick off at 7pm in Helsinki.

Jolla, a Finnish startup that has designed its smartphone around Sailfish OS, a brand new platform based on Nokia’s MeeGo OS, has partnered with wireless carrier DNA for the launch, and also plans on bringing the phone to more markets in the near future. Today, the first 450 Jolla phones will be handed to users who pre-ordered the device, at a pop-up store in central Helsinki, ZDNet notes in a recent article. The smartphone was put up for pre-order with a price tag of €399 attached to it, and should start shipping to users who reserved it in the not too distant future. For those out of the loop, we should note that the handset packs a 4.5-inch IPS qHD display that is protected by Gorilla Glass 2.

Furthermore, it arrives on shelves with 1GB of RAM inside, 16GB of internal memory, and a microSD memory card slot for expansion purposes. On the back, the new device features an 8-megapixel camera with LED Flash, while packing a 2-megapixel front camera. The specs list of the device also includes GSM/3G/4G LTE connectivity, and a battery that can deliver up to 10 hours of talk time on 3G. The phone measures 131 x 68 x 9.9 mm and weighs 141 grams. As mentioned above, Jolla’s device runs under the Sailfish OS, which should prove to be a truly open platform, different from what other mobile operating systems out there have to offer.

The fast and intuitive UI that Sailfish comes with is complemented by the availability of a wide range of applications for the platform, either designed specifically for the OS, or developed for Android. This is possible courtesy of a partnership that Jolla signed with Yandex.Store Android apps portal for the distribution of software to Sailfish OS devices.

Jolla's Sailfish OS phone
Image credits to Jolla

Nov 26, 2013

Lenovo Vibe Z Confirmed to Arrive on November 28

Unveiled two weeks ago, Lenovo Vibe Z is about to go on sale in China. The smartphone’s specs sheet has already been revealed and judging by what’s on the paper, this should appeal Android fans looking for a high-end device.

According to GizChina, Lenovo is expected to release the Vibe Z in China on November 28. However, no details on the phone’s price have emerged yet, though the latest rumors point to a price tag between 3000 yuan ($490/€365) and 3700 Yuan ($605/€450) outright.

Lenovo Vibe Z, also known as K910, will ship with Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean operating system out of the box and a powerful 2.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor inside. The smartphone also boasts a vibrant 5.5-inch capacitive touchscreen display that supports full HD (1080p) resolution, as well as an impressive 13-megapixel rear-facing camera with autofocus and LED flash.

Lenovo Vibe Z
Image credits to Lenovo

Kingston HyperX Predator DDR3 Memory Operates at 2800 MHz

The normal frequency for mobile RAM (laptop DDR3) is 1333 MHz, and the one for desktops is 1600 MHz, both most people can make do with less too. So memory at 2800 MHz will stand out any day.

That goes doubly for the new HyperX kits from Kingston, even though some might say that the opposite is true. After all, HyperX has always been associated, as a brand, with high performance, so a clock of 2000 MHz or more shouldn't raise too many eyebrows. Still, 2800 MHz is a lot no matter what anyone says. It's no wonder Kingston is so gung ho about the HyperX Predator and the many overclockers and “extreme system builders” it is supposed to sell to. “We are proud to offer our flagship 2800MHz memory kits to overclockers, benchmarkers and extreme system builders throughout the world,” said Krystian Jaroszynski, European product marketing manager, HyperX and Server, Kingston.

“Our HyperX engineers will continue working hard to improve high-speed yields to get faster product in the hands of our customers.” There are eight kits in the new line total, with capacities of 8 or 16 GB and varying latencies. They all should start showing up in stores soon, if they haven't already. Here is the list (you'll note than only one works at the vaunted 2.8 GHz though).

8GB 1866MHz DDR3 Non-ECC CL9 DIMM (Kit of 2) XMP Predator Series
16GB 1866MHz DDR3 Non-ECC CL9 DIMM (Kit of 4) XMP Predator Series 
16GB 1866MHz DDR3 Non-ECC CL10 DIMM (Kit of 2) XMP Predator Series
8GB 2133MHz DDR3 Non-ECC CL11 DIMM (Kit of 2) XMP Predator Series
16GB 2133MHz DDR3 Non-ECC CL11 DIMM (Kit of 2) XMP Predator Series 
8GB 2400MHz DDR3 Non-ECC CL11 DIMM (Kit of 2) XMP Predator Series
8GB 2666MHz DDR3 Non-ECC CL11 DIMM (Kit of 2) XMP Predator Series 
8GB 2800MHz DDR3 Non-ECC CL12 DIMM (Kit of 2) XMP Predator Series

As you can see, they all have XMP certification (Intel Extreme Memory Profile) and come in the standard, full-height DIMM form factors, normal for desktops.

Kingston HyperX Predator
Image credits to Kingston

BBM Will Come Pre-Installed on Select Android Devices

We’ve heard it before from various OEMs in India and other emerging market, but now it’s confirmed by BlackBerry as well. The Canadian company has just announced that BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) will come pre-installed on a wide range of Android devices.

Well-known OEMs from Africa, India, Indonesia, Latin America and the Middle East will be allowed to pre-load BBM for Android on their devices. BlackBerry has confirmed that, starting next month, the following devices will have the popular instant messaging application pre-installed: Be, Brightstar, Celkon, EVERCOSS, IMO, Micromax, Mito, Snexian, Spice, TECNO, TiPhone and Zen. Furthermore, BlackBerry has reiterated the fact that BBM will continue to be available as a free download from Android app stores, including Google Play. “It is clear that smartphone customers see BBM as a must have app for active conversations. The uptake we have seen for BBM since the launch on Android and iPhone is amazing.

“We're thrilled to be working with leading Android smartphone manufacturers from across the globe to help bring their customers the best out-of-the-box experience with BBM preinstalled,” said Andrew Bocking, executive vice president for BBM at BlackBerry. BBM for Android comes with only a handful of the features that are now available on BlackBerry version, but the Canadian company has promised that it will continue to improve the application and add these features in the future via major updates. The last update for BBM arrived on Android platform less than two weeks ago and added support for BBM Contact Categories, more options for sharing BBM PIN Barcode and more.

BBM proved to be more popular on Android and iOS operating systems than on BlackBerry, which is understandable if we take into consideration the fact that these platforms have well above 75% market share combined on the smartphone market. Hopefully, BlackBerry will add more important features like BBM Voice and BBM Video, which are currently missing from the Android application. Stay tuned for more updates on the matter.

BlackBerry Messenger logo
Image credits to BlackBerry

Nov 25, 2013

Dual-SIM ZTE Grand S II Dual Spotted in AnTuTu Benchmarks

It looks like Chinese handset maker ZTE plans to launch a sequel to the Grand S, but this time, the name of the device suggests that it will offer dual-SIM support.

GSMInsider reports that an unannounced ZTE Grand S II Dual has been recently spotted on AnTuTu Benchmark database. The smartphone scored 33,357, but other than that, there aren’t any additional details available for the moment. If ZTE plans to launch an improved version of the current ZTE Grand S, which comes equipped with a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro, then it will add a more powerful Snapdragon 800 chipset into the mix.

Hopefully, the ZTE Grand S II Dual will not be limited to the Chinese market and Android fans in other regions will be able to take advantage of the smartphone’s dual-SIM capability. Stay tuned for more updates on this one.

ZTE Grand S II Dual listing at AnTuTu
Image credits to GSMInsider

BlackBerry’s COO and CMO Leave, CFO Gets Replaced

Today, Canadian mobile phone maker BlackBerry has announced new changes in the executive team, as the company’s chief operating officer and chief marketing officer will leave the company.

As part of the re-organization plans that the handset vendor is undergoing, Kristian Tear, BlackBerry CFO, and Frank Boulben, the company’s CMO, will leave BlackBerry. Furthermore, the smartphone designer has announced that Brian Bidulka, currently chief financial officer at the company, will be replaced by James Yersh, but that he will remain with the vendor as a special advisor to the CEO for the remainder of the fiscal year. "I thank Kristian and Frank for their efforts on behalf of BlackBerry. I look forward to working more directly with the talented teams of engineers, and the sales and marketing teams around the world to facilitate the BlackBerry turn-around and to drive innovation," said John Chen, executive chair and CEO of BlackBerry. "I also thank Brian for his eight years of dedicated service to BlackBerry. I look forward to working with James and his Finance team as we move forward, execute on our plans and deliver long-term value for our shareholders."

Chen has also noted that BlackBerry enjoys a strong cash position at the moment, and that it will continue to deliver trusted and secure mobile device management solutions to enterprises around the world. He has also noted that, moving forth, the company will work hard “to deliver the best devices, mobile security and device management through BES 10, provide multi-platform messaging solutions with BBM, and expand adoption of QNX embedded systems.” James Yersh, the next BlackBerry CFO, has been with the company since 2008. He served as senior vice president, controller and head of compliance for the vendor, and enjoys over 15 years of expertise in the telecoms industry.

Roger Martin, a board member at the mobile phone maker since 2007, has resigned, the company also announced. Furthermore, the vendor unveiled plans to reveal its financial results for the third quarter of its fiscal year 2014 on December 20.

BlackBerry logo
Image credits to BlackBerry

HTC M8 Specs Unveiled via AnTuTu Benchmark: Android 4.4 KitKat, 5-Inch Full HD Display

Earlier today, information regarding an unannounced HTC smartphone leaked online via AnTuTu and judging by the benchmark results, we though the device in question was the previously rumored M8.

Well, it looks like the information was accurate, as Pocket-lint reports that the HTC M8 specs sheet leaked on the same AnTuTu benchmark database. However, until HTC comes forward with an official statement on the M8’s availability, we can’t be sure that these details are legit, so take them with a grain of salt. The first thing that pops up is the fact that HTC M8 is powered by Android 4.4 KitKat operating system. We’re pretty sure this is just a prototype that’s being tested on AnTuTu, so it’s hard to believe that Google and HTC have already adjusted the latest Android platform for the M8. Anyway, the leak from AnTuTu also suggests that the HTC M8 will be equipped with a 2.3 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, which is not that hard to believe. Moreover, the phone’s CPU is complemented by an Adreno 330 graphics processing unit and 2GB of RAM.

HTC M8 is also said to pack 16GB of internal memory, but there’s no mention of microSD card slot for memory expansion. Hopefully, the Taiwanese handset maker will allow users to physically expand storage even further. Another strong point of the M8 would be the stunning 5-inch capacitive touchscreen display that supports full HD (1080p) resolution. Last but not least, the smartphone is rumored to boast the usual 4-UltraPixel rear-facing camera, along with a 2.1-megapixel front-facing camera for video calls.

There’s no telling if these are the final specs for the HTC M8, so we can only wait for more details to surface in the coming weeks. We suspect that HTC will announce the M9 early next year at Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2014, but stay tuned for more on this.

Image credits to ePrice

HTC M8 leaked specs
Image credits to Pocket-Lint

Nov 22, 2013

Intel Atom Tablet SoC Roadmap, 64-Bit Android Tablets Revealed

Right now, the Intel Atom system-on-chip line is at the Bay Trail generation, but the company is, of course, working on the next range, and preparing for what will come after. A roadmap for 2014 and 2015 has emerged actually.

Not too many years ago, it was doubtful that Intel would ever really get heavily involved in the system-on-chip market, but here we are. The Atom line already includes some platforms of that sort, even though they don't measure up well against ARM-based chips, marketing-wise. Intel isn't letting that deter it. In fact, it is quite determined to power many tablets in the coming two years. Moreover, it hopes to boost CPU prowess by a factor of five by 2016, and improve GPU performance by 15 times during the same time frame. The latter is especially important since NVIDIA's Tegra line is integrating Kepler graphics already, putting it in the same league as game consoles (Xbox, PS3, etc.).

According to the new roadmap that made its way to the web, Bay Trail will be succeeded by Cherry Trail in 2014. Cherry Trail is an atom range based on the 14nm manufacturing process and designed with next-generation graphics, plus Airmont CPU cores. There will be a dual-core Merrifield Atom chip for smartphones too, near the beginning of 2014, and a quad-core is scheduled for the second half too. 

Furthermore, an Atom SoC codenamed Sofie is being prepared for late 2014, for entry-level devices. The HSPA+ communications chip will be replaced by LTE in 2015 (ARM-based and, eventually, x86 as well). As for 2015, it will herald the Broxton chip, also based on 14nm manufacturing technology but with Goldmont CPU cores, plus Skylake graphics. Not much is known about them, but that's expected since it's not like Intel has much more than blueprints at this point. Even if prototypes exist, we won't get to see them any time soon, as they're doubtlessly a far cry from the intended, final product.

Intel Atom roadmap
Images credits to PC World

Microsoft Wants to Buy and Save Winamp

AOL recently announced that it would discontinue Winamp on December 20, 2013, but it turns out that the media player could get a chance to live on.

In a pretty unexpected twist of the story, Microsoft is reportedly interested in acquiring AOL’s media player and the Shoutcast service, even though no confirmation from Redmond has until now been released. TechCrunch is reporting via unnamed sources that Microsoft and AOL are already talking of a potential deal that could be announced by December 20, the date when Winamp is set to go dark. While it’s hard to tell what Microsoft would actually do with Winamp, this could really be the only way to see the media player living on beyond the AOL era, as millions of users across the world are still running it on either Windows or Android right now. We’ve asked for a confirmation from Microsoft on this, so we’re going to update the article when and if we get an answer.

The same source is adding that AOL is gearing up to announce the retirement of the Shoutcast media streaming service next week, so a potential Microsoft deal could include not only Winamp, but also the adjacent products. Of course, it’s hard to imagine that Microsoft would actually do something really good with Winamp, especially because the company already invests a fortune to make Xbox Music successful. Xbox Music is already available on several platforms, including Windows 8.1, Windows RT 8.1, Windows Phone, iOS, and Xbox, while Winamp is only offered to Windows and Android users. At the same time, Microsoft already has some bad memories with music services, as the company developed and then killed Zune in an unfortunate story that’s probably still causing nightmares to Steve Ballmer.

On the other hand, seeing Winamp survive would indeed be great news for users across the world, as the media player is reportedly being used by millions of consumers on desktop computers.

Winamp download page
Image credits to Winamp

Nov 21, 2013

Apex Launcher 2.2 Brings Android 4.4 KitKat UI and Visual Improvements

One of the most popular third-party launchers for Android devices, Apex has just received a major update that will bring some Android 4.4 KitKat love to more devices.

The most important improvements is the addition of the entire Google Experience Launcher, which is now exclusive to Nexus 5. The transparent bar for Nexus 5 has been included in this version of Apex Launcher as well, so those who wish to make their Android device look like the latest Nexus smartphone released by Google should install this launcher.

Keep in mind that Apex Launcher 2.2 is still in beta, so it cannot be downloaded via Google Play Store yet. Those who wish to take advantage of its new features must opt in as Apex Launcher beta testers. Soon after you successfully join the beta testing program, you will receive the Apex Launcher 2.2 beta on your Android device. More details on how to do that are available on Apex Launcher Beta forum.

Apex Launcher 2.2 beta screenshots
Image credits to Apex

Zopo ZP998 Scores 28,118 Points in AnTuTu Benchmark

Zopo ZP998, the first smartphone from the Chinese mobile phone maker to arrive on shelves with a true octa-core processor inside, can deliver appealing performance capabilities, benchmarking results for it show.

As GizChina reports, the phone’s 1.7Ghz MT6592 processor from MediaTek has managed to top 28,118 Points in AnTuTu, which puts the smartphone in line with some of the most powerful devices out there. The handset’s 5.5-inch 1080 display should make it even more appealing, as well as the 14-megapixel camera that Zopo included on its back. The device model that was tested is said to feature 2GB of RAM and 32GB of internal memory.

Zopo ZP998 is already available for pre-order with a price tag of $299.99 (€224) attached to it, but users won’t receive it for about 30 days, the handset vendor has announced.

Zopo ZP998 AnTuTu Benchmark Score
Image credits to GizChina

Rumor: iPhones with 4.9-Inch Screens Enter Testing

Apple is now testing 5-inch iPhones for next-year’s refresh, according to sources in Asia. Both the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 5c will be superseded by handsets sporting larger displays, according to this new rumor.

A machine-translated Chinese-language C Technology report says, “We have just received a message from insiders is that Apple has started testing iPhone6 prototype for some time, and its size is 4.9 inches.” There will be two new iPhones on the tablet for next year’s refresh, just like this year, only the screen size for at least one of the models will be capped at 4.9 inches. This would be the high-end model, or the iPhone 6 (the successor of the iPhone 5s).

The lower-end model will also get a bigger screen, but the sources aren’t sure whether it’s of the same size.

iPhone 6 Concept

Nov 20, 2013

Intex i17 Goes Official with 1.7GHz Octa-Core MT6592 CPU

Today, Intex has officially announced the upcoming availability of the first smartphone running under the 1.7GHz octa-core MT6592 processor from MediaTek, namely the Intex i17.

The new device will be released in India in January 2014 with a 6-inch, 1280 x 720 pixels IPS screen, in two flavors, with 16GB and 32GB of internal memory. Intex i17 will also sport 2GB of RAM, a 2300mAh removable battery, and 3G HSPA+ connectivity. Furthermore, it comes with Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth capabilities, as well as with GPS receiver.

On the back, the new smartphone features a 13-megapixel camera with full HD video recording, complemented by a 5MP front camera for making video calls. Intex i17 runs under Google’s Android 4.2 Jelly Bean operating system. The 16GB flavor of the device will cost Rs. 20,000 ($320/€236) when released in January, fonearena reports.

Intex i7 goes official with octa-core processor inside
Image credits to FoneArena

8-Core MediaTek MT6592 Scores 32,000 Points in AnTuTu Benchmark

Soon after MediaTek has officially launched its MT6592 octa-core processor, info on the first benchmarks for the chipset has started to emerge, proving the high performance levels that it can offer.

According to MediaTek, the CPU has managed to score no less than 32,606 points in AnTuTu, which is pretty impressive, that’s for sure. The chip had its cores clocked in at 2GHz, as GizChina reports. However, it appears that the MT6592 can offer increased performances even at lower speeds, as the 1.7GHz model is said to have reached almost 30,000 points in the same benchmark.

MT6592 was made official with eight Cortex-A7 cores inside, and it is the first mobile chip in the world to be able to use all of them at the same time. Smartphones and other devices powered by this processor are expected to become available before the end of this year.

MediaTek's MT6592 hits 32,000 points in AnTuTu
Image credits to GizChina

Qualcomm New Snapdragon 805 Ultra HD Processor

Today, chip maker Qualcomm has officially announced a new processor for the mobile market, in the form of Qualcomm Snapdragon 805, which has been designed to provide users with the highest-quality mobile video experience.

The new CPU, the successor of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 chip, will also offer support for Ultra HD (4K) resolutions, and should offer great imaging and graphics experiences as well. The new chipset arrives with the new Adreno 420 GPU inside and is capable of delivering up to 40 percent more graphics power when compared to its predecessor. Furthermore, the new CPU is the first in the world to come with system-level Ultra HD support, 4K video capture, and playback capabilities. Additionally, it sports enhanced dual camera Image Signal Processors (ISPs), thus being capable of increased performance capabilities and better multitasking. The Krait 450 quad-core CPU can deliver core speeds of up for 2.5GHz, while also packing support for superior memory bandwidth (up to 25.6 GB/second) for advanced multimedia and web browsing performance.

“The mobile industry's first end-to-end Ultra HD solution with on-device display concurrent with output to HDTV; features Qualcomm Technologies' new Adreno 420 GPU, which introduces support for hardware tessellation and geometry shaders,” the chip maker said. The new processor will also offer advanced 4K rendering, while enabling more realistic scenes and objects, as well as visually stunning user interface experiences at lower power. The processor will also enable users to stream more video content at higher quality, while using less power. According to Qualcomm, the CPU comes with support for Hollywood Quality Video (HQV) for video post processing, hardware 4K HEVC (H.265) decode for mobile.

“Using a smartphone or tablet powered by Snapdragon 805 processor is like having an UltraHD home theater in your pocket, with 4K video, imaging and graphics, all built for mobile,” said Murthy Renduchintala, executive vice president, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., and co-president, QCT. “We're delivering the mobile industry's first truly end-to-end Ultra HD solution, and coupled with our industry leading Gobi LTE modems and RF transceivers, streaming and watching content at 4K resolution will finally be possible.” The new Snapdragon 805 mobile processor is already sampling and is expected to be included in commercially available devices in the first half of the next year.

Qualcomm introducing Snapdragon 805 CPU for mobile devices
Image credits to Qualcomm

Samsung SM-G7106 Emerges in China with 5.25-Inch Screen

A new Samsung smartphone has received the necessary approvals in China, featuring model number Samsung SM-G7106 and packing a 5.25-inch LCD touchscreen display.

The mobile phone hasn’t been officially announced as of now, but the specifications that emerged over at Tenaa in China suggest that it will hit shelves as a mid-range device. The aforementioned screen will deliver a 1280 x 720 pixel resolution, while hiding a 1.2GHz quad-core processor beneath it. The phone will also sport 1.5GB of RAM when launched. Furthermore, info uncovered by Ameblo unveils that the new handset will pack an 8-megapixel rear camera, along with a 1.9MP front camera, and that it will run under Google’s Android 4.3 Jelly Bean operating system right from the start.

The new Samsung SM-G7106 might arrive on the market in China in the near future, yet no specific info on when that might happen has been provided as of now.

Samsung SM-G7106
via Ameblo.jp

Winamp to Be Discontinued on December 20, 2013

Winamp, once one of the most popular media players on the market, will be officially discontinued on December 20, 2013, due to yet to be disclosed reasons.

AOL announced the decision in a brief statement on the official Winamp.com website, saying that the webpage and the downloadable media player will be removed on December 20. “Winamp.com and associated web services will no longer be available past December 20, 2013. Additionally, Winamp Media players will no longer be available for download. Please download the latest version before that date. See release notes for latest improvements to this last release. Thanks for supporting the Winamp community for over 15 years,” the notification reads. While nobody can tell for sure what the reason behind this surprising decision actually is, it appears that it’s all because the bad management that took over app development after the AOL acquisition. Winamp, which was developed by Justin Frankel and Dmitry Boldyrev for Nullsoft, was purchased by AOL in June 1999 for no less than $80 million (€59.4 million) in stock.

In June 2000, Winamp reached a record 25 million registered users, but started a dramatic decline soon after that. Even though development of new versions continued, and both Winamp 3 and Windows 5 reached the market in the next years, some users decided to stick to the original WInamp 2.95 version thanks to the impressive audio quality and its reduced footprint on system resources. In the last few years, Winamp launched several new versions, including a Mac port and an Android version that’s experiencing quite a terrific success among smartphone owners. Unfortunately, the desktop business continued its drop as more users turned to other media players such as foobar2000 and Clementine.

Making Winamp open-source and allowing the dev community to continue improving it would indeed be a great idea, but we really doubt that AOL would come down to such a decision.

Winamp download page
Image credits to Winamp

ASUS ROG MARS 760 Dual-GPU Graphics Card

After a surprisingly low period of leaks and rumors, ASUS has formally launched the ROG Mars 760, which is not, in fact, another overclocked GTX 760 card, but a dual-GPU adapter.

ASUS wanted to see what it took to merge two GTX 760 cards until they shared the same PCB. This is the result, a video card with 4 GB of GDDR5 VRAM running at 6600 MHz and GPUs with core clock of 1008 MHz, or 1072 MHz when GPU Boost technology engages. There's 512-bit interface too, 256 bits for each of the two graphics processing units. Compared to NVIDIA's normal GeForce GTX 760, these specs are precisely double portions, although the clocks are higher on both counts. On the single-chip card, the GPU operates at 980 MHz most of the time, and 1033 MHz when things get tough, and the 2 GB of memory work at 6 GHz. Clearly, ASUS wanted to make an impression. Sadly, the company did not say, in its press release, how the thing compared to, say, NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 690 and AMD's Radeon HD 7990.

No doubt, reviewers will be all over that. Speaking of which, there aren't any tests yet. ASUS really seems to have almost pulled this product out of the blue. As far as shocking value goes, it's pretty high here. ASUS had to really pull out all the stops, though, because a PCB won't easily withstand the load of such hardware. Thus, justifying the Republic of Gamers brand (ROG), the Mars 760 has a DIGI+ voltage-regulation module (VRM) with a 12-phase power design (power noise cut by 30%) and wider voltage-modulation tolerance. It also included Japanese-made black metallic capacitors (20% temperature endurance and 5X improvement in lifespan) and polymerized organic-semiconductor capacitors (POSCAPs).

Thus, buyers may very well overclock the newcomer, although why one would find is beyond us. Then again, professional curiosity will do it. Sadly, no price has been mentioned. ASUS ROG Mars 760 images gallery, click for larger images.

ASUS ROG Mars 760
Images credits to ASUS

MediaTek Officially Intros MT6592 True Octa-Core CPU

Today, MediaTek has finally made official a mobile processor that many have been expecting for a few months now, namely the MT6592, the first chipset to offer true octa-core capabilities for smartphones.

The processor, set to arrive in commercially available devices before the end of this year, features eight low-power Cortex-A7 cores, and is capable of firing up all of them at the same time. The new CPU takes advantage of a Heterogeneous Multi-Processing model and ARM's big.LITTLE architecture so as to have all eight cores operating simultaneously, something that other octa-core CPUs available on the market today cannot. Furthermore, MediaTek claims that MT6592’s cores can clock in at between 1.7GHz and 2GHz, and that the processor delivers better performance than the quad-core Snapdragon 800. It also says that its chip consumes up to 40 percent less power than Qualcomm’s high-end solution. However, speed and low power needs are only some of the features that the new processor will arrive with, it seems. According to Engadget, the CPU also packs an image signal processor that should offer support for 16-megapixel camera modules.

Moreover, the CPU comes with a 700MHz ARM Mali-450 MP graphics processor, and supports 4K H.264 video decoding plus full HD H.265/VP9 playback. Unfortunately, MediaTek appears to be a bit behind when it comes to offering 4G connectivity inside its SoC, though a 4G modem will also be released before the end of this year, the company’s General Manager Xie Qingjiang has confirmed. The modem will be compatible with both quad-core and octa-core processors from MediaTek, and mobile phone makers will be able to use both of them inside their devices.

No info on the price tag that handsets powered by the new MT6592 processor might sport has been provided as of now. However, given the affordability of smartphones featuring the company’s quad-core chips, we should expect them to be accessible to a lot of users.

MediaTek officially launches its MT6592 true octa-core processor
Image credits to BGR

Nov 19, 2013

Samsung and ARM to Put 64-Bit CPU Inside Galaxy S5

Samsung’s next Android-based flagship smartphone, supposedly the Galaxy S5, is expected to be powered by a 64-bit processor when launched next year, a recent report from South Korea suggests.

According to koreaherald, Samsung and ARM are currently settling down the final details of the deal, and the next high-end smartphone from the company is sure to pack a 64-bit CPU inside. Following the launch of Apple’s latest iPhone in summer with a similar processor, Samsung said that its next-generation phones could include similar chipsets, though no other details have been provided as of now.

Galaxy S5 might become official in the first quarter of the next year, and it could also sport a 5-inch or larger AMOLED screen capable of delivering a 2560 x 1440 pixels resolution, with a 560ppi pixel density. However, no official word on this has emerged from Samsung so far.

Samsung to pack Galaxy S5 with a 64-bit processor
Image credits to Samsung

What’s New in iOS 7.1 – The First Set of Changes in a New Development Cycle

Apple this week rolled out the first iOS 7.1 beta to developers, and while the software is accompanied by a formal set of release notes, the documentation hardly mentions any of the visual tweaks.

And there are quite a few of those tweaks, according to developers who were quick to download and install the beta, as Cultofmac notes. One notable change noticed by most testers is that you can actually opt to use a permanently-dark keyboard. By default, iOS 7 switches between a white keyboard and a dark keyboard, depending on the UI of the app you’re currently using (i.e. Mail, Twitter, or Facebook). Now, you can just flip a switch and use a dark one all the time. When iOS 7.1 is released via software update (something that won’t happen for weeks, maybe months), head over to Settings -> General -> Accessibility -> and flip on the switch in front of “Use Dark Keyboard.” In iOS 7.1, users will be able to do away with transparency altogether, and there are a few extra toggles to manage contrast and colors. In case you feel iOS 7 is too bright, there’s now a switch to darken colors.

 A new HDR Auto mode is included in the new build. The feature automatically chooses the best photo and comes with a handy on/off toggle. Users will be able to choose whether or not to upload Burst Mode photos to their Photo Stream, to save iCloud space, and there’s a new Yahoo logo for Weather and Stock information. Finally, the Flickr logo is also changed to a more minimalistic design. iOS 7.1 has only just entered public testing, and there’s a good chance Apple will spend well over a month seeding ever more polished builds to developers, so don’t expect the update to arrive anytime too soon. Though it would be nice to see it before Christmas.

iOS 7.1 screenshots (transparency gone)
Image credits to CultofMac

Nov 18, 2013

Huawei Octa-Core Glory 4/Honor 4 to be Launched in December

In addition to planning the release of the true 8-core Ascend P6S smartphone this year, Chinese mobile phone maker Huawei is also looking into the launch of other octa-core devices as well, with the Glory 4 / Honor 4 included.

The company’s CEO Richard Yu has already confirmed this on Sina Weibo, suggesting that the two devices will prove great competitors against Xiaomi’s smartphones when landing in December. However, as UnwiredView notes, Huawei has been using the Glory 4 and Honor 4 names for the same device in different markets, so we won’t see two different handsets launched next month.

Apparently, Huawei will pack the new device with MediaTek’s MT6592 “true” octa-core processor, which should make it a high-end smartphone, that’s for sure. What remains to be seen is whether Huawei will price the new phone aggressively, the same as Xiaomi does with its products, and whether it will indeed register the success that it aims at.

Huawei Honor 3
Image credits to Huawei via mydrivers

New API to Bring Camera RAW to Android Devices

Soon, Android might be able to enjoy brand new camera capabilities on their devices, including support for Camera RAW, the latest reports on the matter suggest.

Apparently, Google has been working on enhancing the camera capabilities of the OS for quite some time now, and was even ready to bring said improvements to Android 4.4 KitKat, but opted out of this at the last minute. However, the company has been working on new camera API for the platform since December 2012, and might arrive in the not-too-distant future. As Arstechnica found in the commit for the feature, a new API class called “Android.hardware.photography” was planned for Android, capable of delivering brand new functionality to users. “Full-capability devices allow for per-frame control of capture hardware and post-processing parameters at high frame rates. They also provide output data at high resolution in uncompressed formats, in addition to compressed JPEG output,” the documentation about the new camera unveils.

Apparently, the new Camera API would arrive on older devices as well, though only newer, more capable handsets and tablets would be able to take full advantage of its features. One of these capabilities would be camera RAW, which is not listed as available for Jelly Bean devices, though should be available for KitKat products. “General RAW camera sensor image format, usually representing a single-channel Bayer-mosaic image. Each pixel color sample is stored with 16 bits of precision,” said documentation unveils. Having images saved in RAW rather than JPEG means that users will enjoy increased flexibility when it comes to post-processing, given that information is almost uncompressed and unprocessed.

The new API would also bring along support for a burst mode, as well as for face detection. Furthermore, mentions of a removable camera were also found, though it remains to be seen what exactly this feature is all about. No specific info on when we might see the new API and camera capabilities included in Android has been provided as of now, but Google did promise several months ago that better cameras would be available on Nexus smartphones, so stay tuned for more on this.

Google to release new camera API on Android, bringing camera RAW to devices
Image credits to Google

Google Engineer Explains Some Graphical Tweaks in Android 4.4 KitKat

Android 4.4 KitKat, the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system, comes with a series of small tweaks to the interface, including whitened icons in the status bar, and a Google engineer now explains why this has happened.

Apparently, the idea of turning all icons white was an aesthetic one, making the System UI a more neutral one and allowing apps to better manage their own color palettes, Dan Sandler explains on Google+. Another change made in the new OS flavor was the removal of network connectivity indicators from the status bar, and their appearance in the Quick Settings menu. The network indicator is still present on the homescreen next to the clock, but it appears only in white, without letting users know whether they are indeed connected or not. For that, they will have to head over to the Quick Settings, where the indicator would turn Orange when the connection drops (it used to be grey before). To know whether their data is being sent over a Wi-Fi connection or a mobile network, users will have to turn to the same Quick Settings once again in KitKat.

Apparently, the small in/out data traffic arrows from the RSSI impacted the performance of devices, and removing them from the status bar was not an entirely aesthetic decision. “The way the data bits are bubbled up and drawn was not only causing a ton of extra rendering work, but actually forcing a layout (!) in the status bar as well,” Dan Sandler notes. Both the CPU and GPU were impacted by the rendering of the two arrows, not to mention that this also drained the battery, and Google decided to save resources through moving them away. “In the end it seemed like a lot of work (and battery) for what was effectively visual noise, so this too was booted to Quick Settings where it would be available for us nerds,” Sandler concludes.

Undoubtedly, some will find it a bit annoying that they are no longer informed right on the homescreen about the network connectivity status of their devices, but they will grow accustomed to this, especially since they will enjoy improved performance.

Android 4.4 KitKat logo
Image credits to Google

Need for Speed Movie Gets Full Length Trailer

The Need for Speed movie starring Aaron Paul has just received a full length trailer that shows a lot more footage from the upcoming film, after the rather short teaser one that came out several weeks ago.

The Need for Speed game franchise has been around for many years and has spanned console generations but, rather surprisingly, no movie adaptations were ever devised. Things changed last year when EA partnered with Dreamworks to create a film based on the series, which rapidly went into production after signing big stars like Aaron Paul, of Breaking Bad fame.

Now, after a short teaser video some weeks ago, a full length version of the Need for Speed movie trailer has been released to coincide with the launch of the next game in the series - NFS: Rivals. As you can see above, Paul is set to go through some great adventures mostly revolving around illegal racing in high end sportscars. The NFS movie is out in March 2014.

Framed for a crime he didn't commit, muscle car mechanic and street racer Tobey (Aaron Paul) gets out of prison determined to settle the score with the man responsible for his false conviction. #NFSMovie
Video credits to NeedforSpeed

NVIDIA Tesla K40 is World's Fastest Graphics Accelerator

NVIDIA made a big splash on the supercomputing front when it launched the Tesla K20 last year, much more so than any previous GPU compute accelerator, and now it hopes to repeat the feat.

The company has introduced the Tesla K40, a Kepler card featuring 2,880 CUDA cores and 12 GB of RAM. It should be able to crunch numbers 40% faster than Tesla K20, despite its only having 192 more processing cores. Don't be shocked by the distinct lack of video ports. This card is specifically made for parallel computing. It won't be displaying images anytime soon.

Servers using the card already exist, and the University of Texas at Austin intends to use it in the Maverick remote visualization supercomputer (which will be put online in January 2014). IBM's Power8-based servers should soon support Tesla K40, as NVIDIA has made a partnership with it.

NVIDIA Tesla K40
Image credits to NVIDIA

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