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Apr 22, 2013

Nokia Locks Public Access to Navifirm

Nokia announced several months ago that it would restrict access to its firmware repository beginning early January. For whatever reasons, that did not happened until recently.

According to WMPoweruser, public access to Nokia Firmware Repository, also known as Navifirm, is now longer available. “Nokia will close the connection to the Nokia Firmware Repository during the month of January 2013 and will integrate access control.Then, to access the Nokia Firmware Repository will need to login at Nokia Online During the transition phase (December 2012-January 2013) and the open channel, both the subject with the restriction will be open, but the open channel will be closed at the end of January 2013.”

This means that Nokia users will no longer be able to download firmware updates uploaded on Navifirm before they are pushed live to their handsets.

Navifirm error
Image credits to Blinkthinks

Nokia Conference Beta Arrives on Lumia Smartphones

Today, Finnish mobile phone maker Nokia announced a new mobile application for its Windows Phone-based Lumia handsets, namely Nokia Conference.

Just as its name suggests, the application was designed to provide users with the possibility to make conference calls while on the go, all in a simple, user-friendly manner. The software was released through the Nokia Beta Labs, and arrives on devices with a beta tag attached to it, mainly for testing purposes, it seems.  “No more switching to the calendar app, remembering the ID/PIN codes, getting the right access number, and keying it all in,” a post on Nokia Beta Labs explains. “Instead just hit one button or even join via voice command (Windows Phone 8 only). It's very handy for anyone that makes frequent conference calls, as so many of us do.”

Users interested in joining a conference can do so easily via voice commands. All they need to do is to hold down the Windows key and then speak the “conference join” command. “We'll automatically figure out which meeting is going on currently or about to start, say it back to you for confirmation, and connect you. If your company uses Lync, we'll launch the Lync app to connect you. Windows Phone 7 users get the rest of the features, just no voice joining,” Nokia explains. Furthermore, the team of developers behind the application notes that there might still be a series of issues with the app, and that users should provide feedback on their experience with the software, so that enhancements could be made.

“If you find any meeting where Nokia Conference doesn't parse the ID / PIN info correctly, or have trouble getting a company's conference system(s) to work, please let us know,” the company continues. “Open the meeting in the app and pick ‘send feedback’ off the menu to easily email us the meeting details. For an app like this, we need your help to make sure it covers the variety of conference systems out there,” said blog post explains. Additional info on how the new Nokia Conference application works can be found on this page on the Nokia Beta Labs website.

Nokia Conference
Image credits to Nokia Beta Labs

Download Now, Microsoft New Landscape Theme for Windows (Free)

Microsoft has recently launched a new theme called New Zealand Landscapes: West Coast that’s aimed at Windows users looking to customize their desktop backgrounds with high-resolution wallpapers.

The theme packs a total of 17 photos, all of which are taken by photographer Ian Rushton, the artist who also provided HD backgrounds for a number of other Windows themes. New Zealand Landscapes: West Coast is compatible with the latest Windows versions released on the market, including Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows RT, with all wallpapers being packed in a single .themepack file that automatically deploys the content on your computer.

“Moss-covered rocks, windswept dunes, flowing waves, sand shimmering in the evening’s last light: This free Windows theme brings photographer Ian Rushton’s vision of New Zealand’s West Coast beaches to your desktop,” Microsoft wrote in the official description of the theme.

The theme comes with support for both Windows 8 and Windows RT
Image credits to Microsoft

Some Specs of Business Class AMD Richland APUs Revealed from Biostar CPU Support List

Biostar is one of the many motherboard makers with Advanced Micro Devices as a client and partner, which means it usually gets information on upcoming chips earlier than everyone save its fellows.

Sometimes that information slips through the cracks of the world wide web, like now. A CPU support list has shown the Richland A4-6300B, A6-6400B and A10-6800B business class APUs. The A10-6800B is a 4.1 GHz part with 100 W TDP (thermal design power) and four CPU cores, plus 2 MB L2 cache per module (4 MB total).

AMD A4-6300B and A6-6400B have 3.7 GHz and 3.9 GHz clocks and have 65W TDPs, two cores (each) and 1 MB L2 cache. These B-series chips will probably be shipped as part of OEM desktop personal/office computers, but not as retail products.

Biostar support list
Image credits to Biostar via CPU-World

Firefox-Based KEON Smartphone Receives FCC Approval

Last week, Spanish company Geeksphone announced that the entry-level Keon and Peak smartphones powered by Firefox OS would be available for purchase via its online store.

According to the handset manufacturer, both smartphones will be available for order anywhere in the world for €91 / $119 and €149 / $195, respectively. A few days after the official announcement, Engadget reports that Keon, the most affordable of the two, has just received FCC’s (Federal Communications Commission) approval.

As expected, the smartphone comes equipped with a decent; 3.5-inch HVGA capacitive touchscreen display, a 1GHz single-core processor and a 1580 mAh Li-Ion battery. Customers in the United States who wish to order the Keon should also know that the device features support for GPRS / GSM / WCDMA 850 MHz and 1900 MHz bands, which makes it fully compatible with AT&T’s network.

Keon smartphone at FCC
Image credits to Engadget

iOS 7 Needs This Jailbreak Tweak!

Atom, an upcoming Cydia tweak that lets you unlock your iPhone to six different apps just by dragging a slider over to their icons, deserves more than just our attention.

It deserves Apple’s attention as well. Set to become available on the BigBoss repository in the Cydia Store this week, Atom puts a lock icon right smack in the middle of your screen and lets you slide it over to one of six apps that you want to launch. Click on the image above to expand it.

It’s as simple as it is brilliant, and while it’s not the first jailbreak tweak of its kind, it’s certainly the best so far. Which means Apple should really consider buying this idea from whoever coded it (Absinthe Jailbreak doesn’t mention the developer) and bring a bit of joy to the iOS install base this summer. iOS 7 begs for it.

Atom example
Image credits to Absinthe Jailbreak

Nokia to Launch Something New on April 24

Today, Finnish mobile phone maker Nokia has announced plans to unveil something new on Wednesday, April 24, although it did not offer specific info on what would be unwrapped.

“On Wednesday morning at 7am GMT we will be announcing something new, followed by a Q&A session with Neil Broadley from our Mobile Phones team and a special guest,” Nokia announced in a blog post on Nokia Conversations. The message was accompanied by a teaser photo, which can be seen above, and which suggests that the company might unveil a QWERTY-enabled smartphone later this week, most probably one included in its already popular Asha series.

However, this is mere speculation for the time being, and we’ll have to wait for April 24 to arrive to learn specifics on Nokia’s plans. Stay tuned for more on this.

Nokia teases new announcement for April 24
Image credits to Nokia Conversations

May-Bound AMD Dual-GPU Radeon HD 7990 Malta Benchmarked

This past weekend, we found out what the exact specifications of the newest and greatest upcoming AMD graphics card were. Now we get to follow up on that with some benchmark test results.

The following are the results of the card being tested and compared against NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 690 dual-GPU board. As some may expect, AMD's newer dual-chip adapter completely trounces NVIDIA's board, giving credence to the rumors that the Santa Clara company is readying an even stronger Titan card. In 3DMark FireStrike, the Malta scored 11479 Marks, much higher than the 9863 Marks of the GeForce GTX Titan and even higher than the 8859 Marks of the GTX 690. Then there was the even more demanding FireStrike Extreme setting, where the product managed a scrape 5854 Marks versus the Titan's 5079 and the 690's 4470. By all accounts, all those scores are high, but that only makes the Malta more impressive for being so ahead of the others. Then again, this was a synthetic benchmark test, not an actual comparison of frame rates, detail and quality in games.

When the Malta comes out, reviewers will have to take it and play games on it, then play the same games at the same settings on the other high-end adapters. We surmise that Malta will still come out on top, but the difference may not be so sharp then. That said, there is a glimpse of the Radeon HD 7990 playing Battlefield 3 at 5760 x 1080 resolution in Ultra quality, thanks to Hardware.Info. Malta is faster than GTX 690, but only by a few frames per second, oddly enough. In the end, the prowess of the two may be comparable. Still, knowing AMD's tendency to sell things at lower prices than its rivals, the HD 7990 may be sold for even less than the $1,000 previously reported, so AMD will tip the scales in its favor that way.

AMD Radeon HD 7990
Image credits to hardware.info

AMD Radeon HD 7990 benchmark
Image credits to hardware.info

AMD Radeon HD 7990 benchmark
Image credits to WCCFTech

NVIDIA Prepares GeForce Titan Ultra Graphics Card

We thought that the GeForce GTX Titan LE graphics card was the only superpowered single-GPU graphics card that NVIDIA was still preparing, not counting the supposed GTX 780 presumably set for launch by June.

Then again, it is possible for the latter's name to be no more than hearsay, and for it to be really called GeForce GTX Titan Ultra. GeForce GTX Titan Ultra, or Titan II, is the moniker applied to a video card that 3DCenter.org and PCGamesHardware believe might debut sooner rather than later. This is all speculation, mind, based on nothing but the random possibility that NVIDIA may not, in fact, intend for Titan to stay as the strongest product for long. The only reason we ascribe any sort of probability to these rumors is, as we have said, recent murmurs about a new GeForce 7 adapter. NVIDIA may very well be working on a Titan, rather than something bearing the GeForce GTX 780 name. Since NVIDIA Titan already costs $1,000 / 1,000 EUR, the Titan Ultra / Titan II would sell for quite a bit more, and would need to possess significantly better specifications. That means 2880 CUDA cores, versus the Titan's 2,688 and the Titan LE's 2,496. It also means a 384-bit memory interface (vs. 384/320), 6 GB of GDDR5 VRAM (6/5 GB Titan/LE), GPU base/boost speeds of 900/950 MHz (vs. 837/876 MHz), 48 ROPs (48 Titan, 40 Titan LE) and 256 texture mapping units (48/40 TMUs).

The power consumption would be of around 225W, more than the 206W of the original and 185W of the expected LE. Should NVIDIA actually make a Titan Ultra, it would release it in the fourth quarter of 2013 most likely. Nevertheless, as we have said before, these are speculations based on rumors and hopes. The price will play a big role here. Since dual-GK110 boards are too unprofitable (unlike AMD's Radeon HD 7990 Malta), NVIDIA needs to make sure its single-chip cards at least try to strike a balance between performance and cost. We'll have to wait and see how it all goes.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan
Image credits to Nvidia

No Start Button Just Yet in Leaked Windows 8.1/Blue

Microsoft is believed to be working on a new Start button that could see daylight as soon as this summer, together with Windows 8.1, the first important upgrade for the current Windows 8.

The Windows 8.1/Blue build that got leaked over the weekend, however, doesn’t show any sign of a potential Start button, but instead focuses on the new Start Screen released with Windows 8. If reports are true, Microsoft might bring back the Start button because of customer feedback, as many Windows 8 adopters have been disappointed with the tech giant’s decision to abandon this particular Windows feature.

What’s more, it appears that some high-profile Microsoft executives, including CEO Steve Ballmer himself, insisted for the return of the Start button in Windows 8.1, even though the Windows division had initially wanted to stick to the Start Screen and improve it with a bunch of new options.

The classic Start button might return in the upcoming Windows 8.1
Image credits to Microsoft

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