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Sep 12, 2013

Windows Phone 8.1 to Include Siri-like Personal Assistant “Cortana”

Redmond-based software giant Microsoft has been long rumored to pack some exciting enhancements for its Windows Phone 8 platform, and it seems that a personal assistant will be one of them.

Codenamed “Cortana,” it should arrive to devices in the upcoming Windows Phone 8.1 platform release, allowing a more natural interaction with devices. Basically, it would be for Windows Phone what Siri is for Apple’s iOS, WPCentral reports. The news site also adds that Cortana is, in fact, an overhaul to the TellMe service. However, it appears that this will be more than a simple personal assistant for Windows Phone users, and that the entire future core services of the platforms will be built upon it. In fact, ZDNet notes that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has already hinted at the changes that will be made to the platform’s shell. “Our shell will natively support all of our essential services, and will be great at responding seamlessly to what people ask for, and even anticipating what they need before they ask for it,” he said.

Apparently, Cortana will not only allow users to interact with their smartphones through voice commands, but will also aggregate info from a variety of sources to deliver a richer, deeper app experience. The personal assistant will take advantage of Microsoft services and technologies such as Bing Satori and TellMe to be always ready to respond to users’ requests. Microsoft Bing’s director Stefan Weitz did confirm back in July that the company was working on a Siri-like service, but also said that it wouldn’t be out very soon, as WMPoweruser explains.

However, 2014 seems to fit the suggested launch timeframe, and Windows Phone 8.1, which is rumored to arrive next year, might actually include it. What remains to be seen is how well it will fare when compared to the competition. More details on this will certainly emerge as the release date of Windows Phone 8.1 approaches, so keep an eye on this space to learn the news.

Windows Phone 8
Image credits to Microsoft

Image credits to The Verge

Samsung Promises Smartphones with 64-bit CPUs

South Korean mobile phone maker Samsung is determined to strengthen its leading position on the smartphone market, and the company will launch handsets with 64-bit processors for that.

Samsung mobile business head Shin Jong-kyun confirmed that, only two days after Apple announced its iPhone 5S smartphone with a 64-bit CPU inside. “Not in the shortest time. But yes, our next smartphones will have 64-bit processing functionality,” Shin said, Korea Times notes in a recent article.

Recently, Samsung announced another enhancement for its mobile processors, in the form of a Heterogeneous Multi-Processing update destined for the Exynos 5 Octa core ARM chip. No specific info has been provided on which future Samsung handsets will receive the 64-bit processors, but we can expect more to be unveiled in the beginning of the next year. Stay tuned for more on this.

Samsung logo
Image credits to Samsung

LG Nexus 5 (LG-D820) Images Leak via FCC

Google and LG have been long rumored to plan the release of the next device in the popular Nexus series, and leaked images available via FCC provide us now with a glimpse at the smartphone.

Supposedly called Nexus 5, the phone emerged at the feds featuring model number LG-D820, and photos with this device are now available for your viewing pleasure. As droid-life notes, the images show a device that matches the one spotted last week at Google’s Android 4.4 Kit Kat unveiling.

The upcoming handset is said to sport about the same hardware specifications as the LG G2, while the available photos suggest that it might feature the looks of Nexus 4. However, no official confirmation on this device indeed being the Nexus 5 has emerged until now, and we’ll take this with a grain of salt until that happens.

LG Nexus 5 (LG-D820)
Images credits to FCC via Droid-Life

Apple iPhone 5s and 5c Have Bigger Batteries

Battery life is a troublesome affair, not just on iPhones but on all smartphones today (regardless of what fanboys will tell you). At the (literal) end of the day, most high-end smartphones need some juice.

But that may be a thing of the past, with the new, larger batteries inside the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c, according to some FCC filings spotted by AnandTech. In these FCC documents, Apple reportedly notes that the batteries inside its new iPhones have increased in size, just as predicted after a recent teardown. According to the tech blog, “The iPhone 5S ends up getting an almost 10 percent increase in size versus the iPhone 5, the iPhone 5C goes up around 5 percent versus the iPhone 5.”

Of course, a 10 percent increase in battery size doesn’t mean another full day of battery life, and considering that the high-end 5s has an even faster processor, it might actually need the extra fat to stay on par with the previously advertised battery life (for iPhone 5). All in good time. Drop date: September 20.

iPhone battery
Image credits to AnandTech

Gigabyte Motherboards with Thunderbolt 2.0 Released

Even though many people feel that Thunderbolt doesn't have much of a future, being a proprietary technology and all, motherboard producers are making a fuss each time they offer support for it, like Gigabyte has just done.

Well, fuss might be a strong word. After all, the only thing Gigabyte actually did was bring the Z87X-UD5 TH and Z87X-UD7 TH to IDF 2013. The Intel Developer Forum is taking place in San Francisco, California. Today is the last day actually. For those that need a short summary, Thunderbolt 2.0 is an interface that uses the DisplayPort standard and allows devices like screens and such to be daisy-chained. Its data transfer speed is of 20 Gbps, twice as high as that of USB 3.0 (that's right, USB 3.0 managed to jump a bit too, from 5 to 10 Gbps). Actually, the move to 20 Gbps was supposed to give people a reason to consider it worth getting on top of USB 3.0, but with the latter also evolving, that didn't pan out.

Nevertheless, Intel continues to promote the interface, resulting in OEM motherboards like the two we are examining here today. First off, the Z87X-UD7 TH has a 16-phase VRM with high-grade PowIRstage driver-MOSFETs, five PCI Express 3.0 slots (x16, x8 when more than three are used). A mechanism that bypasses the bridge chip exists (the Intel chipset can't handle all the slots alone) to give a single graphics card direct link to the CPU. Other specs include a VRM cooler with active air-cooled heatsink (has a coolant channel to make it part of the liquid cooling loop, if available), two PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots, ten SATA 6 Gbps ports, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0, onboard OC controls, manual multi-BIOS toggle, diagnostic LED and manual PCIe slot toggle.

Meanwhile, the Z87X-UD5 TH has three PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots, legacy PCI slot (one), two PCIe x1 slots, 8 SATA 6 Gbps ports, and one of each Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11ac WLAN, and Bluetooth 4.0. The other perks are the same as above.

Gigabyte Z87X-UD7 TH
Image credits to Gigabyte

Gigabyte Z87X-UD5 TH
Image credits to Gigabyte

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