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Feb 23, 2014

Samsung Launches Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo, Drops Galaxy Branding and Android for Tizen

As previously expected, Samsung has taken the opportunity at MWC 2014 to unveil the new Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo.

Note the absence of the Galaxy branding, which can be explained by the fact that Samsung has dropped the Android platform in favor of its own Tizen. Samsung says the change will affect battery life which will be capable of lasting up for up to two or three days, almost double from what the original Galaxy Gear managed (via SamMobile). The new Gear and Gear 2 Neo are lighter and thinner than the Galaxy Gear, but the design make-over isn’t so radical as previously thought. One thing that stands out is that the camera now lives in front of the watch and not on the wristband. Both smartwatches come with the same 1.63-inch screen with a resolution of 320 x 320, the same as the original Galaxy Gear. Under the small hood there’s a 1GHz processor combined with 512MB and 4GB of internal storage.

New features that might convenience you to get one of these babies include IP67 certification (watches are dust and water resistant), a heart sensor and IR blaster. If you were wondering about the difference between the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo is the second doesn’t come bundled with a 2MP camera. There’s no info about pricing but the two smartwatches will be made available in the second quarter of the year. Images gallery below.

Samsung Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo launched
Images credits to SamMobile

Microsoft Officially Announces Windows 8.1 Update 1

Microsoft announced at the Mobile World Congress that Windows 8.1 is set to receive a major update this spring, confirming that the company is working to improve its operating system on both touch and non-touch devices.

Joe Belfiore, Microsoft’s executive in charge of the devices unit, explained during his keynote that Microsoft will make it easier for users to launch apps from the taskbar, probably hinting at options to start Metro apps from the desktop, as we’ve seen in leaked builds. At the same time, he also added that Windows 8.1 Update 1 will bring several improvements for the desktop, including options aimed at those relying on mice and keyboards. “Some of those touch affordances weren’t really tuned as well as we could do for those mouse and keyboard users,” Belfiore was quoted as saying by The Verge. “We found people weren’t aware of where they should look in the UI. Those are the things we’ve really started to improve for this update coming this spring.”

Windows 8.1 Update 1 will also represent another attempt by Microsoft to bring more Windows devices to the market, with recent reports pointing to a 70 percent license price cut for OEMs. It turns out however that Redmond is also reducing hardware requirements in Windows 8.1 Update 1, allowing the new OS version to be installed on devices with only 1GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage space. Belfiore hasn’t provided a release date for the new update, but it’s believed that Microsoft is planning to use the upcoming BUILD 2014 developer conference in early April to introduce the new OS version. Of course, Update 1 is going to be offered free of charge to all Windows 8.1 users and will be delivered through Windows Update as an optional download for both desktops and tablets.

Windows 8.1 Update 1 will launch in April
Image credits to Microsoft

Apple Hires 17-Year-Old Jailbreaker “Winocm”

Apple has hired jailbreaker “winocm,” a teenager who was able to port the entire iPhone operating system over to Nokia N900.

Of course, winocm’s resume doesn’t just include this single feat. He says he’s been able to do some “insane” things with both iOS and OS X on a core level, and he’s responsible for some iOS jailbreaks (for iOS 6.1.5, more recently). “I had to basically do exactly what Apple did when they were making iPhone OS originally,” winocm tells Cult of Mac which points out that “By rewriting the iPhone OS from the ground up, he was essentially able to create an open source version of the operating system.” Winocm added, “It’s really complex and hellish stuff. Usually they have a team of people working on this type of thing, but I’m just one person, not a team.” Hence the reason why Apple could really use a guy like him.

Winocm himself broke the news about his hiring on Twitter yesterday, when he relayed to his 44K followers, “I figured now is the right time to say this, I will be working at Apple starting later this year.” The Cupertino, California-based Apple Inc. will most likely use winocm’s skill set to strengthen the security of iOS and OS X. As always, Apple hiring an iOS jailbreaker is somewhat ironical, having indulged in a fierce cat and mouse game before shaking hands. On the other hand, jailbreaking is getting less and less necesary these days, as Apple is offering more features and flexibility in its mobile software. But where there’s room for tweaks that Apple doesn’t allow, you can bet lots of people will still want to jailbreak their devices.

In related news, Apple has discovered and subsequently patched a serious vulnerability in iOS 7 where “An attacker with a privileged network position may capture or modify data in sessions protected by SSL/TLS.” The issue affects most iPhones and iPads currently in circulation today and has been addressed with the release of iOS 7.0.6 for new-generation hardware, and iOS 6.1.6 for old devices, such as the iPhone 3GS. Apple TV Software 6.0.2, released in tandem with these two updates, also includes the security patch.

Winocm tweet
Image credits to Winocm on Twitter

BlackBerry Intros Stickers for BBM, Kicks Off Limited External Beta

Shortly after introducing Voice Chat for BlackBerry Messenger on both Android and iOS platforms, the Canadian company announced that it would add a brand new feature for BBM users, stickers.

This time however, the new feature won't be available for free, but will come for a price. Those who wish to take advantage of these stickers will have to purchase them via BBM Shop. BlackBerry has announced the it has started a limited external beta for stickers and the BBM Shop, but it's unclear whether everyone can access it or you have to be accepted into the beta. As we have mentioned earlier, stickers will be available for purchase via BBM Shop in packs that will contain between 20 and 25 stickers, which will be theme-related (CosCat, Gilbert’s Tales, Bubble Bot). BBM users on Android and iOS are surely not aware of what stickers are as the feature was only available for BlackBerry 10 users.

Speaking of which, BlackBerry Stickers is a separate application for 10 OS devices that allows BBM users to spice up their chats with friends by adding stickers. BlackBerry will probably do the same for Android and iOS users and will release separate applications for stickers, but we have yet to receive a confirmation from the Canadian company. Stickers are larger emoticons, some may be animated and featuring a much better resolution than standard emoticons. It's possible that BlackBerry will throw in some free to download stickers as well, but for now, we should assume they will only sell in packages of 20-25 stickers. The method of sending stickers to your friends is pretty simple on BlackBerry 10. You will need to open the Stickers for BBM application and select the sticker you wish and then select Send. Obviously, you can add some text as well.

For the time being, there are 35 stickers available for BlackBerry 10, of which 20 are animated and must be purchased, whereas 15 are static and are available for free. Stay tuned for more updates on the addition of stickers to BBM for Android and iOS.

Stickers for BBM
Image credits to Blackberry

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