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Jun 1, 2014

Three Features Everyone Will Love About the iPhone 6




When it comes to the iPhone 6, the first thing that springs to mind is the bigger display. Some think it’s a long overdue feature that should have blessed the Apple fan base last year with the unveiling of the iPhone 5s. Apple says good things come to those who wait.

The reason why the company waited so long for the iPhone to get a bigger screen is unknown, but one thing is certain. When it arrives, it will mark a world of change for most users. And I’m not referring to the icon sizes.

Fewer typos
One of the biggest perks to arrive courtesy of a bigger display is, of course, a bigger keyboard. It may not sound like much of an uptick to those of you with small fingers and/or very good typing skills, but for the population with bulky hands and trembling fingers this will be godsend. Same goes for females who like to wear long nails. Stretching the keyboard size only half a centimeter in any direction will greatly reduce the chance of making a typo, which remains one of the great frustrations involving smartphone use by adults today.

For those of you who already have good typing skills, a wider/taller keyboard will allow you to take things to a whole new level. I’ll be curious to see who sets the next world record for fastest iOS typist.

Getting more work done
Thanks to a bigger screen and a more usable keyboard, the incentive to actually do work on your iPhone (rather than play match-three puzzlers) will grow considerably. First off, you will no longer feel anxiety thinking how difficult it is to finish a sentence without having to scroll back and fix a typo. Second of all, you’ll actually see an entire sentence as a single line of text (granted, long sentences will probably still spread across two or three lines). In essence, knowing that typing is no longer a pain in the neck will lift the fear of working with your iPhone. I’ll be curious to hear the first story about someone doing an entire day’s work with nothing more than their iPhone.

Boosting your artistic skills
With all its Multi-Touch oomph and fast processor, the iPhone doesn’t really make for an ideal drawing tool. Same goes for making music on it. Before you call me ignorant, please note I’m not talking about scribbles or 10-second drum loops. I’m talking about real drawings and real songs. While it can be done, the current form factor is certainly not ideal. Something that the rumored 4.7-inch display on the iPhone 6 will probably change.

Having more space to work with not only reduces the chance of error, but also eliminates the need to switch through various screens to access tools and controls that can now sit minimized in a corner (for instance). A larger display makes it easier to tweak sound parameters, move notes up and down on a piano roll, etc.

Bigger is better

When it comes to people who want to use their smartphones to create, not just consume content, it’s pretty clear that a larger working area is always better. Portability gets redefined every year (just look at the size of the iPad), so having a small screen has completely lost its sense. Some of us can’t wait for the official burial of the 4-inch iPhone. Not that it hasn’t been real. But it’s time to unlock the full potential of iOS.

Apple eye
Image credits to Youtube

iOS 8 Won’t Be Downloadable for 30% of iDevice Owners




Figures released by Apple during a 7‑day period ending May 18, 2014, indicate that 88 percent of the entire iDevice ecosystem is rocking iOS 7, whereas the remaining 12 percent are on iOS 6 or lower.

Going by this breakdown, it’s pretty easy to draw a line and see how much of the install base will be getting iOS 8, and how many customers won’t. With a 10 percent share, most of the iOS 6 user base is there because of device limitations (i.e. iPhone 3GS, iPod touch fourth-generation). Granted, there's also a handful of users that prefer that version of the software and have deliberately postponed their upgrade. That being said, there’s still that 2 percent running an even older version of the OS. Based on this fact, we can safely deduce that at least 10 percent of the existing iOS ecosystem will not be eligible for the next-generation iOS 8. But that's just half the story. The iDevice install base is still comprised of a lot of iPad 2 and iPhone 4 devices. These will most certainly not be compatible with iOS 8. That means a far greater percentage of users will not be able to download iOS 8 (because of the higher system requirements) and will therefore be forced to upgrade.

Based on this measurement, we estimate that around one third of existing iPhone/iPad customers will not receive the iOS 8 download prompt. And that's a conservative estimate. Perhaps not surprisingly Apple has made a push to offer attractive trade-in deals enabling users to upgrade their hardware for less money. If you’re in that camp, see how Apple can help with its reuse and recycling programs. iOS 8 will make its debut tomorrow at WWDC14, while the public release isn’t expected until later around fall. In the press releasing announcing this year’s conference, Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing confirmed the company’s plans to release all-new OSes, both for desktop and for mobile users.

“We have the most amazing developer community in the world and have a great week planned for them,” said Schiller. “Every year the WWDC audience becomes more diverse, with developers from almost every discipline you can imagine and coming from every corner of the globe. We look forward to sharing with them our latest advances in iOS and OS X so they can create the next generation of great apps.”

Firgures taken from the App Store Distribution page
Image credits to Apple

Hands-On With Google Stars for Chrome




If there’s one thing that’s completely awful about Google Chrome, that’s the bookmark managing system. Thankfully, the company has been working on a special tool for a while now, dubbed Google Stars.

News about this extension came a while back in the form of a leaked image presenting the introductory page to Stars, but not much has been unveiled since then. It looks like yesterday, Google uploaded the app to the Chrome Web Store and then had it pulled down. Unsurprisingly, someone caught it in time, and soon the web was full of the .CRX file. Since the file is not in the Chrome Web Store just yet, you’ll have to take the roundabout to install the tool on your chrome, by accessing the Settings area, clicking on the “Extensions” tab and using drag-and-drop to install the file on Chrome. This won’t exactly work if you’re using the latest Chrome beta version since the company has instated its new extension policy on that version. According to Google’s latest step against malware, the company is restricting the installation of Chrome extensions from third party sources. While it’s still possible to download and install them from outside the Web Store, the apps you add to Chrome still have to have a duplicate in the Store or they won’t work. This is Google’s way of fighting against mallware-ridden tools that don’t go through the company’s scan.

Google Stars explained

“Google Stars” will read and modify data on the websites you visit, read and modify bookmarks, access tabs and browsing activity and communicate with cooperating websites. Basically, it will completely replace the regular bookmarking system within Chrome, even changing the white star with gray border in the right side of the address bar with a white star within a greyed out box, which will turn yellow upon saving. The prompt for installing Google Stars. The basic functionality remains the same as the current favoriting system in Chrome, but it will come with an added visual bonus. When you bookmark a new page by using Stars, a small box will appear, which contains extra information.

You’ll see the page’s title, a short description which will likely be the first few words of the article within, the website it comes from and a way to add the bookmark to a certain folder. The box also contains a picture if one was attached to the article and you’ll be able to go through a few options by using the available arrows. Depending on which of these images you decide on, you should know it will appear in the bookmark’s box in the Google Stars page. Which leads us to the next feature of Google Stars – a managing page

Managing your bookmarks

You can access this by clicking on the “View all starred items” button that appears in the same box mentioned above. Here, you’ll see all the bookmarks you’ve made, or, as they’re called now – “starred” pages. In the main page, you’ll see the most recently added bookmarks arranged in a timeline, while on the left side you’ll notice a filtering system. The app automatically builds these by scanning the names of the pages. For instance, if you’ve saved a few pages with pretty cats, you’ll see those under “Cat.” The same can be said about other animals you may love, or any other topics. The folders you’ve already created will be present there as well. You’ll also be able to check out the pages based on content by using the drop-down filtering system near the search bar at the top of the interface, which enables you to look for videos, images or webpages.

The presence of the search bar is also particularly important since it will certainly come in handy whenever you try to go through dozens of bookmarks, something that is pretty difficult to do in the default Chrome system. If you click on any of the boxes representing the saved pages you’ll be redirected to that site. If you want to manage the bookmarks, instead, you’ll have to click on the top right corner of the same box to select it. You can select as many pages as you want and move them to a folder of your desire, which makes for an easy managing system. If you don’t want to keep them, you can always delete them in bulk with the help of the “Delete” button on the blue ribbon. Google Stars may not be available for everyone through the Web Store just yet, but it will certainly end up there soon. If you don’t want or don’t trust downloading it from other sites, you can always wait a few extra days. It’s not exactly uncommon for Google to change its mind and remove an extension right after it uploaded it, but up until now they all made it back into the store within a few days.







Google Stars
Image credits to Google

Why the Intel and Rockchip Partnership Could Actually Be a Big Deal




This week Intel announced a new strategic partnership with low-budget chip manufacturer Rockchip, in a move that is bound to change the course of the chip industry.

The two companies will be working together on the production of Intel’s next-gen processors dubbed SoFIA which will be end up being implemented in budget Android tablets. Intel hopes to be able to sponge off Rockchip’s reputation in China, without having to start building relationships from scratch. But why would Intel abandon the strategy that ultimately set it apart from other chip manufacturers? For example, companies like Qualcomm or AMD design their chips but the manufacturing processes are handled by third-party partners like Samsung or GlobalFoundries. But that wasn’t what Intel set out to do. The company kept everything in-house, including designing, manufacturing and selling of these products. Now Intel is fundamentally changing the way it does business, by letting another company use its CPU cores. What that means basically is that Rockchip will the first company to make use of Intel’s technology in order to produce its own chip products with Intel processor cores.

But why the shift and what does this signify? An obvious answer would be that Intel needs to try out a new strategy in order to crack the surface of the tablet space, where it has offered strong products, so far. The problem is, these offerings haven’t been widely adopted. The new partnership with Rockchip will enable Intel to take advantage of Rockchip’s expertise and current market penetration in order to get Intel technology embedded into $100-$150 / €73-€110 Android offerings, which what is basically selling these days. So by the middle of 2015 Intel and Rockchp’s SoFIA SoC spawn will be launched on the market, with four Intel Atom cores and equipped with an Intel 3G modem.

It should also be noted Rockchip was in around 40 million tablets last year and that’s exactly the goal has set up for itself in 2014, so the partnership will open the doors to a decent TAM, too. Thus Rockchip will be able to license Intel x86CPU IP for use in the SoC that will be sold barring the Intel branding. Rockchip’s current products use ARM and Vivante GPU cores, so in the future we might end up seeing a SoC using Intel x86 cores with Mali graphics. The partnership surely marks a crucial transition in Intel history. Both companies will focus on selling the SoFIA chips to their respective customers and Rockchip will be able to continue selling ARM-based SoCs. Note also that Intel won’t be making any big investments in Rockchip. At the moment there’s only one product in the works, in the form of the quad-core Silvermont with integrated 3G, SoFIA, Intel highlighted this partnership is actually a “strategic” one.

This in turn signifies this is not a limited agreement an in time we’re going to see more engagement over time. If the first quad-core chips turn out to be a good deal, maybe Intel will be start deviating its mobile SoC design integration efforts to Rockchip. Time will tell.

Intel and Rockchip partner up to produce low-cost tablet chips
Image credits to TheDroidGuy

Acer Liquid X1 Phablet with 5.7-Inch Display and Octa-Core CPU Goes Official




Acer has just unveiled its new flagship Android smartphone, the Liquid X1, during Computex 2014 trade fair. The device has been confirmed to arrive on the market in Q3 2014 for a price that will be disclosed closer to launch.

Unlike the previous mid-range smartphones that we reported on earlier today, Liquid E600 and E700, the X1 is aimed at the high-end segment of the market. Although the price of the smartphone has yet to be revealed, Acer Liquid X1 will surely be priced higher than the average. According to the official press release, the handset will be equipped with a powerful true octa-core MediaTek processor clocked at 1.7GHz, which is complemented by a quad-core graphics processing unit. According to Acer, the “Liquid X1 comes with a number of distinct features that make it much easier to control and operate. Among them is Acer Zoom Fit, which adjusts the user interface to just 4-inches when operating the device with one hand is required.” Another selling point of the device is the huge 5.7-inch capacitive touchscreen display that supports HD (720p) resolution. But this is not all, as the phablet has been confirmed to boast an impressive 13-megapixel main camera on the back, which features autofocus, LED flash and full HD (1080p) video recording.

The rear-facing camera offers f/1.8 aperture and 0.3 second ultra-fast focus capability, along with some innovative features such as Free Focus, which allows users to capture pictures without having to worry about focusing. With Motion Tracking, users will be able to capture moving objects without having to fear that their pictures will be blurred. Furthermore, Acer confirmed its high-end phablet “also comes built with the AcerRAPID design on the back which allows users to quickly launch the camera, pick up phone calls or their favorite apps with the touch of a finger. “With AcerFLOAT user interface, app windows can stay open, so users can multitask without having to back out of one app to work on another. The press of the multi-task key brings up the Float Apps where opened apps on a translucent screen float over the function being used.”

It is also worth mentioning that Acer’s smartphone packs 2GB of RAM, a secondary 2-megapixel front-facing camera, 16GB of internal memory, microSD card slot for memory expansion and a high-capacity 2700 mAh battery. Acer also announced the Liquid X1 would ship with Android 4.4 KitKat operating system out of the box when released next quarter.

Acer Liquid X1
Image credits to Acer

Acer Introduces Liquid E600 and E700 Dual-SIM and Triple-SIM Android Smartphones




It looks like Acer doesn’t want to give up on Android, even though the company did not have any worthy-to-mention success with one or more of its smartphones. Acer tablets though seem to be preferred more among Android users than the phones.

However, that doesn’t seem to stop Acer from launching new Android smartphones to conquer emerging markets with. In this regard, two new Android handsets have just been unveiled by Acer during Computex, the Liquid E600 and E700. Both are part of the Liquid series, the smartphones are aimed at mid-range market. The major difference between the two, aside from design, is that Acer Liquid E600 is dual-SIM, while the Liquid E700 is triple SIM, which means users can fit in no less than three SIM cards. Talking about Acer Liquid E600, the smartphone is equipped with a 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, 1GB of RAM and 4GB of internal memory. Users will also be able to expand storage up to 32GB via microSD memory card. The Liquid E600 sports a 5-inch IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen display that supports FWVGA (854 x 480 pixels) resolution.

It also comes with an 8-megapixel photo snapper on the back, which features autofocus, LED flash and video recording. It also offers 4G LTE support and a high-capacity 2500 mAh battery, which should provide up to 6 hours of talk time. Acer Liquid E600 will be available for purchase from Q3 in both single SIM and dual-SIM variants, but there are no details on price tags yet. Next in line, the Liquid E700 is a triple SIM smartphone that comes with an even bigger 3500 mAh battery, which is rated by Acer for up to 60 days of standby or up to 24 hours of talk time. It sports a 5-inch IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen display that supports HD (720p) resolution and features Zero Air Gap technology.

On the inside, the smartphone is armed with a 1.3GHz quad-core processor provided by MediaTek, 1GB of RAM and 16GB of internal memory, which can be expanded up to 32GB via microSD card slot. Although it doesn’t mention what camera it packs in the back, Acer confirmed the Liquid E700 features a secondary front-facing camera with LED flash especially tailored to capture perfect selfies. Just like the Liquid E600, Acer Liquid E700 will be available on the market beginning Q3 for a price that will be disclosed closer to launch.

Acer Liquid E600

Acer Liquid E700
Images credits to Acer

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