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Jul 3, 2014

Nova Launcher 3.0.2 Beta 1 Comes with Android L Looks

An updated flavor of the Nova Launcher application is now available for download for the owners of Android-based devices, namely version 3.0.2 Beta 1, meant to provide users with a taste of the newly announced Android L OS.

Courtesy of this update, owners of non-Nexus devices will be able to bring some Android L looks on their handsets before Google makes the platform available for them, if it should ever do that. According to the release notes attached to the application, those who will download and install it will enjoy features such as ”L” Folder Preview (Nova Settings – Folder – Folder Preview – Line) and ”L” App Animation (Nova Settings – Look and Feel – App Animation – Slide Up). Moreover, they will also see the “L” App Drawer Icon (Long-press app drawer – Edit – Tap Icon – All white icon under “Built-in”).

Additionally, the new app iteration arrives with a series of small tweaks for running on Android L Dev Preview, as well as with a series of optimizations and bug fixes packed inside. Those who would like to enjoy the features and capabilities of the new application release should head over to the Nova Launcher Beta community to join the beta testing program and receive the new app iteration, as Phandroid notes.

Nova Launcher for Android
Image credits to Phandroid

4.7" iPhone Screen Gets In-depth Video Appearance

We've seen some interesting front panels this week coming from China. The leaked photos show what it seems to be an iPhone 6 screen which measures 4.7" and has rounded edges.

A new video coming from China gets a closer look and a hands on with the front panel. It is a well known fact that Chinese manufacturers do not keep the parts they make under wraps and anyone can assemble a next-generation iPhone using the parts that come out of Foxconn. There are a few notable differences between the iPhone 5s' front panel and iPhone 6', besides the rounded corners. The new one is almost half as thin as the other one. The rounded edge goes around the whole panel, not just the top and the bottom. Also, the front camera hole seems to be in a different spot. With iPhone 5, Apple chose to have "the selfie camera" above the earpiece. Now, that has moved half an inch to the left. The hole itself has the same size, but Apple was seemingly forced to take this design decision based on the fact that the top glass is narrower. On the other hand, the bottom part of the front panel looks unchanged with the exception of the width. The side bezel appears to have exactly the same as the current iPhone model.

Based on these specs, the iPhone 6 will come out with a 4.7" display which is not considerably wider or taller. This may allow an extra row of icons at the bottom of the screen, unless Apple decides to scale the icons in which case, they may be somewhere between the size of the iPad Mini and the current iPhone 5s. One of the drawbacks of this screen size is that Apple is forcing the user to one-hand operation of the device. That may not be a problem for Android users who are going to switch from HTC and Samsung to the new iPhone 6 this fall. The leak coming from China does not say anything about the 5.5" display size. Earlier reports suggested that the tech giant may release two different size phones together with iOS 8. In other news, Apple is expected to show the new iPhone on September 19, according to Chinese sources. The new model may be released a week later, on September 25. Same reports say the 5.5" iPhone appearance may be pushed for a few months due to production issues.

4.7" screen for iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5s front plate
Image credits to ifanr.com

Video credits to Adrian Boioglu

Qualcomm’s Upcoming Snapdragon 810 Will Integrate WiGig Tech

Qualcomm has recently announced it has acquired Wilocity, a company that specializes in advanced Wi-Fi technologies like IEEE 802.11ad, which is referred to as the WiGig.

WiGig takes advantage of the 60GHz band, which is capable of delivering multi-gigabit speeds for mobile devices. As for the current Wi-Fi 802.11ac standard, its implementation can bring about a theoretical bandwidth of 1Gbit/sec. On top of offering greater, better bandwidth, WiGig boasts other several improvements, including better power efficiency and capacity improvements. Qualcomm is expected to start integrating this new advanced standard in its upcoming hardware products, and for now we know for a fact that the Snapdragon 810 will be the first SoC to deliver tri-band connectivity. Qualcomm previously claimed Snapdragon 810 products were expected to ship out in mid-2015, and by now the chip giant has had plenty of time to sprinkle some WiGig on top. Tri-band connectivity adds the classic 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands along with the advanced 60GHz WiGig frequency band.

Qualcomm explains that the integration of the 60GHz band will bring about other benefits, like the capacity to undertake demanding tasks such as 4K video streaming, peer-to-peer content sharing, networking, wireless docking, and making performing back-ups of entire media libraries in mere seconds. Qualcomm is hoping to have products implementing the 60GHz band before competing companies like MediaTek, Samsung, Intel or Broadcom have the chance to jump onboard of the same bandwagon. There's a good chance Qualcomm will manage to meet this goal, because some vendors are still working towards equipping their SoCs with the 5GHz band. Anyway, as good as the 60GHz band might sound on paper, usually there’s a little catch involved. The frequency can’t go through walls or cover extensive distance.

That’s why many skeptics have been wondering if the 60GHz band will ever have a real consumer value? We guess we’ll have to wait and see until the first products equipped with the standard make an appearance on the market. And because we were talking about tri-bands earlier, this is as good a place as any to remind you of the NETGEAR Nighthawk X6 which is the first consumer router to offer this feature. Surely it doesn’t embed the 60GHz band and only takes advantage of a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi band and two 5GHz band, thus allowing both older and newer devices to connect to the Wi-Fi. Previous-generation products usually take advantage of the 2.4GHz band, while newer devices like smartphones and tablets will connect to the 5GHz bands.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 to integrate WiGig tech
Image credits to YourNewSticker

Intel Pentium K Breaks World Record, Reaches 6861.7MHz on MSI Motherboard

Overclocking enthusiasts might remember Intel has officially launched the unlocked Pentium 20th Anniversary Edition G3258 processor (dubbed Pentium K) back at Computex 2014.

The announcement was made in league with MSI, which rolled out a new version of BIOS, thus bestowing Pentium K support to MSI Z97/H97. Nevertheless, only the Z97 product is capable of overclocking the CPU. Now MSI announces it is setting a world record on the Pentium 20th Anniversary Edition G3258 by taking it as far as 6861.7 MHz. MSI’s Z97 motherboards come boasting a six-phase power control components, so they are able to swiftly and stably overclock the Pentium K. MSI’s offerings can automatically drive CPU speeds to 4.3GHz from the original 3.2GHz by virtue of MSI’s OC Genie 4 technology. This represents a 34% performance improvement.

Using a high-end air-cooling system, the CPU can be made to work at 4.7GHz, which translates into having a 45% boost. There are three models in the MSI Z97 family, including the GUARD-PRO, G43 and PC Mate. The motherboards also arrive with Guard-Pro safety protections and Military Class 4 components. MSI has bumped the BIOS version to 1.3 for the first model, to version 17.4 with the second and to 4.3 when the PC Mate is concerned.

MSI's Z97 board

Intel Pentium K breaks world record on MSI motherboard
Images credits to TechPowerUp

Sony Xperia Z3 to Feature Snapdragon 801 CPU, Leaked Screenshot Shows

One of the mobile phones that Sony Mobile has been long rumored to plan on making official before the end of this year is the Sony Xperia Z3, which might be announced in September as the company’s next flagship handset.

The phone hasn’t been officially confirmed as of now, yet it seems that it will arrive on shelves with high-end capabilities packed inside, just as anyone would expect from such as device. However, it seems that it might not include the latest Qualcomm processor out there, as a leaked screenshot supposedly coming from the device shows it as being powered by a Snapdragon 801 CPU. In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past half a year or so, you should know that mobile phone makers out there have already released smartphones powered by Qualcomm’s newer Snapdragon 805 processor, and that this chipset was also rumored to be added to Xperia Z3 at some point.

Said screenshot, available courtesy of XperiaBlog, allegedly comes from a Sony handset that sports model number D6653, and clearly shows off the Snapdragon 801 MSM8974-AC chipset as being included in it. Moreover, the shot apparently confirms that Sony will pack the device only with a full HD touchscreen display, although some might have been expecting it to land on shelves with a Quad HD panel on the front. However, the smartphone appears to be running under the Android 4.4.4 KitKat operating system, with its firmware featuring build number 23.1.X.XXX, and the 3.4 kernel.

Only yesterday, info on the hardware specs of a possible Xperia Z3 Compact smartphone emerged online, mentioning the same Snapdragon 801 processor, which suggests that the new leaked info on the Xperia Z3 might actually pan out. However, with no official confirmation on the specs of Xperia Z3 (and Xperia Z3 Compact, for that matter), we’ll take the info above with a grain of salt for the time being. Sony has already confirmed that it will release a new high-end Android-based smartphone this fall, as it is planning the release of one such device every six months, which means that Xperia Z3 is almost certainly the phone to be looking for next from the vendor. What remains to be seen, however, is whether the mobile phone maker will release it with specs in line with those of other high-end smartphones out there, or it will try to up the ante a bit, thus making its device more appealing. Stay tuned for more on the matter.

Leaked Xperia Z3 screenshot
Image credits to XperiaBlog

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