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Sep 26, 2014

Samsung Galaxy Note Edge Is “a Limited Edition Concept,” Only 1 Million to Be Shipped




Unveiled earlier this month along with the Galaxy Note 4, Samsung Galaxy Note Edge is not going to be a smartphone for everyone. Just like in Galaxy Round’s case, Samsung seems to have pulled another marketing stunt with the Galaxy Note Edge.

According to Samsung’s DJ Lee cited by ZDNet Korea, the Galaxy Note Edge is seen by the South Korean company as a “limited edition concept.” This information was not shared with the public back in early September when the phablet was revealed, which is why we think it was a simple marketing stunt. Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is only a few days away from its market release, but those who are waiting for the Galaxy Note Edge will have to exercise their patience a little longer as the device is expected to arrive later next month. Unfortunately, customers who want the Galaxy Note Edge won’t be able to get it if they don’t live in the few countries where Samsung plans to release it.

At least one UK-based carrier has confirmed that the Galaxy Note Edge will not be coming in this country. As a matter of fact, the phablet will not be available in the majority of European countries. Considering that Samsung plans to produce and ship just 1 million Samsung Galaxy Note Edge units, it makes sense for the South Korean company to not make it available in a lot of countries.

The Galaxy Note Edge will be launched in South Korean in October

That being said, the Galaxy Note Edge will initially be available in South Korean beginning next month, but it’s unclear in what other countries the phone will be released. We know for sure that some European retailers will probably reserve a certain amount of Galaxy Note Edge units next month, but they will probably be insanely expensive. It’s clear that the Galaxy Note Edge will be more expensive than the Galaxy Note 4, but the difference might be higher than anyone could have anticipated with some European retailers asking around €1000 ($1,280) outright for the phablet.

Samsung has yet to announce the suggested retail price for the Galaxy Note Edge, but given the fact that it will only be available in limited quantities, those who really want this device will probably have to pay a lot more for it. On the other hand, we wouldn’t be surprised if Samsung brings the Galaxy Note Edge to more countries next year if the smartphone is met with impressive demand. We’ll be keeping a close eye on this one, so stay tuned for more on the matter.

Samsung Galaxy Note Edge
Image credits to Samsung

HTC RECamera: 16MP Sensor, Super Wide Angle Lens, Slow-Motion Video Recording




The first images of the upcoming HTC GoPro competitor have been leaked online yesterday. In them we got to take a preview look at a device that looks reminiscent of a PVC pipe.

Apart from the first visual cues, there wasn’t much info about it in terms of camera specs. Thankfully, this has all changed today thanks to a report via Taiwanese website EPrice (as seen on G for Games). Apparently, the new HTC camera will take advantage of a 16MP sensor, will come equipped with slow-motion video recording, underwater recording capabilities and a 170-degree Super Wide Angle Lens. The rumor mill claims the product will be called the RECamera and should be similar to the GoPro HERO3+. However, the 12MP sensor will be replaced by a 16MP one in the HTC model.

Does this mean the RECamera will come equipped with 4K recording? Quite possible. In an interesting twist of events, I told you earlier that the HERO4+ leaked today and was apparently scheduled to make a debut on the same day that HTC would be holding its event in good old New York. So it appears the two competing cameras will be launched during the same day. What will you choose?

HTC RECamera will be unveiled soon
Image credits to Reddit

Samsung Galaxy TabPRO 10.1 Gains Official CyanogenMod 11 Support, Say Goodbye to Magazine UX




Before the super-hyped Samsung Galaxy Tab S AMOLED tablet doe, Samsung put most of its hopes and dreams of becoming top slate vendor on the Galaxy TabPRO and NotePRO lineup.

The lineup was unveiled back at CES 2014 and was marketed towards business users, as a worthy laptop replacement. After all, the tablets were powerful and fast and came with useful features such as multi-tasking and being able to set up separate profiles.

The Magazine UX interface annoyed a lot of people

However, one thing that users complained about was the inability of getting rid of the Samsung’s latest TouchWiz interface version, called Magazine UX. Soon after the slates launched, it became apparent that there was no way users could opt the UI out of their lives. However, for those of you who still crave the near-stock Android feel, we have good news. As of this week, the Samsung Galaxy TabPRO 10.1 is now officially supported by CyanogenMod 11. Owners of the maxi tablet can now download the software and enjoy the pure taste of Android, without Samsung’s own interference mixed in the soup.

CM11 is only available for the Wi-Fi version of the tablet

The new CM11 nighty build that has been made available for download currently supports the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (Wi-Fi only). For the time being, owners of the LTE model will have to wait until a similar build is rolled out for their respective device. Installing the ROM, users will be able to take advantage of the latest Android 4.4.4 KitKat software. The build also offers features like CM theme engine, “Heads Up” notifications or spam notification filtering. We know the allure of Android 4.4.4 KitKat sounds pretty good to your right now, but before downloading the build, keep a few things in mind.

For starters, this is the first CM11 ROM for the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 and it’s also a nightly build. This means it won’t be extremely stable and you’re bound to bump into a bug or two on the way (or even more). Some of them might not be bothersome, but others might put a damper on things. So if you’re not 100% sure your overall productivity or well-being won’t be affected, we suggest you abstain from making the transition to Cyanogen.

If this is not the case and you want to go ahead, you can go ahead and follow this link in order to download the CM11. As a side note, we should remind you, you’ll need to flash the Gapps package to gain access to the Play Store, Gmail Maps and all the goodness of Google apps.

CM11 is now compatible with Samsung Galaxy TabPRO 10.1
Image credits to Samsung

5.9-Inch Nexus 6 Without a Mini Version Is a Bad Idea




Since word about Google’s next Nexus smartphone surfaced, people have been wondering whether or not the information coming through various channels may be accurate.

 For those unfamiliar with the matter, the Nexus 6, which is supposed to be officially introduced next month, is likely to boast a large display. In fact, the Nexus 6 is said to sport a huge 5.9-inch display. The fact that it supports QHD (2560 x 1440 pixels) resolution is not what makes me question Google’s plans, but I think 5.9-inch for a Nexus smartphone is way too big. Nexus smartphones have always been popular among Android fans, especially due to their lower price if acquired through Google Play Store, but also because they run clean versions of the operating system. Phablets are also a smartphone category that has been on a roll in the last few years, but as the number of handsets with large screens increases, customers’ interest tends to drop.

I’m not saying a phablet may not be as popular as any other smartphone that gets launched on the market, but very large phones have a fewer pool of fans than standard ones. Obviously, the “standard” term for smartphones tends to get larger year after year, as handset manufacturers start abusing the size of the display and force customers to choose bigger and bigger phones. The good news is that there will always be other products you can choose from if you don’t like phablets. Every major handset manufacturer has learned over the years that they should cover as many price and size tiers as possible. Samsung has the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note, LG and Sony both launch mini versions of their flagship smartphones. Even Apple launched a 4.7-inch and a 5.5-inch iPhone so that it can cash in on as many customers as possible.

The idea of Google launching a 5.9-inch Nexus 6 device doesn’t sound surprising, but not following it with a smaller version would probably be a disaster for the phone’s sales.

Google may launch two different Nexus 6 smartphones this year

Personally, I doubt Google will want to favor only a fraction of its fans by launching a phablet and no other alternatives. Does this mean that we will see Google following Apple’s strategy and releasing two Nexus 6 variants? I sincerely do believe that Google will not choose to go with a phablet and not offer Android users another alternative. I’d rather tend to think that the search giant will launch a much smaller 5.2-inch Nexus 6 model, which was rumored several weeks ago, instead of going with only a 5.9-inch version. The 5.9-inch Nexus 6 is likely to have slightly better specs than the 5.2-inch version, such as the fact that it will support QHD resolution, but Google will want to keep the rest of the configuration similar to maintain customers’ interest.

Google has yet to announce when the next Nexus smartphone will be launched, but considering previous history, I would say that the Android L official release will be scheduled for October. Along with Android L, Google will also release the Nexus 6, so we only have about one month to wait for the company to reveal its plans. As many of you probably already know, the next Nexus smartphone will be manufactured by Motorola, but I’m not sure if the smaller variant, if such thing exists, will be made by the same company.

Internally known as Motorola Shamu, the huge 5.9-inch smartphone will be launched as Nexus 6 or Nexus X, in order to avoid a possible infringement on famous author Philip K. Dick’s intellectual property rights. Now we just have to wait and see how Google decides to play it next.

Motorola Shamu sized up against LG G3
Image credits to AndroidPolice

HERE Maps Is Pressuring Microsoft for a Better Deal on Windows Phone Development




HERE Maps has been around for more than 10 years, as part of Nokia. The good news for the company is that, even after the Microsoft / Nokia deal, HERE Maps still belongs to the Finnish company and has more freedom than ever.

The bad news for Microsoft is that after developing the Windows Phone version of HERE Maps, the company behind the navigation services announced it would launch similar apps on Android and iOS platforms. Why is this bad news? Because when Microsoft decided to buy Nokia’s mobile division, the deal did not include the acquisition of HERE as well. HERE is still part of Nokia, and it has recently made a surprising announcement that it is far from what Microsoft would have expected. During a recent interview, Sean Fernback, Senior VP at Nokia HERE, has said that his company plans to “wind down” the Windows Phone app development and shift some of the resources towards Android and iOS.

It appears that HERE’s dream was to be present on Android, which is why the company has decided earlier this year to speed up the development of the program for this particular mobile platform, which now has a market share of more than 85%. Moreover, the same level of attention will be given to the iOS version of HERE Maps, even if its market share is nowhere near Android’s. I think this decision, that HERE Maps needs to be present on the most important mobile ecosystems on the market, namely Android and iOS, makes sense from the developers’ point of view.

Windows Phone is not a major player in the smartphone business

It’s also a great turn of events from the consumers’ perspective, as Google Maps does not seem to have any competition on Android yet, so the arrival of HERE Maps will offer end-users more options when it comes to navigation services. Obviously, with only 3.5% market share, Windows Phone is not seen as a major player in the smartphone business yet, which is why HERE Maps is trying to relocate resources to reflect the real status on the market. Let’s be frank and admit that Windows Phone is only a minor player on the market for the moment and that it will probably take a lot of time and financial resources to bring it to a level where developers could actually be interested in bringing their apps and services to this platform first.

But that doesn’t mean that HERE should totally drop Windows Phone as a supported platform, and considering Fernback’s statement, it doesn’t even want to. However, I strongly believe that this statement was a warning for Microsoft to step up its offering for HERE Maps development for Windows Phone.

HERE Maps for Windows Phone will continue to receive updates often

For the time being, Microsoft and HERE are tied up in a license agreement for the use of the mapping platform for the next 4 years. But after this period, both companies will have to talk numbers once again, and the fact that Fernback has already announced that his company is shifting resources to Android and iOS is a clear statement from the Finnish company that there is life after Microsoft as well. But there’s more. Apparently, Microsoft and HERE are already in talks for a future deal. I’m not sure in what state these discussions are now, but Nokia does seem to have the upper hand here. Shortly after Fernback’s words hit the Internet, Pino from the HERE team felt the need to provide another statement in which he said that support and development for Windows Phone wouldn’t stop, but that his company was in talks with Microsoft on how to proceed further.

I think HERE is trying to put some pressure on Microsoft during these talks and I won’t be surprised if the Finnish company gets a much better deal this time.

HERE Maps logo
Image credits to Nokia HERE

Microsoft: Windows 9 Will Be Free for Windows 8 Users




Windows 9 preview is almost here, as Microsoft will unveil the first public build of the upcoming operating system in just a few days, but we have already heard quite a lot of details about this product thanks to people who are more or less familiar with the development plans.

The software giant has remained completely tight-lipped on the Windows 9 work until now, with the exception of Microsoft’s France President, who confirmed that the preview would be unveiled next week, but someone else from within the company now comes with a few more exciting tidbits of information. Windows 9 would be free for Windows 8 users, Microsoft Indonesia President Andreas Diantoro reportedly said during a recent event, which comes as a confirmation that the company is working to boost early uptake of the new OS as much as possible from the very beginning.

Still not confirmed by Microsoft

The news comes via local publication detik.com, which writes that Diantoro talked about Microsoft’s Windows 9 plan during a recent event at Hotel Mulia in Jakarta. The conference took place on Thursday, the source notes, and Diantoro confirmed that a Windows 9 preview build would be coming next week. What’s also interesting is that Microsoft is also preparing a built-in update system that would allow Windows 8 users to automatically update to Windows 9, without the need for a clean installation. Apps and settings, however, might be lost, but again, there’s no confirmation from Microsoft on this. Here’s what Diantoro said, thanks to an approximate translation with Google Translate:

“It’s easy, when Windows 9 will be released, users who are using Windows 8 just have to update via their device. Then Windows 9 will be installed automatically.”

Not the first time when Windows 9 is said to come for free

This isn’t the first time when some sources suggest that Windows 9 might be offered with a freeware license, but it’s definitely the first confirmation that we get from someone for within the company. Previous reports on the matter indicated that Windows 9 might become completely free for a wider array of users, including Windows 8 and Window 7 customers, but there were also some voices indicating that Microsoft could go as far as making this release free of charge even for XP adopters. While there’s no doubt that a free license is really great news for Windows 9, keep in mind that Microsoft hasn’t yet confirmed this, and it’s pretty odd to hear it first from its Indonesian branch, especially when dealing with such an important change.

As a result, don’t take it for granted, but there’s definitely hope that Windows 9 could be free, so next week’s event will clearly keep many people with an eye on Microsoft news.

Windows 9 is expected to be released in April 2015
Image credits to Windows Community

Apple Still Uses the 13-Year-Old Windows XP




If you’ve been living under a rock for the past seven days or so, you might not know that Apple’s recently released iPhones are affected by a weird problem that causes the phones to bend after normal use, which makes it really clear that this is a bug and not a feature as the microwave charging support.

Jokes aside, the bendgate is causing really serious trouble to Apple, so the fruity-named company has decided to provide users with an in-depth look at its very own testing labs to show that it’s indeed putting all iPhones to serious tests before they are released to the market. While we won’t talk more about the bending problem because our resident Apple expert Filip Truta has already covered the bendgate, there’s one really unexpected thing which can be spotted in the video published by CNBC. Computers in Apple’s testing facility are all running Windows XP, the same XP that was launched in 2001 and which was discontinued by Microsoft in April this year.

Why not a modern operating system?

As you can see in the video, Apple is indeed using dedicated software for keeping an eye on iPhone testing results, so compatibility with modern operating systems could be one of the reasons the fruity-named company actually decided to stick to an ancient platform. Interestingly, that’s one of the problems that Microsoft actually tried to tackle with the release of Windows 8, so its modern desktop OS should also be able to run the majority of apps designed for previous versions of Windows. The tricky question is why this software solution isn't designed to run on Mac OS X. Nobody can give an answer right now, but it’s good to see Apple using Microsoft products. Microsoft employees are also using Apple devices, you know, so it’s more of an “I’ll use yours if you use mine” kind of business.

23 percent of users also doing the same

Windows XP continues to hold a pretty big market share despite all Microsoft’s efforts to push for a more secure operating system, such as Windows 8 and Windows 7. Statistics provided by third-party market researchers across the world show that XP is powering 23 percent of the desktops across the world, even though support was dropped in April 2014 and the operating system won’t get any new updates and security patches. Many, however, are in the middle of the migration to a newer platform, so it could still take a while until all PCs are upgraded, which could obviously lead to a massive drop in market share for Windows XP. In Apple’s case, it would be really interesting to find out whether these PCs are connected to the Internet or not. If they are, expect the real iPhone 6 bending test results to surface any time soon, courtesy of curious hackers.

Windows XP spotted in Apple's testing facility
Image credits to CNBC


New Gigabyte H81M-WW Motherboard Is Actually More of a Sound Card with PC Hardware Support




Gigabyte has just released a new entry-level motherboard, except that, the with the way it goes on and on about its audio quality, you'd think that it's actually a sound card disguised as a mainboard for whatever reason.

Sure, the product page has a lot of information on every little detail, but it says a lot when a product whose main role is to act as support platform for a CPU has a description that starts off by praising its audio technology. Then again, it's not like motherboard makers have much else to go on when trying to reel in customers. Not when every other facet of a PC's prowess is determined by the CPU, GPU and storage/memory devices. As ironic as it sounds, audio technology is the only means that companies like Gigabyte can use to set their products apart from the rest of their cohort. So despite that the Gigabyte H81M-WW is a low-end motherboard, it has audio quality above mainstream-level, if you know how to go about it.

The Gigabyte H81M-WW audio technology

Everything revolves around a Realtek ALC887 HD audio CODEC, which technically has a 6-channel configuration but can be rigged to work on 8-channel mode if you plug two channels through the jack wired to the front-panel audio header. Essentially, instead of activating the headphone mode, the motherboard can just add the speakers you plug there as two extra satellites. The codec has under 90 dBA SNR, but Nichicon audio-grade electrolytic capacitors and ground-layer isolation from the rest of the board ensures it works better and more clearly than it otherwise would.

The technical specs of the mainboard

They aren't much to look at, really. There are two DDR3 memory slots wired to the LGA 1150 CPU socket, which can only support up to Haswell CPUs (Core ix-4000 series), not Haswell-E (5000X series). On that note, the 3-phase CPU VRM is wired to a single PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot. There are two SATA 6.0 Gbps ports as well, plus a pair of SATA 3.0 Gbps connectors, a PCI Express 2.0 x1 slot, and a legacy PCI slot. As for display connectors, there is only a D-Sub analog VGA port, with a max resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels. It kind of puts a damper on the idea of using this thing for an HTPC. At least Gigabit Ethernet and USB 3.0 weren't left out. Two serial COM ports can be found on the rear panel as well.

Availability

It is unclear. The product has been posted on Gigabyte's website, but we'll have to wait for retailers to list it before we know anything more, like the price.

Gigabyte H81M-WW
Image credits to Gigabyte

Apple Staffer in Charge of iOS 8.0.1 Was Also Behind Botched Up Maps




Apple’s messy iOS 8.0.1 release was partially coordinated by a mid-level manager who also happened to oversee the glitchy Apple Maps in 2012. It isn’t clear if he is personally to blame for the new bugs, but it’s quite a coincidence.

Bloomberg has it on file from people familiar with Apple’s management structure that “Josh Williams, the mid-level manager overseeing quality assurance for Apple’s iOS mobile-software group, was also in charge of quality control for maps,” the report states.

Williams wasn’t laid off during the Maps fiasco

Although Apple fired not one, but two key staffers when the Maps fiasco emerged, the company decided to keep Williams on board and he was put in charge of testing iOS. The manager has a team of testers 100 strong spread across the globe with the key mission of “uncovering glitches that may eventually impact customers,” one person says. Apple prefers human input rather than automation-testing technology, former employees tell the publication.

Software versus hardware

Williams may not be to blame for the glitches inside iOS 8.0.1, though. According to a couple of people with knowledge of Apple’s modus operandi, “Another challenge is that the engineers who test the newest software versions often don’t get their hands on the latest iPhones until the same time that they arrive with customers, resulting in updates that may not get tested as much on the latest handsets,” the report says. After swearing to double down on secrecy, CEO Cook dramatically reduced the use of unreleased iPhones in the Apple ecosystem. As a result of that move, “only senior managers are allowed access to the products without special permission,” these people relay.

iOS 8.0.2 isn’t much better for some

As you may have already heard, Apple released iOS 8.0.2 a few hours ago to address the problems introduced by its predecessor (iOS 8.0.1). Among the listed bugs were the cellular reception flaw and the Touch ID problem. However, customers down under are still reporting reception problems on their iPhone 6 handsets even after applying the patch. The company is currently swimming in a sea of bad press that began with Celebgate, continued with Bendgate, and is now being hyped up by these botched software releases.

AAPL down

We wouldn’t be surprised to hear that Apple laid off Williams following these low points in Apple’s 2014 performance. Shares have tanked because investors are reportedly losing faith in the company’s smooth operations. AAPL shares closed at $97.88 (€76.81) yesterday, a 3.80% fall, which marks a two-month low for the Cupertino giant.

iOS 8.0.2 OTA Update
Image credits to Apple

iOS 8.0.2 Available for Download, Still Glitchy for Some




Apple has started sending out notices that iOS 8.0.2 is out and ready to be downloaded and installed. The primary target is the iPhone 6 user base, however the incremental update is also available for iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5s, and iPad customers.

The company has issued a brief and apologetic statement, saying, “iOS 8.0.2 is now available for users, it fixes an issue that affected iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus users who downloaded iOS 8.0.1, and includes improvements and bug fixes originally in iOS 8.0.1. We apologize for inconveniencing the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus users who were impacted by the bug in iOS 8.0.1.”

Fixes old and new

iOS 8.0.1 was deployed earlier this week to address some problems with HealthKit, keyboards, photo access, and more. With the release of that update, Apple actually caused more harm, as the new software crippled iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus handsets. About 40,000 users reported issues with the Touch ID fingerprint scanning utility, as well as some problems with cellular reception. The company quickly retracted the software (in less than two hours from its launch) and released a downgrade guide for customers in distress. It also promised to right this wrong with a fresh software update that would be delivered shortly. As such, iOS 8.0.2 is now available featuring not only the previously planned fixes, but also some new ones.

According to the documentation, the update “fixes an issue in iOS 8.0.1 that impacted cellular network connectivity and Touch ID on iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus,” allows HealthKit apps to be made available on the App Store, fixes 3rd-party keyboard selection when entering a passcode, and addresses a problem with some apps not being able to access photos from the Photo Library. iOS 8.0.2 further improves Reachability on the latest iPhone models, reduces unexpected cellular data usage, improves support of Ask To Buy for Family Sharing for In-App Purchases, and fixes a bunch of other issues involving ringtones, and photo and video uploads from Safari. Compatible devices include iPhone 4s or later, iPad 2 or later, iPad mini or later, and iPod touch 5th generation.

Ongoing problems for some

Unfortunately, iOS 8.0.2 seems to have required more work as customers in Australia are still reporting issues with the update. Redditor Onoj88 writes, “DO NOT INSTALL THIS UPDATE! I just updated to 8.0.2 and my touch ID is now completely broken! Phone will no longer unlock using my fingerprint. When I go to add a new finger i get a "Touch ID Failed" message. Running a 128GB iPhone 6 plus. Very disappointed....”

“Upon hard reset I am now getting ‘No service.’ Did they change this at all? When i check for updates it says I am running 8.0.2 but it seems to have all the issues of 1?” Others are echoing this user’s experience, but the problems seem to be far less widespread this time.

iOS 8.0.2 OTA update
Image credits to Apple

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