On top of the three new Droids detailed last week, Motorola–a Google company!–dropped another new smartphone into consumers’ laps. While the 2013 Droids are Verizon Wireless exclusives, the newly announced Moto X is coming to all major U.S. carriers. What also sets the Moto X apart from its cousins is that it’s highly customizable in the looks department. Motorola is developing a website called Moto Maker that will allow customers to personalize their handsets before ordering them. Specifically, prospective buyers will be able to select from a wide range of colors to paint the back plate and accents of the phone; Moto claims over 2,000 combinations are possible. The front plate, meanwhile, can be made black or white. Additionally you can add a signature to the back of the device. Internally, you can customize the memory (16GB or 32GB) and even set a personal wake-up message and wallpaper before it ships to your door. Before checkout, you can also choose a case, matching headphones by Sol Republic, and a wall charger featuring two USB ports to boot.
Sadly, yes, there is one catch. All of this exciting customization (as well as the option to upgrade memory to 32GB) through Moto Maker is exclusive to AT&T customers. Verizon Wireless, Sprint, T-Mobile, and US Cellular customers will have to choose from a stock black or white handset. Lame! Since Moto X’s specs and Android functionalities are so similar to that of the 2013 Droids’, the Moto Maker personalization is this device’s major selling point. The fact that it won’t be available to all carriers is downright disappointing.
The Moto X sports a 4.7 inch AMOLED 720p (316 ppi) display and is powered by Android 4.2.2 running on Motorola’s X8 mobile computing system. There’s a 10MP shooter on the rear and a 2MP front-facing one and they both support 1080p video capture. A 2200mAh battery promises “mixed usage” up to 24 hours. The most fascinating bit about the Moto X’s design is that it’s the first smartphone to be wholly manufactured in the United States. After you customize your phone through Moto Maker, it will be shipped to you within four days direct from an assembly line in Ft. Worth, Texas.
Software-wise, the latest version of Android Jelly Bean brings the following to Moto X: Touchless Control (say “Ok Google Now…” to wake up the device and perform a function), Active Display (the device will intermittently reveal important information (i.e. the time, new notifications) without you having to press to the wake up button), and Quick Capture (with two twists of your wrist you can access the camera to shoot stills or video).
Moto X is coming to the US, Canada, and Latin America in late August/early September at $199. AT&T subscribers can upgrade to a 32GB model for an extra $50. Click after the break to watch the Moto Maker experience and see the Moto X in action. (Click here for more…)
It’s been a long time coming and now the Netflix feature you’ve been waiting for (whether you realized it or not) is finally here: personal profiles.
So you’re a Netflix subscriber and you share your account with family and friends. Say you’re into action films like Thor and your little brother is high on animated comedies like Phineas and Ferb. Netflix will recommend both action movies and animated series aimed at children to you. Sure, it’s not the end of the world, but wouldn’t it be better and more efficient if the streaming service was able to compartmentalize the shows you watch and are into versus the other type of programming your younger sibling might be addicted to?
Now, Netflix subscribers can create his or her own profile (no extra fees required) to enable “a uniquely personalized experience based upon their individual watching habits, their personal favorite shows, and favorite genres, all driven by Netflix recommendation technology.” Up to five profiles can be created per account. When you log into your Netflix account, you can select which profile you’d like to jump into and you’ll be presented with recommendations based solely on the content you watch. Brilliant! Netflix posits that you can also set up profiles headlining various genres like “Date night” or “Hanging with the bros.” You even have the option to personalize your profile further with a fun profile picture; and if you choose to link your Facebook account to your Netflix profile your picture will automatically show up as your Facebook profile picture.
Netflix started rolling out this new feature on August 1 and the company says profiles will be accessible globally for all subscribers by August 15. New members will be notified about creating profiles during the sign up process; existing members can add profiles on Netflix.com and on the PS3 Netflix app. According to the company, “profiles can be accessed on most devices that support Netflix, including the Netflix website, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, iPad, iPhone, Apple TV and other iOS devices, and most smart TVs. Additional devices will be added over the coming months.” So if you don’t see it yet on your device, patience.
After the break, a video demonstration. (Click here for more…)
On Wednesday Google made a couple product announcements and what we’re doing now, we’re diving right in.
First up is Chromecast, a new way to wirelessly stream content from your personal devices to your big screen TV. The hardware itself resembles a small USB stick, except inside of plugging into a USB port it goes into an HDMI port located on your HDTV. After being plugged in, Chromecast requires two things to function: it needs power (using included cables you can either plug it into a standard wall socket or a USB port on your TV) and WiFi. Land on the correct TV input and blam, you’re connected and ready to go.
Chromecast doesn’t actually boast a user interface. Everything is streamed and controlled by your personal device. For example, if you want to stream an episode of Arrested Development from Netflix, you’d open the Netflix app on your computer, smartphone, or tablet and click the “cast” button to wirelessly stream the video content to your TV. Once the content is projected to the TV, the device you’re streaming it from becomes the remote control allowing you to play, pause, and scrub through whatever you’re watching.
In addition to Netflix, YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV, Google Play Music, and Chrome are currently compatible with Chromecast. In addition to streaming video and music with those apps, the inclusion of Chrome allows you to stream Tabs so you can browse the Internet on your TV. Google is letting developers get their hands on a Google Cast SDK preview so that more apps can become compatible with Chromecast. In the pipeline already is a new version of Pandora that will work with Chromecast with more promised on the way. And Chromecast works across a variety of devices; in addition to Android phones and tablets it also functions with Apple products like the iPhone and iPad, as well as Macs and PCs.
So why buy Chromecast, especially if you already own an Apple TV or Roku or the like? I can think of two reasons right off the bat: one, it costs $35. Yeah, that’s it. You’ll want to own this thing just because you can. And then there’s ease of portability. Sure, you can unplug your Roku and bring it around the house, TV to TV, whenever you like. But can’t you imagine how simpler it’d be to transport something as small as a USB stick to get the job done? The only issue here, of course, is that Chromecast doesn’t support Hulu and Amazon Instant Video and all the other video streaming services out there. Yet. But once it does, Chromecast has the potential to shake things up in the entertainment space. For now, though, see it as an extremely portable and affordable way to bring Netflix, YouTube, and other Google services with you provided an HDMI slot is available to play.
Hop after the break to learn about Google’s other product announcement, if you dare. (Click here for more…)
Meet the Droid Mini, Droid Ultra, and Droid Maxx.
The Mini, as its name makes obvious, is the smallest of the bunch sporting an edge-to-edge 4.3-inch TFT display with an HD resolution of 1280 x 720. Inside there’s a Motorola X8 Mobile Computing System (that is a 1.7GHz dual-core processor with a 400MHz quad-core GPU, natural language processor, and contextual computing processor), 2GB of RAM, 16GB of onboard storage, a 10-megapixel camera with 1080p video capture, and a 2000mAh Li–Ion battery for up to 28 hours of usage or up to 14 days of standby time.
Verizon is calling the Ultra “thinnest 4G LTE smartphone available” measuring 7.18mm thin. It rocks a 5-inch Super AMOLED display with an HD rez of 1280 x 720. It packs a Motorola X8 Mobile Computing System inside (that is a 1.7GHz dual-core processor with a 400MHz quad-core GPU, natural language processor, and contextual computing processor). 2GB of RAM and 16GB of onboard memory is standard here, too, as is a 10MP shooter with HD video capture and the 2130mAh battery (up to 28 hours usage or up to 13 days standby time).
And then there’s the Maxx. Its specs are nearly identical to the Ultra’s expect for its heftier size thanks to an extremely large battery. The non-removable 3500mAh battery promises up to 48 hours of usage (that’s two days!) or 25 days standby. Also, the Maxx has double the internal memory at 32GB. The Maxx also touts built-in wireless charging compatible with a charging pad sold separately.
All the new Droids are made with DuPont Kevlar fiber unibody design and Corning Gorilla Glass. The 4G LTE enabled phones run the latest version of Android, that is 4.2 Jelly Bean, featuring new software enhancements including Droid Command Center (an exclusive homescreen widget for users to easily access notifications for text messages, missed calls, battery level and weather), Droid Zap (a new way to share pictures with nearby Droid users), hands-free voice activation (Droid users can wake up their phones by saying “OK Google Now” and telling it what to do next), and Wireless Display (users can mirror what’s on the screen onto a Miracast-enabled HDTV).
The three Droids by Motorola are up for preorder today. After signing a two-year contract with Verizon Wireless, the Droid Mini can be yours for $99.99, available August 29. The Droid Ultra (made in black and red) and Droid Maxx both go on sale August 20 at $199.99 and $299.99, respectively. Pix in the gallery below. PR after the break.
On July 23 Apple reported its third quarter financial results. Apple posted a $6.9 billion profit on $35.3 billion in revenue. Compare this to one year ago, that’s down from a profit of $8.8 billion and slightly up on $38 billion in revenue. Says CEO Tim Cook: “We are especially proud of our record June quarter iPhone sales of over 31 million and the strong growth in revenue from iTunes, Software and Services. We are really excited about the upcoming releases of iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks, and we are laser-focused and working hard on some amazing new products that we will introduce in the fall and across 2014.”
Now let’s break it down by product category. Apple sold 31.2 million iPhones in the quarter (compared to 26 million in the year-ago quarter); 14.6 million iPads (compared to 17 million); 3.8 million Macs (compared to 4 million); and iPod sales dropped 32 percent year-over-year.
Looking ahead to the fourth fiscal quarter of 2013, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer expects revenue between $34 billion and $37 billion.
Up to this point gamers have only been privy to tantalizing trailers for Rockstar’s next game in the lucrative Grand Theft Auto franchise. That all changes now with this nearly five minute look at actual gameplay featured in GTA V. In addition to meeting the game’s three playable protagonists in Michael, Franklin, and Trevor, you will soon discover all kinds of innovative and intuitive gameplay that takes advantage of having three perspectives set inside the world of Los Santos.
GTA V comes to Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on September 17.
Well you can forget everything that came before. Microsoft has pulled an Xbox 180, if you will, and reversed its controversial Xbox One DRM policies. In a post titled “Your Feedback Matters,” Xbox President of Interactive Entertainment Business Don Mattrick announced that “an Internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games” and gamers can “trade-in, lend, resell, gift, and rent disc based games just like you do today.” After initial setup, you can play any disc-based game without ever connecting online again; this means the system will not periodically check-in to see if you’re connected and you can play offline games with no disruption. Additionally there will be no limitations to picking up used games at retailers and sharing games with friends. In a nutshell, everything will work just as it does today.
“These changes will impact some of the scenarios we previously announced for Xbox One,” Microsoft admits. For example, in the case of disc-based games, the disc must be in the tray in order to play. Previously in an always-connected state, games would have been playable from the HDD and the cloud without having to load the disc in the tray after an initial installation.
Right off the bat this seems like a big win for gamers. But, in the long run, is it really? With its new DRM policies for Xbox One Microsoft was attempting to push the video game industry in the future by introducing new features that take advantage of the cloud and an always connected state. Sure, the ability to game offline is nice and playing used games and sharing titles with friends without fees and restrictions feels right because we’re so used to it; but I can’t help but think: are we just delaying the inevitable here? Gizmodo plays devil’s advocate to the general public’s response in a post called “The Xbox Just Got Way Worse, and It’s Our Fault.”
At Microsoft’s pre-E3 #XboxReveal event, the veil was lifted away from the company’s next-gen hardware known as Xbox One. The event focused primarily on introducing the hardware (including the black box, the enhanced wireless controller, and Kinect 2.0) and the power behind it. Xbox One and its ability to act like a TV set-top box and serve as “the ultimate all-in-one home entertainment system” was the big highlight from that event. Though a handful of titles were teased there, MSFT would save the games for its E3 media briefing. For more, jump after the break. (Click here for more…)
Like Microsoft, Sony held a pre-E3 event where they officially announced the next-gen PlayStation, the PS4. Without showing off the actual console, Sony filled in a lot of the blanks by talking up the advanced architecture that powers the machine, introducing the DualShock 4 wireless controller, a new PlayStation Eye camera, the system’s ability to share and stream gaming sessions, and the company even saved time to introduce some next-gen games. At last, Sony revealed the actual box behind it all and previewed many more games coming to PS4 (more than 140 of them are coming this year) at its E3 briefing. For more, jump after the break. (Click here for more…)
This year Nintendo opted out of the E3 press conference circuit and instead released a pre-recorded Nintendo Direct video hosted by the company’s Global President Satoru Iwata. Ninty’s Wii successor the Wii U has been on the market since November and due to a lack of must-have titles and drooping third-party support the console hasn’t gained much traction in the gaming community. The house that made Mario is looking to turn things around this year with the introduction of many first-party games featuring some of the company’s most prized characters like Mario, Zelda, and Donkey Kong. And yes, there are even some third-party titles coming that should stir some excitement Ninty’s way. Iwata previewed many titles coming to Wii U, as well as some for the 3DS handheld, and you can check ‘em all out after the break. (Click here for more…)
This week Apple held its latest World Wide Developers Conference from San Francisco, introducing to the world the next versions of OS X and iOS, as well as upgrading its MacBook Air lineup and previewing the next generation Mac Pro. For the full rundown, jump after the break. (Click here for more…)
On June 26, eight months after its general release, Microsoft is updating Windows 8 to Windows 8.1. The free new update brings lots of new features and functionality to the modernized version of Microsoft’s operating system.
The updated Start screen allows users to resize their apps with new larger and smaller options; users can swipe up from the bottom of the screen to reveal an app drawer and access all apps installed and organize them by name, date installed, most used, and category; installed apps are no longer downloaded to the Start screen–they are placed inside the app drawer and you must manually pin it to the Start screen if you want it there; and you can match your desktop background with your Start screen background to “create a greater sense of unity and familiarity” between them. Also, the Start button returns to the traditional desktop but it won’t open a portal to folders and files like it did in previous Windows iterations; it simply brings you back to the Start screen and all your apps. Also, multitasking just got better: depending on your screen size and resolution, you can now snap more than two windows next to each other and you can further customize the size of each window (you are no longer shackled to the 80/20 split).
Elsewhere, the lock screen has been updated to become a picture frame that can now play a slideshow of your pictures stored locally on your device or from images stored in the cloud in SkyDrive. Users can also take pictures directly from the lock screen without having to log into their Windows 8.1 powered device.
System-wide search has been enhanced here, too. Type a query in the Search charm and you’ll be provided with actual files and documents you may be looking for. To date users are forced to tap headers like Files and Apps to dig for their searches; in Win 8.1 time will be saved since the OS will now show you relavant Word documents and Xbox games at first glance. Something new called Search Heroes are also being introduced here; search “Brad Pitt” and the OS will provide an aggregated view of many content sources to help you learn more about your query.
To read more about the new features and functions inside Windows 8.1, head over to this Windows blog post that details it all. For a quick look at 8.1 in action, watch the clip embedded above. Some screenshots hang in the gallery below.
“Can we take what you love and make it better?” That is the question Microsoft posed at the start of its #XboxReveal event earlier today. The answer lies in their new generation of Xbox hardware and software, “the ultimate all-in-one home entertainment system” that is “simple, instant, and complete.” Nope, it’s not the Xbox 720 or Xbox Infinity as the rumor mill had us guessing; the next-gen console from Microsoft is the Xbox One. (Click here for more…)
Sony still refuses to show us the PS4 hardware, but they continue to tantalize with this 39-second teaser clip. In a blatant attempt to steal Microsoft’s thunder (tomorrow the company announces the 360 successor), the makers of PlayStation done did this. With E3 just days away (it runs from June 11-13)–the event where Sony promises to take the veil off their next-gen console–we’ll have to make do. (Dissect stills from the teaser here.)
With every passing trailer, Rockstar’s next installment in the lucrative Grand Theft Auto franchise looks better and better. This brand spankin’ new clip clocks in at a lengthy 3:53 and is organized by playable protagonist. There’s rich but miserable Michael, caught up in the hood Franklin, and hillbilly Trevor. GTA V releases for Xbox 360 and PS3 on September 17; preorder today.
Get introduced to the next game in the Call of Duty franchise after the break. (Click here for more…)
Nintendo released the Wii U, Sony laid out its plans for the PS4, and so now it’s time for Microsoft to reveal its next-gen console. The followup to the hugely successful Xbox 360 will be announced on Tuesday, May 21 at 1PM EST at the Xbox Campus in Redmond, WA. On that day “we’ll mark the beginning of a new generation of games, TV and entertainment,” says Xbox’s Major Nelson. “We’ll share our vision for Xbox, and give you a real taste of the future.” If you didn’t score an invite to the event, don’t fret; the press event will be streamed live globally via Xbox.com, Xbox Live, and on Spike TV. See you then.
Google Glass is starting to ship out to key members of the press who attended last year’s Google I/O, developers, and winners of the #IfIHadGlass contest. If you aren’t included in any of these precious categories, here’s a little something to keep you occupied. Google has released a how-to video for their futuristic wearable technology and it brings you closer to the sleek hardware and the Android-powered user interface. Memorize the “getting started” clip above so that you’ll be ready to interact with your Glass when Google eventually decides to open its new product category to the masses.
On April 23 Apple reported its second quarter financial results. Apple posted a $9.5 billion profit on $43.6 billion in revenue. Compare this to one year ago, that’s down from a profit of $11.6 billion on $39.2 billion in revenue. That’s the first year-over-year drop in profits and revenue in nearly a decade for the tech company. But still, stay assured Apple is doing just fine in the big scheme of things; they currently have a healthy cash balance of $145 billion. Says CEO Tim Cook: “We are pleased to report record March quarter revenue thanks to continued strong performance of iPhone and iPad. Our teams are hard at work on some amazing new hardware, software and services, and we are very excited about the products in our pipeline.”
Now let’s break it down by product category. Apple sold 37.4 million iPhones in the quarter (compared to 35.1 million in the year-ago quarter); 19.5 million iPads (compared to 11.8 million); just under 4 million Macs (compared to 4 million); and 5.6 million iPods (compared to 7.7 million). Elsewhere, the App Store has seen 45 billion downloads, and iCloud has amassed 300 million users.
Looking ahead to the third fiscal quarter of 2013, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer expects revenue between $33.5 billion to $35.5 billion.
Twitter is expanding its horizons with a new app called #music. It’s a simple service, really, with a snazzy user interface that helps you discover new artists, see what’s popular, and preview and share tunes. The app is organized into five sections: Popular (new music trending on Twitter), Emerging (Hidden talent found in the Tweets), Suggested (Artists you might like), #NowPlaying (Tweeted by people you follow), and Me (a section that lists the artists you follow). Essentially the service scans your Twitter activity (people you follow, specific artists you follow and interact with, etc.) to aid in the discovery of new music you might like. The main portal is the Popular section and the UI displays interactive images of artists that you can tap on. You can preview tracks, share them, and download them via iTunes. Additionally, the artist squares give users quick access to a musician’s Twitter page where you can find out what artists that musician is following. In addition to iTunes for track previewing, #music is tied to Spotify and rdio; if you subscribe to those streaming services, you can link your account to enable the app to play full tracks.
Currently Twitter’s #music app is available in Apple’s App Store free of charge; if you have an Android device you’re out of luck for the time being. However, you can test drive the new service in a desktop browser at music.twitter.com if you live in the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia or New Zealand; the desktop layout mirrors its mobile counterpart. In time, the service will expand to more devices and countries.
So watcha waiting for? Go get your discovery on. #getlucky
Here we are again: April Fools Day. Only this time around it’s 2013 and no one is safe. We start, as is tradition, with Google’s masterful pranks. It’s all after the break…or is it. (Click here for more…)