On the same day that Microsoft launched Windows Phone 8 and detailed a hardware lineup, Google decided to announce new hardware along with a new version Android.
Google leaves it up to many third party smartphone manufacturers to develop devices to run Android. Once in a while, however, the search engine likes to inject its own cream into the crop with devices branded Nexus. The next smartphone featuring vanilla Android is the Nexus 4 and it’s a collaboration between Google and LG this time. Here are the hard specs: 4.7-inch WXGA True HD IPS Plus display (1280 x 768 resolution, 320ppi) with Corning Gorilla Glass 2 protection; Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor; 2GB RAM; 8 megapixel rear camera with 1080p video recording and 1.3 megapixel front camera; 2,100mAh battery promising 15.3 hours talk time and 390 hours of standby; 8GB and 16GB storage capacities; WiFi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth; supports NFC and wireless charging; ports include Micro USB, SlimPort HDMI, and 3.5mm headphone jack; it’s 9.1mm thin and weighs 139g; and it supports 3G (WCDMA) and HSPA+ networks. The Nexus 4 comes loaded with the latest version of Android (Jelly Bean 4.2) and it releases November 13 at $299 (8GB) and $349 (16GB); it will be sold as an unlocked device at those prices in the Google Play store. Buy the 16GB model from T-Mobile with a new two-year contract and you can get it for a more affordable $199. On launch day it will be available in the US, UK, Canada, Germany, France, Spain and Australia and it’ll start to roll out to Europe, Central/South Americas, Asia, CIS and the Middle East beginning in late November.
Google is already in the tablet game with the Nexus 7, and today they’ve decided to up their game with an even larger slate to directly compete with Apple’s iPad. A collaboration with Samsung, the Nexus 10 packs–you guessed it–a 10.055-inch WQXGA display with an incredible 2560 x 1600 resolution (300 ppi) and Corning Gorilla Glass 2 coat of protection. Other specs include: dual-core Cortex A15-based 1.7GHz Samsung Exynos 5250 processor; Mali T604 GPU; 2GB RAM; 5 megapixel rear camera and 1.9 megapixel front camera; front-facing stereo speakers; 9000 mAh battery promising 9 hours of continuous video playback and 500 hours of standby; 16GB and 32GB storage capacities; WiFi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth; supports NFC; ports include Micro USB, Magnetic Pogo pin charger, Micro HDMI, and 3.5mm headphone jack; and it’s 8.9mm thin and weighs 603g. The Nexus 10 too comes preinstalled with Jelly Bean 4.2 and it releases November 13 at $399 (8GB) and $499 (16GB); these slates are WiFi-only.
Google’s original Nexus 7 slate is seeing an update. The 8GB model is no longer offered; in its place are 16GB ($199) and 32GB ($249) flavors. Available today are those WiFi-only models, and come November 13 a 32GB model with WiFi and HSPA+ data (with AT&T and T-Mobile in the US) will sell for $299.
In addition to announcing a new smartphone and tablet, Google injected new life into Android with the latest version of Jelly Bean 4.2. Photo Sphere allows you to take pictures in every direction and stitch them together for immersive panoramic images; Gesture Typing brings Swype-like interaction to the virtual keyboard; support for multiple user accounts gives your friends and family their own personal spaces on a single device (this feature is limited to tablets only running v4.2); Daydream allows you to personalize your screensaver with photos and news; and Google Now and Google Search have been updated with more cards and an enhanced interface, respectively. For more, click the source link below. (Update: The Google Search app for iOS has been updated with improved voice search that rivals Siri. Download here, video demo after the break.)
And just like that, Google has their very own lineup of Android-powered Nexus devices in three different sizes. Get a closer look at the Nexus 4 phone and Nexus 10 tablet in the galleries embedded above; after the break there’s video.
Three days after the Windows 8 release, today Microsoft formally launched Windows Phone 8 into the world. This summer Microsoft fleshed out most of the new features and enhancements that come bundled with the new mobile OS. At the company’s launch event, however, they shed light on a few more tricks up the OS’ sleek sleeve.
Live Apps: At the heart of Windows Phone is Live Tiles. They fill up the Start Screen and they serve two important objectives. They make your phone personal; you can easily rearrange and resize apps and other icons to your heart’s content. In addition, they are connected to the Internet and are regularly updated with the latest information; this institutes a glance-and-go mentality that Microsoft has been pushing since the ringing in of Windows Phone 7. Live Tiles are personal and informational. In WP8, the lock screen is getting a similar treatment with Live Apps. If a Live App is enabled, simply wake your phone up from sleep and you’ll instantly be provided with personalized updated information without digging for it. For example, make CNN or ESPN your Live App and when you check your phone’s lock screen you will be provided with the latest news headline or sports scores without virtually any effort.
Kid’s Corner: This is a neat feature currently exclusive to WP8. In essence, Kid’s Corner is a guest account that you can personalize for your kids or friends or colleagues. There are times when your kids want to steal your phone to play Angry Birds but you are hesitant to let them fool around with it because they might accidentally change settings or mess around with your inbox and other critical information. With Kid’s Corner, you can create a separate Start Screen environment for them to play around in. In Settings, you can choose exactly what apps, games, music, and video gets made accessible for them. Once you password-protect your phone, your personal account will remain untouched and they’ll be forced to swipe to the left and then up to unlock and enter the guest account known as Kid’s Corner.
Rooms: WP8 provides private spaces for you to interact and communicate with your close friends and family. You can create a Room that consists of your small circle of friends and only those invited to it will be able to view and share information inside it. In addition to a private chat room, a Room also allows shared calendars, notes, and photos. Most of the features in Room are exclusive to WP8 devices, but Microsoft says “some aspects” will work across other smartphones as well.
Data Sense: Microsoft is working with mobile carriers to help you keep track of your data usage since the days of “unlimited data” have come and gone. Data Sense is an app that “helps conserve your data allowance by compressing Web images, deferring data tasks to free Wi-Fi, and automatically adjusting your usage as you get closer to your plan limits.” Verizon will be the first to enable Data Sense, and Microsoft says others will join the initiative next year.
Integrated Skype: Since Microsoft bought Skype, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the communication app will be fully integrated with WP8 when it arrives on the platform soon. You can make and receive Skype calls just like you would a regular phone call, and your Skype contacts are integrated in the People (contacts) hub for easy access.
A growing app marketplace: Since WP7 was announced many developers have hopped on board to support the mobile OS. Currently the Windows Phone Store is home to 120,000 apps. Though this number is low compared to Apple and Android’s offerings, Microsoft is hopeful even more developers will start to pick up the slack and contribute to a growing app marketplace. This holiday season a bunch of popular apps are joining the WP fold such as Angry Birds Star Wars, Cut the Rope Experiments, Disney’s Where’s My Water, LivingSocial, Temple Run, Urbanspoon, “and many more,” promises Microsoft. And early next year, Pandora is coming too with one year of ad-free streaming music to-boot.
With all the software features out of the way, the next logical talking point is hardware. Microsoft has partnered with Nokia, HTC, and Samsung as hardware launch partners for WP8. AT&T will carry the Nokia Lumia 920, the Lumia 820, and the Windows Phone 8X by HTC in November; pricing is TBA. Verizon will carry the Windows Phone 8X by HTC for $199.99 with a two-year contract and the Nokia Lumia 822 (exclusive to Verizon) for $99.99 next month. Another VZW exclusive, the Samsung ATIV Odyssey, will release in December. And lastly T-Mobile will also sell the Windows Phone 8X by HTC (16GB) at $149.99 and the Nokia Lumia 810 at $99.99; these release November 14. The fourth U.S. carrier Sprint is sitting this round out.
If you’re looking for a different kind of mobile experience, Windows Phone 8 is the way to go. With a sleek, modern user interface and an equally attractive hardware selection it isn’t hard to recommend you check out Microsoft’s latest offering. The one (albiet major) drawback is developer support and the app catalog, but if the Store continues to grow at the pace Microsoft is hinting at today then they might just have a mobile platform to finally compete against the likes of iOS and Android.
After the break, Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore gives you an extensive tour of Windows Phone 8.
At this year’s Windows Phone Summit, Microsoft lifted the veil off the next version of their mobile operating system. Codenamed Apollo, Window Phone 8 brings many new features and improvements to the platform. At the press/developer event, Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore talked about eight new platform announcements; they are all laid out below in easy to digest bullet-point form.
- Latest and greatest hardware: Windows Phone 8 will support multi-core chipsets (up to a whopping 64 cores, to be exact), three screen resolutions including WVGA (800×480), WXGA (1280×768), and 720p (1280×720), and removable storage with MicroSD.
- Native code: WP8 introduces full C and C++ support which will help developers write apps for multiple platforms (including WP8 and Win8) faster. A native game development platform is provided based on DirectX, and this makes it possible for game devs to write the same game for the phone and the PC.
- Better sharing with NFC: A new Tap + Send feature allows users to easily share contact information between Windows devices; simply tap your phone to a Win8 tablet and instantly a contact card is shared. Also, peer-to-peer WiFi connections can be made between Windows devices and this allows for unique game experiences between phones and tablets. Initiate a game on a phone and tap it to a friend’s tablet and within seconds the two of your are participating in a multiplayer wireless game experience.
- The most complete wallet experience: Microsoft has built a wallet experience similar to Apple’s Passbook and Google’s Wallet. In this app users can store credit & debit cards, loyalty & membership cards, and access saved deals (read: digital coupons). With secure SIM technology, users can “tap to pay” at compatible checkout counters. Every Windows Phone running WP8 will ship with the Wallet hub, and it will be able to connect to third party apps. This means that even if your carrier blocks the tap to pay feature, you can still use the app for other functions such as storing and organizing your coupons. Wallet will launch in France with Orange first, and at some point next year it will make its way to the US.
- Nokia Map Technology: Every WP8 device will come with Nokia’s NAVTEQ Map data baked in. The maps experience includes offline map support, turn-by-turn directions, and map control for developers.
- Windows Phone 8 for Business: Microsoft is ready to make the Windows Phone platform fully enterprise-ready. The mobile OS includes BitLocker encryption and secure boot, line-of-business app deployment, remote management, and a customizable Company hub and apps.
- The Start Screen: The WP start screen has been reimagined to be more personal and customizable. “People are in total control of their Live Tiles,” says Belfiore. Users can resize tiles with three sizes to choose from and they can be moved around for a personal layout. A new palette of theme colors is part of the update, too. The new look makes for a more consistent experience between Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. More on this in a bit… (Click here for more…)
At this year’s World Wide Developer’s Conference, Apple spent equal time talking about hardware and software updates. The annual event heated up when the MacBook lineup received a healthy dose of upgraded processors and graphics, among other spec bumps. Also, a brand new “next-generation” MacBook Pro was unveiled. Later, the mobile iOS that powers iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches was significantly enhanced with the introduction of iOS 6. For all the details, read on.
The MacBook Air was refreshed with the following spec bumps. The thin-and-light laptop now packs the 3rd-gen Intel Core processors, also known as Ivy Bridge; these dual-core i7s can reach speeds up to 2.0GHz (or up to 3.2GHz with Turbo Boost). Memory reaches 8GB 1600MHz, and graphics can perform up to sixty percent faster. Flash storage has been beefed up to 512 GB and is 2x speedier featuring a 500MBps read speed. The Air also includes a USB 3 port and a FaceTime HD camera (720p). There are two 11-inch and two 13-inch configurations, both shipping today and both starting at $100 cheaper than the previous generation. The 11-inch MacBook Air with 64GB starts at $999 and the 13-inch Air with128GB starts at $1,199.
The MacBook Pro was also refreshed and here are the note-worthy spec bumps. Just like the new Airs, the updated Pros now include the 3rd-gen “Ivy Bridge” Intel Core processors; these dual-core i7 processors reach speeds up to 2.7GHz (or up to 3.7GHz with Turbo Boost). Memory reachers 8GB 1600MHz. Graphics are upgraded to NVIDIA’s GeForce GT 650M (based on the graphics chip maker’s new Kepler architecture), with up to 1GB video memory that is up to sixty percent faster than before. USB 3 is on board. There are two 13-inch and two 15-inch MacBook Pro configurations, both shipping today and they start at the same price ranges as the previous generation Pros. The 13-inch MacBook Pro with a 2.5GHz processor speed starts at $1,199 and the 15-inch Pro with a 2.3GHz speed starts at $1,799.
And now we move onto what Apple is branding the “next generation” MacBook Pro. The company says it’s “the best computer we’ve ever made.” In short, what makes this new breed of Pro so special is that it’s made thinner and lighter and it packs a gorgeous Retina Display. You want hard specs, so here they are. This new Pro measures at 0.71 inches thin (a quarter thinner than the standard Pro) and it weighs 4.4 pounds. The 15.4-inch screen is a Retina Display with an impressive resolution of 2880×1800, packing 4x the number of pixels than the previous-gen Pro. With 220 pixels per inch, Apple crowns this “the world’s highest-resolution notebook display.” Lion has been updated to take advantage of the higher resolution; Mac apps like Mail, Safari, iMovie and iPhoto will be compatible, along with others like Aperture, Final Cut Pro X, Adobe Photoshop, Autodesk Autocad, and the game Diablo 3. Just like they had to do when the Retina Display came to the iPhone, software developers will have to update their apps to make them Retina-ready. Jumping inside, the Pro runs on Intel’s fastest quad-core processors, that is Core i7s up to 2.7GHz (or up to 3.7GHz with Turbo Boost); memory goes up to 16GB 1600MHz; next-gen NVIDIA Kepler graphics GeForce GT 650M; up to 768GB fast flash storage; up to 7 hours of battery life with 30 days of standby time. Across the left-side of the powerful, noticeably thinner lappy you’ll find an SD card slot, HDMI, and USB 3 ports; along the right side there’s a MagSafe 2 port (the new port has been made thinner to fit the design), two Thunderbolt ports, USB 3, and a headphone jack. That’s right, this Pro has ditched an optical drive, FireWire, and Gigabit Ethernet. Apple sells adapters if you require these. Additionally, the MacBook Pro with Retina Display features a glass multitouch trackpad, backlit keyboard, 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0, FaceTime HD camera, dual microphones, stereo speakers, and a new internal fan system that outputs nearly imperceptible sound. Two configurations of the next-gen Pro ship today starting at $2,199. (Click here for more…)
There was the Nexus One and Nexus S. Today in a joint event based in Hong Kong Google and Samsung announced the next Android flagship device: the Galaxy Nexus. Both the hardware and software that make up this smartphone will bring you to your knees. First, check out these hardware specifications. The Galaxy Nexus sports a giant 4.65″ (1280X720) HD Super AMOLED display and is powered by a 1.2GHz dual core processor and 1GB of RAM. There’s a 5 megapixel camera with LED flash, zero shutter lag, and 1080p HD video recording at 30fps around back and a 1.3 megapixel camera on the front for video calls. Built-in sensors include an accelerometer, compass, gyro, light, proximity, and a freakin’ barometer. Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 3.0 technologies are onboard, as is NFC. The sleek devices measures at 135.5 x 67.94 x 8.94mm and weighs 135g. A Li-on 1,750 mAh battery comes attached. Ports include USB 2.0 and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Customers will have the option of 16GB and 32GB storage capacities. will HSPA+ and 4G LTE models will be produced with all signs pointing to AT&T and Verizon Wireless as official carriers, though this information along with pricing has yet to be announced.
And as if that wasn’t enough, the next Nexus phone will come loaded with the next generation Android OS dubbed Ice Cream Sandwich. Previously introduced and detailed at Google I/O earlier this year, ICS (now labeled Android 4.0) will merge Android’s smartphone OS Gingerbread (v2.3) and tablet OS Honeycomb (v3.0) to form “one OS everywhere” and bring the best of both worlds to smartphone devices. At the Hong Kong event Google further detailed ICS and shed light on some super cool functionality that’s baked into it. With Android 4.0, Google says “the lock screen, home screen, phone app, and everything in between has been rethought and redesigned to make Android simple, beautiful, and useful.” The revamped OS brings with it many enhancements and new features, but there are four major ones that were discussed at today’s event. (1) Face Unlock uses facial recognition to unlock your phone. In Settings, Android will snap a picture of your face and remember it each time you go to unlock your phone. If lighting is poor, you can unlock your phone with a conventional swipe. (2) Android Beam uses NFC technology to wirelessly share content between two devices. Users can physically touch two phones together and tap a “beam” button to share web pages, apps, maps, YouTube videos, and more. Does this remind you of WebOS’ “tap-to-share” functionality? It should. (3) The enhanced Camera app brings with it a panorama mode, 1080p video capture, zero-shutter lag, and fun effects like silly faces and background replacement. Photos can be edited right on the device. (4) A new People app helps users organize their contacts with social network integration (Google+, “other social networks”) including the ability to view status updates and high-res photos. Other software updates coming with ICS include virtual on-screen buttons that take the place of physical capacitive ones, a new modern “Roboto” font, a customizable launcher, offline search in Gmail, accessing apps from the lock screen, enhanced voice recognition, tabbed browsing, and the ability to exit apps running in the background. If you want to learn more about what’s packed inside Ice Cream Sandwich, head over to the Android Developers website.
The Galaxy Nexus will be the very first device to run Android 4.0. Google says that “theoretically [Ice Cream Sandwich] should work for any [Android] 2.3 device.” Though there are no plans to rollout ICS to legacy Android devices just yet, you can expect Google and hardware manufacturers like Samsung and HTC to speak up about software updates for specific devices in the near future. The Galaxy Nexus with ICS goes on sale in the U.S., Europe, and Asia this November. Again, pricing and carriers are TBD. Check out the super sleek phone and OS in the gallery below, then find official PR after the break.
In May Microsoft previewed the first major upgrade to its rejuvenated mobile OS. Mango will bring multitasking, IE9, and deeper social network integration, among other things, to Windows Phone 7 devices. This fall, AT&T intends to upgrade their entire WP7 portfolio to Mango. Nice! But there’s more. In a press release (in full after the break), Ma Bell also announced three brand new handsets that will ship with Mango on board in Q4. The new and improved Samsung Focus S features a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display, 1.4GHz processor, a rear facing 8 megapixel camera and a front facing 1.3 megapixel, “4G”-capable speeds, and a thin profile at 8.55 millimeters. The Focus Flash downgrades things a bit and packs a smaller 3.7-inch Super AMOLED screen, a 5 megapixel camera with front facing camera, but it keeps the speedy 1.4 GHz processor. And finally the large-and-in-charge HTC Titan features a 4.7-inch display, 1.5 GHz processor, and 8 megapixel camera with dual LED flash. Pricing and exact available will have to wait.
Update: Microsoft shows off a bunch of Mango’s new features in dramatic video fashion after the break.
This week Microsoft hosted a Windows Phone 7 themed press event at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. There they spent time refreshing people’s minds about what differentiates Windows Phone 7 from the rest of the competition; namely they went over the mobile operating system’s smart design, hubs, and glance-and-go live tiles–all of which you should already know about. A chunk of the event, however, also spent time previewing the future of WP7. Multitasking, Internet Explorer 9, broader Skydrive connectivity, and Twitter integration are all coming to the OS later this year; get all the details presented in easy to swallow bullet-point form below.
- Multitasking: At launch Microsoft decided not to allow multitasking support for third party apps due to battery life concerns. But now that’s changed because the company has figured out a way to make multitasking work without significantly draining the battery. At the event Microsoft demoed switching in and out of a game. Say you’re playing a game and want to make a phone call. To jump out of gameplay and initiate a call, simply tap the Home button, select the appropriate hub and make the call. After the call is complete, tap the Back button and you’ll instantly be returned to your game. You’ll find that the game automatically paused itself, so you can to resume the session without missing any in-game action. Microsoft also figured out an intuitive way to view open apps at once and quickly switch between them. Press and hold the Back button to bring up a new tasking switching view that displays your open apps in a card-like fashion (think WebOS). You can swipe left and right to see your open apps and tap one to instantly return to it right where you left off. Microsoft highlighted multitasking with third party music apps, too. Music can now play in the background (yippe!). Microsoft demoed Slacker; now you can play a radio station inside Slacker, initiate the task switching view, jump into another app like Email, and the music will continue to play in the background. In addition, music apps are tied to WP7 audio controls, meaning that you can control a third party app’s volume and playback options (play/pause/forward/back) using WP7’s built-in audio controls that are accessible on the home screen when you press the hardware volume buttons.
- Internet Explorer 9: The next version of IE is coming to WP7. IE 9 will bring hardware and graphics acceleration to the platform, taking advantage of those speedy mobile processors that are making their way into smartphones. Microsoft pressed the point that the core browsing engine in IE9 that ships on PCs is the same core browsing engine that will ship on phones. This is good for developers because if their site performs well on the PC, they know it will work well on Windows Phone. HTML5 content was distinctly prominent in the demo with no mention of Adobe’s initiative, so don’t expect Flash support to come with this update.
- Skydrive connectivity: Skydrive is to WP7 as iDisk is to iPhone. Get it? Skydrive is essentialy Microsoft’s version of Dropbox which allows users to view, edit, and share documents in the cloud on their devices. Skydrive will live inside the Office hub (so there’s no separate app download required) and it brings support for Office documents in the cloud. If you’re already logged into your Windows Live account, there’s no need to login in to access the cloud drive at any time.
- Twitter integration: Since launch Microsoft has incorporated Facebook status updates and pictures in the People and Pictures hubs, respectively. With the new update they are welcoming another social network into the fray. Twitter integration is coming to the People hub where it will co-exist with Facebook in a similar manner to it; your contact’s tweets will appear alongside their status updates.
That’s the bulk of new WP7 features demoed at the MWC event. However, there are three other points to make. (1) At the event Microsoft briefly previewed a futuristic demo that ties together WP7 with Xbox’s controller-less motion accessory Kinect. The prerecorded demo featured the Kinect game Rally Ball and it showed one person standing up flailing their arms at the oncoming storm of rubber balls and two others using their WP7 devices to wirelessly control the amount and location of the balls on their respective device’s screens. In essence this is a preview of real-time cross-platform gaming between phones and game consoles, and it’s a neat trick to say the least. Look after the break to see it in action. (2) Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer invited Nokia’s Stephen Elop to discuss the newly formed partnership between the two tech companies. Elop pretty much reiterated everything he previously mentioned at his own event, but some choice quotes stuck out here. He said, “Microsoft and Nokia together represent a natural partnership. People are getting it.” The world is shifting from “a battle of devices to a war of ecosystems” and that with Microsoft they can become a competitive force in this transforming environment. Nokia will “accelerate the adoption of the Windows Phone platform” by “bring[ing] iconic hardware [and] incredible industrial design [to] a leading operating system.” (3) Coming in early March is copy-and-paste functionality (along with CDMA radio support (hello Verizon and Sprint devices), and other performance improvements)!
Go on, hop after the break to find videos demonstrating multitasking, IE 9, and the Kinect companionship.
Today BlackBerry posted a new video on YouTube that gives us another glimpse into their latest mobile operating system called BlackBerry 6. New features like social network integration (with Social Feeds that support simultaneous postings on sites like Facebook and Twitter), universal search, an enhanced media interface, and the brand new WebKit-based browser (with pinch/zoom functionality) are teased in the breif video embedded above. It all looks pretty great BlackBerry, but I want to see it in action on a sleek, new Blackberry device. Let’s release this thing already! Oh, and as Engadget points out, it’s worth nothing that the first two sneak peek videos of BB 6 feature a UI that’s make specifically for a full touchscreen device. One wonders how BlackBerry intends to morph the new touch-friendly UI into one that’ll work on a smaller device that sports a physical keyboard–the very form factor that the company is so famous for.