We’re living in the future, folks, in case you didn’t know. This week Microsoft is leading the charge in breaking down language barriers with its Skype Translator. Essentially, the new software allows Skype users to translate their conversations into another language in real-time. A perfect example of it in use is featured in the saccharine clip posted above. Students in America are video chatting peers in Mexico City; when an American student speaks English, the Spanish-speaking student on the other side can understand her completely (and vice-versa) as their spoken words are translated almost instantly. It’s quite magical, really.
Skype Translator is currently available as a preview and only supports English and Spanish. Skype promises that additional language support is on the way. You can help refine the incredible technology by signing up to become a preview user today.
On Thursday Tim Cook and company took the stage in Cupertino to make some new Apple hardware and software announcements. In addition to announcing an updated iPad Air, iPad mini, iMac, and Mac mini, Apple also dated the next version of iOS and OS X both coming in just a few days time. For the full scoop, jump after the break. (Click here for more…)
On Tuesday Tim Cook hosted an Apple event in Cupertino that introduced not one but two new iPhones. Also, Apple’s next-gen mobile operating system iOS 7 now has a release date and the company’s productivity suite and creative apps are about to become even more popular. Let’s dive in, shall we? (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…)
“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…)
On Wednesday Sony took the stage in New York to formally introduce their next-generation console, the PlayStation 4. Though the company failed to show industry developers, members of the press, and gamers watching a live stream from all around the world what the actual console looks like, it did reveal two new PS4 accessories (namely the DualShock 4 wireless controller and the PlayStation 4 Eye motion sensing camera) and it did go into some detail about how powerful and socially integrated the system is. Read on to learn everything there is to know about Sony’s next-gen vid-game console. (Click here for more…)
At Apple’s October special event that introduced the world to iPad mini, Tim Cook and company also unveiled the eighth iteration of the all-in-one iMac. This week Apple made it official that the 21.5-inch model will ship Friday, November 30–that’s today! If you’ve been holding out for the 27-inch behemoth then your wait continues. Apple hasn’t pegged it with a release date; they’re only saying it will start selling in December. The redesigned iMac houses its miniturized tech inside an aluminum and glass enclosure that measures just 5mm thin at its edge. A new storage option called Fusion Drive allows customers to customize their computer with 128GB of flash storage and either a 1TB or 3TB HDD; the two are fused into a single volume to provide faster read and write speeds. The 21.5-incher starts at $1,299 and is available for purchase today.
In other Apple news, iTunes 11 was finally released on Thursday. The redesigned music player and device manager features a new look with new library views and an updated Store layout, Up Next allows you to queue up songs, playlist creation is simpler, the MiniPlayer is smaller but enhanced, and iCloud is built-in making content downloaded on any iOS device instantly accessible in your iTunes library, Mac or PC. Get your download on today.
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.
Three years after Microsoft’s last major OS release the next one is out of the bag. As of 12:01AM on October 26 the next version of Windows was let loose into the wild. Windows 8 is an entirely new OS, built from the ground up supporting touch input and a new Start screen that borrows its Live Tile look from Microsoft’s foray into the mobile smartphone space. Though the new OS begs to be touched, it has been proven to work just as well with the typical mice and keyboard setup. PC manufacturers like Dell, HP, Acer, and Lenovo are already selling devices running Windows 8 from desktops to laptops to tablets and convertibles.
This release marks the first time Microsoft is selling hardware of their own to promote it. Surface for Windows RT is out now, and Surface for Windows 8 Pro is coming soon. In case you don’t know the difference, Windows RT runs off ARM processors and does not support legacy applications made for Windows 7, Vista, XP, and so on. RT will only run apps downloaded from the Windows Store, open today. If your needs require such older apps, you’ll have to opt for the Pro version which does support x86 processors and apps designed with that chipset in mind. In a nutshell, Windows RT devices pack small ARM processors that allow for more compact, lighter PC designs and extended battery life; legacy apps won’t run. Windows Pro devices use x86 processors and these PC designs are typically thicker and heavier; legacy apps will run.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer shared his excitement for the latest software release in a press statement: “We have reimagined Windows and the result is a stunning lineup of new PCs. Windows 8 brings together the best of the PC and the tablet. It works perfect for work and play and it is alive with your world. Every one of our customers will find a PC that they will absolutely love.”
To get Windows 8 today you have a couple options: you can either download it from Windows.com for $39.99 or purchase a physical copy for $69.99. Click here for more. There’s also a Windows Upgrade Offer available if you purchase a Windows 7 PC. Check that out here. Order a Surface here.
In addition to the PR, you’ll also find a couple videos after the break. Bill Gates talks Windows 8 and Surface in the first, and if you’re excited about this release as I am you’ll allot about an hour to watch the Windows 8 launch event hosted by Microsoft’s Steven Sinofsky with an appearence by Steve Ballmer.
Happy Windows 8 Day! (Click here for more…)
Last week Microsoft began rolling out a dashboard update for Xbox 360. In addition to Internet Explorer and Xbox Music, the update also prepped the console for Xbox SmartGlass. Unveiled at this year’s E3 press conference, SmartGlass enables users to interact with their Xboxes via smartphones and tablets. The most basic feature of SmartGlass allows you to control the Xbox dashboard, media playback, and the browser using your mobile wireless devices. The technology’s real potential lies in its second screen experiences. For example, after queuing up a movie on your tablet, you can resume its playback on your HDTV. When the movie is playing on your TV, your tablet will provide related content including the actors starring in the film and this gives you the opportunity to discover other movies they are in. In addition to providing related content for movies and TV shows, a second screen experience can also keep you up to date on the latest sports stats, player bios, and breaking news in real-time while you’re watching ESPN, NBA GameTime, or UFC through your Xbox. Beyond entertainment, developers will start to integrate SmartGlass into their games. For example, in Harmonix’s Dance Central 3 you can queue up the next track on your phone or tablet while a current song is being played. Expect the selection of second screen experiences to grow as time goes on.
Currently the Xbox SmartGlass mobile app is only available for Windows 8 and its coming to Windows Phone 8 after that launches next week. Microsoft promises to release the app (it will update the existing “My Xbox Live” app) for iOS and Android users in the coming weeks. Jump after the break to watch a walkthrough.
Update: Xbox SmartGlass for Android is now available in the Google Play store. Have at it!
On Wednesday Apple unveiled the next-generation iPhone and it’s called the iPhone 5. They also used their stage time to discuss iTunes+iPod, showing off a redesigned iTunes Store for iOS, a simplified version of iTunes for desktop, and showcasing the next-generation iPod nano and touch. We begin with the top story…
The iPhone 5 is a beautiful piece of hardware made entirely of glass and aluminum. It’s the thinnest and lightest iPhone to date, measuring at 7.6mm thin (that’s 18% thinner than the iPhone 4S) and weighing 112 grams (20% lighter than the 4S). Apple’s calling it “the world’s thinnest smartphone.” The screen has grown for the first time to 4-inches, boasting a Retina display with 326 pixels per inch and a resolution of 1136×640. The additional screen real estate allows for a fifth row of apps in the home screen, and all of Apple’s apps take advantage of it. Third party apps will see the letterbox effect, but developers can easily tweak their apps to also fill up the screen properly. The iPhone 5 also features 44% more color saturation than it’s predecessor and integrated touch sensors in the screen make it 30% thinner than before outputting a sharper image and less glare in sunlight.
The bigger screen is just the tip of the iceberg. The new iPhone packs ultrafast wireless with built-in GPRS, EDGE, EV-DO, HSPA, HSPA+, DC-HSDPA, and, yes, LTE. In the U.S., LTE will be provided by Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint. A single chip does voice and data; also inside is a single radio chip and a dynamic antenna. 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi is there as well.
The newly designed-by-Apple A6 chip features a CPU that’s 2x faster than before, with 2x faster graphics as well. The chip itself is 22% smaller than the previous A5 processor. Apple managed to make battery life better, too. It goes like this: 8 hours of 3G talk time, 3G browsing, and LTE browsing; 10 hours of Wi-Fi browsing and video playback; 40 hours of music playback; and 225 hours of standby time.
Both the back-facing iSight camera and the front-facing FaceTime camera have been upgraded. The iSight cam features an 8 megapixel sensor (3264×2448) with backside illumination, hybrid IR filter, five-element lens, and fast f/2.4 aperture. The 25% smaller design also boasts a dynamic low light mode, spatial noise reduction, a smart filter for improved color matching, better low-light performance, and faster photo capture (40% faster than the 4S). 1080p HD video recording is still here with improved video stabilization, face detection, and the ability to take photos while recording video. The back-facing camera can also take panoramic shots now thanks to a simple enhancement in the Camera app in iOS 6. Moving to the front side, the FaceTime camera takes 1.2 megapixel photos, shoots 720p HD video, and features backside illumination, face detection, and FaceTime over cellular (with Verizon and Sprint only).
Audio is better with three built-in microphones located in the front, back, and bottom of the phone. The improved speaker design is 20% smaller than before and features a five magnet transducer, a noise-canceling earpiece, and wideband audio for better phone call performance.
Say goodbye to the nearly decade old 30-pin dock connector. Apple announced the new Lightning connector that is found in the iPhone 5. It’s 80% smaller than its predecessor, it’s all-digital with an 8-signal design and adaptive interface with improved durability and get this–it’s reversible, meaning you can plug it into the bottom of your device face up or down. Apple will sell a 30-pin to Lightning adapter for those who own accessories like sound docks that were strictly designed with the 30-pin connector in mind.
Apple spent time detailing the next version of their mobile OS, and you can read all about iOS 6 right here. It brings Apple-designed Maps, the new app Passbook, and enhancements to Notification Center, Safari, Mail, Photos, and Siri (among over 250 new features) to the iPhone and its brethren. It’s available as a free upgrade to iPhone 4S, 4, 3GS, 3rd-gen iPad, iPad 2, and 4th-gen iPod touch owners on September 19.
Now it’s time to talk pricing and availability. The iPhone 5 features a two-tone exterior and will come in two hues: black/slate and white/silver. It’s priced exactly like the 4S was: $199 (16GB), $299 (32GB), $399 (64GB). It’s available for preorder starting Friday, September 14 and ships one week later on September 21 in the U.S., Canada, UK, France, Germany, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. A week after that it releases in 20 more countries, and by December it will ship in 100 countries with 240 carriers around the world. In other news, the iPhone 4 (8GB) is free and the iPhone 4S (16GB) is dropping to $99 effective immediately.
(Click here for more…)
Google I/O 2012: Nexus 7 tablet, Nexus Q media streamer, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, Google+ & Project Glass
Google announced a slew of new hardware and software at this year’s I/O event for developers. From tablets to a funky-looking media streamer, to the next version of Android and even the futuristic Project Glass, the boys of Mountain View covered it all so let’s dive right in.
The Nexus 7 serves the same purpose as the Nexus smartphone lineup: it provides a pure Android experience, but on a tablet. The 7-inch slate was made in collaboration with hardware manufacturer Asus, and it packs a 1280×800 back-lit IPS display with scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla glass. It measures 198.5 x 120 x 10.45mm and weighs an impressively light 340 grams. A quad-core Tegra 3 processor from NVIDIA and 1GB of RAM power the tablet, and a 4325 mAh battery 9 hours of HD video playback and 300 hours of standby time. As far as sensors go, there’s an accelerometer, GPS, a magnetometer, and a gyroscope. WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth, and NFC are also on board. Ports include Micro USB and a 3.5mm headphone jack, both located on the bottom of the device. There’s rear-facing camera, but you’ll find a 1.2MP front-facing camera for video chatting. 8GB and 16GB storage capacities are available to pre-order today through the Google Play storefront at $199 and $149, respectively. The tablet ships later this month and comes with a $25 credit for the Play store plus a copy of Transformers: Dark of the Moon and other media-related extras. It runs the latest version of Android (that is 4.1 Jelly Bean, more on this later) and Google says it was “made for Google Play.” On the homescreen you’ll have quick access to games, your music, movie, and TV show libraries, and your book and magazine collections. In related news, the Google Play store has been updated and now sells magazines, TV shows, and movies can be rented and purchased.
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…)
And so it seems like newly appointed Apple CEO Tim Cook is not following in the footsteps of the late Apple founder Steve Jobs when it comes to announcing the latest iteration of the Mac’s OS. Instead of gathering the press and making a grand presentation of it all, with OS X Mountain Lion (v10.8) Apple simply added a new “sneak peek” portal to their website that outlines many of the OS’ new features.
When OS X Lion was announced, Apple made it clear that their intention to bring the magic of the iPad to the desktop was very real. The most obvious port was Mission Control, a way for Mac users to organize and flip through their apps on the desktop just as they would on a mobile iOS device. This time around Apple is infusing so much more from iOS into OS X with new features like Messages with iMessage support, Notification Center, and even wide scale Twitter integration. Take a look below and follow after the break to read all about the new Lion in town.
RIP iChat. That’s right–Apple is replacing their in-house instant messenger with a new app called Messages. In addition to supporting instant messaging services like AIM, Jabber, Google Talk, and Yahoo! Messenger like its predecessor, Messages also supports iMessage. This means “you send unlimited messages to anyone on a Mac [using Messages] or an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 5.” In essence, this is iChat with a revamped UI and iMessage compatibility, oh and built-in FaceTime. Messages functions exactly like iMessage does on iOS devices; in addition to sending text you can share photos, videos, documents, and contacts and also initiate group messaging. Additionally you can see when your message has been delivered, when someone’s typing a reply, and you can allow the recipient to see when you’ve read their incoming messages. Click a button to immediately initiate a FaceTime video chat. And since Messages has iMessage support baked in, “you can start a conversation on your Mac and pick it up on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.” Simple, the Apple way. Download Messages today in beta form.
In iOS it’s a swipe from the top to pull down the unified Notification Center and view your alerts; in OS X it will be a swipe from the right. When you receive a notification on your Mac, a notification banner will appear in the upper-right hand corner of the desktop. When you receive an email, a calendar alert, an instant message, or whatever it might be the banner will pop up and preview the notification and then it will fade away so as not to interrupt your activity. When the banners disappear they relocate to the Notification Center which, as described above, can be reached at any time with a swipe to the left. To access it you can either perform a two finger swipe to the left on a trackpad, or you can click a new bulls-eye icon that sits up top where the Spotlight magnifying glass has been located for years (that is now shifted slightly to the left to make room). When the bulls-eye center is blue that indicates you have one or more notifications waiting for you. To exit Notification Center, simply click anywhere else on your screen and it will slide away. And just like in iOS, you can customize Notification Center by arranging app-specific alerts to your liking, enabling banners or more obtrusive alerts, sounds, and you’re also given the option to disable Notification Center if you don’t feel like dealing with it at all. It has been confirmed that Apple will be making available an API so that developers can take advantage of Notification Center with their own apps.
Apple is baking in the share button iOS users should be accustomed to by now. It’s that button with a square and an arrow popping out of it that allows you to quickly share–say, a photo–with others by providing a drop-down list of places to send the information to. In iOS, for example, in the Photos app you can select an image, click the share button, and tap Email and the photo will instantly drop into a new email as an attachment ready to be sent off. In OS X, Apple plans to plant these “Share Sheets” into many apps including (but not limited to) Safari, Messages, Photo Booth, Quicktime, Preview, and iPhoto. Want to tweet a link you’re viewing in Safari? With Share Sheets there’s no need to login to Twitter and copy and paste the link; simply click the share button and click Twitter and the app will automatically open with the link ready to be sent off into the Twittersphere. Other sharing options include Vimeo and Flickr.
Star Wars fans and gamers alike have been waiting patiently for Microsoft to stamp an official release date for the movie themed hardware and software bundle. Well, the time has finally come. According to Xbox Live’s Major Nelson, the bundle–which includes an R2-D2-themed Xbox 360 console with custom sounds, a C-3PO-themed golden wireless controller, a white Kinect sensor, a 320GB HDD, a wired headset, and copies of Star Wars Kinect and Kinect Adventures–launches into the marketplace this spring on April 3. It is being valued at $449.99 and can be preordered today at Amazon and Gamestop. Take a gander at the sleek packaging above and mark your calendars appropriately.
[Via Major Nelson]
webOS is down but certainly not out. Even though HP discontinued all webOS devices in April, the company announced on Friday that they are granting the webOS platform the potential to prosper in the open source community. A press release states, “By combining the innovative webOS platform with the development power of the open source community, there is the opportunity to significantly improve applications and web services for the next generation of devices.” This does not mean, however, that HP will resurrect the TouchPad tablet and Pre smartphone. No plans have been announced to inject webOS back into HP-manufactured hardware. If you managed to scoop up a webOS device before they ceased to exist, revel in the fact that “HP plans to continue to be active in the development and support of webOS.” In a letter to HP employees, newly appointed CEO Meg Whitman said, “HP engineers, partners, other developers and hardware manufacturers will be able to contribute to the development of webOS. Together, we have an opportunity to make it the foundation of a new generation of devices, applications and services to address the rapidly evolving demands of both consumers and enterprises.”
webOS lives! Catch the full PR and Whitman’s memo after the break.
Oh, Napster’s journey has been a rough one when you look down at the history of the famed peer-to-peer music sharing service from
Justin Timberlake Sean Parker. In 1999 Napster became widely available and widely known as the destination to illegally download and share music among friends and strangers around the world. It wasn’t long before the Recording Industry Association of America (with resistance led by heavy metal band Metallica) forced Parker to shut down Napster so the company could find a way to make it work through legal channels. While Napster was getting battered with legal woes, other P2P music software cropped up like Morpheus, Kazaa, and BearShare. Eventually all of these P2P players were forced to either close up shop or transition into a subscription service. Napster took the latter route and lived on for a while. Late last week, though, the final hammer was nailed into the coffin. Rhapsody, the world’s #1 digital music subscription service, bought out Napster and integrated its music library into its own. In other words, Napster is no longer its own entity and the Napster name and cute logo that lasted all this time have fallen by the wayside.
Napster’s legacy will forever remain a part of the history of the music industry. What Parker pioneered in the late 90s and early 2000s would help lead to the introduction of the iTunes Store and new, innovative ways of legally purchasing and sharing music. And with that let us say in unison: RIP Napster.
Update: And the Internet cried, “Not so fast!” According to The Register, the Napster brand will live on in the UK and Germany. So there you go.
Today at Nokia World in London, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop unveiled the Nokia Lumia range of smartphones. The Lumia 800 and Lumia 710 are the first Nokia smartphones powered by Windows Phone. Remember way back when, when the cell phone manufacturer announced its “strategic alliance” with Microsoft? Well the Lumia handsets announced today are the first products to be born out of the partnership.
The Lumia 800 is the fiercer of the two, sporting a 3.7-inch (800 x 480) AMOLED ClearBlack curved display, a 1.4 GHz processor with hardware acceleration and a graphics processor, 512MB of RAM, an eight megapixel Carl Zeiss optics branded camera lens on the back with a f/2.2 aperture and 720p HD video recording and playback, and 16GB of internal storage and 25GB of free SkyDrive storage. Quad-band GSM support is included, and users can expect HSDPA download speeds to reach up to 14.4Mbps. The exterior of the super sleek device–which measures 12.1mm thin and is made of durable polycarbonate plastic–isn’t adorned with much. At the top there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack and a tiny door that hides a micro-USB charger port and the SIM slot; the right side has a volume rocker, power button, and a dedicated camera shutter button; the bottom houses the speaker; and that’s pretty much it. The traditional Windows Phone icons (back, home, and search) are capacitive and sit beneath the display. As far as availability is concerned, the Lumia 800 is scheduled to rollout across France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK in November. It will then be made available in Hong Kong, India, Russia, Singapore and Taiwan before the end of the year, and in further markets in early 2012. Whether or not the United States is included in that “further markets” category is anybody’s guess at this point. The handset is priced at €420, or about $585.
Moving on to the budget-friendly Nokia Windows Phone, the bulkier Lumia 710 sports the same 1.4 GHz processor as the 800, but the 3.7-inch ClearBlack display is WVGA TFT here and misses out on the 800’s crisper and bolder AMOLED screen. Other specs include 512MB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage, plus there’s a five megapixel shooter on the back. It’s also worth noting that the Windows icons (back, home, search) are physical buttons on the 710. Availability goes like this: the Lumia 710 will release first in Hong Kong, India, Russia, Singapore and Taiwan in November alongside the Lumia 800, and then it will be made available in further markets in early 2012. Again, we don’t know if this handset will make it to U.S. shores. The 710 will sell for €270, or about $375.
Now we must briefly focus on the software. Obviously the Lumia range will be running Microsoft’s latest version of Windows Phone dubbed Mango. What’s slightly disappointing is that (at least in the beginning) Nokia isn’t doing much to differentiate their line of Windows Phones from the current competition. The Lumia range will come packaged with the following three software additions: Drive, Music, and ESPN Sports Hub. The first will provide users with full turn-by-turn navigation; the second will work alongside the Zune player and feature something called Mix Radio that allows users to stream music playlists; and the third will offer up sports stats and related news. For now, these are the only differentiating factors software-wise for Nokia’s Windows Phones. Can Nokia get by solely with their good looks?
Be sure to get a closer look at the Lumia 800 (available in cyan, magenta and black) and the chunkier Lumia 710 (available in black and white with black, white, cyan, fuchsia and yellow interchangeable back covers) in the galleries below. Videos and press releases are after the break. If/when these phones make it to the U.S. I’ll let you know. At some point in the near future (likely by 2012) Nokia will be selling Windows Phones in the States, so rest assured.
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.