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  1. By Cade Metz 01.22.14 2:30 PM Facebook is now delivering online advertisements directly to mobile software apps that operate outside the popular social network, a move meant to improve the relevance of ads on mobile devices and give app developers a better way of making money. The company has long indicated it would one day launch an online ad network akin to Google’s AdSense service — a network that delivers ads across countless third-party websites — but this new project leapfrogs that idea to create the same kind of network on mobile devices. It’s yet another challenge to Google, whose Android mobile operating system has given the company an effective means of spreading ads across smartphones and tablets. A company spokeswoman says Facebook is working with a small group of advertisers and app developers on the project, which Facebook calls a test. This is the first time, she says, that Facebook is delivering ads directly to mobile apps, as opposed to using someone else’s ad network. ‘We’ll be extending Facebook’s rich targeting to improve the relevancy of the ads people see, provide even greater reach for Facebook advertisers, and help developers better monetize their apps’ — Sriram Krishnan The company declined to discuss the project further, but Sriram Krishnan, who works on Facebook’s mobile and ads platform, says in a blog post that Facebook is looking to target ads on outside mobile apps in much the same way it does inside its own mobile app. “We faced some unique challenges when we first integrated ads into the Facebook mobile experience,” Krishnan says, “and we believe we’re now well positioned to help other mobile apps.” In short, because it collects so much information about you and your web habits, Facebook can more effectively show you ads that you want to see, and it hopes to offer this ability to other businesses and software coders. “In this test, we’ll be extending Facebook’s rich targeting to improve the relevancy of the ads people see, provide even greater reach for Facebook advertisers, and help developers better monetize their apps.” As recounted in The Facebook Effect, David Kirkpatrick’s inside look at the social network’s rise, a 2005 pitch to potential Facebook investors discussed something called “AdSeed,” billed as “Google AdSense for social networks.” The AdSeed name was never adopted, but the notion of a Facebook AdSense challenger has remained with the company ever since. It appears to be on the verge of happening, but on the mobile frontier, not the web. Zuckerberg and company were slow to embrace the mobile world and lost ground to Google and Apple, but it has in recent months been striking back. Facebook has overhauled its own mobile app, and it has acquired Parse, a company focused on helping people build other mobile apps — a move than not only provides Facebook with a means of selling ads to developers, but allows them to more closely track how the world uses mobile software. That, in turn, can help target ads. Because at Facebook, it all comes back to the ads. http://www.wired.com/business/2014/01/facebook-mobile-ad-test
  2. Turk

    Nokia Lumia 1520 Review

    By Jamshed Avari, January 16, 2014 The Lumia 1520 has two big things working against it, neither of which is a deal-breaker on its own, but when combined, make it a very interesting product to review. First, it's a Windows Phone. While the platform certainly does have its fans, there's no denying that it isn't as versatile as iOS and Android yet. As a person buying this phone, you will have to put up with a number of limitations and frustrations because of its software. Second, it's huge. So-called "phablets" are big business, but not everybody wants a phone that can't fit in a pocket and be held in one hand. With that said, it's time to examine this phone on its own merits and see whether Nokia has managed to distinguish itself with a winner. Look and feel Nokia's first big-screened Lumia seems like a "me-too" product. Sensing that Android manufacturers have been making huge profits with such devices, they want in on the action. Luckily, both Microsoft and Nokia have been able to tweak their software and hardware manufacturing well in time to catch this wave. The Lumia 1520 isn't just a stretched-out version of any other model, although its bright polycarbonate shell fits right in with the rest of the Lumia lineup. We had the glossy red model in for review, and while we were impressed with the quality of materials and construction, we found it a bit too flashy. Other manufacturers' flagship devices use metal or more subtle coloured plastic, and it seems Nokia is specifically going after a young, outgoing sort of customer with its current design direction. The subtler matte finish of the white and black variants will have a much broader appeal. The 1520 is a near-perfect rectangular slab with rounded edges and blunt pointy corners. The back is flat except for a roughly 1mm tall circular bump housing the rear camera's optics. On the whole, the body is impressively thin and still manages to be reassuringly strong when bent or flexed. The front face is made of toughened Gorilla Glass 2, which should be able to withstand a fair bit of abuse. The back is mostly blank, with only the camera lens, dual-LED flash, speaker grille and microphone array visible. Nokia's own branding and PureView logos are printed in a surprisingly subtle, light ink. On the right edge you'll find a volume control rocker, power button and camera button, while a Micro-USB port sits on the bottom and a standard 3.5mm headset jack is the only thing on top. The left edge has slots for your Nano-SIM and microSD cards, both covered by flaps that can be released with a pin or the included eject tool. At 209g, the Lumia 1520 is the heftiest of its siblings. Its size and weight make it rather cumbersome to carry around and you won't be comfortable holding it in one hand for very long. For the purpose of comparison, Samsung's Galaxy Note 3 and HTC's One Max weigh in at 168g and 2217g respectively. The weight and smooth glossy body make it very easy for this phone to slip out of a trouser pocket when you sit down, although you're unlikely to want to keep it in a pocket at all. Unless you wear a jacket or carry a bag every day, you'll probably end up carrying it in your hand. Features and specifications On the inside, Nokia hasn't skimped on anything. The 1520 is powered by a top-of-the-line Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 SoC (system-on-a-chip), which consists of a Krait 400 CPU running at 2.2GHz and Adreno 330 graphics processor along with integrated LTE, Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth communications modules. Pretty much every flagship smartphone on the market today and even a few tablets use this particular SoC, so the 1520 is in good company. 2GB of RAM should be more than enough for even the most demanding tasks, including recording continuous HD video and capturing 20-megapixel photos. The battery is non-removable, as is the norm these days. Nokia's ClearBlack IPS LCD is vivid and sharp, with a highly reflective surface. Colours don't pop as much as they do on some of the AMOLED screens used by competitors, which is a matter of personal preference The Lumia 1520's PureView camera is one of its biggest selling points, but it isn't the same record-setting 41-megapixel unit that first debuted with the Symbian-powered Nokia 808 and later re-emerged on the Lumia 1020. The 1020 thus remains Nokia's current flagship camera phone, which creates an odd division in their product lineup. The 1520 has better specifications all around, especially the screen and processor, but it doesn't get the benefit of what is easily Nokia's best innovation in the entire series. Nevertheless, this camera still bears the "PureView" tag, and with the combination of hardware and software used, you still get optical image stabilisation, the ability to record in RAW format, manual focus, ISO and shutter speed control, advanced post-capture editing options, and of course full-HD video recording at 30 frames per second. Software The Windows Phone environment is what truly sets the Lumia 1520 apart from all its big-screened rivals. Microsoft has managed to update the OS to work with large, pixel-dense screens, so everything looks crisp and slick. There's room for an extra column of medium-sized tiles on the home screen, and you can have a maximum of six small ones in a row. Most apps look great, especially ebook apps and games, but surfing the Web is a mixed bag since some sites default to a mobile layout, which just looks ridiculous on such a device. The high resolution and pixel density help make Windows Phone's various pages full of thin typography feel less sparse, but the sheer size of the screen also amplifies the OS's annoyances, such as the excessive animations that accompany every screen transition and menu fly-out. Other little things matter too: menus roll up from the bottom of the screen but confirmation dialogs are displayed right on top, well beyond the reach of your thumb. You'll find yourself adjusting your grip on the 1520 every time you encounter things like this that just weren't designed with such a large screen in mind. That brings us to the software's biggest flaw: Nokia and Microsoft haven't managed to figure out how to make a soft keyboard work on such a large device. The standard keyboard has simply been stretched to fill the screen's width, but it also retains its original proportions, resulting in keys that are too large and widely spaced for quick two-thumbed typing. This also means that when active, the keyboard obstructs well over half of the available vertical screen space, so while reading documents is a total pleasure, typing and editing are far more frustrating than they should be on such an otherwise capable device. The only people who would actually benefit from this are those who prefer hunt-and-peck typing with a single finger. One of the platform's flagship features is MS Office integration. Apart from the keyboard issue, working with documents is a fantastic experience, and this is one of the best reasons to choose a big-screened phone. You can view Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents, but creation is limited to Word and Excel. You can type out text documents just like notes, with a few limited formatting options, and create spreadsheets with formulas and even graphs. Again, we ran into limitations in the way that Windows Phone apps are designed: there's a lot of untapped potential given the 1520's screen and processor. Just to prove this point, we loaded the desktop version of SkyDrive in Internet Explorer. The integrated Office Online version of Word loaded perfectly, giving us a much fuller, more powerful tool on exactly the same hardware (although, to be fair, it involved a lot of pinching and zooming to actually make use of). Microsoft includes a voice command feature that's far more basic than Siri on iOS and Android's integrated functions. You can basically only open apps and dial saved numbers, although third-party apps can also add their own commands. The feature is only notable because, at least with the default setting on our review unit, the phone responds to commands in an Indianised voice with overdone inflections. This might have been intended to make users here feel more comfortable, but it really does come across as cartoonish and patronising. Nokia-specific tweaks Microsoft's efforts have also been supplemented by Nokia in the form of several apps and tweaks, and the Lumia 1520 is the first device to ship with Nokia's latest "Black" software update preinstalled. The most useful of these is the Glance screen, which basically displays the time, phone status and notifications on the phone's lock screen persistently, even after the screen times out. Users of older Nokia Series 60 smartphones will find this familiar: it's exactly the same as the old "screensaver" feature, but now it's done by keeping the screen backlight very slightly illuminated. This might impact battery life to a very small extent, but Glance uses the phone's proximity sensor to turn itself off when it detects it's in a case or pocket. Similarly, since the power button won't always be easy to reach, you can wake the phone by double-tapping anywhere on the screen when it's asleep. Last but not least, Nokia has also decided to cater (or pander) to Indian buyers with a small collection of Indian ringtones, all of which sound like the background scores of incredibly cheesy tourism ads. Camera Nokia's historical strength in imaging has resulted in the truly excellent PureView series of camera phones, but it isn't only hardware that sets the company apart. Nokia knows perfectly well that a phone's camera is only as good as its interface. After having released a number of well-received camera apps, Nokia has decided to coalesce them all into a single one called-what else-Nokia Camera. This app replaces the default Windows Phone camera app, which is truly a blessing. In the default Still mode, you can quickly adjust settings for the flash, white balance, ISO, shutter speed and brightness. You can even manually focus an image as you'd like it. Nudging the shutter release icon inward makes a semi-transparent overlay appear over the display with crescent-shaped sliders for all these settings, and you can see how changing one value affects the others. If you push one too far, you'll see a red highlight and some of the others might become unavailable. This helps you use the best settings for normal shots, but also experiment with artistic ideas. By default, the app is set to capture 16:9 photos at 16 megapixel resolution, but changing this to standard 4:3 actually nets you 19megapixel images, since these are essentially uncropped versions of the same frames. Smaller 5-megapixel versions of all shots are saved in addition to the full size, which are easier to email and upload via various apps. In fact the only way to get the original high-res versions of photos off the phone is to connect it to a PC via USB. In addition to JPG, you can choose to record files in the DNG RAW format, which is uncompressed and allows for much more flexible editing later on a PC (at the cost of enormous file sizes). We were very pleased with the quality of shots captured with the Lumia 1520, both in daylight and at night. Zooming in to the full-resolution version of photos, we were able to expose minor imperfections such as JPEG artefacts and noise, but you'll rarely ever see these on screen. The luxury of having such a large image is that imperfections vanish when you scale downwards. It's possible to capture gorgeous macro shots, and of course being able to manually adjust focus is quite a thrill. In video mode, you only have white balance and focus controls, and can use the flash for constant illumination. There is one neat feature, though: That array of microphones on the rear panel allows the phone to detect where the subjects you're filming are, and boost audio from them while diminishing background noise. Video is captured at 1080p, which can be stepped down to 720p, and 30 frames per second which can be changed to 25 and 24 fps if you prefer. Videos are just as crisp and clear as we expected, and the optical image stabilisation feature really does make a difference. Finally, the third mode is what used to be Nokia's standalone Smart Camera app. In this mode, holding down the shutter button for a few seconds captures a series of frames in rapid succession. The phone then runs through a few processing algorithms and comes up with what it considers the best shot. You can swipe up and down to perform other tricks, such as superimposing multiple copies of a moving subject against a static background, blurring the background with only the subject in focus, and choosing the best combination of smiles from different frames. The Action Shot and Remove Moving Object modes only really work well when you can ensure that only one thing in the frame is moving, and that too at a particular speed. Playing with Smart Camera is a lot of fun, but it will take a bit of practice to get results that are as good as the ones in Nokia's tutorial and advertising materials. There's one more photography feature in the form of a standalone app, or a "lens" that can be launched from within the camera app's menu, called Nokia Refocus. This app captures images while also saving information about the scene at multiple different focal lengths. After taking the photo, you can tap different parts of the frame to decide whether the foreground or background should be blurred or focussed. For no apparent reason, there's a trick within a trick here: you can also tap any object in the frame to preserve its colour, while everything else turns to black and white. It's a neat effect, but it's best when used sparingly and subtly. Other apps Nokia's other big software selling point is the Here maps app with Drive+ global navigation directions. At least as far as larger cities go, we found the maps to be accurate and useful. Although the maps aren't as detailed as Google's, Nokia should get more credit than it does for its mapping features, especially the directions that include options for walking, driving, and public transport. You can check for updated maps and also save them to the device so you aren't dependent on an Internet connection, which frequent travellers will appreciate. The My Commute feature lets your phone learn where you travel from and to frequently, and it will calculate the best route for you and alert you to bad traffic conditions on any given day. You can pin a special My Commute live tile to the phone's Start screen to stay informed of traffic conditions on the way. Nokia Beamer is a hidden gem that links your phone to a service that you can access in any Web browser on any other device, and simply mirrors the contents of your screen to it. You can pair the phone by pointing its camera at a QR code displayed on the target machine's screen, after which pairing is effortless. Visuals are transmitted through the Internet, so don't expect perfectly clear video unless you have superfast Internet connections for both the phone and the target device. Performance and ratings As expected, the Lumia 1520 sailed through our synthetic benchmarks. We don't anticipate any problem running current or future apps, even graphically intensive ones. Games look incredible on the full-HD screen, which wasn't a surprise either. We noticed a few issues, such as a portion of the screen being cut off in one game, and visible tearing in another. We hope this is just a matter of developers optimising their titles for the new hardware, because the Lumia 1520 certainly has the potential to be a gaming powerhouse. In our subjective analysis, the points that stood out were the device's build quality, overall screen quality, and the performance of the camera hardware and software. We gave it lower marks for UI design, ergonomics, and the quality of its app ecosystem. The Lumia 1520 is ultimately an unbalanced device, with extremely powerful hardware and software that doesn't yet take advantage of it. Battery life is solid, and we had no problems with normal day-to-day usage, which consisted of receiving calls plus a few hours of watching videos, playing games, and browsing the Web over Wi-Fi. We did notice that the enormous 3400mAh battery takes a really long time to charge up to 100 percent. Our formal video loop test returned a result of 10 hours and 20 minutes, which is quite respectable. Verdict If you want a Windows Phone with a supersized high-resolution screen, this is currently the only game in town. Nokia is the only manufacturer truly committed to Windows Phone, and with its acquisition by Microsoft now complete, it's unlikely that any other company will bother developing such a device. The Lumia 1520 retails for roughly the same street price as the Lumia 1020, and both could be described as flagships of the line, depending on your priorities. The 1020's camera is simply unbeatable, and is the only thing keeping the 1520 from dominating the specifications charts in every category. However, the 1520's screen and nearly all its internal components are a generation ahead of the 1020's. Incidentally, most of the things we loved about the software such as the Glance screen, integrated camera app and Beamer app are contained in Nokia's "Black" update, which means they'll be rolling out to other Lumias shortly. It's also worth noting that Windows Phone 8.1 is expected in the second quarter of this year. While we don't have any clear indications as to what features and improvements it will bring, it's also likely that a new generation of phones will launch alongside it. The Lumia 1520 will almost certainly receive this update too, but we're not convinced it will have a very long shelf life, and that makes it even harder to recommend. So this is easily the most powerful Windows Phone we've ever used, but does that make it a great phone? We're hesitant to make a recommendation. If you love giant phones, there are quite a few Android options with screens and hardware that match the Lumia 1520, and they have the benefit of better optimised software and a far more substantial library of apps. If you love Windows Phone, there are cheaper options. The Lumia 1520 does stand out when it comes to its camera and looks, but you'd have to be pretty passionate about either of those things to spend close to Rs. 50,000 on this phone. Price: Rs. 56,539 http://gadgets.ndtv.com/mobiles/reviews/nokia-lumia-1520-review-471941
  3. Editorial Vlad Dudau 2 hours ago In my book Windows Phone has a few things going for it. First of all the refreshing Modern UI, which some people hate, but I find to be playful, functional and beautiful. Secondly: high-quality, beautiful devices from the likes of Nokia and even HTC which attract the eyes of consumers with their colors and style. However there are some indications that all of this might change in the near future and not for the better. I’m not referring to the operating system UI, which Microsoft has made quite clear that it’s committed to. Yes, Modern as a design language has become the Redmond’s company primary focus going forward, integrating it in all of their products, like the recently launched Xbox One, and Windows 8. The multi-colored live-tiled interface is here to stay and that for one makes me happy. What I’m referring to is the hardware side. Things might soon shift back towards the colorless slabs of glass and metal that were, and still are in large part, the de facto standard of smartphone and tablet design. Windows Phone 7 launch line-up. Can you spot the difference? If we go back to 2010, when Windows Phone first launched, you might remember that the original line-up of devices had pretty much the same look and feel to them. Whether it was the HTC Mozart, or the Samsung Omnia 7 or even the Dell Venue Pro with its physical keyboard, all the devices were pretty much the same. Sure, some had rounder corners, other had straight ones and the phones differed somewhat in terms of internals but from a user’s point of view they were all the same plastic slab with a screen thrown on top. Going a bit further we can easily say that all smartphones back then looked like that. Following Apple’s sterile iPhone design codes, which it had adopted years earlier for the iPod and Mac devices, all companies churned out black, uninspiring handsets. Yes, some of them could be rather beautiful, especially when they were the original design and not copycats. The iPhone 4 as well as some HTC handsets are good examples of this but the market quickly got saturated with the same design being rehashed over and over again by all the OEMs. The Nokia Lumia 900 - cyan all the way! Enter Nokia. I would like to argue that the Finnish company’s biggest contribution to current smartphones isn’t in terms of sales numbers or software, but rather in terms of design. Following the short-lived N9 with Meego, Nokia quickly repackaged their design ideas, added a lot of color, character and launched the Lumia 800. This wasn’t a commercial success, nor one in terms of critical achievement but it was a success in that it changed the conversation of how smartphones should look and feel. The Lumia 800 brought with it a bold and playful statement, and Microsoft’s and Nokia’s commitment to push this as a more personal handset to consumers paid off. Folks, both in terms of critics, consumers and even other OEMs noticed. A beautiful cyan-blue plastic, combined with the company’s legendary build quality made people pay attention. And most importantly it made other OEMs pay attention. A few months later the same thing happened once again with the Lumia 900, leaving many to wonder why there weren’t more well-designed colorful phones on the market. Finally we get to the launch of Windows Phone 8 and all the handsets that went with it. In something reminiscent of Skittles ads or even this famous Sony Bravia clip, Windows Phone 8 handsets, like the eye-catching Lumia 920 or the playful and stylish designs from HTC made a big colorful splash in the markets. And Nokia’s continued emphasis on good design and desirable looks, as seen in the Lumia 625 or the recently launched Lumia 525, finally made other OEMs cave in and join. Apple took a page out of its own playbook and came back to a much more colourful reality. Last year’s iPod touch models brought a bit of style and this year Apple went all in with the launch of the iPhone 5C. Even the 5S now gets a bit of a makeover with the gold/champagne version. And even Samsung says it’s thinking a lot more about design and build quality even though nothing has yet come of this. The Lumia 2520, a tablet with a splash of personality However this situation may soon change. Nokia is giving up on smartphones and its whole handset division will become part of Microsoft. Now, I’m not saying that Microsoft doesn’t do good design, as the Modern UI itself and Surface tablets clearly show it does. But it has yet to create playful, colorful devices that have their own appeal like the Nokia branded Lumia 2520 tablet. And in fact Microsoft has disappointed many with the rather uninspiring design of their Xbox One console. The company is unpredictable in this field. It occasionally sees major success but more often than not it’s seen as predictable and dull. There’s a real chance that all of Nokia’s hard work might get squashed or at least roughed up under Microsoft’s corporate legacy. Samsung Ativ S - might this be the future of Windows Phone design? And there’s another clue as to the future of Windows Phone hardware. According to recent rumors, Windows Phone 8.1 will completely ditch the physical keys and will go for an Android-styled approach where everything is digital. Why’s that important? Because Microsoft is trying to make it easier for OEMs to switch between Android and the Windows Phone platform. Which ultimately means OEMs will adopt a one size fits all approach and simply reuse their Android designs for WP handsets. And that pretty much takes us back to the Windows Phone 7 launch and its uninspiring black plastic slabs. Of course it doesn't necessarily end like this. Apple seems to have re-committed to colors and it will hopefully drag the rest of the market with them, much like it has in the past. Microsoft themselves will hopefully embrace all that the Lumia team is bringing with it. So even though Nokia’s role in the smartphone wars is ending, we can all hope that their legacy lives on including their awesome playful and user-friendly design. Images via Microsoft and Nokia http://www.neowin.net/news/the-future-of-windows-phone-design-in-microsofts-hands-as-nokia-passes-the-torch
  4. Phone-controlled locks could one day make rummaging for your keys a thing of the past and some of the latest designs have been revealed at this week's CES show. The devices work by using a phone's Bluetooth connectivity to automatically open the lock when an approved person is nearby. The Goji Smart Lock, one of several designs on show at the Las Vegas technology expo, can also take a photo of whoever has triggered the lock and automatically send it to the homeowner's phone. Temporary 'digital keys' can also be created for certain periods or times of the day. For example, a text or email can be sent to a neighbour, babysitter or plumber to give them the power to unlock the front door. The lock's functions are controlled by an iPhone or Android app. Goji's founder, Gabriel Bestard-Ribas, said users could potentially control access to their home while lounging on a beach thousands of miles away. 'Your lock is linked to the WiFi of your home, and your home automation system, so you could manage your home from anywhere in the world,' he said. 'This is a really life-changing event that is happening nowadays.' A WiFi connected doorbell, called the SkyBell, was another of the security gadgets being shown off at CES. It sends an alert to a person's phone - plus live video - whenever someone rings the bell and lets the homeowner talk to the visitor. A motion sensor also triggers an alert when someone is lurking nearby, potentially catching out unwanted visitors. The annual CES technology show - the biggest in the world - has seen the biggest players in technology, as well as many start-ups, show off their latest products. http://www.skynews.com.au/tech/article.aspx?id=941109
  5. 1 of 2. The Huawei Ascend Mate2 4G mobile telephone with an Android operating system is displayed at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada January 8, 2014. Reuters) - LG Electronics executive Frank Lee bounded onto a Las Vegas stage this week to show off a new phone for the U.S. market, the 6-inch G-Flex, which boasts a curved screen. Two hours later, in another room at the same hotel, Huawei Technologies' Richard Yu unveiled the razor-thin Ascend Mate II, bragging it had a battery life of nearly two days. There was one key difference between the two product launches at the Consumer Electronics Show: the South Korean G-Flex will be sold through three U.S. carriers - T-Mobile U.S. Inc, AT&T Inc and Sprint Corp. The Chinese Ascend Mate II? None, at least not yet. In two years, China's three biggest handset makers - Huawei, ZTE Corp and Lenovo Group Ltd - have vaulted into the top ranks of global smartphone charts, helped in part by their huge domestic market and spurring talk of a new force in the smartphone wars. Chinese companies took up more showspace at CES than ever before, eager to tout their products to the world's largest electronics market. Still, analysts said it will likely take years for the Chinese to make headway in the United States, where arguably the only Asian brand to have succeeded is Samsung Electronics Co Ltd. Aside from their struggles to get onto store shelves - U.S. carriers sell nine-tenths of the country's handsets - Chinese handset makers continue to grapple with low brand awareness, perceptions of inferior quality, and even security concerns. "The talk last year was premature," said Frank Gillett, an analyst with Forrester Research. "It's one thing to have the product. It's another thing to have all the relationships, build the distribution channels and do the marketing. "We'll maybe start to see things kick in in 2015." In the third quarter of last year, ZTE and Huawei accounted for 5.7 percent and 3 percent of all phones sold in the United States, respectively, trailing Apple Inc's 36.2 percent and Samsung's 32.5 percent, according to IDC. While Samsung was able to use Google Inc's Android software to offer a viable rival to the iPhone, that path now is too well trodden with many brands offering Android phones. "It's a tall order to climb into this market and gain significant share now, simply because they're coming in after habits are established, technology is established and brand names are established," Gillett said. THE CHINESE ARE COMING It's not for lack of trying. Karen Chupka, one of the organizers of CES, said more than 1,800 Chinese companies turned up this year. She did not provide a comparison. Huawei and ZTE occupied prominent - and pricey - positions at the center of one of the cavernous halls. Huawei said it doubled the size of its booth in two years, and even parked a Mercedes sedan on the floor to attract participants. For Huawei and ZTE, the push into handsets came amid a general slow-down in their bread-and-butter business of selling networking equipment to telecoms companies. Frustrated by accusations on Capitol Hill that national security would be compromised if Chinese networking equipment were installed in the United States, they have sought to double down on handsets for American consumers instead. "That's a cloud over Huawei's ability to operate here," said Endpoint Technologies analyst Roger Kay. "Huawei suffers from something that Lenovo is also smeared with, but Huawei is tarred even worse than Lenovo ever was" in part because of persistent reports about its ties to the Chinese military. Compared to many other markets where consumers buy phones at full price for use on pre-paid plans, 92 percent of Americans buy heavily subsidized devices through carriers, IDC says. "The key to success in the U.S. is the carriers," ZTE USA President Lixin Cheng told Reuters this week in Vegas. He pointed to a nearby stack of papers. "That's my schedule." "I'm meeting all the carriers' C-level executives." ZTE unveiled late last year the Grand S, an unlocked phone that arrived in the U.S. market to mixed reviews. This week, the company unveiled a successor device, the Grand S II. Billed as the world's slimmest smartphone, Huawei's Ascend P6 debuted to mostly positive reviews last year but was never picked up in the United States. T-Mobile said it carries Huawei and ZTE devices, and Sprint said it sells a ZTE device. But these phones are not easily found in stores nor are they promoted on the carriers' websites. AT&T and Verizon did not respond to requests for comment. THERE'S HOPE Still, some analysts think the Chinese firms may have a better shot if the U.S. wireless operators change how they sell handsets. T-Mobile made waves last year when it said it would eliminate contracts for customers who pay full price for phones, and its bigger rivals followed suit with similar offers. More changes may be underway: at CES this week, T-Mobile offered to pay termination fees for users who switch over, essentially offering more freedom to move than before. Huawei and ZTE could make headway if carriers slash subsidies and more consumers are willing to pay full price, giving them an edge over high-end phones. But they may not see meaningful gains for at least two years, said ABI Research analyst Michael Morgan. "They are already setting themselves up for where the puck is going to be tomorrow, when price becomes visible to the consumer again," Morgan said. "There's the crack in the armor for them to sneak through." Just as essential is marketing, something Chinese firms have less experience with than their foreign rivals. Huawei last year uploaded a tongue-in-cheek video of a man asking people around New York's Times Square to pronounce "Huawei." Most failed. And "ZTE apparently has zero brand presence. No one knows who ZTE is," Kay said. In Vegas, Huawei touted figures showing brand recognition has doubled worldwide in the past year. But the least progress was made in the United States and Japan, where its brand awareness rose 5 percent and 9 percent, respectively. The Chinese firm has been marketing directly to consumers only in the past three years, sponsoring European sports events and music events, such as a recent Jonas Brothers tour. ZTE signed a deal with the Houston Rockets basketball team and released a Rockets-branded phone. Yet it will be hard-pressed to match Samsung's 2013 marketing budget of $14 billion, greater than Iceland's economy. "Our approach is grassroots, not like many tier-one brand names," Cheng said. "They're burning hundreds of millions of dollars of your money - consumer money - to build their brand." Some think Lenovo stands the best chance of cracking the local market, given its longer track record here and a more established brand in the United States, courtesy of its 2005 acquisition of IBM's PC division. Lenovo itself expressed an interest in October in Blackberry, but the deal was reportedly nixed by Canadian regulators. Lenovo USA president Gerry Smith declined to discuss specific deals but said Lenovo will "continue to look." Kevin Restivo, an IDC analyst, said the Chinese contenders were making the right moves but it would take time. "The Chinese smartphone makers have grown by leaps and bounds," Restivo said. "But there's a lot of heavy lifting in order for them to approach Samsung as far as status, brand and market share in the U.S. It's very early days." (Additional reporting by Paul Carsten in Beijing and Sinead Carew in New York; Editing by Edwin Chan, Tiffany Wu and Bernard Orr) http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/10/us-ces-china-handsets-idUSBREA091BT20140110
  6. By Jacob Siegal on Jan 9, 2014 at 11:50 PM The mobile app for Facebook, much like its desktop counterpart, is constantly seeing tweaks and revisions, but when the team switched from custom to native development on iOS and Android, they lost the ability to A/B test their releases. In the latest post on the Facebook Engineering Blog, Ari Grant and Kang Zhang detail the complex system they built to take the place of their previous method. Airlock, the new system Facebook has implemented, allows the company to send out “10 or 15 different variations of a single experiment and put it in the hands of millions of people,” and then receive data to find out what worked and what didn’t. Once the team has settled on which experiments should make it to the broader public, they push out an update that will reach every single user on the platform. According to Grant and Zhang, the new approach is the best one yet. “Airlock has made it possible to test on native and improve our apps faster than ever,” they claim. “With the freedom to test, re-test, and evaluate the results, we’re looking forward to building better and better tests and user experiences.” http://bgr.com/2014/01/09/facebook-mobile-updates-ios-android-apps
  7. Nokia has today updated their Nokia Camera Beta app to version imageThe app, which combines the features of Nokia Pro Cam and Smart Cam, is now available for all handsets running Nokia Amber, and brings support for DNG capture (Digital Negative Format) on the Lumia 1520 and 1020 running the Lumia Black software update. The app can be found in the Windows Phone Store here. Via WindowsPhoneapps.es http://wmpoweruser.com/nokia-camera-beta-updated-now-supports-all-nokia-amber-handsets
  8. Written by Ron on January 12, 2014 - 07:05PM If you are looking to make the switch to Windows Phone or simply confused by all the Nokia Lumia choices out there, have no fear. There are quite a few options out there for those interested in purchasing a brand new Nokia Lumia Windows Phone device. Ranging from the Lumia 520, all the way up to the Lumia 1520, which of these Windows Phone devices are the best for you? Nokia launched its line of smartphones called 'Lumia' running Microsoft's Windows Phone platform, first introduced back in November of 2011. These Lumia smartphones were the result of a partnership between Nokia and Microsoft, and aimed to challenge Apple's iPhone and Google's Android dominated smartphone market. Thanks to the Nokia Lumia line of smartphones, Microsoft can proudly tout Windows Phone as the third-place platform, behind iOS and Android. Sure, Windows Phone is on other devices, but Nokia makes up for the majority of Windows Phone devices out in the market today. Nokia Lumia Windows Phone devices all range from a wide variety of specs, color options, and price points. Available on three of the biggest carriers in the United States - Verizon, ATT, and T-Mobile - choosing the right Lumia device may be a daunting task for some. Lets explore some of these handsets and see which one is the right choice for you. Nokia Lumia 520, 521, 525 First off, we have the Nokia Lumia 520. Touted as the most popular Windows Phone device ever, the Nokia Lumia 520 is by far the most affordable choice out there. We recently did a piece on this device called Nokia Lumia 520: Exploring the world's most popular Windows Phone device ever and we suggest taking at look at it if you haven't already. The Nokia Lumia 520 is a 4-inch handset (WVGA 800 x 480) with a 5MP camera, 512MB of RAM, 8GB of storage and a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4​ 1GHz dual-core processor. This device features 3G connectivity. If you want the same specs, but with 4G connectivity, the Lumia 521 is your phone. The Lumia 525, on the other hand, is similar to the 520 and 521 except that it features 1GB of RAM. These devices pack basic power and functionality with a cheap price tag. Perfect as a secondary device or a backup device. Nokia Lumia 620, 625 The Nokia Lumia 620 is a Windows Phone 8 smartphone which features a 3.8-inch display, Qualcomm's Snapdragon S4 Plus processor with 1Ghz dual-core CPUs, a 5MP rear camera, and 8GB of internal storage. Unlike the Lumia 520, the 620 features a front-facing camera. The Lumia 625, on the other hand, features the same specs as the Lumia 620 except for a larger 4.7-inch display and a slightly bumped 1.2Ghz CPU. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qU3kZQt4KOM Nokia Lumia 720 The Nokia Lumia 720 is a SIM-free device which you can snag from online retail outlets such as Amazon.com and comes packed with a 4.3-inch WVGA (800 x 480) IPS LCD. The device also features a Qualcomm's Snapdragon S4 Plus processor with 1Ghz dual-core CPUs, 512MB RAM, 8GB storage space, and a 6.7MP camera. Nokia Lumia 810, 820, 822 The Nokia Lumia 810 features a 4.3-inch WVGA (800 x 480) display, with a 1.5 GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, 1GB RAM, 8GB of internal storage, and an 8MP camera. The Lumia 820 features a 4.3-inch WVGA (800 x 480) display, a 1.5 GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, 1GB RAM, 8GB of internal storage, and a slightly better 8.7 MP camera. The Lumia 822, available on Verizon, features a 4.3-inch WVGA (800 x 480) display, with a 1.5 GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, 1GB RAM, 16GB of internal storage, and an 8MP camera. Nokia Lumia 920, 925, 928, 929* The Nokia Lumia 920 is an AT&T Windows Phone device that features a 4.5-inch WXGA (1280 x 768) IPS LCD display, with a 1.5 GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, 1GB RAM, 32GB of storage, and an 8.7MP Pureview camera. The Lumia 925, on the other hand, is newer with an Amoled display, rather than an IPS LCD display. Having roughly the same specs as the Lumia 920, the Lumia 925 is simply lighter and thinner. The Lumia 928, which is available via Verizon, features the same specs as the Lumia 920. The Lumia 928 sets itself apart by having both a Xenon and LED flash on the rear camera, along with a trio of mics for noise cancelation and distortion-free recording. Verizon is also rumored to be receiving the Lumia 929 (also known as the Lumia ICON), which features a 5-inch 1080p display, 2.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage space, and a 20MP camera. Nokia Lumia 1020, 1320, 1520 The Lumia 1020 is known for its 41MP camera with Xenon flash. Other specs include a 4.5-inch screen with 334 ppi and WXGA (1280 x 768) resolution, dual-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU, 2GB RAM, and 32GB of storage. The Lumia 1320 is a lower-cost sibling of the 6-inch Lumia 1520 and features a 6-inch 720p screen, a 5MP camera, dual-core 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU, and 8GB of internal storage which can be expanded to 64GB. There is also a 5MP camera. The Lumia 1520, on the other hand, is the current flagship Windows Phone device in the market with a gigantic 6-inch display sporting a resolution of 1920x1080 pixels with 367 ppi density. Under the hood, the phablet is powered by the monstrous Snapdragon 800 SoC clocked at 2.2GHz with Adreno 330 GPU and 2 GB of RAM. The device also features 16GB of storage space and a 20MP camera. Available Where? ◾Verizon: Lumia 928, Lumia ICON ◾AT&T: Lumia 920, Lumia 925, Lumia 1020, Lumia 1520 ◾Sprint: Does not carry Nokia Lumia devices. ◾T-Mobile: Lumia 521, Lumia 925 Comparing the camera and resolution ◾Lumia 520, 521, 525: 4-inch display (WVGA 800 x 480) with a 5MP camera ◾Lumia 620: 3.8-inch display (WVGA 800 x 480) with a 5MP camera ◾Lumia 625: 4.7-inch display (WVGA 800 x 480) with a 5MP camera ◾Lumia 720: 4.3-inch display (WVGA 800 x 480) with a 6.7MP camera ◾Lumia 810, 822: 4.3-inch display (WVGA 800 x 480) with an 8MP camera ◾Lumia 820: 4.3-inch display (WVGA 800 x 480) with an 8.7MP camera ◾Lumia 920, 925, 928: 4.5-inch display (WXGA 1280 x 768) with an 8.7MP camera ◾Lumia ICON: 5-inch display (Full HD 1920 x 1080) with a 20MP camera ◾Lumia 1020: 4.5-inch display (WXGA 1280 x 768) with a 41MP camera ◾Lumia 1320: 6-inch display (HD720 1280 x 720) with a 5MP camera ◾Lumia 1520: 6-inch display (Full HD 1920 x 1080) with a 21MP camera So as you can see, there are a wide variety of Nokia Lumia Windows Phone devices available for selection. If you are in the United States, AT&T has a wider selection of Lumia devices, including the higher end Lumia 1520. Those of you on Verizon will have to wait for the Lumia ICON to be released, otherwise settle for the Lumia 928. Sprint, for now, does not have any Nokia Lumia devices available for purchase, but you can use an unlocked Windows Phone device on the network. As for carriers outside of the United States, let us know in the comments below which Nokia Lumia device you are able to choose from and the name of the carrier. So which one of these devices are best for you? If you are looking for something simple and basic in functionality, snag the Lumia 521 which comes with 4G connectivity. A great midrange device would be any device in the 9xx range for those wishing to have a balance between power and price. For those of you who want a larger screen device and a powerhouse device without worrying about price, grab the 6-inch Lumia 1520. Which Nokia Lumia device do you currently own and on what carrier? Are you currently looking to make the switch to a newer Lumia device? Let us know in the comments below. If we missed or fudged any details, let us know in the comments as well so we can fix it! http://www.winbeta.org/news/lumia-520-lumia-1520-which-windows-phone-powered-nokia-device-best-you
  9. By Daniel Rubino, Saturday, Feb 8, 2014 at 4:32 pm With yesterday’s all but obvious teaser for the Lumia Icon – otherwise known as the Lumia 929 – you would suspect that a launch date and announcement wouldn’t be too far off from now. Granted, expected dates have come and gone in the past, but now that Verizon stores are receiving inventory for accessories and Nokia US is tossing up videos, we’re much more confident this time around. The latest intel has the Lumia Icon due for availability on Thursday, February 20th. Verizon traditionally launches new devices on that day of the week, so that lines up with expectations. It also matches anticipations that this device will come out before Mobile World Congress (so don’t expect it to be announced there). Even more, we’re hearing that the Icon will go on pre-order at Microsoft Stores on Wednesday, February 12th, with a $50 deposit, making an official announcement from Verizon by early next week very likely. The information and confirmation comes via in-store inventory listings, seen above. We’ve witnessed such proof in the past, only to have Verizon push the date back. In theory, that could happen here, but as mentioned earlier, in-store inventory and promotions have already begun, making it less likely. The Lumia Icon, previously known as the Lumia 929, sports some very impressive specifications. In fact, it’s all but the Lumia 1520 in a smaller package. Coming in Black or White, the new Verizon flagship will sport the following features: Verizon Nokia Lumia Icon •Windows Phone 8 Update 3, Lumia Black •5” 1080P AMOLED Display •2.2 GHz Quad-Core Snapdragon 800 CPU •32 GB internal Storage •2 GB RAM •20 MP PureView camera with dual LED flash •Qi-Wireless charging •2510 mAh battery •880 hours Standby; 13.83 hours Talk Time •Dimensions: 5.37 in (H): 2.81 in (W): 0.41 in All in all, it’s the spitting image of the Lumia 928, but with cutting edge hardware jammed into a device that is only slightly taller than its predecessor. The Lumia Icon also sports a metal-frame around the body, greatly improving the feel (and quality) of the device. The Lumia Icon was previously known as the Lumia 929, but we’ve been told that Verizon requested the marketing re-brand to better differentiate from AT&T and other carriers. This move is similar to their ‘Droid movement when they first adopted Android devices. There’s no evidence though that this will become the norm for future Lumias (or what those will be called under Microsoft). Yesterday’s teaser video uses the tagline ‘See and hear what you’ve been missing’, which is the same language used on Verizon’s website that accidentally went live a few times, all but confirming the relatedness. http://www.wpcentral.com/nokia-lumia-icon-verizon-february-20th
  10. By Ina Fried 8, 2014, 9:00 AM PST Tim Cook has made it abundantly clear that Apple will be going into some new market segments this year. He said it on last month’s earnings call, and reiterated it this week in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. “There will be new categories and we’re working on some great stuff,” Cook told the Journal this week, adding, of course, “We’re not ready to talk about it.” Whatever it is Apple has cooking (and many expect a watch, or possibly a more serious entry in the television space), it can’t come soon enough. While smartphones continue to grow, most of that growth is in the low-end and mid-tier of the market — areas Apple has continued to eschew in favor of producing premium iPhone models. In its earnings report this week, chipmaker ARM Holdings forecast that the high-end part of the smartphone market — the only part in which Apple currently competes — will grow only an average of four percent over the next five years. The overall market is set to grow 10 percent, fueled by growth at the low end. “Anybody in the premium space has to be careful,” ARM Executive VP Antonio Viana said in an interview this week. Apple is most definitely in that space, with the iPhone generating $32.5 billion last quarter, more than half of Apple’s total sales. And while Apple isn’t alone in that area, it is the only company that sells phones exclusively at the high end. Rival Samsung has a particularly diverse portfolio of smartphones, with a model at almost every price and screen size. Apple hasn’t ruled out moving into other price segments, but Cook has said Apple won’t do so unless it can do something up to its high standards, a point he reiterated with the Journal. Where it comes to true smartphones, Cook said Apple is typically No. 1 or No. 2 in the market. “Would I like to be one in the places where we are two? You better believe it,” he told the Journal. “If there is a way we can do that without changing where our line is on a great product, then we’re going to do it. But what we’re not going to do is we’re not going to make junk.” http://recode.net/2014/02/08/this-one-chart-shows-why-apples-new-categories-cant-come-soon-enough
  11. by Peter Bright - Feb 9 2014, 12:00am AUSEST This article apparently is a response to "Analysis: Microsoft Must Kill Windows Phone And Fork Android" http://www.nsaneforums.com/topic/206052-analysis-microsoft-must-kill-windows-phone-and-fork-android/ Canning Windows Phone and using Android would be a huge mistake. As happens from time to time, the suggestion has been made that Microsoft cancel Windows Phone, and instead fork Android. It's not the first time this suggestion has been made. It's probably not the last, either. It's a poor idea. Google has worked to make Android functionally unforkable, with no practical way to simultaneously fork the platform and take advantage of its related strengths: abundant developers, and abundant applications. The outline of the "Microsoft should fork Android" argument is as follows: Windows Phone doesn't have huge developer buy-in or sales success, but Android has both. By forking Android, Microsoft could provide unique value—corporate integration with things like Exchange, Active Directory, and System Center or InTune; full Office support; a polished user experience—and make the platform depend on its own cloud services (Bing, Bing Maps, Azure) rather than Google's. But simultaneously, it would still have access to all the Android applications that people depend on. The result should be a platform that's somehow more attractive to consumers, by virtue of the Android brand and all those Android apps, more attractive to developers thanks to the Android APIs, and cheaper for Microsoft to develop, since core operating system development can be left to Google. Where this falls down is that there's no good way to use the Android platform this way. It's not designed for it. In fact, with each new Android release, Google is making a forked operating system less and less viable. Not-very-open source Broadly speaking, Google produces two big chunks of code. The first is the Android Open Source Platform (AOSP) codebase. This provides the basic bones of a smartphone operating system: it includes Android's version of the Linux kernel, the Dalvik virtual machine, and portions of the basic user interface (settings app, notification panel, lock screen). This part is licensed under a mix of the GPL and Apache license. Google produces periodic code release of these open source parts, though has been criticized for performing the actual development largely behind closed doors. The second chunk is called the Google Mobile Services (GMS). (Or at least, sometimes it's called GMS. Sometimes it's called just Google Services, and sometimes it's Google Play or Google Play Apps; GMS is what it's called in the code, though, so that seems to be the most common name). This has two big portions. The Google Play Services provides a wealth of APIs and system services: APIs for Google Maps, Location, and in-app purchasing; Google+ integration; Remote Wipe; Malware scanning; and more. Then there's the Play Store collection of apps: Search, Gmail, Chrome, Maps, and many more. The GMS has a few important features. GMS isn't open source. Anyone can take AOSP and slap it on a phone. That's not true of GMS. To get GMS, the device has to meet certain technical requirements (performance, screen resolution, and so on), and it has to pass validation. Though Google says that the GMS suite is itself free, the validation process isn't, with reports that it costs around $0.75 per device. GMS also seems not to be divisible: if your phone passes the GMS validation and can include GMS, it includes everything: both Play Services, and the various Google-branded apps that use those services. The split between AOSP and GMS is not constant, either. Google has slowly been migrating more and more functionality to GMS. For example, in the latest Nexus 5, the core phone user interface—the thing that you use to launch apps and show icons—has been rolled into the GMS Search app. Similarly, APIs have made the move. AOSP contains a location API, but GMS contains a newer, better one, with additional features. Google encourages developers to use the GMS API, and the AOSP Location API mostly dates back to Android 1.0, and hasn't seen any substantial changes since Android 1.5. The result is that many third-party applications are not merely "Android" applications: they're GMS applications, and won't run without the proprietary, non-open Google software. Four ways to do Android There are four ways that hardware builders can use Android on their phones. The first is the way that Google really wants companies to use Android: by relying both on AOSP and GMS. Pass the certification, include all the Google services and Google apps. That's what companies like Samsung and HTC and LG do. Going this route still provides some facility for the OEM to customize. OEMs can provide their own apps to sit alongside the Google ones, for example. It appears that Google isn't completely happy about this—there are reports that the company recently made an agreement with Samsung whereby Samsung would reduce the amount of customization of the user interface and deprioritize or remove its apps that competed directly with Google-branded equivalents. Taking this path provides the best compatibility with third-party applications by ensuring that they have both AOSP and GMS APIs available to them. It also provides the most consistent experience: in spite of the various customizations that are done, it means that Google's apps will be available, and those apps will work the same way on any AOSP+GMS device. It also cedes most control to Google, and that level of control will only grow. Each new release increases the level of integration with Google's own services, and Google is moving more and more new functionality to GMS, leaving AOSP a barebones husk. At the other end of the spectrum, you can ignore GMS entirely. Ship a phone with AOSP and perhaps some custom software on top of it to make the experience a little less rough for users, and call the job done. At the very cheapest end of the market, there are companies doing precisely this; it's abundant in China, in particular. If they choose, OEMs can provide their own stores and other services to fill the many, many gaps that omitting GMS leaves, but they're always at a disadvantage relative to GMS devices, because they won't be compatible with any third-party applications that use GMS' APIs. That's not a small category, either, since features such as in-app purchasing are in GMS. The third option is the one that spans the two: ship a device with AOSP, and an equivalent to GMS that provides new implementations of substantially the same APIs. Provide workalike replacements for services such as location and mapping, but plumb into Microsoft services rather than Google ones. No company has really gone down this route. The closest is Amazon, which provides near-drop-in replacements for some Google APIs (in particular mapping), but which hasn't even begun to keep pace with GMS development in general. Technically, however, a company with sufficient development resources could provide its own GMS replacement. The overhead would be not insignificant, especially as—to ensure optimal compatibility—the replacement would have to replicate not just correct functioning, but any bugs or quirks of the GMS implementation. There are also lots of little awkward aspects of the GMS API; it includes such capabilities as "share with Google+" which few companies have any real counterpart to. Another example: there is an API for handling turn-based multiplayer gaming. A company could implement this API and have its own server infrastructure for managing the gaming sessions, but obviously these gaming sessions would be completely separate from Google's gaming sessions, fragmenting the player base in a way that game developers are unlikely to be keen on. As an added bonus, should the ultimate resolution of Google's long-running legal battle with Oracle be that APIs are, in fact, copyrightable, this kind of wholesale reimplementation of GMS would become legally actionable. Google could, if it chose to, shut it down through the courts. To these three options, one could perhaps add a fourth: use AOSP to provide a few essential services—support for hardware, telephony, and so on—but then build an entirely new platform and APIs to run on it. Aspects of Amazon's API support would fall into this category, with some of its APIs covering the same ground as GMS APIs, but in a completely different, incompatible way. It's not clear, however, that any manufacturer has entirely embraced this path, though one might argue that Ubuntu for Android is similar, at least in spirit. You can have compatibility or control: Not both The first of these options—AOSP with GMS—is the only option that provides the full Android experience. It's the only one that ensures developers can transfer their skills perfectly, the only one that ensures that the full breadth and variety of Android software is available. However, it's clearly not a good option for Microsoft, given that it would almost entirely cede control of the platform to Google—and judging by the advertising company's track record, it would cede even more control with each new Android release. The second option—AOSP with a few extra custom extras—has the upside of providing an opportunity for Microsoft to integrate its own services. It would support some Android software, though exactly how much is unclear. It would certainly mean omitting any high-profile title using in-app purchasing, so, say, Plants vs. Zombies 2 or the latest iteration of Angry Birds would be out. If one were building a feature phone platform, this may be a somewhat reasonable path to take. When the phone is only really built for running the built-in apps (camera, browser, e-mail) the fact that many Android apps would be incompatible doesn't really matter. The rumors of a Nokia-built Android phone suggest this kind of approach: AOSP under the hood, but with Nokia services, not Google ones, on top. This approach also probably works acceptably for ultra-low-end devices where compatibility isn't such a big deal, which accounts for much of the Chinese AOSP market. But for Microsoft, this would be missing the point: the company already has a platform that's not compatible with the latest and greatest high profile apps. It doesn't need another one. However, it's important to understand just how deficient this kind of device would be. Google has pushed very significant pieces of functionality into GMS, including messaging and the Chrome browser. The AOSP counterparts are buggy, feature deprived, and by at least some accounts, barely maintained. If a company wants to use AOSP without GMS, it has a lot of work to do if it wants to produce a high quality experience. The open source parts just aren't good enough. Amazon's Kindle experience also demonstrates how even having an Android-like AOSP-derived platform is challenging. Kindle doesn't have the latest and greatest Android games, because their various developers haven't bothered making non-GMS versions of their games, even though the Kindle platform is very similar to Google's. In other words, the application challenge already faced by Windows Phone isn't solved by using AOSP. The only way to solve the application issue is to be not merely an AOSP platform but a GMS platform. The third option—AOSP with a home-grown GMS equivalent—would solve this, but it would also maximize the development effort required by the forker. Providing equivalents to every GMS capability ensures at least that users get a decent experience. It would also reinstate the software compatibility that AOSP without GMS forfeits. But this is a huge undertaking. For Microsoft, the effort required to build a GMS workalike on top of AOSP is going to be comparable to the effort required to build the Windows Phone shell and APIs on top of Windows. In fact, it's likely to be somewhat greater: Microsoft already has, for example, a browser engine that runs on Windows. It doesn't have one that runs on AOSP. Moreover, it still implicitly gives Google control over the platform. Various aspects of how Android is used are determined by the underlying APIs: sharing between applications, for example, is done in a particular Android way. Any platform using Android in this way would have only a limited ability to take the platform in a different direction from the one Google chose. The fourth option—use AOSP with an entirely new software stack on top—gives freedom and flexibility, but to what end? The kernel isn't the important bit. Microsoft already has a smartphone kernel. Windows Phone 8 already uses it. And strikingly, for Microsoft, ditching Windows Phone doesn't mean that the company can ditch development of this kernel. It's already being developed—for Windows! The kernel isn't the hard part. Fork off If Android were an open platform in the way that Firefox OS or Ubuntu for smartphones were an open platform, the forking suggestion would make more sense. The AOSP/GMS split wouldn't exist. Everything would be in AOSP, so piecemeal substitution of back-end services without having to reinvent vast tracts of code and without any major compatibility implications would be practical. But it isn't. Not only is it not this kind of an open platform, but Google is actively working to make it functionally less open with each new release. The result is that a forker has to make a choice: they can give Google control and get the all the upsides of the platform, or they can snatch control from Google and get almost none of them. Android isn't designed to be forked. With GMS, Google has deliberately designed Android to resist forking. Suggestions that Microsoft scrap its own operating system in favor of such a fork simply betray a lack of understanding of the way Google has built the Android platform. http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2014/02/neither-microsoft-nokia-nor-anyone-else-should-fork-android-its-unforkable This article apparently is a response to "Analysis: Microsoft Must Kill Windows Phone And Fork Android" http://www.nsaneforums.com/topic/206052-analysis-microsoft-must-kill-windows-phone-and-fork-android/
  12. Confirming reports from earlier in the week, Sony has announced plans to sell off its VAIO computer division to a Japanese investment fund. Japan Industrial Partners (JIP) will take control of the operation for an undisclosed fee, and Sony will "cease planning, design and development of PC products." For a variety of reasons "including the drastic changes in the global PC industry," Sony says "the optimal solution is to concentrate its mobile product lineup on smartphones and tablets and to transfer its PC business to a new company." The deal is expected to be completed by the end of July, and JIP's new company will initially focus on selling VAIO-branded computers in Japan; it plans to hire between 250 and 300 Sony employees for the venture. Sony is investing 5 percent of the new company's capital. VAIO, a brand which has variously stood for Video Audio Integrated Operation and Visual Audio Intelligent Organizer, was introduced in 1996 with the PCV desktop line. Sony has expanded it through the years to encompass wild designs like the tiny VAIO P and entries in the ill-fated UMPC category, as well as more recent products like the VAIO Pro ultrabook and VAIO Tap hybrid. Although the unit had been losing money amid a wider slump in the PC market, VAIO has always been associated with high-end design, and the line counted Steve Jobs among its admirers. A major manufacturer selling off its Windows PC business the week of Satya Nadella's unveiling as Microsoft CEO serves as a worrying indictment of the industry's health. Source
  13. The desktop is dead, long live mobile: Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg knows how important the mobile experience is when it comes to engaging with users on the go, and Graph Search is the latest feature making the leap from the Web to Facebook’s smartphone and tablet apps. Zuckerberg hinted that Graph Search for mobile was in development during last week’s earnings call, also promising a range of standalone mobile apps to augment the main Facebook experience. The first of these, the Flipboard-style news reader Paper, is scheduled to launch tomorrow for the iPhone. Now it looks like testing has begun in earnest to bring the social network’s slick, multi-purpose search tool to smartphones and tablets. Mashable’s Seth Fiegerman seems to be one of the early beta testers, confirming in a tweet that Graph Search had arrived in a Facebook mobile update. Facebook itself hasn’t provided an official timescale, though Zuckerberg did say that the feature would be coming to the platform’s mobile apps “pretty soon”. The desktop version of Graph Search launched last July in the U.S., giving users “a new way to find people, photos, places and interests on Facebook.” The functionality was expanded again in October, with new options for running searches based on time, topic and location. Access to Graph Search outside the U.S. is still limited to a selection of early testers. Presumably the high-speed, real-time Graph Search will require a decent cellular or Wi-Fi connection to work effectively on mobile, though until it rolls out fully we won’t know for sure. Will Graph Search tempt you to open up your Facebook app more often? Or have you already jumped ship to Snapchat? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. Source
  14. By Zach Epstein on Feb 12, 2014 at 9:49 AM When Samsung unveils its highly anticipated flagship Galaxy S5 smartphone later this month, it will likely be one of the most impressive handsets the world has ever seen. Rumors suggest it will have an amazing Super AMOLED display that measures 5.25 inches diagonally and packs 2K resolution for crystal-clear viewing. It will also supposedly feature either a cutting-edge quad-core Snapdragon chipset or Samsung’s own eight-core Exynos processor, as well as a huge battery, an impressive 16- or 20-megapixel camera and the latest version of the Android operating system. As great as that all sounds, however, you probably shouldn’t buy Samsung’s new Galaxy S5 when it launches in the weeks to come. Samsung plans to take the wraps off of the new Galaxy S5 during a press conference in Barcelona, just before the annual Mobile World Congress trade show gets underway. Millions of smartphone fans around the world are waiting with bated breath, and it will undoubtedly be a gorgeous device. But those who can fight the urge to purchase one the instant it launches will be rewarded, according to the results of a recent study. Consumer electronics price comparison specialist Idealo on Wednesday published the results of its research into the price trends of recent Galaxy S flagship phones in the months following each release. By analyzing the data it gathered, the firm was able to predict that the Galaxy S5′s price will decline substantially following its launch, which is expected to take place next month. Samsung’s Galaxy S II, Galaxy S III and Galaxy S4 all followed remarkably similar trend lines in the long run in terms of unlocked price trends following launch. In the short term, however, the prices of Samsung’s flagship phones have been dropping faster with each new generation. Within three months of being released, the prices of the S II and S III had each dropped by more than 10%, and the S4 fell by nearly 20%. According to Idealo’s projections, the average retail price of the Galaxy S5 will dip by 24% after just three months on the market. That’s a discount of nearly one-quarter for those who can manage to wait just three months. “The average price of the Samsung Galaxy S2 had reduced by 13% of its initial value after three months of being on sale,” Idealo explained in a post on its blog. “Its successor, the Galaxy S3, experienced a price decline of 14%. One generation down the line, we notice an even more significant price decline. The Galaxy S4, which was released in May 2013, was 18% cheaper by August 2013.” The post continued, “Based on this data, we can predict that after just 3 months, the new Galaxy S5 could be available for just 76% of its original release price, which makes up a price reduction of almost a quarter, just three months on from market release.” It’s always difficult for gadget enthusiasts to hold off on purchasing a new device the moment it launches, especially one that’s as highly anticipated as the Galaxy S5. Those who can exercise some self-control and wait a bit, however, stand to be handsomely rewarded. http://bgr.com/2014/02/12/galaxy-s5-price-details-sale
  15. Hi Everyone , As the title states, my problem is that today I was trying to update my SAMSUNG Galaxy Ace S5830 to Android 4.4.2 KitKat with CyanogenMod 11 ROM using the method http://www.ibtimes.c...install-1430916 , After downloading the Custom CWM, ROM & copy pasting the said zip files to the SD card, tried the CWM in Recovery mode but it didn't worked due to "not a valid update zip" error, Idk whether it was due to either my phone was not rooted or something else. So then went ahead with rooting my phone using SuperOneClick v2.3.3 and renamed the CWM file "ClockworkMod Recovery" to update.zip, Voila this time CWM was installed. While performing this step, I have not cleared the cache and not deleted the data but after this Recovery mode stopped working though phone was working without any issues. So I thought the issue might be due to some CWM error & then downloaded & installed the ROM Manager app from the Google play link : https://play.google....utta.rommanager and selected the option Reboot into recovery and since then display is stalled at SAMSUNG LOGO see in the pic : http://i.imgur.com/4k9k5ku.jpg and now I am unable to use the handset. I did tried the workaround given in this link http://www.droidview...830-using-odin/ with the odin v4.42 but Windows was unable to detect the USB device, although I have installed the latest SAMSUNG_USB_Driver_for_Mobile_Phones_v1.5.33.0 Drivers. These are the Windows error screenshots : http://prntscr.com/2s3we4, http://prntscr.com/2s40ni, & after Uninstalling the USB drivers nothing is changed http://prntscr.com/2s40ur, http://prntscr.com/2s41pn That being said, any help will be highly appreciated. Edit Note : Topic Title Changed to Solved! :)
  16. By WPBar February 16, 2014 WPBar, who has been right about a lot of things Windows Phone 8.1 related, reports that we can expect the official version of the updated OS to reach us only between June and August 2014. At the same time we can also expect a wave of new devices running the OS. This corresponds to a similar release pace as Windows Phone 8, which was also widely leaked in Early 2012, but only hit devices around October 2012. The good news for enthusiasts however is that Microsoft has finally managed to get its Developer Preview program up and running, and WPBars sources confirm that the OS will be made available to developers, which really means anyone with an App Studio account, from April this year. While I am sure our readers would prefer Microsoft get WP 8.1 pushed out as rapidly as possible, given the massive size and complexity of the update I think we would all prefer Microsoft get as close to getting it right as possible before release. http://wmpoweruser.com
  17. By Brad Sams 5 hours ago It’s no secret that Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform got off to a much slower start than many had hoped. But with a couple years now behind the platform, there is solid proof that Windows Phone is growing and that Microsoft's marketing efforts are paying off. Aside from the notable achievements, and we call them achievements because getting developers to adopt to your new platform is never an easy task, especially landing key first party apps such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter; trending analysis shows consumers are warming up to the platform. How do we know consumers are looking into the platform? That’s easy, Google Trends. If you wonder why Google Trends is an important indicator of market acknowledgement of a platform, it’s because Google has a commanding lead of all Internet based searches. Because Google is able to gather such a wide base of search queries, it can be used as a representative sample of the market, and when we start to look into Windows Phone, the data paints a positive picture. If we start with the macro, you are able to see the obvious trend. The growth of Windows Phone based searches is growing steadily and this is exactly what you would expect to see. But, there are instances of new products (from old companies) falling away after being on the market for several years (such as Blackberry) so the fact that Windows Phone exhibits such a solid climb at the macro level, is a good sign for Microsoft. When you start to close in on the micro, the trending is still apparent, although not as significant when you take a look at the entire picture. Over the last two years, interest in Windows Phone, based on Google search trends, has continued to climb at a moderate pace. While not the ‘hockey stick’ style growth that many would love to see, it’s still progressive and consistent growth. One of the key takeaways here too is that Windows Phone saw its highest level of interest in December of 2013. Specifically, the week of Christmas Windows Phone hit its peak since the platform has been introduced. This is significant for many reasons, one of which means that they had a very strong holiday shipping season. Secondly is that their holiday marketing efforts likely paid off. While we have to wait another week or so to hear the official earnings from Nokia and Microsoft, we suspect that Nokia will acknowledge another strong quarter of sales. Finally, when we look at the trailing 12 months, we can see that Windows Phone is still on the rise, the growth is not substantial but it's consistent, which is key for Microsoft. Why is it key? Well, at this point the company’s internal expectations are that it’s going to be a long road to a significant marketshare position and not an overnight explosion of growth. Seeing that Windows Phone is still trending upward, even at the micro level, is a good sign for the platform. You might be thinking that this slow growth is not all that impressive. But remember, the smartphone market is one of the most saturated markets on the planet. With several strong platforms and the fact that Microsoft is playing catch-up, they are showing that they do have the muscle to be relevant in any market that they enter. If you need evidence that this market is insanely competitive and that getting consumers (and developers to switch platforms) is quite hard, take a look at webOS or even BBOS. With webOS completely dead and BBOS struggling to remain relevant, the smartphone market is not one for the weak and with Microsoft showing consistent growth over the macro picture, it’s certainly a good sign for the company. Both of the companies backing webOS and BBOS had significant cash pools to support the platforms, but in this case you need a lot more than money to have a consumer-adored smartphone OS. So what does all of this mean? It means that Windows Phone is gaining consumer acknowledgement, it’s becoming part of their vocabulary when they discuss smartphone platforms, and that is a huge win for Microsoft. We still continue to hear about poor sales experience from around the US about smartphone sales folks steering consumers away from Windows Phone, but when the consumer starts asking for a Microsoft platform in a market that they were lagging for many years, it’s a win by any measure. http://www.neowin.net/news/windows-phone-growth-continues-with-december-2013-reaching-new-heights
  18. Robin Sinha, January 24, 2014 Nokia has confirmed its presence at the upcoming Mobile World Congress 2014 event, which is scheduled from 24 to 27 February in Barcelona. The Finnish firm has dropped an invitation for a press conference to be held on February 24, at 0730 (GMT). Just what does Nokia have in store for its MWC 2014 event? A range of handsets have been rumoured since November last year, out of which, we expect most of them to show up at the event. In total, six Nokia handsets are rumoured to get revealed at the event, including a few large-screen smartphones, or phablets. Back in November 2013, @evleaks mentioned two handsets with codename "Goldfinger" and "Moneypenny", which would run on the not-yet-officially-announced Windows Phone 8.1 OS or Windows Phone Blue. Reports additionally mentioned that Goldfinger will be the flagship handset and will feature 3D touch technology on which the company has been said to work from quite a while. The Moneypenny was also rumoured to be the first dual-SIM Windows Phone, though a single-SIM 'variant' was also expected Along with these two expected handsets, rumours about four other devices have emerged, two of which are mostly the variants of the current flagship handset, the Lumia 1520. The rumoured Nokia Lumia 1820 is said to be the company's next flagship. The Nokia Lumia 1820 is said to feature a full metal unibody build. A tipster suggests the alleged Lumia 1820 would feature a Lytro-style camera, which will allow users to refocus images even after they are clicked. Other rumoured specifications for the handset include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor paired with 3GB of RAM, and 5.2-inch screen sporting a 2K pixel resolution. The handset is expected to be backed by a 3400mAh battery alongside a 32GB expandable storage. On the other hand, the proposed Nokia Lumia 1525 will share the same screen size as Lumia 1520, but will apparently share the same specifications as the Lumia 1820. It is said to feature a 6-inch 2K display, and get a revamped rear camera with either 25 or 30-megapixel sensor, according to @NextLeaks. Rather incredibly, the Lumia 1525 is also expected to sport a battery that can be powered via a solar charging display, something we'll definitely have to see to believe. The Nokia Lumia 1520V, is rumoured to be the smaller version of flagship Lumia 1520 phablet. While Lumia 1520 features a 6-inch screen size with full-HD resolution, the rumoured Lumia 1520V will apparently stuff in the same 1080p resolution in a 4.3-inch screen. Other features said to be shared by the handset are 2GB of RAM, 32GB of inbuilt storage and a quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor. The Windows Phone 8.1-based Lumia 1520V is also expected to boast of a 14-megapixel camera alongside a 3000mAh battery. Lastly, the most-anticipated handset, the rumoured first Nokia budget Android phone, Project Normandy or Nokia X, is expected to be launched at MWC 2014. The handset is said to come with a custom Android UI. The leaked home screen panel of the Nokia X also includes the BBM app which points that the device is running an Android version, though, no word on the alleged Android version as of now. Since, none of the above handsets have been confirmed by the firm, one can only wait till MWC 2014 to see what Nokia has in store for its users. http://gadgets.ndtv.com/mobiles/news/nokia-expected-to-showcase-six-handsets-at-mwc-2014-event-on-february-24-474956
  19. By Dante D'Orazio on January 25, 2014 05:02 pm The US Department of Justice has filed criminal charges against the people allegedly behind two popular Android piracy websites, Snappzmarket and Appbucket. Both sites offered large catalogs of free app downloads, giving pirates a way to avoid paying for premium apps on Google Play. The two sites were seized by the government in 2012, and four men have now been charged with conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. It's the first time that the Justice Department has moved to prosecute individuals for illegally distributing mobile apps. FBI special agent Ricky Maxwell, who was involved in the investigation into the two sites, said in a statement that "The federal charges presented in this case illustrates the problems facing technology based companies in particular." He added that the case "highlights the FBI and US government response to those engaged in such wholesale criminal activity involving the piracy of copyrighted products." Defendants face a maximum prison sentence of five years Kody Peterson, a 22-year-old from Clermont, Florida was allegedly behind Snappzmarket, according to court documents. The Justice Department says that he and other conspirators cracked Android apps to remove their anti-piracy protections and obtained other pre-cracked apps that were all added to the website's catalog for free download. Between May 2011 and August 2012 the site is said to have facilitated 1 million illegal downloads worth a total of $1.7 million. According to the documents, investigators have access to chat logs between Peterson and his conspirators, and in at least one conversation they allegedly agree to plans to ignore copyright takedown requests under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Piracy has plagued mobile app markets for years, and Android has had particularly high rates of illegal app downloads. For some apps, estimates put the piracy rate as high as 60 percent. http://www.theverge.com/2014/1/25/5345182/justice-department-files-charges-against-android-app-pirates
  20. January 25, 2014 By Surur AdDuplex, who has access to plenty of data from their app promotion network, and who publishes a monthly report, have looked at their numbers and found that it is likely that more Windows Phones were sold in Q4 than Q3 2013 after all, and that more than 10 million new Windows Phone handsets landed in consumer hands in the holiday season. Their conclusion is based on that assumption that no significant number of Windows Phone 7 handsets were sold in 2013, and a number of other logical assumptions, but of course is not as solid as an actual announcement by Microsoft or Nokia. Crucially it also suggests more Windows Phones were sold in Q2 than Q3, and that there were therefore a significant number of handsets in sales channel in Q3 already, waiting to be sold in Q4. AdDuplex suggests there are now around 35 million Windows Phone 8 handsets in use, and about 45 million Windows Phones in total in active use. AdDuplex’s data would be consistent with Kantar’s estimates, which has showed a more steady upward trajectory in Windows Phone sales. Hopefully some more clarification will be forthcoming eventually. See the post at AdDuplex here. http://wmpoweruser.com/adduplex-estimate-more-than-10-million-windows-phones-were-sold-to-consumers-in-q4-2013
  21. By Paul Sawers, Yesterday Windows Phone is making small strides in some markets as it looks to dent the dominance of Android and iOS. But yes, it does have some way to go before it can lay-claim to any smartphone throne. Recent figures suggest Windows Phone 7 and 8 constitute more than 10% of UK smartphone sales, while across other major European markets Windows Phone 8 represents around 1 in 10 of all smartphone sales. Some data even suggests it overtook iOS in Italy between July and September. With BlackBerry on its way out of the consumer market, Windows Phone is currently the only real contender for iOS and Android, but its market share is still dwarfed by the big guns. Indeed, there’s every chance that you’ve never seen one in the flesh, let alone used one. So for those looking to break from the mold, here’s a quick guide for Windows Phone noobs. And it starts with a quick history lesson. A potted history of Windows Phone Any history of Windows Phone has to include its preceding incarnation – Windows Mobile – which launched initially on the Pocket PC 2000, in April 2000. Though it wasn’t officially referred to as Windows Mobile until 2003. The early devices that sported the fledgling operating system could be regarded as a successor to Microsoft’s Palm-Size PC, which too was based on the Windows CE operating system, and started shipping from around the mid-90s. All these early devices were geared more towards the enterprise rather than consumer market. The Windows Mobile brand remained all the way through to version 6 in 2007, including all the subsequent iterations up to 6.5.5 in 2010, by which point iOS and Android were already taking the consumer markets by storm. Windows Phone 7 was announced at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in February 2010, and was released to the public in November that year. Though the version numbering continued where Windows Mobile left off, it was for all intents and purposes a different platform. The Windows Marketplace for Mobile, an App Store-like conduit for third-party Windows Mobile apps, opened in October 2009 – just a few months before Windows Phone was announced. But it was closed down for good in July 2011, making way for the Windows Phone Marketplace – subsequently rebranded as the Windows Phone Store in August 2012 – which had launched alongside Windows Phone 7. The last major launch for Windows Phone was in October 2012, when the curtain was drawn back on Windows Phone 8. The new system saw the existing Windows CE-based architecture replaced with a Windows NT kernel, similar to that of its desktop counterpart, Windows 8. This allowed apps to be more easily ported between the two, as well as catering for larger screens, multi-core processors and other enhancements such as NFC. But it also meant that those who’d committed their cash to Windows Phone 7 couldn’t upgrade their OS to Windows Phone 8. Though Windows Phone 7 isn’t yet dead, the future of Windows Phone very much lies in version 8 and up, with the next big update rumored for a 2014 launch. But as with other mobile operating systems, particularly Android, the hardware is every bit as important – if not more so – than the software. So getting the best manufacturers on board is vital. Devices: The state of play It would be something of an understatement to say that Nokia has played a huge role in the growth of Windows Phone. The Finnish mobile giant first committed its future to the platform in early 2011, and by November 2013 the company was said to control around 90% of the Windows Phone market. Indeed, its Lumia brand has become almost synonymous with the operating system. Here’s a full list of Nokia Lumia Windows Phone handsets, with the date of release in brackets (month/year). Nokia Lumia 810 (12/11), Lumia 820 (12/11), Lumia 822 (12/11), Lumia 920 (12/11), Lumia 620 (1/13), Lumia 520/521 (3/13), Lumia 720 (3/13), Lumia 928 (5/13), Lumia 925 (6/13), Lumia 1020 (7/13), Lumia 625 (8/13), Lumia 1520 (11/13) Lumia 525 (12/13), and the Lumia 1320 (12/13). While Nokia does have the lion’s share of the Windows Phone 8 market, there is also the HTC 8X (11/12), HTC 8S (12/12), Samsung ATIV S (12/12), Huawei Ascend W1 (01/13), Samsung ATIV Odyssey (01/13), HTC 8XT (07/13), Huawei Ascend W2 (08/13) and the Samsung ATIV S Neo (08/13). There hasn’t been a new non-Nokia consumer Windows Phone device since Microsoft announced its intentions to acquire Nokia’s Devices and Services Division last September, and it’s not clear yet whether we will see any more. Few people question the quality of the Windows Phone 8-hosting devices – Nokia’s flagship Lumia handsets are solid and beautiful, offering arguably the best camera functionality of any smartphone. We even called the Lumia 1020 a camera that makes calls. But according to some, hardware is nothing without native apps – something that Windows Phone has been slow to attract, in terms of the big-name brands at least. Apps: What there is and what there ain’t I’ve previously argued that Windows Phone’s big problem isn’t a lack of apps. The main issue is influencers and opinion-formers perpetuating a myth that native apps are pivotal to a mobile platform, which filters down through to those looking to buy a shiny new smartphone. Except many, if not most, of the consumer market would get by absolutely fine with a good browser, Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, Instagram, Angry Birds and maybe a few others. That all said, Microsoft has been working to get all the major apps on-side, and there was a big push in the build up to Christmas, with Instagram, Vine, Waze and Mint.com, to name just a few, all launching on the platform. Then there’s Angry Birds Go, Skype, Twitter, WhatsApp, Amazon Mobile, Path, Amazon Kindle, TuneIn Radio, Shazam, Spotify, Netflix, Evernote, PayPal, LinkedIn, Tumblr, WordPress, Foursquare, Runtastic, Endomondo and Google Search. But launching an app doesn’t mean that it’s frequently updated, and many of them are behind their iOS and Android counterparts in terms of features – some look like they’ve just been cobbled together as an after-thought – such as eBay. And Amazon-owned IMDb hasn’t been touched in 18 months. The ‘official’ Facebook app was actually developed by Microsoft itself given that the social networking behemoth evidently doesn’t view the platform as viable, when there’s a perfectly good mobile browser to use. And YouTube? This is another annoying one, given it too arrived on the scene via Microsoft’s own developers, but due to a series of squabbles involving a violation of terms and conditions, Google blocked access to the app for a while. As of October, Microsoft reverted the YouTube Windows Phone app to its former state – which is basically a shortcut to a mobile Web version of the service. There’s some notable omissions from the Windows Phone Store though – there’s no Google Maps, but there is the home-grown Maps and Here Maps; and while there’s no official Gmail app, there is a decent third-party effort. There’s also no Flipboard, Dropbox, SoundCloud, Yahoo Mail, Airbnb, Snapchat, Uber, Hailo, Wikipedia, Pinterest, Pocket or Any.do, to name just a handful. You can check out our full guide to the state-of-play with Windows Phone apps here, but as noted already, many folk will get by with a handful of the well-known apps and a good browser – thus the existing omissions from the Windows Phone Store likely won’t concern you. Interface You’re probably used to this sight – rows-upon-rows of square icons, strewn across multiple screens on your device. On Android, when you download an app it’s added to your main library with a shortcut added to your homescreen. You can delete it from your homescreen but still have the app on the device, which can be useful for those ones you don’t use very often. When you install an app on iOS, it’s automatically added to your homescreen, with no separate repository for storing them locally. On both iOS and Android, you can create theme-specific folders on your homescreen to store related applications, such as ‘News’, ‘Sport’ and ‘Reading’. The Windows Phone 8 interface deviates from this, and does actually offer a refreshing alternative. To help demonstrate this, we’re using a Nokia Lumia 925. It sports what are known as Live Tiles, which are basically shortcuts to apps, features, contacts, websites and other media items. These can be dragged and rearranged, or removed completely. But what sets these apart are that they’re dynamic, displaying information that changes in real-time. This could include a new email, photo or – as you can see below – statistics from a run on Runtastic. Pulling in from the right reveals the main library of apps and settings, with a long-press giving the option to pin to your main homescreen. It’s here where all your new app and game downloads will be installed by default too. To remove an item from the main screen, long-press it, and you’ll be given an option to unpin it, or make it smaller. The Windows Phone Store is familiar and works in a similar way to Google Play and the App Store – you can browse by categories or search by keywords, and it will be downloaded to your phone when you give it the go-ahead. In terms of navigation, Windows Phone 8 devices are generally more similar to Android than iOS, insofar as you have a back button, which takes you back to the previous screen, and a home button which takes you to the main start screen. But it also sports a baked-in search button, giving direct access to the world of Bing. These are the very basics of Windows Phone 8, but if you want to take things further, it does actually offer up quite a few ‘Easter Eggs’, if you’re willing to put in the time to discover them. For example, by hitting the search button (magnifying glass), you can bring up the scanner (eye) which lets you beam barcodes, QR codes, and more. But interestingly, this also lets you translate text using the device’s built-in camera – it works for 39 different languages. The little music icon next to the eye serves as a shortcut to a Shazam-style music recognition service. The more you use Windows Phone, the more you’ll discover little gems too, such as the ability to respond to a call with a text message mid-ring. Rather than answering, you slide up on the call, and hit the ‘text reply’ button. You can choose from a default message (e.g. “I’ll call later”), or construct one yourself. I’ve been using Windows Phone for the past month or so – not as my main device, but as a supplementary device when I’m out and about, and at home. It does take a little getting used to, but I’ve really grown to like it. The main downside from my perspective is the lack of deep-integration with Google services, which I’ve grown to rely on in recent times. HERE Maps is great, but it’s not Google Maps. And the native Gmail app for Android is badly missed too, as is YouTube. There are shortcuts and ways around this, which will work fine for many people, but for me it’s probably a deal-killer for now. But hopefully there’s enough information in here to give you a good grounding on where Windows Phone has come from, and where it’s at just now. There’s likely to be a lot more coming from Microsoft and Nokia when the acquisition is sealed later this year, so it’ll be interesting to see where things go with Windows Phone 9 and beyond. http://thenextweb.com/mobile/2014/01/24/everything-need-know-windows-phone/#!tjEEQ
  22. By Preston Gralla January 29, 2014 6:00 PM EST Android remains king of the smartphones, but its growth in 2013 was the slowest at any time in its history. Can Windows Phone make inroads as Android potentially swoons? The latest market figures from Strategy Analytics have both good news and bad news for Android. First the good news: In 2013 Android widened its lead over the iPhone, Windows Phone, and other smartphones, with a remarkable 78.9% of all smartphones shipped in the world. That adds up to 781.2 million units, well ahead of 153.4 million for the iPhone, and 35.7 million for Windows Phones. If you're looking at market share figures, that's 78.9% for Android, 15.5% for the iPhone, and 3.6% for Windows Phone in 2013. In the fourth quarter alone, though, Android didn't do quite so well, with a 78.4% market share, the iPhone with a 17.6% market share, and Windows Phone with a 3.2% market share. That means that the iPhone took market share away from Android as well as Windows Phone. You can see all the figures, below. The bad news, according to Strategy Analytics, is that Android's growth rate was 62% for 2013, which at first sounds solid. But Strategy Analytics says that was the lowest growth rate in the operating system's history. The report warned: We expect Android's growth to slow further in 2014 due to market saturation, and rivals like Microsoft or Firefox will be ready to pounce on any signs of a major slowdown for Android this year. Of course, the company warns that all is not well with Windows Phone, either, saying: The Windows Phone platform is still struggling to gain traction in the low-tier and premium-tier smartphone categories and they remain serious weaknesses that Microsoft will need to address in 2014. The only way Microsoft can make any headway if Android loses steam is in the low-tier category. Surprisingly, after some initial success there, Windows Phone sales stalled. Nokia's most recent earning report noted that sales of Lumia Windows Phone devices dropped to 8.2 million devices from 8.8 million devices in the previous quarter. Nokia traditionally has done well selling reasonably priced phones in emerging markets. If it can do that for Windows Phones, Microsoft may well make headway if Android stumbles. But if not, Windows Phone won't make up much ground, if any. http://blogs.computerworld.com/windows-phone/23459/will-androids-slowing-growth-be-opening-windows-phone
  23. The mobile messaging world is a very competitive market right now. There are the proprietary options like iMessage, as well as the cross-platform options like Facebook, WhatsApp, Hangouts, BlackBerry Messenger, Snapchat, Skype, Line, WeChat, and a ton of others. Everyone wants to be the king, but of course there can only be one. A new survey is claiming that WhatsApp may be the new market leader. The survey is in no way a definitive set of data. First off, On Device surveyed just 3,759 Android and iOS smartphone owners across US, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia, and China, meaning no Windows Phone users, and certainly missing quite a lot of regions including the entire European continent. Additionally, the question that was used to determine which app was in the lead was, "Which social messaging app do you use at least once a week?" This obviously doesn't take into account frequency of use or number of messages processed. 44% of respondents said they used WhatsApp at least once per week compared to 35% who used Facebook and 28% who used WeChat, which has a very big user base in China. BlackBerry Messenger gathered 17% of users built mostly on larger usage in Indonesia and South Africa. Social messaging is by far the dominant way of communication these days with 63% respondents who used social messaging service saying they used it least 10 times a day. Source
  24. Windows Phone 8.1 is the next big update we are itching for and has been rumored to arrive this Spring, alongside the Update 1 for Windows 8.1. According to a new report, Microsoft has confirmed that Windows Phone 8 users will be able to update to Windows Phone 8.1, avoiding the chaos that was created with the transition from Windows Phone 7 to Windows Phone 8. With any new smartphone operating system update, we begin to worry if the update is backwards compatible with our current smartphone. In this case, will Windows Phone 8.1 be compatible on smartphones running Windows Phone 8? Microsoft promises that current Windows Phone 8 users should be able to update with ease. "We will not have the same experience as we had when Windows Phone 7 was upgraded to Windows Phone 8," Windows Phone director of public relations, Greg Sullivan, stated during an interview at CES today. Those who were on Windows Phone 7 experienced quite the opposite when upgrading to Windows Phone 8, but Sullivan touts Windows Phone 8's ability to support upgrades. "We won't run out of head space on Windows Phone 8 any time soon," Sullivan said. Sullivan reiterated during his interview that Microsoft has a policy of supporting updates for 36 months on a device. No official word yet on when we will see the update, but rumors have suggested Spring of this year. We're already seen signs of the operating system hitting if not surpassing Milestone 3, making it one step closer to RTM. The update is expected to include a personal digital assistant called "Cortana," a notification center, separate volume controls, and other handy tweaks. http://www.winbeta.org/news/microsoft-confirms-windows-phone-8-users-can-upgrade-windows-phone-81
  25. This story was published: 35 minutes ago January 07, 2014 8:46PM Eehhh. Touchscreen mobiles are a prime target for being covered in thousands of germs. A new bacteria-killing glass is hoping to clean up this act. Source: Corning Source: Supplied If you knew how many germs were caking your mobile you'd probably shudder and bolt for the nearest handy wipe. But a new germ-killing mobile glass has been developed to help keep bacterial beasties off your beloved gadgets. Make no mistake, huffing on your mobile screen and rubbing it on your sleeve will not kill the thousands of diarrhoea-inducing germs hiding on your gadgets. What you need is silver. What happens when antibiotics stop working? Science has the answer: http://www.news.com.au/technology/science/science-has-found-the-answer-to-what-happens-when-antibiotics-fail/story-fnjwl2dr-1226787418714 Corning, the makers of the super tough Gorilla Glass found on gadgets such as the Samsung Galaxy, has developed the world's first antibacterial display infused with ionic silver that kills bacteria on contact. On the right is what a standard mobile display would look like under a microscope, while on the left the new antimicrobial display kills bacteria on contact. Source: Corning Source: Supplied The antimicrobial feature is said to kill up to 99.9 of germs and won't fade away unlike sprays and wipes, instead lasting the entire lifespan of the device. 'Corning's Antimicrobial Gorilla Glass inhibits the growth of algae, mould, mildew, fungi, and bacteria because of its built-in antimicrobial property, which is intrinsic to the glass and effective for the lifetime of a device,' said James R. Steiner, senior vice president and general manager, Corning Specialty Materials in a press statement. Silver has been used for centuries to combat germs and disease spreading bacteria and is now found integrated into bandages and plasters as it can destroy bacteria at the site of wounds because the ion found in the metal is bioactive. The antimicrobial glass is currently being tested with numerous manufacturers for various applications so we may be seeing a cleaner future for more than just mobiles. http://www.news.com.au/technology/gadgets/worlds-first-germkilling-mobile-screen/story-fn6vihic-1226796853733
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