Subject: Mobile | April 10, 2013 - 10:45 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: google play, google, froyo, appstore, Android
Google has begun a worldwide rollout of its re-designed Google Play store for Android smartphones and tablets. Over the next few weeks, users will be presented with a new, and simplified, user interface for the Play store.
Mobile devices running Android 2.2 (Froyo) and above will recieve the update. The redesign has moved to a simpler layout that groups similar content together and uses larger images to draw in the user's attention. A continuous scroll feature will introduce recommendations for related content as you scroll down.
Google has also reportedly simplified the checkout process, in order to reduce the time between buying an app, purchasing an MP3, or renting a movie and actually being able to begin consuming the content.
From Google's blog post and what little screenshots they have shown off of the new layout, I think Google has made some positive changes here, but I'll reserve final judgement once I've been able to test it out for myself.
Has your Android device received the Play store update yet?
Subject: Mobile | April 10, 2013 - 08:46 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: zte, geek, Android, android 4.2, clover trail, Intel, idf, atom z2580
The ZTE Geek is not quite ready for release, but the internals are now official. Specifications include a dual core Intel Atom Z2580 processor clocked at 2GHz (HyperThreading allows 4 total threads), an integrated SGX 544MP2 GPU clocked at 533MHz, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of internal storage. A 2300 mAh battery provides power for the device and can be recharged wirelessly in the ZTE Geek.
Engadget goes hands-on with the ZTE Geek at IDF in Beijing, China.
On the outside, The ZTE Geek features a 5" capacitive multi-touch screen with a resolution of 1280x720 and Gorilla Glass protection. There is a 1MP fixed focus webcam above the display, and an 8MP camera with auto-focus and LED flash on the rear of the device.
The Geek smartphone is compatible with the following wireless connections:
- GSM: 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz
- UMTS: 900 / 2100 MHz
WiFi: 802.11 a/b/g/n at 2.4GHz
- DLNA, Wireles hotspot, Wi-Fi Direct, and Wi-Fi Display
- Bluetooth 3.0 LE
- GPS (AGPS)
It also offers up an accelerometer, proximity, ambient light, compass, and gyro sensors. Engadget reports that the device on display at IDF is merely a prototype, and the glossy white finish and chassis material is subject to change. Naturally, there is no word yet on pricing, or when it will be released. The smartphone will likely not see an initial US release, however (if past Atom-powered phones are any indication).
What do you think about the ZTE Geek's design and specs? Personally, I'm still pining for the Lenovo K900 (another Clover Trail+ powered smartphone) to see a US release heh.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | April 6, 2013 - 05:47 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: webkit, Blink, Android, Google Chrome, ChromeOS
There once was a web browser named Konqueror which was quite common in the Linux community. At its core was the KHTML rendering engine, a nice standards-compliant layout package; KHTML was so nice that Apple decided to create WebKit based on it. Since then, WebKit has been the basis of Google Chrome and other applications such as Steam as of a few years ago.
And even though the project maybe never be done, Google stuck a fork in it.
Blink is a new layout engine, based on WebKit, soon to be implemented in Google Chrome. By soon, I mean practically the next release. It stands to reason, too: a forked project by definition starts out looking nearly identical because they both start from the same point. The two projects will be able to evolve in different directions as each begin to differ in needs and desires.
So what does it mean? Firstly, web developers do not need to worry about a new vendor-prefix until at least Google starts to worry about one. According to their above Q&A, they currently seem more interested in reducing prefix support rather than adding new ones. Personally, I expect that at some point they will likely need to add some as standards evolve.
In terms of the future: I feel that multiple rendering engines will only be better for the future of the web. Sure, it can be difficult for web developers to test their products across a variety of devices but that is a drop in the bucket compared to the misery caused when a dominant player gets complacent. A noncompeting player will stop innovating and maybe pull away from open standards.
Then again this pretty much always happens: no-one is satisfied with monopolies. Thankfully the WebKit license made it easy for dissatisfied parties to take action. In turn, WebKit can benefit from many of these developments at their leisure, particularly before their products look too dissimilar.
Subject: General Tech | April 3, 2013 - 06:53 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: ice storm extreme, ice storm, Futuremark, benchmarking, Android, 3dmark
Futuremark recently unveiled its latest 3DMark benchmarking suite for Android devices. Compatible with over 1,000 devices, the new 3DMark is a free benchmark that incorporates both the Ice Storm and Ice Storm Extreme tests. The benchmark was developed by Futuremark in cooperation with a number of industry companies including Broadcom, Imagination Technologies, Intel, NVIDIA, and Qualcomm. The Ice Storm Extreme test is also coming to the Windows version of 3DMark, and the tests can be used to compare benchmark scores across platforms.
Both the benchmarking tests are based on OpenGL ES 2.0. Ice Storm runs through two graphical tests to stress the GPU and one physics test to measure CPU performance. The ice Storm Extreme benchmark takes things further by bumping up the resolution to 1080 and swapping in higher quality textures and post processing effects.
The benchmark is compatible with a number of mobile smartphones and tablets running Android 3.1 or higher. It is a free download from the Google Play store.
The iOS and Windows RT versions of 3DMark are still in development. More information can be found in the press release.
Read more about Futuremark's 3DMark benchmarking suite at PC Perspective.
Subject: General Tech | March 5, 2013 - 02:17 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: web browser, mobile, chrome, Android
Chrome for Android will allegedly be getting a speed boost thanks to a new SPDY-assisted proxy service. If a recent patch is any indication, future versions of Chrome may adopt a proxy service similar to Opera Turbo, Amazon Silk, or BlackBerry Proxy. Google would take advantage of its SPDY protocol to compress and multiplex web sites. We requests would be sent through Google, where Google would take the HTTP/HTTPS pages, compress and otherwise optimize them, and send them to your Android smartphone.
While on Wi-Fi or a wired connection, the performance merits of such proxy services are minimal at best (and at worst can actually slow down page loads). With that said, over a mobile network--especially if you are living in an area with (at best) 3G speeds, the new SPDY proxy service could make a huge difference in page load times. If my experiences using Opera and its Turbo proxy service over a 3G connection for the past month is any indication of the potential benefits of such a setup, some pages will load much faster, a few sites will actually load slower than browsing without the proxy, and the majority of websites will fall somewhere in between those two extremes, providing a slightly faster web browsing experience. Google may be taking things a step further by introducing its SPDY protocol to speed up the HTTP requests, which is an interesting tactic beyond the basic compression and/or caching that the existing alternatives employ.
Details on the hinted-at Google-run SPDY proxy service are scarce, but I hope that it holds true. There are some privacy considerations, but if you are just reading articles and have resigned yourself to the fact that Chrome/Google tracks you anyway (heh) it is a nice optional feature to have!
Subject: General Tech | March 3, 2013 - 05:37 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: smartphones, LTE, LG, Android
LG recently announced that it has sold 10 million smartphones equipped with LTE (Long Term Evolution) radios. That number is merely a small slice of the total 90.9 million LTE phones shipped in 2012 by all manufacturers, but it is an impressive number for the South Korean company.
LG attributes its record sales to is flagship Optimus G and other LTE smartphones being launched in the United States, Japan, Germany, and South Korea. LG smartphones are still somewhat rare in the US, with Samsung and HTC dominating the Android options here. Still, it is nice to see additional competition, and hopefully LG will make itself more widely known in North America.
Through 2013, LG expects to double its market penetration with new LTE smartphones in additional emerging markets. Surprisingly, research firm Strategy Analytics estimates that global LTE smartphone shipments will grow Year over Year 202.5% to 275 million units. That is quite the jump from 2012’s 90.9 million LTE smartphones! According to LG, part of the company’s plan to contribute to that estimated shipment number is to introduce two new smartphones in the Optimus F series, and to roll-out the existing Optimus G to 50 additional countries.
The two new Optimus F smartphones feature LTE radios, IPS displays, large displays, and beefy batteries. The Optimus F7 has a 4.7” (312 PPI) IPS display, 1.5GHz dual core SoC, 2540 mAh battery, and 2GB of RAM. The Optimus F5, on the other hand, has a 4.3” (256 PPI) IPS display, 1.2GHz dual core SoC, 2150 mAh battery, and 1GB of RAM.
It remains to be seen whether or not LG can reach its goal, but I am hopeful that the company will at least be able to give the other Android smartphone makers a run for their money with new phone designs.
You can find the full press release over at Engadget.
Subject: General Tech | February 14, 2013 - 01:47 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Android, iOS 6, apple, security, FROST
Two different mobile phone security concerns were revealed today, one for devices using iOS 6.1 and one for Androids. DailyTech has posted text instructions as well as linking to a video which shows how an iPhone 5's password protection can be completely bypassed and allow anyone with physical access to your phone to log into the phone with full access. The second vulnerability, tested with Android 4.0 but possibly wide spread, was discovered by a team at the Friedrich-Alexander University in Germany, and it allows you to recover information from a phone which has used the Android disk encryption. They used both a freezer to drop the temperature of the phone and a trick with the battery which puts the phone into 'fastboot' mode and allows the loading of a custom image via a Linux PC which installs their Forensic Recovery Of Scrambled Telephones tool, aka FROST. As you can see from the images below, that gives you the ability to get the encryption key or even brute force some passwords.
-Go to emergency call, push down the power button and tap cancel.
-Dial 112 and tap green and inmediately red.
-Go to lock screen.
Ok...ready for second part:
-Go to passcode screen.
-Keep pushing down the power button ...1...2...3...seconds and before showing the slider "turn off"...tap the emergency call button and ...voilá!
-Then without releasing the power button press the home button and ready..."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Intel's new TV box to point creepy spy camera at YOUR FACE @ The Register
- Toshiba announces a noise cancelling chip @ The Inquirer
- 555-timer charges lead acid batteries @ Hack a Day
- Micron glues DDR4 RAM to flash, animates the 256GB franken-DIMM @ The Register
- Futuremark 3DMark Review @ Neoseeker
- Hacking a Coffee Machine for a Better Brew @ Hack a Day
- Cern shuts down LHC after three years of operations @ The Inquirer
- NVIDIA/AMD OpenGL Benchmarks Of Unigine Valley @ Phoronix
- Win an AverMedia RECentral Live Gamer HD Capture Card @ eTeknix
- Funky Kit Presents: Mod-my-Box™ Spring 2013 - Official Launch
The Ice Storm Test
Love it or hate it, 3DMark has a unique place in the world of PC gaming and enthusiasts. Since 3DMark99 was released...in 1998...with a target on DirectX 6, Futuremark has been developing benchmarks on a regular basis in time with major API changes and also major harware changes. The most recent release of 3DMark11 has been out since late in 2010 and has been a regular part of our many graphics card reviews on PC Perspective.
Today Futuremark is not only releasing a new version of the benchmark but is also taking fundamentally different approach to performance testing and platforms. The new 3DMark, just called "3DMark", will not only target high-end gaming PCs but integrated graphics platforms and even tablets and smartphones.
We interviewed the President of Futuremark, Oliver Baltuch, over the weekend and asked some questions about this new direction for 3DMark, how mobile devices were going to affect benchmarks going forward and asked about the new results patterns, stuttering and more. Check out the video below!
Make no bones about it, this is a synthetic benchmark and if you have had issues with that in the past because it is not a "real world" gaming test, you will continue to have those complaints. Personally I see the information that 3DMark provides to be very informative though it definitely shouldn't be depended on as the ONLY graphics performance metric.
Subject: General Tech | January 15, 2013 - 12:12 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Lenovo, convertible tablet, Android
Lenovo officially launched its IdeaPad Yoga 11S convertible tablet at CES, but it seems that Windows 8 is not the only OS Lenovo wants to support. According to tech news and rumors site Digi Times, Lenovo is planning to launch at least one IdeaPad Yoga tablet running Google’s Android operating system within the first half of 2013.
According to Digi Time's sources that are reportedly in the know “Lenovo's planned offerings will target the Android tablet segment, meeting Intel's previous commitment to rolling out Android-based tablets through joint efforts with Lenovo.”
It is an interesting move for Lenovo that should play well assuming they can keep the pricing in check. The sources were not able to confirm whether or not the Android tablets will use ARM or x86 hardware, but the bit of information about Intel and Lenovo seems to suggest it will be Intel powered and use an x86 build of Android.
The new Android tablets would have a useful form factor with the Yoga platform, and if Lenovo can price them right they will make a nice alternative to Lenovo’s own Windows RT tablets as well as make for good competition versus existing Android tablets that do not integrate physical keyboards. I’m interested to see a cheaper Yoga notebook powered by Android matched up against ASUS’ Transformer tablet offerings!
Subject: Mobile | January 9, 2013 - 04:07 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: CES, smartphone, Lenovo, k900, Intel, clover trail, Android, ces 2013
Lenovo has shown off a new Android smartphone at CES. However, in an interesting twist the new Lenovo K900 is powered by an Intel Atom processor rather than an ARM SoC. The K900 smartphone is constructed of a stainless steel alloy and poly-carbonate material. Lenovo has managed to pack all the hardware in a 6.9mm thin chassis that weights 162 grams. It will come in one of four colors, including gold, silver, and grey in a brushed aluminum pattern and one that has a diamond-plate design on the back cover.
The K900 features a 5.5” IPS touchscreen display protected by Gorilla Glass 2 and with a resolution of 1920x1080. The chassis also hosts a front-facing webcam with an 88-degree field of view and a rear 13MP (F1.8) camera with a dual LED flash.
The outside is neat, but it is the internal specifications where the Lenovo K900 gets interesting. The smartphone is powered by an Intel Clover Trail+ SoC. While Intel is not yet providing details on the new processor, Engadget speculates that the SoC will be the Intel Atom Z2580, which is a dual core Clover Trail successor running at up to 2GHz. The K900 will also include 2GB of RAM and between 16GB and 64GB of internal storage (plus a microSD card slot). The phone will be running Android along with Lenovo’s Le Phone skin on top (though it can reportedly be disabled).
All in all it looks like a really slick smartphone from the specifications list. Battery life and performance are still unknown, but I’m excited to see benchmarks of this once it is released. Unfortunately, it is not headed to the United States at this time. Instead, the Lenovo K900 will be available in China starting in April of this year. Pricing should be available closer to the product’s release date. Engadget has the full press release along with hands on videos with the hardware.
PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!