• android,  facebook,  google

    FaceBook Event To Feature New Android Home Screen Integration

    After posting about a possible new Facebook smartphone yesterday, a new report today from the Wall Street Journal suggests otherwise.

    The Journal reports:

    “The social network is developing software for mobile devices powered by Google Inc.’s Android operating system that displays content from users’ Facebook accounts on a smartphone’s home screen—the first screen visible when they turn on the device, people familiar with the situation said.”

    The Journal goes on to report that hardware manufacturer HTC will be the first partner announced and that the social networking company is pursuing other handset.  Facebook has been investigating new ways to keep it’s users fixated  on spending more time interacting with the service as a means to extract more revenue from the sale of online ads.

    So the only question that I have is whether or not this feature will be baked into the new HTC One that is launching in a few weeks.

    The HTC One smartphone

    [Via WSJ.com…]

  • apple,  cydia,  ios,  ipad,  iphone,  ipod touch,  jailbreak

    Another iOS MultiTask Redesign Concept

    [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRt5qagkGBU]

    Not that long ago I was talking about Auxo, a jailbreak tweak for iOS devices that replaces, some say enhances, Apple’s implementation of multitasking on iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

    A new concept video has been posted that builds on what Apple has done and blends it with the card based multitasking analogy that was developed by Palm for webOS.  We all know that I have a soft spot for Palm and webOS, so I encourage you to check out this concept video.  Let’s hope that Apple takes it, and what the Auxo folks have done, and builds in some to those ideas into iOS 7.

    Here’s a look at what multitasking cards looked like on Palm’s Pre running webOS.

    [Via iDownloadBlog.com…]

  • amazon,  android,  apps,  facebook,  google,  kindle,  smartphones

    A Pair of Often Rumored Phones About to Get Real?

    We have been hearing and reading rumors about smartphones from Facebook and Amazon for a long time now.

    The Facebook Smartphone

    Facebook phone rumors are nothing new.  I recall reading a TechCrunch story about it in 2010.  At the time, Facebook spokesperson Jamie Schopflin told Mashable that, “[T]he story, which originated in Techcrunch, is not accurate. Facebook is not building a phone.”

    That was then, and this is now, and judging by the “media only” event invitations that went out, something’s up.  I seriously doubt that Facebook would be holding a media event for a major new release of their mobile app for Android or iOS.

    The Amazon Smartphone

    Amazon smartphone rumors are a little bit more recent.  They didn’t start until people saw that Amazon could build a credible tablet beyond the Kindle e-reader as CNet talked about back in 2011.  Will we see the book-seller-turned-tech-giant CEO Jeff Bezos on stage later this year hawking a Kindle Fire smartphone?

    According to AppleInsider.com, DigiTimes has been at it again leaking information about Amazon’s Android powered smartphone shipping this year.  The rumors of a new Amazon smartphone flared up again when DigitTimes indicated that Amazon was witching from a 4.3″ display to the larger 4.7″ “phatablet” size.  Lending credence to that idea, that an Amazon smartphone is still be months away, is this little snippet that appears in the AppleInsider story:

    “Development of Amazon’s rumored handset reportedly remains fluid, and the retailer is said to be “working on or enhancing other specifications” of the device.”

    Take Aways

    So, what we can gather, if any of these rumors are accurate, is that both Facebook and Amazon are hard at work on their smartphone plans.  Facebook looks to be closer to the finish line as they are calling a major tech event next week.  It is unclear how Facebook would position a smartphone.  Would they view themselves as a premium brand go try to complete directly with Apple and Samsung on the high end?  Would they go after the smaller Windows Phone and BlackBerry market?  Or would they they to complete on the “free with a new 2-year contract” level?

    Amazon, still looks to be refining their device to get the most bang for the buck, which makes sense because the Kindle Fire isn’t about profit margins on the hardware, it’s about how much can the vendor sell with their own “a store that fits in the palm of your hand” smartphone.  With that in mind, I can’t see Amazon trying to position their phone any higher than the mid-market.  Since Amazon is more about selling things and content, it makes more sense to me that they would have their own phone on the low end side, and continue to develop their mobile apps for iOS, Android, and all the rest to maximize the number of people viewing the goods they have for sale.

    [Via AppleInsider.com…]

    Thanks to Mike C. for the tip…

  • apple,  ios,  mac os x

    Does the new iOS Podcast App Foretell the Design Changes Coming to iOS

    A few days ago, Apple released an updated version of their Podcasts app for iOS.  That app not only got me listening to podcasts again, but may foretell of the coming changes to iOS 7 and beyond.

    If you will recall, back in October of 2012, iOS chief Scott Forstall was pushed out of Apple’s inner circle, and the company.  You get to pick the reason; whether it was his personality, his management style, his vision for iOS, or his refusal to publicly apologize for the problems with Apple’s Maps app – a disliked replacement for Google Maps.  Whatever the reason, CEO Tim Cook ejected Forstall and put long time Apple hardware designer Jonathan Ive in charge of both hardware and software designs.  Known for his sleek and simple designs, we where left wondering how that might impact iOS.

    With the new Podcasts app, I think we’ve gotten our answer.  The new Podcasts app is still familiar, but looks much better.  Gone are the design elements mean to mimic real life items.  So the goofy reel-to-reel screen, that I kinda liked, are gone.  The new interface is flat, clean, and colorful, but not in the big splash of color kind of way that Microsoft has taken up with Windows 8 and Windows 8 Phone Metro look and feel.  I like the new feel.

    So what does this mean for iOS and future versions of Mac OS X?  I think we’re going to see a lot of small changes to Apple’s user interface, or UI, design language.  The tan leather and stitching we see in the Calendar app probably won’t be there much longer.  The charcoal grey linen backdrop that appears in the iOS Notification Center and the Mac OS X login screen may or may not go away too.  And personally, I hope the annoying Music/iPod app interface on the iPad goes away too. I really find that wood trim effect so annoying that I very rarely ever use the Music app on my iPad.

    What I don’t expect to happen is a complete redesign of iOS and Mac OS X this year.  This will be an iterative change spanning over many months.  I feel that while UI changes are important to keep the look and feel of iOS and Mac OS X on par, I think it is more important for Apple to be looking at ways to add new features that users will find helpful and a delight to use, and to continue the hard work of further integrating iOS, Mac OS X, and iCloud.  (Making iCloud easier for application developers to work with is also high on my list, but probably won’t be addressed this year.)

  • apple,  gmail,  google,  ios,  ipad,  ipad mini,  iphone,  ipod touch

    Gmail App for iOS Updated

    Yesterday, Google released and update for their popular Gmail app for iOS.

    The updated email client now allows you to swipe left and right while reading messages to move to the next or previous message.  Additionally, once you select one message in your mailbox, a new “edit” menu appears at the top of the screen giving you quick access to archive, delete, or more options.

    If you are a Gmail user with an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, you will want to install this new version of the app.  The ability to apply Gmail tags to messages from my iPhone is the one features that I wish Apple’s stock mail app had.

    But there is one other reason that you will want to consider installing the Gmail app for iOS if you use Gmail heavily, Google is gradually dropping support for “push” email notifications.  In the future, the only way to get push Gmail notifications of new messages is to switch to the Gmail app for iOS or switch to an Android smartphone.

  • apple,  apple tv,  ios,  ipad,  iphone,  ipod touch

    Apple Releases iOS 6.1.3 Update

    Earlier today, Apple released iOS 6.1.3, a security and maintenance update of iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

    iOS 6.1.3 fixes the lock screen bug that was introduced in an earlier version of iOS 6.  The update also includes minor fixes and updates for the Japanese version of Maps.

    You might recall that iOS 6.1.3 started out life as iOS 6.1.1 back on February 6th.  A number of serious bugs where discovered in iOS 6.1, 6.1.1, and 6.1.2, forcing the originally planned iOS 6.1.1 to become 6.1.3.

    iOS 6.1.3 is available now for current model iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch models.  To upgrade your device OTA, go to: Settings > General > Software Update.

    Apple has also released Apple TV 5.2.1 update for second and third generation Apple TVs.

  • galaxy s4,  samsung,  smartphones

    Samsung Galaxy S4 Launch Event Comments

    The following are my thoughts and comments made while watching the Samsung Galaxy S4 launch event video.

    Be advised that I am an Apple fanboy.  You’ve been warned.

    – The opening remarks made me think that I was watching an boring awards show rather than a product launch from a major technology company.

    Comments from JK Shin – President and Head, IT and Mobile Communications Division

    – The Galaxy S4 was developed by “Innovation inspired by people” as opposed to….?

    – Forget the famous S Pen, get ready for “S Heath”

    – BlackBerry will be fuming that Samsung has ‘borrowed’ their idea for BlackBerry Balance and created Samsung Knox for separating personal/business applications and data

    – “These ideas have been conceived from observations from real life.”  And by real life, Samsung means Apple, the iPhone, and iOS.

    – Life is a journey and the Galaxy S4 is a companion for that journey.

    – The Galaxy S4 “is slimmer, lighter, and more solid” – ok, sure, but as compared to what?

    – Galaxy S4 will launch on 327 mobile networks in 155 countries

    – Galaxy S4 will begin shipping at the end of April in 3G and 4G LTE editions

    – Look how big that white Galaxy S4 looks in the emcee’s hand!

    Comments from Ryan Bidan – Director of Product Marketing

    – Full 5″ display with 441ppi using Super AMOLED screen

    – I find it interesting that while they are talking about wireless performance, there is a note at the bottom right side of the slide that reads: “All data in this presentation is based on internally measured standards.”

    – 13MP back camera, 2MP front facing camera – Ok, that makes the iPhone’s 8MP camera seem wimpy

    – 2GB ram, 16/32/64GB of storage, microSD slot for up to an additional 64GB

    – Temperature & humidity and IR sensors join accelerometer, RGB light, digital compass, proximity, gyro, and barometer sensors

    – Galaxy S4 will ship with a removable 2600mAh battery

    – Dual Camera feature – picture/movie can include images from rear and front facing cameras simultaneously.  Ok, that’s cool.

    – Having flashbacks to Qualcomm’s “Born Mobile” CES 2013 keynote address during the Dual Camera feature demonstration

    – Drama Shot can take 100 photos in 4 seconds and lets you pick the one(s) you want to keep

    – Eraser allows you to take multiple pictures, blend them, and remove unwanted people who may wonder into the shot.  Works on Does not work on real people like in-laws.

    – S Translator is the voice translation feature that can be useful if you travel to places that don’t speak your native language.

    – S Translator understands 9 languages (Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish); 10 if you count US and UK English separately

    – I’m a little embarrassed that Apple’s Siri can’t do this already

    – Story Album is Samsung’s answer to Apple’s iPhoto and Cards

    – Where have I seen that HomeSync cloud icon before?

    – HomeSync is Samsung’s iCloud response.  It comes with 1TB of storage space, vastly more than Apple’s 5GB of space for every iOS user.

    – HomeSync can support up to 8 users and can be paired with a Galaxy S4 over NFC.

    – HomeSync also has an Apple TV AirPlay-like feature.

    – Why is no one laughing at these *amazing* jokes?!

    – Smart Switch is a utility that will allow you to transfer all of your data “from almost any mobile operating system” to the Galaxy S4.  Funny how that phone on the left side of the slide looks familiar.

    – “Samsung Knox is designed for business and enterprise users.  It locks your device down and keeps it safe from malicious applications.” Wow! That says A LOT about the state of Android. First you talk about who it’s for – That’s fine – and the next thing you say is that it will help protect you from all the malicious Android software?!  Did Samsung forget they were in a room full of journalists and tech writers?

    – Knox is built on top of security enhanced Android. At 36:54 minutes into a 55 minute presentation, this is the first and last time that Samsung mentions the Google Android operating system.

    – Group Play will allow you to stream music to up to 8 Galaxy S4 phones simultaneously.  Must be fun at parties.

    – The Galaxy S4 can be used while wearing gloves!

    – Works even better if the actress remembers to turn on the phone on first.  It would be easier to see it in her gloved right hand if that super bright 4.99″ AMOLED screen was on.

    – Air Gesture allows you to swipe your finger over the phone screen to scroll up/down, left/right

    – Smart Scroll / Pause allows you to look away from your phone and have the video you are watching pause until you look back at the screen.  Again, another cool feature.  I wonder how much battery running the front facing camera while watching a 2-hour movie chews up.

    – Would you buy an expensive smartphone from these guys?!

  • apple,  mac,  mac mini,  mac os x,  mac pro,  macbook pro

    Apple Releases Mac OS X Mountain Lion 10.8.3 Update

    Earlier this week, Apple released Mac OS X Mountain Lion 10.8.3.  This maintenance upgrade is recommended for all Apple customers running Mountain Lion on their Macintosh.

    You can upgrade your Mac by clicking on the Mac App Store icon in the Dock and then clicking the Updates icon on the top right of the App Store toolbar.  If you are running the upgrade on a MacBook, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air, it is strongly recommended that you plug in your power adapter before starting the upgrade.

  • galaxy s4,  samsung

    Galaxy S4 “Premium” Finish

    I was watching the Introducing Samsung Galaxy S4 video yesterday and I was wondering how a phone with a plastic body can have a ‘premium’ finish.  I didn’t have to wonder long or look too far to find my answer.

    From BGR.com:

    “The first time you pick up an iPhone, HTC (2498) One or even a Nokia (NOK) Lumia smartphone you will be impressed with the build quality. These are devices that actually feel like they’re worth the $600+ price tags. 

    The Galaxy S 4, on the other hand, feels more like a toy than a high-end smartphone.

    The device is incredibly light, weighing a mere 130 grams, but unlike the iPhone 5, which weighs in at 112 grams, Samsung’s latest smartphone feels as if it can be snapped in half, even more so than the Galaxy S III. Over the course of a two-year contract you better not let this smartphone fall out of your hand or else you will be in trouble.”

    I’ll be sticking with my iPhone, thanks.  If you are planning on getting a Galaxy S4, you also better consider getting a protective case from Cygnett.

  • apple,  laptop,  macbook pro,  seagate,  upgrade

    Seagate’s Hybrid Disk Drives Are An Excellent Upgrade

    Recently I started looking around at ways to upgrade my mid-2009 MacBook Pro 17-inch to extend it’s life another 12-18 months before I have to “upgrade” to a smaller 15-inch model.  Last year I upgraded my MacBook to 8GB of RAM and this year it was time to do something about the pokey 5400-RPM stock disk drive.

    I started looking a purely solid state flash memory disk drive option and they turned out to be too expensive for anything over 400GB.  750GB and larger traditional disk drives are cheaper, but was a speed bump from 5400 to 7200-RPM really going to help get rid of the annoying spinning beach balls that we all hate to see on our Macs?
    I ended up settling on the Seagate Momentus XT 750GB 2.5-inch disk drive.  This drive met my requirements for installation into my MacBook Pro.  They are:
    • 2.5-inch form factor would fit into the stock drive bay
    • At less than $150 the price was right
    • 250GB of additional storage space
    • 1,800-RPM improvement in platter rotation speed
    • 8GB of flash storage on the drive’s controller board
    It’s that last point that gives a hybrid drive like the Momentus XT it’s edge.  The disk drive is presented to the Mac, or a Windows PC, just like a standard SATA disk drive.  But internally to the disk drive, the controller board is monitoring which data you access most frequently, and moves that data off the traditional disk platter and into the 8GB flash storage.  As your computing habits change, the Momentus drive continually reevaluates what data should be moved to the flash space to boost performance.
    Editor’s Note: Seagate has recently upgraded their line of hybrid notebook hard drives.  You can learn more about them on the Seagate website.
    Upgrading your MacBook or Windows PC will vary by manufacturer and model, but the physical upgrade to my MacBook Pro took about 20 minutes.  Apple publishes memory and hard disk upgrade guides on their support website.
    To “clone” or copy the contents of my stock Apple hard drive to my new Seagate Momentus XT drive, I used Carbon Copy Cloner, which sells for $39.95.  The round trip copy job took about 3 hours.  (Two hours to an external disk drive, and one hour from the external to the new drive.)
    Overall, I’ve noticed an significant boost in performance on my MacBook Pro.  I immediately noticed that spinning beach balls show up far less than they used to.  There has also be a significant improvement in application launch times.  Launching iTunes, iPhoto, or any of the Microsoft Office 2011 apps was a painful go-get-another-can-of-Diet-Coke-while-the-app-launches experience.  Not so after installing the Momentus XT.
    If you are looking to extend the life of your MacBook or MacBook Pro that uses a traditional spinning disk drive I strongly recommend that you consider upgrading to a hybrid disk drive. (Doubling your RAM is also recommended if your hardware will accept it.)
    The bottom line for me is that Seagate has long been a trusted brand for me, and the Momentus XT 750GB drive is no exception.  For the cost of the drive there has been a significant boost in performance that will allow me to put off having to purchase a new MacBook Pro for at least another year.