Tech News

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Update - 105



Posted: 01 Mar 2012 09:57 AM PST
If there’s one thing that’s sure to tick off an advanced Android user… well, it’s probably an iPhone user who thinks Siri is “innovative”. But if there’s another thing, it’s a needlessly locked bootloader making root access and custom ROMs on an otherwise excellent device. Case in point: Verizon’s stance on the DROID RAZR, and pretty much all of Motorola’s devices and anything else they can get away with to boot. In a recent and seemingly unsolicited letter to the FCC, Verizon explained its position and reasoning behind requiring its OEM partners to lock their bootloader (in some cases). The reason? Why, it’s all for you, of course!

Verizon justifies its official stance on locked bootloaders by claiming that it’s protecting “customer experience and support”: unlocked bootloaders, they argue, could cause problems for end-users, customer support staff and Verizon’s network in general. Repeating claims made at earlier points, Verizon stated that “unapproved software” could impact the wireless experience for other customers. Despite spectrum purchases from the US government in 2011, Verizon has no legal obligation to make the software on the devices it sells accessible to its customers – it only has to make access to the network available.
Time for a little editorializing: this is bull. (Eloquent, no?) First of all, unlockable bootloader like the ones found on the Galaxy Nexus and lately HTC’s phones don’t impact “normal” customers in the slightest. Most Android users don’t root their phones, don’t install custom ROMs and don’t unlock their bootloaders, and are perfectly happy with the experience they get (when the LTE network is working, right, Big Red?) Restricting access to the bootloader doesn’t affect the majority of Verizon’s customer base at all, it just pisses off advanced users – who of course tend to buy the most expensive devices the most frequently, not to mention spend more on data and extras like tethering.
The claims that an unlockable bootloader affects customer service is likewise a load of fertilizer. The people who root their phones and install custom ROMs aren’t going to call the generally clueless customer service reps when something goes wrong, they hop online and find others with the same problem, then fix it themselves. If anythning, customers who unlock their bootloaders are far less likely to be a thorn in Verizon’s side from a customer service standpoint. Between more expensive hardware, more data charges and lower per capita calls on Verizon’s human resources, rooted Android users must be some of the most profitable of Verizon’s end customers by a long shot.

The last point about potential harm to the network and other customers’ experience has been bandied about for years, and not by Verizon alone. That said, we’ve yet to see a single piece of empirical data that indicated “unauthorized software” running on Android has a negative impact on anyone. Yes, Android users bring down a lot of data, but frankly a company like Verizon can handle it, and shouldn’t shy away considering how much marketing they’re putting into being the most reliable option out there. Show us some evidence of real adverse effects from unlocked Android users, Verizon, or give up this specious line.
All that said, Verizon isn’t about to change its mind any time soon. The best hope that customers have is that after its acquisition by Google, Motorola will take Samsung and HTC’s lead and offer unlockable bootloaders on all its upcoming phones. (Verizon’s policies aren’t universal – they seem to be encouraging partners to lock down their devices, not requiring it.) In the meantime, vote with your dollars: if you’re a Verizon customer who’s fed up with this policy, move to another carrier, and make sure you tell them why. If you can’t (and that includes a lot of people) only buy phones that can be unlocked, and do so with reckless abandon.
[via Droid Life]

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 09:04 AM PST
If you’re as interested in Panasonic’s return to the global smartphone game as we are, then no doubt you’re aware of the ELUGA Power, a beefed-up version of their primary ELUGA Android phone with a bigger screen and battery. The device just went up for pre-order at United Kingdom-based electronics retailer Clove, and at present it’s set to ship sometime in April. The phone is going for £399 unlocked (about $636 USD) and £478.80 after value-added taxes.

The ELUGA Power bumps up the original’s 4.3-inch screen to a full five inches, placing it squarely in the same category as the Samsung Galaxy Note and LG Optimus Vu. Its battery gets a slight bump to 1800mAh, though it must be sad that that’s nowhere near the Note (2500) or Vu (2080), and all the big-screen phones will guzzle electricity when compared to mare conservative phones. The screen is a full 720p panel. Impressively both ELUGAs are launching with Ice Cream Sandwich, and Panasonic is one of the only manufacturers we’ve seen that’s embracing ICS’s virtual navigation buttons.
Elsewhere you get a 1.5ghz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, NFC capability, just 8GB of on-board storage (plus a MicroSD card slot), and an 8-megapixel camera. To accommodate the larger size, the ELUGA Power is  9.6mm thick – not skinny, but not excessively plump, either. The phone is IP57-certified dust and water resistant, and Panasonic has crammed in some battery magic that will recharge the phone up to 50% in just 20 minutes. Currently Panasonic has no publicized plans to offer the ELUGA or any other Android smartphone in North America.

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 08:36 AM PST
Let’s call a spade a spade: for all its charms, the Galaxy Nexus’ battery is pretty awful, especially on Verizon’s LTE-enabled version. Samsung sells a 2100mAh extended battery and various 3rd parties have offered alternative, but by far the most extreme is Seidio’s 3800mAh battery with an extended battery bay door. The massive juice pack more than doubles the battery power of the stock Verizon phone, but previously it had an important omission: the NFC chip embedded into Samsung’s batteries. Rejoice, fans of long run life and Android Beam: you no longer have to make the choice between the two.

The LTE model of the extended battery is offered in addition to the original – it doesn’t replace it, despite being nearly identical. For the privilege of NFC capability you’ll pay $74.95 plus taxes and shipping in the US, a $5 premium over the non-NFC model. Sorry, importers: neither 3800mAh battery works with the international GSM version of the Galaxy Nexus, though Seidio offers both a standard replacement battery and a smaller 300mAh extended GSM version.
The extended battery and its blown-out cover ads nearly double the Galaxy Nexus’ own thickness, but what’s that to a man who wants 20 hours of LTE access? Speaking as someone who’s relied on the Verizon Galaxy Nexus (along with a gigantic external battery pack) for breathless CES coverage, I can say one of these babies would have been nice. NFC just sweetens the deal. The Innocell 3800mAh Super Extended Life Battery with NFC is in stock and shipping now.
[via Talk Android]

Device Specifications and Information
Device Info
    Device Name : GALAXY Nexus 4G [Verizon]
    Manufactuer : Samsung
    Carrier : Verizon
    Announced Date : December 14, 2011
    Release Date : December 15, 2011
    Also Known As : Nexus Prime
Display
  • Screen Size : 4.65 Inch
  • Resolution : 1280x720
  • Screen Type : Super AMOLED
Dimension & Weight
  • Height : 5.33 Inch
  • Width : 2.67 Inch
  • Depth : 0.37 Inch
  • Weight : 150 Grams
Battery & Power
    Battery Type:
  • Lithium Ion
  • Battery Capacity : 1850 mAh
  • Talk Time : NA
  • Stand By Time : 150 hours
Software
    Android OS:
  • 4.0.x
    Audio Playback:
  • AAC
  • AAC+
  • AMR
  • MID
  • MP3
  • WAV
  • WMA
    Video Playback:
  • h.264 / AVC
    Messaging:
  • SMS
  • MMS
Hardware
    CPU : OMAP 4460
    CPU Clock Speed : 1200 Mhz
    Core : 2
    Ram : 1000 MB
    Internal Storage : 32 GB
    Front Facing Camera :
    Camera Resolution : 5 MP
    Camera Features:
  • Auto focus
  • Flash
  • 1080p Video Recording
    Sensors:
  • Accelerometer
  • Ambient light
  • Proximity
    QWERTY :
Cellular Network
    Network Technology:
  • CDMA
    CDMA Band:
  • 900
  • 1900
Device Connectivity
    Wi-Fi:
  • 802.11b
  • 802.11g
  • 802.11n
    Bluetooth:
  • Bluetooth 3.0
    Location Features:
  • Compass
  • GPS
  • Cellular location
  • Wi-Fi location
    FM Radio :
    NFC :


Posted: 01 Mar 2012 08:00 AM PST
Jealous of HTC’s partnership with the Beats audio company, coming to an HTC One phone near you? If you know your way around a custom recovery, you needn’t be. Like Sense UI before it, HTC’s proprietary audio technology has made its way to other phones thanks to XDA Developers member fuss123 (never change, guys). He’s reverse-engineered the Beats application, which is basically an advanced equalizer, and wrapped it up in a flashable package that works on any ROM based on Android Gingerbread, stock or custom. As if you needed more confirmation that Android modders know how to rock.

To apply the mod, just download the ZIP file found in the source thread, copy it it to your phone, reboot into ClockworkMod or another custom recovery, and flash it like any update package. Bada bing bada boom, you’ve got the Beats audio app on your phone. OF course, expensive Beats headphones are not required (though they might like you to think they are) and the experience of activating Beats can be generally though of as “bass-heavy”. Note that applying the software update will not magically cause that stylish red “B” to appear on your phone.
This sort of modification generally requires root, so consider yourself on your own as far as support goes, and remember to make a Nandroid backup. Currently the update doesn’t work in Honeycomb tablets or Ice Cream Sandwich, probably because there’s no HTC machines that use both the newer operating systems and Beats audio. That should be rectified once the HTC One phones come out ; even the budget-oriented One V features Beats.

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 07:35 AM PST
We never had any real doubt that the Transformer Pad 300, a cheaper model of Asus’ Eee Pad Transformer Prime and the erstwhile replacement for the original Transformer, would be making its way stateside. But Asus seems intent on bringing it sooner rather than later: the tablets has already appeared in the standard Federal Communication Commission‘s certification systems. Asus is only seeking certification for the WiFi version in the United States so far – it looks like it’ll be a while before the LTE version makes it here, if ever.

The 300 is a more economical version of the Transformer Prime, keeping its Tegra 3 processor, 10-inch 1280×800 LCD screen and (since the January update) Ice Cream Sandwich. The Transformer Pad 300 changes things up a bit with a more down-market plastic casing, though you’ll be able to choose one of three colors, matched to the optional keyboard dock accessories. The new model should give the original Eee Pad Transformer (TF101) a well-earned retirement, and we hope and expect to see it hit the market at the same $399 price point for a 16GB model.
There’s a silver lining to the WiFi-only nature of the device in the FCC: it gets the latest and greatest in processors. Nvidia’s Tegra 3 platform is currently incompatible with LTE radios, and will be for some time – for LTE versions of the Transformer Pad 300 and the Transformer Pad Infinity 700, Asus is substituting Qualcomm’s dual-core Snapdragon S4. The S4 is nothing to sneeze at, but it’a not quite as fast as the Tegra 3. And of course, it can’t access Nvidia’s partnered games in the Tegra Zone. We expect to see the Transformer Pad 300 show up on shelves in the US and elsewhere sometime this summer.
[via Wireless Goodness]

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 07:03 AM PST
There’s more than a few early adopters of the Motorola DROID RAZR who felt miffed after Verizon unveiled the DROID RAZR MAXX at CES, just a couple of months after the original was released. As noted in our review, the hardware is staggeringly similar and the software is actually identical – literally the only difference is a slightly extended body to allow more room for the massive 3300mAh battery. So one XDA developer member did what those fellows do best ,and took apart both a DROID RAZR and the RAZR MAXX, swapped the batteries and the back half of the housing, and turned them on.

It worked. It looks like there’s no reason that the original RAZR can’t accept the expanded battery from the MAXX, if the person doing the swapping has the time, skill and inclination. Those qualifiers aren’t mere formalities: the DROID RAZR is built using some incredibly tough materials and isn’t intended to be opened like a standard smartphone – some very non-traditional methods have been employed thus far. And of course, you need a spare DROID RAZR MAXX that for some reason you’re ready to disembowel, not to mention voiding the warranty on your original phone. Maybe you picked up a unit with a broken screen second-hand. Otherwise, why not just swap the Micro-SIM and be done with it?
The DROID RAZR MAXX’s extended battery makes it an awfully compelling smartphone, even with the drawbacks of Gingerbread and a locked bootloader. In our torturous three-day test, the MAXX managed to make it through a Las Vegas business trip on a single charge (albeit with some tricks used to conserve power). We heartily recommend it over the original DROID RAZR due to the small increase in size and weight relative to performance. There’s no word on whether this bit of technological surgery will work between a US-formatted DROID RAZR MAXX and an international Motorola RAZR, but there’s no reason that a third party couldn’t make replacement batteries and casings for the do-it-yourself types.

Device Specifications and Information
Device Info
    Device Name : DROID RAZR MAXX
    Manufactuer : Motorola
    Carrier : Verizon
    Announced Date : January 13, 2011
    Release Date : January 26, 2011
    Also Known As : RAZR MAXX, DROID RAZR MAXX
Display
  • Screen Size : 4.3 Inch
  • Resolution :
  • Screen Type : Super AMOLED Advanced qHD
Dimension & Weight
  • Height : 5.15 Inch
  • Width : 2.27 Inch
  • Depth : NA
  • Weight : NA
Battery & Power
    Battery Type:
  • Lithium Ion
  • Battery Capacity : 3300 mAh
  • Talk Time : NA
  • Stand By Time : 380 hours
Software
    Android OS:
  • 2.3.x
    Audio Playback:
  • AAC
  • AAC+
  • MP3
  • WAV
  • WMA
    Video Playback:
  • MPEG-4 (MP4)
    Messaging:
  • SMS
  • MMS
Hardware
    CPU : OMAP 4430
    CPU Clock Speed : 1200 Mhz
    Core : 2
    Ram : 1000 MB
    Internal Storage : NA
    Front Facing Camera :
    Camera Resolution : 8 MP
    External Storage:
  • MicroSD
  • MicroSDHC
    Camera Features:
  • Auto focus
  • Flash
  • 1080p Video Recording
    Sensors:
  • Accelerometer
  • Ambient light
  • Proximity
    QWERTY :
Cellular Network
    Network Technology:
  • CDMA
    CDMA Band:
  • 800
  • 850
  • 900
  • 1700
  • 1900
  • 2100
Device Connectivity
    Wi-Fi:
  • 802.11b
  • 802.11g
  • 802.11n
    Bluetooth:
  • Bluetooth 3.0
    Location Features:
  • Compass
  • GPS
  • Cellular location
  • Wi-Fi location
    FM Radio :
    NFC :


Device Specifications and Information
Device Info
    Device Name : DROID RAZR
    Manufactuer : Motorola
    Carrier : Verizon
    Announced Date : October 18, 2011
    Release Date : November 03, 2011
    Also Known As :
Display
  • Screen Size : 4.3 Inch
  • Resolution :
  • Screen Type : Super AMOLED Advanced qHD
Dimension & Weight
  • Height : 5.15 Inch
  • Width : 2.71 Inch
  • Depth : 0.27 Inch
  • Weight : 127 Grams
Battery & Power
    Battery Type:
  • Lithium Ion
  • Battery Capacity : 1780 mAh
  • Talk Time : NA
  • Stand By Time : 8.9 hours
Software
    Android OS:
  • 2.3.x
    Audio Playback:
  • AAC
  • AAC+
  • MP3
  • WAV
  • WMA
    Video Playback:
  • MPEG-4 (MP4)
    Messaging:
  • SMS
  • MMS
Hardware
    CPU : OMAP 4430
    CPU Clock Speed : 1200 Mhz
    Core : 2
    Ram : 1000 MB
    Internal Storage : 16.384 GB
    Front Facing Camera :
    Camera Resolution : 8 MP
    External Storage:
  • MicroSD
  • MicroSDHC
    Camera Features:
  • Auto focus
  • Flash
  • 1080p Video Recording
    QWERTY :
Cellular Network
    Network Technology:
  • CDMA
    CDMA Band:
  • 800
  • 850
  • 900
  • 1700
  • 1900
  • 2100
Device Connectivity
    Wi-Fi:
  • 802.11b
  • 802.11g
  • 802.11n
    Bluetooth:
  • Bluetooth 3.0
    Location Features:
  • Compass
  • GPS
  • Cellular location
  • Wi-Fi location
    FM Radio :
    NFC :

[via TechCrunch]

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 06:28 AM PST
More than a few of you have expressed concern over the HTC One‘s backwards compatibility, what with  it’s three capacitive navigation buttons and lack of a menu button, check this out. Paul “Modaco” O’Brien has been playing around with the software headed for the HTC One X, One S and One V, and found out how HTC’s UI designers have gotten around this limitation: basically, a virtual navigation area springs up on the screen when needed, doubling down on both virtual and capacitive buttons. The Menu button appears centered, and acts just like it did in Gingerbread-based HTC Sense packages.

This does seem to beg the question: if you’re going to have to fall back on a Galaxy Nexus-style virtual navigation bar anyway, why bother with having the capacitive Home, Back and app switch buttons built into the hardware? Couldn’t that space be used more effectively by either extending the screen or shortening the case itself, to say nothing of the small yet considerable cost savings? For that matter, if you have to add the Menu button back in for incompatible applications, why not just put the standard four buttons on the capacitive row and be done with it?
HTC isn’t alone in its insistence on keeping hardware buttons alive with Ice Cream Sandwich. Pretty much every single new phone that we spotted at Mobile World Congress combines a high-definition screen, Android 4.0 and the familiar lower button row. Manufacturers will need to address this interface quirk themselves, or face some immediate customer backlash when they find that the higher functions of older apps can’t be accessed on a new phone.

Device Specifications and Information
Device Info
    Device Name : One X [AT&T]
    Manufactuer : HTC
    Carrier : AT&T
    Announced Date : February 26, 2012
    Release Date : TBA
    Also Known As :
Display
  • Screen Size : 4.7 Inch
  • Resolution : 720x1280
  • Screen Type : S-LCD
Dimension & Weight
  • Height : 5.31 Inch
  • Width : 2.75 Inch
  • Depth : 0.36 Inch
  • Weight : 131 Grams
Battery & Power
    Battery Type:
  • Lithium Ion
  • Battery Capacity : 1800 mAh
  • Talk Time : NA
  • Stand By Time : NA
Software
    Android OS:
  • 4.0.x
    Audio Playback:
  • AAC
  • AAC+
  • AMR
  • MID
  • MP3
  • WAV
  • WMA
    Video Playback:
  • h.263
  • h.264 / AVC
  • MPEG-4 (MP4)
    Messaging:
  • SMS
  • MMS
Hardware
    CPU : S4
    CPU Clock Speed : 1500 Mhz
    Core : 2
    Ram : 1000 MB
    Internal Storage : 16 GB
    Front Facing Camera :
    Camera Resolution : 8 MP
    Camera Features:
  • Auto focus
  • Flash
  • 1080p Video Recording
    Sensors:
  • Accelerometer
  • Ambient light
  • Proximity
    QWERTY :
Cellular Network
    Network Technology:
  • GSM
    GSM Band:
  • 850
  • 900
  • 1800
  • 1900
    CDMA Band:
  • 850
  • 1900
  • 2100
Device Connectivity
    Wi-Fi:
  • 802.11b
  • 802.11g
  • 802.11n
    Bluetooth:
  • Bluetooth 3.0
    Location Features:
  • Compass
  • GPS
  • Cellular location
  • Wi-Fi location
    FM Radio :
    NFC :


Posted: 29 Feb 2012 10:06 PM PST
Have you ever seen a MakerBot (digital fabricator) in action? It’s quite amazing how it can create essentially anything you design, and with amazing precision. Well Paint3D aims to bring 3D printing capabilities to your Android devices soon. It isn’t quite elaborate as programs used on your PC, but you’ve got to start somewhere right?


It isn’t available for the public yet, but the House 4 Hack team from Johannesburg have been working for the past few days on perfecting it. They are using a Samsung Galaxy Note to test it, and are primarily trying to make use of the included digitizer pen. They first plan to have users trace an uploaded picture, and then the program can add depth to the trace. Other shapes should then be able to be placed upon the primary layer.


It doesn’t allow wireless printing for now, but instead users will upload their creations onto a USB and plug them into the 3D printer. This project was primarily developed to enter into a science fair, in hopes to allow school kids a chance to experiment with the program. It is much more complicating than meets the eye, and one of the guys working on Paint3D described what’s in store for its future in great detail. This is definitely worth checking out!
[via TalkAndroid]

Posted: 29 Feb 2012 08:39 PM PST
A few weeks back, a Google Wallet vulnerability was found making both rooted and untampered devices with the application vulnerable to hackers. The crack exposed the PIN within seconds, and was since temporarily patched by Google. This patch disabled the use of prepaid cards, and since then we hadn’t heard much on the subject. Google is pushing three security fixes today that not only allow for prepaid card usage with Wallet, but offer core system fixes.


This update will also provide fixes to rewards card syncing in Wallet, and should increase stability in Google+ and Authenticator applications. Google Wallet had been considered insecure for months, so we’ll just have to wait and see if this update will block out those hackers for good. If you were one of the many that installed the Google Wallet .apk file to your Verizon Galaxy Nexus, the update will not be visible in your Android Market.
However, you’ll still be able to get the update – it will just take a little extra work. First, head over to http://market.android.com in your Android browser and search for Google Wallet. Next, just select install and sign into your Google account. After signed in, tap the back button until you are prompted to select “Market” or “Browser”. Select “Market” this time and you should be good to go.
[via PhoneArena]

Posted: 29 Feb 2012 07:36 PM PST
If you hadn’t already checked out the Samsung Galaxy Beam, it is Samsung’s first device that combines a pico projector into an Android smartphone. Though a mid-range device, it is sure to turn some heads. We’ve just found out that it should hit the UK this July for £385 ($600). It will initially launch unlocked, but we should see it show up on a few carriers to allow subsidized purchases.


As for specs, the Galaxy Beam’s lamp offers 15 lumens of brightness; this is actually low when compared to practically any other projector out there, but hey – this one’s built into your smartphone. It is also said to last 20,000 hours, so unless you plan on using it all day every day for the next 2.3 years it should be fine. The Beam ships with a 4″ TFT display, Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), a 5MP rear shooter, and 1GHz dual-core processor.
This is definitely not a Galaxy S II performance-wise, but at least the projector will set it apart from the rest. To aid the extreme battery consumption of the it, Samsung included a 2000mAh battery. This should be sufficient to allow a quick projection here and there while still lasting you throughout the day. We’ll put it to the test for sure when we get one in to review, but until then check out our hands-on from MWC!
[via SlashGear]

Posted: 29 Feb 2012 07:00 PM PST
We had known that Samsung would be producing flexible AMOLED displays in the future, but had no idea on a definite timeframe. Samsung Mobile Display has just confirmed that they will start mass production of flexible screens this year. More specifically, the first set of screens should start production in the second to third quarter, where the second production line will commence second quarter of 2013.


Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll see these displays hit store shelves in 2012, that will require a bit more information from SMB. In all honesty, when these flexible displays hit the market – it could mark the end of cracked screens (for at least Samsung). Seeing as Google is trying to do away with capacitive buttons and encourage a completely touchscreen experience with Android 4.0, it may suit these flexible devices.
The Samsung Galaxy Nexus and Nexus S are both equipped with contour displays, so Samsung has been dabbling in this area for quite some time. When it’s finally released it will surely be the center of attention. It entirely depends on how flexible they end up, but it would be amazing to take a 10.1 inch display and roll it up like a magazine. It’s really hard to tell how far off we are from concepts like that, as new tech seems to be gaining momentum every year.
[via SlashGear]

Posted: 29 Feb 2012 04:38 PM PST
One of Android 4.0′s less-publicized but no less appreciated features is its focus on a refined interface, and Google’staking that to heart by making parts of it required for access to the Android Market. Those restrictions are for manufacturers, not developers, but a good dev always strives to make his or her app seamlessly fit in with the target OS. To that end, the Android Developers team has released a new set of digital stencils for app developers. T Hey can use this series of buttons, icons, shapes, colors and gradients to make their apps seamlessly flow with Ice Cream Sandwich.

Android’s latest (stock) interface is code-named Holo, and with the Tron-style series of glowing blue accents it’s not hard to see why. Far more stylish and eye-pleasing than the functional but dull stuff seen in Android 2.2 and previous. Gingerbread brought a little refinement, and Honeycomb was in many ways the beta test for Android 4.0. Now that Android looks as good as it performs, it’s more and more frustrating to see manufacturers like Samsung, HTC and Motorola continue to skin their devices with mostly useless interface overlays.
The stencils from the Android dev team were created with a definite slant towards Adobe’s design programs. Adobe Fireworks is the intended recipient, though the files should also work in Photoshop, Illustrator and OmiGraffle.  If you’re not a developer but you’ve got a great idea for an app (and know your way around some basic graphic design programs) you can make some pretty great mock-ups with the tools provided. Download them here.

Posted: 29 Feb 2012 04:13 PM PST
We got a preview of Qualcomm’s upcoming quad-core Snapdragon earlier in an official video, but being the sneaky and distrustful jerks that we are, we couldn’t believe it. So when we passed by Qualcomm’s booth at Mobile World Congress, we made a beeline for the Krait  demonstration. Lo and behold, the prophecy had been fulfilled: four 720p videos, running concurrently on four cores, off of a mobile processor. The results were so pants-wettingly impressive that we had to whip out a camera and document it right then and there.

Qualcomm is a little behind in the “core race”, with the Krait architecture expected to come some time in the second half of 2011, a good nine months at least after the Nvidia Tegra 3. That said, the performance on display here makes it look like it will be well worth the wait. In the meantime, Tegra 3 isn’t an option if you want LTE connectivity; in the case of the HTC One X and Asus’ newest tablets, LTE versions are instead opting for Quialcomm’s dual-core Snapdragon S4.
Behold, computing power with a reckless and gleeful disregard for utility:


As noted, Krait quad-core processors won’t be on the market for several months at least. But with Android making moves towards the desktop and third parties like Motorola and Canonical pushing it along as well, performance is no longer about bragging rights – multi-thread capability may be just as important for your phone as for your PC in the near future. We can’t wait to try out.

Posted: 29 Feb 2012 03:29 PM PST
If you loved the original Parrot AR Drone but couldn’t afford hundreds of dollars to spend on a flying remote-control quadcopter, here’s hoping you’ve been saving your pennies for the last year. The second iteration of the smartphone-controlled Drone has been confirmed for a May release. Even better, you can reserve your very own starting tomorrow, March 1st. Brookstone has the exclusive pre-order page, so check their website tomorrow if you’re interested.

If you need a quick refresher, the AR Drone 2.0 is a quad-copter about the size of a large RC car. You can control it via your Android smartphone’s WiFi connection with their special app. The Drone has a front-mounted 720p video camera that you can view remotely on your phone, not to mention record the video stream. The biggest improvement in the second revision is the FreeFlight control system. With the original, the drone’s controls stayed relative to its own direction, so you had to adjust it just like an RC car. With FreeFlight, the Drone’s controls are relative to the pilot: you turn left, the drone turns left, no matter which way it’s facing.
Check out our hands-on footage of the AR Drone 2.0 from CES last month:



We don’t know how much the Ar Drone 2.0 will cost, but since the original retails for $300, expect it to be the same or only slightly more expensive. Pricey for a toy, certainly, but it’s got some pretty amazing features – and with that padded bumper, it’s likely to survive at least one attack from your favorite household pet. Tinkerers take note: Parrot sells a host of replacement parts and visual modifications, so if that’s your bag, save a little extra for the side goodies.
[via TUAW]

Posted: 29 Feb 2012 02:36 PM PST
Do you like Android? Want a look at the future of Android, and Google’s mobile strategy in general? Got about an hour and change in spare time? The sit back and watch Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt wax philosophical on the current state of mobile technology around the world, and where it’s going. Schmidt addressed Mobile World Congress at the pleasure of the GSMA yesterday as the keynote speaker, and while there wasn’t any earth-shattering reveal, it’s still worth your time if you want to delve deeper int Google’s motivations and goals for the platform.

Chrome takes a big part of the early section of Schmidt’s speech, with a demonstration from Hugo Barra. Clearly the recent release of Chrome for Android isn’t just a branding issue: there’s big plans for the browser, though unfortunately, it looks like it isn’t ever coming to pre-Ice Cream Sandwich versions of Android. Schmidt spends the majority of the rest of his time speaking about how mobile Internet access is both a boon and a liability to emerging markets, expounding on some interesting ideas about an emerging digital caste system… while taking some well-timed opportunities to hype up Android at the same time.
The juiciest part – from an Android fan’s perspective – is the question and answer section. Schmidt unveils the strategy for allowing Android to overtake the featurephone market and penetrate into still more areas, and how the acquisition of Motorola will affect both companies. One of the more fascinating revelations is that Schmidt isn’t particular bothered by Android forks – though he’d obviously be pleased if consumer forces drove more manufacturers to the Android Market. Oh, and Google has no intention of suing those who legitimately use Android… unlike some people.


That’s pretty much it for Mobile World Congress, folks. We’ll still be putting up a few more hands-on posts and other interesting tidbits over the next few days, but the big announcements and reveals are all over. We hope you had as much fun reading our coverage as we did writing it.

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