Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Apple Maps usage rises as Google Maps drops sharply

Last year, when Apple replaced the Google Maps application on iOS with their own Apple Maps, the company was blasted by everyone, including Apple fans, to the point where Apple had to issue an apology to customers and highlight other mapping apps in the App Store. A year later, however, things are looking a bit better.

Over the past year, Apple Maps usage has increased sharply whereas Google Maps has seen a corresponding drop, according to a survey by comScore. Apple Maps now has 35 million users to its credit in the US. Google Maps, on the other hand, has dropped down to 58.7 million, which includes both iOS as well as Android users. Compare this to 81 million users that Google Maps had last year and you can see that it has dropped by a significant 22.3 million in just a span of a year.
Out of the 58.7 million Google Maps users, only 6 million iOS users downloaded the app from the App Store and out of those 6 million are 2 million who cannot or have not yet updated to iOS 6 or above (so they can’t use Apple Maps).
There could be various factors responsible for this. First of all, built-in apps trump downloadable apps any day as far as usage is considered. Most people just use the apps that come pre-installed with their devices and third party apps that replicate that functionality can’t compete with that unless they offer a service not available by default on the device.
Secondly, Apple Maps has improved over the last year, as reported by several users. It’s still nowhere near as good as Google’s app, which has had several years of head start, but is slowly getting there. With more people using it, the service can improve faster through more user submitted data.
With Apple Maps now also available on Macs through Mavericks, you can expect a further bump in usage and higher user base a year later.

Sony Xperia Z1S shows up briefly on Sony's site

The Sony Xperia Z1S, aka Xperia Z1 mini, leaks started as soon as it became clear that the Xperia Z1 f will be exclusive to Japan. Now the Xperia Z1S has cropped up on an official Sony site in another country, which lends support to the rumors of an international launch (note that the page has since been taken down).

Unfortunately, that country is China and plenty of makers (Sony included) have phones exclusive to China, so this isn't a strong confirmation of a global launch. Still, we won't have to torture ourselves with a long will-they-won't-they as rumors indicate that the Sony Xperia Z1S will be unveiled on November 12 in Shanghai (that's tomorrow!).
Note that the S in Xperia Z1S is officially styled as superscript, but we'll skip that in the interest of readability.
A quick refresher for those who haven’t been following the rumor mill, the Xperia Z1S is rumored to have a compact 4.3" 720p screen and the full set of specs that made the Xperia Z1 so good – a 20.7MP 1/2.3" sensor, a Snapdragon 800 chipset and an IP58 rating. This would make it the first proper flagship mini, something the HTC One mini and Samsung Galaxy S4 mini failed to achieve.
Thanks to everyone who sent this in!

Apple iPad mini with Retina goes on sale

The Apple iPad mini 2, which flaunts a spanking new 324 ppi Retina display has gone on sale across Apple's online stores.
The device comes in Space Gray and Silver and is available from 16 GB through to 128 GB versions in Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + Cellular flavors. The slate ships in 1 to 3 business days for the 16 GB and 32 GB Wi-Fi models and 5 to 10 business days for the rest of the line.

Apple iPad 2 in the US and German stores
As is usually the case with electronics the slate is more expensive in Europe, Japan and elsewhere compared to in the US and by a lot.
Here's what the prices converted from local currency to US dollars look like. In Japan the only available Wi-Fi version costs around $422, compared to the $399 in the US store. Germany, Netherlands and Italy have the slate for the equivalent of around $522 for the Wi-Fi iPad mini 2 and $682 for the Cellular one compared to $399/$529 in the US. France seems to get it the worst with a pricing of $536/$695 respectively. All above-mentioned prices are for the 16 GB version of the iPad mini 2.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Samsung, Apple to use wireless charging on their phones?

Wireless charging tech has been around for a few years now, but 2013 might be the year it finally goes mainstream. Industry sources say that Samsung and Apple are both working on wireless charging for their 2013 flagships smartphones.
Samsung is reportedly looking at Qi from the Wireless Power Consortium – it’s currently the most popular choice with members including Nokia, LG, HTC, Sony and Motorola. It’s worth noting that Samsung is currently a member of a competing standard run by the Alliance for Wireless Power (along with Qualcomm, TI, Broadcom and others).
Whichever standard it goes for, Samsung may not integrate the tech right into the Galaxy S IV, but put it in an optional back cover instead (like the Nokia Lumia 820). There are currently third-party Qi charging kits for the Galaxy S III as well, but not an official Samsung-made accessory.
Apple is also looking into enabling wireless charging on its products, but the company will reportedly go for a homegrown solution, which won’t be out of character for the Cupertino giant. According to insiders Apple is also investigating an implementation og the tech as an add-on rather than build it into the iPhone 5S.
In less than a week we’ll know if Samsung has put wireless charging tech in the Galaxy S IV and what kind. Apple’s announcement won’t be for some time, though.

Apple wins patent infringement lawsuit against Samsung in UK

The Apple vs. Samsung legal kerfuffle continues, with the latest round going in favor of Apple. According to a UK court, Apple was not found guilty of infringing upon three of Samsung's patents.

Samsung had claimed in court that Apple was infringing upon three of its patents related to processing and transmitting data over 3G mobile networks, however, the court found all three claims invalid.
While Apple declined to comment on the court's verdict, a Samsung spokeswoman said that "Upon a thorough review of the judgment we will decide whether to file an appeal".

DROID RAZR and DROID RAZR MAXX get Jelly Bean 4.1.2

Finally, Motorola has updated its DROID RAZR and RAZR MAXX smartphones to Jelly Bean. Mind you, the update brings the devices to Android 4.1.2, and not 4.2, but it's still a push in the right direction.

Weirdly, or rather not, the update does as much shredding as adding new features. The usual Moto software such as the My Music, My Gallery as well as Weather and World Clock widgets are now history. So is MOTOCAST altogether, for that matter, as are the My Gallery and My Music apps, which are now replaced with the standard Google Gallery app and Google Play Music, respectively.
Nevertheless, there are some goodies that Motorola has added (apart from Project Butter, Google Now, richer notifications and voice search). Google Maps requires less time to get a GPS signal lock, and the cameras of the DROIDs boast improved image quality and better contrast and detail. The Panorama Mode should be more intuitive to use as well.
The firmware update should hit Verizon users starting today and bring their software version to 98.72.16.XT912.Verizon.en.US. Happy updating!

Thursday, 7 March 2013

AT&T HTC One X is getting Jelly Bean update today

The long awaited Jelly Bean update for the AT&T's HTC One X will launch today. That's nearly three months after the European HTC One X units got the Jelly Bean treatment and four months since the Asian One X users started getting update notifications. Meanwhile the refreshed HTC One X+ has made its way to the AT&T shelves.
Thankfully, the loyal AT&T and HTC One X users were not completely forgotten and the Jelly Bean update for their smartphones will start seeding today. It will be available over-the-air, so you'll only need just a battery with enough juice in it and a Wi-Fi connection to apply it.
After the update the HTC One X users will be getting to enjoy Google Now virtual assistant and its cool and helpful card interface as well as expandable and easier to handle notifications. The update will also bring countdown timer for the front camera and the Project Butter optimizations for smoother UI experience.
Here is hoping the AT&T HTC One X will also join its international sibling and will eventually be updated with Sense UI 5.0.

Micromax A110 Canvas 2 is getting Jelly Bean next week

When purchasing smartphones from relatively unknown manufacturers, you are rarely expecting to see much in terms of after-market support and firmware updates. Well Micromax is determined to prove that this doesn't necessarily have to be the case and has committed to releasing a Jelly Bean update for its former flagship.
The Micromax A110 Canvas 2 has been enjoying extremely warm reception in India and at one point it even managed to top our daily interest charts. It has been succeeded by the A116 Canvas HD since, but Micromax is still keen to take good care of it.
The rollout of the Jelly Bean updae for the Micromax A110 Canvas 2 will start next week, but unfortunately it won't be available over the air. What's worse, you won't be able to update your smartphone from your computer either.
Instead, you'll have to call the nearest Micromax service center, confirm they have already received the firmware update for your phone and then go there to get your A110 some Jelly Bean treatment. Hardly an ideal solution, but as we said it's still better than what most of Micromax competitors are offering.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Plus appears on Bluetooth.org

Samsung was expected to launch a bunch of other tablets along with its Galaxy Note 8.0 at the recently concluded Mobile World Congress. One of the more appealing of the rumored tablets was the Galaxy Tab 3 Plus and the good news is that the tablet launch might just be around the corner as it has been officially listed on the Bluetooth.org website.

The listing confirms the model number of the tablet to be GT-P8220 and the existence of an LTE variant. Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Plus was reported to boast a 2560×1600 resolution display and the tablet is expected to rub its shoulders against the likes of Google Nexus 10 and Apple Retina iPad.

Information about the 10-inch Galaxy Tab is scarce for now, but we’ll probably know more in the following weeks.

Photosynth 360-degree panorama hits Windows Phone 8

Nokia Lumia devices running Windows Phone 8 now have the ability to run the updated Photosynth app, which creates (somewhat) seamless 360-degree panorama shots.

The app has also received a few camera and sharing enhancements in its Windows Phone 8 version. These include full integration with the camera, where it can be launched via the digital lens selector, allowing you to adjust exposure and white balance as well.

Photosynth allows you to capture a sequence of images either horizontally or vertically to create an interactive 360-degree spherical photo. While it’s not perfect (there’s sometimes clipping between where the shot started and finished), you can get some truly great results.

The Photosynth website lets you upload your own shots, and even lets you publish it to Bing maps for everyone to see.

Concept render shows what the Galaxy S IV could look like, some more screenshots confirm specs

Samsung has managed to keep a surprisingly tight lid on the Galaxy S IV, especially considering that the launch is just a week away. GottaBeMobile partnered with Martin Hajek to try and guess what the Galaxy S IV will look like. The result is cool-looking concept renders like this one:

The design is based on the most common rumors about the device and a healthy dose of imagination.
The concept follows the Galaxy S III design but takes cues from the Note II and Note 8.0. The major change is the almost bezel-less display – the concept fits the 4.99″ 1080p display in just 136.7 x 64.8 x 7.9mm, that’s smaller than the Galaxy S III and not much bigger than the iPhone 5.

Check out this video which shows more renders and goes over GottaBeMobile‘s reasoning behind the design choices of the Galaxy S IV concept.

Meanwhile, some alleged Galaxy S IV screenshots cropped up. Yes, again. They include shots of Quick System Info pro, which points to a 5.01″ 1080p with 480ppi pixel density. At least one of these numbers is wrong – 5″ 1080p phones have 441ppi pixel density, while 1080p at 480ppi results in a 4.6″ screen.
The CPU is a quad-core ARMv7at 1.8GHz. Note that if this is a big.LITTLE design like the Exynos 5 Octa, only four cores are visible to the OS at a time, while the other four sleep to preserve energy. Note the little tab over the CPU specs, this could be for Multi Window like on the Galaxy Note II.

Display and CPU specs • Smart Screen options
The camera screenshot reveals 13MP maximum resolution, but no other big differences compared to the Galaxy S III. The homescreen screenshot looks pretty much the same too. The status line on top of the screen shows 4G (LTE), Smart Screen features (Smart scroll and pause) and NFC.

Camera settings • homescreen

There’s no way to tell how accurate the Galaxy S IV concept render is – it seems a bit too aggressive with the side bezel of the screen (some really accurate software will have to recognize and ignore all the accidental touches) while being too conservative with the changes. Bezel aside it’s barely different from the S III.
As for the screenshots, they seem fishy – a screenshot is not hard to fake, they have some wrong numbers and they show nothing new.

Well, it’s only a week before the official announcement, until then our only reliable source of info are the teaser ads from Samsung. The first one is out already and we expect more soon. Too bad they probably won’t reveal anything major.

Official Nexus 7 dock is now available for purchase from Google Play Store

The much awaited dock for the Nexus 7 tablets, which was announced in August last year, is now available in the Google Play Store. The dock will be available in multiple countries, according to a tweet from the official Google Nexus account

Asus Nexus 7′s exclusive accessory took a bit longer than expected to hit the shelves, but nevertheless it is now up for grabs. The official Nexus 7 dock is currently available in Australia, Canada, Germany, United Kingdom and Japan. Sadly, consumers are restricted from buying more than two docks per person.
The official Google Nexus 7 dock carries a price tag of $30 and is currently available on the Google Play Store.

Samsung redecorates Times Square for the Galaxy S IV launch

March 14th is the big day for Samsung fans, and in case you’re unsure what’s important about that date, just take a look at Times Square in New York.

Samsung has put up several ads for its upcoming “Unpacked” event, where the Galaxy S IV is expected to debut.

The Galaxy S IV is supposed to run on an 1.8 GHz Exynos 5 octa-core chipset and offer a 4.99-inch screen of FullHD resolution (resulting in 441ppi), 2 GB of RAM, and Android 4.2 out of box.

Be sure to check back with us next week for our full coverage of the event!

CyanogenMod 10.1 M2 release adds support for a slew of new devices

The latest release of CyanogenMod is out and it expands the list of device supported by the after market firmware. CyanogenMod 10.1 M2 release is based on Android 4.2.2 and the latest development brings support for the Nexus family and few other popular smartphones.

The second release of Cyanogen’s M version brings some new features as well, such as wireless display and daydream support. Furthermore, CyanogenMod 10.1 also squashes a ton of bugs that were reported by users of the nightlies and the developmental firmware is quite stable now.
The list of devices compatible with CyanogenMod 10.1 follows:
• Acer Iconia a700
• Google Nexus S (crespo, crespo4g)
• Google Nexus 7 (grouper, tilapia)
• Google Galaxy Nexus (toro, toroplus, maguro)
• Google Nexus 4 (mako)
• Google Nexus 10 (manta)
• Google Nexus Q (steelhead)
• Hardkernel Odroid-U2
• HTC One X (evita)
• HTC Incredible 4G LTE (fireball)
• HTC Evo 4G LTE (jewel)
• HTC One S (ville)
• LG Nitro HD (p930)
• LG Optimus LTE (su640)
• LG Spectrum (vs920)
• Samsung Galaxy S (captivatemtd, galaxysbmtd, galaxysmtd, epicmtd)
• Samsung Galaxy S II (i9100g, Hercules, skyrocket)
• Samsung Galaxy S III (US variants d2att, d2cri, d2mtr, d2spr, d2tmo, d2vzw)
• Samsung Note (quincytmo, quincyatt)
• Samsung Galaxy Tab 2.7.0 (p3100,p3110)
• Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 (p5100, p5110)
The custom ROMs for the above devices can be found on the official CyanogenMod website. Keep in mind that the flashing process involves some risk and would void your phone’s warranty, so proceed with the instructions only if you are sure about what you are doing.

Nokia joins Apple to secure injunction against Samsung

In a surprising move, Nokia will be supporting its market rival Apple to secure injunctions on several Samsung's product. The Finnish manufacturer will remain the only alien company to support the Cupertino giant in its appeal.

Nokia in its filling at the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington argued that the court was wrong in denying the Apple's plead for the injunction.
Interestingly, Nokia had instituted legal proceedings against Apple three years ago, but now, the companies have joined hands to fight against the current market leaders.
Meanwhile, Apple had requested the Federal Circuit to speed up its appeal and schedule a hearing immediately. The court however has rejected Apple's plea and has a referred the case to a three member judge panel.

Sony Xperia ZL goes on sale in Oz, priced at $699

Sony Xperia ZL, which is the non-water-resistant brother of the popular Sony Xperia Z, is now available in Australia. The smartphone has been listed by MobiCity, an online retailer and the device costs you $699 for the unlocked version.

Sony Xperia ZL comes with a 5" Full HD scratch-resistant TFT display with 1920 x 1080p resolution. The smartphone is powered by a 1.5 GHz quad-core Qualcomm processor along with 2 GB of RAM and has 16 GB internal memory.
The device also features a 13-megapixel rear camera with LED flash, 2-megapixel secondary camera, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and runs on 2,370mAh battery.
Unfortunately, Sony Xperia ZL is currently available only in Black color option and there is no confirmation on the availability of the other shades. Meanwhile, we were able to get our hands on the Xperia ZL at the recently concluded MWC. Check out our first impressions of the smartphone.

Samsung Galaxy Note III rumored to sport a 5.9-inch display

The Samsung Galaxy Note II is just six months old now, but the rumors of the next generation Galaxy Note phablet have already started to make its rounds. The potential successor of the sensational Galaxy Note II is said to feature a 5.9" display, according to a report from Korean Times.

Samsung Galaxy Note III is also rumored to come out with an AMOLED display and the plablet is very likely to use the latest octa-core processors from the company, but take it all with a pinch of salt, since the information is not from an official source.
Meanwhile, Samsung will be unveiling its next-generation Galaxy S smartphone on March 14. Watch this space to see how things unfold.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

HTC sales continue to plummet in February

It seems that poor HTC just can't catch a break. The company released the first 1080p smartphone in the US with the DROID DNA, followed by the first global 1080p smartphone - the HTC Butterfly and yet its sales have failed to pick up.
Previously the company identified its poor marketing efforts as the cause for the unconvincing performance and promised to do something about it. The first attempt it made was to hold a dedicated event for its new One flagship, instead of introducing it at the MWC floor, so the smartphone has more time in the spotlight.
We'll see if this strategy works and exactly how much of an impact the One will make, but the fact is last March HTC stock was trading at over NT$600, and now it sits at just NT$255.50, a 57% decline.
The trend will probably continue now as HTC confirmed that its sales for February 2013 drop 44% compared to the same period of last year. In the past month HTC brought in NT$11 billion ($384 million), compared to over NT$20 million ($685 million) for the February 2012. 

Here's hoping that HTC manages to right the ship, as it's a shame to see a company that otherwise makes such quality products suffer because of poor marketing decisions.

Apple could ditch the home button for pressure-sensitive casing in future iPhones

iPhone Pressure Sensitive PatentiPhone 5
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday granted Apple (AAPL) a patent for a new way to control an iPhone by squeezing it. The patent describes a system that could measure and react to different amounts of pressure applied to a device’s external casing. The invention can be utilized by a large range of electronic devices, such as smartphones, laptops and perhaps even Apple’s rumored iWatch. Apple has relied heavily on its physical home button in its iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices in the past, but a pressure-sensitive casing could give the company more freedom when designing its next-generation products.

This article was originally published on BGR.com

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 on sale from Verizon starting March 7th

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1

Anyone who likes having LTE connectivity with their tablet may want to check out Samsung’s (005930) LTE-capable Galaxy Note 10.1 that will go on sale at Verizon (VZ) stores starting on March 7th for $600. The Note 10.1, which Samsung unveiled three separate times last year, features a 1.4GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, a 10.1-inch WXGA LCD display, a 5-megapixel rear camera, a secondary 1.9-megapixel camera for video chats, Samsung’s S Pen stylus and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. Verizon says that customers can add the LTE-capable Note 10.1 to their Share Anything data plans for an additional $10 a month.

[More from BGR: Samsung executive defends sticking with plastic for its smartphone casings [updated]]

This article was originally published on BGR.com

New Android apps worth downloading: Evzdrop and AccuWeather updates, Ark of the Ages

Today's apps worth downloading list includes a couple of solid updates to great apps. Up first is Evzdrop, a social networking app that lets you check out what's happening in different places, followed by AccuWeather, a weather forecast app with a completely new, optimized design for tablets and smartphones. Finally, there's Ark of the Ages, a 3-D role-playing title with swipe-based combat.
Also on Appolicious Enjoy reading The Atlantic on mobile devices? Learn how the iconic publication embraced digital from our friends at Zinio. This Guest Post is a real page-turner.

Evzdrop update (Free)

Evzdrop   What Is About? So cial networking app Evzdrop lets you get the lowdown on what's happening in a given place by tapping into social network feeds from people who are there.
What’s cool? Checking in to different locations with social networking apps is fun, but Evzdrop takes things a step further to allow users to make updates from those locations that others can see across a number of social networks. That means you can let people know what's going on in a given location by creating a “drop,” or check out what's happening in a place the same way to get an idea of what's going on before you arrive. The app's updates add better interaction with Facebook and allow users to comment on drops from others more easily.
Who’s it for? If you're the kind of social networker who likes to know what's going on in locations, rather than with specific people, check out Evzdrop.
What’s it like? More location-based social networking is available from Foursquare, and Sonar makes finding people you know online in a given (real life) place easy.

AccuWeather update (Free)

AccuWeather What is About? Weather forecast app AccuWeather is packed full of weather information and has received a spiffy new interface design.
What’s cool? You probably already have an idea of what AccuWeather can do – it's a powerful weather app that brings you forecasts from around the world. The app can send you Push notifications and can be geared to give you forecasts for specific activities, which means it can let you know if you should skip that jog or capitalize on a good day for fishing. You can also get hourly forecasts and even check the weather radar in your area. Along with its latest update, AccuWeather has gotten a brand new redesign that's optimized for smartphones and tablets, as well as customizable widgets and more.
Who’s it for? Users in the market for a powerful weather app, AccuWeather is worth a look
What’s it like? Among other solid weather apps are The Weather Channel and Yahoo! Weather.

Ark of the Ages ($1.99)

Ark of the Ages What it about? A 3-D role-playing title, Ark of the Ages sends players on a quest to fight through dungeons and prove themselves worthy of joining the knighthood of the Royal Order.
What’s cool? Melding first-person combat that uses swiping to control your swordplay and magic, with third-person exploration of the world, Ark of the Ages sends players through a number of fantastical dungeons to fight a load of monsters. Like other role-playing titles, you'll be searching for loot and other goodies that will make you more powerful as you progress through the game. How you deck out your character can be adjusted according to your play style, allowing you to fight with the skills and abilities you see fit. Ark of Ages boasts some high-quality graphics and some 24 dungeons to fight through.
Who’s it for? If you like role-playing titles with swipe-based fighting not unlike Infinity Blade, check out Ark of the Ages.
What’s it like? Other great RPGs include Chaos Rings and Aralon: Sword and Shadow.
Download the Appolicious Android app

Google Play turns one, offers great deals through its anniversary sales

It’s already a year, since the popular Android Market was rebranded as Google Play. The newly launched app store for Android is now celebrating its first anniversary with lots of offers, discounts and goodies

Google has partnered with several publishers to celebrate its successful run and offers discounts and great deals for a limited period. Google’s latest promotion includes e-books, movies, applications, exclusive level upgrades in games and whatnot.

Google has also created a short video, showing the evolution of the Google Play to celebrate the occasion.
The offers are said to vary from each country and the Google is said to continue this promotional offer through-out the week to celebrate its Google Play’s first anniversary. So, keep a close eye on the Google Play’s promotional page and make the most of the discounted sales.

The Humble Bundle with Android 5 released

A new version of the popular Humble Bundle is out and brings with it some exciting new games. For those who are not aware, Humble Bundle is a bundle of games that you can purchase for much less than the total price of all the included games. In fact, you are given the option to name your own price and decide how it is distributed among the game developers, The Humble Bundle team and a charitable organization. 

Now on to the latest bundle, the Humble Bundle 5 includes Beat Hazard Ultra, Dynamite Jack, Solar 2, NightSky HD and EFF. If you pay above $6.64 average price, then you also get Dungeon Defenders along with all its DLC and Super Hexagon. And and as usual, they have included all the soundstracks to the games.
The Humble Bundle will work on Windows, OS X, Linux and Android devices (all games are available on each of these platforms). So for a minimum price of $13.37, you get games worth $110 along with their soundtracks and you can play them on pretty much any platform out there. No wonder these things are so popular.

Google Maps for iOS gets its first update

Nearly three months after releasing the much awaited Maps application for iOS, Google has finally released an update for it, which brings with it some useful new features. 

One of the key new features is the ability to search through your Google contacts. All you have to do is sign into your Google account and then just type the name of the contact into the search field. The app still gives preference to locations but if you wait a while the contact name will appear. 

Google has also added quick search for local places by adding categories such as restaurants, bars, cafes, fuel stations, etc. Lastly, you can now choose between kilometers and miles as your preferred distance unit.
The update is now available in the App Store. Alternatively, you can get it from here. Unfortunately, there is still no iPad version of the app available.

Bollywood star Katrina Kaif is the new Xperia brand ambassador for Sony India

Sony India has signed the popular Bollywood actress Katrina Kaif as a brand ambassador for the Xperia range of smartphones. The latest association is expected to boost the brand’s value in the Indian market and help the company plans to extend the presence of Xperia smartphones there. 

Sony also expects to capture more of the youth market as the actor is highly popular among the younger audience. Meanwhile, Sony has tripled its investment from Rs. 100 crore to Rs. 300 crores for the marketing of its Xperia range of smartphones.

Sony India will also launch a promotional campaign and the company is said to organize road shows and use cinema and other digital platforms for promoting their latest smartphones. 

Android in Feb 2013: Jelly Bean grows, Gingerbread dominates

The platform distribution numbers for Android in February are out and they bring little surprises. The trends from the previous few months continue, with Jelly Bean gaining ground on ICS and the now long outdated Gingerbread.

The Gingerbread userbase has dropped from 45.6% to 44.2%, but this is still enough to make it the most popular Android version globally. And given that Gingerbread is more than two years old now, this hardly bodes too well for Android OEMs and their updates.
The ICS has seen a drop of 0.4 percent points, but it still holds nearly twice bigger market share than the two Jelly Bean releases combined.
The good news is that the Jelly Bean user base is up by 3 percent points over the previous month and the latest version of Android is starting to quickly gain traction now. Still, it remains to be seen if Jelly Bean will become the most widely-spread Android release before its Key Lime Pie successor comes in the summer.

Screenshots confirm Smart scroll and Smart pause for Galaxy S IV

Earlier this year Samsung trademarked Eye Scroll and Eye Pause and a couple of days ago the eye scrolling rumor reappeared. Today we can add several screenshots to the evidence that the Samsung Galaxy S IV will have both of these features.

Update: It turns out that the tipster sent SamMobile the wrong info - the screenshots are from the Android 4.2.1 update for the Samsung Galaxy S III. The Galaxy S IV will have those features too, but those screenshots are not from it.

These screenshots have 1080p resolution (note: we down scaled the screenshots to make them easier to view), which also confirms the screen resolution rumors, and are our first look at Nature UX 2.0. Too bad it’s just the settings menu, which look unchanged.

Anyway, Smart scroll joins the list of Smart screen features – just like the rest it will use the front-facing camera to track your gaze. It will start scrolling automatically when it detects that you’re looking at the screen.

Smart scroll and Smart pause options

By the looks of it, it won’t track your eyes but your whole head – that is it will scroll vertically while you’re looking at the screen and tilting your heard vertically will adjust the scroll speed. There are options for acceleration and visual feedback.

The second new option, Smart pause, is simpler but very useful – it will pause video playback when you look away from the device. This will do for watching videos what Smart stay did for reading.
The Samsung Galaxy S IV is due for official announcement on March 14 and we’ll be there live.

Samsung prepares affordable Galaxy Pocket Neo for mid-May

Samsung is preparing yet another affordable smartphone to join its team of entry-level droids. Dubbed the Galaxy Pocket Neo, the upcoming droid is going to sit next to the Galaxy Young and Galaxy Fame.

The information comes from a report by SamMobile which also claims that the Pocket Neo is going to come in a dual-SIM variant as well. The phone will feature a 3" display with of QVGA resolution and will measure 104.95 x 57.8 x 11.8mm. At the back, there's going to be a 2MP camera.

The Pocket Neo boasts the usual range of connectivity options including Bluetooth 4, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n as well as A-GPS and microUSB port. The device will also go by the model number S5310, while the DUOS variant will use the S5312.

Samsung is said to launch the Pocket Neo's in week 20 of this year (May 13 - May 19). Currently, the phone is known to come out in a silver color, but we suspect more will be available too.

Nokia celebrates 2 million Lumia devices sold in China

According to a report by WinP.cn, what you see below is the Nokia team celebrating two million Nokia Lumia activations in China alone.

More impressively, it only took the company from December 5 through March 5 to achieve this. What's even more encouraging is the fact that there were severe Lumia 920 supply shortages at the end of last year, which undoubtedly slowed the sales.
Nevertheless, Nokia has had a small internal celebration led by the company's VP and head of Nokia China Gustavo Eichelmann.
The Chinese versions of the Nokia Lumia 520 and 720 are expected to hit shelves in the coming weeks helping the company pave the way to a decent first quarter earnings report.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Cell phone unlocking to be legalized in the United States

Back in October of last year, the Librarian of Congress decided to remove cell phone unlocking from the exceptions to the DMCA list, effectively rendering it illegal. The decision came into effect on January 26 of this year, forcing users to stay with a given carrier even after their original contract had expired.
This, in turn, resulted in an online petition to overturn the decision, either by once again making cell phone unlocking an exception to the DMCA, or create specific legislation which legalizes it.

In a statement from the White House, Senior Advisor for Internet, Innovation, and Privacy David Edelman declared his and the White House support for the online petition, which received over 114,000 signatures, and stated that:
"...neither criminal law nor technological locks should prevent consumers from switching carriers when they are no longer bound by a service agreement or other obligation."
According to Edelman, the FCC and NTIA are hard at work moving forward with legislation regarding this "urgent issue."

Purported official image of Samsung Galaxy S IV shows up

Samsung Galaxy S IV rumors pop up by the day and the last one comes from the relentless leak mill evleaks. What looks to be a Galaxy S IV presentation slide, containing an image of the smartphone popped on the famous Twitter account .

Although evleaks has proven its reliability numerous times in the past we remain dubious on this particular image's authenticity. The Galaxy S IV photo looks like a quick mockup rather than an actual product image.
Besides Samsung did quite well in hiding the face of the Galaxy S III until its official unveiling last year. We wouldn't be at all surprised if the image you see here is just a placeholder, and not the real deal.
As for the S IV's specs on the slide, they coincide with what the AnTuTu benchmark test showed yesterday.
There's little left until March 14, when the Galaxy S IV will shine on Times Square in New York, so we'll know all about it soon enough. You can check out the phone's teaser video released yesterday to make the wait easier to bear.
Update: It turns out the image comes from UK online retailer Expansys and not evleaks. In fact the tweet has since been removed, suggesting that it's very unlikely that this is the real thing. Move along, nothing to see here.

Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 goes on sale, priced at €329

Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2, a recent addition to the extensive collection of smartphones from the company is up for grabs. The device has been listed on gigantti.fi, a Finnish retailer, with a price tag of €329 (about $428).

Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2, which is an IP 67-certified smartphone, comes with 4" LCD display, 1 GHz dual-core processor along with 1 GB of RAM, 5-megapixel rear camera with LED flash, VGA front facing camera, 4 GB inbuilt memory with microSD slot and latest connectivity options.
Galaxy Xcover 2 runs on Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean and is powered by a relatively small 1,700mAH battery. Just in case if you are wondering about the features and the performance of the smartphone, check out our detailed review.

Next Apple iPhone might feature a smart stylus, rumor suggests

As the rumor has it Apple might be working on a smart stylus for its next-gen iPhone 6. It should work the similar way as the Note and Note II S-Pens but support even more functionality.

You should definitely take this one with a healthy pinch of salt as it's coming from The Sun, which is not exactly known for its tech industry coverage. Anyway the tabloid's sources had it that the next iPhone will have a smart stylus, just like the S-Pen on the Note smartphones.

The rumor also has it that the next flagship by Apple will offer some sort of motion gesture password protection and mini barcode scanner.

What lends some credence to those rumors is the fact that Apple recently filed three patents for stylus technology. The Cupertino giant might simply be preparing for another legal round (with Samsung probably), but it might be getting ready to try and attack the Koreans' Note lineup instead. We guess only time will tell.

HTC One to hit Russia in April, to carry RUB 29,990 price tag

Info on HTC One pricing keeps rolling in – the flagship is expected to hit Russia on the first Sunday of April for RUB 29,990 ($977). This is according to info shared by Russian retailer Euroset, but other retailers should get the One around the same time for about the same price.

The HTC one can already be pre-ordered at the Euroset’s website in silver or black. There are a number of plans available for multiple carriers.

The HTC One is also coming to the UK (£510 / $773 SIM-free or £41/month for 2 years on contract) and Germany (€600 / $782). It will also hit the US on AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile.
The HTC One will be available in a huge number of other countries too, you can check the complete list.
Thanks to Freddie for sending this in!