Friday, August 31, 2012

Windows 8 tablets


IFA Berlin, Europe's biggest Consumer Electronics event, takes place this week, and we've got info on all of the hot new products being launched! Not surprisingly, a lot of companies are showing off Windows 8 tablets and laptops, in preparation for Microsoft's October release of its next operating system. Giant 4K TVs are also in abundance, though with no real 4K programming available, they're largely a tease. Here are our picks for some of the most interesting gadgtets on display at IFA:

  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    Following on the heels of its new Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet, Samsung announced the revamped Galaxy Note II smartphone. The new phone has a giant 5.5-inch display, uses Samsung's new S Pen stylus, and includes Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean). Among other things, Samsung also rolled out the Android-powered Galaxy Camera, and its ATIV laptops, which run on Windows 8, and include S Pen-enabled touchscreens.
  • Dell XPS Duo 12
    Dell and Sony both inroduced convertible laptops called Duos that will run Windows 8 and work with keyboards and touchscreens. Sony's entrant is the 11-inch VAIO Duo 11. Dell's Duo, on the other hand, goes to 12 (Dell also intoduced the 10-inch XPS 10 tablet). Both models are expected to be out in late October, and both will compete with Microsoft's new Surface Pro, which will also run Windows 8, and include both touchscreen and keyboard functionality.

  • Sony Bravia KD-84X9005
    Sony's 84-inch 4K LCD TV will be available by the end of the year, and in case there's still no 4K programming, Sony claims the model will upscale everything from Internet videos to Blu-ray discs to "beautiful, vibrant 4K images." While we'll have to reserve judgment on that, we can still think of a lot of things to do with a 3840 x 2160 display. Toshiba and LG also had 84-inch 4K sets on display.
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50GB free Dropbox service confirmed for Samsung Galaxy Note II and Galaxy Camera

50GB free Dropbox service confirmed for Samsung Galaxy Note II and Galaxy Camera

Free Dropbox services confirmed for Samsung Galaxy Note II and Galaxy Camera

Good news, storage junkies: Dropbox and Samsung have renewed their vows with a deal that'll provide 50GB of free storage for two years to owners of the new Galaxy Note II and Galaxy Camera. As you'd expect, this means the Dropbox app will be pre-installed, and it also ensures that users will have easier access to their media files. Before you get too excited, however, there's no guarantee that this well-intentioned promotion will pass muster with US carriers -- we've certainly seen a few hopes dashed in the past.

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50GB free Dropbox service confirmed for Samsung Galaxy Note II and Galaxy Camera originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 30 Aug 2012 23:20:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Oliver Yatco

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Xperia, Galaxy Note, Ativ-S, Galaxy Camera: New Sony, Samsung phones come out to play at IFA 2012

Xperia, Galaxy Note, Ativ-S, Galaxy Camera: New Sony, Samsung phones come out to play at IFA 2012

Xperia, Galaxy Note, Ativ-S: New Sony, Samsung phones come out to play at IFA 2012

Our Mobile Nations sibling sites, Android Central, and WPCentral are live at IFA 2012 in Berlin, Germany, and since Apple doesn't attend any shows but their own -- expected on September, 12, of course -- that leaves the stage wide open to companies like Sony and Samsung to show off new Xperia T, Galaxy Note 2, Ativ-S, and other devices. Here's what we've seen so far...

The Sony Xperia T, according to to Chris Parsons, will be the flagship for them, and will even find it's way into James Bond's hands in Skyfall

As we've seen in previous leaks, [the Xperia T] runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich with an upgrade to Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean shortly after launch. It also has a 720p display, 13MP camera and built-in NFC along with a 1.5GHz dual core processor

The Xperia V will be coming with LTE connectivity and NFC that allows for interaction with a wide array of upcoming Sony accessories. A 13MP camera will allow for HD video recording while the 1.5GHz dual core processor will keep Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich going until it gets upgraded to Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean and if that's not enough, it's also water and dust resistant.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2, meanwhile, continues to blur the line between Smartphone and Tablet, but is mostly a way to get Wacom's advanced, pen-based digitizing technology into a highly mobile product. Richard Devine got his hands on it:

The Note 2 has a 5.5 inch HD SuperAMOLED 16:9 display at 1280x720, a 1.6GHz Exynos quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM and 16, 32 or 64GB of storage. Powering the whole show is a pretty sizeable 3100mAh battery, and we also get NFC and Samsung's latest Touchwix Nature UX based on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. At only 9.4mm thick and weighing in at 180g the Note 2 doesn't feel as large in the hand as its massive screen would possibly lead you to believe. The overall design of the Note 2 lends very much from the smaller Galaxy S 3, which in turn sets it apart from the 2011 Galaxy Note.

Samsung also announced the first Windows Phone 8 phone, the imaginatively named Windows Phone 8 Ativ-S. Ativ is Vita spelled backwards. Vita is Sony's handheld gaming console. So... maybe they should have gone with Efil? And hey, at least it's, um, bigger than an iPhone 3G, right?

And then there's the Samsung Galaxy Camera, which is an altogether new, if not unexpected beast. Richard Devine gave it the once over:

We shouldn't forget that this is a camera powered by Android, and not an out and out Android device. Samsung has put their latest version of the Touchwiz Nature UX on there, based on Android 4.1. Yes, that's right, this is a camera running Jelly Bean. The possibilities with a connected camera are pretty exciting, and we're seeing the start of a whole new category of devices.

Of course, image quality remains to be seen. However, with a 16-megapixel sensor and 20X optical zoom, Samsung looks to have created a compelling alternative to smartphone cameras for those looking to graduate from the world of smartphone photography.

Android Central and WPCentral will be live at IFA 2012 all week, so check back with them often for all the latest hot phone stuff that ain't Apple...

Original Page:

Oliver Yatco

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Google Wallet to challenge iPhone Passbook by storing ID, boarding passes, and more

Google Wallet to challenge iPhone Passbook by storing ID, boarding passes, and more

News by Andrew Kameka on Monday August 27, 2012.

Sponsored links, if any, appear in green. image

Aside from the payment and loyalty card information that Google Wallet already stores, Google hopes to include boarding passes, identification cards, and everything you'd find in a normal wallet. In a Q&A session hosted on YouTube, Robin Dua, head of product management for Google Wallet, said that Google wants Wallet to go beyond just mobile payments. The company hopes to be the tool used to store all relevant consumer information, including gift cards, travel itineraries, concert tickets, and more. When asked how Google would go beyond its current payment options, Dua said:

"One of the types of things we're trying to do is make it easy for airlines, transit providers, and other types of issuers of credentials to make it super simple for them to get their credentials stored in the wallet…That's the goal. We want you to be able to leave your leather wallet at home and carry your phone and transact with that as your primary transaction device."

Google initially pitched Wallet as a way to ease the purchase process in stores. The company now says it envisions Wallet growing to the point that it can be an actual replacement for a wallet, and it will need to do more than just buy sandwiches and coffee for that to happen.

Apple has outlined a similar goal with the Passbook feature in the upcoming version of its software for iPhone and iPad devices. Passbook does not support mobile payments, but it securely stores reward cards, movie tickets, boarding passes, and loyalty cards. Passbook uses partnerships with major retailers and service providers to act as a mobile wallet, but Apple could expand the app to include NFC-based payments in the future.

Both Apple and Google will be in direction competition, but they will not be the only companies vying to be the leading mobile wallet provider. Payment ventures like ISIS, MCX, PayPal, and several others will also challenge Google's efforts.

Dua said that Google Wallet will differentiate from competitors by moving beyond standard in-store payments. Google is working with transit agencies to enable buying passes with Google Wallet. A pilot program with the New Jersey Transit system already permits payments on some bus lines, but Google wants to make it easier to monitor balances on monthly cards and let users skip the pass lines entirely.

Other goals for Google Wallet include letting users send money to other consumers, and adding geo-targeting for automatic retrieval of records. For instance, the app would load a loyalty card balance or coupon when the phone's location services reveal that the user is in a movie theatre.

source: YouTube

About the author

Andrew Kameka
Andrew is's managing editor. He is based in Miami, Florida.





Original Page:

Oliver Yatco

Monday, August 27, 2012

Tweetbot for Mac alpha pulled due to new Twitter rules, developer preserving user slots for official release

Tweetbot for Mac alpha pulled due to new Twitter rules, developer preserving user slots for official release
starThe Next Web
August 27, 2012 12:32 PM
by Matthew Panzarino

Tweetbot for Mac alpha pulled due to new Twitter rules, developer preserving user slots for official release

 Tweetbot for Mac alpha pulled due to new Twitter rules, developer preserving user slots for official release

Tweetbot developer Tapbots has announced that it has pulled its very popular alpha Mac app from release due to the new caps on maximum users that Twitter recently said it would begin enforcing. The developers have tried to work with Twitter to come up with a way to have the alpha not eat up the limited amount of slots available to them, but says that Twitter has been uncooperative.

As it stands, the user accounts are capped at 100k users or, if over 200k users, 200% of their current users. And those user slots, called tokens, do not expire. This means that if users try out the alpha, but decide that it isn't for them and never use it again, those slots are gone to Tapbots forever. The only way they can ever get them back is if users visit their Twitter account and revoke access to the app, which will free up the token. An unlikely occurrence for most people, to be honest.

 Tweetbot for Mac alpha pulled due to new Twitter rules, developer preserving user slots for official release

The app is still continuing development and will be released as a for-pay client, so there is no danger at the moment to it not arriving eventually. But the advance beta access must be pulled now in order to preserve those slots for the eventual release of the app.

Tapbots also offers some additional details about the way that the slots work, which clarifies Twitter's initial post about them somewhat. Caps are per app, for instance, so you can have multiple caps if you offer multiple clients. That's what is affecting the Mac alpha. The post also clarifies that these caps refer to Twitter clients only, not non-client applications that use Twitter.

The pulling of the Tweetbot Alpha exemplifies one of the first manifestations of the ways the new Twitter rules are crippling the third-party ecosystem. Twitter wants to control the way that people read its service on its path to billions of users and it's not afraid to step on developer's toes to get there.

Tapbots makes clear that it will eventually release the app, but says that alpha access must be pulled for now, saying "we wish we could continue on but we didn't make the rules, we just have to live within them."

They also urge users to visit their accounts and revoke access to any third-party clients that they're not using, as this will help those developers stay under their user caps.

More to follow

Apps Uncategorized alpha News Tweetbot Twitter

Oliver Yatco

Save and Sync Your Written and Spoken Word: Livescribe Echo Review

Save and Sync Your Written and Spoken Word: Livescribe Echo Review

Livescribe echo smartpen 576 200

The Livescribe Echo is gadget that I've had my eye for some time now. It intrigued me, but I never felt a burning need to own one. A few weeks ago, though, I was contacted by a representive from Staples, the office supply store. Staples wanted to get the word out that it sells gadgets, and was offering to provide me with a product that it sells, for me to review and keep. After considering a few items, such as a scanner, printer, DSLR lens, or even a Synology NAS, I settled on the Livescribe Echo. I picked it because it was an item I might not have otherwise purchased for myself. Was it a good choice? Read on for my impressions.

What is the Livescribe Echo?

The Livescribe Echo is a "smartpen" that digitally records both audio and written word, via a microphone built into the shaft of the pen and a sensor near the tip. When used with specially formattted paper (either purchased, or printed yourself), you can plug your pen into your computer, and your writings will be transferred to your computer, almost as if you had scanned the paper itself. If you elected to record audio when writing, that will get transferred as well.

Peformance as a writing capture tool

If you already own a scanner, the Livescribe Echo is a bit of a luxury item when used just a writing capture tool. If you have a scanner, and save your notes that way, then the Echo will save you a few seconds with each scan. If you don't have a scanner yet, then the Echo could be a good alternative to a scanner, but only if your scanning needs are primarily to capture your written word, or if you also want to capture audio (more on that below). Even then, a scanner might be a better choice. However, one of the benefits of the pen that I've found over the past couple of weeks is that it does reduce the amount of loose paper I have floating around.

As a writing instrument, the pen isn't bad, but it's not great, either. I like the feel of it in my hand (I'm a fan of fat pens), but it doesn't flow when writing. It feels a bit grabby or scratchy on paper, like a slightly improved version of a felt-tip pen. I'm a fan of ballpoint pens because of how smooth they are when writing, so this was a bit of a disappointment.

My biggest complaint with the pen is that I can't get careless with it. By that, I don't mean that I constantly worry about it being stolen or broken (although, given the cost, that is a concern). Instead, what I mean is that I can't get careless when writing, or the pen might not accurately record my writing. I have had a few occassions where, after loading my pen data onto the computer, I've discovered that the pen has left gaps in my  recorded strokes. This made my writing appear even worse than it already was. In essence, my letters were malformed when viewed on the computer on those few occasions, even when the ink on paper was legible. I've only had that happen on a few of occassions, but even that was enough to cause me to not completely trust the pen.

As mentioned above, you have to use special paper with the pen. The paper isn't prohibitively expensive (a 4 notebook pack is about $18), but if you use the pen for work, and you otherwise don't have to purchase your own regular paper, you might want to find out if your employer will supply the Livescribe paper. Otherwise, the costs of the pen could add up over time. You can print your own paper, but that doesn't seem like an efficient choice.

Performance as an audio capture tool

The big draw of this pen is its ability to capture audio that syncs with your writing. The audio part is optional – the special paper has a "record" button on it. Tap it, and the pen will record audio that it hears around it. You can play back that audio as with any other audio you might record in your life, but the "coolness" factor of the pen is that you can tap on any word that you've written, and the Livescribe will play back the audio that was recorded at the time you wrote that word.

Livescribe pen and special paper

Similar playback functionality is offered by a dedicated desktop app, after you sync your notes. Instead of tapping on words on paper with the pen, you click on text on your computer screen to hear the audio. The text turns green in the area that is currently playing in the audio.

Just as I have to be careful with my writing if I want my written words to be recorded accurately, I also have to be careful with how I hold the pen when it comes to the audio. If I hold it so that the microphone is pointing down, the sound of the pen scratching on paper drowns out any other audio. Even with the microphone oriented upward, I can still hear the sound of the pen writing on paper.

The Desktop App

To get full use out of the pen, you're going to want to use the desktop app. Within the app, you can browse your writings, and play back the audio of the writing. You can also set things up so that you can easily send your content out to other apps, such as Evernote, OneNote, Facebook, Google Docs, or email. For now, I've just kept everything in the dedicated app, although I can see myself sending material to Evernote in the future.

Should You Get One?

You should think hard about possible use cases for this pen before purchasing one. One of the benefits of the pen is that it would allow you to take spare notes, and go back and fill in detail later from the audio. For students, it is almost a no brainer if you take otherwise sparse notes, can afford one, and are in an environment where audio recording is permissible.

The same could be said for professionals who spend much of their time in meetings. Again, though, you have to be in an enviroment where recordings are allowed.

That, really, is the biggest problem for me. In my line of work, I can't imagine myself asking a client, especially a new one, if I can record a conversation (I'd never record it otherwise, since that would be illegal where I practice). Perhaps I would make the request and record the audio if I were dealing with a longstanding client in a very important meeting in a case, such as in an initial trial preparation meeting.

That makes the audio functionality of limited value to me. I have to really think hard about how I'd use it. In the comments section of his blog, Dan Gold gave me another idea for how to use the audio. He mentioned that he uses the audio when making notes himself, and thinking through issues aloud. I could see that being useful, although I imagine I'd get many funny looks from my coworkers.

The bottom line is that you have to think through how you would use a device like this. For me, the main use will be to bypass my scanner, and more quickly get my notes into digital form. Really, though, this just saves me a few seconds of scanning my notes. The pen will be great for some people, but others would do just fine with a nice scanner.

If you have some use cases for the pen, share those in the comments.

Thanks to Staples for providing the pen.

Here are some related posts that might interest you:

Original Page:

Oliver Yatco

How Free Apps Can Make More Money Than Paid Apps

How Free Apps Can Make More Money Than Paid Apps

Screen Shot 2012-08-26 at 10.30.11 AM

Editor's note: John Manoogian III is co-founder and CTO at 140 Proof, a venture-backed startup for targeted Twitter advertising.

While building apps for Apple and Android app stores can be highly lucrative ventures for developers, one of the hardest decisions an app developer has to make is how to get the app to pay for itself. Often the "monetization strategy" — shorthand for "how will this app make money?" — is left for last.

It's hard enough to get discovered by consumers among the millions of already existing apps, not to mention convince people to buy it. People increasingly prefer free, ad-supported apps for their tablets and smartphones, yet many developers still aren't sure how to tackle the free vs. paid issue. Deciding when to charge for your app, and when to try an ad-supported model, is one of the hardest decisions developers must make.

Four Monetization Strategies for Apps? Actually, There Are Only Two.

Developers have several monetization options available, each with its own requirements and pitfalls.

Before moving forward with a strategy though, there are a few of questions an app developer should explore in order to answer the ultimate question, "how can I monetize my app?"

1.       Is my app engaging enough for people to use it often?

2.       How willing are people to pay an up-front fee for my app?

3.       How do competitors in my space monetize their apps, and how successful are their strategies?

As app markets across platforms explode, developers are talking to each other to determine the best type of monetization model to use. Most will tell you it's a choice among four major options:

1.       selling your app in the app store

2.       offering a free, subscription-supported app

3.       offering a free app, with in-app purchases

4.       offering a free, ad-supported app

But the choice really boils down to two strategies: getting paid by users or getting paid by advertisers.

Who Pays More for Apps: Users or Advertisers? (AKA Which Monetization Strategy Makes More Money: Free or Paid?

When it comes to users, the overwhelming majority of Android and iOS users resist paying — whether it's for apps, subscriptions, or add-ons–so smartphone and tablet developers are particularly interested in experimenting with monetization through ads. On the other hand, advertisers are MUCH more willing to pay developers than users are. Just like developers, advertisers need to market their product.

How Much Money Can an App Make With Advertising?

Ad spending on apps of all kinds – both mobile and desktop — is growing. Most industry analysts choose to measure only mobile app spending though, as most apps are created for the mobile and smartphone space. Mobile advertising revenue increased nearly 1.5X in 2011, to top out at $1.6 billion for the year.

The future of app monetization clearly lies in ad-supported model. A recent study by Cambridge University computer scientists found that 73% of apps in the Android marketplace were free, and of those, 80% relied on advertising as their main business model. Free apps are also far more popular in terms of downloads, the researchers said. Just 20% of paid apps are downloaded more than 100 times and only 0.2% of paid apps are downloaded more than 10,000 times. On the flipside, 20% of free apps get 10,000 or more downloads.

The Best Part Is: You Can Deploy Multiple Monetization Strategies

While free apps reach the majority of users who tend to be price-sensitive and almost never buy apps, there is a subset of users who prefer to avoid advertising and seek paid (sometimes called "pro") versions of their favorite apps.

Developers can cater to both types of users with a two-pronged approach to app development: create both a free version and a paid version. The multi-pronged approach is popular with big players in the publishing industry. For example, The Guardian (UK) is testing two apps: a free, ad-supported Android app and a paid-only iPhone app. Echofon is also a great example of an app that caters to both kinds of users. They have free and paid apps for all platform versions of their Twitter apps.

In short, before moving forward, investigate all ad-supported revenue options when you launch a new app. There are many ad networks available – shop around and see what CPMs (cost per thousand impressions) or CPCs (cost per click) they offer and how much work is involved integrating ads into your app.

And more than anything, make sure to consider any changes to the user experience that will occur if you introduce by the ads. After all, you want ads that integrate well into the user experience, rather than ads that drive users away in annoyance.

Original Page:

Oliver Yatco

The history of Converse [infographic]

The history of Converse [infographic]

If Lady Liberty was sporting tennies, chances are, they'd be Converse whether she came from France or not.

Via Infogr8.

Getting a kick out of infographics.

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Oliver Yatco

Dropbox begins rolling out two-factor authentication, enable it now and further secure your important files

Dropbox begins rolling out two-factor authentication, enable it now and further secure your important files

 Dropbox begins rolling out two factor authentication, enable it now and further secure your important files

Following the unauthorised access of some its users' usernames and passwords back in July, the team at Dropbox had vowed to improve the security of their file-synchronisation service by introducing two-factor authentication. The good news is that the feature has now been switched on and you can enable it on your account for beta testing.

By switching on two-factor authentication, you will now be able to add your devices to a whitelist, authenticate them to access your Dropbox account and (hopefully) reduce the chances of an attacker gaining access to your important files.

In order to do so, you need to make sure that you have the latest beta version of Dropbox (1.5.12) installed, which can be obtained from here. Next, visit the Dropbox security page (when signed in) and enable the two-factor authentication feature right at the very bottom.

Once it is set up, you will be able to receive unique access codes via SMS, or via an app that uses Time-based One-Time Password (TOTP) — which includes Google Authenticator (Android/iPhone/BlackBerry), Amazon AWS MFA (Android) and Authenticator (Windows Phone 7).

If you've already switched on two-factor authentication on your Google account, it will all be very familiar.

You might be asking why Dropbox has decided to roll this out now. Back in July, it emerged that a number of users were receiving spam on accounts that were only used for Dropbox purposes. The company did some investigating and found that some user's credentials had been leaked on a third-party website, one set of which belonged to a Dropbox employee.

Using the Dropbox employee's login details, the attackers had been able to gain access to another list of users, which then started to receive spam and unsolicited mail.

Given the nature of the files that some Dropbox users store on their accounts (payment details, passwords and other sensitive information), the company was quick to state that it would roll out the new security feature to make it harder for attackers to gain access to other users' accounts.

Dropbox will be rolling this out to all accounts via an app update in the very near future, but if you want to try it now you can do so using the steps noted above.

[Image Credit: Johanl]

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Oliver Yatco