Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Microsoft's first Windows Phone 8 update dubbed Apollo Plus?


Here's a quick refresher on code names. The Windows Phone team has been all about the o's. Windows Phone 7 OS was code-named NoDo. Then there was Mango (Windows Phone 7.5). A minor interim update arrived next, code-named Tango. And Windows Phone 8 OS was code-named Apollo. Joe Belfiore(o), manager of the Windows Phone Program, said awhile back that the team was finished with code names ending in "o."
So what was Windows Phone 8's successor going to be called? posted earlier today that the next release will be code-named "Apollo +," and that it would be available in Q1 2013 -- citing the @Football4PDA Twitter account as the source. The Verge subsequently posted that the code name of Windows Phone OS 8's follow-on would be "Apollo Plus." (Maybe the ban on code names ending with "o" doesn't start till Windows Phone 9 OS?)

The Verge's Tom Warren also reported that Microsoft would share details about the update at the Mobile World Congress show in February 2013. The Verge cited unnamed sources as providing the information and said the coming update could include features like VPN support, a Wi-Fi connectivity fix, and audio improvements.

VPN support is an interesting one, given Microsoft officials said in June of this year that Microsoft had decided against including VPN functionality in the Windows Phone operating system (even though it had been included in Windows Phone OS' predecessor, Windows Mobile). A Microsoft official told me that Microsoft has decided instead to rely on things like Secure SSL to address this need... as they considered Secure SSL "a better, light-weight approach" to providing this kind of functionality in the new BYOD (bring your own device) world.
I've since heard from a number of business users that no VPN support was a deal breaker for their organizations in adopting Windows Phone. I've also heard from users in countries with governments that censor their citizens' Web-browsing that VPN is a much-desired feature for circumventing officially imposed firewalls.
I asked Microsoft whether the next version of the Windows Phone OS was code-named "Apollo Plus" and whether VPN connectivity will be part of it. Not surprisingly, a spokesperson said only that the company doesn't comment on rumors and speculation.
If Microsoft does refer to the minor, interim update to Windows Phone 8 OS as "Apollo Plus," that might help dampen user expectations a bit. With Tango, many users were expecting a lot more, feature-wise, than ended up being part of that update because it had its own special code name.
Meanwhile, I also asked Microsoft about the whereabouts of the Windows Phone OS 7.8 update -- the one that is slated to allow existing Windows Phone 7 users to make use of resizable tiles on their phones. A Microsoft spokesperson said: "More information on 7.8 will be available in the coming weeks."
As to the rumors circulating that 7.8 might be available this week, I'm doubtful. I think Microsoft might announce the release to manufacturing of 7.8 this week, but I'm hearing the update may not be available from the carriers until early next year (maybe even as late as February 2013)

This story originally posted as "Apollo Plus: Is this Microsoft's first Windows Phone 8 update?" on ZDNet.
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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Bluetooth Headset That you can Wear on Your Finger


With a simple twist, The O.R.B. transforms from a ring to a headset worn on the ear that is capable of hands-free calling. Incorporating HiWave™ technology, the O.R.B. is a “Digitset™” that provides high-quality bone conduction audio without the discomfort of placing a device inside the ear. A deluxe edition also features an E Ink display for caller ID, text messaging, and calendar reminders.

To use the ring as a headset, simply remove it from the finger and twist open around the hinged joint. The ring (now a headset) is placed over the upper ear, between the ear and the side of the head. The transmitter end of the headset rests just above the jawbone and utilizes dual speaker “voice annihilation” DSP technology. The transmit exciter transducer rests just behind the outer ear.

The O.R.B. will be available in a variety of sizes, available in styles for both men and women.

All sizes have an expansion hinge, spring prongs and adjustable adhesive soft pads on the interior edge, which provide a secure and comfortable fit on the finger (or thumb) as well as the ear.

The O.R.B. features military-grade seals and gaskets, making it fully waterproof and built to accompany you on any adventure.

The ring vibrates, alerting the user to an incoming call, text message, or event reminder. The user can glance down at the finger and see a horizontal streaming message of caller I.D. or meeting schedules. If accepting an incoming call, the user twists open the O.R.B., slips over the ear, and begins the conversation. If declining incoming calls or texts, or dismissing event reminders, the user can simply push the cancel button with the O.R.B. still idle on their finger. When not in use the ring serves as a time device/alarm clock. If the user would like to silence a call he/she can simply touch a button on the band.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

RIM to hold BlackBerry 10 launch event on January 30th, 2013


RIM announced that it will hold its BlackBerry 10 launch event on January 30, 2013. RIM will use the event to unveil the shipping version of its new BlackBerry 10 platform and introduce its first two BB10 smartphones. Details on the phones and their on sale date will be provided during the event. The event will be held at multiple locations throughout the world.
RIM has already introduced some features of the BlackBerry 10 platform including its BlackBerry Hub and its newly designed, intelligent keyboard. You can read more about the mobile OS on RIM’s BlackBerry 10 website.

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Holiday gift guide 2012 – smartphones and tablets


With the summer over, and the fall in full swing, it’s about time to start thinking about those Holiday season presents. Sure, it might be a bit in advance, but if you are in store for the latest and greatest technology as a gift, research would definitely help.

Luckily, this Holiday, you won’t have a shortage of options to choose from. If you are ready to become the geeky Santa Claus with gadgets in your gift bag, the good news is that this time there will be worthy smartphones on all three biggest platforms: iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

While in 2011 we still didn’t have a completely mature smartphone ecosystem and we could still see flaws. Now, in 2012, we finally got rid of lag on Android, Microsoft polished Windows Phone 8, and the iPhone got even better. Android has almost closed the app gap with the App Store, and Windows Phone is starting to catch up too.

But what you should really care about is the all-around products, devices that are both aesthetically pleasing and crazy fast. We’ve picked out the best for the U.S. carriers and international in the slideshows below.
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Friday, October 26, 2012

Over 8m Britons use BlackBerry


The firm has had a rough ride recently, reporting challenging financials, and facing a deluge of analyst criticism. To top all that, consumers in the US and Canada have filed lawsuits against RIM following its worldwide power outages.

But there’s no doubt that – strategic corporate concerns aside – the handset maker still commands huge consumer appeal. It will be very gratified that more than eight million UK consumers are still willing to use the BlackBerry service.

BlackBerry devices were originally designed for the business audience but the firm has seen huge popularity among younger consumers thanks to BlackBerry Messenger.

Rivals including Samsung and Apple have noticed this, which has led to the creation of their own instant messaging services leaving RIM without a niche anymore.

A further blow comes as analyst Gartner confirmed the company's US market share had fallen to ten per cent in Q3, which is the lowest to date.

On top of lawsuits the firm has also seen legal action launched against it from a software firm following the announcement of the new BBX OS.

BBM Music costs £4.99 per month and allows users to collect up to 50 songs, which can then be shared with friends via BBM.


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Mobile phones to overtake PCs for web surfing by 2013


By 2013, more people will be accessing the web from mobile phones than from PCs, according to analyst firm Gartner's latest set of predictions.

The company reckons that there will be 1.78 billion PCs in use that year, outstripped by the 1.82 billion install base of smartphones and browser-equipped feature phones.

"Websites not optimized for the smaller-screen formats will become a market barrier for their owners," claims Gartner. "Much content and many sites will need to be reformatted/rebuilt."

The analyst's new report also predicts that context - including location, presence and social interactions - will become as important to mobile services as search engines are to the web.

"The most powerful position in the context business model will be a context provider," says Gartner.

"Web, device, social platforms, telecom service providers, enterprise software vendors and communication infrastructure vendors will compete to become significant context providers during the next three years."


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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

RIM BlackBerry Curve 9320 review


With the Curve 9320, the BlackBerry brand has gone back to its roots with a simple QWERTY keyboard, a squat and chunky design, no touchscreen and a focus on BlackBerry Messenger. The Curve 9320 is also retro in specification, having a 2.4in display, 512MB of RAM and 512MB of storage space for your apps. This specification is probably why the Curve 9320 is colloquially known as the Kiddie Curve, because it’s perfect for young people with great eyesight and no need for a more powerful phone.

The Curve 9320 also comes in four different colours and it feels light yet tough. Its 2.4in display does take some getting used to, especially if you’re accustomed to newer touchscreen phones. Its lack of a touchscreen means you use the optical trackpad below it to traverse the various menus, but we had no problem with this. It felt natural and the cursor moves quickly, but in a controlled manner so you don’t overshoot the icon or option you want to choose. Sadly, the small screen size does mean that you can’t see as much on screen as you can with other smartphones, and it’s especially grating because of our familiarity with widescreen designs. Although you can increase the font size on the Curve 9320, you can’t increase icon size, which means you do strain your eyes when looking at it for extended periods of time.

The Curve 9320 comes with BlackBerry OS 7.1, which is a great mobile OS. It’s mostly icon-based, with list-driven context menus. This does give it an old-school feel, but it also means you can quickly find or alter the menu setting you need quickly, which is vitally important given the lack of a touchscreen.

We’re less impressed by its keyboard. It’s great for smaller hands or those with long nails, but we found ourselves repeatedly hitting the wrong key when trying to type at a decent speed. We often hit the wrong key when typing on a touchscreen keyboard, but we can type quicker on a touchscreen than the Curve 9320’s keyboard.

The Curve 9320’s browser reminded us of web-browsing on the Nintendo Wii. You have an onscreen cursor that you move around using the optical trackpad. You can zoom in and out of the webpage and click to go through to another page. We found text hard to read, and when we zoomed in we couldn’t see the text in context. This ruined our web-browsing experience. The Curve 9320’s great if you want to look up some general information, but not if you browse the internet regularly.

Its basic 3.2-megapixel camera pales in comparison to that of more expensive phones such as the Sony Xperia P, but it’s great for taking quick snaps for Facebook, and it even has a flash. It also has a geo-tagging facility, and you can use it as a video camera if you have a micro SD card in it. Considering the price of the Curve 9320, that’s not bad.

The Curve makes a great first smartphone for younger users,

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