FaceTime Voice: The Biggest thing you didn’t hear about in iOS 7

Hello again,

If you’re anything like me, you spent 2 hours of your life plastered to a screen listening intently to a keynote speech, trying to make sure to catch every detail. Luckily, since I have a day job and can’t actually pay $1600 + airfare to GO to WWDC, Apple live-streamed the thing so that wasn’t necessary. I could talk about how the new version of iOS is a huge departure, and how it’s great, and how it’s awful, and you could probably justify all of those points. However, instead I would like to tell you about the biggest feature that Apple really didn’t spend any time on.

FaceTime (and iMessage) was really the first time a non-SMS based messaging system that integrates with regular text messages was released. BBM and Google Talk may have come first, but neither replaced SMS without users having to do work. Once iMessage was announced, it was just a matter of time until free iOS to iOS voice calls were introduced as well. Now that Apple has such a huge level of pull with carriers, they are free to experiment and introduce whatever they want. With iMessage, people were sending text messages that didn’t cost $0.15 a pop without even realizing it, every time they sent a message to another iOS user. With FaceTime Voice, it will be possible (in the fall, possibly in a later update) to have phone calls you make to other iOS users be handled entirely through VOIP. People will be able to make phone calls without using their minutes, and without even necessarily realizing they are doing it.

This is going to kill carriers, who are suddenly going to be inundated with customers who are noticing that they use a lot fewer minutes, and unlimited SMS is fairly cheap, but regular phone minutes are quite a bit more expensive. These people will want to downgrade their plans, and perhaps add more data to compensate for the added usage (although VOIP is very light on data).

I look forward to the consumer release of iOS 7, which will undoubtedly focus more on the average person’s needs, and will likely highlight this as a reason to buy iPhone.

ps. For the record, I did install the iOS 7 beta, and no, I am not a registered developer. I did this for free, and legally, and have been doing it since the second beta of iOS 5. If you want to know how, ask me @RobAttrell. If you just want to know my thoughts, feel free to leave a comment and we can discuss it, but I’m liking what they offered so far (most of which was successfully predicted here).

Apple iWatch: features, specs and more

iwatch_concept

We take a look at all the latest rumours circulating about Apple’s upcoming iWatch

Wearable tech is big business and looks to be one of the biggest trends of the coming year. Google has its glasses and Apple and Samsung have their respective watch projects. But how would an iOS-powered watch work? What would it do? And how much is it likely to cost?

Concrete information is decidedly thin on the ground at present but we do know the company has put together a highly skilled team including engineering director James Foster and program manager Adam Pantfoerder to work on the project – and we’re hearing that the whole thing is being overseen by none other than Sir Jony Ive – so it’s fairly safe to say that this is no half-hearted venture on Apple’s part.

So what can we expect in the way of USPs from Apple’s effort?

Specification

To say that little is known about the device’s rumoured spec would be a gross understatement. Apple has this project sewn-up tighter than a sardine’s swimming costume. What we do know is limited to scraps of gossip emanating from supply chain sources, as is always the case with unconfirmed up-and-coming devices.

The iWatch is believed to feature a curved – perhaps even flexible – 1.5-inch screen, fronted by an as-yet undetermined Corning product. Could it be the oft talked about Corning’s flexible Willow Glass? Perhaps. Multiple sources, including CNET, are reporting that Corning’s bendy-flexy display could appear on devices as soon as this year.

The device is also suspected to make heavy use of Bluetooth for syncing and communicating with larger devices like the iPad and iPhone. NFC is also a possibility in this regard also, bringing both connectivity and payment technology into the fray.

Features

Current rumours suggest Apple is looking to give the device a full operating system, rather than a shrunk-down ‘lite’ offering. That means features like Siri, Apple Maps, iMessage and iCloud could make an appearance. Siri also seems like a no brainer at this stage.

We’d also expect hydrophobic and shock-proofing capabilities as standard aboard the iWatch. How many times have you jumped in the shower with your watch on?

Release Date

The rumour mill is divided over this one. Many so-called sources predict that the iWatch could be set for a Q1 2014 launch. Bloomberg disagrees, claiming the product will be with users around the end of 2013, just in time for Christmas.

Price

There’s next to no information currently available about the device’s projected price-point. Knowing Apple, the device will retail with a premium price tag – anywhere from £200 to £800. And because it’s a watch, there’s plenty of scope for variations on design and build materials over time, meaning we could eventually see multiple types of iWatch aimed at varying price-points.

When Apple eventually do ship an “iWatch,” can anyone guess what Samsung’s next product will be?

apple-iwatch-samsung-swatch

The Xbox One – more than just a games console?

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After an endless stream of rumours and hype, Microsoft has finally revealed the successor to its highly-popular video games console the Xbox 360 – the Xbox One.
Revealed to a packed audience at a specially-constructed Microsoft base in Redmond, Washington, gamers were given their first peek of one of the big players in the next major battle of the console war.

In case you missed it, you can see the full reveal, complete with intriguing partnerships and brand-new games packed with crisp graphics, through this link. However, those who did catch the unveiling are likely to be musing at how Microsoft is taking gaming away from solely a gamepad.
Here is a glimpse at how the Xbox One could soon be the main vocal point of your living room and beyond:
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Outside of the launch of the three main video game consoles of the last generation – the Xbox 360, Sony’s PlayStation 3 and the Nintendo Wii – arguably the most intriguing technology in the industry was Xbox Kinect.
Whereas motion-sensor concepts by Sony and Nintendo required you to always have a remote in your hand in order to interact with a virtual world, Microsoft gave you the option to actually become the controller.

However, the intrigue soon gave way for some disappointment when Kinect was released worldwide in 2010. Initially, the gadget was laggy and unreliable, while requiring you to have a considerable amount of space in your home to actually use it. Even when things picked up for the device, there was little support in the form of AAA games to once again peak interest.
With the new Kinect though, which will be bundled with the Xbox One at launch later this year, it appears that improvements are being made to the device across the board.
For starters, the enhanced Kinect sensor is now able to pick up the movements of 25 joints in the human body, right down to a subtle lean in the spine or a slight shrug of the shoulders – great for navigating the Xbox One’s homepage or playing a game controller-free then.
Furthermore, the gadget’s camera is able to create an image of a gamer that is detailed to the point where a shirt’s wrinkles and buttons can be passed over into a virtual reality seamlessly.

As Phil Harrison, a corporate vice president at Microsoft, mused to Eurogamer in an exclusive interview: “So with Xbox One, what we did with the Xbox One Kinect sensor is totally redesign it, so it’s wider field of view, it has new technology to detect motion in the room, it has a more sophisticated sound and voice recognition system, which dramatically improves the fidelity, precision and accuracy of Kinect compared to Kinect for 360.”

Xbox SmartGlass to learn a few new tricks

Microsoft certainly changed the landscape of video games last year, when it launched Xbox SmartGlass. An application that can link an Xbox 360 up with a device powered by Android, iOS or Windows, the strategy has worked to enable entertainment to become much more interactive.

At the Xbox One unveiling though, Microsoft showcased the next-generation of Xbox SmartGlass.
Just say you have a Samsung Galaxy S4 with the app downloaded then. By using your smartphone’s stylus pen, which can be purchased at affordable prices as part of Mobile Madhouse’s excellent Samsung Galaxy S4 accessories range, you will have the power to switch channels on live TV without ever needing to lift up a remote or controller.

Mind you, Xbox SmartGlass has always been hailed as offering users with “second screen content”, and this is not going to change any time soon. If you are watching NBA on your Xbox One, to take the example shown at the reveal event, you will now have the opportunity to see your fantasy sports league being updated on your smartphone every time the score changes.

Microsoft Studios’ corporate vice president, Phil Spencer, summed up to IGN: “Xbox One was designed from the beginning understanding that multiple devices in the family room exist. Some of those devices may leave the family room and still want to remain connected to the experience.

“People might have multiple devices and have multiple players in the room who actually want to interact with the experience on-screen with their own private screen or they might want to play and have their own data. It was definitely a design criteria from the beginning for us because we’ve seen the usage of SmartGlass as very strong on the 360.”

Much more will be revealed regarding the Xbox One at Microsoft’s E3 2013 press conference on June 10th.

iPhone 6: The Teaser Trailer

The iPhone 6 will be released later this year, we have a look at what it’s all about

Yep, the iPhone 6 is set to be released later this year and the internet is keen to get that drool hanging from your mouth. So have a watch of the extravagantly indulgent fan-made features trailer up above.

Right. What just happened? If you decided to read this instead of the video, firstly, thanks! But secondly, I don’t think there’s enough purple prose to really quantify what just happened to the theoretical iPhone 6.

Like some kind of Transformer, the 6 jettisons its ends, like a space-craft, and raises its screen to a sloping angle before projecting a holographic Macbook keyboard onto the table and a Macbook desktop onto the opposite wall. Seriously, I just watched this and still have no clue what that last sentence means. I think the iPhone 6 just transformed into a fully working, holographic pseudo-laptop…

It seems that whoever made this video got a bit bored as the theoretical-6 lethargically spins around for a while in a white void whilst Kraddy’s ‘Android Porn’ rumbles in the background before fading to a single date, the ambiguously unhelpful ‘2013’.

Acer Iconia A1-810 tablet pricing and specs revealed

Acer 7.9 Tablet

 

The A1-810 is said to be an upcoming device from Acer that at 7.9″ will be a competitor for the iPad mini.  Some of the specs that are just coming out state that it will pack 1GB of RAM, a 1.2GHz MediaTek MT8125 ARM Cortex-A9 quad-core CPU, and a 1024×768 IPS screen.  While the resolution matches that of the iPad mini, the Acer sports double the ram and a quad core vs dual core CPU.  It will also sport a VGA front camera with a 5MP rear camera which should come in handy with Google+ hangouts or skype video calling.

While it isn’t coming out for a few more months, Acer is also contemplating lowering its price point from $249 to $149 to help it gain traction in the competition against the big Apple.

source

 

Nexus 4: How Not To Launch A Product

Earlier this week, the LG Nexus 4 was due to be released on the Google Play store for a price much cheaper than found in retailers. Unfortunately, the stock was all gone within 50 minutes, meaning that Google must have advertised the product better than they thought, as they seriously under-prepared for the amount of people pouring onto the website.

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Introducing The Nexus 7

It’s been heavily rumoured for a long time now, and was even almost completely leaked just hours before the keynote, but finally Google have announced the Nexus 7 tablet.

Running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean (article coming later tonight), the Nexus 7 is the latest addition to the Nexus family, and hopes to dominate the tablet market.

The Nexus 7 is heavily based around the Google Play, the media store released earlier this year.

Screen, 7inch (gorilla glass)

Variations, 8gb & 16gb

Battery, 8 hours

 Now the amazing part. The Nexus 7 starts shipping mid-July, for the mind-blowingly small price of £159, including £15 of free credit to spend in the Play Store. Tablets, maybe due to Apple setting the trend, have always been a very expensive device, often exceeding the price of a decent laptop. Good to see Google change things.

Source: Google Play

Track Employees With Google Coordinate

Google Coordinate is a new add-on to Google Maps which can track employees, designed to help businesses work as a team even when they are in different parts of the world.

The example the trailer shows is an energy company which has several wind turbines set up in multiple locations. One of the heads of the operations gets to the office one day to find that a wind turbine somewhere has had a fault and needs to be fixed. He then uses Google Coordinate to set which employee he wants to fix the problem. He can then track that employee as he accepts the task and travels towards the troubled wind turbine.

It’s a very interesting feature which comes in the form of a web app and an application for Android and iOS. Presumably, there is a way of limiting which hours of the day the employees can be tracked, otherwise this could be seen as a pretty major invasion of privacy.

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