App of the week: Pocket Casts

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If you’re like me, you listen to a lot of podcasts, and you will know that it can be quite hard to keep track of what you have or haven’t listened to or what episodes are new. This week’s app of the week, Pocket Casts by Shifty Jelly, is perfect solution for Android users who want to keep track of all the different podcasts conveniently and easily. It automatically checks for new episodes and notifies you when new episodes pop through via RSS, and presents you with options to either stream or to download. The app will even delete any episodes which you have listened to automatically, and use smart playlists to isolate those episodes that you need to finish first. All this comes alongside a plethora of other useful features such as cross-platform subscription sync.

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On Android, the new version 4.0 follows the Holo guidelines to the letter, but manages to add its own flavour of red and white to the mix, making this one of the best looking apps I have ever used. While not quite as good-looking or feature-rich, the iOS version of the app still looks great. All in all, I seriously recommend this app to anyone who listens to podcasts.

Pocket Casts, Android (£2.70), iOS (£1.49)
Download from Google Play or the App Store

Mozilla shows off developer phones for Firefox OS

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firefoxphone Mozilla has just announced that they’ve got two “Developer Preview Phones” in the works which will run on their own Firefox OS. Both are made by relatively unknown Spanish company Geeksphone. The orange phone above is known as the Keon, and has 3.5-inch touchscreen and has a 3-megapixel camera on the back. It comes with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage, and runs one of Qualcomm’s 1Ghz Snapdragon CPUs. The white model is called the Peak, and has higher specs than the Keon, with a 4.3-inch screen, 1.2Ghz dual-core Snapdragon S4 CPU and an 8-megapixel camera, though it has the same storage and RAM. It runs on a 1800mAh battery, slightly larger than the Keon’s 1580mAh cell.

Mozilla didn’t mention anything to do with price or  a specific release date, but Digixav understands that the Keon will start shipping next month.

These handsets clearly aren’t going to set the world alight, and it seems as though Firefox might be targeting developing markets with cheaper smartphones. Software-wise, from a purely visual perspective the home screen looks very similar to the iOS one, simply with circular icons instead of Apple’s square ones. We have to say that it is a big disappointment that Mozilla couldn’t have found a fresh or innovative design rather than slightly altering one which is five years old.

Firefox OS works very differently to current mobile operating systems. The processors might seem tiny compared to the quad-core beasts powering the latest phones, but Mozilla have tried to make it so the phones don’t need huge processors to run smoothly. The big thing that sets it apart from rivals, however, is that Firefox OS doesn’t do native apps. What might look like native apps on the phone are actually website bookmarks. This means it can all be written in HTML5, which could be a big boost for some developers. This is a certainly a huge step Mozilla have taken, and it will be interesting to see how the consumer market responds. Mozilla reckons that we’re not doing apps right at present, and we could lose the wonderful open web we currently take for granted.

Here at Digixav we’ll certainly be watching closely to see whether Firefox OS can make a significant impact on the smartphone audience. With an Ubuntu mobile operating system on the way, it will be very interesting to see whether this new breed of open source software can have the desired impact on the iOS and Android dominated market.

Via Wired

App of the week: Mass Effect: Infiltrator

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Mass Effect Infiltrator

This week’s app of the week is Mass Effect: Infiltrator by EA, published for mobile platforms as a spin-off from the wildly successful game series. Set in the same universe and time period as the console games, you follow the story of Cerberus agent Randall Enzo, a veteran agent who ‘procures aliens for illicit experiments at a secret facility’. During the course of the game, Randall goes rogue and vows to take down Cerberus. You do this through an arsenal of weapons and biotic powers which, depending on how you use them, give you a number of different ways to kill the enemies which have you completely outnumbered. Each set of enemies you take down, depending on how and how fast you kill them, will earn you credits to spend on things such as armour and weapon upgrades for your character.

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The controls of the game are fairly simple and are well explained at the beginning of the game. There is a massive contrast between combat and non combat controls, with the latter being fairly slow and relaxed while the other enables you to play lightning fast, taking down multiple enemies in rapid succession. Switching between weapons to get more style points for your kills and choosing which biotic powers to use is as simple as dragging in from the top corners of the screen, something which after a while of playing becomes almost automatic.

Overall this is a fantastic game which I would recommend to both fans of the Mass Effect series and just about anyone else who enjoys shooter games with a great storyline.

Mass Effect Infiltrator, Android (£3.71) and iOS (69p)
Download it from Google Play and the App Store

Twitter introduces photo filters into its iOS and Android apps

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After Facebook-owned Instagram removed its integration with the social network last week, Twitter has released an oft-rumoured update to its Android and iOS applications that add photo editing and filters without the need for third-party services or applications. Powered by Aviary, a photo editing platform which provides an SDK that is already implemented in a number of third party applications, the new app provides eight filters that were designed specifically for Twitter along with basic cropping and enhancement options. While unlikely to tempt many users away from Instagram, which also added a new filter today, frequent users of Twitter’s own mobile apps may be pleased to see them gaining more features to challenge third-party clients. The updates are available now through Google Play and the App Store, but no information has been offered up regarding the filters debuting on other platforms.

Twitter Filters

Source Twitter Blog

Apple event liveblog: 7.9″ iPad Mini, 13″ Retina MacBook, iMac, Mac Mini and iPad refreshes

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Another month brings another Apple event, and this time we expect to see a whole plethora of new and updated devices, spearheaded by the iPad Mini. Rumoured to have a 7.85″ 1024 x 768 display and a design similar to that of the new iPod Touch, this device looks set to sport a low price tag to take on the Nexus 7 and company. Rumour also has it that the existing iPad will receive a minor update with a Lightning connector and 4G in more territories (such as with EE in the UK) and the Mac family will get minor updates across the board, with the highlight being a 13″ Retina MacBook Pro. We also expect to hear a bit more about iTunes 11 tonight, but whatever happens we will be around to liveblog proceedings on this very page. Enjoy!

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Apple’s iPhone 5 event in 1400 characters or less

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While some of us were frantically liveblogging proceedings from Apple’s San Francisco event, the guy behind the hilariously accurate Twitter account @NextTechBlog did things a bit differently. In the space of 12 tweets, they said more about the world’s reaction to the iPhone 5 and new iPods than a thousand word blog post ever could. If you are a tweeter and not following them, you’re seriously missing out.












ERMAHGERHD ERNDERHD.

What to expect at tonight’s Apple event

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Every year since 2007 Apple has announced a new iPhone. Tonight is their sixth release event. Love it or hate it, the iPhone is continually the highest selling smartphone in the world, with record launches coming each generation. Since the launch of the iPhone 4S last October, which was seen by many as an incremental upgrade over the iPhone 4, rumours have suggested that Apple may have a little more up its sleeve tonight as they launch the 6th generation of iPhone to the waiting world.

Name

While we can be certain that the name will include the word ‘iPhone’ somewhere, violent arguments have broken out across the internet about what the actual name will be. Many are referring to this new device as the iPhone 5 as it seems like a natural progression of name from 4 and 4S, but to call the phone this would be a large error of judgment on Apple’s part. Whatever we see tonight will be the 6th generation of iPhone, and calling it the iPhone 5 may confuse (and annoy) some consumers (i.e. me).

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  2. iPhone 3G
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  6. Whatever is announced tonight

What has been speculated is that Apple will follow the naming scheme that they use for every hardware product bar the iPhone to this point, and choose to drop the suffix, referring to the product as iPhone. As with the iPad announced earlier this year, initial advertising may refer to it as the new iPhone and, should it be necessary to pinpoint a specific model, the phone would be referred to as iPhone (6th generation).

Screen

Screen size of the iPhone 4 and 4S

In recent times, Apple has begun to expand its Retina Display branding beyond the confines of the iPhone and iPod Touch, with both the new iPad and MacBook Pro sporting the branding. The two previous generations have sported 960 x 640 panels at 3.5″, but one Verge reader suggested that the latest model may have an elongated 3.99″ panel with a 1152 x 640 resolution. Further investigation into the code of iOS 6 has revealed that if pushed to 1136 x 640, the software will display an extra row of apps on the home screen, thus making it incredibly likely that we will see a taller iPhone today.

How a taller iPhone screen could look

Hardware

Numerous component leaks and the rumours of a taller screen have made the rounds, and one Gizmodo reader had a go at a mockup of the new iPhone, and he can’t be too far off.

Internally things are a bit murkier, but a quad core A6 chip, more RAM and a new mini dock connector seem certain to be included for the first time. A camera upgrade could also be on the way, and 4G LTE support for Verizon, Sprint and AT&T in the US seems certain, especially after the LTE chips found in the new iPad. After EE’s LTE announcement yesterday, CEO Olaf Swantee teased that more devices supporting the network would be announced soon, and an LTE iPhone could prove to be the catalyst to the LTE growth that EE desires.

Whatever happens, we’ll be there with all the news from 6PM BST in our liveblog, so make sure to follow along to get all the news as it happens!