It’s good, but it’s no iOS 9.1.
It’s good, but it’s no iOS 9.1.
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.
In a blog entry posted today, Windows Phone corporate vice president Terry Myerson confirmed Microsoft’s plans for Windows Phone 7.8, the update that the company has remained quiet about since its announcement at the Windows Phone 8 event in June. Serving to sweeten the blow for existing Windows Phone 7.x device owners that are unable to update their devices to the latest version of the operating system, 7.8 will bring new Start screen options including resizeable tiles and 20 theme colours, and users can also opt to have new password options and the daily Bing picture as their lock screen wallpaper. While developers are unlikely to target 7.x for app releases due to SDK changes for 8, Myerson promises that Angry Birds Space and Angry Birds Star Wars will soon join Draw Something and Words With Friends in the expanding Windows Phone Store for 7.x. The update is currently said to be in testing with OEM and carrier partners, and Microsoft hope for a smooth rollout of the update in early 2013.
Source Windows Phone Blog
After being announced alongside the iPhone 5 back in September, music fans have been eagerly awaiting the release of iTunes 11, which Apple said would fall at the end of this month. Now, amidst wholesale changes within the company resulting in the ousting of iOS SVP Scott Forstall and Jony Ive becoming head of Human Interface throughout the company, the company has confirmed that it is delaying the release of the latest version of the software until November.
Speaking to AllThingsD, spokesman Tom Neumayr stated:
“The new iTunes is taking longer than expected and we wanted to take a little extra time to get it right. We look forward to releasing this new version of iTunes with its dramatically simpler and cleaner interface and seamless integration with iCloud before the end of November.”
Sporting a completely redesigned interface from mini player to store, the updated version was seen as one of the highlights of Apple’s event. It is set to take design cues from iOS 6, and many users are hoping that Apple can use the delay to implement performance improvements and solve issues that have plagued the software for many years.
A minor update to Android 4.1 has begun to roll out to owners of Google’s Asus-built Nexus 7 tablet, with unspecified bug fixes and a much-desired landscape mode for the launcher as its main features. An Australian EE Times reader has received the 31.3MB update and while we have yet to see the update come through to our device, the update push is expected to continue across the globe throughout the day and it is recommended that you furiously check for updates throughout the night.
This summer I reviewed the HTC One X, a phone that came preloaded with Android 4.0.1 and HTC’s comparatively lighter but nevertheless bloated Sense 4 skin. You might recall I went on a bit of a rant about it, with the problem being that it lagged. A new operating system on a top of the line phone should not be stuttering on the homescreen. Now, to coincide with the release of the One X+, HTC has come up with an answer. The new Sense 4+ skin is layered on top of that buttery Android 4.1 goodness, also known as Jelly Bean, but does it fix the inherent problems its predecessor had? Read on to find out.
HTC really has fixed a lot with the new version of Sense. Most noticeably, the stuttering has been eradicated completely and utterly. I’m not completely sure whether this is down to the new Jelly Bean’s Project Butter or simply HTC’s optimisations, but it really doesn’t matter. Whatever they’ve done, it makes the phone a joy to use. Expandable notifications have been introduced too, bringing all sorts of new functionality to your pull down shade. The only problem with these is the slightly awkward two finger pinch gesture to open them up – something that is not present in stock Android. The keyboard is really a lot better than it used to be, nixing the pointless arrow keys at the bottom and adding altogether better feedback and responsiveness. My biggest annoyance with the One X has also been fixed – the menu button situation. It used to be that the One X did not have a hardware menu button, with a software version popping on screen as and when it was needed, wasting about a tenth of the screen real estate. With this update, TC has added the option in settings to reassign the multitasking button to menu. Holding down this button with this setting enabled will take you to recent apps, giving back the screen that was taken. Google Now, Android’s answer to Siri, has also been added, with a long press of the home button propelling you straight into the new voice search feature. While I don’t want to go as far as to compare it with Siri as they both perform different functions, I have to say the retrieval of data is snappier and the voice is not nearly as robotic.
There isn’t really much that has become worse in Sense 4+. After all, it is an update: something supposed to make something else better, unless you are Apple.
There is a lot in this section, and while there is not as much as there used to be, the list of negative aspects of Sense only reinforce my desire to see stock Android being shipped on more than one phone a year. The first thing is the icons, which remain childish and displeasing to the eye. Compared to the polished look of iOS, Windows Phone and post-ICS stock Android, you realise how far behind such skins remain, and a little customisation with an icon pack goes a long way aesthetically. I still feel that the greens and whites of Sense clash with the deep blues and Tron-like lighting of Holo clash horribly, however certain elements appear pleasant and muted. Another thing that hasn’t been fixed is the lockscreen shortcuts, still default to the ones you have placed in your dock.
Overall, I think Sense 4+ is a great upgrade over Sense 4, making Sense a decent skin once again. It makes it smoother, faster, slicker and better looking while also tying in new functionality that you won’t necessarily find in a stock Android build. If you are a user of one of HTC’s One series phones, I urge you to upgrade to keep your sanity and enjoy the butter.
Apple has announced that it will be removing Google Maps from its native application in iOS and will be replacing it with its own mapping system with the upcoming launch of iOS 6 this autumn for iPhone 3GS onwards, iPad 2, iPad (3rd generation) and iPod Touch (4th generation). It will include its own high quality 3D mode, and by all accounts it does pretty much exactly what Google Maps did, only in an interface that Apple think is far superior.
In the mean time, Google has been developing their own software on Android and both companies have been reported to have used fleets of planes that have ruffled the feathers of some privacy campaigners who complained having noticed an increase in airspace activity while tracking the movements of several large companies. Apple are set to create yet anouther easy to use and beautful app that will undoubtedly do its job very well. It is another example of Apple showing that making their products integratable with existing platforms is not the only field they are improving, but also the Apple universe that will one day probably be able to exist independently to every other system of computing there is. My concern is that Google has such a solid base, and with a single account you can connect all of Google’s existing services such as Gmail, Drive, YouTube and +, making them easier to use and more efficient for the user. That said Apple have added mapping support to Siri, the “eyes free” system which Apple is rumoured to have been working on with car manufacturers to develop add buttons for in new cars, allowing for a hands free, voice activated GPS and phone.
I think that Apple’s new mapping system will be good because things that come out of Apple are generally well received and the response by Google will probably improve on what they have now, which can only be a good thing for map users. If users wish to return to using Google Maps or use a different platform entirely, they should have the option to do it through the App Store, as there are a number of map apps available for the platform. Apple’s eyes free integration, however, is very promising, and it is very probable that it means Google Maps is on its way out for many Apple users. Apple’s initiative has yet again shown the company’s ability to remake everything in the image of their own minds.
Fresh from floating itself on the NASDAQ at a valuation of $104 billion, only to see share prices plummet by almost 20% in a week, and a $1 billion acquisition of Instagram, the rumour mill has sparked up again, this time suggesting that Facebook is set to acquire Norwegian firm Opera Software. Pocket-lint’s sources claim that Mark Zuckerberg’s company is looking to create its own web browser, possibly one compatible with the oft-rumoured Facebook phone, and that it is looking towards Opera to achieve this goal. The Next Web also cited a different source close to the browser maker, stating that the company was not only in talks regarding a potential acquisition with multiple suitors, but a hiring freeze has been introduced – a sign that big things may be coming. A Facebook browser could look very similar to RockMelt, a browser with Facebook integration and built from Google’s Chromium engine, but partnering with or acquiring a company like Opera would give Facebook independence from third-parties such as Google, thus ensuring total control over the browser, while also the potential to tap in to Opera’s 270 million monthly users. All of this speculation certainly seems plausible, and with Facebook’s tendency to roll out new features perpetually, it might not be long until we find out the truth.
Techslice is a column by Ali Wilson. Views expressed are not necessarily those of Digixav.
Siri is truly excellent voice recognition software that Apple introduced with the iPhone 4S and probably the new iPhone I spoke about last week. Siri is useful in many ways, as you can simply tell Siri to do what you want and it will do it almost instantly. It is also very entertaining, as I found out when trying it out on my friend’s iPhone 4S. If you ask something it cannot answer, Siri strives to give you a witty and entertaining response.
Siri is also easily accessible, with two extremely simple ways to activate it. The first is by pressing and holding the home button and waiting for the Siri toolbar to appear. The second is able to be turned off and on, and all you have to do is raise the phone to your ear, wait for the beep, and then say your command. This is very useful as it would be nonsensical if you had to go searching for Siri when you could just as easily have found what you were looking for in a shorter time without your voice.
There is only one minor flaw that I can see from my extensive tests, and that is that you must speak very clearly. If you don’t speak clearly enough, Siri has trouble recognising what you say and will normally answer with the wrong thing. This is time consuming and is a regular occurrence if you try and speak in a normal voice. This was proved by Henry and Xavier when they tested it in October.
Overall, I found Siri excellent and it is by far the best voice recognition programme that I have ever used. However, I don’t see why Apple has made Siri exclusive to the iPhone. As the owner of an iPad 2, I am strongly disappointed by this and am living in hope that soon, Apple will add Siri to the iPad. Not to finish on a bad note though – as I said above, Siri is excellent in almost every way and definitely top dog among mobile voice recognition platforms.