April 9, 2011

Nvidia dual-GPU flagship comes to India with the ASUS GTX 590

The Nvidia GeForce GTX 590, the company’s flagship dual-GPU card, has arrived in India in the form of the ASUS ENGTX590. Priced at Rs. 48,000 in the country, potential Indian buyers will again have to resign themselves to a hefty premium over the $700 retail price for the card, but then again, some things are priceless.

The Nvidia GeForce GTX 590, the company’s flagship dual-GPU card, has arrived in India in the form of the ASUS ENGTX590. Priced at Rs. 48,000 in the country, potential Indian buyers will again have to resign themselves to a hefty premium over the $700 retail price for the card, but then again, some things are priceless.

 The ASUS design of the GTX 590 has slightly faster core and memory clocks at 612MHz and 855Mhz. Apart from drivers, the ASUS ENGTX590 also ships with an updated Voltage Tweak utility, which will help users overclock the card’s core clock up to a blistering top-end of 918MHz. It’s 11-inch length is relatively diminutive for the power the card packs, but interested buyers should check their cabinets for space first!

Google to streamline YouTube, offer original featured content

In no small part due to its industry difficulties with Google TV, Google is looking to kickstart a new era of viewership for its popular online video portal - YouTube, and is reportedly injecting $100 million towards this cause.

To compete even on an adjacent playing field with the big boys of the television and feature film industry, Google is looking to offer a streamlined content channels to users, based around popular topics and categories, each of which will feature professionally-produced YouTube-commission content apart from user-generated material.

In this manner, Google is not just bolstering the ever embattled profitability of YouTube by bringing more than just user-generated and viral content to the living room, but also giving Google TV a whole new source to feature quality content for free.

If successful, it would also manage to carve out an exciting new ecosystem for the humble web video.

April 8, 2011

Creative Launches ZiiO Tablets in India

One more company has joined the Tablet bandwagon – enter the Creative ZiiO. Creative has been in the audio and PMP business for some time now and their ‘Zen’ range of devices, both DAPs (Digital Audio Players) and PMPs, have enjoyed quite a bit of popularity in the Indian marketplace. They have however been a bit low key of late but the introduction of these two new devices should give their fans the shakeup that’s been much needed.

Part of their new Pure Wireless Entertainment solutions, the ZiiO 7-inch and 10-inch Pure Wireless Entertainment Tablets were announced today. These devices were announced back in December of 2010 but have only made it to India now.

 They will feature Google’s Android OS running FroYo aka version 2.2 running on a ZiiLABS ZMS-08 HD Media-Rich Applications Processor. The company claims that these devices have been designed to offer their users the best wireless audio performance they can get from an Android-based tablet in the market. That’s a pretty strong statement but they’ve been able to cope very well in the portable audio segment for a long time so it’s a possibility they just might pull it off. The ZiiO tablets have been infused with their Sound Blaster and X-Fi (X-Fi Crystalizer, X-Fi Expand) audio enhancement technologies to try and make good on that statement.

The ZiiO tablets will be able to connect to Creative’s new range of wireless Bluetooth speakers and headphones that are all A2DP compatible. The tablets will feature –
  • 7-inch (480 x 800 with 16 million colors) and 10-inch (1024 x 600 with 262k colors) resistive touchscreens
  • Wi-Fi only models (since their primary USP is media)
  • Bluetooth with A2DP + EDR and apt-X, USB 2.0
  • Front Facing VGA camera
  • Support for H.264, MPEG4, WMV9, MJPEG, MOV, AVI and MKV video formats
  • Support for MP3, AAC, WMA9, FLAC, OGG, ADPCM, MIDI, WAV, Audible Format 4
  • HDMI out supporting 720p
  • Available in 8GB and 16GB memory capacities with microSD card support
  • Features a built in microphone
  • 3.5mm earphone socket

The resistive touchscreens could be a bit disappointing for some considering the very last thing you want to do with a finger friendly OS like Android is to whip out a stylus.

Creative ZiiO also comes with various other accessories which include a Leather Case, Screen protector, a Stylus and Universal Power Adapter. The Creative ZiiO 8GB tablets will be available in India at select outlets for suggested retail prices of Rs. 17,999 (7-inch tablet) and Rs. 21,999 (10-inch tablet). Prices of the 16GB models have yet to be announced.

Galaxy S II CPU gets upgraded to 1.2GHz

The highly anticipated Samsung Galaxy S II has been made even more desirable. The device has been given a bump in processing power and will now feature the same dual-core ARM Cortex A9 processor but upgraded to 1.2GHz from the original 1GHz. However, the launch of the handset has been delayed further. According to Samsung India, the Galaxy S II won't be launched before June. And this isn't just limited to India but across the world.  

For those not in the know, the Galaxy S II is Samsung's upcoming successor to the highly successful Galaxy S Android smartphone. It will have a 4.3-inch, 480 x 800, Super AMOLED Plus display, 8 megapixel camera, 1080p video recording, 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 1GB RAM, Android 2.3 Gingerbread, 3G, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, A-GPS, 16/32GB internal memory and all this in a super slim 8.5mm body. After reading that, we are sure even you will be looking forward to June just as much as we are. 


Sony Ericsson Xperia Play, Arc Launched in India

Sony Ericsson planned to be secretive about the launch of its two latest Xperia series smartphones - Play and arc. Both smartphones will be formally launched tomorrow. The new Sony Ericsson Xperia Play is the first PlayStation Certified smartphone that will run Android 2.3 Gingerbread OS. The new Xperia Arc flaunts a lean profile since it is 8.7mm thin at its slimmest part. And just like Play, even the Arc will have Android 2.3 Gingerbread preloaded on it.

 New Xperia Play smartphone, being PlayStation certified, will let users play the PSOne classics ports that are now available in Android Market.

The features of Xperia Play are:
- 1GHz Qualcomm MSM8655 CPU with Adreno 205 GPU
- Android 2.3 Gingerbread and Timescape UI
- 4-inch capacitive display with 854x480 pixel resolution
- 1GB ROM and 400MB Internal memory
- 5 megapixel camera
- 11 Buttons slide out keyboard with gaming keys
- A-GPS support
- Stereo FM with RDS
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1
- Talking of about 7 hours

The features of Xperia Arc are:
- 1GHz Qualcomm MSM8255 CPU with Adreno 205 GPU
- Android 2.3 Gingerbread and Timescape UI
- 4.2-inch Reality Display with capacitive touch support and 854x480 pixel resolution
- Mobile BRAVIA Engine
- 512MB RAM and 320MB Internal memory
- 8.1 megapixel camera with Sony Exmor R image sensor
- A-GPS support
- HDMI Port
-  Stereo FM with RDS
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1
- Talking of about 7 hours

One good aspect about new Sony Ericsson Xperia series handsets is that all of them will have Android 2.3 Gingerbread preloaded and a good enough hardware to run the next Android update. 

Sony Ericsson will launch Xperia Play officially for Rs. 35,000 and Xperia arc for Rs. 32,000. But online retailer Flipkart is already offering the Xperia Play with an 8GB microSD memory card for Rs. 30,999 and the Xperia Arc with an 8GB microSD card for Rs. 28,499.  

April 7, 2011

LG Launches the Optimus 2X and the Optimus Black in India

Oh boy, the wait is now over. Two of the three phones LG showcased at CES 2011 and later launched at MWC 2011, the Optimus 2X and the Optimus Black, have been officially released in India. For those who don’t remember, the Optimus 2X is the world’s first mobile phone with a dual-core processor - NVIDIA's Tegra 2.

LG Optimus 2X P990:
The Optimus 2X, earlier known as the Star, is an absolute benchmarking beast thanks to the Tegra 2. It has a bunch of other cool features too, though. Check ‘em out:

  • 1GHz dual-core NVIDIA Tegra 2 CPU
  • 512MB RAM
  • 4-inch capacitive touchscreen at a resolution of 800x480
  • Google Android 2.2 Froyo, upgradeable to 2.3 Gingerbread
  • 8 megapixel camera with autofocus and LED flash
  • FullHD video camera which can capture 1080p videos at 24fps and 720p videos at 30fps
  • 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera
  • GPS with A-GPS support
  • HDMI-out port
  • 8GB internal storage, expandable to 32GB via microSD
  • WiFi 802.11b/g/n, DLNA support, Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP
  • HSDPA 10.2Mbps

LG Optimus Black P970:
The Optimus Black might seem a little similar to the 2X in terms of specs, but it is a much slimmer smartphone with LG’s new display technology, the NOVA Display. LG claims this makes the Optimus Black’s screen a lot brighter than most displays other smartphones in the market have. It’s also the first smartphone to feature the WiFi direct feature. Anyway, take a look at the specs:
  • 1GHz Texas Instruments OMAP3630 CPU
  • 512MB RAM
  • 4-inch IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen at 800x480
  • Google Android 2.2 Froyo, upgradeable to 2.3 Gingerbread
  • 5 megapixel camera with autofocus and LED flash
  • Video camera which can capture 720p videos at 30fps
  • 2 megapixel front facing wide-angle camera
  • GPS with A-GPS support
  • 2GB internal storage, expandable to 32GB via microSD
  • WiFi 802.11b/g/n, WiFi Direct, DLNA support, Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP and EDR
  • HSDPA 7.2Mbps

The LG Optimus 2X P990 is priced at Rs. 30,000, which is an excellent price for the specs it has on offer, and the LG Optimus Black P970 will be available for Rs. 27,000. Now all that’s well and good, but where’s that third cog in the wheel, the LG Optimus 3D? Let’s just hope it makes it out here soon.

Nokia to Announce New Symbian Updates on April 12

Nokia seems to be seriously pushing their Symbian Smartphones. From yesterday's announcement that they were planning to launch about 40 handsets with the OS this year alone, to the recent buzz in the mobile community about an event that’s planned for next week in the UK, London. It seems a few invites were sent out for some sort of event that would most likely showcase what new updates are headed for the Symbian OS. 

The invitation itself is quite ambiguous but the ‘Discover what’s new with Symbian Smartphones’ does sort of give it away. One source seems to think it could be a UI change to Symbian, much needed I say. I’m also jumping on to that bandwagon and would love to see just a better looking UI for Symbian other than the existing one that’s no more than a few more colour splashes to what has been around for so long. It could also be a few new handsets perhaps. It's anyones guess really.

Anyhow, April 12th is just around the corner so it’s only a matter of a short wait before Nokia unveils their plans for Symbian. Here’s hoping it’s not just some minor bug fixes.

I’d like to know what you guys expect. Follow the thread if you have a take on just what you’d want to see Nokia do with or incorporate into their Symbian OS.

Fujitsu Launches Lifebook LH530 in India

Fujitsu has launched Lifebook LH530 under the DGS&D RC. What is DGS&D RC, you ask? DGS&D RC or Directorate General of Supply & Disposal, Rate Contract is a very convoluted way of saying that it's cheaper. The LH530 is available in two configurations - one with an Intel Core i3 and the other with an Core i5 processor. The former costs Rs. 39,000, while the beefier one with the Core i5 retails for Rs. 45,760. 

 Both models come preloaded with Windows 7 Professional and 14-inch LED backlit screen with a resolution of 1366x768. The LifeBook LH530 comes standard with Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR and 802.11N wireless connectivity. The notebooks sport 1.3 megapixel cameras, with built-in microphones hassle free compatibility with Skype and Messenger apps. The LH530 is covered under three year onsite warranty.

Google Chrome Warns Against Malicious Downloads

Google boasts about several security features in its Chrome web browser. Now, Google has added one more feature in Chrome web browser which will alert users against malicious file downloads. Now that's something every browser should ideally have so that users don't have to be dependent on anti-malware programs. This experimental feature is currently made available to Chrome Development Channel for testing and initially, it will alert against malicious Windows executables.

The Google Safe Browsing API comes into picture when the browser checks if the Windows executable being downloaded originates from a malicious code bearing site or not. Also, it has the same privacy policy as in the Safe Browsing feature which means Google will never know what URL you've visited to download that particular file. 

This new alert against malicious file download could be too small to be noticed. At times, users are in such a hurry that they click on the 'x' (Close) on any pop-up message. So instead of showing an alert just above the status bar, something more attention drawing is required to make this feature actually useful. 

Google Chrome has been offering features such as alerts the users against faulty websites that intend to inject malicious code in the user system. Google accumulates data about such websites and makes it available via Safe Browsing API. Several web browsers - Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Safari make use of Google's Safe Browsing API to warn users if they happen to visit webpages that have been coded smartly to inject malware code in the system.

Google didn't promise any date when the feature would be implemented and made available via a stable build of the Chrome browser.

April 6, 2011

Nokia T7-00 Images Surface

Last week we reported about Nokia's T7-00 smartphone listed in the OVI Publishing Tool. Now, PCPOP.com has got their hands on the T7-00 and shared some images of the actual device. As per the images, the T7-00 looks exactly like the Nokia N8. However, it would support TD-SCDMA/GSM networks and the China Mobile sticker on the back suggests where exactly it is targeted at. We won't be surprised if the same product is launched globally. 

 The upcoming Nokia T7-00 is said to have 360x640 pixel resolution supporting display and will sport Symbian^3 mobile operating system. The front facing VGA camera will support video calls. The back panel has a downgraded 8 megapixel camera instead of a 12 megapixel found on the N8. Under the hood, the T7-00 will have a 700Mhz ARM11 processor and is capable of supporting 3D graphics and OpenGL 2.0 for better 3D gaming experience. 

Apparently, Nokia N8 has a 680MHz ARM11 CPU and supports 3D graphics. So there's a slight bump in the mobile CPU clock but that would hardly ensure marginal performance.  

If Nokia is planning this T7-00 just for China, then it would be the same strategy that Samsung had employed by introducing downgraded version of handsets. 

Twitter Searches Get Relevant

Finding what you want on Twitter just got easier! According to a blog post on the popular social networking medium, searches would now get more relevant.

Avid tweeters would remember how general the results would get each time they tried to look for a specific group. Twitter claims that it is now a thing of past, as they have worked out a way. Previously, searching for a term meant getting all results that had that term somewhere in the name, and not necessarily the essence, itself.

Users now have an option of picking from a wide array of topics – ranging from a general umbrella term to anything more specific. Twitter assures its updated search feature will get you your related searches faster than you expect. 

Bracing the search feature is yet another addition. Twitter will now offer you tips each time you punch in a search. These tips direct you to a list of search options, as also direct you to the advanced search page.

Source : Twitter Searches Get Relevant

Samsung introduces Galaxy Neo mid-range Android offering

Another day, another Samsung Galaxy Android device...called the Samsung Galaxy Neo, the Froyo running handset is for now only destined for Korea, but who knows, in time, Samsung might just bring this mid-range device to global shores.

The Samsung M220L Galaxy Neo is very similar to the Galaxy Ace in looks, with slightly lower-end specifications – a 3.5-inch (800x480 pixel resolution) display, an 800MHz processor, 512MB of RAM, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n support, Bluetooth 3.0, 1,500 mAh battery, and a 3MP camera. 

 While there probably won’t be space for the device in the Indian market between the Galaxy Fit and the Galaxy Ace, it’s still good to see Samsung churning out mid-range Android handsets.

Google Maps 5.3 for Android Has Location Dashboard

Google has released yet another Google Maps update for the Android platform. The new Google Maps 5.3 for Android brings new location history dashboard and check-in features. Those who've enabled Location History in Latitude service will get to see their location history statistics on a dashboard in the Google Maps.  
Location History will be helpful to keep track of places you regularly visit and the frequency as well. That way you can plan your travel accordingly. For those who haven't enabled Location History can do the same from PC or Mac by visiting - https://www.google.com/latitude/history/. You can delete your location history any time by tapping on the Manage Tab. Comprehensive information will be available on the hours spent at home, work or traveling out. 
Those using the Check-in feature in Google Maps can now set automatic check-in at home after adding your home address yourself or estimated current home address. Also, this helps you create a custom Home check-in option where you can let others know that you are home, but in-fact you could be out for a party with friends.

Frequent travelers and Places users can now add their own custom aspects for describing more about the restaurant, shop, mall, or any other Place for their review. Adding specific characteristics to a specific Place like Music, Ambiance, Wait Service, Pizzas, Salads, etc. is helpful for users who're looking for those specific aspects. 

The new Google Maps 5.3 for Android is available in Android Market (http://market.android.com) for the devices running Android OS 1.6 or higher. 

April 5, 2011

Nokia Plans Launch of 40 New Models this Year

Striving in a fiercely competitive world is no mean feat. Nokia, one of the premier handset manufacturers has been increasingly feeling the heat that the growing mobile market players have been fanning towards it.

Nokia, apparently, is in the midst of planning to go aggressive with its new launches. This year, Nokia will launch 40 new models in the market, 12 of which will be in the smartphone category. This drastic move from Nokia isn’t one in a vacuum. The brand has been seeing its business dip in recent times, owing to the dominance of other players in the smartphone market in India, and abroad as well. Nokia expects to retain or rather regain its dominance in the smartphone category with the launch of its 12 models in the same. The price range of these models is yet to be disclosed, however, just the number of models that it plans to launch should allow Nokia some wriggle in the competition. 

According to a recent research report by IDC (International Data Corp.) called the Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, Android remains to be the hot favorite with the masses followed by Blackberry, iOS, Symbian, Windows Phone 7. Nokia, however, is in no mood to accept these figures as true.  

The IDC report itself claims to be a mere prediction of what the mobile market could look like in the coming years.

Sony Honeycomb Tablet Incoming this Summer

Remember the Sony prepping a tablet bit we told you about a while ago? Well, that seems to be coming true now, with Sony Chief Exec Sir Howard Stringer letting slip that the tablet will be releasing this American summer, at the same event where he also let slip that the iPhone 5 would be using Sony-made camera components.

In case you’ve forgotten, here are the predicted specs of the Sony tablet:

  • It’s codenamed Sony S1
  • It will be PlayStation Certified
  • It will come pre-loaded with PSOne titles
  • NVIDIA Tegra 2 CPU
  • Google Android 3.0 Honeycomb OS
  • 9.4-inch screen at 1280x800
  • Full-sized USB port
  • Will be priced at $599 (Rs. 27,000, which is super cheap in comparison to the other Tegra 2 tablets)
  • Will release in Q3 2011 (September)
This sounds good to me, what with the Xperia Play nearly among us and the NGP releasing later this year in the holiday season. That would mean the Tablet would release between the two, thus not interfering with either’s sales.

Source : Sony Honeycomb Tablet Incoming this Summer

Windows 8 to Replace Your Toolbar with a Ribbon

Just hours after an early build of Microsoft's new Windows 8 operating system leaked we're starting to get a good idea of how the latest version of Windows is shaping up.

Intrepid users have already begun mining the build and a major departure besides the OS's new welcome screen is already evident. Microsoft seems to have replaced the toolbar in the explorer window with the Ribbon user interface currently used Microsoft Office programs, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

Once you've logged in, the most noticeable change to Windows is the new Ribbon interface on every Explorer window. At this stage, the Ribbon UI is in a pretty confused state and doesn't seem to have some of its functionality, so it's hard to tell exactly how successful this switch will be. Within Windows even suggests some disagreement may exist within Microsoft about using the new interface at all.

Also unclear is whether this change is permanent for all devices. The current build of Windows 8 has a toggle to return the toolbar and menus we've all grown accustomed to, but it's not clear whether this will make it to the final version of Windows 8 or if it's just a temporary measure while the design of the Ribbon gets ironed out.

This is a very early build, so many features, such as specialized tablet support, haven't yet made their way in. Still, even this early on, we can say with some certainty that Windows 8 will bring some dramatic changes to the OS.

The Quest for Live TV on a Tablet

As tablets become more popular, content for these devices is in increasing demand and the latest and greatest in tablet computing is live streaming TV. Apps providing this functionality are making a splash, and there are more on the way, but significant legal and financial problems remain.

Time Warner Cable was first out of the gate last week when it launched an iPad app that promise to allow users to live-stream more than 30 cable networks to their iPads. The news made quite a splash, creating so much demand that Time Warner had to temporarily drop some of the networks they offered to stream to keep their servers running, but the app is also drawing lawsuits from content providers such as Fox and Time Warner was forced to drop some networks from the app permanently. In the wake of the lawsuit, Time Warner is doubling down on its commitment, replacing the lost content with even more channels, but the battle lines are clearly drawn.

Now Cablevision has launched its own iPad app, which provides access to an even wider array of content than Time Warner. Rather than streaming directly across the Internet, however, Cablevision is streaming video across its proprietary Advanced Digital Cable network in the hope of sidestepping Time Warner's legal troubles.

It's hard to say how successful this strategy will be. Hollywood seems much jumpier about streaming video of late, even relatively entrenched providers like Netflix are starting to feel some push-back. Only time will tell how the battle over streaming video will end but with Time Warner, and now Cablevision, providing the service momentum it seems like a now or never moment for content providers to fight back.

April 4, 2011

Motorola Milestone 2 Might be Incoming Soon

The successor to the Motorola Milestone, the Milestone 2, was announced way back in September last year, but hasn’t made it to India yet. That may be changing now, what with online retailer Letsbuy listing the phone for sale (not pre-order) and listing an estimated delivery time of two to four days after purchase.

In case you’ve forgotten, and we won’t blame you if you have since it’s been a while, here are the Milestone 2’s specs:

  • 1GHz Cortex A8 processor
  • 512MB RAM
  • 3.7-inch Gorilla Glass encased Display at 480x854
  • Slide-out QWERTY keyboard
  • Android 2.2 FroYo
  • WiFI 802.11 b/g/n, DLNA, Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP
  • MotoBLUR UI
  • 5 megapixel camera with autofocus and dual-LED flash
  • 720p video recording at 30fps
  • 8GB inbuilt storage, expandable to 32GB
  • microUSB 2.0 port
  • MP4, WMV, H264, H263, DivX and XviD video support
  • Adobe Flash 10.1 support

The Milestone 2 has been listed at a price of Rs. 20,999. An official launch might be incoming as soon as next week, but if you’re really impatient you can order the phone here.

Sony may supply 8MP Image sensors for iPhone 5

All eyes are set on Worldwide Developers Conference starting on June 5 where Apple is expected to announce the next generation iPhone 5. Sir Howard Stringer, president and CEO of Sony Corp, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, is said to have slipped Sony s plans about 8 megapixel image sensors to be supplied to Apple for next generation iPhone 5. Seth Weintraub, owner of 9to5Mac blog noted that Stringer stated that the factory making image sensors for Apple was affected by the Tsunami in Japan. 

Apple usually sources the image sensors for its iOS devices from OmniVision that offered backside-illuminated 5 megapixel CMOS Image sensor in the iPhone 4. OmniVision Factory located in Japan is reported to be affected by Tsunami and hence there has been a delay in supply of image sensors for Apple products. 

According to report by WSJ, Stringer casually stated -
Early on, he raised the irony of Sony supplying camera components for Apple devices. It always puzzles me, he said. Why would I make Apple the best camera? It is unclear what devices he was talking about as Sony isn t known to supply key camera components, known as image sensors, to Apple.
Sony also manufactures backside-illuminated Exmor R image sensors which were recently used in the current Xperia Arc model. Hence it might have been an indirect offer from Sony to Apple for buying image sensors from them instead of getting the iPhone 5 shipment delayed. As of now there s no second reported to confirm what Weintraub heard at the interview but it looks ambiguous why Sony would supply parts to one of its rivals. 
From the mixed reports available so far, I believe iPhone 5 indeed will have 8 megapixel Image Sensor. However, there s no clarity whether those Image Sensors would be from OmniVision or Sony.

Google Commerce Search 3.0 brings Instant Search and other new features

Google’s Commerce Search, the search giant’s online shopping product, has been upgraded to Commerce Search 3.0, bringing Instant and other improvements, all aimed to towards delivering a faster, more personalized shopping search experience for consumers, and a better platform for retailers.

Google Commerce Search will now incorporate Google Instant, providing search results in the search bar as you type. Local product availability is also a feature now, with Google pointing out stores near you that stock the product you are searching for. Also new, is product recommendations, a Google Labs feature that has yet to be graduated. It shows what other buyers of the product have to say about it.

With GCS 3.0, portal owners and online retailers will now have 'enhanced merchandising' features, and be able to display banner promotions alongside related searches, and, also have the option of generating query-based landing pages. 

Some new shopping sites have also added Google Commerce Search to their portals, such as Forever21, General Nutrition Company, and L'Occitane, bringing Google’s search power to its online shelves, allowing users to find the product they need, sorting by category, price and more.

Facebook Merges Mobile Sites for All Phones

Facebook is revamping the mobile interface of the site, as the social network announced 250 million people use the site via their mobile phones. Instead of having several versions of the site for touchscreen phones, and non-touchscreen phones, Facebook will implement one single mobile site that adapts features available to users depending on the phone they use.

Facebook Product Designer Lee Byron wrote on the company's blog that running several versions of mobile sites was stifling the ability to innovate, because developers had to work on several code bases. So instead, they are launching a unified mobile site, eliminating the differences between touch.facebook.com and m.facebook.com.

"There will no longer be a difference between m.facebook.com and touch.facebook.com, we'll automatically serve you the best version of the site for your device," Byron explains. "This way we can move even faster and build new features just once for every mobile device."

In the new m.facebook.com, touchscreen smartphone visitors will see Facebook's touch-friendly interface (previously of touch.facebook.com), which adapts on the phone's hardware capabilities. For example, a phone with no GPS will not see the Places Check-in feature. Feature phone users will see a scaled-down version of the mobile site, with an interface adapted for their screens.

To power the new mobile site, Facebook created a UI framework based on XHP, Javelin, and WURFL, a detailed database matching features available to device capabilities. 0.facebook.com, the text-only Facebook mobile site designed for speed, will also use the same framework.

"This enables us to very precisely target experiences and features to thousands of different devices," Byron writes. "For example, some devices don't have keyboards, or have limited means of navigating a page, tiny screens, or crippling browser bugs. We can customize our site in each case to deal with these issues and provide the best possible experience to everyone."

April 3, 2011

Windows Phone 7 and the Unimportance of Apps

Microsoft says that Windows Phone 7's app marketplace is booming. In a chest-beating blog post, Microsoft revealed that WinPho7's app count stands at 11,500, and that's without wallpapers or duplicate apps in different languages. The ecosystem has 36,000 developers, 60 percent of which haven't even published anything yet, so the potential for growth is huge.

Still, some tech pundits, such as Robert Scoble, insist that a lack of apps is the only reason Windows Phone 7 hasn't been a rousing success. How can this be true if the Windows Phone Marketplace is hopping with activity?

First, a bit of qualification: We don't know with absolute certainty that Windows Phones aren't selling. Microsoft has only said how many phones it's sold to retailers (1.5 million as of late December), not the number of people who've actually bought one. But LG has expressed disappointment with sales, and one U.K. retailer claimed that Android phones outsell Windows Phones by a 15 to 1 ratio. It's safe to say that Windows Phone 7 hasn't been a rousing success.

But is a lack of apps to blame? I doubt it. When I consider which phone to buy or recommend to friends, I'm quick to rule out Windows Phone 7, but not because of apps. The platform's lack of multitasking and HTML5 support are much bigger drawbacks. Same with copy and paste, at least until Microsoft finishes rolling out the "NoDo" software update. And until Windows Phones come to Verizon Wireless, the number of people who can even consider the platform is limited.

Windows Phone 7 hardware has also been unimpressive so far. Most handsets don't have front-facing cameras. None have dual-core processors. Most lack expandable storage, which wouldn't be an issue if they included more than 8 GB or 16 GB of on-board storage. Every time an Android phone pushes the hardware envelope, Windows Phone 7 falls further behind.

If none of those issues existed, apps might linger in the back of my mind, but I doubt it. After all, Windows Phone 7 has a great gaming platform in Xbox Live. It has apps for Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Shazam, IMDB and even Netflix, which Android still lacks. With Microsoft's new stats in mind, I simply don't buy the argument that apps are holding the platform back. If anything, they're the biggest bright spot for Windows Phone 7 so far.

Google Won't Release Awesome Facial Recognition App

Google has created a facial recognition app that can provide all kinds of personal information on the people around you, but says it's not releasing the technology due to privacy concerns.

CNN reported that facial recognition would be a part of Google Goggles, an existing feature of Google's Search app that uses smartphone cameras to recognize objects, scan barcodes, translate text and even solve Sudoku puzzles. The facial recognition feature can associate people with social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, and provide other publicly-available information. Although Google has no release timeline for the feature, it has begun to figure out how to address privacy concerns, CNN reports, including an opt-in system that would only recognize people who allowed it. That's where things get a bit messy.

After CNN's report, Google said the privacy details were based on inaccurate conjecture and demanded a retraction. "As we've said for over a year, we won't add face recognition to Goggles unless we can figure out a strong privacy model for it," Google said in a statement to Search Engine Land. "We haven't figured it out." CNN stands by the story, noting that the interview with Hartmut Neven, a Google engineering director, was on the record with a public relations representative present. "Additionally, we have an audio recording of the interview, as does Google," CNN says.

Let's parse this back and forth. Google doesn't deny that it has developed the facial recognition feature. The company is merely saying that it won't release the technology unless it can address privacy concerns. But CNN's story doesn't say that Google is releasing the technology. In fact, it says that there's no release timeline, and that Google has only begun to establish how the privacy element would work. The wording of Google's statement ("We haven't figured it out") even suggests that the company is still interested in finding a solution.

Perhaps Google is disputing CNN's claim users would have to opt in to the feature, but I doubt it. As part of Google's recent settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission over Google Buzz, the company must now ask users to opt in before sharing their information. If Google ever released facial recognition for Google Goggles, I'm sure the terms of the FTC settlement would come into play.

Despite Google's attempts to spin the story, I don't see any major errors on CNN's part; but either way, I hope the facial recognition feature sees the light of day. It may seem creepy, but think of all the times you've spotted someone across the room that you recognize, but whose name you can't remember. Facial recognition could be a useful tool if Google puts the right privacy safeguards in place. I hope the company figures it out.

LG Launches E60, E90 LED Backlit Monitor

LG has launched two LED backlit monitors, the E60 and the E90, that should be available in the market in the coming weeks. The E60 comes in three variants, the 20-incher costing Rs. 9,940, the 22-incher priced at Rs. 12,200 and the 23-incher that will be available for Rs. 13,000. The E90 will only come in one size, a 21-incher priced at Rs. 16,900.  

 The E60 is just 12.9mm thick which makes it incredibly slim. It also has a very attractive design which is not often seen in a desktop monitor. There's plenty of connectivity as well from D-Sub to DVI to HDMI. The resolution will vary depending on the size of the monitor. The monitor features a 'mega' contrast ratio and an Eco mode as well for lower power draw. 

The E90 is more of a premium grade monitor that follows on the same lines as their LED TVs. The monitor measures just 7.3mm in depth and due to the ultra slim profile, all the ports had to be shifted to the base. This LED backlit model features 250 nits of brightness, 2ms response time, full HD resolution, and all three connectors of the E60.  

Samsung Nexus S to Make Indian Debut Very Soon

It’s official, Samsung is bringing the Nexus S to India and the launch date is just a few days away, or so our sources tell us. Initially a mailer went out saying that the Nexus S was to be launched on March 25th 2011, with prices quoted at Rs. 30,400, but of course that never happened. It’s already been showcased on Flipkart.com on pre-order at Rs. 27,999 which does make the above mentioned pricing seem very realistic.

The Nexus S is slated to be one hardcore handset with a few tweaks that haven’t quite hit other devices just yet. For example, the Super Clear LCD screen (not AMOLED) features a Contour Display with curved glass screen and an Oleophobic surface to prevent smudges. Running Android 2.3 aka Gingerbread (first for India so far) on an ARM Cortex A8 1GHz CPU with 512MB RAM and 3D graphics support for games on a Hummingbird chipset, this baby should be as speedy and responsive as the best of them, tablets included. Naturally Adobe Flash 10.2 will be supported and the one thing you can count on with Samsung’s higher end devices is DivX and Xvid video support.

In case you missed it, here’s a quick look at the specs –

  • 4-inch Super Clear LCD screen sporting a 480 x 800 pixel resolution
  • 3G, EDGE/GPRS, Wi-Fi with DLNA capabilities
  • GPS with A-GPS support
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR with A2DP, USB 2.0
  • 5 megapixel camera with autofocus and LED flash
  • 16GB inbuilt storage (no word on microSD support but most likely it will be absent)
While the ad in the mailer talks about the handset supporting HD video playback, the specs sheet makes no mention of even 720p video recording. It’ll only be a short wait before we find out for certain if it does. The specs sheet also mentions NFC (Near Field Communication) support as part of the handsets make up.

So stay tuned to tech2 for updates on the Nexus S launch. It’s also possible that Samsung might also launch the Galaxy S II at the same time. When we know you’ll know. And in case you're wondering, this is no April Fool's prank.