News/Rumors

Samsung announces Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner and heart rate monitor

Samsung yesterday introduced its next-generation Galaxy S5 flagship phone at its Unpacked 5 event at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. As reported, the new device includes a fingerprint sensor built into the device’s home button, allowing users to unlock their handset and access private data stored on the phone. Additionally, the South Korean company also confirmed that it will be allowing mobile payments with the fingerprint scanner as well as using it as a security feature to make content in certain apps only accessible when activated by the user’s fingerprint.

Samsung’s sensor is activated using a swiping motion that scans the finger.

Samsung Galaxy S5 itself looks similar to its predecessors, though it is provided a special soft-touch textured backing and a water resistant casing. The front of the device features a 5.1-inch display at a resolution of 1,920 by 1,080 pixels, powered by a 2.5-gigahertz quad-core processor and two gigabytes of RAM. The smartphone runs Android “KitKat” version 4.4.2.

It has a 20 percent improved battery life and offers a built-in power saving mode that will activate a black and white display with limited app access when the battery is low. samsung-140224-1

There’s also a new S Health app that takes advantage of the phone’s new heart rate sensor. Users are just required to place their finger on the sensor to have it measure their pulse.

The new device also focuses on health and fitness, and provides a personal fitness tracker, which allows to monitor and manage their behavior. There are also a number of apps included, that are tasked to record diet and exercise records.

The next-generation Galaxy S5 flagship phone features a 16-megapixel shooter that comes with an improved menu and user interface. According to the company, the new device offers the world’s fastest autofocus speed, getting a shot in focus in up to 0.3 seconds.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is scheduled to go on sale in April.

Accessories, News/Rumors

MAD CATZ announced a wireless game controller for iOS 7

Gaming peripheral company Mad Catz has announced its C.T.R.L.i iOS 7 gaming controller at Mobile World Congress 2014. The company, which is best known for its range of console and PC gaming accessories, presented its first controller to feature native support for iOS 7.

The C.T.R.L.i can connect to any iOS 7 device through Bluetooth instead of using a Lightning port, and includes a spring-loaded mount that can be used with the iPhone 5, iPhone 5s, and iPhone 5c. The accessory itself is based on Mad Catz’s popular MLG Pro Circuit Controller for the Xbox 360, and features standard console-style controls such as a two thumb sticks, a d-pad, media buttons and triggers on the shoulder.

You will be impressed with how stable the controller remains while playing. To protect iPhone from damages, the controller is equipped with a special clip, fixed with a tiny screw. A device with a bigger display is also available to place in the controller, meaning, that the company is ready to the next generation of iPhone with a larger display.madcatz_ctrli_1-800x502

Additionally, the C.T.R.L.i’s Bluetooth capabilities also provide connectivity for up to four controllers.

C.T.R.L.i is not the first iOS 7 gaming controller, both Logitech and MOGA were first introduced to public, but priced pretty high and of poor build quality. So, the controller from Mad Catz, known for its good quality, will be able to make a good competition to the existing models.

According to the maker, the Bluetooth-enabled gamepad will go on sale in early spring. It’ll be available in black, white, blue, red, orange and priced at $80.

News/Rumors

Samsung releases two new smartwatches, Apple’s iWatch still in development

According to a large number of rumors and some kind of signs, Apple is working on iWatch focused on health and fitness features. The iPhone maker has reportedly hired a lot of specialists in the health field recently, and the device is expected to debut soon.

Meanwhile, Samsung introduced its Galaxy Gear smartwatch just five months ago. And only last week, the Korean company has taken the wraps off of two new smartwatches called the Gear 2 and the Gear 2 Neo. The difference between the two devices is the absence of a camera on the Gear Neo. According to the earlier rumors, the both smartwatches have refused from Android in favor of Samsung’s Tizen operating system.

Samsung says, that the transition to Tizen will bring a lot of improvements to the consumers. The company notes, that the new operating system is much less power intensive. That means, that the battery life of new devices has been increased up to 2-3 days, which is much better in comparison with the one day life offered by the original Gear. Tizen will also offer an ”enriched application ecosystem” to the user.

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The both smartwatches are provided with a 1.63-inch touchscreen, 4Gb of internal storage, a 1GHz dual-core processor, a 300mAh battery and 512MB of RAM. The Gear 2 is also equipped with a 2MP camera with 720p video capabilities.

The company didn’t receive a lot of praises from the original Gear’s owners, but Samsung hasn’t made too many changes to the physical design of the device with this refresh, just making some tweaks. The new model has the camera positioned on the front of the device, while the original watch has it located on the wrist strap. Another changes now allow users switch the wristband of the Gear with third-party bands.

There is no information regarding pricing of the devices. The Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo are expected to go on sale starting in April. The Gear 2 will be available in Charcoal Black, Gold Brown and Wild Orange, while the Neo will be available in Mocha Grey, Charcoal Black, and Wild Orange.

News/Rumors

Steve Jobs to appear on commemorative postage stamp in 2015

The United States Postal Service approved several stamps that will be printed as part of a collectible series next year. According to the uncovered document, these stamps include Nintendo’s Mario character, The Beatles’ John Lennon and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

The former Apple CEO’s stamp is still in the design stages and will be released at some point in 2015.  After the final stage of the design, the stamp must then be approved before it hits USPS outlets nationwide.

The Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC) was established in 1957 to portray the American experience to a world audience through postage stamps and postal stationery. Annually, tons of letters proposing new stamp ideas are sent to USPS, the CSAC’s job is to evaluate the merits of each on behalf of the Postmaster General. steve-jobs

Jobs has been posthumously honored a number of times since he passed away in 2011. He was given a special Grammy Merit Award and a Disney Legends Award for his visionary achievements. He was also honored with induction into the Bay Area Business Hall of Fame and has a Pixar building named after him.

The list is not final, however, as USPS executive director for stamp services and corporate licensing Susan McGowan says, that the options “are subject to change” at any time.

Apps Lists, News/Rumors

Facebook acquiring WhatsApp for $16 billion

Facebook on Wednesday announced its plans to purchase  popular messaging app WhatsApp messaging service for $16 billion, with $4 billion in cash and approximately $12 billion worth of Facebook shares. Additionally, $3 billion in restricted stock will also be given to the WhatsApp founders and employees. The RSUs will vest in four years after the deal closes.

WhatsApp Messenger is a very popular cross-platform messaging app, which has nearly 500 million users and allows them to chat with individuals or groups, as well as sending and accepting files and images.

Last year, Google was rumored to have been planning to acquire the company for $1 billion - something WhatsApp denied.

According to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg:

“WhatsApp will complement our existing chat and messaging services to provide new tools for our community. Facebook Messenger is widely used for chatting with your Facebook friends, and WhatsApp for communicating with all of your contacts and small groups of people. Since WhatsApp and Messenger serve such different and important uses, we will continue investing in both and making them each great products for everyone.”

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It’s still unclear how this purchase will affect WhatsApp’s “mantra” of an ad-free experience. It is also unknown if the WhatsApp’s pricing structure will change. The app’s users currently pay $0.99 for unlimited yearly usage. The app was available for free when it first appeared in the iOS App Store.

WhatsApp notes that the Facebook and WhatsApp messaging apps will remain separate standalone apps, operating independently from each other.

Notably, that in April 2012, Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion.

iPad, News/Rumors

Apple highlights iPad’s use in professional mountain climbing

Apple on Tuesday introduced its “your verse” iPad media campaign featuring a second story to its dedicated mini site. The new ad depicts several inspiring ways in which people are using iPads to help with everything. This latest edition shows how Adrian Ballinger and Emily Harrington have used their device when scaling some of the world’s most renowned mountains.

The mountaineers are shown using the iPad, which assists them with preparing for a climb, documenting their trip with photos and blog posts. They don’t need to wait to share their adventure, their iPad does it at once.

“Not long ago, they relied on outdated or inaccurate paper maps to inform their plan of attack. Sometimes maps of these areas didn’t even exist. But now with iPad and the Gaia GPS topography app, they can see remote mountain regions in great detail.”

“Five years ago, it was hard to even get a paper map of these places,” Ballinger said. “Now with the iPad it’s remarkable how much we can plan ahead.”

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The iPad is used in almost every stage of ascent, from setting up base camp to reaching the summit. Their base camp is at around 9,000 feet and this is where the duo uses its device to blog, post photos and make updates on social media.

As Ballinger noted, the iPad made their expeditions a bit safer, letting them check new routes and explore more remote areas.

Apple started the Your Verse campaign with a 90-second TV ad with a Dead Poet Society themed narration. The ad was accompanied by two various 30-second variations, called Light Verse and Sound Verse.

The “Your Verse” series is a great continuation of the “Life on iPad” ad campaign that Apple introduced last year.

Apps Lists, News/Rumors

Apple updates Sales and Trends for iTunes Connect for developers

Apple on Monday updated the iTunes Connect portal that developers use to track and manage App Store apps.  The site received a new Sales and Trends section that allows developers to have more detailed information about the origin of their apps’ sales as well as estimate total revenue amounts.

Apple reportedly sent out an email notifying developers of the new Sales and Trends version.

With the new Sales and Trends section, developers are allowed to view sales over a given time period, group sales data by regions and other modifiers, apply a number of filters to raw data and see estimated proceeds in U.S. dollars. For example, they can now separate out sales by territory, platform, of purchase and category. It will help them to have a clearer idea of how buyers are finding their apps in the store.

In addition to the new features, the update also brings about an updated UI—which brings the portal more in line with iOS 7 design language. The new design simplifies the way of narrowing results to an exact time period, and filter results by device.

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Unfortunately, none of this tools will be useful to you if you’re not a developer. But f if you are and have had problems with the Connect website, this update is rather important.

The new version of iTunes Connect is more powerful and easier to use.

Apple also has an iTunes Connect Mobile iOS app, which can be downloaded from the App Store for free.

Apps Lists, News/Rumors

Apple now rejecting ‘flappy’ titled apps

Following Flappy Bird’s removal from the App Store, Apple has begun rejecting games trying to take advantage of the popularity of the original Flappy Bird, using ‘flappy’ in their titles.

Several days after Flappy Bird was pulled from the App Store, a number of clones of the original app soared up through the App Store charts, including Flappy Bee. However, it had name changed to Jumpy Bee, suggesting that the iPhone maker may also be asking some existing clone apps to change their names to put an end to the Flappy frenzy.

The list of the clones also includes Fly Birdie – Flappy Bird Flyer, Flying Flappy Unicorn Bird, Splashy Fish – The Adventure of a Flappy Tiny Bird Fish, and City Bird – Flappy Flyer — the latter two of which currently take the top two positions among free games in the App Store.

One developer, who tried to release an app called “Flappy Dragon” into the App Store, saw it rejected by Apple for attempting to “leverage a popular app.” The game designer Ken Carpenter was said, that the app was in violation of a clause in the App Store Review Guidelines that covers apps which contain “false, fraudulent or misleading representations will be rejected”.

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“We found that your app, and/or its metadata, contains content that could be misleading to users, which is not in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines,” Apple told the developer. “We found your app name attempts to leverage a popular app”.

Like Flappy Bee developers, Carpenter said, he will be resubmitting Flappy Dragon with a new title, Derpy Dragon.

In addition to the apps removals from Apple’s App Store, developers saw their creations removed from Google’s Play store.

Apps Lists, News/Rumors

Twitterrific updated with streaming searches, navigation tab customization and more

Twitterrific users will be happy to hear that the popular Twitter app developed by The Iconfactory, has just  been updated with streaming search and conversation views over Wi-Fi. The update also brings the ability to tap and hold to customize navigation tabs, a redesigned tweet counter, and other improvements.

Earlier this year, the app received an update that, most important, added support for streaming timelines over Wi-Fi. The latest version provides with support for Wi-Fi-enabled streaming for searches and conversation views. Additionally, it enhances the streaming label so that it no longer overlaps the timeline.

Tweetbot, known as Twitterrific’s top competitor, has already featured streaming over Wi-Fi. And now, another innovation that’s long been available in Tweetbot has been included in Twitterrific too: navigation tab customization. That means, that you are allowed to tap and hold on Twitterrific’s navigation tabs apart from the home timeline to select which timelines to display: mentions, messages, favorites, any of your lists, or any of your saved searches.

Twitterrific

The updated version also presents a redesigned “new tweet” counter, which is persistent, requires a smaller footprint, and shows up in all timelines.

This update comes less than a month after Twitterrific’s big 5.6 update, which also added a number of significant features including list management, images in DM and more.

The latest version of Twitterrific is available in the App Store for $0.99. It can be downloaded free of charge by current owners. It’s a universal app, so it works on both iPhones and iPads, but it does require that you be running on iOS 7 or later.

News/Rumors

Apple rumored to purchase Tesla working on tech to predict heart attacks

Apple’s interest in automotive and medical integration for its devices is well-known, but according to a new report from the San Francisco Chronicle, Apple has been exploring both cars and medical products to reignite growth. The iPhone maker has reportedly met with electric car manufacturer Tesla last year to discuss a potential purchase. Last spring around the German analyst Adnaan Ahmad caused a stir by sending an open letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook that suggested he plans to buy the electric automotive startup.

“A source tells The Chronicle that Perica met with Tesla CEO Elon Musk in Cupertino last spring around the same time analysts suggested Apple acquire the electric car giant…

Six months before Ahmad’s letter, Musk met with Perica and probably Cook at Apple headquarters, said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect business relationships. While a megadeal has yet to emerge (for all of its cash, Apple still plays hardball on valuation), such a high-level meeting between the two Silicon Valley giants involving their top dealmakers suggests Apple was very much interested in buying the electric car pioneer.”

File photo of the interior of the Tesla Model S at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit

Apple appears to desire to buy into one of Tesla’s major upcoming projects. Tesla is scheduled to introduce a US battery ‘Gigafactory’ in the coming days that will more than double world-wide lithium-ion battery production. Apple is much interested in it, as the company uses the batteries in all of its devices. According to the Musk’s announcement, there will be a number of high-profile partners in the green US plant, possibly including Panasonic and Solar City.

Additionally, the newspaper also claims to have found out that Apple is exploring medical devices, rumored to be related to its iWatch initiative, including sensor technology aimed to predict heart attacks by studying the sound blood makes at it flows through arteries. Apple’s iWatch has been rumored to icontain an array of sensors to make it possible to monitor a wide range of health-related statistics.

Apple’s interest in exploring integration in both the automotive and healthcare industries is expected to be part of a bigger effort.