Monday, December 10, 2012

HTC One X+, The "Other" Smartphone King

In today's world it is hard not to be continually inundated with advertising of the latest smartphones. Whether it is Samsung commercials bashing the iPhone, Apple commercials showcasing Siri, or Jessica Alba telling you to buy a Windows Phone, we get our fair share of exposure to the best of today's smartphones.

One phone, however, that is not as widely advertised, and not near as popular, that is definitely worth looking into is the HTC One X+. The One X+ is the newest iteration, or update to the flagship of HTC's smartphone family, of the One X. While this phone is only available on AT&T's network here in the U.S., it is certainly a phone to keep an eye on.

The One X+ is similar to its predecessors in that it is nearly identical in design, and it only comes in a matte black finish. The "upgrade" to the One X+ is found on the inside of the phone. The battery has been upgraded from a 1800 mAh battery to a 2100 mAh battery resulting in longer battery life, a 1.7 GHz processor upgraded from the 1.5 GHz in the previous phone, internal storage has been upgraded from 32 to 64 GB, Android 4.1 (Jellybean) in place of Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), and the front camera has been upgraded from 1.3 to 1.6 Megapixels. While these may not be "significant" upgrades to someone that already has a One X, they are certainly specs worth considering if you're  looking to get a powerful android phone. The One X+ also has the same great specs that its predecessor had such as LTE connectivity, 1GB of RAM, 8 Megapixel rear camera, and a beautiful 4.7 inch display.

While the HTC One X+ is not the perfect phone, it is better than most. The interface, HTC's "Sense" software, at times experiences lag and could use some improvements. That being said, this phone offers a great android experience, and a great smartphone experience as a whole. At a competitive price of $199.99 from AT&T, the same price as the Samsung Galaxy S III and the iPhone 5 entry level models, it is right in line with the other smartphone kings.

The HTC One X+ is a great offer to shoppers looking for an android phone that is powerful, fast, and well designed. The build quality of this phone is great, and the specs are in line in key areas, such as connectivity and processing power, as other flagship phones. This holiday season, if looking to purchase a great smartphone, consider the HTC One X+. While it may not be as popular as the iPhone or Galaxy S III, it is certainly just as good.

Source: Spec Showdown

Monday, October 29, 2012

Google Nexus 4 Announced

Even though hurricane Sandy forced Google to cancel Monday's Android event in New York City, Google still released information on their newest phone, the Nexus 4. The new flagship phone, designed exclusively by Google and LG, marks the first time that Google has partnered with someone other than Samsung on their Nexus line of smartphones. While there are hundreds of different smartphones that run Google's Android operating system available, the Nexus line of smartphones are the pinnacle of Google's efforts.

The new iteration of the Nexus series brings with it many improvements over the previous generation, the Galaxy Nexus. Some of the new features include an upgraded 8 Megapixel Camera, a 4.7 in. display with 320 ppi, wireless charging capabilities, and Android 4.2, the newest Android OS. The device is expected to be available on November 13 on the Google Play online store. The unlocked version of the phone will be available in both 8 GB and 16 GB storage options starting at $299 for the 8 GB version. There is also an alternative purchasing option available as T-Mobile will offer the 16 GB version for $199, with two-year contract, starting November 14.

The Nexus 4 brings to the very crowded smartphone market a new android device that offers many great features. While many of the features available on the Nexus 4 already exist on other phones and some key features such as LTE connectivity are missing, there remains one key element that separates a Nexus phone from the rest of the smartphone field, the fact that it runs stock Android. The version of Android that will be available on the Nexus 4 is Android 4.2 Jellybean, a slight update from Android 4.1 Jellybean. Some of the updates include a feature called "Photo Sphere", along with gesture typing. Nexus 4 is unique because running stock android means that the OS is pure Google and is not filled with various manufacturer "skins" such as "Touchwiz" on Samsung and "Sense" on HTC smartphones. This means a better experience as a whole for the OS, and first-priority updates of any new Android operating systems.

While the device has yet to hit the market, and the impact is sure to be big, it remains to be seen if the LG-produced Nexus 4 can challenge the smartphone kings Apple and Samsung. Competing against the iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S III is sure to be an uphill battle, but if any new Android device has a shot to compete, it is sure to be the Nexus 4.


Sources: CNET - Nexus 4, Google Play Store

Monday, September 10, 2012

iPhone 5 Shortcomings

iPhone 5 Shortcomings
With Apple's expected announcement on September 12, 2012 regarding the release of iPhone 5, many iPhone fanatics are anxiously awaiting the details of the phone’s new features. However, there may be some shortcomings to this new device; and even for diehard Apple users, a switch to an Android phone might not be such a stretch anymore.

Some of the expected iPhone 5 shortcomings are:

The iPhone will finally get a bigger screen. It's expected that the current 3.5-inch design will grow to 4-inches diagonally. But rumor has it that this increase will come with a change in the display's 
aspect ratio. Meaning, instead of the iPhone's original boxy shape, it will be more of a rectangular design, a 16-by-9 ratio. Though this seems like a good idea for frequent mobile movie watchers, the majority of Apple’s app designs were developed for the original aspect ratio. This then causes a potential incompatibility fitting old apps to screen. That familiar little black box, that is now lost in many videos, may reappear soon with the larger screen.

 One of the improvements a lot of the older generation iPhone users are looking for is an  easier way to text. The small keys on the keyboard are difficult to use when the phone is held upright in landscape mode, and texting when the phone is turned on it's side, in a portrait orientation, requires two hands that are seldom no available. The inclusion by Apple of a “Swype”-like keyboard technology could go a long way to make texting simpler.

Finally, rumor has it there will finally be a USB connector for the iPhone 5. While this is a universally sought after improvement, it will may make your current Apple accessories obsolete. That’s right, you’ll have to replace your iHome, many USB cables, chargers, etc. To add insult to injury the new charger is not expected to be backward compatible with your older iDevices.

So in the end the question is this: Do these shortcomings outweigh all of Apple’s improvements to the phone? Or is the current iPhone 4, with it's tired and true features, all the iPhone you'll need in order to pass on the iPhone 5?

Sources: TechCrunch: Apple's New iPhone, PhonesReview: Android vs. iPhone Market share

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Jobs Didn't Like the Name Siri

A recent report released by Network World revealed that Apple’s founder Steve Jobs was not particularly fond of calling the iPhone 4S voice assistant app by the name of Siri.

Dag Kittlaus, one of the co-founders of Siri, was a keynote speaker at Technori Pitch, a monthly event hosted in Chicago. Kittlaus discussed entrepreneurship, start-up culture and the acceleration of technology advancement. He also talked about the history of Siri and Siri’s name.

Originally, Kittlaus had run Siri as an app until it was acquired by Apple. He said that Jobs saw plenty of promise in the Siri technology; however, he was not thrilled about the voice assistant’s name. During his presentation, Kittlaus offered some explanation as to why the technology was named Siri.

"Siri means in Norwegian 'beautiful woman who leads you to victory,'" he said. "I worked with a lady named Siri in Norway and wanted to name my daughter Siri and the domain was available. And also consumer companies need to focus on the fact that the name is easy to spell, is easy to say."

Kittlaus’s firt child was not a girl; therefore, he decided to name the voice assistant Siri instead. Although Jobs thought that they should choose a better name, somehow Siri stuck. This was not the only time that Jobs was skeptical of the names of new technology. Network World pointed out that he was also unsure about the names iMac and iPod; however, we all know how that worked out.

Siri has become quite popular, despite the fact that she might not be the most accurate voice assistant. She was mentioned in a new Flaming Lips song and appeared on an episode of The Big Bang Theory. Obviously, no one else has had a hangup about her name.

Sources: Network World - Steve Jobs wasn't a fan of the Siri name and PCMag - Report: Steve Jobs Didn't Like the Name 'Siri'

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Army Debuts New Army App Marketplace

Army App MarketplaceThere have been rumors of a specific Army app store created specifically for the United States military floating around for a while now, and those rumors may have just become real. The United States Army has officially launched the very first prototype for the Army Software Marketplace, a web-based app store that has also recently been approved for Army-wide use.

The newly launched app store only has 12 apps so far, each one designed as a mobile training application for soldiers, allowing them to use the apps while on personal phones or tablets. The apps themselves were designed by Army training schools in the Connecting Soldiers to Digital Apps (CSDA) initiative. Each app, all of which have been approved for Army-wide use, can be acquired online at, with the CSDA community dedicated to providing more apps in the future.

According to Lt. Gen. Susan Lawrence, Chief Information Officer/G-6, "The Apps Marketplace is at the center of Army efforts to radically reduce the time to deliver applications across the force. This prototype is a first step in establishing and exercising new submissions and approval processes that will eventually enable Army members, organizations and third party developers to release applications for Army-wide distribution."

This new app marketplace prototype brings key Army stakeholders together, allowing them to focus on implementing industry-proven agile software-development practices, like increasing collaboration early on between developers and end-users as well as delivering software to users in short release cycles.

The marketplace currently supports publicly-facing apps on personal iOS devices, which means you can only have access to these applications if you are using an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad from Apple. The marketplace is, however, currently working on support for Android devices as well, allowing you to have access no matter what OS you're using. Some of the currently available apps include The Soldiers Blue Book (initial entry training guide), Army Values, Army Social Media Handbook and Developing a Performance Work Statement.

"Training aids, planning tools and other apps in the Marketplace give soldiers easy access to information we need to keep current," said Sgt. 1st Class Nanette Williams, a member of the Army Executive Communications Team at the Pentagon. Army CSDA Director Brig. Gen. Wayne Grigsby Jr. also stated that the prototypes "will allow CSDA to start distributing training and leader development content to the soldier at the point of learning."

Source: U.S. Army - Army launches apps marketplace prototype
Engadget - US Army debuts app marketplace prototype: iOS first, Android coming soon

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Best Buy Sells Nearly As Many iPhones As Apple

In April 2008 Apple decided to partner with Best Buy to sell the iPhone, and according to data released by the Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, it seems as though Apple made a very smart decision. The data revealed that Best Buy sells nearly as many iPhones as Apple does itself.

Consumer Intelligence Research Partners surveyed iPhone buyers from December 2011 to February 2012. The firm asked consumers where they had purchased their iPhone, and the results showed that 15 percent of consumers bought their iPhones directly from Apple and 13 percent bought theirs from Best Buy. There is only a two percent difference between the sales at Apple and the sales at Best Buy.

The other 69 percent of sales belong to mobile carriers AT&T, Verizon and Sprint. AT&T sold 32 percent, Verizon sold 30 percent and Sprint only sold 7 percent. However, according to the research, Apple and Best Buy both sold more new models than any of the mobile carriers.

"Apple and Best Buy sold more high-end phones, with the iPhone 4S accounting for 87 percent and 82 percent of total iPhone sales, respectively, for those two outlets," Consumer Intelligence Research Partners wrote in its report. "In contrast, carriers sold relatively more lower-end phones, with iPhone 4S accounting for 57 percent to 66 percent of total iPhone sales at AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint."

“Apple Stores and the Apple Website are tremendously productive, but they are limited by their relatively small retail footprint,” said CIRP analyst Josh Lowitz. “There are four times as many Best Buy stores, and probably 20 times as many AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint stores, so aggressive distribution through all these channels is critical to Apple’s U.S. strategy.”

The survey also looked at more than just where consumers were buying their iPhones. The research showed that people prefer to buy their iPhone in the store instead of online. Seventy-six percent of iPhone sales were from retail stores, leaving only 24 percent to online sales. Those numbers did spike a bit when the iPhone 4S was first released however. Retails stores grabbed 67 percent, while online had 33 percent.

Sources: TechnoBuffalo - Best Buy Sells Almost As Many iPhones as Apple Does and PCMag - Best Buy Sells Nearly As Many iPhones as Apple

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Android App Size Limit Increased to 4GB

Ever since it first hit the scene, Android has limited its applications to a maximum size of 50MB. Overall this has worked pretty well, with smaller apps obviously having an easier time with the limitations. However, every megabyte you add that gets closer to 50 makes it that much harder for users to download the app and start using it. Other apps, specifically the ones that use high-end 3D graphics, use more local features. With regard to this, Android has decided to increase the Android app size limit from 50MB to 4GB.

Before you go planning the next mega-app, the size of the APK file will still be limited to 50MB to make sure you have secure on-device storage, though you now have the ability to attach expansion files to your APK. The Android Developers Blog listed some features of the new size increase, which includes:

  • Each app can have two expansion files, each one up to 2GB, in whatever format you choose.

  • Android Market will host the files to save you the hassle and cost of file serving.

  • Users will see the total size of your app and all of the downloads before they install/purchase.

A lot of newer mobile devices expansion files will be downloaded automatically as soon as you download the app from the marketplace. The refund period won't start until the expansion files are downloaded. Older devices have your app download the expansion files the first time it runs through a downloader library, which can be found on the blog.

The Android Developers Blog also says that even though you have the option of using the two expansion files however you want, they recommend that you use one as the initial download and only update rarely, if at all. They say you should use the second one as a smaller file to act as a "patch carrier" that will get revised with each major release of the app.

This is definitely going to have some big implications on the app development world and it will be interesting to see how it affects both app developers and users alike. What do you think? If you're an app developer, is this something that you are very interested in or excited about?

Source: Android Developers Blog - Android Apps Break the 50MB Barrier
Engadget - Android Market raises maximum app size to 4GB, APK files still limited to 50MB

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Monday, March 5, 2012

$10,000 iTunes Gift Card Goes to a Lucky Apple Customer

A lucky Apple user in Qingdao, China just received a $10,000 prize for downloading the 25 billionth Apple app from the App Store. In eastern China Chunli Fu unsuspectingly downloaded a free version of the Disney puzzle game, “Where’s My Water?” On Monday, March 5 Apple announced that Fu had won the $10,000 iTunes gift card.

"We'd like to thank our customers and developers for helping us achieve this historic milestone of 25 billion apps downloaded," said Eddy Cue, the senior vice president of Internet Software and Services at Apple, in a statement. "When we launched the App Store less than four years ago, we never imagined that mobile apps would become the phenomenon they have, or that developers would create such an incredible selection of apps for iOS users."

Over the weekend Apple announced that the 25 billionth app download milestone had been reached; however, it did not reveal who the winner was.

Instead, the App Store had an announcement posted on its website, “A billion thanks. 25 times over."

In January 2011 Apple gave a $10,000 iTunes gift card to Gail Davis, the 10 billionth customer at the Apple App Store, who was living in Orpington, Kent, U.K. Davis won the gift card downloading Paper Glider, a paper airplane flying game.

"Whilst app downloads of Paper Glider might not have experienced a huge shift after Apple's announcement, [Neon Play Managing Director Oli Christie] could not have imagined the response from the media and from potential clients," wrote The Next Web's Matt Brian. "Within two days of the announcement, Neon Play received numerous inquiries from digital marketing agencies and has already undertaken at least three projects as a result."

Apple launched the App Store in 2007. According to Apple, the app store now offers more than 550,000 apps for iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches. It also features more than 170,000 iPad apps as well.

Sources: Apple - Apple’s App Store Downloads Top 25 Billion and PCMag - Apple's 25 Billionth App Downloaded in China

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Android Activation Reaches 850,000 Per Day

On Monday, February 27 Andy Rubin, Google’s senior vice president of mobile, announced that there are now more than 850,000 Android activations each and every day.

Rubin tweeted, “At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Enjoying watching the ecosystem at work. 850k activations a day now!"

This is definitely some great news for Google. Just two months ago, Rubin announced that Android activations had reached more than 700,000 per day. In a mere sixty days (approximately), Google was able to jump 150,000 activations per day.

Android has been having plenty of success in the past couple months. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day alone, there were 3.7 million Android activations. This wave of new activations then led to more than 1.2 billion iOS and Android app downloads between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve.

Android has quickly been climbing the activation ladder. In April there were 350,000 activation per day; 500,000 in June and 550,000 back in November.

Nielsen reported earlier this year that Android was the most popular mobile platform in the United States. In December Android nabbed 46.9 percent of the new smartphone sales market; however, this was down from 61.6 percent in October. The decline was due to the release of the iPhone 4S.

Bottom line: Android seems to be doing quite well. Who knows, in a couple months Rubin could be reporting a million activations per day. You never know!

Source: PCMag - Android Activations Hit 850,000 Per Day

Friday, February 24, 2012

Nielsen Survey Shows Age and Income Effect Smartphone Ownership

A Nielsen survey of more than 20,000 mobile consumers was recently released. It revealed that “whether or not you have a smartphone is closely related to both how old you are and how much money you make.”

It seems as though if you fall between the ages of 24 and 34 and make more than $100,000 a year, it is incredibly likely that you own a smartphone.

Of the 20,000 consumers that were surveyed, 48 percent said that they owned a smartphone. After conducting the survey, Nielsen then worked to break down that percentage into age groups. Despite the income bracket that 24 to 34-year-olds tend to fall in, 66 percent that were surveyed said that they owned a smartphone. Also, 80 percent of those polled between the ages of 18 and 34, who had purchased a new phone within the past three months, chose to buy a smartphone.

However, as stated previously, age was not the only factor as to whether or not individuals seem to have a smartphone. According to Nielsen, income also seems to be a factor.

"When age and income are both taken into account, older subscribers with higher incomes are more likely to have a smartphone," Nielsen said. "For example, those 55 to 64 making over $100K a year are almost as likely to have a smartphone as those in the 35 to 44 age bracket making $35 to $75K per year."

However, the survey did reveal something a little surprising. Nielsen found that even when individuals in the 18 to 24 year old bracket were making less than $15,000 a year, it did not seem to keep the majority of them from owning a smartphone. Of the individuals polled that met these qualifications, 56 percent of them owned smartphones. However, PCMag mentioned, “In many cases…low-income Americans turn to smartphones for Internet access because it's cheaper than paying for broadband and a computer.”

The results from Nielsen’s survey were very interesting. Some of the results were expected, but some were quite surprising. I think that it will give the smartphone industry some insight into who they should be targeting with their advertising.

Sources: nielsenwire - Survey: New U.S. Smartphone Growth by Age and Income and PCMag - Smartphones Most Popular Among Young, Wealthy

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Google Close to Appointing New Motorola Mobility CEO

Google Motorola MobilityGoogle just recently won U.S. approval to acquire Motorola Mobility Holdings Incorporated. In response to that decision the company is very close to naming Dennis Woodside as head of the entire operation once it is ready according to a statement from three individuals who are very close to the project.

Woodside was in charge of heading up Google's ad sales in America before changing jobs to oversee this new merger. If he gets the job, Woodside would succeed Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha, according to the insiders, who also declined to be named due to the fact that the decision has yet to be made public officially. Woodside is viewed as a favorite from a list of candidates that includes Christy Wyatt, Motorola Mobility Vice President and CSO John Bucher.

Google is acquiring Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion. With this deal the company will benefit from Motorola's more than 17,000 patents which will help defend against legal challenges to Google's Android mobile phone software. Spokeswoman for Google Jill Hazelback states, "The company doesn't comment on rumor or speculation. The acquisition hasn't closed." Motorola Spokeswoman Jennifer Erickson also declined to comment on the news saying, "We're focused on running the business and getting the deal closed and wouldn't comment beyond that on executive changes."

Earlier in the month Google was given acceptance to acquire Motorola Mobility from both Europe and the United States and is currently waiting on approval from China. Once China gives the o.k., Google's acquisition of Motorola Mobility will be complete and we can expect to see new things from the company in terms of mobile connectivity.

Source: Engadget - Google 'close' to picking new Motorola Mobility CEO, say the usual gang of sources
Bloomberg - Google to Replace Motorola Mobility CEO

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Angry Birds Is On Its Way to Outer Space

If you are a fan of Angry Birds, then I am sure that you were excited to hear Rovio’s latest announcement: the angry birds are about to head to outer space!

On Friday, February 17 the company announced that it was currently working on a space-themed spinoff of the incredibly popular Angry Birds game. It will be called Angry Birds Space.

Rovio said in a statement that "Angry Birds Space is a completely new game with innovative new gameplay, but with some of the familiar Angry Birds elements that fans already know and love — plus some surprises!"

According to Rovio, the launch of Angry Birds Space is “going to be the biggest game launch since the original Angry Birds!”

The company went on to say, “We’re going to announce more information in early March, and on March 22nd we will launch simultaneously in mobile gaming, animation, retail, and publishing. Not only is this a first for us as an integrated entertainment company, but the first time this has ever been done for a mobile game!”

This is not the first spinoff in the Angry Birds series. There have been Angry Birds Rio and Angry Birds Seasons; however, it sound as though Angry Birds Space will have some new surprises that should make it stand out from the previous spinoffs. It will be interesting to see what Rovio has in store for Angry Birds enthusiasts this time.

Below is the 20-second teaser video that Rovio released with its statement:

Sources: Rovio - Angry Birds Space! and PCMag - Angry Birds Soaring Into Space on March 22

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

AT&T Upgrade Fee Doubled

AT&T Upgrade FeeAs if you needed yet another reason to hate AT&T, the company has gone and given you another reason anyway. The company, surprisingly enough, reported "blow-out" earnings recently while simultaneously instituting larger, more expensive data plans but thought, "why not slap our customers in the face a little harder?" and decided to double their customers' upgrade fees.

That's right, a leaked memo states that beginning today, February 12th, AT&T will double the original upgrade price of $18 to $36. If you're getting deja vu, don't worry because you're probably remembering the time Sprint did the same thing back in September. Sprint originally had upgrade prices of $18 as well and doubled it to $36.

However, all this was a rumor until Engadget reached out to AT&T who confirmed the horrible news via the following statement, "Wireless devices today are more sophisticated than ever before. And because of that, the costs associated with upgrading to a new device have increased and are reflected in our new upgrade fee. This fee isn't unique to AT&T and this is the first time we're changing it in nearly 10 years."

AT&T has never been my favorite carrier. I prefer to stick with Verizon and, especially now, I'm glad I do. I've heard a lot of problems from people I know that use AT&T, mainly with dropped calls and spotty service. I've heard good things about Sprint but I'm sure they ticked a lot of customers off by increasing their upgrade fees too. With the iPhone available on both Sprint and Verizon, AT&T is quickly losing leverage against theses other companies. If they want to retain customers, then they better stop raising prices.

Source: AT&T
Engadget - AT&T doubling its upgrade fee to $36 on February 12th (update: confirmed)

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Cellphone Usage in North Korea Now Considered a War Crime

Kim Jong-ilLet's be honest, living in North Korea sucks, big time. The standard of living in the country is nearly barbaric and don't even get me started on former "leader" Kim Jong-il. While the ex-dictator's death may have seemed like a bright light for the country, it has actually resulted in more restrictions. It has recently been reported that North Korea has warned its citizens that any use of a cellphone whatsoever during the mandatory 100 days of mourning (more like 100 days of celebration) for Kim Jong-il's death is prohibited and that any citizen who violates this will be treated as a war criminal.

And I thought things couldn't possibly get any worse. The Workers' Party issued the threat in an attempt to deter North Korean citizens from fleeing the country to South Korea or China. It is reported that there are nearly 23,000 defectors living in South Korea as North Korea is experiencing food shortages, among other things. It is also assumed that the rule in the country is trying to deter people fleeing in order to ensure the stability of North Korea's new leader Kim Jong-un, the son of Kim Jong-il.

Citizens attempting to flee the country, as well as those detained in China, are usually forced to work in terrible labor camps while repeat offenders are normally executed. The former dictator died on December 17th when he suffered a well-deserved heart attack at the age of 69. Years of mismanagement economically as well as stagnation have weakened the oppressive regime and it is even feared that the death of Kim Jong-il could result in public unrest (let's hope so).

Citizens of the country are severely limited in their connection to the outside world with the use of cellphones only permitted for a privileged few. However, discontent could increase if word of conditions outside the country and the other rebellions going on the world were to reach the citizens via cellphones. However, if using that phone could lead to imprisonment or execution, it could be hard for people to revolt.

United States-based research and consulting firm The Eurasia Group has identified that North Korea is the fifth-largest threat to international world stability in 2012. The firm noted that the "lack of information about events" in North Korea, as well as its new leader, is a high risk that is being "severely underplayed". It is far too early to tell what the country will be like under Kim Jong-un, though if he is anything like the man that raised him, we can assume things will only get worse.

Source: Engadget - North Korea makes using a cellphone a war crime during 100-day mourning period
Gizmodo - Using a Cell Phone in North Korea Is Now a War Crime
The Telegraph - North Korea threatens to punish mobile-phone users as 'war criminals'

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New Data Plans from AT&T

On Wednesday, January 18, AT&T announced that it is adopting new smartphone and tablet data plans. These plans will begin to be offered on Sunday, January 22.

The new data plan breakdown is as follows:

- 300 MB of data will cost $20 per month (with an additional $20 charge for an extra 300MB of data if you exceed 300MB)
- 3GB of data for $30 (an additional $10 will be charged for each GB over 3GB)
- 5GB of data for $50 (also with an additional $10 charge for each GB over 5GB)

As of right now, AT&T has been offering 200MB for $15 per month, 2GB for $25 and 4GB for $45. Despite the issue of “extraordinary” amounts of data usage that AT&T dealt with back in October, there are also still customers that are lucky enough to be able to still take advantage of unlimited data from AT&T back when the company still offered it.

With tablets AT&T will now be offering either 3GB of data usage for $30 or 5GB for $50 per month. Before this new change, the company had offered 250MB for $14.99 and 2GB for $25.

All of these tablet plans run for 30 days, and unless you cancel the plan, it is automatically renewed. For each GB of additional data that users use, AT&T charges $10 in overage fees.

"Customers are using more data than ever before," said David Christopher, chief marketing officer of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. "Our new plans are driven by this increasing demand in a highly competitive environment, and continue to deliver a great value to customers, especially as we continue our 4G LTE deployment."

AT&T also made sure to mention that users will now receive text messages if they are close to running out of data. Users will receive messages saying what percentage of their data has been consumed, which is a very helpful feature.

Source: PCMag - AT&T Unveils New Data Plans for Smartphones, Tablets

DVD Video Projectors are exactly what they sound like, a combination unit that combines a DVD media player with a video projector, cutting out the need for multiple pieces of electronics and wiring.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Looks Like Motorola Will Be Victorious in ITC Battle with Apple

On Friday, January 13 Motorola Mobility said that it was generally happy with the initial, unofficial word of the U.S. ITC which stated that smartphones released by Motorola have not violated Apple’s patents.

Now of course, this is not official yet. It is merely a preliminary ruling by the ITC. The decision will not be final until there is a full vote of the ITC. The vote will not take place until March.

All of this started when Apple sued Motorola in October of 2010. Apple claimed that Motorola had violated Apple’s patents with some of their wireless technology including the Motorola Droid, Droid 2, Droid X, Cliq, BackFlip, Devour and Charm phones. Apple had requested that the ITC stop the importation of these phones due to three different patents that the company felt Motorola was violating.

However, it doesn’t seem like the ITC is agreeing with what Apple believed had happened. "We are pleased with today's favorable outcome for Motorola Mobility," said Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Motorola Mobility, Scott Offer. "Motorola Mobility has worked hard over the years to develop technology and build an industry-leading intellectual property portfolio. We are proud to leverage this broad and deep portfolio to create differentiated innovations that enhance the user experience."

Motorola and Apple have been battling out legal issues in the U.S. and around the world. Both companies have cited patent issues in an attempt to block and restrict the sales of each other’s products. Although Apple may have had some success elsewhere, it does not seem like they are going to be winning this current battle. The ITC seems pretty set against Apple’s claims, but until an official final vote is taken, we’ll just have to wait and see. Anything is possible.

Sources: Chicago Tribune - U.S. trade judge: Motorola did not infringe on Apple patents, PCMag - Apple Sues Motorola for Multi-Touch Phone Infringement and PCMag - Motorola Scores a Point Against Apple in U.S. ITC Case

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Apple Store in China Suspends Launch of iPhone 4S

In the past couple of years, there have been some crazy stories about shoppers in China fighting over Apple products when they are first released; however, when the Apple iPhone 4S was released this week in Beijing, things got crazier than anyone ever anticipated. Things were so out of hand that Apple had to temporarily halt the sale of the devices.

Apple did expect that there would be an incredibly high demand for the device in China, but this is the first time that Apple has ever had to suspend the sale of a product because of its intense popularity.

It was just last week that Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, said, “Customer response to our products in China has been off the charts. With the launch in China next week, iPhone 4S will be available in over 90 countries making this our fastest iPhone rollout ever." Despite this exciting news, Apple has been forced to hold off on the launch of the iPhone 4S in China because the crowds at the Beijing store were simply too over-excited and there were several violent outbursts that occurred.

Apple spokeswoman Carolyn Wu told the Associated Press, "We were unable to open our store at Sanlitun [the Apple flagship store in Beijing] due to the large crowd, and to ensure the safety of our customers and employees, iPhone will not be available in our retail stores in Beijing and Shanghai for the time being."

Apple has said that shoppers in China that want the iPhone 4S can still purchase the device online; however, as of right now, the device is still not featured on Apple’s Chinese online store.

So why are there so many customers, you may ask? Yes, it is normal for there to be plenty of customers lined up at Apple product’s launch; however, these crowds were record-breaking. The explanation being given is that these customers were not just Apple enthusiasts, but there were also large groups of professional scalpers that were looking to purchase devices that they could then resell at highly inflated prices. However, this obviously didn’t work out for the scalpers or those genuinely wanting the new device.

Apple has not yet said how long the sales of the iPhone 4S will be halted in Apple Stores in China, but hopefully for the Chinese customers, it won’t be much longer.
If you are interested in seeing the crowds and the fights that broke out, check out the video below.

Source: PCMag - Unruly Crowds Prompt Apple to Halt iPhone 4S Sales in China

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Will Windows Phones Be Successful in 2012?

Recently, there has been a lot of talk concerning the lack of success of Windows phones; however, according to Greg Sullivan, senior product manager for Windows Phone 7, things are not over for Windows phones. Sullivan said that 2012 should prove to be a great year for the phone line.

At CES the HTC Titan II and the Nokia Lumia 900 were debuted featuring Microsoft’s platform. It seems that Sullivan feels that these are just two of the many great Windows phones that will help get Microsoft’s numbers back on track.

"We're seeing great hardware from all our partners. AT&T is clearly very excited and is putting a lot behind the platform. It's not just a piece of software that got thrown over the transom to succeed or fail," Sullivan said.

Although Windows Phone seems to be having some success with AT&T, that does not mean that the other major U.S. carriers are just as excited about it. Earlier at CES, executives at Sprint were expressing their concerns about the sales numbers for Windows phones.

"We have a Windows device in our lineup, but honestly, it hasn't done well enough for us to jump back into the fire. We told Microsoft: You guys have to go build the enthusiasm for the product. We'll train our reps on why it's great...[but] the number-one reason the product was returned was the user experience," said VP of Sprint’s product realization David Owen.

Lois Fagan, director of product development for Sprint, also commented, "We want to participate in the market, but we can't build that brand by ourself. We're cautiously optimistic, but [Windows Phone] just hasn't taken off."

Sullivan responded to these remarks saying, “That's something that our Sprint team and the folks back in Redmond can work on. We're working closely with carriers to help show how Windows Phone can meet their needs across an array of slots."

Sullivan also made sure to back the statements that Nokia CEO Stephen Elop had made concerning the false rumors about Microsoft buying Nokia’s smartphone business.

"It would make it more difficult for us to have as thriving a third-party hardware ecosystem if we were directly competing with them," he said. "I think that's a challenge Google is going to face with the Motorola mobile acquisition."

Sullivan believes that there is plenty of time for Microsoft to catch up with other phone operating systems.

"This is like the PC market in the early to mid-80s. If you were going to declare a victor then, what would it have been? CP/M? Apple II? I think declaring the smartphone space locked up and done is like declaring CP/M the victor in the early '80s."

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Friday, January 6, 2012

Green Hat Purchased by IBM

Green Hat logoGreen Hat (not to be confused with Red Hat), one of the largest manufacturers of automated testing tools for integration, service-oriented architecture (SOA) implementations and cloud-based deployments, is being purchased by IBM, according to an announcement by the company on Wednesday. As of the announcement, no specific terms of the acquisition have been released, though some may make their way to the internet soon.

Green Hat offers customers a virtual test environment platform that allows development teams to test their applications without having to set up a bunch of actual labs. By using a virtual testing facility, these developers save a lot of time and money, according to IBM, and the rise of smartphones and tablets have called for faster development cycles that have severely increased the developer's need for increased speed and flexibility.

Green Hat's products will be combined into IBM's Rational division, a part of the company that already offers a plethora of software development and testing tools. However, the deal does seem a bit additive for IBM, at least in the eyes of Forrester research Analyst Jeffery Hammond.

In an email from Hammond, he stated, "I think Green Hat has extended capability over what Rational Quality Manager currently has. As an example, dedicated support for SAP NetWeaver and Oracle Fusion Middleware. Also I think the support for REST functional testing is a net add for the Rational group. With the proliferation of JSON and XML-based web services we're seeing as companies build for corporate engagement platforms, functional regression testing for these APIs is going to become more and more important."

Source: Computer World - IBM acquires software testing vendor Green Hat

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