Giant Retina MacBook Pro window display goes up at Apple Store

Apple has created oversized window displays in the past following its latest product launches, including the iPhone 4S, and we snapped some photos today of the new Retina MacBook Pro signage.

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Siri vs S-Voice on Samsung’s Galaxy S III

The Verge recently went hands on with Samsung’s new flagship Galaxy S III launched earlier this month and during its review put the device’s new Vlingo-powered “S-Voice” feature up against Siri on the iPhone 4S. Other than the striking resemblance to Siri’s UI and canned responses, the first thing we notice is Siri appears to be much quicker than S-Voice running on the Galaxy S III.

When asked “Who is the president of France”, Siri quickly asks to search the web, while S-Voice takes a little longer but comes up with the correct answer. However, in most scenarios, both Siri and S-Voice request to search the web for the majority of the same queries. You’ll also notice S-Voice has no problem keeping up with Siri when scheduling appointments, but both have some of the same issues understanding The Verge’s commands.

S Voice consistently chews up my words when I try asking it questions, although it works better when instructed to schedule an appointment or set an alarm. It can also be used as an unlocking mechanism once you pre-record a pass phrase. That adds to the face unlocking option that’s native to Android 4.0 in being frustratingly unwieldy and planted firmly within gimmick territory — more than once I was stuck repeating “hello” without any recognition from the phone.

While we don’t have all of the info on S-Voice, we know it is using voice recognition technology from Vlingo, the same as the previous Voice Commander feature for the Galaxy S II. Last December Nuance acquired Vlingo. It’s no secret Apple is currently using Nuance to power speech in Siri, and Siri co-founder Norman Winarsky told us in October that Siri originally used Vlingo, but that Nuance has by far the most IP in speech synthesis technologies”. However, he also noted Apple could likely easily replace Nuance if something better was available.
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Is Siri a success for Apple? [Poll]

Oh, Siri. Apple’s little voice-activated personal assistant in iOS can handle questions, give recommendations, and delegate requests, but does it really live up to expectations?

The folks in Cupertino like to roll out advertisements that show Siri capable of compiling individual preferences with personalized results, and even completing basic tasks like finding a nearby restaurant, but the software met very mixed reactions after it Beta-débuted on the iPhone 4S in October. Those who felt misled by Siri’s functionality depicted in commercials eventually sought reimbursement by filing a class action lawsuit against Apple earlier this year.

Fortune’s Adam Lashinsky wrote about how chief executive Tim Cook is changing Apple in an interesting piece this morning, but he also touched upon the contention surrounding Siri. He noted Apple’s future relies on the quality of its products, which holds true for any company, but then he pointed to the iOS-maker’s knowledge navigator:

“Those looking for deficiencies have found them in Siri, a less-than-perfect product that Apple released with the rare beta label in late 2011, a signal that the service shouldn’t be viewed as fully baked. Siri’s response time has been slow, meaning the servers and software powering it are inadequate. ‘People are embarrassed by Siri,’ says one former insider. ‘Steve would have lost his mind over Siri.’”

It is interesting that an unnamed insider claimed Jobs would “lose his mind” over Siri, especially because it is well-known the late CEO worked with former Siri founder and subsequent Apple Engineering Director Dag Kittlaus on the project. Kittlaus admitted last March at Network World that Jobs felt they “cracked it” in regards to Siri, which alludes to the chief’s satisfaction with the voice assistant and contrasts with the insider’s opinion.

The poll is after the break.

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Meta Watch announces first Bluetooth 4.0 smartwatch for iOS, ships to devs this month

Run by former Nokia and Fossil execs, and previously available in beta for Android devices only, Meta Watch officially launched its smartwatch platform today that interfaces with iOS—the first of its kind to utilize the low energy Bluetooth 4.0 technology. The watch works with an iOS app for customizing which notifications will pop up on its display. Notifications consist of the usual phone calls and messaging, but developers have access to an API that will allow them to send almost anything to the device.

The company previously had issues getting the platform to run smoothly due to limitations of iOS. However, thanks to Bluetooth 4.0, the device featuring a 96-by-96-pixel LCD display is now slated to ship sometime this month for $199. The Meta Watch is clearly still more of a development kit than an end-user product at this point, but with six fully programmable buttons, a 3-axis accelerometer, vibrating motor, ambient light sensor, and of course Bluetooth 4.0, there is a ton that devs will be able to do with the device.

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T-Mobile TV ad compares iPhone 4S on AT&T to its 4G network

As part of its new “Alter Ego” ad campaign, T-Mobile posted the above TV commercial comparing the speed of the iPhone 4S on AT&T to devices on its 4G network. The carrier recently did a similar comparison when launching its Test Drive tool for comparing its 4G devices with the iPhone on other networks. In related news, yesterday we reported T-Mobile was preparing to rollout an iPhone-compatible 4G HSPA+ 19000 MHz network to various markets by the end of the year.

Although many thought the comparison of the 3G iPhone on AT&T to 4G Android devices on T-Mobile was unfair, Apple is rumored to launch a new LTE iPhone following the introduction of the new 4G iPad last March. Recent reports indicated Qualcomm was having trouble meeting demand for LTE chips likely to land in the next-gen iPhone, indicating T-Mobile will likely have to take a new approach to its ads come October.
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IDC: Samsung takes top smartphone marketshare in Q1, as Apple hits 8.8-percent high of total mobile phone market

Today, research firm IDC published its Q1 2012 report of top mobile phone and smartphone shipments worldwide. While Apple was able to post impressive growth with a high of 8.8-percent of the total mobile phone market (up from 4.6-percent a year ago) and 24.2-percent of the global smartphone market (up from 18.3-percent), Samsung was able overtake Apple for the top spot with a year-over-year change of 267 percent and 29.1-percent of the total smartphone market. Samsung also took the top spot of global mobile phone marketshare from Nokia for the first time since 2004.

Meanwhile, the worldwide smartphone market grew 42.5% year over year in 1Q12, as Samsung overtook Apple for the smartphone leadership position. Vendors shipped 144.9 million smartphones in 1Q12 compared to 101.7 million units in 1Q11. The 42.5% year-over-year growth was 1% higher than IDC’s forecast of 41.5% for the quarter, and lower than the 57.4% growth in the fourth quarter of 2011

In terms of shipments among smartphone vendors, Apple took the second spot behind Samsung up from 18.6 million units in Q1 2011 to 35.1 million in Q1 2012. Apple was only behind Samsung with 42.2 million units shipped, up from just 11.5 million a year ago.

The company does not publicly release shipments from Samsung, and IDC’s number of 42.2 million smartphones shipped during Q1 is significantly more than the 32 million estimated by IHS iSuppli just days ago. If IHS’s estimate were correct, it would put Samsung much closer to the 35.1 million devices Apple confirmed it shipped sold during the quarter.

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