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Alex Allegro

July 25, 2014

Bill allowing smartphone unlocking approved by the House of Representatives, set to become law

After the decision last year to make unlocking smartphone and tablet devices illegal, the US House of Representatives today voted yes to allow the practice to become legal once again. This is already the second time the government has voted on this issue, as just a few weeks ago the US Senate approved the legislation to move on to the House. The final step in getting the law approved is the President’s signature, which should come with little delay as he has already spoken out in favor of the bill.

If you’re unclear as to what exactly this means for you, unlocking a phone allows you to use it on any compatible carrier (i.e. GSM) without being restricted to the original carrier.

This means if you purchased an AT&T smartphone, but then moved to Canadian carrier, you can legally unlock the device without jumping through hoops. It’s unclear when the specific date when unlocking phones will become legal again, but nevertheless, the wait is soon to be over.

Verizon to begin throttling certain unlimited 4G LTE customers

Verizon has been throttling unlimited 3G data subscribers for years now, but never 4G LTE users. Until today, when they announced this morning that beginning October 1st, the top 5% of 4G LTE data users who coincidentally meet a series of other factors will get throttled. According to DroidLifea recent report showed that over 20% of Verizon data users were still on an unlimited data plan, so it’s no surprise that Verizon would want to push these users to a tiered data plan.

July 24, 2014

Gallery: Beats’ exotic 105,000 sq ft office in California

Early last year, Beats announced it would be renovating an abandoned warehouse in Southern California to become its newest office. Located in Culver City, just minutes from Los Angeles, the area purchased measures in at a whopping 105,000 square feet and reportedly sold for upwards of $20 million.

July 21, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 4.00.24 PM

Samsung is continuing its approach of pushing anti-iPhone ads on its YouTube channel. Today’s ad showcases two friends, an iPhone user and a Galaxy S5 user, speaking to each other about the upcoming iPhone 6’s larger screen. “Dude, iPhone might be getting a bigger screen” excitedly states the iPhone user  “That hasn’t happened yet?” slyly responds the Galaxy S5 user. Check out the full advertisement for yourself below:

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Contest winners turned pirates leak early copy of Modern Combat 5, and Gameloft’s furious

Earlier this week, Gameloft hosted a contest on their Facebook page rewarding winners with a free, early copy of Modern Combat 5: Blackout. The upcoming next installment of the popular first-person shooter is slated for release July 24th for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone 8 devices. Unfortunately for Gameloft, however, you can already download it-for free. According to the company, one of the contest winners pirated the game made it available for download as a torrent. Unsurprisingly, Gameloft is livid. Gameloft Community Manager Florian Weber said in a statement on Facebook:

July 17, 2014

Google updates 2D physics engine LiquidFun with Chrome extension and iOS support

Google today announced the release of LiquidFun 1.1, an update to the open-sourced 2D physics engine originally released last December. New in today’s release is browser support and this allows games using the engine only found on Android devices to be ported over as Chrome extensions. Also new in the update is iOS support. Google says previous versions of the engine could be modified to work on iOS, but today’s update brings native support to the platform. The release notes are below:

  • LiquidFun now runs in your browser! Using Emscripten, we’ve translated LiquidFun into JavaScript. You can see LiquidFun’s Testbed application, rewritten in JavaScript, running on our landing page.
  • We’ve added iOS support for LiquidFun’s internal Testbed and EyeCandy applications. Earlier versions of LiquidFun could be made to run on iOS, but iOS is now officially supported.
  • We’ve optimized LiquidFun’s particle simulation. In particular, we’ve written NEON (a.k.a., Advanced SIMD) code to improve performance on ARM processors.
  • We’ve stabilized the simulation, fixed bugs, and added some cool new functions, including one that automatically splits a particle group into multiple, disjoint particle groups.
  • We’ve clarified and improved the documentation, thanks to questions from the LiquidFun community.

 

April 13, 2013

Verizon announced a few notable changes this week, possibly in response to T-Mobile’s new ‘Uncarrier’ pricing structure.

The first change enforces 24-month contracts and restricts subsidized upgrades during that period. Customers will no longer enjoy ‘early upgrades’ after 20-months, as was previously the policy.

While the change may disappoint customers who enjoyed upgrading their devices more frequently, Verizon told The Verge that a new “Device Payment Plan” will be accompany the policy changes.

The new payment plan allows customers to upgrade their smartphone annually by paying the upgrade fee at the register and dividing the rest of the full-retail price over 12 months. This payment plan will include a $2/month finance charge through the duration of the year.

For people like us who update annually, this option is a more pragmatic approach, especially when vendors like Gazelle (as well as others) typically pay more than the subsidized cost of a new smartphone for last year’s smartphone.

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April 12, 2013

Pebble Watch SDK goes live, new watch faces and apps to come

Pebble, the E-Ink smart-watch for iPhones and Android devices which raised over 10 million dollars on Kickstarter is about to get a lot of new features. Today, Pebble announced that the watch SDK is being released today. The SDK will allow developers to create custom watch faces, alerts and new apps.

At the moment, there’s less than 10 available watch faces and only one app, but expect those numbers to grow dramatically now that developers can get their hands on a public SDK.

You can grab the SDK from Pebble’s website right here.

April 10, 2013

‘LookAway Player’ brings Samsung’s Smart Pause-inspired feature to iPhone

Samsung’s new eye-tracking features on its Samsung Galaxy S IV are arguably some of its coolest yet.

One of them, Smart Pause, is built right into the video player on the device and recognizes when you are watching a video. If you look away from the screen while it is playing, the GS4 automatically pauses the video for you and starts playing it again when you look back.

Many are wondering when or if a similar feature will launch on iOS. While Apple may never implement such a feature, iOS users can try out the feature.

LookAway Player for iOS is a YouTube player that includes the same look-away-pause, look-back-play features found on the Galaxy S IV. LookAway uses a technology developed by Cube26, which utilizes the front-facing camera to track eye movement.

While it is not yet clear how well the player actually works, it is available to try out yourself on the App Store.

April 2, 2013

NVIDIA-GeForce-graphics-GPU-700M

NVIDIA announced a new series of notebook GPU’s today branded as the 700M series. Introduced today are five new graphics cards in total, and NVIDIA said they would be available in a long list of laptops over the next few months. The five new graphics cards include two options aimed at the “mainstream segment”, the 720M and the 735M, while the remaining three, the 740M, 745M, and 750M, will be “for the performance segment” of the market.

700m-lineupThe graphics cards are being touted by NVIDIA to “maximize performance and experience,” but they also more power efficient than their predecessors. Because the 700M Series is notebook-only, expect these to be less powerful than a desktop version of the 700 Series that may be announced sometime in the future.

Helping our new 700M chips reach such lofty levels of performance is GPU Boost 2.0, a GPU innovation that extracts every ounce of available computing power from the graphics processor. Before GPU Boost, GPUs were held back by synthetic benchmarks that pushed chips and power usage to the limit, far beyond the levels typically seen when playing games. This ‘worst case scenario’ forced us to throttle GPUs, leaving spare performance on the table when playing games.GPU Boost resolves this problem by monitoring power usage and temperatures, enabling the GPU to use every last ounce of performance without exceeding safety or comfort limits.

While the press release from NVIDIA said the new GPUs will be available in nearly every notebook maker other than Apple, it is possible these GPUs will be seen in the next-gen MacBook Pro with Retina Display. The current 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display sports a NVIDIA 650M GPU, as does the high-end 21-inch iMac model, so an upgrade to the 700M series only makes sense.

The full press release is available below.

New NVIDIA GeForce 700M GPUs Squeeze Every Drop Of Performance Out Of Notebooks, Automatically

Monday, April 1, 2013

NVIDIA today announced five new notebook GPUs which deliver a trifecta of technologies that seamlessly and automatically maximize a consumer’s notebook performance and experience.

With no effort or input from the notebook user, the technologies work in the background to save battery life, enhance performance and enrich the visual experience — providing the best notebook experience the GPU can deliver. They include:

New NVIDIA GPU Boost™ 2.0 technology, which intelligently adjusts GPU clock speed to maximize graphics performance.

NVIDIA® Optimus™ technology, which enables extra-long battery life by switching the GPU on and off so it runs only when needed.

GeForce® Experience™ software, which adjusts in-game settings for the best performance and visual quality specific to a user’s notebook and keeps GeForce drivers up to date.

“There is an elegant simplicity to NVIDIA’s GeForce 700M notebook technologies,” said Rene Haas, vice president and general manager of the notebook business unit at NVIDIA. “You use your notebook how you want, and GeForce makes your experience awesome.”

Incorporating all three of these technologies, the new lineup of NVIDIA GeForce 700M GPUs includes GeForce GT 750M, GeForce GT 745M, and GeForce GT 740M GPUs for the performance segment, as a well as GeForce GT 735M and GeForce GT 720M GPUs for the mainstream segment.

NVIDIA GeForce 700M GPUs are available today. Every leading notebook manufacturer will be introducing notebooks with GPU Boost 2.0 technology, including Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, MSI, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba.

More information about the GeForce 700M family of notebook GPUs is available at http://www.GeForce.com.

March 26, 2013

Flipboard 2.0 update allows you to make your own magazines, personalized recommendations and more

Popular iOS news app Flipboard was updated today to version 2.0, and it brings a refreshed look, speed improvements, and the ability to create your own magazines. The UI enhancements include a more prominent search bar with improved personalize recommendations and updated sharing buttons to Twitter, Facebook and Google +.

The most notable new feature in the update is the ability to create your own custom magazines article by article. The way the feature works is: if you want to save an article that you’ve found online or within Flipboard, you bookmark it and it’s automatically added to your personalized magazine. Once you’ve finished creating your magazine, you can publish it publicly or save it privately.

According to TheVergeFlipboard also announced today that it reached 50 million users.

The update to Flipboard is available today and should be available on Android next month.

What’s New in Version 2.0

★ You can now collect and save content into your own magazines, tap the new “+” button to get started. ★ Your magazines are public, but can be made private (viewable only to you). ★ Use the new bookmarklet to add items to your magazines from your browser. ★ Get Flipboard notifications when people like, comment or subscribe to your magazines. ★ Easily email or share magazines to Facebook, Twitter, G+, etc ✓ Search is now front and center on your Flipboard, with new improved results. ✓ Faster page-loading and faster flipping performance. ★ Personalized recommendations for more to add to your Flipboard.

March 16, 2013

Images from Patent no. 7433483

Apple has found itself on the wrong side of another patent lawsuit. Lucasfilm-owned THX sued Apple yesterday over a claimed infringed patent relating to the speaker designs found on the new iMacs, iPhones, and iPads.

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Patent no. 7433483, filed in 2008 by THX, protects “narrow profile sound systems” that shoot sound out a “narrow sound duct.” The exact patent description reads as follows:

A narrow profile speaker unit comprises at least one speaker outputting sound towards an internal surface and through a duct with an output terminus, such as a slot, having a narrow dimension, effectively changing the cross-section of the speaker’s audio output wave. A pair of speakers may face one another, outputting sound towards a common output slot. Multiple pairs of speakers may be used to form an inline speaker unit for increased sound output. A slotted speaker unit may include multiple speakers facing the same direction, towards a groundplane or reflecting surface, and having parallel apertures for allowing sound radiation. The speaker units may be integral with or attached to electronic appliances such as desktop computers or flatscreen devices, or may be used in automobiles or other contexts.

THX was founded in 1983 as a division of Lucasfilm and was re-booted in 2001 as an independent company. Apple and THX have never had friction in the past, and, just two months ago, THX released ‘THX tune-up’. It’s an app that allows you to adjust your “TV, projector and speakers” all from your iPhone or iPad.

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March 12, 2013

Google Now, the prediction software that debuted on Android’s Ice Cream Sandwich last year, may be crossing over to iOS in the very near future. A promotional video posted on YouTube today—but was pulled minutes later—showed Google Now on the iPhone and iPad.

A tipster for Engadget recorded the video and re-uploaded it online, which is now available above. The speaker in the video seems to be the same female voice found in the original Google Now promotional video from last year (below). Unless this is a very elaborate hoax, it would seem that a Google Now update is in store for Google Search app.

Perhaps the delay in going live is due to App Store approval.

We’ll update when/if the app update to the Google Search app goes live.

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March 11, 2013

A new iPhone 5 commercial just aired tonight and shows off a few features like cooking apps and Passbook in action. The Starbucks Passbook-enabled app, a remote control app, MyScript Calculator, and the Hue Lighting app that got an SDK earlier today are among the other apps also shown off.

These ads are of the same format as the “Alive” and “Together” iPad ads released in mid-February, as well as the Hollywood ad released during the Oscars to moderate reviews.

Another new ad called “Discover” is below.

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February 27, 2013

Leap, creators of the Mac and PC 3D motion-tracking device, announced this morning that it will begin shipping its Leap Motion on May 13. Last May, Leap announced it would open up pre-orders for the device for $69.99.

With today’s announcement, Leap raised the price of the controller $10 dollars; $79.99 is the new retail price. Leap also announced that starting today Best Buy would take pre-orders for the device with a May 19 delivery date

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February 24, 2013

Mophie Juice Pack Air launches for iPhone 5 with bigger battery than previously released ‘Helium’

Mophie has unveiled its second iPhone 5-compatible charging case: the Juice Pack Air. The Air will retail for $99. Black models will ship in 7 to 10 business days, while the red and white flavors will begin shipping on March 22.

The Juice Pack Air includes a 1700mAh battery. That is 200mAh more of juice compared to Mophie’s recently released Juice Pack Helium case. Here are the benefits, according to Mophie, over an iPhone 5 without a Juice Pack Air:

Talk Time Up to additional 8 hours on 3G

Internet Use Up to additional 8 hours on 3G Up to additional 8 hours on LTE Up to additional 10 hours on WiFi

Audio Playback Up to 40 hours

Video Playback Up to 10 hours

The Air’s extra juice is a $20 premium over the Helium’s $79 price point.

February 20, 2013

playstation-social-second-screen

At Sony’s PS4 keynote, game developer Evolution Studios promised its driving game Drive Club would have a “second screen” option for Android tablets. This would allow gamers to socialize with other players from a tablet, but it was previously unclear if this feature would be compatible with games and devices other than Android tablets.

Just a mere four hours after today’s keynote, Sony has announced a new version of its “PlayStation App”. It is compatible, in addition to Android, with iOS devices. The app will turn tablets and phones into a “second screen” controller. Users will also be able to download games to their PS4 while on the go, so they’ll be ready to play once they arrive home.

It is currently unknown if the app will be similar to Microsoft’s Xbox app that allows users to view the stats of other gamers. Sony has yet to announce a release date, but the console is scheduled to arrive during the 2013 holiday season.

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January 30, 2013

Evasi0n: First untethered iPhone 5 jailbreak to be released Sunday; all other iOS 6.1 devices too

Update: It appears that the developers are planning a Monday release because testing took a little longer than previously thought.

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With each new release of an iPhone, jailbreaking becomes just one step more difficult. Throw in constant OS updates, and it’s amazing the hacker community is able to jailbreak it at all. So, it’s no surprise it has taken more than four months for an official jailbreak to be released for the iPhone 5.

On Sunday, that may change. A group of jailbreakers, known as the Evad3rs, plan to release its jailbreak tool: Evasi0n. The website, which claimed the team is “Processing the GUI”, has a very clean and simple layout. If all goes as planned and Evasi0n is released on Sunday, it very well may be the easiest jailbreak tool since JailBreakMe.

Evasi0n is an iOS 6.1 jailbreak said to support the iPhone 5, 4S, 4, 3GS, fourth- and fifth-generation iPod Touch, as well as the iPad mini and third- and fourth-generation iPad. Oh, and it is legal after all.

January 25, 2013

By Alex Allegro

Disclaimer: This is a developer unit of the Leap Motion and not the final stage of the product. Therefore, this review is not on the final hardware that has yet to released.

Few innovations truly change the way we interact with our devices. Touchscreens—once just a fantasy reserved for science fiction—are now more common than ‘dead screens’. Just show any iPad-wielding, 3-year-old kid a screen, and he’ll try swiping it. In a few years from now, eye-tracking technology may have a similar impact on devices. Today, though, Leap hopes to make motion and gesture control the next big thing with the announcement of its first consumer product, the Leap Motion. Promo video:

Due to the “overwhelming response” from developers, who say their app idea will help make the Leap a better product when it launches sometime this year, Leap has decided to send out over 10,000 beta units to developers. Fortunately enough for us, we were able to get our hands on one, and, after a few hours of somewhat extensive testing, I have my verdict on the Leap Motion.

Screen Shot 2013-01-24 at 7.33.50 PMComing in a sleek black box with a hand-pasted sticker only reading “Leap Motion”, it’s no secret Leap took a cue from Apple on how to make a minimalist package. Opening the box reveals the Leap along with a letter from the CEO that briefly explained how valuable the developers are to the Leap’s success. You will find a micro USB-to-USB cable, as well. Plugging the Leap in and seeing your motions visualized on the screen only takes a quick download of Leap’s SDK (now at version 0.7.1) that is available to developers from their online “Dev Portal.”

The software is extremely “thinned out,” as once downloaded, the Leap software doesn’t open an app, but it instead reveals a small icon in the task bar with a pull-down menu. The only way to tell if your Leap Motion device is working is to open the visualizer and test it. The visualizer is a 3D grid that displays your finger movements with a long colorful tail. Each finger has its own color, but the device has trouble recognizing which finger is which, so you’ll usually get a different color for the same finger each time.

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