Google released the Module Developers Kit (MDK) for its Project Ara smartphone last week, and now more news has surfaced about the modular device. In December, the company will release an Android update for Ara devices, followed by the release of the first Ara phone in January of 2015.
Project Ara allows you to configure your purchase in a wide array of directions, including custom colors, images, and, of course, which components you need in your device. 3D printed textures will also be available, which should result in one or more modules that are pleasant to the touch.
Google experimented with phone customization in its Moto Maker tool for the Moto X, so you can expect a much more elaborate version of that around Christmastime for Project Ara.
Google hopes that Ara will take on the role of your primary smartphone for as long as 5-6 years, during which time you could pop in a new CPU or camera if yours gets a bit long on the tooth, rather than having to buy an all-new device once the latest tech rolls around.
The Ara has the potential to drastically change the way smartphones are approached – including a plethora of third-party applications – and we can’t wait to see if the market will bite.
Starbucks says it will start letting customers across the country place orders ahead of time on their smartphones by next year.
The Seattle-based chain says it will introduce the option in Portland later this year before the national rollout in 2015.
Starbucks has been making a big push to convince people to sign up for its mobile payment app, which helps the company build customer loyalty. That’s in part because customers earn reward stars for each purchase, which can be cashed in for free drinks or food.
To encourage holiday sales, Starbucks also says 10 people who pay with its mobile app or a Starbucks card will be selected to win “Starbucks for Life,” which is a food or drink item every day for 30 years.
The Piano Guys are probably having more fun than anyone else in the classical music business. The group — composed of a pianist, cellist, a videographer, and a music producer — has just released a music video that celebrates nearly 50 years of Batman. The video perfectly matches the group’s new “Batman Evolution” composition, which travels through the classic ‘60s TV show, Tim Burton’s 1989 take on the Dark Knight, and Christopher Nolan’s most recent trilogy.
The result is not just some impressive piano and cello work (the two instruments alone were used to make every sound in the composition), but a music video that displays some incredible attention to detail. Each of the three eras gets its own location, Batmobile, and visual style to go along with the shifts in music. (Pay close attention to the aspect ratio: even it is tailored to each era.) The Piano Guys have made a name for themselves doing these kinds of over-the-top classical music videos, and while this might be some of their best work, be sure to check out their Mission Impossible, Bourne Identity, and Star Wars music videos as well. And for more on the making of “Batman Evolution,” take a look at the group’s website.
There are ordinary looking power cables, and then there is something that Samsung has recently unleashed upon the unsuspecting masses – something that they have dubbed as the new Samsung Power Sharing Cable. In fact, taking into consideration our fairly hectic lifestyles that we lead these days, not to mention a rather busy time at home even after we have finished our work, it is not too difficult to actually run out of juice on our mobile devices simply because we forgot to charge them up earlier. With the Samsung Power Sharing Cable, it is a new manner of letting one charge between devices while they are on the go.
The Samsung Power Sharing Cable works this way – you will now have the ability to easily transfer power directly from your Samsung Galaxy S5, Samsung Galaxy Tab S or any other kind of compatible Galaxy device to any micro USB-compatible device. This is a brand new Power Sharing cable which offers multi-device users a versatile manner to power p their devices, letting you share the load with your Galaxy device’s battery with another device – be it that of your own, or of someone else’s.
In order to have it work, all you need to do is to download the “Power Sharing” app straight from Samsung Apps or the Google Play store, before you choose the right amount of power that you would want to transfer. Once that is done, all that is required would be to plug in one end of the cable into the device that the power is being drawn from while plugging in the other end of the cable into the device to be charged. Since the Samsung Power Sharing Cable is portable and tiny enough to fit in a pocket and purse while you are on the move, this is truly a worthy travel companion not to be forgotten while you are away on a business trip or on a holiday. It however does come only in a shade of white.
The unusually shaped smartphone garnered 200,000 orders since its launch on Wednesday, according to CEO John Chen. The smartphone sold out in six hours on its own website, and sold out in 10 hours on Amazon, he said. Before it sold out, the Passport was the top unlocked smartphone on the e-tailer’s site.
The strong early start to the Passport is critical to company’s efforts to turn itself around. It’s the first flagship smartphone that BlackBerry has released this year, representative of the new ten
ure under Chen. The company is attempting to go after “power professionals” — productivity-focused individuals who prefer a keyboard and focus on messaging and e-mails.
The Passport is indicative of Chen’s strategy shift toward more people who work in large corporations and government agencies that value security and messaging capabilities. AT&T has confirmed that it would sell the Passport, but hasn’t provided a price or date of availability. The smartphone is already available unlocked for $599 in the US.
One reason why the BlackBerry Passport sold out so quickly was because the company only provided a small initial order. Chen said a larger order would come next Wednesday.
Next up for BlackBerry on the device front is the Bold-like BlackBerry Classic.
You can now “peek behind” your conversations. Tap “Details” at the top of any SMS or MMS thread to gain quick access to not only the contact info for the person you’re talking to, but also the photos and videos you’ve been sending each other. Keep scrolling—Messages archives all the images you’ve been sharing, even pics that were sent months ago. If your chat partner has location sharing enabled, you can see where they’re sending their chats from. You can also mute any conversation. And all of these new messaging features work in group conversations, as well. The mute switch is especially helpful when you’re in a group chat and one of your friends won’t, you know, just zip it. Maybe even more handy: you can remove yourself from any chat. On that Details screen, just tap “Leave this conversation” to bow out.
Whether you’re using a brand-new iPhone 6 and its much-improved camera, or you’re on a freshly updated 5, 5c or 5s, there are some new features in the default iOS 8 camera app. First you might notice that you now have a Timelapse video feature. To use it, put your thumb anywhere on the screen and keep swiping your thumb to the right. Watch the horizontal slider at the bottom. Just after the Slo-Mo setting, you’ll see Timelapse. Go point it at some clouds, or at a busy intersection at rush hour. Another welcome addition: you can also now adjust the brightness of any photo before you click the shutter. When you’re setting up your shot, look for the vertical exposure slider next to the focus box. Slide it up and down to make the picture brighter or darker. You can still edit your pictures after the fact, but now you have a better chance of getting the photo you want right away, without having to brighten it later.
Apple’s new update irons out some of the iOS web browser’s most frustrating quirks. First is a new quick-search feature: Just type the name of a website and a search term, separated by a space. For example, typing “craigslist chainsaw” will prompt Safari to ask if you’d just like to search Craigslist.org for a chainsaw. In older versions of iOS, typing this into the address bar would prompt a Google search for those individual words, and then you’d have to tap on the Google result you wanted. So this new trick saves you a couple of taps. You have to enable this Quick Website Search feature in Safari’s settings, and it only works on sites that you’ve previously run searches on—Safari wants to be sure it’s only offering the option on sites you browse often. But it’s a boon for usability. Another new option in iOS 8′s Safari is the ability to request a full, desktop version of a site instead of the mobile version. This eliminates a common headache on the mobile web. To request the desktop site, just tap Safari’s address bar while browsing a mobile site, and you’ll see the desktop option appear.
In the default iOS 8 Mail client, you’ll notice that when you swipe a message to the left, you get additional options. In iOS 7, there was just “More” and “Archive.” But now you get options for “More,” “Flag” for follow-up, and “Trash.” Cool! But try this. Swipe to the right, and you’ll see an additional fourth option: “Mark as Unread.”
You used to have to hold down the Home button to invoke Apple’s digital concierge. Now, just speak her name. Try it: “Hey, Siri.” She’ll spring to life and the microphone will be ready to capture your request. This isn’t always on by default—it’s a drain on the device’s battery to be constantly listening for the magic words, so you can only summon Siri with your voice when the device is charging. To enable this feature, look in Siri’s settings. This will be a big help in the car. If you want to call up directions to the nearest cheeseburger on your drive home, you can do it entirely without ever taking your hands off the wheel.
Want to see which apps are sucking up the most juice? Go into Settings > General > Usage. You’ll see a list of all your apps, ranked in descending order, with the biggest battery hogs at the top. The default view shows the worst offenders over the last 24 hours. Move the slider at the top to see your usage over the last week. Android has had this feature since the Bronze Age, so it’s nice to see iOS 8 add it.
All Your Besties
To hop between apps, tap the home button twice. You know this one, you’ve seen it in iOS 7. It brings up a sideways-scrolling list of open apps, with the ones you’ve used most recently showing up first. But in iOS 8, there’s something new. Look above that big carousel of apps, and you’ll see a smaller sideways-scroller of your friends’ faces. It’s the same concept: these are the people you most recently chatted with or called. Also included in this list are the contacts from your Phone’s “Favorites” list. This shortcut is especially helpful for those of us who rarely open the phone app anymore, and therefore don’t get as much use out of that Favorites list. Now, for a quicker way to send a chat or initiate a call to a loved one, you can just double-tap the Home button and put your thumb on their face.
As you’re thumb-typing away, you’ll see iOS 8 suggesting the words it thinks you’re shooting for. Tap the correct ones and they appear in the text input field. Not only does this change the whole iOS autocorrect paradigm, but it should also speed up your typing. This is one of those obvious differences, you’ll notice it right away. But here’s the hidden bit in this new QuickType feature: When you’re typing a message or an email, iOS 8 will pay attention to who you’re chatting with, and it will adjust your tone to suit the nature of communications you usually have with that person. So, QuickType will suggest an entirely different set of words (and let those LOLs and WTFs slide) when you’re texting with your husband than when you’re sending an email to your travel agent. HTH!
Where is Continuity?
Oh, you mean the much-hyped and highly anticipated feature that gives your iOS devices the ability to hand off conversations, browser sessions, and documents to your Mac, and vice versa? Those features only work with OS X Yosemite, and the next version of Apple’s desktop OS doesn’t ship until next month. You get some limited Continuity features between iOS 8 devices, but come back in October and we’ll show you all of the cool things it can do between your mobile and your Mac.
The world population may balloon to anywhere between 9.6 billion and 12.3 billion by 2100, according to a new report that used statistics from the U.N. The new estimates far outstrip previous calculations of 7.2 billion.
The root of the booming population is high birth rates in Africa, according to the report, published in the journal Science. The number of people in Africa is expected to rise from 1 billion to 4 billion in the next 86 years. Researchers found that there is a 70% probability that the world’s population will not stabilize in this century.
“Earlier projections were strictly based on scenarios, so there was no uncertainty,” U.N. demographer Patrick Gerland told the Associated Press. “This work provides a more statistically driven assessment that allows us to quantify the predictions, and offer a confidence interval that could be useful in planning.”
Capcom has showcased a brand new gameplay trailer for ‘Resident Evil: Revelations 2,’ the newest entry in the survival horror franchise.
More of a thematic sequel to spin off entry ‘Resident Evil: Revelations,’ a game originally on the 3DS but ported to consoles sometime after, ‘Resident Evil: Revelations 2’ takes place in-between ‘Resident Evil 5′ and ’6.’ The game puts players in the shoes of none other than series veteran Claire Redfield. While attending a fancy party with Moira Burton, daughter of classic character Barry Burton, a team of Special Forces soldiers attack the two and knock them unconscious. Clearly kidnapped, Redfield awakens only to find herself in a derelict prison on a mysterious island where terror obviously awaits for her and Burton.
While tailoring itself more to the traditional tone and gameplay of classic ‘Resident Evil’ games, ‘Resident Evil: Revelations 2’ will also feature the recent series staple of co-op gameplay. But this time, it’s not in the way that most fans will think. As opposed to having a full on partner who is capable of the same offensive abilities as Redfield, supporting character Moira Burton will instead serve her own function to the co-op duo by being the designated light source. On top of being vital to gameplay in that capacity, Buton also has the ability to use her flashlight to blind enemies, find hidden items and use a trusty crowbar to sneak up on enemies or to open up doors that Claire cannot. However, other than that, her role is strictly that of support and not pure offense. This is a change of pace compared to previous ‘Resident Evil’ games where co-op partners served to dampen the experience by giving the players too much redundant offensive power.
Looking to be similar to its predecessor, ‘Resident Evil: Revelations 2’ is definitely embracing its survival horror roots with its cramped and dimly lit hallways as well as shuffling zombie-like creatures. Once again, the series seems to be looking to the past with this entry as opposed to following similar formulas to the franchises’ more recent action filled entries.
‘Resident Evil: Revelations 2′ will be released as a downloadable weekly episodic series for the PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC sometime in 2015. Weekly episodes will be priced at $5.99 while a full-preorder package of all the episodes will be priced at $24.99. Capcom will also be releasing a full retail version of the game with potential added bonus content for $39.99 once the series concludes.
I have an iPhone 5C or 5S
Don’t upgrade. I mean, let’s say you have a lot of money and can afford to upgrade. I understand what you are thinking. Yes, it makes a sort of financial sense to keep the latest model because you ultimately pay so much for your contract. But think of the rare earth minerals and the environmental cost associated with your phone. Hang onto it for two years; it’s the right thing to do. I know this is a harder sell if you have a 5C—which, let’s be honest, you were dumb to buy. But if you bought a 5C in the first place, clearly performance isn’t your main purchasing factor. Hold off for another year and hug an elm tree and give it a kiss and tell it you love it and that you are here for it.
I have an iPhone 5 (or earlier) that I’m happy with
Your carrier will likely subsidize the bajoodles out of a new model, and if you’re still happy with that old phone you’ll love a new one. Go ahead and treat yourself. You’re going to love it.
I take lots of pictures
The iPhone 5S has one of the best cameras of any phone on the market–certainly better than any Android handset and topped only by a few Windows Phone models from Nokia. The 6 and 6 Plus blow the 5S camera away. Not only is build quality better, but the iOS 8 API is the first that opens the camera’s exposure controls to third-party developers, so prepare yourself for a new slew of apps that let you control the shutter, ISO, white balance, and focus directly. That combination is going to be hard to top.
I take lots of pictures of myself and my significant other while naked
Yes we know Apple is making a lot of throat noises about security and privacy and has taken out an advertisement to this effect. But it has a long and storied track record of not really giving a damn about security until things get embarrassing. That it didn’t know, or didn’t care, that people were hacking accounts and openly discussing it online is indicative of Apple’s larger problems. Even today, even after multiple embarrassing episodes, Apple’s security is still an awful lot of hype. Here are a few tips on how to improve it. If you want, need, and demand security for your data, the iPhone isn’t a good choice. Sorry. Have you checked out Windows Phone? Security through obscurity, brah.
I am a video addict
If you want to shoot video or use burst mode, buy the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus.
Phase-detection autofocus (Apple is giving it their own marketing spin by calling it Focus Pixels) means that the autofocus system will not search in and out like contrast-detection AF systems. This should translate to much smoother video that keeps everything in focus without fading in and out—especially when a subject is moving toward or away from the lens. It should also keep focus sharp from shot-to-shot in its 10fps continuous-shot mode.
I live in Google’s services
Gmail, Maps, Calendar, and Drive are cross-platform, sure. But they’re also far more powerful and efficient on Android, thanks to things like (true) widgets that you can drop on the home screen. It’s no surprise that Google’s services work best on Android where they can be deeply embedded into the operating system. If you’re one of those Google power users, and you aren’t already on Android, you should give it a shot.
I like to customize my phone
This is so easy I almost can’t believe I am writing it down with words on a screen. If you want to mod your phone, if you want to make that OS work just the way you want it, get an Android device. I mean, unless by “customize your phone” you mean put it in a case. If you just want a case, get an iPhone.
I want to use my phone to pay for stuff
If you do, get an iPhone. Before you blast me, yes I am well aware of Google Wallet and have used Android’s tap to pay function literally hundreds of times to make tens of successful purchases. Or I mean, at least ten. Maybe. Apple’s attention to detail and end-to-end control of the ecosystem is going to give it a big leg up in payments. If you’re tired of toting your wallet, get an iPhone.
I want to use NFC for things other than paying for stuff
Apple has locked down the NFC chip in its phone so it can only be used for Apple Pay. If you want to use it for exchanging contacts, checking the fare on your transit card, or whatever else, you’re out of luck. No iPhone for you!
I want to play games on my phone
Apps are bar none the strongest selling point of the iOS ecosystem. Games in particular often come to iOS months before Android or Windows Phone (if they ever come at all). But Apple’s new Metal API for iOS 8 will mean that even when games do come to Android or Windows Phone, they probably won’t look as good, or move as quickly. And if this is the kind of thing you care about, shooter, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus hardware is going to be core to your experience.
I am clumsy
You there, with the shattered glass. You know who you are. Hey, no shame, my phone is smashed too. But the new iPhone is notoriously slick. The first person to buy one in Perth, Australia dropped his phone on the ground. So too did a Wall Street Journal reporter. So too has WIRED’s Christina Bonnington, who reports that “the brushed aluminum is slick, and since there are no edges for your hand to hold onto, it’s easy for it to slip through your grasp.” If you are a case-averse phone-dropper, you may want something with a more tactile back, like Nokia’s Lumia line.
I want the coolest phone on the market
If you want to roll like a cool teen, or cool old Anna Wintour, without a doubt you should get a flip phone. Be the cool you want to see in the world.
Hey, it’s just a suggestion.