Saturday, November 19, 2011

drag2share: Freescale Home Health Hub wants to usher in the era of connected medical devices

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2011/11/19/freescale-home-health-hub-wants-to-usher-in-the-era-of-connected/

Home Health Hub
Freescale has its little silicon hands in all sorts of things: e-readers, smartphones, tablets, even refrigerators. Now the manufacturer is looking to make a dent in the healthcare industry with a connected platform called Home Health Hub (HHH). The i.MX28-based HHH isn't an actual product, but a reference platform for others to build on. The ARM9 processor is connected to a host of networking interfaces, including WiFi, Bluetooth (as well as its low-power implementation), Zigbee, sub-1GHz and Ethernet. The Hub is supposed to be just that, a central point for connecting various medical devices like blood pressure monitors or glucometers that then feeds data to a tablet. Developers and other interested parties can get their hands on the reference platform from Digi International as the iDigi Telehealth Application Kit for $499. Check out the full PR after the break.

Continue reading Freescale Home Health Hub wants to usher in the era of connected medical devices

Freescale Home Health Hub wants to usher in the era of connected medical devices originally appeared on Engadget on Sat, 19 Nov 2011 18:07:00 EDT. Plea! se see o ur terms for use of feeds.

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drag2share: The World's Largest 3D Street Art Opens Up a Gateway to Hell [Video]

Source: http://gizmodo.com/5860950/the-worlds-largest-3d-street-art-opens-up-a-gateway-to-hell

The World's Largest 3D Street Art Opens Up a Gateway to HellIf I stumbled across the world's largest 3D street art in London, my knees would buckle, pee would tinkle down my leg and I'd probably even cry. That's because the 3D art transforms a regular street into a frighteningly deep gaping pit straight into the middle of the Earth. Just look at it.

The project was made by street artists 3D Joe & Max for Reebok's CrossFit (there's an outdoor gym!) and is located in London's West India Quays, Canary Wharf. It's officially the world's larget 3D street art (as measured by Guinness World Record) dialing in at 12,490 square feet. The whole installation took over 7 days to complete and the effect is shocking. You feel like you're being swallowed by the mouths of hell.

[YouTube via Laughing Squid]

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drag2share: Rimac Automobili's Concept One supercar spotted in action, looks super (video)

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2011/11/18/rimac-automobilis-concept-one-supercar-spotted-in-action-looks/

Back in September, we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the Concept One -- the first electric supercar from Croatia's Rimac Automobili. Boasting a full 1,088 horsepower and capable of going from 0-62MPH in just 2.8 seconds, the Concept One is still very much a concept, but today, we've got video proof that it actually works. Spotted by an eagle-eyed tipster, the 70-second clip is a bit shaky, and doesn't show the car doing much more than pulling out of the driveway, but at least it's something. No word yet on whether the Concept One is moving any closer to production, though we're certainly keeping our fingers crossed. Cruise past the break to see it in action for yourself.

[Thanks, Matthaus]

Continue reading Rimac Automobili's Concept One supercar spotted in action, looks super (video)

Rimac Automobili's Concept One supercar spotted in action, looks super (video) originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 18 Nov 2011 09:37:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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drag2share: Ice Cream Sandwich ported to a Galaxy S II... and the people rejoice (update: LG Optimus 3D too!)

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2011/11/18/ice-cream-sandwich-ported-to-a-galaxy-s-ii-and-the-people-rej/

Man, these hackers work fast. It was just earlier this week when Google released the source code for Ice Cream Sandwich, and a mere four days later the new OS has made its way onto Samsung's Galaxy S II. While ICS is looking good on the GSII's gorgeous AMOLED display, the port is still an alpha -- the Bluetooth, WiFi and other radios aren't functioning just yet, but work is ongoing, and future releases are coming soon. Sound good? Well, wait'll you get a load of the port in action in the video after the break.

Update: And the ports are coming fast and furious now -- somebody gave the ICS treatment to an LG Optimus 3D.

Continue reading Ice Cream Sandwich ported to a Galaxy S II... and the people rejoice (update: LG Optimus 3D too!)

Ice Cream Sandwich ported to a Galaxy S II... and the people rejoice (update: LG Optimus 3D too!) originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 18 Nov 2011 12:35:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink Techno Bolt  |  sourceouverta (YouTube), rccerq (YouTube)  | Email this | Comments

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drag2share: Cedar Trail Eee PCs get previewed in ASUS magazine

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2011/11/18/cedar-trail-eee-pcs-get-previewed-in-asus-magazine/

Today we learned that ASUS produces its own in-house magazine, stuffed full of thoughtful pieces about the company's products. This season's festive edition of Tech in Style included a holiday gift guide (exclusively packed with ASUS products, of course) and a first look at the Cedar Trail-powered Eee PC 1025C and 1025CE netbooks. Both ship with the latest 32nm processors, come in a variety of colors, have 12 of hours battery life and pack a 10.1-inch slim LED WSVGA (1024 x 600) display. The CE model adds USB 3.0, USB Charger+ (letting you recharge your cellphone even when the Eee is switched off) and WiFi direct connect, which can network with other devices without a standalone router. Both models have already passed inspection by the FCC, so it's likely we could see the wee beasties arriving just in time for the holiday buying season. Head on after the break to see the full page, hewn from ASUS' very own Tech in Style.

Continue reading Cedar Trail Eee PCs get previewed in ASUS magazine

Cedar Trail Eee PCs get previewed in ASUS magazine originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 18 Nov 2011 12:53:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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drag2share: NVIDIA's Jen-Hsun Huang: quad-core, Tegra 3 tablets will drop to $299 in a 'couple quarters'

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2011/11/18/nvidias-jen-hsun-huang-quad-core-tegra-3-tablets-will-drop-to/

It's inevitable: the "latest and greatest" in tech (whatever that happens to be at the moment) always comes down in price as it makes way for something thinner, faster... better. Still, it's interesting to imagine that happening when a product is still basking in its glory days. That's exactly what what we're going to see with NVIDIA's new quad-core Tegra 3 chip, according to NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang. Over lunch today with a few tech journalists, he said he expects Tegra 3 tablets to plummet to $299 in just "a couple quarters." That's pretty incredible when you remember the Transformer Prime hasn't even gone on sale yet, and when it does it'll cost $500 -- a reasonable price in its own right when you stack it up against the aging iPad 2. So it's a bit dizzying to imagine 2012 ushering in a crop of high-end Honeycomb (or even ICS) tablets that cost just a little more than the Nook Tablet currently does. We'll be curious to see how such pricing might pressure the likes of Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Apple, but regardless, something tells us lots of you won't wait six months to get your hands on a half-price Prime.

NVIDIA's Jen-Hsun Huang: quad-core, Tegra 3 tablets will drop to $299 in a 'couple quarters' originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 18 Nov 2011 16:33:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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drag2share: Toshiba Portege Z835 review

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2011/11/18/toshiba-portege-z835-review/

Toshiba should know a thing or two about skinny, featherweight laptops. Back in 2007, the company unveiled the Portege R500, a 2.4-pound laptop measuring what was then an anorexic 0.77 inches (19.6mm) thick. Much to everyone's disbelief, it managed to squeeze in an optical drive.

Fast forward four years and it's entering the Ultrabook market with the Portege Z830 (that's the Z835 if you get it at Best Buy). And here comes the déjà vu: it's even lighter than the competition, at 2.47 pounds, but still houses a full suite of ports, including USB 3.0 and 2.0, HDMI and Gigabit Ethernet. It also promises more than eight hours of battery life, besting claims made by the likes of Apple, Acer and ASUS. Not to mention, with a price of $800 (Best Buy only), it undercuts competing models -- and at a time when every other Ultrabook seems to have some fatal flaw, whether it be a flaky touchpad or skimpy battery life. Clearly, there's lots of room here for something more carefully thought-out. So is Toshiba's Portege know-how just what the market needs? Let's see.

Continue reading Toshiba Portege Z835 review

Toshiba Portege Z835 review originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 18 Nov 2011 17:00:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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drag2share: Show off your smartphone photog skills with Sony Ericsson's vscreens

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2011/11/18/show-off-your-smartphone-photog-skills-with-sony-ericssons-vscr/

Have you been jonesin' to show off those Epic 4G Touch camera skills on a bit bigger screen? Sony Ericsson has you covered with vscreens, a website / app combo that gets your trip to Everest on your flatscreen to secure bragging rights. Once you install the app from the Android Market, point your internet browsing screen -- PC, Google TV and PS3 included -- to the vscreens website. From there, you simply scan the QR code that appears on your display and presto, you're showing off that trip to the Adirondacks like it's your job, sans cables or Bluetooth. If you're looking to give it a spin, you'll find all you need via the links below. And pretty soon, you'll be able to showcase those Galaxy Nexus panoramas at your next dinner party. Pretty sweet, huh?

Show off your smartphone photog skills with Sony Ericsson's vscreens originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 18 Nov 2011 17:55:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink TechCrun! ch  |  sourceSony Ericsson Blog, vscreens.com  | Email this | Comments

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drag2share: Google Swiffy extension exports Flash to HTML5, ActionScript fans rejoice

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2011/11/18/google-swiffy-extension-exports-flash-to-html5-actionscript-fan/

If you were bummed that you'd have to pick up some new coding skills when Adobe announced that Flash for mobile was finito, cheer up friends. Harken back to the summer months when Google unveiled its Swiffy conversion tool that turns those aging SWF files into browser friendly HTML5 animations. Now the folks in Mountain View have created an extension for the Flash desktop app that allows you to export your working files to something a little more up to date with a single click -- or a combination of keystrokes for you pros. So if you're worried you'd have to brush up on your coding wizardry, it seems you're safe... for now. If you're sporting Flash CS4 or newer, hit that source link to download the goods.

Google Swiffy extension exports Flash to HTML5, ActionScript fans rejoice originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 18 Nov 2011 21:08:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink InfoWorld  |  sourceGoogle  | Email this | Comments

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drag2share: TV broadcasters hope to dominate the second screen with ConnecTV

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2011/11/19/tv-broadcasters-hope-to-dominate-the-second-screen-with-connectv/

ConnecTV on an iPad
No one has quite figured it out yet, but there seems to be little doubt that tablet devices have their place on the couch to serve as a second screen while American's enjoy their favorite past time -- watching TV. In addition to many independent startups we've discussed in the past, the old guard, that already owns most of broadcast TV stateside, has a startup of its own called ConnecTV. In development for two years already, ConnecTV is currently in beta and has the hopes to go live in January. The idea is of course to put what you might want to see on your second screen while you watch the main action on the big screen. This includes sports scores, statistics, as well as what your friends may or may-not be saying on Twitter or Facebook -- and of course advertising. We'd be shocked if most tablet owners weren't already using their slate in front of the TV and can imagine how many more might if there was a great app that brought it all together.

TV broadcasters hope to dominate the second screen with ConnecTV originally appeared on Engadget on Sat, 19 Nov 2011 05:35:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

drag2share: This USB Stick Is Actually A Dual-Core Computer

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/fxi-technologies-usb-stick-2011-11


fxi technologies

FXI Technologies has unveiled a USB stick that turns any screen into an Android-based computer, reports Laptop Mag.

Its internals aren't too bad either -- it packs a dual-core 1.2-GHz Samsung Exynos ARM CPU, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, HDMI-out, and a microSD card slot.

It's pretty much a Galaxy S II without the ability to make phone calls.

It currently runs Android 2.3 and future versions will be able to run the ARM version of Windows 8.

Called "Cotton Candy" due to how little it weighs, the device is still in the early stages of development and isn't ready for release.

FXI hasn't said anything specific about pricing except that it will cost "considerably less than $200."

Please follow SAI: Tools on Twitter and Facebook.

Join the conversation about this story »

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drag2share: FXI's Cotton Candy could turn every screen you own into a cloud client

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2011/11/17/fxis-cotton-candy-could-turn-every-screen-you-own-into-a-cloud/

It's a truth universally acknowledged, that a user in possession of a good number of devices must be in want of a unified way to use them all. As it stands, that mythical interface doesn't exist; but hopefully that's set to change soon. Norway's FXI is heralding a device codenamed Cotton Candy; a USB/ HDMI stick that can connect to nearly anything that's packing a display. Inside the stick is a dual-core ARM Cortex A9 and quad-core ARM Mali-400MP GPU that can handle 1080p video, 802.11 b/g/n WIFi, Bluetooth v2.1 and microSD card storage, expandable up to 64GB. Plug it into a laptop or desktop and you'll be able to use a thin-layer client to access your personal cloud, or via HDMI into a HDTV to be controlled using Bluetooth peripherals, smartphones and tablets. Being able to open "your" desktop on any device means you can conduct presentations, access media content and surf the web without ties. FXI is a new player in the market, but the founder was previously the brains behind Falanx, which created the technology that powers ARM's Mali GPUs. It's working with various manufacturers with the aim of partnering up to get the devices into stores in the second half of next year, the expected cost being under $200 -- although we'd pay more if they threw in a bag of the real, teeth-destroying stuff.

Continue reading FXI's Cotton Candy could turn every screen you own into a cloud client

FXI's Cotton Candy could turn every screen you own into a cloud client originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 17 Nov 2011 18:00:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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drag2share: Android.com update introduces Ice Cream Sandwich on phones and tablets

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2011/11/17/android-com-update-introduces-ice-cream-sandwich-on-phones-and-t/

With the Galaxy Nexus reaching customer's hands today and bringing Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich along with it, the official site has been updated with the usual lists of features and brief walkthroughs. Whether you need yet another breakdown of what the new version of the OS brings to the table is debatable, but there are a few fresh renders of the tabletized version of Ice Cream Sandwich included, as seen above. A quick look sees the new Roboto font displaying the time, and revised button scheme at the lower left. Click the source link and dive into the site for yourself for a few more pics.

Android.com update introduces Ice Cream Sandwich on phones and tablets originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 17 Nov 2011 21:37:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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drag2share: Archos debuts Arnova 9 G2 Android tablet, offers Gingerbread on a 9.7-inch IPS display

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2011/11/18/archos-debuts-arnova-9-g2-android-tablet-offers-gingerbread-on/

Archos' new Arnova 9 G2 tablet looks to be the very definition of a mixed bag. It's part of the company's budget-minded Arnova line, so it will likely be relatively inexpensive (there's still no official word on a price), and it packs some specs that range from decent to high-end, including a 1GHz ARM A8 processor and a 9.7-inch IPS display with a 1,024 x 768 resolution (the same as the iPad). But it also runs the smartphone-minded Android 2.3 OS on that decidedly tablet-sized display and, as with other inexpensive Android tablets, you'll have to make do without official access to the Android Market (Archos offers the Appslib application store instead). Still curious? Details on everything but a price and release date can be found at the source link below.

Archos debuts Arnova 9 G2 Android tablet, offers Gingerbread on a 9.7-inch IPS display originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 18 Nov 2011 01:49:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink Android Community  |  sourceArnova  | Email this ! | < a href="http://www.engadget.com/2011/11/18/archos-debuts-arnova-9-g2-android-tablet-offers-gingerbread-on/#comments" title="View reader comments on this entry">Comments

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drag2share: aTV Flash (black) leaves beta, grants your Apple TV media-playing super powers

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2011/11/18/atv-flash-black-leaves-beta-grants-your-apple-tv-media-playin/

aTV Flash (black)
We're definitely of the opinion that the dedicated devs who do all the heavy lifting so you can tweak and hack your pile of gadgets deserve a little something for their troubles. That being said, Firecore's aTV Flash (black) is still going to be a tough sell at $30 (now that it's left beta). But, before you go, perhaps you'd like to know what that chunk of cash will enable your 2nd-gen Apple TV to do. For one, it blesses Cupertino's hobby set-top with an all new media player that can open AVI, MKV, MP4, ISO and host of other file formats. There's also an HTML5 browser for surfing the web and streaming media. Want more apps? How about a Plex client and Last.FM radio? Perhaps best of all, though, it allows you to play back files stored on a PC, Mac or NAS without the need for iTunes. Check out the video demo after the break.

Continue reading aTV Flash (black) leaves beta, grants your Apple TV media-playing super powers

aTV Flash (black) leaves beta, grants your Apple TV media-playing super powers originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 18 Nov 2011 02:29:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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drag2share: MediaTek-powered ZTE MT73 packs TD-LTE, TD-SCDMA, GSM, dual SIM and magic dust

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2011/11/18/mediatek-powered-zte-mt73-packs-td-lte-td-scdma-gsm-dual-sim/

Here's a funny one we spotted at China Mobile's booth at Mobile Asia Congress: a ZTE Android phone powered by a MediaTek chipset that supports TD-LTE, TD-SCDMA, GSM and dual SIM! Of course, given that China Mobile is currently the exclusive carrier to the TD-SCDMA technology, we're not expecting this peculiar device to pop up anywhere beyond the Great Wall any time soon; but knowing that there's a dual-SIM LTE phone somewhere on this planet still makes our day.

Spec-wise this MT73 prototype features Android 2.3.4, an 800MHz processor, 1GB of RAM, a 4.1-inch 854 x 480 LCD with capacitive touchscreen, a five megapixel main camera, a VGA front-facing camera and a 1,100mAh battery. As per usual ZTE build quality, there's an inevitable cheap feel upon laying our hands on this phone, but we'll give ZTE the benefit of the doubt and wait for the final version. As for a launch date, the folks at China Mobile said it'll depend on when will the government issue a commercial license for TD-LTE. To keep you occupied for the time being, we have a hands-on video right after the break.

Continue reading MediaTek-powered ZTE MT73 packs TD-LTE, TD-SCDMA, GSM, dual SIM and magic dust

MediaTek-powered ZTE MT73 packs TD-LTE, TD-SCDMA, GSM, dual SIM and magic dust originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 18 Nov 2011 03:38:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

drag2share: Camera+: "VolumeSnap Is Back!!" [Apps]

Source: http://gizmodo.com/5860391/camera%252B-volumesnap-is-back

Camera+: "VolumeSnap Is Back!!"Three months after being booted from the App Store for employing, "iPhone volume buttons in a non-standard way," the popular Camera+ app is once again for sale—volume-button functionality and all.

The original version of Camera+ was, of course, pulled for including an "easter egg," unlockable by the end user, that allowed the program to trigger a shutter release via the phone's external volume buttons—a feature that also mimicked Apple's as-of-unveiled virtual shutter button. Camera+ has been resubmitted and does include the same taboo feature, but since Apple has recently implemented a similar technology, the prodigal app has been re-approved. Its latest version, Camera+ 2.4, includes auto-stabilization, one-touch exposure and focus, and 6x digital zoom in addition to the fast-snapping capabilities of shoulder-mounted shutter releases. It's currently available through iTunes for $1. [iTunes via Cult of Mac]


You can keep up with Andrew Tarantola, the author of this post, on Twitter or Google+.

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drag2share: Amazon Powers Silk With One of the World's Fastest Supercomputers [Supercomputers]

Source: http://gizmodo.com/5860429/amazon-powers-silk-with-one-of-the-worlds-fastest-supercomputers

Amazon Powers Silk With One of the World's Fastest Supercomputers

All the hype surrounding Amazon at the moment centres on the Kindle Fire. But behind the scenes, they've been developing one of the world's most powerful super computers — and it powers the Fire's browser, Silk.

The list of the world's 500 fastest supercomputers came out this week. The top 10, as usual, are owned by universities and research organisations.

Look down the list, though, and at number 42 appears Amazon, with its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) service. Made by the company itself, this thing features 17,024 processing cores, 66,000Gb of memory and a 10 Gigabit Ethernet interconnect

Customers can hire out hours of the EC2 service. Though you can't use all the processing power at once, for less than $1,000 dollars anybody can have access to grunt that would alone snag a place in the top 500 list.

No wonder Amazon Silk, the Fire's web browser, is able to make use of the cloud to keep it zipping along. I just wonder when they'll reach the top 10. [Ars Technica; Image: kosheahan]

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drag2share: Nano-Scale LEDs Toast Lasers When It Comes to Data Transfer [Guts]

Source: http://gizmodo.com/5860459/nano+scale-leds-toast-lasers-when-it-comes-to-data-transfer

Nano-Scale LEDs Toast Lasers When It Comes to Data TransferWhen it comes to transferring huge amounts of data in the fastest possible time, copper sucks. What you need to use is light. Until now that meant lasers—but nano-scale LEDs can do it with a fraction of the energy.

Plenty of laser data transfer systems already exist, designed to replace circuitry on motherboards in supercomputers. But a new nano-scale LED set-up from Stanford improves on the prevailing energy efficiency 2,000 times, using just 0.25 femto-joules per bit sent as compared to a laser's 500 femto-joules. And even though they use so little energy, they should be capable of data transfer rates as high as 10Gbps.

So, how do they do it? Well, most normal LEDs give off light at a range of frequencies, which makes them impossible to use for this kind of data transfer. What they've managed to do at Stanford is create a single-frequency LED, created by applying electricity to nano-dots of indium arsenide. As a result, the dots give off light which can be focussed into a beam. The whole process is highly efficient, mopping the floor with power-hungry lasers.

It means that light-based motherboards might actually make it to market as opposed to being some kind of academic dream. And that means much faster data transfer, not just in supercomputers but for everyone. Good job, guys. [Stanford Engineering via The Verge; Image: Stanford Engineering]

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drag2share: Skype's Updated App Lets You Make Facebook-to-Facebook Video Calls [Video]

Source: http://gizmodo.com/5860533/skypes-updated-app-lets-you-make-facebook+to+facebook-video-calls

Skype's been powering Facebook's video chat feature since July, but its new apps for Windows and OS X now let you use the Skype client to directly make video calls to your Facebook friends.

The new interface is really simple. You just link your Skype and Facebook accounts, and your Skype friends list is automatically updated with all of your Facebook friends. You'll also be able to share screens with your chat partners, which will come in handy when your mom demands you Skype with her because she forgot how to bookmark the new episode of Dancing with the Stars.

This isn't exactly offering anything you couldn't have managed otherwise, but the continued intermingling of the two super widely-used platforms should make it a lot easier to connect for an awkward video chat. [The Next Web via Verge]

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drag2share: Ice Cream Sandwich Review: It's Man Versus Machine [Ice Cream Sandwich]

Source: http://gizmodo.com/5860502/ice-cream-sandwich-review-its-man-versus-machine

Ice Cream Sandwich Review: It's Man Versus MachineGoogle puts a lot of effort into talking about what's fun in Ice Cream Sandwich. It's certainly advanced, and powerful, and more human-focused than past Androids. But I'm not sure I'd call it fun. And that's a problem.

Fun is something you do because you want to. Fun is more than just diversion, it's pleasure. It's transcendent. I'm not sure Google gets fun. They have a good understanding of what will objectively appeal to human beings, in the same way a Cylon might. But Ice Cream Sandwich, while powerful, is not a fun experience. For all its cutting-edge features, it can't shake the cold, distant style that's become Android's unfortunate hallmark.

And without the fun, while you may find it useful and even essential, I'm not sure you'll love it.

From the very first time I fired up a G1, Android has always struck me as more powerful than Apple's iOS. Android's always had more gee-whiz features, straight out of the future. Oh, iOS 5 can trigger a reminder when you get to a certain location? Cute, but I was doing that with Locale on Android in 2008. Background processes. Notifications. Built-in navigation. Layers. NFC. Etc. Android has always pushed the envelope of what's possible. That's admirable, but it has often come at the expense of dead-simple usability. And then there's Ice Cream Sandwich.

We're going to have a look at the new Samsung Galaxy Nexus all on its own. But today we want to look at the engine that drives it. Ice Cream Sandwich is by far the most usable Android OS I've tried, on a phone or a tablet. It's the first that doesn't feel so digital and robotic that you want to put your ear against it and listen to it beep and hum. It retains all that power you crave with Android apps, but puts them in a human-friendly package. It's fast and responsive. It's pre-loaded with great Google apps you'll use right from the get go. You're going to want to dive into Ice Cream Sandwich and start exploring. And here's what you'll find.

The Little Big Touches

Everything just works a little better than it has before. Using a Samsung Galaxy Nexus running Ice Cream Sandwich side by side with a Samsung Galaxy SII running Gingerbread was revelatory. The latter felt clunky and boxy and crude in comparison. The Galaxy Nexus was both prettier to look at and easier to use.

Ice Cream Sandwich Review: It's Man Versus MachineLet's start with appearances. Take the the phone icon. In Gingerbread, it's a green box with a white phone in the center. If you look closely you'll see shading near the ear and mouth piece but for the most part it looks, well, flat and shitty. In ICS, the icon is a borderless handset that floats on its own. It has rich shading and color differentiation to suggest depth and contour. It looks inviting. It says call me.

Those subtle interface enhancements are everywhere. Everything in ICS is a bit more textured, more rounded, more thoughtfully designed. Even the system font, a bastardized mashup of Helvetica, Myriad and a few others, looks smoother and more modern than the Droid family that preceded it. It is far more visually appealing than Gingerbread ever was.

Even better, there is so much about ICS that's easier to manage. For example, a permanent link to the system settings lives in the notifications tray. So no matter where you are in the OS, you are no more than one swipe and tap away from total control. Notifications themselves are also greatly improved. They still come at you from the top of the screen, but you can dismiss them one at a time now by sliding them to the left or right. On the home screens a new persistent icon on the bottom row leads to all your applications. It's there on every home screen, ready to launch you to all your apps. You can also add four other apps to that row, so you now have ready and easy access to frequently used ones, like your browser or email.

The four longstanding icons that made up your home row have been completely rethought. The icons for Search and Menu are gone. In their place is a single Recent Apps icon that lets you swap functions, or kill running apps with a swipe. (Also notable: while the home row was once on the bezel, it is now moved to the display itself, and made from softkeys that rotate when you rotate the phone).

Ice Cream Sandwich Review: It's Man Versus MachineIndividual apps navigate better now as well. In the books Books app, for example, the more animated page turns of ICS might catch your eye, but the real meat is the way you access options. Instead of hitting the bezel button, you tap a page, and iconography representing options shows up in the top of the screen, along with a search box. Tap it again for a list of options. It's just faster, and better, and more intuitive.

There's more. ICS is a labyrinth of tweaks and touches. But the bottom line is that navigation is far, far better in dozens of small but important ways. All of these are minor adjustments that add up to less time spent trying to do things and more time spent actually doing them. They mean fewer taps to manage your apps.

Closer to Fine

Ice Cream Sandwich has none of the skeuomorphic touches that you find in iOS, and it even eschewed some that were in Gingerbread. While sometimes this is a very good thing (there is no ugly, screen real estate-hogging embossed leather chrome, for example) other times it's puzzling.

Ice Cream Sandwich Review: It's Man Versus MachineFor example, when you scroll to the bottom of a screen now, instead of bouncing, it glows blue. The bounce in Gingerbread worked because that's what often happens in real life when you pull something past the point where it is meant to go: it springs back. The blue glow is both less noticeable, and less obvious in its intent. Am I at the bottom, or did I just irradiate my apps?

But often the willingness to experiment visually pays off. For example, when Google replaced Contacts with People. In Ice Cream Sandwich, Contacts are gone, as an app at least. In its place is an app called People that pulls in various services, like Twitter or Google Plus, in addition to pure address book data. It directly shows status updates and in some cases even high resolution photos. In Gingerbread, the Contacts icon is a faceless human silhouette. The icon for People, on the other hand, doesn't look like a person at all. And yet it smiles at you. In other words, although it's less directly representational, it's been made more friendly. And of course, this is yet another example of Android trying to become friendlier, and more person-focused.

The Good Gets Great

There are major changes, too, the kinds of sweeping overhauls that you expect from a major release. And they're occasionally terrific, like the overhauled Camera app's automatic panorama stitcher. All you need to do is pivot the phone and you can capture stunning panoramic landscapes. I call this one Pumpkin on the Beach:

Ice Cream Sandwich Review: It's Man Versus MachineMeanwhile, photos fire in what seems like real time, the shutter speed is mind-blowing. Tapping the screen not only focuses, but actually works very well. Face tracking was also nearly flawless. Bottom line: You're going to use the hell out of this camera.

The other major renovation, not to be underestimated? Typing. Android keyboard has always made me want to kill things. One of Android's selling points I've often heard is that you can radically customize the keyboard with an app like Swype. That's great. But the problem is that you basically need a third-party keyboard in Android. No more. The keyboard in Ice Cream Sandwich is positively zippy. It's responsive, accurate, and the predictive text works quite well.

Here's the same chunk of text, fired off as quickly as I could input it, using default keyboard in Gingerbread and Ice Cream Sandwich.

Ice Cream Sandwich:

So, I'm just trying to writs something s bit longer here, as quickly as I can withour! Regard for typos or errors.
I just want to see how quickly I can use the keyboard, and in fact it seems greatly improved.

Gingerbread:

So, Im just tryibg to write something a bit lobger here as quivkly as i can without revard for tyops or errors.
I just want to see how quickky i canbuse ge keyboard and i face it seems greatly imporved.

It's sweet relief. But.

You're Trying Too Hard

Sometimes Ice Cream Sandwich literally pleads with you to enjoy it. Take the built-in video effects. They do things like swell up your nose or mouth, or shrink your face. They're kind of amazing, when you first encounter them. Because it doesn't just alter one spot on the screen where the OS predicts your nose or mouth may be; it actually recognizes your facial features and distorts them even as you move your head from side to side or back and forth. In the reviewer's guide for the video effects, Google offers the following guidance: "Note: These are fun." Thank you, Google. That is good to know.

And then there is the built-in social. Google has bet big on Plus. Google is using Ice Cream Sandwich to push Plus like beer in a bar. Plus is everywhere. It comes with apps for Plus and G+ Messenger built in. Your photos are automatically uploaded to Google Plus. Sharing options, even for media, all lead to Plus.

You aren't always going to want that Google Plus integration. Very many people who I will never attempt to email, call or message are listed my People app because they are Google Plus contacts. Although you can select which circles to display, if, like me, you haven't invested much time in setting up your circles you end up with thousands of acquaintances or no one at all. Worse, when I tried to send an email to my wife it fired one off to me instead. Why? She had never filled out her Google Plus profile. Yet for some reason, her Google Plus info was populated with my address data. There was no way to edit this. I eventually turned off the option to sync my Plus contacts because it was all too annoying.

I admire the attempt, however, and it largely works. An android is not simply a robot. It's a robot with human characteristics. If there is one thing that Google's Android OS has lacked, it's humanity. While extremely advanced, it has never been personable.

Man vs. Machine

Ice Cream Sandwich is Google's attempt to make Android not only more advanced from a technology perspective, but also more human. It is sprinkled with little traces of humanism throughout. From the People app that's front and center by default, to the deep-if-flawed social integration with Google Plus, to those zany video effects. I mean, you unlock it with your face. Ice Cream Sandwich is Google's attempt to design for human beings. And it pulls it off, mostly.

And of course, Ice Cream Sandwich is a brilliant technology achievement. It's loaded with powerful features, like a great data management tool, built-in photo editing, and NFC that enables you to do things like share photos or videos from phone to phone simply by tapping two of them together.

This tech forward focus can eventually be a downside. An old Android phone typically feels aged beyond its years. Because when your advantage is technology, time is always your biggest enemy.

And in many ways it is still rough around the edges. It lacks the polish of iOS or Mango. Scroll through a list of albums in Rdio on ICS and iOS 5 side by side and it's apparent how much slicker the latter's UI is. The iOS version moves at more variable and natural speeds and glides to a stop. Android moves more jerkily and stops more abruptly. The corners are more squared off on the album icons in Android, giving it a boxier, less sophisticated appearance.

But overall it's a powerful, wonderful, visually interesting upgrade. It's certainly the most user friendly version of Android to date. It's more navigable, more responsive, and all around a better experience. As a longtime Android user, I really dig it. I find it compelling, even. Yet as a recent iOS 5 convert, I'm not sure it's enough to make me go back.

Here's a final example to illustrate what I mean. Ice Cream Sandwich makes it really easy to take a photo and share it with all my contacts and circles on Google Plus. iOS makes it really easy to take a photo and share with my father on a letterpress card in the United States mail. The mail is decidedly lower tech. But in its own way, it's also far more enjoyable. For most people, technology outpaces upgrade cycles. In two years, style and flash can fade. But fun can persist. Fun matters.

Competence is one thing, but I prefer joy.


You can keep up with Mat Honan, the author of this post, on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.

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drag2share: Google Checkout merges with Google Wallet, completing the inevitable

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2011/11/17/google-checkout-merges-with-google-wallet-completing-the-inevit/

In a move that has "common sense" written all over it, the folks over at Mountain View have decided to merge Google Checkout with Google Wallet. The marriage hardly comes as a surprise, considering the fact that both services serve essentially the same purpose -- namely, storing all your payment information in one neat little package. To make things even tidier, Big G has just folded Checkout into Wallet, which will soon be integrated within the Android Market, YouTube and Google+ Games, as well. As a result, the Checkout moniker will vanish from the Earth, but current users will be able to seamlessly switch over to Wallet the next time they log in to their accounts or make an online purchase. For more details, check out the source link below.

[Thanks, Samer]

Google Checkout merges with Google Wallet, completing the inevitable originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 17 Nov 2011 08:44:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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drag2share: Verizon-branded, LTE-enabled Galaxy Nexus confirmed in official Google video

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2011/11/17/verizon-branded-lte-enabled-galaxy-nexus-confirmed-in-official/

Say, what's this? A 4G LTE-enabled Galaxy Nexus with a Verizon Wireless logo on the back? Certainly is, and it's being discovered this morning in a series of overview / getting started videos hosted up on Google's own YouTube channel. There's still no word on when this guy's hitting store shelves, but at least the whole "maybe it's vaporware!" thing is now firmly in the past. As if it were ever in the present. Head on past the break to get yourself worked into an even zanier lather.

Update: In case these promo videos weren't enough, the official specifications list for the LTE Galaxy Nexus has been published!

[Thanks, Matt]

Continue reading Verizon-branded, LTE-enabled Galaxy Nexus confirmed in official Google video

Verizon-branded, LTE-enabled Galaxy Nexus confirmed in official Google video originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 17 Nov 2011 08:58:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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drag2share: Next Issue Media strikes deals with more Android tablet makers ahead of full launch

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2011/11/17/next-issue-media-strikes-deals-with-more-android-tablet-makers-a/

After launching its digital newsstand for the Galaxy Tab earlier this year, Next Issue Media is now looking to expand to other Android tablets, as well. The company, which was founded by a quintet of publishers including Conde Nast, Hearst and Time Inc., has just signed partnerships with a slate of slate manufacturers, including Motorola, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba, along with Verizon Wireless. Next Issue Media didn't specify which devices would support its app, but it did take the opportunity to announce new digital magazines, like Car and Drive, Coastal Living, ELLE, Golf and Real Simple. The goal is to have a full 40 titles by the end of the year, ahead of its full-fledged launch in 2012. Turn past the break for more details in the full PR.

Continue reading Next Issue Media strikes deals with more Android tablet makers ahead of full launch

Next Issue Media strikes deals with more Android tablet makers ahead of full launch originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 17 Nov 2011 09:29:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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