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Wednesday, 27 January 2016

iOS 9.3 Beta 2 Vs iOS 9.2.1 Head-To-Head Speed Test Comparison

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Apple’s recently released iOS 9.2.1 is at times noticeably faster at carrying out common tasks like opening the camera and switching between apps than its predecessors, especially on older devices. Apple’s new releases of iOS aren’t always quite so forgiving, so it’s always good to see new performance being drawn out of old hardware.
But there’s a new kid on the block in the form of iOS 9.3 beta 2, which was recently released to both developers and those on the public beta program alike. The new build is the latest to arrive with some of Apple’s newest features for the iPhone and iPad, including the much talked aboutNight Shift. New features are great and all, but what we really want to know is how fast those running the current betas can expect their iPhones and iPads to run once it’s installed. Has Apple managed to push on from the success of iOS 9.2.1, or has it had to dial things back?
That’s a question that can only be answered by taking a host of devices and comparing their performance across a couple of different versions of iOS – in this case, iOS 9.2.1 and iOS 9.3 beta 2. The folks at iAppleBytes has done another sterling job, releasing four videos to illustrate their findings.
All four videos compare the aforementioned versions of iOS across four different pieces of hardware; iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5s and iPhone 6, with the results speaking for themselves. We won’t completely spoil it for you, but what we will say is to remember that this is still beta software in the case of iOS 9.3. Logging will be turned on, and things won’t be quite as optimized as they would normally be, so it’s not time to write iOS 9.3 off just yet.
You can view all four videos below.
(Source: iAppleBytes)

Monday, 25 January 2016

Samsung To Reportedly Release All Of Its Mobile Apps For iPhone This Year

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Samsung and Apple have long been competing against one another for smartphone dominance, but it looks as though the South Korean company could be about to take a leaf out of Microsoft’s book. Samsung has already confirmed that it plans to bring official iOS support for its Gear S2smartwatch, and now, according to a new report, the company has internal plans to release nearly all of its existing mobile apps onto Apple’s iOS platform in the coming months.
It’s an interesting report. It suggests that Samsung is not only in the latter stages of bringing official iOS support for the Gear S2, but that it’s also in the midst of developing a Gear Fit Manager app for the iOS platform. When released, the Gear Fit Manager will afford owners of the Gear Fit to connect the popular activity tracker with the app with the intention of tracking various fitness activities that are then synced and stored on the iPhone. The development of that platform also ties in nicely with the speculation that Samsung is also developing an iOS version of its proprietary S Health platform.
Porting the S Health platform to Apple’s mobile platform will allow users to track workouts, consumption of food and calories, sleep, and all over activities that have an impact of their lifestyle. Storing and collating this data to then upload to S Health will allow users the ability to get an overall picture of their lifestyle and associated health and fitness levels – across different platforms. The story doesn’t stop there though for Samsung, its apps, and its plans to bring them to users who prefer the iOS platform. There’s speculation suggesting that the Remote Control and Family Square apps are also on their way to Apple’s iPhone and iPad hardware.
If those apps don’t float your boat, then how about iOS variants of the Level app for Samsung’s Level audio products? Or the Smart Camera app that brings an enhanced user interface and additional improved features specific to iPhone owners? There’s no real granularity to the details at the moment along the lines of when Samsung actually plans to introduce these apps. In fact, it’s entirely unknown if Samsung actually has a roadmap at this stage. We can however expect to see these apps filter through by the end of the year.
(source: SamMobile)

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Turn Any Still Image Into A Live Photo With LivePapers App [Download]

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We have seen plenty of apps on the App Store which let users convert Live Photos to still images or a Live Photo to a share-friendly gif or video file. But about the other way around? What if we want to convert our existing still images into animated Live Photos of sorts? A new app called LivePapers can help us do just that.
The app is easy and simple to use, with the user having to select any still image from the Camera Roll in the app and then applying desired animation effects and filters from a set of available options. The app also comes with an in-app camera viewfinder to help users quickly grab a new still photo and then convert it into a Live Photo by applying effects on the fly should they wish.
iPhone 6s Live Photos main
The effects available in the app are what essentially gives the photo that animated feel which can be invoked using 3D Touch gesture on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. Those with non-3D Touch devices running iOS 9.2 can also view the animated Live Photo using the long-press gesture.
Live Photos created using LivePapers app can be saved back to the Camera Roll. Images saved as Live Photos this way can also be set as Live Wallpapers on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. Because of Apple’s limitation, Live Wallpapers option is available only on the 3D Touch supported iPhone models.
LivePapers app can be grabbed right now for $1.99 from the App Store. It is compatible with all iPhone, iPad and iPod touch models running iOS 9.2 or up.
(Download: LivePapers for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch from the App Store)

Friday, 22 January 2016

Microsoft Recalls Surface Pro, Pro 2, Pro 3 Power Cords, Here’s How To Get A Replacement

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Users of a Surface Pro, Surface Pro 2 or Surface Pro 3 may want to check their device’s power cord out, after Microsoft initiated a recall of the cords sold with devices.
In a post on its website, Microsoft began the recall by outlining which of its tablets are affected, with all Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 requiring their power cords to be returned to the company. Things are a little more complicated for Surface Pro 3 owners, however, with only devices that were bought before March 15th 2015 needing to be swapped out.
Microsoft will provide one AC power cord replacement free of charge for each eligible Surface Pro device that you own. No proof of damage is required to receive a replacement AC power cord.
Owners of Surface Pros that are eligible for a free replacement power cord will need to fill in an online form here in order to begin the process, with one form required per device, meaning those with multiple cords that require replacement unfortunately having to fill in a new form for each. Business customers need to contact the Surface for Business customer team.
The reason for the recall appears to be relating to a design flaw that allows the cords to become damaged during normal use, with newer cords – those sold after March 15th 2015 – have been redesigned to avoid such issues. Photographs of both the old and new designs are available on Microsoft’s support page.
Image from Microsoft’s support page for the Surface Pro, Surface Pro 2 and Surface Pro 3 power cord replacement
If you are in possession of a Surface Pro that requires a power cord swap-out, we suggest you get it done without delay. Microsoft isn’t going into detail as to what the potential outcomes are of using an older power cord, but companies don’t swap out accessories unless they need to and while Microsoft may not have sold a huge number of Surface Pros over the years, we suspect we’re talking of more than a few of its customers being affected by this recall.

iPhone 5se Detailed, Launching In March Along With iPad Air 3 And New Apple Watch Bands

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It turns out that we might get a new iPhone in March after all, if new rumors are to be believed.9to5Mac is today reporting that a new 4-inch iPhone will be released this March, with the “iPhone 5se” being its designation. More on that name in a minute.
While rumors had already pegged March as the release date for a new 4-inch iPhone, at the time rumored to be the iPhone 6c, it is now being reported that Apple will call the new model – codenamed “N69″ – the iPhone 5se with the device being a mashup of older iPhone 5s and newer iPhone 6 technology.
Aesthetically, the rumored iPhone 5se will see the iPhone 5s’ chamfered edges replaced by curved glass just like the iPhone 6/6s while the screen will stick to the 4-inch display that was so popular before the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus jumped to 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screens respectively.
When it comes to internals, the updated handset will feature the same 8 megapixel and 1.2 megapixel cameras that were part of the iPhone 6, bringing support for larger panoramas and autofocus during video recording. An NFC chip will also be included in the new iPhone 5se to enable Apple Pay, while the heart of the handset will be A8 and M8 chips just like the iPhone 6. A barometer will also be included in order to allow the Health app to track elevation, according to the new report.
The new, unannounced handset will be available in the same Silver, Space Gray, Gold and Rose Gold color options that we have become accustomed to of late.
As far as software is concerned, Live Photos will indeed be supported by the new iPhone 5se, although that doesn’t mean that the screen will feature 3D Touch because, if the rumor is true, the iPhone 5se screen will not gain pressure sensitivity capabilities.
On the subject of that name, it is now being suggested that the designation is in reference to the device being a special edition, or enhanced version of the 5s. While not being up to the same specification as the current iPhone 6s flagship, the new, smaller iPhone 5se would certainly be no slouch in the performance stakes. If a 4-inch iPhone is your cup of tea, then the iPhone 5se may be a good bet for you, assuming it’s real, of course.
Also set to make an appearance in March is the rumored iPad Air 3 following claims that devices with code names iPad 6,3 and iPad 6,4 have begun showing up. It’s unclear what the iPad Air 3 would bring to the table, especially given the iPad Pro’s recent introduction, but we don’t expect to see Apple Pencil support just yet.
Fans of the Apple Watch are unlikely to see second-generation model this March, though new software update and perhaps new bands are a possibility at this point. Apple Watch 2 will likely be unveiled during the iPhone 7 event in September 2016.
apple watch link bracelet knockoff 2
If even a fraction of this turns out to be accurate, March is going to be a busy – and expensive – month for all of us.
(Source: 9to5Mac [1][2])

New Apple Patent Suggests Curved Wraparound Displays For Future iPhones

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A new patent application shows what Apple may have in mind for the iPhone, with curved displays very much the order of the day. Apple is expected to dump LCD screens in favor of a flexible OLED solution by 2018, making this new patent particularly pertinent.
Apple patents are a wonderful thing because even when they never amount to anything – there are plenty of Apple patents that never see the light of day in a real product – it gives us hope that someone deep inside Apple is thinking so far outside the box that they can’t see it anymore, and that the likes of Google aren’t the only ones letting their engineers come up with weird and wonderful ideas.
The latest patent to pop up with Apple’s name on it is actually one that could very well be used at some point in the near future. Submitted last September and then approved this week, the patent describes an “electronic device with a wrapped display,” which is something Apple has been rumored to have on its roadmap for a while. Said rumors have inspired designers to come up with concepts showing how Apple could employ the technology with the iPhone.
The patent itself shows a range of different uses for the wrapped displays, ranging from devices with flat displays and minor curves to some truly odd ideas – including fully cylindrical displays – that make our head hurt. With Apple said to be making the switch from LCD to flexible OLED as soon as 2018, we think we can guess which of these will find their way to market first, and it’s not the cylinder.
As we said earlier, not all of Apple’s patents amount to something, but if there is one that we think is likely to come in useful at some point, it’s this one. We can’t wait to see what Apple does with it.
(Source: USPTO)

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Samsung’s CES 2016 Banners Show Smart Fridge With Huge Touchscreen

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As CES 2016 is just around the corner, technology companies the world over are getting ready to blitz us with some great (and some not so great) ideas throughout the event. One of those that will have a big presence at CES 2016 is Samsung, and if the advertising artwork that it is hanging in the main hallway at CES is anything to go by, it seems the smart fridge is once again making a comeback.
The artwork doesn’t really give too much away other than to show what appears to be one of the company’s new smart fridges, but with what seems to be a large touchscreen on one of the doors. That in itself isn’t all that interesting, but what is catching the eyes of many is the fact that this screen appears to be running a customized version of Android. In fact, the artwork almost looks like it’s been mocked up by pasting an Android phone on top of a fridge, and that’s about it. Still, because it doesn’t specifically mention Google’s mobile OS, we can’t say for sure. It could very well be running the Linux-based Tizen.
What really has us interested is the appearance of the familiar Android capacitive buttons on the bottom of that screen. Could it be like one of those very large-screen Samsung’s Galaxy tablets but shoved into the door of one of its fancy fridges? Given some of Samsung’s design work in the past, would anything really surprise us at this point?
As for the fridge itself, it looks like standard smart fridge fare – such as being able to make shopping lists, read the news, leave digital post-it notes and even listen to music – are on the cards, though at least two of those features strike me as downright crazy. This is a fridge after all – who wants to read the news on it?
Of course, I also used to wonder who would ever want to take photos on their phones at one point. One can’t be right every time!
(Source: The Verge)

10 things to expect from Android in 2016

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The year is drawing to a close, and it's time to reflect on last 12 months and peer into our crystal ball to see what the next will bring. The short answer: lots. 2016 is going to be an exciting year for Android, and big things are coming. Here are 10 things to expect from Android in 2016.

AndroidPIT Android N Nutella 4
Android Nutella, anyone? / © ANDROIDPIT

1. Android N

It’s a while away so details are still scarce, but we know of at least one key feature that will be present in Android N: a split-screen UI. That’s because the Pixel C team said so in a Reddit AMA. According to Chrome and Android Director of User Experience Glen Murphy: “We’re working hard on a range of enhancements for Android in this form factor… there are many things, like multi-window, that we’ve been spending a lot of time on – hopefully we can share more about this soon.”
His colleague, hardware director Andrew Bowers, added: “We're working on lots of things right now for N that, of course, we wish we had, you know, yesterday. But we'd spoil the surprise of N if we shared all of them. Split screen is in the works!"
As for the name… Android Nutella, anybody? Nougat? Nom nom nom?

2. Chinese smartphone invasion

China is important to Android in two ways: it’s a huge market, and it’s home to some of the most fast-moving and aggressive manufacturers in the smartphone business.
Firms such as Xiaomi and OnePlus have very efficient supply chains and can offer devices for a fraction of the cost of their rivals, and you can be sure they’re giving the big-name Android firms sleepless nights already. Xiaomi, in particular, is known as “the Apple of China”, a phrase that should strike fear into Samsung in particular.
Chinese manufacturers such as Xiaomi are flexible and aggressive. / © ANDROIDPIT

3. Touch technology

If you’ve envied the 3D Touch feature in the latest iPhones, you’ll be pleased to know it’s coming to a phone near you too. Synaptics’ ClearForce touch sensing tech has been developed in conjunction with “leading global OEMs… to deliver this new dimension in touch with force-enabled smartphones expected to ship in early 2016.”

4. Better processors

The two big processors of 2016 will be the Snapdragon 820 and the Exynos 8, which you’ll find in the most powerful Androids. The Exynos 8 is expected to power the Samsung Galaxy S7, while the Snapdragon will appear in other firms' flagships.
Early benchmarks suggest that the 820 will be a powerful performer and won’t suffer from the thermal throttling that plagued its predecessor, the 810.
Exynos vs Snapdragon
2016 will bring new additions to both families: the Exynos 8 and the Snapdragon 820. / © ANDROIDPIT

5. YouTube Music

No matter what you think of Google Play Music All Access, as a brand, it doesn’t have the clout of Spotify or Apple Music. YouTube does, and while the announcement of YouTube Music in November was overshadowed by the YouTube Red subscription service, it could be a really big deal and a selling point for Android phones.

6. Ad blocking blocking

No, that’s not a typo. A storm is brewing over the use of ad blocking. Some phone networks are considering adding it automatically to save users’ bandwidth and app developers are offering it for browsers.
Whether at a network level or on individual smartphones, ad blockers could spell doom for ad-funded websites, and some of them are starting to strike back by blocking anybody running ad blockers. The war’s likely to get nastier during 2016.

7. Dark theme – finally

The first developer previews of Marshmallow contained a battery-friendly dark theme, but it didn’t make the final cut. We think it’ll turn up in Android N.
None more black than Dark Theme. / © Android Police

8. Laptops running Android

The Pixel C may be the shape of things to come: instead of choosing ChromeOS for its tablet-laptop hybrid, Google went for Android instead. Given that Android already scales down to smartwatches and up to HDTVs, embracing laptops and hybrids seems like a sensible move.
AndroidPIT Google Pixel C 8742
The Pixel C runs Android, not ChromeOS. / © ANDROIDPIT

9. An exit or a merger

As we’ve been saying for a while, Android isn’t necessarily a brilliant business for hardware firms. Margins are terrifyingly small and some companies aren’t making profit at all.
We think at least one familiar name will make a radical change in 2016 – not necessarily getting out of the smartphone business, but perhaps teaming up with another firm. It wouldn’t be the first time a loss-making phone firm merged with another in order to save its bacon; remember Sony Ericsson?

10. Whatever’s in the iPhone 7

Some of the things we’ve already mentioned, such as 3D Touch and split-screen working, were popularized by Apple before becoming a big deal on Android, and that’s good. Nobody has a monopoly on bright ideas, and if Apple comes up with something useful, then we’re quite happy to see it make its way across to Android.
This could be an important year, then, because it’s the tick in Apple’s tick/tock phone development cycle: the iPhone 7 is expected to be significantly different to the 6/6s models.
iphone 6s 3d touch 2
Good ideas are good ideas, even if Apple comes up with them first. / © Apple
What do you think we'll see from Android in 2016? Tell us your predictions and hopes in the comments.

What To Expect From Apple In 2016

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2016 is likely to be a big year for Apple, but really, which year hasn’t been a big year for it of late? If you start back in 2007 when the iPhone was introduced, then it’s fair to say that every year since then has been pivotal in shaping the Apple that we know today, for better, or for worse.
So with 2016 now (just) underway, things are set to get interesting over in Cupertino. With iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches and Macs floating around its Apple Stores, which will be big players this year and which will see significant changes in their product lineups?
Just what should we expect from Apple in 2016?
Apple Watch 2
(Early 2016)
Apple Watch 2 main
The Apple Watch is now coming up to its first birthday, if you use its release date rather than announcement for such things, and rumors are starting to swirl as to what the second generation device will entail and when it will be available to buy. Current guesses have some time in the first few months of the year as possible announcement and subsequent release dates, with a special media event in March set to unveil both the new Watch and a new, smaller iPhone alongside. New hardware, such as a FaceTime camera are likely, though we’re less sure about that camera than we are, say, faster internals.
iPhone 6c
(Early 2016)
Rumored to be announced alongside the new Apple Watch at the March event, an iPhone 6c would see a new 4-inch device go on sale for the first time in a couple of years. That device will, if rumors are to be believed, feature iPhone 6-like innards but with some iPhone 6s bits thrown in for good measure, and with a smaller screen, a larger battery than the iPhone 5s and 2GB of RAM. Think iPhone 6 or 6s, but smaller.
iPad Air 3
(Early to mid 2016)
iPad Air 2
The good news is the iPad Air 3 may not be too far away if rumors are to be believed, but the bad news is that it is highly unlikely to feature the same 3D Touch technology that is available in the iPhone 6s, nor carry the same pen-capable technology of the iPad Pro. Faster, more capable and likely thinner and lighter than the iPad Air 2, the third generation Air will be quite a machine. Probably.
iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus
(Fall 2016)
Set to arrive in its usual September time slot, the new flagship iPhone will come with a redesigned chassis and improved internals, with a 256GB storage option said to be likely. Rumors of the new iPhone 7 being waterproof aren’t too much of a stretch given the iPhone 6s’ uncanny ability to withstand quite a soaking, though we wouldn’t want to put too much money on it becoming a reality. The same goes for rumors having the iPhone 7 ditch the 3.5mm earphone jack we are all so familiar with. We may finally be getting rid of those antenna lines though!
MacBook Air
The MacBook Air has become the notebook computer that Apple believes most people should buy. It’s the cheapest notebook in its lineup and it’s a capable one too. Not quite as impressive to look at or pick up as the stupendously minuscule 12-inch MacBook, the Air is likely to get a significant update that could make it one of Apple’s most interesting products once again. Quite what that will entail though, we’re not quite sure at this point. It’ll be thin and light, though. Of that we are certain.
12-inch MacBook, MacBook Pro, iMac, Mac mini, Mac Pro
Don’t expect any huge changes here, with all having been kept ticking along just fine of late. CPU bumps, hopefully some price drops and maybe some rejigging of the currently available configurations are likely the order of the day here. Apple’s going to be busy enough as it is, without giving everything it makes a major overhaul in 2016.
5K Cinema Display, Apple TV 5, iPad Pro 2, iPad mini 5 
Apple will forever be rumored to be working on a 5K Cinema Display until the day it makes one, so let’s just get that out of the way early in the year please, Mr Cook. Beyond that, the next Apple TV will possibly support 4K video via a new CPU configuration, though if Apple TV revisions of the past are anything to go by, that’s likely to arrive in 2020 rather than 2016! The iPad Pro and iPad mini are likely to receive incremental updates this year, though, that being said, we wouldn’t be too surprised if the iPad Pro was on an update cycle longer than 12 months. Especially given its price.
iOS 10, OS X 10.12, watchOS 3, tvOS 10
(Betas in mid 2016, release in Fall)
We will, of course, have WWDC on the horizon soon enough. That alone should keep us all busy, with iOS 10, OS X 10.12, watchOS 3 and possibly even a new version of tvOS being shown off. iOS 10, in particular, has us looking forward to the event. If iOS 10 is the equivalent of what OS X brought to the table for the Mac, then we could be in for quite a year on our iPhones and iPads!
Whatever happens to iOS, though, 2016 could be one of Apple’s biggest years yet. Challenges undoubtedly lay ahead and competitors will turn up the heat over the course of the next twelve months – that’s what keeps Apple honest and in turn is great for us consumers. We’re only a couple of days into 2016 right now, but the next 300+ days look like they may be good ones.
Here’s hoping!