We remember reading a couple of years ago about Bill Gates’s fully automated, yet cosy mansion, with its 40 miles of optical fiber, floor sensors that can track your location with up to six inches accuracy, and a hot tub, which can be set for the desired water temperature before you get home.
We were then just drooling, sad that we can’t outfit our own cribs like that. Well, in a few short years, the field of home automation (HA) received a significant boost, the technology is within the reach of many, and now smartphone owners have the perfect tool to carry the control unit with them at all times.
Home automation can be divided into a few broad categories, depending on what you are trying to control – lighting, HVAC, appliances, security, entertainment or others, like sprinklers or a cat feeder. We won’t be delving into the hundreds of brands and ways to adjust your home environment from afar, since there are currently more than 10 competing standards, but barely a thing you can get from Home Depot on the cheap and drive home to install yourself – we are just looking at how HA relays to your smartphone or tablet…
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Oh messaging, it has seriously become one of the most dominant forms of communication in our age, but seeing that Facebook is known for keeping people together, it’s only inevitable to see them concoct some sort of messaging app.
Of course, you can message friends by using the various Facebook apps out there, but you’re generally limited to interacting with one specific individual at a time. Well, that’s where their brand new Messenger app comes to mind as it simplifies how messaging is accomplished – while making the task of contacting multiple people very simple.
Specifically, the Messenger app delivers messages through notifications and texts – meaning, there’s more of a chance that they’ll see the message right away. Not only are you given a threaded conversation view, but you can chit chat with multiple contacts as well, which means that everyone included in the conversation will be aware of what’s being talked about.
Additionally, it features the ability for you to coordinate your plans more effectively seeing that locations can be attached to conversations – thus, keeping everyone in the loop if your plans on going out change constantly. Not only that, but you can even attach photos to reduce the hassle of sending it individually to everyone.
For those drooling at the chance of checking out the new app, it’s available for both iPhone and Android right now, however, there’s no word about any additional platforms getting it.
source: Facebook Blog
Needless to say, there’s nothing like cool tech that oozes out plenty of novel features to capture just about anyone’s attention from afar, but there’s one that’s particularly more captivating since it fits conveniently on your wrist.
Actually, an Italian company called Blue Sky is aiming to perk up the attention of smartphone users with their Android-based “I’m Watch.” As you can probably infer from its name, it’s a cool looking watch that offers some limited Android functionality – yet, it doesn’t seem or sound as gimmicky as others in the past. Naturally, some people are going to be interested in a little toy like this one, especially when it’s starting price point is at 249 euros ($350), but you’re not going to treat it like one if you happen to pick up higher models that pack luxuries such as jewels, diamonds, and other faces.
In terms of functionality, it features a 1.54” touchscreen that allows for some limited tasks like sending text messages, accessing your email, and viewing photos. Also, its built-in 3.5mm headset jack will allow you to connect headphones and jam out to some tunes. And with Bluetooth on board, it allows just about any smartphone, even the iPhone, to connect to it – so that you can inconspicuously screen phone calls.
But seeing that it’s powered by a Freescale IMX233 processor with 64GB of memory, in addition to the 4GB of flash storage for content, it’s not going to be replacing any dedicated gadget any time soon. Nonetheless, it’s one accessory that we’re sure some people will appreciate. So if you’re in interested in one, you can place a pre-order now, but don’t expect to arrive soon seeing that Blue Sky intends to ship them out starting in November.
source: I’m Watch via The Droid Guy & PC Magazine
Taiwanese phone maker HTC posted record sales in July reaching nearly $1.56 billion (T$45.11 billion), growing 83.3% year-on-year as Android sales remained strong. In June consolidated sales of the company stood at $1.55 billion. The company’s current high-end offerings include the HTC Sensation and HTC EVO 3D, both of which rely on dual-core processors and offer the company’s latest Sense UI 3.0.
HTC has also announced plans to buy Dashwire, a Seattle-based company focusing on delivering content from the cloud to various web-connected devices, for $18.5 million. The acquisition will help the Taiwanese company to widen its cloud offerings as Dashwire could bring valuable insight on syncing devices, but the move could also be seen as muscling up HTC’s innovation efforts and might help the company in its court struggles as Dashwire has licensed patents from Intellectual Ventures.
“People want access to all of their important content wherever they are on any device. The addition of Dashwire’s cutting-edge sync services and deep mobile cloud experience strengthens our ability to deliver these services,” HTC commented. Dashwire’s cloud syncing services will be built in to extend HTC’s Sense UI.
source: HTC via Reuters
Texas Instrument’s Brian Carlson says that by 2013, it will be producing OMAP chips using a 20nm process. And this line of chips will allow for “true all-day computing” according to Carlson. With low battery life currently a major issue for Android phones, a processor that allows a phone to be used all-day without a recharge is sure to find a place under the hood of some high-end smartphones using the Google open source OS.
Discussing a 2013 OMAP release would seem to put the kibosh on rumors that TI would be selling the line after the launch of OMAP5 in 2012. Speculation was centered on a bidding war between Intel and NVIDIA that would have brought some big megabucks to the Dallas based semiconductor giant.
Currently, TI’s OMAP4 processors can be found on high end phones like the Motorola DROID 3, and the chip is expected to be on the Motorola DROID Bionic. Earlier this year, as we reported, TI announced the quad-core OMAP5 with 2 cores running up to 2GHz each with 2 others acting like go-fers to fetch the coffee and donuts to save battery life and run things quickly and smoothly. With the OMAP5, 3D video can be captured in HD. The OMAP5 also improves upon current picture taking technology allowing adjustments for a shaking camera, and motion blur. Augmented reality will also get a boost from this chip thanks to better object and text recognition. The TI OMAP5 is expected to have 3 times the performance and 5 times the graphics power of the current chip. But when it comes to improving battery performance, we will have to wait for 2013.
A person who claims to be a Verizon employee has leaked a roadmap for the carrier. The information covers 9 devices from September to January and let’s start with the smartphone on the tip of every Verizon customer’s tongue-the Motorola DROID Bionic. Thanks to comments from Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha, we have been looking for a September launch of the much anticipated phone, and according to the roadmap it will be September 8th when the beast is let loose. We reported yesterday on the specs of the device straight from Motorola, so now all that is left to surprise us with is the price.
On the same date, the roadmap tells us to expect the Samsung Stratosphere. This phone is expected to replace Verizon’s Samsung Galaxy S variant, the Fascinate. This is expected to be a LTE enabled phone, launching with Gingerbread aboard. September 8th also promises to bring the Motorola XOOM 4G LTE to Big Red. It’s the tablet you all know with 4G connectivity.
The Samsung Illusion is penciled in for a September 29th launch. A low to mid-end device, this should launch with 3G connectivity and Android 2.3. Also on September 29th, the women get their phone as the HTC Bliss is expected to be launch. Designed for the fairer sex, the Bliss will be powered by Android 2.3.
Moving into October, the 6th of the month should see the release of the HTC Vigor. Rumored to have an impressive 720 x 1280 hi-res display, the Vigor is supposed to have a 1.5GHz processor under the hood. The roadmap says that October 20th will be the launch date for the LG Revolution 2 which is the sequel to the, well, you can figure it out. The original is LTE enabled so we wouldn’t expect less for the follow-up.
In November, we are told to expect the Samsung Galaxy Tab P8 which is probably the Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9. Finally, in January will come the Samsung Plato. This was originally expected to launch before the beginning of the new year, so it is possible that this will have Ice Cream Sandwich running the show.
No Samsung Galaxy S II? That probably means that we will see the August launch of the phone that we have reported. Or perhaps the Samsung Stratosphere, due out the same date as the Motorola DROID Bionic, is the hottest smartphone on earth. What a decision Verizon customers would have to make on September 8th if that is the case!
Google has taken a valuable employee off of Uncle Sam’s hands, by hiring FTC’s patent specialist Suzanne Michel. She has been with the Federal Trade Commission for a good 11 years now, and her specialty was antitrust and patent issues, so we expect her to jump right smack in the whirlwind of Android litigation.
In fact, Suzanne Michel recently authored a report for the FTC, which gave an overview of the current patent system in the U.S. and what needs to be overhauled to actually promote innovation, instead of patent trolls.
Speaking of those little creatures, Samsung has supposedly been approached to entertaining a bid for InterDigital, which is another exemplary wireless patents holder. InterDigital’s CEO recently issued a memo that its collection of patents related to the wireless industry is even stronger than Nortel’s one, which received the largest ever patent portfolio payout of $4.5 billion.
We doubt that Samsung will be willing to spend north of $5 billion, as the rumored InterDigital asking price is, not to mention that Google, Apple and others are reported to also sniff around the company. A Google/Samsung combo, however, might do the trick. It’s good times for wireless patent holders – InterDigital had $17.2 million net income last quarter, and $5 billion for its patents surely sounds like a princely sum to the CEO.
Samsung is supposedly in the process of examining what exactly InterDigital keeps, so it might be willing to pick and choose some of the 8800 patents. In any case, the little green robot is apparently lining up a patent defense, which has to go a long way fending off the established competition.
Google, which has a traditionally good relationship with IBM, has bought from Big Blue 1030 patents covering stuff “from the fabrication and architecture of memory and microprocessing chips, to other areas of computer architecture including servers and routers as well. A number of the patents also cover relational databases, object oriented programming, and a wide array of business processes.”
While some of the patents listed involve databases and search queries, which is connected to Google’s bread-and-butter search business, a lot of those will no doubt be used to fend off the number of lawsuits by Apple and others against El Goog’s Android mobile OS, after the saga with the failed bid for Nortel’s patents.
Microsoft already made HTC pay it $5 for each Android handset they make, and is on the way to bend the N1 Android maker Samsung as well. Should Apple succeed with its HTC lawsuit, it could actually earn a pretty good chink of cash from that stream as well. Cupertino already had a preliminary decision that HTC is infringing on two of its patents, and is engaged in a neck-and-neck battle with Samsung over the same patents, so Bernstein’s analyst Toni Sacconaghi thinks Apple stands a viable chance to cash in on its IP property:
Looks like Nokia might have made a wise decision to go with Windows Phone, after all, since going with Android might have invalidated the nice cash outlay and ongoing royalties it won against Apple recently, for infringing on its own patents – this kind of money is no small change for the troubled N1 cell phone maker.
After the separate International Trade Commission rulings in the beginning of the month, HTC is now ready to negotiate some terms of agreement with Apple. The ITC ruled that Apple is violating two S3 Graphics patents regarding compression technologies, whereas HTC was deemed to violate two of Apple’s own patents by the same court. HTC acquired S3 Graphics for $300 million not long ago precisely as a patent play against Cupertino.
Now the Taiwanese want to seriously talk it out and move along with life, as per Winston Yung, HTC’s Chief Financial Officer: “We have to sit down and figure it out. We’re open to having discussions. We are open to all sorts of solutions, as long as the solution and the terms are fair and reasonable. On and off we’ve had discussions with Apple, even before the initial determination came out.”
HTC is already paying royalties to Microsoft for their mobile patents, to the tune of $5 per each Android handset it makes, and it might now have to throw some cash the Apple way too, unless these two tit-for-tat violations mutually destruct in court. If HTC has to pay, we don’t know if this will be significant enough to affect HTC’s handset prices in some way, or the difference will be negligible enough for the Taiwanese to absorb in their profit margin.
With the acquisition of GestureTek, Qualcomm gets access to 25 years of intellectual property in the gesture recognition area, and plethora of engineering resources.
The mobile chipset maker says it will introduce the gesture recognition technology in the next generation of its system-on-a-chip Snapdragon family. We’ve seen some gesture-based navigation demoed by XTR and rival Texas Instruments way back last year, but things should have advanced even more by now.
We are curious what will Qualcomm come up with here. In the case of a cell phone or tablet, the front-facing camera should be the standard gesture-recognition tool involved. The next Snapdragons based on the ARM Cortex-A15 “Eagle” architecture will certainly be powerful enough to read any hand or finger movement you throw at them, so we can finally stop smudging our precious touchscreens with finger grease and ketchup.
Have a look at the XTR gesture navigation demoed on TI’s OMAP4 mobile development platform in the video below, for a hint at what’s to come with Qualcomm’s next Snapdragons. GestureTek has fitted its technology for mobiles running Android and Symbian, but knowing that Qualcomm should be powering the Nokia Windows Phone handsets, we might see gesture-based navigation implemented there as well.
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