Mozilla’s love of web apps is more than obvious; we just haven’t had a real chance to try the Firefox Marketplace that represents a large part of the company’s app strategy. The doors are at last open for a peek, although Mozilla has chosen the unusual path of giving mobile users the first crack: Android users willing to live on the bleeding edge of an Aurora build of Firefox can browse and run those web apps in Mozilla’s store. Everyone else willing to venture into the Marketplace will have to wait until their own Firefox builds receive a matching update, including that rare group with access to Firefox OS. We’re not quite in a rush to try a first wave of apps in an alpha-grade browser. Should you be the sort who thinks that even beta releases are too sluggish, however, your gateway to the Marketplace awaits at the source links.
We’ve been hearing about a certain 5-inch HTC phablet for Verizon since July, but it looks like its Japanese counterpart may actually hit the market first. Unveiled by KDDI as the HTC J Butterfly (HTL21), this Android 4.1 device is the first announced phone to feature a 5-inch, 440ppi full-HD “Super LCD 3″ panel, and it’s fittingly complemented by a 1.5GHz quad-core APQ8064 underneath, making this the latest member in the small family of Snapdragon S4 Pro phones. There’s an eight-megapixel camera that naturally handles 1080p video at the back, accompanied by a 2.1-megapixel front-facing imager. Other details include 2GB RAM, 16GB internal storage, microSDHC expansion, 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 (LE), NFC, LTE and CDMA/GSM/UMTS/GPRS radios — that’s right, it’s a global device. Not bad for a 140g package, and it’s waterproof as well, rated at IPX5. But the question is how well will the 2,020mAh battery last under that super dense LCD and high-end processor? Only time will tell — even KDDI has yet to finalize this part of the specs. Folks on the KDDI network can grab hold of this powerful phone in early December, with a choice of red, white or black.
Today’s no doubt a big day for ASUS: while chairman Jonney Shih is gearing up to introduce the PadFone 2 in Milan later today, we just saw CEO Jerry Shen wowing the crowd with the same phone-in-tablet combo back in Taipei. Just as the recent leaks have shown, ASUS’ surprisingly quick follow-up to the original PadFone is simply bigger and better in many ways, notably with a screen upgrade to 4.7-inch 720p Super IPS+ panel (with up to 550nits brightness thanks to Sharp’s IGZO technology), Qualcomm’s awesome quad-core APQ8064 SoC instead of its dual-core sibling, 13-megapixel f/2.4 BSI sensor from Sony, 1.2-megapixel front camera, and a much slimmer PadFone Station slate — partly because it no longer features a docking bay cover! New owners will be greeted by Android Ice Cream Sandwich, but ASUS promises a Jelly Bean upgrade soon. There’s much more than meets the eyes so read on to find out more.
Our 1997-era selves would die with envy right about now. Fraunhofer has developed a new generation of infrared transceiver that can transfer data at 1Gbps, or well above anything that our vintage PDAs could manage. While the speed is nothing new by itself — we saw such rates in 2010 Penn State experiments — it’s the size that makes the difference. The laser diode and processing are efficient enough to fit into a small module whose transceiver is as large as a “child’s fingernail.” In theory, the advancement makes infrared once more viable for mobile device syncing, with room to grow: even the current technology can scale to 3Gbps, lead researcher Frank Deicke says, and it might jump to 10Gbps with enough work. Along with the usual refinements, most of the challenge in getting production hardware rests in persuading the Infrared Data Association to adopt Deicke’s work as a standard. If that ever comes to pass, we may just break out our PalmPilot’s infrared adapter to try it for old time’s sake.
Now we’re intrigued. It’s a common (if unconfirmed) belief that the next iPhone will support LTE-based 4G, but the Wall Street Journal now understands through the ever-present “people familiar with the matter” that Apple is taking 4G worldwide. Where the current iPad only supports two LTE frequencies and drops to HSPA+ outside of the US and Canada, the new iPhone will supposedly cover parts of Asia and Europe as well. The exact countries haven’t been outlined, although it’s easy to imagine Apple going for those countries where 4G speeds matter the most: there’s been rumblings of talks with KT and SK Telecom in South Korea, but we could also see France, Germany, Japan and Scandiavian countries in the mix. The rumor hasn’t been confirmed, of course. That said, the iPhone was already purported to be using a new cellular chipset — and a number of carriers, most often in the US, have long said they won’t carry new smartphones unless LTE is part of the package. We’ll know the full scoop on Wednesday.
Firefox 15 is barely fresh off the vine, and we’re already looking at a beta version 16 for both desktop platforms and Android. Mozilla’s test release builds in the first support for web apps that play nicely with the Mozilla Marketplace; as long as titles have a slight amount of extra formatting, they can slot into Firefox without hiccups. More treats exist if you’re running certain platforms: the Android crowd receives a Safari-style Reader Mode that strips out the fluff from pages, while Mac users see the once test-only VoiceOver support flipped on by default to improve accessibility. Even developers get a little something special through a quick-access toolbar and more readily accessible CSS4 scripting. If any of this sounds tempting, there’s a pair of source links waiting for your attention.
The Xperia T, formerly codenamed Mint, rumor and leak victim since January, has officially broken cover. Revealing its 4.55-inch face to the crowds in Berlin, the Reality Display packs a 1,280 x 720 resolution and offers what Sony is calling the “best HD experience on a phone to date.” The company claims you can view vids in full 1080p HD quality, though we’re still waiting to receive additional clarification on this statement. (Update: Sony clarified that it was merely referring to the 1080p video recording capabilities of the phone.) The Xperia T runs on Ice Cream Sandwich, but we’re told it will be upgraded to Jelly Bean shortly after launch. It also features a 13MP fast capture camera and boasts a feature Sony is calling Sleep to Snap, which means you can go from a black screen to taking photos in an instant. What else does this new flagship offer? A one-touch function with NFC which you can use to tap to connect to other Sony devices, a 60-day premium trial of Music Unlimited and a new tier called Access which will be available in Europe for 0.99 Euros per month and will deliver full access of the service to PCs and the PS3.
The T — which will be known as the TX in select markets, and should be launching globally over the next few weeks — also sports a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm MSM8260A Snapdragon S4 CPU, pentaband UMTS / HSPA+ radios, a front-facing cam with 720p video capture, MHL connectivity, FM radio, 16GB onboard storage and an 1,850mAh battery. Dimension-wise, the T will weigh 4.9 ounces (139g) and come in at 9.35mm thick. Lastly, the new Xperia flagship will be available in black, silver and white hues (while the TX appears to come in pink as well). Pricing is still an unknown, but as we’ve seen before, it may largely depend on the market anyway. We’ll keep you posted as more details come in.
Adobe confirms it won’t support Flash on Android 4.1, stops new Flash installs from Google Play on August 15th
Adobe was very public about dropping mobile Flash last fall. In case that wasn’t clear enough, the developer just drew a line in the sand: Android 4.1 doesn’t, and won’t ever, get certification for Flash. The company is stopping short of saying that Flash won’t run, but it’s evident that Adobe won’t help you if the web browser plugin doesn’t install (or breaks in spectacular fashion) on that Nexus 7. Just to underscore the point, the firm is also halting new installations of Flash from Google Play as of August 15th. Security updates and other vital patches will continue on for existing users. Any fresh downloads after that fateful day, however, will have to come from Adobe’s mausoleum for old versions. The company had already said that HTML5 was the way forward on phones and tablets — now we know just how quickly it’s backing up that claim.
Virtually every corner of the Google universe is being touched at Google I/O, and that now includes Google Drive. A version 2 update to the Drive SDK gives Android and iOS developers the option of building the cloud storage into their mobile apps, whether it’s downloads, uploads or on-the-spot edits. The programming interface has likewise been expanded as a whole to handle everyday file duties, such as conversions, copying and revision handling. Web-only users are taken care of with support for embedded shares and opening Google documents in any given software that will take the exportable formats. The updated Drive SDK is ready to go, with a flood of apps either coming or already here — if you want to hop on the bandwagon, just take a peek at the source link.
Here’s a bit of a surprise that slipped under the radar during the Google I/O keynote: Google Earth for Android has been updated to 7.0 to take advantage of the new 3D map technology it unveiled at another special event just a few weeks ago. As a refresher, the visuals are automatically created from 45-degree aerial imagery and can pick up 3D elements as subtle as trees. Before you go racing to your hometown to see how it looks in 3D, be aware that just a handful of cities and regions exploit that dimension. Besides San Francisco Bay, the full coverage extends to Boulder, Boston, Charlotte, Lawrence, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Portland, San Antonio, San Diego, Santa Cruz and Tampa in the US, with Rome being the lone international hotspot. If that’s too few places to visit, there’s always the addition of guided tours. Android users can head over Google Play to get the update today; iOS users shouldn’t fret, as they’ll get the new maps soon.
The wait between iOS 6′s unveiling and its planned fall release just got a little bit shorter, as Apple has just pushed out beta 2. If you’re in the developer crowd that can try it out, don’t expect any revelations: the primarily focus is on the bug fixes that nudge the software closer to a final release. As in past years, multiple additional betas are expected between now and the time the iOS 6 is ready to come to the general public, so there’s likely still lots of room left for Apple to polish the release to a shine. Those paid up on their developer accounts can grab the update through the usual means and see just how much luster has been added since WWDC.
AOC has a bit of a long-term memory issue: it claims the Aire iPlay E2343Fi is the first computer monitor to have a built-in iPhone and iPod docking station. Nope. But don’t let that deter you from checking out the new 23-inch LCD, whose cradle in the base will both keep your Apple gear topped up as well as play movies and music through the display. The 10-watt speakers won’t exactly bring the house down, though they will let you take the headphones off. As an actual computer display, it’s a typical TN-based panel with a 1080p resolution, a quick 2ms pixel response time and a boldly claimed 50,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio. Those who find a separate dock or (gasp) wires too much can officially spend $280 for an Aire iPlay of their own today; Amazon and other shops have already knocked the price down to a more palpable $230.
The Xperia miro’s moved up its coming-out party a whole nine days thanks to Sony Mobile’s Facebook campaign. Loaded with ICS, the phone is outfitted with a 3.5-inch display, 5-megapixel camera, a front-facing “chat cam” and comes in shades of black, gold, pink and silver. Integrated Facebook features and customizable illuminations are also promised, but the lid hasn’t been lifted on more detailed specs. As of now, the social-minded phone is only slated for release in Europe, but look out below for some additional glamour shots or head past the break for the video unveiling.
The idea of creating a full-fledged laptop companion to a smartphone isn’t new — just ask the former Palm team — but rarely has it come across as so pretty. Clamcase’s upcoming Clambook, while it has more than a slight hint of MacBook Air about it, is really meant as a large canvas of sight and sound for an Android phone or iPhone. Although the Clambook can at least be used as a big, 16:9 ratio display for an iPhone, the emphasis is clearly on more Google-inclined users that can use an MHL port: the one cable provides audio, video, power, an Android 4.0-native keyboard and a multi-touch trackpad. More recent Motorola phone owners might get the most out of it, since Webtop’s full-size Firefox browser and windowed interface will kick in without needing one of Motorola’s proprietary docks. We’re still waiting on many basic details, like exact device support and the all-important matter of pricing, but the Clamcase should be ready for supersized Real Racing sessions by the holidays.
The 9320 has visited more countries during its short gestation than some phones get to see in their whole lives, but it’s finally arrived. The specs are pretty much what we guessed, with the socially-focused BB OS 7.1 onboard, a 3.2-megapixel camera and typical Curve features like a 2.44-inch 320 x 240 non-touch LCD display, ‘super charged’ 1450mAh battery, FM radio and a small, lightweight 103 gram QWERTY form factor. Same specs, different day, but then there’s also microSD expandability beyond the 512MB RAM, which can’t be taken for granted, plus a new feature in the form of a dedicated BBM key on the side. As for the 9320′s cheaper sibling, the 9220 shown above, we’ve already been hands-on at BlackBerry World and spotted that one of its main sacrifices is the camera: it’s only 2-megapixels and there’s no flash. That’s all 11,000 rupees ($210) gets you.
Were you eying Bowers & Wilkins’ P5 headphones, but put off by the initial $300 (now $250) sticker price and not so inclined to the in-ear C5? Someone at the company heard you, as we’re now getting the P3 for a more affordable $200. What changes when you pocket the extra cash? You’ll get aluminum and other hallmarks of buying the British outlet’s audiophile gear, but the cost trimming brings a special “ultra-light acoustic fabric” instead of sheepskin leather and a more portable folding design instead of the pivoting earcups found on the P5. Bowers & Wilkins is light on performance details, but it promises that the design will be comfortable for long listening sessions, and there are both universal and Apple-friendly in-line remotes to make your phone calls and skip tracks. Black- and white-hued versions of the P3 should be hitting American shops in June.
Sammy’s latest marketing ploy kicked off with a string of nonsense that could just as easily have come from the Sunday morning jumble: “Destination: tgeltaayehxnx,” declared the Samsung Mobile Twitter account. Anagram wizards will read that as, “the next Galaxy,” and wouldn’t you know it, it’s also the URL for an auspicious countdown clock. Sammy promises to let visitors take “the next step” in about 17 hours and counting. Bonafide internet sleuths can find an extra carrot strung up in the site’s source, reading, “discover how Samsung is about to challenge the way you view the Galaxy once more.” Is Samsung about to break its own May 3rd unveiling? We’ll let you know in 16 hours and change.
Update: It seems like that ticker just might be counting down to some sort of anagram guessing game, according to an Engadget tipster who partook in some directory diving. Among a series of assets of different colored lettered tiles he found images with instructions warnings, reading “Click on the letters in the correct order to reveal your real destination,” and “Following technology blindly often gets you nowhere.” Ominous.
After months of rumors Samsung has officially announced the world will meet the next Galaxy phone in London on May 3rd with this invite, first received by Dutch site Tweakers.net. While most speculation will immediately focus around something we’re expecting to arrive as the Galaxy S III, the BlackBerry World-spoiling invite we received is conspicuously devoid of details like name or specifications. The Galaxy S I and II are already million unit sellers many times over since they got started two years ago and have lead the Android pack as of late, so what will Samsung do to top itself this time? (Answer: not 3D, and it’s probably a little too late for the Continuum to make another run at the secondary OLED gimmick.) There’s just 17 days left until we find out for sure.