There can be only one
Xbox One vs. PlayStation 4 - which box wins the next-generation console war?
Russian blogger Eldar Murtazin, known for some of his accurate tips on the mobile industry in the past, said on Twitter that Windows Phone 9 will launch at some point in the second half of 2014 (third or fourth quarter) without the iconic Metro user interface that’s currently present on all Windows Phone handsets and Windows tablets. In several tweets that followed, he suggested that the tiled Metro UI will still remain as an option to users. More importantly, he said that Windows RT will cease to exist as a standalone OS fork, as it will be incorporated in WP9, which will become the “same system” for phones and tablets. A previous report said that Microsoft sees Windows RT merging with Windows Phone by 2015. More →
It seems that learning about a dead teenage Pegatron worker has got Apple’s attention. Bloomberg reports that Apple has sent a medical team over to China to inspect a Pegatron factory to make sure that working conditions at the plant are not leading to a rash of worker deaths. Pegatron this week acknowledged that “several” of its young workers, including 15-year-old Shi Zhaokun, have died in recent months although the company insists that the deaths were unrelated to conditions in its factory. In a statement sent to Bloomberg, Apple said that while Pegatron has “found no evidence of any link to working conditions there, we realize that is of little comfort to the families who have lost their loved ones,” which is why it’s sending its own team to evaluate the situation. Pegatron, which has been largely responsible for manufacturing the iPhone 5c, has come under constant criticism from labor activists who say that the manufacturer provides even worse working conditions than Foxconn.
A court in Seoul, South Korea has determined that several accused iPhone and iPad models do not infringe three Samsung patents. The Associated Press on Thursday reported that the iPhone 5, iPhone 4S and iPad 2 were all cleared of any violation pertaining to the three Samsung patents, which related to multitasking and short messaging service technology. ”We are glad the Korean court joined others around the world in standing up for real innovation and rejecting Samsung’s ridiculous claims,” an Apple spokesperson said following the win on Samsung’s home turf. Samsung had sought to ban all three devices from being imported and sold in South Korea and the company said it plans to appeal the court’s decision. For the time being, however, it represents the latest in a long line of patent losses for Samsung, the last of which took place in California late last month when Apple was awarded an additional $290 million in damages relating to a 2012 decision.
The iPhone is staging a major comeback in China… and that’s before Apple has sold even one smartphone through the country’s largest wireless carrier. New data from Counterpoint Research show that Apple’s iPhone has seen a major resurgence in China over the past couple of months as its market share in the country has jumped from under 5% in September 2013 to around 12% in October 2013. This surge in iPhone sales, which unsurprisingly coincided with the launch of the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 5c, vaulted Apple from sixth place all the way up to third place in just the span of a month. More →
Yahoo on Wednesday finally fully acknowledged on Twitter and on the service’s personal blog that its Yahoo Mail service is experiencing issues which some of its customers had to face for more than two weeks, ZDNet reports. According to the company, an unknown number of users were not able to send and receive emails since November 25. Similar problems for other Yahoo Mail customers started on Monday, although the company only briefly mentioned these issues via Twitter a day later. “We know some of our users are unable to use Yahoo Mail,” the Yahoo Mail team wrote on December 10. “We’re on it and trying to restore access in a few hours. Sorry for the inconvenience.” More →
Earlier this week we brought you the harrowing tale of a man who tried to get his burnt Galaxy S4 replaced but was told by Samsung that he needed to keep quiet about it before they’d send him a new device. wp-Hub points out that Nokia has now graciously/opportunistically offered to fill the hole left by the man’s scorched Galaxy S4 smartphone by offering him a free Lumia device with no strings attached, which is probably the strategy that Samsung should have used instead of sending him a letter asking him to take down his YouTube video of the burnt Galaxy S4. Nokia says it wants to send the man a Lumia so he can “experience how customer service should really work.”
It has been a year since the CALM Act was officially implemented and promised to curb the volume on those raucous commercials that manage to eke out an extra few decibels from your television. Paul McNamara at Network World has taken a look at some of the data to try and decide whether or not the law has actually had any effect. According to the FCC, there are fewer complaints this year, although in this case, “fewer complaints” still means about 20,000. More →
The music streaming business just got a whole lot more competitive. According to CNET, Spotify is finally launching ad-supported streaming for smartphones and tablets. Previously, the app was only accessible to premium members, but now everyone can listen to Spotify’s enormous library on their mobile devices. With Pandora holding strong as the leader in the field, and Apple trying to lure users back to its own homegrown service, the freemium move could give Spotify a major edge. There is a small catch: although the tablet app is nearly identical to the desktop app, free users will not be able to search for individual songs. Instead, Spotify Shuffle (as the company has named it) will give you the ability to shuffle through artist playlists, preset playlists or playlists you have created yourself. The new mobile service will be available starting on Wednesday.
A couple of months ago, a group of current and former Apple employees revealed what it’s like to work in the stressful yet rewarding environment that is the Apple Campus. Now that the year is coming to a close, Glassdoor has released its annual list of “Best Places to Work,” and although Apple did make the list, the Cupertino company fell behind some of the other giants in the industry. More →
This Friday, Valve will begin shipping its official Steam Machines and Steam Controllers to the 300 lucky people who made it into the beta. The Linux-based game console was first announced in September along with SteamOS, an operating system tailor-made for the device, and the Steam Controller, a brand new input method that could close the divide between a console controller and a keyboard. More →
Of all the attempts to capitalize on motion controllers after the success of the Wii, Sony’s PlayStation Move might have been the most underwhelming. Where Microsoft doubled down on the Kinect this generation, Sony all but gave up on the PlayStation Move…at least, that’s how it looked until a patent for a “Flat Joystick Controller” was published on the USPTO website last week. The patent describes “[a] controller device to interface with a computer gaming system [that] includes a body having a handle and an object disposed at one end of the handle.” This description sounds virtually identical to the PlayStation Move, but the next few lines mention a “touch surface” on the handle that responds to a player’s finger, much like the touchpad on the DualShock 4. The PlayStation Move is supported by the PlayStation 4, but an updated version looks to be on the way. More →
There are certain markets around the world where Apple has to compete fiercely with other vendors to retain its position near the top of the heap but Japan does not appear to be one of them. According to Japanese consumer electronics tracking company BCN, iPads currently account for 6 of the top 10 best-selling tablets in Japan. Assorted versions of the iPad Air have reached the No. 1, 5, 9 and 10 sports, while different versions of the iPad mini occupy No. 2 and 8. The ASUS Nexus 7 holds the other four slots. These results aren’t quite as overwhelmingly dominant as Japan’s iPhone sales figures, which puts Apple’s smartphone in 9 of the top 10 slots, but the iPad is unquestionably the most wanted tablet in Japan. Now that Apple’s supply of new devices has started to meet demand, expect a huge holiday season for the pride of Cupertino worldwide.
The Start menu really does look like it’ll be making a comeback in the next version of Windows. ZDNet confirms a report from Paul Thurrott earlier this week that Microsoft plans to bring back the Start menu to a future version of Windows 8. ZDNet doesn’t yet know whether the Start menu will come in a Windows 8.1-style update or whether it will be part of the larger “Threshold” update that’s on track to release in early 2015. All the same, ZDNet says that the Start menu is definitely on Microsoft’s radar especially because it doesn’t want Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 users to hold off on upgrading their PCs to Windows 8 because they’re worried about the new platform’s learning curve. More →