Cyber Monday has only existed for a the better part of a decade, but it is already beginning to rival Black Friday. Bloomberg reports that Cyber Monday sales have jumped 19% over last year, setting December 2nd up to be “the biggest online shopping day of 2013.” Mobile traffic now accounts for 30% of all participating retailers’ web traffic as well. According to PayPal, 16% of all purchases made using the popular online payment service were from mobile devices. IBM also chimed in with some interesting statistics: Customers generally prefer to use smartphones when browsing for things to buy but prefer to use tablets when it comes time to make the actual purchase. More →
In our review of the Xbox One, we talked about the potential of the console as a platform that will evolve over the course of this generation. According to ZDNet, part of that evolution will include unifying the game console even further with the Windows and Windows Phone operating systems. An update codenamed “Threshold,” reportedly set to be released in 2015, will roll out to virtually every Windows-powered device. If the site’s sources are correct, this convergence will bring even more shared features and capabilities to Microsoft’s lineup than the previously-reported merging of Windows RT and Windows Phone. This update could also play a significant part in the single, OS-wide app store that Microsoft is working to bring to Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 8.1.
Transferring media between devices has always been a hassle, especially when it comes to transmitting videos from a phone or tablet to a television. Google has taken a stab at eliminating the frustration with Chromecast, but Cyanogen’s Koushik Dutta (or Koush) wants to make the process even easier by taking additional hardware out of the equation and making use of the devices you already have in your home. AllCast is an Android app that will stream video from your phone or tablet to any DLNA-compatible streaming device connected to your TV. In the demonstration, Koush streams his video to a Roku box, an Xbox One and a Samsung Smart TV — and even to the Apple TV. AllCast is still in beta, so if you want to give it a try before its official release, you will need to join the ClockworkMod Beta Testers group on Google+. Check out the app in action in the video below. More →
Taking advantage of Black Friday, Amazon released an ad comparing the iPad Air unfavorably to its own Kindle Fire HDX, making Amazon the latest in a long line of tech giants to set its sights on Apple’s tablet in an ad. Amazon’s ad takes things a step further, however, by making things personal and mocking Apple design chief Jonathan Ive. The Kindle Fire HDX has a 2560 x 1600 resolution display, which amounts to about 1 million extra pixels over the iPad Air’s 2048 x 1536 display. The HDX is also 20% lighter than the iPad Air, weighing in at just 13.2 ounces as opposed to the 16.8 ounces of the iPad Air. And the kicker: Amazon’s Kindle Fire HDX costs just $379 while the iPad Air starts at $499. Amazon is obviously not the first tablet vendor to attack Apple — in fact, both Microsoft and Nokia released commercials last week in order to convince shoppers to rethink that iPad purchase this holiday season. With tablets expected to take over the market as early as next year, every company is doing what it can to carve out its place. The HDX advertisement follows below. More →
Samsung announced earlier this month that the Tizen Association had gained 36 powerful friends in the tech industry, but its latest partner might be the most valuable addition yet. According to a report at ZDNet Korea, Samsung’s Chief Secretary Wonsuk Lee revealed that the company will be working closely with Mozilla to foster a relationship between Tizen OS and Firefox OS. Speaking at an HTML5 conference, Lee said that both Tizen and Firefox support HTML5 development, so any apps created for one OS could be made available on the other. Although Samsung has still yet to announce a date for the first Tizen phone, Lee did say that Tizen should launch in the first half of 2014.
The installer for CyanogenMod, a popular alternative to Google’s stock version of Android, has been pulled from Google Play after its creators were informed by Google that the installer is in violation of the store’s developer terms. The Google Play support team told Cyanogen that the installer was relatively harmless, but “encourages users to void their warranty.” Cyanogen was asked to voluntarily remove the installer before Google was forced to take down the app itself. It is still possible to download CyanogenMod through the team’s website, but according to Cyanogen, “it’s a hassle and adds steps to the process.” There is no word on when or if the installer will reappear on Google Play in the future.
If you were looking forward to the customary modest price drops from Apple for Black Friday, this might not be your year. 9to5Mac reports that this weekend Apple will replace its usual Apple Store discounts with Apple Store gift cards, which naturally cannot be applied to the purchase for which the gift card is rewarded. If you were planning on picking up a new iPad Air anyway, though, it’s an easy way to check off another gift in the process. According to 9to5Mac’s sources, the gift cards will vary in value based on the price of the purchased item. This does not rule out discounts entirely, but gift cards will likely be the focus of in-store Black Friday promotions for Apple. More →
Amid all the turmoil of its flailing mobile phone business, BlackBerry has finally found success with the cross-platform version BBM and is attempting to continue that growth by preloading the messaging software on select Android phones. Along with the potential for external growth, the functionality of the app is expanding as well with the release of Channels. Channels are a new way to interact with the brands, artists and communities you follow. You can start a public conversation with the other followers of any Channel or send a private message to the owner of the Channel. You can create your own Channel right now on BlackBerry’s website, but in order to access the new mobile feature, you will need a BlackBerry device. The addition should be migrating to iOS and Android versions of BBM “in the coming months,” the company says.
We have already seen what appears to be one of the coolest new features of the Galaxy S5, but Samsung has yet to release any official specs for its upcoming flagship smartphone. It’s not a complete list, but ETNews has cobbled together some additional features that might appear on the Galaxy S5. The rumored specs include a flexible 5-inch OLED display, the previously reported 16-megapixel rear camera with auto focus, a 4,000 mAh battery, 3GB of RAM and Android 4.4 KitKat. Whether or not these specs hold up in the months leading up to release is a mystery, but the mention of a plastic case does cast even more doubt on the dream of a metal Galaxy S5. The report also states that the S5 will go into mass production in January, which would push the release date to February or March at the earliest. If there really are only a few months until release, confirmation of the full spec sheet shouldn’t be far off.
When Microsoft decided to focus the Xbox One marketing campaign around the console’s media capabilities, my main concern was that everything would work just well enough, and nothing about the console would stand out. If the Xbox One was going to be a living room media device and a cable box and a video game console, something would have to give. But Microsoft proved me wrong: First and foremost, the Xbox One is a very capable gaming device, and a worthy successor to the Xbox 360. More →
Smartphone shipments are expected to equal one-seventh of the Earth’s population by the end of the year, but how has the market maintained its momentum? Easy: lower prices. According to an IDC forecast, smartphones are expected to see 39.3% year-over-year growth in 2013, while their average selling prices (ASPs) will decline 12.8%, from $387 to $337. More →
It’s not all doom and gloom for devices other than smartphones. Canalys predicts that tablets will split the computer market with notebooks and desktops in 2014, taking a 50% share of next year’s shipments. Tablets had already caught up to within half a million units of worldwide notebook shipments in Q3 2013, but as traditional PC sales continue to decline, tablets are going to pick up the slack. More →
Killzone: Shadow Fall is a gorgeous mess. What could have been a heavyweight contender in an already crowded market for next-gen shooters is bogged down by a tedious, cliched, and ridiculous single player campaign that Guerrilla Games arguably forgot to finish. Maybe they just didn’t have time. I can’t be sure. Thankfully, the robust multiplayer buoys an otherwise sinking package by building upon what was offered in Killzone 3, one of my favorite competitive experiences on the PS3. More →