In recent years, Android has continued to get better and better with new and useful features. At the same time, iOS has become rather stagnant and in many ways has fallen behind. iOS 6 did bring new features, but its subsequent updates also introduced a slew of issues. What’s most disappointing about iOS is that it still doesn’t allow users to quickly adjust basic things such as brightness, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc. without having to dive into layers of menus. However, a forum member at The Verge recently mocked up a concept for a redesigned app switcher and managed to get a few developers to help out on a project to enhance iOS multitasking. The result is a jailbreak tweak that improves upon iOS’s current multitasking system in such an intelligent (and elegant) way that Apple (AAPL) should just hire the developers and incorporate it into iOS 7. See for yourself in the video below.
Nokia (NOK) announced on Friday Research In Motion (RIMM) has agreed to pay it a “one-time payment and on-going payments” that will end the patent litigation between the two companies in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada. The exact details to the patent license agreement weren’t disclosed. Just as the patent wars were beginning to heat up between tech companies, most are now realizing it’s easier to settle and enter into a license agreement than to wage war in the courtroom. More →
Popular cross-platform texting app WhatsApp reduced its iPhone app from $0.99 to free on Thursday. The app now delivers 10 billion messages per day, which is no surprise considering how consumers are choosing to use app-based messengers instead of paying for texting. WhatsApp is so popular, Facebook (FB) is reportedly interested in acquiring it. While it’s true the Android version of WhatsApp is also available for free, that version requires a yearly $0.99 fee after the initial year. Still, WhatsApp’s advantage over Apple’s (AAPL) built-in iMessage is that it works across multiple mobile platforms. At zero dollars, WhatsApp is a no-brainer download if you don’t already have it on iPhone.
Research In Motion’s (RIMM) first BlackBerry 10 smartphone, formerly known as the L-Series and “London” will apparently be called the “BlackBerry Z10” according to marketing materials obtained by UnwiredView. RIM’s QWERTY BlackBerry 10 device that’s slated for a release sometime between March and June will reportedly go by the name “BlackBerry X10.” As we inch closer to BlackBerry 10’s launch on January 30th in New York City, all eyes are on RIM to deliver a new smartphone and OS that finally catches up to iOS and Android. Most recently, RIM’s Dev Alpha B smartphone running BB10 was spotted crushing the iPhone 5 on iOS 6 and HTC (2498) Windows Phone 8X running Windows Phone 8 in a Web browser speed and rendering comparison test. All RIM needs to do now is deliver compelling hardware and apps to sway users who have long since abandoned BlackBerrys for iPhones and DROIDS.
Apple’s (AAPL) recent iOS 6.0.2 release had one major purpose: to fix Wi-Fi connection issues. But according to TidBITs and many other iPhone 5 and iPad mini users on Apple’s discussion forums, the update is draining battery life quicker than usual. According to TidBIT’s Michael Cohen and Adam C. Engst, the issue may be related to the updated devices now working harder to scan for Wi-Fi access points. It’s unclear how widespread the battery drain issue is. BGR didn’t notice any unusual battery drainage on one of our iPhone 5s running iOS 6.0.2. This also isn’t the first time Apple’s iOS devices have suffered from battery issues after a software update, and likely won’t be the last.
The Nexus 7 is still an amazing value at $249. But word around the block is that Google (GOOG) and ASUS (2357) are working on a $99 Nexus tablet. But now, per PhoneArena, it’s apparent that Acer (2353) is preparing to beat Google to the punch with a 7-inch Android 4.1 2Jelly Bean-powered tablet that will reportedly sell for $99. Naturally, a lower-priced tablet will come at the expense of less powerful specs. Acer’s Iconia B1 looks to have a Mediatek dual-core 1.2GHz processor, PowerVR SGX 531 GPU, 512MB of RAM, 8GB of storage, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, microSD card and SIM card slot. For $99, its display also has a much lower resolution than the Nexus 7: 1024 x 600 pixels. The Iconia B1 has already cleared the Federal Communications Comission and will likely make an appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.
Just as Steve Jobs originally (and dubiously) thought “Bicycle” was a good name for the original Macintosh or “MacMan” for the first iMac, the late Apple (AAPL) CEO almost went with the name “Freedom” for its Web browser. Former retired Apple programmer Don Melton writes on his blog that other names on the table included “Alexander” and “iBrowse,” but in the end Jobs chose “Safari.”
Google’s (GOOG) $17 million BufferBox acquisition last month raised the possibility that it was eyeing a chance to compete with Amazon (AMZN) on the e-commerce front. But Sameer Samat, vice president of Google Shopping, told AllThingsD this week that his company doesn’t have plans of “being a retailer right now.” Samat says the BufferBox buyout was to “provide a level playing field for retailers” against Amazon, or as AllThingsD puts it, Google wants to become a “retailer’s best tech friend.” Samat says Google is working to bring new features such as 360-degree product views to Google Shopping to help consumers get a better sense of what an item looks like. It’s important to note that Samat says that becoming a retailer is not the right move “right now,” which leaves Google open to becoming one further down the road.
Near Field Communication (NFC) is one of those technologies that sounds revolutionary on paper, but in reality, is much more complicated than just slapping a chip inside of a smartphone. Apple’s (AAPL) decision to not include NFC in the iPhone 5 is grounded around the fact that “it’s not a solution to any current problem.” Meanwhile, companies such as Samsung (005930) and Nokia (NOK) have already embraced NFC and are marketing it as more than just a mobile wallet replacement. And although Apple’s reluctance has been called a “serious blow for the technology”, several analysts from different firms say consumers are warming up to the feature, albeit very slowly, according to ComputerWorld.
The European Commission will charge Samsung (005930) for breaking “EU competition rules by filing lawsuits against Apple (AAPL)” according to Reuters. The watchdog’s vice president for competition policy Joaquin Almunia told Reuters it will be issuing a “statement of objections very soon.” The investigation comes after Samsung announced on Tuesday it was dropping its lawsuits against Apple for “standard essential patents pending in European courts.” The company has been under investigation by the European Commission since January for violating antitrust laws related to licensing patents that are considered essential to implementing European mobile telephony standards.
The chips race between NVIDIA’s Tegra system on a chip (SoC) and Qualcomm’s (QCOM) Snapdragon mobile processors is heating up. NVIDIA is gearing up to announce the Tegra 4 (code-named “Wayne”) that’ll offer big improvements over current Tegra 3 SoCs according to ChipHell. A leaked NVIDIA slide suggests Tegra 4 will have a “4-Plus-1 Quad Core Eagle” CPU, 72-core GPU (20x the power of Tegra 2 and six times more powerful than Tegra 3), DD3L memory support, 2560 x 1600 pixel-resolution support along with VP8 acceleration and H.264HP, 28 nanometer process for lower power consumption and USB 3.0 support. A release time-frame isn’t included in the slide, but Engadget surmises NVIDIA will make an announcement no later than Mobile World Conference in February 2013. More →
After a month-long delay, Nintendo (NTDOY) will launch its Nintendo TVii service for the Wii U on December 20th in the U.S. and Canada. Nintendo TVii is the company’s take on organizing all of the various video streaming and DVR services a user might subscribe to and then displaying them in an easy-to-navigate touchscreen-based interface on the Wii U GamePad. With Nintendo TVii, Nintendo hopes to make content discovery an easier task, rather than a chore. At the same time, Nintendo TVii will offer new “second-screen” experiences (similar to Xbox SmartGlass) with built-in social sharing options to Facebook (FB), Twitter and the Wii U console’s Miiverse.
Samsung (005930) Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note II owners had a big scare last week when it was discovered the smartphones are vulnerable to app-based attacks stemming from a security hole with their Exynos-4 processors. Samsung confirmed to Android Central that it has investigated the “potential security issue” and re-states that the “issue may arise only when a malicious application is operated on the affected devices; however, this does not affect most devices operating credible and authenticated applications.” Nonetheless, Samsung will be releasing a software update “to address it as quickly as possible.” Samsung’s swift action is reassurance that it values the more than 30 million Galaxy S III and more than 5 million Galaxy Note II customers it has racked up this year.