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Monthly Archives: November 2013

Apple patent filing adds trackpad functions to home button and turns entire display into fingerprint sensor

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Arguably the most notable characteristic of the iPhone 5s is the TouchID fingerprint sensor, which lets you unlock your phone and authorize app purchases simply by resting a pre-authenticated fingertip on the home button. It turns out, however, that Apple might’ve had plans for the technology that go far beyond just that. According to a patent application filed with the World International Property Organization, the Cupertino company may use TouchID’s sensor technology to transform the Home button into a trackpad, similar to the ones on BlackBerry’s older line of Curve handhelds. Indeed, the patent filing describes how users could navigate the phone by “revolving” or “twisting” their fingerprint on the button’s sensor. Additionally, the sensor could measure the length of time and amount of pressure that is placed on it, which might lead to more interesting use-cases in apps or games.

What’s even more intriguing, however, is that the document goes on to describe how the entire display can be used to read your fingerprints. This sounds like a crazy idea at first, but if implemented, the phone would then know exactly which finger of which hand is on the screen. This could lead to certain actions mapped to specific digits — perhaps a long-press of your index finger could launch Maps, while a pinch of your pinky and thumb could open up Messages, for example. A few diagrams from the patent application show how screen-wide fingerprint recognition could be used for playing a piano or touch-typing on the virtual keyboard. If you’re concerned that this could lead to serious battery drain, the patent even addresses that, stating that the phone would be smart enough to recognize when it’s in moments of fingerprint recognition (i.e. “enhanced sensitivity”) or when it’s normal everyday use, otherwise known as “reduced sensitivity.”

Further, it seems that enhanced sensitivity could just be restricted to small screen areas so that only certain apps — like banking or email perhaps — would be cloaked in that extra layer of protection. Of course, just because such functionality is filed away in a patent application doesn’t mean we’ll see this in real life. However, taken with the promise of Apple’s recent acquisition, we’ll admit we’re very interested to see how the iPhone 6 will turn out. Those interested in patent minutiae can go ahead and peruse the rather lengthy 612-page document in the link below.  by engadget

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Posted by on 26/11/2013 in IT

 

Western Digital Black2 drive packs both solid-state and spinning storage

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Performance-minded PC users frequently want both a fast solid-state drive for crucial apps and a regular hard disk for everything else, but that’s not always feasible in the tight space of a laptop. Western Digital is making that two-drive option a practical reality through its new Black2. The design puts both a 120GB SSD and a 1TB spinning disk into a single 2.5-inch SATA enclosure, offering more speed and capacity than you’d find in a typical hybrid drive. It’s potentially an ideal blend for gamers and small form factor PC builders, although they’ll pay for the privilege — WD is shipping the Black2 today for $300, or roughly as much as the two drives by themselves.

[Thanks, Metayoshi] by engadget

 
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Posted by on 26/11/2013 in IT

 

Fixes coming for Skype Messaging on Windows Phone; improved device syncing also in the works

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If you’ve used Skype on Windows Phone, chances are you’ve dealt with out-of-sync and missed messages. Luckily, a fix is on the horizon: according to Skype product manager Jeff Kunins, who spoke with The Verge, Microsoft is aware of the issues and working to resolve them. Part of the problem, it seems, stems from Microsoft’s move from peer-to-peer networks for Skype to cloud-based servers.

Once the hiccups are fixed, users can expect syncing across devices to avoid any random bursts of old, already-read messages. Kunins also said that continuous notifications will run only on the device you’re currently using, as opposed to every Skype-running gadget you own. Few things are more headache-inducing than five different devices ringing at once, after all. Finally, Kunins hinted that the Skype app for Windows 8.1 will have “a lot of fun things” to offer. Stay tuned. by engadget

 
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Posted by on 26/11/2013 in IT

 

Line messaging app doubles size in seven months, has 300 million users

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The public’s adoration of stickers and kawaii mascots continues unabated. There are now 300 million Line users out there, possibly making it the biggest messaging app you’ve never used. While it still has a challenge on its hands to claw away users from Western favorites like Whatsapp and Facebook, the conventional wisdom is that messaging is very much big business. Line continues to grow its following in Asia and while Japan forms the base of operations for the app, overseas messaging accounts for roughly 80 percent of its business. We’re off to score some new Dragon Quest stickers. Or maybe some Finding Nemo ones. So many ‘stamps’, so little time. by engadget

 
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Posted by on 26/11/2013 in IT

 

Samsung’s Galaxy Grand 2 is the size of a Galaxy Note but lacks the stylus

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The Galaxy Grand 2 is another big Samsung phone (5.25 inches this time), but while it might share the screen-size with the Galaxy Note family, there are a few hardware changes that make this handset more middleweight than flagship. There’s 8GB of base storage, with microSD expansion up to 64GB, a quad-core 1.2GHz processor and no stylus. The rear-facing 8-megapixel camera also might not stand up to comparisons against the higher pixel-count varieties. Compared to the original Galaxy Grand, which housed a limp 800 x 480 WVGA screen, the sequel’s incrementally bigger display now cranks that up to a passable 720p. The phone will also arrive running Android 4.3, in white, black and pink color options. There’s still no LTE on the model, but (at least?) there’s dual-SIM slots which means the smartphone is likely to make a global roll-out at a presumably moderate price. When we hear the specifics, we’ll let you know.

 
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Posted by on 26/11/2013 in IT

 

Apple confirms PrimeSense buyout, paves way for motion-controlled future

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At last, the will-it-or-won’t-it drama surrounding Apple’s rumored acquisition of PrimeSense is over. The iPhone maker has confirmed the deal with AllThingsD, issuing its now familiar statement that it buys smaller companies “from time to time.” The company isn’t discussing its plans or the terms of the deal, but ATD’s sources claim that PrimeSense sold for about $360 million, or more than the $345 million that Calcalist reported a week ago. Whatever the value, it’s clear that motion control will play a role in Apple’s future — the crew in Cupertino now has access to 3D sensor technology that works in everything from living room devices to smartphones.

Update: PrimeSense has confirmed the acquisition to us, stating “We can confirm the deal with Apple. Further than that, we cannot comment at this stage.”

 
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Posted by on 26/11/2013 in IT

 

Tamagotchi celebrates its 17th birthday with new, more social virtual pets

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Here’s a thought to make you feel old today: if the first batch of Tamagotchis were human, they’d be almost through with high school. In fact, the egg-shaped virtual pet has just turned 17 (17!), and to celebrate, Bandai is revamping the brand (again) and launching a new line called Tamagotchi Friends. While you still need to feed your virtual pet and pick up its digital poop, this modern-day remake comes with new characters to raise. Also, when two owners bump their Tamagotchi Friends against each other, their pets can go on play dates, and they can interact in-game.

We wish Bandai added other modern features, like a full-color screen, but at least American aficionados can get units with a color background starting fall 2014. Those in Europe will have to make do with the black-and-white version upon launch in December 2013. For now, you can see more info and watch animated shorts on the official Tamagotchi Friends website, or practice your pet-rearing skills on Android.

 
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Posted by on 26/11/2013 in IT

 
 
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