Sunday, 21 October 2012

Android 4.2

We already (think we) know that Google will unveil the LG Nexus 4 running Android 4.2 on October 29 and launch the new products in the weeks thereafter, but until Google takes the stage at its upcoming media event we’ll keep looking at current rumors and reports detailing these products.

In earlier posts we looked at various Android 4.2 features, such as the new notification settings,the Gmail 4.2 app that was later pulled by Google and a variety of security features that could be found in Google’s upcoming Android version.

Now we have more Android 4.2 features uncovered coming via the same source, Android Police, that continued to dig for more details in the Android 4.2 version it got to play with. In its latest report, the publication details new gallery changes, multi-user accounts and parental controls.

Like with the previous set of features, it’s not yet clear whether these features will be indeed found in the final version of Android 4.2, but it’s still worth taking a look at them.

The gallery and camera apps are apparently getting new icons, although the graphics found in this Android 4.2 build are not final. More importantly, the gallery app is getting a makeover, although when it comes to functionality, things appear to be exactly the same as in Jelly Bean:
The Gallery is getting a reskin! It’s still a rough work in progress, but we can at least see what direction they’re going in. Albums have a polaroid-style bottom white label (which matches the new icon!) and the background is a light-gray color [see left screenshot in the image above]. Everything else about the Gallery is exactly the same. And when I say exactly the same I mean exactly the same. You can’t delete Picasa/G+ photos, there are no new editing options, you still can’t rotate with a gesture, and Instant Upload Albums are still capped at 500. In its defense, it isn’t anywhere near finished – in fact, they haven’t even incremented the version number. 1.1.40000 is the same as the Jelly Bean version. It’s promising that they’re looking at it.
In case taking pictures on your Android device isn’t that important, especially if it’s a tablet, then you’ll be happy to hear that Google is apparently working on multi-user accounts, which is definitely good news for tablet owners. According to Android Police, there’s evidence in the Android 4.2 version it tested that Android 4.2 will support multiple users. Various apps have permissions that reveal the multiple users features including the Phone, Setting and SystemUI.

Even the Google Play Store will keep track of what apps are installed for each user, showing the relevant ones for each one.

One of the perks of a system that has multi-user support is that it can offer parental controls. Apparently Android 4.2 will also offer this feature, which will allow parents to control the activity of their children on Android devices, especially when it comes to getting new content from the store – purchasing can be blocked with a PIN and downloads censored depending on their rating.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Samsung Galaxy S-III Mini

When word first started trickling out that Samsung planned to make a mini version of the Galaxy S III, it had the air of plausibility -- we've heard from many a person about the too-large size of that phone for their hands. Then, a press invitation confirmed that "something small" was in the works, and finally mobile chief JK Shin confirmed that a smartphone of that name would be announced today in Frankfurt, Germany.
Now Samsung's spilled all the beans, and revealed the new Galaxy S III mini, a slightly paler version of its bigger brother in specs as well as screen size. Our own short time with the phone certainly revealed that its pushing all the same "inspired by nature" buttons of the original Galaxy S III (and the Galaxy Note II), with the same exact rounded pebble shape and layout. The German marketing rep we spoke to said his company's research found that users wanted the same phone design as the 4.8-inch Galaxy S III, but in a smaller form factor -- to more easily fit smaller hands and pockets. Samsung said those folks don't necessarily need or want the most powerful phone they can get their hands on and are content to have mid-level specs -- so the mini carries a 1GHz dual-core processor, 1GB RAM, a 4-inch, WVGA AMOLED screen and 32GB max of memory.
 The button placement is identical to the larger handset, and the phone will come out of the box with nearly identical Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean functionality -- with the added Samsung TouchWiz twist, of course. That includes new niceties like the multi-screen option, and a brief play with the phone shows the same butter factor, even with the lesser dual-core processor.

Padfone 2

launch event invitation has already given us a glimpse of the ASUS PadFone 2, but Bloomberg TV India caught up with the firm's CEO Jerry Shen and snagged a video tour of the device before its October 16th reveal. The second iteration of the PadFone packs a 4.7-inch HD (presumably 720p) screen and 13-megapixel camera, which jives with specs on supposedly leaked packaging. Rather than having to fuss with a cover flap to slide the smartphone into its tablet shell, users will be able to dock the device straight into a lighter and thinner slate component. Other details are scarce, but we're sure to find out more when the curtain is ceremoniously pulled back next Tuesday. In the meantime, you can forge past the break to see footage of the hybrid starting at the 1:40 mark.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Tablet controlled by eye

NTT DoCoMo's i beam tablet prototype is driven by your eyes

Another prototype from DoCoMo aimed at Nihon's commuters, the i beam concept tablet forgoes any touch at all, allowing the user (once they're at the specified 'sweet spot') to navigate around apps and screens using your eyes. Two sensors along the bottom edge of the tablet track both of your eyes and after a slightly laborious configuration setup, we were able to tour around the prototype slabs features without laying a finger on it. The navigational dot was a little erratic, but we'll put that down to prototype nerves. The tablet was otherwise able to follow our eye-line and fulfill what we wanted it to do.

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