Hong Kong-based Hiwonder has launched a micro:bit-based Qdee programmable robot with infinite shapes. Available on Kickstarter from US$39, the kit is compatible with Lego and designed to teach children about robotics. Continue reading “Hiwonder unveils Qdee programmable robot”
The wait’s finally over! The much-lauded OnePlus 6 smartphone is now available in Singapore. Better yet, there’s the red edition as well.
Myanmar startup Goama has launched its “Netflix of Games” mobile gaming subscription app in India. Called Go|Games, the Android app has more than 700,000 subscribers in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, and Myanmar.
Artificial intelligence (AI) startup ELSA is giving non-native English speakers help with ELSA Speak, an app that teaches how to pronounce English words correctly.
Qualcomm is targeting smartwatches for children with its Snapdragon Wear 2500 platform. Announced at Mobile World Congress Shanghai, the chip is designed to deliver extended battery life, low power location tracking and an optimised version of Android for kids.
Blue Wizard Digital waited and waited for this day — Friday the 13th — to release its game Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle worldwide on iOS, Android, and Steam.
New Android mobile phone launches spurred growth in Australia, leading to year-on-year growth of 18.4 percent to 2.16 million units, exceeding expectations in Q2, according to IDC.
Smartphones accounted for nearly all of the shipped phones — totalling 2.06 million.
Android returned to being the most popular smartphone OS in Australia. Recently, iOS had overtaken Android as the most popular smartphone OS in Q4 2016 as it held over 54 percent of the market compared to 47 percent for Android.
By Edward Lim
When the Google Pixel was first announced late last year, my antenna went up as my trusty Samsung Note Edge though working generally fine and still looking great was slowing down.
I’ve been a Samsung user since the original Note and love the phablet with its stylus but the Google Pixel is something else. It looks great, has powerful features, including a 12MP rear camera, and best of all, runs on stock Android. Goodbye, bloated Android!
But, there was a major letdown. Google had no plan to make its new flagship smartphone available at this part of the world. While not impossible to ship from overseas, the cost is fairly prohibitive, bearing in mind the strengthening US dollar.
However, a recent trip to Sydney proved to be the turnaround. The Google Pixel was staring right at me as I was heading towards the gate at Kingsford Smith Airport. I couldn’t take my eyes off the smartphone and there was added incentive. JB Hifi was offering the phones at A$100 off the retail price. A quick mental conversion of the price of the Google Pixel 128GB version (the smaller model) was more than S$1,100. While not cheap, the deal proved too good to pass and I returned with a spanking new toy.
It’s been more than a month since I switched from my Samsung Note Edge to the Google Pixel and I’m loving it. Here are five reasons:
- Stock Android: The smartphone will always get the latest version of Android. Better yet, there’s no service provider additional dead weight.
- Fingerprint access: The fingerprint sensor at the back just hits the sweet spot. It’s ideally located with a natural holding position. And it works perfectly, turning on the phone and screen quickly.
- Swipe: I love swiping and somehow this feels and works better, making it so convenient for crafting messages.
- Rear camera: The 12MP camera is fast, shoots well and produces great shots.
- Smooth transition: Nothing dampens getting a new phone more than the pain it takes to transfer the necessary files and data over. With the cable provided, switching over took just a few minutes. It doesn’t get any better.
Do I miss my Samsung Note Edge? Only one thing, the stylus when I need to annotate images. There again, I hardly annotate images. Possible shortfalls are the lack of a replaceable battery and inability to upgrade memory. That’s why I went for the 128GB version.
Overall, thought pricey, the Google Pixel has proved its worth.
By Kelly Aime
Last October, I took the plunge and decided to check out an Android TV box. It was not a spur of the moment decision but one prompted by the constant changing and removal of channels by my cable TV service provider.
The worst part of the changes is that users are often at the losing end. Whenever, the service provider’s contract with a particular channel deemed less popular is up for renewal, there’s that likelihood that the contract will not be renewed. And users have absolutely no say at all — even if the subscriber’s contract is still valid and the subscriber still wants to keep the channel.
Being at the mercy of my service provider pushed me to try out an alternative which can been around for a while — the Android TV box.
Worldwide combined shipments for devices (PCs, tablets, ultramobiles and mobile phones) are expected to drop three percent in 2016, according to Gartner.
This will mark the second consecutive year of decline as the global devices market fell by 0.75 percent in 2015. And the immediate future remains bleak for this market.
“The global devices market is not on pace to return to single-digit growth soon,” said Ranjit Atwal, Research Director of Gartner.
Huawei continues to retain resilience in a crowded and competitive global economic environment, aiming to become the top global smartphone vendor in five years’ time, according to ABI Research.
Its successive year-on-year rises in smartphone shipments particularly impressive, as Huawei managed to achieve its high ranking without effectively breaking out of its home market. To become a global electronics brand, the company will need to gain a strong foothold in the US and western European markets, but runs the risk of falling victim to the same plights as its larger competitors.
“Ranking by volume as third largest global smartphone vendor, Huawei is attempting to expand its reach by creating its own chipsets and mobile operating system based on Android. It may succeed with chipsets, but many other competitors tried similar OS development tactics in the past to no avail. It will be tough for Huawei to achieve this goal, even with improved global brand strength and volume gains,” said David McQueen, Research Director of ABI Research.
Looks like ZTE believes that Thais love to take selfies. The newly-launched ZTE Blade S7, which is designed for selfie lovers, will first be made available in Thailand before hitting the rest of the region.
The smartphone features a five-inch full HD LTPS screen with a 445 PPI Super Retina display for 178-degree full viewing angles. Housed in an aluminum alloy frame with thin bezels, Blade S7 offers a 72.1 percent screen-to-body ratio and is protected with 2.5D curved Gorilla Glass 3 on both the front and back.
Just 7.2mm thick and 67mm wide, it comes with a powerful 13-megapixel front-facing camera with a front flash and phase detection autofocus, as well as functions for panorama shots and 14 different beautification options. At the back is another 13-megapixel rear camera that supports professional and auto shooting modes, selective focus, and laser auto focus for fast and accurate shooting in low-light conditions.
While many cannot imagine life without mobile phones, the technology can be a life-saver in disasters. Case in point are recent crises in Afghanistan, Indonesia, Iraq, Nepal, and the Philippines where mobile network coverage enabled those directly impacted to collaborate in order to help themselves and others more quickly and effectively than external aid agencies.
A new report Connected Citizens — Managing Crisis by Developing Telecoms noted that working with “Connected Citizens” enables aid agencies to work more efficiently by better targeting the areas of greatest need and more accurately identifying requirements.
The overall effect is to speed up response, improve aid delivery and reduce both the short and long term impact of disasters. Maintaining mobile network coverage enables connected citizens to become active partners in recovery and reconstruction, rather than passive recipients of aid.
Another S6 has made its debut. It’s not Samsung’s but the ZTE Blade S6 Plus — and the company’s making it available globally on eBay for US$299.99.
The Blade S6 Plus was first showcased at Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona, alongside the five-inch Blade S6, which was launched in January. Similar to the Blade S6, the Blade S6 Plus is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 octa-core chipset and Adreno 405 image processor, and runs on Android 5.0 Lollipop with ZTE’s customisable MiFavor 3.0 user interface. It boasts a larger JDI Super Screen 5.5-inch HD display with In-Cell technology for better and more vibrant image quality, as well a higher-capacity 3000mAh battery.
Unique to the Blade S6 Plus is a function that allows the device to double as an infra-red remote control. Compatible with all major electronic and household appliance brands, the function allows Blade S6 Plus users to control televisions, set-top boxes, air conditioning units, DSLRs, and more. It is simple and easy to use, and saves users the hassle of switching between several different remote controls.
Smartphones and tablets helped boost Android’s reign over all smart device operating systems (OS) in 2014.
According to the ABI Research report, although Android’s reign is strong, that dominance may have reached its peak as OS competition increases. It expects Android to experience a modest CAGR of 10 percent between 2014 and 2019 as leading OEMs realise the profits produced by Android vendors is finite and seek new OSs for differentiation.
Since inception, the smart device market has been rapidly increasing as devices, especially smartphones, become ubiquitous.
Instead of manipulating avatars, SHIELD may be used in navigating submarines. Sounds cool, doesn’t it? After all, SHIELD is already used to fly drones (see video, right).
For more than a decade, the US Navy has been putting off-the-shelf tech into its submarines’ sonar systems. The Navy can swap this gear in and out fast so sailors always get the most advanced stuff.
The smartphone market continued to grow in Asia-Pacific excluding Japan in Q3, albeit at a modest six percent quarter on quarter, according to IDC.
During this period, India led with 23 million units shipped, and added around five million units to the market over Q2.
Emerging markets in the region also surged ahead with 23 million units shipped, accounting for 22 percent growth as tier-1 Chinese vendors extended their reach outside China.
Microsoft is the latest to dive into the wearables market with Microsoft Band, which works with Windows Phone 8.1, Android and iOS.
It can track heart rate, steps, calorie burn, and sleep quality, as well as enable email previews and calendar alerts. Cortana, an intelligent personal assistant on Windows Phone 8.1 and Microsoft Band, can take notes, set reminders, provide driving directions, and keep wearers abreast of traffic, sports, stocks, and weather.
For now, the US$199 band is only available in the US. But, don’t get your hopes up yet even if you have contacts in the US because the product is currently out of stock.
Algebra can be a bane to students and while some turn to their teachers for help, others request for assistance from parents, siblings and tutors. With PhotoMath, they now have another source of help. Best of all, it’s free!
PhotoMath, which is now available on iOS and Windows smartphones, leverage the devices’ cameras to scan a printed math problem and provide an answer in an instant — complete with the steps to solving the problem.
All the student needs to do is to install the app, scan the equation within a red frame and the app does the rest.
When Google announced the Nexus 9 last Wednesday, one of the more pertinent developments is that the new tablet sports the NVIDIA Tegra K1, which brings 64-bit capabilities to Android for the first time.
Google’s first tablet, the first Nexus 7, was also powered by the NVIDIA Tegra two years ago.
The Nexus 9 has broken new ground as the Tegra K1 is the first ARM processor for Android to take advantage of Lollipop support for 64-bit CPU architectures. Earlier known as Project Denver, the ARM v8-based custom CPU design brings class-leading efficiency and power to mobile devices.
The 2015 editions of the Honda Civic, Civic Tourer and CR-V will leverage the power of the energy-efficient automotive-grade NVIDIA Tegra processor for the Honda Connect infotainment system.
Easy and intuitive to use, the Android-based system is responsive to touchscreen gestures such as pinch, zoom and swipe to give drivers the same experience that they get on their smartphones and tablets.
Featuring rich, vibrant graphics and the ability to customize screens, Honda Connect delivers a personal experience to whoever is behind the wheel. The Tegra-powered system drives a seven-inch capacitive touchscreen display for satellite navigation, AM/FM/DAB, rearview camera and vehicle information. Access to the Honda App Center enables compatible apps for use on the touchscreen, such as Aha Radio.
Demand for smartphones are on the rise with more 301.3 million units shipped worldwide in Q2, up 25.3 percent from the 240.5 million units shipped in the corresponding quarter last year, according to IDC.
The dominant smartphone operating systems (OS), Android and iOS, saw their combined market share swell to 96.4 percent for the quarter, leaving little space for competitors.
Android was the primary driver with its vendor partners shipping a total of 255.3 million Android-based smartphones in Q2, up 33.3 percent year over year. Meanwhile, iOS saw its market share decline despite posting 12.7 percent year-over-year shipment growth. While Android and iOS both realised gains from a year ago, the rest of the market recorded losses.
Smartphones (71 percent) and notebooks (74 percent) are widely issued by enterprises. However, according to a Frost & Sullivan survey, only 47 percent of enterprises issue tablets to their employees. The research firm expects these devices to bridge this gap over the next three years as many of the more data-intensive mobile applications migrate over to tablets.
By 2016, the use of smartphones is expected to decrease from 66 percent to 58 percent, while tablets are expected to increase from 49 percent to 56 percent. Interestingly, while almost 60 percent of enterprises allow personal devices to be connected to the corporate network, only four out of 10 IT decision makers report that their company has a formal bring your own device (BYOD) policy in place.
“Approximately 58 percent of large enterprises have a formal BYOD policy, while only 20 percent of small businesses have a standardised policy. The most common method of enforcing BYOD policies is through network technology solutions at 67 percent, followed by mobile device management at 61 percent,” said Karolina Olszewskan, Research Analyst of Frost & Sullivan.
Google unveiled a host of upcoming technologies running on Android at its annual Google I/O and NVIDIA’s Tegra Ki is a key part of the foray into new mobile computing areas such as gaming, TV, automotive, and robotics.
NVIDIA’s Tegra K1 chip features 192 programmable GPGPU cores and the same Kepler GPU as TITAN. Tegra K1 just brought GPU computing to Google’s new Project Tango tablet devkit, opening the door for developers to work on new apps and use cases for Computer Vision and 3D.
At Google I/O, now on in San Francisco, Tegra K1 featured in many areas, including:
- Tegra K1 is the first processor to support Google’s Android Extension Pack – new gaming extensions for the upcoming L release, shown on-stage on Epic’s new Unreal Engine 4 demo
- Google announced that Android L will support 64-bit CPU support – and NVIDIA is already developing L on the 64-bit version of Tegra K1
- Tegra K1 is the first processor to support Android TV – Google’s new dev platform. A Tegra K1 reference platform is available for set-top box and TV OEMs, while a Tegra Android TV dev platform is available today for app, game, content developers
- Tegra K1 delivers GPU computing to mobile platforms with Google’s Project Tango tablet devkit, to be showcased at I/O with new developer apps
- Tegra drives the best in-car Android experience and powers Google’s new Android Auto
Mobile computing is indeed revolutionising areas such as gaming, TV, automotive, and robotics.
Android once again dominated Q1 shipment for smartphone advanced operating systems with 80 percent market share (including AOSP) of just under 300 million smartphones shipped, according to ABI Research.
“Interestingly, basic mobile phones lost five percent market share and Android picked up almost all of these users, suggesting Android is set to gain almost all of the billions of mobile subscribers still upgrading to smartphones. Certainly, Android looks set to completely dominate the high growth developing markets and increase its market share still further,” said Nick Spencer, Senior Practice Director of Mobile Devices at ABI Research.
Microsoft’s Windows Phone continued its steady progress with 16 percent sequential growth and an increase of one percent in market share. “Microsoft Windows Phone is currently the only viable third ecosystem. BlackBerry has faded on all fronts (BlackBerry 10 and OS) and while Firefox remains a potential low-cost challenger, it has yet to make any significant impact,” added Spencer.
The much sought after tablet — the darling of the technology industry in recent years — is expected to grow just 19.4 percent this year. That’s a massive slow down from last year’s growth of 51.6 percent. According to the IDC Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, the reduction is due to slowing consumer purchases as hardware iterations slow and the installed base — particularly in mature markets — continues to grow.
Over the course of the past two years, average selling prices (ASPs) have declined rapidly in the tablet market, but this too appears to be slowing. In 2012, ASPs declined 18.3 percent from the previous year, and in 2013, prices dropped another 14.6 percent.
Price erosion has started to slowly bottom out, with ASPs forecast to drop a modest 3.6 percent in 2014. IDC believes ASP declines will slow for several reasons; chief among them are the growth of higher-priced commercial shipments and a consumer movement away from ultra-low cost products.
HTC has unveiled the first model in its 2014 mid-range portfolio — the HTC Desire 816, which packs an advanced feature set that makes it one of the better value smartphones.
The first edition of the new-look HTC Desire family comes fully loaded with HTC’s iconic dual-frontal speakers and HTC BoomSound, while HTC BlinkFeed keeps users up-to-date with the latest news and social updates on the 5.5-inch screen. A 13MP rear-facing camera complete with HTC Zoe and automatic highlight videos, as well as a 5MP front-facing camera, make it ideal for capturing both selfie and landscapes.
The new smartphone is powered by a quad-core, 1.6 GHz processor and offers 4G LTE connectivity.
NVIDIA has boosted its Tegra Note 7 with the i500 LTE modem – and its 4G LTE cellular connection. The seven-inch tablet is available with LTE and HSPA+ mobile connectivity and can operate on popular carriers across the world. With better cellular connectivity, consumers can now access the web, check out maps and play videos anywhere they go by purchasing a minimum data plan from many carriers.
The Tegra NOTE 7 LTE’s worldwide connectivity is provided by the fifth-gen NVIDIA i500 processor, which leverages a unique software-defined radio technology – meaning it can deliver new capabilities via software without requiring an entirely new chipset. Another big plus is higher efficiency – it’s only 40 percent the size of conventional modems but has 4x the processing capability of its predecessor.
Starting at US$299, it is available from partners worldwide starting in the second quarter, including Zotac in Japan, Gigabyte and Zotac in Korea, and Gigabyte and Homecare in China.
Global shipment of devices (PCs, tablets, ultramobiles, and mobile phones) are projected to reach 2.5 billion units in 2014, a 7.6 percent increase from 2013, according to Gartner.
Among the operating system (OS) market, Android is on pace to surpass one billion users across all devices in 2014. By 2017, more than 75 percent of Android’s volumes will come from emerging markets.
“The device market continues to evolve, with buyers deciding which combination of devices is required to meet their wants and needs. Mobile phones are a must have and will continue to grow but at a slower pace, with opportunities moving away from the top-end premium devices to mid-end basic products,” said Ranjit Atwal, Research Director at Gartner. “Meanwhile users continue to move away from the traditional PC (notebooks and desk-based) as it becomes more of a shared content creation tool, while the greater flexibility of tablets, hybrids and lighter notebooks address users’ increasingly different demands.”