iOS 7: A brand new look

iOS-7-logo

We don’t know if there is anyone like us out there but whenever we update iOS to a new firmware, We have always secretly wished for and ultimately been pissed at the lack an important feature that usually makes things seem new and exciting with software such as operating systems: A COMPLETE VISUAL MAKEOVER!!

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Microsoft Windows at one time used Windows 95 and then at the release of Windows XP, the new looking interface was a winner. Windows Aero was released with Windows Vista and has been a continued standard even with the newest Metro interface for Windows 8. It is true that functionality and stability are essential, uncompromisable qualities of good operating systems but nobody would complain if a good looking graphical user interface came along with it. Sure! Thanks to jailbreaking, Cydia allows us to make some color (and even complete) theme changes but something new had to come out some time from Apple at least some day-y-y-y! That being said, it’s not like Apple’s iOS actually looks ugly; but maintaining the same general outlook over more than 10 updates and over 5 versions would have to become more or less a tiring rhetoric, a trite expression or well… in plain English… rather boring.

Apple, finally releasing its beta version of iOS7 earlier this month for developers has finally showed us that their new update is none of that. Apple has finally worked at changing just about everything, but like the Windows 8 OS to which iOS 7 is now drawing comparisons, thanks to the bold colors and straight lines, it feels a little too much, too soon. But nevertheless, iOS 7 just for that, is welcome and iOS 7 would be released this fall. From previous experiences, beta versions of Apple software are bound to change a great deal before they get approved for consumer devices. So far so good though; iOS7 has been said to deliver pretty much what we already know about iOS and even more.

There’s a lot of new stuff to love about iOS7. There is now a Control Center which gives you quick access to the controls and apps you have been using. With just a single upward swipe on the screen, the Control Center can also turn toggle Wi-Fi, adjust screen brightness and start a flashlight.

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The Multitasking app-switcher has also been completely revamped with new features. There is a new lock screen, a revisited notification Center, a super-charged Siri, a new, easily-accessed quick settings bar, and pretty much every app you can think of has been revamped and stripped down to its essence. There is the new AirDrop which allows near field communication between iOS devices around. Can somebody shout hallelujah to that? You can finally share photos, videos and contacts using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth – but with iOS devices.

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At every level, iOS 7 is a slick revitalization, rejuvenation and resurrection of the core iOS experience. Even Safari gets a brand new look with a refreshed tab view and a unified search field. Safari can also suggest passwords for you but we sincerely wonder how much use that would be. The music and photo apps have also been revisited to make things more exciting and savvy. iOS 7 will not be compatible with iPhone 3gs as expected but will for the newer models inclusive of iPhone 4.

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For those who may have seen a link to download the beta version and cannot wait to have a go at Apple’s latest makeup session would have to be careful. This version of iOS 7 is intended only for installation on development devices registered with Apple’s Developer Program and attempting to install this version of iOS in an unauthorized manner could put your device in an unusable state, which could necessitate an out of warranty repair. And even though there are posts out there that mention a possibility of downgrading to iOS 6, on our opinion, we would recommend you DO NOT do the upgrade till the final version is released; unless you are a part of the Apple Developer Program.

8th Generation Console War: WII-U VS PS4 VS XBOX ONE

image from, gamingbolt.com
image from, gamingbolt.com

Sometime around a year ago we made our first post on an eight generation console, The WII-U. We rightfully predicted and tagged the 8th Generation, “Power-War”, based on the then, incredible specifications the WII-U spotted. It wasn’t long after the WII-U’s release that rumours about “Project Durango” and “Project Orbis” dev kits test PC requirements started surfacing .

Sony officially fed our curiosity with the technical specifications of the PS4 at the PlayStation meeting on 20th February, 2013, and Microsoft unveiled the curtains on the XBOX 360’s successor, called XBOX ONE 2 days ago (21-05-13).

Which of these consoles is actually the most powerful and innovative of the three?

WII-U VS PS4 VS XBOX ONE:

image from, mashable.com
image from, mashable.com

PS4 VS XBOX ONE VS WII-U

Processing Power:

The WII-U, whose processing power was considerably greater than that of the Nintendo WII, was a little impressive containing the IBM manufactured PowerPC 750-based tri-core processor called “Espresso“, it was ok, given how better than WII it was, it also features an AMD Radeon HD GPU code-named Latte.

Relative Rating (processing power): 7/10.

Given the popularity and wide adoption of SOC, so much monstrous computing and processing power was bundled into technologies released from mid-2012. The Rumoured Orbis game was first to wow us.

The PS4, spots an AMD manufactured, Accelerated Processing Unit (APU), hence allowing the single APU chip to contain the CPU, GPU, memory controller etc. The CPU is an octa-core (8 core) processor, based on AMD’s Jaguar Processor and it is of the X64-86 family, an inevitable and welcomed switch from the power-pc or the “not-X64-86” architecture based CPUs. Its AMD Radeon GPU can produce up to 1.84TFLOPS.

Relative Rating (processing power): 10/10

The XBOX ONE, which was announced 2 days ago, features an 8-core processor based on the X64-86 architecture (customary of the XBOXs), with an AMD GPU capable of providing up to 1.23 TFLOPS.

Relative Rating (processing power): 9.8/10

MEMORY

The WII-U, consist of 4 512 MB DDR3 memories (4 GB), with 1 GB reserved for its powerful operating system. It also comes with an internal storage (flash memory) capacity of either 8 GB or 32 GB (based on purchased model) but upgradable via USB hard-drives up to 2 TB or via SD cards (memory cards) of up to 32 GB.

Relative Rating (Memory): 7/10

The PS4, comes with a whooping 8 GB DDR5, 1 GB will be reserved for the operating system, leaving 7 GB! for games, Specifics about internal storage capacity and supported extension slots are still blurry but it’s internal hard-drive memory is expected to be very high.

Relative Rating (Memory): 10/10

The XBOX ONE, comes equipped with an 8 GB DDR3 RAM where 3 GB would be reserved for the operating system and some system applications.

Relative Rating (Memory): 9.4/10

CONTROLLER: WII-U Gamepad VS DualShock 4 VS XBOX ONE’s controller

After the features of the controllers of the previous generation, I’m sure we found ourselves asking the question, “after accelerometers and gyroscopes, what is next”? Could there be any new and important and innovative feature that can be introduced?

WII-U Gamepad:

www.theverge.com
http://www.theverge.com

Features a built-in touch-screen, (not multi-touch though but it’s need was justified), which can either extend the game presently being shown on the screen or may be used as a display replica or copy of the screen/TV, hence allowing games to be played directly through it (handheld TV),  it’s features and future prospects are huge. It has an in-built camera for video calls, in-built microphone for clearer video calling conversations or multiplayer conversations,  NFC support and all other expected sensors(accelerometer and gyroscope).

Note: key innovation, “an in-built touch screen that can replace the TV”

Relative Rating (controller innovation): 9/10.

 PS4’s DualShock 4:

Dualshock 4
Dualshock 4

There’s a big difference in look between the DualShock 4 and its predecessor because of the attached clickable two-point capacitative touch pad on the front of the controller, These will play a vital within the O.S and gameplay. New to the series are

  • A 3.5 mm TRS  stereo headset connector, for easy communication during multiplayer games (probably, video calling).
  • A dedicated share button for instantaneously sharing videos from game-play (super PES and FIFA goal videos)
  • An extension port.
  • Presence of light bars for status display and easy detection/identification by the PlayStation eye or switching of split screen position when players switch pads or position (cool)
  • Mono speaker, “yes, a speaker”. The sole purpose of the speaker is to provide unique ambient sounds, like bullets whooshing past characters ears or the sound created from waving swords therefore placing the user right in the middle of the game-play :

It also features the micro-usb connector and usual motion sensing via a 3-axis accelerometer and gyroscope, which is now a common trend among controllers from the previous generation. The top of the analog has been modified to be concave, like that of the 360.

Relative Rating (controller innovation): 9/10 (should have been an 8 but the speaker is just so welcomed).

XBOX ONE Controller:

image from, mashable.com
image from, mashable.com

Very very similar to the previous controller, with notable changes in the D-PAD, which is now a four-way button, replacement of the start and back buttons. It’s most innovative introduction is the “Impulse Trigger”, meaning the trigger buttons will have it’s own rumble motors hence providing feedbacks (“Probably vibrates when a gun is being shot” :S).

Relative Rating (controller innovation): 8/10 (should have been a 7 but ideas regarding “Impulse triggers” have been flying around.).

 Summary:

Processing Power:  The XBOX ONE and PS4 are close in strength both vividly edging out the WII-U with their insane specifications. Overall the PS4 is slightly more powerful than the XBOX ONE in terms of graphic power, but little is still known about the clock-speeds of the processors.

TIE (PS4 and XBOX ONE).

Memory: All three system contains insane amount of RAMs, but the PS4 and XBOX ONE really outsmarts the WII-U in these department. But the PS4 aslo slightly defeats  the 360 based on available RAM for game and the usage of DDR5.

WINNER, PS4

Controllers: All three controllers are very cool, especially the WII-U gamepad and Dualshock 4, but the WII-U gamepad happens to be the most feature packed of the three.

TIE (WII-U gamepad and Dualshock 4).

Overall: PS4 wins both XBOX ONE and WII-U based on paper-specifications, but how this will pan out in the market and among game developers of video games, is presently unknown.

To know more about these consoles, read our articles on them by following the following links:

PlayStation 4: When great development leads to greater questions

PS outlook

February 20 2013 was a day like no other in the world of technology; and though its prime significance was centered around building the necessary expectations to usher in another great day in the world of technology, the day did spark off well… some other great things.

Video game consoles are nothing like they used to be. Gone are the days where you bought a console for the sake of gaming. “Buy the game, then the cartridge or CD, insert, power on and play” is old news. Video game consoles have taken on several tasks that give even the non-gamer good reasons to get one. With the fact that they also provide hours of great gaming entertainment for both the kids and the adult minded, owning a video game console has finally become a set standard for modern homes. On February 20 2013, the PlayStation 4 was officially announced with Sony, giving presentations of several good things to come concerning various breakthroughs in video entertainment technology.

The PlayStation 4 was billed to be released by late 2013 so, it would be quite a long wait for many. The wait might be worth it though; Sony’s fourth console entry to the PlayStation brand packs more than a punch in making sure “nothing is between you and the game.” It boasts of an 8 core Accelerated Processing Unit, 8GB GDDR5 RAM and 1.8 teraflops of processing prowess of which, even if you have no idea of what these mean, you just have a hunch that it must be powerful enough to deliver what you are expecting.

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Coming along is the PlayStation 4 eye which is a newly developed camera system that utilizes two high-sensitivity cameras equipped with wide-angle lenses and 85-degree diagonal angle views. There are also lots of comments about the new PlayStation 4 DualShock controller which comes with an “Option” button that replaces the traditional Start and Select buttons, a three axis gyroscope and touch panel. Will the DualShock 3 be compatible for the PlayStation 4? The answer is most likely a big no.

A number of issues come up whenever you give a closer thought on the anticipated Sony pacesetter. One of these would be backward compatibility. Some people would not find it very palatable spending money on great PlayStation 3 games just to spend even more for PlayStation 4 games which also come on blu-ray discs. A single console that could run pre-owned games would be extremely user cost effective. Having acquired Gaikai, a cloud based service, Sony plans to render older PlayStation games and stream them to the PS4. Cloud based services play a very integral part of the PlayStation 4 concerning games and this could mean that without a good internet connection, you may not even have access to the games you may have bought on the online store. Worse still, you may end up paying again for a game you already own since you can only play older games through the cloud service. Is that really okay?

Whether or not the PlayStation 4 would support blu-ray movies on 4K ultra high HD is still being rumored but having that would certainly do well to promote other offline functions of the console. The relationship between the still young-in-the-market PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 4 is unclear as well – if this remains, and no relationship is established, PS Vita owners might be headed for a level of heartbreak. The PlayStation 4 is estimated to cost about $400 – $600 which seems decent enough for its abilities.

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One other thought that comes to mind is what the future of console gaming would be. The PlayStation 4’s active social media integration involves a SHARE button on the DualShock 4 controller that allows the player to cycle through the last several minutes of gameplay to select a clip appropriate for online sharing. Videos can be uploaded directly from the console, either to websites or other PSN users. Players also have the chance to access their PlayStation online account using a PlayStation app available on the iOS AppStore and Google PlayStore. This App, is also mentioned to even support games as a second screen on compatible tablets and phones.

With all these features, it is sure that Sony has done a rather impressive job in presenting a working entry to this current technology demanding age. But whether it would be the next big thing in gaming compared to its rivals is another question for another post.

A “smaller” Surface… for a “bigger” issue?

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Microsoft’s contribution to the personal computing market has, once again, risen our eyebrows… as well as a lot of other people… and maybe yours.

We are at a time when the personal computer industry faces a major setback. Sales figures for everyone has gone far lower than it used to be and thus, the ongoing battle for dominance for personal computer supremacy has become even more gruesome. It’s not so easy for consumers as well; there are so many different types of mobile phones, mobile computers, tablets and the very like out there each with their respective pros and cons. The general public does not have so much money to spend on any technology and make the wrong choice.

The tablet sector unlike before has a myriad of options on familiar mobile Operating Systems. Microsoft made its grand entry with its very own Surface RT which brought competitors alive to the new tablet oriented (and restricted) Windows 8 RT and the growing Microsoft App Store.  Following the Surface RT was the Surface Pro which was another bombshell Microsoft placed combining the native Windows 8 Professional with the appealing Surface design. And though these two entries from Microsoft come at pretty hefty price tags, sales figures indicate that people do not really mind having a tablet with Windows 8 on it.

The Wall Street Journal writes that Microsoft, looking to catch up to rivals in the tablet industry, could soon be putting out its own 7-inch tablet later this year stating that “making a small tablet wasn’t an original part of Microsoft’s strategy, but that the company is seeking to adapt to a changing market.” This is most likely as a response to the new 7 inch “mini tablet” wars currently spearheaded by Apple’s iPad mini, Google Nexus and the Amazon Kindle Fire HD.

It might take some time for computer manufacturers to come out of the very declined sales figures of the first quarter of this year. Possible questions to ask are: would a “mini-Surface” bring more positive changes that Microsoft (and pretty much every one else) needs? Would introducing a new tablet solve the already existing problem of declining sales?

All we can do is wait.

Available homebrew hacking puts a green light on PS Vita

PSPVita

The PS Vita is not as flexible as the older PSP by Sony. This is not an uncommon argument. Not-so-many yet expensive games and a custom memory card type are just some of the letdowns that comes with having a PS Vita. It does have it’s good sides though, but honestly, anyone with a PSP would have a bit more to do on the overall. It doesn’t take that much time for anyone to realize that the PS Vita does have the potential of playing older PSP games and those custom applications that made the PSP a one-of-a-kind love affair. Could it be possible to just have my old PSP games to run on the PS Vita?

For a variety of people who are having a PS Vita and you just cannot do much with it, you don’t have to get dissatisfied just yet as there are now a myriad of available hacks. The height of PS Vita hacking has already been here for a while and as you may have already guessed, you can actually run homebrew on your PS Vita.

Just in case this homebrew thing seems to be a new term to you when it comes to Sony’s handheld and gaming in general, here is a simple way to put it: video game homebrew is a term gamers use to describe the installation or fixing of any software on usually hardware restricted devices. In other words, it’s when someone installs a software that the hardware manufacturer didn’t, and probably wouldn’t put there. These consumer installed programs are usually used to perform user-desired tasks which includes playing user-developed games and software, and hacks that allow game dumping on memory cards like in the case of Sony’s PSP series. However, it is worthy to mention that although it is common practice, hacking your device is liable to void your warranty and could alter the normal functionality of your device. So please consider so before you embark on the great “adventure.”

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The PS Vita first was first hacked successfully using an exploit on Gameloft’s UNO. It was probably the greatest new year gift for anyone who had guessed that it was very possible to play your PSP games on the PS Vita. It is not a bad idea; many had been fed up with the big and bulky PSP-1000 of which most models came up with analog stick issues. The PSP-2000 and 3000 were much lighter than the 1000 but the analog issues still continued nevertheless even though on fewer models.

But the bad news is that Sony quickly reacted to this exploit hack by removing the game from the online store and patching up the kernel exploits with firmware 2.05. Hence, only those who did get a copy of UNO could use the exploit and hack their PS Vitas and till this day, although several hackers have posted possibilities of new exploits for Sony’s new firmware, nothing official has been released.

So, if you have a PS Vita with a firmware lower than 2.05 and you can get a hold of Gameloft’s UNO somehow, here is a good place for you to start if you are interested in hacking. Others would just have to wait however; and be sure that we would let you know as soon as any is released 🙂

Microsoft’s new Surface Pro remains on the surface!

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Some dreams come true! With the release of the Microsoft Surface RT, I can bet a a good number of people wished for that tablet to run the revolutionary Windows 8. “Definitely charming!” wouldn’t it? Well, the Surface Pro from Microsoft has come and even with its chin itching price tags – $899 for the 64GB and $999 for the 128GB version, the Microsoft Surface truly makes a demanding statement – that from the looks of it, may be worth it.

Preceding the new Surface Pro was a Surface RT which as at now seems to be more or less a preview to the good things to come. True, the design was something new and some of the hardware features were worth a good chat over a cup of tea; but so many things seemed absent and yes! The Surface Pro delivers all of those inner cravings you desired for it. Microsoft Windows fans and Windows 8 enthusiasts will certainly not mind putting down all more than a couple of bucks for it. The Surface Pro gives the complete Windows 8 experience which still is the most popular and most dynamic entry in the world of operating systems as of date. The Surface RT would pretty much be for those who would just prefer a windows like tablet experience without paying too much for things they would not probably use. Its not a bad idea if you look at it; after all, it comes along with the very excellent Office 2013.

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The new Surface Pro competes on par with its ultrabook rivals in a unique and most challenging manner. Compared to the earlier Surface RT, it is larger and to house some of its powerful hardware components, packs in a little more weight with a thicker form of its “VaporMg” magnesium composite casing. It comes with the basic expectations of a regular ultrabook: front and back 1.2 megapixel  cameras, a full size USB port, an intel Core i5 CPU, Intel HD Graphics, 4GB of RAM, solid state storage up to 128GB, expandable memory through a memory card reader, Bluetooth 4.0 technology and Wi-Fi 802.11a, b, g and n. It also comes with exciting features as a tablet such as a scratch resistant glass surface, 720p HD video recording with video calling abilities, accelerometer, gyroscope and compass sensors. Surface is indeed a delight to behold and touch.

Surface Pro Press 3-580-90

One issue people may have with the Surface Pro though is its kickstand, which only gives a single angular view. This does not tend to be a problem until you get into a place with heavy fluorescent lighting or worse, the sunny outdoors. You might spend some extra time adjusting to suit your convenient viewing. Furthermore, an honest truth is that it doesn’t do as well as the earlier Surface RT in terms of battery life but you should be able to get about 4 hours out of it or so. Nevertheless, Surface will do pretty well to impress newcomers and  even existing customers in the tablet purchase market.

Surface Pro comes along with a Wacom-made, pressure-sensitive stylus that is is a very welcome accompaniment. Surely you would enjoy touching around Windows 8 with it. It has a nice feel; especially when you are using applications such as Adobe Photoshop and the like. The touch and type covers remain as optional accessories and require a separate purchase to an already quite expensive pricing but of course, that completely depends on the customer in question.

In conclusion, the Microsoft Surface Pro is a stylish welcome addition to the world of portable and personal computing. There are a number of things to consider though but it works. It is fast, beautiful, the screen is gorgeous and… it runs Windows 8.

128GB iPad is real!

2012-ipad2-gallery1-zoom If you have ever thought about or heard about a 128gb tablet? Well, one of that is now available and guess what? It’s an iPad!

Technology giants Apple have played their 128gb iPad 4 with retina display last week which did not have too much of a blast-off release like the iPhone 5 or the iPad mini but is sure to keep everyone, except a shopaholic I guess, thinking about a number of things for a while.

With the wifi only version for $799 and the LTE version sold for $929, it is clear that this is the most expensive price on an iPad till date – maybe even for a tablet so far. Even though the 128gb solid state drive is quite appealing, there really isn’t too much else that we have not seen before. Barely a couple of months ago, the iPad 3rd generation (a.k.a the new iPad) was harshly replaced with a new iPad 4 with a chip twice as powerful as the earlier and the new “lightning” port. Between the transition from a 16gb iPad 3 till this new release has come another iPad, and even another type of iPad called the iPad mini. All in a space of about a quarter of a year.

Like was earlier mentioned, it’s really nothing else but the storage upgrade. The Apple AppStore actually does own an extremely large collection of applications to keep anyone’s Apple device busy; and maybe the space update would serve enterprises, educators and professionals who need space for capacity consuming content. However, with a price tag reaching close to a thousand Dollars, even Apple fanatics would have to admit that this might be… just maybe… a bit too much.

The prevailing thought would most likely be why you would spend all of that when you could get even better hardware and storage space with a laptop or a netbook. Speaking of Apple, the 11″ MacBook Air costs from $999 and it is no news how much power can be invested in a laptop considering that price tag. Is the extra cost really worth it for just extra storage?

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Actually, a 128gb iPad would serve useful for those who wished for more space on their 64gb iPad. I really wouldn’t mind one actually; and neither would you if given the option to buy. That is probably because of the exceptional quality Apple has raised over the years with their rather expensive (but actually nice) range of mobile tablets. Truly, there are other great tablets out there; but an iPad would always be an iPad… almost like in a class of its own.