Monthly Archives: January 2013

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Nokia Lumia 920, 820 getting ‘Portico’ software update

Nokia is rolling-out a software update to the international variants of Lumia 920 and Lumia 820 smartphones. This update is said to be bringing improved Wi-Fi and messaging to these Windows Phone 8 smartphones.

The update, which is code-named “Portico,” is being released to International markets almost a month after it was made available to US consumers. However, the update is coming almost a fortnight before the previously mentioned timeline by Nokia, which said at the time of US roll-out that unlocked units will get Portico update in early-February.

The update is being released over-the-air and should reach your unlocked Lumia 920 and 820 smartphones in the coming days.

“A Nokia Lumia Windows Phone 8 software update providing performance enhancements for the Nokia Lumia 820 and Nokia Lumia 920 has started rolling out over the air. Delivery will continue in a phased manner over the coming weeks and is expected to be complete by mid-March. You will receive a notification on your phone when the update is available for you to download,” Nokia stated in a forum post.

Along with Wi-Fi and messaging improvements, the update also improves the camera to fix the blurry daylight images. Among other changes, we have the new “Always On” feature in Wi-Fi settings, ability to reject calls with SMS.

HTC 8X with Windows Phone 8 was the first WP smartphone to get this update in Early December, but the camera improvements were only present in the Nokia device updates.

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Asus in talks to launch Windows Phone 8 devices

asus-padfone-wp-8Asus is reportedly in talks with Microsoft to launch Windows Phone 8 devices.  There is no word on how long these talks have been going on, but Windows Phone 8 licensing deal would certainly help both the companies. Microsoft needs more manufacturers to produce Windows Phone 8 running smartphones and Asus needs to succeed in the smartphone arena. It is already a known tablet maker, thanks to Nexus 7 and Transformer tablets.

According to a report in Wall Street Journal, Asus has introduced the topic of making a Windows 8 version of its so-called Padfone to Microsoft as it seeks to expand its fledgling smartphone business.

“With our Padfone concept, the phone plus tablet, I think it makes sense for Windows 8,” Benson Lin, corporate vice president of mobile communication products, Asus said. “There is no target timeline…but we are interested in making Windows phones.”

We are not sure how a Padfone will run on Windows Phone 8 operating system, as Microsoft offers two different operating systems for phones and tablets, unlike Android, which is OS on existing Padfone. There is no way to easily switch between Windows RT and Windows Phone 8 and also keep the data synced. Unless, Microsoft plans to solve this issue somehow, we don’t see it happening.

To remind you, Windows Phone 8 devices are currently being offered by Samsung, HTC, Nokia and Huawei, if talks with Microsoft go well Asus will be the fifth smartphone maker to jump in Windows Phone arena.

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Lenovo launches Chrome OS powered ThinkPad X131e for $429

TPX131e-chromebookGoogle seems to be silently getting more and more manufacturers to build Chromebooks and latest company to join the Chrome OS arena is Lenovo. The Chinese manufacturer has released a Chrome OS powered version of its Windows 8 running ThinkPad X131e.

Targeted to school students, this ThinkPad Chromebook comes with 11.6-inch 1366x768p display with anti-glare, unknown Intel processor, 3 USB ports, web cam, HDMI and VGA ports. According to Lenovo, the Chromebook should last a school day. It is also rugged, comes with a bumper around the edge and extra-study hinges.

“Lenovo has a great reputation in schools for making durable and reliable laptops, so we’re excited to partner with them to introduce the ThinkPad X131e Chromebook,” said Caesar Sengupta, director of product management, Chrome OS, Google.

The Thinkpad Chromebook X131e will be available starting February 26 under special bid for school systems.

The Chrome OS seems to be getting a lot of attention from manufacturers recently. First Samsung revealed a brand new Chromebook for $249, followed by Acer with $199 Chromebook and just yesterday itself we reported about Series 3 Chromebox from Samsung with Intel Core i5 processor.lenovo-chromebook-1000

Update: Google has just made the Lenovo ThinkPad X131e Chromebook official on Google Enterprise blog. It will be sold for $429 in the United States. Schools can add management and support from Google for a one-time cost of $30 per device.

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Facebook launches free calling for iPhone users in US

Facebook-Messenger_iPhoneAbout a fortnight ago, Facebook started testing a voice calling feature in its Messenger app for iPhone users in Canada. Much like any other VoIP app, this feature allowed the iPhone users to make free voice calls using Wi-Fi or cellular data to other messenger users in the country. Looks like the testing went well, as the social giant has now released the feature for US iPhone users.

Free voice calling in Facebook Messenger went live in the US earlier today and it is pretty easy to use. The feature does not require any update to the existing app and users can just open a conversation with another person in the app, tap the “i” button in the top-right corner, and then tap ‘Free Call’.

Company is yet to reveal when it is going to bring the feature to international or Android users.

This is certainly a useful feature and a big step for Facebook, which has just become a big player in VoIP market. However it would be interesting to see if Facebook brings video calling as well to Facebook Messenger.  Company already have a tie-up with Skype for its video calling on its website and the same -tie up could be extended to mobile devices.

To remind you, just about 24 hours ago, Facebook had also taken the wraps off its Graph Search beta, which allows you to find people, places, interests, & photos in a better way on Facebook.

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Temple Run 2 debuts in iTunes App Store

temple-run-2_ipadImangi Studios, the creator of Temple Run, has released the sequel to this popular game for free in the iTunes App Store just now. Currently live only in New Zealand App Store, it is expected to go live in other countries in the next few hours (Update: It is now live worldwide).

While Imangi has kept the basic gameplay same as predecessor – lots of running around and collecting coins, but the visuals and animations have got a major boost.  According to Touch Arcade, which had a chance to play the game, the real improvement in Temple Run 2 is just how fluid and natural the environment feels. The original Temple Run was very rigid with mostly straightaways and 90-degree turns. Temple Run 2’s environments are curvy and hilly, giving everything a more natural and “real” feel.

Among other details, the Temple Run 2 includes four characters as well as upgradable abilities.

Here is quick look at game features from App Store description:

  • Beautiful new graphics
  • Gorgeous new organic environments
  • New obstacles
  • More powerups
  • More achievements
  • Special powers for each character
  • Bigger monkey!!!

Originally released in App Store in August 2011, Temple Run has turned out to be a huge hit. It was later released on Android. According to Imangi, the game has been downloaded over 170 million times on both the platform. The studio has even released a movie theme Temple Run: Brave in June 2012, which was a paid, but still made to the top of App Store as the most-downloaded paid game.

There is no word on the Android version of Temple Run 2, but we have been constantly checking  and will let you know as soon as we hear something.

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Huawei to launch Ascend W2 at MWC, likely to be thinnest Windows Phone

Huawei-W2-Windows-Phone-8Huawei is planning to launch a high-end Windows Phone 8 smartphone at the upcoming Mobile World Congress. Dubbed as Ascend W2, it will join the Ascend W1, which was announced recently concluded Consumer Electronics Show and features 4-inch WVGA display, 5MP rear camera and dual-core processor.

Online reports suggest that Ascend W2 will be the thinnest Windows Phone 8 in the market with just 7.7mm thickness, unless some other company comes with even thinner WP device at the event.

The leaked specifications include a 4.5-inch 720p HD ultra-sensitive touchscreen, 8 MP rear camera, dual-core processor, 1 GB RAM, 16 GB of internal storage, and a 2,800 mAh battery. The specs seems in line with other high-end WP devices from manufacturers like Nokia, HTC and Samsung.

Sources claims that Huawei Ascend W2 will be priced around 3,200 yuan ($515 or €386), however there is no confirmation right now.

Huawei’s Richard Yu has revealed on a social network that his company will be unveiling two smartphones at the MWC, one of which is expected to be W2, other is likely run on Android.

Here is the machine translated version of his post:

“The CES show, we released most of three global smartphone products, are: maximum screen Mate, the most powerful D2 and the best value the WP8 mobile phone W1 2 month Barcelona MWC Mobile World Congress will also release two most of the world’s smartphone products. Nobody can remember, can only remember the first one, we want the consumer to see, most of the world first from Huawei! Keep making progress, beyond!”

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Two top Yahoo executives leave the company

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Shashi Seth

Yahoo Chief Information Security Officer Justin Somaini and Yahoo Connections SVP Shashi Seth have been confirmed to have left Yahoo, notes All Things D, which was first to report on their departure.

The exact reasons for the sudden departure of these two executives is not clear right now, but Justin’s end of days at Yahoo might be related to the recent hacking issues around the newly refreshed Yahoo Mail.

Shashi Seth, who was long rumoured to be resigning from the company, posted on LinkedIn:

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Justin Somaini

“After three years I have come to the incredibly hard decision to move on from Yahoo. I truly enjoyed working with an amazing team, that was passionate, hard working, and truly brilliant. I will miss working with them!”

According to All Things D, Yahoo CEO Mayer is in the midst of culling top execs, even as some are contemplating departure due to unhappiness under her new regime.

Brief Bio:

Justin Somaini: Until recently the Chief Information Security Officer at Yahoo!, he was responsible for all aspects of Yahoo!’s Information Security strategy.  He has previously worked with Symantec, VeriSign, Charles Schwab and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

Shashi Seth: Until recently the senior vice president of the Connections business unit at Yahoo! He was responsible for  Yahoo! Search, Yahoo! Mail, Flickr, IntoNow from Yahoo!, Yahoo! Messenger, Yahoo! Answers, Yahoo! Groups, and Social Bar. Shashi has previously held leadership positions at Google, eBay, and AOL.

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Samsung Series 3 Chromebox with Core i5, 4GB RAM official

Samsung-Series-3-Chromebox-XE300M22-A02USSamsung’s Series 3 Chromebox XE300M22-A02US, which recently popped up at various online stores, has now been confirmed by a listing at Samsung USA website.  This listing confirms the previously revealed specification of the Chrome OS powered box, but we will have to wait until an announcement to get an official price-tag.

This Series 3 Chromebox is a big improvement over its predecessor, it still might be featuring Ivy Bridge, but otherwise specifications are more than enough for your web browsing or HTML5 app needs.

The devices features an Intel Core i5-2450M Processor, 4GB of RAM, 16GB SSD, Wi-Fi connectivity, 6 USB ports, Eothernet, Bluetooth, display port and Chrome OS. Samsung has kept the old design on this Chromebox unlike the newly designed ChromeBox that appeared in UK weeks ago.

If we believe the retailer listings, the Series 3 Chromebox XE300M22-A02US will be officially priced around $400-430. Amazon is currently selling it for $423 with a listing price of $499, however it is available for just $405 at CompSource.

Here are some of the live shots of Samsung’s Series 3 Chromebox XE300M22-A02US (via an ebay listing):

Dell Precision Tower Workstation Family. Features T7600, T5600, T3600, and T1650 tower workstations.

Dell buyout talks move further with discussions around $13/$14 a share

Dell Precision Tower Workstation Family. Features T7600, T5600, T3600, and T1650 tower workstations.Just 24 hours ago, we heard about Dell’s alleged plans to go private and now both WSJ and Reuters are reporting that talks are now in advanced stages with private equity firms lining up banks for financing.

According to Reuters, private equity firm Silver Lake Partners is leading the discussions and has even brought Credit Suisse, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays and RBC in to finance a potential deal. One of major issues with taking Dell private is going to be financing and if Silver Lake is able to do that will the help of these bank, we might actually see the this PC maker going private.

Wall Street Journal adds that Silver Lake is discussion a buyout at around $13-$14 per share, which is about the current share price of Dell.  The buyout group is likely to include a private equity firm, another investor and Michael Dell.

WSJ claims that Silver Lake and the other investors would need to arrange for $2 billion in equity, and Michael Dell would likely put his stock toward the deal, worth $3.6 billion or more depending on the offer price, this person said. The group would also use some cash on Dell’s balance sheet, while taking on new debt of about $15 billion, to meet an equity purchase price of roughly $22 billion to $25 billion. The person said advisers are trying to bring the negotiations to a close quickly, either way.

JP Morgan is reportedly advising Dell for this deal. Dell or any of the so-called involved banks have not commented on the buy-out reports.

While, there are complications with a massive buyout like this, it would also allow Dell to re-align its businesses with more focus on enterprise software and services (more lucrative market than PC) without having to worry around investor concerns.

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Facebook announces Graph Search, currently in beta

Crushing the expectations of a smartphone, Facebook announced new search experience for its users earlier today at a press event. Dubbed as Graph Search, it is still in beta. It is not a web search feature, but more like a search of all the information that Facebook has amassed in these years including check-ins, people, photos, connections, interests and more.

As Facebook puts it: Graph Search will give you answers not links.

“Graph Search will appear as a bigger search bar at the top of each page. When you search for something, that search not only determines the set of results you get, but also serves as a title for the page. You can edit the title – and in doing so create your own custom view of the content you and your friends have shared on Facebook,” company noted in a press release.Graph Search

How are Web Search and Graph Search different?

Facebook is clearly not jumping in normal web search arena and knows its own strengths, which lie in massive volume of social connections. First of all, the search results of Graph Search, will only be coming from Facebook content, suppose you search for “my New York friend who is in MIT” Facebook will go through all its content and show a set of results, which will include people (including possible your friend), places, & photos.

Facebook stresses that Graph Search has been built by keeping privacy in mind, as you would know, not everything is visible to everyone on Facebook and same will the case with Graph Search, you will only those search results, whose privacy settings don’t bar you to see them.

“We’re very early in the development of Graph Search. It’s only available in English today and you can search for only a subset of content on Facebook. Posts and Open Graph actions (for example, song listens) are not yet available. We’ll be working on these things over the coming months,” added Facebook

According to Facebook, the current version of Graph Search will focus only on people, places, photos and interests.

You can go to this link, to register for an invite to Graph Search, which might take some time to arrive.

Here are some FAQs from Facebook:

What is Graph Search?

Graph Search is a new way for you to find people, photos, places and interests that are most relevant to you on Facebook.

What is Graph Search useful for?

Graph Search will help you instantly find others, learn more about them and make connections, explore photos, quickly find places like local attractions and restaurants, and learn about common interests like music, movies, books and more. All results are unique based on the strength of relationships and connections.

What can I search for?

With Graph Search, you can search for people, photos, places and interests. How do I search? Type your search into the blue bar at the top of the page. As you start to type, suggestions appear in a drop down. You can refine your search using the tools on the right-hand side of the page.