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LeTV compares Apple to Nazis to promote its upcoming “bezel-less” phone

Posted by wicked March - 27 - 2015 - Friday Comments Off

letv apple

Have you ever heard of LeTV? Even if you know your Xiaomi from your ZTE, it’s likely that the name of this Chinese company doesn’t ring too many bells. Even in its home market, LeTV isn’t an established name, at least when it comes to smartphones. But the company’s ambitious boss is looking to change that.

Jia Yueting, chairman and president of Leshi Internet Information and Technology (commonly referred to as LeTV), took to Weibo to promote the release of the company’s first smartphone, the LeTV X900. So far, nothing special, but the artwork accompanying the post will surely raise some eyebrows.

letv apple

“Crowdsourced, freedom vs arrogance, tyranny” spells out the text in the cartoon. The choice is simple, in LeTV’s vision: the “walled garden” maintained by the “arrogant” Apple on the right, or the freedom enjoyed by all the cool (and apparently environment-conscious) kids on the left.

Yes, LeTV went there. It may not be in good taste, it may not be accurate, but this blunt portrayal of Apple as literally Hitler is sure to gain LeTV some much needed exposure for the X900.

The X900 is set to be released next month, and the most interesting thing about it shapes up to be its “bezel-less” design.

letv x900

Rumored specs include a 5.5-inch display, a Snapdragon 810 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 20.7MP camera on the back. Not bad for a first effort from a company mostly known for its entertainment business.

The LeTV X900 “super phone” isn’t the only “bezel-less” device coming out of China soon. Just earlier this week, a leak revealed Oppo’s similar design. The pioneer in this field is, however, Sharp, whose Aquos Crystal device made it to US last year via Sprint.

Apple iPad Air Plus will have four speakers according to 3D case render

Posted by Tom March - 24 - 2015 - Tuesday Comments Off

The 12.9-inch Apple iPad Air Pro / Plus, which is expected to launch in the next few months, will likely sport four speakers according to a 3D render of a case for the tablet.

The speakers look like they’ll be at the top and bottom, two per side.

There’s also space for the volume controls, a microphone, a 3.5mm audio jack and a Lightning port at the bottom.

Elsewhere, the iPad Plus is likely to run on an Apple A8X or an A9 processor, 2GB of RAM, a Retina display and a fingerprint scanner.

Via tablet-news

Japanese Hamee releases four new super-realistic iPhone 6 cases

Posted by Tom March - 24 - 2015 - Tuesday Comments Off

Masters of replicating food on phone cases Hamee have announced a new set of delicious looking cases for the iPhone 6.

This time around they’re serving up an iced cookie, ikura (salmon roe) on rice, raw Wagyu beef and “revenge bento”.

Each case costs ¥3,980 ($33) and would make an ace gift for any foodie friends.

Via akihabaranews

Cyanogen raises $80M for anti-Google warchest

Posted by wicked March - 24 - 2015 - Tuesday Comments Off

It’s been a while since someone had the guts and the cojones to take on Google at its own game, but most forward-looking people in the industry agree that it’s right about time someone did. Enter the loud and confident Kirt McMaster, CEO of Cyanogen, Inc., last year’s enfant terrible of the mobile tech industry. His most recent fundraising round generated around USD$80 million, even famously without Microsoft’s support, and everything seems to be “green-and-go” for Cyanogen OS.

McMaster’s current self-stated mission in life is to take Google’s Android OS and turn it into a real open source system – one that didn’t have to rely on Google’s core apps to function correctly. “We’re putting a bullet through Google’s head,” he declares confidently. The idea is to make Cyanogen OS a third alternative – and a very appealing one at that – to get the focus away from Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, the two leading platforms in mobile devices to date.


The only way to do that, McMaster says, is to hijack Android, clean it up (meaning, take the core Google apps away), and replace it with something that is much more customizable. A credit company like Visa or PayPal could make a payment system better than Google Wallet or Apple Pay. Imagine if Skype was built into the phone dialer and Spotify became the default music player on a phone. “In a perfect world the OS should know I use Spotify for music,” McMaster says. “I should be able to talk to the phone and say ‘Play that song’ and the song plays with Spotify. It doesn’t do that today.”


Cyanogen started out by tweaking Android and making it work better, more efficiently – the result was CyanogenMod. It stands to reason that the only way forward for McMaster and Cyanogen is to take Android and mold it into something better. All the ones that have tried and failed – BlackBerry, Samsung, Mozilla, Nokia, Intel, Palm – serve as examples of what Cyanogen should not become.

And so this USD$80 million funding round will push Cyanogen into that direction. Even without Microsoft’s support, McMaster was still able to convince companies like Twitter, mobile chip powerhouse Qualcomm, carrier Telefónica and media titan Rupert Murdoch, to ride on his dream of taking down Goliath… errr, Google. Already, a company (who refused to be named) is pledging that their device will come out this year with a clean Cyanogen OS as the platform. So where will this take Cyanogen? Hopefully to great heights. A great 3rd option is always needed for more innovation.

SOURCE: Cyanogen | Forbes

Apple Appeal & My Voyage to The Store of Oz

Posted by wicked March - 20 - 2015 - Friday Comments Off

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 3.07.04 PM

Given that there are no proper Apple Stores in my South American country, I haven’t had the opportunity to experience what many say is one of the cleanest shopping experiences you can have. I’ve been coming back and forth to America for a couple of years now, and on this visit I finally had a reason to step into Apple territory to actually purchase an Apple product. I am an Android guy through and through, and I didn’t go there to purchase an iPhone, so don’t yell at me just yet.


What I experienced though, was a rather different customer experience – not one I liked, at all, but one that was different enough to spark some thoughts.

First steps

The first thing that me and my woman noticed while walking up to the store was the neat display of iPads, protected by colorful cases. Something caught our eyes – the fact that some of the flip covers were opening and closing by themselves, with no strings nor mechanisms involved. Small-talk regarding the conundrum ensued. We later learned that this particular eye-catchy trick was something almost every customer at that shop commented on.

My first impression of the store was a little overwhelming. It seemed to try too hard towards giving off an esoteric impression. The whole place seemed more like a cult headquarter than a proper shop to me, with huge colorful displays and slick renders. The whole arrangement of devices, posters and displays made the place feel like some sort of bizarre technology church, like something else that makes users think they are buying into something transcendent and exclusive – quite an ironic idea given Apple’s now-traditional market presence in the U.S.

I was personally creeped out by many of the obvious psychologically manipulative approaches at play in their purchase experience, but I can’t help but think that their strategy has some wicked brilliance to it. We all know that Apple users tend to be less savvy than those of rival platforms, particularly open ones like Android for mobile and Linux for desktops. Technology can be scary to the average consumer, at least the technical bit. A soccer mom or businessman might not have the interest, time or drive to understand the underlying mechanics of a device, not even the terminology. The word “processor” is scary enough for some, so talking about ROMs, kernels or hardware specifications we lust over is not an entirely ideal marketing approach.

Not in Kansas anymore

(Until it breaks.)

And that is something that I feel plays a core aspect in Apple’s design and marketing philosophy: when Steve Job’s famously said “it just works” he wasn’t simply referring to the fact that Apple products allow casual users to do their thing without a hassle, but also it also implied that there’s something reminiscent of magic to their line-ups. And not fantasy, wizardry magic like they’d want to have you believe, but rather cheap “wow factor” exploits that dazzle those who don’t want to think the trick thoroughly.  In this sense, Apple doesn’t play a Gandalf wizard, but rather a Wizard of Oz – a magician that cleverly passes off his tricks as actual wonders.

The rest of their marketing is clearly aimed at a more holistic approach to products. While their mobile software is closed down, it functions enough to get most basic things done without hassle. Something as inherent to us as widgets is touted to be a revolution, even though it has existed before. Their little spins here and there and the different look in their implementations justifies, in their consumers’ eyes, the re-branding and appropriation of age-old features as a new Apple wonder. At every Apple keynote or developer conference, we see similar patterns of this behavior, to the point where it’s become a running gag in the enthusiast blogosphere… but only there, and the general consumer that Apple targets still gobbles it up without a clue.

The key to this game is interaction. The Apple Store was buzzing with conversation, be it between customers or between these and the employees. They have an obvious hiring bias towards those who would look “hip” or “in-the-now”, as well as capable of easy-going conversation. And that is what we, and everyone, there got. Obviously the Apple employee doesn’t really care about what I’m doing with my product, or any detail of my life. But those questions help reinforce a communal feeling (and again, cult-like to me) in the customers. The fact that most Apple keywords have hip names also reinforces the trendy, progressive philosophy that their consumers love. If you want a non-stressful time getting your gadget fixed, you would intuitively want to go to a “Genius Bar” rather than a “Technical Support Department”.

Keep it real

This contrast is also seen in the typical purchase experience of an Android phone. In my total time in the U.S., I’ve purchased 3 Android devices, at places like Best Buy or Carrier stores. The experience was what you would expect: going to a shop with hundreds of products at display overwhelming your perception, with trial handsets so used up that the screen is burned in, price tags peeling off, and employees that see you as a money bag. Once you engage in a purchase, waddling through the additional plans, warranties or whatever they try to shove down your throat can be a pain as well.

Which experience is better? If you ask me, I’d say the latter at least feels real. In essence, both businesses want the same things, and try to achieve it through similar means – one is just so heavily masked with buzzwords and pretty designs that you forget about it. What I once heard referred to as a “magical place” is simply a carnival show. The gimmicks such as hiding cash registers inside the tables, for example, are interesting for about two seconds, but the fact that it is something so different sticks with customers. When I asked the employee they assigned to me if the flip covers were moved by magnets, he responded by saying that everyone asked them how it happened. He claimed that he wasn’t supposed to tell me, but nevertheless stated that I was indeed correct. There goes Oz’s veil!

[Product] Pro with [Buzzword] [Enticing promo statement]

And it’s the little things that make customers want to go back. The shopping experience is a small bit of the Apple Appeal that makes them stick to these products. Something as simple as aligning an intentionally disarranged laptop gets users to touch the product, and feel a stronger bond to their purchase. They know that they won’t have much of a hassle with it as well. And 6 months from then, they might want a new product they don’t need. The convincing mission statements in their promotional websites might not tell you anything about what the product does, but they sure hit all the right notes for those who want a gorgeous gadget. The rest is trust.

There’s a lot more to this and I tried to limit this article to what I’ve seen first hand in that purchasing experience. The contrast is interesting, and with the degree of care put into the culture surrounding Apple products it is not hard to understand why their latest phones did so well. Would Android phones benefit from this approach? Given the fragmentation and diversity in handsets, it’d probably be difficult to achieve in a unified hub such as Best Buy or a Carrier store. But this doesn’t mean that other OEMs are saints. They all play the psychological game, and most big corporations do. But when it comes to building a culture around their products – which are mostly spectacular as far as hardware goes – and forming a strong, cohesive and alluring brand, Apple simply owns the game.

And I think that this bit is quite a strong forte in Apple’s repertoire of tricks. The engineering of consent that goes on within their HQ must be a fascinating but scary procedure. I applaud Apple for being good at it, even if I don’t approve, and even if it personally makes me uncomfortable to see that, in the end, their fierce capitalist approach is as disguised as it is insidious. Next time you see that Apple logo on a Macbook light up the cafe, you might not see it as a pretty aesthetic accent but rather another one of their ways of reinforcing their brand presence. Those things are everywhere, and not without a purpose. I should know, I have one behind this screen right now…

The post Apple Appeal & My Voyage to The Store of Oz appeared first on xda-developers.

iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus get Rose Gold makeover to match Apple Watch

Posted by Tom March - 18 - 2015 - Wednesday Comments Off

The Apple Watch 18k rose gold model will be joined by the forthcoming iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus smartphones.

These renders of the new models have been mocked up by Martin Hajek.

The 6S and 6S Plus smartphones are expected to feature the Apple A9 processor and sport more RAM than the current 6 models.

It’s expected they’ll surface in September, which could also see the release of iOS 9.

Via geeky-gadgets

Sirius is a Google-backed personal assistant project, to take on Siri

Posted by wicked March - 18 - 2015 - Wednesday Comments Off

Siri and Cortana are the “big girls” of the personal voice activated assistant world – only Apple and Microsoft can claim product and name recall in this aspect of the market with a feature that actually works. Android has lagged behind in this part of the race, but maybe Sirius – a new open-source project backed by Google, can finally bridge the gap.

In true Android fashion, Sirius is an open-source project. Anybody can contribute to the program via GitHub, a coding project collaboration website. The project – or where it’s at right now – is completely free for anyone to use, a very attractive and yet significant separation from Siri and Cortana. Other contributors and backers of the project include DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), the US military’s research wing, and the National Science Foundation.

As of now, it only works on Ubuntu desktops, but it can already do some stuff that Siri or Cortana can’t. For example, you feed Sirius a picture you took with your camera and ask a question about it. It’s a deeper level of information knowledge and data recognition.

The main problem right now is, the coding isn’t exactly streamlined or elegant – it’s a mashup of features that get it working. For speech recognition, Sirius uses Carnegie Mellon University’s Sphinx program in combination with Caffe, an open source neural network platform. To query images, Sirius uses OpenCV’s SURF program and image database. To answer questions, Sirius uses a system called OpenEphyra, also a project at Carnegie Mellon. So there are some stuff that need to be streamlined – but at the end of the project, maybe this will be something you can directly download as an app. Wouldn’t that be cool?

VIA: Motherboard

Tim Cook thinks the Apple Watch is the first smartwatch that matters

Posted by wicked March - 18 - 2015 - Wednesday Comments Off


Well at last Tim Cook acknowledges that there are other smartwatches out there, but Tim seems to think the upcoming Apple Watch is the first one that matters.

Why? Because it has the Apple logo? In an interview with Fast Company, Tim reasoned it by saying that Apple didn’t make the first MP3 player, the first tablet, or the first smartphone. He then argued that they made the first modern smartphone and now they are making the first modern smartwatch.

Tim is party correct in that Apple did redefine the MP3 player, the smartphone, and the tablet. Looking back at the smartphone, they completely revamped what we thought we knew was a smartphone. When it came to tablets, they might not have been the first, but they pretty much were. No Android tablet came out before, and Apple made a lot of noise with the iPad, again changing the game.

But the smartwatch is a different animal. I have personally been wearing smartwatches for the past two years. The Apple Watch might be high quality, but it certainly doesn’t offer anything else that Android Wear doesn’t already offer. Apple Watch doesn’t change anything. Let’s also not forget that the Apple Watch is square, while we already have high quality round Android Wear smartwatches.

Now I will agree that the Apple Watch is the first smartwatch to get a decent amount of buzz, and that’s because it’s Apple. Apple will sell a decent amount of smartwatches, but let’s face it, consumers aren’t that much into them.

Mark my words, the Apple Watch will follow the pattern we have seen from Apple’s most recent products. The iPhone sold like hotcakes. The iPad did fantastic, but a far cry from what the iPhone did. Now it’s time for the Apple Watch, which will do well, but will be much less successful than the iPad. It’s not because the Apple Watch stinks, it’s because it’s not something the mainstream consumer needs to spend $350 or higher on.

source: Fast Company

Come comment on this article: Tim Cook thinks the Apple Watch is the first smartwatch that matters

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge camera put to test against Apple iPhone 6 Plus

Posted by wicked March - 17 - 2015 - Tuesday Comments Off

samsung galaxy s6 vs iphone 6 6

With the ever expanding capabilities of camera sensors on our favorite smartphones, sample photos and comparisons are becoming more and more relevant to your purchasing decisions. Players like Apple with their line of iPhones and Android players like Samsung and Sony have been making waves, bringing the general casual smartphone photography to the next level.

We’ve got a few photo shootouts coming for you, but for now, let’s take a look at of few sample photos from the Apple iPhone 6 Plus vs the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge out of Denmark. In the below sets, the top image is the iPhone, the bottom image belongs to Samsung.

iphone 6 plus vs galaxy s6 edge imgur

For those familiar with Apple vs Android phone shootouts, I hope you are pleased with the results you see here. Usually Apple comes out the victor, but we’re not so sure that is true today. Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus clocks in with 8MP, 18mm squared sensor shooting at a 4:3 aspect ratio, f/2.2 with image stabilization. HD video recording is complemented by 240fps slow-motion capture at 720p.

Samsung’s equipped sensor on the Galaxy S6 Edge looks slightly better on paper, 16MP, 19.9mm squared sensor shoots at 16:9 aspect ratio, f/1.9 with image stabilization. 4K video recording is on board, but only 120fps slow motion at 720p.

iphone 6 plus vs galaxy s6 edge chainimgur

If the devil is in the details, you just witnessed all the evil there is to see in the camera samples. 100% zoom reveals all the grain, or lack thereof.

OK, these phones perform quite well in the bright of day. Perhaps there is a touch of yellow in the iPhone photos. Now, how do they handle night images? Our cameraman didn’t wait for night, instead headed into an enclosed parking garage.

iphone 6 plus vs galaxy s6 edge dark imgur

What is this you see, yes, it is strengths and weaknesses from both camps. To my untrained eye, the iPhone 6 Plus loses a ton of clarity vs the Galaxy S6 Edge. There is also a huge discrepancy in the white balance of the photos, perhaps your translation of the original site can identify which phone managed to capture the coloring more accurately.

Last, what you all may have been waiting for, video capture. Here is the Apple iPhone 6 Plus shooting those cars in the dark of the parking garage at its best 1080p resolution.

Last, but certainly not least, is the 4K video capture from the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, taken in the same dimly lit parking garage.

Once again, the videos give off that huge difference in white balance, but the resulting imagery may leave you debating realistic colors against almost HDR-like image brightness balancing.

As mentioned, don’t let this be the end of your research if you are comparing these two devices for purchase. We have our own Samsung Galaxy S6 (Edge) vs Apple iPhone 6 (Plus) camera shootouts in the works. Stay tuned.

In the end, the choice is yours, obviously – from what you see so far, do you think the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge has overthrown the Apple iPhone 6 Plus in this camera comparison?

Apple’s trade-in program will reportedly offer gift cards for rival smartphones

Posted by wicked March - 16 - 2015 - Monday Comments Off

nexus 6 vs iphone 6 plus aa (19 of 24)

In the past, Apple has done its part to attract Android users over to its own mobile platform, but a new report suggests that the company will begin increasing its efforts soon. In an attempt to boost iPhone sales, Apple will reportedly soon offer gift cards towards new iPhones when users trade in rival devices. According to 9to5Mac’s unnamed sources, the new trade-in program will be similar to Apple’s current system, which lets Apple retail store employees determine trade-in values for devices based on cosmetic and functional damage. While calling out Android devices specifically, the report mentions that non-Apple smartphones will be elidgible for trade-in as well. We’re assuming that means Windows Phone and BlackBerry devices are included in the program, though the report doesn’t specifically mention either.

The new program will purportedly begin in the coming weeks, following “extensive training programs” for employees that are slated to begin by the end of this week. Also, the report states that Apple store employees will only be able to transfer address book contacts, and users will have to transfer any additional data by themselves.

For right now, there’s no telling how much you’ll receive from the company if you want to trade-in your old Galaxy Nexus for some extra credit. Odds are you won’t receive much, but the offer may be there in the coming weeks if you’re interested. What do you think? Will Apple’s ploy to offer money to competitors tempt Android users? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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