Monthly Archives August 2013

Google to Launch Spotify Competitor

Have you heard of Spotify? Millions of users access the popular music streaming service and it has established itself as a leading music provider. It can be used on a desktop computer, or on BlackBerry, Android and iOS. But word is Spotify will soon be facing major competition from Google, who plans to launch a similar service in the United Kingdom.

Play Music All Access will be Google’s answer to Spotify, playing free music from major record companies and independent labels. At its May launch, it was described as “radio without rules” with a focus on allowing users to discover new artists and genres of music based on their current tastes. A tab called “Listen Now” gives suggestions for musicians and radio stations based on a subscriber’s personal preferences.

While Play Music All Music does sound like serious competitor, it will need to reach outside the UK to have a real impact. And knowing Google, that expansion is a real possibility.

Find My Android

Whether you own an iPhone or not, chances are you have heard of the “Find My iPhone” service that allows you to use another iOS device to track down your missing phone. But Android fans are well aware there is no similar feature for ’Droids. Luckily that is about to change.

On Aug. 2, Google revealed its highly anticipated service, the Android Device Manager. It lacks the catchy name but provides the same tracking abilities. Using Android Device Manager, Android owners can go online to map and locate a lost phone or tablet. For many, this will deliver an easy, stress-free way of handling an all too common situation.

Another use, similar to Find My iPhone, is the ability to wipe all data in the event of a theft. The last thing you want when is a thief having access to your personal information, so Android Device Manager allows you to erase everything online.

Android Device Manager will be available later this month for devices running Android 2.2 or higher.

Introducing the Moto X

Last year Google bought the cellphone manufacturing company Motorola, namely because of its technological patents. The mega-company is interested in using Motorola to help produce other products, even considering using its technology in the much hyped Google Glass. Recently, the duo announced a new smartphone, the Moto X.

Unlike other phones supported by Google, the Moto X doesn’t run on Android software, an attempt to demonstrate Google’s diversity in the industry. It is, however, an unusual move considering Android’s popularity.

Since Motorola’s share of the global smartphone market has dipped down to a meagre one percent this year, the Moto X could be its saving grace. In time we will see if Google’s ownership of Motorola picks the company up out of the dirt.

BlackBerry For Sale?

Is BlackBerry heading for the auction block? Reports this morning indicate the ailing Canadian smartphone giant is contemplating some big moves and could even be willing to sell the company. In a statement, BlackBerry said a special committee will investigate ways to increase profits, including forming “possible joint ventures, strategic partnerships or alliances.”

The announcement sent stock prices up Monday, continuing the trend that started late last week when rumors of the company going private started to circulate.

Apple, Samsung to Collaborate on iPad Mini

Though the two companies are up against each other in a highly competitive industry, Apple and Samsung will be collaborating for the release of the next iPad Mini. The current iPad Mini on the market uses a low-resolution screen that Apple hopes to improve. By working with Samsung and other companies, the next model to hit the market will have a high-resolution retina display.

Using screens from Samsung, Sharp Corp., and LG Display Co., the next iPad Mini will have drastically improved resolution for users. The current iPad Mini uses only technology from LG Display and Taiwan’s AU Optronics Corp. By using more companies, Apple hopes to ensure an adequate supply for the highly anticipated product.

Any thoughts on this coming together of enemies, so to speak? Who knows what will come of the newfound partnership. It may become prosperous with the upcoming release or, it may shortlived due to the rivalry between the two companies.

TV-Style Ads Coming to Facebook

They are everybody’s favourite thing: advertisements. According to inside sources, Facebook is ready to take its place as an ad outlet to the next level with television-like commercials.

“Every night, 88 million to 100 million people are actively using Facebook during primetime TV hours in the United States alone,” said Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, on a conference call,

This means it would be beneficial to both the company and those who purchase the advertising spots to play their commercials during these primetime slots. These desirable times would sell for an estimated $2.5 million a day for a 15-second spot.

While this is a huge move for Facebook it may be an inconvenience for users, who love to gripe about similar commercials on YouTube. We anticipate the introduction of these advertisements will cause quite a commotion among 1.15 billion users who will soon be subjected to them.

Is Samsung Cheating Tests?

Researchers have recently accused Samsung of designing its Galaxy S4 chip to perform better in test situations than it does in real life. Samsung is denying it, and is adamant these claims are false.

According to the company, the difference in outcomes has to do with a chip used in the testing process. When devices are tested, Samsung uses its own Exynos 5 Octa chip that is only available in international markets such as South Korea. When purchased in North America or the United Kingdom, however, the phone carries a Qualcomm chip. Researchers found the Samsung-designed chip has better results than the Qualcomm model.

This could be good news if you are planning of buying a Galaxy S4 in South Korea. Unfortunately for those of us in the American-British markets, it could mean the smartphone is not as fast.

New iPhone Rumors Swirling

There seems to be a new iPhone release every day, from devices to accessories. In reality, Apple is busy preparing for a September launch of what will probably be called the iPhone 5S. With all the buzz about it, some very interesting rumors have begun to spread about the device’s features.

Firstly, the big hype seems to be all about the fingerprint sensor, which is said to be complete. The main function of this sensor would be to prevent thefts. Another protective measure will see a valid Apple ID and password needed to wipe the device. This would deter thieves since the stolen phones would be useless to them, or so Apple says.

There have also been suggestions that a new cheaper plastic iPhone model may be introduced, which would appeal to a new consumer base that cannot afford Apple’s current offerings.

BlackBerry Q5 Coming to Canada

Although it was originally intended for markets in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Latin America, the Blackberry Q5 will be launched in Canada on Aug. 13. It will be the third BlackBerry smartphone released this year.

So why decide to bring the Q5 to Canada now? Well, the Ontario-based company is using a patriotic angle as an explanation.

“Canada is out home, and bringing the Blackberry Q5 smartphone here is a testament to our strong partner support and ongoing commitment to delivering innovative technologies that enable Canadian enterprises and consumers to improve how they connect and communicate,” said Blackberry’s Managing Director for Canada, Andrew MacLeod, in a press release.

While it is nice reasoning, not everybody believes that Canadian pride is the main motive behind this. Many business experts believe that Blackberry is making a move to try to save the slipping company. And though it is a good plan, they do not believe it will be enough alone to restore the company’s former success.

The Q5, which comes with the original QWERTY keyboard design, will be available soon through major carriers including Bell, Fido, Koodo, Sasktel, TELUS, and Virgin Mobile. Pricing has only been announced for Koodo, which will be selling the device for $350 without a contract.

So who will rush out to buy a new Q5 this summer? And will this move be enough to keep the company from sinking deeper? Come August, we may just find out.

Are Driverless Cars the Future of the Road?

Do you ever get distracted? A computer doesn’t. That is one of the prime arguments Google representatives are making in promoting their new driverless cars. It is human nature to become distracted by little things while driving, and that is why distractions cause the majority of collisions and other accidents. Fortunately, computers are not human, and can control a vehicle with better focus and precision.

Using a computer system with radar and GPS, among other things, the self-driving car looks to be the future of the road. Already, four states are laying down rules, ready for the time when many will be using driverless vehicles. California, Nevada, Florida, and the District of Columbia all recognize that this is a development that is here to stay.

What will the public think of the self-driving car? Many will be in awe of the technology. But will they believe it to be as safe as Google is promising? Not everyone will trust a computer over humans.

It will be interesting to see public reaction on such a controversial, futuristic advancement. How soon until we begin seeing driverless cars everywhere?