Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Microsoft Releases Windows 8 Consumer Preview | Technology News

Today, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Microsoft announced the release of Windows 8 Consumer Preview.

The release marks a new step in the evolution of Windows 8, but is still only a preview version of the platform, destined mainly for testing purposes.

The new platform flavor brings along a variety of changes when compared to the Windows 8 Developer Preview that became available for download in September last year.

“With Windows 8, we reimagined the different ways people interact with their PC and how to make everything feel like a natural extension of the device, whether using a Windows 8 tablet, laptop or all-in-one,” said Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows and Windows Live Division at Microsoft.

He also mentions that the new Windows 8 Consumer Preview arrives with a no-compromises approach to using the PC.

Microsoft is making the Windows 8 Consumer Preview available for download all around the world in English, French, German, Japanese and simplified Chinese languages.

Those users who have downloaded and installed the Developer Preview of the platform on their computers will benefit from a long range of changes in the new release.

In addition to various improvements throughout the platform, there will also be access to the Windows Store, as well as seamless integration with content that users access through their devices, including smartphones powered by the Windows Phone platform.

Moreover, Microsoft packed the Consumer Preview of Windows 8 with Internet Explorer 10 Platform Preview 5, which has been redesigned to deliver a new experience, specifically crafted for the Windows 8 platform.

At the MWC show in Barcelona, Microsoft will demo the new platform on various devices that are based on x86 and ARM chipsets. Developers will have access to hardware for trial and testing purposes.

Key updates in the Windows 8 Consumer Preview include:

- Broad range of product changes and improvements. Since the Developer Preview in September, designed to preview the programming platform, Windows 8 has progressed across every dimension. From completing the user experience for touch, keyboard and mouse to refining the development platform, the Consumer Preview improves performance, quality and reliability across all subsystems. With the added features, it represents a more complete view of the capabilities of Windows 8.

- Windows Store with new apps. The Windows 8 Consumer Preview marks the beta opening of the Windows Store, which is filled with a variety of new Metro style apps from both third-party developers and Microsoft. During the Consumer Preview, these apps are available to try and experience at no cost to users. The Windows Store will offer personalized recommendations, and Windows 8 gives users the ability to take their apps and settings with them across multiple PCs, making it easy to discover and try new apps while offering developers the greatest opportunity of any platform.

- Connecting to the cloud across Windows-based PCs and Windows Phone. The Windows 8 Consumer Preview offers seamless integration with the content people care about across their devices. An optional additional sign-on with a Microsoft account provides access to a host of features, including the ability to roam all settings, use cloud storage, communicate with email, calendar and contacts, and connect to a broad range of services. Your connection to the cloud works across your Windows-based PCs and your Windows Phones.

- Internet Explorer 10 Platform Preview 5
. The best way to experience the Web on Windows is with Internet Explorer 10. The browser has been re-imagined to create a new experience designed specifically for Windows 8 devices. It provides an edge-to-edge user interface that is all about less browser and more Web. Fast and fluid, Internet Explorer is hardware-accelerated to enable Web performance.

 Download Windows 8 Consumer Preview

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Canonical Demonstrates Ubuntu TV at MWC 2012 |Technology News

The Mobile World Congress 2012 event takes place these days in Barcelona, Spain, and our hard working team is there to bring you the latest news headlines.

Today, February 28th, Canonical made a short demonstration of the Ubuntu TV device for Softpedia (check the video above).

Featuring a customized version of the Unity interface, Ubuntu TV has the ability to stream media across other compatible devices, supporting iOS and Android. Intelligent search and enhanced viewing is also available.

Ubuntu TV offers easy integration of online and broadcast services, and applications, offering a modern broadcast TV experience and allowing users to search, record, buy, rent and playback movie titles.

Integration of satellite and cable services into Ubuntu TV with support for EU and US standard formats, for both HD and SD contents, will also be provided.

While users will be able to install various TV optimized apps from the Ubuntu Software Center, Ubuntu One sync integration will run in the background.

Microsoft: Credit Card Data Possibly Stolen from India Store |Technology News

After the official Microsoft Store in India was breached, the Redmond company issued a statement to reassure customers that the hackers didn’t gain access to credit card information. In a second email sent to clients, the company admitted that financial information may have been exposed.

According to Amit Agarwal’s Digital Inspiration blog, Microsoft sent out the second series of emails on February 27, advising Microsoft Store India customers to sign up for credit monitoring services to avoid any unfortunate incidents.

“Further detailed investigation and review of data provided by the website operator revealed that financial information may have been exposed for some Microsoft Store India customers,” reads Microsoft’s second letter to customers.

It’s believed that Quasar Media, the organization in charge of administrating the Microsoft Store, neglected to encrypt the sensitive information, allowing Chinese Evil Shadow hackers to easily gain access to the information.

The fact that the store recorded all the data in clear text was also revealed by the hacker at the time of the incident.

“The data is very important. Any security enthusiasts are interested in the data. We have made some of the data from the Microsoft India Mall, this behavior is designed to showcase that even Microsoft-owned stores will also use clear text passwords. Data has no value in China,” the hackers said at the time.

7z1, one of the hackers of the Chinese hacker crew that breached the online store, told us in a recent interview that they had no intention whatsoever to use the information stored on the site’s servers for malicious purposes.

“I am not a robber, a thief. What I did with the Microsoft mall was to make sure that their security would be enhanced, I did not publish data,” he said.

At the time of writing, Microsoft’s store is still not functional, displaying the same message that was posted right after the breach occurred.

MWC 2012: Jabra Clipper Bluetooth Headphones Close-Up |Technology News

If you wanted some small headphones that could also handle the basic operations of a smartphone, the Jabra Clipper may be just the thing.

On display at MWC 2012, these headphones connect to one or two devices that support Bluetooth.

They come with noise cancellation and can even pause music when answering an incoming phone call.

What's more, though they are meant to be used wirelessly (even featuring a mobile distance alert within 10 meters), the clip boasts a 3.5mm plug, so that any headphones may be employed instead of just the default ear buds.

As such, one might say that Jabra Clipper is not so much a set of headphones as it is a clipper that bridges the gap between a phone and whatever headset one wants to use.

Intel Reveals New Medfield SoCs, Orange Preps Smartphones | Technology News

After months, even years of failed attempts to secure a share of the mobile market, Ivy Bridge-delaying Intel is finally making the first real steps towards giving ARM a difficult time.

There are several companies announcing Intel smartphones, one of which is Orange, a major player in the UK and France.

Its over two hundred million customers will soon (this March, probably) get the option of buying smartphones based on the Intel Z2460 SoC.

US hopefuls will only get such phones a month or two later, depending on when their favorite carriers try out the SoC (system-on-chip).

This chip was supposed to work at a frequency of 1.6 GHz, but the people at ExtremeTech say the upper clock limit is now 2 GHz, 25% more than before.

Each implementation, that is to say phone, will be different, though, so only the “heavyweight” Medfield smartphones will actually use that potential fully, from what we can gather.

That said, the Z2460 will not be a lone wanderer for long: some time during the second half of the year (2012), the Atom Z2000 will appear.

As a low-power Atom variant, the Z2000 will have a clock speed of just 1 GHz. No clue whether it is a new chip altogether or just a tweak of Z2460.

Back to Orange, its first phone will have a 4-inch screen, 16 GB of flash storage and a weight of 117g (about 4 oz).

Its only drawback will be the lack of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Though ICS will be delivered through an OTA update at some point, the phone will be loaded with Gingerbread at launch (Android 2.3).

As a side note, when the Atom Z2000 comes out, Intel will launch a new HSPA+ capable modem as well. That means that, as the Z2460 is paired with the XMM 6260, so will its sibling use the XMM6265.

As some may have discerned, Intel is starting slow, approaching the emerging markets first. The first high-end smartphone chip won't debut until 2013: Atom Z2580, based on the 32nm node.

It will be a dual-core Medfield working at 1.8 GHz, with Hyper-Threading and a dual-core GPU (DirectX 9-ready SGX544 at 533 MHz). Its modem will be the LTE-capable XMM 7160. For the sake of comparison, the current, single-core Medfield GPU runs at 400 MHz.

All in all, Intel has the performance side of things well in hand, even if it does seem to be pushing clocks high in order to compete with potentially more advanced chip designs. As such, only power efficiency will determine the fate of Medfield, an area that chipzilla has repeatedly claimed (and proven, to an extent) to be making great progress in.

Monday, 27 February 2012

MWC 2012: Fujitsu Arrows Resists to Falling Iron Balls | Technology News

Japanese handsets are built to last. This has been mandatory in Japan for ages. No serious Japanese company would manufacture a mobile phone that is not waterproof, dustproof and scratch-resistant.

However, Fujitsu took this a little further and showed us that their Arrows smartphone, dubbed world's slimmest Android smartphone (6.7mm), can withstand... falling iron balls.

The phone's 4.0-inch WVGA AMOLED capacitive touchscreen features Corning Gorilla Glass which makes it highly resistant to scratching and accidental drops.

This type of hardened glass with high rigidity aims to preserve the display from even the most dangerous situations.

That, or you may be the unlucky one to have your screen broken the first time you accidentally drop your phone.

It is also worth mentioning that the phone's battery cover is coated with peel-resistant and scratch-resistant "ultra tough guard."

MWC 2012: Sony Xperia S Hands-on | Technology News

It's been almost two months since Sony launched its first branded smartphones, Xperia S and Xperia ion. The Japanese company promised to bring the Xperia S on the European market in Q1, but no exact release dates had been disclosed so far.

While most UK-based retailers confirm an early March availability, Sony announced yesterday that Xperia S is now available for purchase in Barcelona and will be rolled out in other countries beginning next week.

From our experience with the phone, we can truly say that this is indeed a masterpiece when it comes to design. However, just like last year, Sony still has a lot to work on the phones' software.

We took one of the samples for a spin and after running a game, the Xperia S software crashed. This is exactly what happened to us with an Xperia neo last year.

Other than that the Xperia S doesn't seem to have any flaws in its design. It's definitely one of best looking Android smartphones showcased at the 2012 MWC.

Here's our hands-on video (crash included).

iPad 3 Tablets Loaded on Planes - Photo | Technology News

An intriguing image reportedly stemming from the WeiPhone (Chinese) forums is said to reveal Foxconn loading iPad 3 pallets onto a jet on its way to the United States, with scheduled stops in ORD Chicago, JFK New York, and LAX Los Angeles.

The image uploader reportedly said iPad 3 shipments were already on their way to America as the post had gone live.

A Google-translation from the Weibo and WeiPhone forum posts is provided by 9to5mac:

“Friends broke the news: Chengdu International Airport at major international cargo charter flights, cargo owners demanding security, from CTU takeoff by stop PVG Shanghai, and then directly to ORD Chicago, the JFK New York, LAX in Los Angeles, March 9, completed before transport. According to the privately disclosed the Chengdu F production for the U.S. A company’s latest products… Received friends inside information, Chengdu International Airport night cargo charter flights, said the owner of the security demanding, and in private that the Chengdu Fu X Kang new products. Takes note of the location of the United States (ORD Chicago, JFK New York, LAX in Los Angeles).”

The blog further includes a translation from a Chinese speaking reader who reportedly said, “Our company started undertake a load of top-secured cargo. The owner has extreme requirements for the security. In order to prevent the cargo from being dragged on the airport ramp for too long, as well as shortening the time the cargo stay on the airport ramp, we hereby require XXXX to schedule all the XXX cargo planes from Feb. 26 to Mar. 9. to XXX slot.”

Apple is widely expected to unveil its next generation of iPad computers at an event scheduled for March 7 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, California.

Canonical Demonstrates Ubuntu for Android at MWC | Technology News

The highly anticipated Mobile World Congress event takes place these days (February 27th - March 1st) in Barcelona, Spain, and this is the first time for Canonical to be present at the show.

Canonical's booth is located in Hall 7 at stand 7C87, where the company will demonstrate its new product, Ubuntu for Android, the world's first full-featured desktop OS on a docked Android smartphone.

The amazing Ubuntu TV, the latest developments on Desktop, Ubuntu One, Ubuntu Cloud, as well as Ubuntu on hardware for sale at retail will also be showcased at MWC by Canonical.

As always, Softpedia is at the event and we will try to make a complete coverage of Canonical's new products. So stay tuned for more news from the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on our dedicated page.

Take a look below to see some more photos from Canonical's booth at MWC 2012.

Google Now Activates 850,000 Android Devices Daily | Technology News

At the MWC 2012 show in Barcelona, Google unveiled to the world more numbers regarding its Android platform, saying that it is now activating 850,000 new Android devices each day.

This means that the platform’s year-on-year growth rate was of 250 percent, which helped the total number of Android devices out there to top 300 million.

More impressively, the number of applications in the Android Market has reached 450,000, three times more than the 150,000 that were in the app portal at last year’s MWC.

Additionally, app downloads in the Android Market are of over 1 billion each month, Andy Rubin, SVP, mobile and digital content, Google, notes in a blog post.

The Mountain View-based company is now present at the MWC 2012 in Barcelona, and those attending the swho can visit its stand to learn more on the mobile platform and the devices powered by it. Have a look at the photo below to see what the booth looks like.

MWC 2012: HTC One X Hands-On | Technology News

One phone to rule them all, the One X is HTC's new Android flagship smartphone. It's been a long time since I've seen such a clean and fresh design coming from an HTC device.

I have tried to decide which phone should be my next smartphone for the rest of the year. I was tempted by Sony's Xperia S at first, but then I saw the HTC One X and I was sold.

HTC designers have finally created a device that breathes style. Announced yesterday, this is the top-tier device in the HTC One series, which also includes the One S and One V smartphones.

It comes with a hyper-vibrant 4.7-inch IPS LCD2 capacitive touchscreen with HD (720 x 1280 pixels) resolution and Corning Gorilla Glass coating.

On the inside, the phone is equipped with a quad-core Tegra 3 processor clocked at 1.5 GHz, 32 GB onboard memory and 1GB of RAM.

Amazonian Tribe Does Not Know What Numbers Are | Technology News

A team of scientists discovered an Amazonian tribe that does not have any words to denote numbers or similar concepts. This state of affairs provides investigators with an amazing opportunity to study how people acquire knowledge. The data may indicate how the earliest humans evolved over time.

In modern societies, people learn how to count and use numbers from a very early age. In fact, we are used to seeing them everywhere we look, and deal with them on a daily basis, for instance when we go shopping, or when we drive.

There are very few things in existence today that would have been possible without numbers, especially in our societies. However, in some way, the Piraha people of the Amazon managed to survive for thousands of years without dealing with anything remotely similar to numbers.

This is precisely what makes scientists so eager to study this society. Lack of access to numbers promises to provide a window into how these people handle knowledge, perception and reasoning.

The entire group consists of about 700 semi-nomadic individuals, living in groups of 10 to 15. Their settlements are located along the banks of the Maici River, which flows into the Amazon. They were studied recently by University of Miami (UM) anthropological linguist Caleb Everett.

The expert says that the natives only have three words to vaguely refer to quantities, but points out that there is an anumeric language. The word hòi, for example, is used to indicate a small amount of something, whereas hoì indicates a moderate to large amount. Baàgiso means a lot, or many.

“The Piraha is a really fascinating group because they are really only one or two groups in the world that are totally anumeric. This is maybe one of the most extreme cases of language actually restricting how people think,” Everett explains.

The expert holds an appointment as an assistant professor in the UM College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Anthropology. His research paper is called “Quantity Recognition Among speakers of an Anumeric Language,” Science Daily reports.

“I'm interested in how the language you speak affects the way that you think. The question here is what tools like number words really allows us to do and how they change the way we think about the world,” Everett explains, saying that studies of the Piraha will continue for quite some time.

MWC 2012: ASUS Transformer Pad 300 Series Tablet Exposed

We've caught a glimpse of that beast that ASUS outfitted with a 1,920 x 1,200 IPS display and now, we're taking a close look at the other Transformer Pad that the company has built.

The Transformer Pad 300 Series currently has a single member, but we already know that more pads are coming.

That said, the newcomer is just what one would expect from a company that gave us the Eee Pad Transformer Prime (disregarding the infuriating “restarts every 2 minutes” issue that only recently got resolved).

Exhibiting what ASUS has begun to call “2-in-1 innovation”, it, like its predecessors, gets to switch between tablet and notebook roles thanks to an optional dock.

The NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core 4-PLUS-1 platform lies at its heart, backed up by 1 GB of RAM (random access memory).

Meanwhile, the amount of built-in storage space is 16 GB.

Moving on, the display, with a diagonal of 10.1 inches, possesses a native resolution of 1,280 x 800 pixels, plus LED backlighting and, due to the IPS panel technology, viewing angles of 178 degrees.

Furthermore, ASUS implemented 10-finger multitouch. Given that one can't easily fit so many fingers on the screen surface at any one time, this is more than sufficient.

ASUS has prepared three color options for its newest creation: white, blue and red.

All of them get dual-webcams (1.2 MP front, 8MP at the back), Bluetooth 3.0, Wi-Fi, G-sensors, gyroscopes, e-compasses and light sensors.

Finally, the battery life is of up to 10 hours, or 15 hours when the dock is added. Android 4.0 ice Cream Sandwich is the operating system.

Unfortunately, we have no prices or availability details to provide at this time. Given general eagerness of companies and consumers, though, we suspect it won't take overly long for shops to get it, so stay tuned for further developments and keep an eye on your local retailer.

Note: Fellow editors Cosmin Vasile and Sorin Nita are on the floor at the 2012 MWC trade show and are keeping us posted with pictures and live reports on the latest product previews and launches.

Windows7 New Bug, RTM Can’t Print Large Page Documents | Latest Technology News

Windows 7 is by no means without its own problems, albeit in a volume far less consistent compared to Windows Vista’s. Still, users of the latest iteration of the Windows client will stumble across glitches in the operating system, some more severe than others, some just annoyances. As far as printing from Windows 7 is concerned, Microsoft informs that customers might find themselves unable to print large page documents using the platform. “The problem will occur if “(Paper Width in inches * dpi) * (Paper Length in inches * dpi)” results in a number larger than 4GB (0xFFFFFFFF),” the company noted. The deal breaking combination is a mixture of high resolution content and large paper size, Microsoft said.

“You are unable to print a document on a large paper size at a high resolution from a Windows 7 client. For example, printing at 600×600 dpi one page which printable area is 40″ x 300″ will fail. The same page will be printed fine when printed at 300×300 dpi,” the software giant revealed.

There is a solution already available for end users to deal with this issue. However, Microsoft is not offering an update or a hotfix, or any sort of automatic resolve for that matter. Still, the fix is simple enough that it can be easily implemented manually, and in fact this is what the Redmond company is advising customers to do.
“Add the following registry DWORD and set the value to 1 (if the printer driver is using EMF data type) or 2 (if the printer driver uses RAW data type): [HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Windows] “UMPDSecurityLevel” – DWORD – “0×1″ or “0×2″,” Microsoft noted.
Customers that add the registry key value as advised by Microsoft should be able to print high resolution content on large paper with no more problems, in scenarios in which any of the Windows 7 editions is being used.
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Confusing Interface of New Mars Samsung’s Slick Android Phone | Latest Technology News

The marching orders are in: Google’s Android Army is on the attack! T-Mobile is adding the new Samsung Behold II to its Android ranks, which already include the G1, the myTouch and the Cliq.
After all the fanfare surrounding Verizon’s Motorola Droid and Sprint’s HTC Hero, the Behold II has some big shoes to fill. But now that we’ve tinkered with it, we can say with some certainty that it’s … different. Like the other phones, it’s running the Android operating system. But it also suffers from some unfortunate interface tweaks.
In terms of hardware, the Behold II is mostly ace. The phone’s hard-plastic chassis fits comfortably in the hand, and its brigade of soft keys and input jacks are mostly well-appointed. Using the relatively responsive touchscreen is hassle-free, and overall audio quality is passable in a number of environments.
Watching the high-res trailer for Clash of the Titans was relatively quick (thanks to T-Mobile’s zippy 3G data network), and the 3.2-inch screen sported impressive color and clarity.
For the most part, the phone rarely struggled despite the hefty tasks we threw its way. And as a bonus, a microSD card slot adds storage support for the multimedia capabilities of the Behold II, which include a sharp 5-megapixel camera and a slick music player. Overall, if your modus operandi is snapping pics, bumping tunes and talking on the phone, then the Behold II has you covered.
Unfortunately, productivity and general navigation don’t live up to the hardware’s promise. Instead of sticking with an Android-only user interface, Samsung opted to mix things up with its own “TouchWiz” system. On one hand, we understand the impetus. When HTC crafted a custom interface for the Android-powered Hero, it turned out great. However, Samsung’s similar approach turned the Behold II’s navigation into a nightmare. The end result is a disjointed experience, where sometimes you’re using Android’s menu system, and other times you’re using TouchWiz — complete with different looking icons and menu trees.
The crown jewel of this split-personality experience is the multimedia-enhanced widget called the “cube.” In short, this feature takes users to a rotatable onscreen cube whose six sides offer access to apps like YouTube and the Behold’s music player. Not only is the act of rotating the cube strangely challenging, it’s mostly pointless. Using the regular menus to launch these tasks is easier, and the ability to store shortcut icons on the home screen negates its necessity.
And don’t even get us started on the “shake for a random app” feature.
There’s light at the end of this murky tunnel, though. Even though it pairs decent performance with crappy navigation, it’s likely that Samsung will revisit some aspects of the interface when it updates the phone’s Android backbone in early 2010. This means the Behold II’s shortcomings could fall by the wayside with a unifying software update that has a more consistent look and feel.
But as it stands today, the Behold II’s strong points aren’t quite enough to make the other conscripts in the Android army stand down.
WIRED An all-around reliable phone with fantastic talk time of 4 hours and 52 minutes. Mini-USB port makes file transfers a cinch. Feels surprisingly light at 4.2 ounces. Easy-to-use D-pad makes a decent alternative to touchscreen navigation. Ships with 2-GB memory card. Built-in GPS and Wi-Fi keep you online and on track.
TIRED Menus are confusing, inconsistent and ugly. Unlock key is far too recessed to be of practical use. Touchscreen seems to attract more fingerprints than competitors. No good can come of that spinning cube.
  • Manufacturer: Samsung
  • Price: $230 (with two-year contract)

Military Could Use iPhones to Track Friends, Enemies in War

What if the iPhone could be used in war? True, it’s primarily a consumer product, but it’s versatile and always connected to the internet (assuming you have network reception) — so why not?
That’s the idea behind new iPhone apps being showcased by Raytheon, a military contractor, at the Intelligence Warfighting Summit in Tucson. One app called the One Force Tracker will provide live data tracking the location of friends and foes on real-time maps. The app will also be used to communicate with other units.

The image above depicts multiple personnel of a military force or first-response team on a map displayed in One Force Tracker.
“Among several objectives, Raytheon wants to enable superior situational awareness for war fighters or for police, fire and rescue teams, enabling them to quickly make more informed decisions,” a Raytheon spokesman told
Raytheon is also developing an air-traffic simulator similar to the popular iPhone game Flight Control. Raytheon’s app aims to enable air-traffic controllers to repetitively practice (in multilevel, gamelike fashion) aspects of their training regimen anytime, anywhere. The image below shows a simulation mode of the app, which is designed to allow controllers to practice “vectoring” multiple aircraft. The goal is to maintain safe air speed and distance between units, among other factors. (We’d imagine Raytheon’s air-traffic simulator is much more difficult than Flight Control.)
Neat stuff. What’s funny is the military usually gets all the cool tech before consumers do, but this is a rare case of the opposite. Raytheon isn’t the first to try out military apps for the iPhone, either. Previously, reported on BulletFlight, a $30 iPhone app for military snipers to calculate ballistics. The app was designed to complement a gun mount for the iPod Touch.