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New Xbox Live Features & Windows Phone Features

17 Aug

With Gamescom in full flow, Microsoft have dropped a few tidbits for Xbox Live and the new Windows Phone Mango Platform coming next month.

These include;

  • “Avatar Awardables: Like achievements—but wearable. Once unlocked, these items will automatically appear in your avatar closet and can be worn on your avatar’s sleeve as a badge of honor. “Chickens Can’t Fly,” a forthcoming Xbox LIVE release, will be among the first titles to feature them.
  • Game Add-ons: In the Xbox LIVE title “Beards & Beaks,” players can purchase extra mushrooms and other items from within the game using Microsoft Points. In the months ahead, keep your eyes out for more titles in Marketplace that let you buy in-game add-ons and downloadable content like extra weapons or levels.
  • Parental Controls: The next release of Windows Phone gives parents more control of what content their child can access on Windows Phone, including M-rated (Mature) games. The first M-rated Windows Phone title, “Splinter Cell: Conviction,” is scheduled to arrive in the Marketplace later this fall.
  • Fast Async: A new Xbox LIVE service coming this fall that improves gameplay for multiplayer, turn-by-turn (or asynchronous) Windows Phone games.”
Check out Windows Phone Blog for more…
MB

Sony Launch Cloud Based Music Service For Android

15 Jun

Sony have released an App for Android Phones beating the iCloud and Spotify in the US to provide their Qriocity Music Unlimited service to Android phone users.

There are two levels to subscribe to giving you access to a library of over seven million songs from all four major US labels.

Firstly for $3.99 per month, the Basic package provides ad-free  music streaming, a scan and match service for your existing music library (including iTunes) so you can then playback your music on other “Music Unlimited” devices.

For $9.99 per month, the Premium plan includes all features of the Basic package along with the ability to create playlists, universal song playback rights (listen to any song you want any time), and access additional radio channels.

Impressed?  Let us know.  Slight hitch for everyone else…no idea when this will be available outside the US.

MB

Should Anyone Be Denied Internet Access?

14 Jun

The BBC’s Click show posted an interesting item on their website this weekend.  Well according to Frank La Rue, the UN’s Special Rapporteur, internet access should form part of everybody’s basic human rights which is a thought borne of the principle that the internet is a tool which contributes to the “progress of humankind as a whole”.

Check out the whole article and leave your comments below.  In a time when the internet is the subject of policy makers in governments across the world, especially with copyright infringement on the agenda, then this adds a very interesting viewpoint to the whole debate.  It seems you can get away with many things in life if you claim punishment or consequences are against your human rights, but the internet has been a positive tool in recent months particularly in spreading democracy and free speech, so really, should it not be available to all to protect civil liberties and as a basic form of communication?  Let me know your thoughts.

MB

Find My iPhone Updated

8 Jun

Find My iPhone now includes two good and wanted but simple upgrades

When you’re device has been stolen, one work around for the thief was to turn it off!  While off, the phone can not be traced.  Well now you will receive an email if the device is switched back on and located.

If you lose/forget/throw away (madness) a device, you can now also remove it from the Find My iPhone device list.

So there you go, two simple but good additions and thieves watch out! Don’t forget though, you need to configure Find My iPhone on your device first for it to work.

MB

DC Comics Embrace Digital Editions With Huge Announcement

1 Jun

If you are a fan of reading your comics from an iPad (as we are), then there was some great news today.

The news is that all new print comics from DC (Batman and Superman being the tip of the giant offerrings) will be released in digital format at the same time.  This is great news and the change is to take effect from 31st August 2011.  No announcement on any special arrangements for such downloads, we guess via the official iPad DC Comics App.

Now lets see how Marvel react.  Great to hear your views, is it the end of the traditional comic store (lets hope not)?

MB

Blackberry Bold 9900

27 May

So if you are as excited about the new Blackberry Bold 9900 which is soon to be released, we thought we should wet your appetites with a run of the summary specs of the new device;

  • A responsive full Qwerty Keyboard – thank goodness the thing Blackberry does really well has not been taken away
  • Optical Trackpad
  • 1.2GHz processor – most powerful Bold to date
  • Expandable 8GB Expandable Memory
  • Micro SD slot supporting up to 32GB
  • HD Video Recording
  • Wi-Fi (we are told the best in Wi-Fi tech – presumably well performing b/g/n and dual Band)
  • Thinnest Blackberry to Date, but keeping the elegant feel of the 9700
  • Blackberry OS 7
  • Orientation Sensor (Accelerometer), Digital Compass (Magnetometer), Proximity Sensor
  • Built In GPS
  • Bluetooth 2.1+EDR Support
  • 2287 dpi resolution, 8″ capacitive touch screen display VGA  @ 640×480
Check our the excellent hands on video from crackberry.com on You Tube.
As our 9700 has only just been updated with OS 6 which is awesome (see our post), can’t wait to see OS 7.
Lets us know your thoughts, comments and whether you will be buying the 9900 in the comments section below.
MB

Amazon Mac Download Store On amazon.com

27 May

So just to hot up the relationship with Apple, Amazon has now launched a download app store for Macs competing directly with the official Mac App Store.  The Mac Download Store is not quite as nifty as the integrated OSX Mac App Store but still with some desirables not available on the official download spot such as Microsoft Office and Toast 10.

From a consumer point of view, lets just say that healthy competition will hopefully be good for all of us buying Mac Apps!  Apple may feel differently.

MB

PSP Games Heading For the PS3

23 May

Sony have announced that they are to port key PSP titles across to the PS3 in HD and with key feature enhancements.  It is not yet clear which titles will be coming across and we have also read on other reports that gamers will be able to play across both formats and move game saves.  It may well be not all features and enhancements will be available on all ports of the PSP games but still a pretty nifty development for PSP and PS3 gamers.

MB

iPhone Notifications Concept

23 May

I saw this a couple of weeks ago but thought I would post reference to it in case any of you have not seen it.  It shows a notifications concept for the iPhone which I have to say looks pretty nifty! Hopefully Apple will like it too and introduce something like it or better than this.

MB

Closer Look & Hands On Samsung Galaxy S 2

22 May

I have to say as an avid iPhone and iOS fan, this handset could turn me if I did not think Apple will strike back strongly.

When you pick up the handset, the first thing you notice is the elegant design and weight of the phone giving a firm and strong feel.  The first Galaxy S was indeed, iPhone like (see much publicised legal action).  And perhaps thats where the operational feel has been inspired from but this time round the handset seems more original.  Yes, it is a touch screen and it’s hard for a touch screen device not to look alike to others at times particularly when the screen is so dominant.  The form of the handset here is so simple, thin and great to hold.  This should be a pointer to Apple in terms of how thin the Samsung Galaxy S 2 is.

Don’t get me wrong, this handset is not as attractive as the iPhone 4 but it is pretty damn close and in fact, you can be forgiven for believing as I do, that only Apple could better this handset which sits alongside only a couple of other Android handsets for looks.

And here is something, although the screen on the new Galaxy is 800X480 over a 4.3 inch area, it seems to perform brilliantly when compared to other similar pixel screens (see Google Nexus S for example).  It is not a match for the iPhone 4 but for what it is (I do not mean that detrimentally), this is a very good screen.  You can understand the use of such screen in perhaps preserving battery life in such a thin handset when the battery size would have an impact by how much juice the screen uses.  And while we are on the subject of the screen, go to a stockist and check out how good videos look when played back, that alone will impress you along with the screen size which makes it more suitable for videos.  Again, the screen quality does not in my mind rival the iPhone but it’s size makes all the difference and it handles the quality with disregard for most competitors.

When you use the screen, touch response is as good as you would expect from an up to date device.

Performance is stunning as the handset should be with the dual core processor which I read clocks at 1.2GHz.  The reality for me was that the handset handles everything you throw at it with such speed I did feel slightly jealous that it was not an iPhone!  I have not tried all Android phones but I can not possibly imagine that this can be beaten at the moment.  And by the way, the Camera is awesome for a smart phone.  Crisp and every bit the stated eight megapixel it claims to be.

And so on to the operating system.  The handset uses the bang up to date Android 2.3 Gingerbread.  Now I have only sparingly looked at Gingerbread up to now and one noticeable difference between this and the Google Nexus S is that Samsung have obviously slightly adapted the experience so for example, app menus swipe side to side in an iPhon-esque manner.  In fact it feels a bit iPhoney all round! I do not mind that but Apple might!

The keyboard is okay and given my limited Android use to date, I have read in other reviews that the standard Android Keyboard (downloadable from the Android Market) is more accurate so it is worth keeping that in mind.  I had few problems with the Samsung keyboard.

Samsung’s mail client looks smart but I had limited use of this on the test handset we used so I will leave you to fully decide but I can not see what I experienced letting a user down.  I did however get to see the Social Hub app working, pretty neat, I like the idea of a universal Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn app (amongst others).  I also see that you can integrate in Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo Messenger which is also a good feature.

There is not much to complain about with the software on the device whether it be Samsung Apps and influence or the overall Android operating system.  Time will tell how Samsung will embrace any update to Android OS with this handset in the future but my Android friends tell me they have been good with the original Galaxy S handset which they have all raved about since day one.

Overall, I really can not complain too much about this handset but as always, I am weary of Android handsets and how quickly there is potential to get left behind.  If I switched to an Android handset on a day to day basis, I would be tempted by this phone.  It is excellent as an all round smart phone.  If you want to play it safe however, you may still want to stick with a Google Nexus S for the very sake of Android updates.  Otherwise you could also check out the HTC Sensation but on the face of it, the Samsung Galaxy S 2 looks like a class beater, for now.

MB