While Facebook's $16 billion acquisition of WhatsApp was most certainly the biggest tech news of the week, another popular messaging service is making big waves in the tech community as well, although most Americans have likely never heard of it. Korean messaging service Kakao, has announced that it is negotiating with Morgan Stanley as well as Samsung Securities in hopes of filing its first Initial Public Offering.
With more than 133 million users, the app is about 1/5 the size of WhatsApp in its user base, but with more than seven years under its belt, it is a vet when it comes to instant messaging and mobile gaming. Kakao is seeing to raise about $2 billion which is about 1/8th of what Facebook paid for WhatsApp, so in terms of scale, the asking price is technically a deal, but with the app being locked to the Korean market, it is still a bit of a gable. Some industry insiders are suggesting that Kakao could be seeing the capital in an effort to expand its world wide presence, but nothing official has been announced yet.
The world's fastest 7-inch tablet, the NVIDIA Tegra Note 7, has just been updated with NVIDIA's i500 LTE modem. This provides the tablet with the high-end speeds of LTE, but continues its great starting price of just $199.
NVIDIA's Tegra Note 7 tablet includes NVIDIA's Tegra 4 SoC, a stylus, Android 4.4.2 (KitKat), and now, LTE and HSPA+ support. The new NVIDIA i500 processor the company has installed into its 7-inch slate uses a software-defined radio technology, meaning it can provide consumers with new features through software updates.
Another benefit of the NVIDIA i500 processor is that it's just 40% of the size of a traditional modem, but features 4x the capability of its predecessor. The normal Tegra Note 7 starts at $199, while the LTE-powered model will cost $100 more at $299, and will start selling across the world in certain markets in Q2 2014.
While the Angry Bird craze has mostly come to an end, Rovio is still partnering with big name brands to use its game as a marketing platform. Today the company announced that Angry Birds Rio has been updated to version 2.0 for both Android and iOS to celebrate the upcoming premier of Rio 2, the sequel to Rio, a animated movie from Blue Sky Studios.
With the original Angry Birds Rio seeing millions of downloads, Rovio and Blue Sky Studios teamed up again to create some hype for the April 11th debut of the Rio 2 movie. Unfortunately with the game not as popular as before, I really do not see it gaining as much traction as it did the first time around. I spent many hours playing Angry Birds and Angry Birds Star Wars, but I never could get into Angry Birds Rio. I will most likely download it tonight and spend a few minutes trying it out before bed though.
A new report from BGR is suggesting that the rumors of alloy-framed Galaxy S5 smartphones exist might just be true. The report states that after two different cases popped up on Amazon recently, there will actually be two versions of the Galaxy S5 debuting next week. The report says that there will be the normal Galaxy S5, and then an alloy-framed model carrying the title Galaxy S5 Prime.
The Galaxy S4 Prime will feature a high-strength aluminum alloy chassis as well as quad HD Super AMOLED display which will measure in at 5.25-inches. Processing will be handled by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 2.5GHz quad-core processor or a Samsung 8-core Exynos chipset followed up by 3GB of DDR3 RAM. A new 16-megapixel camera will be on board with a 10-megapixel front facing camera for HD selfies. A 3,000 mAh battery, support for 4G LTE data speeds of up to 150Mbps, and Android 4.4 KitKat will also be featured.
In all honesty though, at this point, so many rumors are coming from every direction with different information each time, the best thing to do is just sit back and wait until Monday to see exactly what Samsung is showing off. We do know that the Galaxy S5 will make an appearance, and we do know that its camera and screen will be improved, and that Android KitKat will be on board. Everything else is up in the air at this point, and only time will reveal the true details.
NASA researchers are developing a humanoid robonaut, called Robonaut 2, which could be able to one day work with astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS). The Robonaut 2 is a $2.5-million device that will also be able to contribute to general tasks as well.
Robonaut research for medical purposes is still in its early stages, so don't expect the humanoids to be in space providing health support immediately. The R2's camera-equipped head lets controllers on Earth see a medical process, and the robonaut has extremely good dexterity so the appropriate amount of pressure could be used during treatment.
"I would say that within an hour I trained him more than with other students I'm working for a week, so I think that he's learning really fast," said Dr. Zsolt Garami, from the Houston Methodist Research Institute, in a recent interview with Space.com.
Astronauts stationed aboard the ISS often are from the United States, Europe or Russia, and come from different backgrounds - the ability to have a robonaut available to either handle all medical issues, or lend a hand, would be greatly beneficial. As space nations look towards potential manned trips to Mars, having a robotics platform with the specialized ability to help with medical emergencies.
I am willing to bet that many of TweakTown's readers remember grinding out hours of thrashing in many of the titles in the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater gaming franchise. I was one of those teens who spent hours on end playing Pro Skater 2 and racking up millions of points in maps enhanced by every cheat code the game offered. Fans of the series will be happy to hear that the Tony Hawk franchise is returning at some point in 2014 or 2015.
During an episode of hits show, Demolition Radio, on SiriusXM Radio, Tony Hawk himself let the news slip about the upcoming title on accident, and since then, a spokes person for Activision has came forward and confirmed that the game does exist and that new information regarding it will be officially released soon. This is good news for long-time fans which saw the franchise die out after a horrible HD remake of the original game failed miserably after its control system proved to be more buggy than an AAA title from EA on launch day.
At some point in the next few weeks, Sprint will be issuing an update to the Samsung Galaxy Mega and Galaxy S4 Mini smartphones that will turn on a built-in feature that allows the phones to make and receive calls over Wi-Fi. This will effectively allow users to turn their smartphones into IP phones when connected to any Wi-Fi network, eliminating the need for an IP phone in your office or home.
Sprint says that the service will be free of charge for all Sprint customers, and that the IP calling will work with existing phone numbers so there is no need for a second account. When connected to a Wi-Fi network customer's calls will be routed over the internet instead of over the company's cellular network. This is expected to increase call quality and should lighten network loads considerably.
Sprint says that it will start the roll out with the Galaxy Mega and Galaxy S4 first before beginning the roll out to most Android-based smartphones on the company's network. No names have been given on which phones might receive the service next, but we suspect that most of the top-tier phones such as the Galaxy S4 and HTC One are on the shortlist. The concept of Wi-Fi calling is not new though as T-Mobile has been offering it since 2006. Industry analyst say that Sprint is prepping this service to help augment it's upcoming roll out of its upcoming HD Voice over LTE service which will see the current 2G Voice service discontinued.
Many regard Steve Jobs as one of the biggest visionary of our generation, and given his turn-around of Apple, and the success of the iPhone, iPod and iPad lines they may be true. Today the Washington Post outed the stamp commemorative postage stamp that will honor Jobs.. Additional honorees will be Elvis Presley and James Brown, both who have had stamps in the past.
In what should be a Today I Learned post on Reddit, the stamps are approved by a "Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee which is comprised of of a maximum of 15 members whose backgrounds reflect a wide range of educational, artistic, historical and professional expertise. All share an interest in the stamp program and the needs of the mailing public. An excerpt about the committee duties has been posted below.
The primary goal of the committee is to select a good balance of subjects appealing to a broad audience for recommendation to the Postmaster General. These subjects will be contemporary, timely, relevant, interesting and educational. In addition to the Postal Service's extensive line of mail-use stamps, approximately 25 new subjects for commemorative stamps are recommended each year. Stamp selections are made with all postal customers in mind, including stamp collectors.
A new report from Recode says that Amazon's set-top box venture is not dead and that we could see the device released as early as next month. The device is set to compete directly with Apple TV and the Roku and will be Android-based. The device will most likely run Amazon's custom app market place and will feature Amazon prime streaming functionality along side a few other non-competitor streaming applications.
Some earlier reports suggest that the box will also feature Ouya-like gaming but nothing from the Recode report suggest as much, and with the issues plaguing Android-gaming devices I am willing to bet Amazon is steering clear of anything other than simple gaming. With Amazon's set-top box releasing soon, questions about why a Amazon Prime app for Google Chrome may have been answered as no one would buy a >$50 set top box when they can buy the $35 Chromecast.
Microsoft is always working on updates for the Xbox One and Xbox 360 game consoles. Sometimes those updates are for bugs that have surfaced, like the black screen bug the last Xbox One update added for some. Other times the updates for the consoles add new features.
Microsoft has announce that it has been inviting specific Xbox Live gamers to beta the next update for the Xbox One game console. The Xbox team is working on an update for the Xbox One for March. The users that are chosen by Microsoft will get some of the features of that update early.
They will use the new features and provide Microsoft with feedback on the update via a private forum. Microsoft isn't offering any information on how it is choosing the people that will participate in the program. It does say that the users will be able to opt out of participating. That implies that the people don't have to ask to be part of the program.