Apple is rumored to be working on a 12.9-inch iPad, that would arrive as the iPad Pro. Apple is now reportedly accelerating the development of this larger iPad, because Samsung is already in the larger slate game with two 12.2-inch tablets.
DigiTimes' sources are claiming that Apple's new iPad Pro would launch in Q3 2014 at the earliest. It would seem doubtful that Apple is feeling threatened by Samsung, as the Cupertino-based iPhone giant is usually relaxed with its releases. But, increased competition in the market could be forcing Apple to work on products it normally wouldn't (a larger 'Pro' aimed iPad) and competing with Samsung.
The same sources claim that Apple is working on two new iPads that will replace the current Retina iPad mini and iPad Air. These new models would most likely debut at the same time as the iPad Pro.
The Apple iPhone and Samsung Google Android-powered smartphones both grew their respective market shares in the United States during Q4 2013, according to The NPD Group. iPhone ownership increased from 35 percent up to 42 percent year-over-year, while the Android smartphones jumped from 22 percent up to 26 percent during the same time frame.
The top five music apps used on smartphones during the fourth quarter of 2013: Pandora, iHeart Radio, Spotify, TunIn Radio, and Slacker Radio. As more consumers use smartphones with unlimited data - and Wi-Fi-supported devices - there is a huge demand for streaming music and other connected services. Music streaming rose 11 percent up to 52 percent, and that number will likely increase even higher.
"Considering the increase in prominence of smartphone music apps, it's not surprising that hardware manufacturers such as Betas are leveraging partnerships with carriers, like AT&T to break into the streaming music market," said John Buffone, NPD Executive Director of Connected Intelligence, in a statement. "This allows AT&T to offer subscribers more of what they want in the way innovative music apps and provides Beats a partner capable of driving trial in a market where consumers already have an affinity for the music services they use."
As consumers look to upgrade their devices - and switch wireless carriers - there will be a fierce battle among handset manufacturers and carriers trying to provide cost-effective devices and subscription plans.
Enterprise hardware manufacturer Eurocom recently unveiled the Armadillo, a 14" multi-touch ultrabook powered by Microsoft Windows 8. The device provides full 1080p HD (1920x1080) support and users can enjoy the 10-point multi-touchscreen to use Armadillo.
The Eurocom Armadillo ships with the Intel Core i7 4500U processor, up to 16GB DDR3L-1600 RAM support (two slots), two drives (mSata and HDD, SSD, or SHDD), Bluetooth 4.0, HDMI output, two USB 3.0 ports, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi.
"The Eurocom Armadillo is a perfect complement to our line of thin and light notebooks from 11.6" to 15.6" as it focuses on the pleasure of computing combined with a beautiful 14" design," said Mark Bialic, Eurocom President, in a statement. "The Eurocom Armadillo has the power, speed and slim build that can't help but turn heads, who knew an Armadillo could be so beautiful!"
Eurocom is known for pushing the boundaries of desktop PC replacement, with most products geared towards business users.
2014 could be the year for LG, especially if its upcoming G3 smartphone can win against the Galaxy S5 from Samsung. According to a new report from Korean-language site Kaver, the South Korean giant is preparing to launch its G3 smartphone in mid-May.
LG's G3 smartphone should feature a 5.5-inch 2K display (2560x1440), as well as a 16-megapixel rear-facing camera and either a quad- or eight-core processor - which should arrive as LG's Odin processor. Specs aren't everything, as we've seen with LG's dismal G2 sales in 2013.
T-Mobile is getting a kick out of offering an initiative that allows subscribers on other carriers to write "breakup" letters for their current wireless provider. Even with more than 80,000 of the "Dear John" letters from disgruntled subscribers to their carriers doesn't necessarily mean they are ready to abandon ship.
"As you can see from some of the breakup letters, people do say who they're breaking up with," a T-Mobile spokesperson recently told reporters. "In fact, customers are making signs, wanting to get their photo taken - they really want to have fun with it."
T-Mobile, currently the No. 4 biggest U.S. carrier in the United States, also boasts the cheapest monthly subscriptions for its subscribers. The company also recently announced it would open the door to paying up to $350 in early termination fees, per line, to woo subscribers away from AT&T and Verizon Wireless.
Verizon Wireless subscribers in the United States pay the most per month for their phone bills, according to a study compiled by Cowen and Company. On average, Verizon Wireless subscribers pay $148 per month after taxes and fees, while Sprint is the second most expensive with a $144 average. Meanwhile, AT&T subscribers pay $141 and T-Mobile subscribers tend to pay $120 per month for their phone service.
Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam previously noted several times that his company isn't interested in trying to compete against AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint in pricing.
The most recent Cowen and Company study follows up reports last year that indicated the same pricing structure for the four major carriers.
This morning Samsung officially announced the existence of its rumored Galaxy Tab 3 Lite after the device's user manual leaked late last night. The Galaxy Tab 3 Lite is aimed at the low-end side of the market and hopes to attract more customers to the small tablet realm in hopes that they will upgrade to a high-end model in the future.
The Galaxy Tab 3 Lite features a 7-inch screen with a 1024x600 resolution screen, while a 1.2GHz dual-core processor handles computational duties. 1GB of RAM should barely keep things running smooth while 8GB of on-board storage is on hand to store all of your files. A micro SD slot allows for more storage while a 2MP rear camera handles imaging duties. Battery life will be questionable with only a 3600mAh battery being featured, but with the slimmed down specifications, this may turn out not to be an issue.
The Wi-Fi version is expected to retail for around $165 while a 3G compatible version will cost consumers about $100 more putting the price tag at $265. With prices like this, Samsung has to face some stiff competition in Google's Nexus 7, Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX, and even offerings from Acer and ASUS.
We know that the NSA has a close and personal relationship with every human being that owns some form of a smart device, but how do you get away from the US spy agency, and it's total surveillance lockdown? The Blackphone, that's how.
The Blackphone will be revealed at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next month, with the new smartphone "Powered by a security-oriented Android build named PrivatOS, is a carrier- and vendor-independent smartphone giving individuals and organizations the ability to make and receive secure phone calls, exchange secure texts, transfer and store files, and video chat without compromising user privacy on the device."
Blackphone will feature both the hardware and software that will be capable of phone calls that can be encrypted. But, I don't think this will get you out of the web that the NSA has built, unfortunately.
Interested users will have to likely wait until 2015 for the first wave of Ubuntu Touch smartphones, according to Canonical. It was only last month when it was promised the first Ubuntu Touch smartphone, manufactured by an unnamed hardware partner, would be released sometime in 2014.
"Longer-term we would love to see the major OEM/carriers shipping Ubuntu handsets, said Jono Bacon, Ubuntu Community Manager, in a statement. "This is a long road though with many components, and I would be surprised if we see anything like this before 2015."
The consumer market is extremely competitive with Google Android, Apple iOS, and Microsoft Windows Phone fighting for users - and seeing the popular Ubuntu Linux OS migrate to the mobile space will help shake things up further.
Thanks to a retailer listing a new slate, we should expect the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Lite to be announced, and released soon. Polish electronics retail site, X-Kom, listed the specs.
We should expect the Galaxy Tab 3 Lite to feature a 7-inch 1024x600-pixel display, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of internal flash storage, a 2-megapixel rear-facing camera, 3600mAh battery, and Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. It's modest specs will come with a modest price of just $165 for the Wi-Fi only model, but if you want some cellular 3G action, that will cost you $263 (or so) total.
Today HP announced that it will be launching two new tablets that feature cellular voice functionality. The new HP Slate6 VoiceTab and Slate7 VoiceTab are the companies first encroachment into the smartphone arena since it dumped the now LG owned webOS, which is now running in LG Smart TVs.
Each of the new VoiceTab models run Android 4.2, and are powered by unspecified quad-core processors which are most likely of Qualcomm origin. 16GB of on-board storage is present as is a microSD slot for expansion. Front and Rear cameras are HD compatible, and feature decent sensors for what should be good image quality. The Slate6 VoiceTab features a 6-inch 720p display while the Slate7 VoiceTab sports a 1280x800 display.
Less than 0.01 percent of consumer mobile apps will make money and be considered a hit by developers by the end of 2018, according to research firm Gartner. Almost 90 percent of paid apps are downloaded less than 500 times every day, earning less than $1,250 per day.
"The vast number of mobile apps may imply that mobile is a new revenue stream that will bring riches to many," said Ken Dulaney, Gartner VP and analyst, in a statement. "However, our analysis shows that most mobile applications are not generating profits and that many mobile apps are not designed to generate revenue, but rather are used to build brand recognition and product awareness or are just fun."
Mobile app use grew 115 percent year-over-year from 2012 to 2013, though 94.5 percent of all mobile apps downloaded by 2016 will be free apps, Gartner predicts.
Mobile users tend to listen to recommendation engines, friends, social networking, and advertising to find new apps available - a significantly faster, more reliable manner to find apps - as there are thousands of different programs available.
It's up to app designers to know when to release an app for free to build a fanbase, or to put it up for sale and try to turn a profit.
TSMC will reportedly start producing fingerprint sensors for the upcoming iPhone 6 from
NSA Apple. Apple's upcoming next-gen iPhone will see TSMC spin up its 65nm process at its 12-inch fab.
The company will also bring backend water-level chip scale packaging in-house, versus subcontracting it. With TSMC using in-house packaging, we should see production yields improve, which is something that troubled the iPhone 5S when it first launched, with Apple facing trouble manufacturing the fingerprint scanners in its current flagship smartphone.
TSMC will also reportedly begin work on application processors for the iPhone giant on its 20nm process. We should expect processor production to quickly jump up in Q3, which is when we should expect the new iPhone to be unveiled.
If you were looking for a new smartphone bargain, then you might want to consider the Moto G Google Play Edition smartphone is currently $179, and available through the Google Play Store.
This is the same smartphone as the normal Moto G, but it is a completely unlocked device, that will "quickly receive updates of the latest Android software". The Moto G features a 4.5-inch 720p display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 1.2GHz quad-core processor, and pure Android 4.4 KitKat.
App developers can develop apps for the Google Android platform faster than Apple iOS or Microsoft Windows phone, according to a report from research firm Evans Data. Around 41 percent of app developers creating Android apps complete their project in one month or less, with iOS coming in at 36 percent, and 34 percent for the Windows Phone.
All app developers spend time testing and debugging their apps before launch, but Android developers also send more time improving UI and app performance.
"Targeting multiple screen sizes is definitely the way to go," said Janel Garvin, Evans Data CEO, in a statement. "The benefit of having your app run across the gamut of device types is obvious, and while there are difficulties in synchronization across device types, and in the range of graphics capabilities that are supported by different screens, the benefits still outweigh the effort."
App development is a major business, even though there is a large number of free and paid apps available, making it harder to gain user attention. Android controls 80 percent of the global smartphone market, due to availability on a wide variety of devices from entry-level devices to flagship smartphones.
Analysts believe mobile payments in the United States will increase in 2014, but security incidents like the recent high-profile Target and Neiman Marcus data breaches will limit appeal. Moving forward, using layered security systems, improved authentication, and more vigilance from mobile users can help drive demand.
Mobile payments have become more common place in Asia and Europe, but still have struggled to take off in the United States. Many companies have the ability to accept various forms of mobile payment, but consumers are still uncertain about the potential benefits of mobile wallets.
With services such as PayPal, Google Wallet, Amazon Payments - and services directly from credit card companies and banks - consumers certainly have a wide variety of different products they can choose from.
2013 was the year cellular carriers attempted to change their business model and move away from two year contracts, and it appears that at least one of them will not follow suit into 2014. Today Sprint announced that it has canceled its One UP program that let users upgrade early by paying a monthly fee for their phone.
One Up offered customers a new smartphone every 12 months without a two year commitment, and only required customers pay about $20 per month for the phone of their choice on top of their normal service fee. Apparently the service was either not popular, or was costing the company too much money as it was canceled on January 9th with out any prior announcement or notification.
Since November, the tech world has been buzzing about Nokia releasing an Android-powered smartphone alongside its Lumia line of Windows Phones. @evleaks even posted an image of the top-secret project code named "Normandy," but until today all we have seen is an image of a Lumia-like device with a black screen.
Today, Twitter user, Picturepan2, posted what he says is an engineering prototype of the Nokia Normandy Android-based smartphone. The user interface definitely looks like some form of Android, but the phone appears to only feature a back button and not the typical back and home button combo. Further more, the device is pictured with what appears to be dual SIM cards based on the dual signal meters in the notification bar.
Other reports out today suggest that project Normandy is just part of a refreshed Asha line and will be running a heavily modified version of Android. The Android implementation will be modified to incorporate features from both Windows Phone 8.1 as well as Android, in what could become the Asha line's official OS. Sources say that we can expect to see this mysterious phone debuted just before or during the 2014 Mobile World Congress.
Microsoft wasn't able to keep up with Google Android and Apple in the mobile tablet race throughout 2013, but the company will see significant gains in 2014, according to research firm Gartner. The tablet market is expected to see Windows 8 lead the drive, as enterprise users begin to adopt the Windows-powered devices for use in the workplace. Microsoft is promoting its own Surface tablet, while OEM partners continue to explore 8 and 8.1 devices that make it easier for users to have access to content across all platforms.
Windows has a tremendous advantage as programs such as Outlook and Microsoft Office natively work in the mobile environment, which is why Windows 8 will see an estimated 47 percent growth in the tablet market.
Microsoft clearly understands the importance of building success in the smartphone and tablet markets - but trying to keep up with Android and Apple has proven to be difficult. As users migrate from Windows XP - and Windows 7 pre-installed on devices is phased out - there is great potential for Microsoft to steal users away from the iPad and Android tablets.
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has met with China's top smartphone maker, Xiaomi, where he has publicly stated he supports the company. Wozniak thinks Xiaomi could crack the international market with its products, something he told a group of reporters in Xiaomi's Beijing-based offices.
Wozniak said: "Xiaomi has excellent products; they're good enough to crack the American market. This company has a good, strong vision. The products the company has built so far are very key elements to that future." Xiaomi's co-founder and CEO, Lei Jun, has the same admiration for the co-founder of Apple, with Jun saying he admired Wozniak and his work in creating Apple's first products.
Jun said: "We invited Wozniak to Xiaomi to inspire our engineers to build competitive products that are almost like art. This is the approach we've taken with our most recent products." As we move deeper into 2014, the Chinese company will expand beyond the borders of China and Taiwan, and begin selling its products in Singapore and Malaysia, two very large markets with large Chinese speaking populations.
Tactus Technology has shown off some impressive technology, a morphing touchscreen which creates physical buttons from your buttonless touchscreen. Tactus' technology works by providing "application-controlled, completely transparent physical buttons that rise up from the touch-screen surface on demand."
When the buttons are enabled, they pop up onto the screen, when disabled they recede back into the screen, leaving your once smooth and flat touchscreen back in its original state. Tactus enables the Tactile Layer, which is called microfluidics. These microfluidics are small channels that are routed throughout the Tactile Layer, allowing fluid to expand the top polymer layer, which creates physical buttons.
It sounds impressive, but it'll be more impressive once we see Tactus' technology built into the devices we know and love, and use.