Thursday, October 18, 2012

Apple sends invite for 'iPad mini launch

Apple has sent out invites for an event next Tuesday, where it's expected to announce the release of a smaller iPad.

The invite, sent to reporters Tuesday, doesn't hint at what will be revealed, beyond saying that "We've got a little more to show you." The event will be held in San Jose, California.

Media and analysts have said for months that Apple has an " iPad mini" in the works. The tablet is thought to be about half the size of the regular iPad and to start at $249 or $299. The regular iPad starts at $499 for the most recent models.

Apple founder Steve Jobs derided the idea of a smaller tablet two years ago, but has had some success with its Kindle Fire, which is about half the size of the iPad and starts at $159. Analysts believe Apple wants to tackle that competition with its own similarly sized tablet.

Reports suggest that the smaller iPad would have a screen that's 7.8 inches on the diagonal, a bit more than the Kindle Fire or Google's Nexus, with their 7-inch screens. The full-size iPad has a 9.7-inch screen, giving it about twice the display area as the 7-inch units.

Apple typically starts selling a new phone or iPad a week or two after announcing it. But it could treat the new iPad as a minor product update, in which case it could start selling it right after the announcement.

Apple shares rose $14.02, or 2.2 per cent, to $648.78 in midday trading Tuesday. The shares are off their all-time high of $705.07, hit September 21 when the iPhone 5 went on sale in stores.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

QR Code-based app to scan and pay for goods 

Sainsbury's supermarket is testing a new app that allows shoppers to use their mobile phone to scan and pay for your goods without having to unload your trolley.

The new Scan 'n' Go app is being tested at stores in Tadley, Hants, Clerkenwell in central London and Bethnal Green, East London.

It allows users to bag their shopping up as they walk around the store and pay for them at a self-checkout counter without having to unload, the Daily Mail reported.

The innovative programme even directs customers around the store according to the items on their shopping list potentially saving even more time.

The customer logs in by scanning a Quick Response (QR) code, when they arrive.

They then scan the QR codes on packaging or on the shelf next to the price information.

Loose items like fruit and vegetables are weighed on scales, and a QR code is printed out which can be scanned by the app.

A learning function monitors spending habits and flashes up special offers depending on the shopper's whereabouts in the store.

Critics suggest the system will enable supermarkets to cut back on staff and effectively spy on their customers by monitoring their spending habits.

But Sainbury's describes the system as a third option and insist they are not planning to phase out manned or self-service tills.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Samsung launching Galaxy S III Mini on Oct 11?

Samsung Germany has sent invites for an upcoming device being launched on October 11, 2012. The invite says "So big can be small and so small can be big" and "Get ready for a little sensation" in German, with the characteristic 'S' of its flagship Galaxy S series in the background.

This hints that the South Korean manufacturer will probably launch a small device at the event. Speculation is rife that the company will roll out a smaller version of its current flagship, the Galaxy S III, currently being called the Galaxy S III Mini. Rumours say that the smartphone will be powered by Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) with Samsung's TouchWiz UI and will feature a 4-inch touchscreen and a dual-core processor.

If such a phone is, in fact, launched, it will be a decent alternative for those who want a smartphone with a 4-inch screen (same as the new iPhone 5). Considering that Samsung's current 4-inch Android smartphone, the Galaxy S Advance, has not been updated to Ice Cream Sandwich, it is possible that the Galaxy S III Mini will take its place, though there is no confirmation yet.

The Samsung event follows the launch of iPhone 5 and the device to be launched there is expected to go on sale before the beginning of the holiday season. This strategy will help the company lap up sales during the crucial holiday season.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer gets $70 million pay package

New Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer's compensation package could total more than $70 million in salary, bonuses, restricted stock and stock options over five years, according to a regulatory filing made by the company Thursday.

Mayer's pay package is made up of $1 million in annual salary, as much as $2 million in an annual bonus, and $42 million in stock options and other awards, as well as $14 million in "make whole restricted options" for forfeiture of compensation from Google.

Also, by including some stock grants, Mayer could earn up to a total of $20 million a year, or up to $100 million over five years, a Yahoo spokeswoman told Reuters.

As the first female Google engineer and one of its earliest employees, Mayer's net worth is already estimated to be as much as $300 million.

Yahoo's hiring of Mayer as CEO from Google earlier this week caught analysts and investors by surprise. Mayer, 37, edged out presumed front-runner and acting CEO Ross Levinsohn to become Yahoo's third CEO in a year.

Industry observers believe Mayer's selection over Levinsohn is a signal that Yahoo is likely to renew its focus on Web technology and products rather than beefing up online content.

Her appointment caps a tumultuous year at Yahoo. In May, Scott Thompson resigned as CEO after less than 6 months in the job after a controversy over his academic credentials. Thompson replaced the controversial Carol Bartz, who was fired in September after failing to revitalize Yahoo.

Thompson's total compensation at hire was valued at $27 million. He got no severance but was able to keep the $7 million in compensation he got for leaving Paypal. Bartz got more than $10 million in severance when she was fired last year.

New broom
A self-described "geek" with a master's degree in computer science from Stanford, Mayer started as CEO on Tuesday, the same day Yahoo announced weak financial results, with flat net revenue and a slight decline in second-quarter profit.

Although she was on the company's sprawling Sunnyvale, Calif, campus, she did not participate in its earnings call. Levinsohn was also absent from the call, which was led by Yahoo's Chief Financial Officer Tim Morse.

Mayer joins Yahoo as something of a celebrity, having already established herself as one of Silicon Valley's leading women, both inside and outside of the office. She is known for her love of fashion and regularly appears on the society pages for hosting parties.

In 2009 she married real estate investor Zachary Bogue --Mayer tweeted that the couple expects their first child, a boy, in October.

Despite its leadership upheaval, Yahoo remains one of the world's most popular websites, with more than 700 million monthly visitors, according to the company.

But revenue growth has stalled amid an industry wide decline in online display advertising prices and competition from Facebook and Google.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Samsung allowed to sell Galaxy Tab in US after court lifts ban

A US court removed a temporary sales ban against Samsung Electronics Co Ltd's Galaxy Tab 10.1 won by Apple Inc in a patent dispute, allowing the South Korean company to sell the product in the United States.

While the Galaxy 10.1 is an older model, the lifting of the ban could still help Samsung in the run-up to the pivotal holiday shopping season.

"We are pleased with the court's action today, which vindicates our position that there was no infringement of Apple's design patent and that an injunction was not called for," Samsung said in a statement.

Separately, Samsung filed a motion against Apple saying the iPhone 5 had infringed on some of the company's patents.

The world's top two smartphone makers are locked in patent disputes in 10 countries as they vie to dominate the lucrative market.

The legal fight began last year when Apple sued Samsung in multiple countries, and Samsung countersued.

The injunction on the Galaxy tablet had been put in place ahead of a month-long trial that pitted the iPhone maker against Samsung in a closely watched legal battle that ended in August with a victory for Apple on many of its patent violation claims.

However, the jury found that Samsung had not violated the patent that was the basis for the tablet injunction and Samsung argued the sales ban should be lifted.

The sole basis for the preliminary injunction no longer exists since the jury found that Samsung's Galaxy Tab had not violated Apple's D'889 patent.

"The court does not agree with Apple that Samsung's motion for dissolution of the June 26 preliminary injunction cannot be fairly decided without resolving Apple's post-trial motions," Judge Lucy Koh said in her ruling.

Apple could not immediately be reached for comment outside regular US business hours.

The case in US District Court, Northern District of California, is Apple Inc v. Samsung Electronics Co Ltd et al, No. 11-1846.

Monday, October 1, 2012

New sleeker PlayStation 3 makes debut

Sleek new PlayStation 3 consoles took their places in US homes on Thursday as Sony tapped into its video game prowess to put itself at the heart of internet age entertainment.

The PS3 model that made its US debut was slimmed to be stylishly unobtrusive but featured a beefy 250-gigabyte hard drive to store more films, music, games and other digital content.

A version with a 500-gigabyte hard drive will hit the US market on Sunday. The models are priced at $249 and $299.

The 500-gigabyte PS3 will be released in Europe on Friday with a price tag of 299 euros ($386). A version of the console based on Flash memory was set for an exclusive debut there on October 12 for 229 euros.

"While we certainly use gaming as our foundation, the PS3 is a complete entertainment center in the living room," John Koller of the PlayStation hardware team told AFP.

"We added higher hard drive space because consumers have become much more digitally inclined; it is a significant area for all of us in the industry."

Memory capacity for consoles has become increasingly important to users as lifestyles shift to downloading games, films and other digital content from the internet.

Sony has ramped up its PlayStation Network online service for games, movies and music and made free games available for PlayStation Plus members.

More than 4,000 games have become available for download for PS3 since the console was launched in November of 2006, according to Sony.

Sony completely redesigned console innards, reducing volume and weight.

"It is certainly a cleaner, sleeker model that takes up less space and looks cool," said National Alliance video game industry analyst Mike Hickey.

However, he noted, powerful and pretty new PS3 models might have to come with a price cut to lure a significant number of new users to PS3 this late in the life cycle of the console.

Sony spiced up the PS3 package here by adding a "game of the year" edition of hit title "Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception" and digital content for massive online multiplayer science fiction shooter game "Dust 514."

Sony chief Kazuo Hirai has a long history with the company that includes helping PlayStation consoles become a hit in the United States.

Hirai has put in motion a strategy to revitalise the financially battered company by combining strengths of its film, music, game, hardware, and distribution arms.

"Kaz basically made his career from PlayStation and the success of that brand," Hickey said.

"Strategically, it appears to be very important," the analyst continued. "Games are a great way to orchestrate leading technology in televisions, phones and other areas."

Hot trends include people playing games and enjoying digital music, films or television shows across an array of devices including smartphones, tablets, consoles and computers.

Sony could benefit because it makes an array of devices on which content is consumed and has a PlayStation Network for distribution.

"The console plays a significant role in bringing those pieces together," Koller said. "We start with the people who come in first for the games and then progress to other elements like video streaming, music, and renting content."

"Gaming consumers are in many ways holding up lots of parts of the entertainment world."

Koller said the "developer spigot stays hot" for new, immersive titles for play on the PS3.

Sony faces tough competition from Microsoft's Xbox consoles in the battle to be the heart of home entertainment.

"Once you start to catalogue a library of content you have an anchor in someone's personal technology ecosystem," Hickey said.

"You get a new TV; you get a new camera... but it is hard to replace two cycles of playing 'Modern Warfare,'" he continued, referring to a blockbuster military video game. "Where you store your pictures or movies or songs is important."

Hickey expected Sony to unveil a next-generation PlayStation console next year.

Rovio’s Bad Piggies

Rovio, the game developer that created Angry Birds, is back with a new game. And this one stars the pigs — yes, the green smuggy foes of the angry birds — in the primary role. Rovio's last game, Amazing Alex, didn't really strike a chord with the gamers. It was not really a bad game but the gameplay relied too much on solving puzzle at the expense of fun. This is never a good thing.

With Bad Piggies, Rovio is returning back to its roots. Yes, there are puzzles in this game and it is significantly different than any Angry Birds game even if the familiar pigs are part of it. But still it is a game rooted in Angry Birds universe. The question is — Does it fly?

We find out...

Music, visuals and story
Story first. We all know that how the pigs salivate at the thought of eggs. They just can't keep themselves away from these eggs, even if it means going to war with the birds.

In Bad Piggies, the greedy green creatures are on an island. As usual they are after eggs. But to reach eggs, the pigs have to build various machines that allow them to pass obstacles or fly so that they can reach places high up on cliffs. This is where you, the player, come in. your job is to build the ultimate flying machine for the pigs from various parts that are available in the game.

Petri Jarvilehto, a senior executive with Rovio puts it like this: "Where Angry Birds was all about destruction, Bad Piggies is all about the joy of construction."

Bad Piggies is a pretty game. Given that it is set in a tropical island, there is lots of green foliage. If you have played any recent Angry Birds game, the visuals in Bad Piggies will make you feel at home. The visual style is same and the backgrounds are as detailed as Rovio makes them. However, the environment is not as destructible as it is in the Angry Birds games. The accompanying music is very good and compliments the gameplay very well.

Rovio set a very high benchmark with Angry Birds. It is a game easy to play and yet complex enough to challenge best players. It is casual and yet fun.

Bad Piggies aims to recreate the same magic, though with a different kind of gameplay. The puzzles in Bad Piggies are slightly more complex compared to those in Angry Birds. The task is to create good machines that pigs can use and to do that players have to carefully think about the role and placement of various items like a box, balloons, TNT and rockets etc. This is a little more difficult than flinging birds from a slingshot.

Another way in which the gameplay has changed is the way points are awarded. In Bad Piggies there is nothing to destruct. Instead the goal is to collect items. If you collect all the available items, you get three stars and if you complete the objective without collecting optional items, you get one star.

Bad Piggies is a lot of fun once you get the hang of tools and components available to you. But at the same time it is not Angry Birds. Primarily, there is one reason why many casual gamers who love Angry Birds may not like Bad Piggies. It is the nature of the game. Whether it is a good thing or bad, the truth is that as human beings we have more fun when we destroy things. Building things is a little tedious.

Angry Birds appeal to many of us because the objective is to flatten the fortification put up by the pigs! Smashing through the wooden planks, putting the black bird in between two stone pillars and killing the hidden pigs with a boom is immensely gratifying. Building flying machines has its own charm but it may not appeal to all.

Also, we did not like the new point system. Unlike the arcade-style point system in Angry Birds, where even destroying a flower yielded 50 or 100 points, in Bad Piggies all you get are stars. The arcade appeal is not there.

If you love playing casual games on your smartphone or tablet, you will likely spend hours with Bad Piggies. It's an enjoyable game, especially once you have crossed a few levels and are familiar with the way things work. Just don't expect it to be Angry Birds.

Available on...
iOS devices ( iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad), Android phones and tablets, Mac, and PC.

PC: $4.95
Mac: $4.99
iOS: $0.99 or $2.99 for HD version
Android: Free (ad-supported)

Pyzam Glitter Text Maker