Motorola to test revolutionary phone on 3rd April

posted Apr 1, 2015, 7:02 AM by Barny CK

Motorola is set to test what they say is the revolutionary phone of the century. The device is nothing the world has ever seen in the area of mobile communication. Motorola Inc. was a multinational telecommunications company and powerhouse of the 20th century. In 2011, the company was split into Motorola Mobility and Motorola Solutions. With the revolutionary phone, Motorola hopes to regain market share in the ever increasingly competitive mobile device market.

Motorola started out as a company producing battery-eliminators, devices that enabled battery-powered radios to operate on household electricity. The company soon branched into car radio and the world's first hand-held walkie-talkie. 

With the advent of this revolutionary phone, analyst are eager to see what Motorola plans to unveil since Steve Job's memorable unveiling of the iPhone back in 2007. Motorola's chief of portable communication products, John F. Mitchell, has played a key role in advancing the development and is confident the test will come to shape Motorola and everything that the company has ever stood for. Performing the test will be lead engineer, Martin Cooper. Cooper spent 10 years to realise the dream of this revolutionary phone. Asked what would he name the phone, he merely said, "The Motorola DynaTAC." 

And so, in actuality, the revolutionary phone test isn't going to happen on the 3rd of April 2015. It has already happened; 3rd of April 1973. Happy April Fool, folks! 

Mobile World Congress 2015

posted Mar 6, 2015, 12:37 AM by Barny CK

Mobile World Congress 2015 has come to an end and we were fed with really exciting news and announcements. The highlight of this year's event must definitely be the unveiling of Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. Samsung did not disappoint in their presentation and the phones really beat expectations. But if there is any telltale signs, it's that Samsung is currently playing catch up to Apple with the introduction of Samsung Pay. That, and the phones bare striking similarities to the iPhone. No doubt, there are many sweet features present in the Galaxy phones that iPhone doesn't have, such as the dual edge curved screen and fast wireless charging but I personally think those are gimmicks. 

Playing second fiddle is the HTC One M9 and this phone is truly an evolutionary instead of revolutionary advancement from its predecessor. For me, it was a little tap disappointing that the M9 is nearly identical to the M8. HTC has actually carved its name to be the alternative phone to buy other than the iPhone and Samsung and so I think they should have pushed out a more aggressive product to capture more market share. In some ways, I think that's the reason they are not winning the best smartphone award anymore. 

Huawei has joined the wearables bandwagon with the introduction of its own line of smartwatches. The smartwatch is a 42mm diameter round Android Wear watch with 18mm lug width and sports a 286 ppi 1.4-inch AMOLED touchscreen. I think the watch is quite beautiful and has the potential to be a serious contender in the wearable market. Huawei's entry into this market is also timely too as the market heats up with more and more product offers from various other companies. Also, next month, the Apple Watch is going to go on sale so Huawei is pretty well positioned to take a substantial market share.  

In what looks like a rather odd but logical move, Xiaomi has introduced a lightweight compact video camera, the "Yi Action Camera". GoPro has got to feel some form of pressure of a new competitor as it seems like Xiaomi is out to dominate the gadget industry and GoPro must definitely feel afraid because the Yi camera comes at approximately half the cost a GoPro camera. The "Yi Action Camera" sells for 399 Yuan or approximately RM230 and is capable of recording high definition 1080p video at up to 60fps.

There were many other product announcements. Nokia announced two phablets, which were the Lumia 640 and 640 XL. After much speculations, Sony announced the Sony Xperia M4 Aqua and Z4 tablets. BlackBerry has also come out with a BlackBerry Leap. These announcements were low key but significant. However, small or grand, Mobile World Congress 2015 turned out to be a pretty exciting event. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg even organised a townhouse Q&A session on the sideline.

Tokyo Game Show 2014

posted Sep 22, 2014, 8:45 AM by Barny CK

Pictures courtesy of Tokyo Otaku Mode

On 18th to the 21st September, Tokyo Game Show 2014 was held at the Makuhari Messe International Exhibition Hall. For the uninitiated, TGS is an annual gaming convention in Japan, much like the E3 in Los Angeles or the Gamescom in Germany. However, unlike its counterpart, every year, TGS allocates 2 more days for the general public to visit.  In TGS 2014, 421 exhibitors participated, with over 1300 titles prepared for journalists and the public to view or play. This year's convention marks a growing prominence in mobile phone games. The number of titles exhibited for the iOS jumped from 114 to 259 and Android games saw an increase from 112 to 246. Gree, an exhibitor with one of the biggest booth focused on smartphone games. In the end, 251832 people visited the Tokyo Game Show 2014.

 TGS 2014 is a convention of mostly Japanese games. All but one exhibitor is a Japanese company, with the only foreign participant being Electronic Arts. Some of the other more prominent exhibitors are Konami, Sega, Sony Computer Entertainment, CAPCOM, Square Enix, Bandai Namco Games, KOEI Tecmo and Microsoft Japan. 

 Konami proved to be the most popular booth as they showcased their latest game Metal Gear Solid V : The Phantom Pain. The game is set to be released in 2015 and features a female sniper named Quiet. Konami also showcased their football game Winning Eleven 2015 though it didn't gain much attention. 

Sony Computer Entertainment previewed Bloodborne and the just released Destiny which won a lot of crowd. These games were playable but the one that caught a lot of attention was Project  Morpheus, the virtual reality headset. 

Square Enix is also another heavyweight with its Final Fantasy series. In line with current trend, Square showcased many smartphone games such as 3594E, Final Fantasy World Wide Words and Final Fantasy VII G-Bike. But perhaps what garnered the most fanfare is playable demo of Final Fantasy  Type-0 HD and the unveiling of yet another trailer to the eagerly anticipated Final Fantasy XV. Other playables are Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5, Chaos Rings III, Final Fantasy Explorers, Bravely Second and Final Fantasy XIV : A Realm Reborn. 

CAPCOM with its Resident Evil Revelations 2 trailer is yet one other crowd puller. The game was confirmed for an early 2015 release on PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One and PC. The other games prominently featured are Monster Hunter 4G, Deep Down and The Great Ace Attorney, which I kinda like its cute trailer.

There's a new trailer for Dragon Ball Xenoverse at Bandai Namco Games' booth. The game was originally called Dragon Ball New Project until revealed to be Xenoverse or XV in June 10th this year. DB XV will allow players to create customised Super Saiyan characters. There's also a new trailer for God Eater Rage Burst. Rage Burst is an enhanced version of the original game God Eater 2 and is set to be released on PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 4 this winter. 

Two Final Fantasy developers, Kazushige Nojima & Hitoshi Sakimoto, have teamed up with a small UK and France-based studio Kobojo to create Zodiac. Zodiac is a JRPG that incorporates elements from Final Fantasy, Valkyrie Profile and Dragon's Crown. Zodiac is scheduled to be out in 2015 on PS Vita and iOS. 

Oculus VR was also present to showcase its new virtual reality headset. Though a little bulky, its VR headset actually has better developed graphics as compared to Project Morpheus. Oculus VR presented 2 games for its headset; a space fighter game and a dance game. 

Google I/O 2014

posted Sep 9, 2014, 1:32 PM by Barny CK

Google I/O 2014 took place on June 25th and 26th. The year 2014 is clearly the era of the internet of all things as demonstrated by Apple who held its WWDC earlier that month and Google is definitely on this bandwagon as well. This year's conference focused on wearables, automobile, TV and health. Google I/O 2014 was attended by 5000 participants. 

First up is Android L, the newest iteration of the mobile OS. Google has totally revamped the operating system to give it a new look. Visually, the icons are flat but layered and there is more cool animation beyond just showing a tapped button. Developers are given access into these features that allows them to control the grid, depth, colour and animation  of their apps. 

Director of Engineering for Android, Dave Burke demonstrating the Android L functionality.

The next category is Android Wear and Google brought the Samsung Gear Live and LG G Watch to showcase Android Wear's capability. There were many demonstrations and Google constantly reiterated the relevance of a wearable and the deep potential that existed in this device. Google stressed the importance of pushing vital information only when you need it, such as notification to catch a flight and the flight details. Another important element of Android Wear which I think truly hit the nail on the head is a security feature. When an Android smartwatch linked to a smartphone is near each other, the user do not need to key in security code or use security gesture but when the phone is far away from the watch, then the security input is needed and it kinda makes sense. 

In anticipation of Apple's CarPlay, Android Auto was showcased. I thought this segment was hastily put together because the demonstration was a bit messy. As typical of most smart car gadgets, Android Auto showcased tun by turn navigational app but in a rather smart twist to this system, the app is not embedded in the car's hardware but rather streamed from the phone. This feature thus allow many other apps to be streamed into the car, including radio or music streaming. 

After Android Auto comes the biggest announcement in the keynote; Android TV. Smart TV is fast becoming a standard and Google wants in. Being Android, you can bet Google has integrated Android TV with their Android devices like the tablet. One example is by bringing the tablet gaming experience into the living hall. Players can use their tablets and play a game with, say, another player on the TV. Google also announced SDK for Android TV so developers can write games or apps for the TV. 

The last segment of Google I/O is the unveiling of the Google Fit Platform. The Google Fit Platform lets you keep track of your health and fitness and it allows all third party apps from independent developer to communicate with each other for health related data like your heartbeat rate. This platform is actually a tie-in with Android Wear as it is actually the wearables that will collect the heartbeat rate and etc. 

In conclusion, this year's Google I/O feels a little like a reactionary to Apple's WWDC as all topics and segments seem to mimic Apple. For the first time in 3 years, Apple is leading the way and not Google but while Apple is blazing a path, it is Google who actually has a system that encompass all consumer products, be it Samsung, Motorola or LG. It seems that the battle of Apple vs Google is too similar with Apple vs Microsoft in that each party, although on the same path, have very different ways of accomplishing it. Will it be Apple's all-products-in-one-ecosystem or will it be Google's good collaboration with all key players to create a conducive but myriad products in the ecosystem? Only time will tell. 

WWDC 2014

posted Sep 8, 2014, 10:41 AM by Barny CK

Apple held its 2014 WWDC at the Moscone Center in San Francisco from June 2nd to 6th. Taking center stage was Apple's latest iOS 8 and with it, a host of softwares and features and a new OS for the Mac that Apple unveiled to 6000 attendees. Apple has clearly positioned itself for the new computing era, the internet of all things, starting with the iOS 7. With iOS 8, Mac OS Yosemite and Swift, a new programming language, the work Apple has done backstage for the last 3 years has come to fruition. 

At the WWDC Keynote, better integration was the keyword in the numerous slides presented. Starting with Yosemite, Apple Senior VP of Engineering, Craig Federighi introduced the iCloud Drive that share files across the entire Apple ecosystem (iPhone, iPad, Macs) and even beyond to Windows users. There were much rumours before the keynote of such a move but it still came as a surprise to many as it indicated that much work was done by Apple to execute the integration. Then, there was AirDrop. AirDrop was actually introduced with iOS 7  but it was limited to iOS devices.  This time around, AirDrop was extended to Mac OS. 

Craig Federighi  showing Yosemite. Visually, the OS adopts the simple and clean design of iOS 7. 

The next feature to unveil was Continuity. Continuity allows seamless flow of information between the Macs, iPad and iPhone. A feature called Handoff literally blows away the competition. In Handoff, for example, you may be drafting an email on your Mac but you can pick up your iPhone or iPad and continue the draft on it. This is an act that is tough for Android to follow. Continuity is also applicable to iWork, Apple's office suite.

List of device capable of running iOS 8.
Next up was iOS 8. In a nutshell, the iOS 8 is an overhaul of the phone system. No doubt, for iCloud Drive, AirDrop and Handoff to work, it take two to tango. But changes to iOS 8 in itself was also massive. In some ways, iOS was copying Android. But in some other ways, Apple was charting out a new course. The interactive notifications, for example, lets you interact directly from notification banner alerts and the lock screen. In a move that mimics Android, iOS 8 lets third party developers create widgets for the Notification Center. Another goodie Apple dangled out was the ability to design keyboards for the iOS. This was a head turner. As some would say, "Steve Jobs would never allowed this."

Third party keyboard can be allowed to run in iOS 8.

Apple also revealed its answer to health. HealthKit is a new native app that keeps track of user's personal health and fitness data. A feature of the app is that it allows third party health and fitness apps to share data with Nike among the first companies signed on to support the feature. 

Introducing HealthKit.
At the start of the keynote, there was a video about Developers. Later, when Apple CEO Tim Cook took to the stage, he began by paying tribute to the 9 million developers worldwide registered under the Apple Developer Program. If this was a prequel to something big, it certainly was. There was a section of the keynote dedicated to updates for developer and approximately 3600 developers were given special invites to attend the keynote, the youngest being 13. 

CEO Tim Cook paying tribute to Apple's independent developers.

For a start of the developer section, it was announced that the App Store will be revamped to allow better exposure for apps developed independently. App can be now bundled and sold at a discounted price. Developers will also be needed to furnish new apps with a short video demo. This apparently will give users a chance to see the functionality of the app before purchasing them, thereby providing developers a chance to showcase the app.  
Moving on to SDK (Software Development Kit), Apple unveiled the feature Extensibility. What this does is that iOS 8 allows thirty party apps to communicate with each other, another first for Apple. Apple is also opening up access to its fingerprint sensor introduced in last year's iPhone 5s. This is done using TouchID. The move is significant as it allows developers to use the technology for in-apps purchase. 

Craig Federighi explaining the concept of Extensibility.
The last part of the keynote is actually quite a shock to many, myself included.  After a demo by a fellow developer on the use of Metal to develop graphic rich game, Craig Federighi came back to the stage to pay tribute to Xcode, the programming tool to develop iOS app. He said that it has served Apple and the Developer community well and so it was time to move on. 

What a shocker; a new programming language called Swift.

And so it was. Swift is a new programming language by Apple to replace Xcode. It's kinda like a scripting language and is meant to lower the learning curve for future developers and give current developers a more powerful tool to work on. 

The many features of Swift programming language. 

Coming out of the event, Apple has clearly given its competitors a run for their money. It has also shed its skin of being a Steve Job's company. Many have said the three years since Steve Jobs' death, the company was in mourning. WWDC 2014 is Apple's rebirth at the helm of Tim Cook. 

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