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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Apple iPad mini 2 vs Google Nexus 7


Apple iPad mini 2 vs Google Nexus 7 Apple iPad mini 2 vs Google Nexus 7

Come on folks, this is something we knew that was bound to happen! Apple and Google have been waging war against one another for a long time now, and considering that this year meant that we would see refreshes to several popular tablets, which we did, it’s only fitting to see how their two compact tablets stack up against one another.

The 2013 edition of the Google Nexus 7 has proven to be one heck of a popular tablet, as it continues to be red hot thanks to its killer price point, high-end specs, and diverse platform experience. Meanwhile, Apple’s iPad mini saw itself get outfitted with a Retina Display to prove that it’s with the times – while also being treated to the same usual set of hardware and software upgrades.

Now comes the hard part: finding out which of the two is exactly the better choice to fork over your hard earned money into. Even though they both saw increases to their prices, the iPad mini with Retina Display saw a significantly higher tally than what most people would like, but nevertheless, if compact tablets are what you seek out, these are no doubt the two that should come into mind.


Apple iPad mini 2 vs Google Nexus 7 Apple iPad mini 2 vs Google Nexus 7
Naturally, their prices influence their designs, which shouldn’t be a shocker seeing that one is grossly higher than the other. Aesthetically, there’s a premium element with the iPad mini with Retina Display, as it continues to boast the sturdier construction thanks in part to its brushed aluminum casing. Unlike the grandeur attached to the iPad mini, the Nexus 7 still manages to get our attention with its soft touch matte body – though, it’s definitely not as premium as the iPad mini.

Due to the smaller sized display it’s carrying along, the Nexus 7 benefits by having a more comforting and form-fitting size – best served for those with smaller hands. In comparison, Apple’s tablet has a wider figure, which in turn, requires more stretching by our hands to grasp with a single hand. After some time, it becomes tiresome, to the point that it just no longer feels as natural holding it.

Either way, the designs can be deemed as pleasant depending on how you look at it. If cutting edge and premium elements are what attracts you the most, there’s no arguing you’ll see all of that in the iPad mini. However, the smaller size of the Nexus 7 combined with its modest looks can appease others as well.
Around the trims of both tablets, we don’t really find anything too surprising with either of them, as they feature nearly the same set of buttons and ports. Specifically, they consist of their power buttons, volume controls, various microphones, 3.5mm headset jacks, and respective power/data ports.

For small tablets, they’re armed with some pretty snazzy cameras. Around the rear, they’re both packing 5-megapixel auto-focus camera sans flash – the typical arrangement we’re seeing nowadays with prized high-end tablets. In the front, it’s also the usual configuration, as they’re graced with 1.2-megapixel front-facing cameras


Apple iPad mini 2 vs Google Nexus 7

Just like last year’s comparison, there’s a slight size disparity between these two ground shakers. Like how its name implies, this year’s iPad mini benefits from having a Retina Display – a 7.9-inch 2048 x 1536 IPS LCD display, giving it the very slightly higher pixel density count of 324 ppi. On the other hand, we can’t count out the Google Nexus 7’s 7-inch 1920 x 1200 IPS LCD display, which pops out an equally crisp 323 ppi pixel density figure. Detail isn’t an issue with either of them, as they’re more than capable of producing sharp visuals that allow our eyes to distinguish even the finest of text in the web browser.

Colors are warmer with the iPad mini’s Retina Display, and the Nexus 7 casts a more natural tone with its display. Outdoor visibility is pretty good with the two, seeing that they feature wide viewing angles and strong brightness outputs to make them extremely visible. At the end of the day, it’s a tough call which one of the displays we like better – more so when they exhibit very similar qualities that we find exquisitely pleasant.

Interface and Functionality

Unless you've been hiding under a rock for the last few months, then you’re probably aware that these two tablets have been updated with brand spanking new experiences. Visually, there’s more of a dramatic change with the presentation of iOS 7 with the iPad mini with Retina Display, seeing that it receives one fancy new design overhaul that comes to life with its translucency, layered design concept, and fancy new animations. At the core, however, iOS 7 continues to retain the same principle of having a very simplistic operation – making it easy for first time users to navigate around.

UI of the Apple iPad mini 2 - Apple iPad mini 2 vs Google Nexus 7
UI of the Apple iPad mini 2 - Apple iPad mini 2 vs Google Nexus 7
UI of the Apple iPad mini 2 - Apple iPad mini 2 vs Google Nexus 7
UI of the Apple iPad mini 2 - Apple iPad mini 2 vs Google Nexus 7
iPad's Interface

We've recently received the new Android 4.4 KitKat update for the Nexus 7, but to tell you the truth, it doesn't deviate much from the look and feel we saw with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean – albeit, it does come with some new features. Nevertheless, the vanilla experience has its own set of perks that prove its depth over its rival. And with that folks, it goes to show why the platform continues to provide us with a deeper level of functionality.

The Google Nexus 7 is running a vanilla Android 4.3 Jelly Bean experience - Apple iPad mini 2 vs Google Nexus 7
The Google Nexus 7 is running a vanilla Android 4.3 Jelly Bean experience - Apple iPad mini 2 vs Google Nexus 7
The Google Nexus 7 is running a vanilla Android 4.3 Jelly Bean experience - Apple iPad mini 2 vs Google Nexus 7
The Google Nexus 7 is running a vanilla Android 4.3 Jelly Bean experience - Apple iPad mini 2 vs Google Nexus 7
Google Nexus 7's interface

In the multi-tasking department, each tablet employs its own unique way of executing the task at hand – so we don’t necessarily find one implementation that’s superior over the other. Sticking firm to its process, the Nexus 7 has its multi-tasking menu that allows us to quickly jump in-and-out of different apps at a moment’s notice. Oppositely, we like what the iPad mini has to offer with its various 5-finger gesture operations – like the swipe one that offers quick app switching.

Notifications are handled in a very similar manner, but yet again, Android’s baked-in secondary features overpowers the iPad mini. Indeed, it’s nice that the two populate all notifications in one central, unified area that’s accessible at any time, but we like how we’re presented with different functions with Android’s notification panel – like how we can archive emails, share screen shots, and much more.

With the introduction of the updated software experiences, we naturally see a bump with their respective digital voice assistant services – Siri and Google Now. Needless to say, they’re smarter than ever before, but despite all of its advancements, Siri still trails Google Now. Specifically, it just seems that Google’s offering is basically more aware than its rival.

There are several notable things that makes the experience on the Nexus 7 so much more encompassing than the iPad mini. In addition to new features such as Tap & Pay and wireless printing, it’s just the simple things on the Nexus 7 that shows its value. For example, the option to have more than one user is a pleasant thing to find on the Nexus 7, which makes for better organization if the tablet is used by many people in the household.

However, the iPad mini with Retina Display continues to have apps that are more optimized for tablet – so they make great use of the added real estate. Android is home to several tablet-centric apps too, but in comparison, they don’t seem to be as polished as its iOS 7 counterparts. Regardless of that, the gap between them is closing with each passing day.

Processor and Memory

They’re fast, like really fast. Thanks to their beefy processors, these two prized tablets perform smoothly with various operations on the surface. Diving deeper and meticulously looking at them, we realize a slightly more elevated level of snappiness seen with the iPad mini’s 64-bit based dual-core 1.3GHz Apple A7 processor. Well, it’s still pretty snappy with the Nexus 7’s quad-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, but it’s just a notch below the level of snappiness put forth by its esteemed competitor. Honestly though, most people would barely be fazed by the difference, since it’s so miniscule to the eye – well, unless you’re looking very hard.

There are more storage configurations with the iPad mini with Retina Display, as it’s available in 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB capacities – giving consumers more variety, obviously. On the other hand, we only have between 16GB or 32GB to choose from with the Nexus 7. Without any way of easily supplementing their capacities, you’ll really need to think long and hard what best suits your needs.

Internet and Connectivity

These tablets make the web browsing experience so much more pleasurable, especially when they produce the same level of performance. Specifically, they include speedy page loads, instant page rendering on the fly, and silky smooth navigational controls. However, the Chrome browsers boasts several different features that help to complement the experience – like quick tab switching via gestures, the ability to search for keywords, and a diverse set of ways to share web pages.

Expected to sell like hot cakes, there are variants that pack along 4G LTE connectivity for constant data access when Wi-Fi is lacking. Beyond that, they pretty much are home to the usual set of connectivity features – such as aGPS, Bluetooth 4.0, and dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi. However, the Nexus 7 is stuffed with an NFC chip to make sharing between devices a lot easier to juggle – albeit, iOS 7’s AirDrop feature offers almost the same function.


Worried about missing out on the opportunity of snapping that candid shot? Well, it’s nice that we’re able to launch their respective camera apps right from their lock screens. Looking at the two interfaces, we’re not too surprised to find that they’re basic and devoid of any meaningful manual controls. On the iPad mini, we’re given options such as an HDR photo and a square shot mode. In comparison, there isn’t much either on the Nexus 7, seeing that we’re presented with a panoramic and Photosphere modes – while being given a few options to modify white balance and exposure in its settings menu.

iPad Mini Camera sample
Apple iPad mini 2

Google nexus 7 camera sample
Google Nexus 7

Interestingly, they’re both outfitted with 5-megapixel auto-focus cameras that feature f2.4 aperture lens and 1080p video recording. The numbers might be the same, but the results are slightly different. To tell you the truth, there’s little differentiating the two with shots that are taken outdoors where lighting is prevalent. Details are okay with the two, but the photos from the Nexus 7 seem to have a profound over-sharpening tone. Meanwhile, depending on the angle, the iPad mini is more susceptible to casting a saturated tone with its color reproduction. And finally, it seems as though that the Nexus 7 is more equipped at taking macro shots.

Under lower lighting situations, we naturally see a diminished look with their qualities, but the Nexus 7 seems to be riddled with more noise – thus, softening its tone more than the iPad mini. The shots might be brighter with the Nexus 7, which seems to be caused by its longer exposure, but the downside is that it’s prone to blurring and more noise. At the same time, the Nexus 7 has a noticeably cooler color preproduction – whereas it’s warmer with the iPad mini. It’s not like the iPad mini takes better shots under lower lighting, but the results from the Nexus 7 sometimes appear too painted-like.


In our experience, the Google Nexus 7 seems to give us a longer battery life than the iPad mini with Retina Display. To be more exact, we typically pull in an average of 2.5 days of normal usage with Google’s offering – while it’s only about 1.5 days with the iPad mini with Retina Display. Even though the longevity goes to the Nexus 7, we’re just grateful that the two are equipped at providing us even with a single day of life with heavy usage.


Another year, another red hot comparison pitting the two best in the compact tablet segment. From what we’ve seen, they deliver the goods in providing us with a well-rounded performance, but at the end of the day, there can only be one that can reign supreme.

First, let’s talk about pricing, which unlike last year, is now greatly divided between the two. With its sticker pricing of $230 for its base model, the Google Nexus 7 undoubtedly shows us that it provides us with more bang for the buck – and that’s despite having a more modest design and construction. Additionally, the Android 4.4 KitKat experience has bridged the gap by featuring a more straightforward and intuitive interface that closely follows the simplistic nature of iOS 7.

Apple iPad mini 2 vs Google Nexus 7

To tell you the truth, this comparison would’ve been harder to decide if the iPad mini with Retina Display were sporting the same price point as its predecessor, but at a staggering $400, it goes to show that it’s moved away from that affordable segment. Rather, budget conscious consumers are going to be more inclined to look at the Nexus 7 – well, that’s unless they’re invested into the iPad mini’s apps ecosystem, or if they simply prefer a premium constructed tablet.

Taking everything into consideration, we’re going to say that the Nexus 7 takes the checkered flag with this.

- via Phonearna.com 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

iOS 7 - New features

Via - NDTV Gadgets
Apple unveiled the much awaited update to its iOS mobile operating system, iOS 7, on Monday at the WWDC 2013. In Apple's words this is "the most significant iOS update since the original iPhone." Not only does the next iteration of the OS bring a completely overhauled user interface design, it also adds many missing features that were being offered by rival mobile platforms. Here's a look at the 10 most significant new features of iOS 7.

1. Notification centre 
Apple has updated the Notification Center with a new translucent background replacing the linen like texture. It's now divided into three tabs- today, all and missed. While the today tab summarises your events, appointments, weather and traffic, missed gives a log of all alerts and notifications from apps.The 'all' tab includes all notifications. The Notification Center can be accessed by simply swiping down from the top from your home screen or even lock screen.

2.  Control Center 
A lot of users have been complaining about the lack of a central destination that gives them access to the most used settings. Apple addresses that problem with Control Center which can be brought into view by swiping up from the home screen or lock screen.

You'd see controls for turning on or off Airplane mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb and screen orientation settings. You'd also be able to adjust the screen brightness, play, pause, or skip a song, connect to AirPlay-enabled devices or turn on new Airdrop file transfer feature tom the Control Center. Apple's also put handy shortcuts for flashlight, timer, calculator, and camera.

3. Multitasking
Apple used to offer multitasking for select apps so it was more about switching between recently used apps than accessing a apps simultaneously. With iOS 7 Apple allows all apps to multitask and run in the background.

It has also majorly overhauled the front end or the multitasking interface visible to the users. Pressing the Home button twice now brings up the preview screens of the apps you have open on your phone rather than their icons at the bottom of the screen. To quit an app, you just need to swipe it up and out of preview. We've seen this before on webOS, PlayBook OS and even on some HTC Android phones but it's a nifty way to handle multitasking. Multitasking is also intelligent as it adapts to your pattern of accessing apps, refreshing content at the same time interval.

4. AirDrop
Those who use the Mac know that AirDrop is used for transferring files between two computers on the same network. The same feature now comes to the iPhone. AirDrop lets you quickly share photos, videos, contacts -- and anything else from any app on your phone with a Share button. You can just tap Share, then select the person (another iOS user) you want to share with. AirDrop offers transfers using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and you don't need any additional setup. Transfers are encrypted, so they're secure. All content saved after the transfer is accessible from its respective app. It's worth pointing out that AirDrop is available on iPhone 5, iPad (4th generation), iPad mini, and iPod touch (5th generation) and requires an iCloud account.
5. New Camera app
The iOS 7 camera app offers a new way to switch between camera modes and includes a new 'square' mode. You can switch between all the modes - still, video, pano (Panorama), and square by simply swiping across the screen. The app also brings filters to apply effects to your photos before or after you shoot them in still and square modes. It's worth pointing out that filters in Camera are available on iPhone 5 and iPod touch (5th generation), while filters in Photos are available on iPhone 4 or later, iPad (3rd generation or later), iPad mini, and iPod touch (5th generation). 
6. Updated Safari web browser
Safari has also been overhauled to offer a distraction-free richer browsing experience as buttons and bars stay hidden until you scroll. You can go back and forward using swipe gestures. It now offers a unified search plus URL box, a new tab view that's not restricted to just 8 tabs and a Shared links menu along with the Reading List that lets you access the links shared by people you follow on Twitter from within the browser. It also remembers your password, user names and credit card numbers through the new iCloud Keychain. Safari can enter them automatically whenever you need to sign in to a site across iOS 7 and the new OS X Mavericks desktop OS. It comes with 256-bit AES encryption, for security. 
7. New Photos app
The updated Photos app offers a new way to browse photos through Collections, Moments, and Years, that smartly group of your photos and videos based on the time and place. You can tap Years to see photos taken in that year. Each year holds Collections, based on different events such as trips or commencements. And in the Collection view, there are distinct Moments according to the exact location. It also includes iClod Photo Sharing through which you can share your favorite moments with people by creating a shared photo stream. They can post photos, videos, and comments to your stream, and everything appears on everyone's iOS devices in the Shared tab.
8. Updated App Store
 The new app store not only offers a new clean user interface, it also lists apps relevant to your location. For instance if you're in a new city, it will offer apps that you might find helpful like guides, maps and others. It also offers a new Kids category. But the best feature has to be automatic updates that keeps your apps up to date without your intervention or you seeing the updates badge. 
9. New Siri and Siri Eyes Free
The Siri voice assistant sports a new look and new features in iOS 7. The voice behind Siri has been updated to offer a more natural speech pattern -- in a new female or male voice. Siri now has access to more sources, including Bing, Wikipedia, and Twitter. It also performs new tasks like controlling apps and phone settings. Siri is also at the centre of iOS in the Car that lets users make calls, control music and check mails and messages while driving. It will be introduced in select cars in 2014. 
10. Activation lock
New security features in iOS 7 will make selling or using your stolen device more difficult. Turning off 'Find My iPhone' or resetting the device requires your Apple ID and password. You are also required to enter your Apple ID and password to reactivate the device.

New user interface, icons and overhauled native apps - In addition to to the above features, iOS 7 brings in a new design philosophy. iOS 7 features a new Parallax Motion effect on the home screen, so the background wallpaper shifts when you look at the phone from different angles using the phone's accelerometer bringing depth to the interface. The new Weather app features animations to depict the weather conditions. Folders offer multiple pages letting you group more apps. The new Mail app offers swipe gestures to organise your mail. 

Apple has also introduced iTunes Radio which is integrated with the Music app and features streaming radio stations, It allows you to buy music that you hear on the free music streaming service, track your listening history and create new radio stations. It's only available in the US at this point in time.

iOS 7 will also bring FaceTime audio to make high quality voice calls using the Internet. It will also offer Per App VPN allowing users to hook on to a remote network for individual apps

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

iPhone 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S 4

In a market swarming with competitors, it’s remarkable that Apple and Samsung are the only two smartphone makers seeing significant profits. In some parallel universe, perhaps the two could comfortably coexist, content with their virtual duopoly ... but there’s way too much bad blood for that. Will Samsung’s new Galaxy S4 help it to pull away? Or will the iPhone 5 stand strong after six months on the market? Let's find out.


Pick your cliche: bigger is better, or less is more? 

Android flagship phones keep growing bigger, while Apple is more discerning about changing the iPhone’s size.
Do you subscribe to a “bigger is better” mentality? Or do you prefer simplicity and “less is more?” If you lean towards the former, then your decision is easy. The Galaxy S4 is larger than the iPhone 5 in every dimension.
The flip side is the argument that Android phones have grown too big, and the iPhone hits a more comfortable sweet spot. Before making a decision, you might want to get your hands on both devices to find out which size you prefer.

Build materials

The Galaxy S4 is made primarily of plastic, while the iPhone 5 rocks anodized aluminum

For all of the Galaxy S4's outstanding components (as you'll see below), its composition isn't exactly premium. It's primarily made of the same plastic that composed the Galaxy S3. The iPhone 5 is made primarily of anodized aluminum.
The Galaxy S3 showed that millions of customers can still fall in love with a smartphone that's both high-end and made of plastic. But if you're looking for a premium-feeling build, the iPhone 5 and HTC One both stand head-and-shoulders above the somewhat cheap-feeling Galaxy S4.


The iPhone 5 is significantly lighter than the Galaxy S4

If you’re looking for a light phone, the iPhone 5 is still King. Though the Galaxy S4 is a smidge lighter than the Galaxy S3, it’s still 16 percent heavier than Apple’s flagship.
The flip side to that is that an extra 18 g (0.63 oz.) of heft in the GS4 nets you significantly more screen real estate ...


The GS4's display is both larger and sharper 

In addition to an extra (diagonal) inch of display real estate, the Galaxy S4 also gives you over a million extra pixels.
Will your eye notice a huge difference between 441 pixels per inch (PPI) and 326 PPI? Probably not. But, as hardware vendors run out of obvious selling features, pixel counts will continue to rise – whether your eyes can discern much of a difference or not.
Pixel count aside, the S4’s bigger display inches closer towards “phablet” territory, potentially voiding any need for a seven or 8-inch tablet. It’s harder to argue that the iPhone’s 4-inch display could substitute for an iPad mini’s 7.9-inch screen.


There are two different models of the Galaxy S4 – maxing out at eight cores

On paper – and likely in benchmarks – both versions of the Galaxy S4 beat the iPhone hands-down in a CPU showdown.
In terms of experience, though, it’s harder to see this making a dramatic difference. How many iOS apps push the iPhone 4S’ A5 chip to its limits – much less the iPhone 5’s A6? Apple’s vertically-integrated model (creating both the hardware and software) may deem more cores and faster clock speeds somewhat less relevant than on Android phones like the Galaxy S4.


The Galaxy S4 doubles the iPhone's 1 GB of RAM
Another encouraging sign for the Galaxy S4, as its 2 GB of random-access memory (RAM) double the iPhone’s 1 GB.


Apart from the S4's microSD support, storage options are even

Apart from the Galaxy S4’s microSD card (expandable to 64 GB), storage options are even.


Where available, both phones support speedy LTE data

In regions where 4G LTE is available, both phones should support it.
Samsung will sell a separate GS4 model that maxes out at HSPA+ speeds (relatively fast, but not LTE fast) in select regions. The iPhone 5 will also default to HSPA+ if LTE isn’t available.


The Galaxy S4's battery holds significantly more juice than the iPhone's

Here’s another category where the Galaxy S4 looks great on paper. But you can’t take battery capacity as an absolute indicator of actual uptime – especially when the S4’s battery is powering a display with more than one million extra pixels.
Apple estimates eight hours of talk or internet uptime for the iPhone 5. We’ll have to wait for some hands-on time with GS4 before drawing conclusions about its battery life.


The S4's camera is 13 MP, next to the iPhone's 8 MP

In high-end smartphones, 2013 is shaping up to be the year of the 13-megapixel camera. It’s possible Apple will join that club with the iPhone 5S, but, in the meantime, the iPhone 5’s rear shooter represents 2012’s defining benchmark of 8 megapixels.
Samsung is heavily pushing its software-based camera features in Galaxy S4. These include Dual Camera (it simultaneously snaps shots and videos with both cameras and lets you imprint one inside the other), Drama Shot (a burst mode that combines the images into a collage), and Sound & Shot (records an audio clip along with still shots).


Android hiding under a layer of Samsung, or Zen-like simplicity? (disguise image: Shutters...

The Galaxy S4 runs Android 4.2.2 Jellybean – and includes Google’s apps like the Play Store, Gmail, and Google Maps – but this green robot is hiding under a big honkin’ layer of Samsung. The company is trying to differentiate its software from its fellow Android handsets (and perhaps paving the road for a shift to Tizen or an Amazon-esque forked version of Android).

Some of the S4’s new software features sound promising. S Translate could help you to communicate in foreign tongues on the fly (though there are third party apps that already do this). If S Voice (Samsung's answer to Siri) is improved, it could prove valuable – particularly in its new S Voice Drive car mode.

The value of other features, however, is more questionable. Adding audio clips to your still photos? Scrolling through web pages and emails via facial recognition? Browsing through photos with mid-air gestures? There’s a fine line between inventing something that’s truly game-changing, and simply cramming in as many “new features” as possible. Is Samsung toeing that line a bit too closely?

... which brings us to those zen-like balancing stones (pictured above). Apple treats simplicity like a religion, and the company has followed it to a T with iOS and the iPhone. While Android and Samsung try to evolve as quickly as possible, iOS has only changed incrementally since the first iPhone in 2007.

Each approach has advantages and disadvantages. The Samsung angle may mean beating Apple to the punch on some important features, but it might also mean growing bloated with confusing, extraneous crap. Apple’s angle, on the other hand, might be too minimalistic for some customers: primitive, childlike, and unchanging.

Maybe one approach isn’t more “right” than the other, and it’s up to you to decide which better suits you. After all, with just two companies standing atop the smartphone mountain, there should be plenty of room for more than one approach.

via Gizmag.com

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Galaxy S4 vs Htc One vs Xperia Z : A Brief Shootout

The Android platform has some pretty tasty high-end smartphones becoming available at the moment, and today we are comparing the HTC One vs. Sony Xperia Z vs. Galaxy S4 in an Android shootout.

We have run comparisons on these handsets before but not with all three together at the same time that are currently the must have devices in the top end of the Android market, with each of them having their own merits in being regarded as the best smartphone available to consumers.

The HTC One has the smallest of the three displays with a 4.7-inch Full HD touchscreen display that offers users an impressive 469ppi pixel density, while the Sony Xperia Z is using a 5-inch Full HD display with a pixel density of 441ppi. The Samsung Galaxy S 4 also has a 5-inch Full HD display with 441ppi.

Processor and Power
Under the hood of the Sony Xperia Z is a Qualcomm quad core Krait processor clocked at 1.5GHz along with 2GB of RAM, while the HTC One has the quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor clocked at 1.7GHz with 2GB of RAM. The Samsung Galaxy S4 comes in two versions depending on the region with one getting the Samsung Exynos 5 Octa processor running at 1.6GHz, or the quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 at 1.9GHz with both versions having 2GB of RAM.

The HTC One will be available with either 32GB or 64GB storage options that can’t be expanded further, while the Sony only has 16GB on board but this can be expanded by a further 32GB via microSD card. Samsung has always been good for storage options on its smartphones with the device coming in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB options while each of them can be expanded by a further 64GB via a microSD card.

HTC One shootout

Sony has fitted a 13.1-megapixel unit on the back with autofocus and LED flash, which is capable of Full HD video capture at 30fps and on the front is a 2.2-megapixel camera that also supports 1080p video capture. The HTC One has an UltraPixel unit with a 4-megapixel sensor that is capable if 1080p video recording, while around the front you will find a 2.1-megapixel shooter. Samsung has provided a 13-megapixel unit on the back that is 1080p along with the 2-megapixel front facer that is also capable of 1080p video capture at 30fps, and users will be able to use both cameras at once along with a whole host of new features Samsung has bundled on the device.

The Samsung measures in at 136.6mm x 69.8mm x 7.9mm weighing 130grams, while the Sony Xperia Z comes in at 139mm x 71mm x 7.9mm at 146grams. The HTC One on the other hand measures 137.4mm x 68.2mm x 9.3mm weighing 143grams.

Operating System
The Galaxy S4 will be released this week running the Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean OS straight out of the box, while the HTC One is currently on Android 4.1.2 but will obviously see an update to the later version of Jelly Bean at some point, which is the same situation for the Sony Xperia Z.

galaxy S4 shootout

Each of these handsets are well worth a look with each of them having features that the other doesn’t such as the aluminium frame of the HTC One, or the water and dust proofing of the Sony Xperia Z, and the Samsung has some software features that the other two devices don’t offer.
If you have no brand loyalty and can’t make your mind up you could always try going to a mobile phone store and look at the handsets up close and maybe having a little play with them to see which device you prefer.

Have you already decided which of these three handsets to purchase?

via www.phonesreview.co.uk

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Google Now vs Apple Siri

Google Now vs Apple Siri

I never thought I'd be telling my phone what to do. But I often find myself talking to various digital assistants - Siri on the iPhone and Google Now on Android devices - to request driving directions, restaurant recommendations and answers to all sorts of nagging questions.
Until recently, I harboured a small prejudice against this kind of voice technology. I've long been annoyed by automated phone systems that make you speak instructions rather than enter them with a touch-tone phone. These technologies tend to hear me incorrectly and slow me down as I try to make a train reservation or check my credit card account. I also feel odd talking to my phone, rather than with a real human.
Even when smartphones started letting you search the web with voice commands, my instinct was to stick with typing, however awkward touchscreen keyboards became.
My attitude slowly changed. A key turning point came during a 230-mile (370-kilometer) drive from Charleston, West Virginia, to visit friends outside Cleveland. I needed to pick up wine for my hosts and was pleased when Siri found a winery in Dover, Ohio. The shop was about 50 miles (80 kilometre) away from where I was, but relatively close to the highway I was on.
A traditional search might have located places that were closer in distance, but more out of the way. More importantly, I was able to perform that search while cruising on the highway. (Yeah, I know I shouldn't be doing that, but using voice commands beats typing while driving.)
Of course, neither Siri nor Google Now is flawless. During the course of my trip, Siri responded to a request for directions to Marygate Drive with a list of movie theatres named Mary. Google Now tried to look up Fort Museum rather than the Ford Museum. As for that search for wine shops, one of Siri's recommendations was about 120 miles (190km) away in the wrong direction. It took a few tries to find choices closer to my route.
Another complaint: Both require internet connections for the most part -even for tasks that don't involve looking up anything, such as setting the alarm on your phone. The exception is Google Now's ability to make phone calls anytime by saying "Call Tom" or another name on your contact list, but in those times when you don't have a data connection, you're not likely to have voice service, either.
But if you don't need perfection, both Siri and Google Now are decent assistants, especially considering that typing on small touchscreen keyboards can be frustrating.
Siri is chattier - and feistier - than Google Now. She'll always respond with something, whereas Google Now often gives you no more than a list of websites, as if you'd just conducted a regular web search. Only occasionally does Google Now give you a spoken-aloud response.
Ask for the assistant's name on the iPhone, and she responds, "My name is Siri, but you know that already." Google, being Google, responds with websites with "What is your name?" in them.
The digital assistants offered two very different responses when I asked: "Why is it too cold?" Google Now's list of websites starts with one on biking in cold weather. Siri speaks out the current temperature and shows me a graphic with forecast for the next several hours, while insisting, "I don't find that particularly cold."
I had the most fun asking both about the meaning of life. Predictably, Google Now returns links to a bunch of websites, plus an ad on top for the Mormon Church. Siri is armed with more than a dozen witty responses. One is "42," a punch line from the novel "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." Another time, she tells me it's chocolate. Yet another, she responds with a dictionary definition of life.
Siri excels with restaurants, in part because of Apple's partnerships with the reviews site Yelp and restaurant-reservation service OpenTable. Ask for Italian restaurants and Siri offers you several - with information on price range, average user ratings on Yelp and distance from your current location. Ask for GOOD Italian restaurants and Siri sorts those restaurants by rating.
Ask for reservations and Siri gives you a few choices with open spots, whether you're looking for something tomorrow night or this weekend. Just tap on one to complete the reservation through OpenTable.
Google Now sometimes gives me a link to OpenTable or information from Google-owned Zagat, but other requests simply lead to restaurants' websites and paid ads.
As for movies, both will give you movie showtimes and let you buy tickets, though for tickets iPhone users will need a free software update to iOS 6.1, which came out in late January. In addition, Siri can only buy tickets through Fandango, not MovieTickets or other rivals.
Both correctly give me latest sports scores, though I stumped Google Now when I asked how a particular team was doing. Google Now simply gives me the latest score, while Siri tells me where the team is in the standings. When I asked about the Detroit Lions a few months ago, she preceded the response with "Uh, oh." I chuckled at the phone when I heard that. The Lions finished the 2012 NFL regular season in last place in the NFC North division.
Siri is better at integrating with the phone's calendar and alarm clock. When I ask for an alarm for "tomorrow night at 7," Siri tells me she can't set anything more than a day ahead, while Google Now simply sets one. Imagine the embarrassment should my alarm clock go off while out with friends at a show.
I asked Siri whether I'm free on Monday. In a recent reply, she said my calendar is clear, while Google Now gave me a website discussing "murder-free Monday." Google Now is smarter, though, in creating a calendar reminder for movie plans with Tony, as Siri stumbles trying to find a movie called "plans with Tony." She does successfully create one for dinner with Tony, after warning of a conflict on my schedule.
Siri is better with answering such questions as who won the Oscars for best picture in 1996 and who won the Nobel Peace Prize. As usual, Google Now returns standard web results.
Both directly answered me when I asked when Memorial Day is. Siri added, "I hope you get the day off." Thanks for looking out for me, Siri.
What I also like about Siri is that she's always a click away - just tap on the home button on the iPhone. Google Now is like a disappearing act: Sometimes you see its search box and the microphone button; sometimes you don't.
By now, you might be wondering, why bother with Google Now?
Although Siri performs better in many situations, Google Now isn't bad if you have an Android device. Apple has had more time to refine its service, as Siri has been around for more than a year - and longer as a start-up before Apple bought it. Google Now made its debut over the summer in phones running the Jelly Bean version of Android, and it continually gets new capabilities.
In addition, Google Now does more than voice search. Over time, it's supposed to know about your interests and give you information without asking. If you have the necessary permissions turned on, you can search for a sports team on a desktop computer and find the latest score waiting for you on the phone after the game. Walk by a movie theatre and see showtimes automatically pop up. Commute along a certain route each day and Google Now will check traffic and offer alternative driving directions when appropriate.
That's smart.
But Google Now isn't wise enough to figure out that I typically take public transit in New York and don't even own a car. I had to set that manually. And Google doesn't have a good way to distinguish a casual search about a company from actual interest in automatically getting its stock price at the end of the day.
What's clear from my test is that we're just at the beginning of seeing what voice search and virtual assistants can do.
It's easy to get caught up on the mistakes these services make interpreting our voices. But Siri and Google Now are enticing enough that I can't wait to see what they do in the months and years ahead.
-Times of India

Samsung design chief talks plastic and software, says future is in devices with 'souls'

AI at Expand: From a hardware perspective, the Galaxy S4 is largely in the same spirit as its predecessor, but Samsung's American design chief says the future of mobile isn't in form factors; it's in making devices with "souls."


Samsung Design America head Dennis Miloseski, second from left, says the company will continue focusing on software services over hardware.

The South Korean electronics conglomerate's Galaxy S4 debuted to something of a yawn from tech commentators, who were impressed with the device's internals, but were less excited about Samsung's decision to stick with plastic, especially in light of the aluminum casings on Apple's iPhone 5 and HTC's One. Samsung Design America head Dennis Miloseski, speaking at Engadget's Expand conference, played down the importance of materials in handset design, saying that the future of mobile is in creating experiences. 

"Actually, the global design process has been raised," Miloseski said. "We're making devices thinner and lighter, screens more beautiful. With Samsung, it's less about that but more about building a meaningful relationship with technology."

Miloseski's remarks seems to reflect Samsung's mindset in releasing the GS4, which bears largely the same design aesthetic as its predecessor, but has significantly improved internals. In revealing the device, Samsung focused as much on the software additions the company had made as it did on the tech specs, touting features such as eye-tracking technology that can tell when a user is looking at the device.
life companion

The market for premium smartphones is thought to have largely matured, with Apple and Samsung taking the lion's share of profits for the segment. The coming years, according to many observers, will see manufacturers moving to grab as much of the growing lower-priced smartphone market as possible. The real value, then, is in making mobile devices smarter, not in focusing on materials. 

"As these devices become smarter, letting them sense where you are and adjusting to that, it's known that design will improve over time," Miloseski said. "But now, we're thinking about: how do you create a soul for a device."

At the unveiling event for the GS4, Samsung touted the device as a "life companion": a device that learns its owners behaviors and adjusts its features and behaviors accordingly. Miloseski left open the possibility that Samsung would move on to other materials beyond the plastic that covers its current devices, but he maintained that Samsung's focus was more on the "life companion" aspects.

"The design process doesn't start with a material," he said. "It doesn't start with us saying, 'Okay, we're going to make a device that uses metal.' The design process starts with a story. For a device [like the GS4], which is global and sells around the world, it's a matter of going into many different tastes."

As the mobile industry moves forward, Miloseski says advances in connectivity may see users interacting with their devices in different ways, meaning that both materials and form factors may continue to evolve. 

"As the technology moves forward," he explained, "we may find we're taking these devices out of our pockets less and less, so you may see different form factors arising from that.

"I think over time, though, it's all of our responsibilities not to put more layers of hardware and glass in front of our users. I think the evolution of mobile is moving closer to connecting people to people, and the technology moves out of the way. There's also room for mobile to change, to reconnect us with the world around us."

Samsung's design cues have been the source of much discussion and litigation, especially with respect to Apple's products. The physical design of the South Korean company's earlier Galaxy products was the source of much of the legal trouble between the two companies, and the appearance of Samsung's products is thought to have contributed a good deal to the eventual $1.05 billion verdict levied against Samsung in the United States. With the Galaxy S III, Samsung revealed a new aesthetic, markedly different from previous Apple and Samsung handsets.