Dad pays daughter to quit Facebook

February 7, 2013 by  
Filed under News

We live in a world that’s addicted to Facebook. We spend every other moment poking people, planting crops, updating our status, and uploading horribly blurred photos of events from the night before (whether intentionally or otherwise).

As a parent, you no doubt want your kids to get off Facebook and perhaps wander out into the sunshine every now and then. So one dad did the unthinkable – he drafted up an agreement with his 14 year old daughter that he would pay her $200 if she quit Facebook for five months.

And she signed it.

The ‘Facebook Deactivation Agreement’ was posted on Paul Baier’s blog for the world to see, and surprisingly the whole thing was his daughter’s idea, who apparently finds Facebook a distraction and a waste of time. The agreement stipulates that Baier will have full access to his daughter’s Facebook account so that he can change the password to keep her from logging in.

Next he’ll be yanking his Internet router.

(via Daily Dot)

iTunes clocks in 25 billion song downloads

February 7, 2013 by  
Filed under News

Apple gleefully announced today that its iTunes store has seen 25 billion songs been downloaded, with the 25 billionth song being “Monkey Drums” (Goksel Vancin Remix) by Chase Buch. The song was purchased by Phillip Lüpke from Germany, who was awarded a €10,000 iTunes Gift Card as a thank you from Apple.

Despite competition from other similar music services and the likes of p2p file sharing programs, iTunes has still remained one of the most popular online music stores with a catalog of over 26 million songs, available in 119 countries.

“We are grateful to our users whose passion for music over the past 10 years has made iTunes the number one music retailer in the world,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “Averaging over 15,000 songs downloaded per minute, the iTunes Store connects music fans with their favorite artists, including global sensations like Adele and Coldplay and new artists like The Lumineers, on a scale we never imagined possible.”

Apple to lose iPhone trademark in Brazil

February 6, 2013 by  
Filed under News

Here’s something you don’t read about every day – Apple actually admitting defeat. Mark your calendars as this won’t be happening any time soon.

Brazil’s copyright regulator has stated that Apple will not be allowed to use the ‘iPhone’ brand in Brazil, since the brand was previously registered to another local company. The company in question, IGB Eletrônica SA, registered the ‘iPhone’ name back in 2000, which was a long time before Apple announced its iPhone in 2007. In December 2012 IGB Eletrônica released an Android phone called IPHONE Neo One, retailing for about $300. The official ruling on the case will be announced on Feb 13th.

Reports say that Apple might challenge the ruling in court, given that it doesn’t want its precious iPhone brand to be associated with a low-cost smartphone. Or they could just pay off IGB Eletrônica instead…

(via Reuters)

HTC One X+ Review

February 5, 2013 by  
Filed under Reviews, Smartphones, Spotlight

When the HTC One X came out last year, it was hailed as one of the must-have Android phones on the market. A solidly built phone with decent specs that was marred by occasional lags and an average battery life. Of course more high-end Android phones have come out since then, so in an attempt to remind users about the One X, HTC have released the One X+ with a refreshed battery and sporting the latest version of Android.

Build quality & design

The One X+ looks exactly like the One X, with the exception of the color. The One X+ comes in a sleek black body that’s been treated in a soft plastic that feels a little rubbery. It makes it a bit easier to hold in your hand, but I did find at times the phone almost slipped out of my hand because it was so smooth.

Similar to the One X, the One X+ features very few physical buttons, with the exception of the power button at the top and a volume rocker on the side. There’s a small slot at the top which you have to eject with a paper clip in order to insert your SIM card, which is great if you have something to eject it with in the first place. At the back is the 8MP camera and LED flash, as well as the HTC and beats audio logos.

Specifications

Spec-wise, the One X+ is a minor upgrade from the One X. The phone sports a 1.7GHz quad-core chip, 64GB of internal storage and a supposedly improved battery. While the upgrades may seem minor, it’s clearly evident when using the phone and in benchmarks what a marked improvement these new specs are.

Benchmarks & Performance

When it comes down to performance, the One X+ pretty much eliminates the lag that we experienced in the original One X. Applications launch pretty much instantly, and there was zero problems with running multiple apps in the background. The phone runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean flawlessly, and no matter what app your throw at it, the One X+ is able to hold its own.

Screen and Touch Interface

The 4.7-inch screen is certainly large and crisp, but might be a bit cumbersome for some to use with one hand (hello Galaxy Note!). The 1,280 x 720 resolution is the same from the One X, and while not as high-res as other Android phones on the market, it still is great for watching video content.

As this is an HTC phone, the standard Android interface has been replaced by HTC’s Sense UI, which features plenty of smooth transitions and a handful of widgets to help you navigate around the phone. There are also HTC apps for streaming media with compatible hardware such as HTC Media Link HD. There’s the Friend Stream app for keeping up to date with your social media networks, as well as Dropbox and even a curious Mirror app.

Camera

The camera on the HTC One X+ is as good as the original, taking pictures in a fraction of a second. While there’s no hardware button for the camera, it’s deliciously simple to just tap the screen to take a barrage of photos in a blink of an eye. Photos came out crisp and clear, with plenty of detail, and you can customize various elements of your photos such as sharpness and contrast. You can also shoot video in full HD in 30fps, and even the front-facing camera has had a slight boost to 1.6MP instead of 1.3MP.

Sound and Call quality

Audio on the One X+ is great, and with headphones the beats audio really brings music alive. There were hardly any dropped calls, and both parties could be heard clearly at all times. The speakerphone on the One X+ is also quite loud, though I have to note that music takes a bit of a hit as the beats audio only works if you’ve got headphones plugged in.

Battery Life & Heat Levels

The battery life of the original One X was one of concern – many users reported that halfway through the day they were running for their phone chargers. Sadly, it seems that even though the battery has been beefed up slightly in the One X+, it still faces battery issues seen in the original because of the amped up processor. With a full charge at 8am, I was seeing a red battery indicator by about 6pm, and with no charger in sight I had to sadly see the phone die right in front of me.

Heat levels is another area of concern for the One X+. When playing Dead Space, I first noticed the unit getting slightly warm, but after just 10 minutes of playing the game, the back of the phone got uncomfortably hot and I had to quit playing. With everyday usage the phone won’t get too warm, but if you start pushing the processor, prepare to have some rather toasty fingers.

Conclusion

So does the HTC One X+ warrant your attention? It’s certainly not as snazzy as say the Google Nexus 4 or any of the recent Samsung lineup, but it’s still a decent Android phone that looks good and works fairly well. It’s not worth upgrading if you currently own the HTC One X, but apart from that it’s a decent Android phone that offers a great Jelly Bean experience.

Huawei reveals new Windows Phone for Africa

February 5, 2013 by  
Filed under News

Microsoft and Huawei today revealed a new smartphone designed specifically for launch in Africa. The phone, dubbed the Huawei 4Afrika, will be the first in a series of devices designed for Microsoft’s 4Afrika initiative, which aims to bring technology to the continent in more affordable means.

The phone is geared towards students, small businesses, developers, and first-time smartphone owners residing in Angola, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, and South Africa.

Spec-wise, the phone will be an offshoot of the Huawei Ascend W1, and features “a 4-inch 480 x 800 display, dual-core 1.2 GHz Snapdragon processor, front and rear-facing cameras, and 4GB of internal storage—all squeezed into a 10 millimeter-thin case.” The phones will run Windows Phone 8 and come preloaded with customized apps built by African developers.

“We believe there has never been a better time to invest in Africa and that access to technology—particularly cloud services and smart devices—can and will serve as a great accelerator for African competitiveness,” said Jean-Philippe Courtois, president of Microsoft International. It’s a market that’s rapidly evolving and in need of strong support from tech giants, so hopefully Microsoft’s 4Afrika initiative will pay off in the long run.

(via windows Phone blog)

Big Boys Toys show comes to a close in Dubai

February 4, 2013 by  
Filed under News

The Big Boys Toys show came to a close yesterday, marking three days of some of the world’s most luxurious lifestyle brands. The show which is in its third year, saw companies such as Blackberry, Alfa Romeo, Savoy, Merlin Digital and Bang and Olufsen showcased some of their top of the line products for visitors to marvel over.

The show did feature other quirky items such as a 24k gold piano, the Aurum 79 Limited Edition $900,000 water bottle, and a diamond-encrusted iPhone 5 case worth AED 84,999.

Check out more images from the event in the gallery below:

Introducing a new Arabic programming language, Alb

February 3, 2013 by  
Filed under News

For anyone who’s ever had the misfortune of having to study computer programming, it can be a truly daunting task. From functions to loops to catching exceptions, the world of coding can be a truly terrifying place. But did you ever think that programming could be even harder for some people because they weren’t English speakers?

This then, is where ‘Alb’ comes in, a new programming language designed by Ramsey Nasser, which allows enthusiasts to code programs in Arabic script. The interface is very basic and is set to mimic a Terminal, so don’t be expecting to write flowing lines of code any time soon. But what it does allow users to do it to write in Arabic script to do simple things like printing out messages to working out numbers in the Fibonacci sequence.

While Alb isn’t the first attempt at a full-Arabic programming setup, it’s certainly off to a rather ambitious start. Check out the interview below with Ramsey Nasser to find out more details:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77KAHPZUR8g&w=550]

(via Animal NY)

Blog: Why I still use a BlackBerry and want the Z10

January 31, 2013 by  
Filed under Blogs

You’re still using a BLACKBERRY?

I’ve heard this one more than one occasion. At press conferences, nights out with friends, even from family members as they whip out their shiny iPhones to take photos of my phone (#relic). Granted that the BlackBerry is not longer the status symbol it used to be, but I’ve hung onto mine for a good number of years.

Don’t get me wrong, my smartphone evolution has been an interesting one. I hopped from the ancient 8-bit Nokia phones on to the Nokia 6500c before finally succumbing to an HTC Hero followed by an HTC Desire. The move to the Android system took a bit of time to master, but once I was in I loved it. In fact, I still do – I frequently review Android tablets and phones and it’s amazing to see just how far the platform has come.

But a few years ago, I did the unthinkable. I left the safety of the Android fold and dived headfirst into BlackBerry. At the time it was the BlackBerry 9800, which I still continue to use today. I’ve long been tempted to swing back to Android, but I held out knowing that BlackBerry was cooking up something with BlackBerry 10.

So now that the phone is out (read our review here), it’s somewhat of a no-brainer that I’m going to be lining up to get it as soon as it’s officially available. Why, you may ask?

I’m long overdue
My 9800 is ancient. It’s certainly seen better days, as the barrage of scratches and minor dents in the case will tell you. It’s also running version 6.0 of the BlackBerry OS, which is a really slow thing to try and navigate around at times. Having played around with the Z10 I forgot what it was like to have a speedy and seamless mobile experience, and it left my 9800 in the dust.

Messaging means nothing to me
Whether you’re in the BBM or WhatsApp camps, I don’t care. I’ve got a grand total of 10 people on my BlackBerry Messenger contact list, and sadly four of those people I work with. I often just prefer sending an SMS or actually calling the person up rather than having to put up with the constant “ding” noise as we furiously message each other.

I’m not a mobile paparazzi
I admit to taking the odd photo or two with my current BlackBerry, but I really don’t use my phone for serious photography (unless you include photos of cupcakes as serious photography). I’m certainly not an Instagram user or enjoy posting an endless stream of photos of what I’m eating, so for me smartphone cameras aren’t a deal-breaker. From what I’ve seen, the camera on the Z10 is seriously more than what I need.

Clouds are for rainy days
Get it on the cloud! Back it up on the cloud! Sync it to the cloud! These are some of the things I hear when people yammer to me about dumping your files onto the Cloud for a seamless backup. If my BlackBerry should die, I just pop the microSD card out and pop it into a new BlackBerry to access all my media, and then just re-sync my emails and contacts. I don’t have to worry about running out of or paying for extra space (like my sister recently experienced with her 2,000+ baby photos on her iPhone), and everything I need remains on the phone.

Goodbye buttons
For reasons unknown when I jumped from Android to BlackBerry for the first time, I was adamant that I get a device with a physical keyboard. I don’t know why, but maybe I was under the delusion that a physical keyboard meant that I could type faster. For some people, that’s true. For me, it’s actually become cumbersome for me to type on a QWERTY keyboard, since I used to enjoy the on-screen keyboard of my previous Android devices. The brief time I spent typing on the Z10 showed me a keyboard that made typing much more comfortable (even without flicking words upwards), and easier than trying to squint at the keyboard in the dark.

It goes where I go
The biggest asset for me with a BlackBerry is that it just works wherever I go. I travel frequently, and I really can’t depend on spotty airport wi-fi points or spending hours in a Starbucks accessing my emails. I need connectivity pretty much anywhere I go, and in this regard having a BlackBerry is a huge bonus. I’ve attending countless press conferences where hundreds of journalists have overwhelmed the lone wi-fi hotspot that’s available, while I just pull out my BlackBerry to tweet or email photos. I’ve got friends who have iPhones with roaming packages, and they regularly complain about how expensive it is to use data packages when they travel. Of course, you could always get a local SIM card, but then you’ve got to whole new phone number to work with, not to mention keeping an eye on your usage.

Having said all this though, the BlackBerry Z10 is certainly not without its flaws. The software is new and already there are plenty of changes that can be made to it to help refine the user experience. But as someone who has been holding out to see what BlackBerry was cooking up, the Z10 is going to be a well-deserved upgrade for me, and I’m looking forward to when it hits retail stores in a few weeks.

Facebook to investors – we aren’t building a phone

January 31, 2013 by  
Filed under News

One of the more persistent rumors that have dogged Facebook over the years is the one that the company is secretly working on its own phone. It’s a rumor that CEO Mark Zuckerberg has denied every time, and as reported by CNET, in a recent call to investors and analysts, he once again squashed fresh rumors that a Facebook phone would be on the way.

“We’re not going to build a phone, it’s not the right strategy for us to build one integrated system…Let’s say we sell 10 million units — that would be 1 percent of users. Who cares for us?” said Zuckerberg during the call. “We have a billion people using our products, and we need to make Facebook really good across all the devices that they use. Rather than just building an app that’s a version of the functionality that you have today, I think making it so that we can just go deeper and deeper is going to be a big focus for us.”

The comments make complete sense – Facebook enjoys a healthy amount of traffic from mobile devices and its accompanying apps, so their focus remains on refining the mobile experience and integrating it tighter into existing platforms, rather than trying to come up with something of their own.

Facebook also recently reported a positive fourth quarter earnings, with revenue of around $1.59 billion with about 23 percent of advertising revenue coming from mobile platforms.

(via CNET)

RIM to stream BlackBerry 10 launch event

January 30, 2013 by  
Filed under News

Research In Motion are all set to finally reveal BlackBerry 10 to the world on Wednesday this week, and for those of you who aren’t lucky enough to be in a city with an exclusive launch event, you can watch the entire thing being streamed live on BlackBerry’s site.

In a press release today RIM confirmed that the reveal will be streamed on its own website via a webcast in the Newsroom section of the website. Launch events for BlackBerry 10 will be happening simultaneously in New York, Toronto, London, Paris, Dubai, Johannesburg, Jakarta and Delhi.

Read the official word from RIM here and tune it to the webcast here once it’s live.

Stay tuned to tbreak.com for our review of the new handset and breaking coverage of the BlackBerry launch event in Dubai as it happens this evening.

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