Apple, BlackBerry, and Google: The next round of gadget leaks has begun

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It’s summer. Those two words can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. In the gadget world, it means the leaks have begun.

New gadgets typically arrive in time for the back-to-school season, and definitely ahead of the holiday shopping bonanza. It may only be July, meaning gadget makers are still nowhere near ready to show off their work, but the Internet doesn’t care.

In just this week alone, we’ve received multiple rumblings and early glimpses of what Apple, BlackBerry, and Google are up to. What better way to kick off a weekend than to see what the grandfather of smartphones, and the current two biggest mobile behemoths are up to?

Apple

On Tuesday, 9to5Mac provided an extensive look at what may be the iPhone 6S. The claim is that these are the first photos of the iPhone 6S’s external metal casing and its internals, courtesy of “a proven source familiar with Apple’s supply chain.”

9to5mac_6s8

The new iPhones are expected to include Force Touch, and according to the images, largely maintain the exterior design of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Expectations include same general sizes, a different internal mounting structure, and no dual-lens camera system.

9to5mac_6s3

9to5Mac followed up with LTE speed details on Wednesday and internal component details on Friday. Like the iPhone 5S, these updates are very much about changes and improvements on the inside.

BlackBerry

Last month, rumors that BlackBerry was building an Android smartphone returned in full force. As one who loves the hardware but hates the software, I have to say I’m excited.

Today, infamous leaker Evan Blass (evleaks) posted more details of BlackBerry’s Android phone, codenamed Venice, which is expected to feature a dual curved display (think Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge) with a physical keyboard that slides up from underneath (think Palm Pre). Apparently, it’s coming to AT&T in the U.S., and a high-resolution render indicates it will look something like this:

You’ll notice that Blass’ image clearly shows Google apps, which would suggest Venice is getting a largely unmodified version of Android, unlike Amazon’s Fire OS which is based on a fork of Google’s mobile operating system. The hardware is similar to the slider that BlackBerry showed off back at Mobile World Congress in March.

But the above device is clearly running BlackBerry OS 10. A smartphone with BlackBerry hardware expertise and Google’s software skills, however, is a lot more intriguing.

Google

On Thursday, Droid Life spotted an FCC filing that describes what is clearly a wearable, and may be the next Google Glass. We know the next version is coming soon, thanks to eyewear maker Luxottica, but that’s about it.

This device has the model name “GG1″ (which may or may not stand for the first Google Glass), has Bluetooth LE, rechargeable and non-removable batteries. It comes with an AC charger and a USB cable that can provide a “path for charging and data transfer.”

Screen-Shot-2015-07-02-at-9.56.40-AM

The e-label above does seem like it could be the size of a Google Glass screen. The GG! could of course be something completely new, but right now the first broadly-available Google Glass seems like a good bet.

Oh, were you looking for smartphones? Rumor has it that Google will be releasing two new Nexus phones this year, one from LG and a larger one from Huawei.

Final thoughts

This happens every year, and this week is just the beginning. Nowadays, it’s actually a shock when a device is unannounced without having leaked previously in some shape or form.

Expect more iPhone 6S, BlackBerry Venice, Google Glass, Nexus, and many more leaks in the weeks and months ahead. No device is safe.

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Is this BlackBerry’s First Android Phone?

CI_sS-hWoAAvffK For the past month or so, the general thinking around the rumor mill has been that BlackBerry is working on an Android phone. If you can’t beat’em, join’em, right? Now we’ve got a rough idea of what their first Android handset might look like. Posted by the endlessly resourceful Evan Blass (aka evleaks), the photo shows a device that appears to have curves on both halves… Read More

Europe’s game developers favor PC over iOS and Android

GDC Europe
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European developers are picking the PC as their target platform over mobile or console devices.

That’s one result from an annual European State of the Industry survey by GDC Europe, which is staging a big event in Cologne, Germany, on Aug. 3 and Aug. 4. The survey of 250 European game professionals also showed that they’re favoring Android over iOS when they choose to make games for mobile devices. But more are working on PC games because games for that market sell for a higher price and aren’t as reliant on the free-to-play business model, and unlike mobile, PC gaming isn’t dominated by just a handful of companies like King and Supercell.

The survey also showed that developers are interested in virtual reality — but only a little more than a third of those asked are working on a project for the Oculus Rift headset or another VR product.

When asked about platforms, 62 percent of those developers surveyed said the game they’re currently working on will come out on the PC. About 50 percent are bringing their current project to smartphones/tablets, while 23 percent are working on a game that will come to PlayStation 4 and just 20 percent are expecting to bring the game they’re currently working on to the Xbox One.

The survey said that 46 percent of respondents said their last shipped game came out on the PC, followed by 40 percent who put their last game out on mobile and 16 percent who launched their most recent game on browsers. Last year, 40 percent said they’d brought their most recent game out on mobile but only 38 percent had brought their last game to PC.

Looking ahead to the next game, 67 percent said their next game will come to PC, while 53 percent are targeting mobile devices. 34 percent plan to bring their next game to PlayStation 4 and 33 percent will do that for the Xbox One. Last year, 42 percent of respondents said they were interested in PlayStation 4 and only 26 percent said the same about the Xbox One.

For the first time in the survey’s history, developers favored Android over iOS when asked which mobile platforms they were actively making games for: 63 percent said Android, 57 percent said iOS, and 32 percent said they weren’t working on any mobile games at the moment.

GDC Europe

Above: GDC Europe, where developers are favoring PC over mobile.

Image Credit: GDC Europe

Last year, 67 percent of those surveyed said they were actively making a game for iOS, 62 percent said they were working on an Android game and 24 percent said they weren’t working on any mobile games at the time.

The survey also took a look at crowdfunding. Last year, 6 percent said they were working on a crowdfunded game but almost half of them (42 percent) said they were planning to use crowdsourced funding on their future projects. This year, less than 5 percent were developing games that had received crowd-sourced funding, and only 34 percent said they had plans to crowdfund future games.

“Crowdfunding is no longer relevant for proper business cases, other than marketing and product awareness,” wrote one survey respondent.

Another developer wrote, “It feels like we’re already way behind the curve, with crowdfunding campaigns nowadays being much more suitable for a final prerelease marketing push than for securing actual funding for the game.”

It’s become more common for crowdfunded games to find traditional publishers to help finish their products. Pillars of Eternity, a role-playing game for PC that was one of the top Kickstarters of all time, received distribution help from Paradox Interactive. Deep Silver is acting as the publisher for Mighty No. 9, the Mega Man-like game that’s also another Kickstarter darling.

Most European developers are not yet investing in virtual reality. Seventy-three percent of survey respondents said they weren’t working on VR games at all, while 22 percent said they were working on a VR game that would be released on Oculus VR’s Rift headset. Seven percent of respondents are working on a game for Samsung’s Gear VR headset. Six percent are making a VR game that will come to Sony’s Morpheus headset, and just 3 percent said they’re working on something that’s expected to release on Valve’s SteamVR system.

But while SteamVR may not be a popular target just yet, many European developers seem excited about its potential; when asked which VR platforms interest them most as developers right now, 52 percent of respondents said “Oculus VR” and 38 percent said “SteamVR.” Another 30 percent simply said “None.”

Overall, Europeans believe that VR will be a sustainable market in the long term, with 71 percent saying so.

“I think VR is the next leap in immersive gaming,” wrote one survey respondent. “However, we as a community have to find a way to sell the idea of VR to the gaming public in such a way that it will generate mass market appeal. Without that it will be difficult to sustain VR and fuel the advances it needs to become truly amazing.”

Of this year’s survey respondents, roughly 29 percent were from Germany, 16 percent were from the United Kingdom, 12 percent from the Netherlands, 10 percent from Sweden, 6 percent from Finland and 5 percent from Spain, with even smaller percentages hailing from other countries like Russia, Norway and Poland.


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Google will end support for Android Developer Tools in Eclipse at the end of 2015

At the 2015 Google I/O developer conference in San Francisco on May 29.
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Google today said it will no longer support its Android Developer Tools plugin for the Eclipse integrated development environment (IDE) for building Android apps. The move comes six months after Google released version 1.0 of its Android Studio IDE.

“If you have not had the chance to migrate your projects to Android Studio, now is the time,” Android product manager Jamal Eason wrote in a blog post today.

The Android Developer Tools plugin comes with a user interface design tool and a graphical user interface for command line tools for building Android applications.

Google first announced Android Studio in 2013. Now that it’s stable, Google wants to focus resources on it completely.

“We are focused on Android Studio so that our team can deliver a great experience on a unified development environment. Android tools inside Eclipse will continue to live on in the open source community via the Eclipse Foundation,” Eason wrote.

Developing….


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Kindle is launching new share buttons on Android for WhatsApp and Messenger

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Amazon wants to get people texting about books.

Starting today, Kindle is making book quotes, recommendations, and highlights shareable on WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger for Android devices. The updated sharing buttons will be coming to Kindle e-readers and operating systems later this year.

“Friends who receive a share can instantly start reading a free book preview right from their phone, tablet, or PC—no need to sign up, sign in, or install an app,” the company wrote in a blog post.

 

Kindle already has the ability to share book content on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads. But this latest update is all about getting Kindle content on platforms where people are having conversations.

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Medium launches Android app out of beta

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After a month in beta, Medium is launching its native app for Android.

The blogging platform playfully announced the official release of the Android native app with a video of an Android phone literally being released “into the wild.”

Video footage shows the app initially reluctant to leave the cage, but eventually taking its first tentative steps into the world.

The Medium Android app runs on KitKat 4.4 and Lollipop 5.0 & 5.1 and requires users to sign in with Facebook or Twitter. With the app, users can create, save, and publish posts. You can also access your bookmarks, reading list, make recommendations, and highlight stories.

However, there are a few things you can’t do on Android that you can on the Web. For instance, you can’t see your stats. You also won’t be able to access the drafts you create on the mobile app in the web version of Medium. But the company has a plan going forward. In its next version it expects to add:

  • Enhanced profile to see followers, followings, highlights, and recommends
  • User blocking
  • User and publication search
  • Landscape mode for tablets and story writing

The company first announced the Android beta in late May. Medium also has an iOS app, which it introduced last year.

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Google wants to pair your keys with your phone so you never leave home without them

Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 12.59.52 PM
If you’re not reaching, engaging, and monetizing customers on mobile, you’re likely losing them to someone else. Register now for the 8th annual MobileBeat, July 13-14, where the best and brightest will be exploring the latest strategies and tactics in the mobile space.

A new Google patent published today describes a system that allows you to pair frequently lost or left-behind items like your wallet or your glasses to be paired with your mobile device.

If the device senses that it’s leaving the house without those devices coming along, it gives the user an alert.

Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 1.00.57 PMThe mobile device might connect to the paired objects using short-range wireless technologies like “Near Field Communication (NFC), Bluetooth, RuBee, frequency identification (RFID), or any other method of wireless communication sensing,” the patent reads.

The user can control the amount of distance between the mobile device and the paired object that must exist before an alarm goes off. They can also control the type of alarm, as well as how often the device checks to see if all paired objects remain nearby.

The patent is interesting because it shows Google trying to differentiate Android products by enabling them to directly address some of the little friction points in everyday life. Features such as these may not use cutting-edge technology, but they could sway a consumer to buy an Android product over an iOS product.

Research courtesy of Mikhail Avady at SmartUp Legal

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Buzzfeed launches a curated news app on iOS and Android

BuzzFeed News app
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Buzzfeed is launching a mobile news app that focuses on supplying quick digestible bits of information to contextualize the top stories of the hour.

The BuzzFeed News app will be rolling out to iOS and Android devices this morning.

Stirrings of a news app first appeared last year, when the company started hiring journalists to work on a mobile app.

The new app features a brief list of the top stories from the hour along with snippets of news pulled from Buzzfeed and other sources around the web. What’s most compelling about the app, though, is not the curation, but the added content that comes from having a dedicated editorial staff working on a news app. Each story features an image along with a short paragraph explaining the news. Beneath some stories are extras that help bring context to news bites like graphs, bullet-point lists titled “what we know so far,” and other background information including relevant tweets. In some cases the news app will list multiple stories concerning a single topic. For instance, coverage of Rachel Dolezal, the NAACP leader in Spokane, Washington who recently stepped down from her post, garnered three separate stories.

BuzzFeed News app

The team says it learned a lot about how people interact with news from its News newsletter, which comes out five times a week. Two of the most important lessons they say, came from learning to never rely on the reader to take the extra step to interact with a piece of content and to be okay with letting go of the traditional news format.

“One element of this is weening yourself off this idea that your article is going to be interacted with as it was when it was originally published on Buzzfeed.com,” says Stacy-Marie Ishmael, editor of the Buzzfeed News app. This understanding allowed the team to develop an app that doesn’t require the user to click through to stories. Instead users can get the news they’re looking for simply by interacting with BuzzFeed’s various lists and timelines.

It’s this breaking down of the news that could make the BuzzFeed News app very sticky. For now BuzzFeed only integrates tweets, vines, and gifs into its News app, but it’s planning on incorporating Instagram photos, YouTube videos, and audio from SoundCloud.

Many in news media have been trying to break the code for high engagement on news apps. The New York Times played its hand at a paid app called NYT Now. Despite accolades, the app didn’t see the level engagement that the Times had hoped for and it subsequently took the price tag off.

BuzzFeed has built a reputation for giving people what they want. Already the company has two apps, including Cute or Not, a Tinder-like experience for showcasing house-hold pets, and a native app, which features content from the BuzzFeed website. But its News app may be its best mobile product yet and, if it proves so with its users, could serve as a template for other news apps going forward.

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