LG releases more information on the G Watch on new website

LG-G-Watch_mainLG has just released more information on its upcoming smartwatch, the G Watch, on a new dedicated website

The G Watch was first announced in March alongside Google’s Android Wear, and will be one of several smartwatches to use the new wearables-specific version of the operating system.

Initial details on the new smartwatch were sparse but the new website has unveiled the following details:

Permanently switched on

Unlike other smartwatches that sit on standby until ‘woken up’, the G Watch will be permanently switched on – a feature which calls into question its battery life.

Water and dust resistant

Like it’s rivals, the Samsung Galaxy Gear 2 and Sony Smartwatch 2, the G Watch will be water and dust resistant.

G WatchWill come in two colours

The G Watch will come in ‘champagne gold’ as well as the previously advertised ‘stealth black’. 

The company is yet to confirm a retail price and release date but it’s expected to go on sale in July, in the region of £180.

Over to you…

Do you think the G Watch will be a contender in the increasingly crowded smartwatch market?

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Amazon to release 3D smartphone later this year

Amazon_smartphone1-e1341564632977Amazon is preparing to launch its first smartphone later this year according to a report by the Wall Street Journal published yesterday.

The report reveals the company’s intentions to take on Apple and Samsung with a smartphone that’s capable of displaying 3D imagery without the need for special glasses. The device will apparently achieve this by employing retina-tracking technology embedded in four front facing cameras that will make some images appear as holograms. 

Rumours of Amazon developing a smartphone to accompany its Kindle Fire range of tablets have been doing the rounds for a while but this report suggests that a release is imminent. The company is expected to announce the device as early as June with shipping to start in September, supposedly to coincide with the anticipated launch of a new iPhone.

The news comes just days after Amazon launched its Fire TV streaming box and games console.

Over to you…

Do you think Amazon will be able to take on Apple and Samsung with a 3D capable smartphone?

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The Micro 3D printer: Kickstarter project to bring 3D printing to the masses

3D printers could soon be available to everyday consumers thanks to a new Kickstarter funded project.

micro-3d-printer-kickstarterM3D reached its funding target of $50,000 within 11 minutes of launching its Kickstarter campaign for The Micro 3D printer on Tuesday. At the time of publication they’ve now raised an incredible $2,249,716 with 26 days still to go.

The Micro is a small, easy to use and affordable 3D printer, which has been designed in order to bring 3D printers to the mass market.

Living up to its name, The Micro measures only 18.5cm square and weighs 1kg, making it perfect for household use. It also comes with intuitive software that allows users to search, drag and drop items to print, which can be up to 4.6 inches tall. It’s also compatible with Mac, PC and Linux.

The printer supports a range of different materials including ABS, PLA and nylon as well as the company’s own micro filament spools, or standard 1.75 filament spools.

One of The Micro’s biggest selling points is its price point, which is estimated to be in the region of $300 when it goes on sale. However, early backers of the project will get the printer for only $199.

M3D are aiming to ship the first batch of printers to top investors in August 2014, with a second batch for lower investors to ship in February 2015.

Over to you…

Would you buy a Micro 3D printer?

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Amazon launches Fire TV streaming box and games console

AmazonFireTV_HomeS_2870531bToday Amazon branched into the video hardware market with its launch of Fire TV, a new set-top streaming box to rival Roku, Apple TV and Google Chromecast.

The new device, which goes on sale in the US today at $99, runs Android software and already supports a wide range of apps including Netflix, YouTube, Pandora and Crackle, with many more set to get on board.

The powerful little box has a quad-core processor, dedicated GPU and 2GB of RAM. It also has dual-band Wi-Fi, Dolby Digital Surround Sound via HDMI out and a Bluetooth remote control with a microphone to allow you to control the box by voice. 

Fire TVAnother clever feature is a predictive engine which pre-loads content that it thinks you’re likely to want to watch so that it’s ready for you to watch without waiting for it to load or buffer. 

The main feature that sets Fire TV apart from the competition is the fact that it doubles up as a games console. To take full advantage of this feature you’ll need to pay an additional $40 for a dedicated controller but you can also play games using the remote control or an app for your smartphone or tablet. The games controller also comes with 1,000 Amazon coins that can be used to buy games, which will cost around $1.85 each.

AmazonFireGameController-FrontSpeaking at the launch, Amazon’s Peter Larsen said: “With Fire TV we thought of games right from the beginning – fun immersive games at affordable prices.”

Amazon has also promised thousands of games from some of the biggest games developers including Disney and EA.

Although Fire TV has already gone on sale in the US, there’s still no word on when it will be available in other countries.

Over to you…

What do you think of Fire TV? Will you buy a box when it goes on sale in the UK?

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Facebook buys Oculus VR for $2 billion

On Tuesday Facebook announced that it is to buy Oculus VR, creator of the Oculus Rift gaming headset, for $2 billion (£1.2 billion).

Oculus Ruft Headset ShootOculus Rift has received much attention since its creators launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the virtual reality headset in the summer of 2012. The project raised $2.4 million on Kickstarter and then went on to earn a further $75 million in venture funding throughout 2013, making it the most successful Kickstarter project of all time.

The Oculus Rift headset offers a totally immersive gaming experience that makes you feel like you’re actually in the game. However, more than just offering a sophisticated gaming experience, the company also intends to change the way we consume all media including entertainment, education and communication. 

It’s this wider potential that has caught Facebook’s attention, and if the predictions for this technology materialise, Mark Zuckerberg could well have got himself a bargain.

Unsurprisingly, the Facebook takeover of Oculus VR has been met with a massive backlash from those who helped to fund the campaign on Kickstarter, with many accusing the company of selling out.

The announcement comes just weeks after Facebook announced its acquisition of mobile messaging platform Whatsapp for $16 billion. 

Over to you…

What do you think about Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus VR?

 

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Apple releases iOS 7.1

Apple has just released iOS 7.1, the first major update of its new operating system since it was launched in September.

iOS7.1One of the biggest new features included in the update is the ability to support CarPlay, Apple’s new in-car ‘infotainment’ system, which allows you to use your iOS device more safely while driving.

Apple has also made some changes to Siri in the new update including the ability to manually control how long it listens to you by holding down the home button and then releasing it when you’re finished. It will also have improved, ‘more natural’ voices in several languages including UK and Australian English.

The update also irons out some glitches that plagued the original version, such as problems with Touch ID and a bug that caused the home screen to crash. Those who’re using iOS 7 on an iPhone 4 will also notice improved performance.

Other changes include an improved calendar and enhanced overall look and feel.

iOS 7.1 is available to download now.

Read more on Apple’s new CarPlay 

Over to you…

Have you downloaded iOS 7.1 yet? What do you think?

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Apple to showcase CarPlay at the Geneva Motor Show

Apple has finally announced CarPlay, an in-car ‘infotainment’ system that allows you to connect your iOS device with your car so that you can use its features more safely while driving.

Apple CarPlayCarPlay allows you to operate your device using Siri voice control or your car’s controls so that you can play music, consult maps, answer calls or even check and respond to texts without taking your eyes off the road. 

In addition to Apple maps, CarPlay also supports several other apps including Spotify, Beats Music, iHeartRadio and Stitcher, with more reportedly being added soon.

With maps being one of the one of the most important features for such a system, there has been much speculation about whether Google maps will eventually make it on to the platform as an alternative to Apple’s own notoriously inferior version. Here’s hoping…

CarPlay is to be showcased at the Geneva Motor Show, which kicks off tomorrow.  Apple has partnered with Ferarri, Mercedez-Benz and Volvo for the launch but also has an impressive list of other car manufacturers signed up to integrate the system into future models. 

CarPlay will be available as an update to iOS 7 and will be compatible with the iPhone 5, iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C. 

Over to you…

What are your thoughts on CarPlay?

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Samsung announces Galaxy S5 and three new Gear smartwatches at MWC

Yesterday Samsung announced its latest range of smart devices at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which included its new flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S5 and a range of new Galaxy Gear smartwatches.

Other than a rumoured 4K screen, which didn’t materialise, the Galaxy S5 didn’t disappoint and has some pretty impressive specs, listed below:

samsung-galaxy-s5_05.1-inch, full HD Super AMOLED screen

Qualcomm Snapdragon quad-core, 2.5GHz processor

2GB of RAM and 16/32GB of storage

16-megapixel camera on the back and 2.1-megapixel one on the front

2,800mAh battery

On top of all this the device is also water and dust resistant to IP67 specifications, which means that it can be immersed in up to 3 feet of water. Good news for those prone to dropping them down the toilet!

galaxy-gear-2-2Like the iPhone5S, it also has a fingerprint scanner but unlike its rival, this can also be used to protect certain documents and confirm PayPal payments in addition to unlocking the phone.

As expected, Samsung also announced its follow up to the Galaxy Gear smartwatch, with not one, but three new models. The range consists of the Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo and Gear Fit, with the ‘Galaxy’ part having been dropped due to the fact that they now all run on Tizen OS rather than Android.

In terms of design the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo aren’t vastly different to the original Galaxy Gear although they have been slimmed down and weigh just 68g and 55g respectively, compared to the Galaxy Gear’s 74g. Another major design change is the ability to change the strap on the Gear 2. 

gear_fit_groupIn terms of performance, both are considerably more impressive than the original and Samsung has addressed issues such as poor battery life and limited compatibility with other devices. The new Gears now have 3x longer battery life than the Galaxy Gear and are compatible with 16 Galaxy devices as opposed to the paltry one that was available at the launch of the original Gear. 

The product that’s most likely to have commercial success is the Gear Fit, which as the name suggests, is a fitness monitor. The Gear Fit is a sleek looking wristband with a curved OLED screen, which tracks movement, heart rate and sleep patterns. In addition to these basic features it also has a timer, stopwatch, and displays notifications from your phone. It’s also water resistant, which is good selling point for such a device.

Samsung are yet to reveal prices for its latest devices, but all three Gear smartwatches are expected to ship in April.

Over to you…

What do you make of Samsung’s latest offerings?

 

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Samsung rumoured to be launching two new Galaxy Gear smartwatches and a flexible tablet at MWC

Ahead of next week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, rumours are flying around about what Samsung will be unveiling at their Unpacked event on Monday.

Galaxy Gear 2Samsung has already made it pretty clear that it intends to launch the Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Note 3 Neo at the event but there is also much speculation that they will use the event to showcase the next incarnation of the Galaxy Gear smartwatch.

Evleaks has revealed fuzzy images of not one, but two new models, which it claims will be known as the Galaxy Gear 2 and the Galaxy Gear Neo. One of them appears to be made from metal and the other from plastic, which would presumably be a low cost version to add to Samsung’s budget Neo range.

In terms of aesthetics the new devices look pretty similar to the original Galaxy Gear but hopefully Samsung will have ironed out some of the performance issues.

Another leaked report to emerge claims that Samsung is also set to unveil a flexible tablet that can bend at 90 degrees. The report from Chinese site etnews is a little tenuous but given Samsung’s recent history in dabbling in flexible screen technology, it’s distinctly possible.

All will be revealed at the MWC on Monday!

Over to you… 

Are you excited about Samsung’s prospective offerings?

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Hotel chain to allow guests to check in and access rooms via smartphone

A hotel chain has announced that it’s going to implement a system whereby guests can check in via an app on their smartphone and use said phone in place of a room key.

keylessStarwood Hotels & Resorts, which own Aloft, Sheraton, Westin and W hotels around the world, is planning to add the function to their existing app in order to save their guests the hassle of queuing to check in and collect a room key. 

Guests will be able to use the app to check in, enter their payment details and then enter and lock their rooms by waving their phone over a sensor on the door. 

The “virtual room key” works using Bluetooth and will function on any iPhone from the 4S onwards, and Android phones running Android 4.3 or newer.

The locks are battery powered so will continue to work even if the hotel’s computer system goes down, and guests will still have the option to check in in person and have a traditional key if they prefer.

Starwood intends to pilot the scheme in its Aloft Hotels in Cupertino, California and Harlem, New York during 2014 with a view to rolling out the feature to all its Aloft and W hotels by the end of 2015.

Over to you…

Do you think smart hotel keys will take off?

 

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