iPhone 5 was Steve Jobs’ last big project

by Sasha de Buyl

According to insiders at investment company Rodman and Renshaw, the iPhone 4S may not have been Steve Jobs’ last project. An analyst at the company has confirmed that the next generation iPhone took up much Jobs’ last months with Apple:

 The next-generation iPhone 5 ‘was the last project that Steve Jobs was intimately involved with from concept to final design.’

CNET has reported the new model to have a slimmer profile and larger screen, developments that many expected from the recently released iPhone 4S. The new iPhone will also purportedly feature LTE, or 4G.

Many people, including Ashok Kumar, the analyst whose notes were circulated, believe that this new model of phone will hold special cult status for Apple enthusiasts, given its link with Jobs.

He also reported that the iPhone 5 is now scheduled for release in the summer of 2012 around or during the Apple Developer’s Conference.

What do you think of the rumours about the iPhone 5? Will you be buying one? Let us know in the comments.


The benefits of having a dumbphone

by Margaret Kay

My phone is dumb. It can’t even spell Kardashian. It doesn’t understand Daylight Saving Time at all. Sometimes the red phone key just decides not to work. It can send photos, but it cannot receive photos – and it always tells me there’s “some text missing.”

I look around me. I stare in awe as people swipe through their Android phones with the ease of a knife through butter. I watch in admiration as people Instagram their dogs in Halloween costumes and become the instant hit of my newsfeed. I sneer jealously at every “Words With Friends” game I am inevitably left out of.

I used to be able to make ridiculous claims in heated pub discussions (i.e. Shakira is legally a midget) and people would just take me at my word! Now, they can use their fancy smartphones and Wikipedia to prove me wrong (she’s just short, about 5’2″).

Clearly, the time to get a smartphone is long overdue, but for now I am going to enjoy these final days with my dumbphone. After all, it does have its advantages. For those of you who have forgotten, here are the benefits of having a dumbphone:

When you forget it and leave it at home, it doesn’t matter.
If my phone falls off my bedside table and rolls under the bed, I usually let it stay there for couple of weeks until it beeps out its dying breaths and forces me to charge it. Accidentally leaving it at home is as concerning as losing my hairband (no, wait – losing my hairband is way worse).

You can brag about how anti-establishment you are.
Hellz no, I ain’t about to let “the man” hold me down with a 2-year phone contract. Want to hang with the hipsters but can’t afford a fixie bike? Just show off your super basic dumbphone and you’ll be welcomed with open arms.

You never have to charge it.
I charge my phone twice a month – seriously. Its battery efficiency is crazy.

You can actually carry on a conversation with someone.
Yes, sometimes when I talk it is boring – but these days I seem to be losing people earlier and earlier in the conversation. I’ll be about three sentences in and they’ll reach into their pocket and grab their phone as if its the most normal, non-rude thing in the world.

You save money.
There’s no doubt that dumbphones are cheaper. The less money I spend on expensive phone contracts, the more money I get to spend on Snickers bars (the most necessary unnecessary part of my diet).

Muggers will be nicer to you.
True story – this guy in south London got mugged and when the muggers realised his phone was a £9.99 Sagem, they gave it back. HA! Forget mugging insurance (yes, that actually exists), I’ll just make sure I have my dumbphone on display everytime I find myself in a shady part of town.

Do you ever miss your dumbphone or are you one of the few who still has one? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below!


Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.


Apple Patents wireless induction charger for iPods

by Debbie Clarke

Apple have filed a Patent for a new idea for an induction charger to be used with their iPod and iPhone devices. An induction charger uses an electromagnetic field to charge batteries without the need for connection via wires or metal contact points, this works by inducing a current in a coil.

This technology is commonly seen used in chargers for electric toothbrushes, but the patent Apple have filed has a difference. The Patent is entitled “Using an audio cable as an inductive charging coil” and quite simply the idea involves using the earphones which come with the device as a coil to create the required charge. The Register explains how the device works by wrapping the earphones around an electromagnetically charged vertical core to create a receiving coil.

This idea in theory removes the need for a receiving coil to be incorporated inside the device being charged, therefore saving space within the device. The technology is not expected to be compatible with any current products but Apple are expected to release the iPhone five in October which will incorporate a number of new features.

Do you wish you could charge your iPhone wirelessly? Do you think this is the answer? Let us know in the comments section below!


Instagram is going places

by Charlotte Ward

If you’ve got an iPhone chances are you will have or have heard of Instagram, a user-friendly camera and photo sharing app. It was recently announced that the app has managed to reach 5 million users sharing over 100 million photos.

There are a couple of things about this app that makes it so special and what could potentially make it HUGE. First and foremost, Instagram is a FREE app which obviously makes the biggest difference. The price however does not reflect on the quality of the app which has 16 different photo styles to choose from.

Secondly the app isn’t just a camera tool, but a sharing tool. Every picture you take is automatically shared around the Instagram network where photos can be liked and commented on, a social haven for photo enthusiasts.Then you’ve got a ‘popular’ section and news feed to top the app off. It’s also incredibly easy to use, no pretend camera buttons or contrast adjusters like other camera apps which tend to slow them down.

Thirdly, and I can validate this as a long-term Instagram user, the app is bug free, doesn’t crash and the updates actually work, sounds impossible right? The positive usability of this app can also be validated by 2276 ratings on the apple app store which shows an average rating of 5 out of 5 stars – pretty good.

So if you’re looking for a decent camera app to take some fun photos on your iPhone, don’t bother spending any money because Instragram is here to stay.


Google Music Review

by Tim Chow

I was extremely excited to hear Google had a cloud music platform in the pipeworks. This means you can upload your music to their servers and have access wherever you are in the world with just an internet connection, device and Google account. Unfortunately, it was only available to US residents. Fiddlesticks. A year later and I’ve found it’s available to me to use.

A bit of background information. I lost my iPod a year ago (I’m still mourning my loss) and have been using my Samsung Galaxy Note as a replacement. However, the tiny memory somewhat hampers how many albums I can have on it (my 80GB iPod had about a decade’s worth of questionable music). Luckily I had backed up most of it on an old hard drive and decided to load it to Google Music.

Using Google Music to upload your tunes couldn’t be easier. Simply download the Google Music Manager, find the folder containing the music and hit upload. I’ve been listening using the web app and smartphone app on Android.

The web app GUI is extremely clean and easy to use. You’re greeted by cover art (which it’s pretty good at finding) from your collection which clicks through to the songs and huge control buttons along the bottom. There’s a search bar along the top (great when you have a large collection of music) and options to filter such as Artists, Albums, Thumbs Up (favourites), playlists etc. Google have also introduced a music store similar to rivals iTunes store (prices are roughly the same).

The Android app is also well laid out, making walking and finding music at the same time easy. What I most like is the Keep On Device option. As the name suggests, you can download albums and playlists to keep on your device. Perfect for anyone like me who runs out of memory on their smartphone, it makes switching music easy and constantly keeps your collection fresh.

My favourite feature has to be the Play Instant Mix function. Clicking the arrow next to any song and hitting this option generates a playlist based on the chosen song. It’s a very similar idea to the radio function on Spotify for example, except the songs are selected from your music collection so you’ll know you like them. Songs are chosen not only based on similar artists but ‘metadata and audio analysis’ so you may find a few odd but relevant choices in there. It’s a wonderful function to have if you’re in a certain mood and need a quick playlist.

What separates Google Music from it’s few competition? It allows you to upload 20,000 songs for free.

Overall, Google Music is something all music fans should look into. Thanks to it, I can revisit old music and take a trip down memory lane. Can I interest anyone in O-Town?…

Have you tried Google Music yet? What do you think of it? Tell us in the comments section below.


Sensor Music Player – Review

by Tim Chow

The Android market – sorry…Google Play Store – is awash with music players for your smartphone. Check any forum discussing this topic and you’ll find at least five different suggestions for the ‘best’ player. I’ve tried countless music players over the years and found there isn’t one to rule them all. So instead I use three different players, plus Deezer, plus a radio app. In different situations you need different functions I guess.

I’ve seen a few music players that allow you to change track using sensors on your smartphone. This means you don’t have to turn the screen on or even get your phone out of your pocket. Most of these fail; either too sensitive or not sensitive enough. Sensor Music Player is the only one that performs this function well.

Sensor Music Player comes with a few options that cleverly use the proximity and accelerometer: a wave over the screen; slapping your phone and thumping the table it’s sitting on. You can pause the track too by holding your hand over the screen for a couple of seconds.

Rarely have I had to do any of these actions twice to change the track. It seems the developers (zgui & fich) have got the sensitivity balance just right. But if you feel it’s slightly off, you can have a play about with the sensitivity of the sensors by long-pressing the question mark image.

You can also deactivate these sensors and use it as a regular player, which brings me onto my next point. The interface is pretty ugly; you could call it minimalist if you want to be kind. It’s basic in terms of looks with a black and grey styling. No 3D effects or mirror reflections of the album art to be seen here. Elsewhere, it offers the usual functions. There’s the normal shuffle and creating playlist options, all very easy to use.

The app is particularly useful when driving, I find. A quick wave over the screen and you’ve skipped the track with ease. I guess it would be useful if you’re working out in the gym or running too.

This great tutorial shows how functional the music player really can be and it’s not just a gimmick. Best of all, it’s free on the Google Play Store.

Have you tried Sensor Music Player? What do you think of it? Tell us in the comments section below.


Why Are Consoles Banned In China?

by Andrew Scott

I really don’t know why I didn’t know this – and I don’t mean the answer, I mean the question. I had absolutely no idea consoles were banned in China. Did you?

It’s ironic that young people in Chinese factories are churning out millions of Wiis, PS3s and Xboxes for their western counterparts, yet the young Chinese themselves are not allowed to buy one – legally at least, but more on that later.

Consoles have been banned in China since the year 2000. The government compelled by a parental outcry brought about the ban in an attempt to protect Chinese youth from wasting their minds away. Shortly after the ban came into effect online gaming exploded and soon had a market share of $100 million. Another fine example of how bans rarely solve a problem.

Folk often say where there’s a will there’s a way – and there is obviously a will pushing from both sides to get consoles into the Chinese market.

Video games have magnetic attraction to kids and young adults everywhere, China included, and the massive number of people that fit into the game console demographic is of big interest to the big console manufactures, but there is more than legislation that stands in the way of Nintendo, Sony et al.

Piracy, that ever present menace to free market capitalism is rife in China. The legislative console ban does exist on paper, but it is hardly enforced strictly. It is piracy that keeps game consoles out of China.

In 2004 Sony released the PlayStation 2 in China. The launch was an experiment, which turned into a farce, which turned into a disaster… as far as Sony was concerned. Rampant game piracy and piracy of the hardware itself slashed profits immeasurably.

Nintendo do operate in China under the brand name “iQue” and they leagally released the DS in Chinese stores back in 2009. Nintendo is yet to release the Wii in mainland China, but there may be little point.

A Chinese company have been producing a Wii knock off cheekily called the “Vii” for some time now; while Sony’s PS3 has been ripped off to create a clone called “Winner”.

There is a grey market in china, where real western game consoles are bought and sold illegally. Most of these will be modded so they can play pirated games that can be gotten free, or damn nearly free.

In my opinion there maybe something bigger going on.

By not letting foreign companies enter the Chinese market with already well-established products and brands, coupled with complete disregard for patent or copyright, the Chinese government is perhaps trying to give domestic Chinese companies a fighting chance of fulfilling the demand for gaming consoles.

Anyway, before I get too political I’m of to play a little bit of Stario Bros on my Bintendo Vii.

Check out this video for some pics of fake consoles and some other funny brand knock-offs from China:

Give us your thoughts on all this. Why are consoles banned in China? Is it just the rule of Chinese authoritarianism? Crazy piracy? Or is it a strategic economic policy? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.


Asteroid Mining with James Cameron: Is this really a good idea?

by James Meikle

I’ve just been reading about a new business venture that’s been announced: a start-up company called Planetary Resources intends to shoot robots into space so they can mine asteroids. Oh and by the way, James Cameron (Aliens, Terminator, Avatar) is one of the major players in the project.


This is such a bad idea I don’t even know where to start. So I’m going to start with a simple equation based on pure logic: Asteroids + Robots + James Cameron = End of the World.

I think I just made my point, however for those who are not entirely convinced I’ll flesh out my arguments.

  1. Robots are evil and dangerous

If you’ve read any of my posts before you’ll be familiar with my views on robots; they are diabolical soulless creations which will inevitably turn on humanity and attempt to eradicate or subjugate us. They are merely biding their time, making heinous plans and conspiring over pints of hydraulic fluid. They just need the right opportunity to present itself so they can all rise up at once and BANG – your robot vacuum cleaner will be trying to suck your toes off.

  1. You don’t mess with asteroids

Picture the scene: it’s 65 million years ago, you are a 6 ton, 12 meter long tyrannosaurus rex swaggering around a Cretaceous Period jungle thinking you’reThe Big Man. You’re the apex predator, you’re invulnerable, you’re a rock star. Then out of nowhere… BOOM!!! Asteroid strike. Game over. Not so clever now, are we Mr Tyrannosaurus? That is the awesome and deadly power of asteroids; they wiped out the dinosaurs by accident.

Now Planetary Resources want to mess with asteroids near the earth. There has even been talk of moving asteroids nearer to the earth to make the mining easier or even putting an asteroid into moon orbit to act as a base (the lack of gravity makes asteroids more suitable than the actual moon). And how would they move the asteroids? Robot ships would tow them of course; remember that opportunity the robots have been waiting for?

  1. James Cameron’s Movies

Terminator – Things did not go well for the humans; killer robots rose up to decimate humanity.
Aliens – Things did not go well for the humans; space miners were slaughtered by terrifying aliens with mouths for tongues and acid for blood.
Avatar – Things did not go well for the humans; space miners lost a war against giant blue aliens.
Titanic – Things did not go well for the humans; Celine Dion’s ‘My Heart Will Go On’ sold 15 million copies. Cameron and Canada shall never be forgiven.

  1. Put it all together.

Planetary Resources want to build robot cities with refuelling capabilities in space, on asteroids. They also want to create robot ships with the ability to drag asteroids towards the Earth. Someone should make them all sit down and watch Armageddon, Deep Impact, Battle Star Gallactica, Alien and Terminator.

Cameron’s involvement just seals our fate; it pretty much guarantees a robot revolution and if we defeat the robots then killer aliens will surely pop up to finish the job. Heck the aliens might just reprogram the robots to wipe us out for them. Hmm, I smell a movie script in the making… Oooh, imagine if all this was just an elaborate public relations stunt to promote a secret new James Cameron movie. I think I’ve just cracked it Watson…

What are your thoughts on asteroid mining? Will it doom us all or could it possibly save humanity in the end? Let us know in the comments section below.


Apple Rejects Laptop-tablet Hybrids

by Rose Adams

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple has rejected the idea of making a iPad/Macbook Air hybrid product as it would “wind up compromising” both.

This view is contrary to that of rivals Asus who are already marketing their Transformer series and Intel have also expressed interest in the idea.

Mr Cook said in an interview with Seeking Alpha:

Anything can be forced to converge. But the problem is that products are about trade-offs, and you begin to make trade-offs to the point where what you have left at the end of the day doesn’t please anyone. You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those things are probably not going to be pleasing to the user.

And so our view is that the tablet market is huge. And we’ve said that since day one. We didn’t wait until we had a lot of results. We were using them here, and it was already clear to us that there was so much you could do and that the reasons that people would use those would be so broad. And that’s precisely what we’ve seen.

We — the iPad has taken off not only in consumer in a meaningful way but in education and in enterprise, and it’s sort of everywhere you look now. And the applications are so easy to make very meaningful for someone, and there — the — there’s such an abundance of those that — and as the ecosystem gets better and better and as we continue to double down on making great products, I think that the limit here is nowhere in sight.

We’ve now — through the last quarter, I should say, which is just 2 years after we shipped the initial iPad, we’ve sold 67 million. And to put that in some context, it took us 24 years to sell that many Macs and 5 years for that many iPods and over 3 years for that many iPhones. And we were extremely happy with the trajectory on all of those products. And so I think iPad, it’s a profound product. It — the breadth of it is incredible, and the appeal of it is universal. And so I am — I could not be happier with being in the market, and the level at which we’re innovating in both the product and the ecosystem here is incredible.

Now in terms of the market itself, IDC and Gartner and Forrester had some numbers out there. I think Gartner is saying there’s somewhere around 375 or so by 2015. Forrester is 375, somewhere around there. And so basically, the — they’re in the mid-300s, which is about where the PC market is today. And 2015 is only 3 years from now. And so I think even the more formal predictors outside of us are beginning to see these lines cross. And so I strongly believe that they will.

Now having said that, I also believe that there is a very good market for the MacBook Air, and we continue to innovate in that product. And — but I do think that it appeals to somewhat — someone that has a little bit different requirements. And you wouldn’t want to put these things together because you wind up compromising in both and not pleasing either user.

Some people will prefer to own both, and that’s great, too. But I think to make the compromises of convergence, so — we’re not going to that party. Others might. Others might from a defensive point of view, particularly. But we’re going to play in both.

What do you think? Is Apple right to keep it’s products seperate, or will it get left behind?