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22 Dec 12 Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery now out on Android


If you missed your chance to grab the Android version of Superbrothers: Sword Sworcery EP during its surprise spotlight in the Humble Android Bundle 4, now’s your time to pounce. The Android version is the full game, unchanged from its iOS and Steam siblings.

Sword Sworcery on Android requires devices running OS 2.3 and higher, and is available as a $1.99 download on the Google Play store right now. It’s a great game and, in the humble opinion of this editor, one of 2011′s best.

Article source: http://www.joystiq.com/2012/12/22/superbrothers-sword-and-sworcery-now-out-on-android/

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20 Dec 12 10 Best Android Apps Of 2012


No, Android faithful, we haven’t forgotten about you. Two weeks ago we named the best iPhone and iPad apps of 2012, and now it’s Android’s turn. It’s not easy, of course, to choose the top 10 apps from more than 700,000 selections, and the process is admittedly subjective. As with our iOS picks, we’ve tried to avoid the most obvious candidates — Facebook, Instagram, Pandora, Angry Birds and so on — and focus on new and less obvious apps that InformationWeek readers might find useful at work, home and on the road. Our picks may lean toward the pragmatic side of things, but they’re not all dullsville utilities and the like. Some are actually fun.

Nobody’s Top 10 list is the same, naturally, and your picks may differ from ours. But there should be little argument that Android as a mobile platform is booming. In a December 10 interview with Bloomberg News, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt boasted that Android grabbed a commanding 72% of the global mobile OS market in the third quarter, and compared today’s Android-iOS battle with the Windows-Macintosh desktop donnybrook of years past.

“This is a huge platform change; this is of the scale of 20 years ago — Microsoft versus Apple,” Schmidt told Bloomberg. “We’re winning that war pretty clearly now.”

OK, enough with the bragging, already. Sure, Android’s domination is apparent — 2nd place iOS has a relatively paltry 14% of the global market — and Google’s mobile platform has reached parity with Apple in the apps arms race. (Both are north of 700,000.) But Android is plagued by fragmentation, with a dizzying array of devices running various incarnations of the OS. For instance, just over 50% of Android devices still run Gingerbread (Android 2.3x), which first debuted two years ago — yep, several eternities in the mobile market.

Things are improving, albeit slowly. Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0x) runs on 27.5% of Android devices, and the newer Jelly Bean (Android 4.1 and 4.2) runs on 6.7%.

Why does fragmentation matter so much? Because the newest, coolest Android tools — including one from Google that we spotlight in the slideshow below — require the latest version(s) of the OS.

One important point about our Android picks: Like their iOS counterparts, they didn’t necessarily have to debut in 2012, but rather had to fulfill a particularly need and do it well.

So here they are: The Top 10 Android Apps of 2012. Disagree with our choices? Let us know below.

Article source: http://www.informationweek.com/mobility/smart-phones/10-best-android-apps-of-2012/240144458

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16 Dec 12 James Love: Google’s New Chrome Operating System


Yesterday I received a Samsung laptop computer running Google’s Chrome OS. This is the new $249 Chromebook with an SSD drive, 2 gigs of RAM, an 11.6 inch 1366 x 768 pixels screen, and the 1.7 GHz Exynos 5200 processor. The laptop weighs 2.4 pounds and has a nice usable keyboard and a well implemented trackpad. There is also the option of a model with 2 years of 3G (limited) data from Verizon, for just $329. Both of the new Samsung models* are chronically sold out and hard to find (some resellers are getting $100 to $150 over the suggested retail price). While the Samsung hardware is surprisingly nice for the money, the real story is the new Google OS.

What Google has done with Chrome OS is to create a serious mass market operating system for desktop computers, from Linux. It is surprising that this has taken so long to happen, and also somewhat surprising that Google has positioned the OS as something for small screen computers mostly on the cloud, when the OS could easily be implemented (and maybe it will) for a wider range of devices and uses. The immediate impact will to make it hard to justify buying the 11.6 inch Mac Air, which starts at $999. But the OS is good enough to make much larger inroads into the desktop computing market. It is more than a thin client, with enough off-line functionality to make most users happy, and the early Chromebooks show that it is possible to have very tight integration between the Linux software and hardware.

I have been using several different desktop and laptop computers, mostly running the Ubuntu distribution of Linux, and also occasionally using a computer running the Apple OSX or Microsoft’s Windows. As much as I like Ubuntu, it seems unlikely to make serious inroads into the Apple or Microsoft desktop OS markets, at least for the foreseeable future. But the Chrome OS is unlike any other desktop Linux distribution. It makes the Apple OSX seem complicated, and anyone, and I mean anyone, can pick one up and use it right away.

I like having an 11.6 to 13 inch computer for travel, and its nice to have something that is light (a real “laptop”) and fits in the space for economy seats on an airplane or in the cramped space you have at a conference, and which has a good battery life. But I would also like to see this OS implemented in a 14 or 15 inch ultrabook hardware configuration, with a bit more hefty processor and more ram and diskspace. When that happens, both Apple and Microsoft will have to deal with some big changes in their business models.

* There some other hardware options from Samsung and Acer, including a new $199 laptop from Acer and a Samsung Chromebox, which requires external monitors and keyboard.


Follow James Love on Twitter:

www.twitter.com/jamie_love

Article source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-love/googles-new-chrome-operat_b_2283349.html

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19 Jun 12 Samsung Makes Android SAFE for IT


Samsung’s forthcoming Galaxy S III smartphone will be the company’s first device to be officially branded and sold under its new SAFE program.

SAFE stands for “Samsung Approved for Enterprise.”

The Galaxy S III will be available in the U.S. from Verizon Wireless, ATT (NYSE: T), Sprint (NYSE: S), T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular in July.

Samsung also introduced Safe2Switch, a program that lets smartphone users of other makers’ products trade in their existing devices and purchase a new Samsung smartphone. People who currently own a Samsung smartphone can trade up.

Samsung first introduced the SAFE program in the United States in late 2011, and there are more than 20 Samsung SAFE devices on the market, company spokesperson Martha Thomas told LinuxInsider. However, the Galaxy S III will be the first one to bear the program’s brand. Introducing devices under the SAFE brand will make it easier for customers to see which products are enterprise-ready.

“With SAFE, Samsung is sending a message to IT departments — this phone is easy for you guys to sign off on,” James Robinson, lead Android developer and cofounder of OpenSignalMaps, told LinuxInsider. “The S III is going to be an extremely popular device.”

Playing IT Safe

SAFE was created as a way to defragment the Android operating system (OS) across multiple versions offered on handsets by carriers in the United States, Samsung said. Out of the box, the SAFE-branded Galaxy S III supports a suite of enterprise-ready features and capabilities as well as 338 IT policies. These policies include on-device AES 256-bit encryption, enhanced support for Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) Exchange ActiveSync, and support for virtual private network (VPN) and mobile device management (MDM) solutions.

Galaxy S III features include AllShare Play, which lets users securely share PowerPoint presentations and PDFs with other S III owners; Share Shot, which enables photo compiling and sharing; S Beam One Touch Sharing, which lets Galaxy S III owners exchange information or documents by tapping these devices together; and Samsung TecTiles — programmable tags and mobile applications.

Partnering With Samsung

Samsung is working with mobile device management (MDM) providers, including AirWatch, Sybase (NYSE: SY) and Juniper Networks (Nasdaq: JNPR), to provide management and security on the Galaxy S III. It’s also working with VPN providers, including Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) and F5 Networks, to enable IP-based encryption. Samsung’s security vendor partners include Symantec (Nasdaq: SYMC).

One partner, Avaya, “has been enabling Samsung’s Android-based devices with our Avaya one-X Mobile client application,” Avaya spokesperson Deb Kline told LinuxInsider. This “securely connects an end user’s Samsung mobile device to his or her corporate communications system.” Voice streams are encrypted and businesses can continue to apply their typical security measures such as firewalls and session border control.

Samsung “has put in place a formal quality assurance testing and verification process to ensure the SAFE enterprise solutions work as needed and described,” the company’s Thomas said. “The QA process will be in place for all future Samsung SAFE devices.”

Taming the Android Defrag Bomb?

Samsung’s claim of defragmenting Android with SAFE may make some users’ ears perk up — either with anticipation or skepticism. OpenSignalMaps recently found there are close to 4,000 different types of devices running the OS.

“SAFE defragments Android by creating a single standard for IT administrators to test against,” Samsung’s Thomas explained. “This means the IT administers can test one SAFE device such as the Galaxy S III and know that all SAFE phones — from those running on Gingerbread to Ice Cream Sandwich — will work the same on their network. It also allows VPN, MDM and application providers to leverage a single uniform software developer kit when creating solutions for SAFE devices.”

However, “Fragmentation in terms of security capabilities is what Samsung’s focusing on here, for that small sub-genre of fragmentation support for IT policies is what is needed,” OpenSignalMaps’ Robinson pointed out. “By introducing a new feature to its phones, Samsung is not providing a general cure to fragmentation. It’s not even providing a cure across all devices. But it is promising that … it’s going to be easier for IT departments to sign off on particular applications, particularly MDM and VPN apps, running on particular models.”

Article source: http://www.technewsworld.com/story/75412.html

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18 Jun 12 Google polishes Chrome OS, but is it enough to entice buyers?


Google launched the Chrome OS in late 2010 and has continued to update it despite lukewarm reception by the public toward the platform’s model: a browser-centered OS running on a lightweight, minimally-spec’d notebook meant to be used with an always-on Internet connection.

Samsung just released a new top-of-the-line Chromebook, the Series 5 550 and the first so-called “Chromebox,” the Series 3. The Chromebox is a mini-PC in a case that’s similar in size to the Mac mini. You connect your own keyboard and mouse to it, and separate monitor, but otherwise it has most of the same specifications as the Series 5 550: both Chrome computers have Celeron CPUs, 4GB RAM, 16GB on-board flash memory storage, and come installed with Chrome OS, V.19.)

We’ve been running the original Chromebook, the Cr-48, so we were familiar with the product line when he tested the new models.

Because the hardware and software are closely wedded together in a Chrome computer, you really can’t evaluate the hardware without first examining Chrome OS itself.

A more traditional look-and-feel OS

Previous iterations were essentially the Chrome browser running atop a Linux kernel. Aside from having a file manager, image viewer, and media player, it was no different than a web browser. But in this case, you were locked into full-screen mode, and there was no familiar desktop user interface to exit to. Though it could be argued that there were advantages to the extreme simplicity of this design, it probably felt constraining to most users accustomed to a more traditional OS.

In the latest version, Google has added standard OS UI elements, including a desktop (with changeable wallpaper), resizable browser windows, and a taskbar along the bottom of the screen, dubbed Launcher. The Launcher and desktop do help give Chrome OS a more “open” feel when you interact with it. In actuality, these are superficial re-arrangements of app icons and shortcuts, but they do prove themselves to be handy for quickly accessing your often-used web apps.

The Launcher

Clicking the Chrome icon on the Launcher bar opens a browser window, as you’d expect. Clicking this icon again will open a blank tab in the browser. Other icons on the Launcher include those for Gmail and Google Docs (now referred to as Google Drive), each of which will open a browser tab to these web services when clicked. (An icon for Google search will launch a separate browser window that for some reason doesn’t support the ability to open tabs within it.)

In prior versions of Chrome OS, a blank tab displayed icons for web apps installed on the OS. Starting with Version 19, you access your installed apps by clicking the Apps icon (an image of a 3-by-3 grid) on the Launcher. This takes you to the desktop where shortcut icons for the apps installed on your Chrome OS computer are presented in a grid layout for you to click to launch.

I don’t feel that clicking the Apps icon on the Launcher bar is as convenient and fast as opening a blank tab that in prior Chrome OS versions listed your installed apps, but this might just be my personal preference. (The number of clicks for either way is the same.) So this change may be subtle to most users.

You can remove (un-pin) most of the icons on the Launcher by right-clicking. You add (pin) new icons by going to the Apps desktop screen and then right-clicking the icon for the web app you want pinned onto the Launcher bar.

Moveable and resizable browser windows

The functionality that truly is new to the Chrome OS user experience is the ability to minimize, resize and tile browser windows. Clicking the icon of the image of a square that’s set to the upper-right of a browser window expands the browser to fill the entire screen (and over the Launcher). Clicking it again will resize the browser window back to smaller dimensions and reveal the Launcher.

To minimize, you either click and hold the square icon and pull down, or click the browser window’s icon on the launcher. Clicking, holding and sweeping this icon to the left or right will size down the browser window and tile it in that direction. A browser window can also be resized by clicking and dragging the edges of its frame (horizontal, vertical or corners). Thus, you can have multiple browser windows open, and can resize and rearrange them as needed.

View documents in tabs

The Chrome OS file manager (which runs within a browser tab) supports PDF and Microsoft Office documents — meaning, when you double-click on any such formatted file, it will be displayed in a browser tab for you to read. This convenient feature worked with all the Office files I tested on it. It supports DOC, DOCX, PPT, PPTX, XLS and XLSX documents.

Image viewer and editor

Double-clicking an image file in the file manager opens a slideshow viewer within a browser tab, and from this application you can perform basic editing to the picture (including auto-adjust its levels, crop, rotate). However, the slideshow viewer lacks a magnifying tool for you to zoom in on your image, or view it in its actual size. It scales a large image down so it can be seen in its entirety within the display screen.

Media playback

In the file manager, clicking audio files will launch a player that pops up over the lower-right corner of the screen. This application looks slightly more sophisticated compared to older versions of Chrome OS, but remains sparse with a minimal feature-set. Nonetheless, it does what it’s supposed to well, and launches quickly. It supports audio files in M4A and MP3 format.

Clicking a video file will open a tab inside which it will play. The Chrome OS browser supports AVI and MOV video formats. Like the audio player, the available controls for video are minimal (it’s just “play” and “pause” with a slider and time marker you can click on and drag along a timeline, full-screen mode, and volume). Playback quality depends on the processor speed of the Chrome computer’s CPU, naturally.

Copying files still a challenge

A big issue with the file manager of Chrome OS remains unchanged in the latest builds: it still isn’t possible to easily copy files from a Chrome computer’s built-in flash drive to an external/attached memory storage medium, and vice versa through the file manager. It is doable but in an in-elegant manner — you right-click on the file, choose Copy, then click the drive you want to transfer a copy of the file to, right-click and choose Paste. The Chrome OS developers should finally implement a more intuitive means, such as a drag-and-drop interface, to do this.

Google Drive is baked into Chrome OS’ file manager (at least in the Version 20 beta). Your Google Drive account appears as a folder icon in the left pane of the file manager, but you can only delete and open files stored in it. Again, you have to use the awkward copy-and-paste method to move a file individually in your Google Drive folder to your Chrome computer. Frankly, you’re better off just using the Chrome browser, because the Google Drive site gives you easier, direct ways to transfer files from your account to your computer and vice versa.

Performance

Despite the additions to its UI, the overall performance of the new Chrome OS feels fast. I didn’t experience much in the way of noticeable slowdowns while using the Series 5 550. This Chromebook handled my clicks, drags, moves and resizes throughout the OS smoothly and quickly. I would have a dozen or more tabs open at once in a browser window — as music played from my Google Music account in one — and there was rarely a problem in performance.

A major factor in this is probably because of the processor that’s used in the Series 5 550 (it runs on a 1.3 GHz Celeron CPU, while previous Chromebooks came with less-speedy Atom CPUs). But the Version 20 beta that I installed on my trusty Cr-48 ran surprisingly well — snappily even. (A 1.66 GHz Atom powers the Cr-48.) In fact, the latest Chrome OS build I tested on this old-model Chromebook seems to run faster than Version 18.

Some slowing happened when playing high-definition video on YouTube: starting with Version 19, Chrome OS supports 1080p video playback (previous versions blocked themselves from playing higher than 720p). YouTube videos of a few minutes in this resolution played decently set at full-screen, but longer running clips generally resulted in dropped frame rates and choppier motion.

A few thoughts on the Series 5 550 Chromebook’s design

The size of the Series 5 550 Chromebook falls between that of a lightweight notebook and Macbook Air or Ultrabook. Now it’s certainly not bulky. Yet considering that its technical specifications are bare bones, you’d think it’d be as small, or as thin, as the latter form factors.

The resistance of this Chromebook’s individual keys might feel too rigid for some people — my fingers felt a little tired during long and intense durations of typing. I preferred the “looser” key resistance of my old Cr-48′s keyboard. (Or, maybe my fingers had become used to the Cr-48 keyboard over a span of 18 months of use, and would also similarly adjust to the Series 5 550 keyboard over time of frequent use.)

Google’s experiment

The recent changes to Chrome OS bring it closer to a more familiar OS experience for the user, but most of these additions are cosmetic. What matters about Version 19 is the ability to move and resize windows, and, more importantly, how the OS’ performance has noticeably improved.

A more pressing issue is that Chromebooks still cost more than other low-end notebooks (which have better technical specs, and run Windows). Chromebooks are on sale at five Web sites, including Amazon and Best Buy. On Amazon, the Series 5 550 is selling for $450 for the Wi-Fi version and $550 for the 3G-equipped model. The Series 3 Chromebox is selling for $330, which could be considered price-challenged for a bare-bones mini-PC running what many would think of as an outdated CPU (Celeron, even if it’s a 1.9 GHz in the Series 3).

Google and the few remaining makers of Chrome computers really have to find ways to reduce the prices. (Google has recently said in public that it may seek ways to subsidize the costs of Chrome computers through Internet providers and the carriers of mobile data.)

As it nears its second-year anniversary, Chrome OS remains a curious experiment. It’s definitely a usable solution for cloud computing, and Google appears committed to it, improving it on a frequent basis. This OS is still worth keeping an eye on as it evolves — but at what price users are willing to pay for a computer running Chrome OS remains its greatest challenge.

Wen is a freelance writer. He can be reached at howardwen@gmail.com.

Read more about anti-malware in Network World’s Anti-malware section.

Article source: http://www.cio.com.au/article/427897/google_polishes_chrome_os_it_enough_entice_buyers_/?utm_medium=rss&utm_source=sectionfeed

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18 Jun 12 Wolverton: New BlackBerry software could be sour fruit for RIM …


Click photo to enlarge

Research In Motion’s new BlackBerry software looks cool, but I don’t have high hopes for it.

BlackBerry 10, which is slated to start showing up on RIM smartphones later this year, has some innovative new features that will set it apart from Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android.

But the update is years late, and the new software is not far-and-away superior to iOS or Android. Perhaps worst of all, RIM is ignoring the needs of current BlackBerry customers by failing to provide them with an easy transition.

We’ve seen this play before, and we know how it ends: In disaster.

The BlackBerry software has long needed an overhaul. Compared with Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7, RIM’s OS is ugly and difficult to use. It was designed before touch-screen phones were the norm and, though modified to work on those devices, looks and feels jerry-built.

By contrast, the new OS, which I got a glimpse of earlier this month at a meeting with RIM representatives, looks and feels contemporary. It’s designed from the ground up for large-display, touch-screen devices, with large icons and full-screen, well-designed applications. Taking a page from Microsoft, it includes program tiles that can act like widgets, showing updated information such as the current weather or stock price.

One neat feature, called Flow UI, allows users to view alerts, such as new email messages, by swiping from one corner. By swiping

further, they can directly switch to the application that sent the alert. Flow also allows users to switch back and forth between their inbox and an individual message by simply swiping. The system is intuitive to use and an improvement on similar features found in iOS and Android.

BlackBerry 10 has other compelling features. Notably, its camera application allows users to instantly improve photos of friends or family members whose eyes are closed. The app both recognizes faces and starts recording images before you press the shutter button. If the face in your photo doesn’t look right, you can replace it immediately with the same face captured instants before.

But as innovative as these features may be, I don’t think they’ll save RIM, which has seen its market share and sales slide sharply in recent years thanks to competition from Android and Apple.

Partly that’s because BlackBerry 10 is really late to the party. It’s been five years since Apple released the first iPhone and revolutionized the smartphone market. It’s been nearly four years since the first Android phones hit store shelves.

RIM should have come out with a revamped BlackBerry software three or four years ago, before Android and iOS took over the market. Now, at best, its going to be scrounging for third place with Microsoft, whose own updated phone software still hasn’t caught on with the general public despite coming out nearly two years ago.

BlackBerry 10 is not just too late but also too little; it isn’t a big enough advance in the fast-moving smartphone market. Apple’s iOS and Android took off in part because they were vast improvements on what preceded them, the first-generation of smartphone software from the likes of Nokia, Palm and, yes, RIM.

BlackBerry 10 is a big improvement on the old BlackBerry software, but isn’t revolutionary or compelling enough to lure consumers back to BlackBerry from their iPhones or Android devices.

So that leaves RIM with trying to retain its existing BlackBerry customers. With some 77 million active BlackBerry users worldwide, that’s a significant customer base. But RIM isn’t making it easy for them to stick around.

Despite sharing a name, the BlackBerry 10 is unrelated to previous versions of the BlackBerry software and won’t run older BlackBerry apps. Consumers who have invested in BlackBerry programs face the prospect of buying all new ones if they upgrade to a BlackBerry 10 phone. And companies that have designed a suite of BlackBerry applications for their employees could soon find those being obsolete.

In either situation, current customers are almost certainly going to ask if it’s worth it to switch to BlackBerry 10. If they are faced with the prospect of changing to a whole new platform anyway, they almost certainly will consider switching instead to one of the market leaders: iOS or Android.

It’s amazing to me that RIM is forsaking its older BlackBerry customers in this way, especially after seeing what’s happened to Palm and Nokia. Like RIM, both of those companies replaced their aging smartphone operating systems with new and improved ones that were years late and incompatible. The result: Their older customers abandoned them. Palm ended up in history’s dustbin, and Nokia, which last week announced it was laying off another 10,000 workers, is in danger of heading the same way.

RIM looks to be following the same path.

Contact Troy Wolverton at 408-840-4285 or twolverton@mercurynews.com. Follow him at www.mercurynews.com/troy-wolverton or Twitter.com/troywolv.

Article source: http://www.mercurynews.com/troy-wolverton/ci_20857838/wolverton-new-blackberry-rim-software-could-be-sour-fruit-iphone-android

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18 Jun 12 iPad to Grow Market Share Over Android Tablets: IDC


Apple’s iPad will grow its share of the booming tablet market over its Android-based rivals this year, thanks in large part to new features introduced with the iPad 3 and the company’s decision to reduce the prices further on the iPad 2, according to market research firm IDC.

The prediction comes as IDC analysts, citing the expected strong demand for media tablets in the second half of the year, increased their forecasts for the market overall, calling for 107.4 million tablets to be sold this year, up from the previous expectation of 106.1 million.

And the momentum will only continue, the analysts said in a report June 14. For 2013, they increased their forecast from 137.4 million units to 142.8 million, with sales jumping to 222.1 million by 2016. Those numbers could increase after the upcoming release of Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system, which will offer not only touch-screen capabilities but also run on non-x86 systems, such as tablets powered by system-on-a-chip (SoC) architectures like ARM Holdings.’

Tablets also are getting more looks from businesses, according to Tom Mainelli, research director for mobile connected devices at IDC.

“Demand for media tablets remains robust, and we see an increasing interest in the category from the commercial side,” Mainelli said in a statement. “We expect pending new products from major players, increasingly affordable mainstream devices, and a huge marketing blitz from Microsoft around Windows 8 to drive increased consumer interest in the category through the end of the year.”

Apple and its iPad are going to be the primary beneficiary of the market growth, according to IDC. In 2011, the iPad and its iOS operating system held 58.2 percent of the market. This year, that share will grow to 62.5 percent. That will come at the expense of tablets running Google’s Android operating system, which will see its share slip from 38.7 percent last year to 36.5 percent in 2012, the analysts said.

Struggling BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion, with its PlayBook tablet, will see its already anemic market share drop even farther, from 1.7 percent in 2011 to 1 percent this year.

Mainelli attributed Apple’s market share growth to the addition of several key features in the iPad 3, which launched earlier this year, including Retina Display and 4G capabilities. Smart pricing moves also will help Apple, he said.

“After a very strong launch of new products in March, Apple’s iPad shows few signs of slowing down,” Mainelli said. “Apple’s decision to keep two iPad 2s in the market at lower prices—moving the entry-level price down to $399—seems to be paying off as well. If Apple launches a sub-$300, 7-inch product into the market later this year as rumored, we expect the company’s grip on this market to become even stronger.”

Other analysts also have cited Apple’s decision to lower the prices on its iPad 2 as having an impact on the tablet market. In a report June 8, IMS Research noted that the average selling price for a tablet fell 21 percent this year, to $386, with the drop in the iPad 2 price being the significant factor. The move put greater price pressure on rivals.

“There are few innovations from vendors to differentiate their tablets; low price seems to be the major factor to attract consumers to buy tablets other than iPads,” report author Gerry Xu said in a statement. “More vendors are expected to focus on the low-end tablet market. However, to balance performance and profitability with a low price remains challenging for most tablet vendors.”

IDC’s Mainelli said his firm has not yet factored in the impact of Windows 8 or Windows RT (the OS for ARM-based systems) into the tablet numbers yet. That will come later this year.

“Our current thinking, based upon early pricing expectations for these products, is that Windows-based tablets will be largely additive to our existing media tablet market forecast,” he said. “We don’t expect Windows-based tablets to necessarily take share from Apple and Android, but will grow the overall tablet market.”

With the growing demand for tablets—and the falling prices—IDC also revised its 2012 forecasts for e-readers, noting that sales in the first quarter were disappointing. The analyst firm now expects shipments this year to come in at about 28 million units, a slight drop from the 28.2 million units that shipped in 2011.



Article source: http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Desktops-and-Notebooks/iPad-to-Grow-Market-Share-Over-Android-Tablets-IDC-540056/

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15 Jun 12 Is Chrome OS Ready for Prime Time?


Are you ready for Chrome OS? Will your kids use a cloud-based computer? Picture: zcopley/Flickr

JR Raphael has posted his take over at Computerworld on the new Chrome OS and Chromebooks after spending the last two weeks with his head in Google’s cloud.

His personal perspective on the Chromebook’s evolution:

After two weeks of using Google’s evolved Chrome OS on the new Chromebook and Chromebox, personally, I’m sold.  I have no doubt that I’ll replace my old first-gen Samsung Chromebook with the new model and use it heavily for portable computing, both around the house and out and about…

What about Android tablets? I still have one — and use it — but to be honest, I find myself reaching for the Chromebook more often lately…

And Raphael is even considering Chrome OS for a desktop replacement:

Based on my experiences with the new setup, I’m actually tempted to move even further and embrace Chrome OS as my primary desktop platform, too, by way of the Chromebox.

How could he be so sold? One biggie, which I think could herald the dawn of personal clouds replacing PCs:

Startup speed aside, the Chrome OS systems make a lot of things about traditional computing environments feel outdated: the cumbersome setup and installation procedures; the annoying and time-consuming OS upgrades; the need to manually update applications over time; the need to use antivirus software (and the accompanying likelihood and potential consequences of infection); the reliance on complicated drivers; and the inevitable bogged-down, slowed-down effect that always seems to happen to PCs after you’ve had ‘em for a few months.

Chrome OS doesn’t have any of those hassles. It’s just about getting online and getting stuff done, plain and simple. Most of the annoyances that have long accompanied computer use are nowhere to be found.

Raphael’s final take:

So, in summary: It’s been an interesting two weeks living in the cloud — enough so that I’m thinking about turning my vacation into a permanent residence.

Read JR Raphael’s full adventure with Chrome OS at Computerworld and have your say: Will you ditch your Mac or PC for Google’s cloudy OS? Will your kids be using a cloud-based PC?

Article source: http://www.wired.com/cloudline/2012/06/chrome-os-prime-time/

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14 Jun 12 Is Chrome OS Ready for Prime Time?


Are your ready for Chrome OS? Will your kids use a cloud-based computer? Picture: zcopley/Flickr

JR Raphael has posted his take over at Computerworld on the new Chrome OS and Chromebooks after spending the last two weeks with his head in Google’s cloud.

His personal perspective on the Chromebook’s evolution:

After two weeks of using Google’s evolved Chrome OS on the new Chromebook and Chromebox, personally, I’m sold.  I have no doubt that I’ll replace my old first-gen Samsung Chromebook with the new model and use it heavily for portable computing, both around the house and out and about…

What about Android tablets? I still have one — and use it — but to be honest, I find myself reaching for the Chromebook more often lately…

And Raphael is even considering Chrome OS for a desktop replacement:

Based on my experiences with the new setup, I’m actually tempted to move even further and embrace Chrome OS as my primary desktop platform, too, by way of the Chromebox.

How could he be so sold? One biggie, which I think could herald the dawn of cloud base PCs hitting the prime time slot:

Startup speed aside, the Chrome OS systems make a lot of things about traditional computing environments feel outdated: the cumbersome setup and installation procedures; the annoying and time-consuming OS upgrades; the need to manually update applications over time; the need to use antivirus software (and the accompanying likelihood and potential consequences of infection); the reliance on complicated drivers; and the inevitable bogged-down, slowed-down effect that always seems to happen to PCs after you’ve had ‘em for a few months.

Chrome OS doesn’t have any of those hassles. It’s just about getting online and getting stuff done, plain and simple. Most of the annoyances that have long accompanied computer use are nowhere to be found.

Raphael’s final take:

So, in summary: It’s been an interesting two weeks living in the cloud — enough so that I’m thinking about turning my vacation into a permanent residence.

Read JR Raphael’s full adventure with Chrome OS at Computerworld and have your say: Will you ditch your Mac or PC for Google’s cloudy OS? Will your kids be using a cloud-based PC?

Article source: http://www.wired.com/cloudline/2012/06/chrome-os-prime-time/

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14 Jun 12 Chrome OS reviewed: The final verdict on Google’s cloud platform


Today, I’ll get my head out of the cloud.

I’ve spent the past two weeks, you see, using Google’s Chrome OS. I called it my Chrome OS experiment: I wanted to dive in head first and experience what it was like to live completely in Google’s cloud-centric world.

I used a combination of the new Samsung Chromebook (Series 5 550) and the new Samsung Chromebox for the bulk of my computing needs, both in the office and out. Day by day, I detailed different parts of my journey — ranging from my thoughts on the hardware to my impressions of Google’s reimagined software and what it’s really like to work with Chrome OS offline.

You can visit each of those chapters for my in-depth thoughts on the topics. Today, I wanted to put it all together to share some final conclusions after two weeks of life in the Chrome lane.

So grab your favorite beverage and buckle up: Our ride starts now.

Conclusion #1: Chrome OS has a come a long, long way.

From both a hardware and software perspective, it’s impossible to overstate just how much Google’s Chrome OS has evolved since its introduction 17 months ago.

Google Chrome OS Chromebook, Chromebox

The hardware — in both the new Chromebook and Chromebox — is finally powerful enough to support a compelling Chrome OS experience. Past generations of hardware, from the Cr-48 test notebook to the first-gen Samsung Series 5 Chromebook, were woefully underpowered and couldn’t keep up with multitasking-style use. As such, it was difficult to embrace them beyond specific and limited circumstances (for me, light traveling and casual around-the-house Web browsing).

The new machines allow us to experience Chrome OS the way it was meant to be experienced — no slowness, no lag, no more hardware limitations holding the software back.

And as for the software? Well…

Conclusion #2: Chrome OS has finally evolved into a true platform.

I’ve been intrigued by Chrome OS since its start, but in the early days, the software had an awful lot of pesky holes. On top of that, it was basically just a series of full-screen browser windows — nothing more — and that one-dimensional environment could feel rather restrictive and jarring to use.

Chrome OS File ManagerWith its newly revamped Chrome OS, Google has truly put the “OS” into the equation. Chrome OS sticks to its goal of being a browser-based, cloud-centric platform — but it now does it in a way that’s far more palatable and inviting to the user. Without abandoning its cloud-centric philosophy, the software also allows for a level of local file management and offline functionality — even simple remote access to Windows, Mac, or Linux PCs — taking away most of the platform’s former liabilities.

Conclusion #3: Chrome OS offers a lot of attractive advantages over traditional PC setups.

As I mentioned, I’ve liked Chrome OS for a long time — but between the hardware and software limitations, it’s always been a limited-use, supplementary kind of system for me. With the latest hardware and software upgrades, that’s no longer the case.

In the time I’ve been using the Chromebook and Chromebox, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how little I’ve missed my standard Windows 7 desktop setup. The Chrome OS systems power up in three to five seconds; once you type in your Google credentials, it’s literally another two to three seconds before you’re in a browser window, online and ready to roll. The minutes-long wait for my Windows laptop to boot up and be ready to use has never felt more archaic.

Startup speed aside, the Chrome OS systems make a lot of things about traditional computing environments feel outdated: the cumbersome setup and installation procedures; the annoying and time-consuming OS upgrades; the need to manually update applications over time; the need to use antivirus software (and the accompanying likelihood and potential consequences of infection); the reliance on complicated drivers; and the inevitable bogged-down, slowed-down effect that always seems to happen to PCs after you’ve had ‘em for a few months.

Chrome OS doesn’t have any of those hassles. It’s just about getting online and getting stuff done, plain and simple. Most of the annoyances that have long accompanied computer use are nowhere to be found.

And let me tell you: As someone who uses computers all day, that is a huge breath of fresh air. For schools and businesses, too, the implications are enormous.

Conclusion #4: Chrome OS still isn’t for everyone.

For all its positives, Chrome OS isn’t going to be the right setup for everyone. If you rely on a lot of resource-intensive local programs — or if you have specific desktop utilities you just adore — you may find Chrome OS frustrating to use. While there are plenty of cloud-based apps available for most purposes, the experience using them isn’t always as good or as complete as what you find on their PC-based equivalents.

For example, even as someone who relies heavily on the cloud these days, using Chrome OS makes me realize how much I prefer the desktop TweetDeck application over its Web-based counterpart (the old desktop TweetDeck app, that is — you know, from before Twitter bought and ruined it). Photoshop is another program where I feel a slight sense of loss; while cloud apps like Aviary do a decent job, they’re just less robust than what I’m used to, and they lack the hotkeys and shortcuts that save me tons of time in my traditional configuration.

For me, I’m finding the tradeoff to be largely worthwhile; I find myself willing to adapt to the cloud apps in exchange for what I gain from Chrome OS. (I also realize that if push comes to shove, I can use Google’s Chrome Remote Desktop feature to remotely utilize Windows-based programs — though outside of basic testing, it isn’t something I’ve done very often.) Depending on your needs and perspective, of course, your mileage may vary.

Chrome OS also requires you to rely primarily on cloud-stored data; if you aren’t comfortable keeping your info on the Web, with services like Gmail, Google Docs, and so forth, the cloud computing concept is definitely not for you.

Conclusion #5: The new Chrome OS devices are no-brainers for anyone using first-gen Chromebooks — and purchases well worth considering for anyone who lives in the cloud and wants a fast computer without the hassles.

No two ways about it: If you have a first-gen Chromebook, you’re going to love the new Chromebook model. It’s everything you like about your current system without the laggy tab-switching and performance limitations. (See this side-by-side comparison video that I posted on Google+ for an illustration.)

If you don’t have a Chrome OS system but do spend a lot of your time in the cloud, meanwhile — relying primarily on Web-based services and storing the bulk of your data online — the new Chrome OS devices are well worth considering.

A lot of people say stuff like: “If you want a system that just runs Chrome, why don’t you buy a Windows laptop and install the Chrome browser? Then it’s the same thing except you can actually run regular desktop programs, too.”

Let me tell you something: Those people are missing the point. Chrome OS isn’t about limiting what you can do; it’s about eliminating the hassles that come with traditional computing. It’s about providing a fast, simple, hassle-free system for people who spend most of their time using the Web and Web-based applications (which, let’s face it, is an increasing number of us in this day and age).

Samsung Chromebook Chrome OSThe big variable, then, is the price: The new Samsung Chromebooks cost $450 for the Wi-Fi version and $550 for a 3G-connected model (which includes 100MB a month of data, no contract required, and the option to get additional data on a pay-as-you-go basis). As I’ve said before, I think those prices are a bit high to attract widespread consumer interest — particularly when you consider the variety of full-fledged Windows notebooks and high-end tablets available in that same range.

That said, I don’t think those prices are rip-offs — far from it. I think you get a lot of value for that money: You get excellent hardware, a lifetime of seamless and automatic software updates, and freedom from costly software purchases (Microsoft Office, anyone?) — not to mention freedom from OS problems and potential tech support expenses down the road. When you consider the overall return on investment and total cost of ownership, it really isn’t a bad deal; it’s just not one that’s going to be immediately eye-catching or an easy sell for the average consumer.

If you’re on board with the cloud computing concept, though, I suspect the new Chromebook — or the $329 desktop-based Chromebox — will make you quite happy.

Some personal perspective

After two weeks of using Google’s evolved Chrome OS on the new Chromebook and Chromebox, personally, I’m sold. I have no doubt that I’ll replace my old first-gen Samsung Chromebook with the new model and use it heavily for portable computing, both around the house and out and about.

What about Android tablets? I still have one — and use it — but to be honest, I find myself reaching for the Chromebook more often lately. The larger screen, outstanding full-size keyboard, and top-notch desktop-like browsing experience just make it an ideal way for me to get online and get stuff done fast. My Chrome extensions give me instant on-screen access to things like my Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Voice accounts. The tablet has its strengths and advantages — that’s for damn sure — but for the bulk of what I do online these days, I’m finding the Chromebook to be a quicker and more effective option and a better all-around complement to my Android phone.

Based on my experiences with the new setup, I’m actually tempted to move even further and embrace Chrome OS as my primary desktop platform, too, by way of the Chromebox. As I mentioned, there are really only a couple of traditional OS programs I found myself missing during my Chrome OS experiment — and the pluses of the platform (including the lack of typical-OS hassles) seem to outweigh their absence. The missing dual-monitor extended-desktop functionality is my biggest sticking point right now; with the way I multitask during the day, I need a second monitor connected to my system. Once that feature arrives, I’m going to take a serious look at making a full desktop migration.

So, in summary: It’s been an interesting two weeks living in the cloud — enough so that I’m thinking about turning my vacation into a permanent residence.

Android Power TwitterDid you miss some parts of my journey? Not to worry: You can time-warp through the full adventure in the box below, all the way from day one through the very end. Chapter to chapter, you’ll find my detailed thoughts and impressions on every part of the Chrome OS experience.

But please: Remain seated with your seatbelt securely fastened. For no particular reason, really. I’ve just always wanted to say that. 

Article source: http://blogs.computerworld.com/cloud-computing/20517/chrome-os-reviewed-google-cloud-platform

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