Apple prepping redesigned 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display, USB 3

Update: Bloomberg, citing sources who are in the loop, backed up 9to5Mac’s report and added fresh details: Not only will Apple’s next MacBook Pros feature Retina displays, they’ll have new, more-powerful Intel chips and flash memory, too.

According to 9to5Mac, Apple’s next 15-inch MacBook Pro will ditch its optical drive and feature two major upgrades: a Retina Display and USB 3. 9to5Mac says Apple decided to scrap the optical drive in the interest of thinness.

While many have speculated that the new 15-inch MacBook Pro will pickup the design from the late-2010/mid-2011 MacBook Air, sources familiar with the prototype units say that this is untrue. Instead, the new 15-inch MacBook Pro is described as being an ultra-thin version of the current MacBook Pro. Basically, the prototype design is a thinner, yet more robust, version of the late-2008 design. It has no tapering like the MacBook Airs.

9to5Mac is the latest outlet to suggest next-generation Macs will sport Retina displays, but it isn’t the first. For months, since HiDPI versions of icons were discovered, rumors have persisted that Cupertino would give its lineup the Retina treatment.

It’s unclear when Apple plans to unveil the redesigned 15-inch MacBook Pro, but with WWDC around the corner, it could be soon.

Rethinking the iPhone lockscreen

iOS is boring. It’s unconnected. It isn’t flexible. It’s slow. That’s generally the consensus. And while many look to Jony Ive’s new role as the answer, it doesn’t exactly solve these problems. So I thought I would give it a shot.

Apple has a serious problem: in this era of deep social- and web-service integration, their products don’t “just work” nearly as often as they used to. – Marco Arment

There are a ton of ways that Apple could “free” it’s mobile operating system to the power of the hundreds of thousands of apps that run on it. I could point to Siri’s inability to connect with applications beyond the superficial “launch Instapaper,” or the lack of third party widgets in the Notification Center. I could even point to the fact that Apple only allows its stock calendar app to display basic information through its icon. But those are all very straightforward and it’s kind of silly (to me) that Apple hasn’t opened these things up to developers already.

What isn’t very straightforward is the lockscreen. I set out to make the lockscreen flexible and open to the apps on your device, without throwing everything that works really well out the window. But before I get to my ideas, how does the lockscreen work now?


The Current Lockscreen

Image 1 Rethinking the iPhone lockscreenAbove is a wireframe of the current lockscreen. From top to bottom: Status bar, top bar, background, bottom bar (slide to unlock on left, grabber on right). Typically, the status bar is a normal shape, the top bar displays the date and time, the background is a user designated wallpaper, and the bottom bar has “slide to unlock” and the grabber holds the camera application.

But there are instances when this isn’t the case. When you’re receiving a call, getting directions, listening to music, recording audio, or when a notification pops up, the rules of the lockscreen fall to the side and what’s important takes priority. Unless of course that important thing is coming to you from a third party, in which case they can stand in line behind the date and time.

Some apps like Nike’s Running app have even gone so far as to creating their own little lockscreen within the app.

It’s far from a perfect solution, and it shows how hungry app developers are for true access to the the lockscreen.

So what am I proposing? A somewhat restructured lockscreen.


Lockscreen Cards

86LsW Rethinking the iPhone lockscreenThe first new feature of the lockscreen is something I call “Lockscreen Cards.” Basically, they’re little informative slates that are connected to an app. You can slide between the cards in the same way that you slide between homescreen pages.

When you’re on a card, double clicking the home button will bring up extra controls or information that is relevant to the card, if necessary. So when you’re on the weather card and you double click the home button, the card will expand to show the weekly forecast.

“Basically, they’re little informative slates that are connected to an app.”


Because audio playback is so important on the iPhone, when the Time & Date card is expanded, it will house audio playback controls. Double clicking the home button doesn’t expand all cards at once. It’s more like a toggle. So as you go through the cards the ones that you have expanded will stay expanded and the ones you haven’t, won’t. When you put your phone to sleep and wake it back up, though, all the cards will be returned to their compressed position.

ios concept 543x940 Rethinking the iPhone lockscreen

Cards are sorted the same way homescreen icons are sorted. Just long press a card, they all start to wiggle, put them where you want them (only one per page though) then press the home button to stick them down. Coincidentally, pressing the home button while you’re flipping through your cards will return you to the main card.

Some cards are more insistent to have your attention than others. When you’re getting directions, you’ll find that Maps’ Directions card will have usurped the Time & Date card (and it will have also overtaken the wallpaper to display a map). When you start a run using the Nike+ app, you’ll find your miles, pace, and time on the now front and center Running card. The same goes for when you are recording audio or receiving a call.

Image 7 518x940 Rethinking the iPhone lockscreen Image 8 518x940 Rethinking the iPhone lockscreen

But don’t worry, when the Time & Date card has been replaced as the main card (whether by the user or an app), the time can still be found in the status bar. Another thing to note is that apps have to ask for your permission to place their card on your homescreen, just like how they have to ask for your permission to send you notifications.


Grabber

Quick access to the camera was a great addition to the lockscreen in mid 2011, but I think that the idea could be taken further. The grabber should be able to open any app action that you want. So, first, what exactly is an “app action?” It’s basically anything that you do with an app. Update your status on Twitter, check-in on Foursquare, take a picture with Instagram, whatever. So you can customize your grabber to be one of those things.

Image 9 Rethinking the iPhone lockscreenWhen something has taken over the front card, though, it will also take over the app grabber. So if you’re getting directions from the lock screen, the app grabber will bring you right back to that app. These apps might also want to give you options in a pull-up menu like when you’re receiving a call in iOS 6. For instance, Skype might want to have a pull up option whenever you are receiving a video call to answer it, but make it a voice-only call.

Image 10 Rethinking the iPhone lockscreen


Conclusion: Notifications

It’s important to understand the structure of the lockscreen in the way that it handles information. All information that comes to the lockscreen can basically be summed up into three categories:

  • Light Notifications (“You Facebook friend Bruce Wayne just joined Instagram as Batman!”)
  • Heavy Notifications (Calls, FaceTime), and
  • Temporary Takeovers (Voice Memos, Maps directions)

At this point, apps only have access to “light notifications”. Obviously, I think that needs to change.

Image 13 Rethinking the iPhone lockscreen

Apps like Skype and Google+ should have just as much access to the lockscreen as the Phone or FaceTime apps. And to be clear, this wouldn’t lead to confusion from the user or a process that isn’t clean. In fact, users would be able to clearly understand that they are receiving a call rather than wondering why that little notification’s alert tone is going on for so long (“Oh that’s a call!”- confused user).

Anyways, that’s all I’ve got for now.

Resources:

Paul Nechita
Teehan + Lax
TheIntensePlayer
Picons
Timothy J. Reynolds [Wallpaper]

iOS 6 boasts over 200 new features, including an in-house Maps app, improvements to Siri, and Facebook integration

OS X isn’t the only operating system Apple intends to improve. The Cupertino-based company announced at WWDC Monday that the next version of its mobile-focused OS, iOS 6, will include more than 200 new features when it launches this fall for the iPhone 3GS, iPad 2, and newer devices.

Among the changes Apple will roll out with iOS 6 are improvements to Siri, which has gotten even smarter since we first met her and will soon be able to launch apps. What’s more, Siri will debut on the iPad and, before long, will even appear in cars, with a dedicated, steering wheeling-mounted button slated for BMW, GM, Mercedes, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota, and Honda models.

Apple also showed off an all-new, Google-free Maps app that was built in-house. The new Maps, which is vector-based, features the ability to zoom and rotate, a 3D “Flyover” mode that will allow users to see the tops and sides of buildings, and Siri integration on top of turn-by-turn navigation.

screen capture 4 iOS 6 boasts over 200 new features, including an in house Maps app, improvements to Siri, and Facebook integration

And speaking of integration, iOS 6 is thoroughly intertwined with Facebook. As a result, users will be able to easily share content, compose posts, sync contacts, and “like” items in the Apps and iTunes stores.

As for Safari, Apple said that its mobile browser will receive major updates with iOS 6, including a full-screen mode that’s activated when a user’s device is in landscape mode, support for offline reading lists, tab syncing through iCloud, and the ability to upload pictures directly from Safari.

screen capture 5 iOS 6 boasts over 200 new features, including an in house Maps app, improvements to Siri, and Facebook integration

Apple also took the wraps off an iOS 6 app called “Passbook,” which lets users manage movie tickets, boarding passes, store cards, and other passes that include QR codes, barcodes, or visual, scannable codes. Passes managed by the app will be updated in real time, so, for example, a user could learn that his flight had been delayed or that his concert had been canceled.

HTC One X review

HTC hasn’t had a good year. Once the biggest draw on Android, a position it held through the end of 2011, the company has since given up its lead to rival Samsung, and that’s not even hardest bit to swallow. HTC, currently the target of a Nokia lawsuit, saw its net profit drop 70 percent in the first quarter to just $152 million. Ouch. The device maker clearly needs a lifeline, and as luck would have it, it might have one in the all-new One X. HTC’s shiny new smartphone combines a stunning design with a capable camera and 4G LTE connectivity, but is it enough to reestablish the company’s place at the top of the pile? With Samsung set to release its Galaxy S III, the very news of which tanked HTC’s stock last month, that’s a tall order, but I spent two weeks with the One X to discover if it has a prayer.

But before we get down to the nitty-gritty, in the interest of full disclosure, I’d like to answer a few questions before they’re asked: This is the first Android phone I’ve had my hands on since I reviewed Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus; the One X is the first LTE device I’ve had a chance to play with; and I tested the phone on AT&T in Southern California. All right, let’s go!

Hardware

When I first took the One X out of the box, I have to say, I was amazed by how beautiful it is. It’s one of the only Android phones I’ve held that doesn’t feel, well, cheap. In fact, it felt a lot like the Lumia 800 I tested, which I also gave high marks for design. Both have polycarbonate unibodies, but while the Lumia sports a 3.7-inch display, the One X features a much-larger 4.7-inch screen. The HTC’s seamless exterior, which felt surprisingly solid despite its light weight, is broken up by just two physical buttons, volume and sleep/wake.

In addition, there are three soft buttons under the display. Interestingly, unlike Samsung with its Galaxy Nexus, HTC decided against using the soft buttons that were built into the OS. And I have to say, I prefer HTC’s method here.

But lest I heap too much praise on the One X’s design, I have to confess one nagging, albeit nitpicky, gripe: It’s a bit too big for my taste. Sure, it’s incredibly slim, clocking in at just 8.9mm, but sleekness aside, I’d prefer a 4-inch version.

htc one x profile2 HTC One X review

But enough about the design. Let’s get into specifics, starting with the display. Point blank, the One X has a gorgeous screen. In fact, it’s the first I’ve seen that stacks up against the iPhone’s Retina display. Colors are vibrant yet natural, and that’s more than I can say about most Android phones. That’s because the One X uses an LCD, or what HTC calls an LCD2, not the AMOLED approach favored by most Android phones. In terms of size and resolution, as I said, the One X has a 4.7-inch screen, and that screen’s good for a high-definition resolution of 1280 x 720, which translates into 312 pixels per inch, just 14 ppi shy of the iPhone’s industry-leading density.

Speaking of the iPhone, the One X’s rear camera goes megapixel for megapixel with Apple’s best handset, capturing shots in 8 megapixels through a 28mm lens. Its front-facing camera, on the other hand, bests the 4S with 1.3 megapixels.

In terms of internal hardware, the One X has a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor, 1GB of RAM, and 16GB of on-board storage. Other major features include NFC, Beats Audio, and, of course, 4G LTE connectivity. That’s all well and good, and nothing in that list strikes me as a weak link, but these days hardware is rarely a bottleneck, so the real question is, how does it all perform in the real world? We’ll get to that shortly.

htc one x angle HTC One X review

Overall, the One X’s hardware is great, and the phone is unquestionably the most attractive Android phone I’ve laid eyes on. It’s not too heavy, nor is it too light. The screen is beautiful, and the phone is thin. If I had to nitpick pick one thing besides the phone’s size, it would it would be the rear camera, which doesn’t sit flush. Rather, it protrudes a bit. But other than that, at least superficially, the One X is flawless.

Camera

I know, I know, cameras qualify as hardware, too. But considering a phone’s camera is among its biggest selling points, I figured it deserved its own section. Now, as I’ve said, the One X packs two cameras: a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera that I’ll gloss over because, let’s face it, no one cares; and an 8-megapixel rear camera that’s definitely worth your attention.

htcx gliderport HTC One X review

Thanks in no small part to its fantastic 28mm f2.0 lens, pictures taken with that rear camera are stunning. The One X also does colors justice. That might seem like an odd thing to point out, but you’d be surprised how many phones get it wrong, churning out clear-yet-off-color images that tarnish an otherwise decent camera. Fortunately, that’s not the case here. Colors are captured accurately — not too warm, nor too cool. So, strictly from a hardware perspective, everything’s in order.

As for camera’s software, the One X boasts some pretty nifty features. Take “burst mode,” for instance. When selected, users can take 20 rapid-fire pictures with a single push of the on-screen shutter button. Cool. The One X also features adjustable white balance, grayscale, exposure, and ISO, and face detection makes an appearance, too. But that’s not all: HTC has thrown in vignetting, depth of field, and distortion filters. What’s weird, though, is that I could only add them before I took a picture. If I wanted to add, say, a vignette after the fact, I couldn’t with the default camera app. Annoying.

But that wasn’t my only gripe: The One X has two physical buttons, and neither is tied to the camera. What’s more, when users select a focus point, the camera whines with a loud zoom that’s reminiscent of the earliest digital cameras. It’s not horrible, but it’s not ideal, either. In the end, though, the One X took great pictures, and that’s what’s most important. Unless you’re more interested in video, in which case you’ll be glad to know the One X records in 1080p.

Here’s some footage I shot at a local beach:

Battery, reception, and audio

The One X’s battery life is great. During my testing, I roamed around San Diego checking emails, taking pictures, texting, and making calls, and despite my heavy use, I was never in danger of running down the battery.

Reception was okay. I wouldn’t call it great, but it certainly didn’t ruin my experience. I was able to make calls without a problem and suffered just a few dropped calls over my two weeks with the device.

HTC boasts that the One X features Beats Audio, which supposedly provides a more “authentic sound.” If that’s a selling point for you, I hate to burst your bubble, but it’s nothing to write home about. Toggling on the Beats processing dialed up the volume and bass, but it didn’t seem to do much else, and it definitely didn’t make anything sound more authentic. Don’t get me wrong, the sound is generally good, but the whole Beats Audio thing strikes me as a marketing gimmick. Nevertheless, I enjoyed listening to my favorite music, and overall, the experience was good.

LTE

As I mentioned earlier, this is my first LTE-equipped device. My daily carry’s an iPhone 4, and my iPad’s a Wi-Fi-only model. But though I haven’t taken the 4G plunge, I haven’t been immune to the hype, either. I’ve heard from all sides that LTE’s a game-changer that must be experienced, so you can imagine my excitement when I fired up the One X and finally tapped into AT&T’s LTE network. First impression?

Two words: HOLY CRAP!

After leaning on LTE for two weeks, I’m not looking forward to reverting to 3G. In fact, it’ll be painful. In my time with the One X, speeds of 9Mbps down and 3Mbps up were typical, and I peaked at a whopping 55Mbps down and 24Mbps up. That translated into significantly better load times for websites and email –– faster even than my home network –– and sending and receiving images was nearly instantaneous.

lte HTC One X review

Unfortunately, LTE wasn’t available everywhere I went. Throughout the San Diego area, I encountered multiple dead spots that downgraded me to 3G. But that’s on AT&T and its still-shoddy network, not the One X.

When I was in range, though, the combination of LTE and HTC’s One X blew my mind. Never before had I realized what a bottleneck 3G is. If you’re thinking about buying an Android phone, do yourself a favor and make sure it has LTE. Seriously. It’s that good.

Software

Including the One X, I’ve now reviewed two Android phones, and both feature the same OS: Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS). But despite the common thread, each presents its OS very differently. Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus, for instance, offers ICS in its purest form, devoid of skins or extra widgets. What users see is exactly what Google intended, nothing more and nothing less. With the One X, though, HTC has overlaid its own skin, which it calls Sense.

sense screenshot HTC One X review

Put simply, Sense aims to spice up the user experience. To that end, HTC has added some features, taken others away, and replaced the Tron-like look of Holo, Google’s default ICS theme, with one that’s decidedly brighter.

I just wish HTC hadn’t gone to the trouble. Frankly, I prefer the original ICS ROM. Sure, Sense includes some cool animations, and I appreciated touches like the weather widgets and task switcher, but overall, I actually found HTC’s skin to be more of a problem than a solution. And considering the issues I had with ICS on the Nexus, that’s saying something.

For example, the One X’s keyboard is terrible. It’s so bad that I used dictation, a feature I normally avoid at all costs, for the bulk of my texting. And while we’re on the subject of dictation, that could use some work, too. It proved much more inaccurate than the same feature on iOS 5, and, quite honestly, you can only repeat yourself so many times before you consider throwing your phone into traffic.

And speaking of things iOS does better, scrolling and zooming, functions every touchscreen device ought to get right, are annoyingly laggy on the One X. That’s inexcusable.

hulu flash HTC One X review

And the phone’s dismal app support did nothing to lower my blood pressure either. Despite a blazing-fast connection capable of gobbling up the biggest downloads in short order, the One X had an annoying habit of turning up its nose in Google Play. When I tried to download Hulu, for instance, the Web’s most popular streaming-TV service, I was told my device wasn’t currently supported.

Come to think of it, the One X seemed to have something against video content in general. For example, whenever I tried to play video on the Web, if Flash was on the menu, the One X preferred it to HTML5, which was fine, except the phone doesn’t yet support Flash, making its preference idiotic.

On the plus side, though, when I wasn’t scrolling or zooming or typing or trying to watch videos, the One X was fast. Very fast. Whether I was jumping between home pages or loading apps and multitasking among them, I never got the impression that the phone was struggling to keep up. And for all of iOS’s advantages, ICS’s notifications bar is superior, even in Sense form.

Overall

Notwithstanding a few minor gripes, HTC’s One X is a fantastic phone that drips with redeeming qualities and shines among its peers. Compared to Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus, for instance, the only other Android phone I’ve fully probed, the One X is faster, takes sharper pictures, goes further on a single charge, and has a better display. It’s also more attractive, but I’m sure not everyone would agree.

When it comes to Android, though, my second in-depth experience wasn’t any less jarring than the first. Despite my time in the trenches with ICS on the Galaxy Nexus, HTC has slapped on so much paint with Sense that I often struggled to find my way. And what I recognized I still didn’t like. Granted, I cut my teeth on iOS devices, which pride themselves on simplicity, but I refuse to believe Android couldn’t be more user friendly. For all its options, there’s too much clutter. But if you can look past that or are accustomed to Android, I have little doubt you’d love the HTC One X.

HTC One X review

HTC hasn’t had a good year. Once the biggest draw on Android, a position it held through the end of 2011, the company has since given up its lead to rival Samsung, and that’s not even hardest bit to swallow. HTC, currently the target of a Nokia lawsuit, saw its net profit drop 70 percent in the first quarter to just $152 million. Ouch. The device maker clearly needs a lifeline, and as luck would have it, it might have one in the all-new One X. HTC’s shiny new smartphone combines a stunning design with a capable camera and 4G LTE connectivity, but is it enough to reestablish the company’s place at the top of the pile? With Samsung set to release its Galaxy S III, the very news of which tanked HTC’s stock last month, that’s a tall order, but I spent two weeks with the One X to discover if it has a prayer.

But before we get down to the nitty-gritty, in the interest of full disclosure, I’d like to answer a few questions before they’re asked: This is the first Android phone I’ve had my hands on since I reviewed Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus; the One X is the first LTE device I’ve had a chance to play with; and I tested the phone on AT&T in Southern California. All right, let’s go!

Hardware

When I first took the One X out of the box, I have to say, I was amazed by how beautiful it is. It’s one of the only Android phones I’ve held that doesn’t feel, well, cheap. In fact, it felt a lot like the Lumia 800 I tested, which I also gave high marks for design. Both have polycarbonate unibodies, but while the Lumia sports a 3.7-inch display, the One X features a much-larger 4.7-inch screen. The HTC’s seamless exterior, which felt surprisingly solid despite its light weight, is broken up by just two physical buttons, volume and sleep/wake.

In addition, there are three soft buttons under the display. Interestingly, unlike Samsung with its Galaxy Nexus, HTC decided against using the soft buttons that were built into the OS. And I have to say, I prefer HTC’s method here.

But lest I heap too much praise on the One X’s design, I have to confess one nagging, albeit nitpicky, gripe: It’s a bit too big for my taste. Sure, it’s incredibly slim, clocking in at just 8.9mm, but sleekness aside, I’d prefer a 4-inch version.

htc one x profile2 HTC One X reviewBut enough about the design. Let’s get into specifics, starting with the display. Point blank, the One X has a gorgeous screen. In fact, it’s the first I’ve seen that stacks up against the iPhone’s Retina display. Colors are vibrant yet natural, and that’s more than I can say about most Android phones. That’s because the One X uses an LCD, or what HTC calls an LCD2, not the AMOLED approach favored by most Android phones. In terms of size and resolution, as I said, the One X has a 4.7-inch screen, and that screen’s good for a high-definition resolution of 1280 x 720, which translates into 312 pixels per inch, just 14 ppi shy of the iPhone’s industry-leading density.

Speaking of the iPhone, the One X’s rear camera goes megapixel for megapixel with Apple’s best handset, capturing shots in 8 megapixels through a 28mm lens. Its front-facing camera, on the other hand, bests the 4S with 1.3 megapixels.

In terms of internal hardware, the One X has a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor, 1GB of RAM, and 16GB of on-board storage. Other major features include NFC, Beats Audio, and, of course, 4G LTE connectivity. That’s all well and good, and nothing in that list strikes me as a weak link, but these days hardware is rarely a bottleneck, so the real question is, how does it all perform in the real world? We’ll get to that shortly.

htc one x angle HTC One X reviewOverall, the One X’s hardware is great, and the phone is unquestionably the most attractive Android phone I’ve laid eyes on. It’s not too heavy, nor is it too light. The screen is beautiful, and the phone is thin. If I had to nitpick pick one thing besides the phone’s size, it would it would be the rear camera, which doesn’t sit flush. Rather, it protrudes a bit. But other than that, at least superficially, the One X is flawless.

Camera

I know, I know, cameras qualify as hardware, too. But considering a phone’s camera is among its biggest selling points, I figured it deserved its own section. Now, as I’ve said, the One X packs two cameras: a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera that I’ll gloss over because, let’s face it, no one cares; and an 8-megapixel rear camera that’s definitely worth your attention.

htcx gliderport HTC One X reviewThanks in no small part to its fantastic 28mm f2.0 lens, pictures taken with that rear camera are stunning. The One X also does colors justice. That might seem like an odd thing to point out, but you’d be surprised how many phones get it wrong, churning out clear-yet-off-color images that tarnish an otherwise decent camera. Fortunately, that’s not the case here. Colors are captured accurately — not too warm, nor too cool. So, strictly from a hardware perspective, everything’s in order.

As for camera’s software, the One X boasts some pretty nifty features. Take “burst mode,” for instance. When selected, users can take 20 rapid-fire pictures with a single push of the on-screen shutter button. Cool. The One X also features adjustable white balance, grayscale, exposure, and ISO, and face detection makes an appearance, too. But that’s not all: HTC has thrown in vignetting, depth of field, and distortion filters. What’s weird, though, is that I could only add them before I took a picture. If I wanted to add, say, a vignette after the fact, I couldn’t with the default camera app. Annoying.

But that wasn’t my only gripe: The One X has two physical buttons, and neither is tied to the camera. What’s more, when users select a focus point, the camera whines with a loud zoom that’s reminiscent of the earliest digital cameras. It’s not horrible, but it’s not ideal, either. In the end, though, the One X took great pictures, and that’s what’s most important. Unless you’re more interested in video, in which case you’ll be glad to know the One X records in 1080p.

Battery, reception, and audio

The One X’s battery life is great. During my testing, I roamed around San Diego checking emails, taking pictures, texting, and making calls, and despite my heavy use, I was never in danger of running down the battery.

Reception was okay. I wouldn’t call it great, but it certainly didn’t ruin my experience. I was able to make calls without a problem and suffered just a few dropped calls over my two weeks with the device.

HTC boasts that the One X features Beats Audio, which supposedly provides a more “authentic sound.” If that’s a selling point for you, I hate to burst your bubble, but it’s nothing to write home about. Toggling on the Beats processing dialed up the volume and bass, but it didn’t seem to do much else, and it definitely didn’t make anything sound more authentic. Don’t get me wrong, the sound is generally good, but the whole Beats Audio thing strikes me as a marketing gimmick. Nevertheless, I enjoyed listening to my favorite music, and overall, the experience was good.

LTE

As I mentioned earlier, this is my first LTE-equipped device. My daily carry’s an iPhone 4, and my iPad’s a Wi-Fi-only model. But though I haven’t taken the 4G plunge, I haven’t been immune to the hype, either. I’ve heard from all sides that LTE’s a game-changer that must be experienced, so you can imagine my excitement when I fired up the One X and finally tapped into AT&T’s LTE network. First impression?

Two words: HOLY CRAP!

After leaning on LTE for two weeks, I’m not looking forward to reverting to 3G. In fact, it’ll be painful. In my time with the One X, speeds of 9Mbps down and 3Mbps up were typical, and I peaked at a whopping 55Mbps down and 24Mbps up. That translated into significantly better load times for websites and email –– faster even than my home network –– and sending and receiving images was nearly instantaneous.

lte HTC One X review

Unfortunately, LTE wasn’t available everywhere I went. Throughout the San Diego area, I encountered multiple dead spots that downgraded me to 3G. But that’s on AT&T and its still-shoddy network, not the One X.

When I was in range, though, the combination of LTE and HTC’s One X blew my mind. Never before had I realized what a bottleneck 3G is. If you’re thinking about buying an Android phone, do yourself a favor and make sure it has LTE. Seriously. It’s that good.

Software

Including the One X, I’ve now reviewed two Android phones, and both feature the same OS: Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS). But despite the common thread, each presents its OS very differently. Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus, for instance, offers ICS in its purest form, devoid of skins or extra widgets. What users see is exactly what Google intended, nothing more and nothing less. With the One X, though, HTC has overlaid its own skin, which it calls Sense.

sense screenshot HTC One X review

Put simply, Sense aims to spice up the user experience. To that end, HTC has added some features, taken others away, and replaced the Tron-like look of Holo, Google’s default ICS theme, with one that’s decidedly brighter.

I just wish HTC hadn’t gone to the trouble. Frankly, I prefer the original ICS ROM. Sure, Sense includes some cool animations, and I appreciated touches like the weather widgets and task switcher, but overall, I actually found HTC’s skin to be more of a problem than a solution. And considering the issues I had with ICS on the Nexus, that’s saying something.

For example, the One X’s keyboard is terrible. It’s so bad that I used dictation, a feature I normally avoid at all costs, for the bulk of my texting. And while we’re on the subject of dictation, that could use some work, too. It proved much more inaccurate than the same feature on iOS 5, and, quite honestly, you can only repeat yourself so many times before you consider throwing your phone into traffic.

And speaking of things iOS does better, scrolling and zooming, functions every touchscreen device ought to get right, are annoyingly laggy on the One X. That’s inexcusable.

hulu flash HTC One X review

And the phone’s dismal app support did nothing to lower my blood pressure either. Despite a blazing-fast connection capable of gobbling up the biggest downloads in short order, the One X had an annoying habit of turning up its nose in Google Play. When I tried to download Hulu, for instance, the Web’s most popular streaming-TV service, I was told my device wasn’t currently supported.

Come to think of it, the One X seemed to have something against video content in general. For example, whenever I tried to play video on the Web, if Flash was on the menu, the One X preferred it to HTML5, which was fine, except the phone doesn’t yet support Flash, making its preference idiotic.

On the plus side, though, when I wasn’t scrolling or zooming or typing or trying to watch videos, the One X was fast. Very fast. Whether I was jumping between home pages or loading apps and multitasking among them, I never got the impression that the phone was struggling to keep up. And for all of iOS’s advantages, ICS’s notifications bar is superior, even in Sense form.

Overall

Notwithstanding a few minor gripes, HTC’s One X is a fantastic phone that drips with redeeming qualities and shines among its peers. Compared to Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus, for instance, the only other Android phone I’ve fully probed, the One X is faster, takes sharper pictures, goes further on a single charge, and has a better display. It’s also more attractive, but I’m sure not everyone would agree.

When it comes to Android, though, my second in-depth experience wasn’t any less jarring than the first. Despite my time in the trenches with ICS on the Galaxy Nexus, HTC has slapped on so much paint with Sense that I often struggled to find my way. And what I recognized I still didn’t like. Granted, I cut my teeth on iOS devices, which pride themselves on simplicity, but I refuse to believe Android couldn’t be more user friendly. For all its options, there’s too much clutter. But if you can look past that or are accustomed to Android, I have little doubt you’d love the HTC One X.

Global tablet use will increase by 150 percent by 2013, research firm suggests

Mobile research firm research2guidance estimates that tablet use will increase by more than 150 percent by 2013. According to company, between 2010 and 2011, tablets were by far the fastest-growing segment of mobile devices, accounting for roughly 8.6 percent of all mobile devices in use across the globe.

Between 2010 and 2011 the global installed base of app consumers increased by 104%. While the installed base of smartphones increased by nearly 274 million, tablets were the fastest growing segment.

The report also shows that tablets are quickly working their way into enterprise, backing up the recent comments of Apple chief Tim Cook, who said that roughly 92 percent of Fortune 500 companies are either testing or have already deployed iPads.

Source: research2guidance

Wall Street Journal: Facebook IPO set for May 18

facebook logo Wall Street Journal: Facebook IPO set for May 18

The Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook ‘s initial public offering (IPO) is slated for May 18. According to the report, the mid-May date is probable but could be pushed back a day or two if the SEC decides to drag its feet.

Facebook filed for its IPO on February, saying it hoped to raise roughly $5 billion on a valuation of $100 billion. But many experts think Facebook might have underestimated its potential. They speculate the social network could raise as much as $10 billion if its IPO goes well.

Source: WSJ

UK regulator says iPad advertising misleading, wants Apple to drop 4G claims

ipad4g UK regulator says iPad advertising misleading, wants Apple to drop 4G claims

The new iPad doesn’t live up to its billing, according to a British regulator. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), responding to consumer complaints, has pressed Apple to rephrase its newest slate’s advertising, which boasts 4G connectivity despite the UK’s minimal 4G coverage and the incompatibility of its existing networks. Apple says it removed misleading references to the iPad’s 4G capabilities, but the company’s British site still advertises a 4G-equipped model, albeit with a footnote clarifying 4G connectivity is only available in U.S. and Canadian markets. The ASA’s request comes a month after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission took Apple to court over the same issue. Apple offered misled Australian consumers full refunds.

Source: BBC News

Triggertrap mobile app gives iPhone users more control over their DSLRs

 

trigger trap Triggertrap mobile app gives iPhone users more control over their DSLRs

Just yesterday we told you about the first-ever light-sensitive trigger for the iPhone’s camera, and today, less than 24 hours later, a new trigger solution has emerged — although this one requires some additional hardware. To be clear, Triggertrap, like Strike Finder, will work with the iPhone’s on-board camera, but it’s intended to complement a DSLR, meaning users hoping to get the most out of the software will have to pay more than the app’s $10 price of admission. Specifically, they’ll have to spring for a $20 camera cable and dongle, which will happily connect users’ handsets to more than 270 different camera models. From there, Triggertrap boasts 12 different trigger modes, including time-lapse, eased time-lapse, distance-lapse, magnet-triggered, motion-triggered, shock-triggered, and sound-triggered. The app also features facial recognition and HDR modes. And that’s not all. Triggertrap also sports basic features like timed exposure mode (up to 60 minutes), bulb mode, and timed bulb mode.

Triggertrap is available now in the App Store. Check out the video below to learn more. We’ll be getting our own unit soon, so stay tuned for a review.

Kickstarter scammers exposed after racking up nearly $5,000 in donations

kickstarter Kickstarter scammers exposed after racking up nearly $5,000 in donations

For many entrepreneurs, Kickstarter and its community of benefactors mean the difference between obscurity and success. Just ask the five-man team behind the Pebble smart watch, which has raised a staggering $7.7 million to date — $7.6 million more than the team originally sought. But scam artists bank on the same generosity, and their pitches can be just as convincing. Betabeat reports that one group of scammers went as far as building a website to lend credibility to their phony business, which boasted a portfolio of other people’s work.

The group called itself Little Monster Productions (LMP) and claimed to have a World of Warcraft-like video game in the pipeline, but despite mimicking a proven formula, the scammers were ultimately exposed by skeptical readers from Reddit, SomethingAwful, and Rock, Paper, Shotgun.

mythic Kickstarter scammers exposed after racking up nearly $5,000 in donations

The disbelieving readers brought LMP’s bullshit to light after they discovered that the text for its donation incentives was copied and pasted from another project, its office pictures were of another game studio, and the art it claimed to have produced was instead the work of the Burton Design Group.

When LMP, which had already racked up $4,739 toward an $80,000 goal, was confronted with the damning evidence, it offered an unconvincing explanation:

A few members of our team worked at BDG last year beforeother [sic] found out the owner was being shady with funds. They left and joined our team shortly after. As for the concept art, it seems we have been subjected to false claims of ownership right to our concepts. The game itself is well in progress and is NOT a scam of any kind. Thank you for understanding. If you have any furthure [sic] questions please feel free to ask.

Kickstarter understood, all right. It understood LMP was taking advantage of its community and pulled the plug on the project. And as for the line about formerly working for the Burton Design Group? Alfonzo Burton, the studio’s CEO, had this to say:

I know the g uy in the video. His name is Seth Westphal and he lives in Mission Viejo, CA. He’s a former employee of Burton Design Group and stole our artists [sic] images and company studio images. I’m trying to spread the news of this guy so the industry can be on the look out.