Apr 12, 2011

Gordon Brown Blocked Steve Jobs' Knighthood

Reports are circulating that Steve Jobs was in line to receive a knighthood back in 2009, but that the honour was blocked by former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

The knighthood would have been an honourary one and Jobs would not have been able to use the title 'Sir Steve Jobs' because he is an American. Only British subjects and other subjects of Her Majesty the Queen e.g. Canadians, Jamaicans, Australians, etc can receive a full knighthood and use the title.

The knighthood was allegedly blocked because Jobs declined to appear at a Labour Party conference in 2009. Apple were seemingly aware of the intent to confer the honour, but comment was declined by the former Prime Minister's office other than to say that the former Prime Minsiter did not block the knighthood.

Smartphone Users Are Avid Gamers

A new survey from PopCap Games is highlighting how mobile usres have become  gamers in recent years.
The survey was concudcted amonst American and British adults with the finding that approximately a quarter of those surveyed had played a game on their phone within the past week. PopCap says this means they are 'avid' gamers although I'm not sure whether the survey actually looked at continuing patterns or just one game played within a week.
Unsurprisingly the figure baloons to 83% when the survey is restricted to just smartphones. Of the smartphone users some 45% say they play a game on their device every day. As I said it's hardly surprising given the massive growth in mobile gaming over the past two or three years and of course the parallel growth in hardware, which is now more capable than ever of running relatively high-end games on mobile devices.
Interestingly though 55% of smartphone owners say they use their smartphone to play games most of the tim compared with 22%, less than a quarter, who say they do most of their gaming on their computer.

Microsoft Ups Marketplace Free App Limit To 100

Microsoft have relaxed their rules on free apps (opened the floodgates some might say) by allowing developers to now submit up to 100 free apps instead of the previous limit of 5 apps.
In the past a developer had to stump up $20 if he wanted to have more than 5 free apps in the Windows Phone Marketplace. That may seem restrictive, and it is I guess, but with good reason because you only have to look at both the iPhone and Android to see copious amounts of crap in their app stores. Many an app is essentially useless, just there to garner some ad revenue dollars and quite frankly a waste of space in terms of its usefulness to the end user.
The Windows Phone Marketplace is much newer than either Apple's App Store or the Android Market and hasn't reached the stage of having hundreds of thousands of apps, but it is growing quickly and with Nokia now onboard the pace of growth will likely pick up further.
It isn't necessarily a bad idea to raise the limit though because even though crapware is bound to creep in there are also plenty of great devs out there who can potentially use this opportunity to get more superb apps out to users. Sadly the latter is almost certainly going to be outnumbered by the former.

Sony Ericsson details Xperia Play development: buttons easy, touchpad just a little trickier

In a post on Sony Ericsson's Developer Blog coinciding with the official launch of the Xperia Play atMWC earlier this month, the company clued in developers on how to take advantage of the game-specific controls they'll be dealing with on that glorious slide-out board. In short, it's insanely straightforward for the most part: the hard buttons just generate standard key codes, which explains why existing games worked so well with the unit we'd previewed. The only tricky part comes into play with the center-mounted touchpad, which can't be accessed through the standard Android SDK -- for that, you'll need to turn over to the NDK, the native-code escape hatch that Android devs use when they need higher performance and want to get closer to the hardware. SE's published a 16-page guide on getting to the touchpad through the NDK, and it seems straightforward enough -- and plenty of game developers are well acquainted with the NDK already, anyway -- so we're guessing it won't be much of a hurdle. Getting devs to support an input method that's only available initially on a single commercial device might be a bigger hurdle... but we digress.

Windows Phone's new UI and Xbox games are most exciting aspects of Microsoft deal, says Nokia poll

In search for feedback on its momentous decision to dump Symbian in favor of Windows Phone, Nokia has put up the above poll on its Conversations website canvassing opinions about what users anticipate most out of the new deal. There's no consensus choice, with the equivocation of reactions being underlined by the fact that the "Other" option was the modal response, however of the given categories, a UI refresh and Xbox-related gaming boons turned out to be most important. No surprises there, Symbian's touchscreen UI shortcomings are well known about while the Xbox tie-up has been one of Microsoft's big selling points for Windows Phone 7 since its start. We'd just ask Nokia to be quick about delivering on these things -- spending too long in anticipation mode won't be good for our health.

Video - Ixonos shows off windowed UI for Android

When your tablet needs a windowed UI, has it crossed some undrawn, implied boundary that makes it too complex for the kinds of casual tasks you'd want to accomplish on a tablet? Hard to say, but the mobile developers at Ixonos took to MWC last week to showcase a windowed build of Android on top of a tablet developed by Aava -- so at the very least, we know it's possible. The system is built atop Froyo and allows apps to continue running in the background -- they don't suspend, which means you can, say, play a video while you're off composing messages. The company also demonstrated the software on a dual-screen 7-inch tablet, allowing apps to be launched on either screen and transferred between them -- all seemingly without any customizations needed to individual apps, which is going to be key for a system like this to gain any market traction. Follow the break for Ixonos' press release and demo video. 

Samsung Galaxy S II gets upgraded to 1.2GHz, delayed until May or June

Well, it looks like there's some good news and some bad news for those holding out for a Samsung Galaxy S IIGSM Arena is reporting that Samsung has decided to upgrade the phone's dual-core processor from 1GHz to 1.2GHz, something that was first revealed on Samsung Estonia's Facebook page and has apparently be confirmed by GSM Arena itself from an "internal source." The bad news is that it seems you'll also have to deal with a bit of a delay. Some UK retailers are now listing a release date of May 6th, while Samsung India has tweeted that the phone's global launch has been delayed by "at least" a month, and that it won't roll out before June. There's no indication as to how this upgrade will affect the Tegra 2 version of the phone, which was confirmed to be on track last month.

Google intros Maps 5.3 for Android, displays your life in pie charts

Just as Google Maps 5.2 was getting used to life on your Android phone, it will soon find version 5.3 moving in to take its place -- now enabling Google Latitude fans to visualize their social habits in scrutinizing statistical form. Those who enjoy digging through Google's services might recognize this feature, noting visual data have been available on the Latitude website for some time. Also, privacy advocates should take solace that Google's opt-in Location History must be enabled to partake in this fun, which may be deleted at any time -- if you've been somewhere you'd rather forget. Now that this technology is cemented, we'd love to see a 'funny pages' display in the next release, preferably with a thick dotted line depicting our travels across town (extra points for cartoon renderings). So, Google -- what's it going to be?

HTC's market capitalization reaches $33.8b, overshadows Nokia and RIM

Nokia once said that going with Android was like "peeing in your pants" for temporary warmth. Well, even if that warmth doesn't last forever, it has now helped one of its upstart competitors, HTC, to rise beyond Nokia in terms of market valuation. This is a somewhat beguiling metric to compare companies by -- market cap measures the value of a company's shares available on the market, and not every company has the same proportion of its overall value available in stocks -- but it illustrates well the diametrically opposite directions in which the two mobile phone makers are moving. Bloomberg informs us that HTC's stock has risen by 33 percent this year, while Nokia's has shrunk by 19 percent. Surpassing Nokia now means HTC is the world's third most valuable smartphone maker. Of course, neither Nokia nor RIM is sitting idly by and letting the Taiwanese whippersnapper have things its own way, however both companies' roadmaps for re-conquering the smartphone high-end seem to stretch far off into the 2012 distance. As for HTC, we expect it to launch another Sensation of a device on Tuesday.

Gingerbread update for Samsung Galaxy S to start rolling out in mid-April

Official word from Samsung's Finnish site informs us that local owners of its Galaxy S smartphone will be receiving their Gingerbread fix around the middle of this month. Less direct, but still pretty reliable, confirmation of this comes from UK carrier Three, who promises the same OS version will be arriving to its users of the handset "in a couple of weeks." Considering an Android 2.3.2 build for the Galaxy S already leaked out way back in February, few should be surprised at the timing of this release, but prior experience still urges us to be wary when it comes to Samsung and its software update schedules.

T-Mobile G2x priced at $200, coming April 15th online and April 20th in stores

The official word has been spoken with regard the T-Mobile G2X. LG's dual-core, pure Android handset will be hitting T-Mo's online outlet on April 15th for $200, and the same price will also apply in stores when it lands on April 20th. There's a pesky $50 mail-in rebate to negotiate your way around, but after that you're looking at one of the finest and smoothest Android experiences we've laid our hands on yet.

HTC Sensation leaked by Vodafone: 4.3-inch qHD SLCD and 1.2GHz dual-core processor are go

Would you look at that, HTC's latest worst kept secret is live on Vodafone UK's website. So here's the scoop: 4.3-inch qHD (540 x 960 pixel) SLCD display, 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera augmented by an 8 megapixel shooter with dual-LED flash around back, a 1.2GHz (dual-core) processor, and 4GB of internal flash memory with an extra 8GB supplied on memory card. Stick around, we'll have hands-on with the latest Android Sensation from the HTC launch event later in the day.

Video - Nokia E6 official: a 326ppi portrait QWERTY handset optimized for business

A VGA resolution on a 2.46-inch display equals 326ppi. Talk about pixel density! Nokia's Symbian "Anna" update has found itself a delightful little carrier to market in the new E6. This business-centric device touts awesome battery life, with up to a month of standby time, features both a touchscreen and a portrait QWERTY keyboard, and will be targetting E71 / E72 upgraders, BlackBerry lovers and, evidently, pixel density enthusiasts. Shipping in Q2. Full PR, video, and specs can be found after the break.

Video - Nokia announces Symbian 'Anna' update for N8, E7, C7 and C6-01; first of a series of updates

And now it's completely official: the new and freshened up version of Symbian we saw leak out over the weekend is indeed coming to Nokia's latest batch of handsets. The N8, E7, C7 and C6-01, the phones that ran what was formerly known as Symbian^3, will all be getting it "over the coming months," while the newly announced X7 and E6 devices will ship with it preloaded. The change list includes realhomescreen scrolling, an overhauled browser, and yes, even a QWERTY onscreen keyboard in portrait orientation. There's also new iconography and heavily refreshed Ovi Maps, which now include predictive search. Nokia is resolute in its belief that Ovi Maps is the best mapping solution on the market, and Microsoft's decision to integrate it into Bing would suggest that's true.

The "Anna" Symbian update will be the first of a series and has been driven almost entirely by consumer feedback. Nokia also shared some Ovi Store stats with us. There are now five million downloads per day going on from the company's app repository, which now includes more than 40,000 apps in total. 158 developers have passed a million downloads each. Full PR and video overview of the enhanced OS after the break.


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