Wednesday, 30 June 2010 - tech news fast! - tech news fast!

Tech Radar: Dyson’s in town, Windows Phone 7 on tour and Nokia C3 review lands

Posted: 29 Jun 2010 08:56 AM PDT

Want to know what we're up to this week? The all-new Electricpig Tech Radar is here to spill the beans on our schedule from now until Friday. We want to give you the heads-up on the tech announcements right around the corner, and if there’s anything you want to know from any of the appointments on our schedule, just drop us a line in the comments section, and we’ll do our best to find out for you.

You'll usually see the Tech Radar first thing on a Monday morning, plotting our week in full, but we couldn't wait a whole six days to share our calendar, so here are our movements from today until Friday!

James Dyson is in town, showing off his newest Air Multiplier fans. We'll be attempting to corner him to find out what's next to come out of his wind-obsessed workshop.

Our Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker review goes live on Wednesday. Is it the best outing yet for the epic franchise, or a money-spinning dud? Check back on Wednesday morning and you'll find out!

In hardware news, Microsoft is in town, giving press briefings on Windows Phone 7. Again. We'll be on the front row seeing what's changed since we last clapped eyes on it.

The Nokia C3 landed in our hands the other day, and we've been mauling it thoroughly. By Thursday, our Nokia C3 review will be live, so you'll know if this bargain-basement e-mailer is worth your wonga.

Another phone scoop! We've got our hands on the first Vodafone A845. This budget Android blower hasn't been examined elsewhere yet, so our Vodafone A845 review is the first place you'll see a definitive verdict.

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iPhone 4 video review: Send us yours to win!

Posted: 29 Jun 2010 08:38 AM PDT

Today’s the last day to send us your iPhone 4 video review. To be in with a chance of winning a full fifty quid’s worth of iTunes vouchers, all you have to do is shoot your opinion on celluloid (or you know, one of those new fangled memory cards), stick it online and follow a few simple rules. Worth a shot, right? Check out the easy steps to enter right here.

We’re giving people the chance to win an iPhone 4 on the site at the moment, but if you’ve already nabbed one, you’ll want some cash to splash out on all those new apps and HD video downloads. We’ve got £50 of iTunes vouchers to give away for the best iPhone 4 video review we receive, but you’ve only got a few hours left to enter, as the deadline is today.

Win an iPhone 4: Click here to enter!

You can read out the short steps and terms and conditions you need to adhere to right here, but entry is a piece of cake: just shoot your review and upload it to YouTube and share it with us.

It can be short or long, entertaining and insightful or purely pithy, but it needs to stand out. You could even shoot it with an iPhone 4! For a bit of inspiration, here’s something we cut up on iMovie with one below – good luck!

Want to enter? Click here to check out the iPhone 4 video review rules!

iPhone 4 sample video: Coffee with Electricpig from Electricpig on Vimeo.

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iPhone 4: iWork for iPhone photos revealed?

Posted: 29 Jun 2010 08:04 AM PDT

The iPhone 4 order pages were our source of iWork for iPhone speculation this morning and now photos of a petite version of Apple's productivity apps have popped up online. Caught in the classic blurry cam style, the screens could be the work of pranksters but with Apple looking more and more likely to bring iWork to iPhone 4 and iOS 4, it's worth taking a closer look.

While we're expecting iWork for iPhone to find a home on iPhone 4, it seems it may not be restricted to the newest iOS 4 device like iMovie. The iWork for iPhone screens snapped by 9to5Mac's tipster seem to show Pages running on an iPod Touch (you can see the iPod logo in the top left hand corner of the second picture) rather than the super-sharp iPhone 4 Retina display.

The images also suggest that iWork for iPhone (and iPod Touch) might not allow you to export PDFs with just Word and Pages shown as options. That bit makes us doubt the authenticity of the shots a little. iWork for iPad allows you to export PDFs and Apple added iBooks PDF support in the latest update. Why would iWork for iPhone miss out?

Take a gander at the iWork for iPhone photos and let us know whether you think they're the real deal. Will you grab Apple's productivity pack for your iPhone 4 if it does arrive? Or do you plan to keep document editing strictly in the domain of the iPad or even, shock horror, your laptop?

Out TBC | £TBC | Apple (via 9to5Mac)

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iTunes U and Open University: e-learning milestones

Posted: 29 Jun 2010 07:47 AM PDT

After we saw the first iPhone 4 FaceTime sex line yesterday, it's good to hear that iTunes U, the educational bit of iTunes, is going strong too. The Open University has said today that t has hit a milestone, reaching 20 million downloads.

Apple has also announced that the whole of iTunes U has had more than 250 million downloads since its launch in 2007. Open University content was first launched on iTunes U in 2008, and in in the past year there's been over 4.5 million downloads from The Open University on iTunes U.

In May 2010, the Open University had over 11,000 unique visitors accessing Open University via their mobile handsets in that one month. It's a positive use of the possibilities of iTunes, and no doubt one Stephen Fry would be gushing about, which is all the more encouraging after the sexy uses we've been hearing about of late.

Although saying that, the most popular download subjects are languages and arts, and  the most downloaded show to date is Beginner's French, a combination of subjects which might not always be so innocent…

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Smart fourtwo electric car test driven!

Posted: 29 Jun 2010 06:47 AM PDT

This morning Electricpig had a pootle around London in Smart's electric vehicle, the Fortwo. The car hasn't been launched yet, but there's a handful being trialled out on the roads. After Driving a G-Wiz last year, I must say, I wasn't that excited. The G-wiz felt like driving round in a crap trainer. Thankfully, Smart's take is much more like driving a normal car. Quentin Wilson, car journo and compere for today's test drives, said as much, stating: "Nobody has done as much damage to the EV cause". In this case then, he'd be right.

The Smart EV feels very much like a normal Smart car, except for that imposing silence. It drives like an automatic, with a gearstick with four stops. Happily, the accellerator was much less jumpy than I found the G-wiz, and driving was smooth, and responsive, once you get used to stifling the impulse to floor the pedal when there's no revs to hear.

The costs are where the real questions are, and generally, in this market, numbers are bandied around here there and everywhere. The basic proposition is that electric cars are much more expensive than their petrol equivalents, but you’re paying up front for your fuel. It’s a bit like asking someone to spend an extra £50 on a pair of shoes that they won’t have to have re-soled.

These cars will be rolled out in 2012, and its estimated that each charge costs £1.50, or £170 per year, whereas a petrol equivalent costs £1500 in fuel a year. When you add these to the environmental factors it’s persuasive, but even with the government incentives, it’s unlikely that one will set you back less than £14,000.

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MSI Wind U135DX: turbo-charged netbook priced and dated

Posted: 29 Jun 2010 06:35 AM PDT

The MSI Wind U135DX may look a little familiar if you've been keeping track of Lilliputian laptops this year. It takes its styling from the similarly named MSI Wind U135 which emerged way back at CES in January. But within that virtually identical shell, the MSI Wind U145DX conceals the latest Intel Atom chip with turbo-charging tech that MSI promises will deliver gigantic battery life and more power. But is overclocking the best way to get a nippy netbook?

The 10in MSI Wind U135DX has the brand spanking new Intel Atom N455 processor lurking inside. MSI's added its own Turbo Drive Engine tech into the mix to over-clock the chip and squeeze out more performance. There's also support for up to 2GB of DDR3 RAM which the firm claims will mean the MSI Wind U135DX demands less juice.

The MSI Wind U135DX also has an LED backlit screen and a selection of green power modes dubbed ECO engine that should help to extend the battery life. That's quoted as stretching to a creditable 7 hours but we can't help but wonder whether that promised over-clocking might eat into that a wee bit.

MSI has given the MSI Wind U135DX a trackpad that's 20% larger than its pokey predecessor and there's a Chiclet keyboard which should be pretty pleasant to type on. MSI has a good track record with netbooks (see our MSI Wind 12 U200 review) so we’d expect the MSI Wind U135DX to be a decent when it arrives at Argos in August.

Out August | £229 | MSI

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Android 2.2 Froyo hits Nexus One UK

Posted: 29 Jun 2010 06:01 AM PDT

Android 2.2 Nexus OneThe  wait for Android 2.2 Froyo is nearly over for UK Nexus One owners. If you snapped up the Google-built blower, Android 2.2 Froyo should be winging its way to you as an over-the-air update imminently. But if you're packing another Android handset like the HTC Desire, you'll have to wait a while longer and gnash your teeth as we recap the Android 2.2 features after the break…

If you didn't fancy the risk of punting for a manual install, Android 2.2 Froyo should finally find its way to your Nexus One today. Google has announced the OTA update via its Nexus One Blog. It says: "In order to access the update, you will receive a message on your phone's notification bar, Just download the update, wait for it to install and you should be all set."

Google is promising Nexus One owners will have Android 2.2 Froyo by the end of the week at the very latest with it gradually flinging the upgrade out. When it arrives you'll gain great fistfuls of new features for your Nexus One including Wi-Fi tethering to turn your phone into a MiFi-style mobile hotspot and Flash support. There's something to lord over iPhone 4 owners and their beloved iOS 4!

Google also promises that Android 2.2 Froyo will skip along at up to five times the speed of Android 2.1 for some tasks and that the web browser should be noticeably more nippy. Let us know when your Android 2.2 Froyo update arrives and which new features you like and any niggles you’ve noticed with your Nexus One.

Out now | £free | Google (via Fonehome)

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Why Google Me could floor Facebook

Posted: 29 Jun 2010 05:11 AM PDT

Right now, Google Me is effectively a mythical service. Just 14 words in a tweet from Digg founder, Kevin Rose, kicked off thousands speculating about a Facebook-fighting social network from the search giant. Meanwhile Facebook has hit 500m users and Mark Zuckerberg is confidently predicting that number will reach 1 billion. So why would Google even bother to try and battle Facebook and why would anyone predict that it could win?

Google actually got into the social networking game marginally earlier than Facebook. Though it launched in January 2004, several weeks before Facebook got its public debut, with a name that sounds less like a website than an obscure character in Pingu, Orkut has struggled. However, it's still managed to rack up 100m active users and is seriously popular in places like Brazil, India and Russia.

Google's more recent experiments with social networking haven't been tremendously successful. The Google Buzz privacy problems meant that service started badly and has never really recovered, languishing as an echo chamber for tweets and RSS feeds. Meanwhile Google Wave made a big splash when it launched but its complexity left all but the most hardcore Google fans confused.

So why the hell do I think that Google Me could really challenge Facebook? Because this time, I think Google will take the challenge more seriously. By spreading features like the Facebook Like button out across the web, Facebook has been gunning directly for Google. It wants to pull the web within the walls of Facebook and better Google's grasp of what users want by harvesting all that information. Google needs to fight back.

While the Google Me talk is slotted firmly in the category marked "rumour" right now, Techcrunch points to a comments from Adam D'Angelo, Facebook's former chief technology officer, that say Rose was right on the money: "This is not a rumour. This is a real project. There are a large number of people working on it. I am completely confident about this."

That confidence is supported by internal moves at Google where Rick Klau, the brains behind Buzz, has been shifted to head up Google Profiles – the ideal product to be retooled to create user profiles for Google Me.

D'Angelo says Google knows Buzz was a flop and is now building: "a full, first-class social network…modelling it off of Facebook." And there are weapons in Google's arsenal that Facebook has yet to match. ??Imagine a blend of YouTube, Google Maps, Picassa, Latitude, Google Talk, Google Voice and Gmail coupled with the status updates of Google Buzz and the collaborative potential of Google Wave. Then sling it at all those Android phones. That's what Google Me could be.

Creating a truly powerful mobile social network could allow Google Me to outflank Facebook. With Android, Google has built up a complex picture of how people use their phones to connect with social networks and should have learned valuable lessons from the Google Buzz privacy snafu to swerve issues like the perennial Facebook privacy concerns.

If Google can create a service with Google Me that allows users to better control all the information about them online, they could start to chip away at Facebook's seemingly unassailable lead. Remember when MySpace was the once and future king of social media? Facebook's grip on the throne may seem unbreakable but an all out assault by Google could still chip away at its numbers.

Whatever happens, Google needs to do something to counter the threat from its rival – a Facebook Gmail competitor is still being whispered about and the man behind the Chrome OS (Matthew Papakipos) has jumped ship to join Zuckerberg's crew.

If Google Me does set out to fight Facebook it'll be a long and bloody war but I wouldn't bet against Google finally creating a social network up to the job. If I knew exactly what that needed to look like though, I'd be on a plane to Mountain View now.

Let me know: am I utterly wrong? Does Facebook now have an unassailable lead? Or could Google Me really turn the tide?

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Lunchtime Lowdown: Windows 8, iWork for iPhone and Android poll triumphs

Posted: 29 Jun 2010 04:27 AM PDT

It’s been a busy morning stuffed full of gadget news, and we’ve got the very best of it rounded up for you right here. Read on and fill on up on it all in the lunchtime lowdown.

First up, on the desktop, we got a very first look at some of the features we might be seeing in Windows 8, courtesy of some leaked documents. Could it be an OS X beater?

On the mobile front meanwhile, several Android phones have been causing a stir, with the Samsung Galaxy S pulling in more votes than the iPhone 4 in our HD video contest, and Sammy’s superphone in turn being thumped by the Dell Streak in our epic Android smartphone poll.

Finally, on the iPhone side of things, the rumours of iWork heading to iPhone to join iWork for the iPad popped up once more, by way of an unsubtle hint on Apple’s official website.

Still want more news? You know where to get it: over on the homepage, now! is on the look out for a new Commercial Director. Could it be you? Click to find out how to apply.

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Foursquare Monopoly app incoming!

Posted: 29 Jun 2010 04:00 AM PDT

foursquare monopoly appFoursquare addicts, stop checking in to the staff toilet for a second and listen. Foursquare’s Jonathan Crowley says there’s a new way to check in right around the corner: a Foursquare Monopoly app, that he says is in development right now. Read on, and see him explain it on camera.

The game works via your check ins. "You have 20 venues you hang out at, and ten of your friends to play with," says Crowley. "Everyone has fake cash of £3000 or so, and when you check into a venue, if nobody has checked in before, you can buy it."

Then, when one of your friends checks in, and sees that someone else owns it, that person has to pay rent to the 'owner', and the winner is the one to reach a fake cash goal. Crowley says it's a way to “take a really classic game like Monopoly, and layering it onto real life hanging out”.

It sounds great, and it's a sign that there's more to come from Foursquare apps, especially as another funding round draws to a close. In the UK though, Foursquare just isn't that fun yet – there aren't enough users to create exciting places and tip offs yet, and as a result, users in London check in to such exciting hidden treasures as the Novotel at Euston, and Paddington station.

Perhaps Monopoly, being something which many British families and homesick housemates submit themselves to every festive season, will turn Foursquare around in this country, and bring to the fore that very British trait – oneupmanship. Check out the video below.

Foursquare’s Jonathan Crowley from Handshake Magazine on Vimeo.

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