Thursday, 1 July 2010 - tech news fast! - tech news fast!

MeeGo: Get a first look at Nokia’s next-gen OS

Posted: 30 Jun 2010 11:02 AM PDT

MeeGo is the next-gen mobile OS being prepped by Nokia and Intel. Announced back in February, it’s due to burst onto real live products later this year, although we still hadn’t seen much of it, bar a few fantasy features, interface ideas and concept demos. Until now. The chaps and chapesses beavering away on MeeGo behind the scenes just dished up the first look at its interface, and it’s shaping up to be a rather tasty iPhone and Android alternative.

Sure, it’s lacking a few bells and whistles, but remember: this is the first developer preview so we’re expecting bare bones material. What we didn’t expect were the graphical flourishes Nokia and Intel have squeezed in. There’s rotation animation for photos (something Nokia’s own Symbian phones still struggle with), and even some tasty transitions between screens and menus.

Announcing the MeeGo release on its blog, Team MeeGo said: “The MeeGo project is happy to announce “Day 1″ of the MeeGo Handset user experience project. Many of you will remember this “Day 1″ concept from March, when we first made the MeeGo core OS source code available and started development towards the MeeGo 1.0 release. Today, the handset baseline source code is available to the development community.”

Developers can now get their first taste of MeeGo, with the Core OS underneath nearing completion. The MeeGo UI team has set down a staple of user experience and interface guidelines, so MeeGo apps work in a consistent and sensible way. It’s all shaping up rather nicely, don’t you think? We know the final version will support smartphones, with developers currently being ushered towards the Nokia N900, as well as netbooks and other devices. We also know MeeGo supports multi-touch.

Have a look at the video showing off MeeGo’s first iteration below, and give us your thoughts in the comments.

TBC | £TBC | MeeGo (via Recombu)

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Final Fantasy 14 dated for PC and PS3

Posted: 30 Jun 2010 09:53 AM PDT

A Final Fantasy 14 release date? This year? Well. That’s a turnout for the books, after Final Fantasy 13’s extended gestation. We’ve got the official launch date for the online RPG right here for both PC and PS3, along with plenty of brand new screens, so check them out right now.

The global launch of Final Fantasy 14, first announced at Sony’s E3 2009 keynote a year ago, will take place on 30 September for PC, with a collector’s edition going on sale in Europe a week earlier on the 22nd, at a presumably higher price.

The PS3 version of Final Fantasy 14 meanwhile will be released in March of next year, and both games are already up for pre-order online: lists upfront pricing of £34.99/39.99 for PC/PS3, although as we’ve come to expect with MMO (massively multiplayer online) titles, there will be a monthly charge: £8.99, with extra characters costing £2.10 each.

Read our Final Fantasy 13 review now

It’ll be interesting to see how Final Fantasy 14 fares in a genre still dominated by World Of Warcraft after half a decade, and the blockbuster Star Wars Old Republic game on the horizon too. Final Fantasy 13 was a strictly solo affair and a commercial smash (5million plus sales), but whether fans will stick around to play the online series as they have done 2002’s Final Fantasy 11 remains to be seen.

Will you be pre-ordering Final Fantasy 14? Are you in on the beta already? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Out 22 September | £34.99 | Square Enix

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Viral: Expect this video in your inbox tomorrow morning

Posted: 30 Jun 2010 09:38 AM PDT

You saw it here first: The Old Spice commercial that went viral a few months ago? It’s back, and more epic than ever. If you’re still at work, be sure to send this to your mates now, and be the first with it in their inbox tomorrow morning. If you don’t, you can guarantee someone else will, as only 300 people have viewed this latest splash of eau de cologne craziness so far, compared to over 11 million for the original. Read on, and see the all-new Old Spice viral video in full.

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iStockphoto: Film, sell, and profit from your iPhone 4

Posted: 30 Jun 2010 08:10 AM PDT

istockphoto for iphoneiStockphoto, the microstock site, has launched an app for the iPhone and iPod Touch, with an iPad app in the pipeline. It's come at the perfect time for the iPhone 4's HD video capabilities, and means that filming video on your iPhone just got profitable.

As yet though, the app is waiting for an update to make best use of the iPhone 4's retina screen, and the forthcoming iPad app is in development, but it's not clear how long we'll be waiting as it's yet to be put through Apple's screening process.

Even so, the iPhone app will be a boon for photographers wanting to pick up pocket money on the go too, and iStockphoto also carries illustrations, audio and Flash. It's a chance to put your iPhone 4 through its paces and make a bit of pocket money on the side, like the 80,000 other people who already do.

The app has two users in mind – there's the customer capabilities, which mean you can email images, add them to lightboxes, discuss images with colleagues through the app. It also a boon for customers and photographers, as it both lets you browse and buy images and email them  as well as keep track of your account, including your sales and stats, and should help photographers get that extra bit of exposure to raise sales.

Out now | Free | iTunes

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iTunes 9.2 problems: what you said

Posted: 30 Jun 2010 08:05 AM PDT

It's 13 days since iTunes 9.2 arrived to prepare the way for iPhone 4 and other iOS 4 packing devices but it seems the shiny new software has just delivered nothing but woe for some of you. Anguished Apple fans have been flocking to our iTunes 9.2 problems post to share their issues. If you've got an iPod Classic and have been jilted by Apple's Jukebox or have struggled with other iTunes irritations, read on for some solace and even a few solutions…

The main iTunes 9.2 problems appear to have plagued iPod Classic owners. Our original iTunes 9.2 problems post has netted 98 comments so far and lots of you reported that the iPod Classic was refusing point blank to sync with the new software. Some of you even found that all your songs had been wiped from the device entirely.

Some, like DaveW, found that leaving the iPod Classic connected even after syncing had seemingly frozen was the solution. Dave says: "After about 15 minutes, the process unhung, and my sync completed normally." Sadly this doesn't seem to have worked for every aggrieved iPod Classic owner out there. Another solution appears to be simply switching to managing the contents of your iPod Classic manually but that can be a little tedious.

Our iTunes 9.2 thread also includes sporadic reports of syncing issues with the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS and the iPod Nano, most of which appear to be affecting readers running Windows. Let us know if you've got a Mac and have noticed similar issues.

Besides syncing snafus we also had reports of problems with changing or adding a genre to songs (thanks Michaeljohngoddard and Barrymahoney) and snags with album art.

Let us know: are you still having iTunes 9.2 problems? And have you noticed any other niggles or interesting additions in the latest iTunes update?

Out now | £free | Apple

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Don’t buy your Android phone for a Froyo update

Posted: 30 Jun 2010 07:44 AM PDT

HTC says it’s updating the HTC Desire, Legend and Wildfire to Froyo. Samsung is boosting the awesome Galaxy S to it too. Hoorays all round, right? Not quite. If there’s one thing the HTC Hero’s Android 2.1 update Odyssey has taught me, it’s that if you’re going to buy any Google phone, never, ever do it based on what it might do in the future, rather than what it does right now.

I love the HTC Desire and the Legend as they are (The Wildfire I can take or leave): they’re easily in the top five smartphones on sale right now, along with the iPhone 4 and Samsung Galaxy S. I also love what Android 2.2, or Froyo, heralds for the future: more speed, Wi-Fi tethering and Flash support on something the size of the Dell Streak will be absolutely epic.

But if you were on the fence about buying one until HTC said it would be coming to its trio of Android 2.1 phones this year, get right back on that partition. I don’t care how uncomfortable said fence is, I’m only going to believe it when I see it.

Let’s look at the HTC Hero. Running Android 1.5, it launched in June 2009 to much fanfare. At the time, we called it the first “proper contender” for the iPhone’s top spot. Then in September, Google went and rolled out Android 1.6. Then in October it went and released Android 2.0. And then in January, it upped and dropped Android 2.1 on the world.

As nice as HTC’s Sense social networking skin is on the HTC Hero, Google’s absurdly fast rollout left it looking rather stale, especially once the free Google Maps Navigation got flicked on on Android 1.6 phones. So HTC said it would update it to swizzly 2.1, and then said it was coming. So we waited. And waited.

Finally, six months after 2.1 launched, the HTC Hero has been given an official update to it. Except, only if you bought your phone unlocked (And really, who does that with expensive smartphones? iPhone obsessives maybe, and that’s it) – if you’ve got a HTC Hero on Orange or T-Mobile, you’re still out of luck. HTC assured me last week that it would hit all UK Hero handsets by the end of the month, but here we are, and for many owners in the UK, Android 2.1 is about as real as Gran Turismo 5.

Now clearly, I’m not laying the blame completely at HTC’s doorstep here, and it applies just as much to Sony Ericsson and LG and their Android phones (Which haven’t received updates yet). Google’s rapid rollout shows just how little attention the company pays to consumer experience with Android, and just how much it places on engineering prowess above all else.

But right now, I take any claims of an Android Froyo firmware update, as much as I’d love one, with a pinch of salt. Android is still young, and between Google, manufacturers and network operators, there are just too many factors involved to take any dates seriously right now.

In other words, go buy a HTC Legend or a Samsung Galaxy S, have a whale of a time with them, and try to think of a Froyo update as a potential bonus, and nothing more. If you buy one hoping for Flash support, you could be waiting a while.

What do you reckon? Am I dispensing foolish advice? Need to take a trip down to the XDA forums for some custom Android updates? Shout up with your thoughts in the comments below.

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iPhone 4: Apple hiring an antenna specialist with “hands-on” experience

Posted: 30 Jun 2010 07:24 AM PDT

The iPhone 4 antenna saga has moved from the troubling to the trivial and now, the hilarious. With impeccable timing, Apple has begun advertising for an "Antenna Engineer" to work on the iPhone. Better late than never though, eh?

The job posting, which you can see here, asks for applicants with more than 10 years experience with radio frequencies, and at least five years' experience in antenna design. That's longer than the iPhone itself has been around.

Applicants with PhDs are preferred, and without a hint of irony, given the iPhone 4's problems, Apple says experience of antenna technology "hands-on is a must."

All the standard iPhone 4 wireless tech is included in the list of requirements for applicants' CVs: GSM, GPRS and EDGE, as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Apple also asks that applicants are proficient in "talking data" and "using Excel" – what, no Numbers on the Cupertino campus Macs? Tsk…

Out now | £TBC | Apple?

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Asus Eee PC 1215N official: The new king of netbooks

Posted: 30 Jun 2010 07:15 AM PDT

The Asus Eee PC 1215N we've been getting excited about is real and on its way. The rumoured specs we got hold of back in May suggesting that this successor to the Asus Eee PC 1201N is a netbook taking great strides, and now its official.

The Asus Eee PC 1215N means faster file transfers, with both Bluetooth 3.0 and USB 3.0, plus a HDMI port (shared by its predecessor).

It’s also one of a small number of netbooks with a dedicated GPU, meaning there's the capability to stream high definition video. The separate GPU comes courtesy of Nvidia, with its Optimus technology, which now turns on and off seamlessly, depending on which applications are being used.

The upshot of a dedicated GPU with Nvidia Optimus is that is that it could have an impressive battery life, comparable to Asus' lower power netbooks. Currently, there's no details about battery life, and no pricing or details about availability.

Asus could tell us though that the release will be some time around mid-August.


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LG GT540 budget Android phone unboxed: photos

Posted: 30 Jun 2010 06:57 AM PDT

The LG GT540 has been on our radar for the last two months, but at long last, it’s finally washed up on UK shores. We were on hand to welcome it with a towel, thermos flask and camera – read on to see the unboxing pics of this low cost Android phone, and check out our first impressions too.

The LG GT540 was launched back in April, but it’s now landed in the UK, on Orange, and you know what? It’s not half bad. We were simply expecting a version of the excellent LG GW620 without the keyboard, the one thing that made it excellent, but LG’s made great job of a phone with a cheap resistive touchscreen.

The build of the LG GT540 sits halfway between that of the GW620 and LG’s older, clunkier Viewty phones, but it’s firm and not too fat, with a smooth back that’s a pleasure to hold. The touch sensitive control buttons aren’t amazing, but they work.

What’s most delightful about the LG GT540 though is the 3-inch HVGA screen. It’s surprisingly sharp and colourful with a decent viewing angle. It’s resistive, so there are no pinch to zoom gestures available, and the keyboard is a 0-9 affair rather than a QWERTY, but it’s pretty responsive if you like to use a phone one handed.

Read our LG GW620 review now

The LG GT540 isn’t just running the same skin as the GW620 either: it’s on the slightly newer Android 1.6, but with a simple skin that adds social networking widgets, and more importantly, Wi-Fi and GPS toggles to the notification tray so you can turn them on or off easily, something we’d like to see made mandatory in every Android reskin.

The LG GT540 is out now. Have a look at our hands on photos right here, and stay tuned for a full LG GT540 review, coming soon.

Out Now | £From free on contract | LG

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Sony Vaio F and CW2 overheating issues revealed

Posted: 30 Jun 2010 06:35 AM PDT

Sony Vaio FIt's hot out there but some Sony Vaio laptops could be getting even more scorching than the weather. Sony has announced that a pair of European Sony Vaio models are among a batch of over 500,000 that are packing incorrectly calibrated temperature sensors. That means the volcanic Vaio laptops in question can get so hot they start to melt. Wondering whether your Sony Vaio is affected? Read on for details and Sony's solution…

Sony put out a statement about the overheating Sony Vaio models. It says there have been 39 cases of machines overheating worldwide. The problem causes the plastic shell to distort and warp.

Though there have been reports of a Sony Vaio recall, Sony is in fact offering up BIOS updates for the affected machines. In Europe, the hot-headed Sony Vaio models are from the Vaio F and Vaio CW2 series.

If your Sony Vaio is affected, click the next two links for the Sony Vaio F-Series update and the Sony Vaio CW2 update. To check whether your Sony Vaio has a temperamental temperature sensor, you can enter its serial number here.

Let us know: has your Sony Vaio been affected by the overheating problem?

Out now | £free | Sony (via Reghardware)

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