Geek News: Latest Technology, Product Reviews, Gadgets and Tech Podcast News for Geeks


First Firefox OS smartphones hitting the market

Posted by Alan at 5:04 AM on July 1, 2013

firefox phoneFor a year now we have known that Mozilla was developing its own mobile operating system. There has even been a preview version you could run with the Firefox web browser and developer handsets available, though these sold out very quickly.

Now the launch is at hand, as the first handset will be going on sale through Telefonica in Spain. “Mozilla, the mission-based organization dedicated to keeping the power of the Web in people’s hands, today announced that the regional launches of Firefox OS smartphones will begin soon. Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica will release the first Firefox OS devices, the ALCATEL ONE TOUCH Fire and the ZTE Open, soon. Individual partners will announce specifics about launches in each market soon” says Mozilla.

Mozilla boasts that Firefox OS smartphones are the first devices powered completely by Web technologies. The handsets will have the basic – calls, messaging, email, camera. There are also things you wish a smartphone offered. Firefox OS also includes built-in social features with Facebook and Twitter, HERE Maps with offline capabilities and smart walking, driving and public transit directions, much-loved features like the Firefox Web browser, a new ability to discover one-time use and downloadable apps, Firefox Marketplace and much more.

Other markets will be coming soon, as Mozilla boasts of more than 20 hardware and operator partners around the world, the organization hopes to fill a niche market with low-priced smartphones.

Sonic fans rejoice — Sega drops the price

Posted by Alan at 7:42 AM on June 21, 2013

Mobile game fans have reason to be happy today, as nostalgic game maker Sega has good news for all of its Sonic the Hedgehog fans. The game has been around a number of years, having begun life on the console market. Now it has found a new home as a mobile game and new generations have discovered it, while Sega continue to update and add new episodes.

Now the game maker has announced a sale on all version, including the latest ones, through the Google Play store. Prices have been dropped to $0.99 for a limited time.

sonic

Games Included:

No word on exactly how long this deal will last, but if you are a fan of the game, or would like to try it out for the first time, then now is the time to strike.

Rovio rolls out Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage game for iOS

Posted by Alan at 7:05 AM on June 20, 2013

Vikings have suddenly become big business for the first time in several hundred years, thanks to the TV series that just completed its season one run with high ratings and critical acclaim. Now Rovio, famous for the Angry Birds franchise, capitalizes on the the popularity with its latest game.

Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage is launching on iOS devices. The game comes from UK-based studio Nitrome, and is the first game published under the brand new Rovio Stars initiative, which will bring you new games.

“In Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage an icy wind has swept away a band of vikings to leave them stranded in a perilous landscape of trolls, traps and a lot of ice. Your mission as a lone icebreaker apprentice is to save your fellow vikings by cutting through tangles of ice, ropes, traps, troll snot and yes, even chickens! Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage offers 95 levels crammed full of puzzles, side quests, epic final bosses and offbeat humour”

For now, the posted download link does not yet display the game, but it should be rolling out today and can be found in the iTunes Store, though there is no mention of pricing in the announcement.

Fake Bad Piggies Malware Hits Google Play, Android Phones

Posted by J Powers at 11:47 AM on June 13, 2013

Bad-PiggiesIf you are a fan of the Angry Birds series, then you know about Bad Piggies – a sequel to the popular bird game. Security company F-Secure detected there was a faux app in the Play store that looked and felt like the Bad Piggies by Rovio. However, this app had a slight alteration to the name (Bad Pigs) and a different developer name.

Since the detection, Google Play has removed this malware version from their store. Unfortunately  10,000 downloads have occurred since May 25, 2013. The app asks the user for permission to do more than just push notification and simple data collection.

If any app asks for more information – including full access to your location and personal information, you should remove the app and report it. Usually trojanized apps are popular games, since they see more downloads.

Bad Piggies is a free app that sees between 10,000 – 50,000 app downloads on Google Play. It is available on Android and iOS apps, along with Mac and PC.

If you are one of the duped app users, simply delete the app through Android App Manager.

Google goes its own Waze

Posted by Alan at 11:07 AM on June 11, 2013

waze logoAfter much rumor and speculation Google seems to have won the bidding war with Facebook (if there really was one) and pulled the trigger on a purchase of beloved mapping program Waze.

If you have never used Waze then you are missing out. The service takes what Google Maps already offers and adds a bit of social to it. There is real-time traffic data, users alerts on other problems (including speed traps) and much more.”To help you outsmart traffic, today we’re excited to announce we’ve closed the acquisition of Waze. This fast-growing community of traffic-obsessed drivers is working together to find the best routes from home to work, every day”, announces Google.

The Waze product development team will remain in Israel and operate separately for now, but Google plans to slowly integrate the service into its Google Maps.

Perhaps the result will be the most comprehensive service yet. It certainly has all of the markings of such. The power and money of Google could take this a long way.

Do you own a cell phone?

Posted by Alan at 11:43 AM on June 10, 2013

Okay, perhaps that is the wrong question to ask to a crowd of tech enthusiasts, as likely you all own a smartphone and the only division lies between iPhone, Android and Windows Phone. However a new repot from Pew Research finds that those non-techies we all know also have a mobile phone of some type — my parents have one, though perhaps they should actually charge it and carry with them when they go out!

report just released announces that 91 percent of people now own a cell phone of some sort. “Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project has found that cell phone ownership among adults has exceeded 90%”. The research begins with a November 2004 study that showed 65 percent adoption.

pew cell phone adoption

The results come from a survey conducted between April 17 and May 19 of 2,252 adults. The new report also tells us that the cell phone is the most rapidly adopted technology of all time.

Exceptions include “people ages 65 and older; those who did not attend college; those living in households earning less than $30,000; and those in rural areas. In this survey, it is even the case that women are statistically significantly less likely to own cell phones than men—though this pattern has not been evident in all of our previous surveys”.

The research company proceeded to break it down to 93 percent of men and 88 percent of women, with further demographics by age group.

With computer sales down and the rise of smartphones and tablets, it is really no surprise that this number continues to rise. However, smartphones and tablets are more of a disposable device, where computers can be easily upgraded. THis perhaps makes the numbers a bit skewed.

Voxer Walkie-Talkie App

Posted by tomwiles at 9:40 AM on May 20, 2013

For several years, I’ve made heavy use of the Heytell walkie-talkie app on both iOS and Android devices. Heytell is functional, but it has its problems from time to time. I have continued to my eye out for worthy walkie-talkie app alternatives.

I originally tried out the Voxer app upwards of two years ago. At that time, I found that Voxer just wasn’t a worthy replacement for Heytell. For one thing, I found the Voxer audio quality to be fairly poor compared to Heytell’s audio quality. I left Voxer installed on my devices, but contined to make use of Heytell.

Recently my youngest brother contacted me via Voxer and I started noticing the app once again. I noticed that not only had the audio quality improved, but other useful features had been added and the overall performance of the app is now quite robust.

One of the key features that makes Voxer extremely useful to me is that I can easily pass through poor and changing mobile data performance areas, and Voxer is able to robustly adapt to the changing data connectivity conditions. Even in marginal connectivity areas all outgoing Voxer messages are eventually transmitted to the recipient as connectivity permits. All incoming Voxer messages likewise come in as connectivity permits.

Another really nice feature of Voxer is that it allows unlimited message length. It’s possible to talk and not arbitrarily get cut off after 20 seconds. Also, unlike Heytell there are never any “full” inboxes to contend with. It’s possible to leave plenty of messages for your recipient and they will be waiting for them on their device when they get time to listen to them. This is really a great feature if you are trying to give someone how-to instructions.

Voxer also has the ability to text chat as well as transmit photos back and forth. Additonally, Voxer puts a GPS stamp on each transmitted message, so it is possible to see a map of exactly where either you or your recipient was when a particular message was transmitted.

Walkie-talkie apps on mobile devices can be extremely useful. When you don’t have the time or the inclination to make a phone call, yet have need to communicate with someone, a walkie-talkie app is extremely useful. With both Android and iOS versions, Voxer is the best free walkie-talkie currently app available.

Faster Wifi in Airplanes Coming Soon…

Posted by J Powers at 12:21 PM on May 10, 2013

wifiThanks to the FCC you might be able to finally watch your Netflix from the plane.

Due to a proposal by the Federal Communications Commission, they are looking to take over a handful of newly acquired airwaves. The new spectrum could make your in-flight Wifi experience 30 times faster than what you experience now. FCC chairman Julius Genachowski and several colleagues voted unanimously to move forward with this plan.

“The reality is that we expect and often need to be able to get online 24/7, at home, in an office, or on a plane,” said Genachowski.

Companies like gogo wireless will still be controlling in-flight Wifi and you will (for now) still have to pay a fee as you go. However, with a speed as good as a coffee shop, they expect more users pull out their smartphones and tablets to connect up and watch a movie, check email and surf the web while 30,000 feet in the air.

The new Wifi format will share 14.0-14.5 GHz of the spectrum. This will allow data transfer of up to 300 gigabits per second – shared by all aircrafts using Wifi at that moment.

 

 

Microsoft to Buy Nook?

Posted by J Powers at 9:15 AM on May 9, 2013
Nook

Nook

Microsoft is looking at the Barnes & Noble Nook – and they are willing to pay $1 billion for them.

Barnes and Noble stock rose 16% as news flew about Microsoft wanting to purchase the Nook e-reader, tablet and e-book business. This, just days after an announcement that Nook was allowing users to download via Google Play. Barnes and Noble also considered spinning off the Nook to its own company.

According to a document obtained by TechCrunch, if Microsoft was to obtain Nook, the Android-based tablet would be discontinued and the e-reader would be phased out at a later time. The expectation would be to merge Nook e-reader into the Microsoft Windows 8 tablet.

Right now, 10 million Nook devices have been sold, with 7 million active subscribers.

angry birds friends

Many of us play Angry Birds, but are frustrated by the issues that arise when we change devices. There are options for getting around this. In fact, there are at least two backup and restore apps available in the Play store, both of which I have used. There are also options for doing a complete backup using a service like Carbon.

Now Rovio aims to solve this issue with a new Account feature built into the games. This allows the customer to log in and save progress, then log in on another device and resume play from the same spot. “Rovio Account lets you store your game progress and continue playing on another device” the company tells us.

There is a good chance you have not seen this feature yet, as the Finnish game maker explains — “Rovio Account is currently available in The Croods game globally, and in the classic Angry Birds game on iOS in Finland and Poland. We will gradually introduce Rovio Account into more areas in the future and also add new features”.

This will be a much welcome addition to the popular game franchise and will eliminate the need for third-party solutions, which work, but can be a hassle.