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Today, Taiwanese mobile phone maker HTC Corporation made official its first smartphones running under Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 operating system. The company has announced a new flagship handset, the Windows Phone 8X by HTC, with a 4.3-inch Super LCD II 720p HD touchscreen display, as well as with a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor. Thus, the new handset is the most powerful smartphone that the company has unveiled with Microsoft’s mobile operating system on board. HTC also packed the new device with 1GB of RAM, along with 16GB of storage but with no MicroSD card slot to expand it, and support for NFC and Beats Audio. The smartphone also comes with an 8-megapixel f2/0 BSI photo snapper with support for HD video recording, as well as with a front camera for making video calls. The hardware specifications of this device also include WiFi a/b/g/n connectivity, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, built-in GPS receiver, and the usual set of sensors. The new smartphone will be released in the United States with support for 4G LTE networks, while being planned for release in Europe and other markets with HSPA+/DC-HSDPA connectivity inside. In addition to including Beats Audio, the handset also arrives on shelves with a pair of amplifiers to offer better audio quality to its users, one for the headphone jack, and another for the phone’s speaker. “We’ve been inspired by Windows Phone 8 to create new smartphones that give the platform the iconic design and personality it deserves,” said Peter Chou, CEO of HTC Corporation. “Windows Phone has clearly emerged as one of the top mobile ecosystems and is competitive against any other smartphone platform in the world.” HTC also unveiled that these devices would be pushed to shelves starting with November, and that they would reach more than 150 carriers in 50+ countries. In the United States, the new Windows Phone 8X by HTC will be launched on the networks of AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. It will also arrive around the world at Orange, O2 Telefonica, MTS, Three UK, T-Mobile, and Vodafone in Europe; Chunghwa Telecom, Optus, Singapore Telecommunications Ltd (Singtel), Smartone, Telstra and Vodafone Australia in Asia-Pacific.

Today, Taiwanese mobile phone maker HTC Corporation made official its first smartphones running under Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 operating system. The company has announced a new flagship handset, the Windows Phone 8X by HTC, with a 4.3-inch Super LCD II 720p HD touchscreen display, as well as with a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor. Thus, the new handset is the most powerful smartphone that the company has unveiled with Microsoft’s mobile operating system on board. HTC also packed the new device with 1GB of RAM, along with 16GB of storage but with no MicroSD card slot to expand it, and support for NFC and Beats Audio. The smartphone also comes with an 8-megapixel f2/0 BSI photo snapper with support for HD video recording, as well as with a front camera for making video calls. The hardware specifications of this device also include WiFi a/b/g/n connectivity, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, built-in GPS receiver, and the usual set of sensors. The new smartphone will be released in the United States with support for 4G LTE networks, while being planned for release in Europe and other markets with HSPA+/DC-HSDPA connectivity inside. In addition to including Beats Audio, the handset also arrives on shelves with a pair of amplifiers to offer better audio quality to its users, one for the headphone jack, and another for the phone’s speaker. “We’ve been inspired by Windows Phone 8 to create new smartphones that give the platform the iconic design and personality it deserves,” said Peter Chou, CEO of HTC Corporation. “Windows Phone has clearly emerged as one of the top mobile ecosystems and is competitive against any other smartphone platform in the world.” HTC also unveiled that these devices would be pushed to shelves starting with November, and that they would reach more than 150 carriers in 50+ countries. In the United States, the new Windows Phone 8X by HTC will be launched on the networks of AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. It will also arrive around the world at Orange, O2 Telefonica, MTS, Three UK, T-Mobile, and Vodafone in Europe; Chunghwa Telecom, Optus, Singapore Telecommunications Ltd (Singtel), Smartone, Telstra and Vodafone Australia in Asia-Pacific.

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Samsung Focus S: A Standout Windows Phone

Thin Design

The Focus S’s design screams Samsung with its glossy piano black bezel, textured battery cover and subtle curves. Like pretty much every Samsung phone ever, the Focus S is a bit on the plasticky side, but it feels sturdy and solid enough to withstand day-to-day use. The Focus S’s shape is more squared than the original Focus, and of course, thinner at 0.33 inches.

Design-wise, the Focus S is actually quite similar to the Samsung Galaxy S II Android phones. Obviously, the Focus S has Windows Phone touch-sensitive buttons below the display as opposed to the Android ones. It is also missing a MicroSD slot as Windows Phones don’t have expandable memory (though you do get 25GB of free cloud storage via Microsoft’s Skydrive in addition to the phone’s 16GB of built-in storage).

Like the AT&T Galaxy S II phone, the Focus S rocks a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display. The Focus S’s colors looked bright, details were crisp, and the viewing angles were very good. Blacks were deep, and colors were richly saturated without being overdone. Whites have a bit of a bluish tint, but it wasn’t too noticeable. One of the benefits of AMOLED displays is their performance in bright sunlight. Outdoors, the Focus S’s display remains incredibly visible. According to Samsung, Super AMOLED Plus displays have 50 percent more subpixels than the first-generation Super AMOLED displays (seen on the Vibrant, Mesmerize, and other Galaxy S phones) and perform even better than their predecessors in bright light.

Windows Phone Mango

I’ve covered the Mango update quite a bit, but I’ll briefly review some of its best features. For the most part, Mango looks and behaves similarly to the first version of Windows Phone 7, but it offers some very significant additions. For a general overview of Windows Phone 7, go here. For a first look at the new features in Mango, go here.

With Mango, you finally get true multitasking with third-party apps, as well as Internet Explorer 9. You can quickly switch among recently used applications by pressing and holding the back button. All of your open apps are elegantly displayed in chronological order based on when you last used them.

All of your Hubs have been enhanced with sweet new features. For example, the People Hub connects Facebook, Twitter, Outlook, LinkedIn, and Windows Live Messenger in one place, so you don’t have to jump from app to app to communicate with your friends and colleagues. You can also group and categorize your contacts based on how you think of them–friends, coworkers, enemies, or whatever.

The Bing search engine gets a complete makeover. A new feature called Local Scout uses GPS to recognize where you are and then provides you with hyperlocal search results based on your preferences. Another cool and useful feature in Bing is Music search, which works sort of like Shazam on iOS and Android.

Microsoft doesn’t allow manufacturers to create custom skins (like Samsung’s TouchWiz for its Android phones), but Samsung and AT&T have thrown in a few apps, like Samsung’s Photo Studio for editing your pictures, YP Mobile, and AT&T’s suite of apps like myWireless, Navigator, Radio and others. There’s also a Samsung-made tile called “Now,” which lets you check weather, stocks, top Tweets, news, etc.

Performance

Windows Phone 7.5 already felt lightweight and speedy on the original Focus, which was powered by a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. The Focus S has a single core 1.4GHz processor (sorry, no dual-core for Windows Phones yet) and I could definitely see a difference in speediness of apps, fluidity of menus and Website load times between the two phones.

Call quality was a bit spotty. While my callers reported overall good quality on their end, I heard a faint hiss in the background of a few of my calls. My friends also sounded a bit distant, like they weren’t holding their phones close enough to their faces.

Solid Camera

The Focus S has an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 1.3-megapixel

front-facing camera. My outdoor photos looked great: The camera handles shadows and light contrast quite well. Colors looked natural and details appeared sharp. My indoor photos looked good too though details weren’t as sharp and colors looked a bit oversaturated.

All Windows Phones have a dedicated shutter key, which I always appreciate. It is so much easier to get a steady shot with a hardware shutter key as opposed to an on-screen software key. Another bonus: When you press the shutter key, the camera app automatically launches, even when the phone is locked.

Bottom Line

Out of all the Windows Phones currently available, the Focus S is the most enticing. If you’re not interested in the iPhone 4S and find Android confusing, the Focus S might be for you. You’ll especially like it if you rely on Microsoft products, like Office or Outlook, for work. If you love jailbreaking and installing custom mods on your phone, however, though, Windows Phone Mango’s limited customization options won’t appeal. The Samsung Focus S’s brilliant display, fluid performance and bevy of features make it the Windows Phone to beat.

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Apple Airpods Max Headphones Official

Apple AirPods Max headphones official – Noise cancellation for $549

Apple has officially announced its first over-the-ear headphones, and the AirPods Max promise active noise cancellation and spatial audio for an eye-watering price. Long rumored, the headphone addition to the AirPods line-up tap the Apple H1 chipset as well as a distinctive design that the Cupertino firm says should be more comfortable for extended listening.

That starts with the headband or, as Apple prefers to call it, the “canopy” which spans the headband. That’s made of a knit mesh fabric, which should be more comfortable, breathable, and distributes weight better to reduce on-head pressure, Apple says.

The headband itself is made of stainless steel, and has telescoping arms for the ear cups. They join through a new mechanism which allows each cup to rotate and pivot independently. There’s also more new materials on the cups themselves, with what Apple says is “acoustically engineered memory foam” for a better seal.

Unexpectedly, Apple’s AirPods Max borrow from the Apple Watch for their on-headphone controls. There’s a Digital Crown on one side, which can be used to adjust volume, play or pause music, answer and end phone calls, skip through tracks, and trigger Siri. A noise control button alongside it, meanwhile, switches between the Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency modes.

Inside, of course, is where it really matters. There, AirPods Max have a 40mm dynamic driver of Apple’s own design, with a dual neodymium ring magnet motor that the company says should keep total harmonic distortion to under 1-percent across the audible range, even when you have the headphones cranked up to maximum volume.

Each ear cup gets an Apple H1, with new computational audio running on 10 audio cores in each chip. That powers the Adaptive EQ – automatically adjusting the audio profile to suit the overall headphones’ fit by measuring the sound that that makes it through to their ears – and the Active Noise Cancellation system. Three outward microphones, and one internal microphone, are on each ear cup.

As with AirPods Pro, you can switch into Transparency Mode which pipes through audio from outside. Optical and position sensors automatically pause music when you take the AirPods Max off, while beam-forming is used for voice calls and Siri interactions.

Spatial Audio, meanwhile, relies on dynamic head tracking to virtually position music in 3D space. It’ll work with content recorded in 5.1, 7.1, and Dolby Atmos, and uses the gyroscope and accelerometer in AirPods Max and iPhone or iPad. That way, as you move your head, the sound field stays put.

With the H1 chipset, there’s Audio Sharing and automatic switching, plus up to 20 hours of battery life with both ANC and spatial audio switched on. The headphones come with a Smart Case that puts them into an ultraslow power state when you’re not using them, as well as to charge them via Lightning. 5 minutes of charging is good for around 1.5 hours of listening time.

For the most comprehensive experience, of course, Apple is expecting you to use AirPods Max with one of its own devices. However, since they’re Bluetooth 5.0 headphones, they’ll work – with potentially missing features – with any Bluetooth audio source. Apple will have five color options: silver, space gray, sky blue, pink, and green.

Then there’s the price. Nobody expected Apple’s premium headphones to be cheap, but at $549 they’re definitely well above the most obvious competition right now. Apple says they’ll ship in the US and 25+ other locations from December 15, and they’re available to preorder from today.

Windows Phone 8 Will Be Deeply Integrated With Windows 8 Os

Microsoft announced today that its forthcoming mobile operating system, Windows Phone 8, will become closely linked with desktop PCs and tablets running Windows 8.

With many wondering about the fate of Windows phones in an iPhone world, Microsoft is effectively linking the fate of its mobile operating system to the success of its PC operating system, which is currently used by 1.3 billion people worldwide. It is Redmond’s second big announcement this week: The Microsoft Surface tablet event happened Monday.

“The future of Windows 8 is a ‘shared core’ between Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8,” said Windows Phone 8 product manager Joe Belfiore. This means that the two operating systems will share the same kernel, plus the same files system, multimedia apps, and graphics support.

For users, this integration means that apps that work on Windows phones will also work on desktop PCs and tablets, and they will find it easier to share content and apps seamlessly between their Windows Phone and their Windows tablet or desktop PC.

The shared core also will make life easier for developers because they will be able to create content and apps that run on both phones and PCs; they can spend far more time developing, and far less time “versioning.”

This in turn should mean that Windows Phone users will benefit from a reenergized development community that will develop cooler apps–apps that could be far more competitive in number and quality than Apple ecosystem apps.

Tiles Interface: Microsoft rolled out a newly designed version of the “tiles” user interface for Windows Phone 8, which it calls the “marquee feature” of the new mobile OS. The tiles are “live” and can show various types of content at different times. (See image above.) And, in connection with the ‘Mapping’ item, below, you will also be able to make a tile for a Nokia map on the home screen.

Web-Page Rendering: Microsoft also announced that Windows Phone 8 will support the same Web-page rendering engine as Windows 8, so developers can create Web pages for desktops and tablets, and know that the pages will work the same way on phones.

Mapping: Windows Phone will have Nokia mapping technology built in. This comes just on the heels of news that Apple has developed its own mapping app for the iPhone, but Nokia’s maps have more development time behind them, and are expected to be a major addition to WP8.

Display Support: Windows Phone is (finally) adding support for standard 720p, WXGA 1280 by 768, and WVGA 800 by 480 displays.

Storage: WP8 will add microSD card support to its phones. Windows Phone users will be able to employ the small memory cards to store memory and move data back and forth between their phones and their PCs.

Mobile Wallet

Microsoft will use Windows Phone 8 to catch up with the mobile-wallet capabilities of Android and (less so) the iPhone. Windows Phone 8 will include a “mobile-wallet hub” that will allow users to pay for goods and services with their phones.

Game Development

Microsoft announced that developers will now be able to develop games for both phones and PCs using native C++ code and a set of common APIs (application programming interfaces).

The Business Angle

Microsoft is also adding features in Windows Phone 8 to make the OS more business-friendly. These include support for Bitlocker encryption, secure boot, flexible app distribution, and device management. This is a big deal for IT managers, and it will help Microsoft pursue its strategy of winning the consumer phone market by making a phone that works for business life as well as personal use.

Windows Phone 8 will offer IT managers a “Company Hub” feature that will allow them to create a customized experience on the phone for employees.

The hub (see image at left) will show the apps that the employee has already installed, and then suggest some that might be useful, like the “time-off” app. An alerts page will notify employees to change their passwords. Microsoft will also provide templates to help businesses quickly put together miniportals for employees’ Windows 8 phones.

No Joy for WP7 Owners

However, Microsoft says that existing WP7 phones will be able to upgrade to WP 7.8, which will at least give them the new interface, or “live-tiles” experience.

Htc Sensation: Qhd 1.2Ghz Dual

HTC Sensation: qHD 1.2GHz dual-core flagship

The HTC Sensation has been officially launched – aka the HTC Pyramid – the company’s new Android flagship. Running Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread on a dual-core Qualcomm MSM 8260 1.2GHz processor, the Sensation has a Desire HD-matching 4.3-inch S-LCD touchscreen running at qHD 540 x 960 resolution, HSPA/WCDMA connectivity, and an 8-megapixel camera capable of 1080p Full HD video recording with stereo sound.

There’s also 1GB of ROM and 768MB of RAM, a microSD slot (with an 8GB card pre-loaded), and  VGA-resolution front-facing camera. Connectivity includes WiFi b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a microUSB port with MHL support for HDMI output (with the appropriate dongle).

The HTC Sensation measures in at 126.1 x 65.4 x 11.3 mm and weighs 148g with the standard 1,520 mAh battery, and follows HTC’s unibody aluminum design language with a three-tone rear panel (either graduated grays or a subdued trio of purples). A sheet of toughened Gorilla Glass protects the touchscreen. There’s also GPS/AGPS, a dual-LED flash on the back and the usual gyro, G-sensor, digital compass, proximity sensor and ambient light sensor.

Like the HTC Flyer, the Sensation will come preloaded with HTC Watch, the company’s movie and TV show rental/purchase system. Over 600 titles are expected at launch, including recent big-name movies, with UK pricing expected to be around £0.99 per rental or £1.99 for purchase. Trailers begin playing immediately, over 3G or WiFi, while purchases/rentals can only be downloaded over WiFi and, thanks to some smart buffering, begin playing after around 10 seconds.

Once bought, content is available in an online digital locker, and can be accessed on up to five HTC devices (though not other platforms; you can’t access movies on your PC, for instance); users will be able to add/remove one device per 30 day period. HTC will offer carrier-billing with certain carriers and credit-card payments for everyone else. The Sensation offers SRS WOW audio, or video can be played back via the HDMI output.

With the HTC Sensation, the company introduces a new version of HTC Sense, borrowing some of the cues from the Flyer tablet. There’s a new homescreen with a 3D carousel layout supporting endless scrolling, as well as a redesigned lock-screen that is designed to act as a “real-time window” to important information. Instead of the basic lock-slider from previous Sense devices, there’s a new “launcher ring” to which user-assigned app icons on the lockscreen can be dragged; that instantly unlocks the phone and opens the app. Icons like Mail or Messages can show how many new email or SMS are present.

The HTC Sensation will see a global launch rather than just European availability. In Europe it will initially arrive – in May or June 2011 – on Vodafone before spreading to other carriers. In the US it will be offered as the HTC Sensation 4G on T-Mobile USA, complete with HSPA+ connectivity. The Sensation will also go on sale in Asia (carriers tbc). No word on pricing at this stage, but expect something in excess of the Desire HD.

We’ll have hands-on photos and video with the HTC Sensation very soon!

Press Release:

HTC UNVEILS MULTIMEDIA SUPERPHONE, THE HTC SENSATION™

LONDON – April 12, 2011 – HTC Corporation, a global leader in mobile innovation and design, today introduced the HTC Sensation, a smartphone that shines a spotlight on entertainment with HTC’s new HTC Watch™ video service. Crafted with premium design elements, the HTC Sensation features the company’s latest HTC Sense™ experience that puts people at the center by making their smartphones work in a more simple and natural way.

“Smartphones have evolved into pocket-sized entertainment centers that enable people to take their favorite content with them wherever they go,” said Peter Chou, CEO of HTC Corporation. “The HTC Sensation takes this even further by combining the great new HTC Watch entertainment experience with the latest HTC Sense experience to deliver a powerful, evolved multimedia smartphone to our customers.”

“The HTC Sensation integrates multimedia content with relevant, thoughtful features, bringing an exciting new dimension to Vodafone’s smartphone range. The HTC Sensation will be available first in key Vodafone markets from Q2,” said Patrick Chomet, Vodafone’s Group Terminals Director. “The strength of Vodafone and HTC’s partnership is a marker of our commitment to offer our customers truly compelling and market-leading mobile experiences.”

Premium Design and Materials

Tapping into HTC’s trademark design language, the HTC Sensation’s premium look and feel is enhanced by its rounded edges, aluminum unibody construction and the touch screen surface is protected by a contoured screen that feels more natural as a finger is glided across it. The 4.3-inch qHD display delivers high-resolution widescreen viewing and gives the HTC Sensation slender proportions that feel natural in a person’s hand. At the heart of the HTC Sensation beats a powerful, 1.2-gigahertz dual-core Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ processor, which enables gorgeous graphics and all-around fast performance.

HTC Sense

Complementing the HTC Sensation’s premium design is the latest HTC Sense experience that boasts a host of new features and enhancements, helping people to have more fun and get more done. For instance, HTC Sense introduces a customizable active lockscreen experience that transforms the lockscreen into a real-time window to the most important information and content, such as social updates, photos, weather or stock updates that are viewed by simply turning on the display. In addition, the new active lockscreen becomes a customizable gateway that lets people quickly jump to the most used features, like making a phone call, sending an email, taking a picture or anything else with the same quick gesture usually used to unlock the phone. For instance, the camera can be launched right from the lock screen with a single motion, saving precious seconds when you’re trying to capture the action. Sharper graphics, vibrant animations and new widgets make HTC Sense look better than ever and, by continuing to focus on all of the aspects, both large and small, that make HTC Sense special, HTC introduces a more cinematic and immersive weather experience with stunning imagery and audible weather effects.

HTC Sense also makes it easy to have fun by enabling people to capture and share special moments. The HTC Sensation’s 8-megapixel camera doesn’t just shoot gorgeous photos but, with the new instant capture feature, lets people capture the moments they want without worrying about missing or keeping up with the action. The HTC Sensation also shoots full HD video in 1080p resolution, with full stereo sound, at up to 30 frames a second, giving you smooth video that is better than many other phones. With the new Video Trimmer tool, people can crop their clips to the perfect size for easy sharing with friends and family.

HTC Watch

The HTC Sensation is a smartphone that is built from the ground up for a sophisticated, evolved multimedia experience. The 4.3″ widescreen display means that users can watch movies like they were meant to be seen – in their full cinematic glory, with no cropping or letterboxing. The HTC Sensation is also the first smartphone to feature HTC Watch – an application and service that puts an entire library of the latest, premium movies and TV shows right at your fingertips, letting people discover the latest video content in an easy and visually engaging way. HTC Watch uses progressive download technology that makes it possible to watch videos without waiting for a huge file to finish downloading. HTC Watch offers the choice of renting or buying videos, and if purchased, lets you watch them on up to five different HTC devices.

Availability

The HTC Sensation will be broadly available through Vodafone across major European markets. It will also be available in Asian markets in Q2 2011.

Make Your Android Look Like A Windows Phone 8

Starting out

You will need to head over to the Google Play Store and download the launcher and install it. To start messing around the launcher, press the home button and make it the default launcher. If you are just trying it out, depending on the Android version you are using, you could use the “Just once” option.

You will be at the default layout. Your wallpaper will remain the same, but the screen will be covered mainly by the tiles. With the tiles, it is pretty hard to see so possibly changing it to a solid color might lend to a more appealing layout. From here you can make changes like most home screens to customize it how you’d like to use it.

The tiles tab lets you adjust colors and transparencies. The desktop tab lets you make adjustments like having a screen lock (locking the tiles to the screen) , scroll effect and the wallpaper transparency.

The Preferences offers a lot of things to change. What will be useful is to take a look at the gestures. Swiping up with two fingers gets you to the app drawer, down with two fingers gets you to the Preferences. To change what the gestures do, tap on the option and choose a new action for it from the list.

The tiles

The tiles are the biggest part of what makes Windows 8’s look unique. When adding an app to the home screen, the process is the same. However, when the shortcut is added, you can make some changes to it. Mainly the size. You may have a lot of room on the screen and you’d like to have it taken up by a Gallery shortcut. Press and drag the arrow in the bottom right corner to resize it. To change the color, press the pencil at the top left.

Widgets can also be added to your home screen in the same manner. edited similarly too. Further customizing can be done using Apex/Nova/Go/Adw icon packs.

Final thoughts

While Ariku Launcher is only cosmetic, it offers a good way to add the Windows 8 look to your Android without sacrificing all of the features you’ve come to know and love about the Android OS.

Trevor Dobrygoski

Trevor is a freelance writer covering topics ranging from the Android OS to free web and desktop applications. When he is not writing about mobile productivity, He is coaching and playing the world’s greatest game… Soccer.

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