Archive for January, 2012

squareThe Obama presidential campaign is again pushing the bounds of technology in politics by using Square mobile payments in its fundraising efforts. Square’s mobile payment device is a secure magnetic stripe credit card reader that can be attached to the headphone jack of iPhones, iPads, and Android devices to accept payments.

The company is obviously thrilled to have the publicity, and has sanctioned a special app for the campaign to use for donations. Currently, only staff have access to the Obama Square app, but it will be released to the general public soon. This is similar to the way Square worked with the Salvation Army to build a donation system built on its platform. 

This is also going to be a real cash cow for Square. It charges a 2.75% transaction fee on all payments, and that still applies to political campaigns. The Obama Campaign pulled in $42 million last quarter, and Square could see a big chink of that going forward. 

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snapdragonQualcomm mobile systems-on-a-chip (SoC) power many of the smartphones and tablets on the market today, and that’s why the upcoming Snapdragon S4 part is such a bug deal. This chip has a complete core redesign using Qualcomm’s custom ARM-compatible Krait core and speedy Adreno 225 GPU. Some early graphical benchmarks have showed up online, and appear to confirm that this is going to be one fast chip.

The SoC is built on a 28nm manufacturing process that should improve battery performance and thermals. The Krait processing core is expected to be a bit faster than Cortex-A9 cores licensed directly from ARM. The star of the recent benchmarks is the Adreno 225 GPU, which showed a value of 54.9 in NenaMark. This is a fair bit better than the Samsung Galaxy S II at 46.2, and it was even running at a lower native resolution. 

Apple’s A5 SoC still has the fastest GPU on the market in the form of a PowerVR SGX543MP2. Still, the dual and quad-core Snapdragon S4 parts are likely to be the fastest in an Android phone when they begin showing up in a few months. 

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devGoogle had been making a lot of changes as of late, and the Android mobile operating system had not been spared. Android 4.0 was a drastic UI departure, there is now a developer design guide, and just today, the Android Developers at Google set up a Google+ account to help devs to make better apps. 

The Android developer account will be posting tips for making better use of the SDK and developer tools on a daily basis. Perhaps the best initiative being undertaken by the Google engineers is a weekly “office hours” Hangout video chat. Developers will be able to log in and ask direct questions about Android development of the people that would know best. The first chat is going to be scheduled every Wednesday at 2PM PST, but more slots might be added.

Google is taking note of the importance of third-party apps in a way they never have before. All the Hangouts will be recorded for archiving on YouTube, so even part-time developers will have a chance to see what all the fuss is about.

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The silver lining when you hit rock bottom is there’s no place to go but up (actually, you can move sideways as well). Flip those words of wisdom upside down and you have a situation where Android, which has been sitting on top of the world, suddenly has to deal with its first ever decline in market share, according to data released by market research firm ABI Research.

According to ABI research, Apple was the star of the fourth quarter of 2011 with 37 million iPhone shipments for a sequential growth rate of 117 percent, and 128 percent on-quarter, enough to make it the number one smartphone OEM in the quarter.

Android, meanwhile, declined in market share from 52.5 percent in the third quarter of 2011 to 47 percent in Q4, a 5.5 percent drop. It’s the only time Android’s market share moved in a negative direction, ABI Research says.

There’s plenty of room for a rebound. ABI Research says the smartphone market delivered 28.6 percent sequential growth, 48.6 percent quarter-on-quarter growth, and 57.4 percent year-on-year growth, and demand doesn’t appear to be on a downswing.

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AT&T and Samsung announced the Galaxy Note smartphone at AT&T’s Developer Summit leading up to the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month, and in just a couple of weeks, you’ll be able to own one. The Galaxy Note will be available in carbon blue and ceramic white in AT&T stores beginning February 19, 2012 for $300 with a two-year service agreement, AT&T announced today.

If you’re feeling trigger happy, AT&T will let you get your pre-order in a little early starting February 5, 2012 online or in any AT&T company-owned retail store. Pre-ordered Galaxy Note devices will ship by February 17.

The Galaxy Note is a big phone that Samsung’s pitching as a sort of hybrid smartphone/tablet device. It’s the first in the world to boast a 5.3-inch HD Super AMOLED screen with a 1280×800 resolution, and is one of the largest screens you’ll find on a smartphone. For the sake of comparison, Apple’s iPhone 4S features a 3.5-inch display and the Galaxy S II checks in at 4.3 inches.

In addition to a ginormous display, the Galaxy Note is rocking a 1.4GHz dual-core processor, 16GB of internal memory, a 4G LTE radio, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 8MP rear-facing camera with LED flash, 2MP front-facing camera, and Android 2.3 (Gingerbread).

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