Sony Xperia C670X Specs Leak, Suggesting A New Android Flagship To Take On The HTC One

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We didn’t see a new phone from Sony at MWC this year, though it did take the opportunity to show off the Xperia Z (pictured) it demoed early this year at CES, but a new rumor suggests we’ll see a mid-year upgrade in a few months time that packs Android 4.2, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 chipset with 1.8GHz processor, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard storage.

The leaked specs come from a tipster providing info to Xperia Blog, and also suggest the C670X will be smaller than the Xperia 7, with a 4.8-inch screen compared to the announced device’s 5-inch display. In most regards, the C670X sounds like a beefed up Xperia 7, however, with a more powerful processor, Adreno 320 graphics and double the on-board storage, while retaining a 13 megapixel rear camera and the same 1920 x 1080 resolution. The device’s pixel density will be higher, however, since those same pixels are fitting in a smaller screen, making for more crisp text and graphics rendering.

If true, this new handset would be pretty much on par with HTC’s flagship One smartphone, which has a 1.7GHz Snapdragon 600 chipset, and an Adreno 320 GPU. No word on whether the C670X would also inherit the Xperia Z’s impressive water resistance, which could be a tipping point factor for buyers looking to make a decision between the two.

These leaked specs should be treated with a healthy dollop of skepticism (it was accompanied with a render from the setup guide from the Xperia Z, which admittedly doesn’t depict the Xperia Z itself), but they’re far from extreme, and Sony fielding a phone in 2013 that takes advantage of the latest in mobile processor technology does make sense.


TechCrunch » android

New Kickstarter Project Lets You Send And Receive ‘Sound Emojis’ On Your iPhone Or Android Device

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Apple’s greatest innovation in recent version of iOS was clearly enabling emoji keyboard support for all iPhone and iPad users, regardless of region. Emojis are fun for everyone, but they could potentially get better thanks to a new Kickstarter project. The TeleSound is an iPhone and Android device accessory that lets users send sound messages, by translating the emojis built into iOS into a corresponding sound and playing it back via a special speaker peripheral.

The TeleSound uses a dedicated app that lets you message your friends, using the emojis provided in iOS. You can line up a series of icons to play back a number of noises in rapid succession, which is likely exactly as irritating as it sounds. The sounds playback via a small speaker that looks like one end of an old-school rotary phone handset, which connects to the iPhone via Bluetooth 4.0 (so it’ll only work with later model devices, like the iPhone 4S and up).

The speaker automatically plays back received messages when on and within pairing range (around 30 ft) of your device, and you can simply flip it over to turn it off thanks to an included tilt sensor. Messages received while the speaker isn’t in range or is inactive will be stored for later playback, so you won’t miss a single duck noise or sparkly tinkling sound. Replaying the last received message is as simple as quickly flipping the speaker over and right-side up again in a single gesture.

Project creators Olivier Mével and Marc Chareyron are the founding team behind a Paris-based hardware startup that previously created reaDIYmates, which are roll-your own kits for building Wi-Fi objects that can provide different responses based on input from web-based applications and sources, as well as smartphones. The duo is interested in helping build the next generation of connected devices to fuel the advent of the so-called “Internet of things.”

The team sought only $ 25,000 for their first project, and are now looking for four times that amount — $ 100,000 — to fund the creation of the TeleSound. Pre-orders start at the $ 34 level, which is cheap, but then again this is just a peripheral that makes it possible for your friends and colleagues to yell at you by sending emoticons over the Internet. Still, it has a certain charm, especially when I think about the potential for freaking out my cat from across the world.

TechCrunch » Gadgets

The Chubby vWand Stylus Can Bring NFC Support To Non-NFC Smartphones And Tablets

vwand

NFC has always struck me as one of those things that everyone says is going to get really big next year, and the growing number of smartphones and tablets that come bearing support for the standard is proof that at least a few people care about it. But what if you want to experience the NFC lifestyle but your gadget(s) of choice don’t play nice with it? Enter Spain-based Sistel Networks, and its vWand stylus.

Put very simply, the vWand is part capacitive stylus, part Bluetooth-friendly NFC adapter — once it’s linked up to your tablet or smartphone of choice via Bluetooth you’ll have a pen that’s capable of reading from and writing data to NFC elements.

The vWand is a chubby little thing, but it’s not overly heavy thanks to its lightweight, plasticky (but comfortable) body. A pair of LEDs ride high on the vWand’s shaft to let the user know when it’s on and ready to scan, and a more-than-adequate chunky capacitive nib (not entirely unlike the end of Wacom’s Bamboo Stylus) allowed me to doodle to my heart’s content in Paper for a few moments. The real magic happens on the other end though — tapping the vWand’s butt to a set of preset NFC tags at the vWand booth prompted the connected Android tablet to fire up the messaging app, bring up the dialer, or load particular web pages.



As neat as the vWand concept sounds, chances are you won’t be linking this up to your iPad or Galaxy Note anytime soon. At this stage it’s meant mostly as a b2b device, and Sistel Networks is looking to pick up traction in a slew of fields ranging from healthcare (think doctors scanning NFC-enabled wristbands or something) to retail and logistics though company representatives didn’t completely rule out the notion that consumers would one day be able to buy one too. In fairness, the vWand certainly makes sense as a tool to be used in those lines of business, but that doesn’t keep me from wanting one just to muck around with.

TechCrunch » Gadgets

The Chubby vWand Stylus Can Bring NFC Support To Non-NFC Smartphones And Tablets

vwand

NFC has always struck me as one of those things that everyone says is going to get really big next year, and the growing number of smartphones and tablets that come bearing support for the standard is proof that at least a few people care about it. But what if you want to experience the NFC lifestyle but your gadget(s) of choice don’t play nice with it? Enter Spain-based Sistel Networks, and its vWand stylus.

Put very simply, the vWand is part capacitive stylus, part Bluetooth-friendly NFC adapter — once it’s linked up to your tablet or smartphone of choice via Bluetooth you’ll have a pen that’s capable of reading from and writing data to NFC elements.

The vWand is a chubby little thing, but it’s not overly heavy thanks to its lightweight, plasticky (but comfortable) body. A pair of LEDs ride high on the vWand’s shaft to let the user know when it’s on and ready to scan, and a more-than-adequate chunky capacitive nib (not entirely unlike the end of Wacom’s Bamboo Stylus) allowed me to doodle to my heart’s content in Paper for a few moments. The real magic happens on the other end though — tapping the vWand’s butt to a set of preset NFC tags at the vWand booth prompted the connected Android tablet to fire up the messaging app, bring up the dialer, or load particular web pages.



As neat as the vWand concept sounds, chances are you won’t be linking this up to your iPad or Galaxy Note anytime soon. At this stage it’s meant mostly as a b2b device, and Sistel Networks is looking to pick up traction in a slew of fields ranging from healthcare (think doctors scanning NFC-enabled wristbands or something) to retail and logistics though company representatives didn’t completely rule out the notion that consumers would one day be able to buy one too. In fairness, the vWand certainly makes sense as a tool to be used in those lines of business, but that doesn’t keep me from wanting one just to muck around with.

TechCrunch » Gadgets

Fujitsu’s Senior-Focused Smartphone Is A Thoughtful Use Of Android That Tucks Away Complexity

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Japanese electronics company Fujitsu has taken its time pushing beyond its home smartphone market. The company is best known for slick, slender high end smartphones in Japan but earlier this month it announced a European play — eschewing the crowded top tier of devices in favour of a niche in the seniors space, with a custom skinned Android-based smartphone. The Stylistic S-01 is designed to be easier for older people to use. Fujitsu is bringing the device to France in partnership with France Telecom/Orange in June but was showing it off at Mobile World Congress, where we went hands on.

Now Fujitsu is not the first to enter the senior mobile space. Other established players include Emporia, which basically makes simplified feature phones, and Doro, which makes a mix of devices (including dabbling in tablet software). Doro was showing off its own Android-based seniors phone at MWC last year so, again, Fujitsu is a follower here too. But late to the party though it is, it has crafted what feels like a solid and well thought through first offering.

The handset has a rubberised coating to add grip and more curves than the sleek, slick high end smartphones du jour so rests nicely on the palm and feels less inclined to take a tumble than the average slab phone. On the front, there’s a clearly labelled home button below the 4 inch touchscreen. The button is slightly convex making it stand out so it’s easy to press. The buttons on the side of the device — power and volume up & down keys on one side, plus a dedicated camera key on the other — are also labelled (albeit with icons). These keys are raised slightly but don’t feel like they stick out enough to press accidentally.

Click to view slideshow.

Fujitsu has made the Stylistic S-01′s capacitive touchscreen deliberately less sensitive to cut back on erroneous key presses for a target group of users which isn’t likely to be as dexterous as the average mobile owner. The screen didn’t feel awkwardly unresponsive during my hands on but on-screen buttons did sometimes need a more deliberate press — which seems like a reassuring feature for the intended user-base.

There are a couple of odd hardware touches. The Micro USB port sits behind a cover which has to be prised off with a fingernail. The cover has likely been included because the phone is dust and waterproof but it does mean that accessing the charging port isn’t as easy as it could be.

The phone is also equipped with an alarm — in case of emergencies. This makes a loud noise to alert people in the vicinity that the owner is in trouble and also dials out pre-chosen contacts. The alarm is located on the back of the device, to the left of the camera lens. The physical switch is rather small and again has to be pushed out with a fingernail or similar. Of course it’s no good having the alarm go off accidentally but in an emergency it could prove a little difficult to activate.

Android but not as you know it

Moving on to the software, this is where the phone really stands out from the Android crowd, thanks to a simplified custom UI that foregrounds key functions, tucks away complexity and does a spot of thoughtful hand-holding — with help buttons and guides and even a phone manual included on the device. The homescreen is divided up into large, clearly labelled icons that decrease in size as you scroll down to reach functions that are likely to be accessed less. The two largest buttons are the call button, and the phonebook (a much more senior-friendly way to describe contacts).

Messages and email also appear on screen at the top of the homescreen, along with three numbered buttons that can be pre-set with specific functions for quick access. Scroll further down and there’s an info widget displaying news updates and weather. Below that, there are a variety of phone functions laid out in a grid of squares — and again clearly labelled. These include Internet, camera, maps, video, gallery, a help forum and a manual. The only button that stands out as slightly obtuse is the one labelled ‘Play Store’ (thanks Google).

Android apps can be downloaded to the phone via the Play Store, or via a ‘download apps’ button. Other preloaded apps are tucked away under ‘More applications’ and ‘Orange services’ — so although the phone has been simplified, the functionality has not been removed entirely. Rather they are cleared out of harm’s way until the user feels confident enough to drill a little deeper.

There are lots of thoughtful little touches in the design, such as the Phonebook app being made to resemble a traditional filofax, and the button called ‘My number’ to help users out who can’t remember their phone number. The gallery also includes a ‘Take a picture’ button, to steer anyone who went into the gallery looking for the camera in the right direction. The back button is also clearly labelled with the word ‘back’ — rather than having a cryptic symbol to confuse people. And the browser has a question mark button at the top which leads to a help page to explain the browsing process for first time mobile web users.

Elsewhere apps are nicely stripped down, simplified and clearly labelled — such as the camera app, which has just a camera button and a flash toggle button, and the dialler app which has two folder-style tabs to show either a dial option, or history (for call log). Time has clearly been well spent by the UI designer figuring out an intelligent way to layer a smartphone for a senior user-base that will probably feel most comfortable taking small steps away from telephones in order to get to know smartphones.

Click to view slideshow.

TechCrunch » Gadgets