Samsung’s Gear 360 VR camera gets wide release in the US on August 19th

P8022158 Samsung’s Gear 360 has only been available in drips and drabs. The company first introduced the VR camera back at Mobile World Congress in February and has made it available outside of the US. Here in the US, however, this have been a little more touch and go. Eager early adopters  got the briefest of opportunities to pick up the device in extremely limited quantities back in June at… Read More

Gadgets – TechCrunch

With one atom per bit, this 1-kilobyte hard drive is only 100 nanometers wide

atomic_storage_feat Here’s an interesting milestone to talk up around the water cooler: Researchers in the Netherlands have created a microscopic storage system that encodes every bit with a single atom — allowing them to fit a kilobyte in a space under 100 nanometers across. Read More

Gadgets – TechCrunch

Sigma’s Newest Full-Frame Wide Zoom Lens Has A Constant F2 Aperture

pphoto_24_35_2_a015_l_04 Sigma has a new zoom lens that could be the perfect walk around lens for street photographer: A 24-35mm zoom lens designed for full-frame cameras, with a unique feature that’s sure to add to its versatility – a constant, wide open f2 aperture.
It’s a lens that could replace three standard kit primes for a lot of DSLR photographers, including 24, 28 and 35mm focal lengths. Read More

TechCrunch » Gadgets

TestFlight Celebrates 400K Apps Beta-Tested With Rewritten iOS SDK, Android SDK’s Wide Release

Screen Shot 2013-08-12 at 12.24.00 PM

Mobile app beta testing service TestFlight is seeing steady growth, with considerable progress being made during the last 90 days in terms of new apps uploaded to its platform. TestFlight, which is now owned by Burstly, has now seen 400,000 apps in total added to its service, which represents nearly half of the active apps on the iTunes Store, for a sense of perspective. Over 150,000 of those came in the last three months.

TestFlight’s previous 90 day best was 100,000, reported back in March, and so far the company has seen 15,000 Android apps uploaded since the beta launch of that SDK back in May. The Android SDK should start ramping up usage, however, as it’s now out of beta and available widely to the entire Android developer community.

The iOS version has also been completely rewritten, and is now more efficient and more stable, with improvements designed to help improve game performance while also gathering all the necessary crash reporting data and more. The new crash report features also include an ability to mark crash issues as resolved, and they feed more info around the context surrounding crashes to help developers fix them easier. Plus it’s now integrated into FlightPath’s analytics data around app performance, so you can see how crashes are affecting user retention rates and user flow.

Since its acquisition by Burstly in March of last year, TestFlight has been hard at work building out new products like FlightPath, boosting existing features with its Android expansion, and creating new monetization options for mobile developers via SkyRocket. The Burstly acquisition really lit a fire under the team and gave TestFlight legs to pursue its vision, something which co-founder Ben Satterfield explained as helping motivate the decision to sell the company to begin with.

“This is us believing in the bigger vision,” he told Josh Constine when the company was originally acquired. “[The original TestFlight] is a great product on its own, and we could have charged and gone scrappy with it month to month, but we want to wake up every day and go after something big.”

Traction to date seems to indicate they’re accomplishing that mission well, a little over a year later.

TechCrunch » android

Canalys Q2: 68% Of All Smartphones Shipped Were Android; China’s The Biggest Market By A Wide Margin


One more analyst house, Canalys, has released its numbers on global smartphone sales in Q2, and unlike Strategy Analytics and IDC, it has focused on sales by platforms rather than OEMs. In that light, Google’s Android was the clear, all-out winner: in a market that saw 158 million smartphone shipments worldwide, Android accounted for 68% of them, with its 108 million units an increase of 110% over the same period a year ago. And given that Apple seems to actually be holding its own quite well in countries like the U.S., the strong performance of Android can be largely attributed to how well it’s playing in emerging countries, and in one in particular: the world’s largest smartphone market at the moment, China.

China had “phenomenal” growth this year, Canalys says, and that’s no understatemet. Some 42 million smartphones were shipped in China in Q2, which works out to growth of 199% over last year (and 32% over Q1). By comparison, smartphone sales worldwide grew by only 47%, says Canalys. In other words, China grew at a rate more than four times that of the rest of the world. China, it says, accounted for 27% of the world’s smartphone shipments, with number-two U.S. at 16%.

Android and forked versions of Android are leading the charge in China, accounting for 81% of all smartphone shipments. The other big trend is that domestic vendors are closing in on Samsung, the world’s biggest Android vendor at the moment. Samsung continued to remain in the lead with 17% of all shipments, but Canalys notes that in fact Samsung’s volumes were flat and ZTE, Lenovo and Huawei in strong 2nd, 3rd and 4th positions and making up about a third of all smartphone shipments. Those three also grew by a massive amount, respectively 171%, 2,665% and 252% over last year. Altogether, domestic vendors, Canalys says, shipping 25.6 million units, grew 518% over last year and made up 60% of the market. International vendors grew only by 67%, shipping 16.7 million units.

Apple, as the company itself admitted last week, had a more challenging Q2 in China. Yes, it was the fifth-largest handset player, with shipments up by 102% over last year, but they were down 37% compared to Q1.

Canalys puts the power of domestic vendors down to their “deep understanding of local consumer behaviour.” Nicole Peng, research director for China, notes that bigger players like ZTE, Lenovo and Huawei are all raising brand awareness and building stronger relationships with operators, but the smaller players are also not to be dismissed. “Tier-two vendors — the likes of Oppo, K-Touch and Gionee — have also stamped their mark, boosting smart phone shipments into tier-three and tier-four cities, predominantly through the open channels,” she writes. “As feature phone vendors, they already have established partnerships and strong brand awareness. These domestic vendors are making significant progress transitioning their portfolios and customer bases to be more focused on smart phones.”

The drive away from international brands is affecting others, too, although these are vendors that have seen declines worldwide as well, so the trend may be larger than China itself. Canalys notes that Nokia’s volumes in China were down by 47% in Q2, and Motorola also saw a decline. The only one that really did well was the Taiwanese HTC, which has been pushing models designed to be integrated tightly with local Chinese services (and price points). HTC’s shipments gew 389% to 1.8 million units.

Globally, Samsung continued to be the main driver of Android’s strength. Canalys estimates that Samsung shipped “over 45 million handsets” — not too far off Strategy Analytics’ estimate of 50.5 million. (Samsung, unhelpfully, doesn’t provide these numbers itself.) Whichever number you choose to believe, it puts Samsung at the top of the pile, and for the same reasons: a strong product portfolio covering different price points, and a savvy marketing strategy, including a key Olympics sponsorship. Canalys says that Samsung worldwide currently has a 31% share of the global smartphone market (SA by comparison put it at 34.6%; IDC at 33.6%).

Apple and Nokia followed as the second and third-largest smartphone makers, with HTC taking fourth and RIM barely scraping in at 8.5 million units in Q2.

TechCrunch » Gadgets