At IDF this week, Intel showed off a demo of Nuance’s Dragon Assist software running on an Ultrabook. Dragon Assist, currently in beta, is a Siri-like approach to PC voice control. Using natural words and phrases you can ask the computer to do a number of tasks. The demo that Intel showed on stage was quite impressive — it was fast, accurate, and potentially quite useful. But would you use it?
We just had a demo, the first, of Qualcomm’s next generation Snapdragon platform, the APQ 8064 which contains four Krait Cores running up to 1.5Ghz. There’s a new graphics module coming too and that’s based around an Adreno 320.
I am certainly not qualified to talk in-depth at the Xperia Play gaming experience but I was certainly quite excited to see the hardware controls and game quality. In the video you hear me talking to a Sony Ericsson representative about the product. We discuss battery life, pricing, availability, get a gaming demo and take a look round the device.
The Xperia play runs Android 2.3 on a Snapdragon 1Ghz CPU (MSM8255with Adreno 205 GPU) with a 4 inch ‘Reality’ display at a true 16:9, 854 x 480 resolution. Note that Android 2.3 brought in some touch responsiveness extensions and enhancements.
What’s important to me is that another major company is now switching to the ARM/Android chassis for another product category which means Android is now in phones, tablets, media players, cameras, gaming devices, TVs and smartbooks. What’s category do you think Google are looking at for it’s next ‘device-specific ‘ branch of Android? Set-top-boxes is something I’ve been keeping an eye on.
Have a look at the awesome Atomic web browser for the iPhone and iPad. The app costs 99 cents in the app store and it’s a universal app, meaning you pay for it once and you get the iPhone and the iPad version. While the browser has a lot of great features, such as easy user agent spoofing, the feature that I like the most is the way that it handles tabs. It’s much faster and much more intuitive than Safari. Atomic web has become my new browser on my iPhone and iPad. Very much worth the 99 cent asking price.
Google somewhat quietly released Google Reader Play early last month. Reader Play is essentially an alternate way to view Google Reader and is designed to present interesting and relevant items in a simple and pleasing way — it seems particularly suited to large screened devices. While several people, upon release, noted that Reader Play would probably work great on large TVs, the first thing that came to my mind was how well it could work with the iPad. Of course, that was only a theory because we didn’t have an iPad at the time for testing. Now that the iPad has been released, we can give it a try.
To my delight, Reader Play works pretty darn well on the iPad. Part of this is because YouTube videos can be played directly inside Reader Play, without having to launch out to the external viewer. Note that this isn’t Flash, it’s simply the iPad recognizing the video as a YouTube video and playing it with it’s own special YouTube player right inside the frame. Have a look at Google Reader Play in action on the iPad in the video below:
Here is a short demo of chromeTouch, a Google Chrome extension which enables touchscreen and inertia scrolling within Google Chrome. Works great if you’ve been waiting to find an alternative to Firefox and the Grab and Drag addon!
I know its been a while, but I’ve been waiting to get my hands on a full tablet PC so that I could do better demos than simply using my Sony VAIO UX180 and showing you what’s happening using a monitor as I have done in the past. Hopefully you will agree that the format of this video demo is better than those that I did previously!
But beside all of that, have a look at the Crayon Physics Deluxe video demo.
The game works great with touchscreens and there is even a demo that you can try before purchasing:
The idea of the game is that you are drawing with a crayon, and your drawings become physical objects that interact with the rest of the crayon based levels . The goal is to get the red ball to touch the star, then you get to move on to the next level. There is more than 70 levels to complete in the full game. The game was also the grand prize winner of the Independent Games Festival in 2008!
It is interesting to note that although this seems to be somewhat early hardware, it has the same red top that is purportedly going to accompany the first batch of units that are due to be released this month.
Not only am I lucky enough to be going to The Next Web Conference and Mobile Dev Camp in Amsterdam next week but, with the help of Moblix, I’ve managed to pull together one of the best collections of MIDs and UMPCs I’ve ever had.
And to round-up the device list I’m going to pick up an iPod Touch before I leave for Amsterdam.
But what exactly am I planning to do with these devices in Amsterdam?
The main reason is to show developers and get their thoughts on the platforms from both a hardware and software perspective. Are mobile application developers interested in pocketable X86 platforms? What would they look for before they considered it as a platform to work with or to buy for personal use? Do they want to see market penetration or Interesting APIs and hardware? What if a mobile device offered them access to processing power that they’ve never been able to use before? Screens that contain 4-8 times more space? Higher capacity storage and memory? Longer online battery life? I certainly don’t expect an overwhelmingly positive reaction to these ‘disruptive’ devices but I do promise to let you know what people are really saying.
Secondly, it’s to get real-life mobile-use hands on with the UMID and Aigo with XP. Although I had devices in Austin at SXSW, it was very difficult to get good 3G usage time. I’ll have a local Vodafone card (or two) in Amsterdam so there should be no problem staying connected all the time.
Finally, I want to let people get hands-on. There are few opportunities to be able to try before you buy so I’ll be available for anyone that wants to see them and ask questions. They’ll be at the sessions and the parties and if you want, at your preferred location in Amsterdam. If you want to meet up with me to check the devices out, contact me –email@example.com – and I’ll arrange it. Hopefully we can pull together a few mobile gadget geek sessions. As mentioned above, i’ll be at the Mobile Dev Camp on Wednesday 15th.
Many thanks to Mobilx for shipping over the Aigo, Touchnote and UMID for testing next week.
Footnote â€“ If you’re arranging a mobile web / computing event in and you think people would be interested in a demo and discussion around the MID and ultra mobile PC segment, contact me and we can talk about logistics, presentations and other possibilities. The segments UMPCPortal works in are shown in this PDF.
I made a quick video demo of the VAIO P’s instant mode which is a sub-OS that boots you into an environment that offers some basic computing. Sony has had a similar media-capable mode in previous computers, but they haven’t added online functionality until the release of the VAIO P’s Instant Mode. With the VAIO P’s Instant Mode, you can access your media (photos, videos, music) and get some work done with a Mozilla based browser, Skype for VOIP, and Pidgin for instant messaging. Check out the video demo below:
Jkkmobile points out an interesting video from Engadget that shows some interesting multi-touch demos on a resistive touchscreen. Have a look at the video embedded below, but be sure to stick around for some thoughts below.
The demos are definitely neat, but I’m a very big proponent of capacitive touch technology, not because of multi-touch, but because of its consistent recognition of input. Multi-touch and the ability to do gestures is great, but I would argue that it is not the best part of capacitive touch technology. So they have managed to port the multi-touch facet of capacitive touchscreens over to resistive touchscreens, but they stick lack the consistent detection of input. Nothing is more annoying to me than having to click on one item several times because it is easy for a resistive touchscreen to either miss or misinterpret your input. It really ruins the touchscreen experience. Low pressure input resistive screens help to alleviate this to some degree but the issue still remains. Capacitive touch’s ability to extremely consistently recognize touch input is what makes it possible to have a viable on-screen keyboard on a device the size of the iPhone. I’ve tried many other resistive touch phones with OSKs, and the experience is almost embarrassing to the hardware.
As for the pressure sensitivity of the demoed screen: The way it was described is that it recognizes how much pressure you are putting on the screen by how much contact there is with the surface of your finger. If this is the correct explanation of how the technology works, then pressure sensitivity will not be able to be measured with a stylus. When you apply more pressure to a surface with your finger, the skin around the bone presses down with a larger surface area, this obviously doesn’t occur with the tip of a stylus.
This is definitely good for resistive touchscreens and a jump forward for devices that will continue to use them, but in many cases I still feel like capacitive touch offers the best experience.