Sunday, 13 October 2013

Intel: GTA 5 For PC Is Happening Soon, Console Exclusivity Won’t Last Long

We may yet to have heard anything official from Rockstar Games, the creator of the record-smashing Grand Theft Auto 5, but Intel has chimed into GTA 5 for PC release by suggesting that a version for Windows computers will indeed be happening at some point in the near future. We already heard NVIDIA’s director of investor relations slip that the popular title would be hitting the market at some point later on this fall, and although it’s hard to take anything as gospel until we hear it from the horse’s mouth, it’s certainly encouraging for the many millions waiting for that PC release.

It may well be that Rockstar is preparing the game for PC, but simply doesn’t want to get anybody’s hopes up until everything is in place and ready for prime time. After all, the title was initially slated for release during the spring of this year, and although the mightily long delay until last month doesn’t seem to have hindered sales and the general response, it would be rather risky of Rockstar to test the patience of consumers once more.

Although games almost always sell more on console than they do PC, the demand for GTA 5 for PC is certainly there. A petition over on has already amassed several hundred thousand signatures, and considering how many hundreds of millions of dollars in profit GTA 5 has made in just a couple of weeks, those signatures place a sizeable bounty on the head of the unannounced PC version.

Chris R. Silva, marketing director for premium notebooks at Intel, has told PC Gamer and that he believes GTA 5 will spread from a console-only entity to the PC market at some point soon, and although he stopped short of offering any key details, this is certainly encouraging news for GTA fans far and wide.

So, with both Intel and NVIDIA confident that Grand Theft Auto 5 for PC is nigh, we’re now left with playing the all-so-tiring waiting game, which is admittedly nowhere near as fun as GTA 5. Here’s to hoping that Rockstar comes through with an official announcement sooner rather than later, and when it does, you’ll catch all of the details right here at Tech Darbaar!

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Final Fantasy VI For iOS And Android Announced

When it comes to RPGs, Final Fantasy may not be considered among the best like it once was, but the engrossing, almost iconic nature of the original Final Fantasy VII on the PlayStation continues to live on today. In what must go down as the most exciting news for FF fans in a good while now, Square Enix has announced that Final Fantasy VI will be heading to iOS and Android later this year. Perhaps not surprising, especially given that Final Fantasy IV and V took their respective mobile bows not so long ago, but if you enjoy playing games on your iOS or Android smartphones and tablets, then you won’t have to wait too long for Final Fantasy VI to arrive.

As with all of the other recent mobile releases, Final Fantasy VI will feature a visual overhaul tweaked for a more contemporary look, and although some remakes for mobile have stuck faithfully with a simple port of the old aesthetic styles that made the games popular in the first place, Final Fantasy VI should still look good whether you’re rocking an iPad or a Samsung Galaxy.

There are also a few improvements to the general playability of FFVI, which would make sense given that it will be optimized for the touch-based environment.

Square Enix has stated that a port of FFVII could happen at some point in the future, although this would take a lot of work, so the company is instead using these other releases as a gauge of whether working on a mobile iteration of the beloved version is appropriate or even worthwhile.

Unfortunately, there are no specific details on when the title will arrive, but sine we are now in the fourth quarter, it’s fair to say that the wait should not be too hard on those eager to give the game a run-out.

iPhone 5s And 5c Launching In Over 50 More Countries By November 1, Here Is The Complete List

The iPhone 5c and in particular, the flagship iPhone 5sseem to have gone down very well with consumers in those initial launch nations, but while the latter has been in very short supply in the likes of the United States, Hong Kong and Australia, many other countries have yet to see the device hit shelves and online retailers. This all looks set to change very soon, though, and in just over three weeks, dozens more will see both handsets, bringing the grand total of official launch nations to more than 50 by November 1st.

October 25th is the date of the second wave of iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s launches, and after such a long and eager wait period, anticipation levels in the likes of Italy, Russia and Spain – as well as 25 others, must be hitting fever pitch.

The response from the consumer market, even at this early stage, has been remarkable, with tens of millions units already having been shifted in just under three weeks. At present, it’s still fairly difficult to get hold of the iPhone 5s, particularly the new gold model, and as such, eBay scrapers are continuing to cash in on the desperation of those showier, champagne-enticed early adopters.

The complete list of countries is as follows:

As well as those aforementioned nations, the two new iPhones will make their way to Turkey, South Korea, Switzerland and Taiwan, among scores of others. If you happen to reside in an iPhone 5s /5c-bereft nation right now and are wondering when and if you are going to see an official launch, be sure to check out the press release on Apple’s official website.

The iPhone 5c has faced a great deal of criticism, no less because it is – perhaps not all that surprisingly – not as “budget” as we had hoped. Then again, it has still been selling in the millions, and if the iPad mini – also expected to be a lot cheaper than it eventually was – is anything to go by, it would seem that the colorful device has plenty to offer the smartphone world.

Whether it will successfully reign in those developing markets, as intended, is anybody’s guess, but with Apple now seemingly catching up with demand, we won’t have to wait too long to find out.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Sony Xperia Z1 Review

Sony might be a household name when it comes televisions and audio products but in the smartphone segment, they are only just getting their foot in the door. They did have their fair share of success in their first solo outing (after ditching Ericsson) in the form of the Xperia S, Go, Sola and the Ion. 2013 didn’t really start off too well for Sony however as despite being the first to announce and launch this year’s flagship droids, the response from the market was strictly lukewarm at best. The Xperia Z was a striking phone no doubt, but many niggling issues held it back from reaching the success and fame Samsung’s Galaxy phones do.

Rather than just sitting tight and waiting for next year’s refresh, Sony went back to the drawing board with all the feedback and six months later, we have a refreshed flagship with the Xperia Z1. With a solid spec sheet and familiar design principles, is this enough to keep Sony fans happy without requiring another ‘flagship’ for the holidays? Let’s find out.

Design and Build
The Xperia Z1 may look like the Z from pictures but in reality, is brand new. The main chassis is built using a unibody aluminium frame which makes it feel a lot more rigid than the old model. It’s also gotten a bit of heft but it’s something we can live with. At 170g, the Z1 feels solid to hold and the slight increase in depth (now 8.5mm) gives a much better grip. The notification light is not built into the earpiece and is flanked by the 2MP camera and array of sensors. All the ports are covered by flaps which comply with the IP58 certification. We have a microSD, microUSB and microSIM slots along with the volume rocker, power button and a new addition in the form of a dedicated shutter button. The Z1 is a serious camera phone so adding a manual shutter button was a logical choice.
A good looker 

The speaker and mouthpiece are placed in a wide grille at the bottom and a lanyard is thrown in as well for good measure. Around the back, we have the 20.7MP sensor and Sony’s G lens array for better optics. Sony has taken a beating when it comes to their smartphone optics, especially the high-end droids so we’re hoping the infusion of their Cybershot tech would save the day. The front and back are both protected by a screen guard which holds the glass in place in case it shatters. More than scratches, it’s the fingerprints you need to worry about as it goes from mirror finish to greasy in seconds.

Aluminium frame is a lot sturdier compared to Sony's previous offerings
 We’re happy with what Sony has achieved with the Z1 in terms of design. There’s no overdose of chrome accents nor have they fallen prey to make the world’s slimmest phone. You’re left with a very comfortable smartphone with premium looks to back up the high price tag. 

We’re happy to report that the dull, lifeless screen of the Z has been ditched for the Triluminos display we first saw on the Z Ultra. The brightness and colour contrast gets a huge boost and doesn’t seem washed out or faded in any way. The 5-inch Full HD display gives you ample screen real estate for browsing and watching videos. Sunlight legibility is awful, however, as it’s almost impossible to see anything on the display on a clear day and the sun beating down. In terms of software, we have Jelly Bean 4.2.2 and Sony’s tweaked Xperia skin which made its debut in the Z Ultra. The skin looks the same but there are added elements like toggle switches in the notification bar, a new options menu in the app drawer and few changes to the settings and loading screens. All of this works very smoothly without any lag. There are a couple of ‘small apps’ which can be accessed via the third onscreen button. You can add more from the Play store as well.
The Z1 is powered by Qalcomm’s latest and greatest Snapdragon 800 SoC. This consists of four cores capable of running up to 2.2GHz. Add to this 2GB of RAM and we’re looking at some very smooth UI and app performance. Looking at some benchmarks, we got a pretty impressive 16151 points in 3DMark Ice Store Unlimited benchmark and 28435 in AnTuTu
While you should really take these number with a pinch of salt, it’s safe to say that the Z1 packs in one of the most powerful chipsets out there and is ready for even the most demanding games. However, with great power comes heating issues and the Z1 is no stranger to this. Fire up Google Maps or the camera and you’ll feel the Z1 quickly heat up around the back. 

The Walkman music player is very similar to the ones we’ve seen in the past and so is the video player. There are some new animations but apart from this, nothing’s really changed much. Audio quality is good through headphones and mercifully, the speaker volume is a lot louder compared to the Z and the Z Ultra. It’s not something you’d use to watch a movie but will suffice for alerts. The ClearAudio+ enhancement adds a nice punch to your music. You could also fine tune your audio through a 5-band graphic equaliser along with features such as Clear Stereo, Clear phase, xLOUD and Dynamic normaliser.
The video player won’t read WMV, FLV and some AVI files, but everything else, including MKV files, works just fine. There’s 16GB of onboard memory, which is expandable to 64GB via microSD card. Out of this, you get about 11.7GB for your media. 

A familiar look
As powerful as it gets

Good media capabilities

New Apple iPads

Date is out now. Apple will unveil new iPads on 22 October 

HTC ONE MAX might have Fingerprint Scanner, but in back?

All major manufacturers in the mobile industry are consistently trying to improve the devices that they launch by including some kind of innovation that will set them apart from the competition. As we know, innovation isn’t always possible on the scale that some would like, so when in doubt, the next best thing is to take inspiration from those around you. It seems that the monstrous HTC One Max may have been a little inspired by Apple’s inclusion of Touch ID in the recently released iPhone 5s, and will launch with similar fingerprint scanning capabilities.

Imitation is often said to be the highest form of flattery, so it’s unlikely that we will see Apple making any public outcries if the One Max does launch with biometric functionality. Recent leaked images of HTC’s new device certainly seem to indicate that the Taiwanese company believe the Californian giants are onto something with the inclusion of a fingerprint scanner. These particular images have found their way into the world via the Chinese Sina Weibo social network, and gives a clear view of the internals of the device, allowing us to feast our eyes on what definitely looks like a scanning component.

Unlike the iPhone 5s which has the Touch ID sensor embedded in the existing hardware Home button, it looks like HTC have gone for a different setup with the gigantic One Max. The Verge is reporting that the sensor looks to be sitting directly in-between the device’s camera module and the SIM card slot. This could be an indication that HTC believe users would interact with the scanner using an index finger with a firm grip rather than placing a thumb on the front of the device. With a device the size of the HTC One Max, it would certainly make sense to expect this kind of interaction.

The speculation surrounding the possible inclusion of the scanning capabilities also goes beyond what we can see on the leaked images. A number of Verizon staff based in retail stores throughout the United States are reporting that they have actually used the device during training sessions and are confirming the existence of the fingerprint sensor. We don’t have any confirmation of what functionality will be linked to the One Max scanning component, but when we do we’ll be sure to bring to directly to you.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Samsung Galaxy Round To be announce next week

Over the past couple of years, many suggestions have been made that smartphones and tablets, as well as other digital devices, will begin to take advantage of flexible display technology. Yet while the concepts and such have been aplenty, we’ve yet to see a smartphone rocking a flexible display, but for those sufficiently intrigued, you won’t have to wait much longer to see one. Samsung, as it does so often, is first to the draw, and its 5.7-inch Galaxy Round is said to feature a flexible panel around the edges, something which was confirmed by a Samsung executiveat the end of last month.

Of course, a smartphone with a curved display is going to raise more than a few eyebrows, and naturally, there will be a sizeable faction of skeptics in and around the mobile industry. Yet, it was Samsung that first took the rather brave step of pushing out the enormously large smartphone, otherwise now known as the phablet, and although the Galaxy Note had its fair share of naysayers back when it first launched, it’s now considered one of the company’s marquee product lines.

The Galaxy Round is apparently going to be announced later on this week, and will indeed be the very  first smartphone to pack a flexible display. According to the folks of ETNews, the Galaxy Round’s hardware features and specs will be almost identical to those of the Galaxy Note 3, and could see a launch – at least, in South Korea by – a matter of days following the announcement.

The device will apparently be carried by SK Telecom, and although none of this information is official or even confirmed, we could well be on the cusp of one of the more interesting smartphone releases this calendar year. Apparently, the device will be curved along the sides for more comfort when making a phone call, and these curves are also said to make game playing and movie watching a much more fulfilling experience.

Of course, we’ll have to wait to see whether this is the case; that is, if the device is even legit. Considering how much Samsung charges for the similarly equipped Note 3, don’t expect the Galaxy Round to come cheap, even if the as-rumored lack of an S Pen rings true.

New Nokia ad says Samsung wants to copy Lumia 1020?

A peculiar Nokia ad, presaging the launch of the Lumia 1020 in Abu Dhabi, features parachutists. It also has a weird Asian man at the end who seems to be up to no good.

You, I am sure, will be excited to see parachutists.

I don't want to keep you from this joy. There are lots of wonderful flying people in this ad. Just as there were in a certain Google Glass, um, skydiving stunt.

This is all allegedly shot on a Nokia Lumia 1020 which, I believe, is another great Nokia camera with a nice phone attached

Apple plans 100 standalone stores and store-in-stores for smaller cities in India: 

Finally, Apple seems to have diverted its attention towards the Indian market. According to The Economic Times, Apple plans to set up 100 exclusive standalone stores under the franchisee model in Tier-II and Tier-III Indian cities and it's looking for franchise partners. Though the company hasn't set any deadlines for setting up these stores, it could roll them out in this fiscal year.  The 100 “standalone” stores would be in addition to store-in-store locations that it plans for the country.

India country head Maneesh Dhir and telecom business chief Sanjay Kaul have reportedly said that they look forward to a rapid growth in the country. The obvious reason could be the growing popularity of its arch-rival Samsung and other smartphone makers. Needless to say, Apple had been neglecting the Indian market until recently.

The report further says Dhir and Kaul had a meeting with retailers such as Next Retail, Croma, Future Group, Reliance Retail, The Mobile Store, UniverCell Telecom and more to discuss this expansion. A senior retail executive has disclosed that it could be a challenge to set up Apple stores in smaller towns, especially “considering the stringent standards for such outlets.” A chief of another retail chain revealed that Apple wants to grow fast in India and is looking beyond the metros.

It should be noted that Apple does not have a single "Apple Store" in India. The decision to include smaller towns in the company’s strategy instead of launching an exclusive store suggests that Apple is once again betting on the reseller network to continue pushing sales in Tier-II cities. For instance, Mumbai has at least 10 premium Apple resellers, while the relatively smaller city of Pune has only four. A quick glance at the Apple India website revealed that smaller cities like Surat and Lucknow only have one re-seller each to their name. These are the cities where Apple is looking to expand.

The introduction of the colorful iPhone 5c managed to raise concern levels amongst analysts who feared for the future of Apple, especially when put together with the iPhone 5s that many thought didn’t represent a big enough improvement on last year’s iPhone 5. Those fears were quickly laid to rest when Apple announced that opening weekend sales of the two devices had managed to break all of their existing sales records. We now have additional confirmation of the success of the new iPhone, with it being reported that the 5s was the biggest selling device on all four major American carriers last month.
Apple’s rise to the top of the sales charts will definitely prove a little bitter to swallow for Samsung. The previously best selling device on the United States based carriers was the fantastic Android powered Galaxy S4, but it seems that the iPhone 5s has enough charm and power to capture the imagination of those looking for a new piece of kit. The information regarding the success of the iPhone 5s on the major American networks is coming directly fromCanaccord Genuity who are yet to release any actual sales figures to accompany the report.
It is worth noting that at certain points during the month, the Samsung Galaxy S4 actually became the third best selling device behind the iPhone 5s and one other rising contender. Canaccord also published some additional good news for Cupertino based Apple, by confirming that the extremely vivid and colorful iPhone 5c is proving popular with the public and benefitting from very "strong sales". Although we can’t actually put an entirely accurate figure how many iPhones Apple will actually ship, the report is estimating that Apple is on target to sell an estimated 52 million devices by the end of the year.
Although there was a renewed interest in the iPhone, it doesn’t actually spell doom and gloom for the South Korean based Samsung. There is still a very high demand for their premium smartphone hardware, with the same report suggesting that end of year sales will make extremely positive reading for the Samsung executive team. Things aren’t so rosy however for Blackberry and HTC. The Blackberry Z10 and Q10, as well as the HTC One suffered from a very poor sales in the month of September.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Top news this week: Twitter IPO, Apple to expand in India, Adobe hacked and a lot more

We understand that it has been a busy week and it is tough to keep up with all the tech news that goes around. Take a quick look at all the top news that came our way this week, which includes Twitter's IPO, the voice of Siri, a whole lot of software tweaks and few surprises!

Line now has 10 million Indian users, adds video calling, 'Snap Movie' features
Line, the cross-platform messaging app has now managed to get 10 million registered Indian users. The company revealed a few new features for the app too with video calling, “Snap Movie” being the highlights.

Ads start appearing on Gmail for Android
The inevitable has happened and ads are now a part of your Gmail inbox on Android. Some users have already started seeing ads in the Promotions folder of Gmail for Android.

Meet Susan Bennett, the voice of Siri!
Ever wondered whose voice is behind Siri? You aren’t alone. While Apple has never revealed the voice behind its digital assistant, the mystery may have been solved now. Susan Bennett is a voiceover actor who recorded clips for a client eight years ago, and claims she is Siri.

Nokia HERE to work with local experts for its mapping system in India
Nokia’s mapping platform HERE is bringing a community programme to India. The programme will be combining industry data along with crowd sourced data. HERE plans to pick a team of 1000 people from over a dozen select universities across the nation. The aim of this initiative is to interact with local experts to share their knowledge about the areas.

Apple eyeing expansion into Tier-II and Tier-III Indian cities
Looks like Apple may finally be ready to take the Indian market seriously. According to a new report, the company is planning to expand its marketing and sales reach to Tier-II and Tier-III Indian cities in a bid to grab more customers. While the company is yet to formally launch its new iPhone handsets here, it looks like India does figure in Apple's plans after all.

Google and ASI to put 360-degree views of Indian monuments online
You will soon be able to visit famous Indian landmarks and monuments, right from your desk. The Archeological Survey of India(ASI) in association with the Ministry of Culture and Google is creating 360-degree online imagery of around 100 Indian monuments including the usual suspects, the Taj Mahal, Qutub Minar, Khajuraho, as well as the Ajanta and Ellora Caves. New iPhone 5s motion sensor complaints add to Apple's woes
Apple recently began rolling out its top-of-the-line iPhone 5s to consumers. And quite a few users have reported the device’s motion sensors not being calibrated properly.

Cautious Instagram to slowly introduce ads in the next couple of months
Instagram has officially announced that ads are coming to your feeds on the app “in the next couple of months”. The ads will be limited only to Instagram users in the US initially.

Adobe hacked, 2.9 million users' data compromised
Adobe has revealed that its network had been compromised and details of a staggering 2.9 million customers were affected due to it. While the company did not reveal when the breach occurred, the investigation revealed that the attackers accessed customer IDs and encrypted passwords from the system.
Microsoft reportedly wooing HTC to put Windows Phone on its Android devices
Microsoft is working very hard to promote its Windows Phone mobile platform. A new report suggests that the company may have asked Taiwanese manufacturer HTC to install Windows Phone as a "separate option on Android handsets".

Twitter reveals $1 billion IPO plan
Twitter has made its plans for raising $1 billion in its IPO public for the first time. The company’s filing went live at the SEC this week, revealing Twitter’s figures to potential buyers. Twitter also admitted that it is generating revenue fast but is also losing money at the same time.

Not just Samsung, almost all Android manufacturers fudge benchmarks
Benchmark scores have traditionally been one of the key factors that help users understand the performance of devices. A new report shows that almost every Android-based manufacturer artificially inflates the performances of their devices to reflect a higher score in these tests.

Android Jelly Bean rules the roost, accounts for 49 percent of 'active' users
Android Jelly Bean is used by almost half the total number of active Android devices worldwide, according to data released by the company. Jelly Bean amounts to a massive 48.6 percent, which includes Android 4.1.x, Android 4.2.x and the latest Android 4.3 version.

Hot launches: Smartphones of September 2013
September was easily the busiest month for smartphone companies in India with a slew of high-end handsets making it to India just before the advent of the holiday season. But the budget-conscious also have a bunch of new options to pick from. Here’s a roundup of the phones launched and announced last month.

Yahoo! revises vulnerability reporting policy, will dish out cash rewards up to $15,000
Offering cash rewards for vulnerability reports has become something of a norm when it comes to big tech companies these days. It comes as a bit of a surprise then that Yahoo! did not have a cash-reward policy to award for white-hats.  The company unveiled a new programme to reward reporters who shed light on bugs and vulnerabilities classified as new, unique and/or high risk issues.
Apple's 64-bit A7 processor a 'marketing gimmick', says Qualcomm executive
One of the biggest selling points of Apple’s recently launched iPhone 5s is the 64-bit A7 processor under the hood. The feature, though, may be more of a marketing stunt and might not amount to any immediate benefits for smartphone users, a Qualcomm executive said.

BlackBerry resumes closed beta testing of BBM for Android
BlackBerry has resumed the closed beta testing of the application on Android again. Members of the closed beta group are reporting that the Canadian company seems to be testing the application all over again.

Tom Clancy, co-founder of Rainbow Six Studio, passes away
Tom Clancy, the author behind a number of military thrillers, movies and video games, is no more. He passed away on Tuesday in Baltimore at the age of 66.
Underground online drug market Silk Road shut by FBI, alleged owner arrested
US law enforcement authorities have seized and shut down Silk Road, an underground marketplace where one could allegedly purchase drugs freely. The agency also announced that it had arrested the alleged owner of Silk Road, Ross William Ulbritch.

New iMessage bug latest in growing list of minor issues in iOS 7
Apple’s new iOS 7 seems to run up against another technical snag. An iMessage bug reportedly causes messages to be unsent, unreceived or sent as a text on a variety of iPhones models running iOS 7.

India's mobile Internet dominated by Google and Facebook users
New data shows that there are over 2.4 billion Internet users in the world, of which 1.5 billion access the Internet through their mobile devices. India has more than 160 million Internet users which is quite a meagre number compared to the world figures. However, more than 50 percent of overall users in India access the Internet via mobile.

LinkedIn working on a 'block' feature to thwart stalking
LinkedIn is all set to make privacy advocates happy very soon. The professional social network, under fire these days for being a platform used by stalkers, will soon be introducing a “block” feature that can be used in dire situations.
New leaked image shows Nexus 5 vividly
Leaks surrounding the much-awaited Nexus 5 keep popping up. A new image shows a slate-gray device and gives us the first clear look at the upcoming hone.

Apple jumps over Coca-Cola to become world's most valuable brand
Apple has now overtaken global heavyweight Coca-Cola to become the world’s most valuable brand in the world, according to the annual Best Global Brands report compiled by Interbrand. This is the first time in 13 years that the latter has not featured in the top spot of the list.

India made 321 user data requests from Microsoft in the first half of 2013
According to Microsoft, India made 321 requests for user data reports for its services including Skype. The total number of accounts and users specified within this request by Indian agencies stood at 515.