Android 4.4.1 to fix the Nexus 5 camera

While the Nexus 5 is a good device, its main weakness is it’s problematic camera. With the Android 4.4.1 update, which should be rolling out in the next few days, hopefully the frustrating issues such as slow focusing will be resolved.

On a personal level, I hope that such improvements and fixes cascade down to the Nexus 4 that I’m using too, as that phone has a camera that is absolutely horrible.

Fixing the Nexus 5: with a new version of Android, Google tackles the camera

The changes break down in five categories, Burke says, autofocus first among them. Mixing speed and image quality requires a fragile balance, particularly in low light, and Android 4.4 skewed too far toward image quality. “There’s a tendency to say, ‘oh, we have this cool thing that stabilizes, so lets make the shutter time longer, reduce the gain even longer, and get better shots.’” But while the Nexus 5’s optical image stabilization allowed it to get better-than-average shots in low light, in good lighting it just made for frustratingly slow shooting speeds. By speeding up the framerate and increasing how quickly the camera can read its surroundings and fire a picture, Burke and his team improved the autofocus, the exposure, and the white balance. “You fix the motion blur,” he says, “and make everything faster.”

Michael Dell wants half of his employees to work from home

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and HP CEO Meg Whitman took a lot of flak when they asked many staff who were working remotely to come back and work on campus, instead of from the comfort of their own homes.

While there will always be different working styles, Michael Dell doesn’t seem to share the view that all employees should work from the office, which is why he’s planning to have half of his 14,000 employees work from home, which should see a sharp increase in remote workers, instead of the estimated 20% of his workforce which currently works from home.

Saving Dell is a going to be a huge task, and now that Michael Dell is back, it’ll be interesting to see if his initiatives will be able to save the company.

Michael Dell Bucks The Trend: Wants Half Of His Employees To Work From Home

As part of the company’s “2020 Legacy of Good” plan, he wants to get half of his 14,000 employees in Round Rock working from home. Currently about 20% of them do, Dell’s vice president of Corporate Responsibility Trisa Thompson told KVUE’s Shelton Green.

Qualcomm Toq smartwatch wants you to cut the strap

Does Qualcomm seriously expect every new owner to manually cut the watch strap in order to make it fit? If the user dosn’t cut it at the correct length, it can’t be undone. To make matters worse, the band itself contains electronics, so you won’t be able to just go and purchase a random watch strap on the market. The designers behind this design probably weren’t thinking too much about the user experience when they came up with this.

Hands-on with the Qualcomm Toq smartwatch

Those spring-bars were the first sign of trouble: rather than using a normal adjustable watch strap, the Toq’s strap must be cut to size. The procedure for this is explained in one of the included pamphlets—you wrap the thing around your wrist, figure out where you want the strap to be, then get some scissors and cut it. Then you slide one of the spring-bars through the nearest hole in the side of the strap and attach it to the metal wrist bracket, closing the loop. After this, the watch can be worn normally.

I was a little taken aback by this design decision. I usually try not to irreversibly damage review hardware, but I didn’t really have a choice here—there’s no way to fasten the watch around your wrist without cutting the band to size. Plus, the band contains electronics—the home screen and front light are controlled by tapping the band, and replacing it with an off-the-shelf band is impossible. So… snip snip.

Three UK allows data roaming in the U.S. with your existing plan

Cell phone roaming charges are always exorbitant, but roaming charges for data have always been insanely overpriced. It’s not uncommon to hear of data roaming charges that cost thousands of dollars. T-Mobile recently introduced unlimited free data roaming in many countries as part of its “Uncarrier” marketing and now Three UK is also offering something similar.

With its Feel at Home service, users will be able to use their local UK allowances in the U.S. So if you’ve got an unlimited data plan in the UK, that plan will function in the U.S. too, as long as you stick to AT&T and T-Mobile.

With such moves by T-Mobile and Three UK, hopefully the rest of the carriers around the world will slowly begin to offer similar plans targeted at travelers. Until then, T-Mobile and Three UK will be receiving plenty of plaudits.

5 Reasons Three UK Just Changed the Global Wireless Market

Today Three, the UK’s smallest network (7.8m customers versus Vodafone’s 19.4m, O2’s 22.5m and EE’s 25.2m), announced the US has been added to its ‘Feel at Home’ service. Feel at Home means your allowances in the UK apply in the US, including all you can eat data for customers on those packages. Here are five reasons this could be a game changer in wireless:

Imminent iPhone launch on China Mobile will be a big boost for Apple

Apple Insider takes a look at the estimates for Apple’s revenue as a result of its deail with China Mobile.

A deal with China Mobile is hotly anticipated by investors because the carrier has 755 million subscribers, making it by far the largest wireless provider in the world. Of those, 170 million are high-speed data customers.

The estimates for 17 million iPhones sold is a conservative one. Even at that figure, Apple will be generating $10 billion in revenue.

HTC One escapes UK ban despite infringing Nokia patent, HTC One Mini banned

The Verge reports that HTC One has escaped from a sales ban in the UK, despite being found to infringe on a Nokia patent.

HTC appealed against a ban on the HTC One and succeeded.

Arguing against a sales ban, HTC had insisted that an injunction — especially during the holidays — would be “catastrophic” for business.

However, the HTC One Mini did not escape the ban.

“In this case the potential harm is more evenly weighted, but importantly the phone was launched much more recently and HTC designed and launched it at a time when HTC knew it was facing a claim for infringement of the patent.”

Epson takes on Google Glass with the Moverio BT-100

Epson has released the Moverio BT-100, a pair of goggles that brings you immersive video playback and information overlays.

The Moverio connects to an Android device so you get the full Android experience instead of the stripped down operating system used by Google Glass. To make it more enticing, Epson is making the Moverio available now and cheaper than the Glass.

Future USB connector to be reversible

If you’ve used a USB device before, you’ll definitely have encountered that frustrating occasion where you tried to plug the connector in the other way around. It’s not a big deal, since you just need to flip the cable over and you’ve solved the jigsaw, but it is irritating. The good news is that the next generation of USB connectors will feature a reversible design, so such incidents should disappear.

While the details haven’t been finalized, nor is a picture of it available, we do know that the new connector will be called Type-C. It should be around the size of a micro USB connector, and be added to the existing USB 3.1 specification, which is expected to be finalized around the middle of 2014. For the average consumer, it should seem to function similarly to Apple’s Lightning connector, which is also reversible, and thus more user friendly than the current USB connector.

While progress is good, hopefully some kind of backwards compatibility with current USB ports will be possible, so it won’t make existing USB ports in devices obsolete. The USB 3.0 Promoter Group is already working to include a specification for adapters and cables to safeguard the functionality of existing ports. After all, one of the strongest benefits of USB ports is that they’re ubiquitous.

The next USB plug will finally be reversible

Work has begun on a new generation of USB that will break compatibility with existing connectors in order to improve ease of use and allow for thinner devices. The new connector, called Type-C, is an addition to the existing USB 3.1 specification and is expected to be finalized by the middle of 2014. There aren’t any images available yet, but Type-C will be around the size of a Micro USB plug and, like Apple’s Lightning connector, will finally be reversible — in other words, no more frustrated attempts to charge your phone with an upside-down cable.

Chrome apps for Android and iOS possibly on the way

Google’s release of Chrome packaged apps was undoubtedly a trojan horse into the Windows and Mac OS platforms. The feature allows Chrome web-based apps to look as if they’re running without the Chrome browser, and also offer better offline support and connection with hardware. Such a move allowed Windows and Mac users a taste of what life would be like on a Chromebook.

Now the search giant could be looking to repeat the feature on Android and iOS, if the recent discovery of some code on the GitHub repository is any indication. So far Google has declined to comment on the subject, and it could well be just another test project that Google is working on, but you never know. Google’s strategy has always been to get its products and services on as many platforms and devices as it can.

Google is building Chrome apps support for Android and iOS, beta release coming as soon as January 2014

The toolkit will help developers create Android and iOS hybrid native apps with Chrome app polyfills, through Apache Cordova. The steps include modifying for mobile design, fixing bugs, working around limitations, and of course, testing.

After all the work is done, Google says the apps will be good enough to publish to both Google Play and Apple’s App Store. The requirements suggest Android 4.x will be supported initially, although Cordova could work with Android 2.2 and 2.3 as well. iOS support is still marked as “TBA” but development has already started.

Apple provides better support for older devices than Android

TUAW reports on a chart by Fidlee that demonstrates iOS and Android support for older devices.

The chart shows that most older Android devices are a few verions of Android behind the latest release.

Even more jarring is that some Android models, just two years after their initial release, are two major versions of Android behind. Three years out, you’d be hard-pressed to find an Android device that isn’t three or four major versions of Android behind.

Apple provides better support for older devices, with the iPhone 4 supporting the latest version despite being in its fourth year after release. The iPhone 3GS was supported into its fifth year after release, up until Apple’s release of iOS 7 earlier this year.

Things look a whole lot different on the iPhone side of the equation. An iPhone 3GS for example, a device which first launched in June of 2009, was compatible with all iOS updates up until Apple released iOS 7 this past summer. The takeaway is that when you purchase an iPhone, you can be confident that you will be able to take advantage of future iOS features and enhancements many years down the line. The value proposition provided by the iPhone in this aspect is simply unmatched by Android.

Many Android users complain that Apple forces users of older devices to upgrade their iPhones. This chart proves the contrary. Android users with older devices are the ones who are forced to upgrade to a newer device to be able to enjoy the latest Android version.