If you think that Samsung was done with unconventional screens when it unveiled the rather odd Galaxy Round, then you have another thing coming, at least sometime in the future. Recent information has shown the company being its usual aggressive self and filling its plate with display technology that could make for some very interesting smartphone uses in the near future.
Of course, its not that unusual for Samsung to invest heavily in this area. After all, it has been making TVs longer than it has been putting out smartphones. But the Korean company has been making headlines lately for its ambitious plans and unusual devices, so its activities deserve a closer look.
According to Korean media sources, Samsung is looking into switching its display technology towards using metal mesh touch screen panels. This has various benefits, but two are particularly interesting. For one, this brings the company closer to that holy grail of flexible displays because it has low surface resistance and is easily bendable. The second advantage is that it would theoretically allow Samsung to implement stylus-related technology without the need for a digitizer, opening up features like the S Pen to any smartphone. It will probably also save the company some money as it can stop using technology from Wacom, which probably costs Samsung no small amount of cash.
Samsung has also been spotted filing a patent claim for back side controls on smartphones. The difference between this and existing implementations is that Samsung’s patent involves backside controls on a transparent display and not on a back cover. The filing shows images of users controlling video playback or recording as well as normal lists and icons from the opposite side of a transparent scren. This is one case of a technology that is still far into the future though, as transparent displays, much less transparent touchscreens, still have to make their way into consumer electronics.
Rumors or even patents are no assurance that these things will be seen in devices soon. It is still quite interesting to get a glimpse of what giants like Samsung have in their minds for future technologies and devices. It’s definitely still too early to be dreaming of flexible, transparent touchscreen smartphones with S Pen functionality, though.
Google has confirmed that it plans to offer Glass hardware that will be compatible with prescription eyeglasses, and tonight we’ve gotten an early peek at what the device might look like. Google employee Brian Matiash has posted a couple of photos of the prescription Glass unit to his Google+ page, showing a unit with a slot in which the arm of the eyeglasses slide right into. Outside of that small change, this pair of Glass looks fairly similar to the regular model that we’ve seen in the past, complete with a heads-up display in front of the right eye.
It’s unclear if this version of prescription Google Glass will be the same model that’s made available to consumers or if it’s still in development, but the unit shown in these photos looks pretty nice. The arm of the eyeglasses appear to slot snugly into the body of Glass and it appears that Google is working to make the prescription-friendly Glass as similar as possible to the non-prescription version.
In other Glass news, Google has started inviting early Explorers to swap out their original hardware for the updated model that was announced in late October. The offer allows Explorers that bought Glass before Oct. 28 to exchange their unit for a newer version that Google says has the same look and feel but is faster, more durable and compatible with upcoming prescription frames. Explorers will have until Feb. 5 to decide if they want to swap for an updated model, and if they do elect to exchange, they’ll be given the opportunity to select a new color as well.
What better way to ensure the safety of your precious smartphone against sudden and forceful impact than with a tried and tested air bag And who better to turn that into a smartphone accessory than car maker Honda.
Of course, it might be overkill for most cases of smartphone accidents, but surely there will be instances when you’d wish your device was well protected against the evils of gravity and other drivers. As the video below shows, it will be useful for those cases when you accidentally drop your smartphone from a great height, like say from construction scaffolding or repair cranes. Who cares if you can’t put it inside your pocket, since the trend of growing smartphone sizes makes that impractical anyway.
It seems that Honda has the same idea and the same need. It has released a video on YouTube, which you can watch below, that narrates how the idea was conceived, the tests that were conducted, and the results that it produced. The Smartphone Case N, as Honda calls it, resembles more a box than a case. Inside the box is the same material you’d find in car air bags. You also have the necessary sensors that will determine if the smartphone is actually falling from a dangerous height or simply dropping off onto your bed. Before it even hits the ground, the air bag gets released and inflates, reducing the impact on the smartphone that sits precariously on top of the contraption.
Of course, this feels unlikely to be an actual product. It can either be an elaborate, but well done, joke or a teaser for some other Honda product or technology. Admittedly, it’s a funny thing to watch and makes you wonder how far some people might go to physically protect their smartphones.
Android has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to launchers though some have managed to rise above the rest because of their features and polish. One that has made a lasting impression on us in our earlier comparison test is Action Launcher, which has just reached that iconic 2.0 version, with an interesting new feature and a free download to boot.
One thing that could probably describe the philosophy behind Action Launcher is that it tries to give users quick access to features with as little taps or swipes as possible. Quicksearch lets you search apps, contacts, and others from the action bar, without having to open up a dedicated search app or tool. Covers and Shutters redefine how folder shortcuts work, letting users launch an app, open a folder, or display the app’s widget with a single tap or swipe gesture. Action Launcher also eschews the traditional app drawer convention and instead offers Quickdrawer, which presents an apps and widgets panel on the left that only covers part of the homescreen.
As demonstrated in a previous teaser, this latest version Action Launcher takes this element of quickness to the next level with two important features. Quickpage is somewhat like Quickdrawer, except that it slides from the right of the screen and that it practically functions as an extra homescreen where you can place widgets, shortcuts, covers, and shutters. But what makes it and Quickdrawer shine is 1-Swipe, a feature that lets users bring up Quickdrawer or Quickpage by swiping from the appropriate side within any app or page that is displayed. It even works when using a different launcher. It should be noted, however, that both 1-Swipe and Quickpage are marked as still in Beta. There are other new features as well, such as the addition of translucent bars for those running Android 4.4. These changes, as well as bug fixes, can be found in the release notes here. Here’s the rundown of some of the new features of Action Launcher 2.0.
Those who haven’t been able to try out Action Launcher because of the price can now do so as developer Chris Lacy has provided a limited free version for that purpose. The paid pro version still remains for those who want to unlock the launcher’s full potential and also support development efforts. In celebration of the 2.0 release, Action Launcher Pro is available at $1.99, a 50% discount, for a limited time only.
Some of you might have fond memories of playing side-by-side with a friend and pulling of deadly kung fu moves in Double Dragon on ye ol’ arcade. Now you can relive those moments, maybe even with the same friend, as DotEmu brings back the classic side-scrolling brawler on Android.
DotEmu has made a name for itself in bringing classic titles into the present age with the help of some emulation technologies. Late last October, it announced that it was channeling its resources in bringing Double Dragon to mobile. And it wasn’t content to work on only one Double Dragon title. Instead, it was roping all parts of the trilogy into one, single mobile package.
Now the promised day has arrived and players can take on the roles of martial arts siblings Billy and Jimmy as they fight their way to rescue Billy’s beloved. Of course, the game isn’t just a direct port and offers a number of mobile-only features. Players can get to choose their level of difficulty, ranging from an easier mobile version to the original arcade version to a hardcore expert mode. The game also includes both the original 8-bit soundtrack of the game as well as a remastered version. But probably more important for reminiscing the good old days, the game has a two-player co-op mode via Bluetooth. Here’s DotEmu’s trailer for Double Dragon Trilogy on mobile.
Reliving the past this way, however, isn’t free but won’t cost you much compared to, say, some never-ending game franchise. Double Dragon Trilogy is now up on Google Play Store for a slight price tag of $2.99.