Winamp will be shutting down next month. This news comes following 15 years of being available and has arrived as little more than a mention on the Winamp download site. There was no specifics given as to the reason for the shut down, however speculation suggests lack of popularity at this point.
The folks behind the Winamp app, Nullsoft were acquired by AOL in 1999 and while there are Mac and Android apps available for download — things never seemed as good as the early days when Winamp was highly customizable and available only for Windows. Before we get all nostalgic here, we can look towards the brief statement from Winamp.
“Winamp.com and associated web services will no longer be available past December 20, 2013. Additionally, Winamp Media players will no longer be available for download. Please download the latest version before that date.”
With that having been said, now appears like a good time for the trip down memory lane. Looking towards Wikipedia and we learn that Winamp was created in 1997 by Justin Frankel and Dmitry Boldrev. The early days of Winamp had it available as freeware/shareware and with support for a variety of file types and customizable with plugins and skins.
Winamp was integrated with SHOUTcast for streaming radio and also once found use as a podcatcher. All that aside, Winamp appears to have reached the height of success in 2005 when the user base grew to more than 52 million. But while the software will only be going away for good in December 2013, it seems the writing on the wall may have began 10 years earlier, in 2003. That was when Winamp saw a near-simultaneous departure of both Justin Frankel and the original development team. As a result, Winamp (Nullsoft) became a division of AOL Music.
Has the pace of innovation been slowing down lately? We’re used to incremental improvements to the existing technology in our smartphones, but big, bold moves are much more exciting. Our expectations are higher than ever. There have been some interesting developments in the last year. Sony has brought waterproofing into the mainstream. Apple dipped a toe, or a finger, into biometrics with the fingerprint scan to unlock. Google and Motorola gave us a smartphone that’s always listening for its master’s voice. LG and Samsung have taken the first step towards a flexible future.
What might be next on the horizon? Which barriers are our intrepid research and development professionals about to overcome next? Let’s take a look at some of the evolving technology that could be set to enhance our smartphones in the foreseeable future.
Faster image capture and refocus later
Remember that scene in Blade Runner when Deckard uses an Esper machine to enhance a photo and see something that wasn’t captured in the original shot? Well, that’s impossible, but camera technology is improving at an amazing rate and we’re not talking about slapping a giant camera sensor in a mobile (yes we’re looking at you Lumia 1020).
DigitalOptics is working on MEMS (microelectromechanical system) camera modules which are capable of incredibly fast autofocus with much lower power demands than current technology. The “mems|cam” can capture six consecutive images and store them as one file, which gives you the ability to refocus the photo later, and it’s up to seven times faster than current camera technology. There were rumors that the Nexus 5 might be packing one, but it now looks like Oppo will be the first manufacturer to release a phone with a “mems|cam” after a DigitalOptics press release announced that they “are exclusive launch partners”.
This is a baby step towards some really exciting technology called Lytro, which uses multiple micro-lenses to capture images with depth enabling you to refocus and change perspective after the shot is taken. Until they figure out how to make Lytro cameras smaller, we’ll have to settle for something less awesome, but it would still represent a major improvement over current smartphone cameras.
Vastly improved speakers
The sound quality on smartphones is generally poor and we’re all used to tinny speakers that don’t deliver any depth, but we may be able to enjoy significantly better audio in the near future. HTC has definitely led in this space with its Beast Audio partnership and Boomsound. The decision to place two front-facing speakers in the HTC One for true stereo definitely delivered the best smartphone speaker audio quality we’ve encountered yet, but for cost and space reasons most manufacturers rely on one speaker.
Thanks to NXP we’re about to see another boost in the shape of the second generation TFA9895 which is “a high efficiency class-D audio amplifier with a sophisticated speaker boost protection algorithm that features multi-band compression”. In other words, it provides improved audio and reduces distortion without reducing quality or volume, and it can do so without killing your battery.
This new speaker solution will likely be rolling out in a lot of new smartphones over the coming months and we expect to see a few more dual-speaker, stereo set-ups as well. The result will be louder and better quality audio on our smartphones without having to rely on headphones all the time.
Faster charging and greater capacity
Running out of juice is still the number one bugbear for most smartphone owners and, since manufacturers keep adding bigger screens and more features, it’s a problem that has yet to be solved. The lithium-ion battery technology we use currently needs to be fairly large to store enough power. Switching to silicon is problematic because it expands when charged and then shrinks when discharging, which kills it fast, though researchers are working on a way round this.
Back in May, 18 year-old high school student, Eesha Khare, created a supercapacitor that could allow your smartphone to fully charge in less than 30 seconds. She won an Intel prize and IB Times suggested that big tech companies like Google are sniffing around, though the problem with this kind of technology in the past has been that it can’t hold a charge for as long as li-ion.
Alternative energy sources and wireless charging
The wireless charger for the the Nexus 5 is coming, and soon.
Another way to tackle the battery issue is to think about where we get power from.
Wireless charging has been around for a long time now, but the more it is adopted, the more useful it will become. If wireless charging becomes commonplace in restaurants and cafes, airport lounges, and other public places then we’ll certainly take advantage. One of the tedious barriers so far has been establishing a common standard, and there are different technologies at play. The Qi standard is the front runner right now, but we know Samsung is working on magnetic resonance wireless chargers and they should work at greater distances. That means your smartphone could potentially be charging up in your pocket if there’s a charger nearby.
There’s also some potential in the idea of generating power in some way on the device itself. We’ve seen solar chargers and extended battery cases with solar panels on them. There’s also been some work done on charging through solar cells in the screen. None of the solar solutions deliver a lot of juice and they require direct sunlight to soak power up, but some improvement is better than nothing and Sunpartner Technologies is rolling out its Wysips Crystal solar tech in the New Year, having managed to reduce the cost to about .30 per phone, it claims this will boost battery life on average by 20%.
Samsung and LG raced to produce smartphones with flexible displays, but the benefits of their first efforts in this space aren’t going to wow you. Initially flexible screens are all about durability, and though the display may be potentially flexible it will be housed on a rigid device. No risk of cracks or shattering when you drop your smartphone would be great, though our drop tests might get a bit boring, but the real excitement of flexibility is in new form factors.
The dream device would fold out from a portable pocket size to act as a standard smartphone and then fold out again to reveal a 10-inch tablet screen. The barrier here is that the rest of the components in your average smartphone are not flexible.
Graphene could be the magic material that makes it possible in the future and there’s a lot of research going on in this space. Graphene transistors are improving fast, as highlighted in this paper in the ACS Nano journal. Graphene is a single layer of carbon which is very strong and flexible and the fact it can also be employed as a supercapacitor means that it could be the answer for both flexibility and improved battery performance. Sadly, it’s probably still a few years away from the mainstream, but you never know when the next breakthrough will occur.
What would you most like to see in your next smartphone? What technological breakthrough would get you really excited? Post a comment and tell us!
If there’s one adjective that describes the mobile tech industry, it would be “fast”. Just as more and more high-end smartphones are adopting Qualcomm‘s latest Snapdragon 800, the ARM chip manufacturer is now reportedly already working on its next generation Snapdragon chip.
No, it isn’t a 64-bit chip yet, which Qualcomm has pointed out, and then retracted, to be a merketing gimmick, in an attempt to discredit Apple and it’s new processor, which wasn’t manufactured by Qualcomm. Or at least there isn’t any indication that this new chip will be making that big a jump just yet. In fact, it seems that Qualcomm’s next Snapdragon will simply be an incremental upgrade.
A leaked AnTuTu benchmark shows a Qualcomm chip with the model APQ8084, just a digit away from the Snapdragon 800 APQ80874, running at 2.5 GHz. In comparison, the Snapdragon 800 runs at 2.3 GHz, which may not seem like such a huge improvement, but should still boost performance a bit in a few places. The rest of the specs, such as the four cores and the maximum supported resolution of 1080
iMore’s sibling site, Android Central will be doing Android Central Live at next week’s Samsung Developer Conference. That’s right, Samsung is holding their own dev event, and AC is their official community partner. What can you expect from their amped up coverage? Pretty much what Mobile Nations did for BlackBerry with CrackBerry Live last spring. That means live interviews, show coverage, podcasts, and more, all hosted by our very own Phil Nickinson and Andrew Martonik.
So if you’re into Android, Android Central, Samsung, or simply want to meet some great people from Mobile Nations, and you’re in San Francisco, grab a ticket and head on over. Otherwise, keep your browsers locked to http://androidcentral.com/sdc13 for all the action.
Any questions? Check out the MarketWired press release below!
Android Central is the Official Community Partner of the Samsung Developers Conference
AndroidCentral.com to provide live coverage, interviews and demos from the floor of Samsung’s debut developer event
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – (Marketwire – October 21, 2013) – Mobile Nations today announced that Android Central, the premier online destination for Android smartphone and tablet owners, will be the Official Community Partner of the upcoming Samsung Developers Conference. The event takes place at San Francisco’s St. Francis Hotel, from October 28-29, 2013. Android Central will be providing live coverage, interviews and demos with Samsung engineers as well as Android app developers from the show floor.
The inaugural Samsung Developers Conference will feature more than 50 technical sessions, hands-on workshops and inspiring talks from leading influencers in the mobile, consumer electronics and digital content industries.
Hosted by Phil Nickinson and Andrew Martonik, Android Central Live will air on October 28th and 29th. Each day will feature the Android Central show, a 1-hour discussion wrapping up and analyzing all the day’s news, and 2 hours of interviews with developers, session leaders and other notables.
“Samsung is the dominant player in Android-based mobile devices today, and its ecosystem stretches beyond phones and tablets,” said Phil Nickinson, Editor in Chief of Android Central. “It’s great to see Samsung take this leap to hosting its own Dev Con. We’re happy to be the official community partner and help bring the event to the entire world. If you can’t be there in person, the absolute best way to share in the excitement is Android Central Live.”
For more information on show times, guests and to watch the live stream and join in the conversation, go to androidcentral.com/sdc13.
Tickets to the Samsung Developer Conference cost 9 and include access to keynotes, sessions, and more. Additional information about the conference, including details on how to register, can be found at www.samsungdevcon.com.
The OUYA team mentioned that external storage support was an item that was in the works. This news came back in September and while it was encouraging, there was little detail provided other than it being an item that was being worked on. As for a timeline it was simply listed as “coming.” Well, it looks like that time has arrived, for those who are willing to play in the beta space.
Coming by way of the OUYA blog, external storage support will be arriving in closed beta next week. The team has said this is a feature they have been focused on and they are “just about ready to put external storage into a testing phase.” Further details here touch on why they chose the beta route.
Basically, this is described as being a big feature. And on top of that, there are lots and lots of external storage options available. Using a closed beta will provide a bit more of a controlled testing group and allow the team to better work on any issues that arise.
Otherwise, in addition to the upcoming external storage beta, there is a regular update just about ready to begin rolling out. Some of the other items that will be coming include the ability to download a game by pressing the U button while highlighting a game title as well as the promise of improved performance and some fixes and other tweaks.
Some of the fixes include Download being changed to Free Download to ensure users realize all games have a free trial available, a new ‘forgot password’ option on the user sign-in screen, a fix for the HDMI wake up issue, videos and screenshots will now go full screen when enlarged (as opposed to simply getting bigger) and more.
That all being said, those looking to get in on the external storage beta will need to fill out a form with OUYA and for that, follow the link sitting below.
In addition to the highly anticipated HTC One Max, HTC may already be working on a future Android smartphone, a second-generation HTC Butterfly model.
According to existing reports, the HTC Butterfly will be launched at some point in the first quarter of 2014 – maybe as soon as January – and the handset is said to be waterproof.
Furthermore, the HTC Butterfly 2 is rumored to sport a 5.2-inch display with 1920 x 1080 resolution and a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor.
Finally, C Technology has published a set of images that reportedly show the front panel of the handset. If real, these images seem to confirm that the handset will be available in multiple colors including white, black and blue.
The front panel has HTC’s logo on top and seems to be similar to the HTC Butterfly’s front panel to some extent. Interestingly, instead of three buttons under the display there only appear to be two of them on the Butterfly 2 with a (microphone?) hole present in the middle.
We’ll be back with more details about this rumored HTC Butterfly 2 handset once we have them.
We’ve seen leaked pics, and we’ve heard the rumors, but ASUS seems primed to launch their new phone/tablet hybrid. Dubbed ‘the new Padfone Infinity’, ASUS has begun sending invitations for the launch event of the one true phablet, and have a fun little video on their website (and below) to commemorate the launch.
Aside from an upgraded processor and the addition of a white model, not much is known about the new Padfone Infinity. The design is said to be the exact same, with no resolution upgrade for the screen. A MicroSD card slot could make an appearance, but those are the only tweaks we’ve heard of. The truncated video also lends us to believe that Asus doesn’t have much to offer or tease, either. No glamour shots, no zippy graphics — just a rocket launching.
The website has a countdown timer as well, so those of you who are really excited for the new phablet, September 17th is your day.
The popular and customizable Moto Xsmartphone is already available from all major US carriers. Verizon to even T-Mobile (at least online) and now it appears that a few smaller carriers are up next. Some images have appeared showing a fifth carrier, Cricket Wireless, could be next to offer the impressive USA-built smartphone.
The folks form Phandroid received a few pictures from what appears to be a Cricket employee unboxing an entire box of dummy models that will grace their store shelves. Which means it’s only a matter of time before real working units arrive and they go up for sale on the no-contract carrier.
Yesterday we learned the USA Texas facility where the device is made and assembled has increased production, and they’re now shipping around 100,000 Moto X phones a week. Obviously that won’t reach Galaxy S4 like numbers, but it’s pretty impressive for the new facility in Texas.
The image you see is the above mentioned leak, which proves Cricket Wireless is possibly the next US carrier that will release and offer the impressive phone. As a reminder you’ll enjoy Android 4.2 on a 4.7-inch 720p display with some awesome voice and gesture controls. Hands-free Google Now, and much more. Check it all out in our Moto X review, and stay tuned for more details about an upcoming Cricket release date.
While there is a new Apple TV on the way, it won’t arrive next week. Instead, expect an update to the Apple TV software, according to a new report on All Things D.
According to the report, new features in the update will allow you to play your iTunes content on your friends’ Apple TVs without having to sign out and sign in using your own Apple ID (instead, using AirPlay on your own device). You’ll also be able to play Apple’s soon to be released iTunes Radio – its streaming music service which will launch with iOS 7.
9to5Mac corroborates AllThingsD’s report, and adds that you’ll also be able to set up an Apple TV over Bluetooth 4.0. Changes are apparently afoot to prep it for use with multiple monitor support for OS X Mavericks, which is still in pre-release; earlier this week Apple rolled out a seventh “Developer Preview” build.
It’s been three years since Apple introduced the second generation Apple TV, and about a year and a half since Apple rolled out its successor – the major difference between the two is support for 1080 video on the third generation. Otherwise, Apple has kept both boxes in lock-step with each other for operating system software. Both are currently running Apple TV software 5.3 (a variant of iOS).
It remains to be seen what new hardware functions Apple could bring to a new generation Apple TV, but in the interim, it’s good to see Apple continuing to support both black boxes with equanimity.