For Skype’s latest Android update, the company turned to an unlikely source of inspiration: parent company Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 OS. Specifically, the Skype team wanted to achieve a Snap View-like feature for Android tablet users and that’s just what’s rolling out to users today. The new picture-in-picture option allows callers to continue browsing the web, reading email or even playing Candy Crush on their slates while they video chat away. A new pinch to browse alphabetically feature has also been bundled into the update, making it far easier to locate contacts without endlessly scrolling through a list. Existing Skype users should see the update hitting their Android devices soon though, take note, smartphone users will only benefit from included stability and bug fixes. You can’t have it all, people.
We knew it was only a matter of time before Qualcomm came out with its own chipset capable of supporting 64-bit, but we figured it’d be in something a little more… high-end. The Snapdragon 410, however, is a 28nm SoC that seems to be focused more on lower-end devices and emerging markets instead. Announced by the company today, the new Snapdragon is expected to sample to manufacturers in the first half of 2014, with it reaching consumer devices during the second half.
The chip also comes packed with plenty of extra feature support. First on the list is LTE, which Qualcomm says is a feature it wants to bring to all product tiers. In particular, this next-gen connectivity comes with multimode and multiband support, ensuring that many devices carrying the chip will work on LTE networks around the globe (a feature we assume will be up to the OEM to enable). In addition, the Snapdragon 410 will feature an Adreno 306 GPU and offer support for dual- and triple-SIM devices, with 1080p video playback, up to a 13MP camera, GPS/GLONASS, WiFI, NFC and Bluetooth. It’ll also be compatible with Android, Windows Phone and Firefox OS, and is geared toward “high-volume” devices in emerging markets which sell for under $150.
Of course, even though a lower-tier Snapdragon is the first Qualcomm chipset with 64-bit support, we strongly suspect that it won’t be too long before the company comes out with new higher-end SoCs that offer the same capability. After all, CES and MWC are not too far away.
We haven’t even seen the latest iteration of Google TV yet — oops, sorry, that’s “Android with Google services for TV” these days — but a new rumor from The Information’s Amir Efrati points to a Nexus-branded set-top box directly from Google in the first half of 2014. Previous rumors have noted TV-connected hardware focused on videoconferencing and gaming, and this new rumor also focuses on the latter, indicating that at this stage it runs Android game apps with a touchscreen controller, but doesn’t carry live TV. The suggestion is that an “aggressively priced” gaming box (that also plays streaming internet video and is controlled by phone or tablet) would give Google the advertising foothold it’s looking for on your family’s TV screen.
The $35 Chromecast dongle has been well received and achieves many of those goals, but we’d like to see what Google could do to separate itself from competitors like Apple TV and Roku or Android-powered hardware like the Ouya — not to mention the next-gen consoles from Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony. What’s not mentioned here are other rumors that Google might look into IPTV services, however after Intel bailed on that route it’s not surprising. One more competitor that could throw its hat in the ring is Amazon, which has also been the subject of rumors about a TV box on the way. The only thing we’re sure to be purchasing anytime soon however, is an HDMI switch to plug all of this stuff in.
Google Chrome-lovers will soon be able to get a Chrome app on their smartphone, regardless of what kind it is.
The Internet giant is working on uniform app support that they are hoping to release for iOS and Android in 2014.
This means that developers will be able to design an app for Chrome, and have it work on any smartphone.
What Google is making a Chrome app and turning it into a “hybrid” app so that they can perform on Android and iOS and be downloaded from the Google Play store and the Apple App Store.
In addition to offline access, Chrome Apps can use lower-level system resources including USB ports and Bluetooth, and can interact with digital cameras and printers.
Developers benefit because once Chrome Mobile Apps work smoothly, they can code in the relatively easy HTML5 and but run it in the more trendy worlds of Android and iOS.