Basemark X 3D benchmark updated to 1

Basemark X 3D benchmark updated to 1.1, runs on the top three smartphone OSes

Benchmarks are a big part of our reviews and Basemark X is one of the newer ones we’re using. The company behind it, Rightware, just announced that it has covered all three major smartphone OSes, which is a must-have for inter-platform comparisons.

The latest version, Basemark X 1.1, is based on Unity 4.2, a popular game engine and IDE.

This means the benchmark gives realistic estimates of performance for games that use the Unity engine and there are plenty of those on iOS and Android, even desktop games. You can check Unity 3D’s web site for a list of games that use the engine.

Anyway, back to the benchmark. Rightware has a rich database called Power Board you can use to compare the performance of 1,500 smartphones and tablets.

Basemark X 1.1 is available for free download on Android (from Play Store and Amazon App Store), iOS and Windows Phone.


AT&T’s Galaxy Note 3

AT&T's Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy Gear available Oct. 4

Samsung Galaxy Note

AT&T this morning dropped word that the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Gear will be available online and in stores this Friday, Oct. 4. The Note 3 runs $299 on contract; same price for the Galaxy Gear smartwatch.

  • More: Galaxy Note 3 podcast special
  • Also: Hands-on with the Galaxy Gear

Apple Bumps UK Prices as VAT Rises

Apple Bumps UK Prices as VAT Rises

Apple’s new entry-level UK pricing

Apple today took down its online store in the UK for a few hours, moving to raise prices to account for an increase in the national value-added tax (VAT) going into effect today that is seeing the rate rise from 17.5% to 20%.

The price increases have resulted in Apple straying from its usual price point targets, as an entry-level 13″ MacBook Pro or 21.5″ iMac that previously cost £999 with VAT now goes for £1020, while the entry-level Mac Pro price has moved from £1999 to £2041.

Popular iOS devices have also increased in price, with the 16 GB iPhone 4 rising in price from £499 to £510 and the 16 GB Wi-Fi iPad going from £429 to £439.

Some observers had hoped that Apple might choose to simply absorb the tax increases by reducing their prices slightly in order to maintain the psychological price points used for many of their products, but the company obviously decided that it needed to pass along the tax increase to consumers in order to maintain its margins.

Apple’s old entry-level UK pricing

ASUS Nexus 7 (2013) with LTE is now available in the US Play Store

ASUS Nexus 7 (2013) with LTE is now available in the US Play Store

Google quietly began offering the LTE capable 2013 ASUS Nexus 7 in the US Play Store. The 4G ready tablet is priced at $349 for a 32GB slate with a T-Mobile SIM and 2GB of data for one month.

Of course, the LTE capable Nexus 7 will not support only on T-Mobile’s network. The slate is also compatible with the LTE networks of Verizon Wireless and AT&T. Support for the latter’s HSPA network is also on board.

Interested? You can snag an LTE ready 2013 Nexus 7 by hitting the source link below.


Archos announces new line of stock Android (and Google-certified) smartphones

Archos announces new line of stock Android (and Google-certified) smartphones

Archos 53 Platnium

Manufacturer Archos has just announced a trio of new Android smartphones — each with stock Android and including the full suite of Google Play services.

The three phones run the gamut in size, as well. The Archos?35 Carbon is the budget phone of the group, starting things out with a 3.5-inch IPS?display and a 320×480?resolution, powered by a 1 GHz Qualcomm 7225a?processor and 1GB of RAM. It’s running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

The Archos 50 Platinum bumps things up to a 5-inch display and Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean, powered by a Qualcomm 8225Q quad-core processor and 1GB?of RAM.

And the Archos 53 Platinum takes the 50 Platinum and bumps things up to a 5.3-inch IPS display.

All three phones are 3G only — no LTE here — and are expected to be available in Europe by June.

  • Archos 53 Platinum?($249)
  • Archos 50 Platinum?($219)
  • Archos 35 Carbon?($99)

Apple App Store surpasses 1 million apps

Apple App Store surpasses 1 million apps, 60 billion downloads

At today’s iPad-centric Apple event, company’s CEO Tim Cook took the time to share exciting news regarding the App Store. Back in June at the WWDC, the apps in the App Store were more than 900,000 and now they’ve already passed the 1,000,000 mark.

Moreover, total number of downloaded apps is now more than 60 billion. The main rival of the App Store – the Google Play Store passed the 1 million apps mark in July, but at that point it only had 50 billion downloads accumulated.

Apple has also calculated how much it has paid developers. Apple iOS developers have received north of $13 billion since the inception of the App Store.

Tim Cook also shared some insights regarding iTunes Radio. Over 20 million users have given it a go playing over 1 billion songs. Impressive stats considering the service requires a US account, but Apple didn’t disclose any information regarding how much money it actually makes out of its music streaming service.

4 KitKat to bring ability to set your default SMS app

Android 4.4 KitKat to bring ability to set your default SMS app

Android has always allowed the ability to replace any of the built-in apps with something else. But while it is possible to do this for certain functions using public APIs, for others, developers have to rely on private APIs, a practice Google condemns.

This is true for all the SMS applications currently on the store. But that is about to change with Android 4.4 KitKat. Google has announced that they will be making the APIs required for this public. Moreover, they are also introducing the concept of setting your default SMS app.

Once implemented correctly, you will get the option to set your new SMS app as the default messaging app on KitKat and all the sent and received messages will be directed to the new app. Google has provided all the required information for developers to update their existing SMS apps so that they work properly in KitKat in their blog post. If you’d like to read more about that, click on the source link below.


Amazon Prime membership going up to $100 a year

Amazon Prime membership going up to $100 a year

Amazon UK already raised the price of its Prime service, but that was done with a big Kindle Fire price cut to soften the blow. Users in the US will have to take it on the chin – Prime will cost $100, up from $80, in a week.

Amazon announced this with a banner on its home page that looks like Prime is being discounted $20 for the next seven days.

That’s just wishful thinking though, $80 was the price until now. Amazon was considering raising the price by as much as $40, but it seems the etailer has settled on a more gentle bump. And if you think about it another way – $20 more per year is a $1.67 per month – the blow doesn’t seem so big.

Also, keep in mind that students with .edu email accounts can get Prime for $50. If you don’t have Prime or an .edu account, you can start a 30-day trial and lock in the $80 price for the next year, even though the price hike is taking place in a week.

Amazon Prime offers free two-day shipping for many products and streaming access to Amazon’s collection of TV shows and movies. This collection is much bigger in the US than what other countries are getting.

Source | Via

Apple Begins Preparing First 27-Inch iMac Orders for Shipment [Update: Shipping]

Apple Begins Preparing First 27-Inch iMac Orders for Shipment [Update: Shipping]

As noted by a number of MacRumors forum members, customers who placed early orders for the new 27-inch iMac are beginning to see their credit cards charged and order statuses changing to “Preparing for Shipment”. The new status indicates that the orders can no longer be changed or canceled and is the final stage before the machines are passed off to delivery companies.

Customers who have received updated order statuses are reporting that they are still seeing their originally quoted delivery times, which are typically in the range of December 21-31, but it seems that their orders may arrive slightly ahead of that window if they ship out in a timely fashion.

So far it appears that only U.S. customers have reported seeing their orders being prepared for shipment, but there are still only a few data points available. A number of those seeing their orders being readied for delivery have also included built-to-order configurations, indicating that custom orders will be arriving essentially alongside stock models.

Update: Apple has now begun shipping these early orders, with many customers seeing delivery dates of December 18 while a few are seeing dates as early as December 13. We’re also hearing from customers outside of the United States that their orders are similarly progressing toward shipment.

Related roundup: iMac

Alicia Keys is BlackBerry’s new Global Creative Director

Alicia Keys is BlackBerry's new Global Creative Director. Wait, what?

Today, at the BlackBerry 10 launch event, the BlackBerry’s CEO announced Alicia Keys will be company’s Global Creative Director. Now I will try to shed some light on what the singer’s new job actually means.

According to the press release, she will be working closely with developers, content creators, carriers and retailers to promote, innovate and expand the capabilities of the new BlackBerry 10 OS and devices.

The lovely Miss Alicia Keys will be in charge of the Keep Moving project and will be working along with the director Robert Rodriguez and the author Neil Gaiman. Here is the promo video.

As far as I understand, she’ll be in charge of the promotional campaign of the new platform and will be responsible for some fresh ideas that will hopefully make it into the next versions of the BlackBerry OS.

This all sounds great, but is it really going to help the BlackBerry’s future? I like Alicia Keys as a musician and I like the new BlackBerry Z10, but this just seems like bag of money thrown away. Only time will tell if this was actually a smart move by BlackBerry, I guess.