We take a look back at some of the biggest gadget news this month and look ahead at what’s to come, including a new camera from Samsung, a smartwatch from Sony and a fair trade smartphone from Fairphone.
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E3 hosts the big guns in gaming, but is Google the next contender?
At E3 this month, one of the biggest events on the gaming calendar, both Sony and Microsoft put on a show for their respective next-generation consoles.
Microsoft showcased 20 new titles for the forthcoming Xbox One, plus a new iteration of the Xbox 360 and upgrades to Xbox Live. Ahead of the event, discontent was bubbling up among fans over some of the new features being added with Xbox One, such as constant connectivity, an all-seeing Kinect camera and a new policy on sharing games. However, Microsoft was forced to do an Xbox 180, revoking its restrictions on sharing and the need for an internet connection.
Many believe this backtrack came as a result of Sony’s E3 presentation, which highlighted a sharing policy for the PlayStation 4 that did nothing but stick to the status quo yet invoked widespread applause from gamers.
But while these two gaming giants duke it out, new players are making their way to the battleground. Ouya’s US$99 Android console arrived this month, though early reports suggest the device doesn’t have the power to match up to other consoles on the market – but could a Google-made Android-powered console pose a threat?
Jony Ive reigns as king of iOS at WWDC
We also had Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) this month, which saw the unveiling of new operating systems for Mac and iOS.
OS X Mavericks will arrive in autumn along with 200 new features for Mac users, including Timer Coalescing which will help save energy and extend users’ battery life. The next-generation MacBook Air was also revealed at the event, boasting up to 12 hours of battery life for the 13-inch model.
While senior vice-president of worldwide marketing grabbed a lot of attention for his “can’t innovate anymore my ass” comment regarding the next-gen Mac Pro, the real star of Apple’s WWDC keynote – the one we were all waiting to see – was iOS 7.
Industrial design maven Jony Ive’s first take on software design did not disappoint and, along with the ‘flattened’ new-look iOS 7, Apple also revealed iTunes Radio, its new internet radio service.
Microsoft builds on Windows
Finally, this month of big ticket events ends with Microsoft’s developer conference, Build. Our own John Kennedy was reporting from the ground at The Moscone Center, San Francisco, where Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer championed the rapid release cycle and the rise of the multi-screen.
As expected, Windows 8.1 was revealed with lots of nifty new features such as a hands-free gesture-based mode and support for 3D printing. Microsoft also amped up its challenge to Google with new voice, mapping and 3D tools for Bing, which is now open as a platform for developers to build on.
Samsung launches world’s first 4G interchangeable lens camera
Samsung was certainly busy this month. As well as announcing three new variants on its flagship Galaxy S4 smartphone – the Galaxy S4 Active, the Galaxy S4 Zoom and a Galaxy S4 with advanced 4G – the South Korean manufacturer hosted a press event in London where it unveiled two new Windows tablets (the Ativ Q and the Ativ Tab 3) and a line of ultra-slim PCs.
Also unveiled at this event was the Galaxy NX, an Android-powered interchangeable-lens compact system camera with Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G connectivity. Built to share images, the NX packs a 20.3MP APS-C sensor and DRIMe IV Image Signal Processor.
Samsung Galaxy NX
The Samsung Galaxy NX is expected to hit retailers sometime this summer.
Sony also had a world’s first to unveil this month in the form of a water-resistant smartwatch with NFC connectivity. The Sony SmartWatch 2 comes with an Android interface and serves as a message notification device and music remote.
The watch was unveiled alongside the slim, durable Xperia Z Ultra phablet at the Mobile Asia Expo in Shanghai. Its 1.6-inch screen can be read in sunlight and users can personalise the SmartWatch 2 with any standard 24mm strap.
Sony SmartWatch 2
The Sony SmartWatch 2 will be available worldwide from September this year.
Why have just a smartphone, when you could have a Fairphone?
Have you ever sat down and considered where every component of your precious smartphone came from, and whether or not they were ethically sourced? Social enterprise Fairphone has, and, having started out in 2010 to raise awareness about the use of conflict minerals in electronics and conducted complex research on the supply chain over the three years that followed, they have decided to produce their own smartphone – one that has been built with its environmental and social impact in mind.
A total of 20,000 Fairphone handsets will be produced, and over half of these have already been sold through pre-orders for €325 a pop. These users will know where every bit of their smartphone came from, as well as the cost of these materials.
Shipping to European customers this autumn, the Fairphone features a 4.3-inch qHD display protected by Dragontrail glass, a 1.2GHz Mediatek 6589 quad-core CPU, 16GB storage, 8MP rear camera, 1.3MP front-facing camera, dual-SIM functionality and a 2,000mAh replaceable battery.
The smartphone runs on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean coupled with a special, open-source interface developed by Kwame Corporation, but users are also granted root access so they can install whatever operating system they like.
Main gadgets image via Shutterstock
Gadgets of the Month is made possible by Vodafone Ireland