September 17, 2013

Arduino In Your Pocket - Small, Stackable and Affordable (Video)

Microduino Studio wants to make Arduino more accessible by creating a smaller, flexible and cheaper hardware addition to the prototyping platform. All Arduino-compatible boards and extension modules created by Microduino are about the size of a quarter and stackable, which makes it easy to build micro-robotics and other tiny projects.

After launching on Kickstarter last week, Microduino hit its goal of $20,000 in just three days. You can still back the project until October 19 for pledges starting at $20, which will get you the Microduino basic kit with functions equivalent to one Arduino Uno circuit board.

KS_MicroduinoMicroduino achieves its tiny size by separating the Arduino Uno into its controller and communication cores and stacking them on top of each other. All core boards and extension modules use the same U-shaped pin-out, which means they can also be stacked together.

Tiki Wang, the startup’s CEO, says Microduino’s boards and extension modules were created to help users decrease prototyping and production expenses. Each has only the circuits necessary for their specific function, which keeps size and cost down. Extension modules currently ready for production includes ones that add Ethernet connectivity, 2.4GHz wireless communication, Micro SD card jacks, a Bluetooth Shield, a 10 DOF Sensor, Li-ion battery management and OLED display. More are currently being tested by members of Beijing Makerspace and other Microduino users.

Written by Catherine Shu

September 13, 2013

iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C: Which New iPhone Is Right For You?

iPhone 5S on the left and iPhone 5C on the right.
From a hardware perspective, the 5c is very similar to the iPhone 5: It uses the same processor (Apple’s A6), the same graphics circuitry, and the same screen. The main differences are that the 5c includes a slightly more capacious battery, compatibility with more bands of LTE, and an updated FaceTime HD camera that features larger pixels and a better backside-illumination sensor.

When can I get the new iPhone models?

You can pre-order an iPhone 5c starting on Friday, September 13; the 5c will actually be available on September 20. The iPhone 5s will also be available on September 20, but Apple isn’t taking pre-orders for that model. These dates apply to the US, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore, and the UK.

How much do the phones cost?

The iPhone 5c costs $99 for 16GB of storage or $199 for 32GB with a new two-year contract. Unlocked versions—without a contract—will cost $549 and $649, respectively. With the unlocked version, you can choose one that ships with a T-Mobile SIM card, or one without a SIM card at all. Both unlocked options work only with GSM networks.

The iPhone 5s costs $199 for 16GB, $299 for 32GB, or $399 for 64GB of storage with a new two-year contract. Without a contract, those same phones will cost $649, $749, and $849, respectively. As with the 5c, you can get the unlocked model for use with T-Mobile. (Apple’s site doesn’t currently list a no-SIM option for the 5s.)

The iPhone 5C with the new colorful cases.

How does the 5s compare to the 5c and the 5?

Apple calls the 5s its most “forward-thinking” phone. Though its aluminum body is almost the same as the iPhone 5’s, there’s a bunch of new hardware inside. Most impressive is the new A7 processor, which Apple touts as the first 64-bit processor available in a phone. The iPhone 5s also includes a new M7 “motion coprocessor”; some big camera upgrades and capabilities; and the Touch ID fingerprint-authentication system. (More on these below.)

Other improvements over the iPhone 5 include a slightly larger battery, expanded carrier support, and a new color. Speaking of which...

What colors can I get?

The lower-cost iPhone 5c, constructed of hard-coated polycarbonate, will be available in candy-like light blue, light green, pink, yellow, or white. Each—including the white version—has a black bezel surrounding the screen.

There is one tiny—and we mean tiny—difference between the iPhone 5c models: On the blue, green, yellow, and white models, the Ring/Silent switch shows an orange line when flipped to the Silent position. On the pink model, the line is white. Details, people.

If you splurge on the aluminum-body iPhone 5s, your choices are different: “space gray” (with a black screen bezel and back trim), silver (with white screen bezel and back trim), or gold (also with white screen bezel and back trim). The gold is subtler than it sounds; it’s more of a champagne color. A nice touch on the 5s is that the metal ring around the Home button on each phone matches its main color: gray, silver, or gold.

The iPhone 5S with the new leather cases.

I hear Apple also makes cases for the new phones?

The $29 iPhone 5c case, available in the same five colors as the phone plus a black version, is made of silicone with a microfiber interior lining and sports a pattern of 35 circular holes on the back that let your iPhone’s own color peek through. You can match your phone to the case or opt for something a bit more interesting like, say, a white phone with a blue case.

The $39 iPhone 5s case is made of leather with a microfiber interior and is available in brown, beige, black, yellow, blue, and Product(Red) red. The case is molded over the Sleep/Wake and volume buttons, with openings for the Ring/Silent switch and back camera and flash.

The iPhone 5s

What’s this about a new processor and a co-processor?

The A7 inside the new iPhone 5s is unquestionably the most powerful chip Apple has ever put in a mobile device. It’s also the first one that uses a 64-bit architecture—usually found only on laptop and desktop computers. The implications of that architecture might not be immediately apparent, because apps have to be written to take advantage of it. But down the road, the new chip will offer some exciting possibilities for expansion and power.

The A7’s support for the latest OpenGL ES 3.0 standard means better graphics performance, too. In fact, Apple claims that the new A7 processor is twice as fast at both processor-intensive and graphics-intensive tasks as its predecessor. We’ll see about that when we test the 5s.

The iPhone 5s also includes a separate processor, called the M7, that handles sensor data.

What’s this M7 thing good for?

The M7—which Apple calls the motion co-processor—is a brand-new chip inside the iPhone 5s that complements the A7 by handling data from the device’s many sensors, including the accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass. Why a separate processor for all that? The key to the M7 is that it can log data from those sources without waking the full A7 processor. This means that not only can fitness-tracking apps more easily run in the background, but they’ll also chew up less of your precious battery power. And using the new CoreMotion API, third-party apps can use real-time location and motion information—like, say, whether you're walking or riding in a car—to determine how the app behaves, without dramatically affecting battery life.

iPhone 5S's newly improved 8PM camera.

Is the iPhone 5s camera really that much better?

For starters, the 5s uses a new, five-element lens that Apple designed specifically for the new iPhone. This new lens offers an f/2.2 aperture, a 15-percent-larger area than the iPhone 5’s lens, and 1.5-micron pixels—larger than those on the iPhone 5 and other smartphones.

The phone also includes a new dual-LED True Tone flash that Apple says is the first of its kind on a phone or a standalone camera. One flash is cooler white, while the other is amber with a warmer color temperature. The phone monitors ambient light and then fires the two flashes together to match that light. Together, Apple says, the two flashes provide more than 1000 unique light combinations, for flash lighting that’s brighter and more natural.

But iOS 7 also includes a bunch of software specifically designed to take advantage of the improved camera hardware. For example, before you take a photo, the phone automatically adjusts white-balance and exposure to create a tone map for better highlights and shadows; it also performs auto-focus matrix metering for improved sharpness. When you take the photo, the phone actually takes multiple images, analyzes them in real time, and then shows you what it thinks is the best one.

The 5s also includes image stabilization in software: In situations—such as low lighting—where you’d normally end up with blurry images, the phone takes multiple photos with a single shutter press, and then it blends them together into a single, sharp image. And a new burst mode captures ten full-resolution frames per second for as long as you hold down the shutter button. But unlike most burst modes, on an iPhone 5s, the phone automatically filters out bad shots to show you only the “best” ones. (You can choose others manually, if you like.)

When taking video, you can capture 720p video at 120 frames per second, slowing it down later for true slow-motion video. (You can do the editing in your favorite video app, or you can choose, right in the Photos app, which section of the clip to view in slo-mo.) And Panorama mode now lets you adjust exposure as you pan.

Fingerprint-sensor, Touch ID: how does it work?

It’s a capacitance-based (as opposed to optical) scanner built into the iPhone 5s Home button. The “capacitance” part means that instead of taking a visual scan of your finger or thumb, the scanner detects minute differences in electrical charge caused by a fingerprint’s whorls, loops, and curves.

The phone then produces a digital template (again, not an image) based on that scan. In other similar systems, software then runs such a template through a cryptographic hashing process, making it virtually impossible to recreate the original print from the template. If that’s how Touch ID works, the hashing process should make it harder—if not impossible—to spoof your prints. For further security, your fingerprint is never stored in the cloud or anywhere in the phone’s memory—only in a secure area of the A7 chip itself.

We don’t yet know all the details about how iOS 7 will use the fingerprints it detects. But we do know that it will let you bypass the lock-screen pass-code. (You do have a lock-screen pass-code, right?) It will also let you authenticate with iCloud and the App Store using your finger.

With all this new technology and speed on the iPhone 5s, is the battery life worse than that of the iPhone 5?

Apple claims that the iPhone 5s offers battery life equal to or greater than that of the iPhone 5. Specifically, the company says the iPhone 5s offers 10 hours of 3G talk time, 10 hours of LTE or Wi-Fi browsing, or 250 hours of standby time. Compare that to Apple’s claims for the iPhone 5 when that model was released: 8 hours of 3G talk time, 10 hours of Wi-Fi browsing, or 225 hours of standby time.

Apple says that the iPhone 5c’s battery life is identical to that of the iPhone 5s.

By Macworld staff
Photos courtesy of Apple

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September 5, 2013

Say Hello To Yahoo's New Logo

Here’s the new logo that the 18-year-old Internet company will use going forward:

What do you think of new logo?

The general consensus is that people don't love it and most feel indifferent.

Here’s a video that Yahoo has released in conjunction with its new logo:

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