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So The New iPhone Is Coming Out In June, Huh?

Jason Gilbert   |   March 31, 2013    1:00 PM ET

Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to This Week In Apple Rumors, our regular look back at all of the week's unconfirmed gossip, questionably sourced reports and blatant speculation about future Apple products from around the Web! Let's take a look back at what the various Apple blogs and websites were excited about in the past week, from March 24-30. Check out our previous edition of Apple rumors here, and for all the latest you can follow me on Twitter right here.

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1. Hi, June!

Let us now consider the notable birthdays of June. Comedians Wayne Brady, Ricky Gervais, and Donald Trump were all born in June, as were notable hip-hop stars Tupac Shakur, Ice Cube, and Donald Trump. President of the Confederate States of America Jefferson Davis was born in June, and, coincidentally, so was Donald Trump.

Could we add to this list of noteworthy June introductions the eagerly-anticipated iPhone 5S?

It's another Week In Apple Rumors, folks, and the predictions about when the next iPhone will be released are flying like Atlanta Braves homeruns out of Turner Field will this year (this fan hopes so, at least).

The latest rumor comes from friend of TWIAR John Biggs, a writer at HuffPost's AOL sister publication TechCrunch. Biggs got his eyes on a presentation from a case and charger manufacturer in China who are apparently prepared for a June launch of the iPhone 5S. The manufacturer, writes Biggs, "has an interesting inside track to Foxconn, promising “synchronization” with the Apple release in June."

That's a little earlier than the other prominent release date rumors, which have placed the release date in July and August. Perhaps most notably, the well-sourced analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has been predicting July for a few months now, with an introductory event in June. Other, less reliable outlets -- Digitimes, for example, and the Apple analyst Gene Munster -- are also forecasting a summer debut for the iPhone 5S.

We might not have the specific date nailed down quite yet, but it's looking more and more likely that those fanboys waiting in line outside the Apple store better pack some sunscreen. At this point it seems like the iPhone 5S will be Apple's big summertime device.

2. Precisely When?

Given that we now so strongly think the next iPhone will be out some time during the summer, our next step in this detective case is to nail down the exact date of Apple's keynote presentation. One small Apple blog claims it has the juice, but we remain -- in a word, my dear readers -- skeptical.

The Japanese Apple website MacFan -- and I'm told this site has nothing at all to do with overzealous McDonald customers -- claims in part of its 20th anniversary coverage that Apple will be holding its iPhone 5S event on (wait for it) June 20th. Isn't that convenient?

Eric Slivka at MacRumors rips this rumor to tiny little shreds, and then picks up those shreds and showers them down onto the floor. There are many good reasons why MacFan's June 20 prediction seems off, the simplest one being that the 20th is a Thursday and Apple almost never holds its events on Thursdays. Read Slivka's evisceration of MacFan here.

In other words: We're still waiting on a date. It's like high school all over again, am I right, fellas???

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That's all for this week in Apple rumors. Join us again next week, when we'll have more rumors for you and when the Braves will already be well on their way to another season of soaring promise and inevitable, crushing defeat. Or, if you can't wait until next week (for the Apple rumors, anyway), you can always get the latest by following me on Twitter right here.


CORRECTION: The original version of this article listed June 20th as a Monday. It is, in fact, a Thursday, another day Apple does no commonly hold events.

Should Anyone Buy The Z10 Instead Of An iPhone Or Galaxy S4?

Jason Gilbert   |   March 22, 2013   12:53 PM ET

The BlackBerry Z10 could have been a contender for the best smartphone in America, had it been released four years ago. Instead, it was released for the first time in America Friday on AT&T for $199 on contract, for the same price (and in the same year) as the far more polished iPhone 5, Galaxy S 4 and HTC One.

Here is a smartphone that was born too late, that should have debuted years ago when Apple was still refining iOS and Android was still a laggy, unattractive, pixellated goop of icons and widgets.

So while the Z10 brims with solid ideas about smartphone productivity and the best touchscreen keyboard I've ever used, its glitchy software, unimpressive app section and general, unavoidable rawness render it virtually un-buyable for all but the most devoted BlackBerry zealots and bravest early adopters.

THE PROS

1. The on-screen keyboard is, I think, the best I have ever used on any smartphone. It is fast, accurate, responsive and very easy to get accustomed to. While I never found an occasion to use the automatic word suggestions that pop up above each letter as you type, it didn't really matter: Typing on the QWERTY was quick enough. If only Google or Apple could figure out how to make such an excellent keyboard.

2. The Hub is BlackBerry's smart take on the Android Notifications Bar (and, uh, Apple's not-at-all stolen Notifications bar), and it appears to have a much smarter organization. Instead of a list of updates segregated by app, if you swipe all the way to the left on the Z10 you get to the Hub, which is a column that quickly shows you the number of new updates you have in each of your primary apps. If you have a new update, you tap on the name of the app and it takes you there. Simple, smart, fast.

blackberry screenshots copy

Two screenshots: The BlackBerry Hub, on the left; the fantastic BlackBerry Z10 keyboard, on the right.


3. Sleep! From the homescreen, you can swipe down from the top and turn notifications off for a set amount of time, which is similar to Apple's Do Not Disturb function but can be accessed much faster. Again, a nice feature that, hypothetically, increases your productivity by decreasing the amount of time you have to spend on your smartphone.

4. One-Handed Use. There is a fairly persistent argument in the nerdier corners of the web about the importance of one-handed smartphone use, and just how important it is to be able to completely operate your smartphone using one hand while you drive or walk down the street or otherwise keep one hand occupied elsewhere.

Well, the BlackBerry Z10 is easier to operate with one hand than the iPhone is, which was heretofore the easiest. There is no home button on the Z10, only a button on top to power the display on and off. All navigation is accomplished by a new system called Flow, an apt name for the series of cross-screen swipes needed to access absolutely anything on the Z10. Swipe all the way right to get to your familiar tray of icons; swipe all the way left to view the Hub; swipe up from the bottom to zoom out and go to any screen; swipe down from the top to access settings.

This was a bit harder to master than the keyboard, but I found myself comfortable with Flow in a few days. It's not perfect -- sometimes I longed for a home button to just get me to the icons already -- but if you're someone who is constantly trying to get things done with one hand, you would appreciate the speed with which Flow allows you to switch between apps, screens and accounts.

THE CONS

The Z10 represents BlackBerry's first real attempt at a modern smartphone; as such, most of its faults result from its newness. Apple, Samsung and HTC have been building versions of its current smartphones for years, and are on their sixth and seventh generations. This is a first-generation device with first-generation issues.

1. The Apps. BlackBerry is boasting that it has 100,000 apps in its BlackBerry World store, but there are two problems with this brag:

a) Apple's App Store has 900,000 apps, and Android's has 800,000.
b) The apps in those app stores are much, much better than those in BlackBerry's.

I had problems loading and refreshing Twitter on my Z10; Facebook often updated with friends' statuses from months ago; BlackBerry's Maps application failed to locate three different establishments -- one of which was the Barclays Center in Brooklyn -- when I searched for them. These are the apps that are pre-loaded on the device; again, they are all first-generation, so they will take time to improve. On iOS and Android, these apps are far more refined.

And, too, the absences: There is no Spotify, or Netflix, or Instagram. When will these arrive, if they ever do? It depends on device sales, I'd guess, which fans of Windows Phone know is never a guarantee.

2. General glitchiness. Apps crashed; the device registered touches I wasn't making; connectivity would be lost and then recovered without warning. All of this could be fixed by a subsequent update to the firmware, which manufacturers push to customers all the time. Here's hoping. The level of glitchiness I experienced was unacceptable when measured against competitors' devices.

3. General Ugliness. Windows Phone and iOS both pride themselves on gorgeous design choices, and even Android is showing some signs of beauty; by those standards, BlackBerry's OS is hideous. Everything just looks very flat and uninspired, like BlackBerry chose the layout and then forgot to clean up the font and images. This is especially true of the icon tray, which looks like a rough sketch of the first generation of Android. BlackBerry 10 is an office of fluorescent lights, cubicle farms and moldy carpeting in an age of soft lighting, standing desks and wood floors.

blackberry ugly

Berry ugly: BlackBerry needs to up its design game, fast.

4. Battery Life: Was a bit disappointing. Lasted through the day, but only barely.

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Summing up: The Z10 is a good first effort for a company that should be making its fifth effort by now. And while the company shows enough promise and fresh ideas to make us excited for the Z11, it did not execute the Z10 well enough to make us want to purchase it. Stick to the iPhone 5, Galaxy S4, HTC One or Nexus 4.

For two more in-depth reviews of the Z10, check out our partners at TechCrunch and Engadget. For further reading, see "Miniver Cheevy" by Edgar Arlington Robinson.

WATCH: This Creepy Floating Woman's Head Could Read You Your Text Messages In The Future

Jason Gilbert   |   March 19, 2013    5:30 PM ET

Did you ever receive a text message from your wife or your boss and wish that it could be read to you in an unsettling British accent by a giant disembodied woman's head against a stark black background?

Well, friend, that crazy dream of yours might just be closer to reality than you think. Researchers at the University of Cambridge have unveiled their latest progress on Zoe, a "digital talking head which can express human emotions on demand" with "unprecedented realism." Gizmag pointed out the disembodied head to us.

In other words: Something like the head in the video below could be the embodiment of your next personal assistant like Siri; a human representation of the reader of your next audiobook; or just the big face that reads you all of your text messages from now on.

Watch below to see who might be waiting in your SMS inbox in the years to come:

As you can see in the video, for any given sentence or phrase, the developers of Zoe created a sliding scale of emotions that can be plugged in and represented facially in the resulting line read. In a perfect world you'd be able to access this face, and this technology, on your smartphone, so that a lifelike avatar could read out any text on your screen with the correct corresponding emotion.

Eventually, too, the Cambridge researchers hope to integrate technology that would allow you to import a model of your own floating head, perhaps by uploading several photos. In that case, you could have a floating, talking head for each of your phone contacts, individually reading each of his or her text messages or emails to you, on the screen.

This could usher in a new era of what Zoe's creators call "face-messaging": Essentially, a text message you send that is then spoken by an animated, anatomically-realistic 3D likeness of your friend's face.

There are many, many companies both large and small working on natural human-computer interaction. The most famous is perhaps Apple, who programmed its personal assistant Siri to understand normal spoken language and to occasionally respond to queries with snark and wisecracks. IBM's Watson computer has also proven to be quite the quick learner, and there have been somewhat persistent rumors that he would show up in a smartphone sometime soon.

Where Zoe separates herself from those more refined projects, however, is in her facial expressions, especially ones she can make on the fly while gleaning meaning from written words. And now the real question: If you could cast any actress to play Siri on your smartphone, who would it be? Dame Judi Dench gets my vote, but I'm open to reasonable outside suggestions.

Jason Gilbert   |   March 19, 2013    1:03 PM ET

Maybe instead of hiring Alicia Keys as its new creative director, BlackBerry should have gone with Weird Al?

To raise awareness of the imminent American release of its Z10 smartphone, the embattled handset maker has put out a music video covering the Etta James jazz classic "At Last," with the words changed to celebrate the launch of BlackBerry's long-delayed, company-saving phone. (Sample lyrics: "At Last/Oh, the promise has come true/Your games and apps are in the storefront/On our new platform built for you.")

The song was recorded by real-life, honest-to-goodness BlackBerry employees, all three of them with the title "vice president"; you may remember a similar video from September 2012, with the same VPs wailing away on a cover of the REO Speedwagon number "I Just Wanna Keep On Lovin You."

You can watch the BlackBerry version of "At Last" below. Note that you might be muttering the title of the song when the video reaches its end:

To be charitable, that REO Speedwagon cover -- regardless of its artistic merits -- did succeed in attracting attention to BlackBerry's new phones: "Devs, BlackBerry Is Going To Keep On Loving You" has currently scored almost 450,000 YouTube views. Granted, much of the press coverage of the video tilted toward the negative, but, hey, all publicity is good publicity, right?

That we're even talking about BlackBerry as a viable alternative to the iPhone or any number of Android smartphones represents something of a coup for the manufacturer, whose premature obituary has been written more frequently than perhaps any other tech company's.

blackberry z10 model

A model poses with the BlackBerry Z10 during a launch event in Indonesia. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

The new BlackBerry smartphones have begun to ship overseas, and early signs are at least somewhat encouraging. Reviews have been, if not overly enthusiastic, at least respectable. An anonymous customer bought 1 million BlackBerrys, launching an intriguing detective search into that mystery man, woman or corporation's identity. There are at least pulses of life, in other words, which is something we might not have been able to declare six months ago, when it appeared that BlackBerry 10 might be released at the same time as the next Harper Lee novel.

We should know in the coming months whether the BlackBerry Z10 smartphone is the company's last, or whether, at last, BlackBerry has saved itself. Having used the Z10 for the past week, I can at least say this: BlackBerry is better at making smartphones than it is at making music videos.

More Rumors About Apple's Two New iPhones

Jason Gilbert   |   March 17, 2013    4:47 PM ET

Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to This Week In Apple Rumors, our regular look back at all of the week's unconfirmed gossip, questionably sourced reports and blatant speculation about future Apple products from around the Web! Let's take a look back at what the various Apple blogs and websites were excited about in the past week, from March 11-17. Check out our previous edition of Apple rumors here, and for all the latest you can follow me on Twitter right here.

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In new rumors that may or may not be "Based On A Tru Story": If all you want for your birthday is a big new iPhone, then you might be in for a treat: Two Phonez!

Yes, we're shamelessly popping off some half-hearted 2 Chainz puns for This Week In Apple Rumors, as all of the conversation is once again surrounding the impending summer launch of the next generation of (two!) iPhones.

2 phones

It was a slow week in Apple rumors, of course. Samsung stole most of the spotlight, releasing a Galaxy S4 with some innovative new gesture controls: You can fast-forward to the next song in the music player by swiping your palm over the display, pause a video by moving your eyes, forward an email by licking your lips seductively, send a tweet by popping your booty over the front camera, and more. Inventive stuff. Transformative.

So, how will Apple respond? Not much in the way of new rumors, but we heard another report that the next flagship Apple smartphone will include a fingerprint sensor underneath the home button, for increased device security and perhaps Apple's launch into the payments space. (A fingerprint sensor is far harder to crack than a numerical password and might make buyers more comfortable storing credit card information on his or her phone; you can read all about why we think the next iPhone will include a fingerprint sensor right here).

This new report comes from the sketchy-ish Chinese language news source the China Times, which says simply that the new iPhone will include NFC (the technology that allows you to bump your device up against another device to swap information; it's in the Galaxy S4, of course) as well as a fingerprint sensor for increased security. You can read the English-language version of the report at the redoubtable 9to5Mac.

The basis of the fingerprint sensor rumor, by the way, is the respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo who is thought to have excellent sources in the Apple supply chain. And speaking of Kuo, he was back with another rumor this week -- this time concerning the other iPhone we're expect this year.

Yes, that's right: We're looking for Apple to release two new iPhones in 2013, at roughly the same time. One -- the one with the fingerprint sensor -- would be the top-of-the-line, premium iPhone 5S. The other one would be a cheaper, budget iPhone aimed at emerging economies where smartphone sales aren't subsidized by service providers, and where an $800 iPhone is way too expensive for most shoppers to consider, whether they fancy an Apple product or not.

Now then: A lot of analysts think this budget iPhone is arriving this year (finally). And Kuo told AppleInsider this week that he expects the iPhones to resemble the iPhone 5, with a 4.0-inch screen, and to arrive in "four to six colors," to differentiate them. He expects them to have a less premium feel, though, with a case made of a plastic compound, so that Apple can save some dough on the production and pass those savings on to the consumers. AppleInsider has more.

(Here is the part where we tell you that analysts have been predicting a budget iPhone since 2007 and it hasn't happened yet, and so don't get your hopes up).

Anyway, as of now, the common wisdom says that Apple will release two new iPhone this summer, some time between July and August, one of them internal upgrade on the iPhone 5S, perhaps with a fingerprint sensor; and one of them a cheaper version of the iPhone 5, with several different color cases, especially aimed at China and India. And that's all we think we know so far.

And also: That's all for This Week In Apple Rumors! Make sure you join us next week for all the latest in Apple rumorology; or if you can't wait a week, you can always get up-to-the-minute Apple rumors by following me on Twitter right here.

The OTHER New Products Samsung Unveiled Last Night

Jason Gilbert   |   March 15, 2013    3:17 PM ET

The Galaxy S4 may have stolen the show -- and indeed, constituted the entirety of it -- but Samsung also unveiled several accessories to go along with its new smartphone on Thursday night.

Three of the new devices are related to S Health, a fitness tracking app that debuted with the Galaxy S4. Samsung will sell a connected wristband (similar to the Nike+ Fuelband or Jawbone Up) called the S Band, which will act as a pedometer and distance tracker, and will also tell you how much you moved during sleep. It will sell for $100. The Samsung Body Scale is a bathroom scale that will also sell for $100. Another device, called the Health Rate Monitor (or HRM), will measure your heart rate as you sleep, and will sell for $70. Each of the devices is Bluetooth-connected to send its data to your Galaxy S4 and sync directly into the S Health app.

Samsung pitched the S Health as a unified calorie counter and fitness diary, where users can log the food that they ate and input stats like weight, blood pressure and pulse. The S Band, Body Scale and HRM will apparently augment the usefulness and accuracy of that app's figures and analysis.

While we usually don't flip for covers (ha!), Samsung also introduced a neat new take on the tried-and-true flip cover at its event on Thursday. Like other flip covers, the S View flip cover powers down the phone's screen when it is covering the display. But unlike other flip covers, the S View contains a small window across the top of the device that shows a few vital notifications -- like the time, unread message count and missed calls.

Samsung will also sell a wireless charging pad. As on the Nokia Lumia 900, wireless charging capability is built directly into the Galaxy S4, so no cover or case is needed. No price was announced at the event.

Finally -- and perhaps most intriguingly -- Samsung also showed off a a Bluetooth-connected gaming controller and cradle at its event on Thursday. TechCrunch has a pretty thorough look at the controller, which it aptly compares to an Xbox controller. Curiously, the controller runs on AAA batteries and only works with games downloaded from the Samsung app store. It's also not compatible with any device other than the Galaxy S4 quite yet. No pricing was announced, though the controller will apparently be released by the end of the summer.

Engadget has video of the new controller in action.

For more about the Galaxy S4, check out all of our coverage here. You can find additional information about all of the accessories we mentioned above on Samsung's official website, though preorders have not yet begun.

4 REAL

Jason Gilbert   |   March 14, 2013    7:30 PM ET

The Galaxy S4 is now Galaxy S for real.

Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S4 (or Galaxy S IV, as it is officially known) at an event Thursday night in New York. The fourth in the increasingly popular Galaxy S line is Samsung's latest attack at Apple and its iPhone. And once again, Samsung is tackling Apple with a huge screen, an impressive camera and an entire suite of new, imaginative software features that differentiate the Galaxy S4 from any other phone on the market.

The Samsung Galaxy S4's largest physical change is its display, a 5-inch monster (up from 4.8 inches on the Galaxy S3), with an improved screen resolution and pixel density. (You can see full specs for the Galaxy S4 here).

galaxy s4 galaxy s3

Despite being a bit taller and wider than the Galaxy S3, the Galaxy S4 is thinner and weighs three grams less, at 130 grams. The rear camera, too, has been upgraded, from 8 megapixels to 13 megapixels.

The Galaxy S4 will run Android 4.2.2 "Jelly Bean," with Samsung's familiar TouchWiz skin loaded on top.

It is the additions to the software that are likely to get the most attention. As it did on the Galaxy S3, Samsung has added several new apps and features -- some of them quite fanciful.

Let's start with the camera, whose core software has been redesigned to resemble the shooting modes (like night mode, portrait mode, etc.) available on many consumer shooters. Samsung has also added several nifty new features, including a "dual shot," which allows you to shoot a photo with both the rear camera and front camera simultaneously, so that the photographer can join the subject of his or her picture; a mode that allows you to create a cinemagraph, where part of the photo is moving and part is stationary (as seen here); an "eraser mode," which takes several photos and then allows you to erase background movement, like someone walking behind the subjects of the shot; and several other imaginative modes that may be familiar from third-party apps on Android and iOS, but which are now baked into the native camera on the Galaxy S4.

Also getting a boost is Samsung's work on gesture recognition and eye tracking to control the smartphone. "Smart pause," for example, uses the front camera to detect whether you are looking at the screen while watching a video. If you look away from the screen, the video automatically pauses. Similarly, "smart scroll" can tell if you are looking at the screen while reading an article on a webpage. If you are, you can tilt the phone up or down to scroll up or down.

New gestures, meanwhile, allow the user to operate certain apps without touching the phone. "Air view" lets you hover your finger over the display to view a preview of certain content, like the first few lines of an email in your inbox, or your day's schedule in the calendar. "Air gesture" allows you to swipe your palm over the face of the screen to switch tabs on your web browser or skip a song in the music player. Samsung execs said in a meeting that this function was ideal for drivers or for those with dirty fingers while eating.

Other new features are more transformative. The Galaxy S4 -- like the HTC One, unveiled earlier this year -- comes with an IR sensor, which allows your smartphone to act as a remote control for most television sets, changing the channel, powering the set on and off and viewing a guide of your cable listings. A new app called S Health works as a kind of fitness diary. The phone comes with a built-in pedometer to track your steps, and you can input every meal you eat and the Galaxy S4 will estimate the number of calories you are consuming (and burning) on a daily basis.

The phone also comes with a built-in translation app, for both spoken words and text, and an option for the camera to "read" a business card and create a new contact based on that information.

Will that glut of innovative features prove sufficient to seduce iPhone owners to drop their Apple smartphone and try out Google's Android? For the first time since its launch in 2007, there was a month that the iPhone was not the best-selling smartphone on the planet. That honor belonged to Samsung and its Galaxy S III.

And, too, recently several prominent Apple bloggers have announced switching to Android smartphones. On Wednesday evening, the day before the Galaxy S4's grand unveiling, Apple marketing executive Phil Schiller took to The Wall Street Journal and Reuters to bash Android, claiming that Apple owners enjoyed and used their devices more, and that Android owners often had to wait to upgrade to the latest operating system.

(Indeed, the Galaxy S4 will ship with Android 4.2.2; Google is expected to announce Android 5.0 in May, and the upgrade process can take months in the United States).

galaxy s iv iphone 5

The Galaxy S4, pictured next to an iPhone 5. (HuffPost)

Still, Samsung clearly has momentum on its side, with some suggesting that this launch was the first to match the hype usually reserved for the introduction of an iPhone. Whether the Galaxy S4 will live up to that hype -- in either sales or critical acclaim -- we will know soon.

Samsung did not immediately announce a price or release date, but did say that in the U.S., the Galaxy S4 would be available in the second quarter of the year, and for sale on AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile at launch.

You can view several photos of the Galaxy S4, with many of the features mentioned in the article, below:

CORRECTION: An earlier version referred to the Galaxy S3 when we were discussing the new Galaxy S4. Old habits die hard.

How The Galaxy S4 Compares To The iPhone 5

Jason Gilbert   |   March 13, 2013    7:30 PM ET

It's the day so many of you have been waiting for: the Samsung Galaxy S4 has finally arrived. In an unveiling at New York's Radio City Music Hall, the Samsung Galaxy S4 was presented to the public.

If you're in the market for a new smartphone, it's easy to get overwhelmed with all of the choices out there, and the Galaxy S4 is quite impressive. In order to help you decide which phone is best for you and to put the Galaxy S4 into context, we've created a table comparing three of the top smartphones on the market right now.

Jason Gilbert   |   March 12, 2013    3:56 PM ET

With the launch event for the Galaxy S IV just two days away -- on the evening of Thursday, March 14th, barring unforeseen circumstances -- you just had to know that photos and videos of Samsung's next flagship smartphone would start to leak out.

You might not have guessed, though, that at least one of the leaks would come from Samsung itself. But that is precisely what happened on Monday evening, as Samsung PR tweeted out the following photo almost exactly three days before the official unveiling of the Galaxy S IV (or Galaxy S4, as it is colloquially known) is supposed to begin:

galaxy s4 photos

Mysterious!

The shadowy photo was accompanied by the text "The countdown for #TheNextBigThing has begun. Who’s ready for the Global Unpacked Event on March 14?" That led most to assume that this was the Galaxy S4, though there's no real proof that this isn't just a Galaxy S3; indeed, if this is the Galaxy S IV (and it probably is!), then it would seem to have a very similar form factor to its predecessor. That has some writers and even more Internet commenters preemptively labeling the GS4 an iPhone 4S-style disappointment.

Samsung's next Galaxy S phone is expected to ship with a larger 4.99-inch display, a faster quad-core processor and a new feature that will allow the user to scroll through webpages using only his or her eyes. You can read everything else we expect from the Galaxy S4 right here.

Meanwhile, in a decidedly non-official leak, a cell phone-shot video purporting to show the Galaxy S4 has surfaced, giving an early preview of what is perhaps the S4 in action. You can watch below (and yes, that is an iPad mini promotional video playing in the background):

This questionable leak arrives with the same caveats we'd affix to every other questionable Galaxy S4 leak thus far: That its authenticity could not be verified, and that the source of the leak has no track record of reliability. If it turns out that the Galaxy S4, when it is unveiled on Thursday, does not in any way resemble the device shown in the above video, no one would be shocked or scandalized.

Enough throat-clearing and speculation, though: We're getting closer and closer to actual, verified photos and videos of the Galaxy S4 taken with DSLRs instead of smartphone rear cameras. And you better believe that some of those will be taken by HuffPost Tech, who will be there live on the scene on Thursday night. Join us, won't you?

What Can We Expect From The Best Android Phones Of 2013?

Jason Gilbert   |   March 12, 2013   12:47 PM ET

Remember when you first saw advertisements for "The Voice"? You probably wrote it off as a half-hearted copy of "American Idol" or deemed it a ploy by NBC to cash in on the success of the Fox/Simon Cowell mega-hit with its own low-quality, cobbled-together version.

Now, though, "The Voice" enjoys excellent ratings, challenging the stagnating "Idol" for primetime talent show dominance; the format, the featured hosts and the competitors have proved to be more enjoyable and more satisfying than those on "Idol." To many, the student, the late-arriver -- the ripoff -- has morphed into the superior product.

The rise of "The Voice" in the face of "Idol" is roughly analogous to the way Android has risen to compete with the iPhone, if not in sales than in critical acclaim. What was initially viewed as a shoddy copy of Apple's iOS, Android is now more regularly judged as a worthwhile competitor even by Apple's most staunch cheerleaders.

Android, and the manufacturers that produce Android smartphones, have been improving every year -- especially in 2012, with the introduction of Android Jelly Bean, the Samsung Galaxy S III, the HTC One X and the LG Nexus 4. What will Google and company come up with in 2013? How will these Blake Sheltons and Cee-Los of the tech world improve their smartphones this time around? In short: what can we expect from the world of Android in 2013?

BIGGER SCREENS

Android has become associated with huge displays, thanks in part to the 4.8-inch Samsung Galaxy S III and 5.5-inch Samsung Galaxy Note II. Though some questioned whether there was any consumer appetite for such mammoth screens, those concerns have subsided as both devices have proved sales successes.

In 2013, expect for screens to continue to grow. From the Galaxy S IV (expected to be 4.99 inches) to the Galaxy Note III (expected to be 5.9 inches), Android should continue to corner the market on supersized smartphones. At this year's Consumer Electronics Show, we even saw an Android smartphone made by Chinese manufacturer Huawei that measured in at 6.1 inches. With Samsung's success peddling large phones, look for competing companies to go bigger, not smaller.

zoolander phone

What it feels like to use an iPhone after using the Galaxy Note II for a few days.

QUAD-CORE, AND OCTA-CORE, PROCESSORS

In 2012, it was kind of a big deal when companies like HTC and Samsung introduced the first smartphones with quad-core, instead of dual-core, processors. This meant that smartphones could handle more tasks at once, hypothetically improving overall performance. The quad-core processor enabled features like Samsung's pop-up video player, which lets a user watch a movie in a small window while performing other tasks.

Look for the quad-core processor to become a standard feature on all top-of-the-line Android phones, and, if we're lucky, we might just see the first octa-core smartphones by the end of 2013. The Galaxy Note III is already rumored to be among the first.

TV CONTROL

A dream of mine -- and likely many a smartphone owner, given the glut of remote-control apps available -- is to toss away my television's remote and simply point my phone at the tube and use that as the clicker. Signs are emerging that this could soon be a reality, with no software download or set-top box purchase required.

Already we've seen the HTC One, revealed last month at an event in New York City, come equipped with an IR emitter, which means it's capable of manipulating the power, the volume, the channels and more on almost any television set. While we haven't heard any whispers of other smartphone manufacturers adding IR emitters to their own devices, it is encouraging that a major player like HTC would invest in one for its flagship phone. Perhaps other Android makers will follow suit and we'll never have to buy AA batteries again.

KEY LIME PIE

As it does every year, look for Google to unwrap a new version of Android named after a dessert. This year, it's going to be Key Lime Pie, and we should enjoy our first taste of said pie in May, at the Google I/O Developers Conference.

Rumored crumbs on Key Lime Pie include added improvements in touchscreen responsiveness, the fruits of Google's Project Butter to make Android less laggy; different Performance Profiles, a holdover from the Motorola patents Google acquired in its 2011 purchase of the company; and an option to try any app or game on the Google Play Store for free. TechRadar has compiled several other minor features that could be on their way; overall, though, Google has kept Key Lime Pie a fairly mysterious little sweet treat.

FURTHER MOVES TOWARD INDESTRUCTIBILITY

In late 2011 and 2012, Motorola made a lot of noise with its nigh-indestructible RAZR phones, which had backs made of Kevlar and a display made of Gorilla Glass. Those phones proved that Motorola was seeking the aura of immortality enjoyed by Nokia's brick-like phones of the mid-2000s.

This year, expect more smartphones that you can run over with a car or use to hammer a nail or perform any other number of "Fear Factor" stunts. Sony's 2013 flagship, the Xperia Z, is waterproof, allowing for underwater photos and videos (and survival of drops in the swimming pool and toilet). In January, Corning unveiled its Gorilla Glass 3, which is insanely shatter-proof and will make its way onto devices by the middle of this year. And there have been rumors floating around that the next Nexus phone -- from Motorola, natch -- will be truly indestructible.

That's what we expect, broadly speaking, from Android this year. Now all you have to do is choose just one from an increasingly excellent crop.

Is The World Ready For Google Shoes?

Jason Gilbert   |   March 11, 2013    2:07 PM ET

Remember that goofy song from your childhood, "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes"?

Soon, it might be a helpful reminder of all the places on your body where you're wearing miniature computers.

This weekend, at the annual South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, Google unveiled an early prototype of motion-sensing "smart shoes," with an embedded speaker on the tongue of the shoe that can yell motivation at you when you're being lazy, or encourage you when you're being active.

Google --which created the talking shoes in collaboration with Adidas, design and ad agency 72andSunny and creative thinkery YesYesNo -- made it clear to reporters in Austin that it has absolutely no plans whatsoever to actually release the shoes; rather, the next-gen footwear was developed as part of a thought experiment on how wearable technology could interact with the human body and with the Internet. (The shoe, of course, is able to post status updates to Google+, and the video advertisement below shows the shoe with its own Google+ profile.)

Google would probably also like people to get comfortable with the idea of wearing and interacting with small devices, since -- have you heard? -- it's releasing a pair of hotly-debated connected glasses later in 2013. Google wants its Glass to be like shoes, something customers will don on a daily basis, something they don't leave home without putting on, an indispensable part of their lives.

But back to Google's talking shoe: It includes an accelerometer, gyroscope and Bluetooth capability to connect to your smartphone, so that it can measure your activity levels and movement; the speaker on the shoe allows it to spit out one of 250 pre-recorded phrases that either praise your hustle and bustle or rag on your laziness. The shoe's voice was designed to be a bit snarky and sarcastic and to have a memorable personality -- perhaps in homage to a certain assistant on another company's smartphone.

The connected shoe isn't a totally novel idea, of course: Nike has long made sneakers with sensors in them to measure your workouts. A shoe with a personality, however, that actually speaks to you in a human voice, is a bit of a novelty. That it's got a dash of Joan Rivers wit only sweetens the final product.

You can watch blue-eyed, blond-haired Engadget reporter Brian Heater try out the Google shoe and get generally berated by his high tops below (Like The Huffington Post, Engadget is owned by AOL):

Head, shoulders, knees and toes: Soon, there will be gadgets for all of those. You'll be able to wear Google Glass on your head; a Memoto life-logging camera on your shoulder, to take a photo of your day every 30 seconds; and Internet-connected shoes to measure the health and activity of your knees and toes. Worried about your eyes and ears and mouth and nose? You can get Vuzix Smart Glasses, Beats headphones, the Hapifork smart eating utensil and -- well, unless Sony takes The Onion's suggestion and makes nose buds, you might be out of luck there.

In any case, the cyborgification of America is afoot (quite literally, if Google ever takes its concept shoe farther than the prototype stage). Alas, those lusting after a pair of Google shoes will likely have to wait for some time as, again, Google told multiple reporters that what it was showing was nothing but a prototype, and that it had no current plans to take the shoe to market.

Until then, you'll have to satisfy yourself with wearing tiny, motion-sensing, Internet-connected computerized devices everywhere else on your body. You can still probably make a Google+ account for your Florsheims, though.

Even More Evidence That Apple Will Release Two New iPhones This Summer

Jason Gilbert   |   March 10, 2013   12:53 PM ET

Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to This Week In Apple Rumors, our regular look back at all of the week's unconfirmed gossip, questionably sourced reports and blatant speculation about future Apple products from around the Web! Let's take a look back at what the various Apple blogs and websites were excited about in the past week, from March 2-8. Check out our previous edition of Apple rumors here, and for all the latest you can follow me on Twitter right here.

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1. Will The iPhone 5S Come Out In July?

Last week, we reported on shady rumors that the next-generation iPhone would be released this summer. This week, as a sort of tribute to the movie Groundhog Day, we are reporting on...shady rumors that the "iPhone 5S" will be released this summer! Watch out for that first step, it's a doozy!

Yes, we had two rather prominent Apple pundits both predict this week that the next iPhone will land in the summertime, following the previous week's report from Barclay analyst Kirk Yang targeting the summer as the season of the "iPhone 5S." The predictions this time around, at least, come from two prognosticators with solid, nigh-sterling reputations: KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, and Apple blog iMore's Rene Ritchie. Let's slap on our Speedos and dive in:

We'll start with Kuo, who shot to fame in the Apple pundit community with his call two years ago that Apple would release only the iPhone 4S, and not a redesigned iPhone 5, in 2011. Since then, he's earned respect as one of the few accurate forecasters of Apple's release schedule: When Kuo publishes research, people read that note, and they don't roll their eyes as they might with other analysts.

On Monday, Kuo released a research note concerning the next iPhone (actually, next iPhones: Kuo thinks Apple will release an iPhone 5S and a cheaper iPhone aimed at emerging markets; more on that in a second). The iPhone 5S will be released in July, Kuo writes, and will differentiate itself from the iPhone 5 in five ways:

1. Faster processor
2. Better camera/better flash
3. FINGERPRINT SENSOR under the home button, for security reasons (read here for why we think the fingerprint sensor is coming)
4. Thinner/lighter
5. Different name

(Okay, I made the last one up).

Kuo also writes that Apple will also release its long-gestating cheaper iPhone in July, which will have the same basic dimensions as the "iPhone 5S" but will have a slightly weaker camera, a slightly heavier weight and will be available in colors that are not black and white. Here's Kuo's full chart comparing the iPhone 5S, the low-cost iPhone and the current iPhone, which Kuo was kind enough to email to us:

iphone 5s kuo 2

That the new iPhone will come out in July is just, like, Kuo's opinion, man. Because an equally well-sourced Apple pundit is calling for a different month. It's a Prediction Off! We've got a Prediction Off!

2. Or, On The Contrary, Mesdames Et Messieurs, Will The iPhone 5S Come Out In August?

Rene Ritchie, the proprietor of and chief writer for Apple blog iMore, has also built up a certain amount of credibility; lately, he's been the first to accurately call the dates of a couple different Apple product unveilings.

A day after Kuo's prediction of a July iPhone debut, Ritchie blasted out a post claiming HE'D heard the iPhone would come out in August. Still beach/baseball/BBQ season, but a month later. Eid Al Fitr, not Independence Day.

It's a short post, but Ritchie's looking at an August release date for the next iPhone (which he says -- and stop me if this sounds familiar -- will have a faster processor and improved camera). He does warn that things can, and do, change, but for now he thinks Apple is targeting August.

What should we glean from the dueling projections of July and August from two titans of Apple punditry? While it's too early to choose one month or the other, I do think it's becoming clear that, barring some sort of calamity, the next iPhone is indeed on track for a summer release. That exact date (and month) will become clearer as the snow melts and leaves blossom and we all start taking our banana hammocks out of storage; but if you're trying to decide between upgrading your smartphone now or attempting to wait for the next iPhone, you can use that July/August target as a general timeframe.

3. Could We See The New iPad Before The New iPhone?

If you read the iMore post above -- and you should, because you have a thirst for knowledge -- then you know that it is short but contains two nuggets:

1. The "iPhone 5S" is scheduled for August.
2. The new iPads -- the "iPad 5," and "iPad Mini 2" -- are scheduled for April.

Yes, April -- as in the month that is after this one. Ritchie writes that he's "been told an April-ish launch is getting serious consideration for the next-generation iPads, but [that he's] really not sure what to make of that yet."

Now, this comes with several caveats: That "April-ish" doesn't necessarily mean April; that "getting serious consideration" doesn't mean that it's going to happen; and that "not sure what to make of that yet" means no one really knows what's going to happen. If you're a regular reader of this column (and you likely are, because you have a thirst for knowledge), you might remember that the estimable Jeremy Horwitz of iLounge wrote earlier this year that March had been the target release for the new iPads, but that Apple decided to push it back.

Ming-Chi Kuo, too, thinks that we won't see the new iPads until after summer. We were just introduced to the iPad mini and the fourth-generation iPad, remember, in October, and Apple has tended to space out its product launches by a year. The one outlier to that pattern, of course, was October's iPad, which arrived just 8 months after the previous iPad had.

PHEW! No one knows anything, or if someone does know something, we don't know which someone that is. The new iPads could arrive in a month, or in two months, or in six months: At this point, none of those scenarios would surprise anyone, I wouldn't think. The timetable, it appears, is much less clearcut than the one for the iPhone. It's freaky, freaky stuff.

And speaking of general freakiness: the "iWatch." Oh, you didn't think we were going to make it through a Week In Apple Rumors without some news on that Apple wristwatch, did you? If you did, give yourself a spanking, because you were wrong. Here's the latest.

4. Apple Certainly Seems Like It's Planning To Release This iWatch Thing By The End Of 2013

We close with the "iWatch," which scored two prominent rumors this week, both claiming that Apple is attempting to get its latest product category out on shelves by Christmastime this year.

As you may recall, very little actual substance has been reported thus far: We know that Apple has a fairly large team working on its wristwatch, and that it is targeting 2013 as its release year. Bloomberg, who had previously reported that Apple had over 100 iWatch staffers on board, chimed in with another article this week; though the majority of the article was speculative analyst gobbledegook, it did contain this paragraph about what those staffers might actually be doing:

Features under consideration include letting users make calls, see the identity of incoming callers and check map coordinates, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t public. It would also house a pedometer for counting steps and sensors for monitoring health-related data, such as heart rates, this person said.

Technology site The Verge chimed in later in the day, reporting that Apple wants its watch to run a full version of the iOS operating system (which runs on your iPhone and iPad) and that it would like for its watch to be able to last four to five days without a charge.

Both The Verge and Bloomberg's sources say Apple is really trying to have this thing out there by the end of 2013, in time for Christmas and in time to compete with Google Glass; barring some sort of change, it's looking more and more likely that the "iWatch" will become a reality.

Apple fans who were hoping for a pair of iGlasses instead of an wristwatch, it seems, will have to settle for duct taping the iWatch to their face, it appears. I, for one, am looking forward to wearing both my iWatch and my Google Glass out in public and seeing how long I can go without getting the crap kicked out of me for being the nerdiest man in the universe. Please, don't take my Battlestar Galactica fanny pack! It's a collector's item!

That's all for This Week In Apple Rumors. Please join us again next week for more; or, if you can't wait a week, you can always get the latest Apple rumors by following me on Twitter right here.

Here's A Beautiful Peek At What The Galaxy S4 Might Look Like

Jason Gilbert   |   March 7, 2013   11:05 AM ET

In my preview of the Galaxy S4, a sizzler of a phone that Samsung will unveil on March 14th barring some unforeseen calamity, I mentioned that we haven't really seen any reliable "spy-shots" or photographs of the device quite yet.

This is a a change-of-pace, as generally these things have a way of leaking out prior to the grand reveal (just ask Apple). For the S4, though, not a picture, video, Instagram, SnapChat or Vine has yet to emerge, with a week until its premiere.

In lieu of actual visual evidence, then, we offer you this: An absolutely beautiful rendering of what Samsung's Galaxy S4 might just look like. It comes via Martin Hajek, who is quickly establishing himself as the Picasso of mainstream gadget renderings based on pre-release leaks, and GottaBeMobile, a tech website that commissioned the work.

You can view the video below; GottaBeMobile's Josh Smith talks through some of the rumored specs and features for the soundtrack. Devoted Samsung fans might want to snap on a bib to catch the drool:

You can see more mockups at GBM; and then, for dessert, you can watch me talk about the Galaxy S4 with a bunch of Apple fans on HuffPost Live below. One of them even admits that the eye-scrolling feature sounds pretty cool!

Everything We Expect From The Galaxy S4

Jason Gilbert   |   March 7, 2013    7:38 AM ET

On the evening of March 14, the smartphone maker/Apple nemesis/James Franco employer Samsung will unveil the Galaxy S IV (commonly known as the S4). And even though Samsung claims that it's trying to keep its newest superphone a secret until next Thursday's event in New York City, details of the Galaxy S4 have been squirting out here and there like liquid from a leaky waterbed.

So, what should you expect when you're expecting a Galaxy S4? We've collected the most prominent and persistent rumors below. We'll know whether the S4 is an S-Score or an S-Bore in about a week, but until then, let's get on with the speculation.

BIGGER SCREEN

The display on the Galaxy S III is huge, by most Americans' standards: 4.8 inches measured diagonally, with a 1280 x 720 resolution, for a pixel density of 306 pixels per inch. For the Galaxy S4, consensus seems to be that Samsung will venture even bigger, with a 5.0-inch display, a "full HD" resolution of 1920 x 1080, or 440 pixels per inch (higher ppi is better, though perhaps only to a point).

That 5-inch display would mean an enormous flagship smartphone for Samsung, whose first Galaxy Note with its 5.3-inch display, remember, was initially laughed at. (No one is laughing now.) It would mean that Samsung's superphone would once again hulk over Apple's, which features a just-enlarged 4.0-inch display.

galaxy s4 invite

Now, we don't yet know if a bigger display will necessitate a larger or heavier phone. We're assuming that, design-wise, the GS4 will look similar to the Galaxy S III, but thus far no reliable spy-shots of the device have surfaced, nor have any reliable rumors about the device's dimensions or weight.

FASTER PROCESSOR

We're pretty sure the Galaxy S4 will come with a beefier processor than the GS3; it is, at this point, a question of how much beefier. (If only I had a dollar for every time I've asked that question...).

There are dueling rumors here: The first, and more plausible, is that the GS4 will sport a 1.8GHz quad-core processor, up from the 1.4 GHz quad-core processor on the GS3. There are also whispers that the latest Galaxy will be among the first smartphones with an 8-core processor, though that breakthrough might be reserved for the forthcoming Galaxy Note III.

For now, forget processor cores and benchmarks and GPU whatnots: Just count on the Galaxy S4 being faster than the Galaxy S3.

EYE-TRACKING?

"For Newest Samsung Phone, Eye-Tracking"? The New York Times recently reported that a new feature coming to the Galaxy S4 would allow the phone's camera to watch your eyes as you read articles on the web, and scroll down automatically when it sensed your eyeballs had reached the bottom of the page.

A screenshot of what is supposedly the Settings screen on the GS4 seemed to confirm this "eye scrolling" rumor.

galaxy s4

The supposed homescreen of the Galaxy S4, next to what is apparently its newest feature, eye scrolling.

Given the reliability of the NYT, and the screenshot from the well-regarded blog GSM Israel, this rumor is clearly nothing to scroll your eyes at.

You can view several more alleged screenshots from the GS4 here, on GSM Israel. WARNING: The page is in Hebrew, so you'll have to not understand what's being written from right to left.

WHAT ELSE IS NEW?

A lot of Samsung watchers seem to think that the rear camera on the Galaxy S4 will be upgraded to 13 megapixels from 8 megapixels. Remember, though, that the number of megapixels in your camera does not determines its quality. (Even if the GS4 "only" has an 8 megapixel camera, I'd expect the camera to improve, since that's just something that happens from generation to generation on top-tier smartphones).

Also commonly mentioned are 2GB RAM and Android Jelly Bean 4.2 with Samsung's TouchWiz software on top. I also heavily suspect that the Galaxy S4 will include an omnipresent, expensive advertising blitz, but that's pure conjecture on my part.

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Though many of the details about the Galaxy S4 appear to have slipped out, there's a good chance that Samsung still has some surprises in store for its March 14 reveal. We still haven't seen a photo, or even a mockup of the device. Samsung also likely has more new features to show off, given the way it has expanded on its software at past smartphone unveilings.

HuffPostTech will be there, of course, covering the entire thing, so make sure to check back next Thursday for all the real, actual details of what Samsung hopes will be its next big thing.