Spectral Souls: Massive New RPG for Android Coming Next Month

Android already has quite a few decent role playing games like Zenonia, Dungeon Hunter and Crusade of Destiny. However, all of them fail to capture the depth we have come to associate with RPG games. The good news is that if HyperDevbox lives up to its promise, then we will soon have a truly stunning RPG for Android.

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You might already be familiar with HyperDevbox thanks to their other awesome Android game – ExZeus Arcade. They are currently working on Spectral Souls – Resurrection of the Ethereal Empires for Android, which will feature a stunning 52 soundtracks and 84 characters. All of this will amount to more than 1 GB of data and provide in excess of 100 hours of gameplay.

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Spectral Souls is an official port of the PSP game by Idea Factory, and is a tactical role playing game. Don’t expect this to be a walk in the park, as HyperDevbox has stated that the game will be deep and challenging. Check out the video embedded below to get an idea about the gameplay. Spectral Souls will be released before the end of the year. It will require a meaty processor (although there will be a low-resolution mode), and run on Android 1.6 and above.

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Rumor: iPad 2 Will Have Retina Display and FaceTime

Apple This was supposed to be the year of the tablets. However, if anything, it is turning out to be the year of the iPad. Baring Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, others failed to even make their presence felt. At this point, the tablet I have the most expectations from is Notion Ink’s Adam. However, it remains to be seen if the heavily delayed tablet from an inexperienced startup can truly deliver on its promises.

In the meanwhile, Apple is working to increase its lead with the iPad 2. According to the information plucked by Digitimes from a Chinese newspaper called Economy Daily News, the iPad 2 will feature a significantly improved hardware specification. Unsurprisingly, it will support Apple’s Facetime video calling technology. The 3-axis gyroscope introduced in iPhone 4 will also make an appearance, as will the iPhone’s famous Retina display. The newspaper also believes that the next generation tablet from Apple will have better mobility and USB ports.

Of course, we still have a good few months to go before iPad’s successor is announced. At the moment, it’s probably best to treat any leaked news about the iPad 2 with a generous dose of skepticism.

Symbian Foundation Winds Down Even As Nokia Remains Bullish

SymbianThese are tough and challenging times for Symbian, and the future doesn’t look too bright either. The Symbian foundation held its final council meeting on November 24, and the board is expected to be dissolved on December 16.

The open source Symbian project as we know it is dead. All official websites, including source code repositories, will be shutting down on December 17. For a majority of Symbian employees, Dec 17 will be their last day in office. A small transition team will be retained till Q1 2011.

Once the Symbian Foundation closes down, Nokia will once again be in control of the Symbian project. Petra Soderling, Director of Symbian Ecosystem at Nokia, has reemphasized that Nokia is still bullish about the future of Symbian. Nokia is sticking to its projection of more than 50 million Symbian^3 based devices being sold. Nokia is also looking for an alternate open and direct model for making the platform available to the community in future. They want the alternate model to be “no less open, free and flexible” than today’s. However, it will not feature a council type of governance.

The death of the Symbian project doesn’t necessarily mean the doom of Symbian. Many Symbian enthusiasts are still optimistic about the platform. MyNokiaBlog is hopeful that without the stifling bureaucracy of the Symbian Foundation, Nokia will be able to iterate Symbian faster, in order to become competitive once again. Let’s hope that they are correct. Because, unless Nokia manages to significantly improve Symbian, it is definitely doomed as a smartphone operating system.

Review: Pulse News Reader is a Gorgeous RSS Feed Reader for Android

Android apps are often criticized for lacking the visual appeal and design aesthetics of iOS apps. There are apps like Slide Screen and Touiteur and which are truly beautiful. But, such apps are the exception rather than the rule. Fortunately, more and more iPhone apps are beginning to make an appearance on the Android market. As competition increases, other Android app developers will hopefully be compelled to improve.

One such app is Pulse News Reader. Earlier Pulse used to be a paid app on iOS as well as on Android. However, a couple of weeks back, the Pulse Reader team decided to make it available for free on all platforms. I have been using Pulse as my primary feed reader for the past week (previously it used to by FeedR and My6Sense). Here’s my in-depth review.

The attention to detail impressed me the moment I started using it. On first launch, you are presented with a curated list of feeds under the “Featured” tab. If you wish, you can dig deeper and “Browse” through a larger selection of popular feeds organized into categories. I simply imported my feeds from Google Reader. One odd thing about the Pulse app is that it only supports up to 20 feeds.

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Pulse Reader presents your feeds as horizontally scrollable columns of thumbnails. Tap on the thumbnail and it will open the content. On websites that offer partial feeds, Pulse can strip away all additional formatting and junk, and scrape the full content. If you enjoy reading stuff in context of the original website, you can do that too with Pulse’s web mode. As you might expect, sharing options (Facebook, Twitter and more) are baked right into the application. Pulse Reader executes everything with a flourish. There are neat animations when you switch between screens (see the video embedded below). However, these animations never get in your way.

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Techie Buzz Verdict

Pulse-News-Reader Pulse is all about making consumption of information clutter-free and fun. The interface is simply stunning. Unfortunately, when it comes to features, there are a few significant lapses. The cap on the number of feeds alone might be enough to deter many users. Additionally, Pulse lacks a search function. It also doesn’t have the ability to hide read messages or organize feeds (although with just 20 feeds, organization isn’t really necessary). These drawbacks will perhaps make Pulse unsuitable for heavy duty users. However, if they aren’t a deal breaker for you, go ahead and try it. It’s definitely a pleasure to use.

Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)

[ Download Pulse News Reader for Android ]

Angry Birds for Android Hits 7 Million Downloads: Paid Version Coming Soon

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It’s not as if any of us need more proof of Angry Birds’ insane popularity, but Rovio has revealed that Angry Birds for Android has hit 7 million downloads. The download figure is possibly slightly inflated due to updates; however, it is still phenomenal. The fact that Angry Birds for Android is free (ad-supported), unlike in other platforms, obviously helped in a big way. Rovio had earlier reported that they had crossed the 1 million download count within the first 24 hours of release.

The aforementioned revelation came in response to questions regarding Angry Birds’ pricing strategy. Rovio obviously believes they will benefit more by offering a free ad-supported version. However, if you hate advertisements, fret not. A paid version of Angry Birds for Android will be launched soon.

Rovio has clearly been keeping themselves very busy. Yesterday, we revealed that they are about to announce a “really big” new project. On top of that they are also working on console ports of Angry Birds, “Mighty Eagle” for Android, Angry Birds Christmas edition and a gaming network.

Chrome to Get Multiple User Profile Support

Google Chrome is about to officially get multi-profile support. According to Downloadsquad, once this feature kicks in, users will be able to run different windows of Chrome with different Google (Gmail) accounts.

Currently, it is possible to enable multiple profile support in Chrome with command line switches. However, once Google officially enables this feature, you will be able to access it from Chrome’s preferences dialogue box (pictured below).

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Every individual window, Chrome will clearly display which profile it is associated with. In Windows, this information will be displayed at the top of the browser frame, where as in Mac, this info will be added to the menu bar. Every profile will be color-coded to make identification easier.

There’s no word on when these features will show up in Chromium. However, knowing Google, it probably won’t take too long.

New 0-day Vulnerability in Windows Circumvents UAC

When Microsoft added UAC (User Account Control), the promise was that it will make Windows more secure. Pardon me if I come across as a cynic, but all it seems to be capable of doing is annoying users. Yes, Windows 7 makes UAC a lot more bearable, but it’s still annoying. On top of that, it doesn’t actually do a lot to prevent malware attacks or malicious program execution. To make things even worse, a new flaw has been uncovered that can be used to completely bypass UAC in Windows Vista and 7.

The developers of popular security software Pervx spotted a new 0-day vulnerability being discussed in a Chinese forum. According to them, “This is a serious flaw because it resides in win32k.sys, the kernel mode part of the Windows subsystem. It is a privilege escalation exploit which allows even limited user accounts to execute arbitrary code in kernel mode.”

This flaw basically enables an attacker to execute applications with system (full) privileges. Unfortunately, there is not a lot you can do to keep yourself safe at this point of time. Sophos has suggested a workaround; however, it is not known how effective the proposed safety measure is.

Developer of Angry Birds: “Really Big and New Project Underway”

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Earlier in the week, we confirmed that Rovio Mobile is preparing to release Angry Birds Christmas edition for iPhone, iPad and Android. However, that’s not all that they have in store for us. Rovio had hinted that something else is in the pipe. We speculated that it might be the arrival of the “Mighty Eagle” on the Android. However, now it seems that it might be something entirely different.

Yes, Mighty Eagle is scheduled to make an appearance, as soon as Google gets its Market sorted out and enables in-app purchases. However, that is definitely not the big new thing Rovio is preparing for. It isn’t the console ports of Angry Birds either. TechCrunch Europe had speculated that Rovio might be working on something disruptive.

We can confirm that it is something that Rovio believes will be a big deal. Their exact words to us were, “There’s another REALLY big and new project underway”. Rovio is working on its own gaming network (think Xbox Live or Open Feint). However, that won’t be ready by 11th December, which is the Angry Birds day, and the date on which Rovio is expected to make the big announcement.

So exactly what is Rovio Mobile working on? They won’t tell us. However, it’s definitely not a new game, or mighty eagle for Android, or even Rovio’s gaming network. Let the guessing begin. What do you think Rovio is working on?

Angry Birds Christmas Edition for iPhone, iPad and Android Coming on Dec 11

Angry Birds has blitzkrieged the iTunes App Store, Android Market and several other app repositories, and it is showing no signs of slowing down. Rovio Mobile has stated that they don’t want to do a sequel, but they have been cleverly tapping into the cash cow that is Angry Birds with special holiday editions. After an immensely popular Halloween edition, Rovio is now preparing to release a special Christmas edition of Angry Birds.

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According to the Finnish site MTV3 (and PocketLint), Angry Birds Christmas edition will be launched on Dec 11. Although the website confirms simultaneous releases for both iPhone and iPad, it is silent on the availability of the special edition on Android.

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Given that Android users had missed out on the Halloween edition of Angry Birds, I requested confirmation from Rovio through Twitter. In response to my query regarding the availability of Angry Birds Christmas Edition on Android, @roviomobile tweeted back “and not only that;-)”, which pretty much confirms that Angry Birds Christmas Edition will be available on Android. The tweet also hints that something more is in the pipe for Android users. Based on the information available at hand, I am guessing that we will be seeing the “Mighty Eagle” make an appearance on Android. What do you think? Are you also an Angry Birds addict? Will you be willing to pay for a Christmas edition of Angry Birds?

LastPass Extension for Opera is Finally Here!

LastPass is one extension I have been waiting for ever since Opera published its API. I had earlier mentioned that LastPass has been working with Opera software to release an extension as soon as possible. However, one thing holding them back was the lack of support for HTTPS in Opera’s extensions. Opera Software fixed this in Opera 11 Beta (actually they did it in an earlier snapshot), which was released just yesterday, and now LastPass is already here.

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The LastPass Button

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LastPass Tools

If you are wondering why I am gushing about LastPass, check out our earlier articles on this nifty little tool. LastPass is a free (freemium to be accurate) cloud based service that can generate strong passwords, remember your passwords, and automatically fill forms and works seamlessly across multiple browsers, operating systems and devices. While Opera’s Wand can remember passwords, none of the other features offered by LastPass are available. Better still, you can even import and export information from other similar third party tools like RoboForm, 1Password, KeePass, Password Safe, MyPasswordSafe, Sxipper, TurboPasswords, and Passpack

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Create LastPass Form Profiles

LastPass for Opera works through a button in the address bar, much like its Chrome counterpart. It automatically jumps into action as soon as it detects a form and offers to remember and fill-in information. You can also tick the “Auto-login” option to automatically enter and submit login information.

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LastPass Fill Password

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LastPass Settings

If you on Opera 11 Beta, you can download LastPass from the official extensions gallery.