Google Quietly Kills Its Nexus Q Streaming Box

After launching to mixed reviews and slow sales, Google may have finally put its Nexus Q streaming media player out to pasture. As discovered by SlashGear, the set-top box — or, more accurately, orb — is listed as “no longer available” on Google Play. Of course, the Nexus Q has been listed as out of stock for months, but the recent change suggests that its current incarnation has been banished to the pages of history.

For those unfamiliar, the Nexus Q was introduced in June at Google I/O as an Android-based Apple TV alternative, giving users the ability to feed music, movies, and television from their smartphone or tablet to their home entertainment center. Shortly after its announcement, Google refunded pre-order customers and removed the device from sale due to overwhelming criticism from the media, which cited its high cost and limited functionality.

But the big question remains: is the Nexus Q gone for good? We’ll just have to wait until Google I/O returns to San Francisco in May.

Scott Lowe is IGN’s guru of Tech. He enjoys coffee, burritos, and moonlit walks. You can follow him on MyIGN Scott-IGN and on Twitter @ScottLowe. For more of the latest and greatest in technology, follow @IGNTech.

By Scott Lowe

Apple Reports 47 Million iPhones Sold Despite Rumors of Weak Demand

Despite rumors of waning demand for the iPhone, Apple has announced that it sold 47.8 million smartphones in its first fiscal quarter for 2013. The number represents a significant gain over the same quarter last year, which yielded 37 million in iPhone sales.

In total, the company reported “record quarterly revenue” of $54.5 billion with a similarly unprecedented quarterly profit of $13.1 billion, compared to $46.3 billion in revenue and $13.1 billion in Q1 last year. As for the rest of Apple’s product suite, the company reported 22.9 million iPads sold, aided in large part by the introduction of the smaller, most cost-effective iPad mini. In the quarter a year prior, Apple sold 15.4 million iPads.

While the company is riding high on smartphone and tablet sales, Mac computer and iPod sales were down compared to last year. The company moved 4.1 million Macs this quarter, down from 5.2 million last year, while iPods accounted for 12.7 million in sales, down from 15.4 million.

Looking ahead to its second quarter, Apple has provided investor guidance of $41 to $43 billion in revenue, a comparatively modest estimation.

Scott Lowe is IGN’s resident tech expert and Executive Editor of IGN Tech. You can follow him on Twitter at @ScottLowe and on MyIGN at Scott-IGN.

By Scott Lowe

Pebble Watch Now Shipping, Android and iOS Apps Coming

As promised at CES, Pebble, the Kickstarter-funded Android and iOS smartwatch, is now shipping in limited quantities to early backers. Announced in a Kickstarter post today, the company will ship less than 500 units out to customers today with “more expected to ship soon.” The company has also issued release information for the watch’s smartphone apps, which allow users to program custom watch faces, download new functions, and update the Pebble’s software. The Android version will arrive on Google Play on January 24th, while the iOS app will arrive soon pending final approval from Apple.

The Pebble was introduced last year as a Bluetooth-enabled watch that syncs with your smartphone to display app, email, phone, and SMS notifications, as well as work alongside third-party apps, such as fitness trackers, via built-in inertial sensors. The Pebble debuted on Kickstarter last year and went on to become one of the most successful campaigns to-date, raising a total of $10,266,845.

While the first wave of shipments is notably small, the company says that mass production is well underway with China-based factories producing up to a thousand units a day.

Scott Lowe is IGN’s resident tech expert and Executive Editor of IGN Tech. You can follow him on Twitter at @ScottLowe and on MyIGN at Scott-IGN.

By Scott Lowe

PlayStation 4 Dev Kit Specs, Controller, and Multiple User Accounts Detailed

With E3 fast approaching, the floodgates for next-gen rumors are now open. Kotaku has secured new details about current PlayStation 4 development kits, offering insights into the system’s potential power, controller, and unified user accounts.

According to 90 PDF documents reportedly secured by the site, the latest PlayStation 4 development kits issued for January 2013 include four dual-core AMD64 “Bulldozer” processors amounting to a total of eight CPU cores, an AMD R10xx GPU, four USB 3.0 ports, two Ethernet connections, a Blu-ray drive, a 160GB HDD, as well as HDMI and optical audio outputs. The information falls in line with recent rumors and prior development kit leaks. The site cautions that due to the fact that the specs are based on development hardware, the consumer-grade version of the system could differ.

The information comes by way of SuperDae, the same individual that leaked early images of Microsoft’s Durango dev kits and even attempted to sell one on eBay last year.

What’s more, SuperDae’s developer documents suggest that the PlayStation 4 could maintain the traditional DualShock 3 and Sixaxis controller designs, contrary to the touchscreen, PS Vita-esque controller rumored last week.

Finally, Sony could allow multiple users to be logged into the system at any given time. According to a diagram used in the documents, each user will have localized saves and be able to log-in and associate their Sony Entertainment Network account to each additional controller. The benefit, Kotaku says, is if four people are playing local co-op, each can earn trophies as they progress.

Of course, with the leak based on development hardware and an official reveal likely months away, the final version of the system could be an entirely different beast by the time of release.

Scott Lowe is IGN’s resident tech expert and Executive Editor of IGN Tech. You can follow him on Twitter at @ScottLowe and on MyIGN at Scott-IGN.

By Scott Lowe

CES: Tomb Raider Xbox 360 Controller Revealed

Tomb Raider image

At CES today, Microsoft and Crystal Dynamics revealed the limited edition Tomb Raider Xbox 360 controller. Crystal Dynamics artists contributed to the controller’s design, which features “a two-layer color finish with laser etching to create a realistic and tactile worn appearance inspired by Lara’s iconic climbing axe and the tourniquets that result from the adventure in her intense origin story.”

The Tomb Raider controller includes the “transforming” D-Pad seen in most recent 360 controllers and will be available for $59.99. Customers who buy it will also receive an Xbox 360-exclusive playable character known as the Scavenger Archer as downloadable content.

Tomb Raider hits stores on March 5, 2013. For more, read about its recently-revealed multiplayer mode.

Andrew Goldfarb is IGN’s associate news editor. Keep up with pictures of the latest food he’s been eating by following @garfep on Twitter or garfep on IGN.

By Andrew Goldfarb

Leap Motion Sensor Pre-Orders Start at Best Buy Next Month

Craving Kinect-like gesture controls for your PC? Be still your beating hearts, for Leap Motion has just announced that their motion-sensitive PC controller will be available for pre-order this February, exclusively from Best Buy. The news follows on the heels of Leap Motion’s announcement of their partnership with ASUS, who will be developing the first Leap Motion enabled PCs available sometime later this year.

In what looks to be a win-win scenario for both Leap Motion and Best Buy, Leap Motion will benefit from the arrangement by getting the motion-tracking controller into the hands of consumers who can try before they buy and Best Buy will be seen placing itself at the forefront of cutting edge consumer technology.

Andy Miller, COO and President of Leap Motion, told Tech Crunch:

“They had been following our progress, and they invited us up to Minneapolis and they got their hands on the Leap Motion, and they decided that this was for them. They’re a pretty forward-thinking company and we love the way they can tell the story. It’s really about partnering with someone who has the training to show off to potential customers what we can do.”

The Leap Motion controller has frequently been compared to the most well known motion-sensing device on the market, the Kinect, and the company is eager to prove its mettle against the likes of corporate giants like Microsoft by showcasing the device in one of the largest electronics chains in the United States. The Best Buy exclusive is a limited time arrangement and Miller was quick to say that he’s eager to expand Leap Motion’s retailer base later on.

The Leap Motion controller, which operates by mapping out a three dimensional workspace so that hand movements can be tracked with little to no lag time, will provide consumers with a more affordable option – coming in at a relatively reasonable $70 – than Microsoft’s Kinect. The device will be available for pre-order from Best Buy next month, with initial shipments beginning in March, and will expand to European markets and other retailers later this year.

Melissa Grey is a lover of all things cats, comics, and tech nerditry. She can be found on MyIGN at MelissaGrey or lurking on Twitter @meligrey.

By Melissa Grey

Google CEO Goes on the Offensive Against Facebook and Apple

In a recent interview with Wired’s Steven Levy, notoriously tight-lipped Google Co-founder and CEO Larry Page threw some shade Facebook’s way when he said the House that Zuckerberg Built was “doing a really bad job on their products,” though his words were marginally softened when he went on to say that Google’s success is not dependent on Facebook’s failure.

In Page’s own words:

“We’re actually doing something different. I think it’s outrageous to say that there’s only space for one company in these areas. When we started with search, everyone said, “You guys are gonna fail, there’s already five search companies.” We said, “We are a search company, but we’re doing something different.” That’s how I see all these areas.”

Just a few days ago, Facebook unveiled Graph Search, a feature that could potentially encroach on Google’s territory, as its partnership with Bing allows users to access web links beyond Facebook directly within Graph Search’s own framework.

Page’s attitude towards Google’s competition was largely unflappable. When Levy made mention of Steve Jobs’ promise to wage “thermonuclear war” on Google because of the company’s Android OS, all Page had to say was “How well is that working?”

That type of response is hardly surprising considering Page’s personal and professional ethos of aiming for technological advances others might consider impossible. As a driving force behind Google’s fast-paced innovation, Page has little time to quibble over petty rivalries. When discussing Apple’s controversial decision to eliminate Google Maps from iOS 6, Page said “Companies are trying to wall everything off, and I think that impedes the rate of innovation.”

Page is, and has always been, a bigger picture kind of guy. While brushing off Levy’s inquiries about his competition, Page seemed more concerned with shooting for the stars while leaving the naysayers and rivals in Google’s dust, saying, “If you’re not doing some things that are crazy, then you’re doing the wrong things.”

Melissa Grey is a lover of all things cats, comics, and tech nerditry. She can be found on MyIGN at MelissaGrey or lurking on Twitter @meligrey.

By Melissa Grey

CES: Hands-on with Huawei’s Ascend Mate

While smartphones may be getting thinner and lighter, their overall footprint is larger than ever thanks to the growing trend of massive, 5-inch or larger displays. But this week at CES, Huawei took the concept to a new level with the introduction of the Ascend Mate — an Android smartphone with a staggeringly large 6.1-inch display.

Like the Galaxy Note II, the Ascend Mate falls into a new category of devices known as phablets — part phone, part tablet. While many companies have strayed away from using the term on the basis of it sounding utterly ridiculous, it’s unquestionably accurate.

The Ascend Mate uses an IPS+ 1080p display powered by a 1.5GHz quad-core processor, making all of the available screen real-estate snappy, responsive, and gorgeous to look at it. The device runs Android 4.1, otherwise known as Jelly Bean, and packs an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera.

But despite its flashy specs and beautiful screen, the real test is how the larger-than-life smartphone fits in your hand. As it turns out, it’s actually quite manageable. While whether or not a screen of its size is really necessary will certainly fall to preference, Huawei has designed it in such a way that it’s actually fairly easy to hold. To avoid adding unnecessary bulk, Huawei has minimized the bezel that surrounds the display, making it easily grippable with one hand. It’s also remarkably thin and light, even with its massive 4,050mAh battery. With a widescreen aspect ratio, I was actually able to reach a large portion of the display area with my thumb, but there were areas I couldn’t quite reach comfortably.

The Huawei Ascend Mate is scheduled to debut in China in February with more territories to follow in March.

For more from CES, stay tuned to IGN.com/CES.

Scott Lowe is IGN’s guru of Tech. He enjoys coffee, burritos, and moonlit walks. You can follow him on MyIGN Scott-IGN and on Twitter @ScottLowe. For more of the latest and greatest in technology, follow @IGNTech.

By Scott Lowe

Report: Nintendo to Restructure Hardware Divisions

In an aim to see more synergy between its handheld and home console divisions, Nintendo is allegedly unifying the two, according to Nikkei.com. If the report proves to be true, the move will mark the first organizational restructure in the company since 2004.

“In an effort to create more innovative and attractive products, Nintendo Co. will combine the development segments for its home video game consoles and handheld game devices,” a translation of the report reads.

“The decision comes on the heels of recent releases of the Nintendo 3DS portable system in February 2011 and the Wii U home console last month. With more people using their smartphones and tablets for entertainment via the Internet, including games and videos, Nintendo aims to come up with next-generation game systems that will turn heads.”

The move will see 130 employees from Nintendo’s console development team joining 150 employees from its handheld division to a single development department established February 16. A new development building is due for completion at the end of the year, next to Nintendo’s current headquarters in Kyoto.

“The two teams will eventually be integrated and the segment will be organized by function, such as circuits, mechanisms and design,” quotes the report.

“Game system development projects are becoming larger and taking longer to complete as the machines become more advanced. Nintendo apparently has its sights set on speeding up these projects by sharing development processes for consoles and handheld devices where possible and by reassigning personnel depending on the situation. It sees interactions between engineers as a potential hotbed of new ideas.”

Nintendo is hoping the move will encourage further connectivity between console and portable devices, including the implementation of handheld devices as console controllers, and game data sharing so players can continue playing their console game on their handheld when away from the couch.

“Such functions are already available with the Wii U, but Nintendo likely hopes to better streamline its products by tapping into such online services as Twitter and video sites.”

We’ve reached out to Nintendo for comment and will update this story when we hear back.

Lucy O’Brien is Assistant Editor at IGN AU. You should talk to her about the Cool Spot video game on IGN at Luce_IGN_AU,or follow her @Luceobrien on Twitter. If you like what you’re readin’, meet the rest of the Australian team by joining the IGN Australia Facebook community.

By Lucy O’Brien

CES: Project Shield Hands-on Impressions

After last night’s surprise reveal of Nvidia’s Android-powered gaming platform Project Shield, we couldn’t wait to go hands-on with the device ourselves to put some nagging questions to rest. Luckily we didn’t have to wait long – today IGN got to poke and prod the console-in-a-controller to our heart’s content, as well as demo a variety of gaming experiences.

High Build Quality

The device itself is a bit heavier and a bit bulkier than a standard console controller, weighing in at around one pound. An average-sized pair of male hands won’t have any trouble stretching their index fingers to the trigers or their thumbs to any of the face buttons or analog sticks, but it does feel noticeably larger in-hand than an Xbox 360 controller. The four back triggers are set up exactly like the 360′s, with two “bumper” triggers along the top and two analog triggers just beneath. The four convex face buttons feel satisfyingly snappy.

In fact, the entire build of the device itself feels solid and responsive. The concave dual analog inputs seem to have no noticeable “dead zone” and feel high quality. Five center buttons (including another obviously Xbox-inspired detail in the central ‘Nvidia’ button) are used for various key Android functions like returning home or returning to the previous menu.

The non-detachable hinged screen is very thin and adds little to the bulk and weight of the device. Specific screen specs are still forthcoming, but Nvidia has confirmed that it is a 5-inch 720p display. When the screen is flipped shut gamers can access the device’s customizable cover plate. Like Xbox 360 face plates, these easily snap in and off the device, presumably allowing gamers to customize their Project Shield with a plate of their choosing.

The only real negative regarding Project Shield as a controller (beyond its size and heft) is the lackluster D-Pad. Classic gamers are once again out of luck – the device’s digital D-Pad is wobbly and disc-shaped and seems ill-suited for fine 2D control.

-Justin Davis

PC Game Streaming

We also got a chance to see Project Shield’s PC game streaming functionality — arguably one of its most alluring features. When combined with a gaming PC on a shared local network, Project Shield can remotely access any game you own, allowing you to stream and play HD games directly on the device. The company demoed Borderlands 2 running in realtime on the Shield from alongside a PC in the same room, demonstrating the low-latency streaming between the two devices. The game ran as if it was being processed and rendered right on the handheld. There was no recognizable lag between when commands were entered on the device and when they were reflected on the screen.

There are some caveats, however. In order to access the feature, users must have an Nvidia-based graphics card — 600 series or above — and have the company’s GeForce Experience optimization software installed. When the Project Shield is paired, the software detects the optimal graphics settings for its 5-inch 720p display, emphasizing high-framerates to counteract the impact of wireless streaming.

Between the simple cost of ownership of an Nvidia 600-series desktop or 600M laptop and the cost of the handheld itself, there is a considerable amount of effort and funds required to harness half of the device’s promise. But then again, Nvidia representatives made no effort to deny that Project Shield is a niche product. This is a product for a very specific audience of hardcore gamers. The question is: is the niche-within-a-niche the company is targeting large enough to make the Shield a growing, successful platform?

-Scott Lowe

Android Muscle

Project Shield’s very brief Dead Trigger 2 demo is too short to truly get a feel for what the platform’s Tegra 4 chip will be able to do graphically, but given that Tegra 3-optimized games are already approaching a level of visual fidelity akin to current-gen launch title, it’s safe to assume that high-end 3D mobile games will look fantastic on the 5-inch 720p display.

Beyond a strange game design choice (in this Dead Trigger 2 demo your gun fires automatically when your reticle passes over an enemy), the entire experience controlled as one would expect. Right and left analog sticks allowed for full freedom of movement. Actions like prev/next weapon swapping and lobbing grenades could be mapped to any face or shoulder button.

Project Shield seems a natural fit for console-style mobile games with complex button inputs. But reaching across the device to interact with the touch screen felt awkward – this is not likely be a platform suited for touch-heavy mobile games.

-Justin Davis


Many Project Shield details, including a list of supported games, a final name, and most critically, a price-tag, remain under wraps for now. Nvidia plans to ship the device in Q2 of this year, so answers on Project Shield’s remaining questions can’t be too far off.

The rapid rise of tablet interfaces and touch gaming means that Project Shield isn’t likely to disrupt the core mobile games industry in any major way. But at the right price, with the right list of supported games and with the seamless integration of PC game streaming this could be a very powerful console-in-a-controller for a specific audience.

Justin is Editor of IGN Wireless. He has been reviewing mobile games since the dark days of Java flip phones. You can follow him on Twitter at @ErrorJustin and on IGN.

Scott Lowe is IGN’s guru of Tech. He enjoys coffee, burritos, and moonlit walks. You can follow him on MyIGN Scott-IGN and on Twitter @ScottLowe. For more of the latest and greatest in technology, follow @IGNTech.

By Justin Davis and Scott Lowe