We’ve already seen a couple of new desktop GTX cards from NVIDIA this month, and if the mysterious spec sheet for MSI’s GT70 Dragon Edition 2 laptop wasn’t enough of a hint, the company’s got some notebook variants to let loose, too. The GeForce GTX 700M series, officially announced today, is a quartet of chips built on the Kepler architecture. At the top of the stack is the GTX 780M, which NVIDIA claims is the “world’s fastest notebook GPU,” taking the title from AMD’s Radeon HD 8970M. For fans of the hard numbers, the 780M has 1,536 CUDA cores, an 823MHz base clock speed and memory configs of up to 4GB of 256-bit GDDR5 — in other words, not a world apart from a desktop card. Whereas the 780M’s clear focus is performance, trade-offs for portability and affordability are made as you go down through the 770M, 765M and 760M. Nevertheless, the 760M is said to be 30 percent faster than its predecessor, and the 770M 55 percent faster.
All of the chips feature NVIDIA’s GPU Boost 2.0 and Optimus technologies, and work with the GeForce Experience game auto-settings utility. The 700M series should start showing up in a host of laptops soon, and a bunch of OEMs have already pledged their allegiance. Check out a video with NVIDIA’s Mark Avermann after the break, where he shows off a range of laptops packing 700M GPUs, and helps us answer the most important question of all: can it run Crysis? (Or, in this case, Crysis 3.)
This particular rumor has been swirling for a while already, but Reuters says its own sources are now backing it up: Samsung will switch from an ARM-based design and use Intel as the supplier of the processor inside at least one version of its next 10-inch slate, the Galaxy Tab 3 10.1. Word is that Samsung will run Android off Intel’s latest x86 Atom architecture, Clover Trail+, which we’ve so far seen in just a handful of smartphones including the Lenovo K900 and ZTE Geek.
By way of corroboration, Korea Times is reporting the exact same Galaxy Tab 3 rumor and has also quoted an anonymous Intel employee who claimed that the number of Atom engineers based in Korea has ballooned from six last year to as many as 50 personnel today. They’re said to be working on “Samsung-related projects with a mission to customize circuits for adaptation in Samsung products” — which certainly doesn’t sound like typical Intel behavior. Korea Times specifically says that Samsung is looking to reduce its reliance on the tricky supply of its own ARM-based Exynos processors, while Intel is offering the Korean giant good prices and cooperation in order to build its mobile market share. This all tallies with the idea of Atom coming to some high volume Android products — and it’s very possible that we’ll see proof of that at Computex next week.
When Google released its Google Now app we saw our first look at a card-based UI in an Android app. Touted as being able to show you “the right information at the right time”, this new design for displaying information is elegant. It’s a simple and to-the-point method that standardizes information onto a single “card”, separated from other information.
It should come as no surprise. We’ve been using cards for a very long time in our everyday lives. Libraries used to catalog all their books and media offerings on individual cards in something called a “card catalog”. Your mother probably has a box of recipes written neatly on “recipe cards”. Studying for exams is still done using “flash cards”. When we want to share our contact details with someone, many of us still hand out a “business card”. Most of us even carry several cards in our wallets or purses that contain very specific information on them: credit cards, driver licenses, Star Trek and Michael Fisher Fan Club cards, organ donor identification, and so on.
Each of these cards has one thing in common: it includes the information that you need to know about one very specific topic — and nothing else.
The Play Store
Not long ago Google changed the way its Play Store is laid out, putting apps, music, movies, books, and every other title it carries into cards.
Each card contains the item’s image, title, author, rating, and cost. In short, each card has all the information you need to decide whether you want to know more, and does so with relatively large amounts of data — at a glance.
We’ve seen this card-centric approach in other areas as well. Google’s web-based search results haven’t changed, but when your search might be about certain types of information, that data is highlighted in a card at the top or right-side of the results page. Word definitions, translations, currency and unit conversions, information about persons, places, or things, weather, stock quotes, and more are all called out in a “card”.
It’s been a few years since we saw Google Glass for the first time. As the product progressed, the user experience of Glass has become more solidified. Because of its very small screen Google opted to show just one piece of information at a time to its wearer. The metaphor that was chosen was, you guessed it, a card.
When wearing Glass, everything you need to know about an item is presented to you in a card. This could be a social media update, the current time or weather, directions to get from Point A to Point B, an email notification, and so much more. The metaphor is highly extensible — and keeps everything easy to read at a glance.
A Card-Based UI for Android?
Android 3.0 Honeycomb introduced us to a standard user experience called “Holo”. Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich included a mandate to OEMs that they keep the stock “Holo theme” present so app developers could have a common UI framework to hook into when building their apps. OEMs weren’t required to actually use the Holo theme in their customized versions of Android, just to include it. That’s an important point to note since it still allowed companies like HTC, Samsung, and LG to create their own flavor of Android, but apps could look the same across all devices powered by Android, regardless of who made them. This is another important point to note: although developers could use the Holo theme, they haven’t been required to use it. This is especially evident in apps like Waze that have their own very customized user interface.
Apple is said to be “flattening” their UI in iOS 7, and removing many of the heavier skeuomorphic design elements. With such a major change predicted for Android’s largest competitor, I can’t help but think that Google has something significant up its sleeve with Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie.
Seemingly every aspect of Google’s business is marching toward a card-based UI. We’re already seeing cards in many of its apps and cards are even making their way to the homescreen through widgets. The entire Google Glass experience relies on cards. It stands to reason that Google’s core-OS will embrace cards, too.
Here’s Where it Gets Really Fun
Microsoft is trying something similar with Live Titles. These animated blocks of color are present on Windows-powered smartphones, tablets, and even computers. They show live information, much like cards do. Some have even cited Google for “copying” Live Tiles from Microsoft. Where Microsoft is trying to standardize their experience across all its supported platforms, Google is quietly reaching out into every OS, and bringing their card-based UI to competing platforms.
Google’s reach extends past Android-powered smartphones and tablets. Its products are on your desktop computer (regardless of what operating system or web browser you’re using). Its products are probably on your iPhone and iPad. Google’s card-based UI is already making its way across the divide to non-Android users. That’s a good thing. People who aren’t specifically familiar with Android will already be familiar with its user interface, making the transition from one platform to the other much easier.
Hang on, folks, the ride is about to get really exciting!