Weekend roundup: Moto G launches worldwide, AWS conference lights up Vegas, and iPad mini with Retina display is available now

Moto G smartphone launches worldwide

Motorola has launched its Moto G smartphone, an affordable handset for anyone who’s pennies are truly pinched in the run-up to Christmas, but whose discerning approach to specs forbids them from purchasing anything without Android 4.4 KitKat.

It’s a phone that’s set to raise everybody’s expectations for developers releasing unlocked budget handsets. Put simply: the Moto G is rather pretty. Generally, lower-price budgets show in their build quality, but Motorola has given its smartphone a killer fit and finish.

Not only that, but beneath its gleaming exterior the Moto G is a natural beauty too. It has 8GB of storage and a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor and is built on “pure Android”. Most handsets are being shipped with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, but is “guaranteed” to update to Android 4.4 soon.

If you want to see what else we thought of the coveted handset, check out our hands on preview.

ITProPortal makes sure what happens at the AWS conference in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas

Amazon Web Service re:invent 2013 was a mass meeting of technology experts – around 9,000 of them - from all four corners of the globe. They all gathered in Vegas to gain a deeper knowledge of the AWS services and to learn the best technical practices that Amazon claim cannot be found anywhere else.

We liveblogged the entire event, covering everything from to Amazon VP Werner Vogel’s Keynote, to competitive delegates attempting to traverse the event’s remote control helicopter assault course.

A key theme that ran through the week was a sense of Amazon as a “BFG”, an enormous technology giant that, even whilst its head is firmly in the virtual cloud, pays attention and care to its ordinary customers. Extra special attention was lavished on successful AWS startups (one even got given a birthday cake), cosy fireside chats with Vogel were arranged, and a great buzzing excitement was generated around every single announcement.

The new releases themselves were received extremely favourably by the conference guests. Two new services, AppStream and WorkSpaces, were announced during Senior VP of AWS Andy Jassy's keynote on Wednesday, wading into the mobile app and desktop virtualisation arenas respectively. The features show that Amazon has its eyes firmly fixed on the future, a call for competitors to step up their game.

Speaking of company rivalry, both IBM and Rackspace employed guerrilla tactics to lure delegates away from the AWS conference at the Venetian hotel. IBM parked buses around Las Vegas advertising its web services in spite of Amazon’s conference, whilst Rackspace raised disapproving eyebrows with its vulgar tactics: employing women in short shorts to stand outside the hotel and hand out invites to a Rackspace party going on across the road in the Treasure Island Hotel, with "free drinks and food." Clearly, Amazon has got its competitors worried.

Apple's iPad mini with Retina display is available for pre-order

A shortage of displays for the new iPad mini with Retina meant that some were sure that there’d be more lumps of coal than slimline slabs under the Christmas tree this year, but a leak earlier this week revealed that Apple has started to accept pre-orders.

An internal notification intended for support technicians and resellers got leaked into the big wide world, saying that the tablet would become available in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United States.

Following this the Apple store went offline, part of the Californian company’s standard procedure before a significant release. Kind of like Mariah Carey going to take a power nap before belting out one of her hits – like “All I want for Christmas… is an iPad mini with Retina display” – to a room packed with fans.

On 12 November the iPad mini with Retina display was then released in a number of territories, including all those mentioned in the leak as well as the UK and Canada.

The new iPad mini with Retina display is the first to feature the enhanced display with an A7 64-bit processor supplemented by an M7 coprocessor to shoulder some of the workload. It has a 5-megapixel rear snapper, up to 10 hours of battery life and the only way it vastly differs from the more expensive iPad Air is its smaller 7.9in display.

For more, check out our review of the iPad mini with Retina display.