With Apple’s recent acquisition of the Beats, they are pegging Trent Reznor to lead the relaunch of Beats Music, as to compete with Spotify. The $3 billion cost of Beats, which is best known for the headphones and earbuds, left everyone wondering what would happen with Beats Music.
Apple initially wanted to sell a subscription to Beats Music for $8 a month, $2 less than Spotify, but failed in their efforts to get music labels to lower the cost to license the music they wanted. This shows the shift from paid downloads to streaming services, which Apple has been best known for. In a statement to the New York Times, Toni Sacconaghi, a financial analyst for Sanford C. Bernstein, said:
“They’re used to being a shaper rather than a responder. This is one of the few times where Apple is playing catch-up and not necessarily coming from a position of strength.”
With just two weeks until the Apple Watch is officially released, the excitement is mounting. Feeding that excitement now is the recent appearance of apps for the Watch in the App Store. Here is the list of the 24 apps first available in the App Store courtesy of 9to5Mac, with added descriptions by Fortune.
In a recent interview with Fortune, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that he will be donating his wealth. He currently is worth roughly $112 million, and the restricted stock he holds carries a value of roughly $665 million, and has already been making some donations quietly, but wants to start making bigger splashes. One possible way would be following suit with what Bill Gates did with his wife in starting an entire foundation that will manage his philanthropic endeavors. By being so open about it, Cook is acting differently than Steve Jobs before him. Jobs had gotten criticized for not being known to donate, but after he passed, his wife, Laurene Powell, revealed they had made many donations totaling in the tens of millions in an anonymous fashion.
After the May elections have concluded, the UK’s Members of Parliament will all have new iPads to go along with the new government. All 650 House of Commons MPs will receive a cellular equipped iPadAir 2s, courtesy of the Parliament’s tech team, allowing them to securely work from anywhere they might need to.
It seems though as the change isn’t getting a warm reception from everyone. Carrying a £1 million (roughly $1.5 million) cost over five years, there is speculation as to if the iPads are truly “competitively priced.” On the other hand, lowering the use of paper documents theoretically saves money at the same time, but with other lower cost options available, could they save more and reduced the plans overall cost. One main figure in thinking that other options should be on the table, Shadow Cabinet Office minister Chi Onwurah believes the House needs to move away from the focus on Apple iOS. In the end, through the results of Britain’s change, the entire world essentially can see how well the iPad holds up as a full-time government tool.
In following Apple, HP has found a new audio partner. Teaming up with Bang & Olufsen, who make high-end audio gear, HP plans on improving the sound quality of their devices. By “custom tuning” future devices, as well as isolating audio circuitry and reducing metal used for the headphone jack, Bang & Olufsen will bring their expertise to the table. As of right now, that is all we know for sure, but it’s possible they may do similarly to Beats and pack high quality amps into devices. What separates this deal from the Apple and Beats deal, is that HP laptops, desktops, and tablets will feature either the Bang & Olufsen or B&O Play branding. The first devices released with the integrated features will launch this spring.
The deal won’t only be used for hardware, as HP says they will provide a new control panel for customizing audio, very similar to what was done with Beats. The control panel will feature usual presents found with most software, but a more in-depth manual tuning section, hopefully including a software EQ.
Even though Bang & Olufsen might not be the household name Beats is, the effect of their product won’t be any less.
With Windows 10 being Microsoft’s biggest project to date, the company is working toward making the user experience as universal as possible for all the devices that will run it. This includes mobile devices, desktops, and consoles, enabling a feature set that works anywhere it’s accessed. Microsoft rolled out the SDK preview for Windows 10 on Monday, giving developers to start updating and creating apps for Windows 10 platform. Despite the release, the process won’t be so immediately accomplished, but those developers in the Windows Insider program will have the best chance getting started.
There are many new app elements that developers have access to in the preview. One of the more intriguing elements is called Adaptive UX, a user interface that can adapt to any screen, smartphone to desktop screens alike. By adding this to their apps, developers will easily prepare for the update from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10.
Another new element will allow apps to determine how the user is interfacing with it, and adapt the user experience accordingly. This feature will be more useful with laptops and tablets that feature both touchscreen ability or keyboard and mouse inputs. When using one or the other, the app will sense which is being used and adjust the interface appropriately. One feature more geared toward the developers, new API contracts which tell them what Windows features are available on which devices, thus being able to modify code “at runtime to deliver user experiences that feel right on the device it’s being run on.”
As we recently reported on Facebook’s attempt to integrate further with smartphones, it looks like we now know more of what they are trying to accomplish. By natively hosting the news. The New York Times’ sources are saying that Facebook has been talking to six different media companies in regards to directly publishing their content on Facebook’s site, not just a link to the article. The names of the companies we know now are The New York Times, Buzzfeed, National Geographic, and The Huffington Post. As to what Facebook is wanting to accomplish, they think that an eight second load time average per page, on mobile, is too long, beyond just having the investment in mobile technology.
What is a good part of that load time experienced is advertisements, which actually generate a fair amount for the companies. As the NYT has said, the ideas reception isn’t going swimmingly, which isn’t that surprising. As the companies see it, Facebook has more to earn financially in the end, as they haven’t established much of a traffic-data sharing plan, due to the fact that users would stay on Facebook, rather than going to the media companies site, even if more people have access to it. With the sheer number of people on Facebook a day, and courtesy of Facebook’s curated news feed, the stories would be much more exposed than just being on the originating media companies site. However making this a fair deal is currently unknown.
With Facebook’s ever-growing brand, any new ways to integrate themselves is always the top priority for them. With the recent addition of sending money through the Messenger app, which was their attempt at replacing basic texting, we have a glimpse of their next projec; a dialer app for phones.
As was first shared with Android Police, we see that they simply plan on calling the app “Phone”. Right now, the app is in testing phase, considering that those who try to install it get an error message. As the photo shows, it seems one nice feature of the app will be a better caller ID setup, so we can now block annoying calls, not just ignore them. With a few apps similar to this already available, the question now is, how well will this app do thanks to its attachment to Facebook.
Next time you log in to your Twitch account, don’t be surprised that all your info has been reset. In an official blog post from Twitch, they have suffered from a security breach, stating there “may have been unauthorized access to some Twitch user information” and thus Twitch has unauthorized all passwords and stream keys so that no further data is compromised. Not stopping there, they also unauthorized all linked YouTube and Twitter accounts. As is recommended any time any security breach happens, Twitch suggests that if any users used the same password for their account on any other sites, change them immediately to prevent any other personal information from being subject to similar breaches. With no official announcement of how bad the breach is, Twitch says they will “communicate directly with affected users” on any additional information necessary.
For too long now, doctors have had to use pen and paper, rather than any of the technology available to them when fighting some of the deadliest diseases. But when French organization Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) came to Google with the request of something they could work with, Google delivered.
They developed a tablet that is completely encased in polycarbonate, which can be soaked in chlorine for decontamination. Syncing with battery-powered servers outside the area’s they work in, which makes keeping track of patient info much more streamlined. What Google accomplished is a very polished design for passing the intense restrictions for biohazards. And it’s not just Ebola that the design is limited to, as it can be adapted for any future outbreaks. This won’t be a super exclusive benefit though, as Google and Médecins Sans Frontières are both working to open source the project, so anyone who could use this has that advantage easily.
According to sources close with BuzzFeed, the next-gen Apple TV will be a much-improved version. Apple plans on announcing the new Apple TV at the World Wide Developers Conference they hold in June. During the conference, they also plan on introducing the SDK dedicated to the Apple TV, and its own App Store, much like was done with the Apple Watch recently.
The recent price cut of the current Apple TV, from $99 to $69 during Apple’s live event, and announcing the partnership to make HBO GO an exclusive digital partner, Apple has been busy recently. In addition to the Apple Watch announcement recently, we also are getting a new MacBook, claiming to be the lightest computer ever. With the April 24th release of the Apple Watch coming, Apple updated iOS with support for the Watch.
With so much time since Apple last did much for the Apple TV, if they plan to continue support, this pending update will be much-needed. Especially since there are so many more competing devices, such as Roku, Fire TV, and the Chrome Stick, and their very competitive costs, Apple’s hand is almost forced if they want to stay relevant.
When Google invested a whopping $542 million into the augmented reality start-up Magic Leap, people were wondering what the results would be like. Well, now we know, after they just dropped this amazing demo reel!
We get to see a glimpse of the full feature set of functions are, ranging from accessing websites and desktop apps with virtual icons, to a full on first person shooter aided by physical controllers, using where-ever you are as the level. I wonder how many offices will let that actually fly?
Rony Abovitz, CE of Magic Leap, told Reddit AMA last year “You can think of us as techno-biology. We believe it is the future of computing.”
The only remaining questions are, how soon can we get it, and just how much will it cost?
With what Tesla have accomplished, and the recent announcement of an update that will help keep batteries charged, they haven’t stopped there. In that same announcement, they said the Model S will be updated to enable limited automated driving, as reported by The Verge.
Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, said the update will allow the car to drive itself for a while. The one caveat at this time is the system will only work on highways and private properties.
“We can basically go between San Francisco and Seattle without the driver doing anything.”
Continuing on the update, he said:
“It is technically capable of going from parking lot to parking lot, But we won’t be enabling that for users with this hardware suite, because we don’t think it’s likely to be safe in suburban neighborhoods.”
The system might not be able to fully adapt to suburban streets, known to have less speed signs, and the danger it would present to kids playing in the street. The more common uses would be summoning the Model S to your location or telling it to park itself, these features won’t be seen in the U.S. as they are not yet legal. In addition, Tesla reiterated the importance of paying attention even when the car is doing these things. Speaking specifically on this Musk said:
“There’s certainly an expectation that when autopilot on the Model S is enabled, that you’re paying attention. But it should also take care of you if you have moments of distraction.”
Tesla isn’t alone in producing a self-driving car, they have competition coming from Google, and Apple now joining the mix. And it won’t be long till regular car makers are part of the movement.
In an attempt to counter rampant piracy in China, Microsoft will update bootleg copies of Windows 10 as part of its summer roll-out as reported by Reuters. Terry Myerson, head of Microsoft’s operating system unit said:
““We are upgrading all qualified PCs, genuine and non-genuine, to Windows 10.”
Myerson spoke to Reuters at a technology conference in Shenzhen, China, this week. With the piracy of Windows so great in China, and so many people using Windows XP still, Microsoft has extended its security support there. Myerson explained how forgiving the pirated copies was an opportunity to reconnect to all the Windows users. Although speaking only in regards to China, it was later confirmed to The Verge that anyone qualified will get the release. A spokesperson for the company said:
“We believe customers over time will realize the value of properly licensing Windows and we will make it easy for them to move to legitimate copies.”
With the company already planning on free upgrades for users of Windows 7 and Windows 8 during the first year that Windows 10 is available. By doing this, they can create a more uniform user base, all sharing the same app store and cloud services. The increase in users because of upgrading pirated copies helps developers to streamline software, having fewer versions to work with.
With Apple and Xiaomi successfully establishing themselves in the software and services of the country, Microsoft’s speaking on China is no surprise. Keeping up means keeping users, even if pirated. With wanting to establish its own services worldwide, Microsoft should make a push for more legitimate licenses.
Despite no official word, rumors are that Microsoft is ditching the Internet Explorer brand for something new, and all we know for sure now is its code-name, Project Spartan. During the Microsoft Convergence, Microsoft’s marketing chief Chris Capossela revealed that they are working on the new brand now, and its new name. He said:
“We’re now researching what the new brand, or the new name, for our browser should be in Windows 10. We’ll continue to have Internet Explorer, but we’ll also have a new browser called Project Spartan, which is code-named Project Spartan. We have to name the thing.”
Internet explorer will remain in some version of Windows 10, mainly for enterprise use, and Project Spartan will become the primary web browser for the majority of Windows 10 users. Over the pas several years, Microsoft has been vigilant in trying to change the perception of Internet Explorer, mostly unsuccessfully, by going as far as mocking older versions in ads. In the end, that may have helped the decision of the former chief of Internet Explorer leave the company in December, thus bringing on the changes happening.
Capossela did a study on how using Microsoft’s name instead of continuing to call it Internet Explorer, and the research data shows just how much the Internet Explorer name does not do itself justice. On the results Sapossela said:
“Just by putting the Microsoft name in front of it, the delta for Chrome users on appeal is incredibly high.”
The research shows us that Microsoft has some solid name choices out there, but hasn’t given any idea of when they will officially release any major info on the new browser. Seeing the response to “Microsoft” browsers, we can see the probable direction they will take, and make sure nothing about the name has anything to do with Internet Explorer.
Known best for its vacuum cleaners and fans, Dyson is turning its attention smartphones, particularly their batteries. By investing $15 million dollars into Sakti3, a University of Michigan company, they’re helping Sakti3 develop the technology which could enable batteries to last twice as long.
What makes the technology so great, is its ability to work with more than just smartphones, such as electric cars, toothbrushes, and pretty much anything else you can think of that has a rechargeable battery. Imagine two plus days battery life with a phone, or an electric car that can do 600 miles per charge.
Sakti3’s technology works by using solid lithium electrodes inside their lithium-ion battery, instead of a liquid mix of reactive compounds. The result is a significantly higher energy storage. This also allows for battery construction that is lighter and smaller, meaning phones will be lighter as well, and possibly thinner.
When speaking about the technology, James Dyson said:
“Sakti3 has achieved leaps in performance, which current battery technology simply can’t. It’s these fundamental technologies – batteries, motors – that allow machines to work properly.”
Dyson helping out Sakti3 will enable the development to come to fruition much soon than was planned, although no official word yet. It is expected that a Dyson device will be first available with the technology.
As reported by Reuters, Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant, will be available on Android and iOS as a standalone app after the launch of Windows 10 in the fall.
With Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella wanting to bring Microsoft services wherever their customers are, bring Cortana to other platforms is the next step. After Office for iOS was released last year, and Outlook for both Android and iOS this year, Microsoft has made head-ways already.
Named after the AI from the successful Halo franchise, the digital assistant we get will be powered by Microsoft Bing search technologies. But more than just searching, she will also be able to interact with users contacts, calendar, music, messages, and much more. Microsoft has been able to retain the services of Jen Taylor from the games, so that ever familiar voice isn’t going anywhere.
As is standard with both Google Now and Siri, Cortana will be voice activated with a simple saying of the command “Hey, Cortana.” With full Windows 10 integration, she will dish out information on weather, show your friends that great selfie you just took, or play that perfect song to make the mood.
BBC has announced they are working on a new TV show based on the making of Grand Theft Auto, as part of an initiative to get the UK into coding. Initially was little known about the show, the BBC simply stated “a new BBC Two drama based on Grand Theft Auto.” Guy Cocker, one of the developers for the show, wants everyone to know that the show itself is based on the making of the game, not the game itself. At present, there is no release date for the show, but the “Make it Digital” campaign that the show was announced alongside kicks off this fall, so it could be that soon.
With BBC sharing more information on the show now, it will be 90 minutes feature length drama. Since GTA has been made in the UK, it will feature the minds who created the game. Think something similar to “The Social Network” in effect, but perhaps with a little less Hollywood input to the story. The remaining question now is, will there be similar backlash from those who wanted to ban the game doing so with the show too now.
More on the “Make it Digital” campaign, it is mainly targeted at 11-to-12-year-olds, who in the case of the GTA games are too young to buy. In addition it aims to create as many as 5,000 trainee positions in the tech business for unemployed teens, thus improving the country’s tech literacy.
With all the keyboard options available, and some I didn’t even know existed, there are always those who can’t find that perfect fit. Now, thanks to students from Tokyo University, finding that keyboard is now a bit easier.
Named “Tricky”, this prototype modular keyboard is meant to be small and purpose-built for specific inputs. And we do mean small, only six keys per board, although you can latch together other sets and build a more expansive keyboard. Each key is designed to be reprogrammed or removed at your convenience giving you the best option for what you need. With the keys remembering the function assigned to them, you can rearrange them as you please so that you can be sure you have that perfect layout. And don’t worry about forgetting which key is where, as the key-caps are customizable too.
Now how much will this cost you ask? According to the Kickstarter page, each set of six keys costs $139, which is about the same as a full size or ten keyless mechanical. This means if you wish to build a fairly expansive keyboard, be ready to dish out for it. For those interested, here is the Kickstarter link.
On the heels of Apple’s big event the other day, they have told 9to5Mac that only limited amounts of the Apple Watch’s 8GB will be usable, for now. When it comes to music, Apple has allocated 2GB of space, which roughly translates to about 200 to 250 songs at 256Kbps quality from the iTunes store. By comparison for photos you only get 75MB, but that isn’t as negative a point with the Watch limiting users to favorite photos and re-sizes them to match the display, although personally I wouldn’t be showing off photos on a screen that size.
This begs the question, if the phone comes with 8GB, which is more than most Android Wear devices to boot, how is the other 6GB allocated? Like any mobile devices, a portion is used for the operating system and app caches, the rest is yet to be determined. Since the device is so new, and apps currently act more as an extension of an iPhone that an independent device, storage isn’t too big an issue. As we see more native apps developed, the storage design will most likely see changes.
Blizzard has a new way to play World of Warcraft, and it’s perfect for the non-subscription-based players. Meet the “WoW Token.”
Players can purchase the WoW Tokens with real money in game, then can even sell them in the auction house. Each token in the auction house, which can be bought with in game gold, will be good for 30 days of game time.
As reported by Polygon.com, Blizzard has developed a special formula that determines the price of the Tokens, Blizzard will:
“Take into account supply and demand for Tokens as well as other elements of the World of Warcraft economy in each region”
After purchasing a Token in the auction house with in game gold, the Token is soulbound to the character it is purchased for, and therefore only redeemable by you, thus making the Tokens no resellable.
For a long time, long distance small weaponry has been ruled by snipers, but with technology advancing so fast these days, lasers are getting in on the action. Being able to attack targets on both land and air allows for more usages too and all at a much lower cost. Manufacturer Lockheed Martin has been working on a new laser, named ATHENA, which could be used to stop a vehicle without lethal force. Using fiber-optics, ATHENA can burn through the engine manifold of a truck from over a mile away.
In the test, the truck was running, but was propped up, rather than moving. Unlike Hollywood’s lasers, ATHENA simply rendered the truck immovable rather than blowing it up with gorgeous effects. Lockheed hopes this will prove to be much more useful against vehicles that might be armed with explosives, with the intent of being a mobile bomb for civilian or military structures.
Based on Lockheed’s ADAM system, lasers used to shoot down enemy rockets in mid air, ATHENA uses a technique called “spectral beam combining,” in which multiple laser modules combine into a single that is high quality and powerful. Unfortunately I doubt these will be available to the public, but how could would it be to have a mini Death Star laser for those annoying planets in your way?
For a while now, smartphones have had built-in software that eliminates background noise caught by the microphone, but the one thing it hasn’t fully tackled is wind. Which is why we still see foam covers over most microphones on big headsets used at outdoor events. Ever think that would be great to have for your phone? Now you can thanks to Windblockers.
Designed to gently clamp onto the edge of a smartphone, or a tablet if you must, it will prevent wind, “weather” it’s a gust or constant breeze, from overpowering your voice, and making sure your important words get heard. Being so small and easily removed, this is a nifty addition when you need it most.
Only recently revealed at Mobile World Congress, they don’t have a price yet, but hopes are that they won’t cost much.
With all the hoopla surrounding energy and making it clean and renewable, one oft forgotten source, the sea, is getting its fair chance again thanks to Tidal Lagoon Power. The company is set to build six total structures, with four alone being located in Wales. These plants will harness powerful coastal tides and eventually generate up to eight percent of the total power in the UK.
Backed by energy secretary Ed Davey, the company has already started working on a £1 billion plant in Swansea. Despite it being one of the smallest installations, the lagoon will cover five miles across and two miles of sea. Not only will this lagoon provide power, but a nice destination for locals. As tidal levels rise and fall throughout the day, the large space of water will drive turbines set into the walls of the lagoon.
The £30 billion investment needed to build these lagoons will be met by tax payers, as the UK is keen on backing renewable energy sources. Beyond Swansea, in Wales, Cardiff, Newport, and Colwyn Bay will host the lagoons. Outside of Wales, lagoons will be built in Bridgewater Bay, Somerset, and West Cumbria.
With the high predictability of sea movements, tidal power has a promising future, so long as we have no crazy lunar events. This differs from wind turbines which can stall on calmer days, or solar panels that only achieve maximum output on sunny days. The only resistance so far comes from marine experts, one in particular being fish sucked into the turbines. However, Tidal Lagoon Power feels the opposite, that the lagoons will create artificial reefs, thus benefiting local ecosystems.
When it comes to how much to charge for the electricity, the estimated price for the plant in Cardiff is £90-£95 per MWh, which is on par with what the nuclear station in Hinkley charges, £92.50. With these lagoons lasting for up to 120 years, and having very low risk factors, the UK government just might have struck gold.
With the recent increase in sales of all things Apple, its once strong perception of being very secure is losing steam, especially thanks to the sale over notebooks and iPhones. In a recent report from GFI, both OS X and iOS are the leaders for vulnerabilities. Surprisingly all Windows distributions come in with less than Linux. OS X leads the board with whooping 147 vulnerabilities, of which 64 are labeled as “High Risk”. iOS comes in second, with 127 total, and 32 “High Risk”. Unexpectedly Linux comes in third with 119 total, and 24 “High Risk”. We can see the final results in the table below.
In 2014 alone, GFI reported a total of 7,038 new security vulnerabilities, up greatly from 4,794 in 2013. 294, or 24 percent, of the 7,038 new vulnerabilities came in as “High Risk”
GFI’s Christian Florian had the following to say in regards to Linux’s surprising place:
“2014 was a tough year for Linux users from a security point of view, coupled with the fact that some of the most important security issues of the year were reported for applications that usually run on Linux systems.”
Specific examples as reported he listed were:
“Heartbleed, for example, is a critical security vulnerability detected in OpenSSL while Shellshock is a vulnerability that affects GNU Bash.”
To clarify, all versions of OS X (Lion, Mountain Lion, Mavericks, Yosemite, etc.) were tested together, yet all major Windows versions got their own testing. THis could be due to duplication among all the versions of Windows, which leads to the very close results for each version. Had this been done with OS X, we could have a better reference between competing versions of OS X and Windows.
Despite the individual results for iOS, we do not have any individual test for Android, which has become a very popular target recently. This could be due to Android being included with the Linux OS’ and could be a leading source for the Linux OS.
Digging deeper into the world of the vulnerabilities we see individual testing for various applications, such as web browsers, plugins, and other run-times. Not so surprisingly here we see Internet Explorer leading the board with a generous 242 vulnerabilities, which almost doubles the next closest entry, Google Chrome. Only making matters worse for Internet Explorer is that 220, 91 percent, are “High Risk”. Usually leader, Adobe Flash Player came in “only” fourth place with 76 vulnerabilities, but had a very high percentage of “High Risk”. Oddly we do not sure Safari by Apple included in these tests.
Your safest bet to avoid falling prey to any of these vulnerabilities, as suggested by GFI, is keeping browsers, Java, your OS, and any other run-times used up to date. With Adobe products being often used, they suggest ditching these products all together.
PCGames.de recently interviewed Avalanche’s Roland Lesterlin about Just Cause 3. The biggest news from it is that Just Cause 3 will have a full offline mode. Roland said this about the game:
“We want to make the game accessible to as many people as possible.”
When asked specifically about the game being playable offline, he responded “Absolutely.”
Just Cause 3’s story line follows Rico as he explores a Mediterranean island paradise, with no vertical limitations. By gliding through the air, swooping across mountains with a wingsuit, scaling buildings with a grapple and parachute are some of the creative new ways to play the game. Additionally you can hijack vehicles and tether objects together for more creative new ways to play and cause chaos.